Alita: Battle Angel 4K Ultra HD/3D Blu-ray

Featured In Issue 242, August 2019

3D Picture5
WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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Sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Robert Rodriguez
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"Alita: Battle Angel" is an epic adventure of hope and empowerment. A cyborg, Alita (Salazar), searches for clues from her past when she awakens in a future world she does not recognize. Based on the graphic novel ("Manga") series "Gunnm" by Yukito Kishiro. (Gary Reber)

Special features include four featurettes: "Alita's World" (HD 13:48), "From Manga To Screen" (HD 20:47), "Evolution Of Alita" (HD 19:43), and "Motorball" (HD 06:02); a London Screen Q&A (HD 26:38); "10-Minute Cooking School: Chocolate" (HD 05:28); 2005 Art Compilation (2019) (HD 14:20); a Scene Deconstruction and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 2.39:1/1.90:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/HDR10+/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally in anamorphic Panavision® using the Arri Alexa Mini camera system and the Pace/Cameron Fusion Dual Strip 3D Camera System and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The picture is absolutely fabulous! Resolution is superb throughout the extremely complex and nuanced imagery. Clothing and attire, as well as all manner of object texture, is exquisite in detail. Both humans and the cyborg Alita and other cyborg imagery is fascinating. At times, the imagery appears anime rather than an ostensible live action film. The wider color gamut is spectacular with a remarkable spectrum of hues and intensities. While set in the future, the color palette delivers a very natural presence. No imagery is exaggerated or blown out as appearing digitally produced. The HDR Dolby Vision contrast delivers deep blacks and excellent, revealing shadow delineation, set amidst natural lighting and spot accents to create engaging stylization. Spatial dimensionality is excellent, exhibiting impressive depth of field. The imagery really pops. There has been nothing quite like this imagery before. WOW! segments are numerous but these standout: 25:35 to 30:14, 38:35 to 41:04, 56:30 to 01:00:34, 01:28:33 to 01:33:16, 01:35:00 to 01:36:07 and 01:51:44 to 01:54:00.

Of course, James Cameron does not let the Alita audience down, providing a 3D Blu-ray version that dramatically heightens dimensionality to deliver an impressive viewing experience, especially as the imagery appears in the midrange and close-ups. Spatial delineation is superb, though, not as resolved in the dark sequences. The Motorball sequences provide some out-of-screen moments. This 3D presentation will surely thrill fans of the format, which has been retracted by the studios even though there is still quite a lot of releases theatrically in 3D. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is tremendous with natural dynamics throughout. The orchestral score is rather constant throughout with a wide and deep soundstage and extension to the four surrounds, resulting in a fully engaging score. Atmospherics are galore with complex soundscapes defining the intricate settings. Foley sound effects are perfectly realistic and in sync with the motion. Sound effects are dynamic and often powerfully energized. The human and cyborg fight scenes are intense and effectively supported by sound effects, both in terms of aggressiveness and nuanced. The sonic balance is impressive. Surround envelopment is fully dimensional and at times panned and directionalized. Deep bass is strong and extends to sub-25 Hz frequencies, with active .1 LFE energy. Dialogue is intelligible throughout with generally good spatial integration. The attention to sonic detail throughout is impressive.

The Immersive Sound element, while absent the orchestral score, is quite active with soundscapes defined with height layer trash dumping from Zalem, ambient soundscapes, operating machinery, voices, street sounds, Motorball on screen, a gigantic walking fighting robot, a woman's scream, street Motorball with youth sounds of thumps and ball deposits, wind, knives' scraping sounds, a fight yell, echoey sounds during battle, Motorball stadium crowd noises, fireworks sounds in the Motorball event, a flying table swoop sound, screaming men in a bar fight segment, rain and thunder, an Alita echoey voice, the "Welcome to the Underworld" cyborg voice, rocks falling, an announcement in the Motorball stadium, a buzz game start, all manner of scrapping and metalic crash noises by the cyborgs racing to kill Alita, a buzz blade sound, a crashing sound through a video wall, a women's chorus, a chain-throwing sound, machine gun fire, a glass ceiling breaking, echoey voices in high winds, and other sound effects that create height dimension. Such height layer effects waft through the three-dimensional spherical soundfield delivering solid immersion.

Unfortunately, the 3D Blu-ray has a non-Immersive DTS-HD Master Audio™ 7.1-channel soundtrack instead of Dolby Atmos. This is not due to a format restriction but instead a decision by Fox not to. Still, the track is quite impressive, sans the height layer. When this track is processed through Auro-Matic or DTS:Neural X up-mixinig algorithms, the entire soundfield and height layer really excites with the proper sense of spatial dimensionality presented in ambient environmental soundscapes bolstered by sound effects. The sound design is well executed on this version with the surround activity nearly constant, and often incredibly visceral and dimensional.

Both the 4K Ultra HD and the 3D Blu-ray soundtracks deliver an extremely satisfying and superb reference-quality holosonic® spherical surround experience that will showcase the prowess of a great home theatre. (Gary Reber)