The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies

War for the Planet of the Apes

One of the most impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases to date, War for the Planet of the Apes is ape-solutely spectacular on the format (sorry). We all know how astonishing the film's visual effects are (read more about how they were created in our Weta Digital VFX report), but its photo-realistic apes hold up magnificently under the increased scrutiny of 4K and HDR (despite being upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate). 

Unsurprisingly, fur looks especially good here, looking completely natural at all times, particularly with light shining through it. Facial textures also receive increased detail, with the various wrinkles in the apes faces looking extra defined. 

Though the disc's increased resolution is a boon for video enthusiasts, the real showstopper here is the wider color gamut afforded by its HDR presentation. Much of the film is spent in darkness, yet we now get to see more detail and definition in those dark areas. Small details in costumes and props are now much clearer because of it. 

The overall palette looks richer, too, with the film's forest settings feeling more lush and its white snow looking brighter and more tangible. Skin tones in humans also receive an uptick, looking warmer and more natural than they did in the cinema. 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a must-own for fans of the series, thanks to its exceptional fine detail quality, deep blacks, and terrific use of HDR. Stay tuned for reviews of the other two films in the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 139 minutes

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Remastered from a 4K scan, Blade Runner: The Final Cut looks absolutely astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. We're not just saying that it looks good for an old film – it looks amazing regardless of when it was filmed. 

The transfer reveals an exceptional level of clarity in what is generally a dark and smoky film. The noirish, rain-slicked, neon-soaked streets of futuristic Los Angeles look more detailed than ever, with the HDR-enhanced visuals giving us our best look at Rick Deckard's world to date. 

Witness, for instance, the staggering level of detail found in the film's miniatures – one particularly shot showing the Tyrell building will blow you away with its clarity, revealing all the intricacies of the model in question, including the many glittering lights all over the structure giving you the illusion of thousands of offices within. You won't even mind that the illusion is slightly broken by the obviousness of the miniature work, because you'll be too busy appreciating the spectacular craftsmanship and on display. 

Elsewhere, the whole film gets a visual uptick, with HDR helping significantly when it comes to the smooth gradation of colours and lighting. Clothing, skin textures and hair all look better in this version, and the various extreme close-ups of eyeballs all show extra detail now. 

If you're a fan of Blade Runner, chances are that you already own The Final Cut of the film on Blu-ray. While it's highly likely that both releases come from the same 4K digital intermediate, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version blows previous Blu-ray and HD DVD releases of the film out of the water. This is the best that Blade Runner has ever looked, period. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 118 minutes

Alien: Covenant

Though it's been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate (much like the 4K release of director Ridley Scott's previous film, The Martian), Alien: Covenant looks expectedly magnificent on the Ultra HD Blu-ray format. 

As this is a dark film with a muted palette (despite its many outdoor daytime scenes), an emphasis has been placed on HDR's ability to provide deeper, more lifelike contrast, much to the benefit of Alien: Covenant's astounding cinematography. 

Colors appear richer, too, standing out even more against the film's greyish blue tones. The alien itself also looks magnificent, with its inky-hued skin receiving added translucence and detail, benefitting from the disc's improved contrast and wider color gamut. 

Those of you with OLED TVs will get an even better viewing experience, with the technology's infinite contrast taking full advantage of the film's tenebrous atmosphere.

But it's not all about the Xenomorphs – the film's human characters also look terrific thanks to the 4K release's bump in resolution and enhanced colors, with faces revealing extra definition and skin tones looking warmer and more naturalistic than the film's SDR presentation. 

Adding to the film's immense visuals is a beefy Dolby Atmos track that focuses on atmospherics with occasional moments of bombast. Admittedly, we wish the disc offered a DTS Headphone:X track, as that would've made for an appropriately nerve-jangling experience akin to the recent video game release, Alien: Isolation. 

Still, we can't complain, as Alien: Covenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is hard to fault when it comes to the film's video and audio presentation. If you're a fan of the film, consider this a must-have.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 122 minutes

Ghost in the Shell

As you might expect, Ghost in the Shell looks glorious on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its neon-drenched cyberpunk setting really popping on the format. Though much of the film takes place in dark areas, the disc impresses throughout, particularly during scenes where vibrant colors are juxtaposed against dark environments. 

We were also blown away by how well the special effects stand up in this increased resolution, given that the film was finished at a 2K resolution. Still, you only have to watch the film's first major action sequence (pun intended), in which Scarlett Johansson's Major character applies active camouflage and blasts through a window to shoot down some haywire robot geishas, to get an idea of how impressive this presentation is. The scene is bursting with color and HDR-enhanced highlights, with reflective glass flying through the scene and slow-motion gunfire at every turn. 

Still some viewers might be taken aback by the film's many dark scenes, though they truly come alive when combined with OLED's capacity for infinite contrast. This is truly a demo-worthy disc in that regard. 

Also, while some film buffs may scoff at a film that isn't presented in the letterbox format, Ghost in the Shell looks fantastic as its 1.78:1 aspect ratio fills the entire frame – particularly impressive during overhead shots of the film's futuristic cityscape.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Passengers

Shot at a resolution of 6.5K and then finished with with a 4K digital intermediate, Passengers soars on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. An ideal candidate for demonstration purposes, the format allows the viewer to truly absorb the impeccable craftsmanship that went into the film's exception production design and special effects work. Taking place entirely on an enormous spacecraft. Passengers offers ample opportunities for glorious space gazing and futuristic interior design. 

There are times in this 4K presentation when the photographic clarity of the film is so high and lifelike, it almost feels like you're watching a play. Other times, the digital photography is so clean and sharp, that it gives the film an unreal quality, almost like it's partly animated. Of course, this is completely intentional and only serves to make Passengers look even more astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Of course, the film's HDR colors contrast level keep everything in check.

Skin tones are remarkably true to life, and while the film's stars come across a little too beautiful at times (seriously, no one can look that great at all times) Passengers is exactly the kind of film that the 4K Ultra HD format was made for. It's a showcase for gorgeous people hanging out on stunning sets doing remarkable things with the help of magnificent visual effects. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Lucy

Arriving on Ultra HD Blu-ray with an absolutely stunning transfer sourced from a 4K digital intermediate, Lucy demonstrates the strengths of the format by showcasing immense fine detail, exceptionally-realistic skin tones and textures, and truly-dynamic color reproduction throughout.

From the film's opening scene, which features Lucy the primate in a prehistoric setting, this presentation solidifies its place as one of the format's best reference-quality discs. The detail in the hominid's face and fur is utterly astounding, as are the colors and textures in its surrounding habitat. 

As was mentioned earlier, skin tones and textures are also incredible on Lucy's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, looking supremely lifelike at all times. Seriously, if you can find pores and imperfections on the face of someone as beautiful as Scarlett Johansson, you know you've reached an unparalleled level of clarity. 

Likewise, as the film starts to veer into true science-fiction territory, the disc continues to shine, displaying vibrant HDR-enhanced colors and terrific contrast. Even if you only have a passing admiration for Luc Besson's trippy action film, you owe it to yourself to check out Lucy on 4K Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 89 minutes

Oblivion

As a science-fiction film with a very sleek and minimalistic art design, Oblivion makes an ideal candidate for the added resolution of 4K. Though the transfer was taken from a 2K digital intermediate (common with visual effects-driven films), Oblivion looks sharp and clean, if not immediately mind-blowing. 

With that said, as the film enters its darker scenes, the impressive color gamut and contrast afforded by the film's HDR grading give the film a real sense of depth and vibrancy, particularly in the film's indoor drone shootout sequence. Bloom lighting and sparks from the scene's many explosions burn white-hot, showcasing the brilliant brightness that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is capable of. Likewise, close-up shots of the drones show a wonderful level of detail.

Though the film has a mostly washed-out grey and blue tone, skin tones appear quite naturalistic and at times appear to be the most vibrant thing on screen. Facial textures also excel, showing fine details like pores and individual hairs in Tom Cruise's five o'clock shadow. Grime, cuts and bruises also look benefit from the format's added clarity.

Giving the film a visual uptick in every category over the standard Blu-ray edition, for fans, this is by far the best way to experience Oblivion.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 125 minutes

Pacific Rim

The reference-quality Blu-ray disc of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim threatens to stomp the rest of your Blu-ray collection and land itself at the top of the pile for visual quality. 

Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, much like Star Trek Into Darkness, this does not stop Pacific Rim from looking utterly sensational on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, your entire television screen will be used to display the film's many giant robot vs monster set pieces. 

Thanks to some HDR tinkering, the film's colors and contrast now look even better than they did when the film was in theatres. Witness the rainswept battle that opens the film to see how good its vivid colors look against the inky blacks of a night-time sky. The added resolution afforded by 4K Blu-ray makes the rain look more detailed and realistic. Sparks that fly within the Jaeger cockpit are also more clearly defined and burn hotter than ever before.

Though the entire film is a showstopper, anyone that has seen Pacific Rim will know that its mid-film Hong Kong monster battle is the best-looking section of the film, and believe us when we say that it has never looked better than it does on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The city's neon-soaked skyline radiates with beautiful and realistic bloom lighting, making the best of the film's high-dynamic-range upgrade.

