"Nightmare Alley" is a suspenseful psychological thriller. When charismatic but down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) endears himself to clairvoyant Zeena (Toni Collette) and her has-been mentalist husband Pete (David Strathairn) at a traveling carnival, he crafts a golden ticket to success, using this newly acquired knowledge to grift the wealthy elite of 1940s New York society. With the virtuous Molly (Rooney Mara) loyally by his side, Stanton plots to con a dangerous tycoon (Richard Jenkins) with the aid of a mysterious d(Cate Blanchett) who might be his most formidable opponent yet. (Gary Reber)
Special features include the featurettes "Del Toro’s Neo Noir" (HD 11:19), "Beneath The Tarp" (HD 08:26) and "What Exists In The Fringe " (HD 05:23) and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
The 1.85:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa LF and Arri Alexa Mini LF camera systems and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate. Picture quality is superb. The dramatic imagery perfectly displays a past period set within a carnival setting in the late 1930s and urban settings in the early 1940s. Dan Laustsen's cinematography is wonderful. Color fidelity is warmly and richly saturated with finely nuanced hue shadings that enrich the realism of the production design. At times color pop. Flesh tones are perfectly accurate. HDR contrast is excellent with natural white levels, deep black levels and revealing shadow delineation. Lighting effects are dramatic and realistic in appearance. Resolution is revealing of the finest detail in facial features including lines, pores, hair and facial hairs, Clothing is pure period with textural detail. The carnival and urban settings with their respective object textures are effectively realistic. This is a hauntingly beautiful picture and is fully engaging with its period production design. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is dialogue focused within the setting of a carnival. Atmospherics sound realistic within the setting context. Sound effects are supportive throughout, which gives enhancement to the scenes with more energy and action. The orchestral score is emotionally brooding and supportive. The music extends wide and deep with an enveloping surround extension. Deep bass extension is carried by the sound effects, such as thunder, a moving train and a din effect in Dr. Ritter's psychiatrist's office, and the music. Dialogue is intelligible throughout with generally good spatial integration.
The Immersive Sound element is comprised of extensions of the orchestral score, atmospherics and sound such as the carnival sonics, lightening and thunder claps, horror house, rain, wind, gunfire, some dialogue, crowd chatter and background din. There is always some height layer energy constant throughout for a very well-crafted dimensional element.
This is a hauntingly beautiful holosonic® spherical surround soundtrack that is captivating with its attention to nuance sonics. (Gary Reber)