Baywatch Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Well, it's not terrible
Did you just, uh, look at my boobs?Baywatch joins an elite list TV remakes (Chips, Dukes of Hazard, Starsky and Hutch, The A Team) that Hollywood has produced to cash in on a known brand, but manages to lose all the charm that the shows originally had in favour of over-the-top humour/action that fails to stimulate a modern audience; simultaneously alienating both fans of the originals and anyone new. Baywatch the TV show was monumentally daft; it’s concept of crime solving lifeguards inexplicably ran for 11 seasons and made global celebrities of its stars (David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson becoming synonymous with the show). But it clearly hit a chord; the sun, skin and charm was a winning combination that kept audiences coming back. To re-capture that essence was always going to be hard for a 2017 remake, so, it seems, director Seth Gordon didn’t even try.Dwayne Johnson plays Mitch, the leader of the Bay lifeguards; he is universally liked and admired for his tenacity, charm and good nature. He leads up a team of young, good looking lifeguards who take care of the beach but when young upstart trainee Matt Brody starts making waves and the new owner of an exclusive club seems to be fronting a drug operation, it looks like they may be out of their depth. Let’s face it; the story is pure popcorn fodder. The characterisations are simple and obvious. The crude language and skin shots representing the lowest common denominator. But the film knows it. Gordon and his cast are clearly having a ball, with nods and winks aplenty, and tongues well and truly in their tanned cheeks, Baywatch plays it safe and is recognisably proficient. It’s also pretty funny in places, I’m ashamed to say.
Picture QualityBaywatch was shot digitally using Arri Alexa XT Plus cameras with various resolutions, and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate. It is this 2K DI that has been upscaled to a 3840 x 2160p resolution for this Ultra HD Blu-ray. The film is presented as widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the disc using 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Baywatch on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Once again WCG and HDR really push the boat out
Despite being an upscale the image on show is extremely good; detail is crisp and fine, skint texture, clothing weaves, beach sand, wave crests, boat instrumentation, cleavage: all hold keen edges. The overview of the bay, with the sunbathing bodies, boathouses, beachside apartments and cresting waves look quite spectacular. But it is with the addition of WCG and HDR where the image really comes alive and sets it apart from the 1080 Blu-ray. There is just so much more depth to the colour range; the red of the uniforms or the blue of sea; the sand looks hot enough to burn your feet on! Skin tones are firm and robust; the sweat sheen on the Rock’s head has never looked so clean. Black levels are strong, check out the night or underwater shots and white levels never lose any detail. The fireworks at the end are pin sharp against the night sky. Some of the CG enhanced shots do look a little ropy, but the source is clean as a whistle and there are no digital issues to contend with.
Sound QualityThe English Dolby Atmos track makes good use of the surround environment even if it is a little light on the above speakers. Bass, however, is tremendous, with the many songs featuring incredibly loud, heavy bass which is replicated with a powerful, room surrounding level which some may have to reduce to accommodate neighbours! The opening credits are room crushingly loud. Having said that LF effects themselves are surprisingly sparse being limited to the odd explosion, underwater menace and the fireworks at the end – indeed these also make the best use of the above sound field and is especially true of the climactic shootout/firework sequence with its a very well achieved sonic mix. Dialogue is always clear and precise and never lost in the mix, while in the quieter moments the surrounds make good use of the ambience, such as chatter on the beach and waves etc. All told a decent enough track.
ExtrasDisc 1 – Ultra HD Blu-ray:
Two versions of the film – Theatrical and Extended via seemless branching.
Disc 2 – Blu-ray:
All the extras are on the included Blu-ray and whilst not extensive, they do cover most of the production and since there's a fair bit of swearing they go beyond simple EPK material.
Meet the Lifeguards (HD, 21:36) – A surprisingly long featurette that introduces you to the film's characters and the actors portraying them. Needless to say, everyone is super excited to be working with The Rock.
Continuing the Legacy (HD, 09:27) – This featurette covers the original show and its characters and stars, along with the approach taken by the filmmakers in updating Baywatch for a new generation.
Stunts and Training (HD, 09:09) – This featurette covers the training and conditioning undertaken by the cast and the various stunts that appear in the finished film.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 10:06) – A few deleted scenes and some scene extensions, none of which are essential to the plot but a couple of which are mildly amusing.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictBaywatch the TV show was monumentally daft, but it clearly hit a chord; the sun, skin and charm was a winning combination that made it the most popular TV show in the world (yes really). Re-capturing that essence was always going to be hard for this 2017 remake, so director Seth Gordon didn’t even try. Instead he is content with a young and enthusiastic cast, a knowing script (as simple and obvious as it is), simple (and obvious) humour – that steps well and truly into crude territory – and obvious (and simple) characterisations. However the result manages to be surprisingly watchable, with some good laughs even if the whole film is complete rubbish. My wife summed it up as “nice and stupid”; I’d have to agree.
Some laughs even if it is complete rubbish
Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray package is pretty good; the picture (from a 2K upscale) is clean, bright, well detailed with bold colouring thanks to HDR, whilst the Dolby Atmos soundtrack has tremendous bass and a good surround field, even if the overhead layer is sparsely utilised. The extras are a bit light through but overall this is a decent upgrade over the 1080p Blu-ray.
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