Oh Taiki Waititi, what’s the deal? You started off with some amazing films, and then “Thor: Ragnarok” happened. Sure it was fun and entertaining, but there was so much humour it came at the expense of quite a bit of drama.
Now we have “Jojo Rabbit” – another blend of quirky humour and drama, but now we have Nazis in the mix too. We’ve seen Nazis in comedy before, and results can vary. Here Waititi paints them all as buffoons, which does lead to some humorous sequences. Sam Rockwell is particularly good in those.
Unfortunately, Waititi also tries to deliver some heavy drama. It doesn’t work. Although the writing and performance by Johansson are excellent, it sticks out when surrounded by the ridiculousness. In a world where every Nazi is a clown and a boy is imagining a comical Hitler, an exploration of deep emotional and moral issues is completely out of place. It’s such a shame as I was absolutely enthralled by Johansson’s performance, to the point that I consider it one of my favourites of 2019. I just can’t reconcile it being in this particular film. That leads me to wish we got two films out of this story – one comedy, one drama.
Of course it’s not a train wreck though – Waititi keeps it together somehow. The performances from all (save for Rebel Wilson) are plenty entertaining, and the script itself is quite smart. I simply think the two components actually work against each other as they’re too good individually, resulting in an inferior film. Had Waititi taken a Tarantino-esque “Inglourious Basterds” approach, it could have been great. As it stands, it’s merely good.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
An appealing transfer. An upscale, there appears to be a nice bump in detail. Colours are nice and natural too. There are no issues with the encode. HDR doesn’t offer much though.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is quite good, offering excellent dialogue reproduction, clear effects, and a well prioritised score. David Bowie’s German rendition of “Heroes” sounded great in the end credits. A shame it wasn’t Atmos though.