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Sound and Vision: Come on Disney, let’s see these films in 4K HDR

OPINION: As Disney celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023, arguably no other studio has had as big a hold on popular culture, from its early animation to its family-friendly fare and then the purchase of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox, there’s lots to watch from the House of Mouse.

But if you ask me, the one area that Disney could be doing much better in is restoring and remastering its catalogue in 4K HDR. Other studios such as Warner Bros. (which also celebrates its 100th year in 2023), have released scores of older titles in 4K HDR while Disney is rather slow. Avatar, Cinderella and The Nightmare Before Christmas are the main titles for 2023.

Disney has had a little trouble with its new titles, rather hastily shuffling titles off its streaming service, so why not invest in old classics and bring to the eyes of a new audience?

So here’s my list of the titles I’d like to see in 4K HDR. I cannot abide The Santa Clause series is in 4K Dolby Vision and Armageddon is in plain old HD. It’s a grave error, Disney, and it must be corrected.


Armageddon Disney
credit: Disney/Touchstone Pictures

I’m starting with Michael Bay’s 90s disaster classic (although some may use that word ironically). The absurd story of a bunch of oil drillers sent to blow up an asteroid hurtling straight for earth. One of the character’s experiences ‘space dementia’, as you do.

Armageddon is not to be taken with one iota of seriousness, but the film is peak Michael Bay. Hilarious patriotism, daft jokes, lots of melodrama and terrific visual effects.

Bay’s high contrast, vibrant aesthetic would be a perfect match for a 4K HDR presentation, as well as darkness and depth of black levels in the film’s latter half. And that explosive sound mix would benefit from a Dolby Atmos upgrade. With the right care and attention, this film could look and sound spectacular for a catalogue title.

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Tron: Legacy

Tron Legacy Disney

With Tron: Ares on its way, why not give Tron: Legacy the 4K release it warrants? The Blu-ray is fantastic, so It’d likely be an upscale to 4K but the neon-lit visuals would look super slick in HDR, especially the inky blacks of the ‘Tron’ world. And the terrific sound mix with Daft Punk’s excellent music score was fantastic in its original DTS form, imagine how good it could sound with a Dolby Atmos conversion?

The story isn’t up to the standard we would have liked given the near twenty year wait for the film, but Legacy’s visual impact and soundtrack just about make up for it.


Aliens Sigourney Weaver
credit: 20th Century Films

I’m hoping this film is on James Cameron’s to-do pile before he spends more time in Pandora. We can only hope it’ll enjoy a 4K restoration given that True Lies and The Abyss are (finally) expected to get in 2023.

I saw Aliens at the BFI projected on film years ago and the print was a bit ropey, scratchy one. Factoring in some of the issues with the film stock at the time of its production, Aliens is unlikely to be a reference disc. But 4K will enable it to look its best, and as one of the best action sequels of the 80s, it really deserves a 4K release.

The Rocketeer

The Rocketeer promo art
credit: Disney

A well-loved fantasy/romance flick of the early 90s, The Rocketeer hasn’t had another home video release since 2011, so given we’re past the 30th anniversary, it would be nice for a brand-new transfer to made.

The previous transfer of the film is rated as solid by most but with room for improvement, but as it was shot on film with a serial/1940s look, this could look stunning with a proper restoration.

Minority Report

Minority Report
credit: 20th Century Fox

Each year we get more titles from Steven Spielberg’s filmography on 4K, but one that has eluded fans is the release of Minority Report.

Some consider this film to be his last great film, and I’d say it’s aged well with its vision of the future inspiring some technology used today.

Visually the desaturated look is not the most striking with its cold blues and washed-out appearance, so any 4K release would preserve the intent with its levels of film grain, black levels and muted colours. The DTS soundtrack is considered to be a barnstormer, so perhaps a Dolby Atmos upgrade isn’t even needed…

Honorary mentions

Black Swan
credit: 20th Century Fox

I mentioned Armageddon so it goes without saying that The Rock is overdue a 4K release. As it stars Nicholas Cage, two other great action flicks worthy of a 4K release are Face/Off and Con Air. The former is getting one in the United States where Paramount has the rights, while there was one in the works for Con Air in 2022.

Other titles include Black Swan, Gone Girl, Cool Runnings, The Village (it would be great to get The Sixth Sense on physical media), Grosse Pointe Blank, Flight of the Navigator (which has been restored in 4K), Tombstone, Apocalypto, Crimson Tide, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, and too many more to list.

And probably impossible but as it’s the 30th anniversary, wouldn’t be nice to see the original Super Mario film (at resolution) on Disney+?

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