Deepwater Horizon (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 18-Jan-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Beyond the Horizon
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Fury of the Rig
Additional Footage-Deepwater Surveillance
Featurette-Work Like an American
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 107:15
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter Berg

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Mark Wahlberg
Kurt Russell
Douglas M. Griffin
James DuMont
Joe Chrest
Gina Rodriguez
Brad Leland
John Malkovich
Kate Hudson
Dylan O'Brien
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Steve Jablonsky

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† Deepwater Horizon sees director Peter Berg follow up his 2013 hit Lone Survivor with another dramatisation of a harrowing true story, tackling the worst oil disaster in American history for the first of his two cinematic endeavours of 2016 (the excellent Patriots Day being the second). Deepwater Horizon certainly plays out like a disaster movie in some respects, but itís grounded by Bergís realistic touch, and remains as respectful as possible to those involved in the tragedy. Itís also far more fearsome and haunting than just another run-of-the-mill Hollywood disaster yarn. This is Bergís first based-on-a-true story thriller to be given a sizable blockbuster budget, but unfortunately the gamble didnít pay off at the box office; Deepwater underperformed and reportedly lost a considerable amount of money. Nevertheless, much like Bergís Patriots Day, we should appreciate that the movie was produced in the first place with a proper budget to do the material justice, and it deserves a second life on home video.

††† A chief electronics technician, Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) is also a devoted family man, husband to wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) and father to the young Sydney (Stella Allen). But Mike is compelled to leave his family for three weeks while he works aboard the Deepwater Horizon, an oil drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana. The rig is unfortunately burdened by equipment thatís in dire need of repair, but BP managers Donald (John Malkovich) and Robert (Brad Leland) try to downplay the issues as they push the crew to get the job done and make up for lost time. The rigís installation manager, Jimmy (Kurt Russell), challenges the demands of the executives, but corporate interests prevail and work continues. Tragedy inevitably strikes, however, when a massive blowout leaves several workers dead and the vessel in flames, prompting an evacuation in order to save as many men as possible.

††† The screenplay - credited to Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand - is based on a New York Times article from 2010 entitled ďDeepwater Horizonís Final Hours.Ē Wisely, the script for the most part remains focused on the disaster, with little in the way of extraneous subplots to distract from the primary story. Before the chaos erupts, Berg juggles character introductions with expository information to ensure the uninitiated will be able to grasp the basics of deep sea oil exploration and the fundamental physics involved, though itís not exactly an in-depth school lesson. Berg has an affinity for character work, as well - even though names donít always stick when it comes to the background characters, they are imbued with little individual quirks to distinguish each of them from one another. Clocking in at a modest 105 minutes, Deepwater Horizon is a mercifully lean experience, never lingering anywhere for too long, but it doesnít feel underdone either.

††† Berg exhibits his reliably adept cinematic craftsmanship when the disaster begins to unfold, and the resulting scenes of fiery destruction and peril are genuinely harrowing. Berg reportedly had a $156 million budget to work with, and it shows - the combination of elaborate sets, dangerous stunt-work and exceptional digital effects creates a scarily thrilling demise for the Deepwater Horizon, never looking anything less than entirely believable. You can almost feel the heat of the flames. Berg manages to get away with so much within the confines of a PG-13 rating - the movie is not gory, but itís definitely disturbing. And astonishingly, despite the rating, it doesnít seem as if the movie was constructed with commercial prospects in mind. However, the deaths of the crew donít always carry the weight that they should, though a roll call after the fact will give you chills. Berg also makes use of multiple perspectives to create a complete picture of the disaster - the U.S. Coast Guard is called upon for a rescue and nearby vessels witness the chaos from afar, all the while Mikeís wife Felicia is at home crippled with worry, determined to learn anything she can about the unfolding situation.

