Monday, October 4, 2010

The Secret of Kells Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 27.5 GB
Film Size: 19.8 GB
Film Rating: PG
Release Date: October 5th, 2010.
Region: A
The Video
The Secret of Kells’ debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation that is sure to impress. The animated film is unique in style and it looks absolutely stunning in high-definition.

The film’s colors can be both dark and dim when a scene is intended to be, but can also be rich and vibrant like the only the very feature best transfers feature. Blacks are nice and inky from beginning to end.

The film’s animation style isn’t something that will appeal to everyone, the look can be both overly simple and overly complex, or a blend of the two. I personally find the animation style to be remarkable and I was extremely impressed from beginning to end.

An included DVD copy of the film also looks quite strong, certainly one of the better looking DVD releases I have seen in quite some time, and it is true that animation can look quite great upconverted as well. Colors are definitely stronger on the high-def transfer and the overall clarity is impressive too, particularly when compared back-to-back on my high-def projector setup.

The animation has moments in which I thought I saw some slight banding, but many moments just appear to be part of the source, whether it is intentional or unintentional. The animation style has plenty of lighting effects/texture effects added to the presentation that do look odd at first, but you quickly realize are part of the presentation and not a technical issue.

Overall I think fans of the film and high-def viewers in general will be very delighted and impressed by the high-def presentation. Sure, there are definitely better looking animated films on Blu-ray, but The Secret of Kells still manages to rank highly compared to many animated releases and is by far one of the most unique looking animated films on Blu-ray. 9/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track are included. Optional subtitles include English.

It is great to see that the studio was able to include not one, but two lossless audio mixes. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is what I went with, and it is far better than I could have imagined.

The film is animated and the voices are recorded in-studio, which makes for pretty much the clearest listening experience. Dialogue is generally presented front and center, but there is unexpected surround use throughout.

The film’s music is beautiful as it makes nice use of the surround speakers as well. What really impressed me however is the amazing attention to detail and effects use. The audio effects take place throughout the entire speakers, and this is honestly one of the most immersive and amazing audio experiences that I have ever had.

I've seen and heard over one thousand Blu-ray releases and this is easily one of the best sounding animated films or films in general available. I honestly could next expect so much fitting surround use, prepare to be impressed. 10/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

Audio Commentary
With Director Tomm Moore, Co-Director Nora Twomey, and Art Director Ross Stewart.

Voices of Ireland (10:50) (SD)
Go behind-the-scenes of the voice recording sessions with Brendan Gleeson, Evan McGuire, Christen Mooney and Mick Lally.

Pencil to Picture, Part One (7:09) (SD)
See scenes play as they transition between pencil drawings to the final look of the film, very neat.

Pencil to Picture, Part Two (1:32) (SD)
See another scene transition between pencil drawings and final production.

Director’s Presentation (27:00) (HD)
The Director has created a slideshow of images and he provides commentary throughout the images specifically and overall. Those interested in the story concepts and look of the film itself will really appreciate this feature.

Aisling at the Oscars (0:21) (HD)
See the short clip of Aisling talking about the film’s Oscar nomination, as seen during the telecast of the Oscars.

Early Concept Trailer (4:08) (SD)
With optional commentary.

US Theatrical Trailer (2:09) (HD)
The US theatrical trailer is presented in high-definition.

Disc 2 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film.


The Secret of Kells includes a cardboard slip cover which goes over a standard 2-disc Blu-ray case. Also included is a 20-page color comic titled ‘The Secret of Kells: Origins.’

The extras included on this release are certainly enjoyable, including a mix of both high-def and standard-def features. I really enjoyed the pencil to picture features as well as the Director’s presentation included.

A DVD copy of the film included is also a major plus. This one is certainly one which will equally appeal to younger audiences as it will with adults, smart move by the studio. 7/10.

The Movie
Oscar nominated animated feature ‘The Secret of Kells’ is now available on Blu-ray and I could not be happier. The uniquely animated film got some great recognition this past year, causing interest among award show viewers to a film which they otherwise would never hear about.

‘The Secret of Kells’ is a movie I had an opportunity to see once in the past and I really enjoyed it. The film isn’t remarkable in all aspects, but the unique style of the animation and interesting storytelling do make this one stand out.

‘The Secret of Kells’ tells the story of a young boy named Brendan who goes on a giant adventure to complete a magical book, however he must first overcome plenty of fears and challenges along the way. On his adventure he discovers a wolf-girl named Aisling who has unique powers which help him along the way.

The animation is simply gorgeous and the story really can be understood simply from the animation itself. The story isn’t the most engaging I have ever seen, but it is certainly very solid and generally impressive. I do think the film could have been slightly longer for further character and story development, but that just isn’t the case.

Overall I found the animation itself to be much more impressive than the story. The story while good just doesn’t have the substance to make this one a classic, but the animation certainly does. This is a visual treat that any fan of animation should not miss. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘The Secret of Kells’ is a beautifully animated film which lacks somewhat in story development, but makes up for with a unique and stunning visual experience. The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring an impressive video and audio presentation. The extras are also enjoyable, but I do wish more was included. Overall the Blu-ray release is 'A Must Own’ for fans of the film and ‘Highly Recommended’ to anyone new to the film.

Theatrical Trailer:

Additional Screenshots:

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