Blade Runner 2049 Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this compelling sci-fi adventure that springboards from Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, which is based on characters created by author Philip K. Dick.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

96

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 164 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure

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

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Ana De Armas, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Music by: Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch
Written by: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green
Region Code: A

Release Date: January 16, 2018

“With Answers Come Questions”

My Take:

Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD Blade Runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Wow. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is sci-fi noir at its finest. Attempting to follow that up with a sequel 30 plus years later would require epic filmmaking of the first order. Fortunately, that is exactly what you get in Blade Runner 2049. It’s narrative successfully bridges the gap, providing a compelling tale that rings true within the construct of the Blade Runner universe, complimenting, and bringing forward its character design and story arc.

That’s just one piece of the puzzle. From a cinematic perspective it truly captures the essence and presence of the moody world of the original while expanding upon its framework, creating an even deeper thematic capsule that underscores and embodies the subject material. I thought that Ryan Gosling and Harris Ford delivered solid performances, while the supporting turns by Robin Wright, and Ana De Armas complimented them nicely. Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins combine to deliver a phenomenal vision that makes for a pitch perfect companion to its predecessor.

Blade Runner 2049 is a winner, holding up every bit as well during this second viewing. I look forward to sitting down with it again.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, some sexuality, 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: 92
(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: 

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

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

Blade Runner 2049 comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 56 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.

Blade Runner 2049 was shot digitally, derived from a 3.4K source, and rendered from a 4K DI for its presentation in Ultra HD. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD sourced from 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far. In this case the results are quite good.

The 1080p transfer looks solid and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. Blade Runner 2049 is a beautifully crafted film, both in narrative, and scope. Roger Deakins’ terrific cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The film has a multitude of streaming/cascading light and mixed light dark elements, that look terrific. This is a primarily dark film and its low-level sequences had excellent depth and dimension.

Intimate details can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. The extensive use of CGI imparts some innate softening. I didn’t find it compromising per se, but I wouldn’t describe the overall nature of the video to be razor sharp.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of moody visual cues offset by gleams of light that illuminate dark environs, like the theater in Deckard’s hideout, or the interior of the vehicle used to transport him in the finale. The neon lights on the facia of its buildings stands out in stark contrast to the gradational blacks, grays and sepia, that make up its dystopian world. Primary colors are scant but are beautifully rendered when present. The film’s plethora of shadow laden environs offer increased resolve in terms of interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.

Stylistically speaking, Blade Runner 2049 isn’t the type of film that is going to dazzle with its use of eye scorching dynamism or vivid color. There is no question that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful and makes for a distinct improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and music accompaniment. This is done to very good effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen in an involving and sometime visceral fashion. The opening sequence offers insights into what lay instore as the music and several audio cues wash over the listening position. The effect is outstanding and sounds terrific.

There are several key moments that are worthy of mention, the approach/crash landing in chapter 7 (beginning right around the 01:00:00 mark), the attack in chapter 12 (beginning right around 01:57:00) and the engagement/altercation in chapter 15 (beginning right around 02:20:00). Each contain a host of swirling effects, nearfield pans, weapon fire, a few explosions and ambience that comes together in a resplendent blend of room traversing sound that shows what this format is capable of. I consider this Dolby Atmos mix to be involving, entertaining, and among the best that I have heard.

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

Blu-ray Video:

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

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

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

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

Blade Runner 2049 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound that has an average bitrate of 5 Mbps.

This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a monochromatic color scheme that works aesthetically well for the film’s theme and setting. The color range is limited to shades of gray, teal and black with splashes of crimson, blue, sepia, and a variety of secondary hues. Fleshtones hold up fairly well against the de-saturated chroma and don’t appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. I find the quality of the video to be high. It’s cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhances depth and reveals fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features.

Blacks are gradationally revealing which combines with excellent detail in low light and shadowy backgrounds to provide a strong sense of dimension. It is important to note that proper adjustment of your display’s brightness setting is crucial to the ability to discern shadow detail. Many of the sequences take place in darkened interiors. All in all, this is an excellent high definition rendering that looked great on my large screen.

Having seen Blade Runner 2049 in the theater I had high hopes for its soundtrack in the home environment and I wasn’t disappointed. This lossless soundtrack is demonstration quality and sounds terrific. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts an aggressive and loud sound design that in my opinion would make listening at reference levels to be difficult. Dialog is reproduced well, although I would have appreciated a more prominent position within the soundstage at times, as it was occasionally not forward enough. Front channel separation and imaging was spot on. This helped draw out both large and small sound elements, allowing their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be readily definable. The mix makes effective and aggressive use of the surround channels, submerging the listening position in a rotating web of sound that combines sound effects and musical accompaniment.

This is a dynamically charged sound mix that frequently utilizes the subwoofer to provide viscerally potent impact. The audio’s low frequency effects are applied authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive aspects of the presentation and it does so quite effectively. Its palpable presence is never in question as it contains refined bass quality that is appreciably superior and room energizing. Listening to opening sequence, several skin tingling bass sweeps, provide an example of what this soundtrack has to offer. It sounded so good I played it back several times. From there, prepare to be treated to an engaging listening experience as this is a sophisticated sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, timber rattling low frequency effects, and music. Each is clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement. I had a blast and enjoyed this audio presentation more at home than in the theater.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Blade Runner 2049 Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Blade Runner 2049 Blu-ray
    • Designing The World of Blade Runner 2049
    • To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049
    • Prologues: 2036: Nexus Dawn
    • Prologues: 2048: Nowhere to Run
    • Prologues: 2022: Black Out
    • Blade Runner 101: Blade Runners
    • Blade Runner 101: The Replicant Evolution
    • Blade Runner 101: The Rise of Wallace Corp
    • Blade Runner 101: Welcome to 2049
    • Blade Runner 101: Joi
    • Blade Runner 101: Within the Skies
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Blade Runner 2049 is a successful sequel that resonates, bringing the events of Ridley Scott’s classic, {i]Blade Runner[/i], up to date via a cinematic extravaganza that is so much fun to watch. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo pack that features excellent Ultra HD video, reference quality high definition audio/video, including a remarkable Dolby Atmos immersive surround mix, and a fan friendly supplemental package. I can say with certainty that Blade Runner 2049 has mass appeal, but, if you’re a fan, it’s an absolute must have on Blu-ray.

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