'The First Purge: A Nation Reborn' [4K Ultra HD]
(Y'lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, Steve Harris, Marisa Tomei, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / 2018 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Overview: To push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community.
But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation.
4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this September with the release of this vibrant, and latest installment in the series of 'The First Purge,' in the new 4K home video format on October 2nd, 2018.
For my money, this 'The First Purge: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is 'The First Purge' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1, and Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this engrossing new film noticeably shines within them all.
Vastly crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably visible to the naked eye; more so now more than (perhaps) ever.
For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like the bright burning flames, or the glean of the colorful sheen on their masks.
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out extremely fine facial (although with a lot of the characters grimacing as they are hurt or worse, maybe that wasn't such a bright idea after all!) and some of the yellow graded material (notably some scenes where the aforementioned flames are beginning their journey into terrifying heat) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.
As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS:X, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish: DTS 5.1, French (Canada): DTS 5.1., and Subtitles in: English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, let's get the negative out of the way first, shall we. If you are looking for a movie jam-packed with bias political propaganda, look no further. If you're looking for a movie with a sturdy plot and some well-developed characters, sorry, but this ain't it!
That said, this kind of movie, and this series as a whole, is never intended to be clever. Nor well written. Nor well acted. Nor ... ok, you get the picture here.
Geared toward the mainstream audience who don't want to indulge in to much social commentary, and who would rather mindlessly watch a multitude of characters die gruesome deaths, without the humor involved, this is nothing more than a newly updated 'Scream' (and everyone seemed to have no issues with that series!)
For me personally, I was actually pleasantly surprised by 'The First Purge' as it felt as if the writers and director had learned their lesson from their last two installments and decided to go back to basics.
Ergo, a concentrated event that isn't over bloated by showing the audience multiple different Purge scenarios. Therefore, I found it much more entertaining, because it felt like this one had a source of direction, a real message (buried deep within), rather than being a sizzle-reel of murders with a weak plot tied in just to explain how the characters got from one place to another!
As always, the action was entertaining and creative and so for the most part there isn't really anything to complain about here. Sure the choice of music could have been looked at closer, and some of the death scenes were a little OTT, but most of the stylistic and artsy cinematography choices made were surprisingly apt.
However, and playing journalistic devil's advocate here, I do have a few complaints: The pacing of this installment is slower than the others, largely because there's the set up of how 'The Purge' began. But, and even though it's here and gone soon enough, it's still noticeable enough to be annoying (to those who have followed the series from the very first film).
I also found the dialogue very unrealistic and it made me cringe many times throughout the film. Indeed, it's very noticeable that the hood (black) dialogue was written by someone who has no experience with the way black people in tower block communities speak!
Occasionally, a few characters felt generic, with their goals and background/personality, but it was something that didn't take me out of the experience, so it weren't detrimental; but it was still noticeable. Overall, my complaints feel (even to me) quite minor and I'm pleased to say that they in no way negatively impacted my enjoyment of the film.
As for a delve into a couple of the Special Features, I happen to love 'The Masks of 'The First Purge'', where for a few minutes we get to indulge our dark side with the choices the producers and directors made about which masks would make it into the movie - and which one we would have ourselves chosen to wear!
Another is 'Bringing The Chaos' where the director and his crew take us through a couple of scenes of mass human purging chaos. We watch as they orchestrate the crowds to pull no punches, but be wary of their surroundings (!) and how each purge horde is controlled by its on set crew leader. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
Includes a digital copy of 'The First Purge'
A Radical Experiment
Bringing the Chaos
The Masks of 'The First Purge'