On and On

Nine months after Boyz n the Hood entered theaters, Rodney King was assaulted by police, leading to historic riots. Boyz n the Hood didn’t penetrate deep enough into the wider culture to begin healing social division. Nothing did though.

Looking back, the public reviled NWA’s lyrics, ignoring the reality behind them. Boyz n the Hood put pictures to those lyrics. Still, the violence spread.

Coming of age or slice of life, however Boyz n the Hood is perceived, the tragedy pours from writer/director John Singleton’s script, all of it honest. The story serves as a pleading social call to do something, to break a cycle or protect those kids with a future. Boyz n the Hood’s considers AIDS’ impact to inner city communities. Mothers beg for cocaine as their preschool age children wander into the streets. Teachers use casual racism when speaking to parents.

Like NWA, Boyz n the Hood speaks to the audience. Directly too

Boyz n the Hood exposes the numerous problems. It has answers. Laurence Fishburne stars as a grounded father, that first step toward guiding these kids. His speech below a colorful real estate billboard is less about his character than the systems affecting a broken social structure. Gentrification, gun stores, liquor, drugs – problems not introduced by black neighborhoods, yet offered as a way to exploit them for profit. Being Singleton’s first feature, it’s less a scene developing story or character, but a statement planted at Boyz n the Hood’s center. The aesthetics and communal isolation are established. Then come the reasons how and why that happened.

Until the last act, there is a dearth of violence – visibly, anyway. Car stereos pass the characters, each beat eliciting tension, instinctual, after drive-bys ingrained this as a reality. Police helicopters wave searchlights in windows as a college scout recruits a high school star. Working on homework, a stray gunshot causes another student to jump, causing anxiety to surface. It’s no way to live.

Like NWA, Boyz n the Hood speaks to the audience. Directly too. Not just Fishburne, but Ice Cube in a phenomenal performance that ends with a distressing monologue. Visually, Ice Cube directs words toward Cuba Gooding Jr. In context, it’s speaking to the audience, and anyone willing to listen. Where Fishburne’s speech drew parallels and where to direct anger, Ice Cube’s convey defeat. “On and on,” he says, in tears as he admits part of the cycle is his fault too. There’s realization in Ice Cube’s words that after giving in to anger, his life is now defined.

Video

Sony issues a new 4K master with this release. It’s gorgeous. An exception made for an early scene in a grade school (chroma noise unusually prominent there), grain maintains its natural form. Encoding handles the 35mm stock naturally, allowing enormous texture to show. Facial definition pops, precise and clean. Consistent, too.

Sharpness captures city streets flawlessly. By the train tracks, brush and debris show, significantly more than prior releases. Dissolves soften things, but that’s part of this production, not the disc. Visual performance remains true without lapses, while the print doesn’t reveal any damage.

An HDR application gently applies. Sun reflects from chrome, and outdoors, brighter clothes hit a pleasing peak. As needed, black levels drop to suitable depths. The color palette gains density compared to the Blu-ray, quite spectacular and saturated. ‘90s style infuses Boyz n the Hood with persistent material.

Audio

Here’s a case study for how modern Dolby Atmos/DTS:X codecs add to older films. Here it’s Atmos, taking every helicopter and placing it overhead, a presence that doesn’t relax. For something of this age, there’s no sense this is added after the fact; rather, it’s like this technique was always there. Other surround activity includes dogs barking or police sirens placed in specific channels. Stereos split wide too.

While dialog suffers a notable harshness, fidelity isn’t marred to any detrimental degree. Bass is potent when cars pass, blaring beats. Low-end extension suits these moments, rich and bold.

Extras

On the UHD, John Singleton is remembered in  a six minute tribute covering his career. An early ‘90s EPK and 24-minute press conference follow, both filmed on tape, but given an HDR pass that’s uncomfortably bright. Both are hard to watch because if it.

Boyz n the Hood
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Still relevant, John Singleton’s honest reflection of his own experiences comes together in Boyz n the Hood.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 36 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: