Cruella (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Despite everyone’s huffing and gruffing and sharing disappointment over lifeless Disney retreads of their animated classics in live action form, they keep making money. So, until that stops, they’ll keep turning them out in a rather seasonal and scheduled fashion. I have to wonder if they’ll ever make it to Home On The Range or The Emperor’s New Groove. Cruella became the latest, taking the Maleficent route in focusing on the villain. Strange to say, but every once in a while, these things are gonna click and strike well (The Jungle Book). Lucky enough, the Emma Stone led film was just that. Now it arrives on physical media form after a run in theaters and Disney+ (Both premiere and regular access) on September 21st. At the time of this review, now Amazon pre-order links are available, but check back if you’d like to order from and support Why So Blu.



Estella is a young and clever grifter who’s determined to make a name for herself in the fashion world. She soon meets a pair of thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they build a life for themselves on the streets of London. However, when Estella befriends fashion legend Baroness von Hellman, she embraces her wicked side to become the raucous and revenge-bent Cruella.

Growing up in the 90s, I had plenty of exposure to 101 Dalmations. There was a big re-issue in theaters for the film, a “get it before it returns to the vault!” clam shell case VHS release, as well as a live action interpretation. So, Cruella really isn’t the first foray into real peopling the animated story. The story “proper” had been done already, so a nice left turn on things is much welcome with a this film’s direction of focusing on the most famous and notable character from the story, Cruella DeVille. One of Disney’s most memorable and notorious villains ever sketched, colored, animated and acted.

Cruella refashions the Disney villain with a pretty dynamic backstory that feels both expected and still a bit new at the same time. Granted, they give her that “This is why/how she became evil! She was a good person before!” tired trope. But, the movie is good in so many areas, its been earned. Craig Gillespie’s film dives hard into a world of fashion and punk rock and it really transcends into something that is fresh and luring in ways beyond just a film narrative. The sets in the film, the style, make-up and outfits to go along with some gorgeous cinematography really make Cruella stand out on a technical level unlike many of these retreads. While inspirations and things the film pulls from are a bit obvious, it still feels like it has a voice.

Many folks were defensive when Cruella was compared to the likes of Todd Phillips’ Joker, but that may be just because they don’t like that movie for “reasons” and to compare something they enjoy to something they don’t is just blasphemy. But all it is is just comparison in things that don’t reflect a quality. That comic villain focused film is undoubtedly one of the driving influences on the film. And whether you liked Joker or not, there are still positive things you can find influence from in a movie you didn’t enjoy. The narratives, styles and such definitely have some strong similarities in them. Ultimately Cruella does its own thing and also borrows from such films like The Devil Wears Prada, which is just as much a driving force. These film that inspired and informed make the film fun but also it makes its own choices and drives when riffing on the material to craft its own identity.

Emma Stone was expectedly dynamite in the titular role, but Cruella surprises in being some energetic and fresh entertainment from the Disney toons to live action department. There’s a cinematic elegance mixed with enough punk rock to be a pretty bold picture for many a casual moviegoing audience or Disney fan. Sure, its been dinged for its abundance of needle drops, but that sort of swarms with the films reckless, against the grain nature. Plus, I dig a lot of the choices (That’s by design to help me through a given scene, sure), so that helps to forgive. Unlike most of these from the factory, I’m eager to reach out and watch it again rather than feel like I checked off the new movie to have an opinion on it.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are not taken from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC/H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Cruella arrives as a native 4K title having been mastered with a 4K digital intermediate. And it has a gorgeous looking image. Director Craig Gillespie brings a rather stylish and almost looking filmlike image to life in this transfer. Its crisp and distinct in its framing and aesthetic which carries over very well to disc. Details are quite strong with really beautiful black levels and good color saturation.

Depth:  Very strong depth of field here, with many of the interiors and exteriors staged in areas with many people or objects about that really show their distance and free spacing with nice confident camera movements. The film’s cinematography really lends itself to feeling big and showing a good sense of scale. No issue with motion distortions as movements are smooth and natural.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and rich in every frame. The gorgeous look of the blacks are strong for digital and have nice shadow and really hold onto fine details even on dark fabrics, hair and surfaces. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: While the film slightly washes out its look, there is a great contrast that brings about a pop with many of the scenes. Lots of lighting, fabrics, upholstery and make-up get a boost from the HDR and glows, radiating right off the screen. Reds, whites and blacks showcase very strongly in the image.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a little washed out to go with the overall aesthetic of the film. Facial features and texture like make-up lines, wrinkles, stubble, dried blood/dirt, freckles and more are clear as day like peaking through a window at the performers.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Japanese 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese

Dynamics: As wonderful as the image for Cruella is, the Atmos track is yet another Disney disappointment. In terms of the vocals and the music, its rather solid. Those are both loud, with good clarity, though the music feels like it could be a tad more nuanced. Where it really fails is in the sound effects department. It constantly feels like its being held back and never really gives much of a punch where needed. There are some absolutely thrilling moments that should be a bit more engaging which the sound design, but don’t quite hit the way they should or how you should be expecting them to.

Height:  From above you get some action when happening in multistory galas as well as things leaping over camera. Music concerts a bit above from time to time as well.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is treated rather lightly. There’s a nice, comfortable bump here for crashes, smashing, music beats and such, but it really needs more of a pounding that it just doesn’t quite deliver.

Surround Sound Presentation: This has a pretty good sense of the room. Some of the more quiet moments impress with good thoughts to have some unique sounds to account for what’s not on screen or to build ambiance. Rolling sounds is fine, but could be felt a little stronger with more impact.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp, really picking up rich vocal inflections and actor diction.


Cruella comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code for the film. All extras are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

The Two Emmas (HD, 10:46) – This goes over the antagonist and protagonist as well as the two women who play them, the “Emmas”. Both actors are here to talk about themselves as well as one another.

The Sidekick Angle (HD, 5:30) – This featurette focuses on Horace and Jasper, how they’ve been woven into the film and the chemistry of the actors who play them.

Cruella Couture (HD, 9:43) – A little feature that is taken from the costume angle. How this tall order happened, the designers, how the clothes fit the characters and how the outfits tell a story themselves.

The World Of Cruella (HD, 6:25) – This goes over the production design with both the sets and the location work on the film. The way it takes advantage of London and how detailed and big the set design is.

New Dogs…Old Tricks (HD, 6:04) – All about the dogs in the film and how they were so good, Craig Gillespie had a hard time telling which ones were real and which were CGI in the end. Emma Thompson mentions she does enjoy working with animals and children.

Cruella 101 (HD, 3:35) – A bit of a trivia “did you know” bit.

Bloopers (HD, 1:57)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 1:54) 


I was a huffing doubter on a project like Cruella with the history of Disney’s animation to live action cinematic output, but despite it all, I ended up a fan of Cruella. In true DeVille punk rock fashion, they’ve brought it to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a beautiful transfer but a pretty disappointing Atmos track. The extras are all quick and a bit fluffy, yet decently informative. Cruella is one of the top Disney revisions of their animations in live action form, and if you’re going to own it, this 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is the best route, despite its audio track’s shortcomings.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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