NOTE: This marks my first 4K UHD title I’ve reviewed for the site. I personally have over 50 titles in my collection so far, which I will be covering in reviews as soon as possible.
Film Title: Red Sparrow
Release Date: 2018
Runtime: 140 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray & Blu-ray Disc
Versions Available: 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons
Red Sparrow, reuniting lead actor Jennifer Lawrence with her Hunger Games Director, Francis Lawrence, tells the story a tale of revenge mixed in with slight hints at the Russian political system. We’re introduced to Dominika Egorova (Lawrence) a ballerina dancing at the famous Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Caring for her ailing mother, Dominika also has to deal with a rather ‘hands on’ photographer/possible mob boss, Dimitri Ustinov (Kristof Konrad) She eventually appears on stage, but a move gone wrong results in a rather horrific leg injury to Dominika. It’s due to this leg injury that Dominika is recruited by her Uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts) into a secretive Russian intelligence agency. Instead of the standard espionage ala a James Bond, Dominika is trained to use her ‘assets’ to gain any and all information needed to complete her mission. What results is a film that, ultimately, suffers from a rather bland story mixed in with a fairly bloated run time.
Upon seeing the initial trailer for Red Sparrow back in late 2017, I was intrigued not only by the design/locale that Director (Francis Lawrence) envisioned, but also the inclusion of always solid Jennifer Lawrence. My fault lies with the script from Justin Haythe. There’s far too many sequences where Dominika is able to complete whatever is needed for a particular scene, and we’re just suppose to ‘go with that.’ She’s almost like a super spy, mixed in with a tough guy Rambo character. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a strong heroine, even Lawrence can’t save her doomed character.
Still, while the script may bring down the film, I will admit that the film did keep my attention, but I just wonder how often you’d want to re-visit this one. Worth a watch on a rainy day, but not much more than that.
Movie Rating: 2 (out of 5)
According to IMDb, “Red Sparrow” was filmed using a variety of cameras, mostly Arri Alexa Mini/XT Plus, in 2.8K and 3.4K source code. The film was mastered in true 4K resolution. The film is in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The 2160p presentation by 20th Century Fox boasts quite the impressive results.
Detail is immaculate throughout the presentation, particularly of any facial closeup or smaller detail in some of the background pieces during a few scenes. Despite the thought of the Moscow setting being grim, dark and a possible lack of sharp colors, I will say that the darker locales don’t falter one bit, as the lower ends of the color spectrum never lose detail.
I popped in the included 1080p Blu-ray Disc just to see some of differences in the 4K counterpart. With HDR being plastered across every single 4K UHD title boasting ‘brighter, more realistic detail’, that quote rings true with this particular title. Reds of Dominka‘s dress, and that of detail of background items, are quite the visual treat. The ballet sequence, in particular, is one of both a visual and aural treat, but more on that a bit later.
All in all, I don’t really have any complaints to mention, just a sharp, very detailed presentation.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
–– Of side Note – I’m not equipped to fully experience Dolby Atmos, so the included comments are based on the ‘core‘ aspect of the Atmos track (ie a Dolby True HD) ––
“Red Sparrow” arrives with a Dolby Atmos track, also a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core, and is definitely one that improved on an already impressive DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio mix found on the Blu-ray. I’m told that the atmospheric experience is very immersive and I look forward to experiencing it. However, again, I’ll admit I am just experiencing the TrueHD 7.1 track here.
Dialogue remains intelligible throughout via the center channel with no real instances of drop out. Some of the dialogue may be difficult to understand due to the ‘accents’ used throughout, so the included subtitles may be needed (or a volume increase.)
Low-end activity mostly comes during the heightened moments more from the rather effective score by James Newton Howard. Having been a fan of his work (especially that of the first Chronicles of Riddick film) I will admit that his score does give this film more of an overall presence and does help improve the quality – somewhat.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
- A Digital Copy of the film via Movies Anywhere is included, which is compatible with iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video and more. You redeem this with a code on paper insert in the various forms of packaging.
The only bonus material found on the 4K UHD Blu-ray is an audio commentary – also listed below. You will instead find supplemental materials on the included Blu-ray Disc of the film. There you’ll find the following:
- Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence
- A New Cold War: Origination and Adaptation – This serves as a behind-the-scenes feature via interviews spliced in with footage from the film.
- Agents Provocateurs: The Ensemble Cast – This is a character discussion with Lawrence and others.
- Tradecraft: Visual Authenticity – Locale discussions and production designs are detailed.
- Heart of the Tempest: Locations – Director Francis Lawrence details his thought process on the different locales he used, as he went for a similar theme throughout.
- Welcome to Sparrow School: Ballets and Stunts – Jennifer Lawrence and how she learned the varying dances.
- A Puzzle of Need: Post-Production – The editing and Howard’s score are detailed.
- Deleted Scenes – Optional Commentary with Director Lawrence is offered.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
While the film may not be the strongest, mostly due to a weaker script with moments that you could easily guess how they would transpire, the included Video/Audio presentation makes this one worthy of at least a rental based solely on Lawrence’s strong performance.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials