Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Stand by Me, the classic coming of age story of a quartet of inseparable friends who set out in search of a dead body. During their life-changing adventure, the personal pressures brought on them by the adult world come to the surface and turns the journey into an odyssey of self-discovery.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 1986
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 88 minutes
Disc Format: BD-66
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English DTS-HD Mono, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell, Corey Feldman, Keifer Sutherland
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Written by: Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans – Based on the novella “The Body” by Stephen King
Region Code: A,B,C
Release Date: August 27, 2019
“Stand by Me follows a quartet of inseparable friends who set out in search of a dead body. During their life-changing adventure, the personal pressures brought on them by the adult world come to the surface and turns the journey into an odyssey of self-discovery.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Lee Weber reviewed Stand by Me when it was released on Blu-ray for its 25th anniversary. I have decided to share his “My Take” comments as I think that they speak for many of us who appreciate this coming of age classic.
I was 11 going on 12 the first time I saw ‘Stand By Me’….
I remember seeing it in the theatrically, then many, many times when it came out on VHS. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time where taking off for the day, going on a journey and not being supervised was still normal. I related to these kids and how they related to each other, what it was like to go on a mission with just the boys, and no parents. I remember what it was like to have these experiences that helped us grow up naturally and on our own. These days, I can’t even think of letting my kids take off without calling, texting, and without supervision. Man, the world is just not as cool as it used to be.
Based on Stephen Kings novella ‘The Body’, director Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride) was pretty faithful to the source, with only a few minor tweaks to the story. They really captured the moments where kids grow-up here, and there is no doubt to any of the main characters self-revelations and conflicts here; the actors all seemed made for their roles.
When the insecure Gordie (Wil Wheaton), tough greaser Chris (River Phoenix), over-the-top Teddy (Corey Feldman), and the token chubby kid Vern (Jerry O’Connell), hear a rumor of where a missing teenager’s body is, they go on a journey to find it and hopefully become home-town heroes. Along the way they encounter a group of rough and tough older boys, led by the mean Ace Merrill who was perfectly played by Keifer Sutherland. These tough guys are also onto the same goal of finding the body. Yes, these older boys pose a threat and are the main conflict in the story, but to me the main conflict was growing up. Each character gets a real glimpse at themselves during this two day journey, facing their fears of their family and their place in society.
For me, revisiting this film as a 36-year-old, who was in the same place as these boys were when the film was released was strange. It had me thinking of my life, where my childhood friends are now, just like the grown-up Gordie, played by Richard Dryfuss, was doing as he told this story from his youth. It had me sad that my children will miss out on some of the freedom and adventure I got to live as a kid yet had me excited to have the chance to one day watch it with them. I loved this film as a child and still love it in a different way as an adult. ‘Stand By Me’ is not to be missed and is one of those few special films that will live on.
Thanks Lee. I feel much the same and also recall a time of innocence when the world was different and you felt as though you were invincible. Stand by Me has a timeless appeal, allowing us to step into the shoes of Vern, Chris, Teddy and, Gordie and reflect on past friendships and the indelible experiences of growing up. It is among my favorite films, easily standing the test of time, proving every bit as entertaining as the first time I saw it so many years ago. I am thrilled to now own it on Ultra HD Blu-ray.
The rating is for language and thematic material.
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: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- HDR: Dark Highlights:
- HDR: Bright Highlights:
- HDR: Expanded Color:
- Visual Impact:
Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Level of immersion:
- Soundstage integration:
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- Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
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Stand by Me comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.
According to the press documentation Sony remastered Stand by Me from the original 35mm film elements, and Its presentation in Ultra HD was derived from the 4K scan.
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. Stand by Me has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.
This is period film that utilizes a variety of visuals to convey its time frame, mood, and thematic tone. Looking at the film’s opening sequence once it shifts to 1959 the improvement in depth is noticeable, especially during the many sunshine splashed daytime scenes that take place in and around Castle Rock. Stand by Me is not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements.
The film’s cinematography benefited from the enhanced resolution and warmer chromatic accents. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition, although this can be scene and sometimes frame specific. Color reproduction benefited from the wider color gamut, reproducing blues and Earth tones with aplomb. Grain is preserved, appearing primarily organic with occasional instances where it takes on heavier emphasis.
I found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark, however much of that is owed to the nature of the photography. With the exception of the overnight/campfire sequence in the woods, the image didn’t make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements.
Hands down, this is the best Stand by Me has looked on home video. The difference between it and its 1080p rendering are close to night and day, with the improvement warranting the attention of fans. I am pleased to add it to my video collection.
The new Dolby Atmos mix uses the entire platform so as to broaden the soundstage. This includes off camera sounds and low-level ambience. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized. Based upon the subject matter, I appreciated the fact that the sound designers didn’t go overboard with the freedom of object versus channel-based mixing. The soundtrack retains much of its original essence with the Atmos mix adding a noticeable increase in scope.
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:
- Disc 1: Stand by Me Ultra HD Blu-ray
- All New: Never-Before-Seen Deleted and Alternate Scenes
- Disc 2: Stand by Me Blu-ray
- Legacy Bonus Material
Stand by Me is popular among fans for its coming of age story, thematic strength, and memorable characters. It has a timeless appeal that transcends generational boundaries. It’s making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that features beautifully restored Ultra HD video, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and new and legacy bonus content. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the upgrades this release is highly recommended.
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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