Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 at 10:35 AM PST by Aaron Peck
With the New Year dawning and the memory of 2012 growing more distant by the second, we'd like to take a look back at some of the best action Blu-rays released in 2012.
Around the mid-point of the year, we compiled a list of the best action movies released on the format so far. Now that the year has passed us by, we can fully appraise the wealth of actioners we were able to get our hands on.
Not all of them are great movies, per se, but they're all great action flicks. There's a difference right? Yes, action movies can be transcendent sometimes; however, more often than not they're pieces of pure escapism, where we get to watch expertly choreographed fight scenes and million dollar explosions.
A top 10 list of action movies seems a little small for an entire year. So I'm bumping it up to a list of the top 15, plus a healthy collection of honorable mentions. (In instances where Blu-rays from the previous list end up here, I've copied and pasted what I already said about them).
Like many viewers, I had no love for the actual movie. Ridley Scott's kinda-sorta prequel to 'Alien' was full of so many holes that it was became tiresome trying to pick them all out. This one makes the list simply because of its luscious visuals, stunning audio, and some of 2012's greatest 3D. Man this is one of the best demo discs of 2012 all around.
I didn't like the fourth 'Bourne' movie all that much. It felt too flat, especially with its anemic "will we or won't we have a sequel" ending. I did, nevertheless, have to include it on my list. Why? Well, because when one is ranking Blu-rays, the movie is only part of the equation, and it's certainly the most subjective aspect of a release. The reason 'Legacy' snuck onto the list was because of its solid visuals and its stunning demo-quality DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. That surround mix is one of the great Blu-ray audio experiences of 2012.
Another movie that I wasn't really fond of, but man if this isn't the best demo-quality audio of the year I don't know what is. Lionsgate knows how to amp it up! There is some extraordinary sound packed into this movie. If the film was better it would move up in the rankings, but it deserves to be on the list simply because of the Blu-ray's power-packed audio.
With all the talk of 'The Hunger Games' this year, it was kind of easy to forget about the lesser known Japanese movie 'Battle Royale,' in which a group of school kids is sent to a 'Hunger Games'-esque place where they must kill each other in order to be the last person standing. What was great about this release was the fact that fans got both the theatrical and extended cuts of the movie, both of which received five-star ratings. The collection wavered a little on video presentation, but other than that, this set provided a fantastic, action-filled display of as much gore as you can possibly imagine.
It's the quintessential buddy-cop franchise, and it finally found its way to Blu-ray in May. All four films were included. Sure the quality of the movies sort of went down as the franchise wore on, but the first two films are downright classics when it comes to prototypical 80s action awesomeness, and part 4 has its moments.
Some would argue that 'Drive' really isn't an action movie. While it may have more of an art house feel to it, there are still some stark, vicious bouts of action in the movie that make it so much fun to watch. The key to the brief but brutal action scenes is the way the movie ratchets up the suspense before the violence. It may not be filled with explosions and wall-to-wall gun battles, but its subtle action scenes are just as effective as some of cinema's best shootouts.
9. 'The Dark Knight Rises'
"Dey-shey bah-sur-rah! Dey-shey bah-sur-rah!" (I think that's how it goes) I just watched my newly procured 'DKR' Blu-ray the other night, and I can tell you that the chant that the prisoners bellow when someone is trying to scale the wall shook my living room. The audio track on this Blu-ray is something else. Everything from the booming score to the bass-laden explosions made this one of the best audio experiences I had with a Blu-ray in 2012.
8. 'Bond 50'
It was only a matter of time until this set got the go ahead. Now, it can be argued that many 'Bond' films aren't necessarily "action" movies, they may contain a few outlandish stunts here and there, but they didn't really become action films until Pierce Brosnan picked up the PPK... and the machine gun, then Daniel Craig morphed Bond into a better dressed version of Jason Bourne. Still, having this set, with each and every 'Bond' film in one place, is something every action movie fan has dreamed of. It's simply a must own.
