It’s Groundhog Day on 4K… again! Sony once again returns to this Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy classic in time for its 30th Anniversary. Now with a new Dolby Vision HDR transfer, the film scores a modest visual improvement over the still very good 2018 4K disc, the same solid Atmos track with new 5.1 and 2.0 audio options, and the same bonus features all in new more winter accurate SteelBook packaging. Highly Recommended
"Then put your little hand in mine..."
As I’ve already covered Groundhog Day on 4K in addition to our 15th Anniversary Blu-ray review, I’ll refer you over to those momentarily. For a brief bit, I just wanted to reiterate how fun it is to have a seasonal favorite film that’s so specifically holiday appropriate you can only watch it within that span of time. There are so many Christmas films, a few decent Thanksgiving flicks, and plenty of Halloween and Friday the 13th films, but Groundhog Day is a unique little oddity. It’s a film that lets you celebrate the winter doldrums while you laugh at all of life’s little peccadilloes encountered by a man stuck on repeat of the same day again and again. Bill Murray is in terrific form and this is probably Harold Ramis’ best-directed film of his sadly cut-short career. It’s a shame this also happens to be the movie that drove the two comedy titans apart for decades. 30 years on it remains a true seasonal comedy classic that never gets old.
Read our old reviews again and again and again...
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Like the film itself, Groundhog Day just keeping coming back! For its second 4K Utlra HD Blu-ray outing, Sony delivers a new SteelBook package and a reauthored 4K disc while being content to recycle the aged 15th Anniversary Blu-ray disc… dear god has it been that long? The 4K is now pressed on a BD-100 disc giving it a little more bitrate wriggle room. The SteelBook is a nice-looking piece with the classic image of Bill Murray in the clock, but this time in an appropriately snowy setting. For the life of me I never understood why the theatrical poster art and past home video releases had springtime lush farmland in the background, but whatever, just one of those weird nitpicks. The disc loads to a static image main menu with standard navigation options along the bottom of the screen
In keeping with Sony’s string of SteelBook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases, Groundhog Day is the latest to score the slightly improved Dolby Vision treatment. As I said in my 2018 4K review, the film looks great but given the drab wintery vibe it’s not exactly a title that’s going to blow your hair back but it’s certainly better than past Blu-ray and DVD releases. That 2018 disc is still great, but this new offering is just a bit better enough so to call it the superior disc.
For starters, with a bigger disc to work with the bitrate is a smidge higher allowing for a little extra refinement in small details and grain structure. I most noticed the improvements with closeups where you can really absorb facial features more clearly. Middle and wide shots were less dramatically different. And likewise, the new Dolby Vision pass gives the image a little better balance with primaries, those bright snowy whites, and black levels. Those darker scenes at night - especially the sequence where Phil keeps trying to save the old homeless man had better shadow and depth. A few other sequences here and there see those subtle improvements if you’re really looking for them. With that, if you’re content with the 2018 disc I don’t see much need to grab this disc just for Dolby Vision HDR. It’s like trying to compare a Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apple… both are delicious.
Returning for this disc is the same solid Dolby Atmos mix. It’s a great track and works well for the film, but not altogether necessary. As I said in my 2018 review it’s a welcome improvement over the old Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track with clean dialog and strong atmospherics in the soundscape to get plenty of energy out of the channels. The biggest and best pieces will come with how active any given scene is. The more crowded and loud, obviously the better it’s going to sound with an Atmos setup. The quieter and more conversational, the tighter the soundscape feels without a whole lot of pinpoint object-focused sound effects to keep those channels fully engaged.
The nice thing this time around, Sony has given fans an additional pair of legacy audio tracks to work with. You now also can enjoy a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track or a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix which are both solid listening experiences. So depending on your setup you’ve got some options to choose from.
Aside from the theatrical trailer, all of the main bonus features are still regulated to the 15th Anniversary Blu-ray release. Sadly even the nice Harold Ramis audio commentary doesn’t find the disc space on 4K.
4K UHD Disc
Groundhog Day is a comedy classic. A seasonal favorite, it’s really only appropriate to watch during that special time of year when all of humanity desperately clings to the word of a marmot living in a stump for good news about the weather. It’s Bill at his funniest and Harold Ramis at his best behind the camera. Now 30 years later Groundhog Day wakes up for another hit on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony with a new slightly improved Dolby Vision transfer, Atmos and new legacy audio mixes, and new winter-appropriate SteelBook art. If you’re happy with the 2018 disc you’re all set, but if you need this for the SteelBook collection or don't have it already in 4K, this new 30th Anniversary SteelBook is the best way to go.