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Forrest Gump (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

And randomly, Paramount has decided to flip over to us the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray upgrade of Best Picture winner Forrest Gump. There’s no milestone the film is hitting this year, but they seem to be mixing in their Best Picture winning films (Previously Gladiator and Braveheart) in with the genre/franchise films they tend to lean on. Nevertheless its not like it isn’t a film that you wouldn’t think would be one coming eventually. But, here we are pretty early on with a 4K Ultra-HD release of the film that nabbed Tom Hanks his second Oscar statue (As Sabretooth would say “Back to back!”). While the film features new audio and video, the extras remain the same (They are pretty thorough, don’t worry). You’ll be able to pick this on up on June 12th!

Film 

Slow-witted Forrest Gump has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother, he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save — his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny.

Forrest Gump has its fun, and it has its charm. The film was a pretty big one for the moment back in 1994 and still probably serves as a heartfelt piece of nostalgia for the generation which the title character travels through their youth and experiences. Its found itself the victim of winning the Best Picture Oscar while their were other worthy films that could have taken it home. In particular people have been pretty vicious to it; nit picking and looking a little too deep into the psyche of something that was just meant for comedy and fun with no malicious intent. Yes, if I had a vote I’d have given it to Pulp Fiction, but that doesn’t mean Forrest Gump has to be any less enjoyable.

When I was 12 and I saw this in the theater, I thought this movie was quite great. I didn’t know if I had much of an interest in it, but my friend told me it was hilarious and I convinced my mom to take me. What wasn’t realized is how emotionally invested I’d get in the damn thing. It wound up being one of the few movies I’d seen in my life that produced some waterworks from me (The scene where he talks to Jenny’s tombstone). I was a huge fan back then and pumped to watch the Academy Awards rooting for it and Tom Hanks. Heck, at the time, I was young and not watching those having seen many of the film nominated ever. So, while I may not hold the film to the esteem my 12 year old self did, it did open me up to seeing more straightforward dramas and other movies rather than just the blockbusters and genre fare. Heck, after all the people talking so much about Pulp Fiction during the Oscars, it had me seeking that film out.

There’s all the funny “Messenger of Death” takes and reads on the movie as well as the forced racist stigma some have tried to put on it. Those are either fun or whatever, and not being the intention of the creators. However, what’s not sat well with me as I’ve grown older is Jenny’s journey and what type of message they are trying to send with her arc. Jenny becomes an activist and also explores promiscuity while Forrest plays good, clean, no frills white American boy and lives the best life only by accident. It seems for trying to explore, be free and not conform, trying for progression, Jenny is rewarded with constant abuse, drugs, mental problems and eventually disease and death. And with this one, I almost feel that is in the outline and design of the character and its a bit shameful that this is what they seem to think of her.

With both its score and soundtrack, traveling through historical events with notable figures and an all in committed performance from Tom Hanks, its easy to see why people went crazy (And some still do) for Forrest Gump. Heck, it even has its own restaurant chain. We forget, but this movie was also a big moment in the progression of visual effects and wow’d people (Though, the ADR over people like John Lennon and Richard Nixon looks terrible now). It captured a moment and an audience at a right time. While it may not be what it was to the world then, its still plenty engaging and still quite good now. I know its a film that’s cool to hate, but I’m perfectly fine to be uncool and say I still enjoy it.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: For a film of the caliber, popularity and as decorated as it is with prestigious awards, you’d think Forrest Gump would come across better. Paramount has a pretty good track record (With me) for terrific catalog title transfers, but this one doesn’t quite cut it. Its hot and cold. At times (Most of Vietnam, for example) this 4K Ultra-HD title looks outstanding, then there are other moments, that’ll even happen right after, where it doesn’t even look as good as the Blu-ray edition (at times looking like a DVD upscale). Its all very watchable, but I”m here to look for things and this one has moments where a face appears like you’re looking through glass and later on looks quite smooth without detail. There are times when its rich with color and the same scenery will look dingy in another part of the film. Its crazy, because at times this has an image that looks like one of the most beautiful transfers of all time and other its one of the most bland.

Depth: Depth is probably one of the stronger suits. There’s a good separation between the actors and their environment and the background. Movements are smooth and no real issues with distortion occur.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and can either look nice and natural, but there are also times where some crushing can occur. Some of the old footage Gump is inserted too can bring that too.

Color Reproduction: Colors can be restrained but they can also burst like when he goes for the cross country run and autumn leaves burst as well as his red hat and shorts. Green show up and pop well too with real good saturation.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones range from being natural and also warm during times. Facial feature details can look quite crisp and loaded to seeing acne on Hanks’ face that is trying to be hidden by make-up to being smooth and your eyes searching for details.

Noise/Artifacts: There are some moments where you can see some DNR has come into play.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English Original 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, German, Spanish, Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish

Dynamics: Forrest Gump’s audio fares better than the video, but its still not too perfect. For the most part, the movie plays fine with the dialogue and ambiance sound crisp, clear and with plenty of depth an layering. However, this thing will burst out when something like Vietnam happens and cause an unintended jolt and off balance play with the subwoofer. You get used to it, but its a bit much for this kind of movie. Overall, its fine, it does get loud, but the work with the speakers and the depth of the track works well enough.

Height: Above you get some helicopters, bullets whizzing, crowd cheers, PA speaker output and more without ever going too over the top.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer can jump out and shock you at times with either a needle drop, helicopter, gunshot and other effects. Its really off from where the rest of the mix is at.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some very fun moments in this track where they’ll bring an event right to you, making you feel present with the accuracy and playfulness of the track. Travel and placement are quite accurate.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very present and pronounced. There is a part where he has a voice over and it was peaking pretty bad (Static sounding too) and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was probably 15-20 seconds worth of material, but its pretty bad.

Extras 

Forrest Gump 4K Ultra-HD comes with the 2-Disc Blu-ray edition and a digital copy. Aside from the commentaries, all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray discs.

4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • With Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, and Rick Carter
  • With Wendy Finerman

Blu-ray Disc 1

Musical Signposts To History (HD, 3:54)

Blu-ray Disc 2

Greenbow Diary (HD, 25:59)

The Art of Screenplay Adaptation (HD, 26:58)

Getting Past the Impossible: Forrest Gump and the Visual Effects Revolution (HD, 27:04)

Little Forrest (HD, 14:48)

An Evening with Forrest Gump (HD, 55:08)

Archival Special Features

  • The Make-Up of Forrest Gump (SD, 8:03)
  • Through the Ears of Forrest Gump — Sound Design (SD, 15:34)
  • Building the World of Gump — Production Design (SD, 7:08)
  • Seeing is Believing — The Visual Effects of Forrest Gump (SD, 32:00)
  • Screen Tests (SD)
  • Trailers (HD, 5:10)

Summary 

Forrest Gump may not be perfection or absolute greatness, but its still charming, silly and fun with plenty of solid characters that surround the protagonist. Its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray doesn’t wind up so solid. With ups and downs in audio and video, it makes it hard to be a complete recommendation. The fantastic bit of extras are still retained, but the transfer hits and misses. I still think overall, its fine, but it has examples within the film itself that it could have been better.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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