DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Rian Johnson
Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Christopher Plummer
Writing Credits:
Rian Johnson

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Rated PG-13.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$26,769,548 on 3461 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 2/25/2020

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Rian Johnson, Director of Photography Steve Yedlin and Actor Noah Segan
• “In-Theater Commentary” with Writer/Director Rian Johnson
• 2 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Making a Murder” Documentary
• “Planning the Perfect Murder” Featurette
• Director & Cast Q&A
• Marketing Gallery
• Previews
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Knives Out [4K UHD] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 20, 2020)

When we last saw filmmaker Rian Johnson, he wrote and directed 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Given that it received strong reviews and made a ton of money, Johnson should’ve been riding high on the proverbial hog.

Alas, Jedi enjoyed a less pleasant afterlife than one might expect. A small but noisy collection of fans took offense to it for a mix of mostly silly reasons, so what should’ve been regarded as a major success began to carry the stink of a “tainted” project.

If the Jedi haters hoped to harpoon Johnson’s career, they failed miserably. He came back with 2019’s murder mystery Knives Out and got a big hit again, all without nerd attacks.

Successful mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) enjoys a lavish 85th birthday party with most of his extended family in tow. After he declares news about his estate that some find unwanted, Harlan soon ends up dead, apparently via suicide.

Onto the scene comes famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). He suspects foul play, so he seeks to get to the bottom of the crime and determine whodunnit.

Sort of. Knives becomes a difficult movie to discuss and avoid spoilers, but it follows an unusual path in that it reveals fairly early which member of the large character ensemble offed Harlan – maybe.

Heck, the flick doesn’t even wait until the title card arrives to kill the old man! We immediately see his corpse and then launch ahead a week, a factor that means many of the story’s events come via flashback.

Where Knives gets interesting comes from its exploration of the case. While we seem to learn the facts of the case toward the end of the first act, the film brings us a fun slew of twists from there, all of which build toward a more complex finale.

These choices allow Johnson to create a mystery with more layers than usual. In a typical genre effort such as this, the story dangles suspects before us as we wait for the main detective to figure out the culprit in the climactic scene.

As it happens, that occurs here, but not in the expected way, mainly because of those attempts to sum up the murderer in the early parts of the tale. Through most of the movie, we view the supposed killer’s movements to deal with potential revelations, factors that placate us into a different mindset than the standard mystery.

Like I said, we usually devote our time toward our own interpretation of potential culprits. Due to the path Johnson takes, we let down our guard – a little, at least, as he plays events in such a way that we still suspect a variety of curveballs along the way.

And we receive them throughout this peppy, involving tale. We never quite feel sure where matters will go, as Johnson keeps us on our toes.

An excellent cast helps. In addition to Plummer and Craig, Johnson stacks the flick with noted actors such as Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield and Ana de Armas, among others. All add impact to their roles and make them more memorable than might otherwise be the case, an important factor given how little relative screen time most receive.

Knives falters a little when it attempts some political/social commentary, as Johnson doesn’t execute that side of the movie as well as I might like. This becomes a minor criticism, though, as most of the film turns into a fun, delightful ride.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus A

Knives Out appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision release became a strong presentation.

Overall, sharpness seemed very good. Virtually no softness materialized, so the film appeared accurate and concise.

Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t mar the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Knives Out went with a fairly teal orientation. A lot of amber/orange appeared as well, and we found splashes of other hues on occasion. Within stylistic choices, the colors seemed well-depicted, and the disc’s HDR added oomph and emphasis to the tones.

Blacks were dark and dense, and low-light shots gave us good clarity. HDR brought extra dimensionality to contrast and whites as well. I felt pleased with this solid transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the fairly good Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Knives Out, as the soundfield mostly delivered a mix heavy on atmosphere. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, environmental noises cropped up in the side and rear speakers, and minor action moments added to the track.

Those elements created a nice sense of place and added impact to the material. That said, this was a largely character-based tale, so the track didn’t come with a ton to impress the listener.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and music appeared robust and full.

Effects were accurate and dynamic, while low-end response showed good warmth and richness. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio merited a “B”.

How did the 4K UHD compare with the Blu-ray version? Audio remained identical, as both provided the same Dolby Atmos audio.

The Dolby Vision visuals gave us a nice uptick in quality, though, as the 4K looked better defned and boasted stronger colors and blacks. As good as the Blu-ray appeared, the 4K topped it.

Expect a slew of extras here, and we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Rian Johnson, director of photography Steve Yedlin and actor Noah Segan.. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, inspirations and influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, music, editing, and similar domains.

While Yedlin and Segan chime in along the way, Johnson dominates the conversation, and that doesn’t come as a surprise given his position as auteur. Though Yedlin and Sagan add mirth to the proceedings, they diffuse the focus, and that’s a minor drawback, as Johnson’s solo commentaries have seemed tighter.

Regard this as a minor complaint, though, for even with the less concise take on the production, this still becomes a good chat. It may not excel as much as Johnson’s discussions of his other movies, but that’s because those were so terrific, and this one’s merely very good.

In addition, we find an In-Theater Commentary from Johnson. Intended to be downloaded and played during big-screen showings of the film, Johnson brings a running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, inspirations and influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, music, editing, and connected areas.

In other words, Johnson touches on many of the same subjects here that he went over in the prior commentary, and that makes this one redundant at times. However, the “In-Theater” track becomes the better of the two.

That’s because Johnson’s focus seems tighter during his solo chat than when paired with Yedlin and Segan. Both chats offer good info but I prefer the “In-Theater” discussion, as it’s the more complete of the two.

Two Deleted Scenes appear: “Bicycling Accident” (2:45) and “Don’t Do Anything Rash” (2:12). The first offers more about Walt and his wife Donna, whereas the second adds to Joni’s tale. Both are fun and would’ve fit in the final cut, though perhaps they would’ve over-extended an already long movie.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Johnson. He discusses the sequences and why they got the boot.

Called Making a Murder, an eight-part documentary covers a whopping one hour, 54 minutes, seven seconds. It brings notes from Johnson, Yedlin, Segan, producer Ram Bergman, costume designer Jenny Eagan, production designer David Crank, editor Bob Ducsay, composer Nathan Johnson, sound editor Al Nelson, re-recording mixer Ren Klyce, and actors Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Katherine Langford, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Frank Oz, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jaeden Martell, Jamie Lee Curtis, LaKeith Stanfield, and Riki Lindhome.

“Murder” looks at the project’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, costumes, sets and locations, photography and editing, music and audio, and marketing/publicity.

The first couple of chapters of “Murder” can veer a little fluffy, especially in the praise about/from the cast. Matters get more substantial as the documentary goes, though, so once we go into costumes and other technical choices, we find a solid take on the production. This ends up as a satisfying exploration.

Planning the Perfect Murder runs six minutes, 17 seconds and features Johnson as he discusses plot and planning issues. Johnson gives us a few good insights into these processes.

From November 2019, a Director & Cast Q&A spans 42 minutes, nine seconds and brings a panel with Johnson, Martell, Langford, Johnson, Curtis, de Armas, Evans, Craig and actor Michael Shannon.

In front of an audience of SAG actors, the Q&A covers influences and inspirations, characters and performances. Much of the panel goes for laughs, so don’t expect a lot of hard info. Still, it’s a breezy 42 minutes and fun to see so much of the cast together in one place.

Finally, we get a Marketing Gallery. This provides three trailers – “teaser”, “theatrical” and “final” – as well as “Ode to the Murder Mystery”.

The last one offers a Johnson-hosted promo in the style of the 1950s – complete with fake print damage. It’s a clever promo piece.

The “Markering Gallery” concludes with three clips under “Meet the Thrombeys Viral Ads”. We locate “Thrombey Real Estate” (0:34), “Blood Like Wine Publishing” (0:56) and “Flam” (0:34). Each provides an in-character TV ad from Linda, Walt and Joni, respectively. They’re entertaining.

The disc opens with ads for Bombshell, Midway (2019), A Simple Favor and Now You See Me 2.

A somewhat unconventional take on the murder mystery genre, Knives Out provides a smart, clever tale. It comes with more than enough twists and turns to keep us invested across its 130 minutes. The 4K UHD boasts excellent visuals, positive audio and a strong roster of bonus materials. Knives Out engages and continues to entertain across repeated screenings.

To rate this film visit the original review of KNIVES OUT

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main