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Raya And The Last Dragon (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Disney continued its premium Disney+ and theater same day offerings with their big spring animated release, Raya And The Last Dragon.  The film came like any other of the current era, great reviews and people on the socials raving about it. A shame I wasn’t able to see this in the theater because it really felt like this one lent itself to utilizing a giant screen. Now, its coming to glorious 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for folks to own it in the best quality possible with the best audio available. There’s a good load of zoom/remote recorded extras on here to boot, too. This one is a new arrival this week (May 18th) and you can order it using the paid Amazon Associates link below.

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Film

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.

Sure, Raya and the Last Dragon delivers a typical Disney hero adventure. You could mark it off for that, but its bathed in some really rich Southeast Asian style and culture that it makes that tried and true journey feel more fresh and interesting. And not just in the costumes, the character ethnicity and environments. It goes beyond to the characters interactions one another, the decision making and the way with which a simple reaction may be.

One aspect that shot Raya up a notch for me was the fight sequences in the film. There are a lot of things here to impress. Easily scene is they are shot and edited expertly. The choreography is outstanding and the dedication to actual fighting styles and changing things up fight to fight is impressive. Raya proves worthy of some of the most top tier samurai films of yesteryear when it comes to the action. You’ll not from the jump in a spar with her father, but it keeps building, getting bigger, more complex, more dangerous and totally exciting.

Another great aspect, and sure a wishy washy thing for me to say, is the beautiful color work on the film. It really does pop here. There are great outstanding things going on with how they present the magical elements of the film and the way they just feel like candy for your eyeballs. In addition, the clothing and some of the city and cavern designs are just right up my wheelhouse and look beautiful (Especially in this 4K image).

Raya and the Last Dragon stood tall for me as one of these traditional Disney adventures. For myself, it added some things that I’m soft too or may strike me more than others. Aside from its Disney animation factor, its actually a pretty terrific little action movie when it hits those beats and provides some of the benefits of a samurai film to boot. This one is definitely a little cut above some of the others for me. And if you’re into the samurai stuff (This isn’t really a samurai film, but evokes those qualities), give it a shot.

Video

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

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Raya and the Last Dragon comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a 4K upscale, but it does have a nice improvement over the standard Blu-ray. Some really nice color saturation, sharpness, detail and black level improvements are quick to notice. Overall, its a very enjoyable and top notch image as much as you can get with these animated 4K upscales.

Depth:  Solid depth, and a 3D looking picture with characters and stuff looking loose and free in the frame. No issues regarding motion distortion or jitter/blur. Characters move quite naturally and smoothly.

Black Levels: Blacks are quite deep and at natural standards. There are magnificent looks at shadow and nighttime scenes in here. The contrast really helps add to a nice glow when things get fantastical. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite good with a nice, distinct and strong palette. Magic power things, dragon stuff, and fanciful threads and town designs really have a nice pop to them and give this image a good uptick in the HDR department. Very wonderful glow emanating from the right spots.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

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

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Japanese

Dynamics:  Overall the soundscape and mix on Raya and the Last Dragon‘s Dolby Atmos track will tick off many check list item as a net positive. It has some good balance, plays around, builds good ambiance…but like many Disney Atmos tracks, it really lacks a good punch and emphasis on deeper sounds.

Height: Some nice light up top accompaniment from things flying overhead and battle sounds. Nothing too overbearing or overdone.

Low Frequency Extension: Here’s the weak link here. I don’t know why Disney is allergic to subwoofers, but you might want to turn yours up just a little.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is a pretty decently realized environment here, with all speakers accounted for and travel proving quite accurate. Even though, the rolling sound could come with more power, it still works.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Raya and the Last Dragon comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. All bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray Disc.

Us Again: Theatrical Short Film (HD, 6:49) – Includes an option to watch an introduction from the writer/director.

Taste of  Raya (HD, 22:09) – Kelly Marie Tran and all the producing/directing team share a meal over zoom and talk about the experience of making the film.

Raya: Bringing It Home (HD, 14:35) – A featurette on the story creation with the amount of people and planning that comes in the process. And, of course, it focuses on all of this as they di the movie from home.

Martial Artists (HD, 5:49) – A look at the fight scenes in the film, the techniques, inspiration and making sure the presentation of the fights is accurate to technique. It shows how they came up with them and how they adapted to accomplish it during the pandemic.

We Are Kumandra (HD, 9:09) – This featurette focuses on properly and respectfully representing Southeast Asia on film.

Outtakes (HD, 2:23)

Fun Facts & Easter Eggs (HD, 4:16) – A little quick video that just dishes facts out and things you may not have noticed with clips and scenes of the film.

The Story Behind The Storyboard With John Ripa (HD, 5:02) – John Ripa gives a little overview on the art of storyboarding and how it plays a part in making Raya and the Last Dragon while focusing on a single sequence.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 19:00) – When “Play All” is selected the scenes feature introductions by Fawn Veerasunthorn and John Ripa.

Summary

Raya and the Last Dragon has a traditional tale with a focus on its cultural flavor to guide and is lead by some excellent action sequences and majestical visuals. Disney’s 4K Ultra-HD visual presentation is quite good, but the audio presentation lacks in a sense that it could be so much more. Extras make for a pretty solid package. This is the best way to own it if you’re wanting to have it as a nice keepsake and collect these animated titles.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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