Ralph Potts reviews the 25th Anniversary Edition of this Bill Murray classic that is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Sony - 1993
Feature running time:
English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Surround
English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray
Danny Rubin & Harold Ramis
January 23, 2018
"He is Having the Day of His Life…Over and Over Again"
I reviewed Groundhog Day’s 2009 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound mix are below.
Bill Murray is at his wry, wisecracking best in this riotous romantic comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the worst day of his life. Teamed with a relentlessly cheerful producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart-aleck cameraman (Chris Elliott), TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. But on his way out of town, Phil is caught in a giant blizzard, which he failed to predict, and finds himself stuck in small-town hell. Just when things couldn't get any worse, they do. Phil wakes the next morning to find it's Groundhog Day all over again... and again... and again.
I have been a Bill Murray fan since seeing him on Saturday Night Live and his early films such as Meatballs, Caddyshack, and Stripes. I haven’t seen every film he has made but I think I have seen most. “What about Bob?” is among my Murray favorites and Groundhog day
was his very next film so I looked forward to it. I recall seeing it theatrically and immediately finding it different than most of his other movies. I liked how the film blended humor, drama, and romance into a fantasy based story about a cynical, condescending, weatherman, who took things and people for granted. He goes to Punxsutawney, PA for the third year in a row to cover the annual Groundhog festival. To him, it is belittling, and time wasting, but this year Phil Connor (Murray) is in for a different experience.
He completes his brief and somewhat sarcastic coverage of the event and can’t leave town fast enough. The problem is that an approaching snow storm strands Phil, producer Rita (MacDowell), and cameraman Larry (Elliott) in Punxsutawney for another night. Phil awakes the next morning to find that it is still February 2nd (Groundhog Day), and that he is the only one who knows it. No matter what Phil does he is trapped in an ongoing loop that cycles the same day over and over and over….
Phil Connor is in need of a lesson. He looks at the people around him and fails to see their worth outside of what, if anything, they can do for him. He remains trapped in this close knit, small town, until he realizes that perhaps he needs to look at the events in his life as well as the people from a different perspective. During the course of his repetitive stay he develops feelings for Rita. Initially he uses the time loop process to learn about her by taking things he picked up in the previous iteration to cajole her into falling for him. This backfires and results in frustration for Phil. He eventually learns through bitter experience that perhaps he is looking at it from the wrong viewpoint.
After he successfully convinces Rita of what has been going on she points out that maybe he should look at it as a blessing rather than a curse and that he should take advantage of the time he has to do something worthwhile. This is carefully played out over the course of the movie and I like how it slowly builds for Phil as he begins to figure things out. I enjoy watching Phil’s transition from the cynical, wise cracking, opportunist to someone of measured worth who sees the value in people. This then becomes reflective and the people around him can see the qualities and value in Phil.
I love watching Murray in this role as I think it offers him the chance to be more than just funny. The supporting cast is well placed, especially Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned Ryerson, who steals every scene he is in. I liked Andie MacDowell as Rita and thought that she and Phil were written as two perfectly contrasted opposites that would attract. I am glad to see this film brought to Ultra HD Blu-ray. It will be added to my collection, and replace my existing 2009 Blu-ray version.
The rating is for thematic elements</p>The rating is for thematic elements.
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: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Dolby Atmos Rating: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- HDR: Dark Highlights:
- HDR: Bright Highlights:
- HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
- Visual Impact:
Groundhog Day comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.
- Level of immersion:
- Soundstage integration:
- Audio object placement:
- Entertainment factor:
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 Groundhog Day 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.
I have seen Groundhog Day countless times in standard and high definition. Looking at the film's opening moments in Pittsburgh, the improvement in depth and delineation was immediately noticeable. I noticed that film grain took on more emphasis here and there which some may interpret as background noise, but I didn’t detect any extraneous noise. It’s not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. The cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and warmer chromatic accents. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition. Color reproduction benefited from the wider color gamut, especially blues, and reds which pop nicely. The wide-angle shots of Gobler’s Knob, and the interior of the diner looked great. The chase through town to the quarry reveled lots of textures and wonderfully rendered earth tones.
High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Bright highlights, such as flashes of lightbars on the police vehicle, and the explosion at the quarry, appeared vibrant, while dark highlights were rendered with appreciable dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. As I watched I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again. Hands down, this is the best Groundhog Day has looked on home video. Kudos to Sony for giving this the treatment it deserves. Hopefully we can expect continued support of the Ultra HD releases from their extensive catalog.
The new Dolby Atmos mix uses the entire platform so as to broaden the soundstage. This includes off camera sounds and low-level ambience. The music is mixed over the sound field, adding natural depth to its orchestrated elements while complimenting the film’s thematic details. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized. I appreciated the fact that the sound designers didn't go overboard with the freedom of object versus channel based mixing. The soundtrack retains much of its original essence with the Atmos mix adding a noticeable increase in scope.
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
- Disc 1: Groundhog Day Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Disc 2: Ground Day Blu-ray
- Legacy Bonus Features
- Digital HD Copy
is among my favorite Bill Murray films, and is considered by many to be a comedy classic. Its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers fans a chance to see it looking its best. The bonus supplements are the same as those on the 15th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray and also includes a Digital Copy. For fans equipped for Ultra HD Blu-ray this is a no brainer.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
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