Best of Blu-rays 2016

Revisiting a blockbuster in the confines of your own home-theatre has its own thrills and Sony DADC has been spoiling us this month with these…

Alice Through the Looking Glass (₹1,999)

Tim Burton has let go of the reins, but the Alice franchise is deeply settled for sequels and prequels. This latest edition has Johnny Depp reprising his role as the Mad Hatter and if you missed it on the big screen, you could potentially have more fun catching it on your home screen. The Blu-ray is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which means you won’t have any black bars on your widescreen telly and you can revel in all the amazing production detail and rich colours in costume and makeup, of which there are aplenty.

The Mad Hatter’s makeup, Alice’s attire and the set design is good enough to make this a reference quality disc for testing displays associated performance parameters such as colour saturation, contrast, depth and sharpness. The audio with the DTS Master Audio HD soundtrack is potent, especially during the opening sequence of the sailboats caught in a storm. The bass is weighty and the surrounds are actively engaged through the movie.

Bonus features are plenty but limited in range. A look behind some scenes and deconstruction of the extensive use of VFX, costume design and characterisation are must watches, along with a music video by Pink. The steel book version contains a 3D version of the movie as well and it does add another layer of immersion in the viewing experience if you have suitable hardware. Buy this disc to test out your shiny new television or projector’s range of colours and impress your guests with a powerful sound mix. The movie leaves a lot to be desired but the disc itself is stellar.

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The Legend of Tarzan (₹2,993)

Tampering with a beloved comic character is always tricky, but director David Yates has taken some bold risks in this reboot of the popular franchise. Starting off with the back story of Tarzan and interspersing it with his time back in London as Lord of Greystoke where he has left the jungle behind for a civilised life makes for an interesting beginning and one that we haven’t ever seen before.

In terms of the Blu-ray itself, it doesn’t fall short of anything and is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, which means it would look best on a projector with anamorphic lens ideally, without which it would display with black bars on your telly. The colours are deliberately muted with a greenish filter applied throughout the duration of the film and while this is a creative choice, it won’t tell you much about picture accuracy of your display. You can’t help but relish the lushness and details in the jungle and even the variety of apes and other wildlife on display.

Clearly, it’s the Dolby Atmos soundtrack that pins you down in your seat. The movie’s sound design lends itself perfectly to this new height surround experience as the sounds of the jungle envelope you from every direction. It’s not always about the obvious sounds, but more about the subtlety that draws you into the movie. If you don’t have your system set up for Atmos, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is potent too with well judged tonality across the soundstage.

There’s a 3D version of the movie available as well, which can induce a few whistles during the tree swinging sequences. Overall, The Legend of Tarzan makes for an enjoyable one-time watch if not a purchase.

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Suicide Squad (₹1,499)

A team of supervillains gathered to fight even “badder” guys makes for an interesting premise for a summer blockbuster but barring a few moments of uproar, the rest of the movie gets lost in flashback stories and/or weird Enchantress mumbo jumbo that includes no clear motive for world domination and an army of orcs that resemble a bunch of black grapes. Clearly, the only two characters that hold your attention remotely are Deadshot played by Will Smith and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and even they seem wanting for good lines.

If you’re looking for fun factor, it comes in spurts thanks to the well-curated soundtrack that adds gravitas to otherwise ordinary looking scenes. Eminem’s Without Me lives on and wakes up your subwoofer to life while the gorgeous Harley Quinn changes into her psycho cheerleader outfit. It’s also here that the disc’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack gets to shine. Since most of the movie is set in the dark, the Blu-ray will do a good job of highlighting your telly’s contrast ratio.

The occasional pop in colour is provided by either Harley Quinn’s make up or tresses. You won’t be complaining about missing out on any detail in the picture, but that’s if you can endure the whole running time of this tired comic book inspired adaptation. The individual characters might have more personality but here, they get lost behind layers of prosthetics, props or accents that just reduce them to caricatures of their comic book peers. Buy it at your own peril and watch it at your own risk!

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Mad Max Fury Road: Black and Chrome edition (₹1,499)

The genius of Mad Max Fury Road has sunk into pop culture and now director George Miller brings us another take, which he thinks is better than the original! The Black and Chrome version of the movie comes in a two-disc Blu-ray set that includes the regular colour version and the new, re-graded black and white version that remarkably allows you to appreciate the elaborate set pieces and artwork on the vehicles and lair even more.

Sure, you do miss some of the differentiation amongst the wives since all their hair look alike now but it also makes Max and Furioso look more menacing. Immortal Joe’s face contraption sends shivers down your spine and all this is amplified with the Dolby Atmos soundtrack that’s larger than life and truly reference grade. Right from the opening sequence where Max gets captured to the eye and ear popping sand storm battle, the sound mixing engineers haven't put a foot wrong here and use all the surround speakers to maximum effect in making this as real an experience as it can get at home.

The transfer to disc is magnificent and it retains all the bonus features and behind-the-scenes featurettes on both the discs. Mad Max Fury Road is a movie that has huge amounts of repeat value and this edition might be the best one so far since it gives you the option of viewing it differently each time. Definitely a must-buy.