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Escape from Alcatraz (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Three inmates, led by one notorious lifer, try to make a daring escape from what is thought to be a prison impossible to escape from.

Escape from Alcatraz 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)The 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz directed by Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) is an edge-of-the-seat thriller starring Clint Eastwood that reenacts the 1962 attempt by Frank Morris (Eastwood) to breakout of the inescapable island prison, nicknamed The Rock.

Morris, serving a life sentence and already having escaped from other prisons, arrives and butts heads with Warden Arthur Dollison (Patrick McGoohan), has a run-in with a particularly large inmate who wants to get a little too friendly with him, and eventually befriends a group of fellow inmates he will plan and make his escape with including Anglin Brothers (Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau). It takes some time for the plan to come together, but it involves some arts and crafts, the vents in their cells, and self-made rafts.

The peak of the film, it’s no surprise, arrives during the final breakout sequence which is executed by Siegel with visual and aural precision and is so reminiscent of the high tension and lengthy, completely silent jewel heist sequence from Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le cercle rouge of just nine years earlier that it must have been an influence.

While Eastwood is perfect, fluctuating between gritty, dangerous, and thoughtful, there are some flaws in the film in that they did not explore further the racial tensions in the prison and abandoned some characters completely along the way. Still, there is no denying that this film created a blueprint for other prison dramas to come such as The Green Mile, for instance.

The Video

Escape from Alcatraz was restored from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. It was originally shot on 35mm film stock with Panavision Panaflex cameras. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD with a 1.78:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. There is some softness that looks mostly inherent in the source and the production, from some zoom shots and the filming techniques. Mostly there is adequate detail in the image, and apart from the slightest bit of crush that can be seen in the guards’ uniforms in the darkest of scenes, there is good nuance in the shadows thanks to the subtle but well applied Dolby Vision’s added dynamic range. The wide color gamut really comes into play when there transitional scenes of the sunrise/sunset outside the prison. Check the 08:14 mark where you can see a plethora of orange hues: burnt sienna, brown, peach, and black, with various clouds in black and grey visible across the sky. Otherwise, there is mild specular highlight ‘pop’ on things like the metallic spoons or in the spark from the drilling during the escape sequence.

The Audio

Escape from Alcatraz gets a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix on 4K that fills the surround channels mostly with lush atmospherics like the din of the prison, clanking of the jail cells opening and closing, and the guards’ footsteps. The front sounds sufficiently spacious and dialogue clear. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix is a bit more muffled for the dialogue, but still listenable and intelligible.

The Supplements

The supplements provided are all new and include an interesting audio commentary that is worth a listen, and two new interviews: one with the screenwriter and one with actor Larry Hankin.

  • Blu-ray with Feature Film & Bonus Features
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Steve Mitchell
  • NEW The Ghosts of Alcatraz: Interview with Screenwriter Richard Tuggle (Blu-ray Only) (1080p; 00:12:19)
  • NEW Tales from the Cellblock: Interview with Actor Larry Hankin (1080p; 00:14:16)

The Final Assessment

Escape from Alcatraz is a lean, to the point picture that sets up the relationships of its characters quickly, then gets right on with the nail-biting escape sequences that it flawlessly filmed and directed. The 4K restoration and disc from KL Studio Classics is sublimely entertaining and satisfying to watch. Highly recommended.

Escape from Alcatraz is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo November 8, 2022, from KL Studio Classic


  • Rating Certificate: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | The Malpaso Company | Kino Lorber
  • Director: Don Siegel
  • Written By: J. Campbell Bruce (book) | Richard Tuggle (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 112 Mins.
  • Street Date: 8 November 2022
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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Three inmates, led by one notorious lifer, try to make a daring escape from what is thought to be a prison impossible to escape from.Escape from Alcatraz (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)
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