Glory UHD Steelbook Review

4.5 Stars Dolby Vision and Steelbook and nothing else new
Glory 4K UHD Review

As part of Columbia Pictures’ 100th Anniversary celebration and the film’s 35th Anniversary, Sony has reissued the Civil War epic Glory on 4K disc in steelbook packaging.

Glory (1989)
Released: 16 Feb 1990
Rated: R
Runtime: 122 min
Director: Edward Zwick
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman
Writer(s): Kevin Jarre (screenplay), Lincoln Kirstein (book), Peter Burchard (book), Robert Gould Shaw (letters)
Plot: Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 78

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 2 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD steelbook
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 06/04/2024
MSRP: $45.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Glory tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first black regimen to fight for the Union during the Civil War under the leadership of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick). Having survived the harrowing Battle of Antietam (the bloodiest battle of the war with combined casualties exceeding 22,000), Shaw is offered the appointment of commanding a unit of all-black soldiers, training them with the assistance of his best friend Major Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes) and Drill Sergeant Major Mulcahy (John Finn). Eager to sign up for this volunteer squadron is the freed and intellectual Thomas Searles (Andre Brauer), also a friend of Shaw’s, and escaped slaves John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman), Jupiter Sharts (Jihmi Kennedy), and Trip (Denzel Washington). The film is based on the books Lay This Laurel by Lincoln Kerstein, One Gallant’s Rush by Peter Burchard, and the personal letters of Robert Gould Shaw (which are used in narration). Shaw soon realizes he has his work cut out for him, and that his superiors are determined to undercut him and his regimen at every opportunity. The army cuts his soldiers’ pay from $13 to $10; supply officers hold back required shoes, uniforms, and weapons; Col. James M. Montgomery (Cliff DeYoung) and Gen. Charles Garrison Harker (Bob Gunton) even rope in Shaw’s regimen to assist in the pilfering of southern towns for their own gain until Shaw and Forbes call their bluff by threatening to expose them to the War Department.

Glory is quite possibly Broderick’s best dramatic performance (prior to this he was best known for War Games and Ferris Bueller), and there are fine performances all around, with Denzel Washington winning his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Trip. The film features beautiful cinematography by Freddie Francis (Dune, The French Lieutenant’s Woman) and a stirring score by James Horner.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Glory was first released on 4K disc by Sony back in 2019 as a 30th Anniversary release in standard packaging and only HDR10 high dynamic range on a BD100 disc (which pretty much filled up the disc at 92.9 GB). Five years later, Sony has re-released the film again on a BD100 disc but has included Dolby Vision high dynamic range, yet strangely although content-wise the disc is identical (same audio options and a trailer), the actual size of the content, data-wise, is reduced to 88.5 GB, although I wonder if Sony’s annoying original menu design on their early 4K discs are what is taking up the extra 4 GB on the original release (other than slightly better compression methods). Frankly, I cannot tell the difference between the 2019 release with HDR10 and this newer release with both Dolby Vision and HDR10.

As I stated in my 2019 review:
Sony continues to release stellar catalog titles in 4K UHD Blu-ray, and Glory is no exception. This true 2160p transfer with HDR10 high dynamic range from 35mm film elements is a truly film-like experience, with organic grain structure left intact, so much so that it is much more evident (yet not the least bit distracting) than on the included 2009 Blu-ray release. Colors are more vivid and natural, with much more discernible color gradients (the main title card blends from gold to red much more subtly here than on the Blu-ray or even the video commentary found on the UHD disc). Contrast is greatly improved, with nighttime exteriors getting a nice boost in overall shadow detail.

Audio: 5/5

This release contains the same default Dolby Atmos track as the 2019 release.

I first saw Glory in 70mm during its original theatrical run in 1989 and thought the “Dolby Six-Track Stereo” mix was very impressive. That track translates over to this new Dolby Atmos mix extremely well, adding a bit more depth to its sound design, providing a much wider aural experience. Sounds are more precisely placed and move much more seamlessly throughout the viewing/listening area, such as flying cannonballs and artillery fire. James Horner’s score also sounds more spacious, with heights used to fill out the room. LFE is very good for a film from this era, with a nice balanced low-end that never feels overbearing. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. Sony has also included a 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mix in DTS-HD MA.

Special Features: 4/5

As I indicated in my video rating above, the special features included in this set are identical to the 2019 release.

UHD Disc
Video Commentary (1080p; 122:14): This picture-in-picture commentary track has been ported over from the 2007 2-disc DVD release, and is presented here in 1080p. It features most of director Edward Zwick’s original audio commentary (available in its entirety, sans PiP, on the Blu-ray), plus comments from Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. With the extra breathing room on the disc, it would have been nice to have just the commentary audio available with the 4K video.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:29)

Blu-ray Disc
Audio Commentary with Director Edward Zwick

Virtual Civil War Battlefield (1080p): An interactive Civil War map of the United States.

The Voices of “Glory” (480i; 11:18)

The True Story Continues (480i; 45:18)

Original Theatrical Making-of Featurette (480i; 7:36)

Deleted Scenes (480i; 5:39): Two sequences with optional director’s commentary.

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included to redeem a 4K digital copy.

Overall: 4.5/5

If you really must have Dolby Vision, steelbook packaging, and a sleeker menu design, then this is the version of Glory for you (although it is selling at a premium of $34.99 at the time of this review). Otherwise, the 2019 4K release in standard packaging, HDR10, and Sony’s original cumbersome menu design will likely do (and currently selling for under $20).

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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