Thelma & Louise UHD Review

4.5 Stars 1990s classic gets Criterion 4K treatment
Thelma & Louise 4K UHD screenshot

Ridley Scott’s 1991 classic Thelma & Louise arrives on 4K UHD in a terrific collector’s edition from The Criterion Collection.

Thelma & Louise (1991)
Released: 24 May 1991
Rated: R
Runtime: 130 min
Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel
Writer(s): Callie Khouri
Plot: Two best friends set out on an adventure, but it soon turns around to a terrifying escape from being hunted by the police, as these two girls escape for the crimes they committed.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 88

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Criterion Collection
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 9 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray
Case Type: 3-disc digipak
Disc Type: UHD
Region: A
Release Date: 05/30/2023
MSRP: $49.95

The Production: 4.5/5

The following is from Cameron Yee’s 2011 review of MGM’s 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release:

With an undeniable jerk for a husband, no one blames Thelma (Geena Davis) for wanting to get away for a couple days. Joining her best friend Louise (Susan Sarandon) on a two-day trip to the woods, the pair make a stop at a bar along the way, but can’t seem to avoid the worst the male gender has to offer. One local barfly almost rapes Thelma, and though Louise arrives in time to stop him, one step too far pushes her to shoot him in cold blood. Now on the run from the police – with Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) leading the chase – the pair really don’t have many options. They could surrender, but it’s unlikely they could claim self defense, and the further along they get – which includes adding armed robbery to their resumé – the less viable cooperating with the police becomes. Even though Slocumb seems to be sympathetic to their circumstances, ultimately the pair can only depend on each other and decide for themselves how their journey will end.

Well known for its feminist themes, Thelma & Louise would probably be offensive to men if not for its moments of humor and charm, and two ultimately compelling main characters. And let’s be honest, it was probably about time a movie turned the tables, making men the sex objects, fools and source of all bad luck for a change. Though some may still take issue with the film’s broad strokes of male depiction and sometimes didactic qualities, the truth behind the story remains – women aren’t treated as equals to men. Of course, no one should look to the film for any practical steps to female empowerment, but as a motivator, thought-provoking metaphor, and even a manifesto, it certainly doesn’t go wrong.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Thelma & Louise was shot on 35mm film in the Panavision anamorphic aspect ratio of 2.39:1. For this Criterion Collection 4K release, the original camera negative was scanned in 4K, and from that this 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer was created with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range, all under the supervision of director Ridley Scott. The result is a very film-like image with a healthy but never really obtrusive layer of natural film grain. Detail and clarity are excellent, from beads of sweat on close-ups to intricate could designs in the many vista shots. Colors are vivid and natural, never appearing overly saturated and no evidence of color bleeding. Contrast is also excellent, lending some much-needed depth that was nearly missing on the 2011 MGM Blu-ray release, with stronger shadow details and deeper blacks. The included Blu-ray edition is sourced from this new 4K master (also available separately).

Audio: 4.5/5

Per the liner notes, this release includes a newly remastered 5.1 mix (in DTS-HD MA) sourced from “the original LCRS magnetic track” (4-track Left-Center-Right-Surround). Thelma & Louise was released theatrically with an optical Dolby Stereo track with matrixed surround (not included in this release). The track features a wide front soundstage with good separation. Surrounds engage where necessary, adding ambience and immersion to bar sequences and other atmospherics and allow Hans Zimmer’s score to fill the room. LFE is adequate, but the movie never had a discrete low frequency channel to begin with.

Special Features: 4.5/5

Criterion has ported much of what was included on previous releases, and added a few new ones as well. This is a 3-disc set with the movie on a UHD disc and Blu-ray, plus a Blu-ray of special features.

UHD Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott: This is the same commentary included on previous releases, originally recorded in 2001.

Audio Commentary with Writer Callie Khoury and Actors Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon: This is the same commentary included on previous releases, originally recorded in 2001.

Blu-ray Disc One (Movie)
Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott: This is the same commentary included on previous releases, originally recorded in 2001.

Audio Commentary with Writer Callie Khoury and Actors Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon: This is the same commentary included on previous releases, originally recorded in 2001.

**NEW** Ridley Scott: Beginnings (1080p; 22:23): Film critic Scott Foundas interviews director Ridley Scott. Topics include his beginnings as an artist and how they shaped his approach to filmmaking on various films.

**NEW** Boy and Bicycle (1080p; 27:50): Ridley Scott’s first short film from 1965.

**NEW** Ploughman (1080p; 0:33): A 1977 television ad for Guinness directed by Ridley Scott.

**NEW** Callie Khouri (1080p; 20:02): Thelma & Louise screenwriter looks back at the 30-year legacy of the film.

Blu-ray Disc Two
“Thelma & Louise”: The Last Journey (upscaled 1080i; 59:37): Retrospective documentary produced in 2002 by Charles Lauzirika is divided into three parts and covers the film’s concept and casting, production and performance experiences, and public and critical reception. Plentiful interviews with the cast and crew make the piece highly interesting and thorough.

