Blade Runner 2049 – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review


Film Title: “Blade Runner 2049
Release Date: 2017
Rating: R
Runtime: 164 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Warner
Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos & DTS-HD 5.1 MA
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Versions Available: 4K Blu-ray, 4K SteelBook
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Dave Bautista, Robin WrightAna de ArmasWood HarrisDavid DastmalchianEdward James OlmosJared LetoMackenzie DavisHarrison Ford

blade_runner_2049_1click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

The Movie

Blade Runner 2049” is the 2017 sequel to the 1982 Sci-Fi cult classic “Blade Runner” (originally directed by Ridley Scott). This film was directed by Denis Villeneuve, best known for directing the films “Arrival” (2015), “Sicario” (2015), and “Incendies” (2010).

The original story is based on the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“,  in which Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples adapted as a screenplay for the first film, that this follows. The sequel’s screenplay was written by by Hampton Fancher (back again) and Michael Green – the latter, best known for his writing work on films “Alien: Covenant” (2017) and “Logan” (2017). So, fans can rest assured 50% of the original screenplay writing force is back here for this sequel.

This film takes place in Los Angeles and the year 2049, thirty years after the first film took place (2019). Our protagonist in this film, is a LAPD officer simply known as “K” (Ryan Gosling), and a “Blade Runner.” The Nexus 8 series, originally produced by the Tyrell corporation. The Nexus 8 replaced the Nexus 6 series last seen in the 1982 film, which were [SPOILER ALERT] deemed to be retired by law, once again by “Blade Runners“, as they live now in hiding. Meanwhile, thirty years later, we now in 2049 have the Nexus 8 series of replicants, newly modified by the Wallace corporation, and have been given human lifespans.

Our friend “K” is good at his job as a blade runner, as he brings in the replicant he’s after, and even manages to find other things along the way. He’s known back at the LAPD headquarters as “constant K” for being consistent on a constant fashion and not going haywire. At home he lives a pretty mundane life with his companion “Joi” (Ana de Armas), who greets him every day and starts to prepare dinner. It’s almost like his life is too good to be true.

Joi is a form of artificial intelligence and not even physically there, she’s essentially just a hologram, produced by the Wallace corporation, successors to “Tyrell” from the first film. The Wallace corporation has not only took over Tyrell’s production of replicants but also entered the field of protein farms as well. The man behind Wallace corporation is a scientist named “Niander Wallace” (Jared Leto). Wallace’s company is on the very cutting edge in its field and dominates the economy in the world we see depicted in this futuristic vision.

To avoid dishing out any “spoilers” here, I’ll cut the synopsis a bit short. I’ll just end this bit by stating a few things that a vital to the plot. First off, our blade runner “K” is led by superior officer at the LAPD, “Lieutenant Joshi” (Robin Wright), who he reports back to constantly. Along the way he will discover some things while doing his job, and also piece together some puzzle pieces that link things a bit back to 30 years ago and events that transpired after the end of the first film, that this serves as a sequel too. Yes, “Rick Deckard” (Harrison Ford), is of eventual focus in this film, but I won’t discuss how.

It’s worth mention that you get nice performances here from Sylvia Hoeks (as “Luv“), Hiam Abbass (as “Freysa“), Mackenzie Davis (as “Mariette“), Lennie James (as “Mister Cotton“), Carla Juri (as “Dr. Ana Stelline“), and Dave Bautista (as “Sapper Morton“).

Blade Runner 2049” served up to be a very impressive sequel to the original 1982 (“Blade Runner“) Sci-Fi classic. It’s a very intriguing story, although in fairness it can be a bit slow at times, and its overall story is something that makes more sense upon multiple viewings (for most). The sequel had a very unique feel, not unlike the first film, but it’s a much different futuristic vision. If that makes any sense. In other words, it has a very unique visual style with its world of Los Angeles in 2049 versus the world in the 1982 film. It’s more modern, yet still holds some roots to the original style, such as the advertising on buildings and such as holograms.

They’ve really went beyond the original film, and even Philip K. Dick‘s original story in his novel (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“) here. It’s something that truthfully I’m not sure the original author would necessarily like or hate, but at the very same time is very much worth giving the chance: especially if you enjoyed the original. In fact, “2049” is a hell of a film, and quite underrated, I might add. Sure, it’s box office return was pretty sad, yet the critics reviews and filmgoers ratings were all pretty much positive. I for one saw it during its theatrical run and was extremely pleased, and anticipated a 4K release.

Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)

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Video Quality

According to the technical specifications on IMDb, “Blade Runner 2049” was shot digitally on a total of three different types of Arri Alexa cameras in 2.8K and 3.4K resolutions. The digital source was then mastered in 4K resolution. The film is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This film on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray includes the standard HDR (HDR10) form of High Dynamic Range.

