Wes Craven's Scream 2 remains a surprisingly good and cleverly entertaining follow-up to the 1996 box-office smash, covering much of the same ground as its predecessor while still managing a few surprises and reflecting on the conventions of horror sequels. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the slasher sequel screams its way to the 4K Ultra HD campus with a generally satisfying Dolby Vision video but the same DTS-HD track and the same set of supplements as the previous Blu-ray release. Overall, the UHD SteelBook package is Recommended for hardened fans while others might want to wait until the price comes down.
Scream 2 opens with a very well-done and understated commentary on movie violence — the ways in which it seems glorified and celebrated to the amusement of a desensitized audience. Despite knowing a movie is based on true events, people flock to screens with hungry eyes, craving to see how it all happened in gruesome detail. The entire sequence really shows Wes Craven's skill behind the camera when offered some meaty material, something with a bigger bite than a standard horror flick. Working from another script by Kevin Williamson, this is quickly followed by other concerns when discussing the issues of movie violence. A college film class argues over a possible correlation between real-life violence and the stuff we only see in the movies. The bigger theme in this follow-up to 1996's slasher hit is whether or not society is influenced by the brutalities depicted on the silver screen.
Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox reprise their roles as targets of another "Ghostface" maniac, who appears to be a mere copycat killer offing the students of Windsor College. We see them in several talks on the "art imitating life" or "life imitating art" debate. Almost like a pseudo-Scooby gang, they're first to realize the masked killer is using Gale Weathers' book and the movie "Stab" as their guide for the murder spree. And much like its predecessor, the slasher sequel isn't shy about throwing several jabs at the genre — even hurling itself into the mix — and churns out a surprisingly entertaining exercise of horror conventions. The movie starts off with another homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, upping the ante with two popular actresses in Jada Pinkett Smith and Heather Graham, and ends with as a revenge thriller in the vein of Sean Cunningham's Friday the 13th.
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The plot also addresses the issue of how African-Americans are depicted in the genre with comments by Smith, Omar Epps and Duane Martin. Jerry O'Connell, Laurie Metcalf, and Liev Schreiber join the cast to fill in the usual list of possible suspects, but function best as distractions to the story's unexpected revelation at the end. Covering similar ground as part one, Scream 2 remains a surprisingly good and entertaining follow-up, one which now joins the list of sequels that are just as accomplished and satisfying as their predecessors.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Wes Craven's Scream 2 on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc SteelBook combo with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code, users have access to the HDX version in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio as of this writing. The dual-layered UHD66 disc is housed inside an attractive SteelBook package with a BD25 single-layered copy on the opposing panel. At startup, viewers are taken directly to a silent, static screen with the usual menu options along the bottom.
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The slasher sequel screams its way to the Ultra HD campus with a generally satisfying and overall excellent HEVC H.265 encode, offering a nice step-up from its Blu-ray predecessor but is not the sort of night-and-day difference expected.
Without official word from Paramount to the contrary, it's possible and even likely this 4K transfer did not come from a fresh restoration of the original 35mm camera negatives. But back-and-forth comparisons with the previous HD version seem to reveal that, at the very least, the digital intermediate was remastered to some extent since the video looks cleaner with less specks, scratches and a more refined grain structure throughout. However, fine object and textural details don't appear significantly sharper or better defined. In fact, the overall picture falls on the softer side of things for most of the runtime and is pretty much as detailed as the Blu-ray. A case could be made that this is a result of the original cinematography, but with the differences in this regard being so minor, this looks more like that the DI was simply cleaned up and repackaged in HDR.
Speaking of which, the more noteworthy upgrade in this Dolby Vision HDR presentation is the improved color palette, furnishing a slightly wider selection in the secondary hues that supply a more accurate, peachy-rose skin tone in the entire cast. Meanwhile, primaries appear fuller and more dynamic, especially in the lively greens of the surrounding foliage and deep, scarlet reds in the blood. Contrast and brightness also enjoy a welcomed boost and a more appreciable balance if only slightly, leaning more toward the natural, warm tones in the whites while boasting deeper, richer blacks. Specular highlights are equally pleasing but not dramatic, bathing the visuals in a crisp, narrow glow in the hottest spots and a realistic sheen along metallic surfaces or hair. With strong shadow details throughout, this all provides the 2.35:1 image with an attractive cinematic quality, making it the presentation's strongest aspect and a nice step-up from its HD SDR counterpart. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 78/100)
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The same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has been ported over for this UHD edition, and a remastered, object-based audio option would have been a much-preferred upgrade. For the most part, the lossless mix delivers a satisfying and good front-heavy soundstage with clear, well-prioritized dialogue while exhibiting a clear, dynamic mid-range with good distinction during the loudest segments. The low-end provides an effective, palpable weight to the action and music, but it's nothing to write home about. Likewise, atmospherics are subtle with good directionality, but when applying the receivers' Auro-3D up-mixing functionality, they more convincingly bleed into the height channels and nicely expand the soundfield. For a more in-depth take on the audio quality, you can read our review of the 2011 Blu-ray HERE. (Audio Rating: 72/100)
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Wes Craven's Scream 2 is a surprisingly good and cleverly entertaining follow-up to the 1996 box-office smash. With principal actors reprising their roles, the movie covers much of the same ground as its predecessor and still manages to surprise while reflecting on the conventions of horror sequels. Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the slasher sequel screams its way to the 4K Ultra HD campus with a generally satisfying Dolby Vision HDR presentation that offers a welcomed step-up over the previous Blu-ray even though it's not by a significant margin. The same DTS-HD MA soundtrack and the same set of supplements are carried over from that BD release. Overall, the UHD SteelBook package is recommended for hardened fans while others might want to wait until the price comes down.
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