'Doctor Sleep' (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital)
(Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Cliff Curtis, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2019 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Years following the events of 'The Shining,' a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.
Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply breathtaking 'Doctor Sleep’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this February 4th, 2020.
For my money, this 'Doctor Sleep: 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 'Doctor Sleep' 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 (63.78 Mbps), Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10+, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.
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 film gloriously shines within them all.
Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. 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; such as the scenes in the woods, where all the foliage is now immensely green and, at times, vibratingly shiny and alive. It just all comes more vividly to life, which is amazing to see, in truth.
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the scenes back in the hotel where the tricycle still gets ridden up and down the carpeted hallway by a young boy; and the scenes set in the attic with McGregor fighting the evil forces) 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: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), and French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1.
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, as aforementioned, 'Doctor Sleep' is the decades-later sequel to the Jack Nicolson horror classic, 'The Shining,' set primarily many years after the events at the Outlook Hotel that left young Danny Torrance scarred for life.
Danny (Ewan McGregor) is now an alcoholic adult who battles with inner demons who manifest because of his "shine." He also faces real-world demons of sort in the form of vampire-like creatures who steal the souls of children who "shine".
Dan and a particularly powerful young girl cross paths and team up to battle a group of the creatures, who call themselves the True Knot.
In the film's best moments, it really shines (sorry). Mike Flanagan (who has steadily been building his reputation as the most reliable working horror director) performs a challenging dance of honoring both Stanley Kubrick's film and Stephen King's novel sequel.
This task becomes all the more difficult when we realize that the follow-up novel paid no mind to the changes between the first book and movie. Certain characters are in different places and key landmarks, like the hotel, faced different fates. Fortunately, Flanagan pulls it off.
At times we can also sense a struggle between calling back to the original and pushing forward with a new vision. Fortunately, Flanagan pulls that off too.
One scene in particular that displays Flanagan skill and vision features True Knot leader, Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), leaving her body and floating across the country in search of the powerful young girl.
I would've enjoyed seeing more moments like this and fewer obvious homages to the original movie. There's plenty to this story to more than stand on its own.
For, in my humble journalistic opinion, the film would have benefitted from further breaking away from 'The Shining'.'
Blood and violence are kept relatively tame aside from one brutally unsettling scene that gives a sense of how vicious and unfeeling the True Knot group members truly are.
Ferguson owns this scene, displaying equal parts menace and alluring charisma. Her performance is the best in the film, with respect to McGregor, who does fine work as well.
Ultimately, the film works well thanks to the strong performances and skill of Flanagan, remaining entertaining throughout the lengthy 152-minute runtime.
As for the special features included here on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, the stand out for me has to be From Shining to Sleep (4:56). Here Director Mike Flanagan and author Stephen King talk about the challenges of continuing a modern classic, the obvious differences between the two novels, Stanley Kubrick's movie, ending with fire and ice, resurrecting some of the original book's themes, and the merging of two or three worlds.
Another decent one, if not all too short, is The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision (13:57) where Flanagan and King (along with actor Ewan McGregor, producer Trevor Macy, actresses Kyliegh Curran and Rachel Ferguson, costume designer Terry Anderson, and others) return to speak about the film's development, sending the script to King, continuing Danny Torrance's story, bringing literary characters to life, casting Abra, finding Rose's hat, The True Knot, and much more (albeit it somewhat crammed into just 15 minutes, of course).
The last one is Return to The Overlook (14:59) where Mike Flanagan (with more of his friends surrounding his thoughts and comments) talks more about his first exposure to Kubrick's film on VHS, rebuilding and tearing down the iconic Overlook Hotel, production design highlights, hunting down a few vintage props, a quick set tour, casting familiar characters with different actors, makeup effects, frivolous nudity, and even imitation vs. homage.
The included Director’s Cut features nearly 30 minutes of new, alternate and extended scenes, selected by director Mike Flanagan, not seen in theaters.
The Director’s Cut will be available on the Blu-ray disc and Digital in the 4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack and the Blu-ray editions come February 4th, 2020.
This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
• From Shining to Sleep
• The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision
• Return to The Overlook
Official 'Doctor Sleep' Trailer
'Doctor Sleep: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link
Official 'Doctor Sleep' Facebook Page!