Rocketman Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of Rocketman from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Music by: Matthew Margeson
Written by: Lee Hall
Region Code: A

Release Date: August 27, 2019

“Based on the True Fantasy”

Synopsis:

Rocketman is a one-of-a-kind musical celebration set to Elton John’s most beloved songs. Discover how a shy, small-town boy becomes one of the most iconic figures in rock & roll.

My Take:

Rocketman is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story — set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton — tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture.

Growing up in the seventies and eighties I have clear recollections of Elton John, his entertaining flair onstage, the popularity of the music he played and, only bits and pieces of some of the difficulties associated with his personal life. I can’t say that I was a fan per se but, I enjoyed his music and fondly recall the various stages/events in my life that listening to it brings back. I went to the theater and took in Rocketman and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Much of this is owed to the performance of Taron Egerton in his portrayal of Elton John but, I really felt that the cast as an ensemble made the film work. The story focuses on Elton’s early life, containing bits of his childhood, meteoric rise to stardom, personal relationship with longtime friend and writing partner Bernie Taupin, the evolution of his life/career leading up to his rock bottom addictions and the events surrounding his path to sobriety.

The film is told via a narrative that incorporates Elton’s music through “live” performances by star Taron Egerton as well as a series of ensemble musical numbers that are wonderfully integrated. Rocketman isn’t a musical and most definitely falls within the category of a drama but, how the music is incorporated into its telling works quite well, adding an entertaining and, at times, Fantastical element that proves evocative. There is a rawness to the emotion that surrounds the pain endured by Reggie Dwight in childhood and how that pain would later unravel him as an adult named Elton John. I appreciated how it was conveyed in the film allowing the audience to have a fly on the wall perspective on a very personal level.

The film’s pacing is spot on, supporting its thematic tone, allowing a defining connection to the various stages of the story. Seeing it again proved every bit as engaging and, rewarding, as I found myself caught up in its series of memorable moments. I must once again praise Taron Egerton for giving us an amazing and moving tribute to a living music icon. Rocketman is a must see.

Replay Value:4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language throughout, some drug use, sexual content and thematic material.

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)

 

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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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

 

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Rocketman comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Media Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Rocketman was rendered from a 3.4K source and appears to have been finished on a 2K DI and, up-converted to 4K. The 1080p transfer for this film looks great and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, emboldened contrast, and a noticeably sharper image. The film utilizes a variety of environs that use both natural and artificial lighting that combines light/dark elements, that simply look terrific.

Color reproduction is consistent, with primaries like blue, red, and green appearing richer, even a bit more delineated. During interior sequences whites are emboldened, detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, particularly during the concert sequences in darkened venues, where shadows mixed with light looked very natural. The sun splashed exterior sequences looked great as well.

Resolution received a boost although the differences between the UHD and 1080p renderings aren’t quite night and day. Close-ups tend to look amazing, with resolvable texture visible in the various interior/exterior sets, physical features, and backgrounds being quite obvious. Having seen this film’s theatrical presentation, I believe that what we are seeing is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements. Rocketman in Ultra HD presents very well and is the best way to experience the film on home video.

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 Rocketman, I found the HDR renderings to be very close. Each presented similarly in terms of color rendering, but I did take a close look at contrast, and delineation, during scenes containing dark and bright elements. 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, resulting in better definition. The differences aren’t especially noteworthy, but in the grand scheme, made for a more pleasing image. At the end of the day both looked terrific, leaving me thoroughly satisfied with what I saw.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety which, considering the source material, was a nice surprise. Its use of audio objects placed above consists of atmospherics and discretely placed sounds that enhance the effects associated with the film’s various venues. Where the Atmos presentation sounded its best was during the film’s musical set pieces and, concert sequences. In many respects the track retained the feeling of being front focused, however when called upon its ability to render acoustics, point to point imaging and expanding the breadth of the soundstage never disappointed. While this Atmos mix doesn’t make constant use of attention-grabbing sounds from above, I found myself completely involved when it mattered. I found this to be an enjoyable audio presentation that absolutely complimented the source material.

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: 
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Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
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  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Rocketman comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range is broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are beautifully rendered with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen are exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The 7.1 soundtrack makes effective use of the surround platform and offers detail rich sonic clarity, and crystalline dialog reproduction. As you’d expect this mix doesn’t bombard you with aggressive surround sound. It applies it when appropriate and combines directional cues with supporting ambience that fills the listening area nicely. The front and rear sound field never collide but work in unison to render the soundtrack’s elements. Dynamic range and bass response are appropriate, adding thematic emphasis and resonating punch when called upon. This is a solid audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Rocketman Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Rocketman Blu-ray
    • Extended Musical Numbers:
    o Introduction by Dexter Fletcher
    o The Bitch Is Back
    o Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
    o Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache
    o Honky Cat
    • Deleted and Extended Scenes:
    o Introduction by Dexter Fletcher
    o I Love Rock And Roll
    o You’ve Got to Kill the Person You Were Born To Be
    o Arabella
    o Elton in the Gas Oven
    o Stylish Boots
    o You’re Not the First Closet Queer with a Mummy Complex
    o The Blood Test
    o The Heart Attack
    o The Launderette
    o Do You Want Anything?
    • It’s Going to Be a Wild Ride: Creative Vision
    • Becoming Elton John: Taron’s Transformation
    • Larger Than Life: Production Design & Costuming
    • Full Tilt: Staging the Musical Numbers
    • Music Reimagined: The Studio Sessions – Behind the scenes in the recording studio with Taron & Elton
    • ROCKETMAN Lyric Companion: Sing-Along with Select Songs (English only):
    o The Bitch Is Back
    o I Want Love
    o Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
    o Your Song
    o Crocodile Rock
    o Tiny Dancer
    o Honky Cat
    o Rocket Man
    o Bennie and the Jets
    o Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
    o Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
    o Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    o I’m Still Standing
    • ROCKETMAN Jukebox: Jump Straight to the Music
  • Digital

Final Thoughts:

Rocketman is an engaging and entertaining biopic that features a sterling performance by Taron Egerton in the lead role. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring top notch Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a worthwhile supplemental package. If you’re a fan Rocketman is a must have for your Blu-ray collection.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra 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
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray 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