Preamble

 

When I first jumped aboard the high definition bandwagon back in the summer of 2006, I immediately began to notice major discrepancies between the ratings being awarded to the image quality of Blu-ray releases on major review sites, and what I was seeing with my own eyes. As with standard definition DVD, I quickly lost track of the number of times a reviewer would praise a transfer to the heavens, only for me to discover that it was in fact blurry, filtered and/or edge enhanced, or for them to utterly trash (or at the very least remain indifferent to) discs that turn out to feature smooth, natural, film-like image quality. Broadly speaking, there seems to be a lack of understanding among reviewers, even so-called professional ones, of what constitutes a filmic "look" and how to accurately describe the various strengths and weaknesses on display in a transfer. I thought, and still think, that reviews such as these can potentially cause damage to the format (a distributor, for example, might see that a filtered and/or edge enhanced title is receiving rave reviews and therefore mandate that ALL transfers have the same work done on them) and bring the profession into disrepute (by appearing ignorant).

Therefore, I made up my mind to add my own voice, wherever possible, and "call it as I see it". Initially, reviewing every disc that landed on my doormat wasn't too much of a tall order, but, as I ended up buying or otherwise receiving more and more discs, this became increasingly difficult until, fairly quickly, I realised that it would be impossible to write in detail about every single Blu-ray disc I'd seen. This is why I decided to create the HD Image Quality Rankings chart.

A few preliminary notes about my review criteria. Above all else, I favour a film-like appearance that is faithful to the source materials. That may be an extremely rough, grainy image (in the case of the 16mm-sourced scenes in BABEL) or one that is completely grain-free (as in the digitally-sourced RATATOUILLE). The next most important criterion for me is detail - and by that I mean real detail, not artificially induced sharpness. A brilliantly detailed, pin-sharp image with some compression artefacts (e.g. Sony's Blu-ray release of SILENT HILL) will impress me infinitely more than one that is free of compression problems but filtered and lacking in detail (e.g. BATMAN BEGINS). There is always going to be some level of personal preference involved, and the inherent limitations of the source materials may sometimes prevent a transfer that is in actual fact transparent to the master from gaining top marks (CRANK, for example, features excessive edge enhancement that was intentionally added by its filmmakers, but nets a 4 out of 10 rating due to its ugly appearance, and giving it the same rank as CASINO ROYALE would therefore be simply ludicrous).

Enchanted   Escape from New York

Above: ENCHANTED is demo quality, the perfect example of how an HD release should be done. (Click to enlarge)

 

Above: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is the sort of thing you scrape off the bottom of your boot. (Click to enlarge)

It's also important to note that, while the chart was originally intended as a linear ranking system, with each title listed in descending order featuring a weaker transfer than the one above it, this is no longer the case. In the early days, with only a dozen or so titles in the list, this was quite feasible, but nowadays, with over 100, the waters have become much muddier, to the extent that, within each ranking tier ("10", "9", etc...), the actual ordering is alphabetical. You can therefore assume that an "8" title, for instance, is roughly comparable in terms of quality to all other "8" titles, although of course each bracket still includes room for a great deal of divergence. (THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES is assuredly a better "9" than CHILDREN OF MEN, for example, but is ZODIAC better-looking than 300, or are they both comparable in quality within the limits of their decidedly different visual styles?) This is particularly relevant when you consider that different transfers may suffer from a variety of different flaws, making it difficult to judge relative quality. For example, are DVNR artefacts and lack of definition in BASIC INSTINCT worse than the ringing in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS? How do you measure one against the other?

Finally, I must stress that, while I do happen to think that my opinion is closer to the truth than that of many reviewers out there (well, I would, wouldn't I?), ultimately that's all it is: an opinion. There can be no substitute for seeing with your own eyes and making up your own mind. If you think the standard definition upconverted ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK looks great on your system, then bully for you. I certainly am not about to tell you what to enjoy and what not to, but the list below is, in my opinion, the closest thing there is to a genuine critical appraisal of the relative qualities of the various HD transfers out there.

PS. A transfer achieves an automatic "0" if it looks no better than a standard definition transfer (e.g. the upconverted TRAFFIC).

 

Latest additions

 
  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - ZERO DARK THIRTY (Universal UK, Region ABC) - 10/10
  • Sunday, October 14, 2012 - RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (Paramount USA, Region ABC) - 9.5/10
  • Monday, September 24, 2012 - 101 DALMATIANS (Buena Vista France, Region ABC) - 7/10
  • Monday, July 9, 2012 - TREASURE PLANET (Buena Vista USA, Region ABC) - 9/10
  • Friday, June 29, 2012 - Pulled the rankings for various CRT-transferred Italian cult titles which had received overly generous scores, e.g. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE. Given what I now know about these transfers and the defects from which they suffer, their original rankings were highly misleading. These titles will only make a return once I've had a chance to reassess them.
  • Friday, June 29, 2012 - THE SECRET OF NIMH (20th Century Fox/MGM USA, Region A) - 7/10
  • Sunday, December 4, 2011 - DIE ANOTHER DAY (20th Century Fox/MGM UK, Region ABC) - 7/10
  • Thursday, December 1, 2011 - THE LION KING (Buena Vista USA, Region ABC) - 10/10
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - LICENCE TO KILL (20th Century Fox/MGM USA, Region A) - 8/10
  • Friday, October 28, 2011 - THE AMERICAN (Universal UK, Region ABC) - 10/10
 

The Discerning Viewer's Ranking List #1: Shot on Film

 
Rating Title Region Studio Country (*) Codec Shots
10 (500) Days of Summer A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  The American ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
  The Bourne Supremacy ABC Universal UK VC-1  
  The Bourne Ultimatum ABC Universal UK VC-1  
  Casino Royale ABC Sony Pictures Finland AVC Yes
  The Descent ABC Icon Australia AVC Yes
  District 13: Ultimatum B Momentum UK VC-1 Yes
  Doomsday ABC Universal USA VC-1 Yes
  Enchanted A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Gladiator (remastered) ABC Universal Netherlands AVC Yes
  I, Robot A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  The International ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Jennifer's Body A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Menn som hater kvinner [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo] ABC Nordisk Film Norway AVC Yes
  Minority Report ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Resident Evil: Extinction ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  Se7en ABC New Line/Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  The Sound of Music ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC  
  TRON ABC Buena Vista UK AVC Yes
  Twilight ABC E1 Entertainment UK AVC Yes
  Unstoppable BC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Whip It B Lions Gate UK AVC Yes
             
9.5 300 ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Across the Universe ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  Aliens ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Australia B 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  The Baader Meinhof Complex A MPI USA VC-1 Yes
  Black Snake Moan ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Blade Runner (Theatrical, International and Director's Cut) ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Body of Lies ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Braveheart A Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Broken Embraces A Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  A Close Shave ABC Lions Gate USA AVC Yes
  Defiance B Momentum UK VC-1 Yes
  The Descent (#) ABC Lions Gate USA AVC 1; 2
  Domino ABC New Line/Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Drag Me to Hell ABC Universal USA VC-1 Yes
  The Godfather Part III ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  A Grand Day Out ABC Lions Gate USA AVC Yes
  How the West Was Won ("flat" version) ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Inglourious Basterds ABC Universal UK AVC Yes
  Juno A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Kingdom of Heaven A 20th Century Fox USA MPEG2 Yes
  London Boulevard B Entertainment in Video UK MPEG-2 Yes
  Mesrine B Momentum UK VC-1 Yes
  Moulin Rouge! A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Quantum of Solace A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA AVC Yes
  Raiders of the Lost Ark ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Revolutionary Road ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Rififi B Arrow Films UK AVC Yes
  Serenity ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
  Silent Hill ABC Concorde Germany VC-1 Yes
  Spider-man 3 ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Star Trek (2009) ABC Paramount UK AVC Yes
  Taken B 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Transsiberian B Icon UK AVC Yes
  The Unborn ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
             
9 28 Weeks Later A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Alien ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Black Book ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC  
  Black Book ABC Tartan UK AVC Yes
  Black Swan AB 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Centurion B Pathé UK VC-1 Yes
  Eastern Promises B Pathé UK AVC  
  La Femme Nikita ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  Franklyn B E1 Entertainment UK AVC Yes
  How the West Was Won (SmileBox version) ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Hush B Optimum UK VC-1 Yes
  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  The Informers ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  The Last House on the Left (2009) ABC Universal USA VC-1 Yes
  Layer Cake ABC Sony Pictures UK MPEG2  
  The Life Before Her Eyes ABC Magnolia USA AVC Yes
  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) ABC New Line/Warner USA AVC Yes
  Manhunter ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM USA AVC Yes
  The Messengers ABC Momentum UK MPEG2 Yes
  Moon ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  Ne le dis à personne [Tell No-One] ABC EuropaCorp France AVC Yes
  Never Let Me Go AB 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  A Nightmare on Elm Street ABC New Line/Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  The Omen (1976) A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl ABC Buena Vista USA AVC  
  Poltergeist ABC Warner UK VC-1 Yes
  The Shining ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Splice B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street ABC Warner UK VC-1 Yes
  Taxi Driver ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  Transporter 3 ABC Icon UK AVC Yes
  Underworld ABC Concorde Germany VC-1  
  The Wrong Trousers ABC Lions Gate USA AVC Yes
             
8 Adventureland A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Alice in Wonderland ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Astérix et la surprise de César [Asterix vs. Ceasar] ABC Gaumont France AVC Yes
  Black Sheep ABC Icon UK AVC Yes
  Bonnie and Clyde ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Butterfly on a Wheel ABC Icon UK AVC Yes
  Changeling ABC Universal USA VC-1 Yes
  Chicken Run ABC Pathé/Studio Canal France VC-1 Yes
  The Children ABC E1 Entertainment UK AVC Yes
  Disturbia ABC Paramount UK AVC Yes
  Dr. No ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  Eden Lake B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  The Final Conflict A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Flame and Citron ABC Metrodome UK AVC Yes
  Flightplan A Buena Vista USA VC-1  
  From Russia with Love ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  Full Metal Jacket (remastered) ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  The Ghost Writer A E1 Entertainment Canada AVC Yes
  Ghostbusters ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Goldfinger ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  The Island ABC Warner UK VC-1 Yes
  Kill Bill Volume 1 ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Kill Bill Volume 2 ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Licence to Kill A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA AVC Yes
  Live and Let Die ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) ABC New Line/Warner USA AVC Yes
  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition) ABC New Line/Warner USA AVC Yes
  M ABC Universum Film Germany AVC Yes
  Martyrs B Optimum UK VC-1 Yes
  Max Manus: Man of War ABC Revolver UK AVC Yes
  La Môme [La Vie en Rose] ABC TF1 France AVC Yes
  My Blueberry Nights B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  North by Northwest ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  The Omen (2006) A 20th Century Fox USA MPEG2 Yes
  The Orphanage A New Line USA VC-1 Yes
  Paris, je t'aime A First Look USA AVC Yes
  Pearl Harbor ABC Buena Vista UK MPEG2  
  Pinocchio A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Repulsion A Criterion USA AVC Yes
  Resident Evil: Apocalypse ABC Sony Pictures USA MPEG2  
  The Rock ABC Buena Vista France AVC Yes
  Romeo + Juliet A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Run Lola Run ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Shrooms ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Silent Hill ABC Sony Pictures USA MPEG2  
  Sleeping Beauty A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Slumdog Millionaire A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Sunshine Cleaning A Anchor Bay USA AVC Yes
  Ténèbres [Tenebrae] ABC Wild Side France AVC Yes
  Thelma & Louise A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA AVC Yes
  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ABC Paramount UK AVC Yes
  Volver A Sony Pictures USA MPEG2 Yes
             
7 101 Dalmatians ABC Buena Vista France AVC Yes
  21 Grams A Alliance Atlantis Canada AVC Yes
  The Adventures of Baron Munchausen ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC  
  After.Life A Anchor Bay USA AVC Yes
  All the Boys Love Mandy Lane ABC Optimum UK AVC  
  Amelie ABC Icon Australia AVC Yes
  Amer B Anchor Bay UK AVC Yes
  American Psycho ABC Sony Pictures Australia AVC Yes
  Angel-A B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Arlington Road ABC Sony Pictures USA MPEG2  
  Blood Diamond ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Blow ABC New Line/Warner USA VC-1  
  Bound ABC M6 Vidéo France AVC Yes
  The Bourne Identity ABC Universal UK VC-1  
  The Brave One ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  The Butterfly Effect A Alliance Atlantis Canada AVC Yes
  Danny the Dog [Unleashed] ABC Sony Pictures Japan AVC Yes
  The Dark Knight ABC Warner UK VC-1  
  The Descent: Part 2 B Pathé France VC-1 Yes
  The Devil's Rejects ABC Lions Gate USA MPEG2 Yes
  Die Another Day ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  Dumbo BC Buena Vista UK AVC Yes
  Enemy of the State A Buena Vista USA MPEG2  
  Der Ewige Gärtner [The Constant Gardener] B ArtHaus/Kinowelt Germany AVC Yes
  The Exorcist ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Female Agents ABC Revolver UK AVC Yes
  The Fifth Element (remastered) ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC  
  The Fly A 20th Century Fox USA AVC  
  For Your Eyes Only ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  The Golden Compass A New Line USA VC-1 Yes
  Go ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Gran Torino ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Hannibal Rising ABC Momentum UK MPEG2 Yes
  Hierro B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  The House of the Devil B Metrodome UK AVC Yes
  I am Legend ABC Warner UK VC-1 Yes
  Inception ABC Warner UK VC-1 Yes
  Inferno ABC Blue Underground USA AVC Yes
  Inferno ABC Koch Media Germany AVC Yes
  Jenta som lekte med ilden [The Girl Who Played with Fire] ABC Nordisk Film Norway AVC Yes
  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ABC Warner UK MPEG2 Yes
  L.A. Confidential ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Let the Right One In ABC Magnolia USA VC-1 Yes
  The Lives of Others A Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
  The Lord of the Rings ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Luftslottet som sprengtes [The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest] ABC Nordisk Film Norway AVC Yes
  Mamma Mia! ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
  Mean Girls ABC Paramount USA AVC Yes
  The Nightmare Before Christmas A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Orphan B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Starship Troopers ABC Buena Vista UK VC-1  
  Subway B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Swordfish ABC Warner UK VC-1  
  Syriana ABC Warner UK VC-1  
  The Taking of Pelham One Two Three A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA AVC Yes
  Thunderball ABC 20th Century Fox/MGM UK AVC Yes
  Tideland ABC Concorde Germany VC-1  
  Transporter 2 B 20th Century Fox UK MPEG-2 Yes
  Vicky Cristina Barcelona B Optimum UK VC-1 Yes
  Videodrome A Criterion USA AVC Yes
  Wanted ABC Universal UK AVC Yes
             
6 Alien 3 ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Alien: Resurrection ABC 20th Century Fox UK AVC Yes
  Almost Famous: Extended Edition ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC  
  American Beauty A Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Black Rain ABC Paramount UK VC-1  
  Bridge to Terabithia ABC Icon UK AVC  
  Carrie A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA MPEG2 Yes
  Chicago ABC Buena Vista USA AVC  
  Chungking Express A Criterion USA AVC Yes
  A Clockwork Orange ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Damien: Omen II A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  District 13 ABC Momentum UK VC-1 Yes
  District B13 ABC Magnolia USA MPEG2  
  The Double Life of Veronique ABC Artificial Eye UK AVC Yes
  Edward Scissorhands A 20th Century Fox USA MPEG2  
  The Exorcism of Emily Rose ABC Sony Pictures UK MPEG2  
  Eyes Wide Shut ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Fantastic Four B 20th Century Fox UK MPEG2  
  Fight Club B Kinowelt Germany VC-1 Yes
  Final Destination ABC Warner/New Line USA VC-1 Yes
  The Fountain ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  Giallo B Dall'Angelo Pictures Italy AVC Yes
  Home Alone A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  Hostel ABC Sony Pictures UK MPEG2  
  House of 1000 Corpses A Lions Gate USA VC-1  
  Kick-Ass ABC Universal UK AVC Yes
  King Arthur A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Léon B Kinowelt Germany AVC Yes
  Life of Brian ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC  
  Memento ABC Sony Pictures USA MPEG2  
  Mother of Tears B Seven Sept France VC-1 Yes
  Mrs. Doubtfire A 20th Century Fox USA AVC  
  Night of the Living Dead B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Oldboy ABC Tartan UK AVC  
  Phone Booth A 20th Century Fox USA MPEG2  
  Psycho ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
  Resident Evil ABC Sony Pictures USA AVC  
  The Silence of the Lambs A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA MPEG2 Yes
  Torso ABC Blue Underground USA AVC Yes
             
