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Monday, April 15, 2024

Barbie (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere in the Antarctic, you already know what a worldwide phenomenon director/co-writer Greta Gerwig’s (Little Women, Lady Bird) Barbie is. The film has raked in $1.5 billion worldwide and is still filling movie theaters as I write this.

The film is set in the shiny pink plastic world of Barbie Land where all the Barbies are living their best lives as judges, lawyers, doctors, novelists, President of Barbie Land (Issa Rae) and the supreme court. The Kens, meanwhile, define their whole existence around Barbie. The “stereotypical Barbie’ (Margot Robbie), begin to have an existential crisis, worrying about death. When she confers with Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), she learns she must go to the real world and find the girl who is playing with her to stop the crisis. She takes the journey to the real world with Ken (Ryan Gosling) tagging along. While in the real world, Barbie gets a shock of reality. She slams right into the patriarchy and finds that she has not helped women to reach the strength and accomplishments she thought she had. Meanwhile, Ken is enjoying himself in the real world, realizing men rule the world and he is not invisible anymore.

Barbie eventually finds the two people who were playing with her, a mom, Gloria, who works at Mattel (America Ferrera) and is feeling overworked and underappreciated by her bosses and her tween daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) who is going through preteen angst. As Mattel, headed by the CEO (Will Farrell) try to hunt Barbie down and get her back to Barbie Land, Ken makes his way back and sets up his vision of the patriarchy.

Barbie is a lighthearted and visionary take on the famous doll that girls and women alike have loved for decades. The film blends comedy, musical numbers, and social commentary on the patriarchy and challenges being a woman without too much proselytization, although there is one monologue in which Olivia goes off on the complicated role of womanhood in society, which becomes the turning point for the film.

The Kens are used mostly as the butt of the jokes and that is fair play, considering how many films cast women simply as eye candy, damsels in distress, or objects of desire. Barbie is about empowering women to be themselves and it does that, in a shiny happy way, with just a hint of cynicism and some double entendres that likely got the film its PG-13 rating.

Barbie has a large cast of actors playing the title character and Ken, outside of Robbie and Gosling, including Issa Rae, Emma Mackey, Alexandra Shipp, Hari Neff, Ncuti Gatwa, Simu Liu, and John Cena among others.

  • Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023)
  • Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023)
  • Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Scott Evans, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Simu Liu, and Ncuti Gatwa in Barbie (2023)
  • Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023)
  • Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Barbie (2023)
  • Issa Rae in Barbie (2023)
  • Ana Cruz Kayne, Alexandra Shipp, Sharon Rooney, Hari Nef, and Emma Mackey in Barbie (2023)
  • Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Barbie (2023)
  • Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Barbie (2023)
  • Barbie Blu-ray (Warner Bros.)
  • Barbie 4K Ultra HD (Warner Bros.)

The Video

Barbie was shot on the Arri Alexa 65 camera with Panavision System 65 lenses in ARRIRAW 6.5K. The master uses a 4K Digital Intermediate with HDR. The film is presented in a 2.00:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10 encodement. The image is pristine. The pink plastic world of Barbie Land comes through with a lot of details and gloss. The HDR10 grading brings an exceptional level of specular highlight ‘pop’ and contrast, which can be seen best in the Kens musical number that displays both exceptional highlights, contrast, and depth of field.

The Audio

The lossless Dolby Atmos audio mix is a very competent mix. It stands somewhere between what you would expect to hear in a mix for a comedy and a musical, which makes sense given the film. There is a wide and natural range of dynamics and sense of spaciousness. There is not a lot of motion through the surrounds or Atmos channels, but there are some audible effects there. The mix sounds best during the musical bits.

The Supplements

Warner Bros. includes several ‘making-of’ type featurettes with interviews with the cast and crew plus a Movies Anywhere code. No Blu-ray is included with this release.

Bonus Features:

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • It’s a Weird World (1080p; 00:05:03)
  • All-Star Barbie Party (1080p; 00:04:57)
  • Musical Make-Believe (1080p; 00:09:11)
  • Becoming Barbie (1080p; 00:06:29)
  • Welcome to Barbie Land (1080p; 00:12:01)
  • Playing Dress-Up: An Extended Look at the Costumes of Barbie (1080p; 00:07:27)

The Final Assessment

Barbie has and knows its target audience just as other films based on toy lines, games, or animated series like Transformers, for instance. The film is entertaining, with a surprisingly nuanced performance from Margot Robbie who shows a lot of range and a funny turn by Ryan Gosling. It is a spectacular piece for home theater on 4K Ultra HD.

Barbie is out on 4K Ultra HD + Digital October 17, 2023, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for suggestive references and brief language.)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | Heyday Films | LuckyChap Entertainment | NBGG Pictures | Mattel Films | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Director: Greta Gerwig
  • Written By: Greta Gerwig | Noah Baumbach
  • Run Time: 114 Mins.
  • Street Date: 17 October 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 446 nits
    • MaxFALL: 115 nits
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: English DD 5.1 | English Descriptive Audio (US) | English Descriptive Audio (UK) | French DD 5.1 | Italian Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible) | Italian DD 5.1 | Spanish DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Italian SDH |Spanish | Danish | Finnish | Norwegian | Swedish

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere in the Antarctic, you already know what a worldwide phenomenon director/co-writer Greta Gerwig’s (Little Women, Lady Bird) Barbie is. The film has raked in $1.5 billion worldwide and is still...Barbie (4K UHD Review)