Fresh on 4K: ‘BLACK PANTHER’ sharpens its claws and picture for HD home release

Connor Bynum // Film Critic

BLACK PANTHER

Rated PG-13, 134 minutes.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick BosemanMichael B. JordanLupita Nyong’oDanai GuriraDaniel KaluuyaAngela BassettForest WhitakerSterling K. BrownMartin Freeman and Andy Serkis

Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

We’re barely through the first half of the year and Marvel fans already have a lot to be excited about. With the aftermath of INFINITY WAR still fresh on everyone’s minds, it can be easy to forget that audiences have been treated to two record-breaking entries in the MCU this year. Seemingly aware of this, the folks over at Marvel and Disney have wisely chosen to remind their fans about BLACK PANTHER, with its home video release on 4K UHD Blu-ray.

Movie Grade: A-

“After the tragic death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his home in Wakanda. He’s been chosen to sit on the throne, reigning as king of the isolated, technologically advanced African nation. But just as he accepts this new lot in life, two baddies, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), present themselves as a major obstacle – one that threatens to compromise the safety and future of the Wakandan people and their homeland.

To have a culture, concepts and iconography that’s so unabashedly feted through the lens of Afro-Futuristic comic book entertainment is tremendous. This looks, sounds and feels strikingly different from any other film out there – comic book based, or not. It plunges the audience into a world that’s a utopian celebration of pure African culture and ideology. Ruth E. Carter’s incredible costume designs are eye-popping, tactile and vibrant, expressing so much about the characters. Hannah Beachler’s astounding production design also adds to the film’s immersive quality. Rachel Morrison’s cinematography is saturated, augmenting the unreality within a very relatable reality.

[Director Ryan Coogler’s] film satiates an instant fix for bold, crowd-pleasing entertainment, but there’s an unexpected kick long after the credits roll. For generations to come, and for those before who fought to see themselves represented so lovingly on screen as heroes, the legacy this art leaves is truly impacting.” Courtney Howard

Read the rest of Courtney’s review here.

Courtesy of DVDActive.

Video/Audio Grade: A-

BLACK PANTHER was reportedly captured in 3.4K and finished in 4K, but the ending result is more than worth the price of the upgrade. Upon a direct comparison to the Blu-ray, textures are noticeably crisper but the difference can sometimes be marginal at best. This may not seem like such a difference on paper, but for a film that features dozens of characters revealing a hefty amount of skin beneath their handmade costumes, even the slightest increase in detail makes for a striking increase in fidelity.

Where the disc truly shines is with the addition of HDR and Dolby Vision. The colors on the Blu-ray feel shockingly muted after watching the 4K version as the added color depth breathes enormous life into the world of Wakanda. Specifically, in the challenge scene where the five Wakandan tribes don their ceremonial clothes, the colors in their garments contrasted with the cliffs behind them make the image all the more surreal. The car chase in South Korea also greatly benefits with the increased contrast. The dark knight sky never feels blended with the neon lights on the buildings below, and I never found myself feeling like the blacks had been crushed. However, the same cannot be said for the opening night time action sequence. With almost no sources of light to contrast with the dark road, the dark trees, and the dark costumes in the scene, things ended up feeling rather hard to make out. That being said, this is still a fantastic 4K experience.

The same can be said for the Dolby Atmos track included on the 4K disc. While the mix is on the quieter side when compared to other 4K titles, turning up the volume a little higher than other discs would require mostly solves the issue. The action sequences still greatly benefit from the mix, but the dialogue in some of the softer scenes did have me instinctively reaching for the remote.

Extras Grade: B

No extra features make their way onto the 4K disc, but all are left on the included Blu-ray. There is also a code for a Movies Anywhere digital copy (which released on May 8), but it is important to keep in mind that all 4K titles distributed by Disney are limited to an HD digital copy rather than 4K. The only way to truly experience BLACK PANTHER in Ultra High Definition is on the physical disc.

The extras provide a fascinating look into the world of Wakanda and the real world influences from African cultures that went it into costume and set design in the film. However, these features are notably brief and often repeat themselves by retreading ideas introduced in other features on the disc. The fact that Black Panther is the first black Marvel hero to get his own film is truly sensational and worthy of mention. But when it’s stated multiple times over the course of twenty minutes, I started to notice how much material doesn’t get discussed in the extras. For example, Michael B. Jordan’s fantastic performance, the intricate makeup, elaborate fight choreography are barely referenced at all. It’s just disappointing that the extras barely scratch the surface of the work that went into such a monumental film.

Special Features:

  • Director’s Intro
  • From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion – Delve into the film’s making
  • Crowning of a New King – Explore the world of Black Panther in all its color and complexity
  • The Warriors Within – Get to know Wakanda’s women and the actors who portray them
  • The Hidden Kingdom Revealed – Wakanda’s diverse people
  • Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology
  • Deleted Scenes
    • U.N. Meet and Greet
    • Okoye And W’Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda
    • T’Challa Remembers His Father
    • Voices from the Past
  • Gag Reel
  • Exclusive Sneak Peek at Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • Marvel Studios the First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe
  • Director’s Commentary

Digital exclusive extras include:

  • In World Wakanda Tourism Ads:
    • Come to Wakanda “Before”
    • Come to Wakanda “After”

Final Grade: A-

BLACK PANTHER is a movie that demands to be seen more than once. Aside from being a superbly crafted film and a feast for the eyes, its cultural significance and positive messages in a time of heated division cannot be ignored.

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