Deepwater Horizon (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

January 5, 2017 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Say what you will about Mark Wahlberg, he’s made a name for himself. With older brother Donnie a former member of New Kids on the Block, I imagine there was a lot of pressure on Mark to make something of himself. Or was there? Prior to his acting debut in 1996’s Fear, Wahlberg did make a name for himself as a rapper under the name “Marky Mark”. Some reading this might remember his hit “Good Vibrations”. Hey, it’s on my iPod – don’t judge me. Wahlberg has made his career based on some risks. He took the titular role of Dirk Diggler in 1997’s Boogie Nights (a role once offered to Leonardo DiCaprio who declined it and has since said it was the worst decision he ever made) and has since made a string of high-quality films with the likes of George Clooney, director Martin Scorsese and others. In 2013 he teamed with director Peter Berg for Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon marks their second collaboration (a third will be Patriot’s Day, the story of the Boston Marathon bombing). Hey, if it ain’t broke…

The movie is based on the true story of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. We quickly meet the main players with Wahlberg playing Mike Williams, a tech who works with Transocean. Together with Andrea (Gina Rodriguez) and the captain “Mr. Jimmy” (Kurt Russell, sporting an amazing mustache), they’re behind schedule, but also want to ensure their job is done right. We then meet the executives of BP led by Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich doing his best cajun accent), who is looking to cut corners to get the ball rolling. After a few back and forths, a few tests are done which act as the catalyst for the film. Rather than try and understand the oil rigging lingo, we’re treated to shots of the mud getting ready to erupt which will, in turn, set the rig – the Deepwater Horizon – on fire. From there we’re in survival mode as the crew scrambles to save their lives and those of the crew.

I was reminded of 2000’s A Perfect Storm, also starring Wahlberg, when I saw this. It too was about a natural disaster at sea and the crew had to overcome hopeless odds to survive (they didn’t). There’s more bang for your buck here, but the plot is relatively the same. Seeing Kate Hudson and Kurt Russell in the same movie together was quite a treat, though the two don’t share any screen time together and Hudson is relegated to the “worried wife at home” role that Diane lane played in A Perfect Storm. Oh well. The film works because it’s gritty and real. And the content is fresh enough in our minds that we can all relate and remember seeing the countless hundreds of millions of gallons of oil being pumped into the ocean. A story for survival at its very core and the film features some great performances from all involved. Highly recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

I’d requested the Ultra HD version of this film because, well, why not? With this version you also get the Blu-ray which I also watched selected scenes from, but either way you go you’ll be in for a treat. We get some opening sweeping visuals of the rig out in the ocean, but are quickly introduced to where the majority of the film will take place. Placid and sterile at first, the 2.40:1 HD image looks pristine in every respect. As the fire gets raging, the color palette changes and the HDR has more of an impact. I’d switched to the Blu-ray for some of the later scenes and noticed any difference in the two. It’s not night and day, but there’s a lot more going on with the Ultra HD version. Contrast is rock solid, detail is razor sharp and I was hard-pressed to find anything wrong with the way this looks.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Both the Blu-ray and the Ultra HD/4K version contain the same Dolby Atmos track. And let it be said that this is one of those tracks that is really meant to be heard at ear deafening volumes. Crank it up! The atmospheric sound literally encompasses the viewer and unleashes a barrage of sound I’ve only heard in a few other films (and, of course, the names of those films escape me at the moment). Explosions from every inch of the screen, fires raging, people yelling, hunks of metal being thrown around…you get the idea. Vocals are lifelike and distortion-free as well. I do have to say that hearing John Malkovich do his best cajun accent was a bit of comic relief for me, but still that’s getting away from how amazingly awesome this soundtrack is. Put the disc in and prepare to be blown away.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Beyond the Horizon – The most robust supplement is this five part segment, each devoted to one of the main actors in the film.
    • Mark Wahlberg
    • Kate Hudson
    • Kurt Russell
    • Gina Rodriguez
    • Dylan O’Brien
  • Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg – A rather lengthy discussion of Peter Berg, the film’s director, as he explains what drew him to the project as well as his second collaboration with Wahlberg.
  • The Fury of the Rig – We get a pretty in-depth look at the backdrop for the film and how it plays a part in the movie.
  • Deepwater Surveillance – There was, at one time, a live feed that showed gallons of oil being pumped into the ocean. This gives us some raw footage that we’ve not seen before and is chilling to say the least.
  • Participant Media Work Like an American
    • American Worker Tributes – Some of the real life individuals from the movie are profiled.
    • I Am a Steel Beam with Narration by Director Peter Berg – Director Peter Berg narrates this piece with focus on some “construction miracles”.
    • I Am a Steel Beam with Narration by Gina Rodriguez – Pretty much the same thing, only this is narrated by Gina Rodriguez.

The Bottom Line

Think of this like Titanic – minus the Kate/Leo plot. And half as long. There’s a palpable chemistry with director Peter Berg and actor/producer Mark Wahlberg, so why deny it? This is a taut, edge of your seat thriller that’s sure to please. And let’s face it, anything with Kurt Russell is worth a watch. Demo quality sound and enough supplements to whet the appetite only sweeten the deal.

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