Updated: Mar 28
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is attacked at 30,000 feet during her red-eye flight to Miami by Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), an operative in a plot to kill the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
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“RED EYE” –PARAMOUNT PRESENTS
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy; 2000; PG-13 for brutality and emotional intensity; Streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “Wes Craven: In his own Words”
SOMEHOW Wes Craven’s edge-of-your-seat summer thriller “Red Eye” (2005) never got a Blu-ray release. Paramount has finally rectified that, remastering the first-class film that received an 88 percent rating from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a modest $96 million worldwide box office. The new Paramount Presents series release No. 39 includes a 4K Ultra HD with HDR10 and Dolby Vision grading, Blu-ray, and Digital copy.
Known as the king of slasher films, Craven (“Scream,” “Nightmare on Elm Street”) was attracted to “Red Eye” for what he called “A remarkably constructed script,” from first-time theatrical screenwriter Carl Ellsworth (“Disturbia”). “You know a director can do nothing if he doesn’t have a good script,” Craven says during a 2005 interview.
The brisk storyline runs under 90 minutes and features a top-notch performance from Rachel McAdams (“The Notebook,” “Sherlock Holmes”) in a convincing performance as young hotel manager Lisa Reisert trying to get back to Miami after attending her grandmother’s funeral. She finds herself stuck at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport during a weather delay, where she meets the handsome Jackson Rippner (wink, wink, Jack the Ripper) played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy, known at the time for his sinister role as the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” and the hero of “28 Days Later.” As the two wait for their flight, he buys her a drink. They end up next to each other – he is in the aisle seat on the overnight flight. Then the soft-spoken Jackson reveals her father Joe (Brian Cox) will be killed unless she changes the hotel room of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia), staying at the Miami Beach hotel she oversees. Terrorists plan to use an FGM-148 Javelin Anti-Tank missile for the assassination.
(1&2) Hotel desk clerk Cynthia (Jayma Mays) encounters unhappy guests Bob (Robert Pine, father of Chris Pine) and Marianne Taylor (Terry Press). (3) Lisa discovers her flight to Miami has been delayed. (4&5) At the airline ticket counter line - Lisa meets a nice older lady (Angela Paton), an irate passenger (Loren Lester), who Jackson Rippner tries to calm down. (6) Jackson invites Lisa for a drink as they wait for their flight. (7) The plane finally departs the gate at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Jackson receives a last-minute phone call.
During the never-before-seen interview “Wes Craven: In his own Words,” the director says he felt “Red Eye” was an opportunity to show off his stuff in something other than a traditional horror movie. Many of the elements he used – suspense and surprise – were transferable, built around his two principal characters. Lisa is a woman with a “Terrible secret, which makes her especially vulnerable during the flight,” he says. Even though Jackson, who has been observing her for weeks, tracking her every move, doesn’t understand why she doesn’t date. She only has an occasional drink at the corner café and stays up past 2 a.m. watching old movies. “He’s never just the straight, mustache-twirling villain,” Craven says. Jackson wins her over in two or three scenes. “He’s charming and sympathetic and listens to the story about her grandmother.”
Craven also provides details of the production, mostly filmed in Los Angeles. The airplane interiors were built on a soundstage, which could be taken apart in sections. They could also use a crane so the camera could “Swoop down aisles and up and over people.” A sophisticated system under the set, all on gimbals and hydraulics, was also used so any time he ordered turbulence, “We were able to rock the plane from a mild bump to a wild roller-coaster ride, having 80 people jumping around as if being hit by a herd of buffalo,” he explains, laughing. Craven wanted the plane to give the feeling of being in a capsule at 30,000 feet, like a “tiny ship in the middle of nowhere.” They filmed at three separate airports – Miami, LAX, and Orange County, and the genteel neighborhood of Hancock Park in LA subbing for lush Miami where Lisa’s father lived.
The Blu-ray includes two commentary tracks with editor Patrick Lussier and a previous DVD track with Craven, Lussier, and producer Marianne Maddalena. Plus, two 2005 ‘Making of’ featurettes with interviews with the cast, producers, and Craven.