From the opening first scene, and the literal opening of an eye, you will behold the massive amount of detail to be found here in 4K, but more on that later.

Now, looking at this film from a visual aspect here, in terms of filmmaking, I have to honestly just first geek out. One of the upmost important things here is that the Director of Photography (DP) on this film was Roger Deakins, a legendary cinematographer, whose work speaks volumes just in its visuals. This is one of his most unique and beautiful films to-date in his career.

The black level here is perfectly solid, in fact, you’ll likely notice this is a dark film and that’s on purpose: much like the original 1982 film. It in 4K looks incredible thanks to HDR (here via HDR10). The bright scenes also look incredible and around 40 minutes or so when the film really brightens up and has colors start to really pop more, you’ll see definite benefits of high dynamic range.

Sharpness is very nice and this digital source material unconverted nicely in the 4K master. There’s a immaculate amount of detail in every scene of this film, especially when presented in 4K with HDR. Truly a fitting visual feast of breathtaking cinematography via every single scene, in every single shot (angle). This is artistic filmmaking at its finest, and represented perfectly in its home video 4K presentation. I  literally would, and could go on for many more paragraphs talking about the detail, if I didn’t stop myself, and just leave it simply put: it’s downright visually amazing.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

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Audio Quality

Audio here is presented in both Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. If you’re not on a Dolby Atmos capable AV receiver and/or lack the height speakers, you’ll receive a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core mix. Just worth noting for our readers not on fully capable AV setups. The reason I’m mentioning this is also to be reflected on later.

From the very opening of the film you do hear this amazing slow drum beat taking advantage of low-end coming through primarily your subwoofer. It can almost at times sound like the THX logo intro sequence that can seen at the beginning of some films. That’s a very impressive sequence itself, and I would hope my comparison would tell you how amazing this mix truly sounds. This is sure to get anyone’s attention. After that begins a piano driven musical bit during the opening “replicants” text, which sounds splendid. From the moment that eye opens you’ll see what I mean with the Score, and hear some impressive rear channel usage. It’s something truly breathtaking at times like the original film, in terms of the sound.

Once that opening sequence is over and we are in some scenes driven more by dialogue and action you’ll notice great use of the Atmos (height) speakers and rear channels as K’s engine roars when he lands or later when the wind passes by. It’s handles every little sound effect perfect and throws them to the correct speaker placement throughout the film. The center channel drives dialogue very nicely.

The soundtrack here had all kinds of crazy sounds to it be it motorcycle engines or amazing string arrangements much like the original film. It’s just downright beautiful and different in a brilliant way. The way it sounds when presented in either mix is just superb. It’s sheer perfection and helps to put you right in the feel of things throughout the film. Music speaks as much as dialogue sometimes, as some of you will understand. The film has its moments that some some feel to be too “slow moving” that really only include the film’s original music (Score), with no dialogue driving the film, but instead the music for a bit of a while at times.

Thanks to the Atmos mix this totally takes advantage of the slower moving musically driven sequences in a great way, with sound effects and such bouncing off your ceiling (or firing down from height speakers), putting you closer to feeling in the elements of tbe film than more just a standard surround mix can. In a 5.1 lossless mix (such as the DTS-HD MA) it more mixes these sounds into the rear or front channels and feels a bit condensed in comparison. The soundstage feels correctly and fully open here with an Atmos configuration. Dynamic range is much more in check with an atmospheric mix, so-to-speak.

This is one of the finer Atmos mixes I’ve experienced, and one I pick off the shelf when I’m looking for some equal blend of “demo material” sequences, which this is full of, and importantly one that is just perfectly mixed. Sure, it has some quieter musically driven sequences and such, but it’s just the film’s style. The inevitable action sequences in the film you see can get intense and sound marvelous. The sound mixes keep you visually in sync to that action. It has its definite moments that come to mind, I just won’t mention specially to avoid dishing out any “spoilers” of sorts. That thunderous amount of bass from the drum beat throughout the opening of the film and the electronic sounds like the motorcycle engine just stand out. The amount of subwoofer action you get there isn’t “over the top”, but it sure as hell is intense. This mix can be intense and that being said, it’s perfect, if ya can’t pick up on that. This is “constant K” in the sense of constantly kicking ass, in terms of sound. “You can pick up your bonus”, just a bit further below.

Lastly, even the core Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and optional DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mixes here sound amazing, going back and watching the Blu-ray for visual comparisons, I decided to opt for a player that wasn’t capable of decoding Atmos, and I felt very impressed even by that TrueHD mix in a simple lossless (5.1 in my case, here) configuration. That being said, the Atmos (being clearly superior) sounds absolutely stunning from start to finish and is an improvement over those excellent lossless surround (7.1 and 5.1) sound mixes.

Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)

blade_runner_2049_4click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

Bonus Materials

  • A Digital Copy of the film is included via Movies Anywhere, which is compatible with iTunes and Ultraviolet formats such as Vudu, and so forth. You get a paper insert included in the packaging with a URL and code to redeem.

The 4K UHD Blu-ray itself includes no bonus materials what-so-ever, aside from subtitles and audio tracks in a few other languages. All bonus materials feature Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, unless otherwise noted below.

The Blu-ray Disc is where the ALL of the bonus materials are to be found. They include the following:

  • Designing the World of Blade Runner 2049” (21:55 – HD) includes on set footage, behind-the-scenes footage, CG animatics, concept art, and interviews with: Denis Villeneuve (Director), Ridley Scott (Executive Producer), Ryan Gosling (“K“), Harrison Ford (“Rick Deckard“), Ana de Armas (“Joi“), Roger Deakins (Director of Photography), Broderick Johnson (Producer), Cynthia Sikes Yorkin (Producer), Dave Bautista (“Sapper Morton“), Doug Harlocker (Property Master), Andrew A. Kosove (Producer), John Nelson (Visual Effects Supervisor), Karen Murphy-Mundell (Visual Effects Producer), Zsolt Tarnok (Vehicle Art Director), Paul Inglis (Supervising Art Director), Mackenzie Davis (“Mariette“), Jared Leto (“Niander Wallace“), Sylvia Hoeks (“Luv“), Alessandra Querzola (Set Decorator), Lennie James (“Mister Cotton“), and Syd Mead (Concept Artist).

  • To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049” (17:15 – HD) includes on set footage, and interviews with: Denis Villeneuve (Director), Ryan Gosling

  • Prologues” include the following three short films that, serve as just as the title suggests (prologues):
    • Blade Runner 2022: Black Out” (15:45 – HD) is an animated short. It features a video introduction by Denis Villeneuve, director of the film (“2049“), and was both written & directed by Shinichirô Watanabe, best known for his work on “The Animatrix” (2003), the “Cowboy Bebop” anime series and 2001 film, as well as the anime series “Samurai Champloo.”
    • Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn” (6:31 – HD) was directed by Luke Scott, son of Ridley Scott (the first film’s original director). This short features Jared Leto in his role of “Niander Wallace“, and gives some backstory to his character.
    • Blade Runner 2048: Nowhere to Run” (5:49 – HD) was also directed by Luke Scott, and sets us just one year before the film (“2049“) takes place. This features Dave Bautista in his role of “Sapper Morton” (featured early on in the main film). It’s worth noting that this short even includes a cameo by Adam Savage (of “Mythbusters” TV fame).

  • Blade Runner 101” (11:22 – HD) includes a “play all” function, is especially great for those who haven’t seen the first film, but is also for the original fans as well. It consists of six featurettes, which include on set footage, interviews, and such from most of the folks listed in the previous featurettes. This includes:
    • Blade Runners” discusses what a “Blade Runner” actually is.
    • The Replicant Evolution” focuses on what replicants really are.
    • The Rise of Wallace Corp” looks at “Niander Wallace” and his company.
    • Welcome to 2049” and this futuristic L.A. – a toxic wasteland.
    • Jois” is a form of A.I. (artificial intelligence) way beyond Siri or Alexa.
    • Within the Skies: Spinners, Pilotfish and Barracudas” = the cars / tech.

Overall, the bonus materials here are very informative, entertaining and prove to be worth the watch. You get over an hour of supplemental materials here, as well as a digital copy of the film on all digital platforms. It’s a very decent set of material, as well as the prologue short films, which give you some true backstory.

Bonus Materials Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

Closing Thoughts

What can I say? I simply love this film, and have since I saw it on release date theatrically. “Blade Runner 2049“, now upon my fourth viewing of the film, I have to really say I find to be amazing, in its own way. It’s not superior to the original film, as with most all sequels, but stands its own as a film. I honestly think this will prove the test of time to be remembered as a classic Sci-Fi, to a degree like the original.

The 4K presentation here is just downright amazing in both areas, visually and in terms of audio. The 4K with HDR10 looks phenomenal on any 4K display, especially on newer OLED and QLED models, where the darks and black level are like ink. This also features an amazing Dolby Atmos mix that will leave you impressed all throughout. The amount of low-end you’ll hear pumping out of the subwoofer throughout the film, be it via the Atmos or the DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix, is astounding just itself. The soundtrack here really plays a huge part in the film’s mix(es). The Atmos mix, obviously, is superior if you’re equipped to enjoy it. You cannot go wrong with this film on 4K UHD Blu-ray. It’s a 4K disc chocked full of “demo material” in both its sights and sounds. This release boasts one amazing presentation.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials

Overall Verdict:
Great Sequel / Demo Disc

Available as:

blade_runner_2049_4k2018 4K UHD Blu-ray Release

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