Ralph Potts reviews The Hunt for Red October , the first installment in the popular Jack Ryan film franchise which are making their debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution.

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

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

87
Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 1990
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 135 minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.20:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French/Spanish
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill
Directed by: John McTiernan
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Written by: Larry Ferguson & Donald Stewart based upon the Novel by Tom Clancy
Region Code: A

Release Date: August 21, 2018
"Invisible, Silent, Stolen "
My Take:

I reviewed The Hunt for Red October’s 2008 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, audio, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video are below.

It should be noted that this Ultra HD release is only available as part of the Jack Ryan 5-film Collection Ultra HD release.

Based on Tom Clancy's bestseller, directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard) and starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, The Hunt For Red October seethes with high-tech excitement and sweats with the tension of men who hold Doomsday in their hands. A new technologically-superior Soviet nuclear sub, the Red October, is heading for the U.S. coast under the command of Captain Marko Ramius (Connery). The American government thinks Ramius is planning to attack. A lone CIA analyst (Baldwin) has a different idea: he thinks Ramius is planning to defect, but he has only a few hours to find him and prove it - because the entire Russian naval and air commands are trying to find him, too. The hunt is on!

Well I have to tell you that I am ashamed to admit that prior to reviewing The Hunt for Red October in 2008 I had NEVER seen it in its entirety. I had caught glimpses here and there on cable etc. but that was about it. I saw Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger first and really liked Harrison Ford in the Jack Ryan role and just couldn’t see Alec Baldwin in the part. Since most are probably familiar with this movie I will forego any in depth commentary on the film. I am sure that I am not stating anything new to those reading this when I say that I really enjoyed this film.

Its strength lies in its story about a decorated Russian submarine Captain who along with a few of his key officers, desires to defect to the United States. In order to facilitate this, he needs the use of the newest and most advanced (Russian) submarine on the planet. The protagonist in the story is the only one who believes that the Russians are not looking to attack the U.S. and is under the gun to prove it before it’s too late. Add to that the excellent casting and John McTiernan’s superb direction and the results speak for themselves. It is easy to see how this film started the Clancy/Ryan movie franchise that followed.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for some violence and brief 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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 88
(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): 90
(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: 
 

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

The Hunt for Red October comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound.

From what I was able to gather from the studio The Hunt for Red October recently underwent a 4K re-mastering and its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.

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 The Hunt for Red October 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.

This twenty-eight-year old film utilizes a variety of visuals to convey its mood, and thematic tone. The cinematography uses lighting schemes, shadows and low-lit environs, that can often impart a dark visual aesthetic. This is purposeful and comes across in this rendering. Looking at the opening to chapter 3 the improvement in depth and definition is noticeable, especially in the finer details visible in the large metallic objects in the ship building yard. The same is true of the various shots of the instrument panels and where lighting permitted, the controls, aboard the submarines.

Where applicable, colors are emboldened, appearing deeper and richer when compared to the Blu-ray version. The application of high dynamic range is on point as well. The aforementioned shipyard sequence features brilliant light from welding torches and falling sparks, which appeared vibrant and lifelike. The overhead lights in the conn aboard the U.S.S. Dallas and The Red October had an extra layer of pop that stood out nicely against the room’s drab interior. It should be noted that I found several instances of black crush, which when compared to the Blu-ray, was less of an issue. I saw what appeared to be banding in one or two of the underwater sequences as well however, that was fleeting.

In terms of resolution The Hunt for Red October isn’t consistently sharp but, this is an innate quality. In general, the image looks very good in this regard, with softening being an element that rarely detracts from the overall visual experience. My initial reaction upon viewing some select scenes left me concerned as the gamma appeared skewed too far toward the dark end of the spectrum. Switching from the standard custom gamma curve I use for most viewing on my projector to a slightly brighter one brought things in line. Those using projectors may have to consider this when viewing. Those viewing via a flat panel will more than likely not have an issue.

I would say that this Ultra HD rendering made for a discernible improvement when compared to the Blu-ray rendering. I believe that what we are seeing, aside from the minor instances of banding, is a faithful rendering of the film’s elements, which when all is said and done, is all we can ask for. The question now becomes, is the Ultra HD version worth considering over the Blu-ray? I would say that if you’re a fan and truly want to own The Hunt for Red October in its finest form, the answer is, yes. If you’re satisfied with the Blu-ray version, then you’re good to go.

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 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 The Hunt for Red October, I found the HDR renderings to essentially be the same in terms of their rendering of color and high dynamic range. As I alluded to earlier, this can be a very dark film and I did find that the Dolby Vision version handled the very darkest of scenes better, yielding a slightly more uniform image.

Paramount included the same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel track as found on the original Blu-ray release. As I said when I review it originally, it was obvious from the start that this was going to be a mix that was going to utilize the entire surround platform. Imaging, clarity and detail combined to create an atmosphere where subtle nuances contained in the soundtrack were easy to comprehend. Dynamics were excellent and really helped to drive the film’s underwater battle sequences.

This mix made regular use of the surround channels. Sounds passing through the room had a wonderfully immersive feeling as they matched the onscreen action. I detected that surrounds may have been mixed just a tad too hot which sometimes overshadowed dialog. During quieter passages dialog was intelligible with concise tonal quality and articulation. I would like to have seen (or felt) deeper bass impact. It was present but didn’t have the quality and tactility that would have made it a better match with the rest of the audio. I would have preferred a re-mix which included an immersive soundtrack option. Be that as it may, I still enjoyed this one.

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

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Hunt for Red October Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Hunt for Red October Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Considered by many to be the best of the Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan films, The Hunt for Red October is an excellent film that made a great start to the film series. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution in this Ultra HD Combo Pack that features faithful overall Ultra HD video quality, complimentary lossless sound, and legacy supplements. The Hunt for Red October on Ultra HD is currently only available as part of the Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection. Hopefully we’ll see a separate UHD release so fans can have their pick of which films 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” 16x9 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
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