‘Tenet’ 4K UHD Blu-Ray Review – Sci-Fi Tale Finds Christopher Nolan At His Most Ambitious

Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.

For in-depth thoughts on Tenet, please see my colleague Cainan Myracle’s review from its original theatrical release here

Video Quality

Tenet delivers a knockout 4K UHD Blu-Ray presentation in its original 2.20:1 aspect ratio that often opens up to 1.78:1 in an attempt to re-create the IMAX experience. The High Dynamic Range is pretty stellar from moment one as it allows for more nuanced colors and vivid highlights in specific settings. The warmth radiating from the opening moments in the opera house is overwhelming, and it only gets better from there. The intense blues of the open waters are what 4K was made to showcase. The brighter landscapes in the film remain stable and do not suffer from banding or blooming. The clarity and detail present here is simply phenomenal, exposing details otherwise imperceptible due to the limitations of lesser formats. Everything looks natural from the skin tones to the colors of the clothing and the landscapes. Subtle details in the production design that might blend in with the background are incredibly clear and well defined. Many elements have a greater sense of texture in this format. The cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema is one of the standout aspects of the film, and it is showcased so immaculately here. The movie is one that benefits a great deal from 4K UHD with improvements to image stability and deeper black levels that make it the recommended choice. A great amount of depth is gained with this transfer, both in close-up and long shots. There are no troublesome digital nuisances detected such as excessive noise reduction, sharpening or anything else. This 4K UHD transfer brings richness to the film that a simple Blu-ray cannot replicate. 

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Audio Quality

This 4K UHD Blu-Ray release boasts a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track stands up as one of the better sounding discs of the year. There has been a large backlash from people who saw the film theatrically saying that much of the sound was incomprehensible. I did not venture out to theaters for Tenet, but the audio track sounds incredibly clear on this disc. Dialogue is often accompanied by the percussive score from Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther) or all manner of sound effects, but all of the information comes through clearly without getting muddied. The track engages all of the channels with panning effects and sounds of destruction that really makes you feel like you are in the thick of the action. There is an insane amount of activity in the low-end which will likely have your neighbors complaining. The one thing I will say is that this track is mixed LOUD, so you might need to adjust the volume down a bit from your typical listening levels. Warner Bros. knew what they were doing with this track, so those with a good surround sound setup should have fun with this one.

Special Features

  • Looking At The World In A New Way – The Making of Tenet: An epic 1 hour and 15 minute making-of documentary divided into thirteen chapters featuring the likes of director Christopher Nolan, production designer Nathan Crowley, cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, producer Emma Thomas, actors Kenneth Branagh, John David Washington, and Robert Pattinson, stunt coordinator George Cottle, special effects supervisor Scott Fisher, VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson, and many more. This well-constructed documentary delves into why Nolan wanted to make the film, the casting process, employing practical filmmaking techniques, the cinematography of the film, maintaining a continuity and many more fascinating subjects. It is always appreciated when this much care is put into delivering a supplemental package. 
      • I. The Principle of Belief 
      • II. Mobilizing the Troupe 
      • III. The Approach
      • IV. The Proving Window 
      • V. The Roadmap
      • VI. Entropy in Action 
      • VII. Traversing the Globe
      • VIII. How Big a Plane? 
      • IX. The Dress Code 
      • X. Constructing the Twilight World
      • XI. The Final Battle 
      • XII. Cohesion
      • XIII. Doesn’t Us Being Here Now Mean It Never Happened? 
  • Theatrical Teasers: Two teaser trailers are provided here that do a good job of getting you excited without giving away anything. 
  • Theatrical Trailers: Two full-length trailers are provided here that gives you a little more information about the movie, but still leaves you largely in the dark. 
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Final Thoughts

Tenet is not Nolan at his absolute best, but it is still an incredibly strong and ambitious film that rewards patience. The level of backlash it has received feels like a product of a larger issue with the director himself. The more you watch Tenet the better it plays in the end. From a technical standpoint, it really does not get better as the film delivers magnificent performances and a level of spectacle that is jaw dropping. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has given Tenet one of the best 4K UHD Blu-Ray presentations of the year in terms of A/V quality, as well as a spectacular making-of documentary. If you are a Nolan fan, you will find yourself wanting to revisit this one often. Highly Recommended 

Tenet is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray. DVD and Digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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