The Da Vinci Code book was one of those that come around every so often that make non-readers take note of and spend time doing something they normally wouldn’t…they READ. Yes, I’m one of those suckers too. While I love to read I often have this problem in life called no time. By the time I snuggle up with a book it’s like I have taken a large dose of Tylenol PM. A book, good or bad, usually puts me right to sleep just like a classic X-Files episode does calming my hectic nerves. Dull reading material is prone to giving me narcolepsy during the middle of the day. However, every once in awhile that magical manuscript does come along that wildly captivates and fascinates my imagination. It ceases to let go of me as it manages to keep me engrossed, excited about and invigorated over throughout the read. Those are the books that I can’t inexplicably put down and just want more of. The Da Vinci Code was one of these so called “magical” books for me. It kicked off mad fervor for author Dan Brown. I fondly remember those moments like they were yesterday.
I had heard about The Da Vinci Code through a circle of friends I ran with, but more importantly it was everywhere I looked at the time. The supermarkets were lined with copies and every channel I clicked on in my basic cable lineup back then was promoting it. I did what I normally did not do at all back in 2003. I bought a book. Even worse, I bought a book at the dreaded Wal-Mart every rags on because it was 5% off the normal published price. I brought The Da Vinci Code home that evening and tore through it like I just opened an Atari 2600 in my youth on Christmas morning. My fascination with the manuscript didn’t end there. For the next week that book went everywhere with me and I read as many pages as I could every chance I got whether I was at work, in the gym or at home.
I was enthralled by the story of The Da Vinci Code and the subject matter within to say the very least. When I reached the end of the book I couldn’t even explain my level of disappointment and sadness. When I read that final page, my head sunk low and I silently thought now what. My life had been so full of vigor that entire week and I owed it all to this book that I no longer have any pages left to read in. But wait! What’s this? There’s another Robert Langdon adventure to read about! I bet you can’t guess what my next book purchase was soon after?
You need to stay with me for just another paragraph here as I’m still reliving my past. When this book became a smashing hit in 2003 and Dan Brown became a household name there was talk of a film adaptation. I could not wait to feast my longing eyes on that. However, years went by and nothing other than hearing about it in production. Then in 2006 we received the first trailers and that mullet was in all our faces. Why did they have to give Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) such a bad haircut? I’ll never know, but I did know this. I was excited to give The Da Vinci Code a chance on the big screen. However, it was just okay. If I can be honest with y’all, I was kind of disappointed by it.
Next up was Angels & Demons on the big screen and while I liked it a little more than Code my fascination with our protagonist here inexplicably ended. I have not read 2009’s The Lost Symbol and nor have I even thought about entertaining 2013’s Inferno. Quite honestly I have no reason why either other than pure ignorance, but here we are and Inferno has made it to the big screen last year and now 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. So that’s what we’re all gathered here to talk about today regardless of my long Da Vinci Code intro up above.
Inferno is billed as a mystery thriller film and is once again directed by Ron Howard. The screenplay, written by David Koepp, is obviously adapted from the 2013 Dan Brown novel of the same name. It should also come as no surprise that Tom Hanks reprises his role as our protagonist Robert Langdon. However, this time around he’s joined by Rogue One‘s Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster and Irrfan Khan. And just like the other films, the cast of this flick globe trot around to places of magnificence and cultural/religious significance. In other words, this film makes you want to travel overseas and see these historical places. So let’s shed some light on what Inferno is all about.
Ben Foster portrays a billionaire hellbent on saving the world. He believes man’s biggest problem is themselves and he developed a plague to be the cure all solution to control the population problems Earth is projected to have. His philosophy is why put off what we can achieve now with a little pain. Now here’s where things are a bit helter-skelter and unorthodox in this film. Oddly our movie here begins with our protagonist wakes up in a hospital with little to no memory/recollection of why he is there, what happened and where his treasured Mickey Mouse watch is. Here’s where Felicity Jones enters the picture as a doctor who will seemingly do anything to protect her patient, Robert Langdon in this case, from the men and women looking to do him harm, capture or even kill him. Thus the pair go on the run all the while Robert keeps having hellish flashbacks and slowly starts remembering nightmarish events.
So needless to say there are various peeps after Robert and his new sidekick. They want the knowledge and artifact that Robert possesses, even though he doesn’t even fully understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together yet. That’s the fun factor of these films as they travel all around Europe to figure out all the clues and what they all mean. It’s sort of like a treasure hunt with the only exception here is that the the treasure at the end of the road here is a deadly, world destroying virus. That’s not all though as the filmmakers have a few twists up their sleeves and what I like about this one is no one is who they really seem to be and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
While I loved watching Felicity in her role here I really can’t take her seriously because all I hear when I look at her and that hair is “I’m a Rebel. I rebel.” That’s kind of sad huh? I already have her typecast from Rogue One. When is Tom Hanks ever bad in anything? We won’t go there. In retrospect I actually have no qualms with this cast. Now I know this isn’t saying a whole lot, but for me Inferno is the best of the three Robert Langdon films. The reason being is we still have a race to beat the clock kind of thriller with a likable, bankable, familiar face. Howard manages to keep the pace moving and not get bogged down into the traps and pitfalls that The Da Vinci Code film did. At least that’s how I feel about it. The nightmarish dream sequences were just icing on the cake, but whatever. Let’s talk about the 4K disc vitals now!
