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Boyz n the Hood 4K Blu-ray Review

Once Upon a Time in South Central L.A.

by Casimir Harlow
SRP: £19.99

Boyz n the Hood Film Review

The late John Singleton's seminal directorial debut remains his best film, a timeless coming of age drama and the greatest Spike Lee film that Spike Lee didn't make.

Taking his own personal experiences from growing up in South Central, and crafting them into a story which pays tribute to both seminal coming-of-age dramas like Stand By Me, and to the works of Spike Lee, Singleton’s debut is a timeless modern classic – one which earned him an Oscar Nomination at a time when it was pretty rare for black filmmakers to be acknowledged with any kind of awards. Made at just 22 (a record age, as well in terms of Oscar nods), it was a noteworthy turning point in terms of these kinds of stories, taking the usual childhood friends, who suffer life’s ups and downs and forge in different directions as they grow older; and turning it on its head by painting the alternative view of the equivalent black children, whose comparable experiences are perpetually tainted by racism, crime, and poverty; with nothing but contempt from the authorities, and little more than ambivalence from the Government.

It’s tagline was originally “Once Upon a Time in South Central L.A.”, a nod to Leone’s masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in America (less so Once Upon a Time in the West) which follows a similar tale of childhood friends whose experiences on the streets – and with the authorities and rival gangs – determine both the direction of their lives, and their ultimate fate. 

 Boyz n the Hood told a story that either nobody had heard before, or nobody had listened to before

Beyond this fantastic, authentic, diary-like alternative coming-of-age drama, founded in the real-life horrors of the streets, we get a whole host of then-newcomer actors, often in their breakthrough roles – delivering the performances which would go on to both kick-start their careers and, in some cases, still stand out as the high points in them. One of Lawrence Fishburne's best early era performances (perfect opposite Angela Bassett), the film also featured the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Morris Chestnut, with none other than Ice Cube stealing the show.

From the corrupt police to the callous teenage killers; from the reluctant criminals to the desperate survivors – Boyz n the Hood told a story that either nobody had heard before, or nobody had listened to before; and it remains a timeless coming-of-age drama, a perfect Once Upon a Time... in South Central L.A..

Boyz n the Hood Blu-ray Picture


Boyz n the Hood hits UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray a who day ahead of its US bow, boasting an unsurprisingly strong presentation from Sony, who gift it full-fat native 4K video courtesy of a 4K scan of the original camera negative.

The disc presents a 3840 x 2160p resolution image utilising the original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.

We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Boyz n the Hood on an LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

 An unsurprisingly strong presentation from Sony

Shot in 1991, as a debut feature for Singleton, this is hardly a glossy, glamorous production, but that only lends it an added air of authenticity for its snapshot of life on the streets. Nonetheless, the more gritty look, and limited sheen, make for strange bedfellows alongside the tools used to make a top tier native 4K presentation. The new 4K scan pulls up a veritably impressive level of detail from many of the shots, giving texture to the clothing, backgrounds and environments, but can't do anything with the slightly softer style that the production appears to have always wielded.

The grain level is more than intact, it's prevalent, affecting night scenes or lower lit scenes more overtly, however the colour scheme benefits from that HDR input, looking more vibrant than it has ever looked, with clothing and cars affording the most opportunities for colour pop and defying what is otherwise an understandably drab and understated, perhaps even dilapidated setting. Sony didn't have an exemplary source project to work up a storm with here in 4K but have nonetheless pulled off a strong effort which remains comfortably the best the movie has ever looked. 


Boyz n the Hood Blu-ray Sound



An immersive audio track which does its best with the source material

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Sony have actually opted for a Dolby Atmos 'remix' for this near-thirty year old production, gifting the feature a High Definition 3D Object-based immersive audio mix which - similarly to the video - does its best with inherently limited source material. Dialogue remains firmly prioritised, with an almost LFE-laced weight to Furious' booming, whilst effects try to bring life to the sporadic gunfire, affording some dynamics for the array to play with, and getting keen directionality as a result. Of course it's the score which arguably stands out, providing the most LFE input, and giving a new lease of life to some of the song tracks which define the piece. Hardly a demo Atmos track, it's a strong effort nonetheless.

Boyz n the Hood Blu-ray Extras


Sony push the boat out on the extras front, bringing all of the extras from their 20th Anniversary set on the accompanying Blu-ray - the Director's Commentary, a couple of hefty Documentaries, some Deleted Scenes and Audition Footage, and some Music Videos - as well as providing new ones on the 4K disc itself. 

 Sony push the boat out on the extras front

The 4K disc affords a new Tribute to Director John Singleton, a new Theatrical Press Conference Featurette, a new Behind the Scenes Featurette and the Original Trailer, and whilst it's hardly an extensive effort, coupled with the existing material it's an impressive package.

Boyz n the Hood Blu-ray Verdict

Boyz n the Hood 4K Blu-ray Review









 A very good set
 
Boyz in the Hood
is powerful and poignant, and feels just as relevant now as it was almost thirty years ago, which really is quite a sobering thought. Sony's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc delivers strong native 4K video and Dolby Atmos audio given the source material they were working with, as well as a few nice new extras to offer a cherry on top of the healthy set of extras from the old Blu-ray. It's a very good set.

Unmissable

Scores

Movie

.
9

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Extras

.
9

Overall

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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