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Ultra HD : Worth a Look
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Release Date: February 5th, 2019 Movie Release Year: 2018

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

Although sleep-inducing and ultimately unmemorable for adults, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is nonetheless the perfect sleigh ride to usher in the Christmas spirit for the little tykes in the family. The Grinch brandishes his evil grin and steals Ultra HD with a great-looking 4K Dolby Vision HDR presentation, an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and a decent set of supplements. The overall package is Worth a Look for UHD collectors, in general, and Recommended for the movie's fans. (We have also reviewed the Blu-ray.)

For their eighth fully animated feature, Illumination and Universal Pictures presents The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved holiday classic. The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism.

Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Two-Disc UHD Combo Pack, UHD-100 Tripe-Layer Disc / BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc, Region Free
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish
Special Features:
Digital Copy
Release Date:
February 5th, 2019

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Dr. Seuss' The Grinch heralds a pivotal but also heavily concerning moment in the history of this movie lover. The new animation feature from Illumination marks the very first time I have ever fallen asleep at the cinemas, which is something completely unheard of for me and totally out of character, no matter how boring or bad the movie. And so, the mind races through various possibilities for explaining this odd behavior, with the first and most immediate option being I may finally reached that age when this could actually be the new norm. I'm an old man! Of course, the more youthful and playful side of me refuses to accept such nonsense because falling asleep at a movie is only what a crotchety old Grinch would do. I'm still young enough to enjoy a silly animated holiday film with my family, to partake in the laughter of the juvenile, madcap zaniness. The only other logical possibility then must be the movie is so drearily dull that it managed to lull me to sleep instead of laugh.

Sadly, I think that is the most likely culprit. As heartbreaking as it is to report — again, because it almost makes me feel old — The Grinch is frankly mind-numbingly boring and a chore to sit through. Of course, if judging by the wide-eyed faces and joyous laughter of my little niece and nephew — the true target audience — with whom I watched the movie, this ranks as one of the best and funniest films of 2018. (Yeah, I'm definitely old.) Being a lifelong fan of Dr. Seuss' classic children's story, I half expected to be, at least, mildly amused by its latest adaptation from the same studio that also gave us The Lorax — another Dr. Seuss favorite — and the Despicable Me franchise. As it turns out, there are only so many times the same story can be retold before it suddenly falls flat and tedious, and for poor, old Grinch, that magical number is three. The third time is definitely not as charming, failing to add anything new to the material — aside from the characters — or offer any surprises.

The 1966 animated short with horror icon Boris Karloff providing the voice of the eponymous miscreant has evolved into a holiday staple and continues to be just as delightfully amusing as ever. The Ron Howard live-action adaptation can excite the yuletide spirit while appreciating the stage production and Jim Carrey's exaggerated portrayal, but the movie is ultimately an unexceptional and pedestrian effort. For this latest bid to steal the holiday movie-watching season, Benedict Cumberbatch steps into the green furry role with a conniving, mischievous grin, but all smiles soon fade away after the first half hour of his placidly soothing, non-threatening voice inducing yawns and drowsy eyes. Normally, the actor is a pleasure to watch with excellent comedic timing and delivery. However, divorce the voice from the actor, and suddenly, Cumberbatch is a flat, monotone and unmemorable caricature of an otherwise distinctly unique and idiosyncratic character.

The filmmakers try to counter this unfortunate sleep paralysis effect with a small host of new and far more lively residents of Whoville. Cindy Lou (Cameron Seely) is a familiar Who from the original children's book, but she's joined by her much-too adorable gang of Who-tykes in a plot to catch Santa Claus and an overworked single mother (Rashida Jones) that inspires the true meaning of the holiday spirit. Of the entire film, however, Kenan Thompson's Bricklebaum provides arguably the funniest bits as that one exceedingly ebullient neighbor who always goes overboard with the Christmas decorations. But outside of such mildly delightful moments — I enjoyed Bricklebaum's dog clash with the Grinch — directors Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier adhere to the well-known story with predictable efficiency. For the parents raised on the previous two adaptations, this makes for a snore-fest while the kids relish in the festive silliness. Then again, what do I know? I'm an old man who falls asleep at the cinemas apparently.

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings Dr. Seuss' The Grinch to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a Digital Copy code. When redeeming said code via Universal's website or Movies Anywhere, users have access to the 4K Dolby Vision version with Dolby Atmos audio. The triple-layered UHD100 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-elite case with a glossy, embossed slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a screen with options in the top left, full-motion clips and music.

Video Review


The Grinch steals the holiday spirit from Ultra HD with an excellent and occasionally jaw-dropping HEVC H.265 encode, offering fans a welcomed but ultimately slight upgrade over the Blu-ray. Considering the movie was likely rendered at 2K resolution, the upscaled UHD transfer is really not any sharper although the small uptick in overall definition is nonetheless appreciated. The animation remains extraordinary to behold, exposing the most minute decoration and item within every nook and cranny. While the tiniest feature in the rock formations of the mountaintop and cave are distinct, some of the elaborate details of Whoville and the tree decorations can suddenly appear soft from certain distances and a tad noisy along the sharpest edges. In close-ups, the hair of various characters remains well-defined and lifelike while the individual needles of pine trees and the realistic powder-like snow everywhere provide a few bits of demo-worthy eye-candy.

