“The Grinch” (2018) 

Animation

Running Time: 86 minutes

Written by: Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow

Directed by: Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney

Featuring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, and Angela Lansbury, and is narrated by Pharrell Williams

Grinch:“Well, Santa had eight reindeer, he looks like he ate the other seven.”

Critical Commentary

Released this month on 4K Blu-ray is the latest incarnation of the Dr Seuss classic  ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ which has been transferred to the small screen as well as the big screen before, in the Boris Karloff voiced special in 1966 and more recently in 2000 with the Ron Howard, Jim Carrey starring “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000), which at the time was a box office behemoth, but was not enjoyed by critics, it was also more or less live action which at the time was a change of pace and predated the Disney animated reimagining’s we have now. Now almost twenty years later the story has been turned into a completely animated affair with a high profile list of voice talent to go along with a colorful and noisy adaption that outshines the movie but still does not come close to the Chuck Jones animated version from over fifty years ago. What is great about this new version is that it is squarely aimed at children as well as Christmas and teaches an age old lesson in a broadened plot and narrative that many will be able to identify with in an ever increasing media marketplace that each holiday season offers more and more messages about consumerism that can bring many families to the edge of sanity. What this movie does is take a classic and updates it but keeps the sprint of the original reframing it for a new audience.

The movie is set in the town of Whoville, the humanoids called Whos are filled with excitement about celebrating Christmas. The only one who isn’t amused is a cantankerous, green furred creature called The Grinch, who has a heart “two sizes too small” and lives in a cave on the top of Mount Crumpit just north of Whoville. The Grinch has a pet dog named Max and they both only visit Whoville when the Grinch needs to buy food and do bad things.

To be honest I do not have children but if I did I would not hesitate to show them “The Grinch”, it is colorful has images that are in the spirit of the original story and has enough originality that it nicely talks about family values as well as friendship and kindness but is not heavy handed and uses comedy to push points home whether picked up consciously or otherwise.

Technical Commentary

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings “The Grinch” to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a Digital Copy code. The triple-layered UHD100 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-elite case.

Video Review

“The Grinch” arrives on Ultra HD with an excellent HEVC H.265 encode, offering a welcome but ultimately slight upgrade over the Blu-ray. Considering the movie was likely rendered at 2K resolution, the upscaled UHD transfer is really not any sharper. The animation remains extraordinary to behold, exposing the most minute decoration and item within every nook and cranny.

A better and far more appreciable upgrade are the colors that burst onscreen with seemingly endless clarity. Contrast doesn’t show a significant difference from its HD SDR counterpart, but admittedly, the small jump is enough to give the 4K video a brighter tone. There is also better detailing within the darkest, deepest shadows, making this 4K HDR version the preferred way for enjoying the movie with the whole family.

Audio Review

“The Grinch” is armed with an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack that complements the visuals effectively. 

The front-heavy design establishes a wide and splendidly spacious soundstage, as the action moves between the three channels fluidly and into the off-screen space. Imaging exhibits extraordinary clarity and detailing during the loudest, high-piercing segments, allowing for the crunch of snow to be perfectly heard while maintaining distinct, precise intonation and pitch in the various voices.

For a zany and wacky animated film such as this, rear activity is surprisingly limited and confined to the on-screen action. From time to time, a few atmospherics are employed, such as the local wildlife in the distance or when characters are seen sledding through trees or do down the mountain slope.

Special Features

  • Who’s Who in Who-Ville (2160p): A virtual interactive map in the style of a pop-up book giving viewers an opportunity to learn more about the characters and their making. When selecting one of these characters, the following four options are made available: Character Profile, Animation Tests, Progression Reel and Photo Gallery
  • Mini-Movies (2160p): A trio of animated shorts, all of which are presented in Dolby Vision HDR, provide a few more minutes of amusement for the whole family. One of these featuring the Minions played at the start of the movie in cinemas: Yellow Is the New Black (4 min),  The Dog Days of Winter (4 min) and Santa’s Little Helpers (4 min)
  • The Making of the Mini-Movies (2160p, 6 min): Briefly explore the themes of each of the mini-movies through the eyes of the filmmakers who made them.
  • Cindy-Lou’s Yule Log (2160p, 8 min): A Grinch version of the virtual fireplace stylized after Cindy-Lou’s living room on Christmas Eve with music as decorations are slowly stolen.
  • Any Who Can Draw (2160p, 7 min): Hosted by an Illumination artist Mark O’Hare, viewers can learn how to draw Grinch, Max and Fred.
  • Lyric Video (2160p, 5 min): Essentially, a pair of sing-along music videos by Tyler, the Creator: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “I Am the Grinch”.
  • From Green to Screen (2160p, 6 min): Very brief EPK-style piece with cast & crew interviews discussing characters, themes and the adaptation with BTS footage.
  • Illuminating The Grinch (2160p, 5 min): Another featurette made from interviews and BTS footage looking at the animation of the characters from sketches to finished product.
  • My Earliest Grinch Memories (2160p, 3 min): Cast and crew reveal their earliest memories and the enduring appeal of this holiday classic.
  • Grinchy Gadgets (2160p, 3 min): Explore the wondrous world of Grinch’s gadgets.
  • Songs from His Little Heart (2160p, 3 min): From Danny Elfman’s score to specialty songs, a brief discussion on creating the music behind the movie.
  • Christmas Around the World (2160p, 2 min): Quickly highlights how different cultures celebrate the holiday season.
  • Production Babies (2160p, 1 min): Celebration of the babies born to the filmmakers during the production.
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