While digital streaming is eating into the sales of Blu-rays, people who want to see movies in the best quality possible—both audio and video—can’t do better right now than with 4K Ultra Blu-ray discs. With the right television and equipment, people can watch movies at home with better clarity and sound that they can’t get on any other device, or even with HD streaming due to the increased data available on the discs. With that in mind, there have been a lot of great 4K Blu-ray releases in 2018, including movies that hit screens in the past year, as well as some classics that have gotten a major upgrade.
With so much to choose from, here is a look at the 10 best 4K Blu-rays to buy in 2018.
10. Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War was one of the top box office releases of 2018 and received a pristine 4K Blu-ray release in August. The release comes with HDR10 video, and while it sadly doesn’t offer home theater enthusiasts the chance to see the IMAX aspect ratio, it still looks amazing. The sound is also an upgrade from recent Marvel 4K releases, presented in Dolby Atmos.
Also included in this release are a few featurettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. It should be noted that the best feature is the commentary track with the writers and directors — but that’s only on the HD disc and is absent from the 4K version.
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9. Blade Runner 2049
One of the most dynamic looking movies to hit theaters in 2018 was the sequel Blade Runner 2049. The movie, which hit theaters 35 years after the original, was an amazing visual spectacle — moving from a colorful dystopia to a deep and striking decimated Las Vegas setting. It is also a brilliant sci-fi film with a great story and fantastic performances.
For the 4K Blu-ray release, fans can see the movie as it was meant to be viewed in the comfort of their homes. It was created in 4K for its theatrical release, so the home release is almost perfect when it comes to the sharpness and detail of the picture. It also has a booming Dolby Atmos mix. All the extra features are on the Blu-ray and not the 4K disc, but they include three featurettes and three mini prequel movies.
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It ended up as one of the better Stephen King adaptations on the big screen in years. It was scary, had solid performances from the kids, and had a nice amount of scares. While it might never be as iconic as the Tim Curry version, it remains one of the better horror films of 2018. It also might seem strange to include it in a list of must-buy 4K Blu-ray movies.
However, the Dolby Vision on display here gives the movie some great looking visuals, both striking and deep; something that works well when the movie moves to the sewers. One of the most important aspects of a horror Blu-ray is the sound, and the Dolby Atmos delivers here as well. Add in three featurettes and some great deleted scenes and this is a must-own for horror fans.
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7. Ready Player One
Ready Player One was a surprise, although it shouldn’t have been. Even people who hated the source novel by Ernest Cline had to appreciate the visual flair that Steven Spielberg brought to the film. Part of the fun of watching the movie was seeing all the cool pop culture Easter eggs that Spielberg added. It adds to the whole home video experience.
While the movie was shot in 2K, the upscaling of the already impressive looking Ready Player One still pops on the 4K Blu-ray edition. The Oasis footage is really where this format shines, and the highlight is the Dolby Atmos sound mix. The 4K disc includes the special features, which includes some featurettes and an hour-long documentary about the making of the movie.
6. Thor: Ragnarok
Thor: Ragnarok is the most colorful and vibrant movie that Marvel has made. While there are some fans who disliked the humor and others that seemed to not like the way the characters were portrayed, it was nonetheless a visual treat. It also remains the one Marvel film that seems most interested in entertaining the audience.
The 4K version of Thor: Ragnarok is upscaled from 2K, but the images in locations, such as Asgard, the halls on Sakaar, and the Norwegian location with Odin, are gorgeously rendered on this disc. The sound is delivered in Dolby Atmos, and while a step below the theatrical experience, the music is still bombastic. All the extras are on the Blu-ray disc, with a director’s commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and a fun 8-bit rendering of the action scenes.
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5. The Greatest Showman
While the excitement for The Greatest Showman was slow coming when it hit theaters last holiday season, the word-of-mouth helped it get legs, and it ended up as the third highest grossing musical movie of all-time, according to Box Office Mojo. The acting is great and the music is just what one would expect from a song-and-dance movie.
For anyone wanting to test out their sound on a 4K home entertainment system, The Greatest Showman might be the perfect disc to pop into the unit. The film’s in Dolby Atmos and it really shines — especially on the trapeze scene. The video is also immaculate, released in theaters on 4K as well. The 4K Blu-ray version also includes a “music box” feature with the scenes including songs and the director’s commentary track.
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
When it comes to 4K Blu-ray releases, movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi are examples of the films it was made to display. This is the first Star Wars movie to appear on 4K. While the movie is polarizing with fans, many loving the fresh direction of the franchise, while others lamenting on how they believe it failed its classic characters, the look of the movie was striking and beautiful.
On the 4K Blu-ray release, The Last Jedi is available in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR versions. This is best seen in the colorful scenes, such as Snoke’s red throne room, and the battles in the blackness of space. The Dolby Atmos sound is also great, as are the extra features, even though they are all on the regular Blu-ray disc.
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3. Black Panther
Black Panther ended up surprising many people when it became the highest-grossing comic book film of all-time domestically, surpassing even The Avengers films. The mix of the first predominantly all-black cast and the presence of strong female warriors gave this Marvel movie something that many people had been waiting a long time for.
There are some good and bad things when it comes to the 4K Blu-ray release, though. First, the picture quality is beautiful — possibly the richest and deepest Marvel movie to date for the format. On the other hand, the sound is not up to par for Dolby Atmos and isn’t as distinctive as other movies. Add in the special features—even with the lesser sound—this is still a movie that is well worth owning on 4K.
2. The Shape Of Water
While the movie seemed strange to many moviegoers, when it comes to fans of Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water delivered yet another one of his masterful fairy tale melodramas. The movie somewhat brings the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon story to a new generation and features masterful performances by Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon.
This is another upscaling for the 4K release, but the picture quality is still a step above what one might hope for. The color Del Toro used and the beautifully framed shots are still gorgeous on home video. There is no commentary track, but the special features are fascinating and add value to an already impressive film.
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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Not all the 4K Blu-rays released in 2018 were of brand-new movies. As a matter of fact, possibly the most impressive addition to the collection is from a movie that is 50 years old. Christopher Nolan remastered the Stanley Kubrick classic 2001: A Space Odyssey for a theatrical release this year and did it in IMAX using a new 70-mm reel.
While that was using actual film, there was also the 4K Blu-ray release this year that was equally as impressive. Honestly, it might be the most stunning science fiction film in that format. The visuals are dynamic and the sound is as bombastic as you remember. There is also a great commentary track on the 4K disc and a ton of extras on the other discs in the set. This is the top 4K Blu-ray to buy in 2018 if you only had one to choose from.
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