Best of 2017 Blu-ray Review

The Top 10 Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Releases of 2017: A Year-End Retrospective

December 27, 2017Ben MK

In an age of digital everything, it's impossible to deny the convenience of being able to stream your favorite film or TV show with little more than the push of a button. But if you're a videophile, an audiophile or someone who enjoys indulging in behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes or audio commentaries, there's still no beating physical media. Fortunately, 2017 proved to be yet another banner year for home entertainment releases, and with the 4K Ultra HD format now being supported by all the major studios, we couldn't resist ringing in 2018 without counting down the best from the past year.

#1 — Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series (Blu-ray / Paramount Home Media Distribution)

With shows like The X-Files and Will & Grace being resurrected for a new generation of TV audiences, it may seem like Showtime is merely jumping on the bandwagon with this 18-part limited event series. If that's your perception, however, then you don't know David Lynch. With many of the actors from the original 1990-1991 miniseries reprising their roles, plus new cast members like Naomi Watts and Laura Dern, Twin Peaks: The Return was one of the must-see television events of 2017. Now, thanks to a fully-loaded Blu-ray release that includes deluxe packaging and over 5 hours of bonus features (nearly 90 minutes of which are Blu-ray exclusive), it earns the top spot on our best-of-the-year list.

#2 — Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray / HBO Home Entertainment)

Despite a truncated seventh season, HBO's latest and penultimate journey into the world of Westeros still proves itself to be as compelling as the show has ever been. Part of that has to do with the stellar cast, some of whom have literally grown into their roles over the years, but a great deal of it has to do with how much attention has been paid to bringing George R.R. Martin's tomes to the screen, not to mention the devotion of the fan base. HBO has recognized this as well, bringing Game of Thrones' seventh season to Blu-ray with audio commentaries for each episode, nearly 2 hours in additional special features, and a 45-minute-long "Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms" bonus disc. Of course, you could wait another year or two for the eventual 8-season mega-set, but if you've already invested in the previous seasons, this is one is a no-brainer.

#3 — War for the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray / Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Like Bond girls, humans come and go in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, but, like diamonds, apes are forever. That may seem like an odd analogy to use, but it nonetheless succinctly captures the narrative focus of Rise, Dawn, and now War for the Planet of the Apes, a film series of increasing visual spectacle that has shunned the notion of traditional human heroes in favor of its simian protagonist, Caesar. Suffice to say, this isn't just the best of the new Planet of the Apes films, it's a blockbuster with brains. With an equally praiseworthy technical presentation, 2 hours of bonus features and an audio commentary from director Matt Reeves, War for the Planet of the Apes brings the series to an end in spectacular form.

#4 — Dunkirk (Blu-ray / Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

As Christopher Nolan's tenth feature film, Dunkirk is a bit of a different beast than the director's previous movies. Unlike Memento, Inception and The Dark Knight Trilogy, Dunkirk isn't so much narrative-driven as it is experience-driven, meaning it's less about story and more about being down in the dirt and in the trenches — or, in this case, on the beach, on the sea and in the skies. From a purely cinematic and dramatic point of view, however, Dunkirk is nothing short of breathtaking, and thanks to a stunning audiovisual presentation and an insightful, nearly 2-hour-long making-of documentary, home theater enthusiasts will find so as well.

#5 — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray / Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)

With The Last Jedi still smashing box office records worldwide, it seems only fitting that its predecessor, 2016's Rogue One, make an appearance on our list. Set in the turbulent time period between Episode III and Episode IV, director Gareth Edwards' standalone Star Wars story leads straight into the events of A New Hope, telling the story of a ragtag group of galactic misfits and Rebel Alliance fighters who embark on a dangerous mission to steal the schematics to the Death Star. And although it's almost guaranteed that Disney will eventually re-release this on 4K, what we have here is more than enough to tide over even the most hardcore fan. With flawless audio and video, a digital copy and over an hour of bonus features, this is the Star Wars release you're looking for.

#6 — Misery: Collector's Edition (Blu-ray / Scream Factory)

The remake of Stephen King's It may have terrified moviegoers in 2017, but 27 years ago, it was the big screen adaptation of another one of King's books that was sending a chill down audiences' spines. Now Scream! Factory is bringing the timeless tale of terror that is Misery back into the spotlight, with a Collector's Edition that truly lives up to the moniker. Boasting a new, eye-opening 4K film transfer, a pair of informative audio commentaries, an hour of brand new interviews and another hour and a half of archival bonus features, this definitive version of Misery is an essential title for King completists.

#7 — Westworld: Season One (Blu-ray / Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

If you're in the mood for more Nolan, then season one of HBO's Westworld comes highly recommended. From creator and writer Jonathan Nolan, best known for his work on Person of Interest, not to mention his collaborations with his brother, Christopher, on such films as The Prestige and The Dark Knight, Westworld reimagines the classic novel from Michael Crichton about a Western-themed amusement park for adults populated by lifelike robots. Warner's 3-disc set throws in over an hour and a half of special features, but what's so enticing about this is the complete package, which includes attractive digibook packaging housed in a hardshell outer sleeve, a digital copy and a "Corporate Guidebook" for new employees.

#8 — Spider-Man: Homecoming (4K Ultra HD / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Spider-Man franchise has been casting its web on multiplexes for the better part of the last 15 years, and during that time, it has seen its share of ups and downs. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, the series reaches a turning point. Not only does it see a new actor (Tom Holland) take over the role, but it also marks the character's first feature-length adventure as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Likewise, Sony's 2-disc 4K Ultra HD release not only presents the film in the best way possible, it also includes over an hour of extras, a Blu-ray and a digital copy, making it a must-own for any Spider-fan.

#9 — The Transformers Franchise (4K Ultra HD / Paramount Home Media Distribution)

Ok, so this one is a bit of a cheat, since this is actually five separate releases, not one. But even though Michael Bay's Transformers films comprise one of the most uneven blockbuster film franchises out there, we'd be remiss not to include them here based solely on their technical merit. The most recent installment, The Last Knight, was the first to hit 4K back in September, and it was followed not too long after by 4K releases of the 2007 original, 2009's Revenge of the Fallen, 2011's Dark of the Moon and 2014's Age of Extinction in December. Suffice to say, each of these releases provides much more than meets the eye and, in the case of the first four films, upgraded Dolby Atmos sound mixes and all of the special features found on the previous Blu-ray releases as well.

#10 — Interstellar (4K Ultra HD / Paramount Home Media Distribution)

With a storyline spanning multiple decades, Interstellar may have all the trappings of a typical Hollywood blockbuster, but what's truly wondrous about it is that it works on so many levels. A thought-provoking sci-fi treatise, a jaw-dropping visual tour de force and a moving drama, Interstellar was originally released on Blu-ray in 2015 but has now found its way to 4K as part of a wave of Christopher Nolan films to hit the format. Bolstered by an eye-popping new 4K presentation and all the special features from the original release, this is the definitive version of Nolan's sci-fi epic that any Interstellar fan should consider owning.

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