Multi-hyphenate, multidisciplinary artist Saul Williams brings his unique dynamism to this Afrofuturist vision, a sci-fi punk musical that’s a visually wondrous amalgamation of themes, ideas, and songs that Williams has explored in his work, notably his 2016 album MartyrLoserKing. Co-directed with the Rwandan-born artist and cinematographer Anisia Uzeyman, the film takes place in the hilltops of Burundi, where a group of escaped coltan miners form an anti-colonialist computer hacker collective. From their camp in an otherworldly e-waste dump, they attempt a takeover of the authoritarian regime exploiting the region’s natural resources – and its people. When an intersex runaway and an escaped coltan miner find each other through cosmic forces, their connection sparks glitches within the greater divine circuitry. Set between states of being – past and present, dream and waking life, colonized and free, male and female, memory and prescience – Neptune Frost is an invigorating and empowering direct download to the cerebral cortex and a call to reclaim technology for progressive political ends.
For in-depth thoughts on Neptune Frost, please see my colleague Julia Tong’’s review from its original theatrical release here.
Neptune Frost comes to Blu-Ray in a 1080p presentation that is truly a wonder. This is a visually rich film with sumptuous shots of a deteriorating, futuristic natural world and the colonies throughout where you can see an incredible amount of detail. The film is not bursting with vivid colors in every frame since the tone of the narrative is not particularly bright, but there are various moments that really pop, especially in some of the lighting choices and costumes. The interiors are typically a more dour and dark environment that presents with a warm tone that the presentation represents perfectly with a pleasing richness. The white levels are handled beautifully, along with the intensely deep blacks that do not appear to suffer from any compression artifacts. The skin tones look very detailed and natural all around with subtle blemishes easily distinguishable. This presentation is a stunning one for the format.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with the surprisingly robust option of a DTS:X 7.1.2 track in the original languages that works incredibly well to showcase this rich world. The film has a musical lifeblood which is recreated in really intriguing ways that fill the room. Throughout this journey, you are provided with a soundscape that completely immerses you from every direction. Dialogue comes through crystal clear without ever being overpowered by the sound effects or the score. The sound design is just as precisely thought-out as the unforgettable on-screen visuals with all of the sounds positioned just right in the mix. The environmental effects create a more three-dimensional space that allows it to feel more alive. Action comes in fits and spurts, but activity in the low end radiates through you when the situation calls for it. This is an excellent sounding release that serves as one of the most impressive from Kino Lorber. There are optional English and English SDH subtitles provided.
- Audio Commentary: Filmmakers Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman provide a really solid commentary track in which they delve into the thematic inspiration for the film, settling on a narrative structure, what the music adds to the story, the excitement from the kids over getting to sing some curses, working with the performers and more. Really glad to have such insights included on the release.
- Deleted Scenes: Four unused scenes totaling nearly six minutes are provided here featuring a funeral service at a church, a montage of kids at the border, a scene with Potolo and more.
- Trailer: The two-minute trailer for the film is provided here which does a nice job of selling the experience.
Neptune Frost is a singular piece of art the likes of which we have to appreciate when the medium offers it up to us. It can be a bit messy, but within its ambitious narrative and stylistic swings it achieves moments of transcendence. The way that music flows throughout this work like oxygen is incredibly powerful. Filmmakers Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman have crafted a film which defies simple classification, but those who take the time to experience it will be met with something quite unlike you are regularly fed. Kino Lorber has provided a Blu-Ray featuring a fabulous A/V presentation and a couple of nice special features. This journey is worth taking if the film sounds even remotely interesting to you. Recommended
Neptune Frost is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Lorber has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.