The Shining Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Shining, from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, the classic horror film co-written/directed for the screen by renowned director Stanley Kubrick, based on the iconic novel by Stephen King.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

91

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 1980
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 144 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Music by: Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind
Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 1, 2019

“The Horror is Driving Him Crazy”

Synopsis:

“A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

Based on Stephen King’s novel and co-written/directed by Stanley Kubrick The Shining needs no introduction among film fans. It’s truly an iconic horror film that has not only become ingrained in our popular culture but, still remains incredible disturbing nearly 40 years after its release. It’s among my favorite films. Watching it never seems to get old, dating back to my first time seeing it on cable television back in the early eighties. The Shining is comprised of a series of “moments” that are tightly woven together as part of a dark horror/thriller that combines imagery with some of the most quotable dialog ever written for a film of its ilk.

Jack Nicholson is at his best serving as the center for many of the film’s truly iconic moments but, young Danny Lloyd’s and Shelley Duvall’s contributions can’t be understated. Director Kubrick’s flair for storytelling is simply spot on as the wonderful cinematography is an essential component that coincides with the film’s engaging use of visual stimuli. Lastly, it’s the eerily creepy music score that adds the cherry on top. The Shining is just so much fun to watch, not only for its cinematic competence but, for its ability to elicit a range of reactions from laughter to hair raising fear that lingers long after the credits have rolled. I look forward to seeing what Doctor Sleep, a new film based on The Shining, which takes place years later, has in store.

I am thrilled that The Shining has come to Ultra HD Blu-ray. Read on to see how its video presentation fares.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for disturbing images, violence, language, and nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

The Shining comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

From what I understand Warner remastered The Shining from the original 35mm film elements. Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from that 4K image, and the results are impressive.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like The Shining has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of cinematography that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This is a dark thematic film that strives to create the look and feel of director Stanley Kubrick’s vision. The Shining has never made for a commanding visual experience on home video but, to me that was always a given determined by setting and, the elements necessary to convey the film’s somber, dark tone.

I am happy to report that its primary foundation remains fully intact while revealing layers of seemingly new levels of detail, definition, color delineation, and emboldened contrast that elevate its thematic impact. The opening scene with its beautiful flyover offers rich earth tones and subtle nuance that convey the expanse of the landscapes surrounding the hotel. I was impressed with the sharpness and detail in the sequence where we first meet Wendy and Danny in the apartment in Boulder.

The subtle minutia visible in the clothing and facial features among the members of the cast was striking. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence that underscores the thematic content. The color range in the film is somewhat limited but, the rendering of primary colors was gratifying and contrastingly vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural, especially compared to the 1080p version.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the purposefully dark/dreary sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

I found the Ultra HD presentation of The Shining allows its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. Video enthusiasts are sure to appreciate it.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for The Shining, I found the rendering of HDR to be essentially identical. As stated earlier, this film’s predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the type of eye catching HDR that allows the format shine. At the end of the day you can’t go wrong with either. Hats off to Warner Brothers Home Entertainment for a job well done!

Warner didn’t include a new audio mix for The Shining, providing the same 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track found on the included Blu-ray. The soundtrack is presented in a front oriented mix that is highlighted by the wonderfully engaging music score. The orchestrated elements are spread across the front of the room with subtle articulation that blends perfectly with the rest of the soundtrack to create an evenly balanced, multi-dimensional presentation where the music cues help drive the story.

Excellent directional spacing and imaging across the main three channels enables smaller background sounds within the mix to be detectable. Dialog is definitively authoritative with excellent clarity and room penetration through the center channel. The soundstage occasionally opens up. Envelopment is good as the rear channels enliven blowing wind, environmental ambience and the creepy infusion of effects related to both the music and elements of fright. Low frequency detail has fair presence during these segments, but isn’t frequently used over the course of the film. While I can’t help but wonder what an abject based mix like Dolby Atmos would be like for The Shining, I didn’t find that presentation to be lacking in any way.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: The Shining Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Shining Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Stephen King’s The Shining is a standout among the horror king’s classic novels that were brought to the big screen during the 1980s. It’s an entertaining and iconic genre film that easily withstands the test of time. It is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring veil lifting Ultra HD video (including Dolby Vision HDR) and legacy bonus material. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the Ultra HD upgrade this is simply a must have.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems