Review by Gordon Justesen
Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach
Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: February 27, 2018
“I have to sing. It’s not just IN me...it IS me.”
A new Pixar animated film is always something to fully embrace. But one that is opening wide audiences to a culture rarely captured in cinema is something even more special. We get that very superb element in the brilliant and absolutely beautiful Coco.
Not only does this contain a grand look at Mexican culture and, especially, how music plays a vital role in it, but we are treated to a visually sumptuous representation of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). And it is done in a way that no animated film, or film in general, has been able to pull off. The end result is another grand entry in the Pixar library of classics.
Young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) wants to be nothing more in life than a musician. His idol is legendary screen star Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), considered to be the greatest musician who ever lived. Miguel has made it his mission to follow in Ernesto’s footsteps.
There’s only one thing holding him back from his dream: his family. They have long been dead set against anything having to do with music, even in the slightest. They consider it to be a curse, as it is believed Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife and daughter for a career in the art form.
But Miguel is determined to follow his dream, even if it means running away from his family in the process. However, his attempt at entering a local musical talent contest result in an unexpected transport into the world of the dead. Soon, he finds himself amongst many of his long deceased ancestors, in addition to Ernesto de la Cruz himself, who Miguel learns he might in fact be related to.
Still a living entity, Miguel soon has to disguise himself to blend in with all of the skeletal residents that reside in the Land of the Dead. Eventually, he bumps into a bumbling misfit named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) who’s been forgotten by most of his family. And once everyone in your family forgets about you, you will cease to even exist in the afterlife.
This entire world of the Land of the Dead is far and away one of the most beautiful realized places that Pixar has ever brought to life...which is really saying a lot. As strange as it might sound, you find yourself never wanting to leave this deadly world. Once again, it’s that magic of Pixar working in extreme imaginative ways.
In addition to that wondrous aspect, Coco is a consistently surprising movie. The story establishes surprising developments exactly when you think it’s going to go in one direction, beginning with Miguel being transported to the Land of the Dead. Later on, there are even more surprising revelations leading to one of the most emotionally heartfelt conclusions to be experienced in any film...and it should be mentioned that the film does hit some intense emotional beats to the point that even the most insensitive viewer will definitely feel it hitting them.
There is absolutely no surpassing Coco for best animated feature of 2017! It blends story, character, music, humor and pure emotion into one unforgettable movie experience. It’s safe to say that Pixar’s never-ending series of classic animated films just grew by one!
By now, it’s no mystery that Pixar and Blu-ray make for the best combination imaginable when it comes to video perfection. With each new release, there always seems to be a further instance of awe in regards to the immersive detail the picture brings with it...and Coco may just be the grandest example to date. Once you are in the Land of the Dead, all of your senses will be extremely stirred...especially your eyes. The overwhelming use of color itself serves as a huge treat for them. The overall presentation boasts a beautifully bright and vivid picture that enhances the already beautiful film at hand even further. Hands down, the animated release to beat for 2018!
Accompanying the amazing visual aspect is a strong sense of sound displayed fully by the terrific 7.1 DTS HD mix! Music is a huge part of the proceedings here, and the film is hardly ever without it, and the balance between it and the dialogue delivery is indeed a superb one. Added to this, the entire world of the Land of the Dead is full of surrounding sounds to give your audio system a truly good working!
Disney and Pixar are never ones to shy away from delivering the goods in the extras department, as this Blu-ray release contains two discs worth of them:
On Disc One, we get a commentary with directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, as well as producer Darla Anderson, as well as “Welcome to the Fiesta”, a short conceptual piece with commentary from Unkrich, Molina and Anderson. Also, there’s a number of featurettes including “Mi Familia”, where the filmmakers share some of the strict family rules they had to follow when growing up, as well as “Dante”, which looks at Miguel’s canine companion from the movie, and “How to Draw a Skeleton”, which follows how to create the shape and look of the film’s skeletal appearance.
Disc Two contains even more in the way of featurettes, including “A Thousand Pictures a Day”, which chronicles the filmmakers’ trip to Mexico when researching the history of the culture they would be presenting. Next, there’s “The Music of Coco”, which looks at the authentic music that helps drive the story. Then, we have “Land of Our Ancestors”, delving into the creation of the Land of the Dead, followed by “Fashion Through the Ages”, a piece focusing on the costumes from both the worlds of the living and the dead. We also get “The Real Guitar”, a detailed look at the creation of the guitar seen throughout the film, as well as “Paths to Pixar: Coco”, which traces the lives of many of the artists involved with the production. Rounding out the lineup of featurettes is “How to Make Papel Picado”, which teaches you how to make the beloved Mexican decoration and “You Got the Part!” which captures voice actor Anthony Gonzalez right when he found out he was going to be voicing the lead. Lastly, we have six deleted scenes, as well as an introduction to them by directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina and an assortment of Trailers and Promos associated with the film.
Coco is pure cinematic beauty, and yet another illustration of Pixar pushing the boundaries of where animation can take us. It places you in a world you won’t ever forget, and the Blu-ray release from Disney enhances this feeling even more so. An absolute must own release!