Jojo Rabbit – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Jojo Rabbit
Release Date: 2019
Runtime: 108 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1
High Dynamic Range: HDR10
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 2/18/20
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Archie Yates, Luke Brandon Field, Sam Haygarth
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Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
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“Jojo Rabbit” was a 2019 film based on (adapted from) the 2008 novel “Caging Skies” originally written by Christine Leunens. The film adaptation of that story was written, produced, and directed by Takai Waititi. Waititi is best known for directing the films “Eagle vs Shark” (2007), “Boy” (2010), “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014), and “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017). It’s worth noting that more recently Waititi has also become even more well known for his voice acting (as a droid) on the live-action Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” (2019), which he directed one episode of in its first season.
The story here, to Jojo Rabbit, takes place during the latter days of World War II, in Nazi-controlled Germany. Our little protagonist is a ten-year-old boy named “Jojo” (Roman Griffin Davis) who is proud of his German heritage and willing to fight for his leader. Like most boys his age, Jojo has an imaginary friend who just happens to be none other than a wise-cracking imaginary version of “Hitler” (Takai Waititi). As we first meet Jojo he is getting ready in the mirror and is very excited, and is about to start his first day of training camp as a member of “Hitler Youth.”
Let me pause here for a brief moment and discuss slightly what Hitler Youth was. Now, while that idea may seem absurd today to what few people who don’t understand much about the history of World War II, it was very common for German boys ages 10 through 18 in (up to) 1945 to be members of this group – before they were inevitably sent off to fight on the losing side of the war. This film, not so much the book, aims to make fun of the absurdity of things like it and this unbridled admiration for the Nazi party a child could have had during this type of time in history and early in a child’s life. Yes, it’s a dark comedy and it’s also satire as well as what the filmmaker calls “anti-hate” as a bit of its genre.
There are some things I feel like discussing here first to give you an idea of the story and characters but I’ll try to keep it rather vague to avoid dishing out any spoilers. I wouldn’t want to ruin this film for anyone, so anyway I shall continue. Jojo is a rather lonely boy, as you would imagine with the whole imaginary friend thing. He’s also living with just his mother “Rosie” (Scarlett Johansson) and his father she claims is off fighting in the war. Our poor little friend Jojo is kind of shy and doesn’t really have a whole lot of friends. In fact, he only really has one friend aside from his imaginary friend, Hitler, as he even tells the other boy “Yorki” (Archie Yates) at camp.
Let’s keep things short here and just say that Jojo manages to make his way to camp, where he meets the very outspoken leader “Captain Klenzendorf” (Sam Rockwell), his assistant “Finkel” (Alfie Allen), and the female assistant “Fraulein Rahm” (Rebel Wilson). These people in charge of the camp are (surprisingly) very friendly to the kids – both boys and girls. Regardless of those friendly Nazis, it is sadly the older teens that are in charge of certain parts of the training and that’s where little Jojo meets two very mean young men who ask him to do something that he cannot justify doing. I won’t discuss what exactly there, to let you enjoy the film fully. I’ll just end by saying that this offers up one very excellent performance from the lead young actor playing Jojo as well as some excellent supporting performances. It’s a film that’s perhaps not for everyone but has a very strong moral message to it against hate, as well as a lot of heart.
Movie Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
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This movie is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown during its theatrical run. In its 4K UHD Blu-ray debut, “Jojo Rabbit” receives the HDR10 form of High Dynamic Range.
The movie was shot digitally in 3.4K resolution using the Arri Alexa Mini and Arri Alexa SXT using the Hawk Scope anamorphic cinematographic process. It’s said (via IMDb) that this then received a 2K DI (digital intermediate) master format. Before I start to discuss the video quality here, I’d like to point out that there’s an excellent interview with the film’s DP (director of photography) Mihai Malaimare Jr. to watch over at American Cinematographer (ASC) magazine. In that video, he discusses the choice to shoot on these specific cameras and with the anamorphic lenses, as well as his and the director’s choice to keep the color palette here somewhat bright – unlike with most World War II period films.
The first thing that you’ll notice about this 4K presentation is that there’s a really sharp amount of detail to be found in every scene, and especially in facial closeups as one would expect. The black level here is solid, the color palette can be vibrant and makes an obvious strong emphasis on the color red. Flesh tones come across very accurate and there’s an obvious benefit here from the addition of HDR (high dynamic range) in comparison to the standard Blu-ray version of the film. I can’t find anything here at all to complain about in the visual presentation, as it looks very impressive and it does the film justice. That said, this earns a respectable 4.75 rating for video quality. It may not have received a 4K master, but it sure looks pretty damn good to only be from a 2K master and 3.4K source material.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
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Audio on the 4K UHD Blu-ray debut of “Jojo Rabbit” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with a DTS 5.1 core, for those without the proper equipment to decode the lossless format mix.
Dialogue is delivered pretty much entirely through the center channel in this 5.1 mix, with no need at all for any volume adjustments. There is an ample amount of bass to be found in this mix at times, as you will hear represented primarily via the subwoofer. The sound effects here come across impressive and are mixed very nicely into the rear channels as well, taking full advantage of the 5.1 surround sound configuration.
The film’s original music (composed by Michael Giacchino) and the pop music used on the soundtrack are driven primarily through the front left and right channels but the music ends up getting a really good amount of rear channel speaker usage, as well as the vocals getting delivered primarily through the center channel on some of the songs used. The 5.1 lossless surround sound mix here may seem a bit odd when most films on 4K get Atmos or DTS:X mixes, but it manages to work in a 5.1 configuration for this film with it being primarily a mix between comedy and drama. Sure, there’s some action and sound effects in the film and they sound great but they didn’t really need height channels to deliver a realistic audio presentation.
