Coco (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 4-Apr-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Short Film-Welcome to the Fiesta
Featurette-Mi Familia
Featurette-Dante
Featurette-How to Draw a Skeleton
Audio Commentary
Featurette-A Thousand Pictures A Day
Featurette-The Music of Coco
Featurette-Land of Our Ancestors
Featurette-Fashion Through the Ages
Featurette-The Real Guitar
Featurette-Paths to Pixar: Coco
Featurette-How to Make Papel Picado
Featurette-You Got the Part!
Deleted Scenes
Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 105:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lee Unkrich
Adrian Molina
Studio
Distributor
Pixar
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Anthony Gonzalez
Gael García Bernal
Benjamin Bratt
Alanna Ubach
Renee Victor
Jaime Camil
Alfonso Arau
Herbert Siguenza
Gabriel Iglesias
Lombardo Boyar
Ana Ofelia Murguía
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Michael Giacchino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 5.1
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Arabic Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Kazak Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
Polish
Russian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Pixar's most colourful and culturally defined motion picture to date, Coco finds the studio back at the top of their game for the umpteenth time. Co-directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and Adrian Molina, Coco yet again demonstrates Pixar's knack for producing entertaining animated features that appeal to children but also possess sufficient emotional heft and sophistication to satisfy older viewers. This is a resonant story about family and legacy, set against the backdrop of the Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead): a long-standing Mexican festival rich in culture and mythos, making it an ideal candidate for the Pixar treatment. Coco is beautiful and almost unbearably poignant, reinforcing Pixar's transcendent abilities and sense of imagination when they step away from commercially-driven sequels. This is the studio's most idiosyncratic movie since Inside Out in 2015, and, for what it's worth, it is their best since 2010's Toy Story 3.

    Young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of following his passion and becoming a musician, but faces staunch opposition from his shoe-making family. Music is strictly banned in Miguel's family because his great-great-grandmother, Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach), was abandoned by her guitar-playing husband, who left to pursue a musical career and never returned. Believing that his absentee great-great-grandfather is the celebrated, long-dead musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), Miguel attempts to borrow his idol's guitar to perform in the Día de los Muertos Talent Show. However, strumming de la Cruz's guitar suddenly transports him to the Land of the Dead; an afterlife realm populated by skeletons, including Miguel's deceased relatives. If Miguel doesn't return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, he will permanently join the dead. Mama Imelda offers to give Miguel a blessing to return him to the Land of the Living, but only on the condition that he never plays music again. Unable to agree to such terms, Miguel seeks to obtain a blessing from Ernesto de la Cruz, pairing up with troublemaker Hector (Gael García Bernal) to traverse the Land of the Dead and find the famous singer before sunrise.

    An animated movie about the Día de los Muertos Festival is not entirely novel, as Guillermo del Toro's The Book of Life did it first in 2014, but Coco is a different film altogether. Whereas The Book of Life explores supernatural mythology and stories, Coco is more of an intimate familial drama, using the afterlife as a plot device to tell an emotional story about growth and memories. Admittedly, the narrative is predicated on a proverbial premise that could be resolved if the characters took a moment to sit down and talk, and the climax is not exactly unsurprising, but the satisfying payoff compensates for any degree of screenplay familiarity. Pixar has made us cry since 1995, and this is one of their most emotional endeavours to date, arguably the most emotional. It is not hyperbolic to state that Coco will make you cry as it nears its touching conclusion, which is reflective of Pixar's careful filmmaking process. Indeed, not only is it easy to get invested in these characters and their plight, but the ending is highly evocative, as well. Those with relatives who have dementia, or those who have experienced the loss of a family member, will bawl their eyes out. Stock up on tissues.

    Written by relative newcomers Matthew Aldrich and co-director Adrian Molina, one of Coco's biggest assets is the immaculate depiction of Mexico, which gives the production a refreshing sense of identity to overcome any screenwriting clichés. This is not another case of Hollywood appropriation, as the Pixar team conducted extensive research (by actually visiting Mexico) during the long development phase, and the finished product exemplifies this careful attention to detail. The vibrant Mexican culture rings true in every frame, from the family structures and traditions, to smaller details that will go unnoticed by many. The movie even reinforces that sandals are a deadly weapon in the hands of an angry Mexican grandmother. Furthermore, this material is not just window dressing: Coco amounts to a fascinating walking tour of Mexican art, music, movies, sports and popular culture, and it all feels organic to the narrative. Also organic is the movie's sharp sense of humour, with Unkrich and Molina never opting for cheap laughs. Additionally, the directors maintain impeccable pacing throughout, briskly working through the narrative without sacrificing dramatic or emotional development. Another key strength is the music, from the magnificent original songs (one of which earned an Academy Award) to the flavoursome original score by Pixar regular Michael Giacchino (Up, Inside Out).

    Coco is mesmerising from a visual perspective - the Mexican locales look authentic, while the Land of the Dead showcases creative, effervescent environments at every turn. In addition, the Land of the Dead's skeletal inhabitants are distinctive enough for viewers to tell them apart, thanks to the expressive personalities and colourful designs which generate a sense of individuality for each character. A few recognisable actors lend their vocal talents to the movie (such as Bernal and Bratt), but none of the performers were cast purely for commercial purposes. It's not that selecting big stars is an inherently bad thing, but Pixar's casting here reflects the importance of choosing the right actors in such a culturally important production. And my word, the cast is excellent across the board, with Gonzalez showing a level of maturity and dramatic range that is scarcely glimpsed in child actors. But it's Bernal who steals the show, delivering a measured performance which enhances the movie's impact. His sense of underlying charisma, as well as his heart-wrenching vulnerability, turns Hector into a genuinely three-dimensional character. It's superb work from the award-winning actor.

    Coco is one of the only Western animated movies in recent memory which does not feel like it was designed for maximum merchandising opportunities. Merchandise exists, sure, but Pixar did not concentrate on creating eccentric, Minion-like caricatures purely for toy sales - instead, story and character were their primary concern. It is also refreshing that this is an original film as opposed to a remake or sequel, which is all the more encouraging given that Coco followed a few months after the release of Pixar's Cars 3. The production's maturity and substance seems almost effortless, showing precisely what is missing from the likes of Turbo, Home, Trolls, The Angry Birds Movie, The Secret Life of Pets, and the Despicable Me sequels (not to mention Minions). Flawlessly mixing heart and laughs to supplement the sumptuous visuals, Coco is an instant classic and one of Pixar's highest achievements, ticking every box with utmost confidence.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Pixar's Coco comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment with an AVC-encoded, 1080p transfer framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The 105-minute feature shares a dual-layered BD-50 with several extras, resulting in an average video bitrate of 24 Mbps, which is sufficient but not overwhelming. Coco is also available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, but this is the first Pixar animated feature not to receive a 3D Blu-ray release in Australia, as studios have begun to phase out 3D discs with the format gradually dying off. However, you can get a 3D Blu-ray from the United Kingdom if you choose (like I did). Even with the option of the superior 4K disc on the market, Coco's Blu-ray is eminently watchable, and should please both casual movie-watchers as well as ardent videophiles. This is a visually sumptuous movie, and it's a joy to see it translate so beautifully to home video.

    Coco looks pretty much as expected on Blu-ray, with the transfer doing a fine job of handling the digital source. Clarity is stunning, revealing the finest intricacies on faces, clothing, musical instruments, locations, and everything else. It's a crystal clear image without anything in the way of noise/grain (neither source-related nor compression-related), and it's stable to boot, scarcely faltering in terms of detail or sharpness. Even in the 4K era, the level of fine detail on display is impressive, bringing out the frame's most complex textures with seemingly little effort. Shadow detail is perhaps a touch lacking at times, and there's an inherent smoothness in certain shots (both of which are rectified in 4K). Still, none of this is a big concern, nor will it be especially noticeable to most casual viewers. It's easy to appreciate the excellent work of Pixar's animators, who have come so far since the first Toy Story in 1995.

    The 1080p codec does what it can with the colours. The visuals are bright and saturated throughout, and there's ample depth to the presentation. Luminance is impressive for fires and fireworks, as well as the deceased while they traverse the Land of the Living. Primaries are bold and impactful, and the realm of the dead looks vibrant and colourful, in keeping with its theatrical exhibition. However, it's just no match for its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray counterpart with added High Dynamic Range which enhances the image to perfection. Indeed, with the animated lighting becoming more and more sophisticated, there's a greater need for HDR on these movies, though it's mostly in comparison to the UHD presentation that the 1080p presentation shows its minor shortfalls. Just see the shot of the DJ at de la Cruz's party at 59:09; his t-shirt is hopelessly blown out due to the harsh lighting. Nevertheless, the encoding is still very good on the whole, as no compression artefacts crop up throughout. The complex animated lighting could have fallen victim to banding, particularly given the limited colour space of 1080p, but I was unable to detect any. Nor, for that matter, could I notice any macroblocking or aliasing. I wouldn't say that Coco is necessarily a perfect five-star transfer, nor is it reference-quality, but it's a satisfying and eminently watchable Blu-ray transfer with no major problems.

    Subtitles are available in several languages, including English SDH. The track is well-formatted, free of errors, and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The disc contains several audio options, but the primary track is a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix as opposed to an Atmos track - as usual, the Atmos is saved for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. For whatever reason, the disc actually defaults to a lossy DTS-HD HR 5.1 mix, so I highly recommend switching to the 7.1 mix. As per usual, the 7.1 track is mastered below normal listening levels, meaning that you'll have to raise the audio higher than usual to get a better experience. Once there, the track is serviceable but unremarkable, with compressed dynamics being the main downfall. Indeed, the track is primarily front-centred, though some separation and panning effects are evident - for instance, the bell ringing in the background at 14:30, fireworks going off for the festival at 19:30, or the crowd during the performance scene at the 48-minute mark. Alebrije taking flight, or a train passing through at the 28-minute mark, also engage the surround channels to satisfying effect. It's just that the track doesn't sound as full as it should, with weak surround activity during the big musical numbers in particular. Indeed, rear channel engagement for ambience and music is too unaggressive on the whole, and, as a result, the mix isn't as immersive as it should be. Still, some scenes sound better than others. Some scenes sound precisely as they should, while others are slightly lacking.

    Issues with the dynamics aside, this is a fine track in virtually every other respect. At least the audio never sounds limp or hollow, as there's adequate subwoofer activity to accentuate the sound effects. Fireworks in the opening sequence exhibit low-frequency effects, while the bell which crushes Ernesto de la Cruz likewise engages the low-end. Also see the Alebrije (their roars and their movements), or any of the musical numbers which sound sufficiently deep. When Hector and Miguel talk backstage at around the 49:30 mark, the performances can still be heard in the background, and they are deep. Also see the DJ music at de la Cruz's party at the 59-minute mark, which shook my walls and floor. Furthermore, prioritisation is excellent, with crystal clear dialogue that's understandable from start to finish. Additionally, aside from the mix being presented at less than reference level, at least there are no compression or source-related artefacts, nor are there any sync issues. Coco's audio track suffers from the same shortcomings that we've come to expect from a Disney Blu-ray soundtrack, but it's still a pretty good track on the whole, with great clarity and comprehensible dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Like many of Pixar's efforts, Coco is a two-disc set, with a bonus disc containing a variety of special features which delve into many aspects of the production.

Disc 1 (Feature Film):

Welcome to the Fiesta (HD; 2:16)

    This is a proof-of-concept short movie to show off the look of Coco. There's an optional commentary with director Unkrich, co-director Molina, and producer Darla Anderson.

Mi Familia (HD; 10:00)

   This wonderful featurette examines the rules, structures and traditions of Mexican families. Beginning with interview clips of the various Mexican crewmembers revealing their family rules, this extra traces the movie's extensive research process, which involved trips to Mexico to spend time with families. The interviewees reveal how the true-life aspects of Mexican culture influenced the development of the story and screenplay, even showing real ofrendas (including one set up in the studio).

Dante (HD; 6:14)

    This is a featurette all about Miguel's spirit guide dog, Dante. Research fed into the script, as the filmmakers found that dogs were everywhere in Mexico. They even encountered a dog which kept sneaking in to try and eat food off the ofrenda - something which was incorporated into the film. Several design choices are discussed, including when Dante transforms into an Alebrije.

How to Draw a Skeleton (HD; 3:18)

    A brief piece aimed at children which shows you how to draw a skeleton.

Audio Commentary

    Director Unkrich, co-director Molina, and producer Darla Anderson sit down for a feature-length audio commentary, which is mostly scene-specific and full of great information. They discuss aspects like creating a Mariachi version of the introductory Disney theme, changes that were made during the production process, and the influence of the cultural advisors/research trips, as well as lots more. The actors are discussed, including the primary cast as well as the cameos from the likes of Gabriel Iglesias, Cheech Marin, and the superb Edward James Olmos. The directors even had cameos in the movie, with Unkrich delivering the last joke they wrote. Another talking point is Dante, who constantly does fun things in the background that will go unnoticed by most. There isn't much in the way of dead air, as the trio have much to discuss. There is overlap with the other extras, which is perhaps inevitable, but there's still plenty of worthwhile information to glean from this.

Disc 2 (Bonus Disc):

A Thousand Pictures A Day (HD; 20:03)

   Kicking off Disc 2, this featurette takes a closer look at the Pixar team's trips to Mexico to experience the culture and the people, to ensure they accurately represented Mexican culture on-screen in the finished movie. Pixar is very well-liked in Mexico, as the team found endless Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. merchandise throughout the country, which led them to incorporate a street vendor selling such items during a short moment in Coco. There's some terrific footage here of the filmmakers meeting the Mexican people, who were so welcoming. They also see various locations and items that inspired the movie - including a shoemaking family and an artist who hand-crafts papel picardos. The character designs for the deceased were even inspired by Mexican folk art. Of course, the Pixar team experienced a real Day of the Dead festival as well, and these images inspired the movie.

The Music of Coco (HD; 13:12)

    As implied by the title, this next featurette is all about the music. It covers composer Michael Giacchino's compositional contributions to the movie, but is mostly concerned with the authentic Mexican music, as the crew conducted a marathon multiple-day recording session with dozens of local artists. For maximum authenticity, footage of the musicians was also taken as a frame of reference for the animators (not many of which actually knew how to play guitar).

Land of Our Ancestors (HD; 6:19)

    The design of the Land of the Dead is the focus of this next extra, as the filmmakers wanted to create a vibrant realm as opposed to something drab or depressing. The production designers took inspiration from Mexican landscapes, and developed rules for the realm - e.g. nothing living, like plants, can exist, so metal trees can be seen instead.

Fashion Through the Ages (HD; 8:39)

    The elaborate costume design is explored in this featurette. Extensive research fed into the design process, as the filmmakers wanted the costuming to look authentic and steeped in Mexican culture. As outlined in the interviews, the costumes also reflect the characters' personalities. Culturally specific dance choreography is briefly covered, too, and there's some great insight into the animation process.

The Real Guitar (HD; 3:08)

    This beautiful piece looks at the design and creation of Ernesto de la Cruz's guitar, which was assembled in real-life by a veteran Mexican guitar maker - and looks absolutely breathtaking.

Paths to Pixar: Coco (HD; 11:44)

    Several of Coco's Mexican crew members discuss their childhood experiences and aspirations, as well as their first exposure to the film industry before getting a job at Pixar. Additionally, there are discussions about Mexican representation (or lack thereof) in film, and about individual contributions to the production of Coco.

How to Make Papel Picado (HD; 2:19)

    More for kids (though adults might enjoy it, too), this is a brief overview of papel picardos, and contains a tutorial about how to make your own.

You Got the Part! (HD; 2:12)

    Here we have candid footage of young actor Anthony Gonzalez being given the news that he got the part of Miguel in Coco. This is a brief, heartwarming extra.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 33:07)

    Here we have a bunch of deleted scenes, presented in their unfinished storyboard state (with temp actors), and each prefaced with an introduction by directors Unkrich and Molina. This really shows how much the film progressed during its production period - and how close it was to not being as special as the finished movie is. These can either be watched individually, or via a "Play All" function.

Trailers & Promos (HD)

    A bunch of promotional material is collated here, which is of limited interest but is still a worthwhile inclusion. Indeed, I love loose ends like this, as they make the disc seem more complete. These are only available to view individually.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Extras are the same worldwide. However, there is a single-disc Blu-ray edition floating around, as well. Make sure to purchase the two-disc set.

Summary

    Coco made me cry. Over and over again. And it still gets me with every single rewatch. It's one of Pixar's finest and most emotionally resonant movies, and its Best Animated Feature Film Oscar win was well-deserved.

    On Blu-ray, Coco's technical presentation is very good, though it falls short of perfection. This two-disc set also contains a wide variety of great quality supplemental material, which gives great insight into the making of this significant motion picture. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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