Spies in Disguise (4K Blu-ray Review)

Will Smith and Tom Holland team up in Spies in Disguise.  The film was the first non-Disney/Pixar animated film since the big acquisitionThis particular cartoon journey is centered in a super-cool spy situation. Will Smith’s super spy has a doppelganger on his hands… How does he clear his name and still stay hidden… Duh… Disguise! But… Does the film go for the gold, or does it come in dead last? Read in depth below, and check for a paid purchase link afterwards to grab a copy for yourself!


Lance Sterling (Smith) is the “coolest agent” of the H.T.U.V. (Honor, Trust, Unity and Valor) Agency.  He is cocky, stylish, quick and tough.  He does his thing in the field, but at times he’s a little destructive.  He fights his enemies with everything he’s got, but sometimes at a cost.  With all the mayhem that comes from mission to mission, there have been opportunities for Sterling to make quite a few enemies.

Walter Beckett (Holland) is a socially awkward but brilliant scientist.  He works in his lab creating effective, but safe methods to keep H.T.U.V. agents productive, and reduce casualty.  Beckett’s mother was a police officer who lost her life while on duty, and he wants to save lives while fighting for justice.

The two unwittingly cross paths after Sterling escapes from Killian (Ben Mendelsohn) an evil doer with a bionic hand that controls drones and copies Sterling’s face to make Killian able to turn into Sterling.  This causes quite the conundrum for the Agency as they believe it’s the real Sterling causing the mayhem.  Joy Jenkins (Reba McEntire) the head of H.T.U.V. sends out Agent Kappel (Rashida Jones) along with Eyes (Karen Gillan) and Ears (DJ Khaled) to find Sterling and stop his insanity before the world is under major threat.

When Sterling, in hiding, goes to Beckett to discuss some disguising tech, Sterling unwittingly swallows the tech —  Thus becoming a pigeon… Something Becket loves (he has an emotional support pigeon). In this moment, we see Walter’s world.  He still lives in his childhood home.  He is lonely, with only a pigeon as his friend and watches sappy Japanese soap operas to feed his emotions.  Sterling is unimpressed, and once he begins to transform (in an acid trip of a scene) he is infuriated.  Sterling now must wait 18 hours for the antidote to be created and to figure out life as a bird who must solve the mystery.

Sterling and Beckett become an unlikely team immediately as they rely on each other to escape from the agents tailing them.  The duo boats to Mexico to find some clues and make some friends with other pigeons who become unlikely aides as they figure out what to do next.  Their final findings bring them to Venice where an international database is that can give Killian the power to attack and take over the world.  That is, if he can get past Sterling and Beckett first.

Spies in Disguise was not the movie I expected it to be.  I think I was expecting something a little more cutesy. The result was something quite refreshing for me. This was a cartoon for kids, obviously, but more so for boys.  I can’t recall a film since maybe one of the Cars films that had an intended audience of mainly boys.  There are fights, weapons, car chases, cool gadgets and a creepy villain too.  This is a movie my younger self would love! At 33, I did enjoy the film, but not as much as my kid self would.  There are a few issues for me in some of the storyline.  It drags just a bit.  I like that Beckett and Sterling have a few heartfelt talks and that they become friends. I like the idea of a cool spy movie for kids too.  I didn’t like the cliché nature of some of the action scenes, borrowing from live-action films that the kids they’re trying to reach will hopefully not have seen yet (like The Matrix or John Wick).  The best parts of the film to me dealt with Beckett’s inventions. Those were fun, innovative, and effective.  Those gadgets and gizmos and defense items all add to the originality of the film.  I was very pleased with those scenes. I also liked the chase scenes (Sterling has a great car!) and the overall look of the film is very cool too.

I would definitely recommend this film for kids under 8, especially boys. I wouldn’t say this film is original and I hope this isn’t the direction Blue Sky films will take under Disney’s umbrella either.  Time will tell, and if Sterling and Beckett should return, I hope they have more of a story to tell.  The voice cast is excellent (save for DJ Khaled… Oof…) and I’d like to see more from the duo, their allies and their bird friends, I’m just hoping for something a little better.


  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: As is the case with many an animated 4K disc, this is a spectacular looking release. Animated details are evident throughout, with textures aplenty.  Feathers, clothing textures, shininess of vehicles and more come through with a richness that only animated features can give.  Lovely!
  • Depth: This is a crisp image, with a style that puts you right in the animated scene. The depth isn’t quite 3D quality, but great all the same. Different locations are all spacious and deep with tons of details within them. There is no flatness to the image whatsoever.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are deep, inky and perfect. Nothing looks odd or grey!
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are gorgeous on this disc. There are no scenes where color isn’t a highlight. From all the glitter, to the tropical look in the Mexico sequence to the loving recreation of Venice, Italy… Color is a major highlight in this transfer. The same love is shown to objects, vehicles, clothing and flesh tones!
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean


  • Formats: English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
  • Dynamics: The mix for Spies is nice and loud. Things get off to a flatter start with the Fox fanfare sounding sonically different than the rest of the film.  Past the opening logo though, everything sounds great! Sonically, the sound field is perfectly in line with most newer mixes. The front speakers handle the main action and dialogue and music. Surrounds and Heights handle the bombast with the subwoofer grumbling to life in the action scenes especially.
  • Height: Height channels come in handy throughout as Killian’s drones fly around a lot. That and our bird characters fly around dodging bullets, objects and other nasty things trying to stop them. The heights also get worked during chase scenes and when music creeps up top.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Bass is saved for explosions, music and other action moments. The low end is nice and full and never sounds flat. I did take .5 off of my score for the bass not being as deep as I’ve heard other mixes, but still, nothing to scoff at.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used for most of the film, even in small moments. You may hear talking in them, but also blasts, explosions, pops, or when things whiz by on the screen. Surrounds are essential to this mix.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: All dialogue sounds great right up front and center.


Spies in Disguise arrives on 4K Blu-ray in a combo pack with a Blu-ray and a digital code.  There is also a slipcover in it’s initial release.

Special Features are all on the standard Blu-ray:

  • Super Spy Mode: Enabling this from the Blu-ray menu will give you access to featurettes in a Picture-in-picture setting
  • Infiltrating Blue Sky Studios (1080p, 9:11): A tour of the studio with a chat with the team behind the film
  • Music Videos:
    • And Then There Were Two by Anderson.Paak and Mark Ronson (also contains a making of for the song)
    • Freak Of Nature by Artful Dodgr and Mark Ronson (also contains a making of for the song)
  • Gallery:
    • Color Keys and Moments Paintings
    • Character Designs
    • Locations
    • Prop and Gadgets Concept Art
  • Trailer


Spies in Disguise was marred by delays, it’s studio being sold, and then being put into release in competition with a Star Wars film.  It was destined to hit with a thud, which it did.  The film is funny, has a sweet side, and is a definite film for the boys.  This one will charm the kids, make the adults chuckle, and has some great moments if you can forgive a few slow moments and a couple of eye rolling situations.  Worth a look for something just a little different!

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