Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. From start to finish, the movie offered a stunning transfer.
At all times, sharpness excelled. Virtually no softness ever impacted the image, as it remained tight and concise, with intense fine detail on display.
The image lacked any jaggies, and outside of a brief bit of shimmer that impact a vehicle’s grill, shimmering failed to appear. No edge haloes or print flaws ever materialized.
Colors emphasized teal at times, but amber and other hues showed up as well. These worked well and demonstrated strong clarity, elements that the 4K’s HDR boosted and made tremendously dynamic. Blacks seemed deep and rich, while shadows brought us nice smoothness and delineation.
Director Ang Lee shot Walk at 120 frames per second (FPS), and the 4K offered a version that showed the film at 60 FPS. 4K can’t handle 120 FPS, but the 60 FPS rendition certainly offered an obvious change from the standard Blu-ray’s 24 FPS.
Though it’s a shift that requires some adjustment. We’ve been conditioned for 24 FPS our entire lives, so the smoother movement of 60 FPS simply looks “wrong” – especially because it might remind us of the annoying “soap opera effect” seen on TVs that activate motion blue elimination.
Once I got used to the movie’s look, though, I couldn’t help but feel impressed. I flipped between the 60 FPS 4K and the 24 FPS Blu-ray and thought the BD seemed jerky and stilted by comparison.
I still don’t know if I’d like to see every movie go with the high frame rate, as that lifelong conditioning I mentioned made the 60 FPS Walk look hyper-real in a somewhat off-putting manner. Still, it’s an interesting way to see the movie, and objectively, it’s stunning – this has to be the most impressive home video presentation I’ve ever seen.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack worked less well, mainly because it only flared to life on a few occasions. Despite the movie’s military focus, Walk included only a couple of short battle scenes. Those boasted nice involvement and activity from all five speakers, but they didn’t use up enough running time to make a substantial impression.
In addition, some scenes at the football game contributed lively material – especially during the titular halftime show. With pyrotechnics and music at the fore, these sequences offered a fine sense of the action. Again, these didn’t fill a lot of the movie, though, so they only added so much to the soundtrack’s overall impression.
Beyond these few standout scenes, the mix emphasized general ambience. This meant the football stadium gave us a nice feel for the setting, and other segments fared pretty well, too. These sequences just didn’t have a lot to do, though, so they meant the soundfield remained avergae much of the time.
Audio quality satisfied. Other than a few awkwardly looped bits, speech seemed natural and concise, while music was lively and full. Percussive elements packed a good low-end punch, especially when we got the drumming during the halftime show.
When allowed to shine, effects also demonstrated fine range and impact. The war scenes showed strong dimensionality and added oomph via tight bass. Because the soundfield often remained semi-lackluster, this wasn’t a great mix, but it did boast a few impressive moments.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Atmos audio added a bit more involvement and kick, though I still felt the soundscape wasn’t great.
Visuals became a different matter, as the 4K clearly topped the Blu-ray. As mentioned earlier, the 60 FPS presentation gave the 4K superior smoothness and movement, and everything else – colors, definition and contrast – improved as well. The 4K offered reference quality picture that will probably remain the format’s gold standard until another high frame rate disc hits the market.
This package includes a 3D version of Walk. The picture comments above address the 2D 4K edition, but I also want to talk about the 3D image.
In terms of visual quality, the 3D picture seemed very different, largely due to the fact it went 24fps and not 60fps. While the 3D version compares favorably with the 2D 24fps Blu-ray, it felt soft and less vivid against the 60fps 4K.
In addition, the 3D itself failed to add much to the proceedings. The image offered a generally nice sense of depth but that was it, as the movie almost never really took advantage of the 3D.
Honestly, I don’t know why Ang Lee chose to shoot the film 3D. The story didn’t benefit from it, and as presented, I rarely felt like the 3D provided any extra visual pizzazz.
The most impressive 3D moment came from a shot in which Billy caught a bottle of Advil – if that’s the best a movie can do, then maybe it didn’t need to be 3D. The 60fps 4K version becomes the most appealing way to watch the movie.
The 4K disc also includes an exclusive featurette called Technology As Art: Changing the Language of Cinema. In this five-minute, 25-second piece, we hear from director Ang Lee and editor Tim Squyres.
“Art” looks at the use of high frame rate photography and its use in Walk. It becomes a decent overview.
The 2D Blu-ray presents the set’s other extras, and we find four featurettes. Into the Battle and Onto the Field runs nine minutes, 21 seconds and includes comments from Lee, Squyres, producers Stephen Cornwell and Marc Platt, screenwriter Jean-Christophe Castelli, author Ben Fountain, technical supervisor Ben Gervais, executive producer Brian Bell, director of photography John Toll, and actors Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, Steve Martin, Beau Knapp, and Arturo Castro.
“Field” looks at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, technical challenges related to 3D/high frame rate, and editing. Parts of “Field” add good information, but the end product lacks much depth.
For the 11-minute, 29-second Assembling a Cast, we hear from Lee, Hedlund, Alwyn, Platt, Diesel, Martin, Ticker, Stewart, casting director Amy Kaufman, and actor Makenzie Leigh. As expected, “Assembling” examines cast and performances. It becomes a decent overview but not better than that.
Recreating the Halftime Show fills six minutes, 27 seconds with info from Lee, Alwyn, Toll, live entertainment consultants Charlie Haykel and Don Mischer, field supervisor Kristen Terry, halftime show lighting consultant Bob Dickinson, and actors Mason Lee and Ismael Cruz Cordova.
Here we learn about some of the complications involved with the shoot of the halftime performance. Like its predecessors, the featurette offers a smattering of details but doesn’t deliver much real insight.
Finally, we go to The Brotherhood of Combat. It takes up four minutes, 24 seconds and features Alwyn, Hedlund, Ang Lee, Knapp, Mason Lee, Castro, Cordova, stunt coordinator JJ Perry, military consultant Mark Wachter, and actors Brian “Astro” Bradley and Barney Harris.
We get notes about the actors’ boot camp. Again, the program becomes fluffy and generally insubstantial.
Six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, 18 seconds. The first accounts for one-third of that total time.
It offers backstory for the Bravo soldiers and shows them on their promo tour prior the football game. Some of this seems interesting, but much of it offers clumsy – and eventually redundant – exposition.
Most of the rest offer minor embellishments such as the soldiers’ trip to a strip bar the night before the game. Most feel unnecessary, though I do like a flashback to Billy’s time in Iraq, as it adds to his narrative in a minor way.
The 2D BD opens with ads for Inferno, The Magnificent Seven, Passengers, Resident Evil: Vendetta and Underworld: Blood Wars. No trailer for Walk appears here.
Ang Lee may be the “visionary director” that this disc’s publicity claims, but that doesn’t make Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk a good movie. A slow, meandering mess of barely connected scenes, the film lacks real purpose and goes nowhere. The 4K UHD boasts stunning visuals along with generally good audio and mostly mediocre supplements. Walk turns into a true disappointment, even if the 60fps version brings an interesting presentation.
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