A few words about…™ Christopher Nolan Collection — in 4k UHD Blu-ray

If one doesn't have any, or even the majority of the seven films, the set is a no-brainer. 4 Stars

The new Christopher Nolan Collection — not to be confused with previous Christopher Nolan Collections on Blu-ray — is comprised of seven films.

Each one is a superb entertainment, with the latest, Dunkirk, leading the pack.

Included are crowd favorites, The Dark Knight trilogy — Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises;

Inception, Interstellar, and The Prestige.

From a technical perspective, the most interesting are those with multiple aspect ratios — Dunkirk, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises.

All of the films are presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.

With the exception of Batman Begins, for which I found the HDR a bit heavy, but not problematic, all of the films are nicely presented.

All were photographed in 35/4 with the exception of the IMAX sequences in the above noted multiple aspect ratio productions, and the large format work on Interstellar and Inception.

It’s the large format, 65mm, IMAX material that makes this set extremely interesting in 4k, and based upon your home theater setup, you’ll see varying results.

One of the problems in referencing the new 4k discs, is that the original Blu-ray releases from Warner Bros., were generally stellar in quality.

Disney’s original Blu-ray of The Prestige is also superb.

As I noted above, things get interesting.

Especially if one is projecting the original Blu-ray in 4k, with one’s player doing the uprez from HD to 4k.

With the exception of a bit of HDR, the difference between the HD and 4k on The Prestige is extremely minor, even if standing a foot from the screen.

For those productions containing large format, the difference is greater, and noticeable at the screen, but at a normal seating distance, you’ll note virtually no difference.

Again, the problem is not that the new 4k discs are imperfect, although they were scanned from IPs, and not from OCNs. It’s that the previous discs were as good as they are.

And they are superb.

There is also the financial question, since these are fine films, and Mr. Nolan has many fans.

One must presume that anyone desirous of owning the seven productions, already does, on Blu-ray.

Once again, the original releases, took full advantage of the technical attributes of the format, with extras delivered on a separate disc. Therefore, data throughput was exemplary.

To my mind, for the average consumer, it comes down to this.

If you already own the seven films on Blu-ray, which means that you also already have the extra content, is the $150 street price a reasonable proposition, since what you’ll really want are the seven discs in 4k.

Purchased separately, the seven films would run $200. At even $20 each for the new 4k discs, you’ll be looking at almost the price of the set with all of the Blu, extras, and 4k material.

So, yes, it’s a fair bargain. And you can gift your earlier versions.

One really must be desirous of that little bit of extra technical data to replace what one already has.

There seems to be no upgrade in audio.

If one doesn’t have any, or even the majority of the seven films, the set is a no-brainer. But for those who already own all seven, and already have the capability to uprez to a 4k flat panel or projector, the difference between the old and the new is so slight, that I can’t in good conscience suggest buying them again just for 4k.

Possibly, had the original negatives been accessed, things might have been different, but as it is, the new Collection is a wonderful 4k set, that simply isn’t a necessity.

Image – 5

Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

4k – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

author,member

33 Comments

  1. Interstellar also had multiple aspect ratios.

    I love this set. I did own them all previously on Blu Ray. I bought them all individually for $22.99. To my eyes on my OLED I see a big improvement. Especially with Interstellar.

    But I’m sure you’re right. The previous blus were awesome. So whether this set is a must buy or a necessity is up to the individual buyer.

  2. Robert Harris

    Possibly, had the original negatives been accessed, things might have been different, but as it is, the new Collection is a wonderful 4k set, that simply isn't a necessity.

    I think it was a conscious choice by Nolan to use the color-timed IPs, rather than scanning the negative and recreating the color timing digitally, since he loves the analog workflow.

    I thought it was interesting, along those lines, that when Dunkirk was released in IMAX, all of the 15/70 film locations showed prints which had been printed from the original negative (which as you know is rare in the modern era, especially now). However, the digital and laser IMAX locations showed a special DCP that had been created by scanning a timed protection IP that had already been made – rather than scanning the negative directly and doing the color timing digitally.