Original Theatrical Featurette (upscaled 1080i; 5:23): Electronic press kit covers the film’s basic characters, plot and themes. Includes the option to turn off the (largely annoying) promotional voice over track.

Extended Scenes (upscaled 1080i; 33:17): Seven scenes are included – Extended Ending (with optional Director’s Commentary); First Motel; Talkin’ ‘bout Darryl; Hal on the Case; Second Motel; Thelma and J.D.; Looking for a Break.

Storyboards: The Final Chase (1080o; 5:50): A side-by-side comparison of the storyboards and the actual footage for the final chase. Also includes the option to view the storyboards independently.

Deleted Scenes (upscaled 1080i; 14:02): Ten scenes are included – Silver Bullet Getaway; An Important Clue; Police Sketches; Smitten with J.D.; Human Behavior; Hal at Home; Jimmy, J.D., and the Law; Fear of God; On the Road; Hot Pursuit.

Trailer and TV Spots: Includes the Original Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:02), Wanted TV Spot (upscaled 1080i; 1:02), Call of the Wild TV Spot (upscaled 1080i; 0:32), and TV Promo Spot (upscaled 1080i; 0:32).

Music Video Part of Me, Part of You (upscaled 1080i; 4:27): Glenn Frey’s end title song that was a radio staple at the time of the film’s release. The music video appears to have been sourced from a VHS tape and is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0.

34-page Booklet: Contains three essays, movie credits, and release credits.

Overall: 4.5/5

Criterion provides a nice 4K (and Blu-ray) upgrade with some nice new bonus features.

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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Jeffrey D

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Looks good. Thanks, Todd. Will eventually add this one to my collection.
 

trajan007

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My disc from Best Buy feeezes just after they travel throught Monument valley at night. Otherwise disc looks great.
 

jayembee

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My disc from Best Buy feeezes just after they travel throught Monument valley at night. Otherwise disc looks great.

Have you tried wiping the disc's data side -- from the center out -- with a microfiber cloth?

UHDs seem to be very sensitive to minor specks. An awful lot of time I'll put a new disc, right out of the case, into the player. The movie plays for a reasonable amount of time, and then hangs. I'll pop the disc out, and the surface looks flawless. But I still wipe it with a microfiber cloth, after which is plays perfectly. Within the last week I had this problem with Criterion's (it's not always Criterion) UHD of Mildred Pierce.
 

JohnRice

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I’m going to say it. This is simply a GREAT movie.

I, for one, was never the least bit bothered by the depiction of men. The reality is, men tend to be idiotic assholes as often as not.
 
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trajan007

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Have you tried wiping the disc's data side -- from the center out -- with a microfiber cloth?

UHDs seem to be very sensitive to minor specks. An awful lot of time I'll put a new disc, right out of the case, into the player. The movie plays for a reasonable amount of time, and then hangs. I'll pop the disc out, and the surface looks flawless. But I still wipe it with a microfiber cloth, after which is plays perfectly. Within the last week I had this problem with Criterion's (it's not always Criterion) UHD of Mildred Pierce.
Wiped the disc. Works like a charm Thanks
 

JoshZ

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I think he was asking when the 50% off sale at criterion.com usually starts, not B&N.

Well, maybe, but he quoted a post talking about Amazon price matching B&N during this month's sale.

In any case, is buying at 50% off at criterion.com more appealing than buying at 50% off at B&N or Amazon?
 

dpippel

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Well, maybe, but he quoted a post talking about Amazon price matching B&N during this month's sale.

In any case, is buying at 50% off at criterion.com more appealing than buying at 50% off at B&N or Amazon?
If you have Criterion points/gift codes then the answer is a big "yes." ;)
 

SD_Brian

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Was it just me, or was the audio track on the 4K at a really low level? I had to crank up the volume: Ordinarily, my setting is 50, but had to turn this one up to 80, and even that seemed a little quiet. At least the menu audio was at normal levels, so it could blast out my eardrums when the disc returned to it after the feature was over :emoji_astonished:.
 

madfloyd

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Will the titles being released this month (e.g. After Hours) also be included in the sale? Still seeing $35 at Amazon...
 

JoshZ

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Will the titles being released this month (e.g. After Hours) also be included in the sale? Still seeing $35 at Amazon...

Typically, the Barnes & Noble sale applies to any Critetion titles scheduled for release before the end of the sale period. A preorder for something that streets in late July should be covered, but one for something that streets in August would not.
 

Garysb

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Will the titles being released this month (e.g. After Hours) also be included in the sale? Still seeing $35 at Amazon...
It probably doesn't happen all the time, but Amazon usually price matches in stock items only. Meaning they will match B&N if B&N has the item in stock, In addition, Amazon is not price matching all Criterions available in stock at B&N though they continue to add items. Not sure why or if they price match items when customers call CS for a price match. Not sure if that is still a thing as it was back in the day.
 
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