4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Review: BREAKTHROUGH

Jul 15 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Based on true events that took place in 2015, Breakthrough follows the miraculous story of John Smith (Marcel Ruiz). John is a normal 14-year-old Missouri teen. He’s a star on his high school basketball team, but is a bit angsty towards his adoptive parents Joyce (Chrissy Metz) and Brian (Josh Lucas). One day, while out playing on the ice with his friends, the boys fall though into the freezing lake. While the other teens manage to reach the surface, John sinks to the bottom. Rescue worker Tommy Shine (Mike Colter) manages to find John, but he’s been without a heartbeat for over 15 minutes, and when things don’t improve at the hospital, Dr. Kent Sutterer (Sam Trammell) is ready to declare John dead. However, Joyce refuses to accept this and prays for the Holy Spirit to save her son. Miraculously John’s heart starts beating, but specialist Doctor Garrett (Dennis Haysbert) warns Joyce that her son probably won’t survive the night, and if he does, he will be severely impaired if/whenever he ever wakes up. But Joyce’s faith is strong and she refuses to give up. She is joined by Pastor Jason Noble (Topher Grace) as they continues to fight and pray for her son’s miraculous recovery.

While Breakthrough is a faith-based story, at its core, it is really a story of community, love and hope that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages and beliefs. It doesn’t feel overly preachy for those who are turned off by that kind of thing, but it also doesn’t shy away from the idea of faith and a higher power either. Joyce is strong in her convictions, and believes that there is a higher power that can save her son. Her husband’s belief isn’t as strong, but he stands by Joyce and her decisions. Meanwhile, the doctors and EMT staff, who usually rely on science, are seeing and hearing things they can’t explain away with science.

Breakthrough is also a character-based journey. When the film first starts Joyce is not a fan of Pastor Jason. She is turned off by his more-modern appearance and approach to mass—such as turning classic devotional hymns in church into a rock concert experience, or discussing The Bachelor in his sermon. However, they develop a genuine friendship as Joyce witnesses the pastor’s genuine love for all of his sheep, and his willingness to be there for her and John. The cast is quite good, especially Chrissy Metz, who delivers the most powerful, raw and emotional scene of the film as she first sees her son’s body in the hospital and prays for his recovery. And Topher Grace is great at adding a bit of levity into his scenes.

FOX’s 4K release of the film looks and sounds amazing. The presentation is pristine, yielding a stunning, detailed picture. There is a noticeable uptick in detail between the Blu-ray and 4K versions, which is especially noticeable in faces, textures in clothing, grime on the hospital windows, and in the opening scene when we see a fine mist spraying out of a fire hose. The dream sequences with John underwater are also quite breathtaking, and enhanced by the releases HDR. The audio track also sounds amazing, especially during the film’s several musical performances, and in particular the aforementioned church rock concert version of Phil Wickham’s “This Is Amazing Grace”, featuring Lecrae.

The 4K Ultra HD release includes both a 4K disc and a Blu-ray disc, which come packed in standard UHD keepcase with a slipcover, and also includes an insert with a code to redeem for a 4K Movies Anywhere digital copy of the film. All of the bonus material (except for the audio commentary) is only available on the Blu-ray disc. The supplemental material consists of an audio commentary, a 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a delete scene, a six-minute 2015 news story about the real-life events, a photo gallery, and trailers for the film and other FOX releases.

What’s Included:

Film: (1:56:15)

    4K Ultra HD:

    • 2160p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • HDR10
    • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French (all for both feature and commentary)


    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French (all for both feature and commentary)


    • 4K Digital copy redeemable via Movies Anywhere


All of the bonus material can be found on the Blu-ray disc. The 4K disc only contains the commentary.

  • A Tapestry of Miracles: Making Breakthrough (25:31)
    The cast and filmmakers give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. They talk about how the project came about, the real-life events portrayed in the film, casting the movie, using authentic locations combined with shooting in green screen tanks, and the use of music in the film. Participants include producer DeVon Franklin, executive producers Pastor Sam Rodriguez & Stephen Curry, screenwriter Grant Nieporte, director Roxann Dawson, special effects coordinator Tony Kenny, tank coordinator Jon Stephenson, underwater camera operator Braden Haggerty, musicians Phil Wickham & Lecrae, music producer Kirk Franklin, the real Joyce Smith, John Smith & Pastor John Noble, and stars Chrissy Metz (“Joyce Smith”), Josh Lucas (“Brian Smith”), Marcel Ruiz (“John Smith”), Topher Grace (“Pastor Jason Noble”), Sam Trammell (“Dr. Stutterer”), Mike Colter (“Tommy Shine”) & Taylor Mosby (“Chayla”).
  • “Carry My Soul” Phil Wickham Deleted Scene (3:41)
    Another musical performance by Phil Wickham in the church that was meant to be used near the end of the film, but was ultimately cut. The scene can be viewed with optional audio commentary by DeVon Franklin and Roxann Dawson, who explain why the scene wasn’t used..
  • Trapped in Icy Waters (6:05)
    A dramatic recount of the real-life incident from 2015, with interviews with those involved, as well as the original 9-1-1 call.
  • Audio Commentary by DeVon Franklin and Roxann Dawson (1:56:15)
    Director Roxann Dawson and executive producer DeVon Franklin provide an informative and entertaining commentary throughout the film. You can really sense the pride, love and joy these two have for the project as they share behind-the-scenes stories, praise the cast and crew, and talk about the filming locations, sets, production design, and more.
  • Gallery (2:33)
    Slideshow of 30 production and behind-the-scenes photos that can be stepped through manually, or auto-advanced every five seconds.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:04)
  • Sneak Peek (7:01)
    Play All, or select from trailers for The Kid Who Would Be King, The Miracle Season, and Hidden Figures.


Final Thoughts:

My Rating

Breakthrough is an inspirational and uplifting dramatization of an incredible true story of a mother’s and community’s faith and love. The film not only has some powerful dramatic moments, but also finds a lot of humor, as it tells this story. The film also contains some excellent musical performances. The film looks and sound excellent on FOX’s 4K release, which also includes a small but solid selection of bonus material. This film comes recommended for folks of all ages/faith backgrounds who are looking for an entertaining and inspirations family film about hope, love and faith.