Baz Luhrman’s biopic, Elvis, looks and sounds great on UHD Blu-ray, but the movie is uneven at best.
The Production: 3/5
The story of Elvis Presley has been told on film many times before, the best being perhaps the 1979 TV-movie directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Baz Luhrman (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge) tries his hand in this expensive and splashy biopic, telling the story from the point of view of Elvis’ longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). While on paper that may seem like a fresh take, it’s an odd choice nonetheless that often works against director Luhrman’s flashy production design, editing, and often dizzying camera moves. It also doesn’t help that Tom Hanks’ performance is all over the place, as is his accent, sometimes sounding like a pirate, Colonel Sanders, and an Eastern European. I also found the prosthetic makeup used on Hanks to be a distraction. Many of the supporting actors are basically window-dressings, especially Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley, who is given very little to do in the film. All is not lost, though, as the shining light that nearly holds the picture together is Austin Butler (The Shannara Chronicles) as Elvis. This is a truly commanding performance that, unlike Tom Hanks as Parker, does not heavily rely on prosthetics. He is completely believable as the King, including singing, stage presence, and screen presence.
3D Rating: NA
Elvis was captured in 4.5k and 6.5k resolution using Arri Alexa 65, Alexa LF, and Panaflex System 65 cameras and completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Vision high dynamic range for its premium theatrical engagements. Warner’s HEVC-encoded 2160p transfer includes all three flavors of high dynamic range – HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. The disc was reviewed on a Dolby Vision-capable display (LG C1 OLED) and Sony UBP-X800M2 player. The transfer pops from the minute the stylized Warner logo first appears, which only improves from there, with the bright lights of the Las Vegas skyline, dazzling costumes, etc. Overall clarity is excellent, revealing pores in the actors’ faces, individual sequins in the costumes, and, unfortunately, the bad prosthetics on Hanks. Blacks are deep and inky, with strong shadow detail (the night time scenes in downtown Memphis, especially).
The default Dolby Atmos track is excellent, and is what one would expect for a film like this – big, wide, and immersive. The musical performances benefit the most here, from the gospel numbers early in Elvis’ childhood, the smaller venues early in his career, to the massive concerts at the Las Vegas International later on. The quieter sequences also take advantage of the spatial audio, providing ambience and atmospherics to family gatherings at Graceland or carnival exteriors. LFE is strong but never overly boomy, and dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 2.5/5
Musical Moments (2160p/1080p; 46:19): Quick access to the several musical numbers featured in the film. This is the sole “bonus” feature on the UHD disc, and is also available on the included Blu-ray.
Bigger Then Life: The Story of Elvis (1080p; 22:22): Cast and crew discuss the many aspects and challenges to bring this story to the big screen.
Rock ‘N Roll Royalty: The Music and Artists Behind Elvis (1080p; 7:33): A look at the many musicians who helped to bring the music of Elvis to life for the movie.
Fit for a King: The Style of Elvis (1080p; 8:02): A look at the costume designs for the film.
Viva Australia: Recreating Iconic Locations for Elvis (1080p; 7:26): Shooting Elvis in Australia.
Trouble Lyric Video (1080p; 2:15)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere.
Elvis is a great looking and sounding movie on UHD, but the movie is uneven.
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