Father’s Day Gift Guide: Best 4K UHD movies
With Father’s Day celebrations this weekend in mind, here are a few last-minute gift suggestions for the dad stuck at home and who loves watching ultra-high definition movies in his home entertainment room. Check out “Gladiator,” “Jaws,” “The Deer Hunter,” “A Quiet Place,” “War of the Worlds” and “D-Day Normandy.”
Gladiator (Paramount Home Entertainment, not rated, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 171 minutes, $29.99) —
Ridley Scott’s multiple Academy Award-winning (including Best Picture) historical drama celebrates its 20th anniversary by getting re-released in the UHD format and encased in an illustrated steel package.
The harrowing story starred Russell Crowe as Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, a father and husband out on a mission of revenge after the murder of his child and wife by a petulant power-hungry emperor named Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).
Lucky owners get two cuts of the film in the 4K format — the theatrical version, considered the director’s cut by Mr. Scott, and an extended cut roughly 16 minutes longer.
Viewers get an all-important pair of vintage optional commentary tracks on the 4K disc featuring Mr. Scott, editor Pietro Scalia and cinematographer John Mathieson for the theatrical cut, and Mr. Scott with Mr. Crowe for the extended version.
Among the goodies on the included pair of Blu-ray discs, I’ll only need mention the over three-hour-long, a seven-part massive documentary that will joyously consume most “Gladiator” fans time.
The steelbook also does not disappoint and features a photo of Maximus crouching and ready to attack on the front, his walk to arena on the back, and an inside spread of gladiators battling in an arena.
Also, for fans of the strong male leads ready to challenge the world, Braveheart gets the steelbook treatment from Paramount ($29.99) and revisits Mel Gibson’s Academy Award-winning biography of William Wallace who dared liberate Scotland from oppressive English rule.
Jaws: 45th Anniversary Edition (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 116 minutes, $29.99) —
Director Steven Spielberg’s ultimate adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel about a massive Great White Shark terrorizing a local coastal island town gets premiere UHD treatment for its latest release to home theaters.
Although legendary performances by Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint and Richard Dreyfuss as shark expert Matt Hooper are certainly worth noting, the impeccable 4K presentation brings the movie to glorious new visual heights,
It’s especially outstanding when examining that infamous foggy night boat trip in search of the movie’s real star. And, a new Dolby Atmos sound mix cements the masterpiece and guarantees a couple of shrieks from the audience as the battle for beaches of Amity Island heats up.
Notable extras: All bonus content from the 2012 Blu-ray release is included and that translates into new fans savoring a pair of vintage documentaries, “The Making of Jaws” (more than two hours) and “The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and Legacy of Jaws” (over 100 minutes).
Also, the packaging includes a lenticular slipcase cover as well as a 48-page, full-color booklet loaded with information such as main cast bios, a blueprint of the mechanical shark, storyboards, photo, posters, script pages of Quint’s fame monologue, and essays on the film and book.
The Deer Hunter: Collector’s Edition (Shout Factory, Rated R, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 182 minutes, $34.93) —
One of the most impactful war dramas in the history of cinema and winner of the 1978 Academy Award for best picture returns in the ultra-high-definition format for home theater cinemaphiles to appreciate with a pinch of new extras.
Actually, the winner of a total of five Oscars, director Michael Cimino’ masterpiece explores the impact of the Vietnam War on three steelworkers from a small town in Pennsylvania.
Covering the friends, Mike Vronsky (Robert De Niro), Steven Pushkov (John Savage) and Nick Chevotarevich (Christopher Walken), going to battle, surviving in a prisoner of war camp and then trying to reassemble their lives after coming home, the movie is a gut-wrenching, emotionally frayed expose of what war can do to the human spirit.
Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond’s often dark and bleak visual presentation remains intact for the 2160p remaster, but thankfully the high dynamic range tweaks make the jungles of Vietnam and mountains of Pennsylvania visual candy to the eyes.
Notable extras: The 4K disc offers an optional commentary track with Mr. Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher.
Move to the included Blu-ray version of the film to find all the other goodies including roughly 45 minutes of new interviews with Mr. Savage, actress Rutanya Alda (Angela Ludhjduravic-Pushkov), producer Michael Deeley, post-production supervisor Katy Haber and Universal marketing executive Willette Klausner.
The disc also includes four minutes of deleted scenes and a vintage interview with film historian David Thomson.
Conspicuously absent is a necessary optional commentary track with the director that has appeared in numerous home entertainment releases in the past.
A Quiet Place (Paramount Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 90 minutes, $25.39) —
Director John Krasinki’s 2018 post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film returns in the ultra-high-definition format but gets the Mondo X Steelbook treatment, making it the perfect gift for fatherly fans.
The story about Earth’s Abbott family — father Lee (Mr. Krasinski), pregnant mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) — attempting to survive the entrenched invasion by sightless, indestructible extraterrestrial creatures with hypertensive hearing offered a clinic in appreciating a frightening film’s sound design that uses a lack of dialogue to cause the biting of fingernails to the bone.
Both the included 4K and Blu-ray disc offer the same extras from the 2018 release: three featurettes (roughly 35 minutes on total) covering the story and its lack of dialogue, editing, and special effects.
Also, the pair of discs arrive in a premium steelbook case, removed from a plastic slipcover, that features exclusive artwork inspired by Matt Ryan Tobin’s original film poster displaying the film’s iconic blood-red light strings.
War of the Worlds: 15th Anniversary Edition (Paramount Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 116 minutes, $29.99) —
A divorced, dysfunctional dad (Tom Cruise) must take on the ultimate responsibility of keeping his son and daughter alive amid an extraterrestrial invasion in director Steven Spielberg’s terrifying adaptation of H.G. Well sci-fi horror novel.
With markedly upgraded 4K visuals and a screen-filling presentation, the release of the film in the UHD format offers enhanced acuity of the numerous nighttime scenes and excellent clarity throughout while the Dolby Atmos soundtrack allows the creepy sounds of the attacking alien machines with guttural foghorn of doom even more real.
Nothing new for the anniversary but all of the extras from the 2010 home theater release are included on the Blu-ray disc led by a meaty, over 90-minute-long production diary (broken up into four parts) and a short look at Wells legacy with his grandson Martin and his great-grandson Simon.
D-Day Normandy: 75th Anniversary Edition (Shout Factory, Rated G, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 43 minutes, $26.56) —
One of the Allies’ greatest gambles and triumphs against German forces during World War II was chronicled for IMAX viewers in director Pascal Vuong’s 2014 documentary narrated by Tom Brokaw.
Now available in UHD, this too-brief look at the liberation of France on June 6, 1944, deconstructs Operation Overlord and blends reenactments with actual footage, computer-animated cartography and imagery, pop-up book style presentations, stop-motion sand animation and illustrated encyclopedic visuals that cover technology, science, strategy and the men behind the campaign.
Yes, there are much deeper chronicles of D-Day out there, so use the film as an all ages, information-packed primer for dad or grandad to introduce some history to his offspring.
This screen-bursting snapshot of the war not only looks impressive, especially any of the aerial flyovers of the countryside, but certainly provides a reality-based educational lesson in courage while reminding viewers of the men who fought and died for the ultimate freedom of the planet.
Roughly 13 minutes of interviews with the director, Mr. Brokaw, and historical adviser Peter Herrly; 11 minutes of behind-the-scenes featurettes covering the production, animation, and the musical score; and 23 minutes of footage covering what Normandy looks like today.
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.