It was the series that everybody was talking about upon first airing, and its sure to dominate discussion when season two hits. It’s sci-fi western Westworld, it’s incredible, and it’s now the first complete non-doco TV series to release on the 4K Ultra HD format.
We’ve recently revisited the first season of Westworld in the super high-res format, so thought we’d quickly report in as to how it fared. Is it worth investing the extra $5 over the standard Blu-ray release?
The first thing that strikes you is the packaging. A high quality, matt versus shiny slip cover houses a standard three-disc black 4K Ultra HD case, along with an impressive colour booklet – the Westworld corporate guidebook. Open up the disc case and there’s another impressive booklet, this time a guide to each of the 10 episodes, plus a list of their special features.
Popping the first disc in the drive to relive that initial episode, the vision looks good, but not necessarily as stunning as expectations may have craved. It turns out that while Westworld was shot on film, it was then post-produced at 2K rather than 4K, so this is an upscaled presentation. That being said, a subtle HDR infusion does make the picture shine wonderfully at times, and it is still an improvement over the Blu-ray. The discs also feature Dolby Vision encoding, however Sony seem reluctant to release a firmware upgrade for our model player, so unfortunately we can’t comment on any improvement that this format of expanded contrast and colour may bring.
While the picture isn’t necessarily as grand as it could have been, the sound makes up for any visual shortcomings. The 4K Ultra HD release of Westworld plays host to a remastered Dolby Atmos mix that was prepared especially for the format, and it is superb. If you have an Atmos setup, when the bullets fly we dare you not to duck – seriously! It goes beyond just effects though, with Ramin Djawadi’s soundtrack benefitting from having extra space to romp about in.
If that isn’t enough, special features fans will be pleased with what’s in the box, with some 15 featurettes and even a gag reel.
In all, is it worth the extra $5? We think so.
Westworld is a trailblazing series in many ways, and now that includes being the scripted TV on 4K originator. We hope that it will be the first of many more such releases.
Meanwhile, Westworld season two is expected to air this coming Australian autumn.
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.