Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a love letter and a refreshing contemporary take on the classic murder mystery genre. Taking inspiration from the great Agatha Christie and other fantastic whodunits, the film features the classic murder mystery tropes of a dysfunctional family caught up in a murder of the family patriarch, and the eccentric detective who is the only one who can solve the case. But Johnson takes that a step further by weaving in socio-economic and political themes into the film to make it feel more contemporary and aware.
Now the Oscar-nominated Knives Out comes home on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. The film stars Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jarden Martell, Christopher Plumber, and Noah Segan, all of whom play a collection of interesting characters who are all caught in Johnson’s contemporary vision of a whodunit that also plays reverence to the genre. But there is so much more to the Blu-ray than just the film. There are wonderful bonus features to look forward to, none of which feel generic and typical. They provide an in-depth look at all of the complementary parts that make Knives Out complete and thoroughly entertaining.
- Rian Johnson Weighs in on Disappointing Knives Out Blu-ray Cover Art. By Spencer Perry - March 29, 2021 11:12 pm EDT. Share 0 Comments.
- Free 2-day shipping on qualified orders over $35. Buy Knives Out (Blu-ray) at Walmart.com.
- Knives Out Blu-ray Armas, Ana De (Actor), Evans, Chris (Actor), Johnson, Rian (Director) & Format: Blu-ray. 4.7 out of 5 stars 2,779 ratings. Prime Video $5.99 — $19.99 Blu-ray $15.95 DVD $13.00 4K from $23.41 Additional 4K options: Amazon Price New from Used from 4K 'Please retry' 4K $27.99.
Directed by Rian Johnson. With Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis. A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.
Knives Out revolve around the murder of Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) who is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday. Though local police believe that it was a mere suicide, the debonair and eccentric Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) suspects that someone close to Harlan, from the immigrant caregiver Marta (De Armas) to everyone in the highly dysfunctional family may be the killer.
As Blanc begins to sift through all of the clues and untangle the web, he discovers that there is much more to Harlan’s death than what you see. As Knives Out progresses, it takes plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. And if you’ve already seen the film, there are still things that you may have overlooked that makes the film so great and beautiful. There is just so much to discover my looking at the overlooked aesthetics and smaller details.
Knives Out may feel like it follows the traditional rules of a murder mystery, yet, it feels so new with its socio-economic and political undertones. Set around the Thrombey mansion – which looks more like a Clue board – the film is populated by caricatures of the 1%, who are genuinely out of touch with the other parts of the society. And yet, there is Marta, who acts as the one character we can all connect to as she is caring, generous, and humble. She’s always been there to take care of the Thrombey patriarch. It’s almost as if she were his daughter.
But strange circumstances would lead up to his death, which was made to look like suicide. However, Blanc, a southern detective with unusual charm, suspects foul play. His energy is infectious, and you can’t help being drawn in by his enunciation as he breaks down the case by looking in places where no one bothered to check or asking the questions that no one bothered to ask. However, the Thrombeys are annoyed by it, and Marta is unsure who she can trust.
Even without the murder mystery element, the film moves like a stage play, with much of the film confined to the extravagant Thrombay mansion, which is filled with all sorts of eclectic characters.
But Knives Out deserves so much more than just a simple rewatch. There are plenty of bonus features to look forward to that will surely add to the film’s enjoyment, show why it is one of the best, and prove it is deserving of all of its accolades.
Films like these come with the traditional audio commentary. But Knives Out comes with two of them. Yes, there are two. The first one has Johnson, with his frequent director of photography, Steve Yedlin; and his acting muse Noah Segan. The second one is the in-theater commentary that was released as a rare exclusive commentary that was recorded and released just for the film during its original theatrical run.
Of course, there’s also the deleted scenes that come with the director’s commentary, as well. Not to mention the trailers, and a “Meet The Thrombeys” viral ads that get you acquainted with the dysfunctional family members that find themselves tangled in this murder mystery web of lies and deceit.
While those bonus features are customary for any home entertainment release, the best bonus features for this film are “Making A Murder” and the “Director and Cast Q&A.” The former is a loose documentary that fully breaks down the film into its individual parts like pre-production, scriptwriting, casting, costume design, production and design, cinematography, editing, the score, and more.
Then there’s the Director and Cast Q&A, which is a 42-minute feature that sees the cast and Johnson together answering questions about the film. It’s a rare bonus feature – because seeing an entire cast and its together like this happens only during press events – as it sees the whole cast and Johnson together to talk about the film’s impact, their characters, and its production.
There is just so much to discover by watching these bonus features, which will only make the Knives Out an excellent addition to your Blu-ray collection.
Here’s a full list of the bonus features you can expect to see:
What is dialectical behavioral therapy. 4K UHD / BLU-RAY / DVD / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary by Writer-Director Rian Johnson, Director of Photography Steve Yedlin, and Actor Noah Segan
In-Theatre Commentary by Rian Johnson
Deleted Scene: “Bicycling Accident” (with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson)
Deleted Scene: “Don’t Do Anything Rash” (with Optional Audio Commentary by Rian Johnson)
“Making a Murder” Eight-Part Documentary
“Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder” Featurette
Writer-Director and Cast Q&A
“Meet the Thrombeys” Viral Ads
Cruella Trailer: Emma Stone Stars in Disney’s Latest MovieFebruary 17, 2021
‘CMA Country Christmas’ offers festive list of traditional favoritesNovember 27, 2020
Plan Your Mortdecai Date Night This Week #MortdecaiJanuary 21, 2015
Leakproof Bento Box: Yumbox – Product ReviewSeptember 6, 2016
8 Things I Learned From The Cast of Avengers: Age of UltronApril 29, 2015
Knives Out Blu Ray Extras
Trailer for Disney’s Raya and the Last DragonOctober 21, 2020
Review – The LEGO Movie 2: The Second PartJanuary 29, 2019
App Review: Build Magical Kingdoms in Disney Enchanted TalesOctober 7, 2016
Stargirl: First Look and Interview with Grace VanderWaalJanuary 15, 2020
Roasted Crispy Garlic Potatoes RecipeMarch 8, 2019
Studio(s)Media Rights Capital/T-Street (Lionsgate)
Knives Out Blu Ray
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A
Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a renowned and wealthy crime novelist… and he’s just been found dead, not long after celebrating his 85th birthday. His entitled and eclectic family includes his eldest daughter—a real estate mogul—and her husband (Jamie Lee Curtis and Don Johnson), a younger daughter who leads a Goop-like lifestyle brand (Toni Collette), his eldest son who runs Harlan’s publishing empire (Michael Shannon), and his youngest son, a spoiled playboy (Chris Evans) who seems to both relish and disdain wealth. But the person closest to Harlan was his caregiver (Ana de Armas). When the police investigate Harlan’s death, all of them and more are interviewed, and it appears to be a straightforward case of suicide. But there’s a great deal of money at stake, as the family members vie for their inheritance. And someone has hired a private investigator to get involved, the famed Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who suspects that things are more complicated and sinister than they appear. Like a hound dog with a bone, Blanc will stop at nothing to uncover the truth, wherever it might lead.
What a pleasure Knives Out is! Inspired by classic Agatha Christie novels, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and even the old Colombo TV series, director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) has crafted a modern take on the classic Whodunnit? genre, a suspenseful murder mystery that’s strongly character driven and yet—in spirit—a comedy as well. The heart of the film is a pair of tremendous acting performances, one by Daniel Craig (he of James Bond fame) as the Southern gentlemen sleuth (with a perfect Shelby Foote accent) and another by Ana de Armas (Joi from Blade Runner: 2049) as Harlan’s earnest caregiver and a woman of confident vulnerability, both showing surprising new dimensions on screen. They’re backed by a flawless supporting cast that includes Evans, Curtis, Shannon, Johnson, and Collette, not to mention Lakeith Stanfield, Frank Oz, and Plummer, each of whom has rarely been better. Traditionally, a film like this would rely on the gimmick of keeping the audience in the dark, letting them compete with the sleuth to solve the murder. In this case, Johnson does something different with the story, which wouldn’t work unless the audience is completely invested in the characters. But invested you are, so the viewing experience is a delight—and not just the first time. Knives Out actually rewards repeat viewings too. The film is a gem and one of my favorites of 2019.
Knives Out was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (at 3.4K and 5.1K for one shot) using Arri Alexa (Mini & 65) and Panavision PSR cameras. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, upsampled and graded for high dynamic range (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are available here and the DV has the clear edge—that extra bit depth really enhances the colors). The resulting image shows off Steve Yedlin’s striking cinematography well, and is greatly enhanced by the larger frame, evocative lighting, and rich color palette. Fine detail and texturing are lovely, and you can see it nearly everywhere in carpets, wallpaper, textiles, skin tones, and costume knitwear. Grain and even a bit of gate weave has been added to the digital image to simulate the photochemical look. Even the coloring has a filmic appearance—it’s vibrant and natural looking, warm in certain scenes and richly-cool in others (especially in the Thrombey’s estate). Much of the film was shot in low and natural light, yet the shadows have impressive detail and the highlights have a luminous glare. This is a gorgeous looking image and you could be forgiven for thinking it’s actually a 4K photochemical film scan.
Primary audio on the 4K is offered in a fine English Dolby Atmos mix that’s certainly not bombastic or thrill-a-minute, but is showy in more subtle ways. The film’s opening staccato strings have a full, rich total quality, with lovely decay. Music cues flow in from seemingly every corner of the listening space (including the height channels), yet dialogue remains clean and natural. For a character drama, the soundstage feels as large and carefully layered as the 1.85 image. There’s a genuine sense of scale and ambience here—the Thrombey’s library has a spacious quality, while Harlan’s attic study feels more intimate and closed in. Subtle audio cues abound, while panning and movement are playful, even clever. This is an exquisitely well crafted sound mix. There’s a flashback moment (during Meg’s interview with the detectives) where you hear Jamie Lee Curtis’s voice coming almost from your direct left and then she pans through the front right and into the center channel as she appears on screen. Meanwhile, party chatter is filtering in from elsewhere. Also nifty is a sequence in which the detectives lay out a timeline of the murder based who was heard going up the stairs to Harlan’s study (again, the height channels play a key role). There’s a lot going on here sonically and the mixing is so effective you don’t even notice it—until you do (and then you can’t help but be impressed). English Descriptive Audio is also available, as are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English, English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Lionsgate’s 4K release actually packs a TON of extras, found on both the Ultra HD disc and the movie Blu-ray in the package. They include:
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Rian Johnson, director of photography Steve Yedlin, and actor Noah Segan
- In-Theater Commentary with Rian Johnson
- Deleted Scenes (2 scenes with optional commentary – HD – 4:57 in all)
- Making a Murder – Premeditation: Inspirations & Origin (HD – 11:55)
- Making a Murder – Gathering the Suspects: The Cast (HD – 19:29)
- Making a Murder – Dressed to Kill: Costume Design (HD – 8:19)
- Making a Murder – The Scene of the Crime: Production & Design (HD – 13:05)
- Making a Murder – Visual Clues: Cinematography (HD – 11:51)
- Making a Murder – Putting the Clues Together: Editing (HD – 12:35)
- Making a Murder – Music to Kill For: Music & Sound (HD – 24:40)
- Making a Murder – Denouement: Whodunnit? (HD – 11:32)
- Rian Johnson: Planning the Perfect Murder (HD – 6:17)
- Director and Cast Q&A (HD – 42:09)
- Marketing Gallery: Teaser Trailer (HD – 2:12)
- Marketing Gallery: Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:35)
- Marketing Gallery: Final Trailer (HD – 1:08)
- Ode to the Murder Mystery (HD – 1:43)
- Meet the Thrombeys Viral Ad: Thrombey Real Estate (HD – :34)
- Meet the Thrombeys Viral Ad: Blood Like Wine Publishing (HD – :56)
- Meet the Thrombeys Viral Ad: Flam (HD – :34)
Note that the 4K menus have HDR, but the actual special features are all in 1080p HD and SDR.
