Blu-Ray Review: Primal The Complete First Season

Primal

You may be familiar with the popular cartoon series Samurai Jack. The writer and director of that series, Genndy Tartakovsky, got an idea from that series (after the finale of that show) based on many of the scenes created for Samurai Jack. Namely, these are the action sequences and extended scenes without dialog. Tartakovsky got a notion: what if an entire series was created in this fashion? That’s exactly what he got with Primal.

Primal is a portrayal of cavemen that coincide in a world with dinosaurs (OK, so it’s not chronologically correct, but it’s a cartoon). In particular, one caveman named Spear. After a tragic incident that kills his family, Spear forms a bond with a tyrannosaurus that just lost her brood. The two become strange allies in an action-packed series that focuses on revenge (on those that took their families) and survival from the brutal world in which they live.

Staying true to the idea that spawned the series, there really is no dialog, and the action keeps up throughout all ten episodes. We come across all sorts of dangers like giant bats and groups of ape-men. There is also a ton of violence. Needless to say, this is a cartoon series aimed more at adults than children. It gets very violent and graphic. One thing I can say is it does everything with style. The visuals of the series are excellent. Even the backgrounds are detailed and pull you into the story. This makes sense, though. When you have absolutely no dialog, you must rely on visuals to tell the story. Having won three Emmy Awards, I think it’s fair to say they’ve accomplished this goal.

Using traditional hand-drawn two-dimensional animation and artwork, I was pleased to see that the blu-ray (1080p HD at 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio) looks brilliant. Nothing was lost in the transfer. The colors are vibrant and sharp, with deep blacks and clean delineation. The background artwork I mentioned earlier is a beautiful watercolor style that contrasts with the sharp and bold characters. It creates an added layer to the traditional 2D cartoon format.

Audio is included in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio only. With this, the audio sounds great. You get a complete sound experience with all of the wild screams, howls, and grunts adding realism and creating a deeply immersive overall atmosphere. The mix is solid, though not the very best. The music and dialog never go over each other, but it fails to truly pack a punch.

Bonus Feature:

Behind the Scenes: Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal (HD – 10:18) – this is a 10-minute featurette that packs a surprising amount into a small amount of time. It’s actually a fun and informative watch.

Overall, this is an exciting series. It’s trying something new, and I think it succeeds. The stories and characters are great, and the artwork is impressive. It might not be to everybody’s taste, but I think most will like it.

Primal The Complete First Season is available June 1st from Warner Bros Home Entertainment on Blu-ray and DVD.

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