You can't crush a soul here. That's what life on Earth is for.
Soul is an inspired name for the film: describing the essence of the music and the thematic idea behind the story. Pete Docter - Monster’s Inc. (2001), Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015) once again takes the helm of a Pixar movie and takes it into an altogether different plane. The exploration of the essence of humanity, the purpose of being and afterlife, while being accessible and non-religious, is so skilfully handled that you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.
Heady ideas, told simply
By combining story elements of soul searching, fish-out-of-water, buddy comedy with an overarching narrative of wanting to belong to something bigger than yourself, Pixar has crafted a wonderful film that is both straight forward and abstract. It cleverly gives hints on answers with broad brush strokes on thematic and theological ideals, yet has a grounding in the real world, with all too human issues of unfulfillment and desire. Heady ideas, told simply and visually so that it is absurdly easy to absorb.
Clever ideas, perfect voice casting and a visual aspect to the film that is at once otherworldly and yet obvious, Soul manages to cross genres, bend ideas and form a whole that is remarkable and all together entertaining. Pixar has done it again.
Soul 4K Video
Soul exists purely in the digital realm as a 4K DI. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image with widescreen 2.39.:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Soul on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
A perfect picture
The detail (obviously depended on how much is put in by the artists) is absolutely breathtaking; everything is visible, from the thickness of the cat’s fur, to the reflections in the trombone’s mouthpiece, from the scuff marks in the worn apartment, to the peeling paint of the railings, from the posters on the walls, to the, quite astonishing, lights overlooking New York (seriously could have been a postcard image), nothing is missing and everything is absolute.
The WGC and HDR really give the colours some pop, from the rich earthly hues of green and brown, to the more ethereal pinks and blues of the astral plane. Skin tones are perfectly natural, while sunlight is given a vivid aspect, indeed lighting throughout is so natural as to fool the eye; check out the richness of the colours once someone enters the ‘zone’.
Black levels are deep and strong, whether that is the infinite black of the ‘Great Beyond’ or the depth of the tunnel in the subway. White scale too is blinding; again look at the ‘Great Beyond’.
Digitally there are no issues, likewise the source is pristine; in many respects, it's the perfect picture.
Soul 4K Audio
The Dolby Atmos track is wide and expansive making liberal use of all the channels to provide an absorbing sonic experience. The layers of music in the jazz club, likewise the school class room, where each instrument is distinct but part of the group. The echoes in the astral plane, the zzupp of the souls as they enter the Great Beyond, indeed all dialogue is clear, precise and natural sounding.
For my money the rush of sound when Joe and 22 first enter the outside world is just that – a rush – an all-encompassing wave that sweeps over you front to back, which does not let up as the pair scramble in the crowded streets, it is like you are there, cowering like 22. Bass is rich, deep and tight, giving a strong natural sounding to the track. The score makes use of the speakers to give a terrific envelope, while effects are tremendous. Impossible to fault apart from a slight volume adjustment to get the best out of it.
Soul 4K Extras
All are found on the included Blu-ray; note unlike the US disc, the UK disc does not have a second Blu-ray dedicated to extras.
Audio Commentary - Director Pete Docter, producer Dana Murray, and co-writer/co-director Kemp Powers record their commentary in separate rooms due to COVID, discussing all aspects of the film, from thematic, theological and insightful, to anecdotal and fun.
Not Your Average Joe – 9 minute feature concentrating on the titular character within the broader aspects of race and diversity and the work done to represent authenticity.
Astral Taffy – 8 minute feature looking at the design and concepts behind the ‘Soul world’, being conceptual but accessible.
Soul 4K Blu-ray Review
Pixar has done it again with Soul, a movie that explores humanity and the afterlife in a family friendly comedy that combines genres, is touching and entertaining while tackling thematic ideas but all the while remains accessible to all ages, in a skilful blend that will have you questioning why it hasn’t been done before.
The 4K UHD from Disney is pretty good, with an absolutely stunning native 4K image that is detailed, beautifully coloured with strong backs and defiant whites, with a Dolby Atmos surround track that is all encompassing, well layered with good bass and strong presence. The only let down is the lack of any serious extras.
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