News of the World - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
News Of The World is a fantastic film that covers the full spectrum of human emotions and includes an excellent performance from Tom Hanks and some beautiful visuals from Paul Greengrass in a story that follows an old man and a young woman who is forced to bond in the dangers of the wild west. After repeat viewings, this film continues to impress and grow. With top-notch video and audio elements and some decent extras, this 4K release comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Five years after the end of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks), a widower and veteran of three wars, now moves from town to town as a non-fiction storyteller, sharing the news of presidents and queens, glorious feuds, devastating catastrophes, and gripping adventures from the far reaches of the globe.
In the plains of Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna (Helena Zengel, System Crasher), a 10-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier and raised as one of their own. Johanna, hostile to a world she's never experienced, is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will.
Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles into the unforgiving wilderness, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
From a ship captain held hostage by pirates on the open ocean in Captain Phillips to a newsreader in the 1870s who helps a young orphan girl find a new family in the wild west with News Of The World, Tom Hanks and filmmaker Paul Greengrass have teamed up again for an equally fun and emotional outing that highlights even more nuances in Hanks' acting armoire while introducing the new German actress Helena Zengel to the spotlight. News Of The World is an entertaining western film both with violent grit, heart, and some funny moments that never feels overly-played or cheesy, making it one of the better films of Greengrass and Hank's later career.
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Paulette Jiles and adapted to the screen by Greengrass himself, the News Of The World focuses on an older man and Civil War veteran named Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who travels from town to town, reading different newspapers to the townsfolk for a few coins, which is similar to the Coen Bros.' "Meal Ticket" segment in The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs that had Liam Neeson carting around a man with no arms and legs do the same thing in the old west until a chicken showed up. On his journey, he comes across a dilapidated covered wagon and a few dead bodies where a young girl named Johanna has managed to survive a vicious attack.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
News Of The World prints its way to Universal Home Video with exquisite technical specs. This set includes the 4K Disc, the Blu-ray Disc, and the Digital Code. Both discs are housed in a hard, black, plastic case with a cardboard sleeve featuring the artwork of the two main leads, including Hanks looking off into the frontier. There is an insert for a digital code as well.
News Of The World comes with a magnificent 2160p UHD image with HDR10 (HDR10+ is available but not reviewed here) that was sourced from its native 4K digital intermediate and the results are nothing less than stellar with superb detail and an amazing desert-like color palette.
This western film is ripe with amazing natural colors that are rustic and sun-drenched with amazing-looking ambers, oranges, yellows, and shades of green in the shrubs and trees. Rocks and wood lodgings bring out their natural brightness and colors with the HDR that enhances even the simplest of tones. During the intense gunfight, the rocks and orange-like ground contrast perfectly with the perfect green bushes in the background that also goes nicely with the bright blue sky above. The off-white newspapers that Hanks reads brighten up the screen as well and no color is lost during the many nighttime and lower lit sequences that always allow that angelic-like amber glow of the lanterns. Black levels are impeccably deep and inky with zero evidence of murky crush and the skin tones are always natural.
The detail is extremely sharp and vivid here, giving way to pitch-perfect close-ups that showcase each individual hair follicle, a speck of dirt, aging lines, makeup effects, and wrinkles on the actor's faces. When Hanks smiles, every facial line and hair can be easily seen moving up and down, which is absolutely remarkable, even in the darker scenes. Additionally, the period clothing of western-wear is exquisite where each stitch and texture looks amazing in all kinds of lighting. Background objects such as the desert-like landscape reveal its animalistic detail in each sequence and even props like guns and the newspaper shine with their glimmer and texture. The 1080p Blu-ray version looks amazing, but this 4K upgrade is crisper, bolder, and is quite demo-worthy on a more subtle scale with zero video issues.
This release comes with a fantastic Dolby Atmos track that lights up the soundstage every chance it gets. The sound is full, lively, and wildly atmospheric in this old-time western setting.
Sound effects are rich and boisterous on all levels here, creating a fantastic immersion in each setting. When outside in the middle of the wild west, the smallest nuanced sounds of shrubs rustling in light wind, insects singing and flying around, outdoor fire crackling, and footsteps on the many textures underneath all sound flawless. Even when these sound elements happen, there is a clear and smooth transition from one speaker to the next that places the viewer in the center of the action. Bigger sound effects, such as thunderclaps and the shootout are both loud and provide a remarkable low end of bass that has a wonderful rumble to it without getting rocky and overly chaotic.
The height speakers give way to birds flying overhead, a gun blast or two, and the intense rains that or down for a lot of the film. In these rainy sequences, the squeaks of the carriages and footsteps in the water are well-balanced and robust, providing different audio elements in sub-optimal weather conditions. The music score by James Newton Howard is one of the best scores in years and always adds that necessary dramatic element to key scenes, which flows smoothly through the speakers. Dialogue is always clean and clear and free of any audio problems.
There are about 42 minutes of bonus material here, including interviews, behind the scenes, deletes scenes, and a commentary by the writer-director.
- Audio Commentary - Filmmaker Paul Greengrass discusses making the film, while exploring and talking about the tone, themes, working with the veteran and new actors, shooting on location, and more. Greengrass is a bit dry and non-energetic, but he does give some excellent information on the production.
- Paul Greengrass Makes News Of The World (UHD, 11 Mins.) - This little feature covers Greengrass's direction of the film, how he shot it, along with the historical elements of the story.
- Western Action (UHD, 8 Mins.) - Here, Hanks' performance is discussed, along with the bigger stunts of the film, including riding horseback, gunplay, and the big sandstorm are looked at.
- Partners: Tom Hanks And Helena Zengel (UHD, 7 Mins.) - This extra explores the bond between the two main characters and what it was like for these two actors to work together on screen.
- The Kiowa (UHD, 4 Mins.) - This all-too-brief bonus feature covers the real Native American tribe that appears in the film.
- Deleted Scenes (UHD, 12 Mins.) - A few fully produced and edited deleted scenes make their way here, none of which add a big impact to the theatrical cut, but are none-the-less worth the view.
News Of The World is a wonderful little film and a fantastic addition to the western genre and might be perhaps Tom Hanks' best role in years. It's light-hearted, while at the same time extremely thrilling and poignant about people evolving and journalism. The 4K video presentation and the Dolby Atmos audio track are demo-worthy without being a big-budget action vehicle, and the bonus features, while short, are informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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