David Cronenberg's darkly strange but oddly discerning Crash continues to tackle intriguing questions of instinctual desires in a technologically-driven world, starring James Spader, Holly Hunter and Elias Koteas. Imported from the UK, Arrow Video crashes the psychological thriller into Ultra HD as a Limited Edition box set with a lovely 4K video presentation, a pair of excellent DTS-HD MA tracks and an attractive set of bonuses to sift through. The overall package is Highly Recommended for the most hardened and loyal of Cronenberg fans.
You can read our full thoughts on David Cronenberg's Crash in our review of the Blu-ray edition courtesy of The Criterion Collection HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Imported from the United Kingdom, David Cronenberg's Crash drives into 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a single-disc Limited Edition box set, courtesy of Arrow Video. A Region free, UHD100 disc sits comfortably inside a black keepcase with six postcards and reversible cover art. The package is housed in a sturdy, side-sliding slipcover, 16x20, double-sided poster and a sixty-page booklet, featuring color photos and five insightful essays analyzing the plot's themes. There are no trailers or promos before being greeted by a familiar menu screen with full-motion clips, music playing in the background and the usual options along the bottom.
According to the accompanying booklet, Turbine Media Group and LSP Medien in Germany used the original 35mm camera negatives and an interpositive for this 4K restoration of the film. The brand-new 4K digital intermediate was approved by cinematographer Peter Suschitzky and director David Cronenberg.
The freshly-minted, native 4K transfer is a gorgeous HEVC H.265 encode, offering fans a lovely upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart, which in the U.S. comes by way of The Criterion Collection, reviewed HERE. Remaining true to the filmmaker's stylized aesthetic, contrast is somewhat subdued and restrained to match the plot's thematic tone, but whites are nonetheless cleaner and a tad more vivid. The more notable improvement is the crisper, radiant specular highlights, exposing the finer details in the brightest, hottest areas like the car headlights while the chrome and metal glisten with a realistic polish and sheen. Black levels also display a welcomed improvement, looking inkier and truer with excellent gradational differences between the various shades while maintaining strong detailing in the darkest shadows.
Faithful to the filmmakers' stylized design, the colors are noticeably understated and somewhat muted, which is to complement the rather bleak and somber story. On the whole, the HDR10 presentation is relatively low-key and looks fairly downcast, thanks to a palette that favors lots of heavy greys and cold, steely blues. Nevertheless, amid the gloom, reds are notably fuller, from the ruby shade of James's car and the interior of Vaughan's Lincoln Continental to the deep crimson of blood. Secondary hues are a bit more nuanced, but they nonetheless show slightly more variations in the clothing while facial complexions appear healthier with peachier-rosiness in the skin and lifelike textures.
The 4K video is awash in a fine-layer of natural grain, providing the 1.66:1 image a lovely film-like quality and looking terrifically detailed throughout. A few softer moments don't deter or distract from the upgrade in overall definition, boasting sharper fine lines in the various vehicles and clothing. Individual hair and whiskers are more distinct, and the scars of some characters appear more gruesome and realistic, especially those of Vaughan and immediately after James's initial car wreck. The smallest object and photo in Vaughan's "control center" are is plainly visible from a distance. The stitching in his car's interior and the individual creases in James's leather jacket are discrete, making for a noteworthy upgrade. (HDR10 Video Rating: 84/100)
Cronenberg's psychological thriller crashes into UHD home theaters with a pair of newly created DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks: a 5.1 upmix and the original Dolby 2.0 stereo.
For this review, I opted for the original stereo track, which feels terrifically welcoming with a great deal of warmth and fidelity throughout. Displaying amazing channel balance with discrete background activity convincingly moving into the off-screen space, the highly-engaging soundstage continuously feels broad and spacious. The mid-range is notably dynamic with excellent distinction in the few upper frequencies while also affording Howard Shore's hauntingly nuanced and refined score with superb definition and acoustical detailing. Likewise, dialogue reproduction is always precise with outstanding intonation in each performance, and the low-end is satisfyingly adequate for a film of this caliber, providing the music and action appreciable weight and presence.
The lossless stereo mix also lends itself splendidly well to the receivers' Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural:X up-mixing functionality, effortlessly expanding the subtle atmospherics and the music into the surrounds and top heights, which nicely broadens and enhances the soundfield without also feeling forced or artificial. (Audio Rating: 88/100)
Based on the novel of the same name, David Cronenberg's Crash is a darkly strange but oddly discerning journey that prompts questions about our natural, instinctual desires in a world of technology and cold, indifferent metal. Starring James Spader, Holly Hunter and Elias Koteas, the story follows a small cultish circle of fetishists tackling this dilemma while also embracing it as part of the inevitable future norm. The psychological thriller hops aboard the 4K Ultra HD vehicle and crashes into home theaters with a lovely HDR10 presentation and an excellent pair of DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. With an impressive assortment of bonus material to sift through, the overall package is a highly recommended purchase.