Hostiles Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this western drama that follows a U.S. Cavalry officer who must escort a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana in 1892.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

86

Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate – 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 134 minutes
Genre: Drama/Western

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

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane, Ben Foster
Written & Directed by: Scott Cooper
Music by:
Based on the Manuscript by: Donald E. Stewart
Region Code: A

Release Date: April 24, 2018

“We Are All…Hostiles”

My Take:

Set in 1892, Hostiles tells the story of a legendary Army captain (Bale) who, after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche, and ruthless outliers that they encounter along the way.

I consider myself to be a fan of period films, especially those taking place in the old west. Hostiles interested me due to its subject matter and the casting of Christian Bale, Wes Studi, and Rosamund Pike. Firstly, I loved the film’s cinematography. The backdrop of the story is every bit as essential to its telling and it’s captured beautifully. The narrative has a gritty classic western feel, that is shaped as much by its unflinching brutality as its resonating drama, which speaks to the human condition during desperate times, that called for desperate measures.

The characters aren’t diverse in design, but it’s the evolution of their relationships over the course of the film that proves engaging. Not all of what transpires flows smoothly within the construct of the plotline or thematic tone, and the film runs about 20 minutes too long, but I found the spirit of Hostiles to be compelling. The action is quite good, and doesn’t feel disingenuous, given the time frame and references featured in the story. I found the performances to be very good, especially by the three core actors, Bale, Pike, and Studi. Hostiles isn’t classic western fare, but it most definitely rooted in the genre, and delivers a rewarding film experience that should appeal to discerning fans.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong violence 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.**

Audio: 92
(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): [/list][/b]

UHD Presentation: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Hostiles comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Hostiles was shot on film and rendered from a 4K DI. 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 Hostiles has an aesthetic that features many low-lit environs, natural lighting, and chromatic schemes that won’t result in the type of glossy, tack-like sharpness typically associated with films shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

This can be a dark film, both tonally and visually, with many of its scenes taking place in low lit environs with natural or candescent lighting. Looking at the film’s opening moments the improvement in depth and definition compared to the 1080p rendering was noticeable. I could detect the finer details present in the exterior shots and the close-ups as well. The dusk/dawn exteriors of the rustic landscapes didn’t offer a marked improvement in dimension but sharpness was stable. The color range in the film is limited, but the rendering of primary colors, looked a tad punchier here than on the Blu-ray.

I didn’t find that HDR played a significant role in this presentation. The video’s dynamic range was stable throughout, with no especially noteworthy use of bright highlights. Again, I didn’t see this as a shortcoming as I believe it coincided with the film’s visual design. I did find that black levels were on the aggressive side, which caused a bit of black crush. Shadow detail didn’t suffer egregiously. As for which version to take home, I think that either gets the job done, but feel free to let your wallet be your guide.

The 5.1 channel soundtrack is quite good and makes active use of the entire system. This is a solid lossless soundtrack that features noteworthy dynamic range and punchy bass that augment the impact associated with the films action-based elements and music. The mix facilitates seamless integration of the front and rear channels, creating a stable and proportioned listening experience. The surround channels are actively engaged with a blend of discretely placed sounds and spatial ambience. Dialog it reproduced with aplomb as I never had any trouble with prioritization even during the film’s active segments.

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

Blu-ray Video:

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:

 

Hostiles comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video.

By design this film doesn’t boast vibrant colors are eye popping visuals but the encoding appears solid. Colors have a muted level of saturation and those used are rarely bright which give the perception of a limited palette. Overall, they are naturally rendered and appear to fall within the visual range intended. Fleshtones have complexional distinction, but the lighting used can sometimes leave them appearing flat and lacking in texture. Blacks are respectable with above average delineation. Shadow detail is quite good which enhances visual perception during the many scenes shot in limited lighting. Resolution is adequate so that varying degrees of detail can be seen in close ups but the video isn’t razor sharp or dimensionally strong. It isn’t a bright film which when coupled along with the reserved chromatic scheme gives it a somewhat dull finish. This seems to coincide with the creative decisions of the filmmakers and results in stable imagery that lacks the eye-popping definition that some may expect from a newer film.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Hostiles Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Hostiles Blu-ray
  • A Journey to the Soul: The Making of Hostiles (3 Part Mocumentary)
    • Provenance
    • Removing the Binds
    • Don’t Look Back
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the manuscript by Donald E. Stewart, and written/directed by Scott Cooper, Hostiles is an engaging, and gritty western drama that benefits from solid performances, and enriching cinematography. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring faithful video quality, excellent lossless sound and a fair supplemental offering. Hostiles is time well spent and deserves a place near the top of your Blu-ray rental queue.

 

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
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)
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