    I think in Nolan's mind, the color-timed IP made in the analog realm is "the movie" and it's apparently more important to him that the digital copies be a presentation of that specific piece of film, rather than their own thing.

  3. Josh Steinberg

    I think it was a conscious choice by Nolan to use the color-timed IPs, rather than scanning the negative and recreating the color timing digitally, since he loves the analog workflow.

    I thought it was interesting, along those lines, that when Dunkirk was released in IMAX, all of the 15/70 film locations showed prints which had been printed from the original negative (which as you know is rare in the modern era, especially now). However, the digital and laser IMAX locations showed a special DCP that had been created by scanning a timed protection IP that had already been made – rather than scanning the negative directly and doing the color timing digitally.

    I think in Nolan's mind, the color-timed IP made in the analog realm is "the movie" and it's apparently more important to him that the digital copies be a presentation of that specific piece of film, rather than their own thing.

    I believe it’s a bit more complex than that, as digital projection of a IP, can actually allow a more highly resolved imaged that a projected analogue image of the same generation.

    Whichever way one goes, things can be superb.

    Accessing the IP as a harvest element also reduces cost measurably.

    Again, no wrong answer here.

  4. Robert Harris

    Again, no wrong answer here.

    Agreed!

    I can completely understand and respect the logic behind using an IP. Finishing films in the analog realm is a major priority for Nolan, and it makes sense to me that his preference would be to make the digital master from a single, complete film element, rather than using the untimed negative and then using digital tools that Nolan was making a point of not using in the first place to mimic the look of the film.

  5. Tino

    But I’m sure you’re right. The previous blus were awesome. So whether this set is a must buy or a necessity is up to the individual buyer.

    "Dark Knight" is the biggest upgrade, IMO – the original Blu had issues, whereas the 4K is awesome.

    The other 2 with IMAX footage are also worth it.

    (Not counting "Dunkirk" because the 4K was day/date with the BD, so it seems unlikely anyone reading this right now will need to "upgrade".)

    "BB" and "Inception" are the 2 iffy ones, IMO. I prefer the 4Ks but not to the same degree as with "Interstellar" and the 2 other Batmans…

  6. For the Warner titles like The Dark Knight, is the included BD the same as the original BD release, or is it a new transfer? Warner's Unforgiven UHD quietly included the new transfer on both the UHD and BD, but the new transfer didn't come out as a standalone BD.

  7. Watched Batman Begins

    Reminded me some of Harry Potter Year 1 and 2 PQ wise, not always great, but still had some really good scenes and 4K/HDR being the best way I have ever seen it. I really pushed the audio during the police/tumbler chase, man it was great

  8. Josh Steinberg

    For the Warner titles like The Dark Knight, is the included BD the same as the original BD release, or is it a new transfer? Warner's Unforgiven UHD quietly included the new transfer on both the UHD and BD, but the new transfer didn't come out as a standalone BD.

    I didn't watch the BD, but I'm 99% sure it's the same.

    "Batman Begins" is a different disc – it includes only the movie on Blu-ray One, whereas the original retail version had extras on the movie disc.

    "Dark Knight" still has extras on Blu-ray One – and the menus, etc. all looked identical.

    So I'd be exceedingly surprised if the "Dark Knight" BD was new…

  9. I've been very happy with the set so far – one thing that I cannot seem to find any clarity on however is that – the set is advertised as containing the "original theatrical audio mix." Has the sound changed in anyway since the original blurays, or is this simply stating that the DTSHD mixes were considered "original theatrical audio mixes," and that's what has been ported to the 4K discs? Odd thing to advertise in my opinion (not that there is anything wrong with the sound on these discs…I've found them to be fantastic sounding).

