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Still holds up after 33 years 4 Stars

Disney brings the Robert Zemeckis classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit to UHD Blu-ray that is a nice improvement over the previous 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Released: 22 Jun 1988
Rated: PG
Runtime: 104 min
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Writer(s): Gary K. Wolf, Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Plot: A toon-hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.
IMDB rating: 7.7
MetaScore: 83

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 1.0 DD (Mono), Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 44 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 12/07/2021
MSRP: $34.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Back in 1988, the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a technical marvel and breakthrough in the way it seamlessly blended live action and cel animation while still telling an entertaining and often humorous film noir story of a cartoon character framed for murder. That’s pretty heavy stuff for a “family-friendly” film, but director Robert Zemeckis, hot off Back to the Future, manages to lighten the story up some with the zaniness of the Tex Avery-inspired animation (directed by Richard Williams) and interplay with the human characters, especially Bob Hoskins as private detective Eddie Valiant, who should have at the very least been nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film, which really helps to sell the audience on the premise.

Thirty-three years later, the effects work by Ken Ralston and his team at Industrial Light and Magic still hold up fairly well, even more so if you consider that this was all done back in the analog era of visual effects, having to not only optically composite the animation with the live action without the aid of a computer, but also add lighting effects to the animation as well. It is all that hard work that makes these interactions believable, and the Oscar for Best Visual effects that the film won was well-deserved.

Matt Hough reviewed the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release in 2013, and you can read his thoughts on the film here.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

As I noted above, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is from the analog era of visual effects, a movie shot on 35mm film with visual effects composited thru the use of an optical printer, and nearly all of the shots in the completed film have some sort of visual effect. For that reason, the movie has always appeared a bit on the soft side, and was actually rather disappointed in how the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release looked. While this new 4K scan is not as stunning as one would hope for, mostly due to the generational losses in the optical printing process, is it a noticeable improvement over the previous Blu-ray release. The use of HDR10 high dynamic range greatly improves the movie’s overall contrast, adding more perceived depth in the image but also allowing for deeper blacks and brighter highlights. Colors also get a much needed boost in vibrancy and gradations, particularly reds, and Jessica Rabbit’s dress in her famous show number at the Ink and Paint Club is even more of a show-stopper than ever before, as her dress not only glows, it shimmers with each sparkle. Detail is sharper overall, yet still falls a bit on the soft side (again, due to the limitations of optical printing). As an added bonus, the included Blu-ray appears to be remastered, using this new 4K scan as its source.

Audio: 4/5

The default Dolby Atmos track allows for a wider front soundstage and better placement of discrete sound effects, but unfortunately, this is still a rather front-heavy mix, something I’ve noticed since originally screening this film in 70mm multiple times during its initial theatrical run back in 1988 (I was a theatre evaluator for Lucasfilm’s Theatre Alignment Program), as well as the stereo surround mix found on the Laserdisc release, and 5.1 mixes on both DVD and Blu-ray. This is still an improvement over the previous 5.1 mixes, allowing for a bit more immersion by including atmospheric and music extensions in the height speakers and rear surrounds. LFE presence doesn’t see much of an improvement, but I think it is safe to assume that this is a more object-based interpretation of the original 70mm mix.

Special Features: 3/5

Unfortunately, there are no new extras on this release. The good news is that it appears nothing is missing.

UHD Disc:
Audio Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis, Producers Frank Marshall and Steve Starkey, Writers Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman, and Visual Effects Supervisor Ken Ralston: Kudos to Disney for including the audio commentary track on the UHD disc!

Blu-ray Disc:
Audio Commentary

The Roger Rabbit Shorts (1080p; 25:32): All three shorts are included – Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, and Trail Mix-Up.

Deleted Scene: The Pig Head Sequence (480i; 5:30)

Who Made Roger Rabbit (480i; 10:56)

Before and After (480i; 3:07)

Toon Stand-Ins (480i; 3:14)

Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit (480i; 36:37)

On Set! Benny the Cab (480i; 4:51)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 4/5

Who Framed Roger Rabbit has never looked or sounded better than it does on this new 4K UHD Blu-ray, even though it may not be the home run that other titles from this era have achieved. All of the previous special features have been included on a remastered Blu-ray sourced from the new 4K transfer, and the very informative and entertaining audio commentary has been included on the UHD disc (a possible first for Disney).

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Published by

Todd Erwin

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Bryan Tuck

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Thanks for the review, Todd! I know it's been decades, but since you screened a number of 70mm prints, I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question I've had for a while.

Something I've noticed about the 5.1 tracks on previous DVD and Blu-ray releases of this movie is that the surrounds seemed out of sync with the other channels, particularly in the 2nd half of the movie. This created an unnatural sounding "echo" effect in the music during some scenes (especially during Eddie's drive towards Toontown and most of the climax in the Gag Factory).

I always figured this was a leftover aspect of the 70mm mix, since (I think) the surround channel on 1980s six-track mixes was sometimes delayed slightly to accommodate larger auditoriums, but this seemed a little excessive. It was as if at some point during the digitization of the audio, the surround channels were accidentally thrown more out of sync than they should have been.

At any rate, the new Atmos seems to have finally corrected this, but do you happen to remember if the 70mm mix had the surround channel delayed that much?
 

Todd Erwin

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Thanks for the review, Todd! I know it's been decades, but since you screened a number of 70mm prints, I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question I've had for a while.

Something I've noticed about the 5.1 tracks on previous DVD and Blu-ray releases of this movie is that the surrounds seemed out of sync with the other channels, particularly in the 2nd half of the movie. This created an unnatural sounding "echo" effect in the music during some scenes (especially during Eddie's drive towards Toontown and most of the climax in the Gag Factory).

I always figured this was a leftover aspect of the 70mm mix, since (I think) the surround channel on 1980s six-track mixes was sometimes delayed slightly to accommodate larger auditoriums, but this seemed a little excessive. It was as if at some point during the digitization of the audio, the surround channels were accidentally thrown more out of sync than they should have been.

At any rate, the new Atmos seems to have finally corrected this, but do you happen to remember if the 70mm mix had the surround channel delayed that much?
Sorry, that was ages ago.
 

David Norman

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There may be some issue with the production so something more than the usual Disney/Amazon issues.

One of the main BBY employees who updates inventory over on Bluray.com says his store (and those he can check with the internal inventory) got no supplies of their Steelbook
I'm not seeing anything listed for Walmart B&M yet, but I'm hoping this one shows up there. $16 for a same day pickup would be a great Day 1 purchase
 
Last edited:

B-ROLL

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It looks like it's available at DMC - I believe the price is after a full price purchase for VIP members

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Last edited:

Todd Erwin

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No UHD disc product links, just a link to streaming Prime video?

There may be some issue with the production so something more than the usual Disney/Amazon issues.

One of the main BBY employees who updates inventory over on Bluray.com says his store (and those he can check with the internal inventory) got no supplies of their Steelbook
I'm not seeing anything listed for Walmart B&M yet, but I'm hoping this one shows up there. $16 for a same day pickup would be a great Day 1 purchase
I removed the Prime Video link. Still not available to purchase domestically on disc from Amazon, just like every other Disney release.
 

noel aguirre

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My gripe is that the steel book is rather bland looking considering it could have looked amazing. The yellow is very subdued as are all the colors actually.
Having said above the movie itself looks incredible and I would give it a 5- it’s never looked better.
 
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Colin Jacobson

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My review indicates the text commentary from the DVD is on the 25th anniversary Blu-ray.

Was I drunk again when I wrote it and screwed up my cut/paste? Or is it there?

I'm too lazy to search through my collection and find the old BD! :D