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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Domee Shi
Cast:
Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse
Writing Credits:
Domee Shi, Julia Cho

Synopsis:
A 13-year-old girl named Meilin turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.

MPAA:
Rated PG.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
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
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 5/3/2022

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Domee Shi, Producer Lindsey Collins, and Director of Photography Mahyar Abousaeedi
• “Life of a Shot” Featurette
• “Build Your Own Boy Band” Featurette
• “Ani-Mei-Tion” Featurette
• 6 Deleted Scenes
• 3 Trailers
• Preview
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Turning Red [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 24, 2022)

With Pixar’s Turning Red, we get a different take on the “coming of age” genre. This 2022 film takes us to Toronto circa 2002 to meet the Lee family.

13-year-old Meilin (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) lives with her parents Ming (Sandra Oh) and Jin (Orion Lee). Meilin loves her mother but finds herself a bit overprotected, so she craves the ability to separate from her family a little.

In the midst of this adolescent shift, Meilin encounters an unforeseeable problem: when she gets too worked up about something, she transforms into a large red panda. Meilin attempts to work through these issues and lead a normal teen life.

Is it a coincidence that Red director Domee Shi a) grew up in Toronto and b) turned 13 in 2002? Of course not, though one assumes she never turned into a furry creature at any point during that period.

Of course, Meilin’s transformation acts as a metaphor for puberty. The movie treats it literally but the context makes it obvious where the story wants to go.

This brought on some controversy, mainly because certain political factions – ahem –actively seek ways to become upset about “Woke Hollywood”. A few scenes address menstruation, and apparently this upset some people.

Puh-leeze. While not quite as idiotic as the tempest/teapot the “blink and you’ll miss it” same-sex kiss in 2022’s Lightyear, this “controversy” felt contrived and just like another excuse for the Professionally Offended to get mad about something.

Honestly, it would seem odd for a movie about a 13-year-old girl’s “transformation” not to address her period in some way. Red does so in a fairly brief and light manner, so if anyone actually takes offense at these elements, they just want to get upset.

I find myself more concerned with Pixar’s creative slump. 2020’s Soul worked very well, but otherwise Pixar hasn’t produced a genuinely great movie since 2015’s Inside Out.

Not that the other releases over the last seven years have stunk, as all have been varying levels of reasonably entertaining. However, Pixar set such a high bar in their earlier days that “reasonably entertaining” comes across as “moderately disappointing”.

I hoped Red would offer a creative comeback, and I thought Shi’s personal connection to the material might add power. The autobiographical elements would seem to make this such a personal tale that I felt it could become something special.

Instead, Red turns into another reasonably compelling but erratic Pixar flick. Despite Shi’s autobiographical elements, it can feel derivative, as though it cobbles together pieces from other Pixar movies.

Honestly, it just tends to feel like Shi had enough material for maybe 30-40 minutes but not a full 100-minute movie. This means the film fares best in its opening act, as we get a good intro to the characters and situations.

Once the dust settles, though, matters turn less compelling, especially when Red becomes about the ways Meilin uses her inner panda to raise money to see a boy band. This feels like a weird and contrived plot point that exists more to fill the second act than anything else.

As an aside, it makes no sense that the kids need to pay $200 a ticket for the boy band in question. Even in Canadian dollars, none of the then-current teen acts charged that much in 2002, so $100 Canadian per ticket would’ve been considerably more realistic.

But that would’ve been a much easier to achieve goal than the $800 Red forces Meilin and pals to raise, wouldn’t it? The whole boy band plot point seems crammed into the proceedings anyway, but the ancillary choices make it fare even worse.

I don’t want to complain incessantly about Red, as it musters decent entertainment, especially during its fresh and fun first act. However, it becomes a case of diminishing returns as it goes.

The movie simply can’t sustain its slight story across 100 minutes. While still watchable, Red runs out of steam before it finally ends.

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


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Turning Red appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not one of the all-time great CG animated presentations, Red nonetheless looked very good.

Overall sharpness seemed satisfying. Nary a sliver of softness emerged in this accurate and well-defined image.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws failed to appear.

The film’s palette opted for a fairly heavy teal orientation, as it usually saved orange/reds for Meiline’s transformation. The colors felt subdued but appropriate.

Blacks appeared deep and firm, while shadows felt smooth and clear. While the image lacked a certain dazzle factor, it still became highly satisfying.

With a fairly strong character orientation, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Red tended to seem somewhat low-key. A smattering of more action-oriented scenes – usually related to Meilin’s transformation – opened up the mix to a moderate degree, but these failed to turn into anything especially impressive.

Still, the soundscape felt appropriate for the material, and it created an appealing sense of place. Music also offered engaging use of the various channels.

Audio quality came across well, even with the unsurprising slightly reduced volume level that we get from some Disney releases. Speech always sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music felt lush and warm, while effects offered accurate, rich material. Though not memorable, the track suited the story.

As we shift to extras, Disc One starts with an audio commentary from director Domee Shi, producer Lindsey Collins, and director of photography Mahyar Abousaeedi. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, animation, design choices, music and editing, cast and performances and related topics.

For the film’s first act, this becomes a pretty good chat, as we find useful notes about story/character domains as well as Shi’s autobiographical areas. Unfortunately, happy talk takes over the piece as it goes, so after that initial 40 minutes or so, the discussion works less well.

We still learn about to make the commentary worth a listen. However, it disappoints since so much of the piece fails to deliver more than praise.

Life of a Shot runs 14 minutes, 36 seconds and offers notes from Shi, Collins, production manager Lisa Fotheringham, associate producer Sabine Koch O’Sullivan, editorial manager Emily Davis, assistant to the director Ellalorraine Greely, story supervisor Rosana Sullivan, writer Julia Cho, story artist Wesley Fuh, film editor Wesley Smith, script supervisor Rachel Slansky, production designer Rona Liu, sets co-supervisor Eric Andraos, set dressing lead Alison Leaf, graphics art director Laura Meyer, sculptor Greg Dykstra, character designer Maria Yi, character modeling and articulation artists Bill Sheffler and Lou Hamou-Lhadj, character shading and groom artists Ethan Dean and Athena Xenakis, character designer and Drawover artist Tom Gately, character groom lead Christopher Bolwyn, layout lead Sylvia Wong, animator Jaime Roe, animation FX lead Michael Bidinger, simulation supervisor Jacob Brooks, simulation artist Audrey Wong, lighting sets lead Charu Clark, color and shading art director Carlos Felipe Leon, rendering sequence lead Daniel Garcia, and dailies and rendering supervisor Susan Fisher Fong.

As implied by the title, “Shot” breaks down a slew of elements involved in the creation of one specific scene. It delivers a strong investigation of how much work even a single sequence in an animated movie requires.

With Build Your Own Boy Band, we get an eight-minute, 38-second reel that features Shi, Collins, Cho, Liu, Meyer, production music editor Rachael Bigelow, story supervisor Bill Presing, songwriters Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, lighting lead Mitch Kopelman, creative consultant Momo LeBeau, and animator Teresa Falcone.

Here we learn how the filmmakers created the movie’s boy band. Though not as informative as “Shot”, “Build” becomes a fun look at the topic.

Disc One opens with an ad for Lightyear.

On Disc Two, we launch with a featurette called Ani-Mei-Tion. It lasts nine minutes, 38 seconds and offers comments from Shi, Falcone, Collins, directing animator Guilherme Jacinto, animation supervisors Patty Kihm and Aaron Hartling, directing animator Dovi Anderson, animators Cody Lyon and Bruce Juei, and character development and animation Amanda Wagner.

“Ani-Mei-Tion” looks at character design and animation. It packs a lot of info into a brief running time,

Including introductions from Shi, six Deleted Scenes fill a total of 23 minutes, 40 seconds. These offer a mix of alternate paths that seem interesting in the abstract, but they probably wouldn’t have worked in the context of the film.

Shi’s introductions offer info about the sequences as well as why they didn’t make the final cut. Shi offers some useful thoughts.

Under Trailers, we get three promos: “Global Teaser in English” (1:56), “Global Trailer in German” (2:26) and “Japan Payoff Trailer” (1:47). These offer interesting variations.

And that’s all she wrote for Disc Two! I have no idea why Disc Two’s roughly 30 minutes of content couldn’t have fit onto Disc One, especially because that platter only involves about 130 minutes of content, including the film itself.

Though I will not claim that Pixar finds themselves on a losing streak, they seem stuck in neutral most of the time, and Turning Red becomes another watchable but lackluster production. It works well in its first act but soon suffers from too much filler and too little inspiration. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture along with appropriate audio and a mix of bonus materials. Red offers occasional charms but nonetheless winds up as another Pixar disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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