Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 4K UHD Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: Academy Award winner Ang Lee brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The story is told from the point of view of 19-year-old Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing battle in Iraq and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through a sequence of flashbacks, the truth about what really happened is revealed – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s distorted perceptions of heroism. Co-starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin.
Movie Review: It’s impossible to discuss Billy Lynn without discussing the fact that it was shot at 120 frames per second and not the usual 24. On UltraHD Blu-ray the movie is presented at 60fps, and it provides a completely different experience than any film. Even if you don’t know it is shot this way going in, as my wife did now when she sat down to watch it with me, you realize it instantly.
To be completely up-front, I did like like the feel of the film. It just felt like I was watching something that wasn’t a movie after almost four decades of being conditioned to see 24fps as film. I never felt really involved in the plot during Billy Lynn, and I don’t know if this is because of the movie itself or the presentation. It’s impossible to set the two apart, but watching it on Blu-ray, where it is the standard 24fps presentation, might be a completely different experience. The movie just seems to move along with no sense of pressure. There’s a subplot with Billy’s sister that is slightly touched upon, and we never discover anything about his father after he is introduced. A girl comes into play, but that feels odd and rushed as well. It just feels like the movie doesn’t come together in the end, even if it didn’t look so different.
Overall most people are going to remember Billy Lynn for the way it looks and not the content of the film. It is a brave approach by Ang Lee to do something to polarizing, I just wish it was done with better content so we could know if it was the movie or the look that people had a problem with.
Technical Review: Despite the fact that I didn’t like the move to 60fps, this is a movie that everyone with a high-end UHD system needs to own. The images from Billy Lynn are the best looking ones you will see from UltraHD Blu-ray at this point. Of course, it’s mastered with a 4K digital intermediate so every pixel from the master is visible on screen. The 60fps images are clean and clear with no blur, and textures are just razor sharp. Chris Tucker wears a jacket with a distinct texture during the film and it looks amazing on this disc. The halftime show scene, with fireworks and explosions, are bright and brilliant in UHD HDR while the flashbacks to battle in Iraq are clear and clean. While I don’t plan to watch the movie again all the way through, I’ll continually come back to it for demo material and to show friends as no content has ever looked this good at home. There’s no shadow crush, no flaws on skin, nothing. You should buy Billy Lynn just to know what UHD Blu-ray is capable of.
The soundtrack is done in Dolby Atmos and is close to reference class. It is closer to Sully, in where the effects channels are just used to make the soundstage completely immersive and not to show off, but sometimes they get to shine. The halftime show puts you right in the middle of the action and the battle scenes also surround you. Vocals are totally clear even when at a whisper sometimes.
It is only February, but Billy Lynn is probably the disc I will use to demo more equipment this year than anything else, and can’t recommend it enough for people that want to know what their AV system is capable of.
Special Features: A discussion of using high frame rate, deleted scenes, and four featurettes.
Review System: Vizio P65-C1 display, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver.
The absolute best looking image you can buy on UltraHD Blu-ray today, great sounding Atmos soundtrack.
The movie itself isn't that involving.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a letdown as a film, but is a technical tour-de-force that looks and sounds spectacular. It really is a must-buy for people that want to see what their UltraHD system is capable of.