The City of Lost Children - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (Sony Pictures Classics Collection)Overview -
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro combined their visionary forces to deliver a nightmarishly beautiful science fiction fantasy with The City of Lost Children. After a pretty dodgy first Blu-ray effort, the film scores a welcome and fitting 4K UHD Dolby Vision upgrade as part of the 11-film Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary Collection. Tag on excellent original French and dubbed English tracks with a fine assortment of bonus features - Highly Recommended
From Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of AMELIE and DELICATESSEN, comes a fantastically twisted fairy tale chock-full of curious characters, spectacular stunts and unforgettable visuals.
THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN 4K UHD Disc Breakdown
· Feature presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision
· French 2-Channel Surround DTS-HD Master Audio
· Special Features:
o Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Actor Ron Perlman
o NEWLY ADDED: Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet
o Making-Of Featurette
o "Les Archives de Jean-Pierre Jeunet"
o Interview With Costume Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier
o Theatrical Teasers & Trailer
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
There is a being unable to dream called Krank (Daniel Emilfork) wasting away on a derelict oil rig. Created by a mad scientist, Krank uses a gaggle of infantile clones (Dominique Pinon), a brain in a vat, and other bizarre creations to extract the dreams of kidnapped children to sustain himself. A young girl called Miette (Judith Vitte) and a brutish hulk called One (Ron Pearlman) will work together to find the missing children and put an end to Krank’s schemes.
If there was ever a director who could outweird Terry Gilliam for plot, character, and production design it’d be Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Along with Marc Caro, the two visionary filmmakers craft a nightmare fantasy with The City of Lost Children that’s terrifying but so beautifully intricate you can’t look away. There are times when the style may get in the way of substance but by and large the film is a knockout. I count myself lucky for getting to see it in the theater because it’s a film that plays well on a big screen. And given the holiday season, it also works as an intensely bizarre Christmas movie too!
While I love this film I do have to point out it isn’t flawless. A visual masterpiece for sure, it often bogs itself down losing focus of plot and character for the sake of exciting visuals. There are some incredible practical visual effects within the set design, makeup, and costuming that begs you to just stare at it and soak it all in. The why and wherewithal of the plot can be a bit of a mystery, even after numerous viewings. The film also features some impressive CGI effects work for the era including multiple little Dominique Pinon’s running around the screen at the same time. Some of these effects may be very dated by today’s standards, but for their time they were groundbreaking. But as I prattle on about the visual stylings and effects work, therein lies the problem. I’m not talking about the story which is so intricate that it loses itself for stretches at a time.
As it may be imperfect, The City of Lost Children is still an exciting piece of work. Caro and Jeunet are visual masters with a unique eye for what film can be. Their first feature together, Delicatessen is another terrific example of what these filmmakers can offer audiences by crafting unique worlds and stories with colorful oddball characters and manic circus-like energy. For their original creations, their sensibilities are a wonder but were probably a little too much for something like Alien Resurrection. That clunky sequel aside, I’m always down to check out whatever new film they come up with. But if there isn’t anything new on the horizon, The City of Lost Children is always worth revisiting.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
After a rough Blu-ray release in 2015, The City of Lost Children wakes up to a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray exclusively part of the 11-Film Sony Pictures Classics 30th Anniversary Collection. Pressed on a BD-66 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with slipcover. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options and the bonus features panel along the right side of the screen.
In 2015 I was all excited about the prospect of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children getting a Blu-ray release… then came the reviews. I’m glad I was able to rent it and didn’t blind buy it outright because it was a bit of a dog. Better than DVD sure, but not enough in my opinion to have justified the upgrade. Now seven years on, Sony has fixed a wrong with a new 4K Dolby Vision transfer that has its cooked-in dodgy spots but overall is a marvelous affair. For the most part details are immaculate allowing you to fully appreciate facial features, the awesome makeup effects, and the weird wild costuming and production design work. Film grain is intact, it can be a bit heavy in places - especially the more effects-laden scenes.
Dolby Vision HDR does a magnificent job of bringing out that sickly green/orange/brown tone Caro and Jeunet brought to the film. It’s a heavily stylized show so standard primaries don’t really apply here beyond those shades of blue, red, and yellow looking as weird as they should. Black levels are overall strong, in much better shape than the 2015 disc by a mile, but not entirely perfect either. The sticking issue is the heavy effects work for certain sequences - namely any of the composite CGI shots featuring multiple versions of any given cast member or when that digital insect is crawling around. That’s just a baked-in feature of the film and has always been a bit dodgy and stood out. Better than before, but yeah, the heavy almost crushed blacks sticks. Overall this is an excellent improvement over what's come before.
Fans of The City of Lost Children can choose between the excellent original French DTS-HD MA 2.0 track or the rather decent English Dubbed DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. I first saw this film in theaters in French, but when it came to video my local shops only stocked the English dubbed version. Kinda disappointing but I also got used to it and the dubbed voice work is actually pretty good and doesn’t sound weirdly goofy or loses anything in the translation. Now, the French track is still preferred, but if you hate subtitles that dubbed option works. Sound effects are active and engaging for a rich soundscape and the film’s score by the late great Angelo Badalamenti is some beautiful stuff. All around great audio for this flick.
As has been the case with most of the releases in this Sony Pictures Classics Collection, Sony has brought over all of the past archival extras that are pretty good and well worth the time. The Jeunet and Ron Pearlman commentary is also a very good listen. But to sweeten the deal, there’s a new solo Jeunet commentary in french with English subtitles that is a great track. Not easy to just sit back and listen to - unless you fully understand French - but he shares a lot of interesting material about the production, the themes of the film, and what it took to bring a lot of the visuals to life.
- NEW Audio Commentary featuring Jean-Pierre Jenuet
- Audio Commentary featuring Jean-Pierre Jenuet and Ron Pearlman
- Making Of (SD 26:07)
- Les Archives de Jean-Pierre Jeunet (SD 13:57)
- Interview with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (SD 3:24)
The City of Lost Children is another Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro visual marvel. The film may not always make sense and get lost in its visuals, but it’s an arresting film with great performances topped off with a beautiful score from the late great Angelo Badalamenti. Now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with Dolby Vision, a lot of issues that plagued the 20th Anniversary release have been fixed or greatly improved, but a lot of the film’s cooked-in technical limitations pinch this release’s full potential. But it’s still damn beautiful! Toss in great French and English-dubbed audio with a fine assortment of bonus features and you’ve got an impressive release. If Sony doesn’t get around to a solo release, this is a highlight of the set. Highly Recommended.
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