A Star is Born (2018) 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Starred Up

While many remakes come away as superfluous name grabs, A Star Is Born, with its timeless story of success, depression, and loss, serves to build a superstar. Here it’s Lady Gaga. Not only a powerful vocalist, Gaga builds a pop singer with a convincing, natural performance. And thus, this remake earns its place.

Bradley Cooper co-stars and directs an organic and feeling interpretation. It’s natural, smooth, and flowing, with a documentary-like eye. Musical acts follow suit with their genuine nature. A Star Is Born is flush with both filmmaking and vocal skill.

Updated for the now, A Star Is Born confronts industry sexism (Gaga’s Ally is denied a record deal because of her looks) overcoming those artificial barriers put in place by male executives. Bradley Cooper’s country star Jack fends off endless bouts of depression and alcoholism, even if the script tends to shy away from the worst of it all. Ally accepts his disease as Star Is Born follows their romance, using music to emote. Paired on stage, their lyrics tell a personal saga.

A Star Is Born appreciates the flirting, the love, and comfort of these two characters more than any inherent drama

In that way, A Star Is Born doesn’t revel in the honesty of Jack’s suffering. Alcohol abuse leads to no inherent physical health ailments and binge nights fade with an edit. No after effects, if only. While still a hard drama and expected crushing ending, A Star Is Born appreciates the flirting, the love, and comfort of these two characters more than any inherent drama.

While a failing, A Star Is Born lifts itself up through music, poking holes in the public personas of celebrities. A Star Is Born humanizes those on stage, looking behind marketing. There’s a sense – also generally unexplored – that Ally gives up her personality to a producer. She changes her hair and the act turns from a beautiful, lush rendition of French “La Vie en Rose” to an indifferent, perky pop.

If there’s greater depression in A Star Is Born it’s in the unseen future. Jack fights off torturous childhood memories, and the method of people telling him where, when, and who to be takes its toll. Ally’s inspiring rise to fame puts her on a path of people like Jack. There’s inevitability to this tragedy. A cycle, and a vicious one. Those final credits, seconds after Ally recovers from grief through song, indicate a potentially cruel passage. Seeing Gaga openly weep on that stage is grueling to watch. She’s an acting superstar.

Video (4K UHD)

A beautiful, somber look dominates this movie. That often means a lack of pure black, but losing none of the heavy depth. Dimension stays consistently high. A Star Is Born’s digital cinematography displays a wonderful slate of shadows, helped by a rich Dolby Vision pass. Stage lights push extensive brightness, ensuring persistent heft.

This is a 2K-finished feature, although the level of texture and detail suggest otherwise at times. Superlative definition and sharpness give A Star Is Born its best aspect. Close-ups dazzle in their fidelity. Looking outward from the stage, massive crowds resolve visible faces deep into the background. That’s stellar stuff.

A glimmer of noise is added to the scenery. Generally, this clean, adding some grit to the otherwise flawless digital cinematography. Only a few times does this rise into a problem, the worst sadly coming at a critical emotional scene as Ally sits at her piano in the third act. Chroma artifacts spring up, causing a loss of information.

Some intense color makes for a challenging compression job. Stage lighting uses deep reds and blues, bolstered in their intensity by the HDR pass. Clarity holds though, letting a pleasing palette through unobstructed. Accurate flesh tones and strong primaries make A Star Is Born a looker.

Video (Blu-ray)

Noise poses a problem for this encode, causing a persistent layer of artifacts to slip into these images. Lighter shadows allow added compression to show, sucking out some detail, but it’s minor. Generally, A Star Is Born maintains excellent sharpness with rich texture as a result.

Splendid saturation adds vibrancy, especially to those musical acts on stage. Nice flesh tones and primaries follow this feature for the full runtime.

Audio

Warner again defaults to DTS-HD, leaving the reference grade Atmos mix as an option in the audio menu. Once selected, A Star Is Born opens up with massive range. The accuracy of the live concert feel is remarkable, both in terms of raw volume and dynamics as well as ambiance. Surrounds and stereos carry reverb, with the crowd filtering in under the music. Directionality is flawless, with incredible bass support.

Away from the concerts, there’s ambiance at Ally’s kitchen gig and backstage where crowds wait for performers. That energy pours into the hallways. When stepping out, dynamic range is given the fullest of attention, rising to match the growing cheers. The best audio tracks replicate a sense of being there. That’s A Star Is Born.

Extras

On the UHD, the 11 music performances sit in their own section, although the chapter selections offer the same function. That’s copied on the Blu-ray where the other bonuses reside. The Road to Stardom is great, a 30-minute feature looking at the production’s origins. While certainly chipper, the piece has style to go along with its depth. Three behind-the-scenes jam sessions and four music videos close this one out.

A Star is Born (2018)
  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Lady Gaga secures a second source of stardom with a marvelous performance in this fourth take on A Star Is Born.

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