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Quiet Place Part II (4K Ultra HD), A
Delayed more than a year after its New York City premiere due to the COVID-19 pandemic, A Quiet Place Part II follows the events of director John Krasinski's 2018 horror hit. While not quite as effective as its taut, original predecessor, Part II effectively juggles these new events with a parallel story of the circumstances surrounding the original alien invasion. Krasinski returns as Lee Abbott, husband to Emily Blunt's Evelyn; as do Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the couple's two children, Regan and Marcus. While this sequel may be more of the same, Krasinski's follow-up maintains the tension and resonant familial drama and is similarly well acted. The action and landscape are expanded, and deaf actress Simmonds again shines as the determined heart of the film.
The film opens on Lee picking up oranges and waters before attending a local baseball game. The spectators look skyward as a flaming object hurtles from the sky toward Earth. Lee and Regan hop in Lee's truck, and Emily leads Marcus to her Volvo. Soon, the familiar, hostile alien creatures begin to overrun the small town, spearing citizens to death and creating havoc across Main Street. After the initial attack, A Quiet Place Part II cuts to a year later, after the events of the first film, as the surviving Abbott family recovers from its losses. Regan creates a device to transmit noise from her cochlear implant through a speaker system after realizing the sound waves make the aliens vulnerable to attack. The family hunkers down in the bunker of Emmett (Cillian Murphy), a survivalist friend of Lee, but Regan decides to venture out alone in hopes of transmitting the effective frequency via a nearby radio tower. When she does not return, Evelyn begs Lee to find her and bring her home.
If A Quiet Place was relatively stagnant in location, Part II expands into the nearby landscape, which allows its characters to encounter hostiles both alien and human. The film is not nonstop action but the action sequences are more numerous this go-round. The kills and tension are relatively intense for a PG-13 film, and, while Part II does not resort to buckets of blood and gore, the alien creatures are ruthless, relentless killing machines whose hypersensitive hearing causes survivors to remain as quiet as possible. Some of the surprise is gone now that viewers know what these creatures look like, and Krasinski does not attempt to mask their appearance as he did previously. Nevertheless, the onetime funnyman proves skillful at staging both action and melodrama.
Krasinski's direction, Polly Morgan's cinematography, and Michael P. Shawver's excellent cross-editing all add to the film's worth. The sound design and creature effects are also top-notch and should please genre fans. Part II splits up its characters but Blunt again is excellent as a grieving mother fighting for the survival of the family she has left. Simmonds commands the screen throughout and is the film's emotional core, and Murphy is an excellent addition to the cast. I also enjoyed seeing Djimon Hounsou pop up in a small role I will leave ambiguous. The emotional resonance here does not match the original, but I still cared about what happened to each of these characters. A Quiet Place Part II may not be a strictly necessary sequel, but it is a skillfully made, entertaining genre film the further cements Krasinski as an exciting director to watch.
THE 4K ULTRA HD:
The film arrives on 4K Ultra HD with an excellent 2.39:1/2160p/HEVC/H.265 transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 from a native 4K intermediate. The included Blu-ray offers a strong image, but this 4K release offers noticeable upticks in detail and clarity. Close-ups reveal intimate facial details and the nuances of fabrics and set dressings. Wide shots are crystal clear and beautifully textured. The HDR pass offers beautifully realized highlights and inky black levels that increase the film's realism and immersive qualities. Color saturation is excellent, shadow detail is abundant, and the film looks gorgeous in motion. There are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement.
The Dolby Atmos mix, which I sampled as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, is rambunctious and totally immersive. Quiet plays such an important role in this film, and this mix does an excellent job balancing these frantic, tense moments with hushed conversation and bigger action sequences. The sound design here is excellent, and each speaker is utilized to bring the characters' world alive. The subwoofer provides excellent support during action sequences, and the attacking aliens absolutely tear through the entire sound field. Dialogue is never cramped or distorted; effects are expertly realized; and the soundtrack is weighty and balanced appropriately. The disc includes a laundry list of dubs and subtitle options, too.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set is packed in a black 4K case and includes the 4K disc, a Blu-ray and a digital copy code. A slipcover replicates the underwhelming key artwork. The relatively weak slate of bonus material is found on the Blu-ray. You get Director's Diary: Filming with John Krasinski (9:38/HD), in which Krasinski discusses his buy-in for a sequel; Pulling Back the CurtainRegan's Journey (6:19/HD), which focuses on Simmonds' character; Surviving the Marina (5:00/HD); and Detectable Disturbance (8:26/HD), about the ILM effects.
While John Krasinski's follow-up to his smash hit A Quiet Place is not quite as fresh or thrilling, Part II remains emotionally resonant and tense. Genre fans will likely be pleased with the film and the 4K's technical merits, though the bonus content is fairly anemic. Recommended.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.