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The mad genius of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is in part technical. Movies combined live action and animation prior to 1988, but not with this level of crazed interactivity. It’s magic, still, in 2022.

There’s more than visual effects though. Roger Rabbit didn’t survive a pop culture-thick decade because it seamlessly blended two moving mediums – it’s also blending two wildly divergent genres in a glamorous, outlandish parody. Plus, two incompatible age groups.

Roger Rabbit doesn’t feel choreographed or staged

Consider Roger Rabbit mocks the Humphrey Bogart-era detective noirs, of which a child couldn’t understand or grasp. There’s sex, there’s murder, there’s a sexist baby smoking a cigar in a stroller. Somehow, this is rated PG. Then there’s Toon Town, where corporate brands like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny persist under the same legal umbrella, all for the sake of wild Saturday morning chaos.

It’s nostalgia for one crowd who grew up on Warner Bros., Mickey, and foggy crime stories. It’s also placating to a generation then recently groomed on the madness of Warner and the more sedate laughs from Disney shorts.

At the core is still an effective, delightful send-up of classic Hollywood stories, pitting the drained, introverted Bob Hoskins against a world overstuffed with extroverted characters. Roger Rabbit’s villain isn’t so much a murderer (even if he is) so much as a goon out to rob the world of fun. Viewed from the modern perspective, Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) represents those execs who chose not to run iconic Looney Tune shorts on endless repeat, sapping that timeless joy from kids.

Roger Rabbit never loses the mystery element. In-between the wild, hyper-active set pieces, the narrative keeps its grip. Impressively too, Roger Rabbit doesn’t feel choreographed or staged. It all flows so naturally, lacking any stiffness despite the precision needed on set to pair the live and post-production materials. That’s crucial in maintaining Roger Rabbit’s zaniness – it has to feel wholly organic and wild. Otherwise, it’s inauthentic to a world occupied by ‘toons. Somehow, Bob Hoskins manages to keep this going, in on every gag, even as he’s seduced by a ludicrously curvy Jessica Rabbit. That’s how classics are made.

Video

Allowing some leniency for optical effects from the period, Disney produces a fine master for Roger Rabbit. Pure live action scenes display pure, lean grain, easily resolved. The resulting texture is substantial. Facial definition soars, easily outclassing the Blu-ray. Resolution is visibly firm allowing the elaborate set designs to show every intricate touch. That said, composited animation effects sap that energy, even leaving a suspiciously oily remnant behind, minor as it is.

Most disappointing is the HDR pass, the imagery overly dim and lacking vibrancy. There are moments (Jessica’s sparkling dress as lights hit the sequins), yet the contrast looks awfully flat. It’s as if the image is purposefully flattened to make the highlights stick out. While gains over the Blu-ray in resolution and detail are unquestionable, the dim contrast brings Roger Rabbit back to earth. At least the black levels shine.

In a cartoon world, color blooms. Primaries gain weight thanks to the tech, from the darker corners of the city to the brilliant hues making up the animated characters. The same goes for lights around town on buildings. Saturation excels.

Audio

Keeping up with Roger Rabbit’s zaniness, this Atmos mix has fun with the action. Characters bounce around the soundstage, utilizing the widely spaced rears, plus adding focus on the heights. Crisp transitions smoothly position each action. Potent ambiance fills bars and clubs. It’s natural too, as if always designed this way, not remixed for the modern era.

The only thing missing is consistent low-end performance. A jazzier score rumbles as the orchestra plucks the bass strings, offering minimal range.

Extras

The UHD only keeps the commentary, shared with the Blu-ray, which contains the rest. It’s the same disc Disney issued before. That means a few Roger Rabbit shorts, a deleted sequence, an 11-minute crew featurette, general featurettes, and a great 36-minute making-of that’s still worth a watch even today.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is more than a technical marvel. It’s a genuinely observant send-up of both animation and detective noirs that appeals to both audiences.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 51 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: