The Revenant Ultra HD Blu-ray review

Leonardo DiCaprio's award-winning outdoors revenge drama cuts a swaggering figure in 4K

However badly your day might be going, it’s probably a veritable party compared with what frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) endures during The Revenant’s two-and-a-half-hour running time.

After eye-wateringly brutal run-ins with local wildlife, Native American tribes and even members of his own fur-trapping party in the 19th century American wilderness, Glass embarks on a fraught journey of survival and revenge that’s filled with more grit, grime and grizzliness than you've maybe seen in a single movie before.

Masterfully directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, shot with aplomb by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (see below left) and acted with intensity by DiCaprio, The Revenant deservedly won three Oscars. It's a remarkable movie, even though your enjoyment of it depends on you overlooking a couple of colossal plot contrivances in its first half.

Picture: This is the first day-and-date UHD Blu-ray release (not a back-catalogue title, in other words), and a film as handsome as The Revenant should be tailor-made to highlight the high dynamic range (HDR) and 4K advantages of the format. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Much of The Revenant was shot on location using natural light sources, and this turns out to be perfect HDR fodder. The H.265-encoded 2.40:1 picture’s expanded luminance range adds another level of beauty to the film’s poetic vistas; there's a tangible lifelike quality to the photography. Dark sequences retain plenty of detail, too, and the HDR 10 iteration adds to the scale of the huge landscapes versus the standard Blu-ray. Fires burn with so much intensity you’d swear you can feel their warmth, while the general sense of depth is further enhanced by the 4K detailing – this UHD platter's image is derived from a native 4K digital intermediate, and it appears to be a pristine source.

The colour palette is, as expected given the setting, a tapestry of blues, greens and browns, plus snowy whites – not the most visually impactful, but there's beauty to be found in its subtlety.

Comparing the UHD BD of The Revenant with the standard BD that Fox's release ships with, the 1080p version suffers a noticeable drop in depth with largescale shots, as well as exhibiting a slightly mushy look to motion and generally appearing less crisp. By far the most striking limitation of the BD, though, is its lack of HDR, which leaves pretty much every shot appearing less spectacular, natural and ‘alive’.

Yet by the standards of other 1080p Blu-rays, The Revenant’s transfer is first-rate, with as wide a contrast range as the format can offer, good detailing and no technical nasties. Once you’ve experienced the UHD version, though, your eyes are spoiled.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The Revenant features the same DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix on both its Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray versions. This soundtrack is outstanding in its subtle detail placement, working tirelessly to create an involving sense of the size and variety of the environments Glass passes through, but not shy of energetic effects-panning when the onscreen action demands it. Also noteworthy is the beautiful richness of the film’s minimalistic score, and the way action sequences explode with a brutal simplicity that reflects the way they are shot, not to mention a hefty dynamic punch.

All told, it's a precise, moody and entirely apt soundmix, but not offering a Dolby Atmos track – the film enjoyed one on its theatrical release – feels like a missed opportunity.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: The only extras (both available on the standard BD, not the Ultra HD BD) are a 45-minute Making of... documentary, and a six-minute stills gallery. The documentary (which you may already have seen on YouTube) combines behind-the-scenes footage and informative interviews to excellent effect – but it’s a pity we don’t get anything else, such as a director’s commentary.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: A poster boy for Ultra HD Blu-ray – and a good film to boot – but no Atmos mix? Boo.

The Revenant, Twentieth Century Fox, Ultra HD Blu-ray, £30