Heat Director’s Definitive Edition Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews Michael Mann’s Director’s Definitive Edition Blu-ray release of this tale of a brilliant L.A. cop following the trail from a deadly armed robbery to a crew headed by an equally brilliant master thief.

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



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



Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 1995
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 170 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, Jon Voight, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Natalie Portman, Ted Levine, Diane Venora, William Fichtner, Dennis Haysbert
Written & Directed by: Michael Mann
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Region Code: A

Release Date: May 9, 2017

“A Los Angeles Crime Saga”

My Take:

In the wake of a precision heist of an armored van, the crew of a fierce, professional thief (De Niro) and an obsessively driven LAPD detective (Pacino) are locked in deadly opposition as they vector towards each other in Mann’s dazzling, twilight vision of Los Angeles. As the stakes escalate and their lives begin to unravel, the crew initiates its most dangerous and complex heist.

Taking inspiration from the late Chicago police detective Charlie Adamson – who killed the actual Neil McCauley in a shootout in 1963 – Heat was the culmination of years of research by Mann resulting in its depth and range of characters and choreography of action. Heat needs little introduction among film fans, standing tall as writer/director Michael Mann’s opus to the L.A. crime saga. For me, it’s an end to end film experience, containing wonderfully crafted characters, enriching narrative themes and subtext, and a superb cast, that from top to bottom, lends palpable weight to the proceedings. Heat is among my favorite films, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with it.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, language, thematic material, and brief sensuality.

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.**

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


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


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


Heat comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.

According to the press documentation I received, Heat, recently underwent a video restoration, that was overseen my Michael Mann. Let me state upfront that this film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation. Resolution is generally excellent, with clearly rendered images that exhibit refined levels of detail during close ups and discernible depth of field in wide angle shots. The chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes, and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid, but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary, and range from Rosy to pale, while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are deep and dynamic and shadow detail is excellent. Comparisons to the 2009 Blu-ray/VC-1 encoded release, I found the differences to be rather minor, with some improvements to delineation, compression and resolution stabilization.

This is a solid DTS-HD Master Audio encoding that renders this soundtrack well. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. Low frequency effects aren’t foundation shaking but the subwoofer is kept busy as it works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the low-level bass impact as dictated by the film’s elements. Dynamic range is good which lends subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. This is a predominantly front oriented audio mix however the entire system kicks in during the more active sequences and gets the job done. Comparing this presentation to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel mix on the 2009 release, I heard no distinguishable differences.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Heat Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Bonus Features
    NEW Academy Panel reuniting Mann, Pacino and De Niro and moderated by Christopher Nolan
    NEW Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Mann
    • Commentary by Michael Mann
    • The Making of Heat
    o True Crime
    o Crime Stories
    o Into the Fire
    • Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation
    • Return to the Scene of the Crime
    • Additional Footage – Deleted Scenes
    o Scene 5 – Season’s starting early
    o Scene 42 – Nicest guy on the block
    o Scene 55 – Albert and Hanna (Alternate Take)
    o Scene 62 – Shakedown
    o Scene 76 – Murder in C-Block
    o Scene 96A – Let’s Dance
    o Scene 125 – Late arrival
    o Scene 148/147 – Where’s Anna?
    o Scene 177B – Double the worst trouble
    o Scene 191 – Nate delivers
    o Scene 204A – No response
    • Theatrical Trailers
    o Surprise of a Lifetime
    o Two Actors Collide
    o Closing In
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Heat has been a personal favorite of mine since I first saw it, and I suspect that I am not alone in that regard. This Director’s Definitive Edition from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment gives it a gratifying facelift as well as the addition of a fan friendly supplemental offering that includes brand new content that is worthwhile viewing. Diehard fans will probably want to pick this up, but casual viewers, that already own it on Blu-ray, may be content with what they have. I am pleased to add this to my Blu-ray 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
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package