Best Blu-Rays Of 2012

blu ray logo1 Best Blu Rays Of 2012

Those of you that thought 2011 was one of the best years for the Blu-Ray format might want to reconsider, because 2012 was yet another rock-solid year for the high-def format. In 2012 we saw an increase in catalog titles finally making their way to the format (in most cases with brand-new transfers), plus we saw the 3D trend takeover, with lots of titles coming in 3D Blu-Ray combo packs.

The thing I liked most about 2012 was the attention to detail that most studios used to skimp out on. For the most part almost every new big release title either had a really strong picture transfer or a well-rounded audio mix. Some lower budget comedies might have appeared too soft or quiet, but almost every action film received proper attention when ported over and I can only see that trend continuing into 2013. The studios have finally realized that we’re willing to pay top dollar for proper releases, which means remasters, new audio mixes, more special features and even fancy packaging. We’re not going to dip into something like The Lord of the Rings when we know you’ll be releasing the Extended Editions less than a year later.

My breakdown below is simply me trying my best picking what stood out above everything else. As I said before, 2012 was a fantastic year for Blu-Ray and I could probably go on for days listing good titles, so cut me some slack if your favorite title isn’t on here. There were a lot of perfect reference-level discs that dropped in 2012, so at some point personal preference will have to be factored in very heavily. Also keep in mind that just because something was noted as best audio or video does not mean that I thought the particular film itself was of high quality, just those specific regions of the disc.

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Best Picture Quality – John Carter

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Say whatever you want about the quality of Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, but don’t deny the Blu-Ray its day in the sun. John Carter is one of the richest looking Blu-Rays out there, with lots of shining reds and glowing oranges. The bright imagery of the film no-doubtingly helped this one inch closer to the prize of Best Picture Quality, but the true winning nature of this transfer is how overwhelming consistent it is. Even in the darkest moments there’s still an overabundance of fine detail and natural polish. I wanted to give this one to The Avengers, but after revisiting both I’d say John Carter comes out the winner by just a hair.

Other notable titles that excelled in their respective areas include The Descendants, Battleship and Real Steel.

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Best Audio Quality – The Grey

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This might be my most surprising pick of them all, but I just had to do it. Joe Carnahan’s The Grey isn’t just one of the best films of 2012, but it’s also one of the best-sounding films. The Grey uses lots of subtle effects and surrounding layers of audio detail to help put you smack dab in the middle of the icy tundra.

The film’s opening plane crash is one of the best things to hit my 5.1 surround setup since I installed it and the constant reminder of the snowy abyss is always pumping into the rear channels with a “blowing” effect that makes it feel as if the snow was blowing around behind you and in front of you.

This isn’t a loud track or one that is going to constantly rattle your setup, but it’s a detailed one and one that sets the bar high from here on out.

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Best Animated Film – The Adventures of Tintin

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Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin is one of the most fun movies of 2011 and one of the best-looking Blu-Rays of 2012. The disc really is a top-to-bottom experience of how to handle a 3D animated title right, with a striking picture transfer, loud and exciting audio track and enough bonus materials to fill up your afternoon.

I award this one the Best Animated Blu-Ray Film of 2012 because the disc saw a release early in the year and really never faced danger from other releases. Disney’s Brave is an impressive feat, but Spielberg’s use of colors and photo-real mo-cap makes this one look much more life-like and detailed.

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Best Catalog Release – Titanic

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If I thought my John Carter pick was going to get me trouble than this one will for sure do it. I honestly still think James Cameron’s Blu-Ray release of Titanic is one of the most in-depth catalog releases from head-to-toe. The man truly loves his films and takes great care of them when bringing them over to Blu-Ray.

Now, there are countless other classic titles from directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski and many more that had their films finally released in Blu sometime in 2012, but of them all I thought Titanic was the best in terms of being an overall complete package.

The picture is flawless, the audio is spectacular and the amount of bonus content given surpasses most new releases. Cameron also released the film in eye-popping 3D and in traditional 2D. There’s really no getting around the fact that Cameron absolutely loves Blu-Ray and wants his titles released properly on the format, even if Avatar has already seen 3 or 4 releases.

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Best Box Set – The Indiana Jones Collection

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Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones collection makes for the perfect box set for any fan. All four films are featured here with remastered transfers (aside from Crystal Skull) and a hefty batch of bonus content. The packaging itself is slick, with a gold box that houses all of the discs. What makes this set a real winner is just how perfect the first three films look and sound. I’m a big fan of Temple of Doom, but I can’t even describe just exactly how I felt reliving Raiders of the Lost Ark in full 1080p. It was almost like watching the film for the first time.

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Most Replay Value – 50/50

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Jonathan Levine’s 50/50 is one of the most moving films of 2011. He both managed to capture that real sincere emotion when dealing with the touchy subject of cancer, while also making something that’s at times hilarious and real. 50/50 is a rare film that balances the humor and drama perfectly, never letting one overdo the other. It’s amazing that it worked so well, but sad that its theatrical run wasn’t a breakout success. I’m glad that people are finally giving it a chance on home video and with that I must say that it’s one of the most-watched Blu-Rays of 2012 for me. I revisit it monthly and it never loses its impact.

Another title that is worth mentioning is Drive, because that right there is the very definition of cool and calculated filmmaking. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive just might be one of the best low-key love stories soaked in blood that I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s already had their say about it, so I’ll just cut my ranting short to save us time and space on the page.

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Best 3D Release – Prometheus

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Ridley Scott’s most talked about movie in ages also happens to be one of the best 3D films of 2012. I know that we can go on and on about the film’s overall quality and if it really is that Alien prequel we’ve all been waiting for, but let’s just cut the bullshit and talk about the actual use of 3D. Here Scott actually shoots natively and it shows. The entire transfer is full of depth and a complete breakdown of the environment that surrounds you. Everything about this film screams 3D and Fox completely understood that when pressing the 3D Blu-Ray discs. Prometheus is a game-changer on Blu-Ray.

Those that still think 3D is simply a gimmick will want to experience this film on the proper setup, because it should change your opinion in a matter of seconds. Scott uses the extra dimension as a way of helping close that gap between watching a film and feeling a film. Not once does it pop up for the sake of reminding you that you’re watching a 3D movie and instead it slowly traps you into the world established on camera by Scott.

I liked the film, but even if I hated it I wouldn’t deny that it’s a visual spectacle to look at in 3D.

An honorable mention that gives this film a run for its money theatrically, but sadly not on Blu-Ray is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to film Hugo. When I watched Hugo in theaters I was completely amazed by how Scorsese used the format and made it a true part of the actual film. I was excited to relive that feeling on Blu-Ray, but only found a 3D transfer that works great in some areas, but poorly in others. Hugo is a great film, but the 3D Blu-Ray transfer isn’t the perfect one that we deserve.

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With 2012 ending and 2013 beginning I will continue to have high hopes for the future of the Blu-Ray format. Hard copy discs are slowly dwindling down as digital download becomes the thing of the future, but I will always have my feet planted firmly with hard copy media, because I always appreciate an actual disc and case over a click on my computer. Blu-Ray still hasn’t even overthrown DVD just yet, which means we’ve got plenty of good years ahead of us.

I hope the studios continue to keep up this trend of awesome-looking and sounding Blu-Rays, because then it makes it so much easier to actually want to go out and pick up a disc on opening day opposed to waiting for a Black Friday deal. I know I missed a ton of titles in my article, but there’s just too many out there to give every single one a full write up.

One category I always skimp on is the special features, simply because I just can’t write all day about featurettes and deleted scenes. If you really want two packages that cover you in those fields then check out David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Ben Affleck’s newest Ultimate Collector’s Edition of The Town.

Here’s to the incredible year for Blu-Ray discs known as 2012. There’s no reason the studios should be packing up or toning down just yet, so let’s do this again around the same time next year!

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