13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

In 2012, the threat level in Benghazi, Libya was deemed “critical”. When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

97

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2016
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 144 minutes
Genre: Drama/Action

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: John Krasinski, Max Martini, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, Dominic Fumusa, David Costabile, Matt Letscher, David Giuntoli
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Written by: Chuck Hogan based on the book: “13 Hours” by Michael Zuckoff
Region Code: A

Release Date: June 11, 2019

“Based on the True Story”

Synopsis:

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the incredible true story of six elite ex-military operators who fought to protect the CIA against overwhelming odds when terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012.” – Paramount Home Media Distribution.

My Take:

I reviewed the 2016 Blu-ray release of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and, have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, bonus content and audio will be the same (* See Note Below), as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video are below.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is the gripping true story of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale.

Based on the nonfiction book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” by New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff, and Members of the Annex Security Team, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi recounts the harrowing events of that fateful night. I remember reading about the incident when it hit the media although I don’t recall specifics. This film tells an important story that recounts the heroism and patriotism of six members of the GRS (Global Response Staff) who responded to a critical situation in a dangerous Libyan city that was in utter chaos, with no functioning government, and Islamic militia running rampant.

I had every intention of catching this film in the theater but it just didn’t work out. The trailer had me right from the start, and after seeing the movie, it pretty much lived up to expectations. As a fan of films based upon real people, especially those that draw from situations like this, I found 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi to be engaging, visceral and inspiring. Looking at it from a cinematic standpoint, it’s not well-rounded, in terms of its context and character development, however it gets focus of the narrative right. Knowing that surviving members of the attack served as consultants during the making of the film, lent an air of credibility, especially when it came to depicting the critical moments, which I found to be fleshed out quite well.

I thought that the members of the cast served the film well. I like John Krasinki and felt that he did a commendable job at the forefront. Director Michael Bay’s reputation precedes him, but in this case, I think he managed to shape the material, maintain the proper thematic tone and get the film’s message across with the respect it deserved. Is his signature style present? Yes, but I didn’t find that it watered down the proceedings.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi isn’t a perfect film but, it seems to faithfully capture the essence of its subject while paying respect to those that paid the ultimate price in order to protect their charge. Quite frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong combat violence throughout, bloody images, and language.

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(HDR-10): 96
(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: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 98
(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: 98
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was derived from a mix of film and digital sources, finished on a 2K DI and upconverted to 4K.

Let’s begin by understanding that the stylistic choices in shooting this film aren’t always lent to razor sharp imagery, and consistently natural use of color. 13 Hours looked very good on Blu-ray, so going into viewing this presentation my expectations were fairly high.

Wow! This can be a rather dark film that strives to recreate the look and feel of the Director Michael Bay’s vision. The video quality looks excellent in 1080p, but this Ultra HD rendering is something to behold. 13 Hours is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. In general, it is not an overtly bright film, although there are certainly bright elements. Dion Beebe’s terrific cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The attack upon the Embassy’s outpost with its inky blacks, detailed shadows and eye-catching HDR, provides a glimpse of what lies in store.

Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. With the increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears sharper and vivid when compared to the 1080p version. Primary and secondary colors are beautifully rich, while whites appear gradational and vibrant. When brought together, the combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones literally pop off of the screen.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of visual cues offset by gleams of brilliant light that emanate from headlights, roaring flames, sparks, tracer rounds, or explosions. Specular highlights abound, occasionally resulting in reflexive blinking in response to them. The film’s plethora of shadow laden environs offer increased resolve in terms of interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.

The standoffs at the Annex bring all of the presentation’s best elements together, putting on an HDR showcase that looks terrific. I was pleased with the 1080p rendering but found the Ultra HD presentation took it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. This presentation was all that I hoped it would be.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR-10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player in DV and HDR10 on my secondary UHD player. The title looked outstanding on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I did feel that the DV presentation offered slightly richer color rendition and handling of the finest details in shadows. The former wasn’t enough of a difference to warrant a rating difference but, I felt the latter did. As I said you can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music accompaniment. This is done to very excellent effect, creating a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events in an involving, and sometime visceral fashion. Prior to the attack at the Annex, there are several sequences that feature the sounds of helicopter props, bustling city streets and background ambience that effectively place you in the environment. Later, when things go wrong, there are a host of firefights, explosions, car chases, and pounding small arms exchanges that rotate around the soundstage, shifting overhead, passing by at ear level and coming directly at the listening position. Everything comes together in a resplendent blend of room traversing, and well-balanced sound that shows what this format is capable of.

* Note: Having now experience this Atmos track multiple times since my original review, I have increased my original rating from 96 to 98. *.

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

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Special Features Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Features

Final Thoughts:

Based on the nonfiction book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” by Mitchell Zuckoff, and Members of the Annex Security Team, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is an engaging film that captures the essence of its subject, while paying respect to those that paid the ultimate price in order to protect their charge. This highly anticipated debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution features dazzling, reference quality Ultra HD Blu-ray, the same rip-roaring Dolby Atmos/7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD lossless immersive/ surround sound found on the previous Blu-ray release, and, legacy bonus supplements that look behind the scenes at the making of the film. Revisiting 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on Ultra HD Blu-ray was a thoroughly engaging experience that comes highly recommend for fans. Enjoy!

 

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 AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray 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)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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