The Secret Life of Pets 2 4K UHD Review


Dogs and Cats (and Babies) Living Together

Like its predecessor, Secret Life of Pets 2 is best when satirizing pet ownership from the animal’s perspective. The cat that knocks planters from a shelf; the dog that deals with a surgical cone; the domestic drama of a baby brought into a pet’s domain; all small moments sans story potential, if filling in entertainment value. It’s a place where animation fills a void where reality cannot.

But the pets leave home. They end up on a train, battling a Russian circus owner to retrieve a tiger tortured to perform acts. Just a tiger though – other animals don’t matter apparently. It’s not that Secret Life of Pets 2 goes too far so much as how listless and derivative this tale sets out to be.

Secret Life of Pets cannot break away from Illumination’s penchant for animated mania

Secret Life of Pets 2 isn’t without other issues too. Harrison Ford voices a gruff farm dog, slapping city boy dog Max (Patton Oswalt) for never being man enough. It’s tiresome, saying Max isn’t right the way he is, and at the worst of it, Secret Life of Pets 2 suggest anxiety doesn’t exist. You cannot be a hero unless you exude testosterone. It’s a bizarre mixture where the villain lacks empathy for others, yet so does Ford’s tough guard dog.

Max takes care of his family’s latest, an infant who wants to chew gum stuck to a telephone pole, or march into the street. In steps Harrison Ford’s lessons, mocking helicopter parents with a speech about biting electrical wires – he only did it once and learned. Not only is Max learning to man up, but to leave kids to their own devices.

Intercut with this, Secret Life of Pets 2 brings two additional stories, eventually merging come the finale. There’s a (pretend) superhero rabbit invading the circus and dog-pretending-to-be-cat Gidget (Jenny Slate) breaking into a cat lady’s house. The latter represents this series (and this sequel) at its best, genuine and comical with clever exaggerations of pet types and pet owners. Yet again however, things go overboard in a wonky chase sequence utterly removed from grounded satire. Two movies in, and Secret Life of Pets cannot break away from Illumination’s penchant for animated mania.

Video

Secret Life of Pets 2 isn’t only saturated, it’s absolutely glowing. Pinks and reds and blues rocket toward neon, skirting the line between attractive and gaudy. Flesh tones spill out like a peach nightmare. The Dolby Vision push makes any set look uncalibrated; imagine the sheer horror of this movie playing on a TV set to vivid. shudder

Certain scenes look fine, say at the circus with lights dressing the scenery, emboldening saturation naturally. Exteriors of farmland render well too, if again, right on the line.

Some dazzling HDR makes up for these misgivings though, wondrous when looking at New York’s nighttime skyline. The same goes (again) for the circus. Inside a monkey’s lair, fire and strung up Christmas lights enrich the background. All of this is gorgeous.

Rendered at 2K, that’s no cause for concern. The disc’s ability to render fur and other texture is quite marvelous. Bricks and concrete within city limits display outstanding detail. On the farm, miles of trees stand out. No aliasing intrudes, maintaining pure sharpness throughout.

Audio

Routine mixing keeps this Atmos track lively and spirited. A wide front soundstage doesn’t miss anything running past, with plentiful pans into surrounds. Overheads find minimal work, mostly accentuation of the basic soundstage. Overall separation keeps action flowing though, active and unarguably precise.

Small flashes of low-end bite add a little punch. A few slow-motion passes in the finale dig in deep with intense rumble, but otherwise Secret Life of Pets 2 isn’t doing anything to engage the sub.

Extras

The bonus menu is stuffed with forgettable fluff, although credit goes to Universal for including the shorts on the UHD with Dolby Vision support. All bonuses end up on the 4K disc in fact, but there’s so little worth discussing. Typical making of EPK gunk, some minor deleted scenes, music videos, etc. The best stuff is a short feature on service animals and a stills gallery made up of pets owned by the crew.

The Secret Life of Pets 2
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Blending seamlessly with the first, Secret Life of Pets 2 again goes too far in its hunt for a laugh while burying its best material.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 44 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: