Black Panther 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
Black Panther is easily one of the best Marvel movies to date, though one that comes with a bit of political baggage tied to it. With themes including national isolation versus helping the less fortunate, along with the almost entirely non-white cast, some people had issues with this since they want to go to the movies to completely escape reality. Since movies are often a reflection of what our world is at the time they are made, I think it’s wrong to expect to escape the world all the time.
Moving beyond politics, Black Panther is even better on my second and third viewings of it. The characters are well developed and the world of Wakanda is built spectacularly. The cast is fantastic, with superb acting all the way through. On my initial viewing in theaters, I think I came in expecting too much after the initial reviews and hype and let that distract me. Watching it again, free from those outsized expectations, I was able to just enjoy the film.
Black Panther was shot on 3.4K Arri Alexa cameras with a 4K digital intermediate and it shows in the results. CGI effects are clearly rendered at 2K, as when you enter Wakanda the buildings are slightly hazy compared to the rest of the content, but the details on the live action elements are just fantastic. The textures and details of the intricate patterns on clothing look phenomenal. Small details pop off the screen, while golds glitter in HDR. The opening scene was dark and murky when I saw it in theater, leaving you unable to distinguish some details, but looks perfect on disc here with a good display. While I usually use nighttime scenes for HDR demos, here the daytime scenes look so much brighter and vivid than they can in SDR that I look at them instead. I haven’t viewed the Dolby Vision version yet, but the HDR10 version is phenomenal and looks so much better than it did in theaters.
Black Panther has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack that sometimes is completely enveloping but often leaves you wishing for more. The opening jungle battle, the one that looks so much better on disc than in the theater, sounds much better as well. Atmos channels are used to put you in the middle of the jungle with the sound of trees around you but then every channel explodes with gunfire. For much of the film, the Atmos channels are used primarily for the soundtrack, with audio blasting from the sky during the nighttime car chase scene in Korea.
While the soundtrack is filling the room, what you’re lacking is the impact of gunfire and car crashes that you would expect. The subwoofer occasionally gets a workout but it doesn’t offer nearly the impact that you are hoping for. While there are scenes that stand out, overall the soundtrack lacks the dynamics that you are hoping for. The soundtrack is fine, and at times very good, but more often than not you’re hoping for more during the action sequences and it falls well short of what the image offers.
- Director’s Intro
- From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion – Delve into the film’s making
- Crowning of a New King – Explore the world of “Black Panther” in all its color and complexity
- The Warriors Within – Get to know Wakanda’s women and the actors who portray them
- The Hidden Kingdom Revealed – Wakanda’s diverse people
- Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology
- Deleted Scenes
- U.N. Meet and Greet
- Okoye And W’Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda
- T’Challa Remembers His Father
- Voices from the Past
- Gag Reel
- Exclusive Sneak Peek at “Ant-Man and The Wasp”
- Marvel Studios the First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe
- Director’s Commentary
Sony A1E OLED, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, SVS SB-4000 Subwoofer
Reference quality image with a 4K digital intermediate and Dolby Vision, fantastic film.
Soundtrack lacks dynamics with the subwoofer used not nearly as much as it should be.
Black Panther is a fantastic film with a reference quality image, but the soundtrack lacks the dynamics you expect from a top-tier action film.