Us Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

From Academy Award-winning visionary Jordan Peele comes another original nightmare. Starring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, an endearing American family is pitted against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgangers of themselves. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of Us.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 minutes
Genre: Horror/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker
Written & Directed by: Jordon Peele
Music by: Michael Abels
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: June 18, 2019

“Watch Yourself”

Synopsis:

“From Academy Award-winning visionary Jordan Peele comes another original nightmare. Starring Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, an endearing American family is pitted against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgangers of themselves.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

Set along the North California coastline, Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) reluctantly returns to her beachside childhood home with her family and finds that she is haunted by unresolved trauma from her past along with a string of eerie coincidences. As darkness falls after a tense day at the beach, the Wilsons discover four figures standing in their driveway. They soon realize this is only the beginning of their troubles as they find that the four figures are terrifying and uncanny opponents: doppelgängers of themselves.

I really like writer/director Jordan Peele’s Get Out and was immediately smitten by the trailer for Us. My wife and I took it in on opening weekend at the theater and walked away from it with mixed feelings. Written and directed by Peele his penchant for uncanny storytelling, thought provoking context and, genre bending themes is definitely on display. I think that based on the trailer I was anticipating something definingly dark with creepier underpinnings. Us dredges up lots of questions, many of which aren’t answered as its air of mystery plays out right through the final moments.

I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly left me wanting after seeing it the first time. I enjoyed the film’s wonderfully dark humor, twisted sense of dread and its conceptually spin. I also thought that the performances by the cast thoroughly complimented the film, especially Lupita Nyong’o. I walked away looking forward to seeing it again on home video, hoping that a second viewing would bear more fruit. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Again, I want to emphasize that I like Us for the reasons previously mentioned but, I simply feel like I must be missing something as it just doesn’t resonate as deeply as I was hoping for. I find Get Out to be a more complete thought than Us.

I will say that it’s clearly evident that Jordan Peele is a visionary with a knack for taking the audience down the rabbit hole and into his world. I like that. I look forward to whatever he has in store next.

Replay Value: 3.5 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence/terror and language.

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)

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

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(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: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

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

For its presentation in Ultra HD Us was derived from a 3.4K source, and rendered from a 2K DI. From a cinematic perspective, this film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in this presentation. At times the image is nearly devoid of color, while at others, has a pleasingly diverse palate, that sets the mood of a scene. Shot digitally the image has a smooth aesthetic, with clean delineation that draws out plenty of detail, in both close-up and wide-angle camera shots. Blacks are deep without compromise to fidelity, as the layers of detail seen with them is readily apparent. Contrast abounds as the richness of the depth seen in grays, whites and mid-tones pops in the film’s variety of low-level sequences. Fleshtones adhere to the film’s visual aesthetic and appear consistent throughout the presentation.

As I alluded to earlier Us isn’t a predominantly colorful film however its cooler chromatic hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing warmer and pleasing to the eye. There is intermittent use of visual elements that utilize high dynamic range. I wasn’t especially impressed with its application although some of that may be owed to the nature of the photography. There were instances where bright elements looked appreciably vibrant but, none really stood out.

This Ultra HD rendering makes the most of the film’s elements, which are excellent. Looking at the 1080p version, which is solid in its own right, the difference is noticeable, but not what I would describe as night and day. That being said, there is no question about which of the two makes for the most engaging viewing experience.

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 Us, I found the HDR rendering to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t consistently lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference. Both looked terrific, leaving me similarly satisfied with what I saw.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a blend of atmospherics and music. Where this mix excels is in its use of the platform to emphasize/underscore the terrific music score by Michael Abels which is an integral part of the film’s thematic elements. There are many instances that show off the track’s eclectic music and, smaller object sounds that create a wonderfully involving listening experience, that broadens the soundstage. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere as well as the integration of ambient extension and pointed sound object placement. I think that it complimented the source material and drew me into the film when it mattered most.

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: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

Audio: 92
(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

Us comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures 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. Framed at 2.39:1 the image has excellent depth, and a stimulating visual aura. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Us looks great on Blu-ray.

The lossless Dolby True HD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack has good dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. Discrete rear channel activity isn’t extensive however the elements of suspense provide an enriching level of immersion which is punctuated by palpable bass. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this soundtrack as it augments the thematic tone of this film.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Us Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Us Blu-ray
    4K/Blu-ray/Digital Exclusive: Scene Explorations – The making of three iconic scenes from the film including the Tyler house massacre, Jason’s abduction and Adelaide’s underground flashback.
    o Seven Second Massacre
    o It’s a Trap
    o I Just Want My Little Girl Back• The Duality of US – Jordan Peele goes in-depth on some of the key themes and imagery in US – including Doppelgängers, Hands Across America, The Nutcracker dance scene, rabbits and the infamous 11:11 coincidence.
    • The Monsters Within US – Examine how the great cast were able to find their characters, whether they were playing one of the Wilsons or their sinister doppelgängers.
    • Tethered Together: Making US Twice – Making of a movie is hard. Making a movie where all the main cast play dual roles can be downright mind-bending. In this piece, filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss some of the technical challenges to making the film, as well as some of the design choices for the characters.
    • Redefining a Genre: Jordan Peele’s Brand of Horror – In the space of two films, Jordan Peele has set himself apart as an invaluable artistic voice. Hear cast and filmmakers highlight what makes him so unique, as well as Jordan’s own thoughts on his inspirations and the relationship between horror and comedy.
    • Becoming Red – Using behind-the-scenes footage from between takes, we take a closer look at Lupita Nyong’o’s intense and mesmerizing performance as “Red.”
    • Deleted Scenes
    o I Am Not Even Near You
    o Rabbit Season
    o That’s Badass
    o Driftwood
    o The P is Silent
    o I Wanna Go Home
    • We’re All Dying – Hilarious outtakes from the conversation between Winston Duke and Tim Heidecker on the beach.
    • As Above, So Below: Grand Pas de Deux – An extended version of the dance sequence from the film, cutting between adolescent Adelaide at her recital to Red in the Underpass.
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Written/directed by Jordan Peele Us succeeds more so on the strengths of its complexities, rather than its ability to deliver a wholly gratifying film experience. It comes to Blu-ray on this Ultra HD Combo Pack from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent overall audio/video quality, including an engaging Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix and a fan friendly supplemental package that includes format exclusives. Wholly gratifying or not Us is recommended viewing for genre fans and deserves a place at the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready 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

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