Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-7850 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Rear Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
I love October. It’s the season for trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, and more importantly….Horror movie season! This is the time of year when a good chunk of the films I review are in the horror genre, and that makes this horror nerd EXTREMELY happy. Well, what better way to kick off the first day of October than to revisit an iconic classic (and only the 2nd Kubrick film to hit 4K, after last year’s release of 2001: A Space Odyssey) like The Shining. Now, this is one of my favorite Kubrick films of all time, and one of the most controversial. While it is one of my absolute favorites and definitely a creeeeeeepy film, it is also one that got Stanley Kubrick some rather unwanted attention with the documentaries that followed the piece. Supposedly the man was a rabid perfectionist and pushed his actors to the brink with his intense work schedule, shooting and reshooting some scenes so many times that actors were notoriously dropping exhausted on set (the infamous scene with Shelley Duvall’s character and the baseball bat was reportedly done with 127 takes). A reality that was bleakly obvious when Shelley Duvall went on Dr. Phil a few years back with massive mental illness problems, many of which seem to lead back to her time on set with Kubrick. Not only that, Stephen King himself wasn’t a fan of how Kubrick treated Duvall’s character on screen either, claiming that it was much more misogynistic than how she was portrayed in the book (Mrs Torrance was much stronger and more of an empowered character instead of the sobbing wreck that Kubrick decided to take the character).
Regardless of your opinion of Kubrick and his treatment of the actors, The Shining is a genuine masterpiece for the vast majority of fans, and a strikingly beautiful picture visually speaking. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a writer suffering from some major writers block, and decides to take a job as a winter custodian for an isolated hotel for the winter in order to get some extra money, and hopefully conquer his writers block in the isolation. His wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) is a bit reticent, but son Danny (Danny Lloyd) is frightened of going. His fears are not unfounded, as the Colorado Rockies hotel is completely snowbound during the winter, and the last custodian actually went mad from being alone for so long. While Jack thinks it’s a good idea, there are some very obvious clues presented to the viewer that this is NOT going to be a fun little vacation like Jack is promising.
As Jack begins to slowly decompress and destress from his long writer’s block, the supernatural elements of the hotel begin to reveal themselves. Soon Jack’s falling off the wagon with his previous drinking problem, and the more he drinks the more he starts to lose his mind and see things that aren’t there, culminating into going completely mad and becoming the homicidal maniac from the trailer.
Nicholson made the role of a lifetime here as Jack Torrance, and it’s one of his best ones in my opinion. Jack’s trip down the insanity rabbit hole is completely visceral and so terrifying if watched on screen. On paper it just seems like a guy goes bananas, but Kubrick got the best insane performance from jack since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As much as Jack was fantastic, Shelley Duvall is no slouch either. While most people forget about her vs. Jack, her performance as a terrified young wife is absolutely mesmerizing and believable (which makes sense after it was revealed how Kubrick drove her to the brink for over 13 months to get her to be as terrified as possible). Simply put, while this is really a 3 person film (Danny being the third), Jack and Shelley are truly jaw dropping in their performances, and despite the controversy of the production, is one of the best horror classics of all time.
Rated R By the MPAA
4K Video: Video:
Supposedly this new scan was taken from the original 35mm negatives, and both Stanley Kubrick and his assistant Leon Vitali were both heavily involved in the process, resulting in a stunning looking 4K UHD picture. The disc is sharp as a tack, showing off brilliant burnished 70s/early 80s type colors that pop off the page (look at the red in the hotel, or the white and blue as the helicopter hovers over the hotel from above). There’s some haziness to some shots, but those are entirely a Kubrick invention, having Jack’s character coming out of a soft and hazy background and into the front, shifting focus on his character as he moves. Blacks are deep and inky throughout, with standout scenes being him running through the dark outside with the axe near the end, or creeping through the darkened hallways at night as he slowly looses his mind. Background details are incredibly well detailed, showing off stitching and intricate detailing in rugs, wallpaper and even facial hair. Up close shorts are intensely revealing, and there is nothing the camera doesn’t pick up.
One thing that fans have been talking about is the aspect ratio changes over the years. The film’s theatrical 1.85:1 ratio is gone, instead using WB’s typical 1.78:1 framing to get rid of those slight black bars. USUALLY Warner just opens up the matte just a tad, but for this release Warner has zoomed in EVER so slightly (probably around 3-5%) and after comparing the images between the older Blu-ray and this release, I have to say it’s no big deal unless you’re a super purist. The amount of image that is lost from this technique is minuscule at best. It’s certainly much better than the old TV presentations which would do full open matte to 1.33:1 and really lose all of the up close atmosphere that The Shining thrives on.
• Audio commentary by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Stanley Kubrick biographer John Baxter
• Video from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining
-- Enter the terrifying world of the Overlook Hotel as only Stanley Kubrick could envision it
• The Visions of Stanley Kubrick
-- A detailed look at one of cinema's greatest visual storytellers and his unique ability to move audiences through the magic of unforgettable images
• The Making of The Shining
-- This cinema verite documentary offers a rare glimpse into the directing style of Stanley Kubrick as he interacts with stars Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall and others
• Wendy Carlos, Composer
-- Composer Wendy Carlos reflects on working with complex auteur Stanley Kubrick and developing music scores for The Shining and A Clockwork Orange
While some people (Stephen King being one of them) don’t like the film adaptation of The Shining, it is probably one of the most sophisticated and iconic horror films in all of history. It is the perfect blend of artistic visuals, horrifying out of sight projections, and a terrifying look at a man losing his grip on sanity. The 4K UHD disc is a very large upgrade over the Blu-ray, including all of the extras and audio from that previous release, but boosting it with a stunning video encode that blows the old one straight out of the water, and counts as one of the finest remasterings of an 80s film to 4K that I’ve seen in quite some time. Definitely a must get for any horror (or just classic) fan.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Tony Burton, Anne Jackson, Joe Turkel
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson (Screenplay), Stephen King (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish, Polish DD 5.1, Italian, English DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 146 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Own The Shining on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on October 1st.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended