Road Trip

There’s not much to Migration that Illumination hasn’t done before. The over-parenting message, vegetarian push, and routine globe-trotting adventure only aims to grab kid’s eyes, not their parents, although the message is there for them as well.

Ilumination’s in-house animation style is beginning to lock in, which gives their animated offerings an identity usually missing from contemporary CG films. That’s refreshing. The human characters mesh well to Despicable Me, suggesting these are all part of a singular universe, but then again, what mainstream offering in theaters isn’t anymore?

Migration is ultimately bland and hollow, but colorful enough to keep attention spans in check

At issue – in a critical sense anyway – is how forgettable Migration is. There’s nothing inherently awful about it. The gags often work, the character designs function, and the bit parts add consistent variety. It’s colorful, bright, and cheery, never boring.

And yet, this being written just minutes after finishing Migration, the character names are erased from memory. Even during the film, there’s little definition to any of these birds on the main cast. They’re hopelessly generic archetypes, giving attention to the side characters, notably an angry city pigeon Chump (Awkwafina) or the Jamaican parrot Delroy (Keegan-Michael Key). In the final minute, there’s an alligator more memorable than (*checks notes) father figure Mack (Kumail Nanjiani).

That’s on the scripting, not necessarily the designs, although it’s fair to say the accuracy to real mallards is closer than any other bird style in Migration. Mack’s flustered, homebound dad is a worn trope, and his family’s need to travel creates a generic central conflict. In fact, Migration takes significant time finding a villain, which is eventually a wordless chef seeking to create the perfect duck dish. Before that, Migration comes across as separate mini-movies, bouncing from one encounter to another with limited conjoining material.

The easy defense is, of course, Migration is aimed at 10-year-olds, so if they’re satisfied, so be it. That’s defeatist. It’s always possible to want and ask for better kid’s entertainment that challenges them in some way. Migration is ultimately bland and hollow, but colorful enough to keep attention spans in check. Given the proliferation of similar American animation anymore, that’s all anyone seems to want.


The color in Migration is quite stupendous. Set during the fall, orange, red, and yellow leaves pop everywhere with a pleasing warm base, this in addition to the variety of bird feathers. Dolby Vision then brings a dazzling spark, especially as sun glistens off water, or just the sun itself. A trip through Times Square hits reference grade intensity given all the lighting spectacle.

Fantastic sharpness draws out detail galore, especially fuzzy feathers. Environments pick up wood texture and other organic materials. There’s plenty to see, and if this was finished at 2K rather than 4K, the upscale is invisible. A little visible noise/simulated grain now and then is hardly enough to bother complaining about.


With all of the flying birds (and flying in general), the heights have plenty of opportunity to act – and they do. It’s an active Atmos track and consistent about it. The front soundstage splits as wide as the rears. A thunderstorm adds splashing rain and thunder (but little LFE; bummer).

The best scene is a salsa dance, with feet stomping all around the trapped duck family, plus the live music itself filling the soundstage. It’s a non-stop showcase of direction.


Three mini-movies (one with a rare MPAA rating for these types of things) join a host of generalized bonuses like voice recording sessions, how to draw tutorial, how to make feeders/nests, and a typical studio making of.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Migration isn’t taking any risks with its storytelling, but it’s an enjoyable fast-paced bird adventure about over-parenting.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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