  10. Ryan Barrett

    I've been very happy with the set so far – one thing that I cannot seem to find any clarity on however is that – the set is advertised as containing the "original theatrical audio mix." Has the sound changed in anyway since the original blurays, or is this simply stating that the DTSHD mixes were considered "original theatrical audio mixes," and that's what has been ported to the 4K discs? Odd thing to advertise in my opinion (not that there is anything wrong with the sound on these discs…I've found them to be fantastic sounding).

    Makes little sense, as there were reportedly various different mixes being repurposed, inclusive of Dolby Atmos, and IMAX 6-track, for different projects.

    Regardless, tracks are superb.

    They can also be used to break leases, and clean dust from speakers…

  11. Robert Harris

    With the exception of Batman Begins, for which I found the HDR a bit heavy, but not problematic, all of the films are nicely presented.

    Possibly, had the original negatives been accessed, things might have been different, but as it is, the new Collection is a wonderful 4k set, that simply isn't a necessity.

    Image – 5

    Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

    4k – 5

    Screening The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and The Prestige in 4K yesterday on an 88" Samsung LED backlit LCD display with HDR, I am sorry to say that I am NOT too happy with this release.

    Where is the grain?

    Take, e.g., Batman Begins: There are actually three HD versions available on disc: Don't forget the first release in the HD DVD format. This was the only version really looking film-like with wonderful original grain structure. The later Blu-ray encode was already significantly DNRed as the new 4K version obviously is. No abomination as Terminator 2 in UHD, but faces tend to be waxy and -due to the lack of grain- texture is really lacking.

    As concerns color timing, I found the timing of the original HD DVD and Blu-ray preferrable to the reddish tint of the new version.

    As I understand that the production was supervised by Nolan, I have to respect his decision about the usage of DNR and de-graining, but I can not consider this as my definitive version of his masterful pieces of art.

    What miracle can be achieved in 4K UHD demonstrate the 4K scans and encodes of "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Blade Runner" which really showcast the capabilities of reproducing film with beautiful intact and highly-resolved original grain structure, depth and texture.

    Unfortunately the Nolan collection is not a showcase presentation to show off these qualities.

  12. Johannes S

    Screening The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and The Prestige in 4K yesterday on an 88" Samsung LED backlit LCD display with HDR, I am sorry to say that I am NOT too happy with this release.

    Where is the grain?

    Take, e.g., Batman Begins: There are actually three HD versions available on disc: Don't forget the first release in the HD DVD format. This was the only version really looking film-like with wonderful original grain structure. The later Blu-ray encode was already significantly DNRed as the new 4K version obviously is. No abomination as Terminator 2 in UHD, but faces tend to be waxy and -due to the lack of grain- texture is really lacking.

    As concerns color timing, I found the timing of the original HD DVD and Blu-ray preferrable to the reddish tint of the new version.

    As I understand that the production was supervised by Nolan, I have to respect his decision about the usage of DNR and de-graining, but I can not consider this as my definitive version of his masterful pieces of art.

    What miracle can be achieved in 4K UHD demonstrate the 4K scans and encodes of "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Blade Runner" which really showcast the capabilities of reproducing film with beautiful intact and highly-resolved original grain structure, depth and texture.

    Unfortunately the Nolan collection is not a showcase presentation to show off these qualities.

    While there may have been grain reduction, grain structure, already fine on modern films, takes on a more velvety look.

    I searched for grain, and presumed much was reduced due to the dupe.

  13. Robert Harris

    I believe it’s a bit more complex than that, as digital projection of a IP, can actually allow a more highly resolved imaged that a projected analogue image of the same generation.

    Whichever way one goes, things can be superb.

    Accessing the IP as a harvest element also reduces cost measurably.

    Again, no wrong answer here.

    I watched Batman Begins yesterday and to me this did not look like a new 4k harvest of the IP as this would not explain the very obvious absence of film grain, especially in faces in dark scenes.