††† One aspect of Deepwater Horizon which never quite gels is the presence of Donald, whoís not exactly treated with any subtlety. Played with a thick Cajun accent by Malkovich, the BP executive is portrayed as an out-and-out cartoonish antagonist, giving audiences somebody to despise when the real villain here is nature. One supposes it was a creative choice on the part of Berg rather than Malkovich, but Donald is much too broad in an otherwise realistic and sobering motion picture. Elsewhere, acting right across the board is exceptional, lead by Wahlberg who seems to be Bergís go-to leading man for these sorts of projects. Whereas Wahlberg played a fictional composite character in Patriots Day, Mike Williams was a real electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon - in fact, there are no fictitious characters in the mix here. Russell, always a reliable performer, brings real gravitas to his role of Mr. Jimmy, and Gina Rodriguez acquits herself confidently as Andrea, the rigís sole female worker. Kate Hudson doesnít get a great deal to work with, but she is convincing as Mikeís wife.

††† Although Deepwater Horizon does fall short of perfection, and itís not as great as Patriots Day, itís nevertheless a characteristically strong effort from Berg, who has found his niche doing these types of realistic thrillers. Berg also reminds us that the movie is not mere exploitation by including real footage of the incident and of the people involved right as the credits begin to roll (much like both Lone Survivor and Patriots Day), which closes the door on a touching note. Deepwater Horizon manages to be an important chronicle of a contemporary disaster, and even though itís not exactly escapism, itís an engaging watch.

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Transfer Quality


††† Roadshow debut Deepwater Horizon on Blu-ray with two options: this standard Blu-ray, and a 4K Ultra HD alternative for those who are 4K compatible. Making use of a dual-layered BD-50, Roadshow's 1080p, AVC-encoded standard Blu-ray is framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and the result is a strong, faithful presentation of the source. Deepwater Horizon was shot digitally with a combination of Arri Alexa XT and Arri Alexa 65 cameras, and this Blu-ray was likely created direct from the digital intermediate as it looks pristine and crystal-clear throughout; colours are vivid and it's low on compression artefacts.

††† In the opening scene of Mike and Felicia in bed, facial detailing is routinely impressive during close-ups, revealing the intricacies and pores on Mark Wahlberg's face. Also see the close-ups of the various actors in a helicoper-set scene at the 14-minute mark - in particular, Kurt Russell's aging face is bursting with finely-resolved textures. A side shot of John Malkovich's face at 34:41 is especially stunning as well. Sharpness is top-notch too, capably handling the facial hair on the faces of the actors. This level of quality is ably maintained throughout, with strong textures on clothing and faces, though detailing does admittedly struggle a tad under lower light, looking noticeably hazy. A subtle layer of source noise is visible, but at times the transfer is too smooth-looking (as with most digitally-shot movies), in need of a more definitive pop of fine detail. I don't believe that any digital noise reduction was used - this is likely just a limitation of 1080p.

††† The Blu-ray's colour palette appears true to the source, with vivid colours in brightly-lit sequences. The workers wear red outfits which leap off the screen, and the ocean looks positively luscious during wide shots of the rig in daylight (and at dusk, too, really). However, during certain scenes the palette becomes a touch drab - see, for instance, the aforementioned opening scene in bed, or moments of brisk exchanges in the dimly-lit hallways of the rig. Sure, these are technically source-related, but the UHD Blu-ray exhibits more depth and refinement during the scenes in question. Luckily, the transfer maintains solid clarity and object delineation throughout darker sequences, and never falls victim to any unsightly black crush.

††† As previously stated, the presentation is pristine - thankfully, I detected nothing in the way of aliasing, ringing or macroblocking. The only minor problem with the presentation is banding. Some banding is inevitable due to the limited colour space of 1080p Blu-ray, but it is noticeable and distracting at times, particularly in dark underwater shots. In addition, the presentation does lack the pop and depth of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, which has the benefit of High Dynamic Range to bolster it. All things considered, Roadshow have done a commendable job of bringing Deepwater Horizon to Blu-ray, and the disc looks very good when upscaled on my 65" 4K television.

††† English subtitles are provided. I found them perfectly easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


††† Now this is a nice surprise. Most Roadshow releases only provide downgraded 5.1 audio while the 4K discs receive the superior audio specs, but Deepwater Horizon is permitted a stunning, lossless Dolby Atmos track that's thoroughly immersive. I don't have an Atmos set-up and therefore can't fully assess the mix, but it's still a hell of a track when played through my 7.1 surround system. First things first - there are absolutely no issues with prioritisation throughout. This is a loud, aggressive track throughout the latter half of the movie during the demise of the rig, but dialogue is nevertheless easy to hear while there's still plenty of oomph when the occasion calls for it. The original score by Berg regular Steve Jablonsky comes through with superb clarity as well, filling all channels and never sounding muffled in any way.

