Justice League Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy as part of the Justice League.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 120 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Action

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jason Momoa, Ciaran Hinds, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 13, 2018

“Justice For All”

My Take:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

I went to see Justice League with my son when it opened in theaters last year. I don’t know, films based on DC Comics heroes have a lot of ground to make up, and the idea of the Justice League seemed like a step in the right direction. There have been iterations of Batman and Superman, and thoughts about the most recent vary, from one person to the next. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman seems to have gotten it right, which is a good thing, but, this hodgepodge of a story, with its shallow character development, one staged action, and lack of inspiring thrills, left me scratching my head upon that first viewing.

Sitting down with it again, I wanted to see if another viewing would bear fruit, and it did, sort of. Casting aside the aforementioned shortcomings, I opted to look for any positives, settling on taking the flimsy plot at face value, and looking for moments, that had entertainment value. They are few, but, I did find the experience of watching Justice League to be a bit more fun this time. Perhaps because expectations were properly aligned, I knew what, and where, things were going, and was able to focus on the story’s lighter elements, and one or two meaningful interactions, which of course involved Wonder Woman.

So, we continue to wait for a DC Universe film that picks up the ball and carries it all or most of the way. Justice League isn’t a complete swing and miss. This second time around it feels more like a weak grounder to third, that is beat out for an infield single. It has a few moments, but, they aren’t enough to elevate it to a place deserving of its source material.

Replay Value: 3 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of sci-fi 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): 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: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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

 

Justice League comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 64 Mbps, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps, and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.4 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Justice League was derived from a mix of film, and 2.8K/5K sources and was finished at a 2K Digital Intermediate.

The 1080p transfer looks solid, and this Ultra HD rendering takes it to the next level with a discernible increase in detail, emboldened highlights, both light and dark, and a noticeably vibrant image. This is an excellent presentation to show off the benefits of high dynamic range. The film has a multitude of fiery explosions, streaming/cascading light, and mixed light/dark elements. They simply look stunning. This is a somewhat dark film, and its low-level sequences look terrific. The sequences that incorporate elements of brilliant light, like pretty much any of the battles with Steppenwolf, look amazing. The specular highlights are detailed, and bright enough that they caused me to squint in many cases. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural as well.

The film utilizes various chromatic schemes, with a cooler overall visual aesthetic, that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The nature of the photography didn’t always allow the wide color gamut to shine, but, scenes like the one in the opening where Wonder Woman deals with the terrorists, the wide-angle shots of the Kent farm, or the sprouting vegetation in the finale in Russia, revealed richer earth toned hues and lush color. Close ups reveal fine detail, abounding textures, and appreciable chromatic delineation in the costumes worn by the cast.

Based upon the excellent quality of the original source the difference between viewing Justice League in high definition, and Ultra HD, isn’t night and day, but there is no question that its UHD presentation benefitted from the increase in resolution, and high dynamic range treatment. This is among the more entertaining visual releases I have seen from the format, and I hope to see more like it.

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.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Justice League, I found the HDR renderings to be close, but, the Dolby Vision presentation edged out the HDR-10 rendering. This came primarily in the form of improved interstitials in blacks and deeper resolvable shadows. I also thought that white detail fared better ever so slightly. Color rendering was a tossup, but, if I was forced to choose, I would give the nod to the Dolby Vision’s reproduction of red and blue. As I alluded to earlier, each of these presentations looked terrific, and share many of the same positive attributes. I suspect that those capable of viewing it in Dolby Vision will find it to be just a notch above.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of sounds placed above is a mix of music, atmospherics and discrete effects. This is done well and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. Over the course of the film there are various sequences (such as the Amazon’s encounter with Steppenwolf, or the extended underground battle below Gotham) where environmental sounds, music cues and discrete objects are mixed to differing locations in the sound field, adding a head turning element to the viewing experience.

The large set piece in the finale, finishes things off with a bang as flying debris, atmospherics, and near field objects rotate, and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. I enjoyed this immersive sound mix, and think that it complimented the source material, making for a noticeably richer listening experience when compared to the 5.1 channel mix.

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: 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: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 

 

Justice League comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps, and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.4 Mbps.

Having seen Justice League theatrically, I found this rendering to faithfully mimic that presentation. The film utilizes a stylized visual design comprised of various elements that represent the differing environs featured in the story. The color range is limited to shades of dark blue, grays and black with splashes of broader colors and sepia tones. Warm golden accents are used to break up the monochromatic essence as uneven light and shading are prevalent. Primary colors are a bit exaggerated, but, not distractingly so. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are snappy, and crisp, and grays are multi-staged and layered. Blacks are dynamic, and gradational, and detail in shadows is excellent. The large amount of CGI featured in the film softens some of the background elements, but I didn’t find it to be excessive, or distracting, as the quality of the video is high.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack (as well as the 7.1 Dolby True HD Atmos core) is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems near reference. This recording has wide dynamic range, and boasts superlative clarity, and high-level detail. Dialog is appreciably lucid through the center channel as it penetrates well into the room. Channel separation and imaging is excellent. This draws out both large and small sound elements and allows their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds contained in this soundtrack. Where called upon the listening position is submerged in sound that bombards the senses with a combination of discretely placed, near field, and panning sound effects. Low frequency effects are applied with authority, and occasionally provide room shuddering bass. For those so equipped, I preferred the 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD sound over the 5.1 channel mix, but, either one is guaranteed to give your home theater a workout.

** It should be noted that the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack is the default audio option. Listening to the Dolby Atmos mix requires entering the audio set up menu and manually selecting it.**

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Justice League Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Justice League Blu-ray
    • Road to Justice
    o Journey alongside DC comic creators as they explore over fifty years of the Justice League, from comic books to animated adventures to their cinematic debut.
    • Heart of Justice
    o Discover the heart, soul and mind of the Justice League, as the cast and filmmakers share their admiration for DC’s iconic Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
    • Technology of the Justice League
    o From Batman’s arsenal to Cyborg’s alien tech, interface with the Justice League database to learn their most advanced secrets.
    • Justice League: The New Heroes
    o Join Ray Fisher on a personal tour to meet the newest members of the Justice League: Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg.
    • The Return of Superman
    o Bonus scenes not seen in theaters
    • Steppenwolf the Conqueror
    o Join actor Ciarán Hinds and the filmmakers as they reveal the story behind mankind’s ancient enemy and the Justice League’s greatest challenge.
    • Scene Studies: Revisiting the Amazons
    o Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
    • Scene Studies: Wonder Woman’s Rescue
    o Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
    • Scene Studies: Heroes Park
    o Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
    • Scene Studies: The Tunnel Battle
    o Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
    • Suit Up: The Look of the League
    o Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson explores the innovation and artistry that goes into creating the costumes of DC’s iconic heroes.
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Justice League fails to live up to its iconic subject matter, but, manages to entertain at a base level that didn’t leave me thoroughly disappointed. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring excellent Ultra HD video, in both HDR-10 and Dolby Vision flavors, reference quality high definition audio/video, a terrific Dolby Atmos sound mix, and a solid supplemental set. Justice League doesn’t live up to the better films in its genre, but, makes for an entertaining home theater experience, that some enthusiasts may choose to own.

 

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 

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