The Purge Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

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Squandered potential

by Casimir Harlow Sep 17, 2017 at 7:52 PM

  • SRP: £47.99

    Film Review

    The Purge may not have had much narrative direction, but its premise was rich for mining, as was seen in the sequels and can be appreciated on the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the trilogy.

    The first film offered up a shocking premise: in order to achieve a nearly crime-free state for society the rest of the year round, the US has established a single day amnesty on prosecution for criminal offences - The Purge - which allows those who have violent, psychotic or vengeful feelings to vent them to their heart's content for 24 hours, before normal civilised behaviour is resumed. It's a chilling look at a twisted future society, which, in the first film, is brought to life through the microcosm of one young family unit, who assume that they are safe behind their mansion-like home's high-tech security system, only to find that it's only as secure as it's weakest link. The Purge has a great sci-fi premise, brimming with potential to explore the incendiary topics of morality, class battles and, basically, the revealing of true colours.
    Of course, the point is to look at the damage it has actually done to society; the lengths we will go to in order to protect our own, and the comparative lack of responsibility that we feel towards our neighbours – and the desensitisation towards violence (which was, perhaps, the whole point of the original Spartan teen ritual which may have somewhat inspired the premise – even though there’s also an old Star Trek Original Series episode which has a similar ‘unleashed murder’ night). Unfortunately, after a few minutes of brief background plotting, and a smidge of character flavouring, The Purge soon devolves into bloody home invasion territory, forgetting all its potential for sociological commentary and psychological insight, and turning into more of a hack-and-slash survival flick, and one without anything new to offer whatsoever. Such wasted potential.

    Picture Quality

    The Purge Picture Quality
    The Purge gets an Ultra HD Blu-ray release as part of Universal's The Purge Trilogy Ultra HD Blu-ray package, which offers up three pleasingly solid upgrades over the original Blu-ray releases.

    The digitally shot 2.8K source material may well be limited by 2K Digital Intermediates (DI), resulting in 4K upscales, but the Ultra HD Blu-ray discs boast nicely nuanced 2160p presentations, framed in the movies' original theatrical aspect ratios of 2.35:1 widescreen. The discs use 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and are encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Purge on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

    A pleasingly solid visual upgrade

    The original 1080p Blu-ray video presentation was already very good, despite the fact that it had to contend with an almost-completely-set-at-night feature steeped in prevalent shadows. This new Ultra HD Blu-ray adeptly utilises UHD Blu-ray's best tools - HDR and WCG - to do what the mere minor uptick in detail cannot, reforming the blacks with enhanced depth - it's noticeably darker than the Blu-ray - revealing newfound shadow detail and offering more striking colours against these inky blacks. It's still a limited budget affair, wrestling with plenty of heavily graded surveillance footage and low-level lighting, and largely set within a restrictive setting too, but every bit of fine improvement is wrung out of the source material for this Ultra HD Blu-ray and the results are certainly better than anybody could have expected.

    Sound Quality

    The Purge Sound Quality
    The audio also gets an upgrade from the original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that accompanied the Blu-ray release, which was already an impressive affair, here delivered with an immersive DTS:X track founded upon an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 core.

    Whilst it doesn't make for obvious immersive audio material, it's nice they went the extra mile

    The audio track is surprisingly potent, providing some welcome shock value into the mix, delivering clear and coherent dialogue throughout, whilst allowing for some punchy scoring, potent effects and a thunderous LFE undercurrent. Dynamics and surround usage are impressive, but perhaps not as much as that LFE punch, which is surprisingly sharp and intrusive, penetrating right to the bone – and at the least expected moments too. Atmospherics are well-observed, and the ambience is thick and palpable during some of the more tense sequences; the soundscape is lovingly pieced-together. As stated, it was already an impressive track even without the upgrade, and whilst it doesn't make for obvious immersive audio material, it's nice that Universal went the extra mile.


    The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Purge Trilogy release doesn't offer anything new in terms of the extras available on the original Blu-ray releases, and doesn't even bother porting the old extras over to the actual Ultra HD Blu-ray discs themselves, but at least the accompanying Blu-ray discs included allow the opportunity to still enjoy them. For the Blu-ray of The Purge itself, that doesn't amount to much, with a single brief Featurette: Surviving The Night - The Making of The Purge.

    Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict

    The Purge Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict
    The Purge may not have had much narrative direction, squandering its patent potential and its game cast headlined by Ethan Hawke. Its premise was rich for mining, which was part of the problem, made up for in the superior sequels, and something which can be better appreciated on the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the trilogy.

    The Purge's premise can be better appreciated on this new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

    Universal's Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Purge, for the time being, is only available as part of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Purge Trilogy. It offers up distinct improvements on the video front – thanks to nuanced use of WCG and HDR – as well as an immersive audio upgrade thanks to a new DTS:X soundtrack, and all the extras available on the original Blu-ray disc which is also included here. Fans should strongly consider hunting it down.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £47.99

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