Glory – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook Review

Mark Pacis


Edward Zwick’s Glory is a stirring and powerful film that brings to life one of American history’s most significant yet often-overlooked chapters: the formation and heroism of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first African American unit in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Led by the passionate and idealistic Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), the 54th Massachusetts Regiment’s journey is one of struggle, courage, and ultimate sacrifice. Broderick’s performance captures Shaw’s evolution from a privileged young officer into a dedicated leader who earns the respect and loyalty of his men. His portrayal is complemented by a strong supporting cast, including standout performances from Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher.

Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Private Trip is particularly noteworthy. His raw and emotional performance earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Trip’s journey from a rebellious, angry fugitive slave to a soldier who finds a sense of purpose and brotherhood is heart-wrenching and inspiring. At the same time, Morgan Freeman, as the wise and steady Sergeant Major John Rawlins, provides a grounding presence and adds depth to the film by acting as a bridge between Shaw and the enlisted men.

Glory is not just a war movie; it is a tribute to the courage and dignity of those who fought for freedom and equality. It sheds light on the harsh realities of racism and the monumental challenges faced by African American soldiers, both from their enemies and within their own ranks. The film is a powerful reminder of the importance of fighting for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Overall, Glory is a compelling and emotional film that pays homage to the bravery and sacrifices of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Its exceptional performances are beautifully complemented by stunning cinematography that brings the Civil War era to life, and a moving score that enhances the film’s emotional impact. It is a timeless piece of cinema that not only educates but also inspires, leaving the audience in awe of its beauty and power.

Movie Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Jihmi Kennedy as Private Jupiter Sharts, Denzel Washington as Private Trip, and Morgan Freeman as Sergeant Major John Rawlins in Glory

Glory hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR10 presentation with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Compared to the HDR10 release from 2019, Dolby Vision adds more depth to the highlights and shadows. The dark and bright parts of the picture complement each other well, creating a nice contrast. There is a slight issue with some dark scenes appearing a bit crushed, but this was also a problem in the 1080p version, so it’s likely due to the source. The explosions, cannon fire, and other artillery are also bright and vivid, making the action scenes stand out.

The colors in this presentation are vibrant, with reds and greens standing out, whites appearing bright, and fires having a robust orange glow. The natural color palette is beautiful, and Dolby Vision enhances the colors, making them appear more vibrant.

Regarding picture clarity, uniforms, battlegrounds, and soldier camps all look better. Details such as faces, hair, clothing, set, costume, and location are much more accurate. However, the image isn’t always super sharp, with occasional soft spots. This softness is more about the source than the encoding. Nevertheless, the details are excellent overall.

The film print is in pristine condition but features a significant amount of grain. Despite this, the film’s grain is a deliberate artistic choice. At times, it’s more pronounced, while in other instances, it’s more subtle. The grain is natural and primarily controlled, though it does become more visible in certain shots, enhancing the film’s vintage aesthetic.

Video Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in Glory

Glory hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. The Dolby Atmos surround mix on this platform provides an engaging listening experience. It combines atmospheric sounds, discrete effects, and music to create a realistic and immersive audio experience that complements the on-screen action. The battle sounds are well-distributed, creating an open, well-integrated soundscape with distinct panning effects and noticeable ambient details. The rear overhead channels deliver specific sound effects, working together to create a dynamic soundstage.

In contrast, the front overhead channels add depth to the sound. This is particularly noticeable in scenes like the attack on Fort Wagner in the finale, where sounds move across the soundstage. The track also enriches James Horner’s beautiful score, adding dimension to the layered sounds and instruments. It is dynamically strong, with a punchy low end that adds weight to the battlefield scenes. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. While the bass quality sometimes varies, it doesn’t distract from the overall experience.

Audio Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Andre Braugher as Corporal Thomas Searles, Morgan Freeman as Morgan Freeman as Sergeant Major John Rawlins, Jihmi Kennedy as Private Jupiter Sharts, Cary Elwes as Major Cabot Forbes, and Mark A. Jones as 54th Soldier in Glory
Special Features

Glory has the following bonus features on the Ultra HD disc:

  • Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary with Director Edward Zwick, Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman
  • Theatrical Trailer

The rest of the bonus features can be found on the HD Blu-ray disc:

  • Director’s Commentary
  • Virtual Civil War Battlefield
  • The Voices of Glory
  • The True Story Continues
  • Original Theatrical Making-of Featurette
  • Deleted Scenes (with optional director’s commentary)
    • The Apple Picker
    • Crisis of Conscience
Features Assessment

The “Picture-in-Picture” commentary plays on full screen at 1080p, with Edward Zwick, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman in a small SD video window providing commentary. Zwick mostly repeats his legacy audio commentary while Broderick and Freeman offer new insights. Although not all of Zwick’s commentary is included here, the entire track is available on the HD Blu-ray.

Director Edward Zwick’s commentary covers various aspects of the film’s production, including historical accounts, war violence, locations, lighting, filming techniques, actor performances, and the score. It is highly informative and a must-listen for film enthusiasts.

Additional features include the “Virtual Civil War Battlefield,” an interactive map with text and video about the Civil War. “The Voices of Glory” is a short feature on the history of the 54th regiment, telling their story using wartime letters. “The True Story Continues,” narrated by Morgan Freeman, delves deeper into the history of the 54th using scenes from Glory. The “Original Theatrical Making-Of Featurette” is a vintage piece with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. There are also two deleted scenes in SD with optional director’s commentary.

Glory 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Glory, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released a special steelbook edition. This glossy steelbook features the film’s theatrical poster on the front (seen above) and an image of Denzel Washington as Private Trip on the back. Inside, the steelbook showcases a scene of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at Fort Wagner.

Special Features Review: 3/5 atoms

Overall, Glory remains a powerful and moving film that captures the bravery and struggles of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. This Dolby Vision edition offers impressive visual quality, enhancing bright and dark scenes. The Dolby Atmos audio mix creates an immersive experience, bringing the film’s action and music to life. Although no new features are included in this release, the legacy features continue to add tremendous value to those who have yet to see these bonus features.

Overall Review: 4/5 atoms

Glory‘s 35th-anniversary SteelBook edition is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was provided by Sony Picture Home Entertainment for review purposes.