Quantcast

Atomic Blonde (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Atomic Blonde 4K Blu-ray ReviewAtomic Blonde finally sees the light of day on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray after debuting all the way back this past March at SXSW (originally covered here by Bron Anderson).  So other than a woman, Charlize Theron, kicking ass John Wick style, what’s it all about?  You’re in the right place to get that question answered, but before we spill any proverbial beans let’s get the housekeeping out of the way first.  Atomic Blonde is very much an action spy thriller flick.  Its directed by David Leitch and written by Kurt Johnstad.  They take their direction form a 2012 graphic novel called The Coldest City.  You can kind of call it a Cold War thriller based upon its 1989 setting and synopsis of a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are bingo smuggled into the West on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  In addition to Charlize Theron it stars James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella and Toby Jones.  And yes, it does contain that female on female sex scene!  Ha ha.  Now let’s dive deeper!

Film 

Theatrically speaking it felt like I have been waiting forever for this movie’s nationwide release since it’s March 12th debut at SXSW.  That’s a long time to pass because what I originally saw material-wise completely whet my appetite very much.  I mean who doesn’t love a beautiful, strong female protagonist that doesn’t need a man to kick everyone’s ass?  Let’s be honest with ourselves too.  That’s the reason why Wonder Woman is so successful this year.  Atomic Blonde has a lot of good things going for it that red blooded male fans of John Wick will probably eat up such as its action sequences, Charlize Theron’s overall cool demeanor and performance and even the musical score/soundtrack selections.  It also has one more thing going for it that even the John Wick series doesn’t have.  It has a hot girl-on-girl sex scene between Charlize Theron and the equally stunning and quite action capable herself, Sofia Boutella.  It looks like John Wick: Chapter 3 is going to have to find a way to top that one for sure.  However, with the good there’s most likely always some bad and that has a little to do with a noir spy story and some slow pacing choices.  In other words, it’s not all action all the time boys and girls.  There’s some drudging lulls and an imperfect story to contend with here.

Atomic Blonde is all about double crossing.  So although you’ll be inclined to snooze a few times throughout I encourage you to pay as much attention as possible because no one is whom they seem.  That’s actually one of the very first directives given to MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) in her mission to Berlin, which as we already established takes place in 1989 right around the time the Wall is coming down.  She’s sent there to recover a stolen list of undercover Western operatives.  Her objective is to find it before the Russians do.  I kind of got off the point I was trying to make here so let me back it up.  She’s told not to trust anybody and once you’re in the world of Atomic Blonde you’ll realize why that’s the case.  It kind of makes matters hard too when you’re forced to work along other spies that are supposed to be on your side, including the likes of Boutella, Goodman and McAvoy.  That’s just it though.  The gist of the story revolves around this list and figuring out who’s telling the truth and who’s backstabbing you.  That’s all there is, but thankfully Charlize Theron delivers so much more.

So if you’ve seen the trailers for Atomic Blonde, then you probably already have a good idea of what I mean when I say Theron delivers.  In fact I don’t know what’s sexier, watching her kick ass so bluntly and brutally or all her black garter outfits.  They both turn me on.  LOL.  Don’t let the haters tell you that there’s really only one action sequence.  It’s true there’s an absolutely bonkers of a stairway brawl half way through, but trust me when I say there’s plenty of other moments for Theron to flex her muscles and break some bones.  Speaking of muscles she’s also in impeccable shape here.  There’s several shots of her bare back and wow you can tell she has been training hard.  Forty is the new twenty something as far as I’m concerned.  Now getting back to that stairway brawl, just wow.  Not since Mad Max: Fury Road have you been this out of breath from an action sequence.  The way they brutally choreograph things in a one shot take and the performances given sell you on the fact that it’s cardio draining to say the least.  I even felt tired watching by the end of this aforementioned fight sequence.  That’s what I call being in the moment!

If there’s one thing you can’t ding Atomic Blonde on, it’s style.  Because of the weak, uninteresting story at times it’s actually all style over substance here.  Not only is Atomic Blonde a blast visually with its playfully bright spray paint super titles, but audibly too.  It’s like the 80’s remix soundtrack of my childhood mixed with some pretty badass moments of score too that even rivals some John Wick selections in the first film.  The editing is quick and erratic when provoked, but boring and dull when the lackluster story manages to drudge things down a notch.  It’s like partaking in eating a can of mixed nuts.  You may not like all the selections inside, but I’d bet it’s pretty good overall or else why would you be here?  Even though I never been to Berlin personally myself I can’t imagine the late 80’s being recreated anymore authentic than what’s on display here. Heck even David Hasselhoff makes an offscreen appearance here and if you know anything about his popularity out there, he’s as important as the invention of sliced bread.  That’s the kind of authenticity on display recreated here.

Now I’m not one to overly gush about Cold War thrillers.  I usually find them an absolute bore.  Atomic Blonde is no exception to that boring rule, but overall I have to hand it to the filmmakers here and of course Charlize Theron.  She is a goddess throughout here and owns her role as uninteresting as her character may be at times.  I never really felt like I knew her at all.  It’s no John Wick tale that’s for sure, but she makes the most of what she has to work with here and the style/vibe of the world she inhabits and conquers shines through because of her performance.  I don’t expect Atomic Blonde to get much better with multiple watches.  I am expecting the story to make a bit more sense to me the more romps I jump through here.  I just hope I don’t fall asleep.  There’s a lot of filler for such a simplistic tale.  I doubt we’ll be seeing a sequel at all.  It’s kind of like a one time Salt kind of thing if you know what I mean.  There’s room for more, but I doubt many will be that interested for it and Charlize Theron isn’t getting any younger.  As I can attest in real life we don’t heal that fast in our forties anymore.  I feel like old man Logan.  Ha ha.  Enjoy!

Before we move onto all the 4K disc vitals and whatnot I do want to call your attention to a Comic-Con panel I covered this year featuring Charlize Theron, which also showcases her work in Atomic Blonde.  Check it out here or via the image below.

Atomic Blonde - Charlize Theron - Comic-Con 2017

And now onto the reason you’re all here…the 4K disc vitals.

Video 

The below video score and related critique of things here are solely based upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Universal’s  Atomic Blonde.  The Blu-ray looks good, but there’s more of an uptick in detail in the UHD version not to mention HDR and Dolby Vision.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • HDR: HDR10
  • Dolby Vision: Yes
  • Layers: BD-66
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This one is a funny one because it’s not the greatest 4K Blu-ray title I have seen, but I definitely can’t ding it for anything bad either.  I say that mostly because it’s not the sharpest of presentations.  There’s plenty of action and whatnot, but razor sharp it is not.  From what I can tell this 4K transfer is taken from a 2K Digital Intermediate.  There are though plenty of pores, wrinkles, moles, freckles and even nipples in 4K to go around here.  For me the highlight, besides the 4K nipples of course (LOL), were the textures such as cracks in a leather couch or porous concrete and whatnot.
  • Depth: Depth of field was abundant here in just about every piece of scenery such as Berlin city streets, tight environments such as apartment hallways and whatnot.  The characters all exhibit a three-dimensional pop to them all so that helps too.  One of the other cool wow factors here is the use of snow.  The way they shot against these snowflakes is so beautiful.  This one would have looked really cool in the 3D I kept found myself thinking while watching the 4K presentation.
  • Black Levels: The black levels were all deep and inky for the most part.  I really had no issues here.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are a tricky one to grade here.  For the most part they are dull, cold and neutral just like the film’s subject matter at times.  However, when colors and creative lighting are utilized this one explodes with juicy deliciousness.  Colors are big, bold, bright and vibrant.  And what about those spray paint super titles used throughout too?  They really pop in contrast to the drab scenery at times.  This one is like a mixed bag of nuts.  Some colors pop right out at you and some make you feel like you are watching the old Ghostbusters or something.  Reds and neons are spectacular throughout here.  I’m just saying.  The use of colors in this one is quite hypnotic.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are pretty spot on natural and accurate throughout the presentation.
  • Noise/Artifacts: I noticed zero problems with this presentation in terms of noise or any unnecessary artifacts.

Audio 

The below audio score and critical comments of such are based upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 1080p presentations of Atomic Blonde.  It should be noted that both the 4K and 1080p discs have a bombastic, rocking DTS:X surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS: X Master Audio, Brazilian Portuguese, French Canadian, French European and Latin American Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Brazilian Portuguese, French Canadian, French European and Latin American Spanish
  • Dynamics: There’s a lot I love about this surround presentation, but most importantly it has to be its soundtrack, which we will get to in a minute and its directionality.  One of the best examples of the latter is when a gun is thrown from the right speaker all the way to the left.  Little things like that make me smile.  This one contains one hell of a killer soundtrack and these jams are pumping.  Holy wow!  It’s not all bang bang, shoot ’em up in this one either.  There are many lulls and quiet moments where dialogue is crucial to both hear and understand.  However, when this one wants to be loud it also has no problem doing so.  Therefore, it’s a pretty dynamically wide DTS:X surround track.
  • Height: Examples of when the height channels are utilized to their fullest potential include rain, explosions, gunshots, score, soundtrack, sound effects, submerging under water, fireworks and more.
  • Low Frequency Extension: This is my most favorite part of this surround track.  The bass is aggressive and the way it thumps and pumps out the jams is orgasmic to my ears.  other uses of brilliant bass include the score, gunshots, car crashes, kicks, punches and more.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Equally impressive is the use of sound and various effects in the rear channels.  You’re not always immersed throughout, but when you are watch out as it’s a bumpy ride behind you with moments such as score, soundtrack, gunshots, rain, thunder, fight sequences, blood squirts, voices, police sirens and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are where I have a slight problem with things because try as I might I always have an issue in life trying to understand British accents.  However, for the most part every spoken word is intelligible.

