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Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of the fall’s more massive hits this past season was yet another Illumination animation out, this time Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch. The film approached 300 million domestically and made over half a billion worldwide. Yet, it feels like no one was talking about what a big success it was. Following in the footsteps of The Lorax, Illumination took one of the bigger Seuss properties and did it a solid in making a solid fully animated modern rendition of the classic book and cartoon short. I’m sure they were hoping this would put the Jim Carrey disaster in the distant corner of the human conscience with this release. It’ll be available in all formats, including the lovely 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray one, when it arrives on February 5th!

Film 

The Grinch and his loyal dog, Max, live a solitary existence inside a cave on Mount Crumpet. His main source of aggravation comes during Christmastime when his neighbors in Whoville celebrate the holidays with a bang. When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all.

Dr. Seuss books have become a timeless tradition handed from generation to generation that seem to defy the time that has passed us by. I still read them to my children (Hell, they are fun to me as I take the tongue twisted lines as a challenge to read straight without error!) as I was read to and my parents read to and all the way back to their inception. Along with The Cat In The Hat, The Grinch is probably the pinnacle character of the Seuss canon. It helps that his story falls on a holiday and thus adds another tradition to the mix and has an annual appointment of showing up. He’s has a solid story with a solid message and as long as you get the characters and the theme down soundly, you can expand a little and make a full film from it, if you please, which is what Illumination has done here.

Illumination has done a solid turn on bringing the Grinch mythos and expanding them into a feature length outing. This turn is pretty inoffensive yet feeling pretty safe at the same time. They didn’t do anything wrong here, but didn’t do much to tip the needle into making it something interesting or improving upon the story in any way. That’s not a bad thing at all, just know this movie is very much what you see is what you get.  And in all honesty, in a family movie primarily aimed at the kiddos, it doesn’t need to be more than that to succeed.

The film features a fun vocal cast, led by Benedict Cumberbatch that really lifts things to life. Maybe my favorite aspect of the film was the animation that almost felt at time like actual models used for old time stop motion. At least, that’s what they appeared to be going for. There are some solid laughs here overall, but nothing really too extravagant than a feel good animated kids’ holiday movie featured around Christmas. Its far better than the live action “thing” that happened and is a nice companion to the original cartoon.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: The Grinch comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a film that has been upscaled to 4K and not native. No matter though, as it looks pretty brilliant. This is probably one of the best jumps on a CG animated feature from Blu-ray to 4K we’ve seen. The blacks and color saturation are noticeably improved as well as much finer details seeping through.

Depth:  I can’t remember if the film was released in 3D to theaters (And apparently too lazy to look it up), but with the style of animation it lends itself to a more 3 dimensional look. The spacing in each environment is pretty impressive and the camera and characters all move with such ease and confidence running into no issues with motion distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural with very good saturation coming from the Dolby Vision and HDR. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The color palette features an improved saturation over the standard Blu-ray disc with good discernible tints and much more pop coming from the HDR being implemented onto the frame. Whites are primarily an area of being impressive here.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Grinch features a pretty rad Dolby Atmos track that gives the film an extra sense of energy. The biggest place of impact comes from the score and songs in the movie. Those tend to take center stage. Effects will hit with great impact when need be too. Watching the film with this Atmos track is a pretty thrilling and fun experience.

Height: Ceiling speakers are used in a more natural sense when it comes to sound effects, featuring an impressive amount of restraint to keep it real to what’s going on onscreen. They do help to build bigger music moments as well.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is pretty booming in terms of both effects and deepening the score. It gives quite the push at times.

Surround Sound Presentation: Sound travel really rolls with great energy throughout the room from speaker to speaker making you feel every turn.  Ambient sounds are place well and give each channel a sense of purpose and character.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp featuring good depth and volume placement in the mix.

Extras 

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film.

From Green To Screen (4K, 6:19) – A piece on how the film was brought together with cast and crew chiming in as well as the history of The Grinch story and other incantations.

Illuminating The Grinch (4K, 4:55) – Shows the artistic process in terms of keeping true to the original hand drawn, two dimensional design and evolving it into a computer animated modern cartoon.

Who’s Who In Whoville (4K) – An interactive featurette that allows you to select a characters and get the whole rundown on them. From who they are as a character, to animation tests, to stills and more.

My Earliest Grinch Memories (4K, 3:10) – Cast and crew reflect on how The Grinch came into and affected their lives at a young age.

Grinchy Gadgets (4K, 3:21) – Takes a look at the Grinch’s toys and tools used in the film.

Lyric Videos

  • “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (4K, 3:21)
  • “I Am The Grinch” (4K, 2:48)

Songs From His Little Heart (4K, 3:25) – Composer Danny Elfman discusses the historic compositions and songs in the film and his modern twisting and turning of them.

Any Who Can Draw – Learn to draw characters from the film with Mark O’Hare.

  • The Grinch (4K, 3:05)
  • Max (4K, 2:04)
  • Fred (4K, 2:11)

Christmas Around The World (4K, 2:20) – This featurette takes a look at how Christmas is celebrated in different countries and cultures.

Cindy-Lou’s Yule Log (4K, 8:02) – The Grinch takes down Christmas decorations in this scene.

Production Babies (4K, 1:16) – Lists the names of babies born during the making of the film. Cool?

Mini-Movies

  • Yellow Is The New Black (4K, 4:17)
  • The Dog Days Of Winter (4K, 4:04)
  • Santa’s Little Helpers (4K, 3:52)

The Making Of The Mini-Movies (4K, 5:53) – A little bit of behind the scenes with the cast and crew regarding these addition features.

Summary 

The Grinch is a pretty fine movie. And I don’t mean that to be damning, it just is what you’re expecting it to be. If you have little ones, they are going to love it. To boot, Universal has given the film a pretty awesome presentation, one of the better ones I’ve experienced for an animated film. Its also loaded with extras that will keep the young ones interested and gives them a couple mini-movies on the side. Since the holidays are a ways off at this point, you may want to hang on and see if the pricepoint is a bit more ideal come that time of year, but its a sure pickup for the kiddos.

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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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