Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Episode VIII, in the continuing saga of good versus evil, in a galaxy far far away.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

90

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 152 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos7.1.4/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew
Written & Directed by: Rian Johnson
Music by: John Williams
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: March 27, 2018

“Episode VIII”

My Take:

Luke Skywalker’s peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy.

I thought that I would begin with some of my comments from my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

I, like many of you reading this am a Star Wars fan, with a particular love of Episodes IV, V, VI. When it was first announced that a new Star Wars film was in the works I had mixed feelings, until I saw the first trailer. Those mixed feelings were replaced with eager anticipation. On December 29th 2015 I took Star Wars: The Force Awakensin at my local Cineplex. Prior to seeing it I heard minor complaints/rumblings that the film felt like a rehashing of Episode IV. My feeling is that with the direction taken with The Force Awakens, it was essential to establish a definitive correlation between the iconography and thematic foundation of Star Wars (particularly episode IV) and the development of the progression of this next generation.

As with The Force Awakens, I took in The Last Jedi in the theater (on Christmas Eve), going in with reserved, but, hopeful expectations. I didn’t hear positive things from people that had seen it which tempered my anticipation even more. As I sat and watched it with my wife and son, who, is a SW fan, I found myself somewhat perplexed at what appeared to be the film’s primary plot point. It revolved around a group of the Resistance being pursued by a fleet of heavily armed ships from the First Order, and the deployment of two Resistance members, whose objective is to obtain a code breaker, and return with him to assist with disabling the First Order Fleet’s primary weapon, which is aboard their main ship.

In the meantime, the Resistance vessels, which are dangerously low on fuel, have to maintain just enough distance to reduce the effectiveness of the First Order’s cannon volleys on their defense shields. The remaining subplots involve Rey and Luke Skywalker, coming to terms with the status of the Jedi, Rey and Kylo, their place in the ongoing conflict, and what their futures look like, and lastly, the aforementioned exploits of Resistance members, Finn, and newcomer Rose, as they struggle to stave off the impending destruction of the Resistance Fleet, by locating and code breaker.

I really wanted to sit back and settle in for an enjoyable fantasy adventure. I can be forgiving of small narrative shortcomings, but, when it comes to Star Wars, there needs to be enough meat on the bone to bind the elements to the iconic status of the franchise. We get some of that here, but, not enough. The primary plot and its execution is not only thin, but, a little silly. I thought that the mystery surrounding Supreme Leader Snoke in TFA, was effectual, but, that isn’t fleshed out at all. Given his status and abilities, there needed to be more development behind not only him, but, the First Order. Nope. After how TFA ended, I looked forward to the establishment of the relationship between Luke and Rey. That didn’t happen, and, to say that Luke Skywalker was drawn as a shell of his former self would an understatement. His reasons for this are stated clearly enough, but, doesn’t hold water.

I continue to like Poe, Finn, BB-8, and Rey. I really liked newcomer Vice Admiral Holdo (played very well by Laura Dern), and Rose, but, wasn’t crazy about the proposed relationship between she and Finn. We’ll have to see about that, I suppose. I don’t know, I didn’t dislike The Last Jedi, but, there were things ABOUT it, that didn’t sit right, making it feel less traditional than any of the Star Wars films in the franchise. I was very curious to see how I would feel after a second viewing. My feelings haven’t changed. Overall, I enjoyed the moments that felt Star Wars like, and it is my hope that things get back on track.

Replay Value: 3.0 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.

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): 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: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 98
(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: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Star Wars: The Last Jedi was rendered from 2.8K/3.4K/6.5K/35/65 MM film sources and finished on a 4K DI. The 1080p transfer looks solid and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, color depth, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. The film has a series of fiery explosions, streaming/cascading light and mixed visual elements, that look terrific. This is primarily a dark film and its low-level sequences had excellent depth and dimension. Blacks are rich, and defining, and the rendering of shadow detail in most respects, is excellent. The sequences that incorporate elements of brilliant light, like the Luke and Rey’s stormy battle, Finn and Phasma’s dual, set against the fiery backdrop of the crippled Star Destroyer, or the hyperspace jumps, were bright enough that I found myself blinking is response to them. The use of shadows mixed with light, like those that took place in the mine/base in the finale, looked very natural as well.

The film utilizes varying chromatic schemes, incorporating splashes of vivid color, that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. I noticed an uneven quality when it came to resolution. In the early parts of the film some shots looked appreciable sharp and delineated, while others appeared less so. This evened out during the latter parts of the film, seemingly beginning around chapter 43, after which, images looked excellent. Close ups revealing plenty of fine detail and textures, that where so noted, imparted a reach out and touch aesthetic. The close up of Leia where she is peering out of the entrance of the mine/base as Finn and Rose approach (with the First Order in hot pursuit) is a great example.

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 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 Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I found the HDR to be close, but felt that the DV rendering bettered the HDR-10. Much of this came when comparing the same scenes, and finding that the rendering of color was not only slightly deeper, but more delineated. The overhead shots of the salt flats with hits crimson streaks, as well as the deeply saturated reds in Snoke’s chamber, are good examples. The same held true for the various shades of primary and secondary hues in the casino sequence. I also thought that specular highlights in the various explosions, in chapter 43 and 44, offered better resolved gradations. While I wouldn’t categorize these differences as stark, I definitely felt that the DV rendering was my preference.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the reserved variety in its use of sounds that emanate from above. Predominantly speaking its use of sounds in the height plane is limited to music score extension, and pointed supplemental object fills during active sequences. During the opening segment I was surprised at how little the overhead speakers came into play. The scene sounded fine, but, perhaps not as involving as it may have been otherwise. Beginning in chapter 43, with Holdo’s sacrifice, the sound field comes alive, placing you in the heart of the action.

Clearly the design here was based on creative decisions that utilized the object-based platform in a way that, in my opinion, adhered closer to an augmented channel derived listening experience. There is no question that the overall depth of the soundstage benefited from the freedom associated with object-based placement. I couldn’t help but wonder if deeper utilization of the height channels would have sweetened the audio experience even more. While this mix may not make frequent use of the entire Atmos platform, I enjoyed the effectiveness of this mix as a whole and thought that it made for an entertaining listening experience.

** It should be noted that this track, like several other recent releases from Disney, is mixed at a lower volume. Listening at higher volume settings, in my case 10 to 12 decibels above my normal listening levels, is required to derive the best dynamics. **

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: 100
(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: 
  • Dialogue Reproduction: 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

This is a superb looking and faithful Blu-ray presentation that delivers high level detail, razor sharpness and resolute definition that brings out the lifelike textures captured by the camera lens. Detail perception is nearly flawless with lucid visual acuity and fine rendering throughout. Colors are vividly pleasing with satisfying primaries and warm tonality. Flesh tones are a bit pallid but appear natural with appreciable delineation among the varied complexional types in the cast. Spot on contrast and inky blacks enhance sequences containing mixed content. Shadow detail is discerning which adds depth to the film’s variety of sequences shot in low lighting. On occasion the nature of the photography softens some shots but its effects are innate as fidelity appears unaffected. From what I could see there are no compression related video artifacts or noise present in this whistle clean high definition video transfer that looked superb on my big screen.

This 7.1 channel presentation (in both the DTS-HD MA and TrueHD/Atmos-core) features solid dynamics built around a nicely balanced surround mix that hits the mark when the action kicks in. Dialog and music play a major role, with the former offering excellent intonation and descriptive character. John Williams’ beautifully crafted music sounds smooth and airy, with a room filling quality that augments the onscreen action. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean depths, or thoroughly room coupling presence, but its palpable energy supports the film’s thematic elements, augmenting the impact and tangibility of explosions, weighty objects and weapon fire. For comparison sake, I would say that this track isn’t up to the level of Guardians of the Galaxy but holds its own fair enough.

** It should be noted that this track, like several other recent releases from Disney, is mixed at a lower volume. Listening at higher volume settings, in my case 10 to 12 decibels above my normal listening levels, is required to derive the best dynamics. **

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Blu-ray
    • The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
    • Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
    • Scene Breakdowns
    o Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
    o Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
    o Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
    • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
    • Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
    • Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the eighth episode in the iconic film series. It’s a mixed bag, that doesn’t resonate as strongly as the better films it follows, but, it has its share of chord striking moments that elicit some emotion, reminding us that it’s Star Wars. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultimate Collector’s Edition from Disney featuring top notch Ultra HD video, including Dolby Vision HDR, engaging lossless surround sound, a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fan friendly supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. If you are a Star Wars fan that enjoyed The Last Jedi this Blu-ray offering belongs in your collection.

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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