Venom Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this fantasy action adventure from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, in association with Marvel, that tells the evolution story of “Venom” and his alter ego Eddie Brock.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures – 2018
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 112 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Action

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Music by: Ludwig Goransson
Written by: Jeff Pinker, Scott Rosenberg, Kelly Marcel
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 18, 2018

“The World has Enough Superheroes”

Synopsis:

“Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a broken man after he loses everything including his job and fiancee. Just when his life is at its lowest, he becomes host to an alien symbiote which results in extraordinary superpowers – transforming him into Venom. Will these powers be enough for this new lethal protector to defeat great evil forces, especially against the far stronger and more weaponized symbiote rival, Riot?” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

My Take:

I must admit that my knowledge of Venom and extremely limited. By the time his character was introduced in the Marvel Comic Universe, my days of reading comics was well over. That isn’t to say that I had never heard of him prior to seeing his appearance in Spider-Man 3 but, his backstory and evolution weren’t something I was intimately familiar with.

I wasn’t particularly drawn to seeing Venom when it was released in theaters, especially given its poor critical reviews and the tepid reactions I heard from friends that had seen it. I did however want to see it and, give it its due as part of the Marvel film canon. I wasn’t especially impressed with the scope of the storyline. I mean, for an origin story, its relative elements are scant and the connective tissue with respect to past or future events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are noticeably absent. Not to mention there isn’t a single reference to Spidey. Anyway, the plot is simple, almost too much so, and the character base is sorely lacking both in development and depth, save for Eddie and his new friend.

I thought that there was ample room for a better story, given the subject matter and, the number of characters introduced but, it really never got off of the ground. The “bad guys” especially “Riot” aren’t onscreen long enough to matter which makes the outcome of events less emphatic. Eddie’s personal relationships are tossed in which negatively impacts his acceptance as a sympathetic character with something to lose. I did like Venom though. He made no bones about reasons for doing things and I didn’t mind the banter he and Eddie shared over the course of the film.

The production elements were excellent and the action was decent enough to make you feel as though you were watching a superhero-based fantasy film. The film’s runtime is 112 minutes but, only 92 minutes of that is the primary film. The remainder is the credits, a brief after credit clip, and lastly a sneak peek of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

At the end of the day Venom feels like an incomplete film. Some I liked, some I didn’t, as it felt like something stitched together from random thoughts rather than a cohesive origin story that lived up to its subject material. I didn’t hate it but, it would be fair to say that it left me wanting.

Replay Value: 3 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and for language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Venom comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Venom was shot digitally, derived from a mix of 2.8K and 8 K sources, and from what I can tell, was rendered from a 4K DI for its presentation in Ultra HD.

The 1080p transfer looks solid and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. The film has a multitude of sequences containing either fiery explosions, streaming /cascading light, and mixed light dark elements, that look terrific. The extended chase during chapter 9 was the presentation’s highlight from an HDR perspective. At times this can be a somewhat darkish film, and its low-level sequences had excellent depth and dimension. The sequences that incorporate elements of brilliant light, are bright enough that it caused me to squint. The use of shadows mixed with light looked very natural as well. The scene where Eddie/Venom take on the police in the lobby is a great example of this.

The film utilizes a predominantly monochromatic scheme, with splashes of color, that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. The nature of the photography didn’t always allow the wide color gamut to shine but it was noticeable in the costumes, city lights, and makeup, worn by several of the characters. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and textures, that imparted a reach out and touch aesthetic. Looking at the presentation as a whole I would say that it makes for a distinct improvement when compared to the 1080p Blu-ray rendering.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR-10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference Oppo UHD player (both in DV and forced HDR-10 and Samsung UHD player (HDR-10 only). The title looked terrific on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I felt that the DV presentation offered better handling of the finest details in shadows, improved delineation in specular highlights and slightly better gradations in variants of gray. You can’t go wrong with either but, my preference for viewing would be the Dolby Vision version.

Dolby Atmos:

Venom has an excellent 5.1 channel surround mix on Blu-ray, so I wondered how much the immersive experience would improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and ambient music bleed. This creates an appreciable level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events.

Beginning with the film’s opening, there instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field as the track conveys the breadth/expanse of interiors and exterior venues. Things ramp up when the action kicks as the soundstage bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. The aforementioned chase and encounter with the police in the lobby are good examples. While these sequences sound very good in the standard 5.1, they are taken to the next level in the Amos mix.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Venom comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This film has an intentionally dark and reserved chromatic visual style that doesn’t lend itself to vibrant colors and overtly glossy video quality. There are instances where brighter colors/elements are utilized and the boldly applied contrast allows them to pop visually. Otherwise onscreen images lean toward imagery that provides the thematic look intended to drive the story’s components. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is excellent overall and revealing of visible details within dark backgrounds and low lighting. Stable contrast and deep blacks allow scenes containing mixed content to appear gradationally satisfying with crisp whites and dynamic highlights. Resolution is discerning as images are characterized by intricate and definitively rendered detail that gives the video appreciable dimension and delineated texture. This is a solid high definition presentation that looked great on my large screen.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich and, room shuddering bass associated with the action-based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it mated perfectly with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Venom Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Venom Blu-ray
    • Venom Mode: When selecting this mode the film will engage informative pop-ups throughout the film to provide insight on the movie’s relationship to the comics, and to reveal hidden references that even a seasoned Venom-fan may have missed!
    • Deleted & Extended Scenes: These deleted and extended scenes will give fans even more of the Venom action they loved in theaters!
    o Ride to Hospital – Eddie and Venom take a ride to the hospital.
    o Car Alarm – Let’s just say that Venom is not fond of car alarms.
    o San Quentin – Extended post-credits scene at San Quentin.
    • From Symbiote to Screen: A mini documentary about the history of Venom in comics and his journey to the big screen. Interviews with Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, Ruben Fleischer, Oliver Scholl, and Director and Comic Fanboy Kevin Smith.
    • The Lethal Protector in Action: Go behind the scenes with the production crew and learn the secrets behind the awesome Motorcycle stunts, wire stunts, and drones.
    • Venom Vision: A look at how Ruben Fleischer came to the project, gathered his team, and made Venom a reality. Utilizes interviews from cast, crew, and producers as well as Fleischer himself.
    • Designing Venom: Designing and creating Venom meant a huge challenge for VFX artists; follow the amazing journey.
    • Symbiote Secrets: Blink and you may have missed it! Enjoy the hidden references throughout the film.
    • 8 Select Scenes Pre-Vis sequences: See the progression of the visual effects, storyboards and fight chorography compared to the finished film.
    • “Venom” by Eminem – Music Video
    • “Sunflower” by Post Malone, Swae Lee (From Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)
    • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Sneak Peek: Meanwhile in another universe…
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Venom doesn’t live up to the potential of its subject matter, suffering from a muddled script that doesn’t reach deep enough to support its thematic tone. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Combo Pack that delivers excellent overall image quality, which includes Dolby Vision HDR, top notch lossless surround sound, featuring a solid Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and a fan friendly assortment of bonus materials that are worth exploring. Venom feels like a missed opportunity, but it looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, which may make it worth considering for Marvel fans and enthusiasts.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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