Archive for the ‘A Quiet Place (2018)’ Category

Blu-ray Covers
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Region: Region A

Length: 01:30:14

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

English Dolby Atmos

Alternate Audio:

5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital
5.1 French Dolby Digital
5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital
English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Ratio: 2.40:1

Notes: This package includes a DVD an Ultraviolet copies of the film.

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It’s rare for films produced in this day and age to feature such a simple idea with such an overwhelmingly cinematic vision. A Quiet Place is a film told only with images and sound with only the occasional exception. There is very little dialogue. It was not only unnecessary to tell the story via an endless stream of expository dialogue, it was essential to the film’s story that they didn’t. Other filmmakers could learn a thing or two from the success of this film and make more of an effort to tell their stories without resulting to tired and downright lazy dialogue to tell the audience the things that they need to know (especially since so many screenwriters aren’t very good at this). Those wanting to write and direct movies should at the very least know how to tell a story visually. It’s fundamental to the medium—so much so that it is ridiculous that one feels the need to mention it at all.

This approach is certainly a feather in director John Krasinski’s cap as he goes about spinning this tale of a family who must navigate their lives in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Knowing that even the slightest whisper or footstep can bring death, Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (Krasinski) are determined to find a way to protect their children at all costs while they desperately search for a way to fight back.

It’s probably clear to the reader that this reviewer has a fondness for the film, but it is necessary to point out some of the film’s aesthetic flourishes diminish its power. Slight adjustments could have been made to make the film even stronger, and these adjustments aren’t additions but are instead subtractions. The concept is simple: a predatory creature with sensitive hearing will eat those who make a sound. Therefore, the little sounds we make going through our day to day life should be the music of the film. This is a case where adding non-diegetic music actually reduced some of the film’s suspense. The choice of adding Marco Beltrami’s syrupy sentimental passages of music as the characters navigate their lives was at best unnecessary and at worst distractingly inappropriate. The film’s minimal sound design would have sufficed and the result would be a more eloquent and suspenseful experience. Concentrating on the minor noises that we create throughout our day would have also added the graceful poetry that the music is trying so desperately to force upon certain areas of the film. The strongest passages are those without music for this very reason.

We will admit that some of the more suspense oriented music worked much better, but it is impossible not to wonder if the same thing could’ve been accomplished by using only the sounds of the creatures. Alfred Hitchcock used such a technique in The Birds (1963) to excellent effect as he planned the sound design as if it were a film score (even bringing Bernard Herrmann in as a consultant). Relying on music seems to fly in the face of the very concept that this story is built upon. The music was admittedly not as distracting after being acclimated to the unnecessary sentimental melodies (say maybe 20 minutes into it).

There is a moment with the husband and wife dancing with earbuds in their ears, but we are not hearing the music. This was a beautiful moment until they brought the music into the soundtrack as she shared her earbud with him. The point of this seems to be, “I saw them do this on Garden State (2004) and it was really cool. I’ve always wanted to work it into a film.” It would’ve been lovely had they continued to play the scene against the silence. Such brave choices would’ve been true to the concept and added a poignant grace, but this is a film produced by Platinum Dunes and Michael Bay-esque (“boom, boom, boom”) sound design wins out in the end.

The Monster

The creature in A Quiet Place.

In one of the Blu-ray’s supplemental features, they mention that the creature was originally planned to be less visible throughout the film but that they decided to feature them more overtly after falling in love with their design. Frankly, they should have stuck to their original intentions. The creature was too visible towards the latter part of the film. Quick moments of visibility would’ve worked better (and did work better in the film’s earlier scenes). I think that this only becomes more veracious when dealing with CGI creations since they aren’t organic.

I’ll stop here, because these are simply minor blemishes on a very good creature thriller. It’s better than a lot of the horror films that have been released in the past few years. It’s a lot easier to pick apart a film once it has already been made than it is to make even a bad film—and I wouldn’t call this a bad film.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Stars

Paramount protects their Blu-ray and DVD discs in a standard 2-disc Blu-ray case with film related artwork that blends an image from one of the foreign posters with a still in an obvious effort to include John Krasinski on the cover as if featuring him might result in more sales. That’s ridiculous and only disfigures the more simplistic foreign one sheet design (which was only “okay”). Why do marketing departments do this? It results in ugly artwork. This doesn’t come close to the worse we have seen but is still unnecessary and annoying. Happily, the case is protected by a slip sleeve. Unhappily, the slip sleeve features the same clumsy artwork featured on the insert sleeve.

The disc’s static menu is reasonably attractive and intuitive to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

A Quiet Place was happily shot on 35mm but only received a 2K digital intermediate master (according to IMDb and other sources). Having not seen the 4K UltraHD disc, it is impossible to state as to whether it would be a major upgrade from this disc. However, it is relatively clear that it hasn’t been given a true 4K transfer and was instead up-scaled from 2K. One imagines that this would result in only a minimal upgrade from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray, however, is beyond reproach and probably looks as good as it is going to unless they choose to rescan it in 4K at some point. There aren’t any compression issues to report, clarity is decent, color reproduction is very good with accurate flesh tones (at least within the context of the film’s aesthetic), shadow detail is even better, and the transfer showcases plenty of very crisp fine detail. It’s nice to witness a nice organic layer of light grain on a recent film for a change as the texture takes me back to horror’s glory days (even though I wasn’t really even round for those glory days). Frankly, this is an excellent transfer that is only limited by the production’s post-production workflow. Those purchasing the Blu-ray instead of the 4K release will have no real reason to bicker.

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Sound Quality:

5 of 5 Stars

Just in case the five-star rating doesn’t make the brilliance of this mix perfectly clear, be assured that your high end speaker systems will have a chance to shine. The Dolby Atmos track is superb and really places the viewer inside the film’s world, but it should be said that it is during the quieter sequences that the mix really shines. It’s all about contrast and small sounds that will place the viewer on edge. The sound design is without a doubt one of the film’s greatest strengths (even if it is too bad that the music sometimes gets in its way). Both tracks are tremendously dynamic while offering terrific clarity, perfectly rendered low frequency effects, clear dialogue (though this is rather sparse in a good way), and a sonic experience that represents this film perfectly. The separations are beautifully realized and the elements well prioritized. Just keep in mind that it is a good track for the subtleties of sound design and not bombastic activity.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Stars

The materials in the three featurettes included on this disc would have made a more substantial “making of” documentary than what one expects from recent home video releases, but instead of editing them into a substantial program, Paramount separates the material into three less impressive “featurettes” so that they can market the disc as having three supplements instead of just the one. Never mind the fact that if they had included the theatrical trailers and simply included more material, they would have had something that they could market without actually disappointing those who shell out money for the disc. Oh well.

Creating the Quiet: Behind the Scenes of A Quiet Place – (14:45)

While this “behind the scenes” glimpse includes more meaty material than we have come to expect from studio releases, each of the topics discussed could have been explored in more detail. This piece discusses the unusual concept, the genesis of the idea, the development of the project, and the cast in a very general way. It offers more than the typical EPK promotional fluff but lacks the depth that one once expected from their supplemental package.

The Sound of Darkness: Editing Sound for A Quiet Place – (11:44)

More detailed is this piece on the sound design and the score for the film. However, those who (like myself) felt that the sound design could have gone further than it did and not relied so heavily on music might get a headache from rolling their eyes. Don’t worry. This will pass.

A Reason for Silence: The Visual Effects of A Quiet Place – (07:33)

Special effects junkies will be pleased with this examination of the creature CGI that made it possible. At one point, the viewer learns that the filmmakers originally planned to show the creature less but fell in love with their final design and decided to show it more (or in more detail) in the final act. This was a mistake. It is too bad that they didn’t elaborate as to which scenes changed as a result and how these scenes were originally intended to play. This is a good example of the surface nature of the supplemental material. It never probes into the general statements that they make. It’s simply better than average.

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Final Words:

A Quiet Place earns its positive critical reputation but never quite reaches its own potential due to a timidity on the part of the filmmakers. It’s a good B+ movie that could’ve been an excellent A+ film had they trusted the audience a bit more than they did. Fans of the creature sub-genre will want to add this to their collection as it is the best they will have seen in a number of years. The Blu-ray transfer is technically very close to perfect and the supplemental package is better than one usually expects from studio releases. Obviously, this is a release that comes highly recommended.

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