Casino Royale's UHD release offers a nice little improvement over the Blu-ray. It's not a gargantuan transformation by any stretch of the imagination but there's enough of a good basic upgrade to color and detail to make the transition a worthwhile one. The Dolby Vision color grading is easily the more dynamic of the two major improvements (the other being the bump in resolution and resultant increase in detail, more on that in a moment). The movie has a propensity to look a little high contrast. Some of the bright sunny exteriors, particularly throughout the first act, are gorgeously rendered on the UHD. Watery blues and bright skies burst out of the screen with a revealing tonal intensity that leaves the Blu-ray's colors looking a little depressed and flat. Natural greens sparkle with added depth and vitality. Darker scenes are also enriched with improved shadow details and black levels depth. Blacks find a darker, more purely deep and true presentation without crushing out any critical detail. Whites are one of the highlights; there's an added intensity, luminosity, and crispness on display that dazzles with every opportunity. Overall, color tones are much richer and deeper, fuller and more robust on the UHD. There's no transformation at play but the image does benefit from the greater spectrum, the improved contrast, and superior color depth.
The 2160p resolution brings an added element of clarity and sharpness to the picture. While not a game changing increase, there's certainly a tangible improvement to overall textural awareness and visibility. General improvements include sharper environments and refined clothing and skin textures (though there are some close-ups that struggle to show tack-sharpness, looking a bit flat rather than intimate, characteristics shared by both this UHD and the included Blu-ray). Total clarity is improved and grain management is superior on the UHD; it's a little more refined, less clumpy, more organic. The UHD does show a couple of pops and speckles along the way; a few appear at the beginning of chapter 10, a shot showing Le Chiffre walking down a hotel corridor. These appear on the Blu-ray as well which suggests this is sourced form the same master prepared for that release. The picture is otherwise free of any debilitating source or encode blemishes. This is a healthy, enjoyable image. Audiences looking for a total makeover won't find it, but those seeking a worthwhile image refinement and solidification should enjoy what MGM has put on the market.
With some exceptions it's standard practice for studios to release films -- new and not-so-new -- to the UHD format with either a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X soundtrack. Casino Royale is one of those exceptions. For this UHD, MGM has simply repurposed the admittedly effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack from the previously issued Blu-ray, which is of a different audio configuration than either of the previously issued Sony discs (which included LPCM 5.1 uncompressed and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless tracks). Some fans might bemoan the omission, but in truth there's absolutely nothing wrong with the 5.1 presentation. It's every bit as dynamic, large, and fun as a contemporary Bond soundtrack should be, and even lacking some of the added back and overhead channels there are no obvious gaps in coverage or areas where more speakers might have greatly benefited the track beyond adding some very minor nuance.
The track is explosively large and fully engaged as it should be. Every moment is a sonic delight, the more intensive action scenes of course the highlights but it's also true of the more subtle moments when dialogue and critical atmospherics help define a scene. In chapter seven, as Bond chases a man through an airport, the fire alarm blares and the sprinklers gush water with impressive total stage saturation. Outside, chaotic din in the form of rushing pedestrians and police and fire sirens ring with impressive authority. The chase scene to follow delivers incredibly well versed and stage immersive music. Clarity is stellar, surround integration is perfect, and the low end is deep but never overwhelming, a perfect compliment to the proceedings. A plane takes off at the 51:13 mark in this same sequence with remarkable low end authority and a feel for its mass moving through the stage. The track is always in full command of its wares, and there is no want for greater spacial immersion. Gunfire, explosions, and the like deliver intensive, high potency low end response and fluid, seamless full stage immersion. Music stretches wide across the front and makes use of the rear channels as well. Clarity throughout the range is excellent, with the track more than capable of delivering pinpoint clarity to every note within the score. Environmental details are fulfilling and immersive while dialogue is lifelike and presents in the front-center channel. Don't worry about the absence of additional channels; it's hard to imagine Casino Royale sounding much better.
4K Bluray details
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (41.86 Mbps)
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: DTS 5.1
Spanish: DTS 5.1
German: DTS 5.1
Italian: DTS 5.1
Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Note: Spanish DTS=Castellano
English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish (less)
4K Ultra HD
Two-disc set (1 BD-66, 1 BD-50)
Digital copy included
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free