The Sum of All Fears appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This turned into a solid presentation.
Sharpness worked well, as the movie usually offered positive accuracy and delineation. A little softness impacted some wider shots, but the majority of the movie appeared well-defined.
I saw no signs of jaggies, moiré effects or edge haloes, and only a little digital noise reduction seemed to impact a few interiors. Print flaws remained absent.
Colors varied due to the production design. During the film’s first half, they took on a natural and warm tint for the most part, and these elements seemed distinct and vivid.
For story reasons, the movie used a stark palette during its second half, where the image became veered toward a teal or orange tint much of the time. Within design parameters, the colors looked positive.
Black levels consistently came across as deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared dark but not too thick. I felt pretty pleased with this image.
Although not a reference piece of work, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of The Sum of All Fears offered a strong presentation. Actually, like the color saturation of the film, the soundfield also changed as the movie progressed.
During its first half, the audio demonstrated an emphasis on the front speakers. Even during scenes that lend themselves to surround usage – such as rainstorms – the sound stayed pretty well established in the forward realm.
This changed midway through the movie, and the soundfield definitely opened up at that time. From the football game on, the track displayed a lively presence, as helicopters, other vehicles, and a mix of different elements added greater activity to the piece. The film’s second half provided the kind of punchy soundfield I expected from this sort of flick.
Audio quality appeared consistently positive. Speech remained natural and warm, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded clean and distinct, and the score also boasted nice range and punch.
Effects provided the track’s most prominent elements, especially during the more active second half of the movie. They always appeared clear and accurate, and the louder elements came across as deep and powerful. The movie featured solid bass response across the board. This became a nice auditory presentation.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio was identical, as both discs included the same TrueHD track.
Visuals demonstrated improvements over the mediocre Blu-ray. The 4K UHD seemed more precise and offered superior colors/contrast with fewer flaws and digital issues. This wound up as an obvious step up in picture quality.
No extras appear on the 4K UHD itself, but the included Blu-ray copy provides some materials, and we begin with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Phil Alden Robinson and director of photography John Lindley, both of whom sit together from this running, screen-specific piece.
The track emphasizes technical elements, which makes it somewhat dry at times. Actually, the program starts slowly, and the discussion during the film’s first act comes across as fairly dull; we learn about sets, locations, and lighting but not much else.
Matters pick up after a while, though. While the commentary never becomes terribly lively, Robinson and Lindley provide more interesting material as they move through the film.
They get into some of the elements that caused them problems and also relate a few storytelling challenges. The details still tend toward the technical side, but the presentation seems more engaging.
Occasional empty spots appear but these don’t overwhelm the presentation. Overall, the first commentary becomes a fairly average affair.
Next we get a track that features Robinson with author Tom Clancy, both of whom also sit together for this running, screen-specific track. A lot of commentaries sound good on paper but end up being dull, and I worried that might happen here.
Happily, that doesn’t occur. While not an outstanding piece, this track provides a good listen.
Robinson occasionally covers ground that he discussed in the other commentary, but mostly he gives us unique information, and the presence of Clancy enlivens matters. The author seems refreshingly blunt, and he often tells us what aspects of the movie seem unrealistic. For his part, Robinson reveals why the filmmakers occasionally compromised those elements, and also asks Clancy for his take on different parts.
As with the first commentary, this one suffers from a few too many empty spots, and I would have liked to learn more about differences between the book and the movie. Clancy hints that the two share little in common, but since I never read the novel, I’d like more details. Nonetheless, this track offers a brisk and entertaining affair.
After this we move to some featurettes, and A Cautionary Tale splits into two areas. “Casting” lasts 12 minutes and 55 seconds and includes info from Robinson, screenwriter Daniel Pyne, producer Mace Neufeld, and actors Ben Affleck, Liev Schreiber, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Morgan Freeman, Ciaran Hinds and Alan Bates.
We get some basic notes about how the actors came to the film and also their work on the set, but the piece also includes a lot of basic praise about everybody. The program includes a modicum of useful material but it seems too fluffy.
“Production” runs 17 minutes and follows the same framework as “Casting”. It includes interviews with producer Mace Neufeld, director Phil Alden Robinson, cinematographer John Lindley, screenwriter Daniel Pyne, actors Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, Alan Bates, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell and Liev Schreiber, and CIA public affairs officer Chase Brandon. “Production” packs a lot of good information into its brief running time.
It covers the adaptation of the novel, the reworking of the franchise to accommodate Affleck’s age, reactions to the film in the post-September 11 world, and a number of production anecdotes. Overall, it goes through a lot of topics in a quick and interesting manner.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get Visual Effects, which breaks into five subdomains. Each one examines a specific element of the movie” “Carrier Attack” (eight minutes, 39 seconds), “A-4” (6:24), “Hospital” (3:54), “Motorcade” (3:56), and “Helicopter” (4:53).
The presentation includes production materials and behind the scenes shots, movie clips, and interviews with visual effects supervisor Glenn Neufeld, miniature modelmaker Carlyle Livingston II, miniature pyrotechnics John Cazin, cinematographer John Lindley, aerial coordinator Craig Hosking, CG supervisor Mike O’Neal, and visual effects supervisor Derek Spears.
Though some of the material seems a little dry, for the most part the presentation enlivens the topic and makes these featurettes nicely engaging. As a nice touch, each segment ends with the completed footage for the scene just discussed. The behind the scenes work meshes well with the interviews to make this an informative and compelling series of pieces.
While I don’t think The Sum of All Fears does much that seems particularly original or compelling, it offers a reasonably involving action flick that works acceptably well as a whole. Nothing in it stands out as terribly memorable, but it creates a fairly exciting piece that I enjoyed for the most part. The 4K UHD brings very good picture and audio along with a fairly nice selection of supplements. This ends up as a positive release for a largely entertaining film.
Note that as of August 2018, this 4K UHD version of Sum of All Fears can only be purchased via a five-movie package. The “Jack Ryan Collection” also includes 4K UHD versions of The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE SUM OF ALL FEARS