X-Men: Dark Phoenix Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

During a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey is transformed into the infinitely powerful and dangerous Dark Phoenix. As Jean spirals out of control, the X-Men must unite to face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of X-Men: Dark Phoenix from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

91

Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Action

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

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French DTS-5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jessica Chastain, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters
Written & Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 17, 2019

“The Phoenix Will Rise”

Synopsis:

“Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence fire up an all-star cast in this spectacular culmination of the X-Men saga! During a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey (Turner) is transformed into the infinitely powerful and dangerous DARK PHOENIX. As Jean spirals out of control, the X-Men must unite to face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own.” – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

My Take:

The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out of control. During a rescue mission in outer space, Jean is nearly killed when she’s hit by a mysterious cosmic force. Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable. The X-Men must now band together to save her soul and battle aliens that want to use Grey’s new abilities to rule the galaxy.

My initial reaction to X-Men Apocalypse was mixed. I felt that the villain, while inordinately powerful, was somewhat conventional. I liked the X-Men origin elements and the continuing timeline that began with X-Men First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past (taking place in the 1960s and 1970s), and now in the 1980s. The script was overlong, containing a plethora of subplots, characters and narrative threads that emphasize some central characters while leaving others on the sidelines. I missed the emotional connection found in themes from “First Class” and “Days of Future Past”. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg tried to fit a lot of information into this story. I think some of it landed while some got shortchanged.

Fast forward to the next chapter in X-Men: Dark Phoenix which was not only penned by Simon Kinberg but, directed by him as well. As a series finale this film doesn’t have the narrative depth to make for a wholly gratifying ending to not only the current X-Men iteration but, one of the most iconic story arcs in Marvel Comics. The plot is narrow and rushed, moving along at a pace that doesn’t allow the characters to breath while feeling bereft of emotion especially given the story’s circumstances.

Noticeably absent is any semblance of levity or meaningful character interplay. Instead there is a monotoned essence that pervades the film’s center as it moves on toward its inevitable finale. The villain “Vuk”, played by Jessica Chastain, is essentially a non-factor within the narrative’s construct, serving only as an identifier for audiences to cling to while Jean serves as the story’s truly viable threat. The members of the cast from top to bottom could have phoned in their performances given the text on the page but, I didn’t find any glaring shortcomings.

Despite my complaints, I didn’t find X-Men: Dark Phoenix to be completely devoid of merit with there being several moments that I got caught up in. Unfortunately, there is an underlying dullness to the proceedings that can’t be overcome. I enjoyed its production elements and in most respects the level of action and the execution. I do plan on revisiting it to see if my impressions fluctuate in one way or another. As for right now I think that X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a middling effort that feels like a missed opportunity.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of action, violence and some gunplay, some disturbing images and brief strong 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: 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: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(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: 

 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD X-Men: Dark Phoenix was derived from 2.8/3.4 K sources and rendered from a 2K DI. Dark Phoenix is a fantasy film that isn’t boldly colorful throughout but, this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears noticeably sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. Primary colors are pleasingly rich, whites/grays appear gradational and punchy, and earth tones are reproduced with stark realism. The sequence where Vuk shows Jean her destiny looks superb. The combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones literally pop off of the screen.

In most respects I enjoyed the presentation’s implementation of HDR. This isn’t an overtly bright film, and the added dimension in blacks, and shadows during low level scenes is immediately noticeable. The cinematography makes use of shadows, cascading/streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here draws upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural, and when applied, brilliant light caused me to blink/squint in reaction to it.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the rendering of detail. At times, the level of minutia is excellent, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, clothing and interior sets is resolvable. At other times this is less emphatic with certain scenes lacking the definition that provides the same reach out and touch level of delineation. The exterior shots and CGI featured in the story have superb depth which adds an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic to them.

The 1080p rendering of X-Men: Dark Phoenix is quite good so the difference between the two isn’t night and day, but overall, I was very pleased with this presentation, finding that it trumps the Blu-ray.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety. The blend of audio objects placed in the height channels is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. At times, this creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. This primarily adheres to the sequences of action, but mild ambient extension is used to broaden the soundstage, replicating environments etc. There are both large set pieces and smaller/brief sequences/moments, such as the sounds of footsteps overhead on the roof of the train that show off this well-crafted mix.

Everything comes together during the assault at the residence in the city and later aboard the speeding train, as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. The music score is mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements. I enjoyed the involving balance of atmosphere, discrete object placement and room energizing bass. I think that it complimented the source material, and made for an entertaining listening experience.

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: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

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.

The DTS 7.1 Master Audio soundtrack is demonstration quality and sure to please those who like to play their systems near reference. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high-level detail. Dialog is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel. Channel separation and imaging is excellent. This draws out both large and small sound elements and allows their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be spot on. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds contained in the soundtrack. The battle sequences sound terrific as low frequency effects are applied with authority and occasionally provide room shuddering bass. This is an involving and noteworthy audio presentation that is guaranteed to give your system a workout.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: X-Men: Dark Phoenix Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: X-Men: Dark Phoenix Blu-ray
    • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker*:
    o Edwards Air Force Base
    o Charles Returns Home
    o Mission Prep
    o Beast MIA
    o Charles Says Goodbye
    • Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix (5-Part Documentary)
    • Scene Breakdown: The 5th Avenue Sequence**
    • How to Fly Your Jet to Space with Beast
    • Audio Commentary by Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker
  • Digital

Final Thoughts:

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a less than befitting sendoff to the current X-Men film series, suffering from a lackluster script that fails to get the adrenaline flowing. It comes to Blu-ray from Fox Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring excellent Ultra HD video, terrific high definition audio/video, an engaging Dolby Atmos sound mix, and a fan friendly supplemental set. If you’re a series fan and want to complete your collection X-Men: Dark Phoenix is worth purchase consideration. For those on the fence I would recommend a rental before purchase.

 

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