5 36 B Palisades Tartan UK AVC Yes
  Dawn of the Dead (1978) ABC Anchor Bay USA AVC  
  Day of the Dead ABC Anchor Bay USA AVC  
  Deep Red ABC Arrow Video UK AVC Yes
  Hannibal ABC UFA Germany VC-1 Yes
  Hannibal ABC Universal UK VC-1  
  Home Alone 2: Lost in New York A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus B Lions Gate UK AVC Yes
  Inferno ABC Arrow Video UK AVC Yes
  Monster ABC EMS Germany VC-1 Yes
  Phenomena ABC Arrow Video UK AVC Yes
  Suspiria B Nouveaux Pictures UK AVC Yes
             
4 American Psycho A Lions Gate USA MPEG2 Yes
  Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie ABC Universal UK VC-1 Yes
  The Cat O' Nine Tails ABC Blue Underground USA AVC Yes
  Dark City A New Line USA VC-1 Yes
  Gladiator (original release) A Paramount USA AVC Yes
  Hannibal A 20th Century Fox/MGM USA MPEG2  
  The Ninth Gate ABC Lions Gate USA AVC Yes
  Scream ABC Icon Australia AVC Yes
  Strictly Ballroom ABC ITV UK VC-1 Yes
  Suspiria B CDE Italy VC-1 Yes
  Switchblade Romance B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  The Transporter B 20th Century Fox UK MPEG2 Yes
             
3 Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom B BFI UK AVC  
             
2 Gangs of New York (original release) ABC Buena Vista USA VC-1 Yes
  Wrong Turn A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
             
1 The Night of the Werewolf ABC BCI USA AVC Yes
             
0 Escape from New York (SD upconvert) ABC Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Gulliver's Travels (SD upconvert, non OAR, DNR nightmare) ABC Koch Vision USA MPEG2  
  Them (SD uconvert) ABC Metrodome USA AVC  
  Vengeance of the Zombies (non OAR) ABC BCI USA AVC  
 
 

The Discerning Viewer's Ranking List #2: Shot Digitally

 
Rating Title Region Studio Country (*) Codec Shots
10 Bolt A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  The Edge of Love B Lions Gate UK AVC Yes
  The Lion King ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Ponyo ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Ratatouille A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Skyfall ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC  
  Zombieland ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Up A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Zero Dark Thirty ABC Universal UK AVC Yes
             
9.5 Cars ABC Buena Vista USA AVC  
  Chicken Little ABC Buena Vista UK AVC Yes
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button A Criterion USA AVC Yes
  The Disappearance of Alice Creed B CinemaNX UK AVC Yes
  A Matter of Loaf and Death ABC 2 Entertain UK AVC Yes
  Meet the Robinsons B Buena Vista UK AVC Yes
  Monsters, Inc. ABC Buena Vista Japan AVC Yes
The Princess and the Frog A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
Tangled ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Wall-E A Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Wall-E B Buena Vista UK AVC  
  Waltz with Bashir ABC Artificial Eye UK AVC Yes
             
9 Beauty and the Beast ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  The Box B Icon UK AVC Yes
  A Bug's Life ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
  Corpse Bride ABC Warner USA VC-1 Yes
  Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Harry Brown B Lions Gate UK AVC Yes
  L'illusionniste [The Illusionist] B Pathé France VC-1 Yes
  Persepolis A Sony Pictures USA AVC  
Resident Evil: Afterlife ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  The Secret of Kells ABC New Video Group USA AVC Yes
  Treasure Planet ABC Buena Vista USA AVC Yes
Triangle B Icon UK AVC Yes
             
8 Astérix et les Vikings [Asterix and the Vikings] ABC Warner France VC-1 Yes
  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Coraline ABC Universal USA VC-1 Yes
  How to Train Your Dragon ABC Paramount UK AVC Yes
  I Spit on Your Grave (remake) A Anchor Bay USA AVC Yes
  Kung Fu Panda ABC Paramount UK AVC Yes
  Machete ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  Pontypool ABC Kaleidoscope UK AVC Yes
  A Scanner Darkly ABC Warner USA VC-1  
  TMNT ABC Warner UK VC-1  
  TRON: Legacy ABC Buena Vista UK AVC Yes
             
7 Book of Blood B Lions Gate UK VC-1 Yes
  My Bloody Valentine 3D ABC Lions Gate UK AVC Yes
  Rachel Getting Married ABC Sony Pictures UK AVC Yes
  The Simpsons Movie A 20th Century Fox USA AVC Yes
  The Social Network A Sony Pictures USA AVC Yes
             
6 Donkey Punch B Optimum UK AVC Yes
  Paprika ABC Sony Pictures France MPEG2  
  Superman Returns ABC Warner UK VC-1  
             
5 Antichrist B Chelsea Films UK AVC Yes
  A Matter of Loaf and Death ABC Lions Gate USA AVC Yes
  Weeds: Season One ABC Lions Gate USA MPEG2 Yes
             
4 Crank A Lions Gate USA MPEG2 Yes
 
 

The Discerning Viewer's Ranking List #3: Unranked Discs

 

Because the look of these films is deliberately subpar, as with the standard definition DV-sourced 28 Days Later or the deliberately scratchy Planet Terror, I have refrained from ranking their transfers.

Rating Title Region Studio Country (*) Codec Shots
N/A 28 Days Later (shot on SD video) B 20th Century Fox UK AVC  
  9 Songs (shot on SD video) B Optimum UK AVC  
  Death Proof (deliberate "grindhouse look") ABC Weinstein USA AVC Yes
  Planet Terror (deliberate "grindhouse look") ABC Weinstein USA AVC Yes
 

(*) - The country in which the version I viewed was released. Broadly speaking, the same encode appears to be used in all territories for which the rights are held by the same distributor (so, for example, I viewed the UK release of UP, but the US release more than likely looks identical). There are probably exceptions, though, so to save confusion I have made it clear which version I have watched.

(#) - This film was originally released on Blu-ray with a high quality AVC encode, but was, approximately six months later, silently replaced with a noticeably inferior MPEG2 variant, with no explanation provided. The rating here refers only to the AVC version.

Lists compiled with the assistance of David Mackenzie.

 

Common questions

 

The compression artefacts in title X bother me much more than the edge enhancement in title Y. Therefore, title Y should be ranked above title X.

I'd disagree with you, but that's your prerogative and mine. Everyone has a different set of viewing criteria: mine is that compression artefacts, while still troubling, are generally less of an eyesore than edge enhancement, filtering and noise reduction artefacts. Once again, I must reiterate that there is no substitute for watching a disc for yourself and making up your own mind about its transfer.

Have you really watched all the films listed here from beginning to end?

Broadly speaking, yes. I get a lot of discs through LoveFilm, and sometimes I don't have the time or inclination to watch them in their entirety. These are the exception rather than the rule, however, and, if a title looks as if it will be polemical, I always make a point of watching it from beginning to end before adding it to the list. In most cases, though, I can generally tell how a transfer is going to rank within a few minutes of viewing.

Why isn't title X in this list?

I can't rate what I haven't seen, and, while I do try to view as many HD releases as I can, there's only so much I can do. If you have a title that you feel ought to be included in the list, and are willing to pay for it to be shipped to me, feel free to email me at whiggles[at]whiggles[dot]com or whiggles[at]ntlworld[dot]com and we may be able to set something up. (I very much doubt it would be worth paying for postage simply so I can add a title to a list, though!)

Where can I get information on why a specific title has a certain rating?

Check out the various full-length reviews that are linked to.