The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies

Bumblebee

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Exploding out of the gate with the most visually spectacular scene of any Transformers movie, Bumblebee is a sight to behold on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, making it easy to forget Michael Bay's last few films in the franchise. 

Taking up the entire screen thanks to the film's 1.78:1 presentation, Bumblee delivers a clear uptick in detail quality despite being upscaled from a 2K master. Making good use of both Dolby Vision and HDR10, the film exhibits fantastic contrast and shadow detail during dark scenes, such as the opening battle on Cybertron, while also sporting fantastic highlights and colors in sparks, laser blasts and explosions. 

Once the film's action transitions over to Earth, Bumblebee's 4K presentation continues to shine in settings that are far more brightly lit. Though the film is a visual effects showcase, the vast majority of its running time is spent in real-world locations  while our titular character interacts with humans. Once again, the disc's resolution boost and high-dynamic-range capabilities lead Bumblebee straight into showcase territory, with skin tones that feel true to life and landscapes that appear extra beautiful. Highly recommended.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: Dolby Vision / HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (España) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Latinoamérica) Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 114 minutes

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Image credit: Lionsgate Films

Image credit: Lionsgate Films

Luc Besson knows a thing or two about crafting incredible science fiction visuals (or any visuals for that matter), having directed the classic film The Fifth Element. With Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the French auteur kicks things up a notch, creating off-world visuals so arresting, they alone warrant this disc a place in the collection of any serious Ultra HD enthusiast. 

Similar to James Cameron's Avatar, the film exhibits an overwhelming amount of crystal clear CGI, and while that may give the film an artificial look, there's no denying the level or detail and artistry evident in every frame. 

Witness, for instance, the scenes that take place on the pearl planet (pictured above), which are rendered entirely in a computer. There's an outstanding level of beauty on display here, with the scenes deep blues and bright highlights making great use of the format's HDR/Dolby Vision capabilities. Clarity is off the charts, with an impressively sharp transfer – you'd never guess Valerian was finished on a 2K digital intermediate. 

The rest of the film, which is packed with high-octane spaceship chases and interplanetary action scenes, also looks outstanding, with the uptick in resolution revealing an astonishing level of detail throughout the film.

If you're looking for your next visually spectacular reference quality 4K showcase disc, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is it – well, at least until Aquaman arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: Dolby Vision / HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 137 minutes

They Live (4K Collector Edition)

Image credit: Universal

Image credit: Universal

CONSUME! CONFORM! OBEY! Ever felt like the world around you is subliminally pushing secret messages to you? That perhaps your work colleagues and those in power aren't quite what they seem? Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not after you...

That's the crux of the brilliant premise behind John Carpenter's superb satirical sci-fi film They Live, in which pro wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper discovers that the world is slowly being taken over by alien invaders, which can only be seen by wearing special sunglasses.

The eminently-quotable 1988 cult classic has been lovingly restored for this very special collectors edition 4K release, which saw the original camera negative scanned at 4K resolution before being newly color graded by renowned cinematographer, Gary B. Kibbe.

It results in the best-looking edition of the film to date, and that's before you start looking at all the extras thrown in here – you're looking at the UHD disc alongside a HD Blu-ray presentation and HD special features disc, a CD soundtrack, a superb poster, five art-cards and a 48 page book that fans of Carpenter and the movie alike will lap up. 

It's a dream package for fans of the film, while hardcore John Carpenter fans will also want to pick up the new 4K restorations of his other classics The Fog, Escape From New York and Prince of Darkness – each given a similarly-exquisite boxset release.

Technical specs: HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from original camera negative scanned at 4K /16bit), Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (subtitles in German, French), Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 94 minutes

2001: A Space Odyssey

What's there to be said about 2001: A Space Odyssey that hasn't already been said? Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Stanley Kubrick's visionary exploration of space, the future and the nature of life in this universe is as powerful today as on its day of release.

Often heralded for its groundbreaking visual effects work, it's incredible just how well the film holds up under the added scrutiny of this stunning 4K remaster. With this year seeing a release of a newly restored 70mm print (using elements made from the original camera negative) this re-release piggybacks off that work, with the 4K UHD HDR image mastered itself from the 65mm original camera negative. The Warner Bros team have gone as close to the source as possible here, giving an all-new UHD sheen to a marvellous film.

