Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 4K Ultra HD Review

  • Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury
  • Directors: Scott Mosier, Yarrow Cheney
  • Writers: Michael LeSieur, Tommy Swerdlow
  • Producers: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy
  • Format: 4K, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: 
     Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Run Time: 86 minutes

        Maybe I’m the real Grinch, because I was instantly annoyed by the news that Illumination Entertainment had decided to adapt the classic holiday cartoon into a feature-length animated film. The material had already been stretched out before, for Ron Howard’s live-action version, which I was also an adamant critic of. Only the news of Benedict Cumberbatch providing the voice gave me hope that the film might have a deep English accent to remind me of Boris Karloff’s iconic narration. From the moment I heard Cumberbatch’s annoying American accent for the Grinch, I knew I was destined to hate the film. Equally disappointing was Pharrell Williams as the narrator, who sounds like a dad reading a book to his kids with the purpose of getting them to fall asleep.

        The storyline for The Grinch contains most of the familiar elements from the 1966 holiday special, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” while expanding upon a few elements. For one, the character of Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) is updated and expanded. Rather than a passive encounter, Cindy-Lou sets out on a personal mission to catch Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. As well as the additions, there are some surprising alterations, most of which soften up the original story and the protagonist’s anti-social behavior. In short, it is a nicer film, but also a blander version of Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book.

        There are also some additions that are downright obnoxious. Some of them are the typical Illumination quirks in humor, which actually fit pretty well with Dr. Seuss’s imaginative world-building. And then there is the addition of a rap-song montage, with new music by Tyler the Creator. I don’t know why the filmmakers felt the need to make The Grinch more current with pop culture, but it reeks of desperation. One change that is certain to make dog-lovers happy is a complete shift in the way The Grinch treats Max. He may still despise other people, but he is mostly kind to his dog. There are additional animals as well, including an oversized reindeer named Fred, and a screaming goat.

        Although I never expected to enjoy The Grinch, I was expecting the animation to be a bit more impressive. The style is similar to the Despicable Me series, but this all looks a bit simplistic on 4K Ultra HD. Rather than seeing more details, I was more aware of the simplicity in the animation designs. This is less a fault of the 4K disc and more about animation preferences. The colors certainly pop off of the screen, but there isn’t the added resolution I was hoping for. Along with the 4K disc, there is also a Blu-ray and a digital copy of the film.

        The special features are included on both discs, highlighted by three new mini-movies involving the film’s characters. These also come paired with a making-of featurette. Many of the extras are interactive in a way that is clearly intended to provide further enjoyment from the younger viewers, and less of them actually provide meaningful information about the production. There is a supplement that allows the viewer to choose four options for a series of characters from the film, including animation tests. There is also a feature that teaches kids how to draw The Grinch, a fireplace scene/screensaver, and two lyrics videos for Tyler the Creation contributions to the film. Then there are the really pointless extras, like the one that gives the list of production babies. Overall, the extras are fitting for a film filled with unnecessary additions.  

Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance:  5/10
Special Features: 7.5/10

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