Now, let me just say something right up front, because it’s important. If you take nothing else from this review, here’s the key point: This is arguably the best single-film special edition for a new release movie that I’ve seen since probably Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And I’m proud as hell to say that it’s been created by a good friend, Cliff Stephenson—and I’d be singing his praises here even if I didn’t know Cliff personally.
Let’s start with the audio commentaries; the first includes Johnson joined by his longtime cinematographer Steve Yedlin and actor Noah Segan (Trooper Wagner, who has appeared in many of Johnson’s films). They essentially watch the film together—Johnson keeps the track moving and the other two chime in here and there, turning it into an easy conversation between friends. The In-Theater Commentary is just the director, but he’s much more focused on story, the production, key aspects of each scene, etc. It’s a more detailed track about the process of making this film, so the two commentaries complement each other nicely. BTW, if you’re wondering why there’s an In-Theater Commentary, it’s something Johnson himself released back in December—the idea is that you could load it up on your mobile device and listen to it in theaters with your headphones on while watching the movie. (Johnson did this for The Brothers Bloom and Looper as well.)
Making a Murder is a feature-length documentary that runs 114 minutes in all, and it’s paced such that the material can actually breathe, without ever dragging or feeling like you’re just being fed generic EPK content. And the operative word here is thoughtful; Johnson and his cast and crew all get the opportunity to chime in with interesting insights. You learn how the idea for the film germinated and how the project came together. Time is spent on the casting, the writing, the cinematography, the production design, the costuming, the editing process, even the sound and music. Johnson seems to be building a crew of regulars he likes to work with, including Yedlin, producer Ram Bergman, editor Bob Ducsay, composer Nathan Johnson (Rian’s cousin, who also scored Brick and Looper), and now Ren Klyce, Al Nelson, and the mixing team at Skywalker Sound—all of them get to offer their perspectives. I mean, there’s a whole segment here where Bergman, Yedlin, and Johnson talk about the difference between shooting on film vs digital. Knives Out is Johnson’s first all-digital production and he was convinced to do it because Yedlin proved to him that there’s no difference now in quality between digital capture vs film. What really matters instead is how you light your subject and particularly how you handle your post-production chain—the color management, color science, and workflow. At one point, Johnson opines: “Steve’s argument—which I have a hard time finding fault with—is the instant you say the thing I’m shooting on is the thing that defines the look [of the film], and not my creative choices—the instant you say that, you’re turning yourself from an artist into a consumer.” It’s fascinating content and exactly the kind thing I want from a great making-of documentary.
You also get a couple of deleted scenes—actually more like scene extensions—along with another featurette on how Johnson plotted and structured the film, a cast & crew Q&A, and a marketing gallery of trailers and TV spots for the film. This is just one of those meaty, take-your-time bonus content experiences that I long for but so rarely get on disc anymore—it’s a true pleasure to watch, listen, and enjoy. Naturally, you also get a Digital code on a paper insert.
In my recent review of James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari here at The Bits, I noted that no one element of that film seems to stand out above the others. Rather, every aspect of the production simply works perfectly together.. and much the same can be said of this production too. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a terrific film, one I hope is but the first in a series of Benoit Blanc team-ups with Craig. It’s also a first-rate 4K Ultra HD release from Lionsgate and a damn fine special edition into the bargain. Don’t hesitate to pick this title for a instant. Very highly recommended.
- Bill Hunt
(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)