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Deepwater Horizon (4K Blu-ray) (2016)
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Details At A Glance
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
Year Of Production
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Douglas M. Griffin
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
††† 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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††† As per standard operating practise, Roadshow have sourced the 4K disc in this set from overseas; the disc here was prepared by Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment, and looks to be the same that was released in the United States. No surprises here - even though Deepwater Horizon was reportedly only completed at 2K resolution, this 2160p Ultra HD Blu-ray is a considerable improvement over its 1080p counterpart, and though it's not demo material, it's a superb rendering of the source. To allow for maximum breathing room and to accommodate the smattering of bonus material on the disc, the movie is placed on a triple-layered BD-100. Although this is not a night-and-day upgrade compared to the standard Blu-ray, the High Dynamic Range (encoded in HDR10) significantly boosts the colour palette, emphasising the sheer heat of the flames, and there's better refinement and detail. Framed at 2.40:1, this is another competent UHD encode and another welcome upgrade that I'm happy to own.
††† The slight encoding artefacts of the standard Blu-ray are entirely eliminated here - I detected no banding at all, nor is there aliasing, macroblocking, crush or anything else that proves bothersome. The HDR instantly and noticeably improves the colours and sense of depth, not to mention contrast is consistently excellent to maximise the fine detail. As with most of Berg's movies, Deepwater Horizon was shot with Arri Alexa cameras (both XT and 65 rigs were used), and since the movie was reportedly captured at 3.4K resolution, there's plenty of texture on display. Indeed, even under the dimmest lighting, the presentation squeezes as much detail as possible out of the source, often making you feel as if you're looking out of a window. Textures on clothing simply leap off the screen, and more detail is apparent on faces in close-ups. In short, the 4K presentation - with its increase in resolution - provides a better-refined image all-round, thanks to the superior HEVC/H.265 video codec. Light source noise is apparent from time to time, but it's finely-resolved and never proves to be distracting. However, the added resolution does admittedly makes some of the digital flames - and CGI shots in general - look more noticeably artificial. Also, the real footage of the hearings is riddled with artefacts, but this all traces back to the source as it was shot with lower-grade, consumer-level equipment.
††† Sharpness on the 1080p Blu-ray was excellent, and the 4K presentation miraculously manages to top it - there's no softness or haziness here, and object delineation is exceptional no matter the lighting conditions. In addition, flesh tones are natural throughout while blacks are inky and deep, making the image look convincingly three-dimensional. Deepwater Horizon is a dark movie at times, but blacks never crush the image - superb clarity is maintained at all times. The heat of the flames is emphasised with HDR as well; again, it feels like you're looking out a window. As ever, videofiles may be disappointed that the disc's HDR is only encoded in HDR10, rather than Dolby Vision - especially given that the movie is available to stream in Dolby Vision, and was screened with DV in Dolby Theatres over in the United States. Nevertheless, it's difficult to imagine the presentation looking any better than it does here.
††† With more and more 4K releases hitting the market, it's always a joy to sit down and behold a genuinely great disc that shows precisely what the format is capable of. Deepwater Horizon fits that bill with ease, even if it is a "2K upscale." The 1080p Blu-ray is certainly no slouch, but the 4K manages to top it from the very first scene. This is the definitive way to experience this harrowing disaster movie at home.
††† English and Spanish subtitles are available.
Video Ratings Summary
††† True to its theatrical exhibition, Deepwater Horizon is permitted a stunning, lossless Dolby Atmos track for this 4K Blu-ray 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. Audiofiles 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 Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and an English 2.0 track optimised for late-night listening. I focused on the Atmos track for the purposes of this review.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
††† Despite the box office failure of the movie, Deepwater Horizon is permitted a generous selection of extras. The 4K disc itself contains the special features, contrary to many 4K releases so far, and they're identical to the standard Blu-ray.
Beyond the Horizon (HD; 51:21 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 (10:53), Kurt Russell (12:02), Gina Rodriguez (9:15) and Dylan O'Brien (8:34). 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; 18:15) ††† 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:
- Intro & First Blowout (1:35)
- First Blowout with Stunts (1:38)
- Drill Deck Explosion (00:54)
- Assistant Driller's Shack Crash (1:24)
- Main Methane Explosion (1:05)
- Mr. Jimmy's Shower (1:06)
- Roughneck Rescue (2:35)
- Mike & Caleb Restore the Power (00:41)
- To the Lifeboats (2:30)
- Lifeboat Rescue (2:46)
- Andrea's Jump (00:52)
- Deepwater Timelapse (00:15)
Work Like an American (HD) ††† A series of bite-sized video segments.
- American Worker Tributes (16:03) - These segments profiles some of the real-life people involved in the tragedy, and some American workers in general. Included is Caleb Holloway (2:05), Hannah Cooper (2:23), Meredith Gregory (2:02), Marc Nunez (2:11), Les Pryce (2:11), Bill Reimels (2:02), Adam Donahue (1:38), and Darrell Holthusen (1:49). This is fine, but perhaps a meaty documentary about the Deepwater Horizon event might have been more effective. Unlike the standard Blu-ray, there is a "Play All" function on this disc.
- I Am A Steel Beam (with Narration by Director Peter Berg) (1:03) - A series of clips narrated by Berg who profiles steel beams, various pieces of construction, and workers. Not sure what the point of this actually is.
- I Am A Steel Beam (with Narration by Gina Rodriguez) (1:03) - This is the same series of clips with the exact same narration, but this time by Rodriguez. Again, this seems pointless.
R4 vs R1
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† † Roadshow's 4K release is identical to the United States release, right down to Summit Entertainment branding on the disc. Buy 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 4K Blu-ray is, predictably, the definitive way to experience this movie at home. The Ultra HD presentation features superior video and a sublime Dolby Atmos track, while the 4K disc also features the same selection of special features available on the standard Blu-ray. Highly recommended.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, November 09, 2017
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|