A better and far more appreciable upgrade is the gorgeous parade of colors, bursting from the screen with jaw-dropping opulence. The Dolby Vision presentation provides some subtle and nuanced differences in the primaries, such as Grinch's scruffy, wooly body, which now shows a neon chartreuse shade in his undercoat while the rest is a brilliant-but-still-sickly emerald green. Blues are slightly fuller with some welcomed variation between the ice, sky and the lights. The same goes for reds except they also tend to come off oddly exaggerated and over-saturated in a few sequences, such as when lighting the Christmas tree. Secondary hues, on the other hand, appear more resplendent and sumptuous with better diversity between the true-to-life yellows and fiery oranges. Some of the best moments are the mesmerizing sunset scenes bathing the screen with cotton-candy pinks, radiant violets, and marigold oranges before blending into the indigo blues of the night sky. 

Contrast doesn't show a significant difference from its HD SDR counterpart, but admittedly, the small jump is enough to give the 4K video a more jovial feel overall. Whites remain crisp and brilliant while showing some attractive gradual variation between the snow, buildings, and clothing. Specular highlights offer a more appreciable improvement, however trivial it may be, making the individual ice crystals sparkle a bit more intensely in the sunlight, revealing better detailing in the powder of the snow and the fluffy clouds, and giving metallic surfaces an eye-catching polish. Brightness levels remain about the same, which is not a bad thing since blacks were already inky rich and luxurious, providing the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a lovely cinematic appeal and dimensionality. On the other hand, there is a tad better detailing within the darkest, deepest shadows, making this 4K HDR version the preferred way for enjoying the movie with the whole family. (4K Video Rating: 84/100)

Audio Review


The holiday blockbuster debuts with an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack that won't exactly push one's audio system to its limits, but it nonetheless complements the visuals to satisfying effectiveness. 

The front-heavy design establishes a wide and splendidly spacious soundstage, as the action moves between the three channels fluidly and into the off-screen space. Imaging exhibits extraordinary clarity and detailing during the loudest, high-piercing segments, allowing for the crunch of snow to be perfectly heard while maintaining distinct, precise intonation and pitch in the various voices. For a majority of the runtime, the low-end understandably falls in within the mid-bass range, but occasionally, it will faintly dig a little deeper in a few unexpected spots. Danny Elfman's score enjoys plenty of warmth and fidelity while lightly bleeding into the surrounds and the top heights, creating an amusing, highly-engaging half-dome effect. 

For a zany and wacky animated film such as this, rear activity is surprisingly limited and confined to the on-screen action. From time to time, a few atmospherics are employed, such as the local wildlife in the distance or when characters are seen sledding through trees or do down the mountain slope. The same can be said of the height channels, as a few of those scattered effects travel above the listening area. Admittedly, such instances flawlessly pan between the speakers and are appreciable, but they also tend to draw attention to themselves while failing to generate a genuinely convincing hemispheric soundfield. Setting those gripes aside, however, the object-based mix is ultimately plenty enjoyable for the little ones in the family. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 84/100)

Special Features


The same set of supplements can be enjoyed on both the Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs.

  • Who's Who in Who-Ville (2160p): A virtual interactive map in the style of a pop-up book giving viewers an opportunity to learn more about the characters and their making. When selecting one of these characters, the following four options are made available:
    • Character Profile 
    • Animation Tests
    • Progression Reel 
    • Photo Gallery
  • Mini-Movies (2160p): A trio of animated shorts, all of which are presented in Dolby Vision HDR, provide a few more minutes of amusement for the whole family. One of these featuring the Minions played at the start of the movie in cinemas.
    • Yellow Is the New Black (4 min)
    • The Dog Days of Winter (4 min)
    • Santa's Little Helpers (4 min)
  • The Making of the Mini-Movies (2160p, 6 min): Briefly explore the themes of each of the mini-movies through the eyes of the filmmakers who made them.
  • Cindy-Lou's Yule Log (2160p, 8 min): A Grinch version of the virtual fireplace stylized after Cindy-Lou's living room on Christmas Eve with music as decorations are slowly stolen.
  • Any Who Can Draw (2160p, 7 min): Hosted by an Illumination artist Mark O'Hare, viewers can learn how to draw Grinch, Max and Fred.
  • Lyric Video (2160p, 5 min): Essentially, a pair of sing-along music videos by Tyler, the Creator.
    • "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"
    • "I Am the Grinch"
  • From Green to Screen (2160p, 6 min): Very brief EPK-style piece with cast & crew interviews discussing characters, themes and the adaptation with BTS footage.
  • Illuminating The Grinch (2160p, 5 min): Another featurette made from interviews and BTS footage looking at the animation of the characters from sketches to finished product.
  • My Earliest Grinch Memories (2160p, 3 min): Cast and crew reveal their earliest memories and the enduring appeal of this holiday classic.
  • Grinchy Gadgets (2160p, 3 min): Explore the wondrous world of Grinch's gadgets.
  • Songs from His Little Heart (2160p, 3 min): From Danny Elfman's score to specialty songs, a brief discussion on creating the music behind the movie.
  • Christmas Around the World (2160p, 2 min): Quickly highlights how different cultures celebrate the holiday season.
  • Production Babies (2160p, 1 min): Celebration of the babies born to the filmmakers during the production.

Final Thoughts

For the parents and family members dragged into cinemas forced to sit through the third adaptation of the classic children's book, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is a sleep-inducing chore offering nothing worthwhile or memorable. However, for the little tykes ready to welcome the holiday season, the surprise box-office smash is the perfect sleigh ride to usher in the Christmas spirit. The Grinch brandishes his evil grin and steals Ultra HD with a great-looking 4K Dolby Vision HDR presentation, gifting fans a nice improvement over the Blu-ray while porting over the same excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack. With a decent but still average set of supplements, the overall package is worth a look for UHD collectors and recommended for fans.