Barbie [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (21st October 2023).
The Film

In 2002 Disney announced that it was going to turn its theme park attraction "Pirates of the Caribbean" into a feature length film. Many skeptics chimed in questioning the studio's decision, that it was a stupid idea, that it was the death of originality, what next? A movie based on a board game? (Cue the "Battleship" 2012 haters!) Well, the skeptics were proven wrong, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003) was released to rave reviews, a massive box office, and would be the start of a billion dollar franchise. Why am I writing about this in a review for a "Barbie" movie you may ask? Well, similarly to Pirates, the skeptics came out of the woodwork and would spill their negative opinions on "Barbie", there's no way a movie about a girl's doll could be a good movie, right?

Toy properties are nothing new to Hollywood, we've seen various film and TV projects based on Master of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Lego, and all have brought in hundreds of millions to billions in revenue for the various studios. Franchises were born and exploited. So why not a "Barbie" movie? After all Barbie has been ever present in media from video games to animated movies, the brand has transcended the doll at this stage. It's an iconic brand, a known IP, and one that has an already established fan base. From a studio perspective it's a no brainer. But what Warner Brothers have done is nothing short of interesting, instead of mining the standard or stereotypical canon they decided to go in another direction. Enter Greta Gerwig, a former actor and filmmaker who has made a splash in recent years with "Ladybird" (2017) which netted her a Oscar nomination for screenwriting and directing, and "Little Women" (2019) which also netted her an Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Gerwig was an intriguing choice, even more intriguing is that she would co-write the script with her partner Noah Baumbach, himself known for smaller, character driven dramas. This pairing gave the film some legitimacy that otherwise would not exists. Furthermore news broke regarding the cast, an ensemble that seemed too good to be true; Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, America Ferrera, Rhea Perlman, Helen Mirren, and Will Ferrell!

The production for "Barbie" would proceed with a certain level of secrecy, no one really knew what was in store, some early out of context images of Margot and Gosling appeared online in their bright costumes rollerblading in Santa Monica spurred a Variety article that would set the internet on fire. People either loved it or hated it, despite not knowing anything about the script or the production. It just generate lots and lots of questions. There will always be a certain level of hatred or skepticism when it comes to beloved IP's transformation into film and "Barbie" was no different.

Then finally came this past summer, the world would finally be able to see the film and going head-to-head with Christopher Nolan's atomic bomb epic "Oppenheimer" (2023) the meme "Barbenheimer" would emerge and spark a marketing firestorm that would see both films benefit by generating massive box office returns. "Barbie" would become the number one movie of the year, packing cinemas with cosplaying fans, the film undoubtedly entered the cultural zeitgeist. World leaders talked about it, conservative commentators made it a culture-war talking point and attacking the film because it hurt their fragile egos, it was a weird time.

All of this frenzy for a movie about a doll? But that's the thing, it's not just a movie about a doll. It's much more than that, it's much better than it has any right to be. The script is brilliantly conceived taking all the known Barbie tropes and turning them upside-down. Barbie has an existential crisis and the film is a fresh look at an otherwise outdated toy line. "Barbie" would tell the story of Barbie (Margot Robbie), she plays the stereotypical Barbie in a world full of Barbies and Kens. She leads a perfect life, filled with good times, dancing, beach life, and harboring the loving gaze of Ken (Ryan Gosling) as they exists in Barbieland, a world that's run by the matriarchy. One day, Barbie has an existential crisis that leads her (and Ken) to the real world in order to find meaning, but the real world is not what they expected it to be. It's one run by the patriarchy, something Ken takes a liking to and takes back to Barbieland challenging everything that they've ever known.

What makes "Barbie" so good is its script, well crafted and surprisingly funny, touching, and balanced in a way most people probably never expected (certainly this reviewer). Gerwig and Baumbach aren't afraid to pull any punches either often throwing shade at the very establishment of the toy icon and the leadership at Mattel. They were given free reign and the result is excellent. Crafty dialogue is delivered by the film's splendid cast all delivering better-than-expected performances. There's a level of self awareness here that was needed in order to stick the landing and all involved manage it well. I've also got to give special mention to Gosling who also does his own singing and the "I'm Just Ken" sequence which, was such a joy to watch.

The film also looked great, Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, previously known for gritty films such as "Amores Perros" (2000), "25th Hour" (2002), "21 Grams" (2003), "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), and "Argo" (2012) among others manages to deliver an image that's nothing like he's ever done. Creating a lush, colorful, vibrant, beautiful, and almost flawless Barbieland while offering a more grounded and realistic look to the real world. Matched with the well executed production design the film is simply lovely to look at. I'm sure come Oscars time the technical achievements here in Cinematography, Production Design, Editing, Music, Costumes, and Hair & Make-up all deserve nominations and if they don't it would be a damn shame.

I'm honestly surprised at how much I really liked this film, I did unfortunately miss it during its theatrical run and my partner was vocal about how I missed seeing one of the best movies of the year... a mistake I won't make again. Since I got this disc I've watched the film two more times and with each viewing discover something new and interesting. If you're already a fan and loved the film then my opinion won't really matter, chances are you've already bought it either digitally or on physical media. But, if you have been on the fence, or simply even adamant that this film isn't for you I urge you to give it a chance, you may end up liking it a lot more than you expect. "Barbie" is a truly modern take on an outdated toy line and one that manages to breath fresh new life into it.

Video

Presented in 2.00:1 widescreen mastered in 4K UHD 2160p 24/fps using HEVC compression and can be viewed with HDR10. This image can easily be considered reference quality, you won't find a more vibrant, lush, colorful transfer than this one. Warner Brothers has delivered a beautiful image on this triple payer 100GB disc. Detail is sharp and stunning right down to every fibre of hair, colors pop, skin tones look great, black levels are rich and deep. The image is free from any blemish. There are zero complaints, this is a phenomenal transfer.

Audio

A total of eight audio tracks are included here in English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Italian Dolby Atmos, French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Spanish (Latin) Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, English (US) Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and English (UK) Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English Atmos track. Much like the transfer this audio tack is impressive. Dialogue is clean and clear, surround activity is immersive, music is well mixed. You can't really ask for much more, it's a deep and richly complex audio track that takes you in you and doesn't let go.
Optional subtitles are included in Danish, English HoH, Finnish, French (Canadian), Italian HoH, Norwegian, Spanish (Latin), and Swedish.

Extras

Warner Brothers has released this film with a collection of six featurettes, and a digital code, while the extras make a welcomed addition to this release I was left wanting more, something more in-depth, a commentary would have been great, but alas we are given a series of what amounts to some promotional clips. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

"Itís a Weird World" featurette (5:03) Here we get a closer look at the "Weird" Barbie character.

"All-Star Barbie Party" featurette (4:57) the cast talk about the light-hearted vibe on the set.

"Musical Make-Believe" featurette (9:11) takes a look at shooting the party scene.

"Becoming Barbie" featurette (6:29) Robbie discusses what it takes to transform in to the iconic character.

"Welcome to Barbie Land" featurette (12:01) this clip takes a look at the production design and how the filmmakers brought Barbieland to life.

"Playing Dress-Up: An Extended Look at the Costumes of Barbie" featurette (7:27) this clip dives into the costume design.

Included in the packaging is a digital copy version of the film that can be downloaded with a code.

Packaging

Packaged in a 4K UHD keep case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

"Barbie" was a fun and brilliant movie, I hope that if they make a sequel that they retain the creative team and take the same level of care and craftsmanship they displayed in making this one.

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: B Overall: A

 


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it and amazon.es . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.