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post #1 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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The Dark Tower Ultra HD Review



Ralph Potts reviews this action/adventure based on the Stephen King book series, that pits good against evil, with the fate of the universe at stake.



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

Film:

Extras:

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

92



Details:

Studio and Year: Sony - 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 95 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @4000 NITS
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English, French, Portuguese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (Blu-ray), Spanish, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, TomTayler, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earl Haley
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Written by: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinker, Anders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: October 31, 2017


"In a World of Superheroes, There is Only One Gunslinger"


My Take:

Based on the best-selling book series by highly-acclaimed author Stephen King. The last Gunslinger, Roland (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the epic battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

I wasn’t familiar with the book series prior to seeing The Dark Tower, but as I generally like it’s type of story/genre, I went into viewing it with an open mind. Unfortunately, the narrative feels rushed, devoid of appropriate character development, lacking in cohesive connectivity to the events it depicts. The action isn’t nearly engaging enough to qualify it as solid popcorn entertainment, and the production elements, while fine, aren’t anything special. I do like Idris Elba, and enjoyed his performance, but couldn’t help but find myself wishing that there was much more for him to do with this character. Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black was played in his particular machismo style, which I find annoying.

At just over ninety minutes The Dark Tower didn’t seem to take the source material anywhere, resulting in a bland film experience that felt like a missed opportunity.


Replay Value: 1.5 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.



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): 92
(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): 94
(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: 92
(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

The Dark Tower comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 62 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.

The Dark Tower was shot digitally, derived from a mix of 3.4K and 6.5 K sources, and rendered from a 4K DI for its presentation in Ultra HD. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD sourced from 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far. In this case the results are excellent.

The 1080p transfer looks solid and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. The film has a multitude of sequences containing either fiery explosions, streaming /cascading light, and mixed light dark elements, that look terrific. At times this can be a somewhat darkish film, and its low-level sequences had excellent depth and dimension. The sequences that incorporate elements of brilliant light, are bright enough that it caused me to squint. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural as well.

The film utilizes a predominantly monochromatic scheme, with splashes of color, that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The nature of the photography didn't always allow the wide color gamut to shine but it was noticeable in the costumes, city lights, and makeup, worn by several of the characters. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and textures, that imparted a reach out and touch aesthetic. Looking at the presentation as a whole I would say that it makes for a distinct improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I recently added the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel to my review system. This was 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 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.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for The Dark Tower, I found the HDR renderings to be very close. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t lent to overtly bright color, but I did take a close look at the rendering of contrast, and delineation during scenes containing dark and bright highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, I felt that the DV presentation revealed slightly better interstitials in the darkest portions of the image, and white detail that wasn’t quite as hot, resulting in better definition. These differences aren’t especially noteworthy, but in the grand scheme, made for a more pleasing image. At the end of the day both looked excellent, leaving me satisfied with what I saw.

The Dark Tower has a very solid 5.1 channel surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered how much the immersive experience would improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the first act, there are several instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field. This continues with the film’s action based sequences as they convey the breadth/expanse of interiors and exterior venues, which bristle with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. The assault at the compound followed by the confrontation between Walter and Roland contains a host of sounds that utilize the overhead channels, creating an immersive listening experience.



Blu-ray Video:


Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


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



Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:


The Dark Tower comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 Mbps.

This film has an intentionally dark and reserved chromatic visual style that doesn’t lend itself to vibrant colors and glossy video quality. There are instances where brighter colors/elements are utilized and the boldly applied contrast allows them to pop visually. Otherwise onscreen images lean toward imagery that provides the thematic look intended to drive the story’s components. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is excellent overall and revealing of visible details within dark backgrounds and low lighting. Stable contrast and deep blacks allow scenes containing mixed content to appear gradationally satisfying with crisp whites and dynamic highlights. Resolution is discerning as images are characterized by intricate and definitively rendered detail that gives the video appreciable dimension and delineated texture. This is a solid high definition presentation that looked great on my large screen.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the action based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it complimented the source material.


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Dark Tower Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: The Dark Tower Blu-ray
     Deleted Scenes
     Blooper Reel
     A Look Through the Keyhole
     Five Featurettes
    o “Last Time Around”
    o “The World Has Moved On…”
    o “The Man in Black”
    o “The Gunslinger in Action”
    o “Stephen King Inspirations”
  • Digital HD Copy



Final Thoughts:

Based on the best-selling book series by Stephen King The Dark Tower is a middling adaptation that comes up short in most respects. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Combo Pack that enhances the image quality while invigorating the listening experience with a solid Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix. Also included is a fan friendly assortment of bonus materials that are worth exploring. The Dark Tower feels like a missed opportunity, but it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, which may make it worthy a rental.











Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



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post #2 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 12:03 PM
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Oh man..I had so hoped you'd like this one more Ralph. I missed it at the theater and was looking forward to your review of the UHD BR.

Maybe I can pick it up on the cheap during the holidays.
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post #3 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunmetalR56 View Post
Oh man..I had so hoped you'd like this one more Ralph. I missed it at the theater and was looking forward to your review of the UHD BR.

Maybe I can pick it up on the cheap during the holidays.

Greetings,

Well, it's not a terrible movie, it's just not a very good one. Of course that's just my opinion, you could very well enjoy it more than I did. I would agree that if you can pick it up for a decent price, the presentation could help make it a bit better.


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post #4 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 01:21 PM
 
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If one has a display with Dolby Vision....will there be some kind of "confirmation" on the screen or in the menu somewhere?
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post #5 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 01:22 PM
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Of all the Stephen King movies to drop the ball on, this should NOT have been one of them. These are really good books and this could have resulted in a fantastic series of films if done right. Clearly that wasn't the case. I haven't seen the film yet but the trailers showed me enough to know that very little of what was in the first two books made it to the screen (it was largely unrecognizable).


I guess they are proceeding with the TV series that was supposed to follow this but are going to do a full reboot as opposed to following up this film and continuing this story. Not sure if they'll use the same actors or not.
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post #6 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Deering View Post
Of all the Stephen King movies to drop the ball on, this should NOT have been one of them. These are really good books and this could have resulted in a fantastic series of films if done right. Clearly that wasn't the case. I haven't seen the film yet but the trailers showed me enough to know that very little of what was in the first two books made it to the screen (it was largely unrecognizable).


I guess they are proceeding with the TV series that was supposed to follow this but are going to do a full reboot as opposed to following up this film and continuing this story. Not sure if they'll use the same actors or not.

Exactly, Im just happy it was only 90 minutes. I saw it in the theater and could care less if I see it again, that's coming from someone who can easily replay quite a few movies. Epic fail for something that could have been much better.
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post #7 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreambo View Post
If one has a display with Dolby Vision....will there be some kind of "confirmation" on the screen or in the menu somewhere?
Greetings,

When the title loads I get a Dolby Vision (logo) popup on my display.


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post #8 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 05:08 PM
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I’ve ordered this movie as well I was really looking forward to it. Maybe I should of waited.

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post #9 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 05:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreambo View Post
If one has a display with Dolby Vision....will there be some kind of "confirmation" on the screen or in the menu somewhere?

Just like I told you in the Ralphs' Spider-Man Homecoming 4K/UHD review,
Your AVR does not support Dolby Vision pass-through, so you will only get the HDR feed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PioManiac View Post

If it doesn't say Dolby Vision, you don't have it.

Your TV and Oppo are both DV enabled by default,
So I'm guessing your signal is passing through an AVR that does not support DV pass through
and you're only getting HDR.

You either need to bypass the AVR by going direct Oppo to OLED for HDMI video only
...and the Oppo HDMI Audio out to your AVR for sound, or get a new AVR that has DV support..


Top Left corner (LG OLED input Signal Display)




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post #10 of 41 Old 10-26-2017, 08:04 PM
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Having taken Stephen King 20 years to complete the 7 book series I doubt any movie could live up the the actual writings. I have read the entire series and seen the movie. I did find the movie entertaining even tho it did not hold to the original writings.

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post #11 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 06:30 AM
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For someone that has never read the book(s) does the movie still hold enough weight to be worth the 90 minutes. Big fan of Elba.
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This movie smells of CHEAP cheap rental at best. I can't imagine wanting to pay to own it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PioManiac View Post
Just like I told you in the Ralphs' Spider-Man Homecoming 4K/UHD review,
Your AVR does not support Dolby Vision pass-through, so you will only get the HDR feed.
Thank you....Yes, I am driving all surrounds through an ONKYO RZ900. it is NOT DV compatible. There lies the issue. Thank you. The next step up for me if I wish to use Onkyo is the RZ100 and their DV will be available in 2 months....But I can put another 2 Dolby Atmos channels to make 4....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PioManiac View Post
Just like I told you in the Ralphs' Spider-Man Homecoming 4K/UHD review,
Your AVR does not support Dolby Vision pass-through, so you will only get the HDR feed.
Additional Update: For those who may be interested.

With the OPPO 203, you have a separate AUDIO OUT strictly for Audio. So instead of me having to buy another AVR with DV, and have to wait 2 months for the ONKYO RZ1100 for the DV firmware, I did a direct access into my LG Video 2 from the Video out on the OPPO....And VOILA....DOLBY VISION!
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post #15 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreambo View Post
Additional Update: For those who may be interested.

With the OPPO 203, you have a separate AUDIO OUT strictly for Audio. So instead of me having to buy another AVR with DV, and have to wait 2 months for the ONKYO RZ1100 for the DV firmware, I did a direct access into my LG Video 2 from the Video out on the OPPO....And VOILA....DOLBY VISION!
LOL!

That's what I said in my post above
(from the Spider-Man thread last week)

Quote:
Originally Posted by PioManiac View Post

You either need to bypass the AVR by going direct Oppo to OLED for HDMI video only
...and the Oppo HDMI Audio out to your AVR for sound
, or get a new AVR that has DV support..
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post #16 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PioManiac View Post
LOL!

That's what I said in my post above
(from the Spider-Man thread two weeks ago)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post
Greetings,





Regards,
Yes, you did say that. Yet, I did not believe my AVR was not DV ready. Now I know. Thank you for your advise.

It's a minor inconvenience to have to switch back to Video 1 for Digital TV, etc..yet for saving $600 for an upgrade is well worth the minor trade off. And the DV firmware will not be available until December 30...I don't think I can wait to watch Charleze in Atomic Blond until then....
I will probably upgrade anyway, to receive another 2 speaks for Atmos and the on-screen display and to free up the audio HDMI out for a CD player....
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post #18 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreambo View Post
Yes, you did say that. Yet, I did not believe my AVR was not V ready. Now I know. Thank you for your advise.

It's a minor inconvenience to have to switch back to Video 1 for Digital TV..yet for saving $600 for an upgrade is well worth the minor trade off.
I will probably upgrade anyway, to receive another 2 speaks for Atmos and the on-screen display and to free up the audio HDMI out for a CD player....
Everyone with a 2016/2017 Yamaha AVR is patiently waiting for a DV FW update too,
Unfortunately mine is a 2015 model and won't be getting it, so I feel your pain Brother.

Dual HDMI outs will buy me a couple more years until I upgrade again, already setup with 7.4.4
Going to hold out until HDMI 2.1 hits the market.

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post #19 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post
For someone that has never read the book(s) does the movie still hold enough weight to be worth the 90 minutes. Big fan of Elba.
Its not a horrible movie, but my disappointment of the finished product is why I was harsh. It came off as half ass'd to me.

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post #20 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 04:17 PM
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I've seen this yesterday and I totally agree with Ralph's rating. I was expecting much more. Too bad.
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post #21 of 41 Old 10-27-2017, 04:38 PM
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I've never read the books but you could tell there was so much more to the whole series than what was shown in 90 minutes. It felt rushed. Things aren't explained, hardly any back story. It should have been 3 hours based on 1 book only. I went with a coworker and he had listened to all the audio books and he told me so much that was left out
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post #22 of 41 Old 10-28-2017, 10:31 AM
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I didn't expect much but was entertained. It did feel rushed though, especially the first act. On the plus side, it was only 90 minutes so if you didn't enjoy it at least it was over quickly.
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post #23 of 41 Old 10-28-2017, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I didn't expect much but was entertained. It did feel rushed though, especially the first act. On the plus side, it was only 90 minutes so if you didn't enjoy it at least it was over quickly.
Greetings,

Thanks for chiming in Dave.

I agree with your point, highlighted above.



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post #24 of 41 Old 10-29-2017, 11:19 AM
 
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Everyone with a 2016/2017 Yamaha AVR is patiently waiting for a DV FW update too,
Unfortunately mine is a 2015 model and won't be getting it, so I feel your pain Brother.

Dual HDMI outs will buy me a couple more years until I upgrade again, already setup with 7.4.4
Going to hold out until HDMI 2.1 hits the market.
HDMI 2.1? Hard to realize how things can get even better with HDR/Dolby Vision 4K.
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post #25 of 41 Old 10-29-2017, 05:29 PM
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Well, it's not a terrible movie, it's just not a very good one. Of course that's just my opinion, you could very well enjoy it more than I did. I would agree that if you can pick it up for a decent price, the presentation could help make it a bit better.
There seems to be quite a bit of that going around these days. I.e., "not great" movies, but with impressive visuals or sound, doing battle with our normal criteria and critical nature. So we're buying (or renting) just for the eye/ear candy.


Ralph, Trivial Typo Alert! The review ends with "...it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, which may make it worthy a rental.". I think a word may have fallen on the editing room floor.


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The Dark Tower has a very solid 5.1 channel surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered how much the immersive experience would improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely.
It's been bothering me (and a few others as well), that studios are now withholding Atmos on Blu-ray, and reserving it for UHD. There's literally no reason for that (I have at least 50 Blu's with Atmos), but just a (sleazy?) tactic to force a move to buy 4K discs. In fact, some here have bought 4K players and 4K discs, and are down-scaling to 1080p for viewing... just to get the Atmos track. Something about that bothers me.

What I often wonder (and I'm not suggesting your review should cover such a topic), is how much difference someone with a full Atmos setup would notice, by relying on the DSU to upmix the provided surround sound tracks, to the Heights? If I had to guess, I'd suspect the atmospherics, ambiance, and music would be similar. The main failing (might) simply be the discrete objects that get panned around... assuming that such activity actually exists (which isn't always the case). They simply wouldn't track as accurately, and only gross movement (F/B, L/R) may be perceived... or none at all.

Any thoughts you might share on that?
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post #26 of 41 Old 10-31-2017, 08:23 PM
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I think you've been overly critical of this one, Ralph. The story really isn't bad, and is certainly far better than many of the more popular offerings in the fantasy/action genre. You just need to go with the flow of it.

Reference quality image and audio IMO, so I think you've short changed this one in that regard too.
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post #27 of 41 Old 11-01-2017, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I think you've been overly critical of this one, Ralph. The story really isn't bad, and is certainly far better than many of the more popular offerings in the fantasy/action genre. You just need to go with the flow of it.

Reference quality image and audio IMO, so I think you've short changed this one in that regard too.
Greetings,

Perhaps, but that was, and is, my take. I am glad that you enjoyed it though. As for the video/audio, I saw it as reference, so if you're quibbling about the rating, we are at best, splitting hairs.


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post #28 of 41 Old 11-16-2017, 01:40 AM
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I watched this movie last week have to admit it was okay but could of been better, felt very rushed at the end. I haven't read the books ( Apparently there is 7 of them ) it would of been good if they actually made a movie for each of the books in parts.

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post #29 of 41 Old 11-16-2017, 03:47 AM
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Thankfully, this particular movie has not been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate (unlike so many others), so in some respects it may be worth purchasing for use as a demonstration disc.

Out of interest... Is there a list somewhere of UHD movies that have been encoded from 4K digital intermediates?


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post #30 of 41 Old 11-17-2017, 05:48 AM
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First let me say, I did not read the books. I know from the excitement of bringing the books to the screen, they were beloved by fans. After reading a couple of the early reviews, I didn't bother seeing this film in the theater.

So last night I watched the blu ray (rental ). So I can't comment on the uhd or atmos soundtrack...but I can imagine both were outstanding. The blu ray, even though stripped of the atmos sound, sounded and looked great.

Going into the film with low expectations, I found myself enjoying the quality of the transfer than the quality of the movie. I wasn't bored, but I wasn't engaged either. It did seem obvious that the book's story elements were rushed to reach the 90 minute run time.

If I knew nothing about the books, I would have told you it was a YA book series. It felt like many of the YA book series adaptations. Maybe it was the focus of Jake as the principle character....not a disappointment, but just familiar feeling I was left with after watching the film.

I would watch the film again with someone who hasn't seen it...but I'd watch it just to enjoy the transfer than the film.
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