Varsity Blues 4K review

Jan 16, 2024- Permalink

It’s been twenty-five years since Brian Robbin’s coming-of-age football film Varsity Blues was released. That film pitted an overbearing coach (Jon Voight) against an academically-gifted “football isn’t my life” backup quarterback (James Van Der Beek) and also gave us a look at a group of teens trying to figure out their place on the team, in life, and in Texas. The cast also featured Paul Walker, Amy Smart, Ron Lester, Scott Caan, Eliel Swinton, Ali Larter and Thomas F. Duffy. To celebrate the film’s anniversary, Paramount has released a Varsity Blues: 25th Anniversary Edition 4K and I had a chance to take a look.

<i>Varsity Blues</i> 4K coverart

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image is, for the most part, sharp with good detail on faces, clothes and locations. There is some occasional softness in the image, but really, it looks really good. The colour palette really captures the sun-baked greens and yellows of Texas and primary colours are strong. The black levels are deep and there’s excellent detail in darker scenes.

On the audio side of things, you have the choice of English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, Enlish SDH and French. It would have been nice to get a new mix for the 25th, but apparently this is the same 5.1 mix from the 2009 Blu-ray. You’d expect a football film to be immersive with tackles and grunts flying through the soundscape, but this is a front-heavy mix with only some moments like crowd noise making it into the surrounds. The LFE usage is low as well. Dialogue is clear and centred.

The Varsity Blues 4K also comes with a Blu-ray copy and a digital code, though once again there’s no digital code in the Canadian edition. (Is this because we beat you at FIBA 2023?) Extras are all on the included 2009 Blu-ray, so don’t expect any anniversary content. There’s an audio commentary by director Brian Robbins and producers Tova Laiter and Mike Tollin, some production featurettes, and a theatrical trailer.

The Varsity Blues: 25th Anniversary Edition 4K has a nice cast giving us a gritty look at Texas football and the 4K video presentation is the best this film has looked on home media. Those two components make this release worth a look, but it’s a shame the sound and extras weren’t updated for the anniversary.