An animated comic adventure set in prehistoric times with a Stone Age family adapting to new environments and more civilized ideas: no, it’s not The Flintstones; it’s The Croods, a funny and sometimes heart-warming family comedy. While there is plenty of the slapstick chicanery that Dreamworks is noted for in its animated fare, the film also follows much the same heartfelt line of How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda that emphasizes family over almost everything else.
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Distributed By: Fox
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 38 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/01/2013
In a prehistoric world filled with danger and death even inches outside one’s cave, Grug Crood (Nicolas Cage) is a hyper-protective father to his brood: wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), energetic daughter Eep (Emma Stone, who narrates the tale), lunk-headed son Thunk (Clark Duke), a baby daughter, and ornery mother-in-law Gran (Cloris Leachman). Eep is tired of playing it safe and spending days on end inside the cave and longs for adventure. She finds it in the person of Guy (Ryan Reynolds), an orphan who has a premonition of the massive changes about to affect the globe and who suggests that the family make a move toward a distant mountain range which promises safety. Though skeptical at first, Grug is convinced when a massive earthquake destroys his cave sanctum and he’s forced to take action. But he’s threatened by Guy’s forward-looking, optimistic and creative view of life and is worried that his daughter is ignoring his old ways of living and instead adopting the life lessons from a fun-loving peer.
The Production Rating: 4/5
Director-writers Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco have fashioned a road movie for this primitive clan of cave people that’s filled with some action set pieces (cave-ins, earthquakes, frantic food gathering, and an endless number of carnivorous animals), lots of gags about Guy’s introduction to the family the notions of fire, shoes, sleds, belts, pets, and jokes (among many other things), and indescribably beautiful animation which takes the family to worlds that mix the other-worldliness of the lands found in Avatar and the remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth. The plotting is simple enough, but the heartfelt moments when Grug realizes his old world ways of looking at things won’t work in this new world or that he’s losing his daughter to a younger man work quite well. The film’s message of modern life requiring a canny combination of brains (ideas) and brawn is fairly brazenly drawn. The film is never subtle about anything, not even the sometimes anachronistic nods to today’s youth by having the young folks say that things “suck” or are “awesome.”
Kudos to Dreamworks for not making their leading lady rail thin and willowy. Eep is a brawler with a sturdy build and lots of chutzpah and is voiced by Emma Stone with a toughness and sass that’s very appealing. Nicholas Cage’s Grug gets to take the film’s most emotional journey from darkness into light, and his awakening to his own intelligence is very nicely delivered. Ryan Reynolds may be a bit too “surfer dude” as Guy, but his effervescence certainly adds other colors to the palette on display. Catherine Keener’s mother, Cloris Leachman’s grandmother, and Clark Duke’s dim-witted son are more stereotypically drawn with nothing distinguishing them from dozens of other similar characters in other movies both animated and live action though they can certainly be fun on occasion.
The film is presented in its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is superb, and color delineation is terrific throughout, the rusts and umbers of the early scenes giving way to a broader array of startling primary colors which are deeply saturated and eye-popping later on. There is no banding on display, and contrast has been dialed in superlatively throughout. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is exactly what one would expect from an action-heavy adventure-comedy such as this one. Ambient effects have been placed in the fronts and rears to maximize the enveloping listening experience, and Alan Silvestri’s driving music gets the full surround treatment as well. While most of the well recorded dialogue has been placed in the center channel, there are some beautifully placed moments of directionalized dialogue (in one particular cave when the family goes on separate paths and talk to one another, voices echo from separate speakers for the various characters and even pan across the soundstage) that give the sound mix some added zip.
Audio Rating: 5/5
The Croodaceous Creatures of Croods (6:12, HD): an interactive encyclopedia of nine unusual creatures the family comes into contact with during their journey. The viewer can play all nine or choose individual ones to watch.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Belt’s Cave Journal (6:15, HD): narrated by Guy, this journal entry tells the tale of Guy and Belt’s experience with a Jackrabat (part rabbit/part bat).
Crood’s Cuts (8:20, HD): writer-directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco introduce four deleted sequences and explain before each clip why the scene was cut. Most are pencil drawings but one is nearly completed animation.
Be an Artist (35:16, HD): detailed art lessons on drawing three creatures from the film
Theatrical Trailer (2:11, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Turbo, Shrek the Musical, Epic
DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: disc and instruction sheet for downloading enclosed.
The Croods is an enjoyable family-friendly adventure comedy with outstanding animation and some excellent acting from the voice cast. Though the bonus features are limited and the film has quite a few effects that looked like they might be impressive in 3D (only the 2D was sent for review), the release is certainly a recommended one.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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