Parasite appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an excellent visual presentation.
At all times, sharpness worked well. Softness remained a non-factor in this well-defined image.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Of course, no source flaws marred the film.
Parasite went with a strong teal and orange palette. Those tones felt cliché, but the Blu-ray replicated them in a vivid manner.
Blacks looked deep and dense, while low-light shots brought nice clarity and smoothness. Everything here satisfied.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack worked well for the narrative. For the most part, the soundscape focused on music or environmental material.
That said, the track managed to come to life a bit better at times, mainly during the thunderstorm that popped up for a substantial portion of the movie. We also got some localized dialogue in this fairly involving soundfield.
Audio quality satisfied. Speech remained natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns.
Music appeared full and rich, while effects diaplayed good accuracy and range. The audio seemed more than satisfactory.
How did this Criterion edition compare to the film’s original Blu-ray? Visuals appeared virtually identical. The original BD already looked great, so there didn’t seem to be real room for improvement.
As for the audio, the Dolby Atmos track might’ve offered a bit more involvement, but given the parameters of the film’s tale, it also lacked a lot of space to upgrade the prior disc’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. This was a great presentation of the film, but so was the prior BD.
The prior BD came with sparse extras, so expect a much broader assortment across this two-disc set, and we find two separate versions of the film. Disc One provides the original color edition whereas Disc Two brings a black and white presentation.
Both run 2:12:16, and both bring identical Dolby Atmos audio, so they truly differ only in terms of visuals. Overall quality remains similar, so the question becomes whether or not the B&W version adds anything to the story.
In my opinion, it doesn’t, and some of that stems from the fact that this never feels like a movie intended to run in black and white. Despite all the post-production wizardry used to modify the color photography, it still comes across like a color movie manipulated for B&W.
That makes the biggest difference for me, as the B&W version lacks the organic impression that would come with a movie truly shot in that format. Given that Parasite was lit and composed for color, the attempts to translate it to B&W feel false.
None of these factors mean the B&W Parasite offers a bad cinematic experience, but they do ensure that it feels pointless and gimmicky. It’s fun to watch the B&W version once as a curiosity, but the color edition looks more natural and works better as a film.
On Disc One, we get an audio commentary from director Bong Joon Ho and critic Tony Rayns. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, social topics and interpretation, cast and performances, music, inspirations, sets and locations, editing, effects and relate domains.
Overall, this becomes an informative commentary. Rayns facilitates matters well and Bong covers an appealing array of topics. This turns into a useful and engaging chat.
In addition to two trailers, Disc One provides four featurettes, and these launch with an Interview with Director Bong Joon Ho. This chat runs 36 minutes, six seconds and brings the filmmaker’s thoughts about the film’s storyboards, the title and symbolism, photography, sets, colors, effects, editing, audio, and some themes/dialogue choices.
I feared the interview would duplicate a lot of the commentary’s content, but that doesn’t prove true. Instead, interviewer Darcy Paquet steers Bong toward new topics, so this ends up as a fruitful program.
An Interview with Director of Photography Hong Kyung Pyo spans 21 minutes, three seconds and offers his comments about working with Bong, influences and various aspects of the cinematography. Hong fleshes out these topics well.
Next we find an Interview with Production Designer Lee Ha Jun. In this 22-minute, 21-second reel, Lee discusses sets, locations and design choices. Expect another quality overview.
Finally, Disc One brings us an Interview with Editor Yang Jinmo. During the 15-minute, 30-second piece, he covers storyboards, editing and story areas. Yang’s chat concludes Disc One on a positive note, as he brings plenty of good insights.
As we shift to Disc Two, we find an Introduction to the film’s black and white version. Along with interviewer/interpreter Darcy Paquet, Bong Hoon Jo tells us why he chose to do the monochromatic presentation and aspects of its creation.
Honestly, the idea of the B&W version seems a little odd to me, mainly because they shot the movie in color and never intended it to be seen any other way. While the director gives us good insights into the choices he made to translate the movie to the format, he doesn’t give us a particularly compelling case for this edition’s need to exist.
In addition to a trailer for the film’s black and white version, we get four more video programs. New Korean Cinema runs 12 minutes, 19 seconds and offers notes from Bong Hoon Jo and filmmaker Park Chan-wook.
They discuss the evolution of South Korean pop culture, with the obvious emphasis on movies and how that domain evolved. The directors offer a good little history lesson and summary.
A Cannes Press Conference fills 28 minutes, 39 seconds and features Bong as well as actors Song Kang Ho, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Shik, Lee Sun Kyun, Chang Hyae Jin and Park So Dam.
The panel goes over aspects of the production and its reception. We get a decent collection of thoughts, and it’s good to hear from the actors, though the presentation can make it tough to understand the remarks.
At times the spoken translations don’t come at much higher volume than the original statements, so the two can blend poorly. Subtitles would help, especially when the translator briefly goes MIA about halfway through the piece.
Under Lumiere Master Class, we hear from Bong Hoon Jo at a 2019 film festival. Hosted by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, this one-hour, 22-minute, 12-second program features the director’s thoughts about Bong’s work and cinema in a broader way.
At times, the “Class” offers some good insights, but the format makes it clunky. Both Bong and Tavernier come with their own translators, so a fair amount of the running time becomes devoted to their work. “Class” still comes with value, but it seems less effective than I’d like.
A Storyboard Comparison fills six minutes, 59 seconds and shows the scene “High and Dry”. We see the director’s storyboards on the top half of the screen and the final (color) film on the bottom. This becomes an efficient way to contrast the boards with the finished product.
Finally, the package provides a booklet. This foldout offers credits, photos and an essay from critic Inkoo Kang. The booklet offers a good conclusion to the set.
While I don’t feel it lives up to all its praise, Parasite nonetheless provides a pretty involving tale. A mix of genres with an emphasis on social commentary, the movie packs a good punch. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and positive audio along with a fine collection of bonus materials.
This Criterion release offers a terrific rendition of the film, at least if you care about supplements. Because picture and audio seem pretty similar when compared with the original Blu-ray, I can’t endorse it as an upgrade solely on those factors, but it’s the superior release overall, even if it might not warrant a double-dip for those who already own the first version.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of PARASITE