• Is Cameron the King of 4K? Our First Reactions of Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies 4K UHD Streaming

    Posted Wed Dec 13, 2023 at 12:34 PM PST by
    James Cameron 4K UHD - Abyss True Lies Aliens 4K Streaming

    James Cameron's Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies are now streaming on 4K on Vudu, iTunes, & Prime

    Well, yesterday was a pretty big day - if you’re up for purchasing your movies on 4K UHD streaming that is. James Cameron’s long-in-waiting 4K UHD releases of Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies arrived on streaming services giving us an early look at what to expect when these films hit discs in March. How good do they look with Dolby Vision HDR? Is there film grain? What’s the Atmos like? Well, let's get into it. To be sure, we’ll be doing full film and disc reviews when they come, so these comments will serve more as initial impressions of what I saw looking at the various streaming editions.

    Starting by release order:

    Now - one frustration to note is that Vudu and iTunes Movies only offer the longer 1990 Special Edition of Aliens in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 as a “bonus feature.” Right now, it’s not its own standalone and not in 4K Dolby Vision with Atmos audio. That honor rests strictly with the leaner and somewhat meaner Theatrical Cut.

    First Reaction to the Aliens Streaming 4K Dolby Vision HDR Transfer:

    Overall, pretty damn good, but not perfect. Apparently, Aliens, along with the other films, have undergone a similar restoration process where using the best recent transfer elements as a base, the films have also undergone some kind of algorithmic enhancement to draw out more fine details and textures while mitigating noisy film grain without completely scrubbing it away either. This isn’t like the waxy mess that we saw with the 4K UHD Blu-rays of Terminator 2: Judgement Day that wrongly used the 3D master. It’s certainly a different and new way of seeing the film, I’ll admit seeing some facial features and textures that clear was pretty jarring but it still looked pretty great. The HDR grade isn't overly aggressive but really lends itself to the dark shadowy locations while keeping skin tones healthy and human-looking.

    That said, those expecting to see a more “filmic” look of something like the 70mm archival print I saw on Alien Day a few years back won’t be seeing that here. This has a more modernized sheen to it but not an altogether unappealing one. Color timing is similar to the past Blu-rays but also seems to have toned down the overly aggressive teal appearance of the Blu-ray. After a few moments, these differences started to look less jarring and more natural and in general, looked pretty damn terrific by the time we see the big bitch Queen take on Ripley in her loader. Not perfect, I don’t necessarily see the need for the “enhancement” process in general but judging it as it is, I’m giving this one a 4/5 - maybe a 4.25/5 if I’m being a little extra generous. 

    Now a caveat I have is that I felt like I was getting pretty different results between Vudu and iTunes Movies in terms of stability. Vudu felt like the quality and clarity fluctuated a lot like the stream kept having to adjust between 1080p to 2160p clarity almost shot-to-shot. That was my initial viewing experience and it was damned frustrating. However, moving over to iTunes Movies (which my account was very slow to port), I didn’t have that problem there. Everything was consistent and even and looked great (this was true also for The Abyss and True Lies). 

    First Reaction to Aliens Dolby Atmos Audio Mix: 

    Holy hell I can’t wait to hear this without the streaming compression on disc! If it sounds this good on streaming I can only imagine we have a full-fledged demo-worthy Atmos track coming to 4K disc in March. Those low rumbly tones of James Horner’s score are great early indicators of what’s to come. From the salvage ship capturing the shuttle to the incredible sonic envelopment of the drop ship to Vasquez launching those grenades during the final assault - this track uses every channel virtually at all times. Dialog is crystal clear without issue. A great mix that I can’t wait to hear truly unleashed on disc. 4.5/5

    Next up:

    Another note to pass along - Vudu seems to be the only online retailer right at the moment that has the Special Edition cut of The Abyss, but like Aliens, it’s in the bonus features and only in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. As of this writing, iTunes Movies doesn’t have the Special Edition in their offerings in any resolution. If/when that changes we'll try and circle back here with an update. 

    First Reaction to The Abyss Streaming 4K Dolby Vision HDR Transfer:

    Of the three remaining James Cameron films coming to 4K this year (that we know of), this is the one that I’m most impressed with. For those familiar with the HD Stream that circulated various services like Amazon Prime in recent years, you’ll see this Dolby Vision HDR transfer is closer to that presentation. So to put it lightly, it’s very blue. If you don’t like the color blue, you might have a tough time for some scenes. However, the blue isn’t so obnoxiously teal that it can’t function. It’s just going to look very different than what people saw on that old DVD and Laserdisc transfer. Yellows and reds maintain a natural primary appearance and skin tones are healthy and even. 

    For detail and clarity, my understanding is The Abyss went through the same sort of algorithmic processing to heighten details while mitigating noisy film grain without completely scrubbing it away. To that effect, the "enhanced" appearance, to me, looked less obvious than it was in Aliens and looked more natural here. With Dolby Vision, black levels with all of the underwater photography actually held up pretty well. There were still some struggles with shadows, but at this point, I kind of expect that with streaming. I’d anticipate that to look much better once it hits disc. As of right now, I’m comfortable getting closer to giving this one a 4.25/5 to 4.5/5

    Dropping by the HD version of the Special Edition on Vudu (again that isn’t on iTunes Movies at least yet) I was pleased to see the same sort of care and attention carried over there as well, albeit only in HD. That said, it is a pretty obvious step down in clarity to the point I thought the whole HD stream looked rather waxy and unappealing compared to the 4K one, but then Vudu has been pretty damn spotty for me lately so it could be the service rather than transfer itself.

    First Reaction to The Abyss Dolby Atmos Audio Mix: 

    Like Aliens, I can’t wait to hear this Atmos mix fully unleashed on disc. (That’s going to be a running theme if you haven’t guessed already). Between my old DVD and two Laserdisc copies, The Abyss has been a rather sonically restrained audio experience compared to newer formats - until now. It’s a weird highlight to note but it’s also a sign of how careful they were with the mix, but listen for the bubbles from the divers' regulators. It’s a subtle effect but it slips from the center channels into the heights. Likewise, that big hurricane is a wall-to-wall, channel-to-channel immersive moment. The submarine crash, the submersible dog fight are terrific moments and that excellent score by Alan Silvestri fills the soundscape nicely. 4.5/5

    Last for our quick looks:

    First Reaction to the True Lies Streaming 4K Dolby Vision HDR Transfer:

    Now for a nice change of pace, there isn’t any alternate Special Edition to worry about between services, so what you get on Vudu and iTunes Movies is the same Theatrical Cut we’ve all loved and enjoyed for 30 years. However, of the three Cameron films coming to 4K in March, this one had the most over-processed appearance to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where this film looks jaw-droppingly excellent, but because the film is so bright and colorful when something looks kinda “off” it’s more obvious than it was for Aliens or The Abyss. However, clarity for some scenes is better than I’ve ever experienced letting fine lines, facial, features, and clothing textures come through nicely. I never really noticed the scarring makeup around Charlton Heston’s eyepatch before, but now we see a little more of the damage to his face.

    With HDR, colors look pretty great and normal with the only real “James Cameron Blue” coming in during the big chase scene when Schwarzenegger is on horseback. Speaking of that scene, it is now all the more obvious when Schwarzenegger’s stunt double was employed! But going back to that enhanced appearance a bit, this started to feel normal and less obvious or distracting as the film went on. By the time Harry Tasker hops in that jet and flies off to rescue his daughter, I was less nitpicky. Not the greatest of the three, but not a T2 scenario by far. My hope is the disc evens out a lot of the bitrate issues we see with streaming services. But right now this registers with me as something like a 3.5/5 to 3.75/5

    Speaking to the streaming services, Vudu again had the toughest time with this one. The image quality shift felt near-constant to me so it initially made focusing on that enhanced appearance much easier and distracting. Again, flipping over to iTunes Movies, that didn’t feel like as harsh an issue and actually let me enjoy the damn film. 

