Lord of War appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While a bad release, the image lacked the expected sparkle.
Sharpness appeared inconsistent. Some shots looked pretty well-defined and accurate, but others felt iffy and somewhat soft. Though most of the image leaned toward reasonably precise material, the ups and downs became a distraction.
Jagged edges and shimmering remained absent, but light edge haloes showed up through the movie. Print flaws appeared sporadic, as occasional instances of specks and marks materialized. These didn’t become a real problem, though.
War came with a lot of grain, so much that I suspected some of the “grain” actually stemmed from digital noise that resulted from what I believe was an old transfer. The level of this issue varied, but the image seemed messier than I’d expect.
The movie came with a Michael Bay-esque emphasis on orange and teal. Though the grain dampened the hues to some degree, they usually appeared fairly bright, and the disc’s HDR added a bit of pep to the tones.
Blacks felt dark – maybe a little too dark, as they could “crush” at times – and shadows felt fairly smooth, if a bit dense at times. Overall, this wasn’t a bad image but for a 4K UHD circa 2019, it didn’t look as good as expected.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie’s Dolby Atmos mix seemed good. Unsurprisingly, the soundscape came to life best during its occasional violent sequences. A movie about a weapons dealer inevitably offered a mix of elements related to gunfire and explosions, and those utilized the spectrum in a broad, involving manner.
Quieter scenes boasted a nice sense of environment, and music showed good stereo placement as well. While the soundfield didn’t burst to life on a consistent basis, it still added verve to the proceedings.
Audio quality seemed fine. Speech felt natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns.
Music offered good range and punch, while effects brought out vivid, accurate information that included pretty positive low-end. Nothing here excelled, but the track felt good enough for a “B+”.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The lossless Atmos audio added kick and involvement versus the Blu-ray’s lossy DTS mix.
As for the visuals, they showed superior delineation and color vivacity. That said, a lot of the same sins translated from the Blu-ray, so the 4K UHD wasn’t the upgrade I hoped to find.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the 4K UHD simply ported over the old transfer, as they offered a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses. The 4K came with more appealing visuals because of the format’s capabilities as well as better compression techniques, but I thought the 4K was less of a step up than I’d anticipated.
While the Blu-ray included no extras, the 4K UHD comes with a few, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Andrew Niccol. He provides a running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, stunts, action and effects, story, characters and themes, cast and performances, music, editing, facts behind the fiction, and connected topics.
Understated and wry, Niccol offers a good overview of the production. He shows sly wit at times, a tone that helps add a fun tone to the chat. Niccol also discusses a nice array of subjects and makes this a useful commentary.
Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of six minutes, 34 seconds. These tend to concentrate on secondary characters, with some emphasis on Ava. None of them come across as especially memorable or impactful.
Two featurettes follow, and The Making of Lord of War runs 20 minutes, 28 seconds and provides info from Niccol, 1st AD Matthew Penry-Davey, producer Philippe Rousselet, special effects coordinator Paul Siebert, production designer Jean Vincent Puzos,
and actors Nicolas Cage, Eamonn Walker, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke.
“Making” looks at the film’s use of weapons, story and characters, locations, visual design, cast and performances, photography, stunts and effects, and other production issues.
Don’t expect an especially coherent featurette here, as “Making” tends to flit around without much logic or clarity. Still, we get good glimpses of the shoot – like an extra nearly terrorized by a vulture – and we learn enough about the movie to make the show worthwhile.
Making a Killing lasts 15 minutes, 14 seconds and features Amnesty International USA Executive Director William Schulz, World Security Institute Senior Advisor Philip Coyle, Center for Defense Information Senior Analyst Rachel Stohl, UN Ambassador Dr. Sylvester Rowe, World Policy Institute Senior Research Fellow William D. Hartung, Human Rights Watch researcher Lisa Misol, international law attorney Scott Furstman, International Action on Small Arms co-founder Loretta Bondi. Amnesty International Research and Policy Manager Brian Wood, weapons manufacturer Dr. Craig A. Swinson, and author Professor Andrew Pierre.
With “Killing”, we find information about the facts that influenced the movie’s situations. Though it occasionally feels like a PSA, we still find some useful material to provide background for the film.
A second disc provides a Blu-ray copy of War. It brings the same 2006 release linked earlier and it boasts no extras.
A blatantly transparent attempt to emulate Martin Scorsese, Lord of War falters. The movie comes across like a thin imitation and fails to create a compelling, consistent cinematic experience. The Blu-ray brings mediocre visuals along with good audio and a decent array of supplements. War becomes a flawed disappointment.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of LORD OF WAR