Air Force One UHD Steelbook Review

4.5 Stars Now with Dolby Vision
Air Force One Screenshot

Sony has re-issued Air Force One in new steelbook packaging and has included Dolby Vision in its 4K transfer.

Air Force One (1997)
Released: 25 Jul 1997
Rated: R
Runtime: 124 min
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Cast: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson
Writer(s): Andrew W. Marlowe
Plot: Communist Radicals hijack Air Force One with The U.S. President and his family on board. The Vice President negotiates from Washington D.C., while the President, a Veteran, fights to rescue the hostages on board.
IMDB rating: 6.5
MetaScore: 61

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 4 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD Steelbook
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 03/07/2023
MSRP: $38.99

The Production: 4/5

After the US assists the former Soviet Union in capturing General Ivan Radek (Jurgen Prochnow), a dictator who has taken control of Kazakhstan, US President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) attends a dinner in his honor in Moscow. A small team of Radek sympathizers, lead by Ivan Korshunov (Gary Oldman), manage to sneak on board Air Force One, posing as Russian journalists, eventually hijacking the plane and taking the passengers hostage in exchange for the release of Radek. Assuming the President has fled the plane in his escape pod and most likely dead, Korshunov tries to negotiate over the phone with Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close). Except that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists, and the President is pretending to be John McClane within the fuselage of Air Force One.

Air Force One is a fun, exciting popcorn action film written by Andrew Marlowe (Castle) and directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, NeverEnding Story, In the Line of Fire) with a strong sense of patriotism (thanks mostly to Jerry Goldsmith’s last-minute score) and a seemingly never-aging Harrison Ford thwarting the terrorists. The supporting cast almost reads like a who’s who of top character actors, including William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell, Tom Everett, Elya Baskin, Bill Smitrovich, Phillip Baker Hall, Spencer Garrett, Elya Baskin, Xander Berkeley, and Paul Guilfoyle. Marlowe’s script is at times implausible, often borrowing from other movies (the escape pod, for example, from Escape From New York), but Petersen keeps the action moving and Ford, who was 55 at the time the film was released, is as agile as Indiana Jones and Han Solo.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

I reviewed Sony’s original 4K UHD release of Air Force One in November of 2018, which looked incredible with HDR10, and has now been re-issued in Steelbook packaging, this time with both Dolby Vision and HDR10 (and a new encode, naturally). The movie has now been fitted on a BD100, giving it some more breathing room (the movie now takes up 81.4 Gb compared to 60.5 Gb), but unless you have a Dolby Vision-capable setup, you won’t notice any difference here from the previous 2018 release. Dolby Vision will offer more pronounced highlights and better contrast depending on how your display handles local dimming and other factors. Unless you absolutely MUST have Dolby Vision, there really is no reason to upgrade.

My video rating from the 2018 release (also a 5 out of 5) follows: Sony has proven, yet again, that they really know how to consistently bring their catalog titles to the 4K UHD Blu-ray format with Air Force One. Photographed in Super 35mm by Michael Ballhaus (The Color of Money, Goodfellas) and completed on 35mm film, this is a true 4K presentation through and through. Thanks to the use of HDR10, the movie has never looked better, with deep blacks that really accentuate the opening covert mission in the dead of night, plus the myriad of darkened interiors of the plane with fine shadow details. Colors are much more vivid when compared to the 2009 Blu-ray release, although much of the film is bathed in browns and greys. Film grain is noticeable and organic, never distracting.

Audio: 5/5

This disc contains the same outstanding Dolby Atmos mix featured on the 2018 UHD release, offering tighter bass response and a wider, more immersive sound field. Jerry Goldsmith’s score benefits greatly, swelling more often than not across, behind, and above you. The opening mission uses the heights to simulate paratroopers overhead, and placing various sounds throughout the film more precisely within the sound field. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. Oh, and yes, subtitles for when characters speak Russian are placed within the frame now (and supposedly have been corrected for this release).

Special Features: 1.5/5

Although Sony re-encoded the feature and placed it on a BD100 rather than a BD66 like the 2018 release, for some reason the Director’s Commentary has been omitted from the UHD disc this time around.

UHD Disc
Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:27)

Blu-ray Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Wolfgang Petersen: Available on only the Blu-ray disc (from 2009), the track (ported from the original DVD release) is quite informative and is moderated by Michael Coleman.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere.

Overall: 4.5/5

Sony’s 4K UHD Blu-ray release of Air Force One is still a winner, providing an excellent video and audio presentation, adding in Dolby Vision but isolating the commentary to the Blu-ray this time around.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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