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Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 5 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Star Wars in 4K UHD: unparalleled home viewing with immersive audio & visuals, despite imperfections.

    Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The 4K UHD release of Star Wars impressively enhances detail and color, despite issues with grain and special effects, offering a fresh viewing experience.

  • Audio
  • The Dolby Atmos mix of Star Wars enhances the immersive experience with clear, dynamic sound, from jaw-dropping action to subtle environmental details, while retaining the film's vintage essence.

  • Extra
  • The 'Skywalker Saga' UHD set features a rich array of extras across Blu-rays, including insights from Lucas and Hamill, archival content, and detailed looks at Star Wars' universe creation and iconic props.

  • Movie
  • Star Wars' transformative magic and legacy, from first viewings and Lucas' inspirations to its cinematic achievements, lives on through personal experiences and enhanced 4K releases.

    Video: 86

    The release of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" on 4K UHD Blu-ray presents an unprecedented opportunity for fans to experience the classic in astonishing new detail, made possible by using a new native 4K restoration and HDR10 grading. Shot using a combination of Arriflex 35-III, Panavision PSR R-200, Panavision Panaflex X, and Panavision Panaflex cameras on 35mm film, the source for this particular edition stems from the ‘Special Edition’ edit, which includes various color adjustments specific to that version. Displayed in a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image, widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HDR10, the technical specifics promise a viewing experience with enriched colors, deeper blacks, and improved brightness levels. The restoration maintains the film's original grain to a certain extent, although issues such as frozen grain and minor digital artifacts like edge enhancement and mosquito noise have been noted. Despite these minor fallbacks, the overall detail—right down to the textures of character costumes and spacecraft exteriors—is incredibly defined, surpassing prior releases significantly.

    Color reproduction under HDR is thoroughly compelling; lasers and lightsabers benefit from a vividness that is both rich and bold, enhancing the visual spectacle without compromising the film’s original aesthetic. Although colors such as the iconic opening crawl and C-3PO’s golden sheen have seen modest alterations in tone, these changes do not detract from the overall experience. It’s worth noting the depth added by darker tones in the image, offering a stronger frame depth and accentuating details in both shadowy and brightly lit scenes. This imparts a fresh luster to familiar visuals, breathing new life into the expansive universe of Star Wars.

    However, the effort to reduce grain has led to varied outcomes, sometimes smearing textures or causing inconsistency in grain presence, which might distract purists. Widely criticized elements from the ‘Special Edition’, such as CGI inserts, remain coarsely integrated within some of the physical effects and models, inevitably drawing attention to the seams between them. These flaws aside, improvements in resolution and color depth have unveiled nuances in settings and characters previously unnoticed in home formats—mosquito noise and edge enhancement only slightly mar an otherwise striking visual presentation. Overall, despite recognizable issues like clumpy grain and less convincing older CGI effects (notably Jabba), this release offers a wealth of visual enhancements that more than compensates for its imperfections.

    Audio: 89

    The English Dolby Atmos track of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" on 4K UHD Blu-ray present an audio experience that expertly expands the classic film's soundstage, immersing viewers in the galaxy far, far away like never before. John Williams' iconic score benefits greatly from the Atmos treatment, with instruments separated clearly, allowing for detailed layering, from the opening fanfare to quieter moments. Action sequences, particularly the Star Destroyer's introduction and space battles, leverage the speakers' full potential, creating an all-encompassing sensory experience. Bass is impactful, delivering chest-thumping effects during key moments like the Millennium Falcon's takeoff and various explosions, without overshadowing dialogue which remains crisp and anchored by the front array, showcasing a natural and faultless delivery.

    However, adjustments to volume are sometimes necessary to fully capture the intended sound experience without straying from comfortable levels. Once optimized, the mix showcases an impressive depth that breathes life into each location, from the echoic corridors of the Death Star to the expansive deserts of Tatooine, aided by subtle environmental sounds that evoke a sense of vastness. Notably, while action sequences are heightened by robust depth and dynamic movement, quieter moments are not overlooked; atmospheric effects and detailed sound design in scenes such as those in control centers or Mos Eisley add layers of immersion. The Atmos mix respects the film's vintage sonic characteristics while introducing nuanced improvements without overwhelming listeners with incessant activity, retaining a balanced and engaging audio presentation throughout.

    Addressing performance across various scenes, the Atmos track occasionally exhibits a mild clutter during action-heavy sequences, with music, effects, and dialogue competing for dominance. This underlying muddiness attributes to source material limitations rather than the mix itself. Despite these moments, the track excels in its delivery of environmental details and character-specific sounds, enhancing sequences like Obi-Wan's rescue of Luke with heightened intensity and dispersion. Additional audio options offer inclusivity for a broader audience, yet it's the Dolby Atmos mix that stands out for its restrained yet effective use of overhead channels in set pieces, preserving dialogue clarity and integrating sound effects with natural movement. This balance of precision and subtlety ensures that "A New Hope" benefits from modern audio technology while honoring its original essence.