Extras 

Universal’s Atomic Blonde 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack includes both the 4K UHD and 1080p theatrical versions of the film with the latter loaded with the below special features.   They range from brief interviews with the cast and behind-the-scenes footage of the spectacular stunts to deleted and extended scenes, storyboards and an audio commentary.  The Combo Pack also includes access to a Digital HD copy of the theatrical version of the film redeemable in both UltraViolet and iTunes, which both should yield you the 4K versions.  Let’s take a closer look at the Blu-ray Disc and explore all the extras on it.

  • Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 7:23) – There are a total of six scenes housed here.  They are as follows: Russian Driver, Hidden Stash, Nice To Meet You, Not Afraid of Love, Broughton’s Promotion and Watch For Sale.  There’s a Play All selection for your convenience too.
  • Welcome to Berlin (HD, 4:33) – This one explores why Berlin during this time period of the film was the perfect spy setting.  It features quick film clips, cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.  I like learning about all the little things that went into making this feel and look authentic in the 1980’s.
  • Blondes Have More Gun (HD, 7:01) – This extra is all about the action and fight choreography brought to you by the 87eleven fight team.  Obviously this one focuses on the brutality and athleticism of Charlize Theron.  She’s an animal in these training sessions.  I wouldn’t want to ever mess with her.  Unbelievably there were no injuries in that really big, brutal fight scene.  You know the one I am talking about.
  • Spymaster (HD, 4:18) – This one looks at David Leitch’s fresh perspective of the Cold War here in this energetic spy thriller.  Charlize was sold on making this film through David’s visuals of what he wanted.  In fact the rest of the cast and crew chime in too on how they all backed David’s vision of this adaptation.
  • Anatomy of a Fight Scene (HD, 7:52) – This one starts out with Leitch talking about the long take he has been wanting to do for a very long time now.  Of course I am talking about that brutal fight sequence that takes your breath away.  There’s some picture-in-picture going on here too.  Rest assured this is all Charlize too.  I love the fact that the stairs and walls are all foam.  By the way this sequence is spectacular.
  • Story in Motion (HD) – This one features two segments: Agent Broughton (2:16) and The Chase (1:38).  They can both be played too with commentary by David Leitch.  These are basically animated black and white storyboards complete with score/soundtrack and effect plus how the music fits within the particular scene too.  These are very rude and crude, but they have a simple beauty to them too.
  • Feature Commentary (HD) – Here we have a feature length audio commentary with Director David Leitch and Editor Elisabet Ronaldsdottir.  This commentary is available on both the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc and the 1080p one.  David has trouble saying Elisabet’s last name.  Ha ha.  He does pay her complements though saying she finds the story in what he shots.  He also makes a lot of comparisons to their work on John Wick too.  I love how David says the music drives this movie.  They even played the music on the set.  Hell yeah!  I was disappointed to learn that Elisabet cut a 12-second dolly shot of Charlize’s naked behind because she likes quick cuts.  Damn her!  Did you know this movie was originally called The Coldest City?  Well, you did now!  It was also interesting to learn what was ADR too.  Okay.  I’ll shut up now and let you watch this one.

Summary 

So there you have it peeps.  I don’t think Atomic Blonde will be everyone’s cup of proverbial tea.  There’s plenty enough style, action and sexiness to keep me preoccupied, but I can also see why a lot of folks will find the storyline uninteresting and ultimately dull.  You have to pick your battles with Atomic Blonde.  For me this film is all about Charlize Theron and that killer soundtrack.  Dare I say the latter is one of 2017’s best?  I do!  I think it’s worth a pickup on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format.  What say you?  Hit me up below in the comments with your thoughts.  Enjoy and thanks for reading!

*

DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.

*

Atomic Blonde

Fires on All Cylinders on

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

November 14th

PRE-ORDER NOW!

*

*

Atomic Blonde 4K

Share

Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

Comments are currently closed.