Article first published as Blu-ray 3D Review: 'The Croods' on Blogcritics.
For a little while, it seemed as though DreamWorks Animation was
really out to take down the powerhouse that is Pixar Animation Studios.
As long as the title didn’t feature the words Shrek or Madagascar,
they were really starting to do no wrong. But just when things seemed
to be forever in their favor, the animation studio’s contract with
Paramount Pictures came to an end and they moved to Twentieth Century
Fox. With their final release through Paramount (Rise of the Guardians) it seemed to fizzle and fade from the box office. My full review of the film itself can be found here.
Now, their first Fox title The Croods,
is arriving on Blu-ray 3D in a combo pack with the 2D disc, DVD, and a
Digital HD UltraViolet copy on October 1. Upon second viewing, it sure
doesn’t seem as fun as it did back in March. Hopefully, the announced
sequel can liven things up, but the direction DreamWorks seems to be
heading with Fox doesn’t look great. While Turbo hasn’t been
released on Blu-ray yet, I have a feeling that it won’t be as much fun
the second time around either. With a slate of more original fare — and
obligatory sequels — they should still keep themselves afloat. At least
their days of Shrek the Third, Bee Movie, and Shark Tale are behind them.
The Croods arrives on Blu-ray 3D in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with
a MPEG-4 encode. The 2D transfer is quite a stunner featuring all the
bells and whistles you’d expect from a brand new computer-animated
feature. Everything is razor sharp; from hair to facial features, to
clothing and creature skins. The 3D unfortunately, doesn’t offer up the
kind of wow factor you’d expect. Too many early parts of the film take
place in shadows or darkness, killing any chance of depth. The opening
breakfast sequence is the only scene to deliver the kind of 3D you want.
There are a few scenes with dust particles or burning embers that
seem to float out of the screen, but it’s not until after “the end”
begins, and the loveable Croods venture into their new world that
you get the kind of 3D imagery you paid for. On the other hand, the 7.1
DTS-HD Master Audio is exactly what you’d expect. Music and dialogue
come through crystal clear while the surrounds take full advantage of
sweeping you into the fictitious “Croodaceous” period. Rain effect fills
your room with falling water, and a maze segment makes fantastic use of
directionality. LFE is used appropriately, which you’d expect with
their world coming to a booming end.
The special features are a little lacking, if only because they’re tailor made for kid viewers. “The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods”
features 40-second segments centering on each creature found throughout
the film including Belt, Bear Owl, Liyote, Piranhakeet, Punch Monkey,
Turtle Dove, Turkeyfish, Girelephant, and Sharkodile. “Belt’s Cave
Journal” is a 6-minute animated feature consisting of Belt’s drawings of
his adventures with Guy, including their new pet, the Jackrobat.
“Croods’ Cuts (Lost Scenes)” is 8 minutes of storyboard
animated deleted scenes; there’s an introduction with
co-directors/co-writers Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, and include
“Crazy Grug,” “It’s Rain,” “It’s a Great Cave,” and “Termites.” “It’s a
Great Cave” is the one exception that is completed animation. To round
things out, there’s a theatrical trailer, as well as sneak peeks for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, DreamWorks Holiday Classics Collection, Turbo, Shrek the Musical, and Epic. The “World of DreamWorks Animation” features segments highlighting Shrek, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, and the Kung Fu Pandas.
The Croods is far from a masterpiece, but it is definitely a
step up from what passes for children’s entertainment from most studios.
However, as the year marches on, family offerings keep improving.
Unfortunately for The Croods, I had watched the Blu-ray 3D of Pacific Rim the day before and this just doesn’t have the same kind of wow factor as that did, and Pacific Rim is a live-action post-converted 3D. However, with a stellar 2D disc, and fantastic audio, The Croods is still a worthy addition to your ever expanding Blu-ray family films, and is available now.