2017 has been very good for the UHD Blu-ray format with lots of great movies released on disc. Dolby Atmos is currently the audio format of choice for these discs, but the format is still hampered (in my opinion) by the use of 2k digital intermediaries (DI) as the masters for many titles. We’re going to throw around a lot of buzz words, but stick with us as we recommend 10 of the best titles on UHD Blu-ray disc from 2017 to satisfy your eyes and ears.
Blade Runner (1982, Warner Brothers Home Video, d. Ridley Scott.)
Scanned from a 4K DI, the visuals are nearly night and day from the original Blu-ray release. Objects that appeared blurry (like the opening scene) on the 1080p Blu-ray disc were clear as a bell on UHD disc. Black levels are inky deep, contrasts ultra wide, and the level of detail shot-by-shot is staggering.
The Dolby Atmos encoded soundtrack is just as mesmerizing to the ears as the visuals are to the eyes. With an average bitrate of 4Mbps, this soundtrack is one of the finest uses of the immersive platform I have heard on disc. There is incredible sonic detail in both the main and height channels.
Wonder Woman (2017, Warner Brothers Home Video, d. Patty Jenkins)
Shot using both film and video cameras and finished in 2k, the visuals do not disappoint. There is only a minor uptick in resolution between the Blu-ray and UHD disc, but the HDR and wider color gamut on the UHD disc put it head and shoulders over the standard Blu-ray.
Sonic clarity and dialog intelligibility are the highlights of the Atmos soundtrack on this release. The separation between the individual sonic details in each channel (including the heights) is a sonic tour de force.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, Walt Disney Home Entertainment, d. James Gunn)
This is Disney’s first foray into the UHD format, and they absolutely kill it. From the opening frames to the closing credits, there is so much eye candy you get a sugar high from the viewing. The level of fine detail shot to shot is a visual feast to the eyes.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is a modest but noticeable improvement over the 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio track on the Blu-ray disc. The Dolby Atmos track does sound more coherent and spacious for sure, but the 7.1 track is a formidable presentation in and of itself.
Logan (2017, Twentieth Century Fox Home Video, d. James Mangold)
Pressed from a 4k DI, this movie has a gritty visual realism that works exceptionally well on the UHD format. HDR highlights really shine, as well as shadow detail in low light scenes. Colors are natural and not “punched up” as you see on some UHD titles.
While the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track on Bluray is excellent, the Atmos track on the UHD disc raises the bar. The use of objects both overhead and at ear level is very effective, stretching the 7.1 mix upward and outward.
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017, Twentieth Century Fox Home Video, d. Matt Reeves)
Sourced from a 2k DI, the height of this movie is its visual effects emphasized by HDR and a wider color gamut. Much of this movie is spent in darkness but we see oodles of detail in those dark scenes. While not particularly colorful, the UHD Blu-ray disc does flesh out the color a bit better than its 1080p counterpart does.
The standard Blu-ray disc already had an excellent 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, but this upgrade to Dolby Atmos takes the audio another step forward. The height channels allow low-level ambiance and effects to hover over the bed channels in a very effective way. The spatial precision of the effects lends itself to a strong sense of audio realism not found in the original DTS 7.1 track.
Life (2017, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, d. Daniel Espinosa)
Life represents one of the best examples of why everyone should trade up to UHD Blu-ray disc. From an audio and video perspective, this is as good as it gets on the platform. From fine detail to color, grayscale, and highlights, this movie scores big time. On a scale of 0-10, I would gladly give the UHD Blu-ray disc a 10.
The Dolby Atmos audio is just as good to the ears as the video is to the eyes. The sound is extremely well crafted, dense, and at times head snapping. This mix really brings you into the movie and heightens the storyline tremendously.
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017, Paramount Home Entertainment, d. Michael Bay)
The acting and dialog will not sell you on this movie, but the color, action, and sound certainly will. Mastered in both Dolby Vision and HDR10, both the primary and secondary colors along with wide contrasts make this movie bright, punchy, and highly dynamic visually. When comparing Dolby Vision with HDR10, I could not see much of a difference between them.
Like all Michael Bay movies, the sound is a huge part of Transformers. Like all Transformer movies, the sonic bombast is full force and sometimes unrelenting. This Atmos soundtrack will give every speaker in your setup a real work out. Bass is very forceful and impactful. The mix at ear level and above is extremely coherent and has effects moving all over the room.
Power Rangers (2017, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, d. Dean Israelite)
This is Lionsgate’s first foray into the Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos suite, and it does not disappoint. Whether your set is Dolby Vision compatible or not, the use of a wider color gamut and a slight boost in fine texture is what defines the UHD disc over the standard Blu-ray release.
From the beginning to the finale, the Atmos mix effectively melds the main and height channels into an extremely coherent sound field. Weapons and explosions rotate 360 degrees around the listening position, wiz by our ears, and fly over our heads. This is one superb Atmos mix.
Cars 3 (2017, Walt Disney Home Entertainment/Pixar Animation, d. Brian Fee)
Animation has always looked good on the Blu-ray format, but the UHD format takes visuals to another level. The differences are quite apparent here. In every frame, fine details in both the foreground and background are clearer than on the Bluray release. Colors pop against deep black backgrounds, and HDR highlights in flames, explosions, and fire-laden exhaust burst out of the screen.
The Atmos mix is extremely active with effects and objects flowing from one speaker to the next at ear level and above. While I would not call this an aggressive mix, it is certainly an active one when asked to support certain scenes.
Dunkirk (2017, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, d. Christopher Nolan)
Every frame in this film is a stunner to the eyes. Mastered with the supervision of Nolan, this movie shows the full potential of what UHD Blu-ray can deliver visually. Details, down to fine minutia are captured with crystal clarity. This is not a particularly colorful film, but the use of HDR is effective in capturing highlights and different shadings of the environments within the film.
Dunkirk does not have an immersive soundtrack; it is presented in lossless 5.1. Do not be fooled by this, the soundtrack is killer. The dynamics are huge, going from soft and subtle to full bombast throughout the entire movie. Han Zimmer’s score is particularly dynamic, with bass often deeper than the different effects captured from scene to scene.
There you have it. We’re working on several new home video reviews in the coming weeks.