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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Ferdinand (Blu-ray)
Ferdinand (Blu-ray)
Fox // PG // March 13, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted March 29, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

As a first time Dad of a now-17 month old, we're getting to the point in our house where we lean on things we probably wouldn't lean on otherwise to entertain him; for us it's the 2016 Disney film Moana, which he could sit and watch for a few minutes at a time so we could catch our breath. But I do want to try and branch him out to other animated children's films that we could both watch and I can write about at the same time, and that's how Ferdinand entered our lives.

Based on the 1936 book "The Story of Ferdinand" and directed by Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age), Ferdinand is a ginormous bull (voiced by WWE wrestler John Cena) in Spain who doesn't prefer the usual bull traits, like snorting and chasing red things. He finds himself on a farm with a father and daughter, but finds himself taken away to another farm in preparation for bullfighting, despite his avoidance for it. Along with his farm friends Valiente (Bobby Cannavale, I, Tonya), Angus (former Doctor Who David Tennant), Guapo (former NFLer Peyton Manning) and a goat named Lupe (current SNL starlet Kate McKinnon), Ferdinand tries to find a way to get out of the bullfights in the city and return home.

I'm going to try and avoid comparisons to Moana as much as possible, but if you've had a toddler and had him in front of a movie or television show, you know that that oversaturation can't help but permeate into your subconscious somehow. But where that film carves out its own mythos and the characters followed it well to the point where it drew you in. On the other hand, Ferdinand takes a story about this bull in Spain and seems to Americanize it a bit for the worse, by throwing in a lot of colloquialism and song which would seem to be intended to entertain, but all it does is distract. In a strange way the story keeps its roots in Spain but pays a little bit of lip service to it with an occasional Spanish supporting character until you get to the city (Madrid in this case), where it's not really much of a backdrop until they get to the bullfighting arena. The Spanish nods feel half-hearted.

This is disappointing, because the work of the cast on the vocals is funny and well-efforted; Cena, McKinnon and Cannavale are good, and Manning turns out to be a minor revelation in his role. But the core story of Ferdinand feels more conventional, nay, American, and could have been suited for that venue and adapted more appropriately. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature, Ferdinand lost out to Pixar's Coco for the statue. Having not seen Coco but knowing Pixar's work as I'm sure we all do, it's probably not hard to suggest that they felt more comfortable in their Spanish skin then Ferdinand appears to be.

Don't get me wrong, Ferdinand has some entertaining moments, but those moments are what the production gears up to; the stuff in between has multiple deficiencies that distract from the overall experience of the film. Sure for me, Ferdinand may not be anything resembling a Moana, but it doesn't do much leg work to make its own voice heard and believable.

The Blu-ray Disc:
The Video:

Fox gives the exclusively computer-animated film an AVC encode to go with its 2.40:1 high-definition presentation and the results are beautiful. The multidimensional look of some of the shots is quite look, with background images looking blurry in the distance by design. The colors are lush and are not oversaturated, and darker colors and black levels are deep and inky during viewing with no fluctuation. It's a gorgeous looking movie.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD 7.1 audio track is a powerhouse, starting with the early moment where Ferdinand is mistaken for a big bad bull, and in later moments around a train station (where the low-end powers the sound of an incoming train) or during the bullfight (where crowd noise is both immersive and occasional individual noises are discernible). Dialogue is consistent during the film and the film has a bunch of music that all sounds dynamic and includes channel panning and good range to boot. A technical winner by Fox.

Extras:

The disc is a mix of character and production centric content, starting with "Ferdinand's Guide to Healthy Living" (3:09) where Cena talks about what makes the bull happy, "A Goat's Guide to Life" (3:08) is the same feature, told through McKinnon's character perspective, and "Ferdinand's Team Supreme" (3:45) looks at those on the farm. "Spain Through Ferdinand's Eyes" (1:50) is an in-character piece on the country, while "Confessions of a Bull-loving Horse" (3:22) looks at the horses on the farm.

The production side of the extras starts with "Creating the World of Ferdinand" (5:49), a look at the visual style and intent for the feature. "Anatomy of a Scene" looks at the bull run through the city (4:03), while "Learn to Dance with Ferdinand" (7:46) are the human interpretations of the animated characters' moves. "Ferdinand's Do-It-Yourself Garden" (6:36) is a look at a garden kids can do, and a music video by Nick Jonas (3:14) and making-of the song and video (3:51) follow. A stills gallery and trailer (2:26) complete things.

Final Thoughts:

Maybe my kid already has a discerning cinematic palette which both surprises and amazes me, because neither of us enjoyed Ferdinand that much because it wasn't really much of a fun experience from start to finish. Don't get me wrong, the film looks and sounds great, and the extras try their best to supplement the feature, but if the feature is lacking like this one is, it's not really worth it. But if you liked it in the theater, the Blu-ray experience is up to snuff and worth checking out.

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