Too dark for kids 4 Stars

Emma Stone stars as the title role in Disney’s Cruella, a live-action origin story of the famous villain from the studio’s animated classic 101 Dalmatians.

Cruella (2021)
Released: 28 May 2021
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 134 min
Director: Craig Gillespie
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry
Writer(s): Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna
Plot: A live-action prequel feature film following a young Cruella de Vil.
IMDB rating: 7.4
MetaScore: 59

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 7.1 DD+:Spanish 7.1 DD+, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 14 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc red UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 09/21/2021
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 3.5/5

Young Estella (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) was born with half-white and half-black hair parted down the middle, making her a target for school bullies. After being expelled for acting out against her antagonizers, her mother Catherine (Emily Beecham) decides they would be better off living in London, but she must first make a stop along the way at a fashion show party at a large estate on the outskirts of London. Estella defies orders to stay in the car, and instead enters the party, finally knowing what she wants to be – a fashion designer. But Estella and her dog get into trouble, being chased by three dalmatians who eventually seemingly attach Catherine while talking to the party’s host, knocking her off a cliff and to her imminent death. Shocked with guilt, Estella escapes and makes her way to London, where she meets up with two orphan thieves living on their own, Jasper (Ziggy Gardner) and Horace (Joseph MacDonald), who take her in and show her the ropes. Ten years later, Estella (Emma Stone), Jasper (Joel Fry), and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) are still pulling off low-level heists and cons with Estella providing most of the costumes. Knowing what Estella wants to be doing with her life the most, Jasper arranges for her to find employment at a department store, which comically leads to fashion designer Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson) offering her a job on her design team. Estella soon learns that the Baroness no longer has any original ideas, and instead takes full credit for everything her team comes up with. The movie switches gears, almost to a cross between Devil Wears Prada and a heist film, as Estella quickly learns part of the story of her mother’s death, becoming Cruella and with the help of Jasper and Horace, the three attempt to take the Baroness down. As more is revealed, the story evolves even further into a story of revenge and justice.

In the end, I have rather mixed feelings about Cruella. The performances are exceptional; Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are great on the screen together, and Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser make a great team as the friends who try to help Estella but end up being verbally abused by her alter ego Cruella. The film’s design, cinematography, and music also help make the film enjoyable. But I found the film to be overly dark for a Disney film, and its ties to the original 101 Dalmatians to be strained. Cruella never makes that eventual jump to the iconic villain from the classic animated feature (I’m guessing the studio is saving that for the sequel). Instead, it tells the story of how she met her two eventual henchman and obtained her wealth and notoriety. And the mid-credits scene has left me scratching my head, wondering what exactly the studio was thinking behind that.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Cruella was captured digitally at 3.4K and 6.5K resolutions on Arri Alexa 65 and Mini cameras, completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Vision high dynamic range for its premium theatrical engagements. Disney’s HEVC-encoded 2016p transfer for this UHD disc release retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio and instead uses HDR10 high dynamic range. Detail is exceptional, highlighting the fabric textures in costumes especially. Colors are muted yet still manage to pop when they need to (particularly reds). This is not an exceptionally bright transfer, though, so some displays with weaker backlighting may struggle with some of the more darkly lit sequences.

Audio: 4.5/5

Cruella comes with a default Dolby Atmos track on the UHD disc which has a bit more depth than the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track found on the included Blu-ray. While there isn’t a whole lot of overhead activity other than music extensions and atmospherics, sounds do move around the room rather seamlessly. The late 1960s and early 1970s rock songs sound terrific, helping to provide a more immersive experience in the way thewy have been mixed within the soundtrack. LFE is decent, not exactly anemic, but never really getting a chance to flex any muscles (this is a Disney mix).

Special Features: 3.5/5

The UHD disc has no special features whatsoever, but there is a nice mix of extras on the included Blu-ray disc.

The Two Emmas (1080p; 10:46): A look at the two leading ladies.

The Sidekick Angle (1080p; 5:30): A look at Jasper and Horace.

Cruella Couture (1080p; 9:43): A look at the film’s costume design.

The World of Cruella (1080p; 6:25): A look at the film’s production design.

New Dogs… Old Tricks (1080p; 6:04): A look at the animal actors in the film.

Cruella 101 (1080p; 3:35): A look at the many Easter Eggs from the film.

Bloopers (1080p; 1:57)

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 1:54): Two scenes are included – Hotel Heist Hallway and Baroness Rejects Design Sketches.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere. At the time of this review, the code included with my copy wanted to redeem as HD.

Overall: 4/5

Cruella is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a fun caper/revenge story with great performances and production design, but at times is way too dark and disturbing for the kids.

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Todd Erwin

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Todd Erwin

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I just got off the phone with Disney Guest Services, and was advised NOT to redeem my code until this issue is fixed, as they are aware of the issue.
 

Todd Erwin

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It appears that Disney may have fixed most of the 4K codes that were errantly set to redeem as HD, as mine redeemed this morning as 4K.
 

David Norman

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I just got off the phone with Disney Guest Services, and was advised NOT to redeem my code until this issue is fixed, as they are aware of the issue.

Many people who hadn't redeemed before are reporting 4K redemptions now.

Several people had the same HD from 4K code issue with Black Wido last week, and the 3 new exclusives from DMC weren;t reporting points properly (both issues now fixed), but a number of people with the Exclusives issue said if the code redeemed at all they were being reported as CRUELLA initially.

I had a different issue with my Steelbook (and a couple other rpoerts of the same) -- my code came out as ALREADY REDEEMED though the DMI points were OK. Worked my way through the system and got a new Code via a phone call at digitalmovieredeem. They said the code was reported redeemed 3 days ago -- 2 days prerlease and 3 before mine landed at the PostOffice.
 

Malcolm R

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They said the code was reported redeemed 3 days ago -- 2 days prerlease and 3 before mine landed at the PostOffice.
I wonder if there are bots that people have programmed just to try random codes in the hope of scoring once in a while?

I'd imagine if you have enough Disney codes there must be some sort of possible pattern that a computer could figure out.
 

Todd Erwin

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Many people who hadn't redeemed before are reporting 4K redemptions now.

Several people had the same HD from 4K code issue with Black Wido last week, and the 3 new exclusives from DMC weren;t reporting points properly (both issues now fixed), but a number of people with the Exclusives issue said if the code redeemed at all they were being reported as CRUELLA initially.

I had a different issue with my Steelbook (and a couple other rpoerts of the same) -- my code came out as ALREADY REDEEMED though the DMI points were OK. Worked my way through the system and got a new Code via a phone call at digitalmovieredeem. They said the code was reported redeemed 3 days ago -- 2 days prerlease and 3 before mine landed at the PostOffice.
A bunch of whiners on Vudu Forums were complaining about Luca also redeeming in HD, but these children* were redeeming on Vudu directly, crying for Vudu to fix the issue, refusing to contact Disney to obtain a new code, and basically told me to get lost regarding even the thought of redeeming a code on Movies Anywhere. Now, these same children* are whining about Cruella, and throwing a tantrum because no one from Vudu will respond on the forum, still refusing to make a simple phone call (to either Disney or Vudu) or even fill out a simple form on Disney's Guest Relations website.

*probably not children, but definitely behaving like one.
 
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Todd Erwin

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I had a different issue with my Steelbook (and a couple other rpoerts of the same) -- my code came out as ALREADY REDEEMED though the DMI points were OK. Worked my way through the system and got a new Code via a phone call at digitalmovieredeem. They said the code was reported redeemed 3 days ago -- 2 days prerlease and 3 before mine landed at the PostOffice.
My uncle used to work for Technicolor at their long-since-closed replication facility in Camarillo, California, and told me how digibooks (or any non-standard keepcase) had to be assembled by hand, which allowed for lots of mistakes to occur. This included wrong or duplicate discs going out. This happened to me twice so far in my lifetime, where I received two of the same discs instead of two different discs (two of disc three in the 4-disc Two Towers DVD set and no disc four, two Blu-ray movie discs in one of the Harry Potter 4K releases and no special features disc).

Makes you wonder if someone on the assembly line is snapping photos of the MA code inserts on those steelbooks... :huh:
 

Malcolm R

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Makes you wonder if someone on the assembly line is snapping photos of the MA code inserts on those steelbooks... :huh:
That would have been my second guess after a computer bot.

I had the issue you described with a set of Back to the Future years ago. I think I got the first film and two discs of the third film. The second film was not included.
 

Dave Moritz

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The first viewing of this title on Disney + was very enjoyable and I actually want to add the 4K blu-ray to my library.