The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Inferno. For comparison sake though I did sample the Blu-ray presentation and I can honestly attest to the fact that the 4K UHD disc is night and day superior over its 1080p counterpart.
- Encoding: HEVC / H.265
- Resolution: 4K (2160p)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Clarity/Detail: Never in a million years did I ever expect to say this, but Inferno is one of the finest looking 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentations I have taken in yet. It doesn’t take place in the outdoor wilderness or nature like The Revenant does, but it is one of the most natural looking 4K Blu-rays I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Detail is also impeccable in the simplest of concrete blocks in exotic architecture and historic buildings to other textures in clothing, pores, sweat and stubble in skin and individual strands of hair. I could go on and on, but just like the amazing historic paintings and artwork that adorn these historic structures the detail in this presentation is equally riveting. You can even see the paint strokes on the door frames in Sienna’s apartment. That’s how clear things are here.
- Depth: Depth of field is everywhere you look form the three-dimensional pop of all the onscreen characters to the sweeping landscapes, city streets, alleys, museums and incredibly decorated, intricate sets and various other environments. The cinematography throughout here is second to none. You’ll see!
- Black Levels: The black levels are all deep and natural in appearance. Thanks to the HDR no detail ever gets lost in the shadows here.
- Color Reproduction: Here’s where this 4K presentation never ceases to amaze and impress. The colors are all natural and authentic throughout the presentation. Sure there’s some nightmare sequences and flashbacks where color is tweaked, but trust me things look phenomenal here. Thank you HDR!
- Flesh Tones: The temperatures of the skin tones are all natural and healthy looking. In fact the skin tones are what make this presentation’s appearance so ultra real as they just look so natural and lifelike.
- Noise/Artifacts: There’s absolutely nothing to nitpick about here. This 4K presentation is P-E-R-F-E-C-T in every which way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Inferno. So I don’t know how to say this politely, but Sony skimped out in the audio department on the Blu-ray. While the 4K UHD presentation gets an unbelievable Atmos track the 1080p Blu-ray only comes armed with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 surround track. Boo!
- Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English Audio Description Track & Catalan, Czech, French (PAR), French (Quebec), German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Castilian) and Spanish (Latin American), Thai and Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Classic), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, Thai, Turkey
- Dynamics: I have to eat my words here once again as just like I said about the video I never imagined in a million years that Inferno‘s 4K presentation would house such an equally amazing Dolby Atmos surround track. Things are all over the place here and I mean that in a super good way all around you. One minute were tripping in hell and the next were on the run evading authorities and other shady folks who want what Robert and Sienna have. All along the way not a single moment of dialogue ever gets lost. This track is unbelievable and I never thought this was going to be the case for such a mediocre film as this. What a pleasant surprise. I love being proven wrong when its to my advantage. LOL.
- Height: The height channel here started out by simply mixing in various effects, but then things started getting serious with explosions, choppers flying and then the unexpected happened..two big wow moments. The first was a bird taking off from the left speaker overhead flying right. I guess you can say it’s the simple things in life that appeal to me the most. Ha ha. That kind of reminded me of my favorite dolphin jumping scene from The Shallows 4K disc. Next up…the drone. Yes they used a drone in this one and let me tell you it sounded phenomenal zigging and zagging everywhere overhead. What a brilliant use of Dolby Atmos. Who would have ever thought?
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is DEEP here. There’s a long, resonating booming moment right in the very beginning of this flick that makes you instantly take notice of the 4K presentation’s wicked LFE employment. Effects such as breaking down doors, trains going by, gun shots and even a heart beat are reproduced here with the utmost of authenticity thanks to the unforgiving bass that also complements the sweeping score quite well.
- Surround Sound Presentation: Things are equally exciting on the surround front here too from the mind trips Robert Langdon takes in the nightmarish scenes of Dante’s Inferno Hell to the score, various effects and ambiance, bullets ricocheting, drones flying by and crowds buzzing all around you. This may be a thriller on paper, but it’s quite the thrill ride in person too as the surround channels immerse you with both directionality and priority. It’s quite a ride so hold on tight!
- Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels throughout the entire 4K show are loud, clear and intelligible. I never had any issues understanding or hearing any spoken word. If nothing else, I’m in love with Felicity’s accent even more. Ha ha.