“Filmmaker Focus” is a recent interview with biographer John Wooley, who wrote “Wes Craven: The Man and his Nightmares.” He details Craven’s filmmaking from a student at Wheaton College, and teaching film at the collegiate level, making short films with his students. Then moving to New York and working with songwriter Harry Chapin making documentaries, which opened the door to producing his first film, “Together” (1971) with Sean S. Cunningham (“Friday the 13th”). And then on to his first film as writer/director of “The Last House on the Left” (1972).
(1&2) Lisa talks with her father Joe (Brian Cox) to make sure he’s OK. (3)
At daybreak Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Charles Keefe (Jack Scalia) and his family arrive at the Lux Atlantic Hotel. (4) The Mimai flight nears its final destination. (5) The terrorist boat is searched by the U.S. Coast Guard and cleared to be in the waters near the hotel. (6-8) Jackson is injured by Lisa, who escapes through the airport, and you can clearly see a stunt woman takes the fall for Lisa.
When Paramount launched the Paramount Presents series, they stated the films would be sourced from new 4K transfers of the original camera negative or best-surviving elements. But, on the outer jacket of “Red Eye” and other recent series releases, the wording has changed: “These movies have never looked better on physical media – each lovingly remastered from new film transfers.” Yes, clearly this is the best “Red Eye” has ever looked, far surpassing the old and tired DVD from 2005, but that was an easy threshold to surpass. So we examined the 4K disc and Blu-ray at supersize on a projected screen while standing less than two feet away. We found the resolution is nearly identical, with only the slightest edge to the 4K.
Does that mean the remaster is actually from a 2K master sourced from its 1080p digital unveiling in 2018, or is it from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm Panavision camera negative (2.35:1 aspect ratio)? What we do know is that the film grain has been managed, with a flattened look, that’s unresolved and splotchy throughout.
So, which is it: A 2K master upconverted or a TRUE 4K master? We’re 99 percent sure it’s a 2K master.
Film grain management continues to be an issue with Paramount’s post-production team or third-party handling their remastered catalog titles. Some are excellent, for example, the new 4K release of “Dragonslayer” (1981), in which the film grain is completely intact. But last November, Paramount’s 35th Anniversary 4K edition of the comedy classic “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987), the film grain was nearly zapped away making the imagery soft, losing 4K detail. We saw similar results with “Saturday Night Fever: 45th Anniversary” released the same month.
But in 2021, two Paramount Presents Blu-ray releases of VistaVision films “Court Jester” (1955) and “Last Train from Gun Hill” (1959) scanned in 6K and remastered in 4K looked superb, with film grain integrity. Meanwhile, Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” (1955), the No. 3 title within the series and also filmed in Paramount’s VistaVision large-negative format, suffered the same fate as “Red Eye.”
On the positive side, “The Godfather Trilogy” (1972,1974,1990) and “Pulp Fiction” (1994) released by Paramount, made our Top 10 4K discs of the year – for their TRUE 4K mastering. Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” was No. 1 on the list.
Strangely, the “Red Eye” HDR10 nit peak brightness and average nit metadata numbers show up as double zeros on our Panasonic 4K player, which happens with a variety of titles. Still, the HDR grading is working; its brightest moments are more brilliant than the 1080p disc. The 4K disc also includes the more advanced Dolby Vision, which has been available on digital platforms on iTunes (Apple TV) and Vudu since last year. The 4K disc and Blu-ray both look sharper than the digital version and the color grading on the physical discs has a little more greenish hue in the Atlantic waters during the terrorist attack. From a normal seating position, the HDR grading looks pretty darn good.
The 4K and Blu-ray have a natural color palette, while the midtones and highlights are fuller and more controlled on 4K. Overall, the 4K imagery is lacking that super high clarity we expect with close-ups and distant wide shots.
The 4K and Blu-ray both include the six-channel uncompressed DTS-HD soundtrack. Dialogue and music cues from composer Marco Beltrami (“3:10 to Yuma”) are front and center, while the ambient effects are nicely pushed to rear speakers during the flight, and plenty of bass response during the explosion.
“Red Eye” is a nice addition to Wes Craven’s 4K filmography, but what a missed opportunity to get it completely right with the very best picture and sound.
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
(1) Keefe and his family walk onto the hotel balcony. (2) The terrorists line up the FGM-148 Javelin Anti-Tank missile for the assassination. (3) Hotel desk clerk Cynthia survived the attack. (4-6) Lisa arrives at her father's house and encounters Jackson again.