Contagion - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
4K UHD Review By: M. Enois Duarte
While still reeling in the aftermath of a recent global pandemic, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion now feels more like a startlingly prophetic vision of the initial response to a highly contagious virus, starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and others. Soderbergh's matter-of-fact approach, from first responders and medical experts to the general population's reaction and the spread of viral misinformation is a realistic and suspenseful depiction of events with terrifying accuracy. The disaster thriller infects Ultra HD with a reference-quality 4K HDR10 presentation but carries over the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and set of bonuses as its Blu-ray counterpart. Nevertheless, the overall UHD package is Highly Recommended.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Like many other moviegoers at the time, I walked into Steven Soderbergh's Contagion expecting more an action-packed disaster thriller — something along the lines of Outbreak, The Happening, The Andromeda Strain or the lesser-known Carriers (2009). Instead, what we got was more of a medical drama in the guise of a thriller, and frankly, the 2011 film is all the better for it. Scott Z. Burns's script takes a more pragmatic, true-to-life look at the initial response to a global pandemic, and as sometimes can be the case, specific life events can also shed a new perspective on a movie years later, which in this case would be the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, Soderbergh's matter-of-fact approach to the spread of a highly contagious virus not only feels more relevant than ever, but it also feels more like the edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller originally expected thirteen years ago. In fact, the events depicted in the film seem to hit harder with terrifying accuracy, like the growing confusion within the general population, as personified by Matt Damon's "everyman," and the urgency to find answers, as embodied by Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne. Arguably, the most prescient character of all is Jude Law's conspiracy theorist spreading viral misinformation while peddling unproven treatments and seeding mistrust in the experts, making Soderbergh's Contagion feel startlingly prophetic.
For a more in-depth take on the film, check out our 2012 Blu-ray review HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Warner Home Video brings Steven Soderbergh's Contagion to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a single-disc package with a flyer for a Digital Copy, unlocking the 4K UHD version with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits inside a black, eco-elite case. At startup, viewers are taken to a generic static screen with usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.
Note: We haven't yet been able to pull disc-sourced images yet. When we can, we aim to update with new images and/or a video sample.
The Soderbergh thriller infects Ultra HD with a first-rate, reference-quality HEVC H.265 encode that originated from a 4K digital intermediate, which is itself linked to the RED One MX camera strain. The native 4K transfer boasts razor-sharp details throughout, exposing every nook and cranny of rooms, buildings, and the various cities. The individual hairs of the cast are distinct, the definition of furniture and clothing is striking, and every wrinkle, pore, and negligible blemish is plain to see. Although heavily stylized and deliberately restrained, the cinematography enjoys a spot-on contrast and brightness balance, showing clean, vivid whites and rich, accurate blacks throughout while maintaining excellent detailing in the brightest areas and within the darkest corners of the 1.85:1 image. Likewise, specular highlights are rather understated and nuanced, but they are nonetheless appreciable as light reflects off metal surfaces with a crisp, radiant sparkle. The HDR10 presentation also supplies better, fuller saturation in the primaries, especially the deeper, more animated reds and the energetic blues, while secondary hues show more variation, and facial complexions appear natural and more true-to-life than its HD SDR counterpart. (HDR10 Video Rating: 96/100)
For this UHD edition, the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is ported over, and it remains an excellent lossless track complementing the visuals. Although primarily a front-heavy dialogue-driven film, the design employs the surround speakers often, filling the room with a variety of ambient noise, like the crowded streets of various cities, the bustling traffic or the expected commotion of a restaurant, airport or casino. When applying the receivers' Dolby Surround or DTS: Neural:X up-mixing functionality, those same atmospheric effects effortlessly spread overhead and all around the listener. Cliff Martinez's score benefits the most by bleeding into the sides and the top heights while a robust, hearty low-end supplies a weighty, thumping presence to the music. As would be expected, dialogue is always on point and very well-prioritized with outstanding intonation in all the performances. This is an intentionally subtle sound design that is terrifically effective at generating suspense and engaging the audience. (Audio Rating: 84/100)
For this UHD edition, the same bonus collection is ported over from the previous Blu-ray release which is frustratingly little. Some more content considering real-life recent events would have been welcome.
- The Reality of Contagion (HD, 11 min)
- The Contagion Detectives (HD, 5 min)
- How a Virus Changes the World (HD, 2 min)
While still reeling in the aftermath of a recent global pandemic, Steven Soderbergh's Contagion has taken on a new life, feeling more like a startlingly prophetic vision of the initial response to a highly contagious virus. Arguably, what was once viewed as a medical drama in the guise of a thriller is now a realistic, suspenseful portrayal depicting events with terrifying accuracy. The disaster thriller infects Ultra HD with a first-rate, reference-quality 4K HDR10 presentation but carries over the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack and the same set of bonuses as its Blu-ray counterpart. Nevertheless, the overall UHD package is Highly Recommended.
All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review.
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