From the opening sun-rising glare to the decent into another dimension towards the film's end, the UHD presentation brings vibrant life to the dramatic range in the color palette. HDR visuals add depth to the dark expanses of space, punctuated by amazing miniature model work, with Dolby Vision support particularly well executed here. What's sadly missing is a Dolby Atmos soundtrack – what better way than to hear 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' in space than both above and around you? Alas, we'll have to wait longer. Still, the soundtrack has also been given a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 revamp, as well as there being the option to listen to the original 6-track theatrical audio mix, now formatted for DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

As a gift package it's lovely too – there's an excellent array of special features included on the disc, as well as great booklet and art cards within the sleeve. Whether a long time fan of the film or coming to it for the first time, it's a wonderful way to experience it.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Portuguese 2.0, Spanish 5.1, French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Polish VO 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.20:1, Runtime: 149 minutes

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Image credit: Disney

Image credit: Disney

The second Star Wars film to arrive on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Solo: A Star Wars Story faithfully represents the film's beautiful theatrical presentation, even if its image is slightly flatter than we're used to seeing on the format.

Like The Last Jedi before it, Solo boasts a true 4K digital intermediate, meaning that no upscaling has gone into the making of this release. As you'd expect, detail is exceptional here, though you won't find a lot of depth in the cinematography of Solo. 

While some 4K releases carry a clean, almost three-dimensional appearance, Solo's tendency towards darkness, haze and muddy environments mostly prevents this outside of a few bright outdoor scenes (Solo's confrontation with Enfys Nest is a particular highlight in this regard).

That said, color comes up especially well here thanks to some fine HDR10 tinkering (Dolby Vision is unfortunately absent from this release), allowing for scenes that pop with a surprising amount of vibrance out of the film's dark environments. 

Witness, for instance, the Kessel Run sequence, in which the Millennium Falcon must travel through a space storm filled with whirling colors and spectacular highlights. Elsewhere, the disc displays some standout color in Lando Calrissian's stylish yellow shirt. 

It's worth noting that your enjoyment of Solo's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray may be affected by the television you use to watch it — on OLED or QLED displays with local dimming, there's a more noticeable depth evident in the film's darker scenes. 

Though it's unlikely to be considered a reference quality disc by Ultra HD enthusiasts, Solo looks as good as can be on the format thanks to its faithful presentation and HDR color tuning. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 7.1, French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

Predator 3-Movie Collection

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

In an effort to make up for past mistakes, 20th Century Fox has brought the Predator franchise (that's the standalone movies — the less said about Alien vs Predator, the better) to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a long-awaited new transfer for the film that started it all. 

One of the most beloved action sci-fi films of the 1980s, the original Predator has surprisingly been shown very little love in the past when it came to its HD releases. As one of the worst examples of DNR (digital noise reduction) run amok, Predator's previous Blu-ray had all of its film grain scrubbed to the point where Schwarzenegger and his crew looked more alien than the titular creature itself. 

Thankfully, the team behind Predator's Ultra HD has finally given fans a home video release that's faithful to the film's original, grain-heavy look. That isn't to say that Predator now looks like a new movie — given the film's harsh jungle setting and rugged shooting conditions, Predator can appear a little rough around the edges at times. 

Detail, even in close ups, isn't particularly high, which is probably why DNR was employed so heavily the first time around. That said, there's a pleasing, healthy grain present throughout the film's running time, and occasionally, there are some particularly well-lit scenes that look extraordinarily vibrant and crisp on the 4K format. This is definitely the best that Predator is likely to look for the foreseeable future.

Moving on to what is arguably the standout disc in this 3-movie collection, Predator 2  looks fantastic thanks to the added richness of color afforded by HDR. The film's opening, set on the blisteringly hot streets of a crime-ridden Los Angeles, burns with extra intensity on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. You can almost feel the heat of the scene, with every drop of sweat realised with added detail thanks to the resolution uptick. Likewise, there's now extra clarity in the scenes which feature the Predator's thermal vision, with the reds, blues, yellows and greens looking especially vibrant here. 

As the only movie in this collection to be shot digitally (and the only one made in the last decade), Predators looks expectedly good on the Ultra HD format. Upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate, Predators appears clean and sharp at all times, with close-ups revealing plenty of wrinkles and fine details thanks to the boost in resolution. Colors also appear more refined here than in previous releases, with the movie's interesting lighting choices offering a wide range of hues and tones. It's safe to say that you won't be disappointed with the appearance of Predators on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (Predators upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech  Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, 1.85:1, 1.84:1, Runtime: 107 / 108 / 107 minutes

Ready Player One

Image credit: Warner Bros.

Image credit: Warner Bros.

The kind of film that begs to be seen at the highest quality possible, Ready Player One explodes onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with one of the most impressive discs we've ever reviewed — a surprise, given it comes with a 2K digital master. 

Set in a futuristic world where people's virtual lives have become their primary ones, Ready Player One adopts an otherworldly, heightened visual style which lends itself to the 4K HDR format. 

Characters and environments look incredibly detailed and highly animated, with Spielberg's sweeping camera movements capturing the chaotic in-game world of The Oasis in a way that other filmmakers could only dream of. A visual feast, Ready Player One's heavy use of color figuratively explodes from the screen thanks to the disc's terrific use HDR10 and Dolby Vision grading. 

An early scene, in which the lead characters must compete in the most over-the-top race this side of Speed Racer, is bursting with hidden details and visual grandeur. In fact, it might be the most visually spectacular sequence to hit the format to date.

Outside of The Oasis, real-world sequences look fantastic, too, with perfectly-tuned skin tones and added detail in costumes and sets. 

Add to this a roaring Dolby Atmos track offers incredible three-dimensional sound, and what you have in Ready Player One is a new reference quality disc to demonstrate your home theater with. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 140 minutes

Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

Image credit: Disney

Image credit: Disney

During the film's opening moments, and depending on your television, you may find yourself taken aback by Star Wars: The Last Jedi's first foray into HDR territory, with its familiar opening crawl taking place on a space background that looks a little more gray than we're used to seeing — especially in contrast to the pitch black bars above and below the film's 2.39:1 frame. 

Don't fret — as soon as the action kicks in, you'll find an exceptional transfer worthy of such a mammoth release. Colors are greatly enhanced by the disc's HDR10 and Dolby Vision tinkering, exhibiting additional vibrance and brightness throughout the entire feature presentation. 

Skin tones appear more natural, costumes appear more vibrant, lightsabers look brighter and hotter than ever... there's no end to the visual improvements that come from the inclusion of high-dynamic-range. 

Perhaps the most standout sequence of the film, at least in terms of visuals, involves a lightsaber battle against a group of Praetorian Guards in Supreme Leader Snoke's red throne room (pictured above). The blood-red backdrop is vivid as can be, without displaying any color leakage or over-saturation. HDR brings a lot to the table here, showing incredible light-to-dark blending without obvious color gradations cropping up and ruining the image. 

As this release is based on the film's 4K master (no upscaling here), the increased detail here is also worth writing home about. We're now able to appreciate the incredible costumes, makeup and visual effects work more than ever before, from the stitching in Finn's jacket, to the strands of fur all over Chewbacca's body. 

Add to this an extraordinary Dolby Atmos audio track which makes great use of spacial audio and the film's bombastic score, and you can chalk up Star Wars: The Last Jedi as yet another reference-quality 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 7.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 152 minutes

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

Image credit: Warner Bros.

Perhaps not as immediately mind-blowing as the 4K release of Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Blade Runner (though that probably has to do with the film's steady format progression over the last 35 years), Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 shines on Ultra HD Blu-ray nonetheless. 

Roger Deakins' incredible cinematography takes center stage here, with the film's futuristic locations receiving increased texture thanks to some smoky atmospherics, moody lighting and heavy rain. Flesh tones and costume detail also get a significant uptick here, with the higher resolution offering a significant increase in clarity over the film's 1080p presentation. 

Boasting a true 4K digital intermediate (no upscaling here), Blade Runner 2049 looks almost as great at home as it did in the theater — we say 'almost' because the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray would've benefitted from the inclusion of expanded IMAX sequences (with shifting aspect ratios that show bigger images during key scenes), which many filmgoers witnessed during the film's theatrical run. 

Other 4K releases have blown us away by including IMAX presentations (such as Dunkirk, The Dark Knight and Star Trek Into Darkness) as that added detail and clarity translates magnificently at 2160p resolution. 

Still, we can't argue with what we have here, which is an exceptional HDR-supported disc that makes the best of the film's dark photography and neon-drenched settings. 

We also have to commend Blade Runner 2049 exception Dolby Atmos audio track, with the film's bombastic score setting the mood magnificently. Spacial audio is magnificent here, bringing plenty of dimensionality to the film's sound effects. A truly great audio presentation. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1, , Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 164 minutes

War for the Planet of the Apes

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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

Image credit: Warner Bros.

Image credit: Warner Bros.

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

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

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

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Image credit: Sony Pictures

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

Image credit: Universal

Image credit: Universal

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

Image credit: Universal

Image credit: Universal

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

Image credit: Universal

Image credit: Universal

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

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

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

Image credit: Sony Pictures

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

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

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

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

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