“Cruella,” which is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by two-time Oscar® winner Emma Thompson (“Howards End,” “Sense & Sensibility”). But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.

For in-depth thoughts on Cruella, please see my colleague Dom Fisher’s review from its original theatrical release here

Video Quality

The 4K UHD Blu-Ray of Cruella offers a lovely uptick in quality over the already incredible accompanying Blu-Ray, making it a tough contender for new release of the year. Skin tones appear more natural with healthy doses of crisp detail apparent on faces such as pores. The increased range of the color spectrum is stunning to behold. The HDR enriches the colors from already impressive to out of this world when it comes to vibrancy. From beginning to end, you are thrust into this world of bold colors within the fashion which really blows you away. Even the dour London setting has a more nuanced look when it comes to brown and gray in the production design. The highlights in the film are more defined with whites more pure and balanced with no instances of blooming to be found. Elements in the film taking place in the cover of darkness are more vivid and finely delineated. The black levels are especially strong in this presentation, staying deep and inky with great detail. This 4K UHD presentation really delivers on all fronts including strong gains in clarity and color. The Blu-Ray is great, but Disney has delivered another demo-worthy transfer on this latest 4K release. 

Photo Credit: Disney

Audio Quality

This disc comes equipped with a wonderful Dolby Atmos presentation that packs one heck of punch from beginning to end. While not a traditional action film, the soundscape is set to deliver an expansive experience suitable for bringing this world to life. Sounds are appropriately rendered with precise directionality from the more kinetic scenes to interpersonal moments of dialogue. Ambient details are plentiful and quite satisfying in the rear and overhead channels. The overhead channels serve to complement the other channels rather than carry the main load, which adds a nice sense of space to the mix. Needle drops are a very important part of the film’s identity, and they envelope the room with a vengeance. Dialogue is presented perfectly clear without ever being overwhelmed by any of the competing sonic elements. The sounds of vehicles and scenes of destruction provide an all-encompassing soundscape that kicks in throughout all the speakers. The low end is engaged in a really solid way that will have your house moving. The mix offers up the best experience for those with the home theater system to support it. 

Special Features

  • The Two Emmas: An eleven-minute piece which explores how real-life friends Emma Stone and Emma Thompson prepared for their roles as Cruella de Vil and the Baroness von Hellman and transformed into these characters. The performers discuss the fun of building a backstory for this iconic villain, real-life inspirations and more. 
  • The Sidekick Angle: – A nearly six-minute look at the talented actors who play Horace and Jasper, how their characters deepen the film’s story and how the trio’s friendship changes as the smart, feisty Estella becomes Cruella. This piece is worth watching just to see the great Paul Walter Hauser goofing around during the production of this supplement. 
  • Cruella Couture: A ten-minute look at the spectacular artistry of this couture collection with an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at some of the most fashionable moments in the movie. There are a lot of fun insights from Costume Designer Jenny Beavan in this one. 
  • The World of Cruella: A nearly seven-minute look at the city locations and elaborate sets of the film featuring extraordinary production design detail which bring 1970s London to life. There are some enlightening anecdotes about the benefits of shooting in London, what each set says about the characters and more. 
  • New Dogs … Old Tricks: A six-minute featurette about the on-set life of an animal acto. You will love getting to meet the smart and expressive dogs who play Buddy, Wink and the Dalmatians, along with their devoted trainers. It is pretty amazing to see what these dogs could accomplish with some devoted training. 
  • Cruella 101: A nearly four-minute exploration of the film’s Easter eggs and clever connections to Walt Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” that are masterfully woven throughout this modern origin story. 
  • Bloopers: A two-minute collection of flubbed and forgotten lines, goofing around on set, ruined takes and more that is quite delightful. 
  • Deleted Scenes: Two unused scenes totaling two minutes are included here featuring a confrontation during a hotel robbery and the Baroness rejecting some sketches by Estella. 

 

Final Thoughts

Cruella is a film that could have easily been a misfire, but thanks to the snappy direction of Craig Gillespie and the fierce performance from Emma Stone it ranks as one of the strongest live-action repurposing of their original content. This movie is giving off so much attitude and allowing for so many belly laughs that you cannot help but be put under its spell. Disney Home Entertainment has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray featuring a dazzling A/V presentation and a decent assortment of special features. This is a feature that will hold up really well on rewatches. Recommended 

Cruella will be available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray and DVD on September 21, 2021. The film is currently available on digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Disney Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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