The Inferno 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set is loaded with exciting and never-before-seen bonus content, including deleted scenes and six intriguing behind-the-scenes featurettes. All of these extras, which we will go into more detail down below, are housed on the included 1080p Blu-ray disc. Can I say now that these extras are fantastic, quality-wise? Well, they are! That same Blu-ray disc also contains the feature presentation in 1080p HD. In addition to all of this there’s a redemption code to redeem the film online at your favorite UltraViolet retailer. The only way to stream this digital file in 4K UHD is via Sony’s proprietary UHD streaming app found on their 4K television sets.
Above is what the main menu of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc looks like.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 27:19) – There’s a Play All function or you can select the following individually: “Extended Opening – Langdon’s Visions of Hell, Langdon and Sienna Flee The Hospital, Zobrist’s Full Length Overpopulation Speech, No Police, Chase Through Boboli Gardens, Sims Races to Florence and Extended Ending – Life Pulls US Apart Again.
- Ron Howard, A Director’s Journal (HD, 10:02) – In this extra here viewers can follow the acclaimed director as he returns to the world of Dan brown’s Robert Langdon and documents his journey via social media. Yay! Ron starts out by talking about the way he loves Twitter and Instagram and the things he shares in his journal like posts on Twitter. Yawn! Even I don’t have accounts with either of these popular social media tools. He also chats about the extraordinary shoot in Venice. Some guys have all the luck, huh? It is beautiful looking there. He seems to also have a bromance with Tom Hanks. It’s sad too that my Mac did not autocorrect the word “bromance.” Is that officially a socially acceptable term now? All joking aside this is probably my favorite extra of them all as they deep dive into locations and the unique cinematography of everything here, not to mention Dante’s death mask. Hell yeah! Ron hints that Dan Brown is working on another Robert Langdon mystery, but that’s all. There’s no mention of any other film outing. Boo!
- A Look at Langdon (HD, 6:21) – Novelist Dan Brown, Director Ron Howard, Screenwriter David Koepp and Tom Hanks all explore the evolution of the fictional character of Robert Langdon across the three films now and the new insights discovered here about the hero. Via clips here from all three films it’s amazing how much Hank has aged in the face since the first two films. I wonder if they will do another one. I don’t know. I still have never been sold on Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, but who am I to question the filmmakers’ decisions. They’re making the bank and I’m sitting here writing about it all. They also go into Langdon’s photogenic memory and how they limited his intellect here in a crippling way. That’s pretty ingenious, huh? Exactly!
- The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist (HD, 5:13) – In this extra Ben Foster’s character gets the spotlight in “The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist.” Here viewers can go inside the mind of the brilliant but dangerous villain and hear from Foster and the filmmakers about crafting this villainous character. Dan Brown divulges the idea of how he came up with this villain and his motivations. Man, if only I was half as smart, I’d rule this world. Ha ha.
- This Is Sienna Brooks (HD, 5:48) – Next up we have Felicity Jones front and center. This one shines a light on one of the film’s most complex characters and the precision with which the Oscar nominated actress (Best Actress, The Theory of Everything, 2014) brings her to life. Dan Brown makes a really good point here about Felicity’s character, but to disclose it would be to spoil things. So my lips are sealed. Watch this one after you see the film first.
- Inferno Around the World (HD, 13:34) – This one highlights the stellar international cast involved in the film and the crew’s unprecedented access to stunning locations across the globe. Ron Howard talks about how these movies are such an adventure, which they are. He goes on to talk up his fantastic international cast he has to rely on here. Dan Brown talks about how he’s impressed with Ron because he actually hires international actors to play the diverse, international characters and how it’s so authentic. Maybe next time there’s a Bible kind of movie being made they should hire Ron to cast it, huh?
- Visions of Hell (HD, 5:35) – Last but not least Director Ron Howard shares his process for bringing to life the iconic imagery described in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the powerful themes that the classic story infuses into this film. Ron goes on to say how disturbing these visions of Dante’s Inferno Hell and explains it a bit with some added dialogue from Tom Hanks complete with a white mug and Inferno author Dan Brown. I do love this as it shows us all the disturbing visuals a tad slower than they appear in the movie. Ron laughed as he said he had a blast giving the audience something horrific and how he never directed anything this terrible before (in a horror movie kind of sense).
Inferno is not going to win any awards nor did it make it on anyone’s Top 10 list of most treasured films last year, but I could think of far worst 2016 movies to waste your time on. If you’re a fan of the fictional character of Robert Langdon, enjoy anything Tom Hanks stars in or just want another look at Felicity Jones from last December’s Rogue One, Inferno is recommended to check out. If you’re still disappointed from the last Jack Reacher effort (see my 4K review here), then maybe you should take their own advice and “never go back.” The choice is yours, but I like treasure hunting, even when it comes to viruses, so I looked forward very much to checking this one out again in 4K here if for nothing else than its peril/high stakes, familiar faces and pretty foreign scenery. It also looks and sounds fantastic! What say you? Grab it at a great price if you’re nervous. I think it’s worth owning!
Inferno Heats Things Up
on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray