Look, no one's ever going to mistake The Meg for a great film, but it is great looking, meaning fans of the giant shark extravaganza should be more than satisfied about its terrific presentation on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Thanks to its bright transfer and colorful palette, The Meg shines on the format, despite being upscaled from a 2K master. Color is impressive across the board, particularly during the film's many deep sea and under water set pieces, with the various shades of blues predictably fairing quite well thanks to HDR's wider color gamut.
Of course, the uptick in resolution also allows us to appreciate The Meg's impressive visual effects and production design, which all looks quite expensive. The titular megalodon is also a sight to behold, especially if you have a large television.
As for the film's human characters, we get some very naturalistic skin tones and a nice amount of detail when it comes to fine lines, pores and stubble. Highlights also impress, particularly when it comes to underwater lighting.
If you're a fan of The Meg, there's really no reason to pass the film up on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, as it's unlikely to look any better than this for the foreseeable future.
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, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), English Dolby Digital 5.1French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 113 minutes
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
One of the greatest action blockbusters of the last decade has arrived on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and thankfully, the disc's presentation is as spectacular as the film itself.
The disc's transfer, which is based on a true 4K master, predictably shines in the film's many action sequences. However, it's worth noting that the film has a fairly significant filmic grain throughout most of its non-IMAX scenes (more on those shortly). This was a deliberate choice from director Christopher McQuarrie, who shot most of M:I – Fallout with 35mm anamorphic film cameras with the intention of giving it a more gritty look than its predecessor.
While the whole film looks great, it's not understating things to say that the film's two IMAX sequences, which are faithfully presented here in the full 1.90:1 aspect ratio, are utterly sublime.
The first sequence, which sees Tom Cruise perform a dusk-set HALO (high altitude, low open) parachute jump, is a brilliant example of what HDR can bring to darker scenes, showing incredible detail in the darkness and making great use of the format's wider color gamut in those sunset hues.
The star or the show (aside from Tom), however, is the film's climactic helicopter chase, which sets the bar in terms of thrilling IMAX showcase sequences. The aspect ratio opens up as soon as the scene begins, and there's a noticeable jump in quality where the picture becomes crystal clear, exhibiting not even the slightest hint of grain. Quite frankly, there's a huge uptick in visual clarity overall during this sequence, which is especially detectable due to the well-lit nature of this daytime chase.
If you love this film, there really is no reason to pass up this stellar 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. It's worth it for the IMAX sequences alone.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, 1.90:1 (IMAX), Runtime: 147 minutes
The Shape of Water
A release that expectedly leans into the green, teal, aqua and blue portion of the color spectrum, The Shape of Water looks beautiful on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, managing to totally convince in regards to its immaculate costuming, set decoration and makeup effects work, despite its increased resolution and tweaked HDR colors.
Those aforementioned greens, teals, blues and aquas? They actually take on a more naturalistic appearance on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with the disc's high-dynamic-range tinkering giving the film's colors a more true-to-life quality than it displayed in theaters. This is particularly noticeable during The Shape of Water's underwater sequences, which now look richer and show no signs of obvious color gradation or banding.
While the film is visually sublime in every respect, its warm cinematography displaying a masterful use of light and darkness, the real highlight is the creature that captures our lead heroine's heart. The uptick in fine detail afforded by the disc's increased resolution allows us to marvel at the creature's stunning makeup, despite the fact that the film has been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate.
For fans of The Shape of Water, this truly is a must-have release. While it would've been nice to have a Dolby Atmos track (imagine how great the flooded apartment scene would sound with three-dimensional audio), it's hard to fault this reference quality disc.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR: HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 123 minutes
One of the most stylish films of the year, Atomic Blonde screams onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an incredibly vibrant and neon-soaked transfer that burns with intense reds and is cooled again by striking blues.
As you've probably come to expect from the format, color reproduction is extraordinary here, with HDR making the '80s-inspired cinematography a real boost in the vividness department.
Clothing, hair, skin tones all look realistic here, despite the muted color palette of some scenes in this Cold War spy movie. Oh yeah, and the various cuts, bruises and scrapes acquired by lead star Charlize Theron as she kicks butt across Berlin also look appropriately gnarly, too.
Though it lacks a Dolby Atmos track, the DTS:X Master Audio one featured here does a terrific job of pummelling your ears with various explosions, gunshots and an expertly-crafted playlist of thumping '80s tunes. If you loved John Wick, this is definitely one for your collection.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English DTS 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1 French (Canada) DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes
The Fate of the Furious
The eighth film in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise sings the praises of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to incredible HDR-enhanced brightness, driving home just what the format is capable of (see what we did there?)
Flesh tones look astonishing on this disc, as do the HDR-enhanced explosions that litter the film. Colors also impress – witness the opening race in sunny Cuba to see how much of a difference HDR makes to this kind of film.
Another show-stopping scene involves a prison riot, with vibrant orange prison uniforms standing out even more than on the film's regular blu-ray.
The disc also presents the film in Dolby Vision as well as HDR10, which should be exciting for people who own TVs that can support the format and the added color depth that it brings. For everyone else, the disc defaults to standard HDR, which is still very impressive.
Perhaps the film's most standout sequence though, involves a huge frozen lake and a submarine. The white ice that surrounds this setting really allows the film's HDR/Dolby Vision presentation to flex some real muscle, with bright highlights getting a good workout.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 136 minutes
John Wick: Chapter 2
Immediately exhibiting the benefits of increased resolution and the wider color gamut afforded by the inclusion of HDR in its presentation, John Wick: Chapter 2 comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders with a visually-sensational night-time chase through Manhattan (actually Montreal).
Surrounded by lights and colorful billboards, the disc's HDR-enhanced contrast allows viewers to peer into the darkness and clearly see objects and details that they'd normally normally miss in regular high definition. Witness, for instance, the film's show-stopping shootout inside the catacombs in Rome – the characters are enveloped in darkness and yet we can clearly see everything that's going on thanks to some terrific lighting and high-dynamic-range magic.
Immediately prior to that scene, a night-time concerto amongst the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome demonstrates incredible highlights, with red and blue LED lights surrounding the stage as spotlights swirl around in all directions.
The incredible visuals just keep on coming with this release. We have a shootout in a museum where vibrant red blood splatters over a number of statues, a neon-enhanced 'hall of mirrors' battle inspired by Enter the Dragon, fight scenes taking place in a dark and vivid underground metro, and the list goes on and on. One of the most dynamic releases on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, this is absolutely the best way to experience John Wick: Chapter 2.
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: 2.40:1, Runtime: 122 minutes
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release brings with it some enormous expectations, as the film is one of the more visually dazzling action blockbusters in recent memory. Thankfully, Fury Road absolutely delivers, despite having been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate. This might seem like a bummer, but that's how the film was presented in theatres, and it looked pretty freakin' good there, didn't it?
With its colors undergoing a re-grading process in HDR, Fury Road looks more sensational than ever in Ultra HD. The film's many explosions now burn with added intensity, and improved contrast and increased resolution give the film a more painterly appearance, especially in the film's huge storm sequence.
Some might argue that this makes Mad Max: Fury Road's CGI stand out more, I believe it only adds to the film's artistic quality. Elsewhere, you'll find more realistic skin tones and textures, brilliant lighting, richer landscapes and shinier chrome. Mad Max: Fury Road's Ultra HD release is definitely worth the upgrade for fans, though we'd love to see what the added resolution of 4K and HDR could do with the film's new Black and Chrome version.
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, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes
Warcraft: The Beginning
Though you'd expect HDR to make films more vibrant and colorful, Warcraft's presentation has taken a more subtle approach to the film's coloring. Less garish than its regular Blu-ray counterpart, Warcraft's Ultra HD presentation offers more naturalistic colors, especially when it comes to orc skin tones. That's not to say that this presentation is muted in any way – Fel magic looks spectacularly vivid and bright, giving the film a suitably other-worldly and fantastical appearance.
As expected, the real show-stoppers here are the orcs, lovingly realised through terrific motion-capture performances and CGI wizardry (as opposed to the other kind of wizardry seen in the film itself). Lead orc Durotan's facial expressions are more detailed and realistic, thanks to the disc's bumped-up resolution. Getting to actually see fine lines, wrinkles and textures in these characters' faces make them much more believable (though the illusion is still broken whenever they're standing next to the film's human characters). Other CGI creations, like the Gryphon Lothar rides during the film's climax, or the kingdom of Azeroth itself, exhibit an exceptionally high level of detail.
While it is another example of an upscaled film sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Warcraft's 4K presentation nonetheless offers enhanced clarity, improved contrast and naturalistic tones. This Ultra HD release is definitely the best way to watch Warcraft: The Beginning in 2D.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 123 minutes