Forrest Gump makes its UHD debut with a true 4K presentation at 2160p and 12-bit Dolby Vision color enhancement. This is a passable image in the aggregate, great in spots but also grossly imperfect in others, obvious when watching the movie straight through on UHD and even more so when directly comparing to an aging, but in many ways superior, Blu-ray. Texturally, quality varies on the 4K disc. Optical effects shots -- particularly several involving the maimed Lt. Dan -- are pasty and less convincing now than they were on lesser resolution formats. But the image doesn't escape other, often avoidable, drawbacks along the way. The image varies, sometimes wildly, in terms of textural strength and grain retention. There are times -- many throughout the film -- when the presentation is nothing short of gorgeous. Refined and stout detailing on faces, sharp military uniforms, more roughhewn hippie attire, landscapes, and the like can nearly match anything the UHD format has previously had on offer. Grain in these scenes is often tangible but reserved, very organic and complimentary. Then there are scenes in which noise reduction has been utilized to disastrous result. Skin and clothes are sometimes reduced to a depressingly pasty state. Take a look at a scene in which Jenny reunites with Forrest around the 1:45:00 mark. Gump's skin and shirt both lack that same natural, filmic complexity seen elsewhere, traded for a much less attractive noise reduced artificiality. While raw clarity and resolution are still quite good, there's often little sense of depth or complexity to the image. Black levels tend to fluctuate as well. Some nighttime exterior shots (look at the 19:45 mark) exhibit significant crush, though some dark corners reveal stronger depth and shadow detail at the 47:20 mark in Vietnam. The occasional black or white speckle creeps into frame, too.
After watching the film on UHD, select scene comparisons with the aging Blu-ray reveal some interesting results. Comparisons began with that scene mentioned above, with Jenny reuniting with Forrest in chapter 15. While the UHD removes some wobble and speckling (particularly considering a brief distant shot that encapsulates the entire house and the land around it at the 1:44:54 mark), the scene appears much more cinematic on the Blu-ray. Textures are sharper and the colors are superior, too, appearing more natural on the Blu-ray, pasty and almost sickly on the UHD, whether Forrest's shirt, the green grass, or the white house. Many scenes do reveal added sharpness and textural refinement, however. Close-ups are particularly revealing, at times; a good example comes at the 15:30 mark, a head-and-shoulders shot of the title character that's more purely crisp on the UHD, though texturally speaking, the UHD still looks flatter and smoother overall, despite some increase to raw clarity. Then there are scenes such as that in chapter 12 at the 1:25:00 minute mark where Gump is playing ping pong by himself in a gymnasium. Grain is nice and even, textures are very sharp, colors are just right. A wide shot of the Atlantic coast at the 1:53:44 mark is another good example of a moment when the UHD reveals its superiority, with sharper textures and much improved color depth, density, vitality, and stability apparent. There are many shots, scenes, and sequences in the film that offer much of the same, but there are conversely many that just flat-out disappoint under the burden of severe noise reduction.
The Dolby Vision coloring, specifically, is often just too overpowering in comparison to the more even Blu-ray. It often robs the image of so much of its warmth, favoring brightness and garishness instead. It's not subtle, and while it doesn't alway necessarily look bad on its own, comparisons show an overall more pleasingly neutral palette on the Blu-ray. On the contrary (of course, with this release), green army fatigues enjoy better color depth and saturation when Forrest and Bubba arrive in Vietnam. Blacks are not as noticeably crushed on the Blu-ray either, with a shot of the Gump house at night at the 19:36 mark a good test case where the UHD absorbs window frames and anything that approaches or falls into shadow. As with the texturing, the Dolby Vision colors are good in places, less than ideal and grossly overpowering in others. Additionally, the UHD does reduce some flickering and speckling (beyond what was listed above) from the previous Blu-ray release. Maybe others will see this one differently, but this is one of the more frustrating and disappointing UHDs this reviewer has covered.
Forrest Gump's Dolby Atmos soundtrack carries the film's sonic needs very well. Much like the companion UHD video, the track is not particularly a standout, but it excels in spots and rarely disappoints. Musical clarity is a strong point and Alan Silvestri's unforgettable score enjoys the stage presence and fidelity it deserves, with the light, airy notes a complimentary counterpoint to the film's 60s soundtrack. The first big sound event beyond gentle score and dialogue (which presents with faultless center positioning, excellent clarity, and consistent prioritization) comes when Forrest plays college football at Alabama in chapter four. The football scenes feature triumphantly large music and immersive crowd din but no real overhead engagement, though. Likewise, the track offers good, wide spacing but not much of a heavy overhead component to falling rain a few minutes later in the same chapter.
The track never springs to its fullest, most seriously intense life until the Vietnam sequence. Helicopter rotors whirl with a clear overhead presence as Forrest and Bubba land at their base. "Fortunate Son" blares with much more musical intensity and width than anything to come before it. The battle in chapter seven presents weapons fire with full stage traversal and impressive whistling zip. Incoming artillery shoves into the stage with increased weight, and while the segment isn't ultra intense, the total immersion sensation, including well defined separation of elements, is quite good. The sequence is capped by the screaming jets that drop napalm minutes later, with excellent zoom through the listening area and a fairly strong depth to the resultant explosions. The second most sonically intensive scene comes when Gump addresses a crowd on the National Mall in chapter nine, with excellent microphone reverberation and large crowd din spreading far out to the edges. The track is always well rounded in every scene and through each Gump endeavor. While it lacks the absolutely intensity and consistent immersion of more regularly potent tracks, this is a smooth, well-rounded listen that compliments the movie very well.
4K Bluray details
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (66.35 Mbps)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
German: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 2.0
Note: Castilian & Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
4K Ultra HD
Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free