Patriots Day Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Director Peter Berg teams up with Mark Wahlberg again for Patriots Day, another decent based-on-a-true-story disaster thriller.After the exhausting Deepwater Horizon, the director/actor combo once again deliver the goods with this look behind the 2013 Boston marathon bombings and the exhaustive manhunt conducted to catch those responsible. Despite the director's predisposition towards lacing his features with overly patriotic sentiments, Patriots Day shows considerable restraint - especially given the expectations commensurate to its very title - and plays out like a cross between an epic police procedural and a comprehensive documentary covering the horrific events.There are hints of many of his previous works in the pot here - from the similarly themed The Kingdom, which was wafer thin but made for an effectively tense action-thriller (something this never aims for) to the aforementioned Deepwater Horizon, which similarly went to great lengths to establish the reality of the very human individuals who were so dramatically affected by the disaster. Sure it has a predictable plot and narrative design but, at least here, to play it any other way would have only undermined the authenticity of the adaptation.
Picture QualityPatriots Day blasts onto US 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an excellent HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. The UHD Blu-ray was reviewed on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Shot digitally, the 3.4K source format was likely another victim to the limitations of a 2K Digital Intermediate for the necessary effects work, although the results are still very impressive, besting the already demo-quality 1080p Blu-ray counterpart in terms of an uptick in detail that is likely indiscernible from what might have been available with a full 4K DI (there's no clear indication as to what DI was used). The sharper resolution and increased clarity, which is particularly noticeable in the night sequences, may well be something of a turning point for cautious uptakers of the format. With heated arguments about whether or not it's the 2K/4K issue that makes or breaks an Ultra HD Blu-ray (breaking news: it's not), this may be one release that those stuck on the resolution will be truly confused over. Do they regard the detail, and improvements over the Blu-ray, as being indicative of a significant, worthy improvement, at the risk of later finding out it's only a 2K DI?
A good step-up on Ultra HD Blu-ray
Of course, and for most UHD aficionados this is now lore, it's in the use of the High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) that Ultra HD Blu-rays generally distinguish themselves, visually, from their standard Blu-ray counterparts, irrespective of source 'resolution', and Patriots Day, despite being quite restrained material, is certainly no exception, with the wider, deeper colour range evident, and the broader range of peak whites and inky blacks benefiting, in particular, those aforementioned night sequences across the third act of the movie. Shadow detail is improved considerably, picking up on background nuances and textures previously absent. Not quite a reference example, it's still very very good and a step-up on UHD Blu-ray.
Sound QualityCas Harlow reviewed the DTS-HD MA soundtrack on a 5.1-channel setup – Patriots Day also boasts an explosive DTS:X track running off an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 core. It's a finely tuned, well-engineered affair that picks up the kicked-down doors, the gunshots, and the thunderous explosions, and promotes them with aplomb, whilst also delivering an atmospheric, engulfing soundscape to put you right in the thick of the maelstrom. Crowd-based surround activity is impressive, and dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array irrespective of the rest of the punchy and all-encompassing surround activity. There's plenty of LFE input too, especially enhancing Trent Reznor's particularly good score, which further fuels the surrounds. Even without the ability to decode DTS:X, this is demo material.
Another reference immersive audio presentation to match the reference video
Steve Withers reviewed the DTS:X soundtrack using a 7.2.4-channel setup – Patriots Day is a superb example of using immersive audio to create a totally realistic sonic environment. The surround effects are perfectly place to create the sense that you are in a large crowd, a huge warehouse or a busy office. The sense of spatial awareness encoded into the soundtrack is simply excellent and that's before we even get to the gunshots and explosions. These are also delivered with a frightening sense of reality that, like the film itself, tries to deliver an accurate rather than over-the-top experience. The effects are delivered with detail and steered around the room with remarkable precision thanks to the object-based nature of the DTS:X mix. The dialogue, such an important part of the film, is always clear and focused whilst the score is spread across the frontal array and into the surrounds. The LFE channel is used to add impact to specific scenes and underscores the dramatic drive of the narrative, resulting in a superb audio experience.
ExtrasIn what may come as a relief for those who are still region locked but importing the 4K release anyway, Lionsgate has thankfully bucked the trend (although formed their own trend, as it's not the first time Lionsgate have done this) by choosing to port all of the extras onto the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc itself (there is no region coding on UHD discs) so Region-locked fans will be able to enjoy all of the extras on the accompanying Region A-locked Blu-ray without having to worry about buying the UK release as well.
There's a strong extras package
The predominately Featurette-based supplementals include a quartet of 20-minute heavier segments - The Boston Strong: True Stories of Courage which has interviews with the real people brought to life in this tale; The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale looking at the cast and crew and the overwhelming Boston spirit that engulfed the production; The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes' Stories, hosted by Berg, with an assortment of the locals giving interview snippets; and Actors Meet Their Real Life Counterparts, which does what it says on the tin. There's also a 6 minute companion piece, The Cast Remembers, which has the cast talking about what they were doing when they found out about the bombings; and an 11 minute Researching the Day, which dips into recreating the key events. It's a strong extras package.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictAnother solid piece of dramatic work by the 'Berg 'brothers'
For a film which could have unraveled at the very outset by getting too wrapped up in its own title, Patriots Day manages to keep its head above the water for the most part, and remains yet another solid piece of dramatic work by the 'Berg 'brothers', paying respect to the horrific real-life events and to the strength of the people of Boston for overcoming them.
The UHD Blu-ray release marks a step-up over its 1080p counterpart, and comes with strong video, audio and extras. Fans should consider it the definitive release.
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