Boyz N the Hood appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not the world’s most consistent transfer, the image usually looked pretty good.
Sharpness presented no discernible concerns. Wide shots were a little tentative at times, but not to a significant degree. For the most part, the movie remained reasonably detailed and distinctive. I saw no issues connected to jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to create distractions. Print flaws weren’t a factor; grain could be a bit heavy, but no specks, marks or other defects materialized.
Colors looked fairly natural. The movie adopted a somewhat brownish tint but usually gave us a good range of hues. Most of the tones were appropriately displayed and concise. Black levels also seemed reasonably deep, though they occasionally looked a little murky. Shadows were usually acceptably visible, with only some small issues connected to excessive opacity. This was never a great presentation and it felt like part of its era, but it was generally pretty attractive.
I felt surprisingly impressed by the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Boyz N the Hood. Much of the movie went with general ambience, but the violent settings added a lot of activity from the side and rear speakers. Helicopters often zoomed around the room, and the movement of cars also contributed good use of the channels. Gunfire popped up from appropriate spots and the whole thing meshed together well. Music showed nice stereo presence, too, and all of this created a much more engaging than expected soundscape.
Audio quality seemed solid as well. Music was a highlight, as the songs and score displayed nice range and vivacity. Effects were accurate and full, with some solid bass; though technically music, I guess, I thought the use of car subwoofers was close to the effect realm as featured here, and those sequences boasted tight low end. Speech was always distinctive and concise. This was a fine track that merited a “B+”.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the 2003 DVD? Both offered improvements. The picture was cleaner and tighter than the DVD, and the 5.1 track offered a more engaging, dynamic mix. The Blu-ray was a big step up over the DVD.
The Blu-ray includes most of the DVD’s extras plus some new ones. We open with an audio commentary from director John Singleton, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. During past discussions, Singleton often came across as full of himself and self-congratulatory. Those issues remain happily insignificant here, as Singleton provides an informative and fairly warm examination of his first film.
Recorded in the late Nineties, Singleton clearly possesses a lot of affection for his Boyz experience, and that comes through here. The film’s first act presents the best moments. Singleton chats about the project’s roots, issues related to getting it off the ground, and the many autobiographical elements. We get a great impression of what led to the movie and various challenges he faced as a first-time director.
Once the flick jumps to the then-modern-day characters, Singleton proves less compelling, but he still gives us a nice feel for the production and various elements of the movie. At times the piece sags, but overall, Singleton tells us a lot of valuable information and offers a reasonably good commentary.
Next we move ahead with a documentary called Friendly Fire: Making of an Urban Legend. The 43-minute, 16-second program mixes movie bits, stills and material from the set, and interviews. We hear from Singleton, former Columbia creative executive Stephanie Allain, former Columbia VP of Publicity Mark Gill, LA Times journalist Patrick Goldstein, producer Steve Nicolaides, casting director Jaki Brown-Karman, cinematographer Charles Mills, and actors Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Regina King, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Desi Arnez Hines II, and Darius McCreary.
The piece goes through the origins of the film, how it worked through the studio ranks, launching the production and casting, improvs and acting exercises on the set, actually making the film, Fishburne’s influence on all the young actors, gang threats, reactions to the movie, various controversies and the flick’s impact and legacy. Those last two topics receive much more attention than usual, as they fill about the last third of the documentary. Given Boyz’s history, that makes sense, and “Fire” presents a very good examination of the flick. It goes through all the “making of” subjects concisely and logically and doesn’t shy away from negative issues. We get a good feel for its creation and its impact.
For something new, we locate a documentary called The Enduring Significance of Boyz N the Hood. It goes for 27 minutes, 45 seconds and involves Singleton, Cube, Fishburne, Long, Gooding, King, Chestnut, and Allain. The piece looks at the film’s roots and development, casting, the movie’s release and reception, its impact and legacy. We get a few good stories here, but mostly the participants congratulate themselves on the film’s importance. That makes it tedious much of the time.
After this we find two deleted scenes. “Tre Discusses His Future With His Mom” runs three minutes, 38 seconds, while “Furious Confronts Doughboy After Ricky Is Shot” goes for 47 seconds. Neither seems great, though at least “Future” helps flesh out the under-portrayed Bassett character.
After this we locate two music videos: “Growin’ Up in the Hood” by Compton’s Most Wanted and “Just Ask Me To” from Tevin Campbell. Both liberally mix movie clips with lip-synch performances. Neither of them comes across as particularly strong, though neither seems bad, even with the absurdly dated fashions in the Campbell video.
A collection of Audition Videos fills a total of one minute, 34 seconds. Actually, it goes longer than that if you watch all four; it places tryouts for Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Angela Bassett and Tyra Ferrell all on one screen and asks you to highlight the one you want to hear. That makes the individual images small, but since a) all involve close-ups of the actors and b) their SD-video quality stinks, we can see them just fine. It’s a lot of fun to check out these auditions; I wish we’d gotten even more of them here.
Under Previews, we get ads for El Mariachi, Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Taxi Driver.
Does the Blu-ray lose any extras from the DVD? Yup – it drops trailers, filmographies and a booklet. However, it adds audition footage and the new documentary.
Undeniably influential and important, Boyz N the Hood runs into problems when viewed strictly as a movie. It occasionally presents some insights and quality moments, but these become submerged by cheap melodrama and awkward sermonizing. The Blu-ray provides positive picture, audio and supplements. This becomes a strong presentation for a spotty film.
To rate this film visit the Anniversary Edition review of BOYZ 'N THE HOOD