    Regarding cost reduction I would hope that a multibillion dollar franchise would be reason enough to not cheap out on any one of the three Batman movies but maybe Christopher Nolan also had a say in how things were handled and was happy with an existing digital version of Batman Begins, hard to say.

  14. Johannes S

    Screening The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and The Prestige in 4K yesterday on an 88" Samsung LED backlit LCD display with HDR, I am sorry to say that I am NOT too happy with this release.

    Where is the grain?

    Take, e.g., Batman Begins: There are actually three HD versions available on disc: Don't forget the first release in the HD DVD format. This was the only version really looking film-like with wonderful original grain structure. The later Blu-ray encode was already significantly DNRed as the new 4K version obviously is. No abomination as Terminator 2 in UHD, but faces tend to be waxy and -due to the lack of grain- texture is really lacking.

    As concerns color timing, I found the timing of the original HD DVD and Blu-ray preferrable to the reddish tint of the new version.

    As I understand that the production was supervised by Nolan, I have to respect his decision about the usage of DNR and de-graining, but I can not consider this as my definitive version of his masterful pieces of art.

    What miracle can be achieved in 4K UHD demonstrate the 4K scans and encodes of "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Blade Runner" which really showcast the capabilities of reproducing film with beautiful intact and highly-resolved original grain structure, depth and texture.

    Unfortunately the Nolan collection is not a showcase presentation to show off these qualities.

    Very interesting post, I will have to pull out my HD-DVD of Batman Begins now. Unfortunately some of my Warner HD-DVD's have some playback issues so I hope that I will still be able to check a few scenes on this one that really stood out to me with regard to the lack of grain structure. I also remembered the HD-DVD to have more of a golden / yellowish hue that I really liked so I was surprised that the UHD version looked more reddish.

    With what I have recently seen from them I would have preferred that the Warner Archive collection could have handled the Nolan collection as they seem to have become experts at giving us excellent Blu-rays that are mostly derived from either 2k or 4k IP's – with intact grain structure.

  15. OliverK

    Very interesting post, I will have to pull out my HD-DVD of Batman Begins now. Unfortunately some of my Warner HD-DVD's have some playback issues so I hope that I will still be able to check a few scenes on this one that really stood out to me with regard to the lack of grain structure. I also remembered the HD-DVD to have more of a golden / yellowish hue that I really liked so I was surprised that the UHD version looked more reddish.

    With what I have recently seen from them I would have preferred that the Warner Archive collection could have handled the Nolan collection as they seem to have become experts at giving us excellent Blu-rays that are mostly derived from either 2k or 4k IP's – with intact grain structure.

    The same group handles Warner and Warner Archive titles.

  16. Robert Crawford

    The same group handles Warner and Warner Archive titles.

    True, but what we have here does not look like a new and pristine IP scan as we have recently seen for a number of titles from the Warner Archive collection. Obviously it is not that what we have got is unwatchable but it does not get much higher profile than the films of Christopher Nolan on UHD so I guess I just expected more than what I have seen so far.

    Would be great for the Bolan films to be of the kind of quality that we get from Sony with titles like Bram Stokers Dracula or A Few Good Men, both movies that I would certainly not call bigger profile than Batman Begins with regard to how much money they make for their studio on UHD.

  17. OliverK

    True, but what we have here does not look like a new and pristine IP scan as we have recently seen for a number of titles from the Warner Archive collection. Obviously it is not that what we have got is unwatchable but it does not get much higher profile than the films of Christopher Nolan on UHD so I guess I just expected more than what I have seen so far.

    Would be great for the Bolan films to be of the kind of quality that we get from Sony with titles like Bram Stokers Dracula or A Few Good Men, both movies that I would certainly not call bigger profile than Batman Begins with regard to how much money they make for their studio on UHD.

    Obviously, some of us are more critical of Batman Begins 4K/UHD disc than others so I'll leave it at that.

  18. Robert Crawford

    Obviously, some of us are more critical of Batman Begins 4K/UHD disc than others so I'll leave it at that.

    Yup. Hell I was fine with the reviled T2 4K/UHD disc!:razz:

  19. Carlo Medina

    Just watching the first 10 minutes of Dunkirk. I know what I’m about to say isn’t practical but man does this make me wish everything was shot in IMAX 😉

    "Dunkirk" comes awfully close to being "all IMAX" – it's about 75% IMAX!

  20. I wish that these films had seamless branching for the IMAX sequences. Now that I have a 2.35:1 projection screen, I don't need to (nor can I) expand vertically. Having a director-preferred 2.40:1 framing option during these sequences via seamless branching is desired. I can't see it being troublesome to add, either.

  21. I feel your pain Michael, but for the small % of people in your situation (in comparison to the average household) I'm not sure the studios are going to go to those lengths. But for what it's worth I support your cause!

    My "wishlist" item is true subtitles in addition to SDH. I support SDH for those with the need. But for those of us who are just watching at low volumes at night (which I'm sure a lot of us do), we'd appreciate just the dialogue in the subs vs. door opening, or sound comes from offscreen. :rolling-smiley:

  22. Michael Osadciw

    I wish that these films had seamless branching for the IMAX sequences. Now that I have a 2.35:1 projection screen, I don't need to (nor can I) expand vertically. Having a director-preferred 2.40:1 framing option during these sequences via seamless branching is desired. I can't see it being troublesome to add, either.

    I believe the DVD and digital streaming versions contain the 2.20:1 non-shifting aspect ratio of the film. (I didn't check my Dunkirk digital copy yet but that's how all other Nolan films were handled for streaming and DVD versions; the Blu-rays got the shifting aspect ratio and everything else got a constant ratio.)

    Carlo Medina

    My "wishlist" item is true subtitles in addition to SDH. I support SDH for those with the need. But for those of us who are just watching at low volumes at night (which I'm sure a lot of us do), we'd appreciate just the dialogue in the subs vs. door opening, or sound comes from offscreen.

    I would also like for discs to include both "English" and "English SDH" options for exactly the reason you state.

  23. Just because I didn't see it answered affirmatively, only Batman Begins has a new master/transfer on the Blu-ray Disc, the other two Dark Knight films the Blu-ray is the same transfer found on the original releases.

  24. dobyblue

    Just because I didn't see it answered affirmatively, only Batman Begins has a new master/transfer on the Blu-ray Disc, the other two Dark Knight films the Blu-ray is the same transfer found on the original releases.

    The Dark Knight definitely looks different and less edgy in the 35mm scenes, couldn't comment on the third one so far.

  25. Watched The Dark Knight UHD tonight. Its better than Batman Begins with the normal stuff, the IMAX is just ridiculous. I saw one review that noted where the non IMAX stuff could show some softness at times, and I saw the same. Still, it looked great. The armored car chase was just that much better with HDR on the OLED. Fire, police lights, etc… and perfect black.

  26. Finally picked up the Batman titles in the 3 for $49.99 Amazon sale. The UHD of Batman Begins is the weakest of the 3. When Bale is about to "graduate" from his training for the League of Shadows the color of his face is not right. His face has a tanned/yellow hue but his neck still has a reddish skin tone and it looks terrible. Liam Nesson is also in the shot and his skin tones don't look messed up. Not sure what's going on there?

    In regards to the 1080p discs Batman Begins is the only one with a "new" movie disc. While it did get a new higher bit-rate AVC encode I think it's still the same scan/transfer used on the previous hd-dvd & blu-ray which both had the same low bit-rate VC1 encode. WB also changed the audio from Dolby TrueHD to DTS-HD MA. As for the special features the In-Movie Experience PiP was removed and I didn't see Confidential Files: Discover facts and story points not in the film and the stills gallery on the "new" special features disc. If you want all the extras hang on to the old blu-ray and use that as your special features disc.

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