Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Us 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Following the hit thriller Get Out, Writer/Director/Producer and Academy Award winner Jordan Peele delivers his latest psychological work simply titled, Us. The ensemble cast includes Academy Award Winner Lupita Nyong’o, (Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave), Winston Duke (Black Panther), and Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid’s Tale").  The film is already available on digital and releases on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on June 18th. Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has already amassed a major fan base.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
The film begins with the information that there are thousands of miles of tunnels beneath the United States. The viewer immediately wonders who or what could be in there. I was happy to have avoided spoilers even though I missed the chance to see Us in the theaters. I wondered if this was going to turn into a The Hills Have Eyes situation, with mutants crawling out of the tunnels below. I started to think about As Above, So Below as well. I quickly realized that Jordan Peele wasn’t going to deliver his take on something I’d already seen. This was bound to be an original idea.

Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) was a young girl when she wandered away from her parents on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. The bright lights of a Shaman’s Vision Quest attraction promised she’d find herself inside. What she found would be life changing. As an adult, she seems well adjusted.  She is a loving wife to husband Gabe (Winston Duke). They share two great kids, daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). The family has returned to Northern California for their annual vacation.

Adelaide reluctantly returns to Santa Cruz, where she spends a nice day with her family and friends. She insists on returning home before dark. Although she had a brief scare, everything seems to be fine and they return home. The power goes out. Then young Jason remarks “there is a family in our driveway.” His statement may not seem that frightening, but it is the beginning of a night of terror for the Wilson Family.

Us is everything you want from a psychological horror film. It’s creepy, edgy, thought provoking and weird (in a good way). Jordan Peele is likely going to develop a Shamyalan-like reputation for a twist to his films. You can count on the fact that things aren’t what they seem and when you think you’ve got it all figured out, there is more to the story. Wondering if I was seeing and understanding what I thought I was seeing added to the tension of the experience. Some films with a twist can disappoint on repeat viewings. Us, however, reveals more once you know the story. The actors were called upon to play out a very complicated story and the film was incredibly well cast. Both adult and child actors thoroughly deliver in this terrifying tale.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Us is an incredibly dark film and is very well suited to a 4K release. You’re often looking at an actors very dark complexion inside the house during a nighttime power failure. The antagonists wear dark red jumpsuits that are menacing in both daylight and moonlight. You’ll appreciate the range of color on 4K, as well as resolution. Lighting again comes into play when two characters share a closet lit only by a flame. Being able to see tears well up in the eyes of a victim or roll down their face in the dark is important. Shadows are as much a character as anyone in the film and they can only be truly appreciated in ultra high definition. The palette of reds for the blood is extensive with new and old wounds containing bright reds and dark black liquids. The improvements over the Blu-ray are modest, because the Blu-ray fairs so well. To see the depth of the night sky and the lights of the carnival with the best picture available, you’ll want the 4K disc.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Us is presented on 4K and Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The instrumentals are incredibly important to the tension of the film. Hearing and feeling the string pricks and other intense musical offerings is only part of the soundscape. The clarity of the screams and the main villain’s guttural speech provides an immersive experience.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
4K Bonus Features are available with a picture-in-picture menu and can be selected individually or with play all function.  Warning: extras include spoilers for the film.
  • The Monsters Within Us (4:46) – The challenges of playing two roles, research and inspiration. A look at each character and their counterpart.
  • Tethered Together Making Us Twice (7:29) The complicated storyline and how it affected shooting. Includes information on visual Effects, stunt doubles and makeup in creating the terror filled images.
  • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror (5:32) – Jordan Peele’s love of the genre is discussed by him and cast. Peele’s inspiration from his own fears helped this film come together. The importance of comedy in horror is discussed as well.
  • The Duality of Us (9:56) – A look at Doppelgangers and the responsibility of the privileged. A discussion of the Hands Across America event and it’s impact. The animals and their representation is also features here.
  • Becoming Red (4:10) – Here we learned Lupita remained in character while filming Red and see her in between takes while the camera was still rolling. These four minutes is as creepy as anything you will see in the film, maybe more so.
  • Scene Explorations (7:37 total runtime) – Available individually or with play all function are the following scenes: Seven Second Massacre; It’s a Trap; and I Just Want My Little Girl Back.
  • Deleted Scenes (6:28 total runtime) – Available individually or with play all option are the following deleted scenes: I am Not Even Near You; Rabbit Season; That’s Badass; Driftwood; The P is Silent; and I Wanna Go Home.
  • We’re all Dying (6:23) – Outtakes between the two dads in the film.
  • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas De Deux (5:02) An extended dance scene showing both Red and Adelaide performing.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Us is visceral and traumatic. It’s strange and unusual. It’s not for the faint of heart, and not because of the bloodiness or body count. Us is definitely a film you’ll be thinking about afterwards. Both the Blu-ray and the 4K offer technically excellent images and sound. The bonus features are interesting and well thought out. Some are cinematic and make a great compliment to the film. Recommended.

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