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Boyz N The Hood (4K Blu-ray Review)

Boyz N The Hood is one of those quintessential genre movies. More than just merely a “Black Film”,  Boyz centered around universal themes, but those themes are turned on their ears by the new landscape presented by visionary director John Singleton. The characters, the setting, the music and the mood are all such a huge part of the enjoyment of this film.  The film itself is such a huge iconic moment for 90’s cinema and for people of color who lived these lives.  The film was announced for a 4K disc late in 2019, and to my surprise there were a huge amount of 4K enthusiasts as excited as I was to see this announcement.  Boyz N’ The Hood is available now for purchase, and you can get your copy at the paid link below!

Film

My experience with Boyz N The Hood began a lot later than most.  My parents went to the theater to see this one early in 1992. They both came home discussing the film for days on end and wouldn’t allow any of us to see it. That made sense for me – I was 5.  I heard about the film, saw it parodied, and knew moments of the film long before I finally saw it.  When I finally got to see it, just over 5 years ago, I was still blown away, emotional and enamored of this amazing work.

In 1984, Tre Styles (played as a teenager by Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is growing up tough.  He is mouthy to his teacher, and fearless of his surroundings.  Tre is also extremely intelligent. He is unafraid to create teachable moments among his classmates even if it means he fighting to get his point across.  Fed up, Tre’s mother (Angela Bassett) takes Tre to live with his father, Furious (Lawrence Fishburne.) Tre’s mother feels she cannot raise Tre to be a good man and relies on Furious to help encourage Tre to be a man, grow up and continue to do good in his world.  Upon arriving in South Central, Tre links up with his friends Doughboy, a boisterous and brave kid, Ricky, his football playing brother, and Chris, who is fearless among sketchy situations.  They go on adventures in the hood together, happening upon dead bodies and bullyish young men who have no desire to be the “real men” that Furious wants Tre to become.

Moving on to 1991, and a lot has changed in a short few years.  Doughboy (Ice Cube) is fresh out of prison, while Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is a football star with a young son. Chris (Redge Green) is in a wheelchair, a victim of violence who is now trying to find a way to live life with religion.  Tre though seems to be thriving. He does well in school, has a job and a car and is well on his way to college too.  He is in a relationship with Brandi (Nia Long) who he is desperate to sleep with. Doughboy and Ricky’s long-suffering mother (Tyra Ferrell) continues to support her sons, sometimes to her frustration.  Furious has come a long way himself. He is a business owner, and often goes into the neighborhood to talk to the people about gentrification and the evils therein.

Boyz N The Hood came through film festivals like a whirlwind.  The film was able to captivate audiences with realism and a lot of heart.  Scenes from the movie have been iconic —  There are so many to name off and so much to relate to.  John Singleton spent time following people around USC’s film school, trying to learn before he was even a student there. He worked hard to learn so much from anyone he could.  The work he put in at school worked beautifully when translated in his first film.  Everything about the film works so well. The performances are spectacular all around with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube standing tall in a crowd of amazing talent.  The film also hits notes of humor in just the right places, has time for gut wrenching drama and even now has a realism that is so eye opening.  The sad part of all of that last piece is how the times haven’t changed too much for people in those neighborhoods in LA.  There are still some harsh realities to be seen there and there are still people struggling to find ways to live and not be sucked into violence, loss and constant struggle.

While the subject matter may remain relevant to a point, Boyz N The Hood continues to be a cultural icon.  The film is a coming of age story set in a place most people wouldn’t have dared to capture on film.  We have to thank John Singleton for opening our eyes, using his medium to encourage change, and for continuing to create thought provoking cinema in the same vein for years afterward. If you haven’t checked out his other films Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, or Baby Boy, they are also eye opening and thought provoking.  The message of Boyz remains clear:  Increase The Peace.  That’s a wish I hope will come true every day.

Video

  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:85:1
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Clarity/Detail: Immediately, following title cards, you are shown immediate, beautiful and clear imagery. The bright red stop sign is intense and the war torn look of the streets of 1984 are grittier and grimier.  When you get to the main setting of the film, Tre’s South Central home, the sunburnt lawns are sharp as well as the little things you see in the homes of Tre, Doughboy or Brandi.  The image was so clear, I peeped Furious’ albums and he has a copy of South Pacific on his shelf.  That alone to me is a testament to this new 4K Presentation.
  • Depth: The new 4K master does have a certain pop when you’re watching throughout.  Scenes that show off the color palette of early 90’s Los Angeles are packed with notable moments.  The color of the cars on the streets, the shadowy interiors of the homes, and the gorgeous moment with Tre and Furious on the rocks by the ocean all pop with great depth.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are lovingly presented thanks to HDR10. There is no flatness or greying of any kind.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are amazing throughout. Tre’s yellow outfit at the cookout is the perfect shade of mustard. His blue Volkswagen is also an amazing electric blue.  Doughboy’s lowrider is a gold color that looks incredible here.  The outdoor scenes all look amazing with green grass, beautiful blue skies and even in night scenes colors look fantastic overall.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and there are a ton of beautiful shades of brown on the characters in the film. There are no fake looking folk in this film.
  • Noise/Artifacts: The opening Columbia Logo is the only piece I found to be noisy. Otherwise, grain is filmic and inoffensive. For me, this catalog transfer is pristine.

Audio 

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English 2.0 Dolby Stereo, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish
  • Dynamics: To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this film to have too much going on with an Atmos mix in tow. I was dumb enough to not realize how huge of an upgrade I’d have been getting.  Dynamically, the mix for Boyz is a substantial upgrade from the standard Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA counterpart.  The channels are used in so many brilliant ways, from the center to the sub and in many exceptional ways, the height speakers.  The sound design has moments that seem tailor made for this newest home theater sound format and I will lay all that out for you below.
  • Height: The height speakers were the ones I wasn’t expecting much from. Right from the onset, before you even see an image, you hear voices off screen. You hear helicopters, car doors opening and closing, engines running, and then finally gunshots. Then those sounds all clamor together in an overhead assault. This alone is commendable, but the height speakers continue to be used throughout the whole two hours.  The height speakers also make themselves known in party scenes, quiet scenes outdoors and in other subtle ways.  The height channels are used with love here.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Your subwoofer(s) will get a workout with this mix via the music more than anything. Cues from Ice Cube, Too $hort, Yo-Yo, and Tevin Campbell among others have hard hitting bass. Cars passing by with “808’s that bump” also provide some nice low-end moments.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used just as lovingly as the height channels. The surrounds are used to enhance crowd/party scenes, quiet moments outdoors and isolated moments of music score/soundtrack.  The surrounds add to the immersive nature of the mix.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is of course the priority here and you don’t miss a moment with this mix.

Extras 

Boyz N The Hood comes in a slipcover (though if you buy from Sony, you know how it is – Top notch disc, worst slipcover ever…) and comes with a Blu-ray (the 2012 release) and a digital code too.  The special features are…:

NEW:

  • A Tribute to John Singleton (1080p, 6:16, 4K Disc): This is a short but moving tribute to the work of John Singleton and of Singleton as a man beyond his work.
  • Theatrical Press Conference (1080p, 4:3, 24:26, 4K Disc): John singleton giving a press conference in 1991 to a hostile group of reporters. He is eloquent and tries to keep positive, but there are a few awkward exchanges.
  • Behind The Scenes Featurette (1080p, 4:3, 4:57, 4K Disc): A vintage EPK, Upscaled for this edition.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:36, 4K Disc)

LEGACY

  • Audio Commentary
  • The Enduring Significance of Boyz N The Hood
  • Friendly Fire: Making an Urban Legend
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audition Videos for Ice Cube, Tyra Ferrell, Morris Chestnut and Angela Bassett
  • Music Videos:
    • Tevin Campbell: Just Ask Me To
    • Compton’s Most Wanted: Growin’ Up In The Hood

Summary 

Boyz N The Hood is an endearing film.  It is an experience: a mood, a feeling and a treasure of cinema.  The film of course had its controversies (that press conference – Yikes…) but those controversies have only have added to the triumphs of getting real stories to the screen and to audiences that may have never experienced such things.  If you haven’t ever seen this film, it is a masterpiece.  There is no better way to say that except to say, the film is exceptional and tells an ever-relevant story.  To have a film made for a specific audience as an eye opener to then have it touch people all over the world and be far beyond being merely a “black film” is huge.  I love this film and hope those who are seeing it for the first time love it too.  If you haven’t, this excellent presentation is certainly the way to see it.

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