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Gattaca – Steelbook (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

A nice surprise from the continued quality output from Sony, was their restoration and release of the cult classic science fiction film Gattaca. Its not hitting a celebratory milestone until next year (Released in 1997, it’ll celebrate 25 years in 2022). The Andrew Niccol film has long been popular on home video since the days of VHS, so its no surprise it will continue to make format jumps with a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray released. Unfortunately, no new bonus materials are being included but the old ones are being ported over. Gattaca has been given a new restoration as well as an Atmos audio mix for this release. In its first iteration, the film will be put into collectible steelbook packaging with some rather groovy orange art. Released on March 23, you can order the film to upgrade your previous disc and add to your collection by using the trusty paid Amazon Associates link at the bottom of this page following the review.

Film

Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) has always fantasized about traveling into outer space, but is grounded by his status as a genetically inferior “in-valid.” He decides to fight his fate by purchasing the genes of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a laboratory-engineered “valid.” He assumes Jerome’s DNA identity and joins the Gattaca space program, where he falls in love with Irene (Uma Thurman). An investigation into the death of a Gattaca officer (Gore Vidal) complicates Vincent’s plans.

There a was nice wealth of science fiction movies that came out in the 1990s that I guess you’d call “cool movies’. Movies that didn’t really dent the pop culture lexicon, but managed to instantly find a cult audience. Largely from renting and recommendations in the video store heydey. It all built up to one being a large success in that of The Matrix at the end of the decade. In addition to Gattaca, I’m talking movies like Dark City, Cube or Aronofsky’s Pi. Low key science fiction tales that were the mesh of the goth and grunge stylings that were in vogue for the outcast kids of the times.

Gattaca was not a huge budget project, but Andrew Niccol has it oozing with big style and production values in not only the way he shoots it, but where it is as well. Choosing non traditional office buildings and one with unique architectural structure immediately lens this as a futuristic world. As another good touch, its sort of blended with modern touches as well as ideas rooted in our past. It gives the film its own look and feel, but not so far removed that we cannot relate. There’s a nice noir quality to it, while also having personalities and exchanges feeling in the present.

While we always move forward in life and progress with technology in different ways than we may predict with films, Gattaca remains pretty prescient because of being a stylish endeavor. It has created its own world and its own rules and sticks by them, helping to keep it both relevant and engaging. The film is perfectly cast from its terrific leads (Hawke, Thurman, Law) to even the smaller character parts (Xander Berkeley, Ernest Borgnine, Elias Koteas). Many would call this a perfect film, and it really does fit that criteria. This review was a personal first visit in probably 10-15 years and it really held up quite well. Gattaca is easily one of biggest cult classics from the 1990s, but its also one of its best films.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Gattaca comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the first time with an absolutely beautiful restoration from Sony. It blows the rather solid Blu-ray release out of the water. With a very nice grain structure visibly kept intact, it appears to have even more cinematic flair than ever before. The stylized lighting is even more apparent as well and gives of a little bit of a golden look to it. Details, sharpness and depth are all very strong in this lovely image.

Depth:  Really nice depth of field on display despite the rather claustrophobic feel of the film. The apartment feels really nice, open and spacious and many of the gazing shots inside the office building’s lobby and other levels feels nicely pushed back. Character movements are natural and cinematic with no motion distortion issues abound.

Black Levels: Blacks are quite rich and natural with very good saturation throughout. From the darkest depths to the lighter gray ends, there is a lot of flavor and a lot of specifics on details that come through. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty specific here in the film. Nothing really to pop out as its intentionally a very black and plain kind of aesthetic for things to look quite uniform. The HDR comes in great with a nice glow emanating from display monitors, car lights, signs and lights in the film.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with a slight lift to them whenever a more heavily filtered lighting is present. Facial features and textures are quite apparent from any given distance in the frame. Very good emphasis on clearly seeing stubble, lines, scars, wrinkles, dimples, make-up lines and lip texture.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics:  In addition to a brand new video restoration, there’s a new audio mix for Gattaca in this release. This Atmos track perfectly understands and finds itself in tune with the film it is audibly representing. Of course, this is no bit action spectacle, but there are lighter touches in the balanced mix that bring it even more to life and more of an experience when watching.

Height: Overhead isn’t overboard with sound as much as it is complimentary. You get an added sense of space, especially in the lobby of the office and other surroundings where something rightfully is present.

Low Frequency Extension:  The deeper, more impactful sounds come in from the score as well as engines humming, doors closing and some more engaging effects that might benefit from a little extra bump.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Sound is free, spacious and has the speakers all providing nice touches of ambiance to build environments. There is also optimal sound travel, accurate to screen and with an awareness of what is off camera, too.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, present and toward the front of the mix. Actor diction is well catalogued here in the presentation.

Extras

Gattaca comes in collectible steelbook packaging, complete with the previously available Blu-ray edition’s disc and a redeemable digital code. No new bonus material is included and is all found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

4K UHD

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)

Blu-ray

Deleted Scenes (SD, 10:43)

Original Featurette (SD, 6:52)

Welcome To Gattaca (HD, 22:00)

Do Not Alter? (SD, 14:52)

Substance Test Outtake (SD, :36)

Summary

Gattaca continues to hold strong as one of the best science fiction and cult films of the 1990s. It enjoys a quite worthy 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray upgrade. Sure, no new interviews, featurettes or archival items is disappointing. But, the previous Blu-ray had some nice things to begin with. The audio and video restoration, plus the steelbook packaging (With admittedly solid art) is enough to warrant that some good work was done in upgrading the formats. Definitely pick up Gattaca on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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