Ralph Potts reviews this classic American film from Director Clint Eastwood, which won four Academy Awards, and is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Warner - 1992
Feature running time:
English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Stereo
English SDH, French, Spanish
Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Frances Fisher, Saul Rubinek, Jaimz Woolvet
David Webb Peoples
May 16, 2017
"It’s a Hell of a Thing, Killing a Man"
is the unsparing Western saga of a man who cannot escape his violent destiny, on the harsh American Frontier where heroes and legends rise and fall. Eleven years have passed since Billy Munny (Eastwood) laid down his weapons, dedicating himself to his young children and struggling farm. But when a huge bounty lures Munny back into action with his loyal partner, Ned Logan (Freeman), the tortured former gunslinger faces vicious sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Bill Hackman) and the lethally elegant mercenary English Bob (Harris). Even more terrifying, Munny finds himself regressing into the cold-blooded killer he once was.
is among Clint Eastwood’s best work, on both sides of the camera. Not your prototypical western, containing larger than life characters and shoot ‘em up action, this is an engaging, character driven western drama that bristles with thematic depth, stemming from a wonderfully shaped narrative that upends convention with superlative subtext. It is among my favorite westerns and what I consider to be Eastwood’s finest performance. Unforgiven
is considered to be a modern classic, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and being named to the American Film Institute’s Top 100. This Ultra HD Blu-ray marks the fourth time I have owned it on home video, and watching It never gets old.
The rating is for language and violence, and some sexuality.
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.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
UHD Presentation: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
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
Unforgiven comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
- HDR: Dark Highlights:
- HDR: Bright Highlights:
- HDR: Expanded Color:
- Visual Impact:
For this 25th anniversary release Warner remastered Unforgiven
from the original 35mm film elements. Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate.
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 Unforgiven 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 period film that utilizes a variety of visuals to convey its time frame, mood, and thematic tone. The cinematography uses lighting schemes, shadows and low lit environs, that can often impart a dark visual aesthetic. This is purposeful and comes across in this rendering. Looking at the film's opening sequence the improvement in depth and definition is noticeable, especially during the daytime scenes as Ned, the Kid, and Will set out on their journey. I could detect some finer details present during interiors and in backgrounds during wide angle shots. The nighttime exterior shots of the various landscapes didn’t offer a marked improvement in dimension, but sharpness was stable. The color range in the film is narrow, with only the occasional use of primary colors like red and blue appearing onscreen.
I found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark, however some of that is owed to the nature of the photography. Overall the image didn't make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. In general, the image, which looked fine overall, lacked a stark improvement when compared to the Blu-ray rendering, which may speak to the quality of that encode. Again, I believe that what we are seeing is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements, which when all is said and done, is all we can ask for. The question now becomes, is the Ultra HD version worth considering over the Blu-ray? I would say that if you’re a fan and truly want to own Unforgiven
in its finest form, the answer is, yes. If you’re happy with the Blu-ray and are hoping for a night and day difference, the UHD rendering may disappoint you.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mix presents this soundtrack’s elements quite naturally. There is lots of spoken dialog in the film but it contains a variety of sounds and music that benefit from the high resolution afforded by lossless sound. The recording sounds a little dated but refined and dynamically supported. Sound effects are cleanly reproduced and free from strident highs or an edgy midrange. The front soundstage is narrow, but opens up nicely during several sequences. There isn’t much in the way of active surround sound or deep low frequency effects but the application of supportive rear channel ambience and upper level bass adds an enriching element that enhances the presentation.
- Disc 1: Unforgiven Ultra HD Blu-ray
Disc 2: Unforgiven Blu-ray
- Commentary by Clint Eastwood Biographer Richard Schickel
- 4 Documentaries
- Classic Maverick Episode “Duel at Sundown”
- Theatrical Trailer
- Digital HD Copy
is a classic American film that is beloved by many and heralded as one of the best western movies of all time. This Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, which includes the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release marks its third foray onto Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. If you’re set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray and don’t already own the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release this offering is an excellent choice. If you already own the 20th Anniversary release, the option to upgrade will depend on how important the minor improvement in overall video quality is to you. For me, watching Unforgiven in Ultra HD is the only way that I will watch it going forward. If you want to take your cue from that, than you have your answer.
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” 16x9 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