Oct/2019

SHAFT (2019) – Blu-ray Review!

by Gumbercules9000 on Oct 21st, 2019

THE FILM


We need more heroes like Shaft. Even if he breaks a few of the rules in order to take out the bad guys, he gets the job done and makes the world a better place, all while having a smile on his face and consistently makes us laugh. Thank you Shaft or shall I thank Samuel L. Jackson who looks like he’s having the time of his life in this film. Either way, this sequel to the 2000 film along with the original Shaft movies from the 1970s is Pitch Perfect Shaft, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The character Shaft is a lot like James Bond, but if Bond was funny, smoother with the ladies, and actually knew how to have fun with his work. As we all know, Samuel L. Jackson is synonymous with the word that iconic a delicious four-letter word that starts with an “f”, where sometimes he adds a mother to the beginning of it, and those wonderful words are on big display throughout the film. It’s his poetic stamp on dialogue. He does speak it so well and makes me laugh every single time.

Director Tim Story (Barbershop, Ride Along) sets the first scene in 1989 Harlem where Shaft (Jackson) and his wife Maya (Regina Hall) are in their car on a date, where they are attacked in a gunfight. Shaft saves the day, but his wife and their brand new baby were in harm’s way. Needless to say, their relationship ends and Shaft becomes the Shaft we know through the years until we get to the present day. It’s here that we follow Shaft’s son John Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher), who was raised by his mother, went to MIT and is now a top-notch analysis for the FBI. The catch is that he is the polar opposite of his father. He wears skinny jeans, doesn’t like violence, never curses, and couldn’t be more awkward in front of the ladies. It will make for some excellent comedy later on.

The first 15 or 20 minutes of the film is all set up, which is a bland by-the-numbers story arc of Shaft Jr.’s friend being killed and trying to figure out who committed the crime, which he fails at detective work at every turn. His character and the others who he interacts with are just not entertaining on-screen. I found myself fading away fast, however, Samuel L. Jackson turns up for the rest of the film and saves the entire movie with his brash attitude and hilarious dialogue, where it seems like they just let him go crazy with improv. It’s everything we want in a Samuel L. Jackson role of this caliber, where he’s constantly making fun of his son, while at the same time looking out for him. When Shaft enters his son’s furnished apartment, he can’t help but make a series of funny-as-hell jokes about his taste. It plays out very well. It’s a more amusing version of The Odd Couple for a lot of the film but set in a violent drug world. Of course, the original Shaft (Richard Roundtree) shows up as well and handles the action and tone very well.

Shaft (2019) succeeds in its mix of comedy and action, while never getting side-tracked on silly tangents. It’s straight to the point enjoyment of the adult variety. Shaft talks the way we should start talking again, not afraid to be politically correct and be brutally honest. He doesn’t hide behind soft language and we need more of that. I really hope it doesn’t take another 20 years to make another sequel because Shaft is the hero we need at this time. I loved the movie!

THE VIDEO


Shaft (2019) investigates its way to 1080p HD on Blu-ray with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio that looks wonderful in its format. Both the detail and its multiple-color palettes perform nicely here. Best Buy has an exclusive 4K UHD version with HDR10, but I imagine there isn’t a giant upgrade from one transfer to the other.

Colors are well-balanced and look sharp in every scenario. The colorful wardrobe both the Shafts wear standout and contrast well with the cooler background of the city streets. The interior of Shaft’s place has a warmer tint to it with amber lighting and brown colors surrounding the objects. All looks excellent, even when the multi-color glitter shines from Jackson’s face. In another sequence that takes place in a night club, there is a big red hue that accents all of the liquor bottles as well as the actor’s faces. Other than that, there are some silver/blueish schemes tot he picture, which has the primary color coats and shirts look great at the forefront. Black levels are deep and inky, especially during a nighttime climactic scene in a high-rise apartment, none of which have crush or murky shadows. Skin tones are also natural.

The detail provides great wide shots and closeups alike, revealing all of the facial features on the actors. Individual stubble, hairs, scars, wrinkles, and makeup blemishes are easily distinguishable in all forms of lighting. The suave threads in the clothing also look excellent, as do the background props and set design, offering a very crisp looking detailed image.

Lastly, there were no issues with banding, aliasing, or major video noise that crept up.

THE AUDIO


I didn’t expect a Dolby Atmos track with this Blu-ray, but that’s what I got and I’m ecstatic about it. For those of you who are not Atmos capable yet, a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix will be served up.

While the Dolby Atmos height speakers don’t kick in every single minute of the film, they dive headfirst into top gear where it counts. Being mostly a comedy film, you wouldn’t expect a movie like this to have such a big audio presence, but it packs a punch in each scene with amazing atmospherics and booming sound effects.

Right from the first scene and on throughout the entire film, there are a few big shoot outs, with each gun blast having a loud and robust bang. There is quite a bit of depth with each blast too with a low end of bass that rumbles each time. The Dolby Atmos track has each bullet flying by smoothly with great directionality and with perfect speaker to speaker transition. It’s quite an immersive experience.

The overhead speakers don’t rain in too often, but when they do, the bullets drop down from above. Dialogue is clean and clear without any audio dropouts, and the score and music of the film are lively and always livens up each scene.

THE EXTRAS


Shaft (2019) comes with around 64 minutes of bonus features, including deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, and more.

Can Ya Dig It? The Making of Shaft (HD, 11 Mins.) – The cast and crew talk about making the sequel, the lore of Shaft, passing the torch, shooting on location, and more. This was a lot of fun.

A Complicated Man: The Shaft Legacy (HD, 44 Mins.) – A great three-part documentary that takes a look at all the Shaft films, the characters, and more. Shaft’s iconic look, music, and origins are all discussed by the cast and crew here. 

Deleted Scenes (HD, 3 Mins.) – There are five very short scenes, none of which add the overall story, but are fun none-the-less to see what was left out for timing and pacing.

Gag Reel (HD, 5 Mins.) – A wonderful and very funny montage of missed cues, flubbed lines, laughter, and dancing on set.

THE ULTIMATE WORD


Shaft (2019) starts out a bit slow, but as soon as Samuel L. Jackson turns up on the screen, the laughs come fast and hard. It was a surprising little gem of a sequel that is re-watchable and a great addition to the Shaft lore. Bring more Samuel L. Jackson, please. The 1080p HD transfer and the great Dolby Atmos audio track are wonderful, along with some good bonus features to boot. RECOMMNEDED!

 

Written by: Bryan Kluger

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