Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, John Landis' The Blues Brothers remains just as hilarious and exciting as ever, thanks to a slew of iconic performances. From a brand-new 4K remaster, this Ultra HD edition features a great-looking 4K HDR10 presentation, an outstanding DTS:X soundtrack but the same set of supplements. Still, the UHD package is Recommended.
Forty years since reinvigorating an interest for musical comedies, John Landis' The Blues Brothers still feels as fresh and energetic as ever. The hilarious wisecracks and one-liners continue to land, the absolutely bonkers action is just as thrilling, and the R&B musical numbers still deliver a toe-tapping, rocking good time. It is to the credit of everyone involved that the film endures not only as a beloved cult classic but as a comedy that continues to attract a younger flock to its harmoniously spiritual message. From Landis' storytelling talents and performances to the practical stunts and wild visual absurdities, the holy gospel of rhythm & blues remains as the heart and soul of a wild, comedic adventure through Chicago.
At the center of it all is the now-iconic performances of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as orphaned blood brothers Jake and Elwood Blues, a pair of musicians whose aspirations were shelved when Jake served three years of a five-year prison sentence. Their wildly cartoonish adventure is ultimately a redemption journey incited by a need to save the orphanage they grew up in, which they accept as a mission from God. Goaded by a spurned ex-girlfriend, a grouchy country-western band and some seriously peeved Nazis, the dry, deadpan reactions of the brothers are a big part of the film's humor while the happenstance interactions with legendary musicians and filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg, add to the unexpected zaniness.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the 2011 Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings John Landis' The Blues Brothers to 4K Ultra HD as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via sonypictures.com and Movies Anywhere, granting users access to the HDX SDR theatrical version with legacy Dolby Digital audio. Inside a black, eco-elite case with a glossy slipcover, a triple-layered UHD100 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, which is identical to the 2011 release. The UHD disc contains both the original 133-minute theatrical cut and the 148-minute extended version, which adds some mostly negligible footage, slightly longer musical numbers and the odd shot here and there. At startup, viewers go straight to a static menu screen with music playing and interactive options along the right side.
A sixty police car chase piles into Ultra HD with a great-looking HEVC H.265 encode, giving loyal followers an appreciable step-up from its previous Blu-ray sermon. Coming from a reportedly new 4K remaster of the original 35mm camera negatives, this UHD edition preaches sharper definition in the clothing, the vehicles, the buildings and the various city streets. A few softer, blurrier sequences occasionally interrupt the overall excellent 2160p message — and sadly, they can be quite distracting — but such instances of poor resolution appear to be inherent to the quality and condition of the source and the result of the original photography. Nevertheless, awash in a fine layer of natural grain throughout, the 4K transfer is an upgrade with a lovely film-like quality, and the brothers have never looked better.
Presented in its original 1.85:1 image, the video also comes with enhanced contrast, showering the action with cleaner, crisper whites, from the clothing and vehicles to the clouds in the beautiful Chicago sky. Specular highlights give it a generous pop, such the light shimmering in the eyes of people or glistening off metallic surfaces while still exposing from an incredible amount of detailing within the brightest, hottest spots, like flashlights, headlights or police sirens. Meanwhile, improved brightness levels bathe nighttime sequences with sleeker, silkier shadows that never ruin the finer details in the background, and blacks are inkier and velvetier, from the brothers' iconic suits and sunglasses to the various random objects.
Arguably, the best aspect in this HDR10 presentation is the richer color palette, showering much of the comedy with bolder, more dramatic primaries while secondary hues enjoy a welcomed boost and a bit more variation between the various tones. Compared to its HD SDR counterpart, the difference may not be leaps and bounds, but for sure, it's a notable step up while skin tones benefit the most, appearing more natural and accurate than before and complexions are highly revealing. In either case, this is welcomed upgrade fans are sure to love. (HDR10 Video Rating: 76/100)
While on a mission from God, the cult classic roars into home theaters with a fantastically rocking and outstanding DTS:X soundtrack.
Likely struck from the original 4-track magnetic stereo print, the object-based track almost immediately opens with background activity spreading evenly and convincingly across the three front channels, and impressively remains consistent through to the end of the film. Occasionally, a few bits of that action comically extend into the top heights, from the cheer of crowds and the "hut hut hut" chants of the SWAT team to the helicopters flying between buildings, generating an awesomely wide and spacious half-dome soundstage. The surrounds are employed far more often, however, for creating a satisfying soundfield, but there is the sporadic sound effect that very lightly but amusingly travels overhead. Amid the absurdly cartoonish mayhem, the mid-range exhibits excellent distinction and separation during the loudest segments, providing the musical numbers with appreciable warmth and fidelity, while dialogue reproduction remains precise and well-prioritized. Most impressive is unexpectedly powerful low-end that energizes the action with couch-shaking force and supplies the music with a palpable presence. (DTS:X Audio Rating: 88/100)
This UHD disc ports over the same set of supplements as previous releases.
A wonderful blend of cartoonish action, deadpan humor and classic R&B music from legendary artists, John Landis' The Blues Brothers endures forty years later as one of the greatest comedic accomplishments. With the iconic performances of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as a pair of orphaned blood brothers on a mission from God to reunite the band, the cult classic remains as fresh and energetic as ever. Thanks to a brand-new 4K remaster of the original 35mm camera negatives, this Ultra HD edition features a great-looking 4K HDR10 presentation and an outstanding DTS:X soundtrack, offering fans a notable improvement over its Blu-ray counterpart. Porting over the same set of supplements, the UHD package makes for a recommended addition to the cult library.