Disney and Pixar’s Soul – Blu-ray Review

Soul

 Pete Docter has established himself at Pixar as someone who enjoys pushing the boundaries of what an animated film can be. Like any contemporary auteur, he believes that a film should make you think and question your very existence. He did it in Inside Out and he does it again in his latest film, Soul. The film is a multifaceted look at how our passion drives us and how it relates to the meaning of life. While this may sound like an overly complicated plotline for an animated film, Docter is adept at taking complex themes and making them digestible for all ages.

Believe it or not, it was the body swap twist that immensely helps with this. Though it may seem like a stereotypical Hollywood trope at first, the body swap leads Joe into seeing his life from a different perspective. Story-wise it’s very similar to Frank Capra’s classic film: It’s a Wonderful Life. In the process, Joe recognizes all of the incredible things in his life that he already has. He doesn’t need to be a successful jazz musician to give his life some meaning. So although the film’s message takes some time to develop, it becomes loud and clear during its sweet and touching payoff.

A high-concept film such as this is supported by Pixar’s most innovative and experimental animation to date. The world of the Great Beyond is full of imagination and wonder. On the other side, the film pays loving tribute to the city of New York. This love is all thanks to co-director Kemp Powers who is a native New Yorker. Soul may LOOK like two different films, but it connects like one cohesive film.

As beautiful as it is clever, Disney and Pixar’s Soul continues Pixar’s quest to push the boundaries of what animated films can be. Not since It’s a Wonderful Life has a film taught us that no matter how hard life is, it’s still a blessing, or as Pitbull says in his song Time of Our Lives: “Every day above ground is a great day. Remember that.” Thankfully, Soul does help us remember that.

Movie Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Soul - Graham Norton

Video

Soul hits Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Since this is a Pixar film, you can bet the house that the picture quality is stellar. The whites are a bright white with no clipping whatsoever, and the black levels are a deep and inky black that’s consistent throughout. As dark as the film is at times, the shadows never result in crushed blacks either. The colorful world of Soul comes to life with the entire color gamut on display richly and vibrantly. One of the qualities of being a Pixar film is all of the minute details within the film. Details such as the lines of the Counselor Jerries to the fuzz on Joe’s wool suit are distinct and crisp throughout. Overall, this is a stellar video presentation from Disney.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Soul - Alice Braga, Tina Fey, Jamie Foxx, Richard Ayoade, and Rachel House

Audio

Soul hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution track and a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. This review will reflect the release’s 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution track. The audio mix has sound effects seamlessly pan around the soundstage—something you can hear in the scene where Counselor Jerry wrangles up 22 at the You Seminar. Not to mention, the sound effects are accurate and puts you right into the scene. Unsurprisingly, it’s the music that plays a huge part in the film. So it’s only right that Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste’s music becomes a dominant part of the audio mix. Their score fills up the soundstage, has instruments that differ in each channel, and has some bump to it due to the LFE. Not to mention, Jon Batiste’s jazz compositions fill the soundstage in such an immersive way that you feel like you’re in a concert. The dialogue is clear and audible throughout. Overall, this is a fun musical audio presentation put forth by Disney.

Audio Rating: 4/5 atoms

Soul - Angela Bassett and Jamie Foxx

Special Features

Soul‘s Blu-ray disc has the following special features on Feature disc:

  • Not Your Average Joe
  • Astral Taffy
  • Feature Commentary

You can also find the following special features on the Bonus Features disc:

  • Pretty Deep for a Cartoon
  • Into the Zone: The Music and Sound of Soul
  • Soul, Improvised
  • Jazz Greats
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Introduction
    • Mentor Orientation
    • Clubhouse Forgery
    • Home Lessons
    • Living the Dream
    • Press Shot

“Not Your Average Joe” breaks down the character and Pixar’s commitment to making Joe as authentically African-American as possible. Similarly, “Astral Taffy” breaks down all of the ideas and inspiration that went into the creation of the Great Beyond. In addition to that, you’ll also get to see a lot of the experimental animation that the animation department has done — which are all very cool. Much like the Jerrys at the You Seminar, the feature commentary has co-directors Pete Docter and Kemp Powers and producer Dana Murray (with a special appearance by screenwriter Mike Jones) guide you through the entire filmmaking process and provide you with (often hilarious) behind-the-scenes stories about the film. Not to mention, you’ll get to hear Pete Docter speak about the idea that sparked the story and hear the reasons why the film decided to let Joe live at the end of the film.

“Pretty Deep for a Cartoon” take a deeper dive into the story of the film. It gives you a different perspective of some of the decisions made to create a film that’s as rich and deep as it is. “Into the Zone” highlights the organic process of the music and sound design of the film. As Pete Docter pointed out, that Pixar would traditionally work on the music and sound design after the picture is locked. With Soul, the music and sound design were created as the picture was still being animated. This featurette highlights that process. When the pandemic shut down the United States, Pixar was seven weeks away from completion (52% of the film was finished at the time). “Soul, Improvised” takes a look at the work-at-home process during those final weeks. “Jazz Greats” features a variety of jazz greats and ask them what music means to them. Needless to say, their answers vary but are insightful to listen to. Every deleted scene has an intro done by Kristen Lester, the Soul’s story supervisor, and Mike Jones, the Soul‘s screenwriter. They will talk about the deleted scene and tell us why it didn’t work for the film.

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Backed by a beautiful animation style and soundtrack, Soul is a multifaceted look at how our passion drives us and how it relates to the meaning of life. Thankfully, the video and audio presentations showcase the film the way it’s meant to be seen. While the lack of bonus content may be due to COVID, the feature commentary and behind-the-scenes features are still as informative as previous Pixar releases.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Disney and Pixar’s Soul is now available in stores on Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1632 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.