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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Blu-ray Review

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 movie poster The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Theatrical Release: August 6, 2008 / Running Time: 117 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Sanaa Hamri / Writers: Elizabeth Chandler (screenplay); Ann Brashares (novel)

Cast: Amber Tamblyn (Tibby Tomko-Rollins), Alexis Bledel (Lena Kaligaris), America Ferrera (Carmen Lowell), Blake Lively (Bridget Vreeland), Rachel Nichols (Julia), Tom Wisdom (Ian), Rachel Ticotin (Carmen's Mom), Leonardo Nam (Brian McBrian), Michael Rady (Kostas), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Professor Nasrin Mehani), Blythe Danner (Greta), Jesse Williams (Leo), Lucy Kate Hale (Effie Kaligaris), Maria Konstadarou (Yia Yia), Ernie Lively (Bridget's Father)

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Summer seems to be the prime season for studios to release sequels. 2008 was no exception as its summer contained no less than six sequels, not to mention one semi-sequel/reboot (The Incredible Hulk) and one spin-off (Star Wars: The Clone Wars).
In the midst of all this was one continuation that came and left with little fanfare. Despite that, it still managed to outgross its predecessor and more than make back its production cost. That film was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.

A conglomeration of the second, third, and fourth books in Ann Brashares' series, the film once again follows four best friends and the pair of jeans that may or may not have a supernatural influence on their lives. Cynical rebel Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) runs into some drama when the protection used during her first sexual outing breaks. Lena (Alexis Bledel) tries to move on from her long-distance relationship but gets more than she bargained for at her local art class. Feisty but insecure, Carmen (America Ferrera) works as a stagehand at a Shakespearean theatre only to find herself pushed into the spotlight. In an effort to shake away the ghosts of her own past, Bridget (Blake Lively) goes on an archeological expedition in Turkey.

Graduation is upon The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2." Lena (Alexis Bledel), Carmen (America Ferrera), Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) and Bridget (Blake Lively) stand with all the colors of the rainbow in their bright beach outfits.

Despite a change in director, aspect ratio and MPAA rating, Sisterhood 2 gels perfectly well with the first film thanks to the return of screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler and, most importantly, the main cast. There is, of course, the temptation to retread familiar ground, but this sequel largely avoids that pitfall. Each story arc deals with the same theme as its respective predecessor (Tibby's social problems, Lena's love life, Carmen's need for acceptance, and Bridget's need for a maternal figure), only taking these themes and characters further. As such, it feels like a true follow-up rather than a thinly-veiled remake. This works both for and against this installment as those who've never seen the original are likely to get lost the first 20 minutes or so.

A picture such as this is more about characterization than plot, anyhow, and it's here that Sisterhood really delivers. The girls are unique to the point that they may border on stereotype, but they're handled with enough tact to become more substantial than that. Similar to the women of Sex and the City, all four characters are rendered in a multi-faceted and layered sort of way. What differentiates the Sisterhood, though, is that these girls come across as more grounded. They're more like real people than slick characters, the standout of which is America Ferrera as Carmen. An advantage this installment has over the previous one is in the screen time shared by the girls as a group. They spend more scenes together here than they did in the original, and that lends itself to more interesting and entertaining dynamics.

Being young ladies, this foursome naturally walks through high grass while giggling. Are the carefree days of holding vegetables gone when things get somewhat serious in this moment?

One character, however, feels awfully shoehorned in, and that's Lena's little sister Effie (Lucy Hale). The fact that she was neither seen nor mentioned in the first film is forgivable, but she exists as little more than a deus ex machina. She contributes angst to Tibby's plot line, has surprisingly little effect on Lena's, and does something that forces the four to join together in the third act. She hardly appears beyond than the brief scenes required to channel the plot threads along, and she's dropped from the film with no closure.

Besides the inclusion of such a random and petulant character, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 pleases as a whole. Some of its rabbit trails (like Bridget's Turkey trip) admittedly make the film feel a bit long, but they're worth the screen time in the end. The performances by the four leads come across as dimensional and red-blooded instead of the manufactured cutouts often found in this genre. It's a sequel that is equal to the original, if not slightly better. Fans of the first movie should be pleased with this seemingly final chapter.

Buy The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 on Blu-ray Disc from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese)
Release Date: November 18, 2008
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Slim-line Blue Keepcase
Also available in Widescreen DVD, Fullscreen DVD, and Limited Edition 2-Movie DVD Gift Set

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer presented in 1080p. This isn't the sort of motion picture used for demo purposes, and yet that doesn't stop it from having a striking transfer. Unlike most films that have distinct (and hard to reproduce) color-timing, Sisterhood opts for a more natural palette.

The image is warm and natural and clean of any film or digital defects. Sharpness is finely rendered, with the Grecian vistas in particular coming across stunningly.

Not as much can be said about the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. This is a dialogue-driven affair, and as such, sound is focused towards the front. Some of it is mixed directionally, but not often. Surrounds are reserved mainly for scoring and ambience. All the elements are crisp, and the track does liven up a bit during a thunderstorm scene. It's not as impressive as the image, but it satisfies, nonetheless.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Supplements are where this release truly disappoints. First is "Go Jump Off a Cliff" (4:25). This brief featurette tells of how a group of fans inspired the cast to come up the film's grand finale. All four lead actresses are interviewed along with director Sanaa Hamri, and footage from the scene's shooting is shown. It's a cute piece, but it can't substitute for an all-encompassing "making of."

Next is a gag reel (4:05). As with others of this sort, there's lots of flubbed takes and giggles. There's nothing here to set it apart from similar reels, but it's mildly amusing.

More substantial is a collection of four deleted scenes with introductions by director Sanaa Hamri (8:29). They wouldn't have added much to the film except for briefly touching on the Tibby/Lena/Effie storyline a bit more. Hamri admits that these were cut for time more than for storytelling problems, so most of her introductions simply explain what the scene is.

Finally, a digital copy is included for portable devices. Surprisingly, no trailers for this or any other WB picture are included.

The lack of effort continues to be seen in the menu system, or lack thereof. Outside of the film itself is a simple, silent publicity shot with the pop-up menu overlapping it. This menu is only for the supplements, however, with the language and scene selection options only available when the pop-up is selected during the film. All of these menus are designed on a denim background with slightly confusing selection highlights. One has to commend Warner, though, for starting the film immediately upon playback the way their late-'90s DVDs used to do.

Both the Blu-ray disc and the digital copy DVD-ROM are housed in a standard slim Blu-ray case with the digital copy given its own hub on the insert side. The only insert is for the access code for the digital copy itself.

Tank top-wearing Bridget (Blake Lively) shares a laugh with her professor (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The Sisterhood looks off into the distance, pondering a life without further Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie sequels.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is neither the strongest film of the year nor the strongest disc. Even so, this gratifying sequel is carried by the strength of its performers. It doesn't push the envelope enough to win over those indifferent to teenage melodramas, but it should charm current fans. Picture quality on this Blu-ray Disc is immaculate while the audio is as decent as it can be. Bonus materials are anemic, though, even compared to the modest offerings of the first film's release. That said, this still earns a recommendation to those who enjoyed the original. Fans of this genre that are new to the series are encouraged to rent both installments.

Buy The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 from Amazon.com
Blu-ray / Widescreen DVD / Fullscreen DVD / Limited Edition 2-Movie DVD Gift Set

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Related Reviews:
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Starring the Cast of The Sisterhood:
Alexis Bledel: Tuck Everlasting • Bride & Prejudice • Sin City | America Ferrera: Ugly Betty: Season 1 • Ugly Betty: Season 2 • Tinker Bell
From Screenwriter Elizabeth Chandler: Eloise at Christmastime | From Director Sanaa Hamri: Desperate Housewives: The Complete Third Season
Sex and the City: The Movie • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement • The Cheetah Girls 2 • High School Musical 2
Return to Halloweentown • College Road Trip • The Princess Diaries • Wizards of Waverly Place: Wizard School

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Reviewed November 25, 2008.



Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2008 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Images are publicity photos, not Blu-ray screencaps.