Dazed and Confused still manages to surprise and impress all these years later with its earnest friendships, comedy, and coming-of-age story that almost everyone can relate to. Richard Linklater struck gold with this cast and cemented himself in cinema with this movie which seems to get better with age. The new 4K presentation with Dolby Vision is stunning, while the audio and extras seem the same as the previous release via Criterion. Still, this is the best the movie has ever looked and is one of the best movies of all time. Must-Own.
High School movies are a dime a dozen. Most are filled with certain pretentious cliques that involve some romance or bullying with a formula that is as tired as a competitor in an iron-man competition. But with Richard Linklater, no matter what story he's telling, he gets to the emotional root of a generation with a charming group of characters. With his opus Dazed and Confused, there are no bullies or cliques that have the nerds avoiding the jocks who are secretly in love with the goth kids. With Linklater's vision of High School in Texas, all these kids are friends and hang out more or less with one another no matter if they are football players or big college prospects with dreams of Abraham Lincoln.
And while on the surface, Dazed and Confused looks and sounds like a stoner comedy all about a teenage party, it's something much more than that. The film and its characters navigate a complex web of self-discovery and who they want to be at that particular moment in time, and not by what society, their coaches, or parents want them to be. And like in Linklater's sibling sequel Everybody Wants Some, these characters tell a tale that not one thing defines them, much like The Breakfast Club got perfectly right. These individuals are more than just the athlete or a basketcase, and in Dazed And Confused, Linklater adds in some other crucial coming-of-age drama and comedy with a character entering high school for the first time and those that have graduated looking back on the memories. It's a wonderful and charming glimpse at life as a teenager and it's never been replicated, especially with the stellar cast involved. This movie somehow only gets better with age.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Dazed and Confused exhales its way to 4K +Blu-ray via the Criterion Collection. Both discs are housed inside a digipak cardboard case with spine number 336. There is an extensive booklet that delivers information on the film, essays, pictures, trivia, and details about the transfer. The artwork is a fantastic illustrated piece of art that features the characters and doodles of a student.
Dazed and Confused comes with a brand new 2160p UHD 4K transfer with Dolby Vision via Criterion. The Blu-ray Disc also included here is the same Blu-ray Disc from its previous release. According to the Criterion Booklet, this is a 2022 restoration from the original 35mm camera negative that was supervised by Linklater himself and the director of photography Lee Daniel. And this is hands down the best the film has ever looked.
Right off the bat, the detail is more vivid and sharp than in any other version of the film. The acne, pimples, freckles, beads of sweat, makeup applications, facial pores, and individual hairs look healthy and well-managed. Those funny wigs on the eighth graders showcase those individual strands perfectly. The textures in the wooden poles and baseball uniforms look fantastic as well. The metallic shine on the vintage vehicles and the felt on the pool tables now have great detail that looks richer than before. It's remarkably healthy.
The colors are more vibrant and bold this time around in 4K and the Dolby Vision or HDR10 enhances each of these colors. The light blue pants in the baseball uniforms have more of a pop while the many shades of blue jeans are distinguishable from any other color. The neon lights at the pool hall and at the burger stand look great and give off a nice glow. The green trees reveal nice shades against a blue sky or nighttime background that is perfectly lit. One big noticeable difference here is this 4K transfer has a warmer feel to it. Yellow, brown, orange, and the skin tones all look a bit warmer here, which in turn allows the cooler colors to burn a little bit brighter. With this warmer color palette, it actually looks like a Texas summer day and allows for a better image. The black levels are deep and inky without any evidence of crush or bleeding. There are no problems with this video image and it is a home run visually speaking.
This looks to be the same exact DTS-HD 5.1 audio track from the previous Blu-ray release. It sounds beautiful still and those music cues are some of the best in cinema. There was hope for a new Dolby Atmos track here, but that will have to wait.
All of the same extras are included here on the 4K release. There is nothing new in the form of extras. The vintage commentary track is now on the 4K Disc and the Blu-ray Disc with the rest of the bonus material located on the Blu-ray Disc.
Is it worth spending more money on yet another copy of Dazed and Confused? Yes, it is, because this is the best the film has looked with the new 4K transfer in Dolby Vision. The audio track and the booklet, along with the bonus features are the same too, but this new picture is just outstanding and is worth the upgrade. Plus, this is one of the best films of all time and on Criterion, so it's a win-win. Must-Own!