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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 12th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2023

The Color Purple (2023) - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman?
Remakes are a dime a dozen, but taking a classic drama and adding a musical edge is something of a new occurrence. For 2023’s The Color Purple we see Alice Walker’s story brought to life with a new musical flair that frustratingly doesn’t always gel with the intense themes. A well-acted and performed film, it makes for an often stunning Dolby Vision 4K transfer with beautiful visuals and an amazing Atmos mix. Certainly, this is a film to see for yourself, but the disc is incredible. Recommended

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Digital
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p/HEVC - Dolby Vision HDR/HDR10
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Atmos
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French
Release Date:
March 12th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

As I’ve mentioned in a few reviews over the years, film musicals are a tough sell for me. I can sit in a theater and watch a live performance of any show and have a grand time, but something about a film production often takes me out of it. The illusion often breaks when characters constantly sing lengthy soliloquies about this or that when a simple conversation (if even that much) is all that’s needed to progress the story.

Imagine breaking out in song when all a poor barista asked me was if I wanted cream or sugar in my coffee. It'd be annoying, right? Well, that’s how I often feel about songs in musicals. But I do have my favorites and that’s why I keep giving them a try. If I didn’t try Hello, Dolly! or Show Boat or were incapable of enjoying the performance interludes of Marx Bros. or Busby Berkeley films I would now have some serious gaps in my movie collection. That’s why when it came time for Blitz Bazawule’s new cinematic take on Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, I was rather excited to give it a shot. I missed out on seeing the stage show but heard wonderful things as it picked up its share of awards. 

But something happened in the translation between stage and screen for this version of The Color Purple that just didn’t hit for me. If you’ve never read the book (really you should, it’s beautiful), then you’re probably more aware of Steven Spielberg’s 1985 Oscar-nominated film adaptation. Having only listened to cast recordings of the show, this new film feels like the same dramatic template of Spielberg’s version only intercut it with the songs but without much of any finesse. 

For once, the songs aren’t the issue with why I’m not excited by a musical film. The songs are excellent and given where they happen within the story, they’re often beautiful thematic accent pieces. My issue is how they’re applied within the film. They just kind of happen and throw off the flow of the film. One moment we’re seeing Phylicia Peal Mpasi’s young Celie discovering the children that were stolen from her are alive and being raised by someone else. The next second we’re thrown into a song-and-dance number, that while well performed and choreographed, is a tonal whiplash to the drama of the moment. The music numbers do start to smooth out in the second half with some excellent staging, but that first hour was a little tough to get used to. 

And The Color Purple rolls on like that, one heavy dramatic beat to the next, one song to the next, the film stops, switches gears without engaging the clutch, and then stutters to the next scene. It’s an almost constant start-stop tone switch that I felt like I kept getting pulled out of the drama of any given moment. As I watched, I think I have pinned down why this wasn’t working for me and it’s because I didn’t feel like there was a reason for the songs to come in. Think of how Rob Marshall staged 2002’s Chicago. If left as the show, the film probably wouldn’t have worked. But by offering a visual cue that segues the songs into Roxy’s fantasy life, the film has a reason for the musical interludes. The Color Purple didn't have that same kind of mechanism and it needed one. 

As it stands, this version of The Color Purple features an incredible cast, with impeccable performances well executed by an exciting director with a flair for impressive visuals and drama. Blitz Bazawule is certainly headed for big things and I look forward to seeing where he goes.  The musical elements didn’t do it for me, but I can’t say enough of our leads. Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, and Danielle Brooks were amazing. They gave their roles everything they had bringing real emotion to the heavy dramatics while also giving it their all for the musical bits. Colman Domingo continues to be one of the most exciting talents out there and his portrayal of Mister is absolutely mesmerizing. Halle Bailey may not have had a ton of screen time but she again proves to be an amazing screen talent. I just wished this film worked better. But again, I am an admitted tough sell on musical films. I know plenty of folks out there who loved the show and this film so I’m glad they’ll get to have a great 4K disc they can celebrate.



Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Color Purple
arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros. as a single-disc 4K + digital release. Pressed on a BD-100 disc, the disc is housed in a standard case with an identical slipcover. The disc loads to a basic main menu with standard navigation options.

Video Review

Ranking:

While I may not have fully enjoyed the film itself, I must say I was often stunned by this 2160p Dolby Vision transfer. Captured digitally and finished with a 4K digital intermediate, the image reserved for this transfer is frequently beautiful with crystal clear details without any kind of video noise or compression anomalies to interrupt or distract. Fine facial features, textures in clothing, or the details in the immaculate set designs are on full display. There’s also an incredible feeling of three-dimensional depth to the image that often feels like it's going to reach out of your screen. Likewise, the film’s Dolby Vision grade offers lovely accents to the transfer. The colors have a lovely pop with excellent primary saturation. Black levels are exquisite without any sign of crush lending to perfect shadow gradience in low-light scenes. Whites are crisp without blooming. All around a damned beautiful and impressive transfer.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Buttressing the impeccable visuals is an equally amazing Dolby Atmos sound mix. From the first moments of the film you can feel the sound design coming to life. Dialog is never an issue, especially during the music numbers. Even during active sequences with a lot of background and ambient effects; nothing misses a step. Virtually at all times, this mix engages the front/center, side, rear, and height channels for a fully immersive experience. But my praise of the mix doesn’t stop there - the LFE on the mix is magnificent. The film isn’t action-packed like Top Gun: Maverick or anything like that but there are numerous moments throughout where I could feel the impact and weight of the soundscape and voices rumbling through the subs. It’s a genuine beauty of an Amos mix. 

Special Features

Ranking:

On the bonus features side of things, we have a few good little bits, but nothing particularly striking. Most of the featurettes discussing the making of the film with the cast or director are very brief, EPK-worthy soundbites. Nothing meaty to devour or explore. They do offer some insight but at barely half an hour there’s not much to report beyond covering basics and checking boxes. There is a direct-access option to the film’s musical numbers, but that’s not much of a bonus feature so much as an elaborate scene selection option.

  • Creating the Color Purple: A Bold New Take on the Beloved Classic (HD 6:21)
  • Hell Yes! The Iconic Characters of the Color Purple (HD 7:00)
  • In the Flow: Creating the Color Purple’s Biggest Musical Moments (HD 8:03) 
  • A Story for Me: The Legacy of the Color Purple (HD 6:38)
  • Musical Moments

The Color Purple (2013) is but another film that I was looking forward to, and really wanted to like, but the final show just didn’t do it for me. I’d heard great things about the stage musical but I felt like it didn’t translate to this medium. Visually, it’s an amazing movie as director Blitz Bazawule certainly excelled in that arena as was his ability to pull some genuine powerhouse performances from his cast. It’s just a tonal mishmash for me that ultimately didn't work. But then, I am a very hard sell for musicals and I know many out there who loved this one. And for those that loved it, they get to enjoy one hell of a 4K disc. An impeccable Dolby Vision transfer lives in harmony with a pitch-perfect Atmos mix. Sadly bonus features are on the skimpy side. So for those who loved the film - I’m calling it Recommended.  

Order Your Copy of The Color Purple on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray