Cliffhanger 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner and Ralph Waite star in this high-altitude avalanche of action: a nonstop adventure peaked with suspense and capped with heart-quaking terror. For Rocky Mountain Rescue, the mission is almost routine: locate five climbers. With the woman he loves (Turner) and his best friend (Rooker), Gabe Walker (Stallone) braves the icy peaks only to discover that the distress call is really a trap set by merciless international terrorist Eric Qualen (Lithgow). Now millions of dollars and their own lives hang in the balance. Against explosive firepower, bitter cold and dizzying heights, Walker must outwit Qualen in a deadly game of hide-and-seek.
Cliffhanger Movie Review
My main recollection of when Cliffhanger was released was my English teacher being so upset because a buckle would never fail in real life the way it does in the opening scene of the movie. That aside, the film is ridiculous in all the ways that 1990’s action films are. Stalone does things that are just impossible, the bad guys are comically unaware of how inconsequential they are to their boss who will happily dispose of them as soon as possible, and you know very early on who is likely not going to make it through the end of the film.
Overall the film is OK, but not great. They try to build up suspense but it doesn’t work out that well, and mostly you move from one action sequence to the next. It’s a bit surprising to me that it got an HDR release this early on in the format, but for fans of the film it’s worth picking up.
Cliffhanger Technical Review
Cliffhanger was shot on 35mm film and given a new transfer for its 4K Blu-ray release. For the most part, the results are stunning. The film shows tons of detail without too much excess noise, especially in brighter scenes. Some dimmer scenes lack the superb details of the outdoor scenes but none are murky or dark as some other HDR transfers have been. The use of HDR is not common and in some cases, as when the plane explodes in mid-air, the reflection of the explosion on the other plane is noticeably off because they’re trying to show extra highlights that they can’t without using a digital intermediate. There were 1-2 scenes that also looked worse than the rest of the film, almost as if the elements were bad or something else, but overall the film looks fantastic and benefits from the move to 4K.
The soundtrack has been redone in Dolby Atmos and it is just fantastic. The Atmos channels are subwoofer are put through their paces with the action moving all around you. Dialogue is easy to understand, but the impact of an avalanche or a helicopter crash is there and comes through. More films could learn how they can improve their updated soundtracks by looking at how Cliffhanger did it, as it sounds like it was mastered this year, not 25 years ago.
Cliffhanger Special Features
- Commentary with Director Renny Harlin and Sylvester Stallone
- Technical Crew Commentary
- A Personal Introduction from Director Renny Harlin
- Deleted Scenes with Director Intro
- Making-of Featurette: “Stallone On The Edge”
- Special Effects Featurettes
- Storyboard Comparisons
Cliffhanger Review System
Sony A1E OLED, Panasonic UB820 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 PB-3000 Subwoofer.
Wonderful transfer with a sharp, clean 4K image from the 35mm film and an improved Atmos soundtrack that takes full advantage of every channel.
HDR usage can stand out in a bad way, the story hasn't aged as well as the image.
Fans of Cliffhanger should not hesitate to pick up the 4K Blu-ray release, as it looks and sounds fantastic on 4K Blu-ray.