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The Natural

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    84
    from 3 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • The Natural's UHD re-release excites with stellar visuals, sound, and storytelling, earning acclaim and recommendations.

    The Natural 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    88
  • Sony's The Natural UHD upgrade impresses with greater clarity, vibrant colors, and faithful filmic integrity, appealing to fans and honoring Levinson and Deschanel's vision.

  • Audio
    86
  • The Natural's Dolby Atmos mix enriches its soundstage with clear, detailed enhancements, notably in music and effects, despite occasional dialogue and utilization issues.

  • Extra
    81
  • This UHD and Blu-ray release of The Natural features the Director's and Theatrical Cuts, legacy extras, digital copy alongside detailed documentaries and featurettes exploring the film's creation, influences, and mythology.

  • Movie
    87
  • Roy Hobbs' dramatic baseball career, marked by a fall from grace and a heroic comeback with the New York Knights, meets grand cinema in 'The Natural,' now on 4K UHD by Sony, blending nostalgia and mythical storytelling with technical excellence.

    Video: 88

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray edition of "The Natural" triumphantly showcases the director Barry Levinson’s intent, bathing in the picturesque essence of Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography elevated by modern technology. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has meticulously brought this period piece into the latest home video era without disrupting its original aesthetic. The film, traditionally not a powerhouse in home video visuals, receives a commendable facelift with 2160p/HDR enhancement that respects its inherent grain structure while offering unprecedented clarity. From the lifelike textures of baseball uniforms showcasing intricacies previously unseen to the vivid portrayal of grass and wooden bats, the UHD version elevates every visual element, providing viewers with a tangible sense of immersion into Roy Hobbs’ saga.

    The HDR application enriches the film’s color palette, breathing life into each scene without detracting from Levinson's and Deschanel's visual storytelling. The nuanced balance allows for a brighter, more vibrant viewing experience that retains the movie’s thematic reliance on contrasts between light and dark, mirroring Hobbs’ journey. Enhanced saturation and contrast elevate scenes - such as the exterior of the Selby Hotel - beyond their Blu-ray presentations, showcasing refined textural details that add depth to the film's visual narrative. Despite some moments of softness and a few less-defined shots, the overall sharpness and clarity presented is remarkable, with flesh tones appearing balanced across the board and the lush greens of ballparks popping vividly, making "The Natural" on UHD a visually pleasing experience that validates the format's potential.

    Caleb Deschanel's Oscar-nominated cinematography is treated with the reverence it deserves in this 4K presentation. While maintaining the film's essential filmic appeal and nostalgic warmth, the resolution upgrade highlights stunning rural landscapes and bustling city moments with striking color fidelity and depth. Although "The Natural" may not overwhelm with its visual punch like more contemporary films in UHD, subtle details from pattern vividness to accurate shadow delineation captivate. The finale's crescendo—a spectacle of light—coupled with consistently deep blacks and crisp whites, like Glenn Close's iconic outfit, prove that this edition is not just a technical upgrade but a heartfelt homage to a beloved cinematic classic, ensuring it remains impactful for new audiences and long-time fans alike.

    Audio: 86

    The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "The Natural" takes an already solid auditory experience from its original 5.1 channel surround mix and elevates it with a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack, though the film itself might not initially seem to warrant such an upgrade. This is not an action-packed movie, but the inclusion of object-placed sounds and the active utilization of overhead audio objects significantly enhances the experience. The Atmos mix succeeds in providing a broader dynamic range, noticeable improvement in soundstage width, an elevated perception of low-level details, and a more enveloping feel for atmospheric sounds—from thunderstorms to the bustling ambience of Knights games.

    However, while the technological capabilities of Dolby Atmos are undeniably impressive, their application in "The Natural" remains somewhat restrained. Key scenes such as the momentous home run that breaks the stadium lights surprisingly do not utilize the overhead channels to their full potential, leaving a sense of missed opportunity for a fully immersive audio experience. Moreover, issues with dialogue balance have been noted; although mostly clear and well prioritized, there are instances where dialogue seems to fade or feels slightly shallow, detracting from the overall consistency of the track.

    Despite these critiques, the Atmos soundtrack significantly contributes to the narrative's atmosphere. Randy Newman's unforgettable, albeit subdued score, benefits from the wider dynamic scale without any distortion, and sound effects like the crack of a bat or stormy weather are rendered with clarity and impact. The careful blend of sound elements—from the subtle chatter in less crowded stadiums to the detailed ambient sounds of different settings—creates a vivid, if not entirely immersive, soundscape. This nuanced approach to the audio presentation ensures that even in its quietest moments, "The Natural" resonates more profoundly with its audience.

