Deepwater Horizon 4K Blu-ray Review

Some might argue that the Macondo Prospect drilling project disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig happened too recently for Hollywood to exploit the tragic event. I would argue that director Peter Berg has taken great care to pay tribute to the 11 men who lost their lives when the rig exploded. There are still more survivor stories to be told, but the film Deepwater Horizon is a great place to start.

As with all disaster films whether based on fiction or non-fiction, Deepwater Horizon splits its time to before and after the accident occurs. Much of the pre-accident time offshore is spent with Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), the rig’s chief engineer and a family man with a wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter who embodies the typical worker on the BP-leased oil rig. While these character building scenes can typically drag a disaster movie down, Berg makes it easy to relate to Mike and imagine the split home versus work on the rig lives each of these men lived.

A second act builds up to the accident caused through the corporate-driven decisions of BP representatives when the story moves to the rig. These decisions are spearheaded by company man Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich). Berg rightfully resists painting him as a villainous caricature out to do harm. Vidrine simply wants to get his job done — even if that means not listening to the warnings of those around him who are more qualified to assess the situation.

Deepwater Horizon 4K Blu-ray Cover ArtOnce the disaster begins to unfold the tension ratchets up exponentially and survival plays out naturally rather than turning the titular characters into larger-than-life heroes. Berg’s insistence on using as many practical effects and real fire as possible pay off as there’s a raw and gritty feel to the event lacking in many disaster films. Some of the nighttime shots of actors standing in front of massive fire blazes are simply amazing.

Though we only get to know a small handful of the crew including commander Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) and Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez), Berg wraps up the film by paying homage to the 11 men that were lost. His biggest and only real misstep was not running the names of all the survivors next to the deceased.

Deepwater Horizon provides a daunting task for Ultra HD and HDR: successfully manage deep blacks and bright fires at the same time. These abundant fire-driven scenes in the dead of night could have easily looked cartoonish. Instead, a stellar transfer and the use of mostly real fire effects pay off brilliantly.

Elsewhere details is immaculate and you’ll see more detail and imperfections in actor and actress faces on board the rig than maybe you ever wanted to. Dolby Atmos audio successfully brings to life all the booming and banging of a massive oil rig slowly falling apart.

As a rare treat, Lionsgate has included every bonus feature on the 4K disc found on the included Blu-ray version. The best of the bunch is “The Fury of the Rig” where Berg spends nearly a half an hour walking through some of the amazing stunts in the film. You’ll wonder “how did they do that?” after watching the feature so this should be your next stop. Apart from “Beyond the Horizon” leaning too heavily on film clips, all the bonus features are worth a look.

  • “Beyond the Horizon” Hour-Long Five-Part Series
  • “Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg” Featurette
  • “The Fury of the Rig” Featurette
  • “Deepwater Surveillance” Featurette
  • “Work Like An American” Tributes

It’s refreshing if somewhat depressing to watch a film based on actual events like Deepwater Horizon after last year’s San Andreas, a cgi-laden action fest. I tip my hat to Peter Berg for the care that went into Deepwater Horizon as well as to Lionsgate for presenting it as cleanly and powerfully as they have on 4K Ultra HD.

Deepwater Horizon 4k Blu-ray Review
out of 5

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