The First Purge 4K UHD Review

Essential installment for fans of the franchise 3 Stars

What would happen if all crimes committed during a 12 hour period went unpunished and without any legal consequences?  This is the conceit of The Purge franchise which began with The Purge(2013) and sees its 4th big screen iteration in The First Purge(2018).  This prequel story sets the stage for the events seen in the first 3 films, as well as the TV series that premiered on USA Network in September 2018.  The First Purge delivers on its promise of action and violence, even if the characters populating this world are not fleshed out fully enough for the audience to be very emotionally invested in their survival or demise.  The setting for The First Purge being Staten Island suggests the influence on the filmmakers of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (Manhattan) as an exemplar of lawlessness in an urban setting.

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Disc Information
Studio: Universal
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: DTS:X, English 2.0 DD, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 38 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Amaray
Disc Type: UHD
Region: ABC
Release Date: 10/02/2018
MSRP: $44.98

The Production: 2.5/5

What would happen if all crimes committed during a 12 hour period went unpunished and without any legal consequences?  This is the conceit of The Purge franchise which began with The Purge(2013) and sees its 4th big screen iteration in The First Purge(2018).  This prequel story sets the stage for the events seen in the first 3 films, as well as the TV series that premiered on USA Network in September 2018.  The First Purge delivers on its promise of action and violence, even if the characters populating this world are not fleshed out fully enough for the audience to be very emotionally invested in their survival or demise.  The setting for The First Purge being Staten Island suggests the influence on the filmmakers of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York as an exemplar of lawlessness in an urban setting.

Nya(Lex Scott Davis) is an activist campaigning against the “experiment” on Staten Island of the First Purge.  Nya’s brother Isaiah(Joivan Wade) is a drug dealer in the employ of Nya’s ex-boyfriend, Dmitri(Y’lan Noel), unknown to Nya.  After Isaiah is attacked by the psychotic Skeletor(Rotimi Paul), Nya and Isaiah find themselves fighting for their survival, rather than remaining safely in a church during the First Purge as planned originally by Nya.  A competitor of Dmitri’s in the drug trade, Capital A(Christian Robinson) intends to use the Purge as an opportunity to get rid of the competition.  This setup gives rise to the action sequences in which the participants fight for survival, against each other, and against government sponsored mercenaries hired to stir things up during the experiment.  Marisa Tomei plays Dr. May Updale, the so-called “Architect” of the Purge who is monitoring the experiment to determine its success or failure.

James DeMonaco, the writer and director of the first 3 films, returns with the screenplay for The First Purge, which is directed by Gerard McMurray(Burning Sands).   The backstory in The First Purge attempts to set up social commentary regarding the nature of populism in politics and the suggestion that the “Purge” is bread and circuses to appease the masses, with the idea that crime will be drastically reduced on the remaining 364 days of the year as a result of the Purge.  Ultimately, this aspect remains underdeveloped in the film, which serves up some well choreographed fight sequences as its own “bread and circuses” for viewers seeking visceral entertainment.  The emotional stakes are never too high since the characters are not developed enough, or sympathetic enough, for the viewer to care much about what happens to them.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The First Purge appears on 4K UHD and Blu-ray disc in its original 2:39.1 aspect ratio.  The 4K UHD disc displays the film  in 2160p using the HEVC codec with HDR.  The film was finished as a 2K digital intermediate.  The First Purge with HDR demonstrates excellent shadow detail with a luminous color scheme that tends deliberately towards muted tones for dramatic effect.

Audio: 5/5

The UHD disc defaults to the English DTS-X Master audio.  Dialogue, music, and sound effects are delivered with punch, but the most sublime part of the audio is the reproduction of ambient noises.  As just one example, there is a scene early in the film taking place inside an apartment building on Staten Island.  The directional audio provides sounds that seem literally to emanate from the walls of your viewing room, creating a fully immersive aural environment.  This rich audio mix remains for the duration of the film through the less subtle backgrounds of gunfire and explosions.

Special Features: 2/5

Special features include all of the following:

Deleted Scene(1:47):  Skeletor has an additional encounter with our protagonists that was not included in the feature.

A Radical Experiment(4:57):  Cast and crew talk about the class warfare setting suggested by The First Purge.

Bringing The Chaos(1:24): Vignette with stunt coordinator Hank Amos highlighting the fight choreography in the film.

The Masks of The First Purge(1:22):  Cast and crew talk about the evolution of the masks in the Purge franchise beginning in this prequel installment.

Also included in this 4K UHD set is a Blu-ray as well as a paper insert with a validation code for Movies Anywhere for those who are favorably inclined to watch films on a tiny screen on their mobile devices.

Overall: 3/5

The First Purge delivers on its promise of violent action set pieces, even if the underpinnings of class warfare and populist politics remain underdeveloped.  The 4k UHD disc provides a flawless video and audio presentation, even if the special features are minimal.  Fans of the franchise will want to see The First Purge as the latest installment is designed to lead into the USA Network miniseries event of The Purge.

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Timothy E

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