PictureWhilst Boyz N The Hood isn't exactly a recent movie (I can't help but mention some of those haircuts again), I dropped this disc in my player with high hopes. Firstly, we are offered the option of watching the movie in either 1.33:1 fullframe or 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, something that I was disappointed to see (purely because of the amount of space required for both transfers). Naturally I picked the widescreen option, but it was with some alarm that I noticed in the opening title sequence a huge white scratch flash across the screen...
The transfer here really is a mixed bag. Firstly, I noticed obvious grain in many scenes, and it's obvious from the off that you're watching an old transfer. Whilst scratches are not really distracting, they pop up on the screen reasonably frequently, and there is also evidence of dirt on the print.
Colours are reasonably well rendered, although they feel slightly flat, and I did notice in one or two scenes a little blooming. Whilst certain scenes exhibit some nice detail (particularly on faces), mostly the print looks slightly soft, and some of the shadowy scenes seemed to lose a bit of detail. The blacks never really feel three dimensional, and that comment can generally be applied to the whole transfer. It's not particularly bad, it's just not that remarkable either, and adding in some mild edge enhancement we have a transfer that's sitting firmly in the “average” category. Disappointing.
SoundAudiophiles will be disappointed to see that this anniversary edition of Boyz N the Hood features only a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Recorded at a bitrate of 192kbps, unfortunately the soundtrack plays a little like the video transfer: flat and two-dimensional.
Whilst there is some action in the surrounds, the soundstage is largely locked to the front. Panning is never particularly obviously, and the vocals which are locked almost exclusively to the centre channel are clear - however they really lack any sense of weight or presence. Bass isn't really prominent, and although the hip-hop soundtrack and some of the action scenes have their moments, even then the subwoofer purrs more than barks.
I mentioned the surrounds previously, and though not used often, the matrixed rear channels do blend some ambient sounds into the mix well. The frequent circling of helicopters above the lives of our cast moves around the room, and other effects are well placed, if somewhat muted.
As a pro-logic mix Boyz N the Hood offers us a reasonable, but never outstanding audio experience. I couldn't help but think this would benefit from a 5.1 mix, if only to reinforce the dialogue heavy centre channel, which does come across as weak.
Overall then, like the picture, this is a disappointment.
ExtrasFans of the movie will certainly enjoy what's on offer here, for although it looks better than it is there are some good features on the 2nd disc of this package.
First up, and obviously on the first disc, is a feature commentary with director John Singleton, which I'm glad to say, is an informative and enjoyable listen. Very conversational, Singleton offers us insights into the background behind many scenes, including how they were shot and some of the tricks used. He also talks of how he met the entire cast and how they came to be involved in the project. Interesting stuff, and thankfully the commentary is delivered with none of those killer-silences which plague many other similar features.
Probably the best feature available on the 2nd disc is the documentary - “Friendly Fire - The Making of An Urban Legend”. Amongst other things we have the stars extolling the virtues and meaning of the movie, but more importantly we have some fascinating insights into the production. Containing some excellent information on the filming of the movie (needless to say, because of the setting it wasn't an easy movie to shoot), it also mentions the gang-related violence that accompanied the movie's theatrical opening in the States. Full credit to the makers for including this.
We also have a couple of deleted scenes which - like most deleted scenes - were deleted for the right reasons as they add nothing new to the movie, and the two music videos will only be of interest to old school hip-hop fans.
We also have a selection of theatrical trailers (including other Columbia releases and movies directed by John Singleton), and finally the obligatory production notes and filmographies.
Overall it's a reasonable effort: although there's padding here, the documentary and commentary are worth a look.
VerdictA thought provoking, powerful movie who's message remains fresh even today, this release is let down by an average picture and sound. Could have been better.
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