It is neither through disrespect, nor negligence, that I combine the comments on two of the major 4k Blu-ray releases from the 2018 season.
Each in its own way, defines a specific style, both cinematographically as well as aurally, and both are reproduced on tiny CD-sized discs with immense resolution, and “break your lease” Dolby Atmos audio.
They both have approximately the same running time (134 minutes for Bohemian Rhapsody / 136 for Star is Born). Both share the same aspect ratio. So compression should be similar.
Bohemian Rhapsody was shot generally large format with an Arri Alexa 65, while ASiB was shot with an Arri Alexa Mini, and both are magnificent on 4k disc, with a bit of help from nicely used HDR. ASiB is encoded for Dolby Vision.
My purpose here is not to review the two films, which at this point need no further reviews, but rather to make the point that we have reached a technological state via which the theatrical experience, short of screen size, can be accurately reproduced in one’s home theater.
We’ve come a long way from Arrival of a Train, so beautifully captured by the Lumiere Brothers, and Rescued by Rover, as directed by Fitzhamon and Hepworth, and even the best of Berkeley.
Our ability to properly reproduce color and audio will most assuredly make further “advances,” especially with 8k on the horizon, but I’m not seeing any necessity to raise our current technical specifications, as the human eyes and ears are reasonably well tapped out.
Both of these releases are of magisterial proportions, and like a handful of 4k releases that came before them, should make it very difficult to anyone not to make the move to 4k and Dolby Atmos, even if that move might necessitate a new partner, or the need (as someone else noted) to relinquish a minor Picasso.
With all of the discussion regarding 8k, and further additions of speakers and amps, it seems that we’ve hit a point with our current technology, at which ones eyes and ears will not be able to either differentiate or appreciate further upgrades.
At this point, we break into two disparate camps. Flat panel and projection.
Current OLED flat panels may find ways forward. Those that may roll up into a ceiling mount, and span over 120 inches in width, and are able to solve the problems of black levels and high illumination we still have in projection.
But beyond that, this may be a huge problem for home theater hardware manufacturers, because we can finally rest comfortably – which we were never able to do from VHS, Laser, CED, Beta or HD – that (yes, I’m repeating) what we have in our homes capably and accurately reproduces what we saw and heard in theaters (or betters that experience), and that there may no longer be a logical way forward toward built-in obsolescence.
My intent here is not to damn 8k, which is a wonderful halo product, but to take a rational perspective and where we are, and where we may or may not need to go.
For those unaware, both of these films deserve your attention, and both should be in any serious library.
Image – 5
Audio – 5
Pass / Fail – Pass
Very Highly Recommended