Even if you already own Pacific Rim on 3D Blu-ray, you owe it to yourself to see how incredible the film can look on 4K Ultra HD. This is absolutely a reference quality disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 131 minutes

Independence Day: Resurgence

Sourced from a true 4K digital intermediate, Independence Day: Resurgence roars onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray without losing any detail whatsoever – in fact, the film's presentation is improved by the inclusion of HDR (that said, the ultimate way to watch a film of this magnitude will always be on the biggest cinema screen possible). 

A much darker and gloomier picture than its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence features many scenes surrounded by inky blacks that would look exceptional on an OLED display. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to one for testing purposes, so we can only say that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray's increased contrast and vivid colors make Independence Day: Resurgence look fantastic on any HDR-compatible TV.

Its various scenes of computer-assisted citywide destruction unfurl on screen with an extreme level of visual clarity and detail, acting as a showcase of what the 4K format is capable of. Many times, the film's turquoise alien tech takes centre stage, glowing with a naturalistic light bloom that never shows obvious signs of color gradation (see the film's opening scene to see how well light fades into darkness). 

If you're a fan of the film, there's no better way to watch Independence Day: Resurgence than on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Chappie

Chappie

Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is known for his knack for seamlessly blending science fiction elements into everyday scenarios, offering a uniquely down-to-earth view of a world filled with robots and aliens. His film Chappie is no exception. Set mostly around the slums of Johannesburg, Chappie's mostly daytime action allows this 4K HDR presentation to really pop.

Shot by Redcode RAW (5K) cameras and finished on a 4K digital intermediate, Chappie's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray practically mirrors what was shown in theatres, only with HDR providing improved contrast and more naturalistic colors. The detail in the titular robot character is astonishing, with the steely greys and blues of his frame making the orange highlights of his arm and antenna stand out even more. You can also see details in Chappie's dirty, scratched body that just weren't visible on the film's regular Blu-ray. Best of all, the expressive LED lights on Chappie's face now show much finer detail, making the character seem even more like a real world object, and not just a marvel of computer-generated wizardry.

Though the film can be quite grimy at times, it's got a lively, vibrant undercurrent to it, employing a Day-Go style thanks to Chappie's co-stars, the rap-rave group Die Antwoord. The group brings its signature art style to the film's costumes and set design, all of which looks fantastic when aided by HDR's wider color gamut. Now, bring on District 9 and Elysium in 4K!

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Star Trek

Star Trek

Though it's been 'upconverted' from a 2K digital intermediate (which is what you likely saw in theatres upon release), J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek movie looks absolutely wonderful on 4K Blu-ray – the release actually lends some weight to argument that Ultra HD discs don't need to come from a true 4K source in order to impress.

Director J.J. Abrams' may be guilty of relying a little heavily on his 'lens flare' technique on both of his Star Trek films, but the effect looks better than ever here thanks to HDR's increased color gamut and contrast levels. Light blooms looks completely natural, avoiding harsh shade transitions entirely. Elsewhere, the Ultra HD Blu-ray offers amazing detail when it comes to facial textures on the film's many creatures and alien races – Eric Bana's Romulan character Nero looks especially good, with the disc's increased resolution showing just how great the film's Oscar-winning make-up and facial prosthetics are.

While Star Trek's Ultra HD Blu-ray disc may be outclassed by its sequel's truly (inter)stellar 4K release (listed below), this is by far the best way to experience J.J.'s first voyage on the USS Enterprise at home.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

When it comes to the visual quality, the Ultra HD Blu-ray for Star Trek Into Darkness is absolutely mind-blowing – we'd even go as far as calling it the most impressive 4K release on this list. With over 30 minutes of the film shot in the IMAX format, J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness cuts back and forth between a traditional 2.40:1 letterbox presentation for its non-showy scenes, and the more vision-encompassing 1.78:1 aspect ratio for the film's spectacle-driven moments (this presentation is exclusive to the film's Ultra HD release). Though the film looks great throughout (despite being sourced from the film's 2K digital intermediate), the level of detail displayed in these IMAX scenes is absolutely astonishing.

From its very first scene (pictured above), in which Kirk and Bones are chased through a vibrant red forest by the primitive Nibiru tribe, Star Trek Into Darkness will make an instant believer of any 4K/HDR naysayer. Witness, for instance, the cracked, flaking skin on the faces of the Nibiru tribes people, shown up close and in great detail. Marvel at the naturalistic skin tones, visible pores and wrinkles shown on actors Chris Pine and Karl Urban's faces, offering a level of immersion that 3D just cannot compete with.

Another scene, in which Spock drops down into a volcano, is also a showstopper – with its swirling specks of fire and ember, and contrast enhanced greatly by HDR, the scene becomes a showcase for the emerging 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. Until more IMAX-enhanced films start to be released, consider Star Trek Into Darkness your go-to 4K reference disc.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes