How do you make a two-hour movie about a forced water landing in the Hudson River that lasted 208 seconds, where everyone already knows the happy outcome? You don’t. You keep it to a 90-minute running time and make two mini-movies: one about the exceptional skill and decision-making that saved lives in the air and on the ground, and one about bureaucrats second-guessing that decision-making. Weaving the stories together keeps Sully from being overly dull, but a documentary format might have been more interesting. The movie is anchored by Tom Hanks’s very human portrayal of Captain Sullenberger, though poor Laura Linney (who plays Sully’s wife) has nothing to do but cry into the phone. Director Clint Eastwood needs a villain, so he uses the NTSB, but the movie’s main theme is that we should feel pride in Americans doing their jobs well.

417sully.bpx.jpgI watched Sully twice: once in 4K UHD with HDR on a 55-inch LeEco Super4 X55 4K TV in Dolby Surround, and once on Blu-ray on a Sony VPL-HW40ES 1080p projector and 104-inch screen in Dolby Atmos. I didn’t see any additional detail in the UHD image, but HDR was clearly noticeable in explosions, streetlights, taxi lights, and neon signs. The image is highly detailed, yet not overly so; it looked a lot like film, only with delightfully punchy HDR highlights. UHD’s expanded color palette was obvious in a magenta morning sunrise and the interior of a bar. The 1080p image on the Blu-ray is clean, detailed, and exhibits no color banding, but there aren’t as many colors to band. I expected to find that watching on a larger screen would give scenes more visual impact, but I actually preferred the 4K UHD.

The audio is often centered dialogue in conference rooms; it gets highly directional in the flight scenes. In Atmos, the sounds are precisely placed and panned during those scenes, and the improvement of Atmos over Dolby Surround is clearly audible. While there isn’t much explicit ceiling content, the LFE channel gets a workout any time an airplane is onscreen—even after the engines have failed, which reflects dubious physics but is thrilling anyway.

The Blu-ray features three extras. The documentary I was craving, “Moment by Moment,” is sadly a mere 15 minutes long. The 20-minute making-of “Neck Deep in the Hudson” is quite good. Finally, “Sully Sullenberger: The Man Behind the Miracle” is a 20-minute puff piece on Sully that’s saccharine but provides a long interview with Sully himself.

Studio: Warner Bros., 2016
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
Length: 96 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney