IT Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s chilling, horror masterpiece, about a group of bullied kids that band together when a shapeshifting monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

97

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 135 minutes
Genre: Horror/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
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: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgard, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Written by: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman
Region Code: A

Release Date: January 9, 2018

“You’ll Float Too”

My Take:

Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, supernatural, shape-shifting evil, calling itself “Pennywise the Dancing Clown”, that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children, taking the form of their most horrific fears. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the unspeakable, shape-shifting evil, which is the only way for them to survive.

I read Stephen King’s novel about twenty years ago now. I can still feel the rippling effect its creepy story had on me at the time. The 1990 TV miniseries based on the book, which starred Tim Curry in the pivotal role of “Pennywise” simply didn’t cut it, proving to lack the palpable elements of horror conveyed by King’s words brought to life within one’s imagination as you read.

When I saw the trailer for IT I was intrigued, hoping that with the production elements present today, coupled along with strong script, that perhaps it would capture the essence of the novel. I saw it in the theater opening weekend. The novel is long, so trying to adapt its length to a single film, would be problematic. I was happy to see that the film focused on the beginnings of the story, which centered on the seven, when they were kinds in Derry. My impression walking away from the film was very positive. I thought that it brought the characters to life extremely well, including Pennywise, played to sheer perfection by Bill Skarsgard. I liked the idea of bringing the time period forward, starting in the mid 1980’s, which will provide a contemporary foothold for the next film’s jump to the next 27 years.

I did feel that the film felt more like a thriller with elements of horror, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there were few times where it was frightening enough to be hair raising. Some of this may have been owed to my being familiar with the story etc. As I watched during this second viewing, I had a bit of a different experience, finding it to be more of a tangibly scary experience. Not sure why, but it was lots of fun. The seven young actors that play, Bill, Stan, Eddie, Richie, Bev, Mike, and Ben, are terrific, each lending an authentic air to the film’s context. I think that IT (Chapter One) does Stephen King’s novel justice, making for a superbly executed adaptation that leaves me hankering to see what the next installment has to offer.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence/horror, bloody images, 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.**

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): 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: 

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

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

IT comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 60 Mbps, and lossless English Dolby Atmos/True HD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray, IT was rendered from a 3.4K source and finished on a 2K Digital Intermediate.

From a cinematic perspective, this film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in the presentation, which bests the 1080p version, which is no slouch. I wouldn’t describe this film as overtly colorful, however, there are elements, such as the wide-angle shots of Derry’s streets and town square, where the palate of autumn based hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red/green benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing slightly warmer and pleasing to the eye. Resolution gets a noticeable boost as well. Close-ups and mid-level shots offer improved refinement and deeper resolvable texture on interior surfaces, clothing, and physical features.

There is intermittent use of visual elements that utilize high dynamic range. There were instances where bright elements looked appreciably vibrant, such as Patrick’s entry into the sewers in the Barren’s where he uses his “flamethrower” to create bursts of light, or the exploding fireworks which introduced Pennywise’s dance number after Bev awakens in the sewer lair. IT contains a host of sun splashed, daytime segments, which appeared more vibrant and tonally gradational compared to the Blu-ray. Low level sequences, such as those that take place in the creepy house built over the well, or in the bowels of the sewers, had excellent depth of field and emboldened contrast.

Based upon the excellent quality of the original source the difference between viewing IT 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 better releases I have seen from the format and I hope to see more like it going forward.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system. This enables 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 IT, I found the HDR rendering to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t consistently lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference. Both looked terrific, leaving me similarly satisfied with what I saw.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be an entertaining listening experience that made excellent use of the platform. The immersive mix compliments the already top-notch soundtrack and enhances the experience of watching the film. The use of audio objects placed above and at ear level is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. The film’s active moments, swallow you up as the revolving, rotating and all-encompassing surround sound comes at you from all sides. The attention to detail here is noticeably on display, giving you a taste of what is to come early on, when Mike has his personal encounter with Pennywise, followed later by the engaging scene in the Dembrow’s garage, and the extended sequence when Eddie, Bill, and Richie enter the creepy house, built above the well, all of which sounds fantastic.

There is also much to enjoy in scenes that aren’t actively intense as smaller elements in the background are articulated and dimensionally full. In general, this Dolby Atmos mix made for an involving surround sound experience. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and discrete object placement, which complimented the source material. Woo Hoo!

** 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.**

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: 

IT comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps, and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.5 Mbps.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. IT looks great on Blu-ray.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack (as well as the 7.1 Dolby True HD Atmos core) is excellent and truly enhances the film’s overall presentation. This is a dynamically gratifying surround mix that features high level detail, superlative clarity, and rich, room filling surround sound. This is sophisticated sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Spot on imaging and channel separation draw out both large and small sounds and allow their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable within the room’s acoustic boundaries. This is not an ostentatious audio presentation but it offers engaging bass extension that produces smooth, palpably rich low frequencies that energize the room. Dialog is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity. End to end this is an attention-grabbing home theater presentation that plays perfectly to this film’s thematic content. Crank it up and enjoy!

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: It Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: It Blu-ray
    • Pennywise Lives! – Discover how Bill Skarsgård prepared to portray the primordial creature known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
    • The Losers’ Club – Get up close and personal with the teenage stars of “IT” as they bond together during the production,
    • Author of Fear – Stephen King reveals the roots of his best-selling novel, the nature of childhood fear and how he created his most famous monster, Pennywise
    • Deleted Scenes – Eleven deleted or extended scenes from the film
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Adapted from Stephen King’s horror classic, IT is an engaging, well-executed, and head turning horror/thriller that successfully brings the novel’s elements to life. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Combo Pack that delivers sparkling image quality, while invigorating the listening experience with a rousing Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix. Also included is a fair assortment of extras that are worth exploring. IT favorably opens the door for what is to come, and makes for a terrific, and highly recommended purchase on Blu-ray for fans. Enjoy!

 

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)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems