The Color Purple (2023) UHD Review

3.5 Stars Disappointing
The Color Purple 2003 Review Screenshot

Warner’s 2023 film adaptation of the Broadway musical version of The Color Purple arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

The Color Purple (2023)
Released: 25 Dec 2023
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 141 min
Director: Blitz Bazawule
Genre: Drama, Musical
Cast: Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks
Writer(s): Marcus Gardley, Alice Walker, Marsha Norman
Plot: A woman faces many hardships in her life, but ultimately finds extraordinary strength and hope in the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.
IMDB rating: 6.9
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 21 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 03/12/2024
MSRP: $34.98

The Production: 3/5

Alice Walker’s 1983 Pulitzer-prize winning novel was first adapted as a dramatic film by Steven Spielberg in 1985. Twenty years later, in 2005, a musical version was adapted for Broadway featuring songs by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell and Allee Willis. And now that Broadway musical has been adapted for the big screen in 2023 by director Blitz Bazawule.

I have never seen the stage musical, but it sure feels like something is missing here in its translation from stage to screen. The film does follow the same story and structure that Spielberg’s 1985 film did, with two sisters Celie and Nettie raised by sexually abusive father Alfonso, Celie then given to another abusive man, Mister (Colman Domingo), who separates the sisters for 25 years, and Celie’s struggles overcoming her oppressive life and eventually reuniting with her sister Nettie. Many of the musical numbers are well-staged and choreographed, but the emotional beats found in Spielberg’s classic are rather muted in Bazawule’s film. Many of the performances are exceptional, such as Fantasia Barrino as the adult Celie, Danielle Brooks as Sophia, Colman Domingo as Mister, and Halle Bailey as Young Nettie. Taraji P. Henson as Shug, though, is a class in overacting, making her character unbelievable.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The Color Purple was captured in 4.5K resolution using Arri Alexa LF and Mini LF cameras, completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Warner’s 2160p HEVC encode has been graded using Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range. While the disc does offer a finely detailed image with strong contrast offering deep blacks and strong shadow details. The disappointment, though, is the drab, rather muted colors that make you want to reach for your display’s remote to turn up the color levels. It lacks the pop that Allen Daviau’s cinematography in the 1985 film had, something this film really needed.

Audio: 5/5

Where this disc really shines is in its default Dolby Atmos track (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core) that immerses the viewer in its musical sequences, surrounding them in wall to wall music, and offering nice atmospheric touches during the more quieter sections. LFE adds some nice low-end support to the music. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 2/5

Warner’s single 4K disc release includes the following special features:

Creating “The Color Purple:” A Bold Take on the Beloved Classic (1080p; 6:21): A quick overview of development, rehearsals, etc.

Hell Yes! The Iconic Characters of “The Color Purple” (1080p; 7:00): A quick overview of the casting process.

In the Flow: Creating “The Color Purple’s” Biggest Musical Moments (1080p; 8:03): A quick look at the musical numbers in the film.

A Story for Me: The Legacy of “The Color Purple” (1080p; 6:38): Producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey reflect on making the 1985 and 2023 musical versions.

Musical Moments (2160p; 43:55): Quick access to the musical numbers in the film.

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included.

Overall: 3.5/5

Something has been lost in translating the Broadway musical to the big screen in director Blitz Bazawule’s rendition of The Color Purple.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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Mark Mayes

Second Unit
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Mark Mayes
Interesting movie--- inasmuch as I saw it and cannot remember a frame of it. If it prompted the release on 4K of the 85 version, which I got, I am grateful to it for that alone.
 

Robert Harris

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A very honest review. Thank you. I received a Blu-ray as a review copy, and decided that without 4k, I wasn’t going there.
 

trajan007

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Larry C Bender
A very honest review. Thank you. I received a Blu-ray as a review copy, and decided that without 4k, I wasn’t going there.
COLOR PURPLE is a magnificent film on every level. The care that went into its making shines through.
 

Kyle_D

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Kyle Dickinson
I share Todd’s sentiments on the film. It’s a superfluous production. The musical numbers just aren’t good enough or seamlessly integrated enough to justify their inclusion. Fantasia and Danielle Brooks are good, but Whoopi and Oprah were better, and the craft is lacking compared to the Spielberg film.
 

GerardoHP

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Gerardo Paron
This has to stand as one of the most unsuccessful adaptations of a Broadway musical to the screen. What may have worked on stage musically with stylized sets and lighting just bombs on the screen with realistic sets placed against modern style music and dancing. It just doesn't work. And Fantasia Berrino, great as she may have been on the stage, simply disappears in an almost inappropriately subdued performance.
 
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