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The Croods (Blu-ray Review)

the croods whysoblu thumbSo the time has now come where I can say that I have seen The Croods.  Sure, this is not the most epic pronouncement, but the film was a big hit, potentially establishing a new animated franchise for DreamWorks Animation and it had enough regard to make me curious.  It helps that the film is pretty decent, made better by some pretty great animation and the vocal talents of a very game Nicholas Cage, among others.  This Blu-ray package is not too shabby either, as the film certainly gets very well represented in terms of audio and video quality.  Read on to learn more about this family from the Croodaceous period and the Blu-ray they have been packed onto.

Film:

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The film begins with the eldest daughter of the Crood family, Eep (voiced by Emma Stone), narrating their situation.  The Croods live in a prehistoric era where wild creatures are rampant and the family gets by through careful precautions established by its paterfamilias, Grug (Nicholas Cage).  The rest of the family includes the mother, Ugga (Catherine Keener); the middle child, Thunk (Clark Duke); the wacky granny, Gran (Chloris Leachmen); and the baby daughter, Sandy.  Eep, being the rebellious teenager that she is, is not happy with living the safest life possible, which includes Grug hiding the entire family in a cave at a moment’s notice.

Everything changes when Eep meets a boy and something less important occurs as well – the incredibly dangerous shifting of the earth’s continents, which forces the Croods out of their living area.  Anyway, back to this boy, who is named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), Eep is very intrigued by him, as he is smaller in stature, but much more creative, due to the use of what he calls, “a brain”.  This all leads to a necessary journey of the Croods and Guy to find a new place to live, even though Grug is very resistant to change, let alone another male making (admittedly) smart decisions to help the family survive and experience new things along the way.

Being that this was a DreamWorks Animation film, I was not quite sure what to expect.  For every Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon we get a couple features that lean more towards Shark Tale.  These stories on the latter end tend to hit more on the side of fanciful adventures mixed with pop culture references.  While The Croods definitely hits some more “knowing” beats throughout, it did have a nice story to tell, which I appreciated.  As much as the film wants to be a colorful adventure, complete with a wide variety of original creature creations, there is an interesting story about what it means to explore and familiar lessons to learn about family and when it is time to let go.  The Croods may not be as heavy (and emotionally satisfying) as the film it can be best be related to, Ice Age, but it does a decent job of balancing the drama with the fun.

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Fortunately, the animation and other technical aspects are what really sell this film (let alone the silly and cute moments for the younger audience).  It is not as though I expect poor quality animated movies at this point in time any more, but that does not make The Croods less impressive.  There are a lot of different locations seen throughout the film and they are all quite colorful or distinct in their design.  The character and creature animation looks great as well, which is aided by the fun vocal work from all involved, particularly Cage, who seems to delight in playing a Neanderthal (I will accept jokes about that in the comment section, that said, I enjoy Cage most of the time anyway).  On top of all this, Alan Silvestri’s score is quite appropriate, as the impending doom (signaled by characters literally singing out, “Dun Dun Dunnnnhh”) is followed up by strong music work to make it feel as such, before settling back down to calmer moments.

I enjoyed The Croods well enough.  It has a nice spirit to it, which made me overlook some of the more familiar elements of its storytelling.  The film looks and sounds great, which is nice to see too.  I wish the film was a bit more balanced in its characters, as we kind of start with Eep, only to realize that this is more Grug’s journey, as the film carries on.  Still, as far as fun animated films for all audiences go, The Croods is a nice enough adventure story.

Video:

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While the film is merely okay and passable for families to enjoy, the video quality on this Blu-ray is fantastic.  My favorite aspect about the film was the quality of the animation and this Blu-ray disc really does a lot to really drive that point home, as the film looks amazing in this format.  Fitted with a 1080p AVC/Encoded transfer, this film has so much great detail to show off, colors to have pop, and textures to portray, that it is a shame there is not a better film here to really match how great the video transfer is.  A thing like Eep’s hair is just as impressive as the large scale environmental destruction seen in this film and that is a definite compliment to how good this area of the Blu-ray is.

Audio:

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Similarly, it does not get a whole lot better than an audio track that provides a truly great sounding experience, due to the DTS-HD 7.1 surround track.  Assortments of different kinds of sounds are all heard in this film and they register very clearly.  The score, the voices, the sound effects when it comes to the various action/adventure sequences we see throughout, and even the background audio to further immerse the viewer in this fantastical, prehistoric world.  This is a mostly flawless track that once again emphasizes the production value of this film, supporting the fact that at least the effort was put in to make this an impressive feature to have hit screens from a technical standpoint.

Extras:

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Unfortunately The Croods is not the most packed Blu-ray you will find.  There is one feature that is enjoyable enough for kids and adults, but for those looking to really learn more about where this film came from, the insight just really is not there.

Features Include:

The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods – This is a neat feature, as it provides a little bit of insight into every single creature created for this film. Each animal has a small amount of time devoted to it, with some fun narration.

Belt’s Cave Journal – A mini animated adventure.

Croods’ Cuts:  Lost Scenes – A handful of storyboarded scenes that didn’t make it into the film.

Be An Artist:  Draw Creatures From The Croods – A look at how to draw some of the creatures.

The Croods Coloring & Storybook Builder App

World of DreamWorks Animation – Music clips from a few other DreamWorks animated films.

Previews

DVD Copy of The Croods

Digital Copy of the The Croods

UltraViolet Copy of The Croods

Summary:

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I was not expecting to be wowed by The Croods, but I did want to see it and I am happy that I did.  While not a great animated feature, it is fun for what it is and made better by its solid animation work and moments of cleverness.  The Blu-ray is a pretty solid choice for anyone looking for great video and sound, but it feels lacking in the extras department.  Regardless, for the younger audience that would want to experience this film at home, it has a nice charm and some minor bonuses that could make the experience last a bit longer.  And did I mention this takes place in the Croodaceous period?

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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