Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Tenet, arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in a 3-disc set that includes just over an hour of special features.
The Production: 3.5/5
Writer-Director Christopher Nolan must relish in the idea of confusing his audiences (the notable exceptions are his The Dark Knight trilogy films). Starting with Memento in 2000 where he told the story of a man with amnesia in reverse, and continuing with The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar, and now Tenet, Nolan tells an overly complex story with both mind-bending and time-bending constructions that can make them very hard to follow. His previous films had some emotional depth to them, but that is sorely lacking in Tenet. The audience has no real emotional connection to “The Protagonist” (John David Washington), a secret government agent who is captured as the movie opens during a siege at a concert hall in Kiev and takes his life with a cyanide capsule to avoid being compromised. He is awakened by the mysterious Fay (Martin Donovan), who offers him a chance to save humanity from destroying itself by transporting him to another secret facility where he is educated on the dangers of inversion and how someone from the future has found a way to move objects backwards in time, especially bullets, with the real threat being the possibility of sending a nuclear bomb in the same manner. The Protagonist is teamed up with Neil (Robert Pattinson), and they believe that arms dealer Priya (Dimple Kapadia) may be the one in the present that is behind the mysterious inversion bullets. She reveals that the culprit is Russian arms dealer Sator (Kenneth Branagh), who is married to Kat (Elizabeth Debicki), who is being blackmailed into staying with the abusive Sator out of fear of losing her son. The Protagonist sees this as a possible way of getting into Sator’s exclusive circle to determine how to stop the inversions and save the world.
At least, that is what I think this movie is about. Nolan spends way too much time having nearly every character explain the theory of inversion and how it relates to the plot on numerous occasions that it becomes distracting to the often exciting visuals happening on screen. Let’s not forget the elephant in the room – how Tenet was being promoted by the studio, the press, and even theater chains as the possible savior for the still-struggling exhibition industry that has been decimated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is hard not to look past that level of hype and anticipation, causing this reviewer to feel even more let down by the film as a whole. That is not to say that Tenet is a bad movie, it’s actually very good, just not one of Nolan’s best efforts.
3D Rating: NA
Tenet was shot on 65mm film using Panavision 70, Arriflex 765, and IMAX cameras and completed as a 4K digital intermediate. Warner has provided the IMAX version of the film on both the UHD and Blu-ray movie-only discs, which alternate between 1.78:1 (IMAX) and 2.20:1 (standard 65mm) aspect ratios, with HDR10 high dynamic range on the 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer found on the UHD disc. This is a film with incredible fine detail, from delicate imperfections in the stucco buildings in Mumbai, Pattinson’s facial stubble to fabric textures in the wardrobe. There is also a great sense of depth to the image, particularly in the vast skylines. Colors appear natural and not overly saturated. Contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail.
Warner has provided Tenet with an excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is a victim of its source material. It has been rather well-documented online about how many who saw the film theatrically had a hard time hearing the dialogue in the film, yet Nolan has insisted it is all intentional as part of the “sonic experience.” So, yes, dialogue is difficult to hear from time to time, so you may want to turn on those English SDH subtitles. Getting that out of the way, much like Nolan’s other recent films like Dunkirk and Interstellar, this track has a very wide dynamic range that can seem overly loud at times, yet still very directional and immersive (despite the lack of a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X mix). Ludwig Göransson’s score is at times very Zimmer-esque (in much the same way his score for The Mandalorian is reminiscent of Bill Conti), and even plays in reverse in several key moments. LFE is very strong, so much so that some may want to turn their subs down a few notches before playing as insurance.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Tenet comes in a 3-disc black UHD keepcase, with movie-only discs in UHD and Blu-ray, plus a Blu-ray disc that includes a documentary and trailers.
Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of “Tenet” (1080p; 75:22): A fairly comprehensive look at the making of the film, including casting and shooting in 65mm with Panavision and IMAX cameras.
Trailers (1080p; 9:41): Four trailers for Tenet are included.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
Tenet is a film that is often frustrating to understand, at least upon the initial screening, but still beautiful to watch and experience, a movie definitely made for repeat viewings.
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