With his debts mounting and angry collectors closing in, a fast-talking New York City jeweler risks everything in hope of staying afloat and alive. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of Uncut Gems from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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

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


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 135 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, Judd Hirsch, Abel Tesfaye
Directed by: Josh & Benny Safdie
Music by: Daniel Lopatin
Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 10, 2020
"The Clock is Ticking"

“With his debts mounting and angry collectors closing in, a fast-talking New York City jeweler risks everything in hope of staying afloat and alive.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

From acclaimed filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie comes an electrifying crime thriller about Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score. When he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

So, I recall truly wanting to see Uncut Gems wile it was in theaters but, never got to it. I generally like Adam Sandler and the positive feedback I heard based upon his performance in this film made it look promising, as did the subject matter. My wife and I sat down with it, trying to temper overall expectations in order to avoid being overeager.

Hmmm, this is a rather bizarre, indie style drama that focuses almost solely on one character, which places it firmly in the character driven theme. For me, that requires that I be able to not only connect with that character but, have to root for them. The character of Howard Ratner is painted in broad strokes, most of which, have absolutely nothing between the lines. He is a degenerate gambler whose addiction has put him, his business and his family in jeopardy. In this regard the script does an excellent job of defining all that makes Howard tick.

The problem is that it also makes him pretty much impossible to sympathize with, especially given the plethora of ridiculous and sometimes implausible decisions and situations he becomes embroiled in during the film. As the storyline unfolds these escalate, as his trail of bad debts and debt collectors close in with him running on the razors edge, one bet away from the windfall that will solve all of his self-imposed woes.

Luckily for Howard he is surrounded by people that are willing to give him money or let him slide just a little longer so he can rack up more debt. By the way, the remaining characters in the story are about as unlikeable as Howard, save for his young mistress, whose primary shortcoming is that she really loves him. At 2 hours and 15 minutes the film’s pacing stalls at several points where better editing may have benefitted it. At times I found Uncut Gems to be silly and certainly far from provided a genuine vibe of the fast-paced world that a NY City jeweler of Howard’s ilk would be a part of.

Anyway, I did think that Adam Sandler did a very good job of carrying the film and I will admit that at times I found myself caught up in the proceedings but, that wasn’t enough to keep the various elements of the plot from pulling me out of it. Uncut Gems isn’t a bad film, it’s just not a very good one. I can see it having a polarizing effect on audiences despite its critical reception.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use.

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.**

Audio: 80
(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

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

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Uncut Gems comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This video presentation delivered satisfactory overall quality that included appreciable refinement and subtle degrees of delineation that resulted in a gratifying high definition viewing experience. Colors and fleshtones appear natural with ample saturation and vivid textures. Black levels are respectable and depth of field/delineation during low light sequences is rarely a problem. I didn’t detect any noteworthy anomalies or artifacts.

The lossless audio presentation is essentially the same in that it wasn’t exemplary but, predominantly sounded fine. Aside from the opening title sequence dialog was well articulated with clear tonal distinction. The music in the opening title sequence is overlaid during speaking parts which occasionally made discernment problematic. Dynamic range is never really tested by the film’s elements however, the variety of sounds within the recording have ample depth. Surround activity is limited to light spatial dimension that occasionally broadens the soundfield and seamlessly bridges the space between the front and rear sound stages. This is a dialog driven film that doesn’t require extensive use of the surround platform. In that regard it does a commendable job.

Bonus Features:
  • Money on the Street: The Making of Uncut Gems
  • DVD
  • Digital Code
Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Josh and Benny Safdie Uncut Gems is an uneven and manic character driven drama that left me disappointed. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring fair overall audio/video quality and a lackluster supplemental package. Uncut Gems is tough to recommend however given how well it has been received by critics perhaps I missed something. In that regard, I will give it a tepid rental recommendation for curious genre fans.
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  Portrait.com )
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