    Extra: 86

    The "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" 4K UHD Blu-Ray edition, primarily famed for its feature film, is complemented by a plethora of extras spread across supplemental Blu-rays. While the 4K disc itself bears no bonuses, the accompanying Blu-rays are replete with both archival and newly minted additions, ensuring a comprehensive experience. Marked improvements include introductions such as "Conversations: Creating a Universe" and "Discoveries from Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber," alongside classics like "Anatomy of a Dewback" and meticulously curated deleted scenes. Noteworthy is the digital accessibility provided via a Movies Anywhere code, enriching the collector's interaction with this edition. The instantiation of legacy content alongside novel insights into the franchise's creation imbues this release with unparalleled value, offering both seasoned aficionados and newcomers an intimate traverse through the seminal universe of Star Wars. Extras are meticulously structured to facilitate navigation, heralding an enriching engagement with the saga’s lore.

    Extras included in this disc:

    Audio Commentary: Insights from George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt, and Dennis Muren.

    Audio Commentary – Archival: Featuring cast and crew reflections.

    Conversations: Creating a Universe: A fresh dialogue on the franchise's evolution.

    Discoveries from Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber: A brief exploration of iconic props.

    Anatomy of a Dewback: Analysis of the special edition's effects.

    Star Wars Launch Trailer: A newly included early trailer.

    Archive Fly-Through & Interviews: In-depth looks and discussions on various aspects of the saga.

    Deleted/Extended Scenes: Unseen footage offering an expanded narrative view.

    The Collection: An array of prototype models and designs, offering insights into the film’s visual contributions.

    Movie: 91

    Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" receives a resplendent presentation in its commercial 4K UHD Blu-ray release, significantly enhancing the viewing experience of George Lucas's groundbreaking saga. The 2160p/HDR video offers a breathtaking visual clarity that faithfully captures the vastness of the galaxy, accompanied by the immersive Dolby Atmos audio that envelops the viewer in the iconic score by John Williams and the rich soundscape of this fantastical universe. This release heralds a definitive viewing of the film, accentuated by the inclusion of a number of supplements on a dedicated Blu-ray disc, ensuring that aficionados and newcomers alike have much to explore beyond the movie itself.

    The movie's plot, centered around young Luke Skywalker's embarkation on a heroic journey alongside characters such as Han Solo, Leia Organa, and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, against the tyrannical Galactic Empire, is rendered with remarkable detail. The enhancements provide a new appreciation for the film’s intricate set designs and special effects, illustrating the Empire's oppressive rule and the rebels' spirited fight. The desperation of this galaxy, portrayed through the lived-in look of locales like Tatooine and the gritty relentlessness of the Rebel Alliance, is vividly portrayed, making the thematic underpinnings of hope and resistance even more potent.

    This release also preserves the cultural impact and technical achievements of "A New Hope." Despite extensive editorial modifications over the years, this version captures the essence of its initial release, further enriched by a laser-focused restoration that brings to light elements previously unseen by those familiar only with lower resolution formats. Among enthusiasts longing for a version that mirrors their first encounters with this epic tale—be it in theaters or early home video formats—this 4K UHD rendition holds a special allure, serving both as a nostalgic homage and a contemporary marvel, bridging generations of Star Wars fans.

    Total: 87

    In this review, we delve into the 4K UHD Blu-Ray presentation of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope," a release that continues the legacy of a franchise that has not only defined a generation but has also significantly impacted the cinematic landscape. The 4K UHD package provided by Disney presents an extraordinary viewing experience, encapsulating all discs from the 'Skywalker Saga' in a meticulously crafted presentation book. This new scan offers an unprecedented level of detail, with a rich and bold color scheme that, despite being based on the latest 'Special Edition', still manages to deliver visual splendor. Accompanying the visual upgrade, the Dolby Atmos surround track stands out as a remarkable achievement, offering deep bass and exquisite separation that enhances the auditory experience substantially. Additionally, the set boasts an impressive array of extras, including several new features that enrich the overall package.

    While this release may not represent the original 1977 theatrical experience to the purist’s satisfaction, it undeniably stands as the definitive home viewing version of "A New Hope" to date. The 4K transfer, accompanied by HDR10, elevates the visual spectacle to stunning heights with its clarity and vibrancy, although some viewers might find the grain texture somewhat distracting. The Atmos mix adds a dynamic and immersive audio experience that further solidifies its position. Although not without its minor imperfections, such as a longing for the original theatrical cut and a slightly less exhaustive collection of supplements compared to other releases in the saga, this edition remains an essential addition to any collector's library.

    In conclusion, despite certain reservations regarding its fidelity to the original theatrical presentation, the 4K UHD release of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" represents a monumental achievement in home entertainment. It combines outstanding video and audio quality with a generous assortment of special features. While it may evoke nostalgic desires for a purer form of the film, it is impossible to deny that this release offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the film in a manner previously unimaginable at home. For fans old and new, this edition earns our highest recommendation as a must-have for completing your collection in the best presentation format available.