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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Darkman (Collector’s Edition) (4K UHD Review)


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


A scientist working on artificial skin, burned alive and left for dead, comes back to seek revenge on the people who destroyed his life.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Director Sam Raimi’s 1990 film Darkman resurrects the sci-fi horror of Universal’s golden age with more contemporary (for the time) superhero-type tropes. Liam Neeson plays Dr. Peyton Westlake, a scientist working on a technique to create artificial skin for use in treating burn victims. When he passes on spending time with his girlfriend, lawyer Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), to put in more work perfecting his invention in his lab, Westlake finds himself, ironically, a burn victim himself. One of Julie’s criminal clients sends his henchman to the lab to search for a piece of incriminating evidence and they set the lab on fire. Westlake is badly burned in the explosion, disfigured and thought to be dead. In fact, the doctor has been found and recovered as a John Doe in a hospital where he receives an experimental treatment that imparts in him super strength, leaves him unable to feel pain, and prone to rage. He breaks out of the medical ward and sets off to get revenge on the people who ruined his life, using his artificial skin invention to impersonate people and infiltrate their lives before he goes in for the kill. The most difficult part of his path is getting back together with Julie.

Darkman sometimes seems schlocky in comparison to, say, Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989, which I tend to lump together with this one as they both have that dark atmosphere, have protagonists born out of tragedy, and focus on vigilante justice. Of course, Darkman is more an anti-hero and far more violent, leaning more heavily into horror classics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Frankenstein, while it rounds the edges of those off with the superhero traditions.

Raimi keeps it all together well in this film and the cast of Neeson as the doctor and McDormand as his strong and determined girlfriend, work exceptionally well together. This is a cult classic that perhaps deserves far more recognition today.

Purchase Darkman (Collector’s Edition) 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon.com

  • Frances McDormand in Darkman (1990)
  • Frances McDormand in Darkman (1990)
  • Jenny Agutter in Darkman (1990)
  • Liam Neeson in Darkman (1990)
  • Darkman (Collector's Edition) 4K Ultra HD Combo (Scream Factory)
  • Darkman (Collector's Edition) 4K Ultra HD Combo (Scream Factory)

The Video

Darkman is a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative in Dolby Vision approved by director Sam Raimi and director of photography Bill Pope. The film is presented on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement with a MaxLL of 917 nits and MaxFALL of 917 nits. This transfer is nearly flawless apart from some evident, light tramlines in a couple of scenes, which were perhaps too difficult to remove without doing too much harm to the image. The grain structure looks organic and crispy revealing lots of palpable texture and detail. The Dolby Vision grading results in lots of pop in the highlights, vividly saturated colors, inky blacks with superb contrast and shadow details. I really like the way this disc looks.

The Audio

Darkman comes with the stereo mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and a 5.1 mix in DTS-HD Master Audio. Both mixes have excellent dynamic range and clarity with wide stereo imaging following the sound effects across the soundstage. In 5.1 we get an airy score and lots of ambience and atmospheric effects in the surrounds with a good underpinning of low end, but certainly nothing bombastic.

The Supplements

This release of Darkman is packed with bonus features including 37 minutes of deleted scenes, numerous interviews, and two audio commentaries.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary with Director of Photography Bill Pope
  • Commentary with Filmmaker and Darkman Superfan Josh Ruben

Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • Dissecting Darkman – Interview with Liam Neeson (1080p; 00:07:29)
  • The Name is Durant with Larry Drake (1080p; 00:15:59)
  • The Face of Revenge with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner (1080p; 00:13:21)
  • Henchman Tales (1080p; 00:12:57)
  • Dark Design (1080p; 00:16:46)
  • An Interview with Frances McDormand (1080p; 00:10:50)
  • Darkman EPK Featurette (1080i; 00:06:26)
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (1080p; 00:08:59)
  • Vintage Interview Gallery:
    • Colin Friels (SD; 00:12:14)
    • Frances McDormand (SD; 00:20:42)
    • Liam Neeson (SD; 00:28:02)
    • Sam Raimi (SD; 00:23:09)
  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; 00:37:00)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:01:46)
  • TV Spots (1080p; 00:04:24)
  • Still Galleries:
    • Behind the Scenes/Makeup Effects (1080p; 00:04:47)
    • Posters & Artwork (1080p; 00:02:07)
    • Production Stills (1080p; 00:08:42)
    • Storyboards (1080p; 00:08:22)

The Final Assessment

Shout! Studios/Scream Factory have hit the nail on the head with this very satisfying 4K release of Darkman, a film that horror and genre fans will love. It is packed with bonus features and looks and sounds great. Highly recommended.

Darkman (Collector’s Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo February 20, 2024 from Scream Factory

Purchase Darkman (Collector’s Edition) 4K Ultra HD Combo on Amazon.com

  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: Renaissance Pictures | Universal Pictures | Shout! Factory | Scream Factory
  • Director: Sam Raimi
  • Written By: Sam Raimi | Chuck Pfarrer | Ivan Raimi
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Street Date: 20 February 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
    • MaxLL: 917 nits
    • MaxFALL: 917 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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A scientist working on artificial skin, burned alive and left for dead, comes back to seek revenge on the people who destroyed his life.Darkman (Collector's Edition) (4K UHD Review)