The Greatest Showman 4K Blu-ray Review

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Showing off in 4K

by Casimir Harlow May 10, 2018 at 12:23 PM

  • SRP: £19.99

    Film Review

    A glorious musical extravaganza, The Greatest Showman is fun entertainment for all the family.

    Ostensibly celebrating 'differences' and unique identities and the entrepreneurial free spirit, The Greatest Showman is very loosely based on the real-life showman P.T. Barnum, twisting his reputedly money-driven focus into seemingly inspirational entrepreneurial passion and his use of 'freakshows' for monetary gain into a celebration of all things different. Of course this leaves the film deeply shallow; incapable of sustaining the weight of even the lightest inspection, or critique of its narrative foundation, lest the whole thing come tumbling down. Thankfully, it doesn't need to be anything more than skin deep, seeking instead to raise the hairs on your skin with a bevy of electrifying - and hard to resist - song tracks which provide a whole different kind of experience.
    Following the formulaic exploits of Hugh Jackman's wide-eyed Barnum - a visionary who wants to redefine the public's opinion of freak fringe individuals through grand shows - the story is patently an excuse to have Jackman (Logan), co-star Michelle Williams, and a host of supporting cast members sing their hearts out (dubbed using their own voices, apart from Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's Rebecca Ferguson). It's hard to tell what this film would have been like without the songs, but given it involved the talent behind La La Land, it's a shame there isn't more going on underneath the surface. That said, judging by the massive Box Office success, many are happy just getting swept along for the undeniably fun musical ride, arguably proving the film has exactly served its purpose.

    Picture Quality

    The Greatest Showman Picture Quality
    The Greatest Showman puts on a great show with this magnificent native 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, which delivers the hit musical in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. 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. We reviewed the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Greatest Showman on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-M9500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

    Digitally captured courtesy of (near-)4K Alexa cameras, and coming complete with a 4K Digital Intermediate, The Greatest Showman is stunning precision demo and reference material from start to finish, celebrating its audiovisual impact with eye-popping colours highlighting the best of an already visually opulent palette, and revelling in all the possibly glory that a modern production bestowed with a native 4K presentation can provide.

    Stunning demo and reference material.

    Detail is excellent throughout - arguably too good to convincingly mask the limited de-ageing applied to Jackman during the earlier years - and affording characters fine skin observation and detailing on hair right down to the individual strand. Background nuances bring front- and backstage to life, whilst the sets (CG and real) are largely indiscernible. It's glorious full-fat 4K viewing, and it doesn't get much better than this, even before we look at the HDR and WCG implementation, which brings out the gloriously rich red in Barnum's showman jacket; just one of a series of fabulous primaries that dominate the shows in particular. Even off-stage, tones juggle ice-cream pastels against vibrant natural landscapes and decadent rich browns as a backdrop to black suits and formal dresses. Indeed black levels in general are rich and deep, with no sign of any issues whatsoever, rounding out a tremendous presentation.

    Sound Quality

    The Greatest Showman Sound Quality
    A cracking audio track.

    The accompanying audio presentation is also easily demo territory, with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc's exclusive immersive audio Dolby Atmos track founded upon the already reference DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 core which was all that the standard Blu-ray boasted. Dialogue - which could be argued to be the film's least important element - gets decent enough prioritisation across the soundscape, although almost clashes somewhat with the recorded song tracks (clearly studio-derived, they never feel like the actors are actually singing because, whilst the actors almost all sung their own songs, their own voices were dubbed over the 'performances' in the film), which are seemingly afforded an added layer of resonance and sheer punch. Effects allows for a few impressive setpieces - including a roaring fire - but it's really these song tracks that define the piece; as anachronistic as the non-period music is, it's hard not to get swept away by the sheer entertainment they afford. It's a cracking audio track.


    The Greatest Showman Extras
    Fans will likely celebrate not only the provision of a number of musical-themed additional features (mostly focussing on 'isolated' song tracks and sing-a-long recordings), but also the porting of these very same features over to the Ultra HD Blu-ray itself, which also comes equipped with the same Audio Commentary that adorns the accompanying Blu-ray disc. It's a shame, with all this in mind, that the remaining features didn't make it too, but at least fans will have the important elements to hand.

    Brimming with extras.

    Brimming with extras, the accompanying Blu-ray houses over an hour of mini-Featurettes looking behind each and every key song track, whilst we get a further half-hour piece entitled The Spectacle, which looks at a number of other important elements like the cast, characters, sets and set-pieces. A further quarter-hour The Family Behind the Greatest Showman offers more soundbites and has the extended cast and crew discussing the production. The disc is rounded off by two Galleries and some Trailers.

    Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict

    The Greatest Showman Ultra HD Blu-ray Verdict
    A great release.

    The Greatest Showman is a fun, feel-good musical extravaganza which celebrates its unabashed audiovisual panache even if the spectacle is but skin deep. The Ultra HD Blu-ray package affords the film excellent full-fat native 4K video and a stomping Atmos track to boot, as well as a whole host of extras, top of which amongst fans will likely be the sing-along option. It's a great release.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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