Brian’s Mouthwatering and Voluptuous Top 10 Blu-rays of 2013

OblivionWell, it’s that time of the year again and I have volunteered to go first with my Top 10 list of what I feel are MUST-OWN Blu-rays that were released in the calendar year 2013.  Now keep in mind, these are not necessarily my favorite movies of the year listed in order, but instead they are listed as discs that I feel best represent the Blu-ray format in 2013 that just so happen to be some of my favorites too.  Coincidence?  I think not!  And I want to reiterate again…presentation over special features will always be a win for me.  If a Blu-ray disc is outstanding in every which way that’s important (film and A/V presentation), but is completely bare bones (that good old goose egg)…I’m not going to ding it for that reason alone.  However, there are no bare bone Blu-rays mentioned below.  I can’t guarantee you’ll agree with my list or rankings, but I can at least assure you of the fact that all of these have something “special” to offer their owners in each of the four categories we grade on here at WSB: Film, Video, Audio and Extras.

Now I must admit as a Blu-ray aficionado there are sadly several anticipated 2013 Blu-ray titles of mine that I have yet to check out either because I never got around to picking them up and they slipped through the proverbial cracks or in the case of latter Disney title, they are insanely overpriced: Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection, Chucky: The Complete Collection, Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition, the exceptional Silver Linings Playbook (although I hear Santa may be bringing that by) and Iron Man 3.   So as you’ll see below I ranked my Top 10 choices in ascending order and I did something different this year by completely omitting any “mention” of a honorable mention category.  I hope you don’t mind.  I’m more of a mainstream guy here than the typical reviewers on the site (I only own two Criterion releases) so while some of my choices may seem rather safe, remember who’s writing this.  Me!  With that being said I would like to let the hounds lose on this Top 10 list, which I put a lot of work and thought into.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did going back and forth thinking about all the thrilling Blu-ray releases we had in 2013.  And last but not least, I also graciously provided you with Amazon links below to bring all the respective titles home for you and your loved ones just in time for the holidays.  Any commissions earned from sales of the below titles go right back into keeping this site running smoothly and efficiently.  I appreciate your loyalty and support.  And now…let’s get started!


10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended Edition

While it may not be the most thrilling and exciting movie to watch (there’s absolutely no reason for an extended edition) and it wasn’t anywhere remotely close on my Top 10 list of films that I loved last year, there’s no denying that this is the granddaddy/crown jewel of all Blu-ray/DVD releases whenever you’re talking Lord of the Rings.  The supplemental package alone is worth the price of admission here (not to mention one of the coolest Blu-ray cases ever made).  It’s probably one of the only times where you’ll ever hear me say I love the extras more than the film itself.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I loathe the film, it’s just that I compare the nine hours of supplements on this three-disc set to the magical peanut butter they mix with milk chocolate to formulate Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.  They are that good!  Don’t believe me?  Well, why don’t you check out my incredibly large Blu-ray review over here and see for yourself.  Go on.  Get!


9. World War Z

This is an example of a title that’s going to fall really high on my best of 2013 films, but wasn’t quite the heavy hitter on the Blu-ray format, which I would have liked it to be.  The video, inherent from the source, is a little rough at times and I also felt the audio could have had a little more oomph, but for the most part it was pretty authentic and representing of the onscreen battles and struggles taking place.  However, Muse’s score is nothing short of amazing here.  The one place I felt cheated with this release is in the special features department.  I thought we could have received so much more here.  I mean, look at how long it took to make this film.  All I get is some 30+ minutes of extras?  Come on!  There has to be more!  What about that alternate ending?!  Where’s it at?  Who else smells an eventual double dip here?  My only other gripe is the fact that they don’t give you both versions of the film.  They only give you the unrated.  If you want to view the theatrical version, you are forced to watch the DVD.  Boo!  If I wasn’t such a huge fan of the film, this one would not have made the cut here, but luckily it did!  If you missed it, check out my thorough review of the Blu-ray over here.


8. Spartacus: War of the Damned

Despite not giving me the Hollywood ending I wanted, I’m still a huge fan of this series and especially of this salacious Blu-ray release.  Like all previous Spartacus releases, this one was nothing short of near reference.  Anchor Bay really did a bang up job with all four seasons of Spartacus on the Blu-ray format and I don’t think I’m the only one sad to see this beloved series end.  This captivating season cultivated the Blu-ray format with impeccable audio and video transfers and a smorgasbord of extras that was a little bittersweet to watch because it meant the end of one of my favorite series and seeing the actors say goodbye.  As tragic as Andy Whitfield’s death was, I found myself warming up to Liam Mcintyre in this season only to have him taken away from me way too soon.  R.I.P. Spartacus.  You’ll always be one of my favorite series of all time.  If anyone is interested, make sure you check out Aaron Neuwirth’s enthralling Blu-ray review of this title over here.


7. The Great Gatsby

I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to scoff at me here with the inclusion of this Blu-ray title on my Top 10 list, but I can’t help it.  I’m a sucker for the beauty of Baz Luhrmann films on the Blu-ray format, most notably Moulin Rouge.  In fact, since we are on the subject of the latter let me interject the following.  I’ll go on record by saying if you are not a fan of Moulin Rouge, then I don’t believe there’s anyway in hell you’ll like or appreciate the magic of The Great Gatsby here.  Since I’m such a huge fan of this film, I was ecstatic to get my grubby paws on a review copy of this one and discover the amazing audio visual qualities of the transfer.  It looked and sounded every bit incredible as it did in the theater.  And surprise, surprise!  There’s also a wealth of extras that are housed on this Blu-ray release too.  If you don’t believe me, check out my very biased (LOL) Blu-ray review over here.


6. Django Unchained

Here’s a film that I wish I could have seen at least one more time in 2012 before making my best of film list last year because I’m absolutely head over heels when it comes to this film, giddy like a rich, spoiled child, and this would have finished much, much higher given the opportunity to rethink it.  I never thought in my wildest dreams that Quentin Tarantino could have ever topped the brilliance of his masterpiece known as Pulp Fiction.  Hot damn on 100-degree Texan day!  I was completely wrong!  Django Unchained took my by surprise, riveted me and captured my soul.  I can say with absolutely no doubts and future regrets that it’s my favorite body of work from Tarantino and I’m excited to see what the man has up his long sleeves next.  While we weren’t provided with a Blu-ray review copy of this title, that did not stop me from picking up the steel book edition at Target and writing a review of the iTunes HD Digital Download over here.  For what it’s worth, different retailers had different exclusives for this title so your results may vary.


5. The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition 3D

This is one of the first times in my life where I can honestly say the Extended Edition adds a lot and makes this a much better film than its theatrical counterpart.  Given the option of viewing both, I would never pick the theatrical version over this one.  The one downfall, however, is that to get the extended edition on the Blu-ray format one must pony up and lay down extra bones on the 3D Blu-ray edition of The Wolverine.  I know it completely sucks a$$, but believe me it is so worth it.  The extended edition more than makes up for the five extra dollars or so and guess what?  Surprise, surprise!  Fox pulled a “Prometheus” on us once again too!  You also get extras such as an audio commentary that you don’t get when you purchase the 2D version of the Blu-ray.  It sucks!  But what are you going to do if you want the absolute best?  If you are really hardcore about this film, you’ll go out and lay down the extra couple more dollars and get the exclusive Best Buy set of this film.  I did!  And I didn’t even feel the sting in my wallet.  This extended version of the movie and its incredible A/V transfer make it so worth it!  Fox provided us with a 2D Blu-ray review copy so you can find my coverage of that here.  Rest assured, I address all the short comings in my review and why I encourage you to pick up this 3D set over the 2D set even if you don’t have a way to play 3D.  The 3D presentation only houses the theatrical version anyway.  It’s the 2D Blu-ray disc in the Unleashed set that you’re really after!


4. Star Trek Into Darkness

With the exception of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and Ashley Judd’s involvement in Season 5 (Sean’s review of that here), I did not become a fan of the sci-fi franchise until J.J. Abrams took over the reigns of boredom and reinvigorated the brand and infused much needed life and excitement into it too.  And I think it’s safe to say that the second film in his repertoire didn’t let me down either.  In fact, I saw this one in IMAX 3D twice.  If it’s not a Dark Knight or Nolan flick, that’s very rare for me.  And I also understand everyone’s beef with the secrecy of Khan or even the way the legendary character was portrayed in the film.  However, I said this before and I will say it again.  This isn’t your father’s Star Trek.  This is a new reimagining for a new generation to enjoy and not fall asleep watching.  I mean how could you?  With all the action sequences Abrams squeezes onscreen this one’s impossible to snooze through (I know that’s not a completely accurate statement).  There may be no lightsabers to put a smile on my face, but Abrams manages to have fun with this no matter how dire the events onscreen are and as a result, that makes me very happy.  There was a little bit of a controversy depending upon what retailer version you bought, so it should be no surprise that your results may vary depending on what extras your provided with in your Blu-ray copy.  Other than that it’s a fantastical presentation to behold.  Check out my full Blu-ray review over here if you haven’t already.


