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Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Heroes Unite, but It's 'Justice League's 4K Presentation that Saves the Day

March 12, 2018Ben MK

DC's answer to Marvel's The Avengers is finally upon us. But while it's a definite plus that comic book fans needn't have to endure the suspense of three more solo films before finally being able to see Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill) and their favorite superheroes come together on the big screen, have the shortcuts taken by director Zack Snyder and company helped or hindered DC's chances at matching Marvel's success?

As Justice League dutifully assembles its heroic lineup to contend with yet another impending apocalypse, however, one can't help but wonder what might have been. It's no secret that Joss Whedon was brought it to put the finishing touches on the film — he even shares the screenplay credit with original screenwriter Chris Terrio — and with the result clocking in a full half-hour shorter than Batman v Superman, Justice League's pacing appears to have been the unintended casualty. Perhaps an extended director's cut will one day do this team-up justice, but in the meantime, it's hard to shake the feeling that too much may have been left on the cutting room floor.

That said, Whedon has likely helped the movie in other aspects, most notably the humor. As opposed to Man of Steel and, to a lesser extent, Batman v Superman, there's a consistently fun tone throughout, whether it's The Flash's (Ezra Miller) oftentimes perplexed expressions and bemoaning of the concept of brunch, or a scene in which Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) uses her Lasso of Truth to coax emotion out of the typically stoic Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Suffice to say, Justice League doesn't take itself too seriously, which has been a criticism leveled against the DC Extended Universe in the past.

When you add it all up, there's no denying that Justice League is fun to watch, and it never fails to seize the opportunity to plant the seeds for future DCEU installments. However, in many respects, the film is also remarkably unremarkable, in the sense that it often struggles to capture just what makes this team so special (aside from their superpowers). Yet, as the movie's messaging reminds audiences, hope always prevails. And for anyone leaving the theater with unmet expectations, Justice League Part Two is only a few years away.

While the film itself might leave something to be desired, it's Justice League's 4K presentation that truly saves the day. The 2160p image quality here is tactile and textured, allowing viewers to admire such things as the leathery texture of Batman's cowl or the scales on Aquaman's armor; HDR colors are vibrant and nuanced, especially when it comes to the crimson shades of the Flash's suit or the gold, blue and red of Wonder Woman's costume; and the Dolby Atmos sound mix that accompanies it all is powerful and thoroughly engrossing, delivering wall-to-wall sonics in the form of blasts from Cyborg's arm cannon and the screeching of Steppenwolf's winged Parademons, not to mention the crackles of lightning and the many, many explosions that litter the movie's chaotic soundscape.

Warner's two-disc 4K Ultra HD release includes an UltraViolet/Movies Anywhere digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray:

  • The Return of Superman (2:04) - A pair of deleted scenes centering on the Man of Steel's return.
  • Road to Justice (14:10) - Some of the comic industry's biggest names, from Jim Lee, to Grant Morrison, to Marv Wolfman, talk about the history of the Justice League, from its comic book origins in the 1940s to the TV shows and direct-to-video animated films that have led up to this point.
  • Heart of Justice (11:52) - The cast and the filmmakers share their thoughts on the trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, the qualities that make them unique, and the integral roles they play on the team.
  • Technology of the Justice League (8:14) - A look at Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos' work on the film, as well as the visual effects used to bring to life the Justice League's advanced technology and weapons, from Batman's Flying Fox and Knightcrawler, to the Flash's "DIY self-preservation suit," to Cyborg's Apokoliptian cybernetics.
  • Justice League: The New Heroes (12:24) - Actor Ray Fisher hosts this look at the Justice League's new characters: Cyborg, Aquaman and the Flash.
  • Steppenwolf the Conqueror (3:03) - A look at Justice League's central villain, from Jack Kirby's original creation to his portrayal as brought to life by actor CiarĂ¡n Hinds.
  • Scene Studies (15:16) - A behind-the-scenes look at the stunts and visual effects of four key scenes ("Revisiting the Amazons," "Wonder Woman's Rescue," "Heroes Park" and "The Tunnel Battle").
  • Suit Up: The Look of the League (10:21) - A look at Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson's work on the film.

Justice League is available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as of March 13th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 0 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 15th, 2017.

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