From writer/director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a whodunit that follows a renown private detective’s investigation into the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, wealth, and combative family. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Lionsgate Home Entertainment

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

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


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer
Written & Directed by: Rian Johnson
Music by: Nathan Johnson
Region Code: A

Release Date: February 25, 2020
"My House. My Rules. My Coffee"

“From writer/director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a whodunit that follows a renown private detective’s investigation into the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, wealth, and combative family.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan's dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan's untimely death.

From acclaimed writer-director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out a suspenseful, twist-filled, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. I am a Rian Johnson fan and looked forward to sitting down with this film after missing it in the theater. It can generally be difficult to ensure that everyone in an ensemble cast such as this is utilized in a meaningful and engaging way. This is one of the strengths of this film. As a murder mystery ala Agatha Christie, the plot sets up motive for each of the primary suspects, introduces the sleuth brought in to ferret them out and tosses in a bystander with no stake in the game.

Knives Out eschews the typical longwinded unraveling process in favor of revealing early on, the who and the why. This proves interesting as from that point onward it’s evident that there is more to the proceedings than meets the eye. All is not what it seems, or, is it? Watching how it plays out as seen from several perspectives and just how in tuned, or not, Detective Blanc is, along with the escapades of the Thrombey family is at the heart of what makes Knives Out so much fun to watch. It’s a smart, witty and stylish thriller that essentially fires on all cylinders from start to finish.

The entire cast is allowed to shine, with each having their opportunity to compliment the proceedings. Daniel Craig is spot on as Benoit Blanc while Ana De Armas gets the nod for best scene stealer. I loved the production elements from top to bottom. Knives Out is more than a run of the mill murder mystery. It’s a genre bender that takes the audience on an entertaining trip down the rabbit hole.

Replay Value: 4.0 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug 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(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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Knives Out comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Knives Out was derived from a 3.4K source, rendered from 2K DI and upconverted to 4K. This is a solid Ultra HD presentation that looks great on my large screen. What struck me from the onset is the lifelike reproduction of the textures captured by the camera's lens. Whether it be the finest minutia in physical features or rough textures on the surfaces of the stone buildings, streets, and the interior of the Thrombey mansion or the vistas surrounding it, the imagery is pleasing. The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as earth tones, and primary colors have an added dimension that allows them to shine.

Whites are detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast is spot on, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level. Shot digitally, this rendering reproduces its elements with aplomb. Looking at the 1080p version, which is solid as well, the difference is noticeable, but not what I would describe as night and day. I found this Ultra HD video presentation to be beautifully rendered, and the best way to experience this film.

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 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.*

In comparing specific scenes from both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision renderings I found the handling of HDR to be the same. As I eluded to earlier this film’s elements aren’t lent to the type that would show off the format’s strengths in this regard.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the less aggressive variety but, considering the source material that’s not a complete surprise. Its use of audio objects placed above is comprised of a mix of atmospherics and, occasional discrete effects. This is done well when implemented and creates an enriching level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The music score is subtly mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements without drawing attention away from the thematic details of what is transpiring onscreen. While this mix doesn’t make constant use of attention-grabbing audio object placement, I found myself completely involved when it mattered and found this to be an enjoyable audio presentation that absolutely complimented the source material.

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

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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  • Compression: 

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Knives Out comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide-angle shots of the shooting locations look terrific. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is a complimentary audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Knives Out Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
  • Disc 2: Knives Out Blu-ray
    • Audio Commentary by Writer-Director Rian Johnson, Director of Photography Steve Yedlin, and Actor Noah Segan
    • In-Theatre Commentary by Rian Johnson
    • Deleted Scene: “Bicycling Accident” (with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson)
    • Deleted Scene: “Don’t Do Anything Rash” (with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson)
    • “Making a Murder” Eight-Part Documentary
    • “Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder” Featurette
    • Writer-Director and Cast Q&A
    • Marketing Gallery
    • “Meet the Thrombeys” Viral Ads
  • Digital Code
Final Thoughts:

From acclaimed writer-director Rian Johnson, Knives Out is a suspenseful, twist-filled, modern-day murder mystery that tweaks the genre to entertaining levels that never feels forced. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring excellent overall audio/video quality which includes Dolby Vision HDR/Dolby Atmos sound, and a fan friendly supplemental package. Knives Out is a smart, witty and stylish thriller that comes highly recommended.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 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/Roomie Remote V6 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