Quantcast

The Last Duel (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

October was quite a crowded month in terms of big new theatrical releases. When that happens, of course some thing or things get left by the wayside and aren’t the prime choice of movie goers. One of the biggies that happened to was Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel. There’s been a lot of huffing and puffing about Ridley Scott’s hypothesizing as to why it didn’t pan out, but that’s beside the point. The film is excellent and you should certainly check it out whenever you have the time, wherever you can find it to watch (Hopefully not on your phone though, but if that’s your thing, so be it). Next to theatrical, its coming the best way for home possible, as a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release with an Atmos track. There is one featurette with it, but its over 30 minutes long, so that’s at least a nice conceit. The Last Duel arrives on the format online and in stores on December 14th. You can pre-order yourself a copy of it by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review below.

.

Film

Jean de Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Jacques Le Gris is a squire whose intelligence and eloquence makes him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Le Gris viciously assaults Carrouges’ wife, she steps forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy. The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands.

The Last Duel is quite simply, quite obviously, Ridley Scott’s Rashomon. And that is in no way a slight or a bad thing. In fact, this storytelling motif is a fun vessel with which to play with time, to play with perspective and to play with character development. This method also, in effect, is a bit of a lens on the process of filmmaking as well. It showcases the importance of camera angles, performance, direction and editing within the construct of a film itself. Whereas, yes, there’s a scripted story to see played out, the technical feats by which it was made are able to tell a story within themselves.

Our story revolves around the crime of a rape, which while told 3 times, seems to be done in a much more tasteful manner with the emphasis on the abuse and ugliness of it and nothing about to provoke any sort of sensual reaction. Each story ramps it up the vile nature of it, but never numbs or comforts you to it. When the act is displayed, Jodie Comer is left fully clothed and not shown in some sort of desirable nature. Coming from an old school, 83 year old filmmaker, its a commendable effort and he clearly has gone for what he can do in best taste and probably advised in many of the more acceptable ways to capture and translate the event to film.

In terms of an old school filmmaker, there’s a throwback here in terms of the casting that felt refreshing. Ridley Scott just wants good actors for these parts, regardless if its “proper” or not. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck aren’t quite the types you associate with period medieval historical drama, and Adam Driver isn’t himself British or Scottish, but the film just pushes on. Everyone is giving their best here and it works and it does so well at it that even if they aren’t your typical depiction of these types, you’re having fun and enjoy them an the story, so its really besides the point and winds up more in the nit pick pile.

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is a one of the year’s very best films. A strong script, characters and direction all mold into a a film approaching levels of absolute perfection. Scott has had a steady career, but he reaches highs here that he probably hasn’t been at since the Kingdom of Heaven director’s cut. Granted, the guy does damn well with medieval (Event he lesser ones are at least interesting and look good). It has a game cast, terrific medieval action and an 83 year old director that looks like he’s still super hungry and seeking nothing but excellence.

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: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: The Last Duel arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray as a native 4K title being shot and finished with a 4K digital intermediate. And it looks quite rich and lovely. There’s a fine quality and crisp sharpness to the image. Its a cold feeling movie with its mood and that translates to the image. There is good work with the color scheme and black levels as well. Hard to find room to complain with this one.

Depth:  Depth of field is rather strong here, showcasing some wonderful scale here inside large castle halls as well as grand valleys. There’s also some good pushback and confident camera movements on display to give a flexing sense of space. Motion is smooth, natural and have zero issue with any motion distortion like blur or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and possibly the best part of this image overall. They are quite natural and produce some beautiful shadow and darkness in the image that contrast well and bring in torch and candle lit rooms with ease. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors here are not of the popping or vivid variety thought here are some fabrics to stand out. Colors on hand, grays/browns/whites and such are all saturated and feature to great amounts of shades and tints. HDR showcases a lot in terms of fire for some extra glowing effect in the image.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit on the muted or colder side to match the tone and timing of the film. Facial features and textures are quite clear and discernible, showcasing impressive work like Matt Damon’s scar which looks quite seamless and real.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Last Duel comes with a very admirable Atmos mix. While coming via Disney through their Fox line, its better than most of their Marvel/Live Action outputs. Its not perfect by any means, but it is much more impacting and requires less cranking up to give the desired loudness. Its well balanced and the effects in the foley sound well layered and pretty.

Height:  Up top you get some nice additions and complimentary sounds emanating from the ceiling channel. Its very appropriate to the viewing and nothing really extending it overboard.

Low Frequency Extension:  Deep sounds have a rather solid bump in from the subwoofer. Big doors shutting, clanging, kicking/punching, horses clip clopping and some musical bumps have a notable rumble from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Rear channels do well in projecting ambiance as well as filling out crowds and battle effects off screen. Motion rolls quite well and the quieter interior moments actually proved plenty impressive.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp and delicately place in and feeling a part of their environment.

Extras

The Last Duel comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. Bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

The Making of The Last Duel (HD, 33:48) – A collection of on set footage and photography from Ridley Scott’s daughter Cuba. It features some showcasing of Ridley’s directing, conversations on the set to figure out sequences and some actors giving thoughts on the the film. All done during Covid as people have various safety gear and methods going on.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:29)

Summary

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel finds itself being one of the year’s finest films (I supposed, depending on whose version of the truth you want to believe). With how the box office went on the film, its a relief that it was able to be given a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release. The image looks pristine and and the Atmos track is better than your average Disney one (Sure, this is Fox, but they’re under the same banner now). There’s a sole featurette, but its over 30 minutes and a nice fly on the wall situation to really see this thing and Ridley Scott in action making the film. Scott has teased an extended cut, but the theatrical cut is perfect and we never know if that one will see the light of day. Pick up one of the year’s best with The Last Duel on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

Share

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).

  1. No Comments