The sun came up for the children’s musical classic based on the iconic newspaper strip cartoon with Annie on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Exclusive to the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol 3 set, this delightful broadway musical come to life still shines with heart and humor and now looks and sounds better than ever with an impressive Dolby Vision transfer and an immersive Dolby Atmos audio track. Toss in some excellent new bonus features and you’ve got a Highly Recommended title for the whole family.
This flick was the very first Blu-ray review I turned in for High-Def Digest nearly eight years ago so I’m going to let that review stand for itself, my thoughts and feelings for Annie haven’t changed in that time. If anything, now that I have a kid I enjoy it more today than I did back when I was a simple-minded DINK just hoping to get a little cash for reviewing movies. I’ve met some folks who really can rage away at this movie and for the life of me I don’t get why. It’s delightfully charming, and heartwarming, with kid-friendly humor for the little ones and some adult jokes for the Moms and Dads in the room. The songs are infectious and John Huston’s direction and staging never lose sight of the characters. If you find yourself next to someone who won’t shut up about how much they hate this movie, do what I did - turn the volume up so they leave the room (even if it's at their house).
My full review of Annie: 30th Anniversary Blu-ray
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
It’s a hard-knock life for collectors when Annie picks up a new 2-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release to celebrate 40 years of day-walker-fueled charm and happiness! This release is currently exclusive to Sony’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 3 set. Similar to the past volumes, this film gets its own two-disc case with slipcover and classic artwork for the insert art. The discs get their own bays without stacking. The 4K disc scores a BD-100 disc with the 1080p singing and dancing onto a BD-50. The discs load to static image main menus with the bonus features panel along the right side of the screen.
Both the 4K disc and the Blu-ray score new transfers for this 40th Anniversary (god I’m old) celebration of Annie. The 2160p Dolby Vision presentation is the clear and obvious winner just for the costumes and production design details alone. While this film may not be all glitzed up like classic musicals of Hollywood’s Golden Era for song and dance features, this film is still quite something. From Annie’s day walker red locks to Sandy’s shaggy hair to Albert Finney’s bald head, no amount of fine detail is wasted. I glowed about the 30th Anniversary when I reviewed it all those years ago and this new transfer easily leaves that great disc (for its time) far behind. With fine details clearly rendered, film grain maintains a healthy cinematic appearance throughout.
Dolby Vision HDR (and HDR10) also does wonders for this film - especially for the climax. This is mostly a bright film but colors tend to favor the dirty drab browns through the opening act so little splashes of reds, blues, and yellows really pop. As Annie’s lot in life improves, the colors of Daddy Warbucks’ house are vivid and wonderful. Black levels also see a wonderful boost with clean shadows without any crush issues. And going back to the climax of the film, this is a big help allowing more detail in key sequences than we saw before with a better sense of depth. Some of the effects shots still look a little janky but for their day they were convincing enough. Thankfully the added resolution doesn’t completely betray them. A clean and clear transfer without any age-related issues, it’s another winning catalog transfer for Sony.
As has been the case for some of the other titles in Sony’s latest Columbia Classics set, Annie picks up an impressive but not altogether necessary Atmos track along with DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. Now, it’s dealer’s choice which one works best for you depending on your setup. The Atmos mix is excellent and offers many flourishes and enhancements over the 5.1 mix - especially for the big song and dance numbers - but the 5.1 and 2.0 hold their own. I admit I’m usually drawn to the original mixes for catalog titles, if it was in mono or stereo in theaters, I just tend to enjoy that experience more, but this Atmos was quite something. Songs like “It’s the hard-knock life,” “Little Girls,” or “Lets Go to the Movies” offer clear improvements with Atmos for a fully immersive and engaging presence. But then you get song features like “We Got Annie” that just don’t do a whole lot and keep pretty well to the fronts with only slight moves into the sides and height channels. This disc would have been just fine with the 2.0 or 5.1 track, but if you’re rigged for Atmos, it’s a pretty great experience all on its own.
As has been the case with the other members of the Columbia Classics Vol 3 set, Annie adopts a lovely assortment of new and archival bonus features to dig into. Perhaps the most interesting for some folks will be the original 1932 film fully restored in HD. I’d never seen it and expected to only preview it for a few minutes but I found myself caught up in it and before I knew it the film was over! So definitely check it out if you’re curious. After that we pick up some brand new cast and crew interviews as well as a multi-personality audio commentary track that’s been cobbled together from different sources, but it’s a pretty good listen - just wish they could have had everyone in the room together. It’s more of a collection of interviews played with the film which is nice, it’s probably better in this format than those Zoom-meeting interviews we’ve seen of late.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
Annie is a delightful film, plain and simple. As one of the few musicals I can tolerate let alone purely enjoy, it just puts a smile on your face with great energy and infectious tunes for an all-around impressive production under John Huston’s careful eye. 40 years later and this delightful film isn’t out of tune. Sony gives Annie a welcome and fitting 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray upgrade with a wonderful Dolby Vision transfer and three audio tracks to choose from including an overall excellent Atmos mix. Capped off with some great bonus features this is another great addition to any collection if you’re not aiming to pick up the full Columbia Classics Vol 3 set. Highly Recommended