Air Force One – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: Air Force One
Release Date: 1997
Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Sony
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR10
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray | Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
4K UHD Blu-ray Release Date: 11/06/18
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Harrison FordGary OldmanGlenn Close, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Paul Guilfoyle, Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell


air_force_one_1click to view a 1080p Blu-ray Screenshot

The Movie

“Air Force One” was a 1997 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, best known for also directing the films “Das Boot” (1981), “In The Line of Fire” (1993), “Outbreak” (1995), “The Perfect Storm” (2000), and “Troy” (2004). The screenplay to this film was written by Andrew W. Marlowe, also known for later writing the story / screenplay to the films “End of Days” (1999) and “Hollow Man” (2000).

The story here takes place during the time period it was released (1997) in a United States where we still are at war with Iraq at this point, except the President here is a man from a military background named “James Marshall” (Harrison Ford). This man will do anything to protect his country and his family, as you will learn.

As we see in the opening of the film a joint group of American and Russian special forces storm the Presidential Palace in Kazakhstan, in an attempt to capture that country’s self proclaimed leader, “General Alexander Radek” (Jürgen Prochnow). This upsets a group of radical communists that want the General to be freed. So, as a result of this capture of their leader, they target none other than “Air Force One” – hence the film’s title – where they plan to hijack the plane, in effort to take the U.S. President hostage.

It just so happens that the president is in Moscow three weeks later after this joint special forces operation, to give a speech, and that’s where they find their opportunity. This group of Russian radicals, that decide to pose as journalists, are led by a man named “Ivan Korshunov” (Gary Oldman). Part of their plan goes just as they wanted, however some crucial parts of this do not end up going as the group wanted. They’ll have a former military trained man to take down, that just so happens to be their target: the President of the United States.

This film has a plot that isn’t fully sound, but the film proves to be rather enjoyable much thanks to the great performances from Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. There’s some nice action, and cool special effects along the way as well. Some of the supporting performances here really prove to be memorable from folks like William H. Macy, Paul Guilfoyle, Xander Berkley, Dean Stockwell, Elya Baskin, Phillip Baker Hall, and Glenn Close (as the Vice President).

Movie Rating: 4 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on Super 35MM film using Arriflex 435 and 535 cameras. The movie was originally shot in 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and presented that way during its theatrical run, but it comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio – just as it did to Blu-ray Disc back in 2009.

This is a restoration that comes from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. In comparison to the original Blu-ray this comes with a much cleaner presentation, where dirt and the occasional visual imperfections on the film print have been removed. The film grain from the Super 35MM source has been preserved perfectly.

The black level now is more solid, much thanks to the addition of HDR (High Dynamic Range). Colors here also come across a bit more vibrant and realistic, as well with flesh tones that now appear more accurate – again, thanks to high dynamic range. Special effects really hold up nicely for a 1997 film when presented here in even 4K, where you can see so much more detail and occasional flaws. For the most part, the special effects here  are still believable. The blend of real footage, models, and computer animation still works well (even in 4K) during the big action scenes involving the plane.

Overall, this 4K presentation comes with a lot of newfound detail, especially in closeups. This is one definite upgrade worth making from the previous Blu-ray, as it is visually superior in all ways. As has become expected, this “catalog” 4K UHD Blu-ray release from Sony offers a very impressive visual experience. This is undeniably the best that this film has ever looked. Here, in 4K, it has received a true downright theatrical experience, that you can enjoy in your home.

Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here is presented in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those without the proper equipment to decode Atmos. This comes as a very nice improvement from the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 found on the original 2009 Blu-ray release. Getting additional rear channels and height speaker use makes this film a whole lot more intense in terms of the action and suspense.

This is one extremely nice improvement with an Atmos mix in comparison to the original 5.1 TrueHD found on the 2009 Blu-ray release. The Atmos found here offers up some excellent use of the height speakers for the film’s original Score and sound effects throughout, which adds so much more of a realistic soundscape. You feel more literally surrounded by the audio presentation here.

Dialogue, very important here, is delivered predominantly through the center channel speaker, with no need for volume adjustment. The rear channels get some excellent use here from the sound effects, and help present the film’s musical Score very nicely. There’s a deep amount of bass to be heard roaring from your subwoofer during some of the most climactic action scenes. Gunfire sounds so much more realistic in Atmos where it has height speakers taking advantage of the sound of ricochets, echoes and such. The fighter jets flying alongside Air Force One, around an 57 minutes in, offer some amazing rear channel, height speakers, and subwoofer use as well.

All of these highlights describe what is one overall very impressive Atmos mix that proves to certainly do this film and the beautiful original Score composed by the late Jerry Goldsmith complete justice in terms of sound. This can be considered “demo material” at times, as it packs one hell of a punch in terms of intensity in its audio presentation.

Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)


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Bonus Materials

Bonus materials on this release are listed below:

  • A Digital Copy of the film compatible with Movies Anywhere is included. This will work with services like Apple’s iTunes, VUDU, Amazon, and Google Play. You get a paper insert inside the packaging that contains a code you put in at the URL listed. It should be noted this digital copy only is in HD as far as I can tell via iTunes and VUDU services.
  • A Blu-ray Disc of the film is included in this “combo pack” release.
  • Director’s Commentary – is an Audio Commentary with the film’s director Wolfgang Petersen. This commentary track is also included on the Blu-ray Disc, and proves to be very informative. I’d suggest giving this a listen after you’ve viewed the film, or perhaps this time around on 4K.

Overall the bonus material you get here is the same audio commentary featured on the original 2009 Blu-ray release, but it is thankfully also included on the 4K disc. There’s the Blu-ray itself included, for those who want to have an HD version physically of the film, and lastly you get a Digital Copy of the film – not originally included with the Blu-ray. It’s not a whole lot, but the fact we get a digital copy of the film, a Blu-ray, and that audio commentary track properly included on the 4K disc is enough to merit at least the rating I’m going with.

Bonus Materials Rating: 0.5 (out of 5)


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Closing Thoughts

“Air Force One” comes flying onto 4K UHD Blu-ray with one excellent presentation from start to finish. This looks downright impressive in 4K, very much thanks to the restoration effort and this being from a Super 35MM film source. Then, the Dolby Atmos sound mix is intensely action-packed and a huge improvement over the previous lossless 5.1 mix on Blu-ray.

This new 4K release of the film is definitely worth the purchase, so make the bold upgrade from Blu-ray to 4K. Sony has really done this 1997 Wolfgang Petersen film complete and utter justice in terms of presentation. The only bonus content here is just the same audio commentary track that we got previously, but you do get the Blu-ray (in 2K) and now a Digital Copy of the film included.

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


Overall Verdict:
Excellent Presentation


Available As:


2018 4K UHD Blu-ray Release


Blu-ray Disc Screenshots:

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Packaging:

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