The Secret Life of Pets appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As I expected, the transfer looked terrific.
Sharpness was fine across the board. Virtually no softness appeared, as the movie delivered satisfying definition. No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge haloes were absent. Of course, print flaws never manifested themselves.
Pets came with a palette that mildly emphasized teal, with a general pastel sense as well. The colors showed a good sense of vividness and worked well. Blacks were dark and deep, while low-light shots offered nice clarity and smoothness. This became an appealing visual presentation.
With Pets, we get a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this mix offered a lively soundscape, especially during the action sequences. Those fleshed out the spectrum in an involving way and gave us nice chances for movement.
This allowed the surrounds to play an active role. The track worked well enough in the early stages but it picked up more as it went, especially as the film neared its climax. The various channels got a good workout in this engrossing soundscape.
Audio quality seemed pleasing. Speech always sounded distinctive and concise, while music was peppy and rich. Effects offered solid reproduction, with clean highs and deep lows. I liked this mix and thought it gave the movie life.
This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of Pets. The picture quality comments above address the 2D edition, but I also want to talk about the 3D image.
In terms of picture quality, the 3D looked great. It may have showed a minor dip in visuals compared to the 2D image, but not much of one, as it remained well-defined and vivid. Even the usual added layer of darkness failed to cause problems – the picture showed good brightness and really offered an impressive picture.
I also loved the 3D effects. When the movie focused on basic depth, it did so well, which meant that the various settings and characters looked natural – I saw none of the annoying “pop-up book” tendencies that mar some 3D presentations.
Simple elements created a good sense of dimensionality. Anything that could “look 3D” did, so snouts poked out of the screen in a gentle but pleasing manner, and similar components gave a fine sense of depth.
Pets tossed in a lot of fun pop-out components as well. The showiest scenes involved snakes, but falling/flying imagery also shot out of the screen well, and a lot of lively material appeared.
All of this combined to make Pets a delightful 3D presentation. I can’t call Pets the best 3D image I’ve seen in 2016 because Ghostbusters still takes that particular cake, but it’s a close call. Fans with 3D capabilities should have a great time with this movie – it’s the kind of 3D flick that makes me want to immediately see more 3D efforts.
As we shift to extras, we find three mini-movies. These include Norman TV (4:01), Weenie (4:05) and Mower Minions (4:27). Norman focuses on the adventures of the guinea pig who wanders the apartment complex’s air ducts, while Weenie offers a tale that involves the anthropomorphic hot dogs Max and Duke see at the meat plant. Both are cute but not great, though Weenie comes with an appealing sense of weirdness.
A short that ran before theatrical showings of Pets, Mower shows attempts by the Minions to earn money to buy a blender. Though I’ve never been a big fan of the Minions, Mower works pretty well, as they’re fun enough for a short like this.
A featurette tells us about the Making of the Mini-Movies. It runs seven minutes, 23 seconds and offers comments from Pets director Chris Renaud, producer Janet Healy, Illumination founder/CEO Chris Meledandri, Norman TV directors Habib Louati and Boris Jacq, Mower director/co-writer Glenn McCoy, Mower director Bruno Chauffard, CG supervisor Benjamin Le Ster, Weenie directors/co-writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and animation supervisor Bastien Laurent.
With barely seven minutes to devote to three shorts, no one should expect much substance from “Making”. Still, it tosses out a few good insights, so it gives us a passable overview.
The remaining components look more directly at Pets. Meet the Team encompasses five short clips with a total time of eight minutes, 43 seconds. In these, we hear from Meledandri, Healy, Renaud, co-director Yarrow Cheney, and co-writer Brian Lynch.
We get info about the film’s roots and development, story/character choices, and a few notes about the filmmakers. While we locate a few nuggets of value, much of the material just praises the participants.
Next we find the three-minute, 47-second Animals Can Talk. It involves actors Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Eric Stonestreet, and Jenny Slate. They tell us a little about their acting choices. Despite the show’s brevity, it gives us a couple of useful tidbits.
With All About the Pets, we find a six-minute, 26-second reel with Hart, Stonestreet and animal trainer Molly O’Neill. We see the actors with a few animals as they “research” for the movie. This gives us basics about various animals but largely acts to promote the film.
After this comes Hairstylist to the Dogs. It lasts three minutes, 41 seconds and features Stonestreet with pet groomer Jess Rona. This gives a look at how dogs get groomed. It’s another largely substance-free piece.
How to Make an Animated Film goes for four minutes, 13 seconds and includes info from Healy, Meledandri, Lynch, Renaud, Hart, Cheney, Stonestreet, production designer Eric Guillon, and composer Alexandre Desplat. We hear a little about character topics and design as well as music. Again, this becomes a minor diversion without a lot of information behind it.
In the four-minute, 46-second Anatomy of a Scene, we hear from Meledandri, Healy, Cheney, Chauffard, modeling character supervisor Jerome Gordon, hair and fur character supervisor Loic Salmon, animation directors Jonathan Del Val and Julien Soret, compositing supervisor Celine Allegre and layout supervisor Regis Schuller. “Anatomy” looks at a few details involved with one specific movie sequence. Some decent material results.
Finally, we locate The Best of Snowball. This one-minute, 15-second compilation simply collects snippets of the film’s bunny character. It’s largely a waste of time.
A Music Video for Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”. This pairs movie characters with lyrics to create a wholly forgettable video.
We also get a Sing-Along for the version of “We Go Together” at the hot dog factory. It just takes the movie scene and adds lyrics, which makes it pretty useless.
A few short bits finish the set. We get three snippets that show Brian the Minion on Pets. With a total time of two minutes, 46 seconds, we view Minions as they watch Pets and act silly. The snippets fail to offer much entertainment.
GoPro Secret Life of Pets runs two minutes, four seconds. It shows people who do air-based stunts and then lets us see a few movie clips. It’s just an ad for GoPro.
The disc opens with ads for Sing, Kubo and the Two Strings, Phantom Boy and Little Big Shots. No trailer for Pets appears here.
Note that although all the previews and the extras also appear on the 3D disc, they remain 2D there. It’s too bad we don’t get 3D versions of the mini-movies.
Buoyed by strong work from its voice actors, The Secret Life of Pets becomes a fun animated adventure. It offers just enough wit and charm to succeed – especially if you can take advantage of the winning 3D version. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with very good audio and mediocre supplements. Pets becomes a likable effort.