Interstellar Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Check out our review of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of this epic sci-fi adventure from director Christopher Nolan, that tells the story of a team of explorers that undertake the most important mission in human history; traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

97

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 168 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure/Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1/1.78:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy, Casey Affleck, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by:Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 19, 2017

“Mankind’s next step will be our greatest”



My Take:

I reviewed Interstellar’s 2015 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, audio, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video are below.

From director Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight trilogy) comes the story of a team of pioneers undertaking the most important mission in human history. Set in the near future, crop blight has caused civilization to regress into a failing agrarian society. Former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives on and maintains a working farm with his, 10-year-old daughter Murphy, 15-year-old son Tom, and father-in-law Donald. Murphy who is extremely bright and close to her father, believes her room is haunted by a “ghost” that is trying to communicate with her. What they discover at the heart of the matter is a gravitational anomaly that when examined reveals binary coordinates that direct them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor John Brand.

Brand reveals that a wormhole, potentially created by an alien intelligence, has opened near Saturn and leads to new planets in another galaxy that may offer hope for survival. NASA’s “Lazarus missions” have identified three potentially habitable worlds: “Miller”, “Edmunds”, and “Mann”, named after the astronauts who left earth to survey them, orbiting a supermassive black hole they have named Gargantua. Professor Brand recruits Cooper to pilot the spacecraft Endurance, and along with scientists Dr. Brand (Prof. Brand’s daughter) and Dr. Romilly, set out on a mission to recover the astronauts’ data; if one of the planets is habitable, humanity will follow on space stations.

This is the basis for the story of Interstellar. Co-written by director Christopher Nolan and brother Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar is far from what you might consider your average sci-fi film. Epic in scope and narrative this is a multi-genre experience that at least for me, required more than one viewing to thoroughly digest. I saw it in the theater with my family and came away from it feeling as though I hadn’t fully gleaned its elements. Not so after this second viewing. I love the story which to me as its heart is truly about the love between a father and his daughter. Aside from that remains the texture of the narrative’s body which an intelligently crafted story with enriching elements of adventure that revolve around a science based foundation. I appreciated the incorporation of the historical reference to the Dust Bowl and thought that it worked quite well in the plot’s construct.

Meant to be thought inspiring but not preachy, Christopher Nolan’s typical approach to filmmaking, enhanced by visual expression, is fully realized as the world of Interstellar has a tangible aesthetic that is captivating thanks to outstanding production elements and spot on direction. Underscoring the film’s sci-fi/adventure is an emotional center which is a derivative of the fundamentally rich character design which flows through the performances of the ensemble. I wouldn’t say that I am a big Matthew McConaughey fan but I generally tend to enjoy his films. I think that he has come into his own as a dramatic actor and his performance here is another example of that. Mackenzie Foy (10 year old Murphy) stole every scene she was in and wound up as my favorite character in the film.

Interstellar reaches for the stars and doesn’t always hit its mark, but it’s a marvelous film experience that warms the heart and excites the senses. I look forward to sitting down with it again.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some intense perilous action and brief strong 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: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU 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

Interstellar comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 66 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Interstellar was derived from a mix of 35/70mm IMAX film sources, and rendered from a 4K DI.

This video presentation incorporates two different aspect ratios, 2.40:1 and 1.78:1, to incorporate the sequences that were shot using IMAX cameras. Both have been integrated here with some scenes/sequences having one AR and the next the other. The result doesn’t infringe upon fidelity or interrupt the visual flow of the movie in any way.

This is an excellent Ultra HD presentation that looks great on my large screen. This is a sci-fi/drama, set in the future, that features elements that make use of rich, earth toned colors, boldly applied contrast, and a distinctive visual aesthetic. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened highlights the UHD image appears noticeably detailed and vivid when compared to the 1080p version. The IMAX shots look terrific throughout the presentation. The sequences around the Cooper farm, like the one where Coop and the kids chase down the drone, or later at the ball field, show off the video’s superb combination of color and fidelity.

The use of sepia is beautifully reproduced, while whites and grays appear gradational and vibrant. In chapter 9, the wide-angle shots of the Endurance making its approach to the wormhole and then venturing through it, look terrific, as the deep, interstitial blacks, sepia tones, and flashes of brilliant light show off the spot-on application of HDR.

