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Christopher Robin (Blu-ray Review)

Much of Disney’s live action output has been live action renditions of previously animated films. There are some that have been interesting aspects or sort of follow ups to what may have come before. Christopher Robin, one of Disney’s later movies in its summer output, follows the life of Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin long after he’d grown and left his childhood friends behind. The film did some solid box office, ALLLLMOST clearing $100 million in the US alone. I’m not sure the budget on the film as to know what degree of success it was or wasn’t. You can pick up the film already on Blu-ray as it was released on November 6th. The release comes with a DVD and a digital copy and nice little set of featurettes. Blu-ray only, no 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. 

Film 

Christopher Robin — now a family man living in London — receives a surprise visit from his old childhood pal, Winnie-the-Pooh. With Christopher’s help, Pooh embarks on a journey to find his friends — Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo. Once reunited, the lovable bear and the gang travel to the big city to help Christopher rediscover the joy of life.

Disney’s take on this Winnie the Pooh tale is part nostalgia, part drama and mostly made of nightmares. This film is really off in a wild way that is haunting, and not in the fun manner they seem to want to be promoting. The script seems to be trying to tell me one thing, but in the hands of the people who are crafting and bringing it to life, it feels like they have been woefully misguided to something else. And the question is, is this something else anything anybody wants?

There are scenes in this movie that make last year’s It seem very friendly and the one a child might be more likely to pick out. Mark Forster’s vision for this film is far too dour and gothic to get you on board with the film at any point. I get it, Christoper Robin is supposed to be in a bad place, but good grief. Luckily this is a Disney production or he’d have a heroin addiction, beat his family and showcase unfaithfulness by staying in the company of prostitutes. The color timing is bleak, everyone is frowning and its just so harsh. I’m not saying we CAN’T do that, but the point is being driven home a little too heavy handed.

Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and the rest all have some wildly impressive puppetry and computer animation. Seriously, its a marvel. However, they look like creepy murder puppets. Tigger couldn’t have been…you know…orange? They have pretty much expressionless faces and these eyes that might capture your soul if you lock onto them for more than 5 seconds. I suppose you could say they all look sad, but that doesn’t make it any better. Its like they all took too many cues from Eeyore. Even at the very beginning, when things are at their happiest, these things look miserable.

I’ve been beating Christopher Robin in this review, but the aesthetic and vibe is really off or too extreme in the film. I actually like the idea of it and the performances are quite good. Accidentally, there are some fantastic, gothic frames that are some of the finest German expressionism around. The uber-serious (Get your jokes out of my Thor movie!) crowd would probably never give this movie a chance, but this is the kind of movie they enjoy. Winnie the Grimdark Pooh is here!

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Christopher Robin debuts on Blu-ray with a picture as dour as the film is. Its pretty crisp with strong details, though seemingly, intentionally a little smooth. Its not very colorful and is pretty much what the color of despair would look like as a movie itself.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty decent here. Camera movements are confident and smooth allowing characters to look pretty free here in this above average look.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and decently saturated here. Details hold solid enough throughout. No crushing issues apparent.

Color Reproduction: Color isn’t really a strong suit here as much of it is intentionally zapped from the look. However, Pooh and the other animals’ clothing at times can give a nice little pop from time to time. Things are pretty bold even with all the normal going on.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are cold and wiped of a lot of their color for their look in the film. Its consistent from even the earliest, happier times through to the gloomy days. Facial features and textures are plenty visible in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Christopher Robin comes with a okay 7.1 mix that is a little low like most of the Disney movies. Deeper sounds can have a nice louder bump. Effects and stuff are well woven with good layering. All the vocals, score and effects, though lower, have a good balance and never step on one another’s toes. Turn it up a bit more than normal and this is pretty fine.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Musical bumps, train engines chugging along, an explosion and little natural sounds get a good thump from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: All speakers get solid representation here in the mix, with the rears mostly delivering ambiance or contributing to the louder moments in concert with the others. Its a more front based track, but the movie isn’t one demanding much more. Movements and volume placements for what is going on onscreen are accurate.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Christopher Robin comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

In Which…

A Movie is Made For Pooh (HD, 5:28) – The cast and director Marc Forster (Via VO interviews), deliver their thoughts on the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Pooh Finds His Voice (HD, 2:43) – A quick featurette on Jim Cummings and the history of the character’s voice, spotlighting on original voice actor Sterling Holloway

Pooh and Wlat Become Friends (HD, 2:43) – Tells of how Walt Disney discovered Winnie the Pooh through his daughter’s interest and sought out a deal that took 20 years to finally begin production.

Pooh and Friends Come To Life (HD, 3:16) – Bronte Carmichael goes over how the characters of Pooh, Tiger and company were brought to life.

Summary 

Christopher Robin has an interesting tale with the wrong voice telling the tale. It has more in line with Return to Oz than it does a Tim Burton Alice In Wonderland. This Blu-ray release for it from Disney contains a solid presentation and some light, fluffy extras. If you’re going to own it, hold off for a bargain price (Unfortunately, its too close to Black Friday for it to have a deal this year).

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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