DirectorRic Roman Waugh
Release Date(s)2020 (February 9, 2021)
Studio(s)Thunder Road, Anton, G-Base, STX Films (Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C
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.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that I’m reviewing Greenland on regular Blu-ray Disc and not on 4K Ultra HD, especially since I watched it the first time in 4K with HDR on Amazon Prime. Seriously, who at STX or Universal is making these decisions? This is as obvious a physical 4K release as there’s been in all of 2020 from any Hollywood studio. It’s a no-brainer. Come on, guys! Have the courage of your convictions. This is a great action/disaster film and it damn well deserves 4K disc.
It does appear that Greenland was captured digitally and it was definitely finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate. It’s obviously been downsampled for its release in 1080p HD, but the image is clear and there’s generally excellent detail in evidence. The image is high contrast by design (which isn’t a problem) but it’s also surprisingly dark on Blu-ray—really almost too dark—as if it was graded first for HDR and the SDR release was an afterthought (which is a problem). The 4K HDR streaming experience definitely didn’t suffer from this issue; it was much more natural looking. The Blu-ray is fine for what it is, but it pales in comparison to the 4K presentation.
Lossless audio is available on the Blu-ray in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA format and it’s an excellent mix, a big and hemispheric sound environment with plenty of bluster, strong dynamics, and highly atmospheric use of the surround channels. Panning is smooth and natural, and the LFE has genuine bite in all the key moments you’d want it to, including gunfire, explosions, panicked crowds, and debris impacts. English Descriptive Audio is also available, as are optional subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.
Sadly, the Blu-ray doesn’t offer much in the way of extras. You do get the following:
- Audio Commentary with director Ric Roman Waugh and producer Basil Iwanyk
- Deleted Scenes (HD – 2 scenes and the original ending with director intros – 5:07 in all)
- Humanity EPK clip (HD – 1:20)
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, etc, it become clear that this was a project Iwanyk had a strong hand in championing and guiding to completion. The deleted scenes are interesting, but they don’t really amount to much. The original ending, however, is much better than the ending that’s actually used in the film. In fact, Greenland’s final shots are probably its weakest moments, because they’re exactly the cliche you expect them to be—the way seemingly every film of this genre ends—and it’s all the more lacking because the family moments right before are perfect. The original ending is more true to the spirit of the rest of the film, which is a personal story about a single family. I wish the filmmakers had stuck with it. Sadly, the EPK piece isn’t even long enough to count as a proper featurette (it’s barely worth mentioning). You do also get a DVD copy and a Digital one as well via paper insert.
All other considerations aside, I can’t recommend Greenland more highly. The film is well worth your time. But sadly, I can’t recommend this Blu-ray at all. Save your money for the day when STX and Universal finally do what they should have done from the start and release this properly on physical 4K Ultra HD. And maybe they’d be kind enough to conjure up a few proper featurettes, or some interviews with the cast and crew while they’re at it. Fingers crossed.
- Bill Hunt