Based on the eponymous fashion dolls created by Ruth Handler and introduced to the world in 1959, Barbie is the first live-action film under the enduring brand. The film is co-written and directed by Greta Gerwig and follows idyllic couple Barbie and Ken who are living the dream in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, after an existential crisis, they take a trip to the real world, where they soon discover the joys and perils of being human.

The screenplay for Barbie is a gem. At its core, it serves as an homage to the icon that Barbie is, lasting for generations as the doll that every little girl had to have. I enjoyed how the various iterations of Barbie, friend Midge, little sister Skipper, “ugly” Barbie (played to perfection by Kate McKinnon) and each of the Kens (including his pal Allan) are depicted in the story. The film explores a variety of themes that are easily digestible thanks to the wonderfully infused humor, fantastic production design and a devoted cast, led by the always reliable Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Barbie earned more than $1.43B worldwide to become the highest grossing film in Warner Bros.’ 100-year history and is the largest global film release of 2023.

The video was rendered from a 6.5K source and finished on a 4K DI. The film is boldly colorful throughout, featuring rich primary and pastel colors that pop off the screen. Detail rendering is flawless. The wide-angle shots of Barbie Land and real-world Los Angeles appear nearly three-dimensional. High dynamic range is subtly applied, emboldening brightly lit scenes and specular highlights. I found this to be an excellent Ultra HD presentation.

The Atmos track makes limited use of the height channels, which is disappointing. The bed channels are well utilized, incorporating effects that are discrete and ambient in nature, creating an excellent level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room-penetrating depth. Bass is excellent, providing an appreciably tight and punchy low end.

Bonus features include six short production featurettes that provide a glimpse behind the scenes. They offer insights into the production design, makeup, costumes and choreography, with input from the cast and crew. The “Becoming Barbie” featurette is the best of the lot but all are worthwhile. A digital copy code is included. Barbie may not be for everyone but, if you’re open to its whimsical fun, it’s quite entertaining.

STUDIO: Warner Bros, 2023
LENGTH: 114 mins., PG-13
DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
STARRING: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell