The Dark Tower 4K Blu-ray
By Chris Heinonen on
Based on the best-selling book series by highly-acclaimed author Stephen King. The last Gunslinger, Roland (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the epic battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Having not read the book version of The Dark Tower, I can only guess that the 288-page novel goes into far more depth on the story than the 97 minutes of the film can. I understand that the Man in Black wants to destroy the tower to let all of the evil from the universe in, but I’m not quite sure how he benefits from that. Does he want to watch the world burn, or is there something in it for him as well?
I also don’t understand why Roland, the last remaining gunslinger, is able to resist the powers of the Man in Black but no one else can. What about him makes it possible to resist what everyone else cannot?
When I watch a movie that doesn’t live up to expectations, I’m always happy that it is short so it goes by fast. With The Dark Tower, I wonder if the length is because they cut everything that would make it make sense, or if it’s because a longer version didn’t make sense either so they cut it down to this? Maybe at some point, we’ll see a director’s cut that answers this, or future films in the saga will improve, but The Dark Tower comes away a confusing disappointment. But I did love the Shining reference hidden in there.
The Dark Tower was shot digitally with ARRI cameras at 3.4K and 6.5K resolution. It also features a native 4K digital intermediate, along with a Dolby Vision version of the film. Since the Sony A1E doesn’t support Dolby Vision yet, we are only watching the HDR10 layer for this review. Overall the image looks as you would expect, with great detail, even in most shadows, and wonderful use of HDR. Looking at the cityscape at around 43:00 or the dinner at 52:00 for great examples of HDR highlights that go with dark, inky blacks and shadow details. Where Dolby Vision might pay off is at the 1:01:00 mark as they exit the kitchen with a movie theater marquee in the background. On the A1E this is bright white with no almost no detail. With Dolby Vision or on sets with more nits, you might see some extra detail on the sign and we will check once we can.
There are a few flaws on the transfer. At some points, you can notice slight shimmering of fine details, with both skyscrapers and rocky landscapes, but it’s barely there. It’s probably just a source issue, as 4K Blu-ray has so much resolution you cannot anti-alias frames to avoid this. There is also a scene or two where blacks feel crushed, but that looks to possibly be a stylistic choice over a transfer issue.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is great, using every channel to build atmosphere. There are a few action sequences and those use the channels well, with bullets flying around the room to match what they are doing on-screen. Vocals are clear and easy to understand, and while the soundtrack isn’t a bombastic feast, it does the job quite well.
All the bonus materials are on the included Blu-ray.
- Deleted Scenes
- Blooper Reel
- A Look Through the Keyhole
- Five Featurettes
- “Last Time Around”
- “The World Has Moved On…”
- “The Man in Black”
- “The Gunslinger in Action”
- “Stephen King Inspirations”
Sony A1E OLED, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, 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, Power Sound Audio XS30se Subwoofer.
Fantastic image with Dolby Vision, great soundtrack with Dolby Atmos that kicks in when it is called for.
The story is just not up to par.
The movie is a letdown, especially with highly regarded source content, but the disc itself looks and sounds fantastic with a true 4K image.
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