Onward appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a pleasing presentation.
Sharpness always looked good, as the movie exhibited fine delineation. No obvious signs of softness marred the image, and I noticed no jaggies or shimmering. Edge haloes and print flaws also remained absent.
Colors seemed solid, as the movie offered broad palette. The hues delivered lively, full tones with good reproduction. The disc’s HDR added vivacity and oomph to the tones.
Blacks appeared dark and dense, while low-light shots came across as smooth and clear. HDR brought impact to the whites and contrast. The image worked well.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack suited the material, with a soundscape that came to life during the movie’s occasional action scenes. Those offered lots of magical elements that popped up in logical spots and blended well.
Quieter scenes also fared nicely, as they showed good stereo music. Effects created a fine sense of place and delivered a rich sense of surroundings.
Audio quality satisfied, with natural, concise speech that lacked edginess or other issues. Music came across as full and warm, while effects delivered rich, accurate material. Onward boasted a fairly solid soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The 4K’s Atmos audio seemed a little broader than the BD’s DTS-HD MA 7.1, and visuals showed improved definition and colors. As great as the BD looked, the 4K became the superior rendition.
Across the set’s two Blu-ray Disc platters, we get plenty of extras, and Disc One starts with an audio commentary from director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, animation and visual design choices, music, editing, and related topics.
Pixar commentaries usually offer excellent insights, so Scanlon and Rae need to fill big shoes. They don’t live up to the best Pixar chats, but they do a more than competent job. This becomes a pretty good track that offers a good array of insights.
Quest for Story runs nine minutes, 21 seconds and offers notes from Scanlon, Rae, Scanlon’s brother Bill, story artist Austin Madison, editor Catherine Apple, production designer Noah Klocek, Scanlon’s mother Betty Scanlon Zych, story supervisor Kelsey Mann, story lead Madeline Sharafian and story artist Louise Smythe.
With “Quest”, we learn about Dan Scanlon’s real-life inspirations as well as character and design choices. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but “Quest” offers good new perspectives and it becomes a tight overview of story topics.
With Citizens of New Mushroomton, we get a 10-minute, eight-second reel that features Dan Scanlon, Rae, Smythe, Klocek, Mann, supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi, shading art director Bert Berry, associate producer Becky Neimann-Cobb, character art director Matt Nolte, animation supervisors Rob Thompson and Michael Stocker, character designer Maria Yi, layout director of photography Adam Habib, directing animator Jessica Torres, and actors Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer.
This featurette looks at character design and related choices. Like “Quest”, it offers a concise and informative program.
BD Disc One opens with ads for Soul and The Jungle Cruise.
On BD Disc Two, we start with a few featurettes, and Heart’s Fire goes for seven minutes, 35 seconds. It brings notes from Dan Scanlon, Smythe, Rae, Klocek, Bakshi, Habib, Thompson, Mann, Sharafian, effects supervisor Vincent Serritella and lighting DP Sharon Calahan.
“Fire” looks at the movie’s depiction of magic, with an emphasis on animation/art domains. It becomes a fun exploration of these choices.
Dragon High lasts six minutes, 31 seconds and provides statements from Dan Scanlon, Rae, Mann, Madison, Apple, Klocek, Habib, Calahan, set designer Garrett Taylor, senior lead software engineer Josh Minor, senior software engineer Stephan Steinbach, animation coordinator Hannah Eichers, animation manager Russell Stough, animation supervisor Michael Stocker, and technology & pipeline supervisor Sudeep Rangaswamy.
This reel examines all the work put into the movie’s climactic sequence. It delivers another enjoyable and informative program.
Next comes Wizard Rock, a six-minute, 31-second show that involves composers Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. They talk about their work for the movie in this reasonably useful chat.
Finally, Fantasy Is Our Destiny occupies two minutes, 29 seconds with info from Rae, Smythe, Holland, Pratt, Spencer, Rangaswamy, Madison, Torres, Mychael and Jeff Danna,
Yi, and Nolte.
They discuss their affection for the fantasy genre. Some of the behind the scenes footage adds value, but this becomes a short and not especially memorable piece overall.
Including introductions from Dan Scanlon, six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 29 minutes, 27 seconds. These tend toward character beats, including a few alternate trends, like a version in which young Ian loved magic instead of Barley.
Those seem interesting, but a few completely abandoned plotlines – like a labyrinth turned into a mall and a cut character – seem most compelling. All are worth a look, and Scanlon’s intros offer useful context.
BD Disc Two concludes with some ads. Called Magic Gems, a promo offers two minutes, 54 seconds of semi-random character animation. We’ve seen this kind of material on other Pixar releases, and it’s never clear to me where these snippets run – little interstitials on Disney Channel? – but they’re vaguely fun.
We also get five trailers. These include a global teaser in English, a US trailer, a “Japan payoff trailer”, a global trailer in Ukrainian, and a global trailer in Spanish. These offer a variety of different takes on the film, so they offer a cool glimpse of various marketing approaches.
Though it offers a wealth of dynamic opportunities for adventure and comedy, Onward feels oddly off-target. The movie manages moderate entertainment value but it can’t tape into its own potential to become something truly satisfying. The 4K UHD boasts strong picture and audio along with a pretty useful set of supplements. Onward brings us a bit of a misfire from Pixar.
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