Dunkirk Ultra HD Review

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German Army, and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

98

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @ 4000 NITS
Video Aspect: Variable 2.20:1/1.78:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy
Written & Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Region Code: A

Release Date: December 19, 2017

“When 400,000 Men Couldn’t Get Home…Home Came for Them”



My Take:

Dunkirk opens as hundreds of thousands of British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces. Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea they face an impossible situation as the enemy closes in. The story unfolds on land, sea and air. RAF Spitfires engage the enemy in the skies above the Channel, trying to protect the defenseless men below. Meanwhile, hundreds of small boats manned by both military and civilians are mounting a desperate rescue effort, risking their lives in a race against time to save even a fraction of their army.

I went to see Dunkirk when it was released in theaters. I heard very good things about it, and being a fan of writer/director Christopher Nolan’s penchant for integrating character/story I had high expectations. Based on actual events during WWII Nolan’s narrative takes a multi-faceted view of the same series of events, as seen from the perspectives of individual, at differing points in the conflict. During my first viewing of the film, I found what I felt was a somewhat disjointed/muddled story, to be a bit frustrating. Initially seeing the timeline as one that kept jumping around, I later realized what Nolan was doing, and while I came to appreciate it, it left me feeling as though there was aspects of the story that I missed, while I was trying to determine exactly WHAT was happening. I felt that a second viewing would allow better/complete absorption of the story, both in concept and execution.

Sitting down to watch it for this review, I found the experience to be much more rewarding. Dunkirk eschews unnecessary banter/dialog, instead, telling its story via a rather epic scope, that frames it characters using a mix of sounds/music, that underscore the plight faced by each set of circumstances, that balance its teetering thematic structure. The result is a powerful war film, unlike many, that allows it drama to ebb and flow, while deliberately placing defining elements of violence to the rear, instead focusing on the instinct of survival, that drives the narrative’s context. The cast as an ensemble are simply excellent. I loved the cinematography and attention to detail in the production design.

My first viewing notwithstanding, Dunkirk is a compelling and remarkable film that grabs on early and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. If like me, you found your initial impressions to be less than you’d anticipated, consider giving it another viewing. I think you’ll be happy that you did.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense war experience and some language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 

UHD Presentation: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Dunkirk comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brother Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 67 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Dunkirk was derived from a mix of IMAX/65 mm film sources, and rendered from a 4K DI.

Dunkirk is a period based film that has a specific visual aesthetic which comes through quite naturally in this Ultra HD rendering. With a discernible increase in detail and depth the image appears more vivid and lifelike when compared to the 1080p version, which is excellent in its own right. Incorporating the IMAX scenes via a shifting aspect ratio between 1.78:1 and 2.20:1, images are simply breathtaking. This is readily apparent in the opening sequence as the soldiers make their way through the quiet street before hell breaks loose. The film utilizes sepia, autumn schemed color and an overall cooler chromatic aesthetic that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The beautiful earth toned colors, and stone structures set against the semi cloudy sunny sky looked amazing. The arrival at the beachhead is every bit as captivating, with its gradational grays, blues, and sepia.

Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures in the interior of boats, airplane instrument clusters, and the wool uniforms and period clothing featured in the story. Wide angle shots of the gorgeous shooting locations and the contrasting cinematography, going from the beachhead to the skies above, look great in Ultra HD. I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary. The film contains only a few sequences that take place in low/limited lighting, and the increased dimension in blacks and shadows is excellent. The torpedoing sequence looked terrific as the deep, rich, delineated black of night was offset by the brilliant flashes of the explosions and lanterns on the decks of the surrounding lifeboats. I found the natural rendering of light via its discernible stages and incremental highlights to be one of the presentation’s big pluses. This is the case during brightly lit exteriors, especially those that take place during the aerial sequences.

The difference between viewing Dunkirk in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t quite night and day, but it truly benefitted from the increase in resolution, and high dynamic range treatment. I was extremely pleased with this presentation and hope to see more like it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my disappointment that Dunkirk didn’t include an immersive audio track. An immersive listening experience would have enhanced the film’s elements, bolstering the impact of its thematic details. Be that as it may, the 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn’t disappoint and sounds terrific. This is an active audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is quite good as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the various exchanges. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and clarity. This is an active mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its potent dynamics. The result is that, where called for, points of contact seem to resonate with tactile low bass impact. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, occasionally infrasonic, low frequency energy. Dialog has refining presence with clear vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is an entertaining audio presentation that compliments the film while making for an excellent home theater experience.

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

Dunkirk comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 Mbps.

Dunkirk looks terrific on Blu-ray and features rewarding high definition video quality that exhibits discerning levels of detail, and excellent rendering that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective has a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. The film teeters back and forth between reserved/cooler color schemes and bolder, vivid tonality. Where appropriate, colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the remaining spectrum of secondary hues. Contrast is boldly applied without overstatement as it empowers whites/grays without washing away detail. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which makes them pop nicely during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Dunkirk Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Dunkirk Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
    • Creation: Revisiting the Miracle
    • Creation: Dunkerque
    • Creation: Expanding the Frame
    • Creation: The In-Camera Approach
    • Land: Rebuilding the Mole
    • Land: The Army On the Beach
    • Land: Uniform Approach
    • Air: Taking to the Air
    • Air: Inside the Cockpit
    • Sea: Assembling the Naval Fleet
    • Sea: Launching the Moonstone
    • Sea: Taking to the Sea
    • Sea: Sinking the Ships
    • Sea: The Little Ships
    • Conclusion: Turning Up the Tension
    • Conclusion: The Dunkirk Spirit
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Dunkirk is a powerful and engaging war drama, that in the hands of writer/director Christopher Nolan, is an end to end experience that may require more than one viewing to glean the most from. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home entertainment is this Ultra HD Combo Pack that features top notch video quality, excellent lossless sound, and a fan friendly supplemental package. Dunkirk is a quality film that shines on Blu-ray, earning it a high recommendation from this writer.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems