Blu-ray Review Deepwater Horizon

'Deepwater Horizon' Blu-ray Review: A harrowing account of survival and heroism out at sea

January 12, 2017Ben MK

On April 20, 2010, the 126 men and women aboard the Deepwater Horizon came face to face with the unthinkable. The offshore drilling rig — situated 41 miles from the Louisiana coast — had suffered a catastrophic malfunction, causing it to become engulfed in flames. Not only that, the aftermath would result in the spillage of hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster of its kind in U.S. history.

Obviously, the magnitude of the terrible events of that fateful day can't be overstated. But even though 11 lives were tragically lost, the reality is that the outcome could have been far, far worse, if not for the heroic actions of a brave few. Among them, mechanic Andrea Fleytas, rig operator Caleb Holloway, Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell and Chief ET Mike Williams, whose harrowing stories of survival and tales of fearlessness are at the forefront of director Peter Berg's big screen dramatization of the disaster, Deepwater Horizon.

Told primarily through the eyes of Williams (portrayed here by Mark Wahlberg), the film spends its first half introducing the characters — including Williams' wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson), Harrell (Kurt Russell), Holloway (Dylan O'Brien) and Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) — and setting up the domino effect of decisions that contributed to the ultimate destruction of the Deepwater Horizon. It all feels a bit workmanlike, but once disaster strikes, that's when the movie finds its core rhythm, as the crew struggles to escape to safety while the rig explodes around them.

Bookended with real-life audio recordings, interview footage and news coverage, the resulting scenes are both educational (for those who know little about the circumstances of the actual events that inspired the movie) and extremely entertaining (for action junkies and fans of big budget pyrotechnics). That being said, Berg and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand never lose sight of what Deepwater Horizon should be — and that's a stirring tribute to both the survivors and those who perished in the tragedy.

Deepwater Horizon debuts on Blu-ray with a technically sound, yet slightly imperfect, 1080p transfer. Color saturation, sharpness and contrast all hold up to scrutiny, as evidenced by the vibrancy of the crew's red work uniforms, the fine detail visible in faces and on mechanical equipment, and the lack of murkiness in darker scenes (which is basically the entire second half of the movie). Unfortunately, the image also suffers from a minor degree of banding, which is noticeable in the film's opening scene. As for the disc's robust Dolby Atmos audio mix, there are no such qualms concerning quality, as the dialogue and the score are both crystal clear, bolstered by the sounds of heavy machinery, whirring helicopter blades, creaking metal and massive, fiery explosions.

Elevation Pictures' two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Beyond the Horizon (51:21) - Five featurettes focusing on the film's cast ("Mark Wahlberg," "Kate Hudson," "Kurt Russell," "Gina Rodriguez" and "Dylan O'Brien").
  • Captain Of The Rig: Peter Berg (18:15) - Director Peter Berg talks about his approach to filmmaking and the cast and crew talk about working with him.
  • The Fury Of The Rig (27:20) - The cast and crew talk about the realism of the film's visual effects and its production and set design.
  • Deepwater Surveillance (17:40) - Twelve "unedited clips from the set of Deepwater Horizon to give you a sense of what it was like to be on set" ("First Blowout," "First Blowout With Stunts," "Drill Deck Explosion," "Assistant Driller's Shack Crash," "Main Methane Explosion," "Mr. Jimmy's Shower," "Roughneck Rescue," "Mike and Caleb Restore The Power," "To The Lifeboats," "Lifeboat Rescue," "Andrea's Jump" and "Deepwater Timelapse").
  • American Worker Tributes (16:03) - Eight profiles of everyday American workers ("Caleb Holloway - Firefighter and Deepwater Horizon Survivor," "Les Pryce - Ironworker," "Bill Reimels - Chief Live Line Coordinator," "Darrell Holthusen - Logger," "Meredith Gregory - Longshoreman / Crane Operator," "Adam Donahue - Gulf Fisherman," "Hannah Cooper - Journeyman Electrical Foreman" and "Marc Nunez - Machine Shop Owner and Worker").
  • I Am A Steel Beam - With Narration By Director Peter Berg (1:03) - Berg narrates this short promo piece for
  • I Am A Steel Beam - With Narration By Gina Rodriguez (1:03) - The same promo piece as above, this time featuring narration by Rodriguez.

Deepwater Horizon is available from Elevation Pictures as of January 10th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Optimized for Late Night Listening, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English and English SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 47 Mins.

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