The wide color gamut and crisp, bright, imagery, enrich the sense of realism when looking at differing environs, whether lit by natural or artificial lighting. Examples can be seen during the launch sequence, followed by the beautiful shots of the Endurance approaching Saturn, illuminated by the Sun’s touch. Fleshtones are on the pallid side, while appearing predominantly lifelike, and falling in line with the film’s overall aesthetic. I found the IMAX footage of the terrain on Dr. Mann’s frozen planet to be among my favorites. The rendering of detail is excellent, as the finest minutia in the film’s variety of textures, as seen in the Cooper home, on the ship’s interiors, or in the landscapes, on Earth or beyond, are reproduced with stark realism.

This Ultra HD presentation is marvelous, adding a lustrous visual element to the experience of watching Interstellar. Ultra HD renderings like this should give fans contemplating the switch to an Ultra HD capable set up, the nudge they need.

I often hear from enthusiasts who rate the quality of movie soundtracks by the amount and depth of the bass it produces. There are select titles that are considered to be the “go to” for reference quality bass. I suspect that after experiencing this lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack there will be a new addition among them as this presentation rocked, literally. The film’s opening moment features a flash of a nightmare where Cooper is involved in an aircraft crash. It is abrupt but jarring as it provides a glimpse of the soundtrack’s dynamic range and deep, authoritative bass. Later during the crew’s liftoff headed toward boarding The Endurance the room literally comes alive with rich, tactile, low frequency energy.

As they approach for docking the short bursts of the engines thrusters in the silence of outer space result in ostensible LFE thumps that sound and feel great. The response in my room during several sequences attained infrasonic depths that could easily be classified as skin tingling. A few that stood out other than those mentioned are the entering of the wormhole, entering Miller’s atmosphere/landing, Cooper and Gargantua. Bass heads will have a great time with this one.

In addition to the noteworthy bass response this is an active sound design that makes great use of the entire surround platform. The surround mix eschews prominent use of discrete effects in favor of extending the soundstage via atmospherics/ambient related effects that envelope and revolve around the listening position. It generates a sound field that is aurally stimulating as you are transported into the events onscreen. Hans Zimmer’s beautiful music score is a perfect mate for the spirit of the film as it is often blended with action sequences and sounds superb.

Occasionally I found myself struggling to hear dialog especially when blended with an active sequence shared by effects and music. In all other respects I didn’t have any issue with dialogue perceptibility although frankly it could have been mixed to a more prominent position overall. Otherwise I had nothing to complain about and found this audio mix to be engaging and primarily what I recalled from its theatrical presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Interstellar Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Interstellar Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Interstellar Bonus Features
  • (HD) The Science of Interstellar—Extended cut of the broadcast special – 50 minutes
  • (HD) Plotting an Interstellar Journey—Discusses the film’s origins, influences and narrative designs – 7 minute featurette
  • (HD) Life on Cooper’s Farm—Bringing Americana and the grounded nature of a farm to a sci-fi space movie – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Dust—Learn how cast and crew avoided sand blindness, and see how to create, and clean up after, a catastrophic dust storm – 2 minute feature
  • (HD) TARS and CASE—Designing and building these unique characters and how they were brought to life on set and in the film – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) Cosmic Sounds—The concepts, process, and recording of Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score – 13 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Space Suits—A look at the design and build of the suits and helmets, and what it was like to wear them – 4 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Endurance—Explore this massive set with a guided tour by production designer Nathan Crowley – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) Shooting in Iceland: Miller’s Planet/Mann’s Planet—Travel with the cast and crew to Iceland and see the challenges they faced in creating two vastly different worlds in one country – 12 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Ranger and the Lander—A look at the other two spaceships in the film – 12 minute featurette
  • (HD) Miniatures in Space—Marvel at the large-scale models used in the explosive docking sequence – 5 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Simulation of Zero-G—Discover the various methods that the filmmakers used to create a zero gravity environment – 5 minute featurette
  • (HD) Celestial Landmarks—Explore how the filmmakers used practical special effects informed by real scientific equations to give the illusion of real space travel for both the actors and the audience – 13 minute featurette
  • (HD) Across All Dimensions and Time—A look at the concept and design of the Tesseract, which incorporated a practical set rather than a green screen – 9 minute featurette
  • Final Thoughts—The cast and crew reflect back on their Interstellar experience – 6 minutes
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailers
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

From visionary director Christopher Nolan, Interstellar is an epic, multi-genre piece that rewards via an intelligently crafted screenplay, outstanding production value and excellent performances. It may not be wholly gratifying to everyone, but it’s a marvelous film experience that is capable of warming the heart and exciting the senses. Speaking of exciting the senses Interstellar comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from Paramount Home Distribution featuring top notch video quality, excellent lossless sound, and a comprehensive supplemental package. If you’re a fan of Interstellar and are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray, this is a must have for your collection.

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