Venom (2018) | 4K Blu-ray Review


With the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage this past weekend here in the U.S. I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at the first in the series, the eponymous Venom from 2018. Sony Pictures has a reputation for excellent 4K releases so let’s see if this one keeps up with their track record intact.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Venom, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-66)
Blu-ray (BD-50)
Digital code
Released By:Sony Pictures
Release Date:December 18th, 2018
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
BR: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Resolution:4K: 
Upscaled 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)

BR: 
Full HD, 1080/24p 
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from digital RAW)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.40:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

English (BR): DTS-HD MA (48kHz, 24-bit)

Additional tracks also available in French and Spanish
Subtitles:English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Packaging:Dual disc snap case w/ slipcover*

*Slipcover may only be available on initial pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region-free

Video Review:

Though captured at mostly 2.8K and 3.4K (with some scenes at up to 8K), but ultimately upscaled from 2K digital intermediate, the Ultra HD image comes through as surprisingly sharp and detailed on numerous fronts. The live action elements reveal numerous details that are otherwise lost on the 1080p disc and the digital effects come through clear and detailed without nearing the danger zone of looking overly fake when upscaled. Details in characters’ skin and clothing, as well as shots of San Francisco, are enhanced and sharp in a way not found on the standard disc.

As this was shot digitally there is only a very light layer of digital noise, likely from the compression to fit onto the BD-66 disc. It is barely noticeable even when looking for it, so for all intents and purposes, this is a fairly clean and clear looking picture.

The color grading is handled masterfully with both skin tones and costumes looking natural, but with a noticeable richness. Colors when needed are appropriately saturated but not over the top. Black levels are deep and inky and shadow details are well preserved. Similarly highlights are well controlled with colors emanating from explosions that are otherwise washed out in the 8-bit standard disc. Specular highlights are bright and impactful, inducing appropriate levels of eye-squints. 
Overall this is an very good looking 4K image and demonstrates how even 2K upscales can approach or exceed native 4K levels on many other movies (although top-notch native 4K will always best a top-notch upscale).

The Blu-ray’s 1080p picture is also excellent when compared to its peers, but does not have the repertoire of dance moves that the 4K brings to the party. That said, if you are not 4K enabled, you will still be very pleased with this 2K disc.

Video Score (4K): 4.5 / 5

Video Score (BR): 4.3 / 5

Audio Review:

Hitting the Blu-ray first here for a reason. It has an excellent 5.1 mix that creates an expansive and immersive experience that any movie watcher would enjoy fully utilizing the speakers available to bring the listener further in to the movie. Dialog is appropriately clean and clear, and effects move around the listener with great vigor. Bass is deep and powerful as one would expect from any comic book movie.

The reason I hit that first, is that with all that praise, the Dolby Atmos track on the 4K disc just ups it in every aspect. Just insert “even more” in front of each of those aspects and that’s what you get with the Atmos. The expansiveness of the soundstage is that much larger, spreading further out and above the listener. Effects have additional impact, making you look around your room as the effects zip by. Immersion is enhanced with sounds enveloping you not from just in front, but spread up into the heights. For example when Venom speaks from within Eddie the voice comes from all around as if Venom was within our own heads.
Bass is punched up, deep and forceful throughout. A truly top notch audio experience for this type of movie.

Audio Score (4K): 4.8 / 5

Audio Score (BR): 4.3 / 5

Special Features and Packaging:

For a standard edition comic book movie, this comes in at about the level one would hope, but short of what one would expect on a more premium edition. 95% of the features are found on the Blu-ray with that 5% consisting of the preview for Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse on the 4K disc. In the rest of the feature list is a series of 5-20 minutes featurettes, behind the scenes, deleted scenes and a gimmicky Venom Mode displaying trivia as you watch. VH1’s Pop Up Video would be proud (…and I think I just dated myself…Google it if you are too young). Overall a lot of it is not overly deep, but is entertaining and interesting for fans of the film and comic.

As for packaging, this is pretty standard issue fare. There is decent artwork on the front, different art on the case, but nothing much else. The discs are basic Sony black with white, and blue with white on the 4K and 1080 discs, respectively. Overall its nice, but nothing special.

Features Score: 3.7 / 5

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

If you have not picked this up, then grab the 4K release of this film. It is by far the best way to view and hear it. That said if you already own the Blu-ray, you may have trouble justifying this unless its on sale. That said, if you can find it in the low teens or less, absolutely pick it up and you will be pleased.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: YES!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

A few years old, but still a great disc, the first solo film for Venom shines on 4K with excellent image and audio quality. If you are a fan of the film, Sony did you proud with a high quality standard edition release of the film. If you are preparing to see the follow up here in 2021, make sure you have refreshed yourself on the first one. In just a few months you’ll likely be picking up the sequel on 4K as well.

Experience Score**: 4.4 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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