Black Panther's UHD release offers modest-to-almost-major improvements over the excellent 1080p Blu-ray. Even in the dark opening virabnium meteor animation, and watching more than 24 hours later and without a direct comparison to the Blu-ray, it's easy to see a difference. Deeper outer space blacks and significantly more vibrant electric blue highlights jump off the screen as the first of many positive impressions for this UHD's color grading. The 12-bit Dolby Vision color palette is, as it tends to be, the biggest difference maker on the disc. The movie's colors are much more dense, deep, and seemingly accurate. The Blu-ray looks almost blown out with the contrast turned too high in several scenes when a direct A-B comparison was conducted. The entire palette -- blue skies, natural greens, decorative and vibrant clothing and accent colors, skin tones -- are much more nuanced and much more robust. Even as the image is comparatively darker than the Blu-ray, it's at the same time more brilliant and capable of producing significant color refinement. The various title cards seen throughout the film offer a much more intense and bright white color delivery. The car chase through the streets of Busan makes a great reference moment for Dolby Vision. The combination of perfectly deep nighttime blacks and a barrage of brilliantly bright light sources brings every shot to amazing life with more boldness and intensity than the Blu-ray can muster, and by a fair margin, too.
Increases in raw detailing are a little less dramatic. The film was reportedly photographed at a resolution of 3.4K and finished at 4K. The UHD offers a modest uptick in image sharpness and clarity over the excellent Blu-ray, but viewers will be hard-pressed to note many, if any, substantial boosts in visible definition on skin, clothes, or natural formations. Pores appear a little more deep, skin decorations more pronounced, fabric textures a bit more dense, natural land masses in Wakanda more naturally rugged, but there are no major leaps. That said, the boost in textural yield is welcome and is complimented by the more robust Dolby Vision color grading. This is a very good UHD. It's not a standout, particularly compared to many film-sourced transfers, but there's much to like here, even if all areas of concern are not drastically boosted over the Blu-ray.
In terms of the low volume thing Disney has going on, there's no difference between this Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the Blu-ray's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. While both are largely fine when turned up well beyond one's normal, comfortable listening levels, the studio's insistence on delivering rather comparatively (to other discs) puny soundtracks is a mystery. At least cranking up the volume largely alleviates the issue, but even still this Atmos track, like the DTS track before it on the Blu-ray, just can't match the best for sheer aural excellence, full-on low end depth, and general dynamism. The track is certainly not lacking stage coverage. Action scenes take full advantage, including here the top layer (which can be prominent, but still in a complimentary manner, in the big car chase sequence midway through the film or as ships fly above later on). The track spreads its wares around with a natural spread. Listeners will always feel immersed into the action, whether large-scale battles, cliffside clashes for leadership, or more confined action locations, such as during a jail break scene midway through. Low end engagement in these scenes is healthy, but not prominent. Balance can be an issue. Take a battle atop a waterfall in chapter 12; music is the dominant factor, and the sounds of clashing combatants -- metal-on-metal hits -- largely fall into the music, lacking the distinction and clarity that seems necessary to the scene. Atmospheric effects find a pleasing full stage immersion. There are some scenes featuring mild dialogue reverberation, though it can sound a little more tinny than natural; a dialogue exchange at the 1:15:00 mark is an example. Dialogue is otherwise fairly clear and well prioritized.
4K Bluray detailsVideo
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (44.31 Mbps)
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
4K Ultra HD
Two-disc set (1 BD-66, 1 BD-50)
Movies Anywhere, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free