Pixar’s Soul may not have had a traditional release, bypassing theaters and even Premier Access to arrive as a Christmas gift to Disney+ subscribers. But despite the film’s unorthodox distribution for a Pixar animated feature, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release the film on disc and digital on March 23rd. This review covers the 4K UHD/Blu-Ray/Digital Ultimate Collector’s Edition release and fans can also pick it up on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digitally from participating providers.
Joe Gardner has spent his whole life dreaming of becoming a professional jazz pianist, but things haven’t gone according to plan. Feeling trapped in his teaching job to pay the bills, he finally seems like he’s about to get his big break when a misstep sends his soul to the afterlife. Trying to escape, he ends up in “The Great Before” and is assigned as a mentor to a reluctant soul named 22 who decides to help him try to return to earth.
If you’re a Disney+ subscriber who has scaled back purchasing physical media, you may be asking what the allure is of owning Soul on Blu-Ray or 4K UHD. Aside from the film looking better on disc, the biggest sell is a handful of bonus features exclusive to this release, including a feature-length audio commentary and deleted scenes. All of the featurettes are included in the Disney+ Extras section, so if you’re fine with the streaming video quality and don’t care about the exclusive extras, this release probably isn’t for you.
Advertising over an hour of bonus features, some of them are included in the Disney+ “Extras” section. Bonus features with an asterisk are exclusive to the home video release as of the time of this review.
- Not Your Average Joe (9:45) – Find out how Joe Gardner was created in this exploration into the character, his design, and everything that makes him unique.
- Astral Taffy (8:12) – This bonus feature is all about creating the world where souls come from
- Feature Commentary* (1:40:32) – Director Pete Doctor, producer Dana Murray and writer/co-director Kemp Powers record a feature-length commentary from different locations, recorded in November 2020 when the film was still scheduled for theatrical release. They reveal a lot about how the story evolved during the process, finishing the movie from home, and point out a few hidden references.
- Pretty Deep for a Cartoon (6:29) – Pete Docter’s ambition for Soul was to make a film about the meaning of life. This bonus feature follows how that aspiration transformed into the film Soul.
- Into the Zone: The Music and Sound of Soul (8:24) – A music-centric bonus that covers the sound design and music for the film, including Jon Batiste and score composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
- Soul, Improvised (6:49) – With six-weeks left of production, Pixar closed due to the pandemic and work continued on Soul from people’s homes. This bonus feature documents the hurdles faced and the hilarity that ensued.
- Jazz Greats (2:50) – The music culture trust for Soul talk about why music is so important to them from a screening room at Pixar Animation Studios.
- Deleted Scenes* (22:17)
- Introduction* (1:33) – Kristen Lester (Story Supervisor) and Mike Jones (Writer) introduce 5 deleted scenes from the film.
- Mentor Orientation* (3:21) – An early attempt at establishing the rules of The Great Before.
- Clubhouse Forgery* (3:41) – In an earlier draft of the story, 22 made forgery earth passes.
- Home Lessons* (2:16) – One of Joe’s neighbors, Natalia, was cut from the film.
- Living the Dream* (7:14) – An earlier way for Joe to get back to earth was through a dream his body was having, requiring a search for his “Dream bubble” in the astral plane.
- Press Shot* – (4:09) 22, as Joe, has to have photos taken as a member of Dorothea Williams’ band.
- Born to Be – Global Teaser in English* (1:41)
- Chicken Soup – Global Trailer in Polish* (2:21)
- Alive – International Trailer in Russian* (2:11)
On 4K UHD, the realistic details of the earth scenes have sharp details with lots of texture in what can be described as a photo-realistic environment. Compared to the Blu-Ray, loss of definition is evident primarily on textile textures. The Great Before uses a soft focus and intentionally blurry edges on characters and objects while the blue, purple and green colors feel more vibrant in UHD compared to the Blu-Ray presentation.
The 4K disc includes English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, English 5.1 Dolby Digital,, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus. The Blu-Ray disc drops the Dolby Atmos track and converts the Spanish track to 5.1 Dolby Digital, but all other audio options are the same.
Packaging & Design
Soul arrived in a standard sized black Blu-Ray case with stacked disc holders on both sides of the interior. The entire presentation was housed in a holofoil embossed slipcover and inserts include a Disney Movie Insiders/Movies Anywhere code where you can redeem points and your digital copy, as well as a flier for DIsney Movie Club. All three discs have artwork featuring different characters from the film.
The Blu-Ray disc opens with a preview for Luca. Through the Sneak Peeks menu, an additional ad can be accessed for Disney+. All of the discs use the same menu, featuring an animated environment of The Great Before set to score from the film.
The 4K UHD/Blu-Ray/Digital Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Pixar’s Soul presents the film with a stunning 4K presentation that can’t be matched by streaming along with some new bonus features exclusive to the home video release. Disney and Pixar animation collectors will be grateful for the opportunity to add the film to their shelves and everything about this release is top notch.
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Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).