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American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray) review

Studio: Universal
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Rating:  PG
Film:  3.5/5

A classic coming-of-age story set against the early 1960s backdrop of hot rods, drive-ins and rock ‘n’ roll’ that follows a group of teenagers as they cruise the streets on their last summer night before college.

My Thoughts
When people think of George Lucas, Star Wars instantly comes to mind. But it was this film that started his star rising in Hollywood. He masterfully intertwines multiple storylines, offering a glimpse into the lives of these characters as they navigate the uncertainty of adulthood. The film's brilliant use of music from the era amplifies the emotional resonance, immersing the audience in the era's vibrant culture and evoking a sense of longing for a bygone era.

With its realistic portrayal of youth culture and stellar performances by a young ensemble cast including Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford, American Graffiti remains a timeless classic. Lucas's keen eye for detail and ability to capture the essence of a specific moment in time makes this film a poignant and entertaining reflection on the universal themes of growing up, friendship, and the bittersweet passage of time.

The bonus features have a great “making of” featurette that dives very deep into the production and how Lucas’ had to dig deep into his contact list to get the film made. When first shopping the project to the studios, no one wanted to touch it since its screenplay was telling four simultaneous stories that were only loosely connected and the studio heads didn’t think it could be done.

Lucas is said to have overseen the new 4K transfer of the film and I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it’s been DNR scrubbed to oblivion and most of the fine details have been smeared away. In fact, the film looks like it was shot digitally because it looks so clean, which is a travesty given the film’s historical significance. Oh well. The colors are at least bold and while the HDR treatment is mild, it occasionally looks quite good as long as you can get past the fact that the grain is missing. The audio track is a brand new DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is quite good. The music soundtrack has never sounded better and there’s actually a rumble in the room when the hot rods put the pedal to the metal.

Video 6/10

Audio 8/10 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

Special Features:

• The Making of American Graffiti
• Screen Tests
• Theatrical Trailer
• Feature Commentary with Director George Lucas
• UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Copy

Although I had high hopes for the 4K transfer, I was let down due to the excessive DNR. The film itself is still very enjoyable and I love the nostalgic look at the early 1960s when my parents were coming of age and its fun to see so many actors that went on to become big-time stars. As someone who loves films, the “making of” featurette has a lot of historical tidbits of the filmmaking process and I may have enjoyed that as much as the film itself. 

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS3100 4K Ultra High-Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Portrait Displays CalMAN color calibration software & C6-HDR Meter from Portrait Displays)
Stewart Filmscreen - Firehawk 110” 2.35:1 Screen
Trinnov Altitude 16 Audio/Video Processor
ATI AT527NC Powering Bed Channels
ATI AT524NC Powering Atmos Speakers
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: URC MX-990
M&K S-150 THX Ultra (R-C-L Speakers)
M&K SS-150 x4 (Surround Speakers)
Atlantic Technology IC6-OBA x 4 Overhead Speakers
Dual Rythmik FV15HP2
Mini DSP HD controlling all subwoofers
Audioquest and Monoprice - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
PureAV PF60 Power Conditioner
Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer
Sound & Vision Magazine


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Re: American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray) review
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2023, 08:07:18 PM »
Def have to pic this up. Thanks for the review 
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Re: American Graffiti 50th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray) review
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2023, 08:13:29 PM »
Thanks for the review, David.  

I was really looking forward to this one, it's a shame about the DNR.  We watched the Blu-ray about a year ago, and were disappointed with the audio on it, so I'm glad to hear the soundtrack has been upgraded.  I guess we'll wait for a good sale price on this one and see whether the audio improvement outweighs the video scrubbing.

I do like watching the making of, stuff, so that's another reason to get this one.

My Room:  26’-1” X 17’-4” X 10’
Equipment:  Monolith HTP-1 feeding X7 and X9 amps, JVC RS3100, Elite Screens 135"", JBL Studio 590 for L, C, R, W, R, 580s for sides and four SCS8 for tops, JTR Captivator 1400 x 4, Panny DP-UB420K, Toshiba HD-A35. Nvidia Shield, Sonos Connect, MX-780 remote

See Youthman's actual tour of my room here: https://youtu.be/PHEaG2xKVhg

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