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Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Blu-ray Review)

Jack and CuckooJack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a pretty high profile animated film being imported to us via Shout! Factory from France.  This film has some pretty cool roots.  Apparently this was based on a concept album by a French rock band (you can see some of the performances at their concerts on the bonus material videos).  The singer of the band and songwriter didn’t just stop there, he took to a novel.  Following that it became a hit movie that is finally making its way to theaters in the United States on September 4th followed by the Blu-ray we’re about to review on October 7th.  And while the Blu-ray features an English track, you do have the option to listen to the French with the original singers performing the parts.

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Film 

When Jack is born on the coldest day ever his heart is frozen.  His mother leaves him in the care of a midwife who replaces his heart with a clock.  In order to survive, Jack must avoid becoming angry or excited and because of such is advised to never fall in love.  Jack winds up having to escape his hometown after his clock ends up puncturing the eye of the local bully.  He then joins a sort of circus and meets the love of his life he thought he’d never see again.

Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart is very much in the spirit of a Tim Burton stop-motion animated feature in both its appearance and theme.  However, it is its very own sort of thing in its execution.  This sort of plays as both a fairy tale and a little bit of a romantic drama.  There’s really something here for everyone.  While some of the subject matter with Jack’s heart is a little weird and somewhat creepy, I don’t think its going to scare off the little ones at all.  And some of the drama is a little deeper to keep the adults in check and interested as well.  The film rightfully succeeds on its emotional level and doesn’t leave you cold.

The music of the film is very much in the “rock opera” type vein and the songs (while having some wordy lyrics) are a lot of fun and come right out and grab you.  Its almost a wicked spin on some of those animated musical classics of yesteryear.  One great choice here is that each character has a different style of music when they sing.  Jack of course is more traditional.  Acacia’s songs are all in full Spanish.  I really like the choice for the character of Joe.  His songs are all done as this sort of intense spoken word poetry.  All three will have you plenty engaged and pumping your fist or bopping your head with the songs.

The animation isn’t just straightforward either.  Some flashbacks and certain stories employ new styles to help tell a tale within a tale.  There’s the camera point of view which looks like and plays things as a film from the 1920s would.  There are also some puppet like sequences that play in that arena as well.  None of is completely drops the animation style in that its not computer generated any more or something like that.  No, its just a different look or design to recall to other animation styles.

There is a lot to enjoy with Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart.  Shout! Factory has an absolute winner on their hands.  This story will have you endearing in its fun and also have you engaged and invested emotionally.  It will be opening for a little bit in theaters on September 24th before this Blu-ray release comes out on October 7th.  I’d definitely recommend giving this a shot there, as the music in the film is just begging to burst out theatrically.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detail runs high.  Every pixel of animation is accounted for.  The image is sharp and popping.  From textures to blemishes to details on the splinters of broken objects, everything is accounted for.

Depth:  Some really fine looks and shots that feel almost 3 dimensional.  I don’t know if the film was intended for 3D, but this easily could have converted.

Black Levels:  Blacks are a tad lighter in color, but enhance some good shading and I didn’t notice any crushing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are a little toned down to sort of fit the feel of the film, but are very solid and vibrant in a sort of muted way.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: None

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Stereo PCM, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French Stereo PCM

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This is a loud and boisterous track that really kicks with its songs.  Sound effects and the like are well represented here and clearly defined.  There is a great balance between sound, music and voice showing good variation in the presentation.

Low Frequency Extension:  The music gets an extra kick as well as some loud effects (doors closing, things crashing).

Surround Sound Presentation:  Surprisingly active.  There are things going on all over the 5 channels.  There was a very cool moment with a door closing in the right rear channel that was very impressive in the mix.  Plenty of right and left interplay as well.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Loud, crisp and clear.  The singing is also well represented.

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Extras 

Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart comes with a DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film.

Characters – Little quick interviews with writer/creator/star of the film and the respective voice actors who played each character.

  • Jack (HD, 2:01)
  • Acacia (HD, 2:12)
  • Joe (HD, 2:03)
  • Melies (HD, 2:23)
  • Arthur (HD, 2:39) 
  • The Aunts (HD, 2:27)

From Book To Screen (HD, 6:20) – A behind the scenes look at adapting the book.

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Summary 

I definitely recommend you check out Jack And The Cuckoo-Clock Heart!  This terrific animated film features a dynamite presentation from Shout! Factory and some decent enough extras to entertain you.  Jack will definitely be getting some heavier play in my house as both my two and a half year old son and I really found it quite enjoyable.  Its not just fun animation, its got that Tim Burton kinda style I really enjoy and some cool music to accompany it.  You can check it out for yourself by pre-ordering using the link below!

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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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