Fresh on 4K: ‘DUNKIRK’ will blow up your entertainment system with its splendor

Connor Bynum // Film Critic

DUNKIRK

Rated PG-13, 106 minutes.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Fionn WhiteheadBarry KeoghanMark RylanceTom Glynn-CarneyTom HardyJack LowdenCillian MurphyJames D’Arcy and Kenneth Branagh
Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

As noted in our review of INTERSTELLAR on 4K UHD, director Christopher Nolan has painstakingly overseen the 4K remasters of nearly all of his films for a release on Ultra High Definition. This includes his most recent film, DUNKIRK. If there ever was a greater reason to go through with the wallet-murdering process of upgrading to a 4K home entertainment center, it’s this one. DUNKIRK is simply a masterful film filled with breathtaking cinematography and sound design that demands to be seen in the finest way money can buy.

Movie Grade: A-

Taking place through three different perspectives that move at different paces, DUNKIRK tells the true story of 400,000 surrounded English soldiers and the attempts made to save them from the ever approaching German forces.

DUNKIRK is arguably Nolan’s most mature film to date. This is not necessarily in terms of adult content, but in tone and subject matter. Everything is handled with the most intensive care and attention to detail. While the non-linear method in which the story is told can be distracting at times, for the most part Dunkirk is a masterful film. (Read our full theatrical review here.)

Video/Audio Grade: A+

DUNKIRK comes courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment from a native 4K digital intermediate and is nothing short of reference quality. Opening scenes on the beach with hundreds of soldiers scrambling to find cover from an incoming bomber are prime examples of the details on screen. Each individual soldier is distinguishable from the crowd as well as the grains of sand that plummet down upon them after a series of explosions. The visual fidelity is also a knockout with scenes involving the fighter pilots. Glossy textures on the sides of the planes as well as the seemingly endless horizon add on to the film’s epic scope. Almost every scene is bursting with detail and to describe each and every one would border on insanity. In short, this film is the best sample of a 4K home release I have ever seen.

As with most other Nolan films, DUNKIRK switches between different aspect ratios when bouncing between IMAX and 35mm footage. While some may find this decision controversial, I personally love seeing the film overtake the entirety of the screen as the film revels in its massive scale. It is important to note that for those who also favor this format, it is only available on a physical disc. The 4K digital copy viewable through an Apple TV 4K, unfortunately, keeps the entirety of the film in the wider 2.20:1 aspect ratio, leaving the black bars on screen even during the IMAX scenes.

The omission of a Dolby Atmos track was allegedly a decision from Nolan himself, but audiophiles can rest easy, as the lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is as spectacular as the film’s visuals. Gunshots from faceless German soldiers still shock as they did in theaters and Hans Zimmer’s Golden Globe-nominated score never fails to add the already overwhelming tension. Turn up the speakers and buckle up, as the audio on this disc is superb.


Extras Grade: A-

The 4K disc has no included extras, but does include the same bonus Blu-ray from the 1080p release. While certainly inconvenient to have to switch between discs, this decision also means that the maximum amount of disc space for the feature film allows for minimal compression. The bonus content heavily focuses on the technical aspect of making the film such as the heavy amount of IMAX cameras and the near insane commitment to historical accuracy.

Full list of extras:

  • Creation (1080p; 1.78:1; 22:19)
    • Revisiting the Miracle
    • Dunkurque
    • Expanding the Frame
    • The In Camera Approach
  • Land (1080p; 1.78:1; 16:39)
    • Rebuilding the Mole
    • The Army on the Beach
    • Uniform Approach
  • Air (1080p; 1.78:1; 18:30)
    • Taking to the Air
    • Inside the Cockpit
  • Sea (1080p; 1.78:1; 36:57)
    • Assembling the Naval Fleet
    • Launching the Moonstone
    • Taking to the Sea
    • Sinking the Ships
    • The Little Ships
  • Conclusion (1080p; 1.78:1; 15:19)
    • Turning Up the Tension
    • The Dunkirk Spirit
  • Other
    • Coast Guard Promo (1080p; 1.78:1; 2:02): How the U.S. Coast Guard assisted in the production.

Final Grade: A

DUNKIRK proves to be a perfect example of why 4K UHD can indeed find an audience in the home theater demographic. Nolan’s trademark nonlinear storytelling practically dares audiences to sit down for repeat viewings, and the spectacular visuals and audio will likely lead you to notice new details every time. If you’re still on the fence about 4K home entertainment, DUNKIRK just may be the single reason to jump in.

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