It’s a Wonderful Life – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

It's a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most beloved Christmas films of all-time. Although it takes a while to get there, you will eventually see why many people love the film. At the same time, the Christmas aspect of the film doesn’t happen towards the end of the film. A majority of the film revolves around the life of George Bailey. Capra establishes at the beginning moments of the film that Bailey needs help, so we spend the rest of the film finding out why George is getting several prayers for help.

In other words, George Bailey is just an overall caring and loving guy. Unfortunately, he gets the short end of the stick constantly throughout the film. The problem with It’s a Wonderful Life is that parts of the film feel formulaic. When something good finally happens to George, something bad happens to him after. It’s a sad situation but that always seems to happen to those who put others before him. That’s attributed to the charismatic performance by the legendary James Stewart. Stewart’s kindness just emanates off the screen.

Yet it’s nice to see that George finds true happiness through Mary Hatch. Mary is an equally caring and giving person. Their love has endured a lot throughout their lives. Stewart and Reed have great chemistry on-screen. However, when things go from bad to worse for George, all those years of frustration finally boils over. You can feel his frustration and you simply sympathize with him. This is when you root for the angel to finally give George the help he needs. It’s at this point that the film’s heart and Christmas spirit comes together. The entire film has led up to that point.

Overall, It’s a Wonderful Life is a heartfelt and wonderful Christmas film. The film’s pacing does some getting used to but James Stewart and Donna Reed completely make the film through their love and kindness. It’s truly a lovely film that captures the true meaning of Christmas.

Movie Rating: 4/5 atoms

Video

It's a Wonderful Life - James Stewart
It’s a Wonderful Life hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with an HDR transfer and a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture is not particularly bright. It’s a wide grayscale, it ranges from a mid-gray to a vibrant white in these bright areas. At the same time, the shadows are a deep black with no loss in these areas. The picture details and edge details look extremely clean and crisp too. Overall, the restoration work done on the footage is amazing.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

It's a Wonderful Life - James Stewart and Donna Reed

It’s a Wonderful Life hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Mono audio track. Since this is a monaural audio track, there’s not going to be much in terms of dynamic sounding audio. However, the audio sounds incredibly clear for a seventy-three-year-old film. You won’t hear the typical hollow low-fidelity audio mix that you typically hear with classic black and white films such as this. At the same time, the film’s score is layered nicely alongside the dialogue. It complements each other well. Overall, this is a clean audio mix.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Special Features

It's a Wonderful Life - James Stewart and Donna Reed

It’s a Wonderful Life‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has the following features on the disc:

  • Restoring a Beloved Classic
  • Secrets from the Vault: It’s a Wonderful Life
  • It’s a Wonderful Wrap Party

“Restoring a Beloved Classic” goes behind-the-scenes in the film restoration process of It’s a Wonderful Life. It gets technical but it’s still an engaging featurette which will give you a bigger appreciation for film restoration.

“Secrets from the Vault” takes a page out of Disney’s playbook and has Wonderful experts tell stories about the film. In a way, this is a behind-the-scenes featurette. Unlike Disney, this feature is long so you will learn something new about the making of the film.

Now, if you watch “Secrets” before “Wrap Party” then you’ll be introduced to the wrap party footage. Yes, there is home video footage of the wrap party which is shown in full in this feature. However, you should watch Secrets first because you’ll get commentary on who’s who in the footage.

Special Features Rating: 3/5 atoms


Overall, It’s a Wonderful Life is a fantastic Christmas film that exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas onscreen. Paramount did a great job cleaning up the video and audio for this 4K release. The special features are in-depth and informative features despite the lack of quantity.

Overall Rating: 4/5 atoms

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1505 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.