Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. Check out Ralph Potts’ review of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

90

Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 161 minutes
Genre: Drama/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish, French, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis
Written & Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 10, 2019

“A Love Letter from Quentin Tarantino”

Synopsis:

“Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

Actor Rick Dalton gained fame and fortune by starring in a 1950s television Western, but is now struggling to find meaningful work in a Hollywood that he doesn’t recognize anymore. He spends most of his time drinking and palling around with Cliff Booth, his easygoing best friend and longtime stunt double. Rick also happens to live next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate — the filmmaker and budding actress whose futures will forever be altered by members of the Manson Family.

Quentin Tarantino is without question, a visionary, whose films are inspired by his passion and fondness for bygone eras. His storytelling tends to be eclectic, refreshing and most definitely uncompromising. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is exactly what you’d expect from him with a narrative that focusses on the end of Hollywood’s golden era and in particular, it’s impact on an aging star that’s now trying to find his place. As an aside we get to see glimpses of the life of Sharon Tate, a budding young actress whose real-life story may not be familiar to everyone but, is told here with reverence and a heartwarming spin that, depending on what you know about her, is quite bittersweet.

As someone that is very familiar with the host of film/tv references and real-life people depicted in the story, I was all in right from the outset. Rick and Clint share an unshakable bond that is wonderfully developed within the context of the storyline. Rick, Clint and Sharon are each provided with subplots that seem simple on the surface, yet, brim with underlying complexity that speak to their truths. There is a cache is ancillary characters that are neatly folded into the proceedings, many of which are played by terrific character actors that make the most of their time onscreen.

As I watched I found my self reveling in the moments that were clearly designed to elicit the intended response, whether it be laughter, angst, or empathy. There is a sadness that underscores the film’s primary theme, which isn’t a bad thing, as it’s necessary to allow its central characters and plot to evolve. This is what makes Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood tick so well. The cast, as a whole, shines brilliantly, this includes young Julia Butters, whose introductory scene with Leonardo DiCaprio, is simply awesome.

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is the ninth film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino and is proof positive that he clearly hasn’t lost his touch as a filmmaker. I tip my cap to him…

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is also available in a limited 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition of the film, sure to make any Tarantino fan’s holiday wish list. Premium collectible packaging will contain a 7” vinyl record with two of the soundtrack’s grooviest tunes (complete with turntable adapter), a collectible vintage poster for the Rick Dalton film Operazione Dyn-o-mite! and an exclusive new MAD Magazine parody of the Rick Dalton TV series “Bounty Law,” Lousy Law.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references.

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.**

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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

 

UHD Presentation: 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: 

 

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

Once Upon a Time in …Hollywood was shot on film (using various stocks) and rendered in Ultra HD from a 4K DI.

This film was shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind and that comes through in both its Ultra HD and 1080p presentations. The Ultra HD presentation bests the 1080p version on every level. This isn’t an overly colorful film however its palate of autumn-based hues and sepia tones benefited from UHD’s wider color gamut, appearing noticeably warmer and pleasing to the eye. Resolution gets a noticeable boost as well. Close-ups tend to offer improved refinement and deeper resolvable texture on surfaces and physical features when compared to the Blu-ray. There is little call for visual elements in the film that utilize high dynamic range however bright elements, such as those that take place in the light of day, looked appreciably vibrant, while emboldened low level sequences had excellent depth of field and contrast reproduction. Viewing Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood wasn’t an eye-opening experience however, I found it to be a complimentary improvement over the Blu-ray presentation.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is an enriching audio presentation that mates well with 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: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This is a solid high definition presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are naturally rendered with eye pleasing vitality and warm accents. Fleshtones tend to be a little bronzy but, remain lifelike in depiction. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appeared better resolved than others although this appears related to the photography and not the encoding. Contrast is stable and blacks are rich in depth with discernible detail in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any distracting signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was top notch.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood Ultra HD Blu-ray
    • Over Twenty Minutes of Additional Scenes
    • Five exclusive behind the scenes pieces including:
    o Quentin Tarantino’s Love Letter to Hollywood
    o Bob Richardson – For the Love of Film
    o Shop Talk – The Cars of 1969
    o Restoring Hollywood – The Production Design of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
    o The Fashion of 1969
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is the ninth film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino and is proof positive that he clearly hasn’t lost his touch as a filmmaker. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring faithful high definition video quality, crystal clear lossless sound and a fair supplemental package. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is pitch perfect Tarantino and is simply a must see for those that enjoy his unique brand of filmmaking.

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