The Croods Blu-ray Review
Have you ever wondered what happened when the first humans appeared on Earth and the last of the cavemen were still living? Recently we have discovered that there was in fact crossover between the two groups and they may have even traded with each other as the last of what we consider the ‘caveman’ was just dying off. Ever since I learned about this in Forensic Anthropology in college I’ve wondered what that might have been like. As someone who, in addition to history, enjoys a good family film I was relatively excited when I heard about THE CROODS.
THE CROODS is the newest animated adventure from Dreamworks pictures, an amusing but overall empty film about one of the first (or last) families of cavemen as the continental split forces them from their cave out into the open. The family patriarch, Grug (voiced by a strange Nicolas Cage), has kept the family alive despite all of the various dangers by living by some simple rules – 1. Never not be afraid, 2. Everything new is bad… and everything else is essentially an offshoot of those. But when their cave is destroyed and they meet a human named Guy (Ryan Reynolds, who’s been in too much this year), the family embarks on a journey that may open their eyes to what they’ve been missing; should they survive, that is.
Animation is fickle with some films really breaking new ground and others basically treading back over where we’ve been the last few years. THE CROODS animation is very similar to other Dreamworks pictures, including HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (one of my recent faves), but it does have some truly incredible animation – including some really original ideas for the creatures that inhabit THE CROODS’ world. Sadly, the story isn’t nearly as powerful as the animation, which leaves us, as an audience, wanting for more even though there are some fairly decent jokes and even a few solid family moments.
A few things are done well, though, and I don’t think those pieces should necessarily be overlooked. The first 10 minutes are about as fun as any animated film I’ve seen as an adult. The story jumps into motion with the family coming out of their cave for the first time in 3 days and immediately going on a hunt for food. The animation, editing, and even music during this hunt are just escapist-fantasy fun and really give you the feeling that you’re in for something great (which sadly never happens). Additionally the voice acting is stellar; specifically lead Emma Stone (as teen/young adult Eep) and Nicolas Cage. Cage does some of his craziest, Nic Cagey-ist vocalizations in THE CROODS but they really work here and actually add something to Grug’s character development (I never thought I would say that about Cage).
The ultimate problem with THE CROODS is the formula it follows, to the letter, leaving us absolutely certain of almost everything that is going to happen from about 15 minutes into the movie. Movies can be an escape into fantasy and that, in and of itself, can be very fun. But when the movie plays to every single cliché and coming-of-age/rom-com we have a hard time staying engaged in the story. Full disclosure – I actually requested to review this one because my son really loves this movie. I think he may be a little bit young for a few of the themes (and I’m not a fan of the way the family talks to each other sometimes) but overall the message is about as vanilla as the clichés on which this script was based. While it isn’t necessarily a bad movie, THE CROODS will never be a go-to family movie for me and, despite the zany performances; the movie will probably be one of the least-revered animated films from Dreamworks… for good reason.
THE CROODS BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) This video presentation of THE CROODS in HD is absolutely flawless. There is something about a direct-digital transfer in animation on Blu-ray and the colors of the vibrant world in which THE CROODS live are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen on my television.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is presented well though there is a bit less to enjoy in THE CROODS simply because the audio takes second seat to the video. The only exception is that opening scene mentioned above, which features some great sound mixing and a great marching band/drum line number that really feels like a caveman anthem.
The Croodaceous Creatures of THE CROODS (06:12) After a brief introduction from Eep and Thunk, you can choose one or ‘play all’ for some additional information (presented with funny commentary by Eep and Thunk) on some of the coolest animal combinations featured in THE CROODS. There are nine to be viewed here, including: Bear Owl, Piranhakeet, Belt, Liyote, Punch Monkey, Turtle Dove, Turkeyfish, Girelephant, and Sharkodile.
Belt’s Cave Journal (06:15) Guy and Belt share their back story through caveman-like drawings and voiceover. In some ways I enjoyed this original and simple animation style more than THE CROODS overall.
Croods’ Cuts – Lost Scenes (08:20) The filmmakers present their favorite scenes that didn’t make the final cut of THE CROODS. 4 scenes are included here: Introduction, Crazy Grug, It’s Rain, It’s a Great Cave, and Termites.
Be An Artist! (35:16) Sadly this is the longest feature on THE CROODS. The lead animator for the feature shows and teaches how to draw a few creatures from the movie. Includes a brief Introduction, Belt, Macawnivore, Mousephant.