07. Fantastic Four: Rise of The silver surfer
20th Century Fox - £29
This Fantastic Four sequel is a jolly superhero romp filled with outlandish characters and special effects. The titular Silver Surfer is one its major plus-points, a CG character who looks, er, fantastic, courtesy of 20th Century Fox's exceptional 1080p transfer. Technically it's nigh-on impossible to fault this disc, and among the many extras you'll find a surprisingly entertaining BD-Java strategy game.
06. Close encounters of The Third Kind: Ultimate Edition
Sony Pictures - £23
Spielberg has tampered with CE3K several times over the years, but unlike his buddy George Lucas and Star Wars, he's not just giving us one version. This two-disc set includes the original 1977 theatrical cut, the 1980 'Special edition' and the 1997 'Director's Cut' via the magic of seamless branching. a second disc houses three documentaries, deleted scenes and several Blu-ray exclusives.
05. Ratatouille Walt Disney
Home Entertainment | £24
One of the best Blu-ray demo discs around is a cartoon about a rat who likes to cook. Well, that's the wonder of Pixar for you. The film looks sublime on BD, bursting with levels of fine detail that will make your eyes water. The uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio is similarly impressive, throwing surround effects around with ease.
04. Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Warner Home Video - £28
This Blu-ray edition boasts the most stunning-looking version of blade runner ever released – despite being over 25 years old, the imagery is so sharp and colourful that it looks as if it was shot yesterday. a packaged bonus DVD contains the brilliant Dangerous Days documentary. It's just a shame that the UK didn't get the five-disc edition released in America, containing all five different cuts of the film.
03. Hairspray: Two-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition
Entertainment in Video - £30
We admit it. We were just as surprised as anyone that a musical made it into the top three of this list of the 50 best Blu-ray discs. Let alone one based on a Broadway show that has its origins in a low-budget flick from the 'Sultan of Sleaze' John Waters. Yet is Hairspray a great film, guaranteed to leave a smile on your face, and the disc boasts a genius VC-1 transfer and gorgeously wide DTS-HD Master audio 7.1 soundtrack. Also thrown into the mix is an endless supply of extras, including a Java-based, non-Profile 1.1 picture-in-picture commentary. Superb stuff.
02. Spider-man: The High Definition Trilogy
Sony Pictures - £50
If, like so many of us, you're a fan of the web-slinger's films then you can't pass up the chance to own them in HD. all three 1080p transfers look great; each capturing the night-time action as easily as they do the textures of Spidey's costumes. The Dolby TrueHD soundtracks are state-of-the-art, too. Spider-Man 3 comes laden with extras. It's just a pity that there are none for the first two films, beyond the inclusion of both the theatrical and extended cuts of Spider-Man 2.
01. Iron man
Paramount Home entertainment - £30
One of the year's most eagerly-awaited Blu-ray discs is also one of the most convincing reasons we've yet encountered to buy into the format. The hi-def 2.40:1 picture brings to life the gorgeous visual effects, with the CG suit seamlessly integrated into the location footage. And then there's the movie's lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio, which is titanic, offering sensational clarity and imaging positioning with manifold LFE. Sadly, there's no commentary (not even a Picture-in-Picture track), but any disappointment is quickly pushed aside by the weight of extras lurking on this two-disc set. These include numerous documentaries/featurettes about the making of the film and Iron Man's comic book origins, plus BD-Live functionality.
First published in Home Cinema Choice, Issue 164
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