DirectorRic Roman Waugh
Release Date(s)2020 (March 5, 2021)
Studio(s)Thunder Road, Anton, G-Base, STX Films (Tobis Film/LEONINE Distribution)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: This is a German import release. The Blu-ray Disc in the package is coded for Region B only, however the 4K Ultra HD disc is all region. And though it doesn’t say so on the packaging, the 4K disc does include English 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio.]
John Garrity (Gerard Butler) is an Atlanta-based structural engineer. He supervises the construction of tall buildings and he’s damn good at it. Unfortunately, he’s less good at his marriage, though he’s been making an effort to get back in the good graces of his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), so she lets him return home to host a planned neighborhood barbecue. But just when it seems like the Garrity’s life might be returning to normal, the news reports that a newly-discovered comet called Clarke is approaching Earth. It’s made of hundreds of smaller fragments, and the experts on TV say that one is about to land harmlessly in the ocean. But as the world watches live, the impact turns out to be much bigger and more damaging than people expected. Suddenly, there are additional signs that the worst is yet to come—and that the government has been hiding the truth. So John, Allison, and their son Nathan find themselves in a fight to survive with the rest of humanity around them.
Right off the top, this needs to be said: Greenland is the single best comet-hits-Earth movie that’s yet been made. It’s remarkably personal and a genuinely tense viewing experience. Writer Chris Sparling and director Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch, Angel Has Fallen) have resisted the urge to use a huge ensemble cast, unlike every other disaster epic. By limiting their focus to the members of just this one family, the entire story becomes more realistic and effective. The fact that this couple is having marital problems, and that their son has a chronic health issue, only makes things that much more believable. Lots of little but unsettling touches add to the realism too. Best of all, Butler (300, Hunter Killer), Baccarin (Homeland, Firefly), and supporting cast member Scott Glenn (The Hunt for Red October, The Right Stuff) keep everything grounded and relatable. This is just a damn good film.
Unfortunately, Universal and STX have thus far declined to release this film on physical 4K Ultra HD here in the States. The good news, however, is that Tobis Film and LEONINE Distribution in Germany have risen to the challenge, and their 4K disc works just fine on US players.
Greenland was captured digitally in the ARRIRAW codec using Arri Alexa Mini LF cameras with Cooke Anamorphic/i and S4/i lenses. It was finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate and graded for high dynamic range (only HDR10 is included on this disc). The first thing to note is that this image is high contrast by design. It was almost too dark on regular Blu-ray, so the HDR makes a big difference here. The shadows are deeply black, yet detailed, while the highlights are bold and also retain detail—they’re right on the edge of being eye-reactive. What’s important is that the wider gamut improves detail visibility and offers more nuanced colors. This is a film that lives and breathes on atmospherics (smoke, haze, falling ash, etc) but when textures are visible, the detail is notably tighter and better refined. This is not quite a demo-quality image, but there’s no doubt that 4K is the best way to view the film. The Blu-ray pales in comparison.
Lossless audio is available on this 4K disc in English and German 5.1 DTS-HD MA format. The English option is solid, offering a big soundstage with good dynamics and atmospheric use of the surround channels. Panning is effective and the LFE has genuine bite in all the key moments you’d want it to, including gunfire, explosions, panicked crowds, and debris impacts. It’s worth noting, however, that the US Blu-ray release from Universal (see our review here) included a 7.1 DTS-HD MA mix. Not only was this mixed at a louder reference level, the panning is somewhat smoother, more natural, and immersive. This 4K release is still preferred for the image upgrade, but it’s a shame that the 7.1 mix didn’t carry over here. Given that this is a German release though, that was clearly the priority. Optional subtitles are also available in German and English SDH.
The Blu-ray in this package is Region B locked, but the actual 4K disc includes the following bonus content:
- Audio Commentary with director Ric Roman Waugh and producer Basil Iwanyk
- Mini Making-of (HD – 4:20 – German audio only)
- B-Roll (HD – 3:55)
- Deleted Scenes (HD – 2 scenes and the original ending with director intros – 7:50 in all)
- Image Gallery (HD – 2:32)
- Kino Trailer 1 (HD – 1:06 – German audio only)
- Kino Trailer 2 (HD – 2:27 – German audio only)
- Original Trailer 1 (HD – 1:02)
- Original Trailer 2 (HD – 2:23)
- Gerard Butler Interview (HD – 26:50)
- Morena Baccarin Interview (HD – 11:13)
- Ric Roman Waugh Interview (HD – 7:37)
Here’s what’s surprising about this—it’s actually significantly more content than you get on the US Blu-ray release. All that disc offered was the audio commentary, the deleted scenes, and a very brief EPK clip. Everything else you see listed above is new. The commentary is low key but informative, and it was obviously recorded over Zoom or Skype given the pandemic. As the pair discusses their approach to the story, it becomes clear that this was a project Iwanyk had a strong hand in championing and guiding to completion. The deleted scenes are the same ones included on the US Blu-ray, but you get about 2 minutes of additional director’s introduction and explanation. A couple of these extras (where noted) only have German audio and the production quality on some of the other material is uneven—PAL audio speed-up on the interviews, for example. Still, if you’re a fan of this film, it’s nice to see a bit more content here.
All things considered, I can’t recommend Greenland more highly. The film is well worth your time. And until the day that STX and Universal finally do what they should have done from the start and release this properly on physical 4K Ultra HD, this German import UHD release is your best bet. It’s a shame that the audio isn’t quite as good as that of the US Blu-ray release, but the image improvement is worth the compromise. So this disc is worth a look for 4K fans.
- Bill Hunt