Coco (4K Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 4-Apr-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 105:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
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 $36.95 Music Michael Giacchino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Alternate Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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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

    The very first Pixar movie to debut on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Australia (Cars 3 got a 4K release overseas, but not locally), Coco is presented in 2160p courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment. As with pretty much every modern animated movie, Coco was produced entirely on computers and completed with a 2K digital intermediate, which might call into question the necessity for a 4K Blu-ray release. However, his HEVC/H.265-encoded Ultra HD presentation represents a significant improvement over the already excellent 1080p Blu-ray, thanks largely to the superior video codec and the High Dynamic Range enhancement. This is another Disney 4K title for which the disc itself is barebones; therefore, the 105-minute feature gets the entire BD-66 to itself without a ridiculous number of additional audio tracks competing for space. This results in a sufficient video bitrate which averages in the 45 Mbps range, though it often reaches 50 and 60 Mbps. In short, this is the best way to experience Coco on home video - it's positively drool-worthy at times.

    There is only so much detail within the animation, which was not rendered natively at 4K, and the UHD encode brings out every last intricacy that the source allows. Showing how far the animators have come in 25 years, the texturing and fine detail throughout Coco is breathtaking, and this is a razor-sharp transfer to boot. There is tonnes of fine detail on de la Cruz's costume, as well as his guitar, and the sublime animation is all the more apparent in pristine 2160p. Also see Hector's straw hat, which looks better-resolved on this disc. Wide shots in particular absolutely murder the Blu-ray in terms of tightness and textural precision, while improved shadow detail is apparent - just see the scene at the 64-minute mark. Parts of the movie are deliberately treated to look a specific way - for instance, de la Cruz's movies look like old motion pictures captured on celluloid, and deliberate fine grain is apparent. Flashbacks at 66 minutes and 73 minutes are designed to look like they were captured with old-fashioned spherical lenses, and there's an inherent softness to the frame that's wholly intended. The UHD encoding does what it can within the restrictions of the intended appearance, and there are no flaws to speak of in this respect. Some might think that animated movies don't need 4K releases, but Coco shows those people how wrong they truly are.

    During its theatrical release, Coco was exhibited in Dolby Cinemas with Dolby Vision HDR, but it only comes to disc encoded in HDR10. (As ever, the DV presentation is streaming on Disney+.) From the start, it's the added luminance of the HDR grading which allows Coco to leap off the screen; fires, fireworks, opulent costumes, and the colours, in general, are bolder and more impactful without appearing too saturated or overcooked. This is particularly apparent when the movie crosses over into the Land of the Dead - the bridge, the lit-up leaves, and especially the establishing shot of the realm at 25:09, which looks so gorgeous with HDR enhancement that I had to pick my jaw up off the ground. De la Cruz's costuming also sparkles even more; it's breathtaking. During de la Cruz's party at the 59-minute mark, superior colours are evident on the scenery outside windows. Added image depth is also instantly apparent throughout Coco, with deeper blacks and superior chroma resolution. The HDR also serves to bring back some highlight detail that is lost on the 1080p Blu-ray. For instance, I noticed that the DJ's shirt looks blown out at 59:09 on the Blu-ray, but the HDR grading effortlessly restores the shirt's subtle textures. Skies and landscape shots also display superior highlights, particularly when harsh lighting is involved. Furthermore, improved chroma resolution, as well as the HDR and wide colour gamut, ensures that primary colours are bolder. These colours never falter, even in wide shots and darker scenes. From top to bottom, the colour scheme is breathtaking, and the 1080p Blu-ray is just no match.

    With a generous video bitrate, Coco is pleasingly short on video artefacts. I did notice some slight aliasing on Miguel's guitar right as he begins playing "Poco Loco" at the talent show, but other than that, the encoding does not fall victim to any other anomalies - no signs of macroblocking or banding, or anything else to mar this pristine UHD encode. This is a fantastic disc from the good folks at Disney and Pixar.

    Subtitles are included in English (for the hearing impaired), French and Spanish. Sampling the English track, I could detect no issues.

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

Audio

    Improving upon the Blu-rays DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix, Coco's 4K UHD Blu-ray comes with a Dolby Atmos track, though the disc weirdly defaults to the alternative Dolby Digital 5.1 track on my equipment. Disney has stuffed the disc with loads of additional audio tracks - an English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 mix, lossy English Dolby Digital tracks in 5.1 and 2.0, plus descriptive audio, as well as French and Spanish dubs in Dolby Digital Plus 7.1. That's a mouthful. In any case, my primary concern is the Dolby Atmos track, which immediately sounds fuller and more satisfying than the Blu-ray's 7.1 mix. As ever, you'll need to raise the volume above regular listening levels for the best results, but other than that, there aren't many issues to speak of. With the lossless encoding, this is a pristine, crystal clear track which never sounds unnecessarily compressed or tinny. However, it is slightly unaggressive at times, with some weirdly low dialogue, though at least the dialogue is comprehensible and never drowned out by other constituents of the mix. This aside, there are no noticeable compression artefacts - no hissing, popping, sync issues or drop-outs. I just wish Disney ceased their baffling aversion to mixing Atmos tracks at a higher volume.

    I had no issues with the dynamic range of the track, as the surround channels are constantly engaged to deliver music, ambience, and sound effects. In the opening montage, there's separation for sounds of rainfall and when Miguel's family are working on shoes in their workshop. When Ernesto de la Cruz plays his final concert at 5:50, crowd ambience and music noticeably stretch to the rear channels, while sounds of fireworks and bells are isolated to the rear channels during the movie's opening act. This continues without fail throughout the remainder of Coco, with a lively soundscape. Panning effects are evident when vehicles go past, while everything is precisely positioned depending on camera placement - for instance, when Miguel's grandmother hears him blowing on a bottle, the sound initial comes from the rear channels until the shot changes. In addition, subwoofer and low-frequency effects are satisfying, with exceptional depth to the audio during the musical sequences, and for each impactful sound effect. Alebrije roars, as well as the flapping of their wings, are adequately deep and rumbling - see 25:40.

    Coco might have probably sounded a bit better in the hands of another studio, but I can't hold too much against this predominantly crystal clear and impactful Dolby Atmos track.

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

Extras

    The 4K disc contains no special features. However, this is a three-disc set, which also contains the movie on regular 1080p Blu-ray as well as the bonus disc with a great collection of extras. At the time of writing, there is no 4K-only release, though don't underestimate Disney's capacity for double dips.

R4 vs R1

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

    4K discs worldwide are identical. Buy local.

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 4K UHD, Coco dazzles at every opportunity. The HDR grading and wide colour gamut result in a gorgeous 2160p transfer with immaculate clarity and jaw-dropping colours, besting the 1080p Blu-ray at every opportunity. The Dolby Atmos track, meanwhile, is very good, though it comes up just short of perfection. This disc is the best way to experience Coco at home. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, February 17, 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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