7. 'Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol'
I really wish there was a way to recreate the feeling I had in IMAX when I first saw 'Ghost Protocol'. When that camera panned out over the ledge of the Burj Khalifa as Tom Cruise began to scale the outside windows I literally felt a bout of vertigo in the theater. At home, not so much. It's a good thing that the rest of the movie has such wonderfully staged action scenes. The action in the movie is never hampered by incessant shaky-cam or incomprehensible editing. Even though I didn't have the sheer feeling of vertigo I experienced in the theater, there's still plenty of action and suspense to keep anyone interested in the story.
6. 'The Avengers'
Joss Whedon nailed it, right? I mean he was able to fit all of those characters into one movie without any of them seeming like they were shortchanged on screen time. That and he made the entire movie an exciting ride full of enough geekery to satisfy even the most ardent comic book fanboys. Its huge budget also led to outstanding visual effects that shine in HD. Finally, there's that familiar Disney attention to detail. Was it any surprise they produced a Blu-ray that can only be described as perfection?
5. 'The Raid: Redemption'
In terms of pure action, it doesn't get any better than 'The Raid.' This is one of the craziest action movies ever. When I first saw it I wondered how in the world no one died while filming it. Truthfully, I think it's the best action movie of 2012. Is it the best Blu-ray though? Nah. The visuals felt a little too murky for my taste, even if the look was intentional. Still, the number four spot is nothing to sneeze at. This is a fantastically fun movie from start to finish.
Man I love this movie. I can't say enough good things about the absolutely brutal action scenes. Go through and watch the special features and you'll see huge stars like Michael Fassbender actually taking punches and being kicked through glass windows. 'Haywire' goes straight for the jugular. It's almost hard to watch some of the scenes because it looks as if they're really beating the crap out of each other. The way Steven Soderbergh films action scenes is something to behold, it really is. These actors are actually taking a physical beating instead of faking it. I can't get enough of 'Haywire.'
Technically, this isn't a 2012 release, but we were able to review it early, plus, this was such a pleasant surprise that we're willing to overlook the fact that it's hitting Blu-ray one week into 2013. Thanks to Stallone and Rob Schneider, it stunk of the Hollywood remake machine, but that just goes to show you, preconceived notions can be deceiving. High-Def Digest reviewer Daniel Hirshleifer gave it an absolutely glowing review. Five stars! The audio and video were following closely behind with near demo-quality all around. Its balls-to-the-wall action is only matched by 'The Raid'. This is one of the best Blu-rays of the year.
2. 'Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures'
I can tell you that this collection was one of my most anticipated releases. The original 'Indiana Jones' trilogy finally on Blu-ray? Yes please! When all was said and done, High-Def Digest gave it a 5-star score overall. That's as good as it gets folks. Watching Indy hopscotch around the globe retrieving artifacts, battling badguys, and arguing with his dad has never looked and sounded so spectacular. This is one of my favorite Blu-ray sets ever.
This came close to being my favorite movie of the year (it just barely lost out to 'Zero Dark Thirty'). 'Looper' is in a class all its own. It's the smartest sci-fi movie since 'Minority Report.' In a world of adaptions, sequels, and remakes, this was one of the very few truly original movies of 2012. Writer/Director Rian Johnson expertly crafted his own future, where time travel isn't just possible, it's used by the mob for assassinations. On top of all that, this is an absolutely killer Blu-ray. Sony delivers another near perfect transfer, along with a room thumping DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. I cannot recommend this movie enough!
Honorable mentions go to 'The Grey,' 'The Amazing Spider-Man,' 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,' 'I, Robot - 3D',' the original 'Red Dawn,' 'Get the Gringo,' 'Safe House,' 'Chronicle,' and 'Redline.'
What were your favorite action Blu-rays of 2012? We'd love to hear how you'd rank them. Click on the link below, head on over to our forum, and let us know.
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