Mother! Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

86

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 121 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC @ 4000 NITS
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Written & Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Region Code: A

Release Date: December 19, 2017

“Seeing is Believing”



My Take:

The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple. The mysterious couple’s personal family drama spills over into the house leading to the death of their son and a memorial service held at their house. After the guests leave, the couple who own the house end up at the center of a cult that turns their home into a warzone.

Mother! would seem to be a film with a decidedly higher purpose than just standing as a psychological thriller aimed to tantalizing the audience with thought provoking themes. While that may in fact be the case, this film simply didn’t work on me. After doing some reading, I found out what it’s characters were meant to represent as well as its underlying message, frankly, I don’t care. Not meaning that I don’t care about the importance of its message, but, that I don’t care about HOW, it was delivered.

Man, this is one bizarre film, that could easily have been much better, in my opinion. I don’t really want to go into details about the narrative, although, it’s not hard to spell out. The issue is that little seems to make sense. Characters without names, inexplicable tonal shifts, and a violently disturbing finish. I don’t mind films that ask the audience to think outside of the box, but this is like a bad acid trip turned into a nightmare.

I sat with my wife for two hours, waiting for things to come together, hoping that the infusion of dark allegory/mystery, would bear fruit, instead, it continued down the rabbit hole, spiraling to an unrewarding finish. I mean, I got the ending, but truth be told, I was checked out, and didn’t care anymore. I know that Darren Aronofksy’s films can often venture far left of center, but Mother! was far enough that it failed to provide any viable connection for me. For those that are strict fans of his work, your experience may be different.

Replay Value: 0.5 Stars

Parental Guide:
The rating is for strong disturbing violent content, some sensuality, nudity and 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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

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

Mother! comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.7 Mbps.

Mother! was derived from a mix of film/digital (effects) sources, rendered from a 2K DI, and up-converted to 4K.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Mother! has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

I began with my review of the Blu-ray version of Mother! before moving onto the Ultra HD version. First and foremost, this isn’t a bright or colorful film, predominantly adhering to relatively cooler, sepia splashed, chromatic schemes, which doesn’t make for especially eye-catching levels of color. This is intentional, in trying to keep with the stylistic aesthetic of the director’s vision. Fleshtones looked about the same, which is to say, a bit pallid, but not overtly unnatural.

Shot on film, resolution is generally strong, although I wouldn’t say there was a noteworthy uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features and clothing, but this predominantly came during close ups. On occasion, discernible improvements in depth could be seen in wide angle shots, but in most respects, I saw only incremental differences in apparent resolution when comparing select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray.

I also found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark. I found only a few occasions where the presentation made visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements, such as in the finale, which looked great. Predominantly speaking, it emboldened streaming/natural lighting schemes, that looked fine, but not appreciably vibrant, which, again, fell within the film’s thematic subject matter. There was some murkiness to shadows, but in general the low-level images appeared quite dimensional. I am sure that my quibbles with the video quality is owed to the original source and stylistic choice. Unfortunately, the result is a UHD presentation that failed to leave an impression on me.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I recently added the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel to my review system. This was to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by online-shashki Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Mother!, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were negligible. Again, I want to emphasize that this film’s elements aren’t necessarily lent to the engaging type of HDR that makes the format shine.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety, which was a pleasant surprise. Its use of audio objects placed above is comprised of a mix of atmospherics, panning fills and discrete effects. When applied it creates an enriching level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the various sequences that take place in the large, eerie expanse of the house, the track brims with environmental cues and discrete sound effects that when applied, using the freedom of object based placement, adds an enriching layer to the soundtrack.

As the storyline builds toward it climax, the track picks up steam, drawing you into its thematic details with attention grabbing effects. While the film itself didn’t work for me, I found myself completely involved when it mattered, and found this to be an enjoyable audio presentation.

Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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

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: 

Mother! comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps.

This film has a distinctive visual aesthetic that utilizes sepia, de-saturated colors and high contrast. There are lots of darkened interior sequences/lighting geared toward setting the mood and tone of the subject material. Flesh tones are slightly impacted appearing pallid and lacking tonal divergence. Blacks are deep but occasionally on the murky side which can leave them appearing flat. Detail in dark backgrounds and shadow filled areas is appreciable which give many of the dingy interior shots better depth. Images are cleanly rendered, allowing for revealing subtle detail during close up camera shots. The wide-angle shots of the interior of the house have good dimensional quality and definition that leaves backgrounds appearing resolute. Overall this presentation appears to faithfully represent the original source, which in and of itself, doesn’t make for the most visually compelling viewing experience.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the film’s use of theatrics. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it complimented the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Mother! Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Mother! Blu-ray
  • Mother! The Downward Spiral
  • The Make-up FX of Mother!
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Mother! comes from the eclectic mind of writer/director Darren Aronofsky, and is a rather bizarre, dark, and symbolic film that simply didn’t connect with me. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution in the Ultra HD Combo Pack that features faithful video quality, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience, and a lackluster supplemental package. Mother! could very well be a film that makes for interesting coffee table discussion, but for me, it’s a one time viewing, that I would just as soon forget.

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