Sony brings the Netflix family film The Mitchells vs. the Machines to Blu-ray with some fun special features.
The Production: 4.5/5
Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is getting ready to leave for film school, but her father Rick (Danny McBride) is afraid of her being a failure, despite never seeing any of her more recent student films. As an attempt to reconnect with Katie, Rick packs the family into the station wagon for a cross-country drive to drop Katie off at college. As Katie documents their trip, technology company PAL Labs announces the launch of their new AI platform featuring robot slaves, rendering the current PAL (Olivia Colman) obsolete. In retaliation, PAL takes control of the robots, imprisoning company founder Mark Bowman (Eric André) and the entire human population, with the intent to eventually fire them into deep space. Katie and her family, in their dysfunctionality, manage to evade capture and cause two robots (Fred Armisen & Conan O’Brien) to malfunction, and in doing so the robots reveal PAL’s weakness – a kill switch embedded in their coding. Can this dysfunctional family work together to overthrow the robot apocalypse and save humanity?
The Mitchells vs. the Machines was a wonderful surprise, thanks to the filmmakers’ off-kilter sense of humor and strong character development. The film is funny, sweet, heart-warming, and a statement on our over-reliance on technology without being heavy-handed. The animation style is refreshing, taking more of a hand-drawn approach in its design. The vocal performances are perfectly cast, including Maya Rudolph as the mother Linda and director Michael Rianda as younger brother Aaron.
3D Rating: NA
Sony Pictures originally sold The Mitchells vs. the Machines to Netflix (along with a handful of other animated films) earlier this year, and the film debuted on the streaming service with Dolby Vision HDR last summer. Sony has released the film on Blu-ray (it’s also available to purchase on 4K digital with HDR) is a transfer that shows Blu-ray at its best. The first thing one will notice off the bat is an overall brighter image (at the expense, however, of decreased contrast). This is a colorful film, and those colors are vivid without appearing overly saturated. The level of detail is pretty close to the same on this 1080p disc compared to the Netflix digital (which is negligibly better if you really look hard, but could be the HDR).
The disc’s default audio track is a very good DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is active and fairly immersive (not as immersive as the Dolby Atmos track found on the 4K digital). Flying robots whiz around the room with good directionality, and LFE lends a hand to give those types of sound effects a hefty presence. Mark Mothersbaugh’s score is spread nicely along the fronts and back to the surrounds. Dialogue remains clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 4/5
The Blu-ray/DVD combo set (dubbed “The Katie Mitchell Edition”) contains some nice extras, in an overall design that pays homage to The Criterion Collection.
Dog Cop 7: The Final Chapter (1080p; 8:24): This is a live-action short with puppets, based on a series of shorts that appear in the film made by Katie.
Bonus Scenes! (1080p; 25:18): Eight scenes are included mostly in storyboard form – The Mitchells Learn to Love the Robots!, Katie’s Sneaky Dog Cop Apology, Katie Mitchell – The Most Popular Girl in Town, The Mitchells Meet the (Vice) President, Technology Takeover – With Bonus Cruelty to a Child!, Everybody Loves Killbot, The Robots Attack – Early Version, and Cold Open – Old PAL Infomercial.
Katie’s Cabinet of Forgotten Wonders (1080p; 11:24): A series of short featurettes on Katie Vision, an early Dumb Robots Trailer, The Original Mitchells Story Pitch, The Furby Scene – How? Why?, and Pal’s World.
The Mitchells vs the Machines: Or How a Group of Passionate Weirdos Made a Big Animated Movie (1080p; 12:49): A fun but short look at the making of the movie.
Filmmaker’s Commentary: Director and co-writer Michael Rianda is joined by Visual Effects Supervisor Michael Lasker, Production and Character Designer Lindsey Olivares, Co-Writer and Co-Director Jeff Rowe, Producer Kurt Albrecht, Head of Animation Alan Hawkins, and Head of Story Guillermo Martinez. This could easily have been a crowded commentary track, but this is a passionate group who take turns discussing the making of the movie.
How To… (1080p; 3:39): Quick videos on how to Make Sock Puppets and Make Katie Face Cupcakes.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in HD on Movies Anywhere.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a funny and entertaining movie that is highly recommended!
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