    First Reaction to the True Lies Dolby Atmos Audio Mix: 

    With all of the gunfire, explosions, jet engines, missiles, horse gallops, and Brad Fidel’s excellent exciting score, True Lies scores the best Atmos track, I feel, of the whole pack. You get the opening party sequence followed by the first chase scene then you get the Horse vs Motor Cycle chase, capped off with the big firefight and jet rescue sequences. The whole film is wall-to-wall sonic immersion and even distilled for streaming services sounded excellent. This is definitely one I can’t wait for the full disc experience so I can crank my volume and really let the subs rattle my walls. Dialog is clean throughout without issue. 5/5

    We knew going in that James Cameron's Aliens, The Abyss, and True Lies were going to illicit some passionate responses within the collector community. Understandably, everyone has an ideal viewing experience for these films. Whether or not that ideal squares with how Cameron thinks these flicks should look on home video is going to be a bit of a controversy. Already there have been some passionate responses on both sides of the coin floating around the interwebs. Depending on your setup calibration or even how and with what service you’re streaming the films, experiences are going to vary. For myself, I’m pleased, not blown away, but left hopeful the extra bitrate room of a 100 gig disc will help even out the overall visual experience. Without a doubt though, those Atmos tracks are dynamite! Even if True Lies ends up not looking any better, I’ll be happy just to have that uncompressed Atmos blasting the walls of my house.

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  • RIP HBO Max Long Live MAX and Stream 8X More 4K HDR Content!

    Posted Wed May 24, 2023 at 08:04 AM PDT by

    Warner Brothers/Discovery has just launched Max (formerly HBO Max), an upgraded streaming service with loads of more 4K content including over 1000 films and episodes in 4K HDR (with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos available for certain devices) on May 23rd.

    The service provides something for everyone - from HBO, Max Originals, WB movies (such as all eight Harry Potter films, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy), DC Universe, documentaries, family-friendly content and more.

    Max has introduced a new Ultimate Ad-Free tier for $19.99 per month ($199.99 a year) allowing four concurrent streams, 100 offline downloads, and as previously mentioned, close to 8x more films and episodes in 4K HDR, as well as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for certain content.

    The 4K library is quite extensive, including yet-to-be-released films on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray such as classics like East of Eden and Rio Bravo, plus Avatar: The Way of the Water will also be available for streaming on June 7. All Warner Brothers films releasing this year will be available in 4K HDR after their theatrical release windows.

    Here is the 4K listing of what is available (subject to change): 

    • 2001: A Space Odyssey
    • 2nd Annual Ha Festival: The Art of Comedy
    • 8-Bit Christmas
    • A Christmas Mystery
    • A Christmas Story Christmas
    • A Clockwork Orange
    • A Hollywood Christmas
    • Ahir Shah: Dots
    • Aida Rodriguez: Fighting Words
    • Amy
    • And Just Like That... The Documentary
    • And Just Like That...
    • Antlers
    • Aquaman
    • Argo
    • Avenue 5 
    • Bad Education
    • Barbarian
    • Barry (S2, S3) *S1 & S4 will be available on June 23.
    • Batman (1989)
    • Batman & Robin
    • Batman and Harley Quinn
    • Batman Begins
    • Batman Forever
    • Batman Returns
    • Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition
    • Betty
    • Big Little Lies 
    • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
    • Black Adam
    • Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart 
    • C.B. Strike
    • Casablanca
    • Catherine the Great 
    • Chernobyl
    • Chris Redd: Why Am I Like This?
    • Coastal Elites
    • Colin Quinn & Friends: A Parking Lot Comedy Show
    • Cry Macho
    • DC League of Super-Pets
    • Death on the Nile
    • DMZ
    • Don't Worry Darling
    • Dune
    • East of Eden
    • Edge of Tomorrow
    • Elvis
    • Empire of Light
    • Euphoria
    • Euphoria: Trouble Don't Last Always
    • Expecting Amy
    • Fahrenheit 451
    • Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald
    • Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore
    • Father of the Bride
    • Free Guy
    • Friends: The Reunion
    • From the Earth to the Moon
    • Game of Thrones
    • Gaming Wall St 
    • Garcia!
    • Giant
    • Godzilla
    • Godzilla vs. Kong
    • Goodfellas
    • Gossip Girl
    • Ha Festival: The Art of Comedy
    • Hacks
    • Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts
    • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
    • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1
    • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2
    • Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire
    • Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
    • Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix
    • Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban
    • Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone
    • Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults 
    • His Dark Materials 
    • Holiday Harmony
    • House of the Dragon
    • House Party
    • I Hate Suzie 
    • In the Heights
    • Industry
    • Irma Vep
    • It Chapter Two
    • It's a Sin 
    • Joker
    • Judas and the Black Messiah
    • Julia
    • Justice League
    • Kimi
    • King Richard
    • Kong: Skull Island
    • Landscapers
    • Lizzo: Live in Concert
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Version)
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Version)
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Version)
    • Love, Lizzo
    • Lovecraft Country
    • Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty
    • Magic Mike
    • Malcolm X
    • Malignant
    • Man of Steel
    • Mare of Easttown
    • Marlon Wayans Presents: The Headliners
    • Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is
    • The Matrix Reloaded
    • The Matrix Resurrections
    • The Matrix Revolutions
    • Menudo: Forever Young
    • Mortal Kombat
    • Mosaic 
    • Moses Storm: Trash White
    • My Brilliant Friend
    • My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood
    • Native Son
    • No Sudden Move
    • Ocean's Eleven
    • Oslo
    • Our Flag Means Death
    • Peacemaker
    • Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman's Butler 
    • Perry Mason
    • Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin 
    • Rain Dogs
    • Rap Sh!t 
    • Reminiscence
    • Rio Bravo
    • Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
    • Rose Matafeo: Horndog
    • Santa Camp
    • Scenes from a Marriage
    • Scoob!
    • See How They Run
    • Selena + Chef
    • Sex and the City
    • Sharp Objects 
    • Shazam: Fury of the Gods
    • Shazam!
    • Singin' in the Rain
    • Sort Of 
    • Soul of America
    • Space Jam: A New Legacy
    • Starstruck
    • Station Eleven
    • Succession (S1-S3) *S4 will be available on June 30. 
    • Suicide Squad
    • Superman: The Movie
    • Sweet Life: Los Angeles 
    • Take Out with Lisa Ling
    • That Damn Michael Che
    • The Baby
    • The Banshees of Inisherin
    • The Batman
    • The Big Brunch
    • The Big Shot with Bethenny
    • The Bob's Burgers Movie
    • The Bridge
    • The Captive
    • The Climb
    • The Conjuring
    • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
    • The Dark Knight
    • The Dark Knight Rises
    • The Deuce
    • The Fallout
    • The Fastest Woman on Earth
    • The Flight Attendant
    • The Gilded Age
    • The Girl Before
    • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    • The King's Man
    • The Last of Us
    • The LEGO Movie
    • The Little Things
    • The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
    • The Many Saints of Newark
    • The Matrix
    • The Menu
    • The New Pope
    • The Night House
    • The Nun
    • The Plot Against America
    • The Righteous Gemstones
    • The Sex Lives of College Girls
    • The Soul of America
    • The Staircase
    • The Suicide Squad
    • The Survivor
    • The Third Day
    • The Tourist
    • The Undoing
    • The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin
    • The Weeknd: Live at Sofi Stadium
    • The White Lotus
    • The Wizard of Oz
    • Those Who Wish Me Dead
    • Titans
    • Tom & Jerry
    • Wahl Street
    • Watchmen
    • We Are Who We Are
    • We Own This City
    • West Side Story (2021)
    • White House Plumbers
    • Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty
    • Wonder Woman (2017)
    • Wonder Woman 1984
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice Is Gray

    We understand the value of offering our users a cinematic playback experience and to that end, we’ve implemented more advanced technology workflows that allow us to release more 4K content in a faster, more efficient way,” said Sudheer Sirivara, Global Technology Platform, Warner Bros. Discovery. “Max will offer more than 1,000 films and episodes in 4K at launch, and we’ll be adding more every month as we move forward.”

    If you have previously subscribed to HBO Max, no worries. The Max app will either update itself or prompt subscribers to do so and previous plans, profiles, avatars, settings, "Continue Watching", and "My List" will be ported over unchanged. Subscribers to HBO Max will also be able to keep their current plans for six months.

    However, it does appear that Max is currently not available in some regions, as I am in Canada and the link at the top of this article notified me that that is indeed the case. Hopefully that gets worked out soon.

    Source: Warner Bros. Discovery Press Release.

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  • Coming Soon to Streaming: THE WITCHER, THE AERONAUTS, and More

    Posted Thu Oct 31, 2019 at 05:15 PM PDT by
    The Witcher Netflix

    Geralt of Rivia is riding toward Netflix in December.

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  • Everything Coming to Netflix in November 2019

    Posted Wed Oct 30, 2019 at 02:55 PM PDT by
    the irishman trailer

    Check out all the streaming titles coming to Netflix throughout November.

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  • HBO Max Set to Launch in May 2020 for $14.99 per Month

    Posted Wed Oct 30, 2019 at 07:55 AM PDT by
    HBO Max

    Pricing and availability have been announced for the company's new digital video platform.

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  • New Trailer for THE MANDALORIAN Promises an Action-Packed STAR WARS Western in Space

    Posted Mon Oct 28, 2019 at 06:40 PM PDT by

    "Mandalorian, look outside. They're waiting for you."

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  • Coming Soon to Streaming: THE CROWN, THE KING, and More

    Posted Sun Oct 27, 2019 at 08:30 PM PDT by
    The Crown Season 3

    The third season of Netflix's royal drama will start streaming in November.

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  • AMC Theatres Launches On Demand Digital Video Service

    Posted Fri Oct 25, 2019 at 08:30 AM PDT by
    AMC On Demand

    The movie theater chain is getting into the streaming business.

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  • Apple TV App Arrives on Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K

    Posted Thu Oct 24, 2019 at 09:45 AM PDT by
    Apple TV on Fire TV

    Apple's streaming app is now available on the Fire TV Stick.

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  • Sony Announces Availability for New 360 Reality Audio Music

    Posted Mon Oct 21, 2019 at 12:45 PM PDT by
    Sony 360 Reality Audio

    Object-based music tracks will be available via a variety of services.

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  • Coming Soon to Streaming: LADY AND THE TRAMP, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and More

    Posted Fri Oct 18, 2019 at 09:30 PM PDT by
    lady and the tramp

    Disney's latest live action remake headlines this week's roundup of streaming trailers.

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  • HBO Max Snags Streaming Rights to Studio Ghibli Films

    Posted Thu Oct 17, 2019 at 12:00 PM PDT by
    Princess Mononoke

    Spirited Away, Howls Moving CastlePrincess Mononoke, and more are all heading to Warner's upcoming streaming service.

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  • Hulu Expands 4K Streaming Support to More Devices

    Posted Wed Oct 16, 2019 at 01:30 PM PDT by
    hulu logo

    Ultra HD playback is now available on more devices.

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  • Coming Soon to Streaming: LOST IN SPACE, MARVEL'S RUNAWAYS, and More

    Posted Sat Oct 12, 2019 at 08:45 PM PDT by
    Lost in Space Season 2

    The Robinson family will face new dangers on Netflix in December.

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  • Roku Reveals Walmart Exclusive Sound Bar and Subwoofer

    Posted Mon Oct 7, 2019 at 04:00 PM PDT by
    Roku Onn Sound Bar

    Two new Roku products have been unvealed.

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  • CBS All Access Beams Up New Trailers for STAR TREK: PICARD & DISCOVERY

    Posted Mon Oct 7, 2019 at 10:55 AM PDT by
    Star Trek Picard

    Two new trailers debuted during the 2019 New York Comic Con.

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  • Coming Soon to Streaming: STRANGER THINGS 4, 6 UNDERGROUND, and More

    Posted Fri Oct 4, 2019 at 07:55 PM PDT by
    stranger things 4

    The latest season of Stranger Things and Michael Bay's new Netflix action flick headline this week's roundup of streaming trailers and announcements.

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  • New TiVo Edge Includes 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos Playback Support

    Posted Wed Oct 2, 2019 at 01:25 PM PDT by
    TiVo Edge

    The company's latest media device has been revealed.

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  • FandangoNow Adds IMAX Enhanced Streaming Support

    Posted Wed Oct 2, 2019 at 10:55 AM PDT by
    fandangoNow Imax Enhanced

    The service is now offering IMAX Enhanced playback support.

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  • Everything Coming to the Apple TV App in October 2019

    Posted Mon Sep 30, 2019 at 05:30 PM PDT by
    hobbs and shaw trailer

    Check out all the new digital titles coming to the Apple TV app in October.

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