Groundhog Day Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Funny, heart-warming and a classic through and through
Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.In 1993 Groundhog Day was released. The premise is simple, a bitter man has to relive the same day again and again until he can break the cycle by becoming a better person, and in doing so not only betters himself but those around him. Taking the lead role is a perfectly cast Bill Murray, whose sardonic and sarcastic quips are perfect for the embittered weather man Phil Connors. The object of his affections is his producer Rita played by Andie MacDowell.However it's not until after many years of February the 2nds that a love story blooms. Part comic, part tragedy all awesome, Groundhog Day is one of those truly rare films – a near perfect example of the art; whereby everything that happens is to further the story and every action has a consequence, despite Phil having to learn along the way. Being both funny and heart-warming, the film is a classic through and through and through.
Picture QualityGroundhog Day was shot using Panavision cameras on 35mm film and has been scanned, cleaned up and finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate thanks to Sony Pictures. It is this 4K DI that has been used here for this Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film is presented with a 3840 x 2160p resolution and in a widescreen 1.85 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10.
This is definitely an upgrade in image quality
What is immediately apparent is the care that has gone into producing this disc, it has been sympathetically treated both in terms of colour and black level, while leaving plenty of detail behind. There is certainly an upgrade in image quality, the detail on show is excellent, whether it be skin texture, clothing weaves, smashed clock-radios, snow strewn pathways or groundhog fur. Indeed there is scarcely a scene that does not benefit from the upturn in detail. Add to this the finely crafted HDR/WCG pass, and you have a much richer, more dynamic colour pallet, that increases depth and smooths out any rough edges; colours are just better defined and go to show how course the 1080p image is. Brightness and contrast give improved blacks with better shadow detail, while the white end is even stronger; snow now has a ‘crisper’ sense. Skin tones are well maintained and are a touch more natural than the Blu-ray too. The grain structure is well maintained without looking too digital and gives the image a decent organic quality; while the rest of the source is without blemish.
Sound QualityThe Ultra HD Blu-ray has a newly mixed Dolby Atmos track, and whilst the film doesn’t lend itself to a bombastic surround experience, the wider scope of the surround stage opens up the field to sound extremely natural; for example crowd scenes now feel more enclosed, while party scenes open up. The surround and overhead channels are used sparingly and concentrate more on filling the ambience rather than any head turning effects. Nevertheless the track is very engaging, you feel like you are walking in the snow, the ominous ‘I got you babe’ song heralding a ‘new day’ is pitched to hold your attention and the great outdoors feels exactly that. Dialogue is clear and natural sounding and is given a wee bit of directionality when needed. All-in-all, a terrific track.
ExtrasSadly nothing new on the extras front, all being seen before on previous releases and are all housed on the included Blu-ray.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
Cast and crew - still photos
Moments - Phil, Punxsutawney People, Hilarious Moments, and Day After Day
Audio Commentary – With director Harold Ramis examining every nook and cranny of the film's production.
A Different Day: An Interview with Harold Ramis – Guess what, an interview with the director, shorter but similar insights as recounted as above.
The Weight of Time – Period (1.33:1 SD) making of documentary that covers most everything in 30 minutes.
The Study of Groundhogs: A Real Life Look at Marmots – This ain’t Dave Attinborough.
Needle Nose Ned's Picture-in-Picture Track – Dear god, when was the last time one of these appeared? Exactly what it says, Ned pops into screen to chat through various points of trivia whilst in character.
Deleted Scenes – Six in total
BD-Live – Couldn’t get this to work.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictThe Groundhog Day hardly needs any introduction, the film is the very definition of high concept with a smart script, clever direction and a perfectly cast Bill Murray. The has become a genuine classic that is both moving and extremely funny, whilst its structure, somewhat ironically, lends itself to repeat viewings.
Part comic, part tragedy - all awesome
As an Ultra HD Blu-ray, the package from Sony is pretty good; the native 4K image is fantastic, being both well detailed, bright and naturalistic, with the sympathetic HDR pass bringing the colours to life and improving the image on every level. The disc also contains a Dolby Atmos track, which while a tad over the top, does nevertheless really open up the surround field in all its natural elegance. It is such a shame, then, that the extras package is exactly the same as has already been released… unless that is the point!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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