Posted Fri Dec 28, 2018 at 03:11 PM PST by M. Enois Duarte
This past year has seen more titles released on the still-relatively-new format than the previous two years, an interesting assortment of older features, and newer releases with picture quality ranging from mediocre to reference level. The best part of this year is seeing our favorite classics benefit from the improved HDR and wider color gamut along with the uptick in resolution. So, with that in mind, here are our picks for the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays of 2018 that rightly belong in your go-to demo collection.
Not only did this sequel/reboot of the favorite family comedy starring Robin Williams surprise audiences with another fantasy adventure through adolescence, but the movie also astounded and thrilled with a beautiful Dolby Vision presentation, awash in a wide range of sumptuously animated colors. The video is matched only by an equally excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack that brings the lively sounds of the jungle home, winning the game over its HD SDR counterpart.
Yet another surprisingly good sequel shocks fans with a stunningly gorgeous 4K transfer brimming with one marvelously dazzling image after another. The out-of-this-world HDR10 video is a remarkable display of visual delights where Roger Deakins' cinematography makes the best use of the format, igniting the screen with spectacular highlights and a hypnotically splendid array of secondary hues, sure to impress anyone those still sitting on the fence. And the gorgeous visuals partner with a marvelously enveloping Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
Say what you will of the DCEU and Warner's rush to unite legendary superheroes for the first time on the big screen, but this fifth installment to the series is a strong, vividly colorful entry. The team flexes their superpowers with a jaw-dropping Dolby Vision HDR picture that shows intensely brilliant, demo-worthy contrast with radiant highlights and an astounding assortment of rapturous colors that ignite the screen during the climactic battle in the small Russian village. The pandemonium also erupts with a reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack!
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year is the massive critical and commercial success of Ryan Coogler's adaptation of a lesser-known Marvel superhero, making it arguably the best entry in the MCU. The visually-stunning and poignant actioner tackles global affairs with a spectacularly elegant Dolby Vision HDR presentation, boasting deep, inky blacks throughout and a succulent spectacle of colors that are more vibrant and dazzling than its Blu-ray counterpart. Sadly, the Atmos track isn't quite the match for the visuals.
The mystery is afoot on the UHD train, powered by an eye-popping HDR10 video that undoubtedly leaves the Blu-ray version waiting back at the station. Made to look as visually extravagant and elegant as possible, the freshly-minted transfer is an absolute stunner with razor-sharp detailing throughout. However, the astonishing balance of radiantly crisp contrast and inky rich blacks is the real showstopper while also flaunting gorgeously lavish primaries. It's all topped off by a highly-satisfying Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, Kubrick's visual masterpiece makes contact once again with a spectacularly mesmerizing Dolby Vision HDR presentation. After several delays created some mild doubts about the quality, the end result is nothing short of phenomenal with striking contrast, luxurious blacks and richly-saturated colors. Remastered from the original 70mm camera negatives, this is the very best the classic has ever looked on home video.
From a brand-new 4K remaster and full restoration of the original camera negatives, the military drama easily bests its Blu-ray counterpart in one-to-one combat. Considering Andrew Laszlo's stylized, restrained cinematography, giving the plot a somber feel, the film displays a notably brighter image where the highlights shimmer and gleam with dramatic realism. Although not the most colorful movie on the list, primaries are fuller with a beautiful cinematic appeal.
As with the two movies mentioned above, the groundbreaking, massively influential sci-fi trilogy is further evidence of what can be accomplished with a proper 4K remaster of the original elements. The difference in seeing all three movies in Dolby Vision HDR is shocking and dramatic enough to make previous home video editions pale by comparison, thanks to the remarkably improved highlights and colors. It's almost as if watching them for the first time, accompanied by new Dolby Atmos tracks that plug viewers into the digital apocalypse.
Richard Donner's superhero classic fights for justice and liberty, equipped with yet another Dolby Vision presentation that pops with animated, richly-saturated colors, from the vibrant blues and reds of Superman's costume to the glowing browns and true-to-life yellows surrounding Lex Luther. Although Geoffrey Unsworth's photography is on the softer, dreamier side, the improvement in contrast and brightness is more than enough to upgrade to this UHD. To make the upgrade even more tempting, the classic film comes with an awesome Atmos soundtrack that repurposes some of the original sound elements into the height channels.
Unlike the above titles, this MCU favorite isn't the result of a new remaster, but the source appears to be in excellent condition nonetheless, as this 4K HDR10 presentation is splendidly beautiful, giving fans a fantastic upgrade over the Blu-ray. The improved contrast and brightness not only provide the action with a dazzling pop and cinematic appeal, but it also leaves its HD SDR counterpart feeling somewhat flat by comparison thanks to a brighter, more colorful palette. Meanwhile, the new Dolby Atmos soundtrack adds a welcomed layer of immersion.
The latest news on all things 4K Ultra HD, blu-ray and Gear.