Updated: Jun 9, 2020
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) finally finds her voice to speak out against the injustice done by the grand jury when it doesn’t indict the police officer for Khalil’s murder.
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“THE HATE U GIVE”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2018; PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violent content, drug material and language; Streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), iTunes (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: Audio commentary with the director, George Tillman Jr., and actors Amandla Stenberg (Starr) and Russell Hornsby (Maverick), author Angie Thomas and editor Craig Hayes
IN OUR country, the shooting deaths of unarmed black men by white police officers make headlines and often generate great controversy . . . think Trayvon Martin. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Shouts of injustice ring. It’s a scenario without a simple solution. And, it seems to make the racial rifts widen.
From director George Tillman Jr. comes a movie that everyone should see. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, regardless of the tone of your skin. Based on a novel written by Angie Thomas (screenplay by the late Audrey Wells), “The Hate U Give” is remarkable. If only we could pull ourselves out of this mess with communication, understanding and love.
The story revolves around Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a high school junior who attends an almost all-white private school in the ‘burbs. The school is miles from her hometown, an urban, African American community.
(1) Starr gets ready for school in her bedroom, where she has photos of friends from both of her lives on her dresser mirror. (2) The outside of Maverick Carter’s grocery store bathed in warm, vibrant colors. (3) Starr’s dad runs the community’s grocery store. He decided the family needed to live and work in their black community. (4) Starr, her mother Lisa (Regina Hall), and big and little brothers head to the private school in the suburbs from their urban community every morning as a happy family.
(1) Starr fist bumps her older brother Seven (Lamar Johnson), as they enter the Williamson Prep private school in the suburbs. Colors are toned in cold blues and grays. (2) Starr interacts with her prep school friends in the locker room before basketball practice. (3) Starr and her private-school, white beau, Chris (K.J. Apa), share a moment before classes.
Starr struggles with “code shifting,” as the bonus feature explains, which is to act or talk more like those around her. In her black neighborhood, Starr acts and talks one way. With her white friends, she acts and speaks another. She refers to herself as “Starr version 2” when she’s at her private school.
Starr finds herself in turmoil after attending a party near her home with a childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). At the party, shots ring out and they leave. Starr and Khalil clearly have an affection for each other as friends, with the possibility of it growing into something more mature and lasting. But Khalil gets pulled over by a white police officer for not signaling to change lanes. Starr tries to get Khalil to put his hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them, and to not question the policeman, as she was taught by her father, Mav, (Russell Hornsby). The scene ends when the policeman shoots and kills Khalil for grabbing for a hairbrush that the officer has mistaken for a gun.
As the only person who can say what really happened to Khalil, Starr is put in a hard spot between two worlds. The white world looks at the shooting as an excuse to get out of school and protest the shooting. The black world cries for the officer to be locked up for murder.
“The Hate U Give” has many layers deftly handled by Tillman. Khalil had just started selling drugs for the neighborhood’s kingpin drug dealer, aptly named, “King.” Khalil’s grandmother has cancer. He’s grown up without a father figure. He’s helping his family survive. Starr’s parents are realists who want better for their children than they had. They work hard to make that happen. Starr’s private school friends act like they know who she is based on the color of her skin. But they feel more compassion for the police officer’s family than they do for Khalil’s family.
Starr and Khalil share some laughs in his car after leaving the party, but Khalil is pulled over for not using a signal to change lanes. Starr, remembers to put her hands on the dashboard, while the police officer checks Khalil’s information.
He comes back to the car to chat with Starr and he picks up his hairbrush. The white officer reacts and shoots before knowing Khalil was holding a brush not a gun.
Starr tries to lay low and wait to tell the shooting story to the grand jury, but when the grand jury does not indict the officer, she knows she must speak for Khalil.
While the movie is both intense and optimistic, it might make you squirm. Especially if you feel you have an accurate handle on race relations in the USA. Viewers should listen.
There are many bonuses, but the feature-length commentary is especially enlightening. The actors talk about the difficult scenes, like when Maverick is giving his young children the talk about how to act when they’re eventually pulled over by police (this scene brilliantly opens the movie and sets up what is to happen with Khalil), or the scene when Khalil is shot. Stenberg (who played “Rue” in the first “Hunger Games” movie) nails this part. She should have been considered for an Academy Award.
The bonus features and the commentary all go together with interviews that are honest and eye-opening. This includes, “The Talk.” The movie’s principals discuss having had the talk with an adult about how to react to a white police officer when they’re pulled over. And they do say “when,” not “if.”
Tillman and Romanian cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. had such great intentions. They captured the intense drama in 8K – 33 million pixels per frame – but sadly it was mastered in 2K (2.2 million pixels). The 4K mastering (8.2 million pixels) should have been their minimum – especially with so few VFX shots. It would have taken the resolution to a whole different level.
The High Dynamic Range (HDR) accentuates the rich warm tones that bathe Starr’s home life while dialing her world at the Williamson School to a cooler palette. Tillman points out those differences, like when Starr is walking down the hallway amid the hustle and bustle of class changes. The facial toning is natural, while the expanded contrast levels produce striking nighttime scenes with deep shadows, full mid-tones, and brilliant highlights without losing detail.
The 4K and Blu-ray are coded with an eight-channel DTS-HD soundtrack. Excellent sounds bounce around the room, with deep bass beats from the mostly hip-hop artist tracks. These include two from the late 2Pac, Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T and Travis Scott and the inspirational original song “We Won’t Move” from Arlissa.
Tillman recruited composer Dustin O’Halloran, who received an Oscar nomination for “Lion” (2016). He produced the minimalist and delicate score that’s sprinkled throughout the film. The all-important dialogue never gets lost within the music and sound effects.
Bottom line, “The Hate U Give” doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening in America today. So let the conversation begin.
― Toni Guagenti and Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer