First-time director Bradley Cooper’s 2018 superior take on a famous musical romantic drama debuts on ultra-high definition. The Ultra HD brilliantly highlighting Academy Award-nominated performances by Lady Gaga in A Star is Born. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 135 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $39.99).
A Star is Born as another burns
In the story, Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), a haggard, drug-addicted country-and-western superstar, falls in love while mentoring a singer-songwriter unknown named Ally (Lady Gaga). The tale offers a tragic look at the demons of excess and corruptions associated with celebrity ascension.
The Academy Award-nominated Lady Gaga really shines in her role and continues to evolve from a musical juggernaut to acting diva as she manages to tug at the viewer’s emotions. The lady even emulates the personas of the women who previously played the movie’s role. Catch her in the right perspective or lighting or song lyric, and she looks like a young Judy Garland or Barbara Streisand and has the vocal chops to match.
The chemistry between Mr. Cooper and the female dynamo is intense in every scene, and it’s a guaranteed tear-jerker for fans of the genre.
Throughout, Mr. Cooper and cinematographer Matthew Libatique weave an arresting visual perspective through ever-flowing and nearly documentary-like camera movements.
Frenetic and stark shots work beautifully to reveal the chaos swirling around the superstar singer both on and off the stage as he attempts to function through his various addictions. Those get juxtaposed with more stable camera movements during his calmer moments with Ally.
4K in Action
A UHD upscale from the original source material spotlights the issues that viewers sometimes face watching a drama rather than an action-packed blockbuster. Specifically, that means focusing on unintended visuals. Such as crisp facial detail. Especially when the most impressive set pieces are confined to the singer’s occasional in concert exploits.
For example, one watcher commented that she really didn’t need to see that Lady Gaga had a group of blackheads on her nose. Much less every freckled blemish on Bradley Cooper’s face. All magnified by a 4K microscope.
It’s an odd consequence to appreciating the otherwise sharp and rich presentation but still, a cautionary tale for the make-up artist and actor not wanting to have a missed pimple distract from a performance.
However, crank the sound system and appreciate the Dolby Atmos mix spotlighting both Mr. Bradley and Lady Gaga’s singing talents, largely due to a collection of really emotional original songs including “Never Love Again” and the Academy Award-nominated “Shallow.”
Best 4K UHD Extras
Start with a 30-minute look at the production that offers some behind-the-scenes footage. The highlight is the sit-down discussion, in a comfortable living room, no less, by Mr. Cooper. In this featurette Bradley first talks with Lady Gaga. Others join in, including guitarist Lukas Nelson and songwriter Mark Ronson. Actors Sam Elliott (Jackson’ brother in the film), Andrew Dice Clay (Ally’s father) and Anthony Ramos (Ally’s best friend) also appear.
Next, appreciate a trio of segments labeled “jam sessions” including “Midnight Special” featuring Mr. Cooper and Lady Gaga. “Baby What You Want Me to Do” (Mr. Cooper and Mr. Nelson) and “Is that Alright” (Lady Gaga).
Finally, viewers can watch four music videos. These include “Shallow,” “Always Remember Us This Way,” “Look What I Found” and “I’ll Never Love Again.”
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.