Attack of the Sea Monster Kids

Luca’s parents worry about their aquatic son venturing to the surface in what initially appears as adults panicked their kid was growing up too fast. Like Little Mermaid, there’s instinctual need to keep children safe, and keeping them close ensures no harm can come. In subtler way, there’s also an awkwardness as Luca’s father gives “the talk,” or insofar as fish people can.

In its eventual evolution, Luca projects a typical coming-of-age story, but tinged with hidden bigotry. Luca holds much of it until the end – a mistake – making a sharp, well-formed statement against inherent bias. Along with a friend and parents, Luca (Jacob Tremblay) changes into a sea creature when wet. Of course there’s a rain storm during a climactic triathlon race, forcing him to reveal his true self. Once people recognize he’s not a monster, two women in the crowd drop their umbrellas – they too were forced to hide who they were.

Luca projects a typical coming-of-age story, but tinged with hidden bigotry

It’s a beautifully done, thoughtful finish to a movie otherwise dealing in childhood friendships through a shared need to break free. Meeting Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) on the surface, the two bond over their need to skirt danger, seeing themselves as invincible, if scared as they try increasingly dangerous stunts.

Set sometime in the 1950s, Luca doesn’t push itself to make the time period a dominant factor, but the suggestion is that of a gentle, serene post-war town. Italy looks utterly peaceful, a perfect place to grow up. Getting older means learning of biases, and Luca’s fear becomes part of his maturation.

Without some of those late touches, Luca survives entirely on undeniable visual beauty and plotting isn’t dissimilar from Pixar’s wider body of work. It’s as if Luca were designed to fit into their form factor, comfortable, even as the story itself drives toward a thematic low. Maybe for the target demographic’s sake, the darker undertones sit near a boiling point, never reaching peak temperature. This after their films like Inside Out expertly navigated mental health in complex ways. Luca merely floats on the surface, telling a pleasing fable centered on boyhood friends. Fine, but not to the usual depth of the studio’s output.

Video

Pixar adds a not insignificant grain filter over Luca. It’s a challenge, but handled well by the disc. Luca’s images create substantial sharpness, and the texture bounces off surfaces en masse. Rocks, skin, bricks, plants, and other scenery showcase the monumental detail added by Pixar. This absolutely looks made for 4K.

Great as the fidelity is, color is better still. Sure, it’s the ridiculously pure blue waters, but on land, the primaries erupt. All of the plant life drops infinite green, warm flesh tones pop from the absurdly bold skyline, and in town, paint brings further intensity. When the sunset hits? Deep color magic.

Underwater, sunlight drifts away, leaving behind potent black levels. Then on the surface, sunlight drives the contrast to impressive peaks. Luca certainly makes a case for HDR as light glistens off the water surface. Clouds sparkle, and fish scales reflect additional intensity too.

Audio

Luca doesn’t present a hyper-active soundstage, but has moments. The ambient sound of rushing water subsists during numerous scenes. Action passes between channels smoothly, each speaker notably independent. Heights are used sparingly, although do find work.

Likewise, bass isn’t prominent, used only when absolutely necessary. Like, the score, giving drums and brass sections power.

Extras

Jump over to the Blu-ray as the UHD itself is empty. A look at Luca’s Italian roots runs 14-minutes. Luca’s journey and transformation (technical and emotional) is explored next for 12-minutes. The core character relationships, with interviews from cast and crew, details the friendships over seven minutes. Six deleted scenes – including two alternate openings – last over 30-minutes.

Luca
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Luca explores the complexities of growing up through a colorful world, touching on racism and bigotry as it tells a simple fable that’s enjoyable Pixar.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 46 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: