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Enrico Casarosa
Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman
Writing Credits:
Jesse Andrews, Mike Jones

On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English DTS-HD HR 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 2.0
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Italian Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 8/3/2021

• “Our Italian Inspiration” Featurette
• “Secretly a Sea Monster” Featurette
• “Best Friends” Featurette
• 6 Deleted Scenes
• 3 Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Luca [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2022)

Because the COVID pandemic kept many potential moviegoers away from multiplexes, the studio bypassed a theatrical release for Pixar’s Soul in late 2020. Instead, the movie ran exclusively on the Disney+ streaming service.

This didn’t seem to hurt Soul too much, as the film won the year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar. Apparently inspired by Soul’s success, the next Pixar feature followed the same path.

Though society opened up quite a bit between November 2020 and June 2021, the latter month found Pixar’s Luca solely available on Disney+ as well. Because I don’t stream, that left this disc release as my first look at the flick.

Set on the Italian Riviera, a boy named Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and his pal Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) visit the village of Portorosso. There they enjoy a summer of delicious food, exciting scooter rides and other escapades.

However, the boys hide a secret: they’re actually benign sea monsters who take on human form. As they go through their season of fun, they worry that the secret will get revealed and negative repercussions will result.

I won’t attempt to estimate how many movies from Disney and/or Pixar cover “coming of age” themes, but my rough estimate ends up as “a hunkabuncha”. As far back as Pinocchio, these films delved into themes of youngsters who nudge away from parents and into their own independent lives.

Usually “coming of age” flicks focus on teens who veer toward the cusp of adulthood, but like Pinocchio, Luca goes with a pre-teen on the verge of adolescence. (Well, if we assume a magical puppet was about 10 human years old.) Heck, Luca makes this subtext more obvious, as our lead gets a copy of the Pinocchio novel at one point.

This means moderate rebellion from our lead character but nothing that really pushes the envelope. All of this makes Luca a more gentle experience than we might otherwise get, and one without much overt risk/danger.

Which seems fine on the surface, but it also leaves Luca as a rather slight concoction. Whereas Pixar usually shoots for a pretty broad audience of kids and adults, this film seems more focused on the younger crowd.

Not that Luca comes devoid of entertainment value for grownups, as it packs enough cleverness to keep older folks with it. However, it just doesn’t come across as inventive or deep enough to compete with the studio’s better fare.

One of the main issues stems from Luca’s derivative feel, as outside of the Italian settings, it comes across as a collection of outside influences. Just within the Disney sphere, we find plenty of nods to movies like Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Onward among others.

Outside of Disney elements, you’ll find dollops of Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn and other influences like 1979’s Breaking Away. Heck, one fisherman character even looks like the sardine-obsessed dad in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Despite these inspirations, Luca manages its own identity – to a degree. Too much of it does feel borrowed from these outside sources, but Pixar infuses the flick with sufficient individual energy to allow it to stand on its own.

But it fails to do so with much authority, and the wafer-thin narrative makes it less engaging than the better Pixar material. Luca can’t imbue its tale with the inspiration it needs to stand out from the crowd.

None of these factors turn Luca into a bad movie. It delivers enough wit and charm across its 95 minutes to ensure the viewer sticks with it.

However, that still turns it into a disappointment, as Luca never becomes especially clever, creative or engaging. While a mostly engaging affair, Luca ends up as lower-tier Pixar.

Footnote: a tag scene appears after the conclusion of the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Luca appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a great presentation.

At all times, sharpness looked crisp and detailed. If any softness materialized, I didn’t see it, as I thought the image remained tight and well-defined at all times.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and the movie lacked edge haloes or artifacts. Of course, no print flaws popped up along the way.

In terms of colors, Luca went with a broad palette. The mix of Riviera and underwater elements allowed for a wide variety of hues, and the image brought them out in a vivid and dynamic manner.

Blacks were dark and deep, and shadows seemed smooth and clear. This was a consistently fine image.

Though not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack also pleased. The film didn’t deliver a ton of opportunities for auditory theatrics, but we got enough to bring the mix to life with reasonable frequency. These blended together well and created a nice package of sound components from all around the room.

Audio quality was solid. Music sounded dynamic and full, while speech was distinctive and natural; no signs of edginess occurred.

Effects appeared accurate and showed nice range, with solid low-end when appropriate. Though the mix never really threatened to reach “A”-level, it became a definite “B+” track.

Three featurettes appear here, and Our Italian Inspiration runs 14 minutes, 21 seconds. It provides comments from director Enrico Casarosa, production designer Daniela Strijleva, director of photography lighting Kim White, sets art director Don Shank, color and shading director Chia-Han Jennifer Chang, director of photography layout David Juan Bianchi, character art director Deanna Marsiglirse, and effects supervisor Jon Reisch.

As expected, “Inspiration” looks at how aspects of Italy and the creators’ lives influenced Luca. With ample footage from research visits, this becomes an informative program.

Secretly a Sea Monster fills 12 minutes, 23 seconds with notes from Casarosa, Strijleva, Marsigliese, Chang, Reisch, Bianchi, character supervisor Beth Albright, producer Andrea Warren, character modeling and articulation artist Seth Freeman, character supervisor Sajan Skaria, character shading and groom artist Jacob Kuenzel, animation supervisor Michael Venturini, directing animator Claudio De Oliveira, story supervisor John Hoffman, story artist Yon Hui Lee, co-writer Jesse Andrews, and story lead McKenna Harris.

“Secretly” discusses story elements as well as character design and animation. It delivers another useful reel.

Lastly, Best Friends goes for seven minutes, 15 seconds and involves Warren, Casarosa, Harris, Andrews, Bianchi, Marsigliese, Venturini, Skaria, Albright, Kuenzel, Hoffman, Strijleva, and actors Jacob Tremblay, Emma Berman, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Maya Rudolph.

The show covers the friendships of the movie as well as their inspirations. Though it comes with some good notes, it tends toward fluff at times.

Including introductions from Casarosa, six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 30 minutes, 30 seconds. These include two unused openings as well as a mix of other alternate character/story elements.

Most of these feel like good cuts – especially those dropped introductions, as they seem slow and not especially engaging. Still, I like the chance to get a look at the “work in progress” aspects of the movie.

We finish with three trailers: one US, one Italian, one Japanese. Note that the Italian trailer suffers from an audio error, so sound only comes out of the left front channel for it.

A gentle coming of age tale, Luca offers a mostly likable tale. However, it falls short of the better Pixar efforts, as it seems too derivative to become better than average. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as solid audio, but it skimps somewhat in terms of bonus materials. Pixar fans will want to give Luca a look, but they shouldn’t expect greatness from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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