Bram Stoker’s Dracula Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of this horror classic from Francis Ford Coppola and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89

Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 1992
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 127 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @ 4000 NITS
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Starring: Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Tom Waits, Billy Campbell, Sadie Frost, Richard E. Grant
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Music by: Wojciech Kilar
Written by: James Hart
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: October 3, 2017

“Love never dies”



My Take:

I reviewed Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s 2015 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, Atmos track, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video are below.

Originally released in 1992 and helmed by award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola comes the remake of the classic and chilling tale about the devastatingly seductive Transylvanian prince (Gary Oldman) who travels from Eastern Europe to 19th century London in search of human love. After centuries alone in his crumbling castle, Dracula’s taste for humanity has grown bold with desire, drawing him out of seclusion. When the charismatic Dracula meets Mina (Winona Ryder), a young woman who appears as the reincarnation of his lost love, the two embark on a journey of romantic passion and horror.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula needs no introduction among film fans and is highly regarded among the various incarnations of the classic horror tale brought to the big screen. Francis Ford Coppola’s visionary telling coupled with a superlative and chillingly stirring performance by Gary Oldman elevate the gothic story of passion, love and blood. What I have always appreciated about this film is it’s divergence from traditional Dracula pop culture while retaining the character’s innate sense of style and portent evil combined with an empathetic forlorn essence. I can’t say that I agree with the choice to cast Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder (more so him than her) however the supporting turns by Tom Waits, Anthony Hopkins, and Sadie Frost more than delivered. Bram Stoker’s Dracula easily withstands the test of time. I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit and am pleased to see it in this Supreme Cinema Series Edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. See below for more details.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sexuality and horror violence.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bram Stoker’s Dracula comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4.5 Mbps.

Sony remastered Bram Stoker’s Dracula from the original 35mm film elements. Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from that 4K image, and the results are impressive.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Bram Stoker’s Dracula has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This is a decidedly dark film with the majority of it taking place in low lit environs with only natural or incandescent lighting. Looking at the film’s opening sequence the improvement in depth and definition was noticeable. I could detect the finer details present in the castle interior and backgrounds. The subtle minutia visible in the period clothing and facial features among the member of the cast was striking. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence that underscores the thematic content. The color range in the film is limited but the rendering of primary colors was gratifying and natural.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the purposefully dark/dreary sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

This Ultra HD presentation improves upon the Blu-ray release. I think that due to the innate nature of the source, those differences, depending on your level of interest, may or may not be significant enough to warrant an upgrade. For me, this is a keeper.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack I was surprised at how active the mix is. The use of overhead sound objects elevates proportional correlation especially when applied during sequences involving first person perspectives (such as seen through the eyes of Dracula while in wolf form). When compared to the 7.1 channel core the Atmos mix offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low level detail and even simulating broader dynamic range. Wojciech Kilar’s music score invigorates the extended sound field as its eerie presence underscores the storyline. The film is loaded with atmospherics, off screen cues and discrete sound effects that when applied using the freedom of object based placement adds an enriching layer to the soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the opening sequence with noteworthy examples being found throughout (the first seduction of Lucy sounds great). As good as the lossless TrueHD 7.1 core sounds, the Atmos mix adds a complimentary layer that brings the listening experience up a notch.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Bram Stoker’s Dracula Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Bram Stoker’s Dracula Blu-ray
  • (HD)Reflections in Blood: Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 24 minute featurette
  • (HD) Practical Magicians: A Collaboration Between Father and Son – 20 minute featurette
  • Rare 1993 Commentary with Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Coppola and Greg Cannom
  • 12 Deleted Scenes including a prologue and alternate ending
  • Audio Commentary & Film Introduction by Director Francis Ford Coppola
  • 4 Legacy Featurettes
    1. The blood is the life: Making of featurette – 27 minutes
    2. The costumes are the sets – 14 minutes
    3. In camera: Visual effects – 18 minutes
    4. Method & madness: Visualizing Dracula – 12 minutes
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula “Beware” trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula needs no introduction and is an award-winning and entertaining cinematic gem from esteemed director Francis Ford Coppola. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that features excellent Ultra high definition video, Dolby TrueHD/ Atmos sound, and legacy supplemental material. I am pleased to report that Bram Stoker’s Dracula has benefited from the Ultra HD experience. If you’re a fan this new offering from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a must have for your collection.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems