Hotel Artemis 4K Blu-ray Review
Smokin' Aces meets John Wick's The Continental
Hotel Artemis Film Review
Drew Pearce, writer of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Iron Man III makes his directorial debut with this futuristic Smokin' Aces-style thriller set in the 2028 answer to John Wick's The Continental.Going for high concept, straightforward plot to deliver his directorial bow, Pearce - who also wrote the piece - settles on a near-future period and single-building setting to show off his skills, drawing in an ensemble cast of colourful B-players who gather together for one night of wound-cleaning, gun-printing, son-killing, assassination mayhem.
Very much taking a leaf out of Joe Carnahan's Smokin' Aces playbook, Pearce injects a band of bullet-ridden armed bank robbers into a fortified medical safe haven for criminals (a whole lot like a futuristic - but dilapidated - version of The Continental from John Wick, and it wouldn't be surprising if similar plot mechanics go into the upcoming TV series focussing on that eponymous hotel), introducing us to Jodie Foster's beleaguered 'Nurse' - who runs the establishment under the loyal protection of Dave Bautista's 'Everest' - and who is in for one of the longest nights of her decades there when Jeff Goldblum's wounded gangster turns up looking for his own medical care.
"The Continental - The Movie" is a breezy minor pulp cyberpunk sci-fi thriller.
Running at a curt 94 minutes (although stick around for a mid-credits flourish), there's little wasted time here, but Pearce also doesn't skimp on affording almost all of his players a little background fleshing-out, with Foster's perhaps the most unexpected - her doddery old lady routine belies a more involving core - but also Sterling K. Brown (The Predator) and Sofia Boutella (far better than she was in The Mummy) enjoy their own melancholy what-could-have-been moments, and Bautista (who has had mixed results in the leading role arena - from the unexpected gem that was Bushwick to the more pedestrian Final Score, and will likely never be better than in Guardians) emphasises once again that he's always going to be a cut above just dumb muscle - giving his loyal security guard a dichotomously sweet edge. Sure, fans are going to want a bit more to his action moments, but it's just nice that the focus here is on more than just that.
Not all of Pearce's eclectic ensemble get to shine, though, with Jeff Goldblum criminally underused, Zachary Quinto on painfully moody one-dimensional form, and Charlie Day almost as weasely as he is in the Pacific Rim films. Still, there's enough here to draw you along, enjoying the unusual location - complete with its The Continental-like 'rules' - and the colourful characters who each have their own overlapping motivations. It's not as dark and unpredictable as Bad Times at the El Royale, and it doesn't have the fast-paced freshness of Carnahan's sophomore feature, but Pearce acquits himself well enough for a first time out of the gate and "The Continental - The Movie" is a breezy minor pulp cyberpunk sci-fi thriller.
Hotel Artemis 4K PictureHotel Artemis hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in the US courtesy of the now bankrupt Global Road, sporting an HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. We reviewed the US Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Hotel Artemis on a LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with an LG UP970 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The bad news is that it's only a 2K upscale. The worse news is that the disc only supports a Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) Rec.709 presentation, rather than the HDR Wide Colour Gamut (Rec.2020/DCI-P3) grade that fans of Ultra HD Blu-ray have (quite rightly) come to expect. The silver lining is that, even in SDR, and even upscaled, this is a fine presentation, besting its 1080p counterpart thanks to better encoding and a nominal, but still evident, uptick in clarity and detail.
A solid presentation that will likely most be criticised for the mere knowledge that it's not technically what we have come to expect from the format.
The setup involves quite a grimy, gritty setting, but that also affords the image some welcome textures and nuances to lap up, with the Ultra HD presentation promoting some finer flourishes which are as impressive on facial close-ups as they are on the weathered environment.
A very murky feature, bathed in shadows, the presentation does well to still retain some impressive highlights (even without HDR), promoting strong and vibrant primary tones that give that added future-tech feeling in spite of the familiarity of much of the setting. Holo-displays and medical equipment pop with neon intensity, whilst explosions ignite the screen. It's hardly a big budget affair, but it still has an impressive grungy cyberpunk feel, and the presentation never appears to let that down - quite the contrary, you'd often be forgiven for assuming that this was just another, albeit certainly not top tier, HDR release.
Most impressive are the heavily tinted sequences bathed in power-cut red, which remain intact in spite of the potential for bleeding and crush (although, to be fair, the accompanying 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray does a pretty good job too), and similarly black levels remain strong - albeit not perfect - in what is a solid presentation that will likely most be criticised for the mere knowledge that it's not technically what we have come to expect from the format.
Hotel Artemis 4K SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a punchy enough affair; sure it's not Atmos, but with the video only SDR, there's little surprise we don't get full 3D immersive audio. As it is, the sound design affords the futuristic outing some sparky little moments of intensity, a claustrophobic design and an engaging - if unmemorable - score track to boot.
A strong and serviceable accompaniment for the main feature.
We get clear and coherent representation of the dialogue across the frontal array, whilst effects lap up the future-tech on offer, from the comms devices to the medical scanners, robots and 3D printer. There's still an old-school clang to some of the environmental effects, particular in a setting which has fallen into disrepair, but the finer touches are keenly promoted, with gunshots and larger explosions even afforded a little LFE weight. The score provides further fuel for the fire, and whilst it's hardly a boisterous or expansive affair, it's a strong and serviceable accompaniment for the main feature.
Hotel Artemis 4K ExtrasThe package is only afforded an Audio Commentary from Writer/Director Drew Goddard.
Hotel Artemis 4K Verdict
It's not as dark and unpredictable as Bad Times at the El Royale, and doesn't have the freshness of Carnahan's sophomore feature, but Pearce acquits himself well enough for a first time out of the gate.
Now-bankrupt studio Global Road have at least made the effort to continue with their planned release of Hotel Artemis on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - something which we didn't get in the UK, where there's only a Blu-ray option available - even if the disc itself is somewhat disappointingly SDR (thankfully a relatively rare occurrence on UHD - see the German release of The Neon Demon in 4K, which looked excellent). Despite this, however, it's a very good video presentation and strong aural accompaniment, with a nice Director's Commentary to round out the package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.60
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