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Stripes (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

On October 12, Sony released the Columbia Classics Collection: Volume 2. The set is a follow up to their now out of print and very well received first volume that found many legendary and important films of all types and genres from different eras featuring notable filmmakers and big star turns in the history of Columbia Pictures together on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the very first time. These sets receive immaculate care in terms of restoration and come in fantastic packaging complete with a hardcover mini coffee table book with added essay and high quality photos (You can find my detailed look at the packaging by clicking HERE). The second volume picks up on the greatness that set left off on and includes the films Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Taxi Driver, Stripes, Sense and Sensibility and The Social Network. You can order yourself a copy of the Columbia Classics Collection: Volume 2 (while it lasts) using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review. For this review, we have a perusal at one of Bill Murray’s staple 1981 comedy, Stripes!

Film

When quick-witted slacker John Winger (Bill Murray) loses his apartment, girlfriend and job all in one day, he does what any red-blooded American would do: he joins the army and nearly starts WWIII. Directed by Ivan Reitman and also starring Harold Ramis, John Candy and John Larroquette, STRIPES has become one of the most beloved comedies of all time. And that’s the fact, Jack!

Stripes is one of the pinnacle films in the career of Bill Murray and the whole “slobs vs snobs” comedy genre that seeped in from the 1970s and populated the 1980s. For Murray, this continued his superstar rise, building off of Meatballs and giving him something less ensemble and more focused on him, despite there being other quite notable performers in it. For the slobs vs snobs, it took on quite possible the most uptight establishment in that of the United States army. For audiences at the time, it was probably a more refreshing experience with the military in cinema as much of the output was loaded with dark and grisly Vietnam tales. Stripes supplied a nice light-hearted look that turned it on its head.

Like many comedies of its time, it seemed loaded with sketches that weave in and out of one another that almost feel like they were intended to be attached to begin with. Said sketches play to the strength of its performers. While many aim for Murry and Harold Ramis, some side bits are giving to the rising star in John Candy as well as the likes of Judge Reinhold and John Larroquette. Also charming here are the bubbly PJ Soles and Sean Young to play romantic foils to our leads, who really make the frames pop every time they rejoin the film.

One of the better aspects of Stripes is that it never shies away from its character work and has some nice, honest focus on the friendship of Jeff Winger and Russell Ziskey. Not only do they play and screw with other people, they care about one another and have some solid conversations to develop. You also get to see each one evolve as they go through camp and see the kind of person it makes them. A lot of comedies may get too tied into the comedy and just relish in childish antics, but Stripes actually remembers there’s a story and characters at its heart, that our caring about them is what helps to develop the laughs and our investment in in the film plugging along.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Stripes comes onto 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the first time and to no surprise given the set that its in, it looks absolutely amazing on the format.  Rampant with detail and depth, the film looks almost artful. But, films and creators even in the comedy genre had such a way with things back then that every genre had some sparkle to it. It carries a nice layer of grain that adds to the film detail and depth with good looks in the color saturation department. This 4K of Stripes is sure to impress.

Depth: Depth here is off the charts as Stripes has never looked this big or grand on home video. The scale is intact and interiors really show plenty of spacing and pushback. Movements are filmic and natural with no issues regarding blur or jitter from rapid motions.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and quite deep. There’s a fantastic saturation, handling all sorts of lighting, shadow and more while being able to make the image more crisp and defined. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This isn’t the most colorful movie, but the dull and dingy come through in artful fashion. Whenever things god “normal” in the film fabrics and displays do pop out with rich reds, greens and blues. HDR helps add glow to fire, neon displays, car lights and more.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are very visible in pretty much any frame from any given distance showboating make-up, wet mud, stubble, sweat, rain and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA, French (Parisian) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, French (Quebec) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Italian 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish (Castilian) 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American, Thai, Turkish,

Dynamics: Odd for a comedy to boast it, but Stripes features a very impressive Dolby Atmos track. Its wildly engaging and features some incredible depth and boom to its action sequences. There’s fantastic nuance abound and every scene feels lived in and welcomes you in from your viewing space. This is surprisingly well thought out and executed to expert degrees.

Height: The ceiling channel has some nice activity here. Tracking not only things from above in the sky like the rain, but also in frame when a character, vehicle or whatnot goes over the frame.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer really hits some nice deep levels when it comes to gunfire, explosions, loud engines, crashing or thunder in the sky.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix is quite impressive at creating multiple environments and being fully aware of everything going on in either the quietest or loudest sequences. Rear and side channels are plenty active whether they be crafting room ambiance, tracking movement or keeping track of something no longer in the frame. Sound travel rolls with good impact and accurate to the onscreen action.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Stripes comes with the standard Blu-ray version and a redeemable digital code for the film. Bonus features are split between the 4K UHD disc and standard Blu-ray disc. It comes with both the Theatrical and Extended versions of the film. This edition of the film is currently only available as part of the Columbia Classics Collection: Volume 2.

4K UHD

40 Years of Stripes With Bill & Ivan: That’s The Fact, Jack! (HD, 20:30) – Billy Murray and Ivan Reitman stroll down memory lane looking at the production of the film with good anecdotes, tid bits, reflection and enjoying its legacy. Recorded over Zoom.

40 Years of Stripes with Bill & Ivan: Lighten Up, Francis (HD, 24:18) – The second part of the above segment.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3:01)

BLU-RAY

Stars and Stripes: Part One (SD, 28:14)

Stars and Stripes: Part Two (SD, 27:29)

Deleted & Extended Scenes (SD, 29:10)

1983 TV Version of Stripes (SD, 1:43:58)

Summary

Stripes is a seminal comedy in many facets for the military genre, the “slobs vs snobs” genre, the careers of Bill Murray, Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, John Candy and more. Sony has brought it to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in stunning fashion with a hell of a new transfer and an Atmos track that fits and compliments the film to great degrees. Impressive enough, it also boasts about 45 minutes of NEW conversation between Billy Murray and Ivan Reitman looking back on the film. Like the rest of the Columbia Classics Volume 2 set, the film hits a standard on its own and just loads and bolsters the collection even more.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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