The Washington Times Daily

Visuals, powerhouse cast shine in ‘Croods’ sequel

- BY JOE SZADKOWSKI

The latest adventure featuring Dreamwork Animations’ prehistori­c clan arrives on ultrahigh definition to give home theater audiences an eyepopping and amusing lesson in evolution in The Croods: The New Age (Universal Studios Home Entertainm­ent, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 95 minutes, $44.98).

The computer-animated film reintroduc­es viewers to the hunting, gathering and surviving skills of the Crood family and asks the question: “Do cave people belong in a modern world?”

They include patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), teen daughter Eep (Emma Stone), toddler daughter Sandy (Kailey Crawford), son Thunk (Clark Duke), feisty grandmothe­r Gran (Cloris Leachman in her final role) and cave boy (as well as romantic interest of Eep) Guy (Ryan Reynolds).

After the group stumbles upon a massive wall, they meet the Bettermans — Phil (Peter Dinklage) and Hope (Leslie Mann) — a pair of evolved humans living in almost paradise along with their coddled daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), who is also a long-lost friend of Guy’s.

Phil and Hope initially welcome the Croods to stay as they introduce them to the finer parts of a refined lifestyle including showers, elevators, beds, windows, a steady diet of fruits and vegetables, the importance of bananas and even a man cave for the patriarchs.

Of course, the plot thickens when Phil decides Dawn would be a better match for Guy, and he works on a plan to get the Croods out of paradise and leave Guy behind.

The movie saturates viewers with action, especially as the Croods deal with surviving an army of Punch Monkeys and a King Kong-sized spiny Mandrill, and gives the kiddies a lesson in family friendship and tenacity.

The powerhouse cast shines and, twinned with an entertaini­ng story and impeccable visual design, makes “The Croods: The New Age” one of the most fun animated efforts in recent years. Hopefully, the next sequel won’t take seven years to make.

4K in action: The masterful effort offers a clinic on how an animated film can take full advantage of the UHD medium with its high dynamic range enhancemen­ts as well as 2160p clarity.

Animators must have had a riot creating the variety of outdoor locations and wondrous creatures.

These highlights include a chase between the Croods (atop their pet saber-toothed tiger Chunky) and a pack of Kangadillo­s through a lava pit, a teetering rock formation covered with land sharks, a pack of wolf spiders hiding in an ice cave and, best of all, the Bettermans’ lush and saturated garden of exotic fruits with its eye-burning neon palette (similar to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory).

Computer-animation clarity merges with color in the lifelike hair on the characters, even when grotesquel­y presented on Grug’s chest; Gran munching a bamboo pole into sawdust; the appearance of white woolly mammoths; Trunk’s psychedeli­c window; the gorgeous pet saber-tooth with green, blue and yellow fur; and florescent tribal face makeup worn by the clans.

Best extras: Families can start the evening with the DreamWorks Animation short “To: Gerard” featuring a mail clerk offering a bit of magic to a little girl and eventually appreciati­ng the results of his good deed.

After the feature film, watch a pair of shorts about the Croods, averaging three minutes each. The first offers a more traditiona­l style of animation as Eep and Dawn deliver the first pranks in history on their family, and then Dawn relays the tale of Brianna Bread via the ancient art of shadow puppetry.

Viewers then can dive into the actual production of the animated epic.

Start with a 10-minute overview of the sequel supplement­ed by interviews from crew and cast (including a broodingly insistent Mr. Cage telling viewers that “Croods 2” is a fun movie), an eightminut­e overview of the main characters introduced by the voice-over actors and director Joel Crawford, and 23 minutes of storyboard­ed deleted scenes (eight total), all introduced by Mr. Crawford.

Additional­ly, the 4K disc offers a trio of goodies for the kiddies to interact with the Crood animated world.

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