House With A Clock In Its Walls, The 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 240, June 2019

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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(THX® Digitally Mastered):
Eli Roth
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(Disc Soundtrack):
Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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(French Language):
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In "The House With A Clock In Its Walls," Lewis Barnavelt (Vaccaro) goes to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Black) in a creaky and creepy mansion with an eerie tick-tocking heart. But when Lewis soon finds out he's in the presence of magic practiced by his uncle and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Blanchett), his new town's dreary aura boosts to life. (Gary Reber)

Special features include commentary with Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black; an alternate opening (HD 04:08) and ending (01:24) with available commentary by Roth and Black; nine deleted scenes with available commentary by Roth and Black (HD 09:20); 10 featurettes: "Warlocks And Witches" (HD 09:48), "Movie Magic" (HD 09:53), "Tick Tock: Bringing The Book To Life" (HD 03:27), "Eli Roth: Director's Journals" (HD 07:23) , "Owen Goes Behind The Scenes" (HD 04:11), "Theme Song Challenge" (HD 02:48), "Do You Know Jack Black" (HD 04:01), " Abracadabra! (HD 01:06), "Jack Black's Greatest Fear" (HD 01:27) and "The Mighty Wurlitzer" (HD 02:26); a gag reel (HD 03:33); upfront previews; and a Movies Anywhere digital copy code.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally using the Arri Alexa Mini and SXT camera systems at a resolution of 2.8K and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. Production design is visually captivating. The color palette exhibits excellent color depth, saturation, and intensity. Hues are rich and warm throughout. There are a few black-and-white segments as well, with good gray scale delineation. Fleshtones exhibit naturalness and HDR contrast delivers deep black levels, revealing shadow delineation and bright highlights. It appears that efforts were made to infuse artificial gain, which is noticeable throughout, limiting the visual impact of an otherwise pristine picture. Resolution is excellent, however, with fine detail exhibiting textural refinements, such as in the imagery of warm woods inside Jonathan's home, fabrics in clothing, fleshtones and hair, and object textures. WOW! segments are numerous, such as from 19:12 to 22:00, 33:13 to 34:50, 01:05:02 to 01:06:40, 01:16:45 to 01:21:32, 01:23:00 to 01:24:26 and 01:29:14 to 01:35:04. The visual dynamics presented along with the strong color palette and excellent resolution make for a reference-quality visual experience. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack delivers an effective dimensional soundfield with excellent dynamics, as well as nuanced atmospherics. Ticking clocks envelop the soundfield. The orchestral score is pronounced with excellent dynamics and bass extension. Atmospherics are realistic and spread wide. Sound effects are aggressively directionalized in the surround, with enhanced low-end extension. Overall bass response adds effective weight to the soundtrack with at times sub-25 Hz extension in the .1 channel. Dialogue is intelligible throughout with generally good spatial integration, with at times directionality.

The Immersive Sound element is wonderful. The ticking sounds extend aggressively to the height layer as do other crunching sound effects. At times the clock sounds are really heightened in level. Also prominent is the extension of the orchestral score, which fully engulfs the spherical element of the soundtrack. The music is not subtle but instead at strong levels, which effectively enhance the dimensionality of the spherical sound experience. More sounds are a boy on crutches slowly walking across a school gymnasium, followed by the ruckus of kids on the court, and a school bell, then bird chirps outdoor ambience, an out-of-tune alto saxophone, bird squawks, an owl and a dog barking in a grave yard, kids maundering in a school hallway, a smashing sound and glass scatter, voices screaming "over here, over here," an audience applause, "wake-up" voices, pumpkin screeches, voices, a basketball bounce and slam, and other sound effects. All-in-all, with the music a constant element and effectively placed sound effects, this is a nicely crafted Immersive Sound experience. While approaching effective height layer satisfaction, there is still room for doing more to create a cacophony of dimensional soundscapes.

This is a terrific reference holosonic® spherical surround experience that will thrill home theatre enthusiasts and audiences of all ages. (Gary Reber)