A note to some of these reviewers: the 70mm presentation that played this summer was not a restoration at all, and is not representative of what will be on this new 4K Blu ray. The 70mm run was a "non-restoration", a new print from the negative with zero digital bells and whistles and cleaning. If you didn't like what you saw, it's not because of anything Christopher Nolan did, it's just that you watched a new print of a 50 year old negative of a film that you're accustomed to seeing with slight variations in color from other masters that have been struck over the years, whether on VHS, DVD, or even the Blu Ray from 2007. This new 4k Blu Ray WILL be what is shown on digital 4k IMAX screens around the country starting on August 24. It's a new digital remaster. If you were lucky enough to have seen a 70mm screening, you'll have seen that the negative has been VERY well cared for, and isn't in need of "restoration", only some cleanup and, well, remastering for 4k hdtv.
There are countless reviews of the film itself. These comments apply only to the newly released 4K version. For the record, I viewed it in Dolby Vision on an OLED TV, listening in DTS HDMA on an Atmos-optimized speaker system. The audio is as good as it could be, having been recorded with the technology that was available 50 years ago. The music is tremendously important to the movie, and they did their best with it. As I recall from seeing it in theaters in 1968, there was an attempt at surround sound, previously unheard of. The sound is almost as good as some modern films, but nothing like the really great ones that take full advantage of Atmos or DTS:X. From my recent experiences with 4K discs, I believe that Dolby Vision is much better than HDR, even though there is probably no technical reason for that. So far, every Dolby Vision movie I have seen has seemed very realistic, while HDR is often kind of "excessive" looking. Here, it appears that they tried their best to re-create the film experience, not enhance it. The light of outer space is naturally very harsh and contrastly. Interior scenes of space stations and ships are very bright and uniformly lighted as one would expect them to be. This was understood when shooting the film. The video faithfully re-creates it. Film artifacts appear from time to time, mostly as graininess in the bright scenes. This, to me, is better than trying to smooth it out, leading to an unnatural look. Fortunately there was no CGI back then. Models were constructed and sets built. These had to look good on film when projected on a huge screen. Therefore, they still look good today. Some movies with crude CGI made much more recently are already looking outdated in 4K. Of note is that on an OLED TV, the first three minutes are black, nothing to see at all. And outer space is truly black with very bright stars, just as it should be. This is vastly better than the VHS and DVD versions, even a lot better than HD Blu-ray. Well worth buying again, even if you already have it in HD.
Okay so the movie is great and deserves 5 stars. Why is this review 3 stars? Well, WB again completely messed up the digital copy. It’s not 4K. Redeemed via Movies Anywhere, and despite the site saying I’d redeemed a 4K version after I entered the code - it’s HD. Linked accounts in Vudu and iTunes also show HDX and HD respectively. It seems the only way to watch in 4K is with the disc. As for the 4K transfer - it’s excellent. They did a great job, especially with Dolby Vision. Just a shame they didn’t implement it onto the digital copy. WB are the new Paramount, Lionsgate, and Disney when it comes to digital/streaming.. Also, in true Amazon style - the description shows the 4K version has 3 discs. It’s actually 2. The 4K disc and the blu ray. My version shows blu ray as it seems the 4K is on pre-order, but I received it from Amazon today 10/28 which was nice of them. If me getting it before the release date is why the digital copy is HD, and it somehow becomes 4K on Tuesday, I’ll update my review. Edit 11/1: Response from Movies Anywhere “I can confirm to you that 2001: A Space Odyssey is in your account in 4K/UHD. Our service will store your movie in UHD, though at this time we only offer HD streaming/downloading resolutions. Movies will port over to your connected retailers in the same format (UHD) or next best, that the retailers offer. After taking a look, it does appear that the retailers are only offering the SD or HD versions at this time. If they upgrade in the future, your copies with them should reflect that.” So it’s 4K, but not at this time. Whatever than means. Also - I read reviews from folk who got 3 discs. As my photo shows - it’s only 2.