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T2: Trainspotting (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

21 years ago, Trainspotting arrived. One of the biggest trends in film of the 1990s was the rise of the independent film and Trainspotting was one of the largest. It was the second film from Danny Boyle (Go seek out Shallow Grave, his first, its awesome), but its the one that really launched him. It also launch the careers of Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Bremner as well. The film was one of those “MTV Generation” kind of movies, but damn was it ever so energetic and effective. Rewatching it for this review, I had just forgotten how damned good and powerful it was. Now, we’re here 21 years later (2o for the characters in the film) for a reunion movie and follow up that had been discussed by Danny Boyle for many years. And, is it also ever so exciting to see a Danny Boyle film getting a 4K Ultra-HD release! The film will be available for purchse on June 27th and can be pre-ordered below.

Film 

First there was an opportunity… then there was a betrayal. Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton returns to the only place he can ever call home. They are waiting for him: Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie. Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction and mortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.

Twenty years is both a very long time and not very long at all in the scheme of things. Both angles are covered very well in Danny Boyle’s follow up to his break out success Trainspotting. A film that reunites characters in the original as they rediscover one another, bring old conflicts to a head and find they may be older, but are still themselves when they get to be around one another. Its odd to call this a sequel, but more so a follow up or reunion. Boyle once let us peer in at a moment in the lives of some youths and now is letting us peer in at another moment.

A lot of times when people make a lega-sequel, they sit and harp on the original and try to celebrate it by recreating it or want to constantly remind you of what you liked. Some of them are so good you don’t even realize they’re doing it. T2: Trainspotting manages to fall somewhere in the middle. There are clips and instances meant to remind or evoke scenes and memories of the first movie.  However, its their to do such; remind and also is at the service of the story. This second film has its own look, feel and style while at the same time being a bit of an extension off of the first film. Boyle has found a way to really make it work.

Boyle’s touches on this film are apparent and his regularly tight plotting and narrative is still here even though the film is two hours length. His trademark visuals pop up in little spurts and moments in the film (Its not really driven by them, but the come and go).  My personal favorite touch was a moment where Renk goes up an elevator and he chooses to show the full exterior of the building has visual numbers counting up to 13 going up the building. Oh, and if you thought this may be a hair more adult than the first outing, early on, Boyle shows he can still make you gag and almost puke at gross stuff (Reminding you of that feelings during the toilet scene in the first).

I find it interesting that T2: Trainspotting comes at an interesting resurgence for Ewan McGregor. In 1996, the first film really launched his career into stardom. Following it, he leap frogged the competition and ended up the front runner and winner of playing Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode I. Now, here we are 20 years later and he returns to the role at the same time he stars in the billion dollar Beauty & The Beast in one of its key roles and has a dual lead in the popular and acclaimed Fargo television series. Oh, and the Obi Wan spinoff movie demand is higher than ever and constantly brought up.

To follow the original Trainspotting and to be as potent, fresh and effective as that film is an impossible task. Boyle opts not to try and recreate that magic, but to keep in step and focus on the characters and where they’ve been all these years. Over the past two decades there has been talk of this sequel and I always wondered why and if it was really necessary. I still don’t know if it was necessary, but I didn’t mind going back and catching up with these characters and finding myself drawn into their lives and activities once again.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Wow, T2: Trainspotting looks brilliant on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The image is really crisp, sharp and clear with plenty of detail. You get every speck of decay, dirt or filth in some of the building. Couch leather has every crack and glossy sheen is accounted for all the way to the touch. Every person and object is well rounded in their appearance. At times, things come across almost window-like. The saturation of colors, blacks and the HDR on this are all precise and terrific. The image just really pops, whether it is a natural landscape or some colorful interior with some big lighting schematic.

Depth:  T2 features a really cool three dimensional look to the image. Camera movements are smooth, swift and confident. Characters and objects in the foreground really show off the spacing between they and the backdrops. Said backgrounds do feature really fine details, especially when in good focus. The scenes at the mountain/hillside really impress and give that 3-D push back look to them.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and really feel the good saturation of the HDR. Details still run abundant in solid lighting and nothing is really eaten up. Some really dark sequences show a tad of what looks like grain (Though, because this was shot digitally, it isn’t). Its rich, and quite impressive. No crushing was witnessed during the viewing of this disc for the review.

Color Reproduction: Colors pop wonderfully with this HDR. Cigarette cherries hang on, glowing on the screen as well as transposed numbers. Reds and greens look rich here and jump out. Lighting filters look strong and don’t hide any detail or sharpness.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones look natural, full and keep their appearance throughout the duration of the whole film. Facial details like stubble, wrinkles, lip texture, make-up, dirt, scars and more are clear as day from any distance in the shots. Its like peering through glass at the actors.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD Compatible), English Audio Descriptive Service, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French Audio Descriptive Service, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 VO Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: T2: Trainspotting blasts through your speakers. Its set to a much louder volume than what I normally keep mine defaulted at, so I had to actually turn it down. This Atmos track really feels loose, free and full captivating every nook and cranny of the environments in the film. Where it really stands out are the songs in the the film as they pound the room and feel like a rock concert.

Height: This isn’t full of extravagant moments with your ceiling speakers, but it does have some good moments of ambiance and caters to sounds of the room.

Low Frequency Extension: Engines, rumbling, punches, glass shattering, things falling and landing and much more get some good bumping in the subwoofer. Oh and the bass and drums on the songs bring a crushing thump to their bump.

Surround Sound Presentation: Every environment in the film is well realized and all 7 channels (plus ceiling) are able to have their own contributions and moments throughout. No matter where in the film, every interior and exterior feels live in with this mix, with good ambiance. Movements and character/action placements on screen are very precise and accurate.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are really crisp and feature good clarity no matter the background noise or music in a scene. Actor diction is well represented with breathes and mouth sounds all captured here in a more natural state.

Extras 

T2: Trainspotting 4K Ultra-HD comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy. The 4K Ultra-HD disc only contains the film, bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Blu-ray Disc

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Danny Boyle and Screenwriter John Hodge

20 Years in the Making: A Conversation with Danny Boyle and the Cast (HD, 24:49) – Ewan Bremner isn’t available, but he gives a short introduction and they have a card board cut out with him at the discussion with Danny Boyle, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. They chat about the original film and how it wasn’t hard to get back into their characters as they had been with them all these years. Its a solid discussion about how they feel its very meta and really they go into life and character depth and appreciation.

Calton Athletic Documentary: Choose Endorphins Over Addiction (HD, 4:25) – Almost trailer-like, this is an ad with confessionals for a Scottish-based recovery group.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 30:11)

Summary 

T2: Trainspotting is a nice return, the one you weren’t really asking for, but didn’t know you needed. Its a nice compliment to the original. It comes with a blasting audio track and a pristine top of the line image. Definitely in the upper echelon of 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray presentations, one of the best. This 4K disc doesn’t feature any extras, but the standard Blu-ray is intact to provide them for you.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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