Purple Rain (40th Anniversary Edition): 4K UHD Review

Albert Magnoli’s 1984 Prince vehicle, Purple Rain is celebrating its 40th anniversary and to honor the occasion, Warner Bros is releasing the iconic film on 4K UHD for the very first time.  While I would never call Purple Rain a great film, I would say that if you grew up being a fan of the late-great artist and his music, then it is easy to forgive the film’s numerous faults, acting being one of them.

Set in Minneapolis, The Kid (Prince) is the frontman for his group, The Revolution. Kid has a not-too-happy homelife, where his abusive father (Clarence Williams III) takes his anger out not only on him, but his mother as well. Kid spends as much time as he can on his music. Yet, he won’t let members of his band contribute their ideas, which leads to constant frustrations for everyone involved. His rival, Morris (Morris E. Day) has set his sights on Kid’s new girlfriend Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero), who he wants to lead a new girl group, featuring some of the Kid’s disgruntled bandmates.

The film’s plot is paper and to be honest, that is fine, as most who are fans of Purple Rain don’t really care about that (myself, included).  What we are here for is the music and the Academy Award winning soundtrack never gets old. This is basically a two-hour music video and again, with songs like When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, I Would Die for You, Purple Rain and Morris Day’s Jungle Love, that is all that the film really needs to be. Thankfully, Day is also a lot of fun as the film’s hilariously sleazy villain.

Warner Bros went all-out for this presentation. The new 2160pm/HDR10 transfer was completely restored digitally from an 8K scan of the 35mm original camera negative. The original theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio was also restored.  The new restoration is excellent. The urban exteriors look detailed and gritty. The concert scenes within the club are the ones that pop the most, especially with the neon and various stage lights.  When The Kid is on stage, you want it to look good and it sure does.  Warner Bros also delivers a new DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix which was restored from the original Dolby Stereo film elements and combined with the 20th anniversary 5.1 audio mix.  This mix really comes alive during the musical performances. The studio has also included the film’s original 2.0 audio track for the purists.

There are no new bonus features and in fact, many of the features from the previous Blu-ray release have been cut from this disk. The main draw here is the new remaster and it definitely delivers. If you are a Purple Rain fan, I highly recommend grabbing this disk.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by director Albert Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo and cinematographer Donald E. Thorin
  • First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty – featurette
  • Let’s Go Crazy – music video
  • Take Me with U – music video
  • When Doves Cry – Music Video
  • I Would Die 4 U/Baby I’m a Star – music video
  • Purple Rain – music video
  • Jungle Love – music video
  • The Bird – music video
  • Sex Shooter – music video

By: Marc Ferman

Order the Purple Rain 4K UHD