“Jojo Rabbit” in its debut to 4K UHD Blu-ray earns itself an impressive 4.5 rating for audio quality and in turn, its 5.1 mix does the film justice.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
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Bonus materials physically and digitally on this release include:
- A Digital Copy of the film via Movies Anywhere is included, which is compatible with services like Apple’s iTunes and VUDU. Here you get a paper insert inside the packaging that contains a code you put in at the URL listed. This will redeem as a 4K version of the film on services like iTunes and VUDU.
- A Blu-ray Disc of the film is included. It features the very same DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix and all of the bonus materials – on the physical release – listed below.
- VUDU Digital Exclusive: “Taika Talk” (2:03 – HD) includes a brief interview with the film’s director (Taika Waititi) further discussing the film and his own creative process.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc includes the following:
Audio Commentary with Director Taika Waititi
The Blu-ray Disc is where the bonus materials are found, which are ALL presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. These include the following:
- Audio Commentary with Director Taika Waititi
- Deleted Scenes (8:57 – HD) includes a total of 3 scenes that did not appear in the final cut of the film. These are great, in fact, downright hilarious, and I’m almost sad that they didn’t appear in the film but they’re still here to enjoy.
- Outtakes (3:26 – HD) are very funny and serve as a short blooper reel of sorts.
- “Inside Jojo Rabbit“ (29:46 – HD) is your typical “making of” featurette, with behind-the-scenes footage on set, audition footage, as well as interviews with Taika Waititi (director/screenwriter/producer/“Imaginary Adolf”), Carthew Neal (producer), Sam Rockwell (“Captain Klenzendorf”), Thomasin McKenzie (“Elsa”), Alfie Allen (“Finkel”), Roman Griffin Davis (“Jojo”), Rebel Wilson (“Fraulein Rahm”), Scarlett Johansson (“Rosie”), Stephen Merchant (“Deertz”), Mayes C. Rubeo (costume designer), Rachel House (Roman Griffin Davis’ acting coach), Danielle Satherley (make-up & hair design), and Jason Chen (visual effects supervisor), Ra Vincent (production designer).
- Trailers include Teaser Trailer (1:00 – HD) and Theatrical Trailer (2:20 – HD).
Overall, you get about 45 minutes of extras and the audio commentary track on both of the discs, the 4K UHD Blu-ray as well as on the included Blu-ray Disc. It’s not a huge amount of bonus materials, by any means, but it all is very worthwhile, informative, and very funny. The audio commentary, thankfully also included on the 4K (as mentioned) is a must-hear for the fans of the film, perhaps on their second or third viewing.
Bonus Materials Rating: 3 (out of 5)
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“Jojo Rabbit” is a very unique film, more specifically a piece of anti-hate satire, and it only gets better upon repeat viewings, as you’ll truly learn to appreciate it more, and more. I, personally, sure have certainly enjoyed this film and I did even more after my second viewing. Now, I’m sure that a lot of people will likely be uncomfortable, offended and/or misunderstand this film but they really need to read more into it and hear the filmmaker discuss it to truly understand this adaptation. I think, as a dark comedy, this feels a tad bit like Mel Brooks‘ meets Wes Anderson‘s style of filmmaking. That can be a thing, right? It sure feels like it to me, and I’d honestly say that Taika (this film’s director) would take that as a huge compliment, with those comparisons, as pretty much any filmmaker would be silly not to.
The story here is very unique and involves offensive Nazis, as mentioned, but it has a positive message and has a lot of heart behind it. The film’s writer, producer, director Takai Waititi delivers one very impressive film here and puts in one pretty unforgettable performance playing an imaginary friend. The real person who steals the show here (so-to-speak) is the young lead Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo. It almost feels like he should have received an Oscar nomination for his role, but then again last year was a year with a lot of amazing films and he would have been up against some strong competition.
Speaking of the Academy Awards, Jojo Rabbit was nominated for a total of six Oscars – including Best Picture. The film ended up winning one Oscar for Takai Waititi in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay. It should also be noted that, at the time of writing, this film has received rather positive reviews from the critics and as a result, it currently carries a “Certified Fresh” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.
In terms of video quality, this digitally shot movie comes to 4K with a very impressive visual presentation with both bold and bright HDR (high dynamic range). There’s a lot of detail to be found here in the 4K, even if it was only mastered in 2K. This doesn’t look like your typical World War II-era film and that’s one reason it stands out in a good way, in terms of cinematography. Lastly, regarding video here, if you are upset that the film did not get the Dolby Vision form of HDR (high dynamic range) here on the 4K physical release, it is certainly worth noting that the 4K digital version has it [Dolby Vision] – which comes with this release.
The 5.1 lossless audio mix found here manages to deliver an impressive presentation that makes nice use of the rear channels and comes with a rather nice amount of bass that you’ll hear mostly via the subwoofer. First and foremost, the dialogue here is delivered spot-on all throughout and no volume adjustments will need to be made.
Finally, the bonus materials here may not be the most lengthy out there but they do clock-up to around 45 minutes in length with an audio commentary found on both the 4K and Blu-ray Discs. It’s enough of a set of extras here to keep fans of the film informed and entertained after they’ve finished watching the film. This all being said, I have to say this is a 4K UHD Blu-ray release I found to be rather impressive for a film I really enjoyed and this is definitely Some Recommended Satire. Just remember that it’s a satire.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3 (out of 5) for bonus materials