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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Dog > China > Animation > CGI > Fantasy > Adventure > Horses > Mystery > Little Q (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Luca 4K (2021/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Spirit: Untamed (2021/DreamWorks/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Water Man (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)

Little Q (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Luca 4K (2021/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Spirit: Untamed (2021/DreamWorks/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Water Man (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B+/B+/B & C+/B Sound: B/A-/B & C+/B Extras: D/B/C/A Films: B+/C+/C/B+

Now for our latest children/family titles...

Little Q is a dog who was trained to be a guide dog for the blind. But he is paired up with Lee Bo Ting, a master chef who lost his sight. At first, Lee Bo is angry at the world and his fate pushed everything and everyone away, but through the steadfast loyalty of Little Q, Little Q teaches him that life is not over and through Little Q's eyes Lee Bo is still able to live a full and happy life in Wing-Cheong Law's Little Q (2019).

Little Q is also a sweet yellow lab that any kid would be happy to have as a pet, but he is trained as a guide dog to help the blind see. His master, Lee Bo, is an angry old man, proud of his achievement in life he feels he has lost it all when he discovers he is going blind. He abuses and even pushes away Little Q at first, but slowly he begins to learn happiness with Little Q being his eyes. Through the years the two become one as they learn to care for one another, but after 10 years of service however, Little Q becomes old and his strength and health begins to fade and now it is Lee Bo's turn to take care of Little Q.

If you like stories about dogs this is a tear jerker for you. The story of a blind man and how his guide dog changed his life, how his dog not only saved his life (several times) but saved him from also turning into a lonely, bitter old man. Through the life of the dog, Little Q, it shows the story of all those he touched and even when no one believed the angry old man would change, Little Q did.

The human cast includes Simon Yam, Gigi Leung, Him Law, Charlie Yeung, Shanshan Yuan and Angela Yuen. Extras include trailers.

The latest Disney animated feature, Luca (2021), is a distant cousin to The Little Mermaid and features human-like sea creatures with a different spin. The film takes place on the Italian Riveria and centers on two young boys who make some new friends that are certainly far from ordinary and part of a secret held by the townspeople. The film is fine for kids, but not as impressive as the Pixar-produced features as of late or even the recent Raya and The Last Dragon (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site.)

Luca features the voices of Maya Rudolph, Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Giacomo Gianniotti, and Jim Gaffigan.

Special Features:

Our Italian Inspiration Featurette

Secretly A Sea Monster Featurette

Best Friends Featurette

Deleted Scenes

Introduction - Director Enrico Casarosa introduces scenes not included in the final version of "Luca."

Starfish Hunt (Alternate Opening) - Luca explores the shore and the sea, gathering mussels and starfish, in this serene alternate opening to the film.

Isola Del Mare (Alternate Opening) - Luca welcomes viewers to the quiet island he calls home.

Festa Del Mare - The boys go to a festival filled with fun ...and danger.

Here Comes Giulia - Giulia explores Isola Del Mare, where she meets Luca and Alberto, and asks so many questions.

Gelato Trouble - Giulia offers to treat Luca and Alberto to something called "gelato."

and Sea Monster Cannery - Luca dreams about a magical place filled with Vespas and gelato, but things aren't quite what they seem

Spirit: Untamed (2021) is a sequel to the DreamWorks theatrical animated hit Spirit for years ago, this time with a young girl (it is usually a female in these horse films, live action included) with her pain of the loss of a family member and the love of a horse that will help her through it. Cliched to some extent, including a villain trying to stop her from even being with any horses.

Despite Andre Braugher, Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal being a plus among the supporting voice cast, the film is just more of the same from the first film and like films, but is likely going to be newer and fresh to a very, very young viewer. For fans only, it is child-friendly and you could do much worse, so see it with so-so expectations.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the discs add Bloopers, Sing-A-Long video, Finding Your Spirit featurette, Snack Time S'Mores, Extended/Deleted Scenes, 8 additional behind-the-scenes featurettes and a feature length audio commentary track with Director Elaine Bogan, Co-Director Ennio Torresan and Producer Karen Foster.

Gunner is a small boy, after learning about his mother's illness he learns about a legend of the Water Man, a man who cheated death and found immortality and set off to find him. He meets and encounters a mysterious girl named Jo who claimed she's seen and met the Water Man and joins him. Their goal is to find and journey through Wild Horse Forest where mysterious things happen and magic is said to still exist there in David Oyelowo's The Water Man (2020).

Gunner's mother is dying of cancer, and Gunner is willing to do anything to save his mother. After finding a book he learns of his town's legend of the Water Man, a man who somehow discovered immortality and lives in the forbidden Wild Horse Forest. He is joined by a mysterious blue haired tomboy girl name Jo and she said she is willing to guide him. Armed with nothing but his father's samurai sword they go to protect them. But while Gunner and Jo are off on their adventure, his father mistaken Gunner for running away and chases after him and Jo, but Gunner will stop for nothing (even his father) if it means it can save his mother.

This was an inspirational movie about a boy and the power of his wish to save his mother. As the main character journeys deeper into the adventure seemly impossible things begin to happen, but is it his imagination ...or is it really magic? As reality begins to blur, it has the audience questioning the power of belief, if you truly believe in something, does that have to power to then bring something into reality?

Besides a supporting role by the director (who is a long time actor,) the cast include Rosario Dawson, Maria Bello, Alfred Molina, Amiah Miller and Lonnie Chavis. Extras include booklet, The Making of The Water Man, animation behind the scenes, Toronto International Film Festival Q&A and filmmaker's commentary.

Now for playback performance. Luca looks fantastic on his 4K UHD release, which presents the film in a 2160p Ultra High Definition presentation, regular HDR, an HEVC/H.265 code, and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 paired with a lossless English Dolby Atmos mix, and audio mixes in Dolby True HD 7.1, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0. As always, the high end animation looks its best in 2160p and the detail in the animation and wide spectrum of colors and HDR (high dynamic range) aids the image in a significant upgrade when compared to the also included 1080p Blu-ray disc, which has the same audio features.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Little Q is as clear as it can be for the format and looks good, while the Cantonese DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is fine, but a little more standard with dialogue and some music.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Spirit is fine and has some good color, but is also not the best CGI film we've ever seen, though a 4K edition would be interesting to see where the improvements would happen. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix likely a trade-down from a 12-track soundmaster) is also fine, but not an out of the ballpark experience. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD is passable and much softer, but much less effective than the Blu-ray indeed. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix also suffers accordingly, but is fine for what it is.

Finally, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Water Man looks good, but can look a little ordinary, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is professional and consistent throughout, but just do not expect blockbuster sound. This fits the film.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Spirit), Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (4K)



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