Updated: Aug 2, 2021
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) tries to quiet her son, Marcus (Noah Jupe) after he injures his leg in a bear trap.
(Click on an image to scroll through the larger versions)
“A QUIET PLACE PART II”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2021; PG-13 for terror, violence, and bloody/disturbing images; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Paramount+ (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “The Director’s Diary” featurette
THREE YEARS ago, critics and moviegoers loved “A Quiet Place.” With less than three minutes of dialogue, it wasn’t the typical edge-of-your-seat thriller. Think of it as a film where silence is a driving force.
Actor/producer/writer/director John Krasinski says he had no intention of making a sequel in the Director’s Diary featurette. “But, over time the story kept stewing in my brain and I wanted to tell a whole new story.”
In the first film, Krasinski plays Lee Abbott, father of three children, one of whom is killed during a shocking alien attack. Abbott’s wife Evelyn, played by Krasinski’s real wife Emily Blunt, is pregnant with their fourth child. The couple’s performance transcends the typical husband-wife onscreen relationship with heartfelt, believable moments. Sign language becomes the Abbotts’ mode of communication, and subtitles convey the dialogue. Their teenage daughter Regan, expertly played by Millicent Simmonds, is deaf. Simmonds, herself, is hearing impaired.
(1-4) During Marcus’ Little League game the alien craft heads toward Earth.
“A Quiet Place Part II” starts on Day One – a prequel showing what happened when the killer aliens arrived on Earth. Lee stops by the town’s small drug/grocery store for fruit and water before heading to Marcus’ (Noah Jupe) Little League game. While the boy is at-bat, a fiery alien craft soars to the ground. The camera then bounces between Lee and Regan as chaos takes over. Sound switches on and off giving a sense of perspective as the fast-moving creatures terrorize the quiet town of Millbrook. Evelyn escapes the ballpark with Marcus and their youngest son, but crashes the family station wagon as an out-of-control bus races toward them. “It’s a free-for-all. There’s so much sound. [Aliens are] attacking anything that’s making a sound. It’s a lot more exhilarating,” Krasinski says.
We’re soon moved to Day 474 – just moments after the end of “A Quiet Place.” Lee is dead, and Evelyn decides to leave the safety of the family farm for the big unknown to find a new home for herself, Regan, Marcus, and her newborn. The baby has been placed inside a soundproof wooden case with an oxygen tank to keep the noise-attracted aliens at bay.
Krasinski knew from the get-go Regan would be his lead character. She becomes a “Princess warrior… goes off on her own and tries to save the rest of the world,” he says. “It becomes a metaphor about what growing up really means. That means getting hurt, getting scared and learning how to deal with it yourself.” Regan has come to realize the high pitch feedback from her hearing device is her sword.
“A Quiet Place Part II” premiered on March 8, 2020, in New York City but, within days, Paramount shelved the sequel as COVID-19 overtook the planet. The film finally opened in theaters this past Memorial Weekend, and its box office success and critical praise confirmed the former TV actor (“The Office”) is the real deal. U.S. box office numbers have been very good hitting nearly $160 million and are still growing, while the original “Quiet Place” topped at $180 million.
(1) Evelyn escapes the ballpark with Marcus and her youngest son Beau but crashes the family station wagon as a Pathways bus heads toward the car. (2) Lee and Regan hide inside a main street restaurant from the creatures. (3) Millbrook police officer Ronnie (Okieriete Onodowan) uses his shotgun against an alien.
Five short featurettes are included on the Blu-ray and digital platforms. The best is Krasinski’s filmmaker’s diary, providing a glimpse into the upstate New York production, the general locale of the previous film. The small town of Akron (not Ohio) was used this time for Millbrook’s main street, filmed during the summer of 2019. He and his stunt team, Dan and Mike Gunther, wanted to make sure “This felt very real.” Most of the effects were done in-camera “To put the audience in a state …that they were actually a part of this world,” he says.
Krasinski points out the importance of keeping key scenes down to “one-shot or very few cuts.” During the opening, a handheld camera is in the backseat right behind Evelyn’s shoulder, positioned between the two boys. They built a contraption called the “Biscuit Rig,” with the station wagon and actors sandwiched between the stunt driver positioned on top, and the car mounted on a small flatbed. The stunt guys rehearsed the action for six days, but Blunt wanted to experience it live, with the camera rolling as a bus heads toward her at top speed. “She was genuinely fearing for her life,” Krasinski says. “So, that’s what I offer as a husband.”
Another highlight is the usage of an old steel mill in Buffalo, NY, as the hiding place for Emmett, played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy (“28 Days Later,” “Batman Begins”). Emmett lives in a furnace vat with three-foot concrete walls. Regan herself comes across an abandoned commuter train, one of the first scenes Krasinski envisioned. “It’s something very obvious that would’ve been taken over in an apocalyptic moment,” he says.
(1) Marcus and his newborn brother. (2-4) Evelyn puts her newborn in the soundproof wooden case and leads the family on a mission to find a new home.
The production also found a train graveyard in Ohio that had two Metro-North trains. Krasinski knew the cars and seats well since he lives near a Metro-North line. The camera follows Regan walking through a car and finding a huge opening created by one of the aliens. “It’s one of the more epic shots in the movie and it was one of the moments where you truly see this very small girl in a very big problem.”
Additional featurettes: “Pulling Back the Curtain” gives the back-story of the creatures. “They’re just lethal. The way they move and velocity at which they move,” says Blunt. “Regan’s Journey” shows how she follows the footsteps of her father as a fearless protector; “Surviving the Marina” shows the production design to expand the marina, where Regan and Emmett encounter a dangerous group of survivors; “Detectable Disturbance Visual Effects and Sound Design” highlights the elevated look and design of the aliens, and how sound sets the mood of the film. “We pushed ourselves to show how intimate and how quiet and how delicate [we could] get with sound,” sound editor Erik Aadahl says.
Even though Krasinski changed his cinematographer from Charlotte Bruus Christensen (“Far from the Madding Crowd”) to Polly Morgan (“Lucy in the Sky), both films were captured on traditional 35mm film stock using an anamorphic lens (2.39:1 aspect ratio). The marina scene was captured on 3.4K digital because of the low light level at night. It was mastered in 4K, and the leap in resolution is obvious. There is more clarity from costume textures to distant objects and characters. The closer you sit to the screen, the more you’ll notice, including the nice wash of natural film grain.
HDR grading includes the standard HDR10, plus Dolby Vision (disc & digital). Overall toning is slightly darker, with more controlled mid-tones and highlights, while the color palette has good saturation, with natural facial tones. Black levels are deeper and darker, and contrast levels have more onscreen pop.
The previous film was nominated for an Oscar for its sound design, and it should be expected again for Aadahl and his team. The overall soundstage is powerful and balanced perfectly from dynamic loudness to moments of dead silence – adding to the suspense. Effects (alien clicks, insects, water, wind) are delivered from height speakers, while Marco Beltrami’s haunting orchestral score is mostly relegated to the front speakers.
Krasinski says, “Making this movie might be the greatest experience of my career.” I couldn’t agree more. Job well done!
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
(1) Marcus gets his foot caught in a bear trap outside of an abandoned steel mill. (2) The Abbott family finds refuge inside the steel mill. (3) Regan goes off on her own and tries to save the rest of the world. (4) A tender moment with Evelyn and her newborn.
(1&2) Emmett (Cillian Murphy) and Regan encounter a dangerous group of survivors at a marina. (3) Evelyn vs. alien.