Leviathan (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A deep-sea mining crew discover a sunken Russian vessel that houses a mutant creature which threatens their existence.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Directed by George Pan Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part II), Leviathan is a 1989 sci-fi/horror film that is an obvious imitation of The Abyss and Alien. The crew of deep-sea miners come across a sunken Russian ship that holds a monstrous threat to their survival, a mutant creature that is failed genetic experiment that will begin to pick off each member one by one.

From the design of the set (the film was shot almost entirely on large stage sets in Rome) to the setup of multiracial, multiethnic crew members and the diving suits that look mysteriously like the space suits from Alien, this film has not an ounce of originality. What is does have is an incredible cast that features Peter Weller as the captain of the crew, Richard Crenna as a fallen scientist, Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson, and Hector Elizondo. Unfortunately, even with this crew, the lack of a budget that has Cosmatos faking underwater sequences with high-speed slow motion filming techniques and detritus, and close-shot sequences with quick edits on the monsters, turns in what could be a direct-to-video derivation.

The film does succeed in building tension in the scenes and Peter Weller is good with the dumbed down dialogue he is given, but the rest of the cast outside of Meg Foster with her piercing eyes as the home corporate representative are lackluster placeholders for the original crew of Alien. In the end, if you want a derivative of the original worth watching set underwater, watch The Abyss.

Purchase Leviathan 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber) on Amazon.com

  • Amanda Pays in Leviathan (1989)
  • Lisa Eilbacher in Leviathan (1989)
Hector Elizondo, Ernie Hudson, Amanda Pays, and Michael Carmine in Leviathan (1989)
  • Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, Hector Elizondo, Lisa Eilbacher, Amanda Pays, and Daniel Stern in Leviathan (1989)
  • Meg Foster in Leviathan (1989)
  • Peter Weller in Leviathan (1989)
  • Richard Crenna and Amanda Pays in Leviathan (1989)
  • Hector Elizondo, Ernie Hudson, Amanda Pays, and Daniel Stern in Leviathan (1989)
  • Leviathan (1989)
  • Leviathan (1989)
  • Leviathan 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber)
  • Leviathan 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber)
  • Leviathan 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber)

The Video

Leviathan is taken from a brand new HDR/Dolby Vision master from a 4K scan of the 35mm interpositive. It is presented on 4K Ultra HD in a 2.35:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. The image is a bit inconsistent with some brief spots showing some overly smooth faces, but this is limited. While the detail is not as crisp as it would be if this were taken from the original camera negative, the grain structure looks natural, with just some slight suppression, which is probably a given these days. There is no issue with source damage to complain about and the Dolby Vision grading adds superb contrast and shadow detail. In the final act in particular, we see some excellent color and specular highlights against inky blacks.

The Audio

I really enjoyed the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track for Leviathan with its full and clearly defined dialogue and wide stereo panning of audio effects. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a mixed bag. The placement of sound effects and the dynamic range are excellent as is the expanse of the score by Jerry Goldsmith. The dialogue in the 5.1 mix, however, sounds too diffuse and spread across the front channels. There is too much added reverb/room effect and dialogue often wavers from being anchored firmly to the center channel to drifting and spreading across the front channels, not necessarily to follow the action in any defined way.

The Supplements

Kino Lorber includes an audio commentary (on both 4K and Blu-ray), interviews, and a forty-minute featurette with this release.

On a side note, I could not get the included Blu-ray Disc to play in my Panasonic DP-UB90000. I had to play it in my Pioneer UDP-LX500. Hopefully this is down to a simple firmware issue or just related to the disc I received. I have alerted the representative for Kino Lorber.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson

Blu-ray Only Bonus Features:

  • Leviathan – Monster Melting Pot: Featurette (1080p; 00:40:27)
  • Dissecting Cobb: Interview with Actor Hector Elizondo (1080p; 00:12:36)
  • Surviving Leviathan: Interview with Actor Ernie Hudson (1080p; 00:15:02)
  • Leviathan – Trailer (1080p; 00:01:54)

The Final Assessment

A fine 4K effort for a not-so-great film that only works as a pastime on a slow day or as a guilty pleasure cult favorite, Leviathan on 4K gets the job done even if it is not top-tier reference.

Leviathan (Kino Lorber) is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo February 20, 2024, from KL Studio Classics.

Purchase Leviathan 4K Ultra HD Combo (Kino Lorber) on Amazon.com

  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: Filmauro | Gordon Company | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) | Kino Lorber
  • Director: George P. Cosmatos
  • Written By: David Webb Peoples | Jeb Stuart
  • Run Time: 98 Mins.
  • Street Date: 20 February 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
    • MaxLL: 1061 nits
    • MaxFall: 170 nits
    • Max. Luminance: 1000 nits
    • Min. Luminance: 0.0001 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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A deep-sea mining crew discover a sunken Russian vessel that houses a mutant creature which threatens their existence. Leviathan (4K UHD Review)