The first episode in what has become a pop culture supernova, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, has landed on 4K Ultra HD. So, how does it fly on the format? Is it the 4K disc you’re looking for?
The story: Back in 1977, a classic tale of good versus e-vil (you have to say it like that), Star Wars (as it was originally known before its creator, George Lucas, started meddling) heralded the rise of the big summer blockbuster movie. A rollicking space opera that wore its influences on its sleeve, it introduced us to droids, lightsabers and an exciting world of dark and light sides. A motley collection on the latter side must bring down the former, using cunning, cool space fighters and lasers. It also helps that the dark side’s Stormtrooper armies – confusingly adorned in white – can’t shoot straight to save themselves.
“That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”
The 4K disc: If you’re hoping to see Star Wars better than you’ve ever seen it – and that includes recent streaming offerings – then you’re going to love this. With no need for massive compression, this native 4K presentation – taken from a new master that was created several years ago – looks magical. While HDR has been applied, it’s been done subtly. The deep dark blues of space look magnificent, as do the suns glinting on C-3PO when he hits the dunes of Tattooine. Detail varies a little depending upon its source – extra bits have, of course, been added here and there over the years – but in general does the job well. There’s basically no film grain, so we suspect that steps have been taken to eliminate it, however the image doesn’t turn out too soft or plasticy looking. While many will begrudge this not being the original 1977 cut of the film, they won’t begrudge the visual quality.
As for the audio? When the 20th Century Fox logo appeared at the start we were worried, as it sounded a tad feeble. Then the first orchestra blast hit as the movie fired up and wow! John Williams’ score – possibly the most iconic of all time – takes to the Atmos format with glee, using the height channels to add to the whole sonic experience brilliantly. Effects also give them a workout where apt – such as footsteps above early in proceedings. Artillery bursts all around and spacecraft shoom joyously about the soundstage, while dialogue never gets lost in the mix. Those who love bass should also be pleased with the deep rumbles that abound where appropriate.
While the 4K disc includes nothing but the movie, two bonus standard Blu-ray discs are brimming with goodies. The first has the movie (from the same master as the 4K presentation), complete with two previously released audio commentaries. The first is from Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and FX guy Dennis Muren, while the second is a massive cast and crew affair featuring Kenny Baker, Ben Burtt, Richard Chew, Anthony Daniels, Peter Diamond, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Stuart Freeborn, Alec Guinness, Mark Hamill, Paul Hirsch, Gary Kurtz, Lucas, Peter Mayhew, Ralph McQuarrie, Dennis Muren, Normal Reynolds, Phil Tippett and Robert Watts. The second bonus disc offers a huge collection of interviews, deleted scenes, featurettes and 3D models and an original trailer.
Release date: April 1, 2020
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.