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Heat (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Early on into the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray era, there was a Director’s Definitive Edition release of Michael Mann’s Heat onto standard Blu-ray that everyone picked up anyway but was baffled why an upper echelon title didn’t just hit up the new format with a new edition that had a 4K restoration. Well, after 5 years of waiting, we are finally getting that 4K release of that version of the film. Heat’s debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ay will be a 3-disc set that carries over that standard Blu-ray edition with all the goods. There aren’t any new features exclusive to this one (which isn’t necessary). The release is set to arrive on August 9th. You can get yourself a copy by easily scrolling down to the end of this review and clicking on the paid Amazon Associates link that follows.

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Film

Master criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is trying to control the rogue actions of one of his men, while also planning one last big heist before retiring. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Hanna (Al Pacino) attempts to track down McCauley as he deals with the chaos in his own life, including the infidelity of his wife (Diane Venora) and the mental health of his stepdaughter (Natalie Portman). McCauley and Hanna discover a mutual respect, even as they try to thwart each other’s plans.

If you want to talk about directors/auteurs having a grand opus, Heat is definitely the one to make the case for Michael Mann. In a way that North By Northwest was labeled “ultimate Hitchcock”, this is clearly “ultimate Mann”. Heat features themes, characters, style and exercises that Mann had been in practice for and executing up to this point and this was the ultimate thesis paper that came from his tremendous research on what he was doing as a filmmaker.

As an audience member, its just incredible to behold and sit through. Heat, in every single facet, is larger than life. Big cinematography, big sound design, big spectacle, big score big action set pieces, big actors giving big performances. Everything is on top and humongous and its comes through to the ultimate bit of precision and perfection. Few 80-90 movies fly by as fast as Heat’s 10 minutes shy of a 3-hour runtime do.

The drama, the action, the pacing, the elegance is all balanced and woven in such a way that the film isn’t frantic, but its always moving, always interesting and completely managing to be both in service of plot and character. Its not like the film is cold and strictly plot focused. One of thing’s about Heat is that its about those cold and job focused people. Mann never forgets to let loose, have a couple laughs around the way and also to humanize and give credence to many of the smaller, side characters as well. We know who they are, these people in service of our two leads (Pacino and De Nir0) and actually care about how they are affected by their choices and purely by being just a part of their lives.

Pacino and De Niro are our core here. This is the drawing power of the film beyond whoever is making it. Back in this time, this was the type of actual star-power team up people got excited for, whereas today they can’t wait for Wolverine to high five Shang-Chi. Those two were long known as the best in the business. And here you have them trading wits together and apart. These two are playing fleshed out versions of “anything for the job” obsessive types we see in film. Its pulling back the curtain of “okay, but what about when they aren’t on the job or the in-betweens”. Heat brings some brutal honestly to the front here with both. And at the end of the day, this is one of the best kind of “Spy Vs. Spy” tales put into practice.

Heat sucks you right in from the start. Michael Mann has a fantastic script with even more fantastic execution to it. Not one person here ISN’T firing on all cylinders. If you’ve never seen Heat, you’ll quickly understand why it was so influential, imitated, but rarely with the same success. Its visually stunning, performatively compelling and also at a core level, just pretty damn exciting. Twenty-seven years later its till looms large of what has come before and what has come after.

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: Heat’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut does not disappoint and is the nice incremental improvement of the previous Blu-ray edition that you’d hope for. There’s finer detail, added depth and better saturation with the colors and the black levels. The only gripe might be that they decided to stuff an almost 3 hour film on a BD-66 instead of a BD-100. Nonetheless, it doesn’t suffer much at all from that from what I can tell.

Depth:  The films 4K presentation sees a nice improvement in spacing, pushback on internal environments and more impressive scale to the exteriors. Movements are smooth, fluid and no issues handling rapid action sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural here, one of the more noted improvements from the previous Blu-ray. There’s great shadow and attention to nighttime and scenes in a darker room that sharpen and pull out some more texture/pattern/detail than was visible before. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite strong and well saturated here. This isn’t a film that’s flashy and vibrant, but when a neon sign shows up, a display, a car light in the dark, it pops thanks to some nice contrast and HDR glow being applied.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and find a consistent appearance from the opening credit to the final roll. Facial features and textures are plenty discernible in any reasonable given frame and then som.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS Digital, Spanish .2.0 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 DTS, Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2. 0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: No new audio track here as Heat’s 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut carries over the 5.1 surround mix used on the previous Blu-ray. And that’s honestly A-okay. This is a top tier 5.1 mix which is load, active and incredibly engaging. Within moments, it’ll sweep through the room and you won’t care too much that its not an Atmos or 7.1.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: There’s a very good punch and power coming from your subwoofer here. Gunshots, explosions, car crashing, glass shattering, musical stings and more really hit you square in the chest.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix is wildly active and knows its entire 360 degree arena. From unique sounds to ambiance building to keeping tabs on what’s going on offscreen, this is a pretty expert level 5.1 experience. Sound travel really brings a force across the room and front and back as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Heat is a 3-Disc set that comes with the Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. Aside from the commetnary, all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray discs.

4K UHD & Blu-ray Disc 1

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Michael Mann

Blu-ray Disc 2

Filmmaker Panels

  • 2016: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (HD, 1:03:23)
  • 2015: Toronto International Film Festival (HD, 30:27)

The Making of Heat (HD, 59:12)

Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation (SD, 9:58)

Return to the Scene of the Crime (SD, 12:05)

Additional Footage: Deleted Scenes (SD, 9:44)

Theatrical Trailers (SD, 6:48)

Summary

Heat is an incredible master stroke from Michael Mann, who completes one of the most stunning cinematic achievements of the 1990s and a film that continues to influence and impress today. This new 4K release on continues to solidify that, with us able to finally see what the 4K restoration was intended to be on our home screens. All the previous extras come included here and its a no-brainer upgrade to keep the best version of one of the best movies in your collection at all times.

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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