Ultra HD: Recommended
4 Stars out of 5
List Price 41.18
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Release Date: October 30th, 2020
Movie Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating:
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

Showgirls - 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray [German Import]

Review Date July 23rd, 2021 by
Overview -

Paul Verhoeven's notoriously raunchy Showgirls is a criminally misunderstood neo-burlesque show, but it has garnered a dedicated cult following over the years and even grown into a cultural phenomenon. The sleazy cult classic tackles the big show on Ultra HD as a limited edition three-disc Mediabook, featuring a problematic and somewhat disappointing 4K video but rescued by an excellent pair of DTS-HD MA tracks and a strong selection of supplements. Ultimately, this UHD edition imported from Germany is Worth a Look but given the fancy packaging, will surely seduce dedicated fans into purchasing. 

OVERALL
Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Three-Disc UHD Limited Collector‘s Edition
    UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    2 BD50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free (UHD Disc Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10+
    Length:131
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.35:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    German SDH
    English
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary
    Documentary
    Featurettes
    Blu-ray Copy
    Movie Studio: Capelight Pictures
    Release Date: October 30th, 2020

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

To borrow from Jeffrey McHale's excellent documentary You Don't Nomi, which looks at the cultural phenomenon and unexpected appreciation of Paul Verhoeven's 1995 flop, the notoriously raunchy Showgirls is, to me, a "Masterpiece of Shit." I fall squarely on the side of enjoying the erotic drama as a criminally misunderstood masterwork by a brilliant filmmaker. But at the same time, I don't deny that the melodramatic plot about aspiring showgirl performer Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) is a hilariously bad pile of garbage. And still, I want to defend that as precisely the point of Joe Eszterhas's script — an over-the-top story about the mediocre rise and fall of an individual driven purely by narcissistic fame. Yet, there's no ignoring the end result is, for most audiences, a hollow, tawdry and detestable exploitation piece that can be difficult to watch unless viewed through the lens of "so bad, it's good."

And so, my praise for the film toes that line between applauding it as a genius work of social commentary and simply accepting it as a guilty pleasure with cringing-inducing performances. For me, its salvation comes from it being a familiar plot about stardom but coming from one of the best and most brilliant filmmakers: Paul Verhoeven. Nomi's generic fairy tale rise is a deliberately histrionic mess centered around a laughably simple "high concept" premise. Ultimately, the film is a satire on the darker, seedier side of the Hollywood industry with Las Vegas serving as its microcosmic surrogate, exposing the exploitation and objectification of women by men in powerful positions. Given the excessive amount of nudity throughout, the film also dares audiences to find what they are witnessing as remotely sexy or erotic. And this is especially true when it's in such tasteless abundance, attached to the outrageously absurd dance numbers or uncomfortably associated with some form of abuse and violence. 

The best phrase to fittingly describe Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls is as a deviously understated neo-burlesque show. The word "burlesque" functions both as the bawdy striptease feature of those old-timey variety shows and as an over-the-top parody of a more serious subject matter. The misunderstood cult classic is a brilliantly trashy neo-burlesque. 

2010 Sinsational Edition

2021 Limited Collector's Edition

For a different take on the film, check out Josh Zyber's review of the 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition Blu-ray HERE.

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Imported from Germany, Capelight Pictures brings Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a three-disc Mediabook combo pack, dubbed a "Limited Collector‘s Edition." The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably atop a Region B locked, BD50 disc on the same clear-plastic panel, and the third Region B locked, BD50 disc on the last panel is a copy of Jeffrey McHale's 2019 You Don't Nomi documentary. All three are housed inside an attractive black and pink Mediabook with a 24-page booklet featuring an essay by Peter Osteried. At startup, viewers are taken to a screen with full-motion clips, the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Three-Disc UHD Limited Collector‘s Edition
    UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    2 BD50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free (UHD Disc Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10+
    Length:131
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.35:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    German SDH
    English
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary
    Documentary
    Featurettes
    Blu-ray Copy
    Movie Studio: Capelight Pictures
    Release Date: October 30th, 2020

Video Review

3 Stars out of 5

The deliciously and devilishly trashy melodrama tackles the big show on Ultra HD but disappointingly underperforms, not only falling well below crowd-pleasing expectations but also sadly suffering from some unwelcomed digital manipulation. The HEVC H.265 encode reportedly comes from a remaster performed by Pathé Distribution back in 2015, but the results are a mixed bag. 

Most egregious is the heavy application of noise reduction, which can sometimes be light and arguably forgivable while at other times, excessive and horridly distracting. Interestingly, the DNR is consistent from start to finish with no one scene looking worse than the other, yet it's noticeably grain-free and sterilized right from the opening moments when Nomi hitchhikes a ride to Las Vegas. At first, it seems as though the makeup on Elizabeth Berkley is incredibly thick, but her face is actually devoid of any pores, texture and the small mole on her right cheek is completely missing, as though scrubbed clean with sandpaper and then polished smooth with a heavy amount of wax. 

Occasionally, the 4K transfer enjoys sharper definition in some areas where we can plainly make out the creases in the leather and the fine stitching in the elaborate costumes. Individual hairs can be distinct, and the lettering in the various advertisements are always legible while the small features in the stage productions and the Vegas architecture are well detailed. Unfortunately, in spite of these few positives, the majority of the picture nonetheless falls on the softer side with many instances of actors looking almost like talking mannequins, such as the lunch meeting between Nomi and Cristal. Those moments where facial complexions appear accurate and healthy, like Nomi going to James' place for the first time, are often countered by many instances of skin tones either looking too orange and sunburnt or too pale and sickly. 

2010 Sinsational Edition

2021 Limited Collector's Edition

Moreover, the HDR10+ presentation is not one of the stronger releases, but overall contrast shows some appreciable improvement and can be fairly dynamic with brighter, cleaner whites. However, those same whites can also run too hot in a few spots, causing severe blooming and ruining the finer details, most noticeably in the stage lights and the lunch meeting mentioned above. Ironically, specular highlights are tighter for the most part, providing a realistic sheen and vivid sparkle to metallic objects during daylight exteriors. The more noteworthy upgrade is the brightness levels, delivering inky, midnight blacks with impressive gradational differences between the various shades, from various articles of clothing to the objects decorating the background. All the while, the 2.39:1 image maintains excellent visibility within the darkest, blackest shadows, giving the stage shows a good deal of pop.

Arguably, the best and most striking improvement is the livelier and more energetic array of colors throughout. Jost Vacano's cinematography is a flamboyant parade of hot bubblegum pinks and fuschia mixed with a wide variation of vibrant purples, fiery marigold oranges, deep magentas and warm golden yellows. There is also an eye-catching blend of neon greens and vividly electrifying blues while reds are sumptuous and richly animated. This all suits the plot's theme of artificiality and the glitzy glamor of the city, but this is also due to a new color correction, making the orange-teal palette more prominent and apparent for a majority of the runtime. A few scenes have a steelier, colder feel to them where cyan and teal dominate while others come with an extra punch and richness in the earthy yellow-tan hues. Weirdly, this adds another layer of irony to the more genuinely emotional scenes, like the visit from Al and Mama, as opposed to those moments with characters looking to take advantage of Nomi. 

All in all, the few positives in this UHD edition are sadly outweighed by the many negatives, making it a relatively disappointing mixed bag. (HDR10+ Video Rating: 62/100)

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

2010 Sinsational Edition

2021 Limited Collector's Edition

ForBackstabbings and betrayals take center stage with what appears to be the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack enjoyed on the previous Blu-ray edition. While an object-based audio option would have added to the colorful extravagance of the performances, the lossless mix nonetheless makes for a great showstopper. When applying the receiver's Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural:X up-mixing functionality, the music nicely extends into all the channels, putting viewers right in the middle of the show, and the various atmospheric effects effortlessly pan from the fronts to the surrounds, generating a wide, spacious soundfield.

For a more in-depth take on the audio quality, you can read our review of the Blu-ray HERE. (Audio Rating: 84/100)

Special Features

3.5 Stars out of 5

2010 Sinsational Edition

2021 Limited Collector's Edition

The same set of supplements from the previous Blu-ray release are ported for this UHD edition, but they are joined by one new addition and packaged with the 2019 documentary.

  • Audio Commentary features David Schmader, dubbed "The Greatest Movie Ever Made"
  • You Don't Nomi (HD, 93) is the documentary by Jeffrey McHale examining the film's lasting legacy as a cult cultural phenomenon with interviews of various opinions.  
  • A Showgirl's Diary (SD, 11 min) 
  • Interviews 1 (SD, HD)
    • Paul Verhoeven (6 min)
    • Jost Vacano (19 min) NEW
    • Joe Eszterhas (2 min)
    • Alan Marshall (1 min)
    • Elizabeth Berkley (2 min)
    • Gina Gershon (3 min)
  • Interviews 2 (SD)
    • Kyle MacLachlan (1 min)
    • Gina Ravera (1 min)
    • Marguerite Pomerhn-Derricks (1 min)
    • David A. Stewart (1 min)
    • Allan Cameron (1 min)
  • Featurette (SD, 5 min) is the vintage EPK piece with cast & crew interviews about the film
  • Dance Tutorial (SD, 5 min) featuring the World-Famous Girls of Scores
  • B-Roll (SD, 5 min) is a collection of BTS footage from various sets
  • Trailers (HD) is an assortment of various previews, including a new trailer for the remastered edition of the film.

Final Thoughts

2010 Sinsational Edition

2021 Limited Collector's Edition

Since its release in 1995, there has been a quiet debate about Paul Verhoeven's notoriously raunchy Showgirls, and for me, the erotic drama is a criminally misunderstood "Masterpiece of Shit." The plot about the mediocre rise and fall of a Las Vegas stage performer is a brilliantly trashy neo-burlesque show, and it has garnered a dedicated cult following over the years and even grown into a cultural phenomenon. Imported from Germany, Capelight Pictures brings the sleazy cult classic to 4K Ultra HD as a three-disc Mediabook, dubbed the Limited Collector's Edition. The 4K transfer features a problematic if not also somewhat disappointing HDR10+ presentation but an excellent pair of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks in English and German. With a strong selection of supplements that includes the compelling documentary You Don't Nomi, this UHD edition is ultimately worth a look, but fans, I'm sure, will be pleased with it importing this raunchy favorite.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Three-Disc UHD Limited Collector‘s Edition
    UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    2 BD50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free (UHD Disc Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10+
    Length:131
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.35:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    German SDH
    English
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary
    Documentary
    Featurettes
    Blu-ray Copy
    Movie Studio: Capelight Pictures
    Release Date: October 30th, 2020