While this UHD will be a low APL (average picture level) torture test for years to come, it holds detail incredibly well in the shadows with a gorgeously silky roll-off of the mid tones on my SDR 2020 converted output. I've mentioned before that some UHD discs make me feel like I'm watching a theatrical presentation and it holds true here, not a film print in this case but a good meaty DCP, as there's a buttery smoothness to even the darkest, trickiest gradations and I didn't spot a trace of banding until the title card right at the very end. The way that this presentation comes out of black and just hovers there I thought was breathtaking, it felt like I was in the cinema.
I've been comparing the Blu-ray back and forth and there's no contest. The Blu looks really dull, not just in terms of the lowlights which are a nasty washed out murk with plenty of banding but the colour too, it's so lifeless and flat with a pervasive greeny/blue tinge whereas the UHD's colour is so much more evenly balanced and natural looking. Highlights too are devoid of any pep in the Blu-ray, I know people say the extra range doesn't really kick in untillater on but right from the start the improved range is obvious, like when she's nuzzling the baby with the bright window behind her, and there are little moments of extra realism like that dotted throughout the UHD presentation.
And because the Blu has such a limited range between its dull light and wishy-washy dark it's almost devoid of any meaningful contrast levels, looking chronically milky whereas the UHD's greater range allows for more variances across the board with brighter brights and darker darks. That may sound like marketing guff but it's true here, making the images look fuller and richer and more solidly three-dimensional without throwing away the intended low-light "bad Tuesday" aesthetic for the interiors, which crucially still look low lit but never milky.
Yeah, this is an upscale but the texture and detail really did impress me, and although comparing it to the Blu-ray doesn't reveal some amazing boost in sheer spatial information what the UHD does bring to the table is a greater sense of refinement and a palpable improvement in texture, especially on people's faces which reveal more of the little nicks and marks and imperfections that we all carry. The way that it was shot helps tremendously in that regard, using wide-angle lenses with the aperture wide open for that beautifully shallow depth of field, it's so large-format-esque I actually thought this was Alexa 65 for a while there until I read that it was just plain regular Alexa.
I loved the audio too, I watched it with a Dolby Surround upmix and the sense of scale and depth is mightily impressive, the bass was shaking my shelves and there aren't many movies that can do that!
As for the film, WOW WOW WOW, it's still buzzing through my head. It reminds me of Interstellar in some respects but I've never quite bought into the emotional journey of that film, whereas here I was engrossed throughout and the ending is so bittersweet, it's just a beautiful film in every aspect. Great film, great disc, this was worth every penny.
Arrival User Review
Demo quality? Heck no. Gorgeous in its own right? You betcha.Review of Arrival UHD Blu-ray by Geoff_D, Mar 3, 2017.This item was purchased for £24.62 from wow hd in 2017. The reviewer still owns this product.