††† Subtle panning effects are evident, and the channels are consistently put to great use with precise placement. When Jimmy calls out to Mike in the darkness, for instance, Jimmy's voice comes from one particular rear channel. And for a great example of panning, see cars passing by during an early scene on the road, or the helicopter's initial arrival at the Deepwater Horizon which also features some insane use of the subwoofer. Sounds of the helicopter rotors are deafening, amplifying the illusion. The explosions are equally deafening, not to mention the rumbling will make your viewing room shake. Ambience is constant - on the rig, you can lightly hear ocean waves, equipment being used, or the sound of an announcement over the PA. And when all hell breaks loose, the sound of flames is omnipresent and you can hear debris flying from all around. Audiophiles with expensive set-ups will be in heaven.

††† I have absolutely no complaints about this excellent track, which is reference-quality. It's professionally-mixed and perfectly-encoded, with no drop-outs or sync issues to speak of. The disc also contains a 2.0 mix optimised for late-night listening, as well as an audio descriptive track, but I focused on the Atmos mix for the purposes of this review.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


††† You want extras? You got 'em! The disc contains over two hours of video extras, including extensive behind-the-scenes featurettes which provide valuable insight into the production. Although I would have liked an audio commentary to round out the package, what's included is of a high quality.

Beyond the Horizon (HD; 51:07 total)

††† This is more or less a documentary about the making of Deepwater Horizon, split into five chapters devoted to the actors involved: Mark Wahlberg (10:35), Kate Hudson (10:50), Kurt Russell (11:59), Gina Rodriguez (9:14) and Dylan O'Brien (8:31). You can either watch each segment individually, or via a "Play All" function. Though each chapter is initially focused on the star at hand and their respective characters, the segments delve further into several aspects of the production and are filled with insightful behind-the-scenes footage. The real-life Mike Williams was actually brought on-board for the production, and was present on-set to oversee the shooting and work closely with Wahlberg. O'Brien also got to meet the person he's playing, Caleb Holloway, and the pair are seen getting along very well. It's also interesting to see the actors working on the intricately-designed sets, with real flames. All in all, this is an excellent documentary.

Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg (HD; 18:13)

††† This featurette focuses on director Berg, and takes a closer look at his contributions to Deepwater Horizon. Berg talks about choosing the project (even though his son keeps asking him to make a comedy) and his approach to filmmaking, while the actors talk enthusiastically about working with the director. Several of the crew also chime in to sing Berg's praises, and there's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage mixed throughout.

The Fury of the Rig (HD; 27:20)

††† This is a more focused behind-the-scenes featurette about the oil rig set. The production constructed a full-sized replica of the rig for shooting, and Berg did as much as he could with practical effects rather than CGI. There's a lot of insightful footage here of the construction of the set, rehearsals, testing effects shots, production meetings, and filming. In addition, ILM's contributions to the project are explored, with insightful visual effects comparisons and a look at the digital models. This is a genuinely insightful and in-depth extra, and it doesn't feel like a fluffy EPK piece.

Deepwater Surveillance (HD; 17:14 total)

††† Here we have raw footage from a number of sequences, to give you the feeling of what it was like to be on-set. Some of this is raw camera footage, while the majority is behind-the-scenes, where you can see three or four camera operators filming simultaneously. No narration or interviews are provided here, but there are title screens before each clip to provide basic background information about the shot being filmed. You can watch each clip individually or via a "Play All" function. Here's what's included:

Work Like an American (HD)

††† A series of bite-sized video segments.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † All editions worldwide appear identical, aside from differing language options. You're certainly not missing anything by buying local.


††† Deepwater Horizon is not for every taste. It's a truly harrowing disaster movie, but it's a valuable retelling of a tragic environmental disaster which took the lives of eleven men. If you can stomach it, it's definitely worth a watch.

††† Roadshow's technical presentation is outstanding, with top-flight picture and sound. The selection of special features is genuinely excellent as well, providing the cherry on top. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, November 10, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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