We don’t do a ton of movie reviews at Gaming Trend, so when we do, it’s something worth mentioning. I’ve recently gotten my hands on the 4K Blu-Ray for one of the only good movies to come out of the pandemic-mess that is 2021 — A Quiet Place Part II. The first movie represented John Krasinkski’s first major motion picture as a Director, also having him star as co-lead to the incredible Emily Blunt. It was a hit, evoking equal parts terror, dread, and literal quiet determination. With a tension that builds to a fever pitch, the first one movie is one of my favorites in recent years. Imagine my surprise that A Quiet Place Part II is somehow even better. Now we’ve gotten our hands on the home release (and for many who didn’t see it in the theater due to the pandemic, their first opportunity to see it). Let’s dive in and see what’s under the slipcover.
Obviously to review the sequel, we’ll have to talk a little bit about the first movie. That said, I’ll go with the lightest touch I can on the story beats for the second film, focusing on other things like pacing, acting, and the like. I’ll also hone in on the quality of what’s on the disc itself, including the color work, transfer, picture quality, audio, and extras.
The movie is easy to review — it’s as relentless as it is well-constructed. The story focuses once again on the Abbott family. At the end of the first film, the Abbots exploit the auditory weaknesses of the alien threat to survive, but at great personal cost as Lee, the father of the family, was forced to sacrifice himself to save them. Now Evelyn, the matron of the family, and young Regan and Marcus are forced to strike out on their own to find more survivors before mankind falls to extinction.
The second movie picks up with a more in-depth recap of how we reached this low point. With a deeper understanding of how the alien threat arrived and all but wiped out humanity inside of just a few months. A short time span exists between the two movies, giving Noah Jupe (Marcus Abbot) and Millicent Simmonds (Regan Abbot) a chance to grow a bit, and it shows in their performances. Emily Blunt (Evelyn Abbot) is a highly decorated acting veteran with plenty of statues on her mantle, so it’s no surprise that she continues to deliver a masterclass with her portrayal as loving mother / reluctant monster slayer / unifier. With some fresh faces to the all-star cast including Cillian Murphy, Djimon Hounsou, and a handful of others, John Krasinksi’s screenplay stays compelling, despite adding a few more voices to the fray.
One of the major thematic elements of the original that drove tension was a sort of ‘shelter in place’ approach to survival. The family finds ways to survive, embracing a solitary existence that becomes threatened by monsters both human and otherworldly. The sequel pushes the family out of the home, forcing them to engage with the broken world around them. It changes the tension of tight corners and carefully planned schemes gone awry with the threats of the great unknown. It works masterfully, fully embracing what happens when a family has lost so much so fast. It’s truly a tension thrillride from beginning to end. The first movie wasn’t a fluke — Krasinski is the real deal.
The runtime is a blisteringly paced 97 minutes from start to finish.
If you’ve got the hardware to handle Dolby Vision HDR, boy are you in for a treat. The 4K Blu-Ray version of this film embraces a gorgeous HEVC H.265 encode, bringing the 35mm film source to life with very few instances of washout. The movie has, as one would expect, some very dark scenes. The excellent camera work and direction makes the parts Krasinski wants to hide truly hidden, while granting just enough light to make out important characters or important details. Krasinski pulls off some excellent shots with foreground characters being in frame but out of focus, and the camera’s subject being somewhere in the distance. It puts the viewer into the shoes of this tortured family more than once. The 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen format makes the outdoor scenes feel like a nature documentary gone horribly awry with its mix of horror and natural beauty. Indoor we see subtle light sources cast just enough light in a room to frame a character’s face, or cast specular highlights off of the lake water. The handling of HDR delivers gorgeous color gamut, especially using indirect lighting to emphasize a character’s perceived danger, or the warmth of a moment of reprieve.
I did sample the digital release of this film for comparison. While the transfer is decent there, there’s little comparison between the two. Paramount+ allows you to stream the movie, but more than once I found myself distracted as the compression caused tiling or other visual artifacts. We’ll get more into this when we talk about audio compression.
Dolby Atmos really shines in A Quiet Place Part II, driving the movie’s tension with a blend of very subtle and bombastic sound. Wind rustling, the crunching of leaves, crickets — every sound from the forest adds to the feeling of being both isolated and surrounded by nature. When things go from bad to worse, the aliens are deafening, screeching and clicking to echolocate their prey. Low growls gave my subwoofer a great workout, ratting my bones with the roar of these hulking beasts.
Redditor kraM1t gave us a good look at the differences between the digital version, and the 4K Blu-Ray version of A Quiet Place Part II. We aren’t breaking new ground by saying that compression is going to be used in the digital version, but like this reader, I did hear a marked difference between the two versions. In the graph below you can see a great deal of compression on the digital release, knocking down the highs and lows to save on streaming bandwidth. The streaming version is using Dolby’s new EAC3 format (aka “Dolby Digital Plus) — a lossy, but still solid format, whereas the Blu-Ray is running TrueHD 7.1 (aka MLP), which is entirely lossless. When you come to my house and see my movie library…well, it’s easy to see why right here. Love your home theater — buy physical copies.
If there’s one area where this physical release of A Quiet Place II lacks, and it’s a minor thing, it’s the extras. A testament to simply wanting more once the credits roll, there’s not a lot of meat on the bone in the supplementary materials for the movie. A short Director’s Diary (10 minutes) gives us an interview with Krasinski on how he wrote and filmed several of the scenes in the film. Detectable Disturbance (8 minutes) shows how ILM brought the horrible creatures to life, and frankly could be an hour long with all of the crazy things they built. Regan’s Journey (6 minutes) shows the evolution of the character played by Millicent Simmonds. She’s a real breakout for the movie, so it’s interesting. Surviving the Marina (5 minutes) focuses on a pivotal moment in the story that I won’t talk about here, showcasing how this incredible scene was shot. Pulling Back the Curtain (4 minutes) rounds out the extras with cast and crew interviews, as well as some additional behind the scenes goodness.
A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II is an anxiety-fueled run that’ll have you on the edge of your seat for the entire film. Krasinski’s excellent direction pulls the best performances from cast and crew, giving us a fantastic follow up to the surprise creature thriller of 2018, and the 4K UHD release delivers all of this with flawless sound and picture, leaving us wanting more.