    Extra: 81

    This 4K UHD Blu-ray release of "The Natural" is distinguished by its inclusion of both the Director's Cut and Theatrical Cut, offering a richer cinematic experience with film enhancements on 4K video and Dolby Atmos audio. Barry Levinson's introduction provides insight into the Director's Cut, underscoring its closer alignment with his original vision, especially in its rebuilt first act. The package's comprehensive suite of extras, largely housed on the accompanying 2010 Blu-ray disc, features documentaries, featurettes, and a digital copy for Movies Anywhere. Significant is the documentary "When Lightning Strikes: Creating The Natural," which delves into the movie’s conception, production, and lasting impact with contributions from key figures like Robert Redford and Glenn Close. Additional featurettes explore various aspects of the film, including its mythological connections, production trivia, and a real-life incident mirroring a plot point. This collection offers an in-depth exploration of the film's legacy and craftsmanship, ensuring a valuable addition for fans and cinephiles alike.

    Extras included in this disc:

    Barry Levinson Intro to the Director’s Cut: A brief introduction to the Director's Cut of the film by Barry Levinson.

    Theatrical Trailer: The original theatrical trailer of the film.

    When Lightning Strikes: Creating The Natural: A detailed documentary on the creation of "The Natural," featuring interviews with cast and crew.

    Extra Innings: A collection of mini-featurettes exploring different aspects of the film's production and its relation to baseball.

    Clubhouse Conversations: Figures from baseball and media reflect on their love for the game and how it connects to "The Natural."

    A Natural Gunned Down: The Stalking of Eddie Waitkus: The dramatic real-life story that parallels a key plot point in the film.

    Knights in Shining Armor: The Mythology of The Natural: Explores the mythological influences on the film’s story.

    The Heart of The Natural: A dialogue between Cal Ripken Jr. and Barry Levinson about the film’s themes and their personal connections to baseball.

    Movie: 87

    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's release of "The Natural" on 4K UHD Blu-ray offers a remarkable viewing experience that showcases the film's cinematic beauty and emotional depth. This enhanced version of Director Barry Levinson’s 1984 classic presents the movie in a new 2160p/HDR video transfer, complemented by a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which together bring a fresh sense of immersion to the story’s dramatic and nostalgic depiction of baseball. The package also features both the theatrical version and a director's cut, previously available only on DVD, allowing viewers an in-depth exploration of Levinson’s vision. The inclusion of the film’s theatrical trailer adds to the comprehensive nature of this release.

    The movie itself, following the trials and triumphs of Roy Hobbs, a naturally gifted baseball player whose career is almost derailed by tragedy, resonates deeply with the themes of perseverance and redemption. Robert Redford’s portrayal of Hobbs is both stoic and evocative, perfectly capturing the character's determination to overcome personal and professional obstacles. Alongside him, a stellar supporting cast including Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, and Wilford Brimley, brings to life a story that transcends the sport of baseball, delving into the complexities of heroism and fallibility. The careful crafting of pop culture mythology around Hobbs and his legendary bat "Wonderboy" is enhanced by Levinson's direction, which infuses the film with a sense of mythic grandeur while maintaining a grounded emotional core.

    Audiences revisiting "The Natural" or discovering it for the first time will find this 4K UHD Blu-ray release a definitive way to experience one of cinema’s most enduring tales of sporting heroism. The visual and audio enhancements present in this version not only highlight the technical prowess behind Levinson’s filmmaking but also serve to underscore the film’s thematic richness. As it explores the highs and lows of Hobbs’s journey against a backdrop of baseball’s golden age, "The Natural" remains a poignant reflection on the American dream, tinged with a complexity that continues to captivate viewers decades after its initial release.

    Total: 84

    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's release of "The Natural" on 4K UHD Blu-ray brings a classic cinematic masterpiece into the modern age with finesse. As enthusiasts of this deeply human and emotionally resonant tale would hope, the Ultra HD upgrade pays off, delivering an exceptional visual and auditory experience that elevates the film’s exploration of talent, perseverance, and redemption. The 2160p/HDR video restoration shines, rendering the mythical backdrop of Roy Hobbs' journey in stunning detail and vibrant clarity. Coupled with this is a Dolby Atmos audio mix that, while not without its slight shortcomings, envelops the viewer in a soundscape as majestic as the narrative itself. Importantly, this release includes both the theatrical and director's cuts, catering to purists and those curious about alternate visions alike.

    Sony's commitment to enhancing the viewer's experience extends beyond the mere technical upgrades. The inclusion of legacy bonus content ensures that fans and newcomers have the opportunity to delve deeper into the making and significance of "The Natural." Furthermore, the release stands out for its comprehensive approach, aiming not just to showcase a movie in its best possible light but to celebrate its enduring legacy. In essence, this UHD version resonates with the film's thematic focus on human spirit and resilience, offering a package that is as timeless as the story it presents.

    In conclusion, "The Natural" in 4K UHD Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is an essential acquisition for both long-standing admirers and those yet to discover its charm. The upgrade offers a visually stunning and audibly rich experience that does justice to the film’s narrative richness and emotional depth. Though some may find aspects of the audio mix less than perfect, the overall package—from the HDR video to the added director's cut and bonus content—ensures that this release is not just an upgrade but a heartfelt homage to a beloved classic. Highly recommended.