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Old 12-03-2019, 11:18 PM   #957
Geoff D Geoff D is offline
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Default Who Watches the Watchmen? Geoffy does...

Watchmen (2009) Ultimate Cut Paramount UK UHD Dolby Vision review. I'll be referring back to my review of the Warners UHD (which I've updated with comparisons of the Paramount disc: https://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread...w#post13969348) throughout this piece so bear that in mind.

One of the bigger problems with the previous Warners UHD is the raised black levels. I kinda dismissed it in my former review, aside from the title sequence where it's very obvious, but it can be a distraction in other moments too as there's some pretty nasty near-black posterisation, like that shot of Dreiberg when he opens the busted door to his brownstone. While this Paramount remaster (same underlying 'transfer' but new HDR grading) doesn't correct the worst of these moments it DOES however have deeper blacks than the Warners UHD. Not as deep as the previous 1080p versions but it's definitely got a higher gamma which makes it look a bit thicker in the shadows and less of a distraction from shot to shot. The title sequence still looks screwed, very solarised and weird in the slooooow fades up and down from black, but it's slightly better than the Warners.

Colour is markedly different on the Par UHD, for while the Warners UHD went for a more neutral colour balance this Par edition has got a very strong teal tint, stronger than on any prior version I recall seeing (though I can't remember what the IMAX 15/70 print looked like, apart from being mesmerised by Malin Ackerman's gyrating bum on a 65ft screen). But the heck of it is, it's not like traditional SDR teal that wipes out the saturation of other colours, reds in particular are now incredibly vibrant and punchy. This extends to the skin tones as there's a downbeat yellowy look on the Warners UHD but the Par is more rosy-cheeked, not that everyone now looks like lobsters but they seem a bit healthier. Mars also looks redder and rustier than prior versions.

Dr Manhattan though, WOAH. They've greatly ramped up the saturation on him and he looks way more cyan than blue, although the actual light coming off him that hits other actors still looks very blue. This can cause issues in some scenes, like when he's making love to Laurie: on the Warners UHD the scene is bathed in a purple light while the Par UHD is now heavily blue, only the purple still bleeds through and causes some really gnarly posterisation like an old VT effect from the '70s or something. It's a very stylised scene anyway so it didn't take me out of the movie or anything, but worth noting.

HDR-wise the new UHD adds a little extra zing here and there but not a massive amount of highlight expansion vs the Warners UHD or previous SDR versions. In some shots the Par UHD definitely has some kick, like the bright blue thrusters on Dreiberg's owl ship, and has a smidge more in the clouds at the Comedian's funeral, but with Dr M's crackling electricity the Par seems slightly less bright. Still not an HDR showcase then but when combined with the amped-up colour it looks a hell of a lot more 'comic booky' than the Warners UHD. Even the yellow studio logos at the very start of the film have more of a deeper mustard-yellow on the Par UHD while the Warners is more of a weaker yellow.

I noted in the prior review that the Warners disc made the Black Freighter stuff look SO much better than on the Warners UC BD (there's some sort of problem with colour crosstalk on the 1080p disc) and the same is true on the Par UHD, it's visibly cleaner and thanks to the increased saturation the colour looks incredible, such deep reds and oranges, even more so than the Warners UHD which I was already impressed with. The Dolby Vision on the Paramount helps to smooth out some of the banding in this stuff too, not every shot is perfect because digital 2D animation rarely is (not even Dobly can help with that if it's intrinsic to the source) but many gradations are noticeably smoother here than on the Warners UHD rendition of this material.

For sheer detail then this Paramount edition looks a little crisper than the Warners, I made note of how that edition seemed to filter off just a fraction of resolution vs the 1080p BD but the new Par UHD brings it back. Don't get me wrongo: this is still an upcaled 2K master as the grain is abundant but quite 'soft', yet there are now a few moments of striking clarity, particularly some of the close-ups of Dr M with all that extra colour to go with the detail. The encoding itself is fine, no visible issues at all and the movie is on a 100GB disc (as it should be). Although the Paramount disc contains a few more extra language tracks than the Warners it's not a serious amount of bitrate that's being lost. Competent encode is competent.

Time for the $64,000 question: which one do I prefer? I liked the Warners UHD quite a bit but the Paramount will be the one I watch from now on.

I did take a few photos, I'm not doing a big comparison but it's more to show the teal. As per usual: THESE IMAGES ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY THE ENTIRETY OF EITHER SDR OR HDR WITH 100% ACCURACY BUT ONLY SPECIFIC ASPECTS. THEY CAN ALSO BE MUCH DARKER THAN THE CONTENT ACTUALLY APPEARS OWING TO THE EXPOSURE NECESSARY TO CAPTURE THE DYNAMIC RANGE.


Teal newspaper:

Warners UC UHD
[Show spoiler]


Paramount UC UHD
[Show spoiler]



Dr Tealhattan:

Warners UC UHD
[Show spoiler]


Paramount UC UHD
[Show spoiler]



Hello tealness my old friend:

Warners UC UHD
[Show spoiler]


Paramount UC UHD
[Show spoiler]



Last comparison here is of a moment in the title sequence, when we see the bloody bodies of The Silhouette and her nursey lover. With the extended camera flash it represents a nice bright scene so it was worth checking for some HDR highlights; alas there were none, although the new Paramount 1080p disc of the Ultimate Cut is visibly more blown out. Huh. The text for Patrick Wilson's credit is more saturated on the UHDs although it's not as egg-yolk orange as the camera makes it seem. You can see the extra green/teal in the Par UHD.

Warners UC BD
[Show spoiler]


Warners UC UHD
[Show spoiler]


Paramount UC BD
[Show spoiler]


Paramount UC UHD
[Show spoiler]
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