Coming to America appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation worked quite well.
Sharpness seemed more than satisfactory. Occasional glimmers of minor softness impacted some broader elements, but the majority of the flick brought nice accuracy.
This transfer came without jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared absent. With a fine layer of grain, I didn’t fret about noise reduction, and source flaws also caused no problems.
With a natural palette, the film offered a good array of tones, and they came across as vivid and full. This became especially true during the African scenes, as those boasted some standout colors, but even the Queens shots brought appealing tones. The 4K’s HDR contributed nice oomph to the hues as well.
Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared smooth and well-rendered, and the HDR added impact to whites and contrast. This unquestionably turned into the best-looking version of this film to date.
I also felt pretty pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Coming to America. For the most part, the soundfield offered a subdued affair. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and the movie featured a decent sense of ambience.
Not too many scenes broadened beyond that general feeling of environment, though a few sequences opened up matters slightly. For instance, the fireworks at the bridal ceremony used the rear speakers well. Otherwise, this was a low-key mix, albeit one that opened up in a more than adequate manner.
Audio quality worked fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without roughness or other issues.
Music showed good clarity and range, so bass response seemed warm for the score and songs. Effects seemed clear and accurate as well. Though nothing here surpassed the standard “comedy mix”, the audio suited the film.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray from 2018? The lossless audio brought greater range, and it also lost the edgy speech that occasionally marred the lossy old mix.
As for visuals, the Dolby Vision 4K seemed more precise and also brought more dynamic colors. The Blu-ray looked mediocre, so the 4K turned into a considerable upgrade.
Note that the 2018 Blu-ray offered a literal duplicate of the original BD from 2007. That made the 4K UHD the movie’s first remaster in years, but unfortunately, Paramount doesn’t offer a new BD for those without 4K capabilities.
Extras focus on featurettes, and Prince-Ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America runs 24 minutes, 38 seconds and provides notes from director John Landis, screenwriters David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, and producer/editor George Folsey, Jr.
“Coming” covers the movie’s origins and development, story, cast and characters, performances and improvisation, the “McDowell’s” elements, the movie’s legacy, and a few other details.
On the negative side, the absence of any actors – especially Eddie Murphy – comes as a disappointment. Otherwise, this turns into a pretty good program. It gives us a rudimentary but interesting overview of some production elements and even hints at conflict between Murphy and Landis.
No, it’s not a warts and all piece, but given the fluffiness usually found in this sort of retrospective, even a smidgen of that sort of material livens up the show. “Coming” works reasonably well.
Next comes Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America. The 18-minute, four-second show features Nadoolman, Landis, and Folsey. We get lots of information here about the clothes design for the film.
Nadoolman comes to the forefront and gives us great insights into her choices and influences. This becomes a much more detailed program than usual and presents quite a few useful tidbits.
For the 12-minute, 54-second Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker, we hear from Landis, Folsey, and makeup artist Rick Baker. We learn about all of Baker’s makeups for the film and the ways his work influenced characters.
Again, the absence of the actors makes the show incomplete, but Landis and Baker provide more than enough good notes to create an informative piece.
Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers lasts 11 minutes, seven seconds. It features Landis, Sheffield, composer Nile Rodgers, Rolling Stone magazine’s David Wild, and Billboard magazine’s Gail Mitchell.
“Composing” looks at Rodgers’ influences and goals for his score as well as time pressures placed on the composer.
This is another productive program, as it gives us a lot of solid details related to the music. I could live without the praise from the journalists, though, as it’s unnecessary and gets some of the facts wrong.
For instance, Wild claims Rodgers produced Madonna’s first album, whereas he worked with her for Like A Virgin, album number two. (And Wild’s assertion that this might be her best work is patently nuts, though that’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.)
An archival piece arrives via A Vintage Sit-Down With Eddie and Arsenio. This five-minute, 24-second clip came from sessions to publicize the flick.
This doesn’t include much concrete information, but it makes up for that with fun. It’s amusing to see the two comedians interact and riff off each other, though Hall gets in the best bits.
In addition to the flick’s trailer, we find a Photo Gallery. It includes 54 shots, most of which show movie images; we get a few snaps from behind the scenes but not many. These are eminently forgettable.
Eddie Murphy’s last genuine hit for almost a decade, Coming to America hasn’t aged particularly well. Too long and too inconsistent, the movie has some laughs but not enough to make it a winner. The 4K UHD provides solid picture and sound plus a generally interesting set of supplements. This becomes a nice release for a sporadically entertaining film.
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