The 5th Wave Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray of this sci-fi teen thriller that follows Cassie, a girl on a mission to rescue her younger brother amidst alien attacks that threaten to decimate the planet.

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



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



Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 112 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicj Robinson, Alex Roe, Maria Bello, Maggie Siff, Ron Livingston, Liev Schriber, Bailey Anne Borders, Alex Roe
Directed by: J Blakeson
Music by: Henry Jackson
Written by: Susannah Grant, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 3, 2016

“The Fight for Humanity Has Begun”

My Take:

Four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth in ruin. Against a backdrop of fear and distrust, Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. As she prepares for the inevitable and lethal fifth wave, Cassie teams up with a young man who may become her final hope – if she can only trust him.

The 5th Wave is based on the novel by Rick Yancy and is a derivative, uninspired, young adult dystopian sci-fi adventure that feels all so “been there and done that”. The story starts out fine, introducing the primary character of Carrie and setting up the main plot point regarding the mysterious appearance of an alien ship above earth, and the beginning of the “Waves”. From there it descends into a fragmented narrative that more or less adheres to the central theme while feeling like a poorly executed mashup of films like “Red Dawn”, “Ender’s Game”, “The Host” and “Independence Day”.

It all gets a little silly and isn’t served by yawn inducing action, lackluster effects and a host of wasted “adult” cast selections, namely, Maggie Siff, Liev Schriber, and Ron Livingston. I won’t even discuss Maria Bello whose hammy performance was flat out laughable. I didn’t mind the younger members of the cast and predominantly felt that they served the film’s thematic tone well enough. With each passing moment during the final act I found my eyes rolling at the increasingly cheesy path the film took. It was clearly left open for another installment but unless there is a drastic turn of events I can’t imagine it becoming a compelling addition.

While The 5th Wave didn’t work for me, I will say that I didn’t mind the opening act, which showed promise. Unfortunately once it gets going there is simply not enough depth to the storyline or character base to allow for a gratifying film experience. I haven’t read the novel but as far as young adult dystopian film adaptations go this one is a swing and miss.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence and destruction, some sci-fi thematic elements, language and brief teen partying.

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: 72
(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: 86
(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

For those not willing to refer to the article linked above, I have included some comments here. The implementation of High Dynamic Range or HDR (HDR10 is the system currently being utilized for Ultra HD home video releases, and in conjunction with that, display manufacturers) as it stands currently, doesn’t appear to have exacting standards and no calibration tools to allow for a foundational threshold for setting up a visual system. This leaves us to do the best we can to determine what appears to be accurate, at least for the time being. With that in mind, my approach to reviewing Ultra HD Blu-ray will be to assess the elements observed which I find to generate the most significant visual impact when compared to standard high definition Blu-ray.

For me, HDR, with its broader spectrum of colors and emboldened highlights in the areas of contrast and brightness, is where the potential lies in the format. The increase in resolution, while an important component, isn’t going to be definitive in every case, especially given that currently many of the Ultra HD Blu-ray releases are derived from 2K Digital Intermediates that are up-converted to 4K. This shouldn’t be strictly construed to mean that such up-converted images won’t look noticeably better than their 1080p counterparts. Conversely, a release finished on a 4K Digital Intermediate isn’t a guarantee that it will be heads and shoulders above the rest. So, what can you expect to hear from me when discussing what I observed from Ultra HD Blu-ray? I will hit upon the things that struck me, the impact, or lack of impact, of HDR and the improvement, if any, in resolution when compared to 1080p Blu-ray. The outcome will be a rating as seen above.

Front projection for home theater is just stepping through the door with respect to the reproduction of HDR. My goal is to present readers with a reasonable expectation of what they can expect when viewing the same content that I have. There may be variables that differ slightly however I believe that in general the outcome will be close. As we are exposed to more and more content and calibration tools come onboard we will have better perspectives from which to gauge. Thanks for reading!

The 5th Wave comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160p HEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD The 5th Wave was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD either sourced from 2K or 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far.

The 5th Wave represents the second new release Ultra HD title I have reviewed from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Concussion being the other). I reviewed the Blu-ray release a week or so ago and was very pleased with the quality of the presentation. As such I couldn’t help but look forward to what it would look like in Ultra HD/HDR. In looking at the opening moments the first thing that struck me was that there wasn’t an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Colors, especially primary and earth tones were a bit more vibrant and fleshtones offered a hint of gradational warmth that looked quite natural. 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 such as those taking place in the camp, or in the wooded areas, but in most respects I saw little difference in apparent resolution when checking 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. With the exception of the city incursion sequence, the image didn’t make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. In general the image appeared flat when compared to a presentation like Concussion. I would describe it as poor quality but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that makes it remarkable.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. The music score is subtly mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements while complimenting the story’s thematic tone. When the action kicks the level of immersion increases as the sound field comes alive. This is especially evident during the initiation of the second wave in chapter 3 and the city incursion that takes place in chapter 12 as the correlation with the onscreen events provides the “being there” effect quite well. I enjoyed the presentation’s balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I think that it complimented the source material and made for an entertaining listening experience.

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: 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:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):

The 5th Wave comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.

This film essentially utilizes two distinct visual styles to convey its thematic content. One makes use of darker/monochromatic color schemes and grittier textures while the other features richer contrast and vibrant colors emboldened by warm accents. Each provides the look that the filmmakers strove for to drive the narrative components. Close ups reveal crisp definition and perceptible detail that reveals the presence of pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle complexional variations. The texture on the surfaces of objects is just as defining which give them visibly apparent structure and lifelike quality. Black levels are slightly elevated but not detrimentally so and contrast is spot on which delivers bright punchy whites and appreciable dimension when mixed light/dark elements are present onscreen. The video has a noticeably clean and pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts.

Like the video presentation, the 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn’t disappoint. This is an entertaining audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create an engaging listening experience. Sound staging is excellent as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the larger effects sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and resolute clarity. This can be an active mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its dynamic range. The result is that appropriate points of contact seem to resonate with tactile low bass impact that energizes the room with clean, resonating, low frequency response. Dialog had excellent soundstage presence with clear, defining vocal character and excellent room penetration.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: The 5th Wave Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: The 5th Wave Blu-ray (plus bonus features)
  • (HD) Inside The 5th Wave – 14 minute featurette
  • (HD) Sammy on the Set – 7 minute featurette
  • (HD) The 5th Wave survival Guide- 2 minutes
  • (HD) Training Squad 53 – 5 minute featurette
  • (HD) Creating a New world – 6 minute featurette
  • (HD) Gag Reel – 3 minutes
  • (HD) 11 Deleted Scenes
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the novel by Rick Yancey The 5th Wave is a derivative, uninspired, young adult dystopian sci-fi adventure that lacked the depth necessary to make for a compelling and ultimately entertaining film experience. It comes to Blu-ray in this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring unremarkable Ultra HD image quality, complimentary Dolby Atmos surround sound and a decent supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. The 5th Wave is a swing and miss that looks and sounds solid on Blu-ray but will more than likely leave genre fans disappointed. If you’re curious I would strongly suggest a rental prior to purchase.

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 Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 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 In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package

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