3. Oblivion

Aw…Oblivion.  How sweet it is!  And to think, I would have never seen this movie if it not have been for the freak, coincidental chance that I happened to be in the Los Angeles area for a business trip.  Thanks to Aaron Neuwirth for taking me as a guest to the press screening that would become one of my most defining moments in the theater in 2013.  I have a blast with Oblivion each and every time I watch it.  From the kick-a$$ M83 score to the breathtaking visuals, I just lose myself entirely.  The film may be a ripoff of every sci-fi movie before it, but honestly, what isn’t?  There is no such thing as an original story anymore.  Everything is a retelling or a trial to accomplish something bigger and better.  And in my opinion, Oblivion succeeds on so many levels.  I’m not even a huge Tom Cruise fan, but the gorgeous cinematography and rapturous sci-fi story makes me forget all about the fact.  And then there’s that pool scene up in the heavens.  Wow!  The siren Andrea Riseborough is absolutely radiant as she basks in the glow of the Blu-ray blue hues and seductively lures Tom’s fully clothed character (thank God) into the pool.  And that accompanying score.  Oh my God!  I need to change my pants.  It has to be one of the sexiest scenes ever caught on film…at least for me…hence the reason for the left uppermost lead in image to this post.  Ingredients such as attraction, chemistry, visuals and the sound are all perfectly mixed in that one special scene.  While Jami Ferguson may not have captured the beauty and essence of the Oblivion film I saw, nevertheless, you can find her Blu-ray review here complete with reference video and audio as well as some special features for fans to eat up.  This one truly had me at hello from the moment the first image appeared onscreen.


2. Fast & Furious 6

Unfortunately, we have the untimely passing of young actor, Paul Walker, shrouding and overshadowing the joyous release of this reference Blu-ray, but let’s put grief aside for a minute and celebrate all things Fast & Furious 6.  As I sat there yesterday and took it all in, it’s truly one of the most aggressive and high-octane audio cuts I have heard on the choice Blu-ray format this entire year.  The rip roaring adventure, as insane as it gets, never fails to deliver one hell of a good time.  The result of watching this film will truly make you want to go outside and race fast and furiously, but I hope you have more scruples than that.  While I don’t think this one is as good as its predecessor, it definitely won’t let you down either.  Riddle me this.  What franchise continues to still get it right into their sixth entry?  In fact, what franchises besides Rocky and Rambo makes even better films in the latter of the series than in the former?  There’s none that really come to my mind instantly.  Most fizzle and die by the third entry.  And granted, that almost happened in this franchise too with Tokyo Drift, but luckily the fans rallied for more and producer Vin Diesel and director Justin Lin delivered a trilogy of films that delivered on one basis premise…providing high-octane adrenalized fun!  If you can’t have a good time with this one, check your pulse as you may be dead.  With that being said, it will be very interesting to see where the writers take the seventh film now that everything has been completely compromised by the tragic death of Walker.  Whatever they decide I’ll support it and represent.  It should also be noted that there’s also a scene from the seventh installment provided on this Blu-ray release as an extra.  It takes place at Han’s funeral and after the events that unfolded in real life regarding Walker it’s sadly quite haunting.  While we did not get provided a Blu-ray review copy of this film (correct me if I am wrong Sean), I truly could not recommend this one more and if you want to know what it’s all about make sure you check out Aaron Neuwirth’s theatrical review of it over here.  And as a side note, all purchases of the below Blu-ray will see some of the proceeds go to Paul Walker’s charity Reach Out Worldwide.


1. Pacific Rim 

Like Oblivion above, Pacific Rim totally took me by surprise in the theaters.  While I have never been much a Guillermo del Toro fan much to the chagrin of my reviewer counterparts, the man definitely has my attention now.  Growing up in a world of Godzilla films and other monsters in the 70’s, Pacific Rim definitely transported me back to my childhood and like any carefree kid, I had an absolute blast with this one!  I saw it first in D-Box.  Then I spent the extra bones to see it in IMAX.  And finally, when it was released on Blu-ray by Warner Bros., it rocked my world once again!  Talk about a reference quality disc.  In my opinion, if you are searching for that HD demo worthy material to show off your home theater setup, look no further than this Blu-ray.  The various kaiju roars will crack the paint on your walls as the monstrous jaegers stomp and smash everything in their way.  And best of all…this is all happening in your living room!  Pacific Rim may not be my number one film of the year, but it’s the flick’s constant fun factor and even Idris Elba that keeps it in the game for me.  That giddy fun factor is present no matter how many times you pop this bad boy in.  And while it didn’t dominate the box office, it looks like a sequel is in the works and this 39-year old man child is anxiously awaiting its arrival.  Congratulations and many thanks to Warner Bros. and Guillermo del Toro for creating monsters to fight monsters in this monstrous Blu-ray release complete with demo audio and video as well as my favorite Blu-ray audio commentary of the year and many other extra gems.  This is a MUST-BUY Blu-ray release and a MUST-READ Blu-ray review over here.


Don’t agree with anything above or you want to tell me how great of a job I did compiling this list?  If so, please feel free to leave all comments of hate, jealousy, praise and recommendations for improvement below.  I look forward to any and all discussions.  Thanks for reading!


12 Responses to “Brian’s Mouthwatering and Voluptuous Top 10 Blu-rays of 2013”

  1. Sean Ferguson

    Despite my best efforts, no we did not get a review copy of Fast and Furious 6 which is too bad because I loved the fifth one. I own most of your choices but sadly I haven’t gotten a chance to see any of them yet which is going to make this year’s list really hard to do.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I don’t think your criteria for The Hobbit EE is justified. Okay, you didn’t like the film that much (yet you gave it a 3.5 rating), but that freakin’ package is uber-loaded! Oh, well, it’s your list.

  3. Brandon Peters

    This site may be the only one to have the most criticized Blu-ray of the year, Star Trek Into Darkness on ‘Top 10 Blu-rays of the Year’ lists hahaha. But, with your criteria you explained above, it fits your credentials. Not the best Trek movie by far, but still quite enjoyable, an uptick from the 2009 one, and in the upper half of them as whole. I get the criticisms hardcores have, but I don’t think it really should run that deep. It does makes a moment or two in the film laughable, but I was able to see past it and really enjoy myself.

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    There are a lot of pretty films on this list.

  5. Brian White

    I guess I don’t think your comment is justified Gerard. LOL. Did I not include it on this list because the package was uber-loaded?! I think this is one of the rare times where a 3.5 movie has made iit on my list because of such a monstrous package. FYI – Films that go on my Top 10 list for best films of 2013 have received either a score of a 4 or higher, thus why the Hobbit at 3.5 will not make it 🙂

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    You can throw up your star rating all you want, but G is getting at the fact that you don’t really hold The Hobbit up with a lot of regard and you will likely never watch it again, unless you do a marathon with friends. Hurray for the fact that a Blu-ray that was expected to look/sound great and have lots of features does in fact do those things, but do you really care about the movie that much, if you don’t really plan on watching it a whole lot…

  7. Gregg

    “I did not become a fan of the sci-fi franchise until J.J. Abrams took over the reigns of boredom and reinvigorated the brand and infused much needed life and excitement into it too.” Totally agree! We share a few discs between our lists. Stay tuned…

  8. Brian White

    @Aaron – Well I don’t have any friends in TX, but yes…I am planning on watching it once a week just so I can stick it to Gerard 😉 And yes I realize that’s 3 hours of my life every week..I realize that 🙁

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    Good response. 😉

  10. Gerard Iribe

    My point was that no way in hell does WWZ and Star Trek Into Mediocrity on Blu-ray have more special features than The Hobbit EE. It’s like you’re putting what you thought of the film over the special features package. In that case, your regular top 10 films of 2013 looks to be paltry if they’re all on here.

  11. Sean Ferguson

    I don’t think the Star Trek franchise was boring or that it was saved by J.J. Abrams. Okay, I’ll concede that Star Trek: The Motion Picture moved pretty slow but the others were good. We don’t need to trash Star Trek as a whole because of the debate about the latest film’s Blu-ray extras. While you guys may not agree with Brian’s list or the validity of the film’s being here, he did clearly state his methods for how these films were selected for this list.

  12. Brian White

    Thanks Sean. I appreciate the support! I’m not ragging on ST as a whole, just wasn’t much of a fan because it’s rather slow compared to the high octane Abrams series. But to each his own right?

    @Gerard…I have no idea what you are talking about? Do you need me to spell it out that The Hobbit EE is on my list solely because it’s the first time that an extra package has ever convinced me that it’s worth the price of admission even if you think the movie is so-so? I would agree with a statement Sean made a long time ago. Whether you like the film or not, the EE is the one people should own. It’s almost a shame they can’t bundle the theatrical version in there too as the ultimate package 🙂