Disclosure: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of this 4K UHD disc reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.
What can be said about The Shining that hasn’t already been said? It’s a certified horror classic, from the mind of Stephen King, and the expert direction of the legendary Stanley Kubrick. It features a career defining performance from Jack Nicholson, and contains some of the most expertly crafted dread ever put to film. When I saw it was coming to 4K, I was skeptical, as catalog titles can be hit or miss on this format. But once I started hearing about a supposed fantastic restoration, I knew I had to get in on this. I already owned it on Blu-ray, which sometimes makes going 4K questionable, but Warner Bros was nice enough to provide me a review copy for the purpose of this review, so here we are.
I realize that some consider the film version of The Shining to be a bad adaptation of the book, as it does make several changes, but it’s hard to deny it’s importance to cinema. Stanley Kubrick knows what he’s doing, and who knows, maybe a word-for-word adaptation wouldn’t have worked on film. I know some prefer the TV miniseries to the movie, which is insanity to me. I get it, that it was more faithful, but as a “film” it doesn’t even come close to the feature. One thing that gets me every time with this movie is all that “dread” I mentioned before. Kubrick could make a shampoo commercial suspenseful and terrifying, and he doesn’t hold back with The Shining. From the first frame on, there’s a floating sense of dread in the air, and it never lets up.
Let’s talk about Jack Nicholson for a moment. As far as I’m concerned, he has two roles which practically define his career. One being his turn as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, but his most memorable role is absolutely The Shining. Without him, I guess it’s possible that it would have been a decent movie, with Kubrick at the helm, but it wouldn’t be nearly as iconic as it is without Nicholson’s performance. I can’t imagine any other actor, no matter how good, in that role. The little quirks and ticks, the faces he makes, the way he delivers his line, it’s one of the most iconic performances in cinema history.
Now, let’s talk about this 4K release. WOW! After a few things I read, I was expecting a good transfer of the movie, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine such an old film could look like this. This is one of the best 4K restorations of an older movie that I’ve seen on the format thus far. To say the least, the video transfer on this release of the film is impeccable. As far as the audio goes, one negative is that it doesn’t include the original mono track. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track included in the disc is fine, but with all the space on a format like this, it would have been easy to include the original lossless track as an option.
Like I said, the 5.1 track is fine and all, but it would have made this an even more definitive release had the mono track been included. Overall, this is still one of the most impressive catalog title releases i’ve ever seen, at least as far as the picture quality is concerned. Also included is a Blu-ray copy of the film featuring the same transfer, but obviously not as good looking as the UHD disc, as well as a digital code, which in case you were wondering, is also in 4K. As far a extras go, on the 4K disc itself, all that’s incuded is a commentary with the inventor of the steaicam, and a Kubrick Biographer. On the Blu-ray is Vivian Kubrick’s documentary The Making of The Shining, and several featurettes. If you’re 4K-ready and a fan of The Shining, this new release of the film is mandatory.