Raya and the Last Dragon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. No notable problems appeared here, but the image fell a bit short of greatness.
Most of the time, sharpness was strong, as the vast majority of the flick showed tight, accurate delineation. However, some wider shots could be a smidgen soft, so the presentation lacked the rock-solid accuracy I expect from computer animated movies.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws also remained absent.
With its variety of settings, Dragon boasted a broad palette, though it often leaned toward teal. Still, we got variety, and the hues looked bright and dynamic throughout the film, and the disc’s HDR added oomph and power to the tones.
Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows seemed very good. HDR gave whites and contrast extra dimensionality. This was a very good transfer, but it just didn’t dazzle.
As for the Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it also worked well. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, most of the material stayed in the ambient realm, as the elements usually supported the settings in a general way.
Some action scenes managed to add activity from the sides and surrounds, and the entire track offered a good sense of place. The action sequences used all the channels in a satisfying manner and created a broad, involving sense of the material.
Audio quality was solid. Music sounded dynamic and full, and effects followed suit, as those elements appeared tight and accurate.
Speech came across as natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. All in all, this was a very nice soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Atmos track added a bit of breadth and dimensionality to the audio.
As for visuals, the 4K UHD showed slightly stronger definition along with superior colors and blacks. The 4K UHD didn’t blow away the Blu-ray, but it became the more satisfying rendition of the film.
No extras appear on the 4K disc itself, but the included Blu-ray copy comes with some materials, and we start with Us Again, a short that ran in front of theatrical screenings of Raya. In this six-minute, 49-second film, an elderly couple gets to revisit their youth via a magical rainstorm.
I admit I thought Again seemed contrived and not especially charming when I saw it theatrically, and that view doesn’t change at home. It come with some cute moments but tries a little too hard to pull heartstrings.
We can view Again with or without a one-minute, 21-second Introduction from writer/director Zach A. Parrish. He discusses the film’s origins/influences and aspects of the story and choreography. Parrish gives us a pretty tight piece.
A featurette called Taste of Raya runs 22 minutes, nine seconds. It involves a Zoom discussion among directors Carlos Lopez Estrada and Don Hall, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, producer Osnat Shurer, writers Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen, head of story Fawn Veerasunthorn and actor Kelly Marie Tran.
While the participants share a virtual meal, they talk about story/characters as well as the movie’s inspirations, cultural elements, and related domains. We get a mix of decent notes about the film, but the “dining together” gimmick seems pointless, and too much of “Taste” digs into happy talk.
Bringing It All Back Home goes for 14 minutes, 35 seconds and involves Shurer, Estrada, Veerasunthorn, Briggs, Ripa, Hall, Lim, Nguyen, Tran, associate producer Nathan Curtis, editorial production supervisor James Romo, production coordinator Nora Rogers, head of animation Malcon Pierce, director of cinematography – lighting Adolph Lusinsky, head of animation Amy Smeed, head of post production Berenice Robinson, technology manager Meghan Gillet, editor Fabienne Rawley, visual effects supervisor Kyle Odermatt, senior technical support engineer Jessica Kain, production office manager Elise Aliberti, and supervising animator Andrew Feliciano.
“Back” examines the impact of the COVID pandemic on the production and the way the filmmakers needed to make the film from their homes. Inevitably, we get some happy talk, but “Back” provides a decent view of the movie’s unusual challenges.
With Martial Artists, we find a five-minute, 49-second piece that brings notes from Nguyen and Southeast Asia Story Trust anthropologist Dr. S. Steve Arounsack. They tell us about the fighting styles, weapons and choreography featured in the film. This becomes a short but tight examination of the subject matter.
We Are Kumandra spans nine minutes, nine seconds and involves Arounsack, Shurer, Southeast Asia Story Trust linguist Dr. Juliana Wijaya, Southeast Asia Story Trust archaeologist Dr. Chen Chanratana, Southeast Asia Story Trust architect Nathakrit “Tatan” Sunthareerat, Southeast Asia Story Trust curator Rebecca C. Hall, Southeast Asia Story Trust cultural consultant Jes Vu, and Southeast Asia Story Trust’s Emiko Saraswait Susilo and I Dewa Putu Berata Cudamani,
“We” discusses the creation of Kumandra and the cultural factors that influenced it. This turns into another reasonably effective reel.
A collection of Outtakes lasts two minutes, 23 seconds and shows the actors in their home recording studios. It’s too cutesy, but I like the glimpse of the unusual circumstances.
Under Fun Facts and Easter Eggs, we locate a four-minute, 16-second segment that gives us a look at “hidden secrets” found in the movie. It provides a mostly fun look at influences and connections.
The Story Behind the Storyboard goes for five minutes, two seconds and presents remarks from Ripa. He offers a brief tutorial on storyboarding and guides us through one of the film’s specific sequences. Ripa offers some useful insights.
Five Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 19 minutes, a total that includes introductions from Veerasunthorn and Ripa. In these sequences, we get some alternate action scenes and different depictions of characters. None of them seem particularly substantial, but they can be fun to see.
As for the intros, they give us basics about the scenes and not much more. We don’t learn much about why the sequences failed to make the film.
The Blu-ray opens with an ad for Luca. No trailer for Dragon appears here.
A fun mix of action, drama and comedy, Raya and the Last Dragon becomes a pretty solid animated effort. It starts a little slowly but once it gets into a groove, it delights. The 4K UHD brings very good picture and audio along with a decent set of bonus materials. Dragon stands as an enjoyable tale.
To rate this film visit the prior review of RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON