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Best 3D Blu-ray Disc Movies

These 3D Blu-ray Discs Provide a Great 3D Viewing Experience

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As part of my job, I use 3D Blu-ray discs to test the 3D video performance of Blu-ray disc players, TVs, video projectors, and home theater receivers. However, not all 3D Blu-ray discs offer the best 3D viewing experience. Check out a list of my current favorites for best 3D Blu-ray discs.

NOTE: The quality of your 3D viewing experience (such as crosstalk and motion smoothness) is also determined by your TV, Blu-ray disc player, and 3D glasses.

NOTE: This list is updated periodically as new 3D Blu-ray discs are released or come to my attention as good examples of 3D video quality.

Also, if you are interested in some great non-3D Blu-ray disc movies to add your collection, check out my listing of Best Blu-ray Discs For Home Theater Viewing.

1. Avatar

I can't really say more about Avatar than has already been said. However, I will say that it definitely deserves a top spot in your 3D Blu-ray Disc library. From the opening space arrival scene to the final battle, this film has it all in terms of a 3D feast for the eyes. The main things to take note on the 3D aspect of this film is the more natural approach used in the 3D process. There is very little of the "comin-at-ya" type of 3D effects commonly used in 3D movies that actually ends up pushing the viewer away. Instead, James Cameron has opted for a more textural approach to 3D that actually draws you in to the fantastical world of Pandora.

Cameron also takes a similar approach to the soundtrack. The soundtrack isn't the "hit-em-over-the-head" variety, it is a great example of well-blended and properly balanced audio mixing, which makes it the perfect complement for the video presentation. As it currently stands, Avatar is the benchmark for 3D viewing.

Currently the only way to get this disc in 3D (possibly until 2012) is to purchase either a Panasonic 3D Plasma TV or Blu-ray disc player, or pay the exorbitant prices currently showing up on eBay and other auction sites.

UPDATE 10/15/12: Avatar 3D Blu-ray Now Available to the General Public - Compare Prices

2. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

If you are looking for a great 3D movie on Blu-ray - you have to check out Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Using 3D, in its current stage, to its fullest capabilities, director Tsui Hark takes you back to a restless period of political intrigue in China's history with great sets, expansive outdoor cinematography, and excellently choreographed martial arts action, featuring Jet Li and Xun Zhou.

The 3D presentation is fantastic. Yes, there are a lot of "comin-at-ya" effects, but they are not thrown in for no purpose - they are part of the integration of the martial arts action. Also, both interior and exterior shots have an extraordinary amount of realistic depth as Tsui Hark uses an excellent technique of placing characters strategically between both foreground and background objects.

In addition, the colorfully layered period costumes are very detailed. Even the English subtitles are strategically placed just in front of the plane of the characters speaking the lines. However, you find find the subtitle reading a little distracting at times - if so, you may want to opt for the English dub.

The Blu-ray Disc transfer is bright, thus translating well to 3D viewing with minimal brightness loss. Aside from the 3D, the Chinese Language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 channel soundtrack is also excellent. However, the English dubbed soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Even if you are not a fan of Asian martial arts films, the 3D Blu-ray disc release of Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is a great film to show off how good 3D can be, if it is done right.

NOTE: A 2D Blu-ray version of the film, with bonus features, is also included in the disc package.
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3. Gravity

From the wide expanse of space to claustrophobic space capsule interiors, Gravity delivers one of the most impressive 3D movie viewing experiences so far on Blu-ray Disc. However, what makes the use of 3D even more noteworthy is that is the result of 2D-to-3D conversion rather than being shot with 3D cameras.

Of course, just because the 3D is great doesn't mean that the movie would necessarily be good, but in this case, Director Alfonso Cauron, successfully weaves the style of a science fiction epic, with intense personal drama, using 3D a part of the storytelling vehicle - the only on-camera cast members are Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Also, it must be noted that not only is Gravity a great dramatic and visual film, but its 5.1 channel DTS-Master Audio soundtrack definitely adds to the drama and immersiveness of the film.

In addition to the film, there is also interesting supplementary material including a documentary narrated by Ed Harris on the issue of space junk that is crowding near-Earth space, and a short additional scene that shows the other side of a radio communication between Sandra Bullock's character and someone on Earth. Other supplements cover the film's pre-production and production process, as well as some interesting shot breakdowns.

If you have a 3D TV or Video Projector, and a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, Gravity is a must-have have for your collection.
Review of Theatrical Version (About.com Movies) - Compare Prices (3D Version) - Compare Prices (2D Version)

4. The Adventures of Tintin - Limited Edition 3D Blu-ray Disc

The Adventures of Tintin is a great example of how 3D can be used effectively to enhance the visual viewing experience and complement story telling. In the hands of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, the celebrated comic-book adventurer, Tintin, is brought to the screen in grand fashion, with great action and adventure, in the vein of Saturday matinee series and Spielberg's own Indiana Jones films. Tintin makes an excellent transition from printed page to film, with distinctive and memorable characters, and supplies the perfect balance of thrills and comedy.

The Adventures of Tintin Limited Edition 3D Blu-rays disc comes packaged with both the 3D and 2D version of the film and a third disc containing the DVD version. Also provided are access codes to an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film.

I viewed both the 3D and 2D Blu-ray versions, and both provided a great viewing experience, but the 3D version is one of the better 3D transfers I have seen, retaining excellent detail, color, and holds up in fast motion sequences. Whether you prefer 2D or 3D, The Adventures of Tintin definitely belongs in your Blu-ray Disc collection. This film should have gotten the Oscar for best animated film - It is a disappointment that it wasn't even nominated. However, The Adventures of Tintin definitely won't be ignored on this list!
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5. Resident Evil - Afterlife

"Resident Evil - Afterlife" is the fourth entry in the popular Resident Evil film-based-on-a-video-game franchise. Admittedly the story is typical fare for this type of film, evil corporation creates a deadly virus that turns the bulk of the world population into zombies, while the evil corporate executives take refuge undergrown. Enter Alice (Milla Jovovich), a clone that seeks to destroy the "Umbrella Corporation" for its evil deeds - Think of it as "Alice in Zombie Land".

However, even if this type of movie is normally not your cup of tea, it is just about the best 3D Blu-ray disc available. The opening credits sequence is picture perfect 3D, complete with overlayed 3D credits. Next follows a liberal does of great 3D action sequences (you have to check out "the giant AX murderer in the shower sequence") mixed with enough breaks in the action that gives you time to relax - for a little while. However, even the non-action 3D is great. Director Paul W. S. Anderson used the same 3D cameras that James Cameron used, and it is obvious he picked up some important tips on how to shoot in 3D.
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6. Brave

Brave captures the look and romance of old Scotland through the eyes of Disney/Pixar. Princess Merida is growing up and needs to be married off, but she doesn't see it that way. However, in a quest for independence, things don't work out quite as she expects, and so the film is off an running with an exciting adventure suitable for the whole family.

Whether you watch this film in 2D or 3D, you have a great viewing experience, but in 3D, this film will blow you away. The look adn texture of the film has excelelent color, contrast, and detail. film to be exhibited in a movie theater in 64-channel Dolby Atmos surround sound. Obviously, you won't get quite the same audio experience at home, but the sound mixers have taken great care to the mix-down process required for the home theater environment. As a result, the Blu-ray soundtrack features as much of the immersive intent of the original theatrical mix as possible.

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Here are the purchase options available Brave:

5-Disc 3D Blu-ray - Ultimate Collector's Edition - Compare Prices

3-Disc Collector's Edition 2D Blu-ray/DVD - Compare Prices

DVD-only Edition (1 Disc) - Compare Prices

Walmart 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Exclusive (includes Angus Plush Toy) - Check Price

7. Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 is not only great entertainment, featuring lovable characters, fun action, and great story. However, some action may be intense for very young children. On the other hand, this film is really impressive in 3D.

The visual layering, color, and detail really shine, and 3D is used to great effect, and, unlike many 3D films, definitely adds to the artistic presentation and story telling. Granted, there are some "comin-at-ya'" effects, but they are executed well and used when it fits the story action. Also, I did not experience any excessive darkening, distracting halo effects, or motion lag, making this one of most trouble-free 3D Blu-ray discs I have seen. The 3D presentation definitely draws you into the Po's world.

In addition to the 3D visuals, if you have a home theater receiver with Dolby TrueHD decoding, and 7.1 channel surround sound system, this disc delivers a great surround sound listening experience, with very active side and rear channel effects that complement the 3D visuals perfectly. Highly recommended.

For more on whether Kung Fu Panda is appropriate for your children's viewing, read Review for Parents by Carey Bryson, About.com Guide for Kid's Movies and TV.
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8. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Limited Edition 3D Blu-ray Disc

If you are looking for a great 3D home theater experience, check out the 3D Special Edition of the Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Director Michael Bay was very cautious about using the 3D process, and, as a result, took the time and effort to make sure that the 3D elements were executed in accordance with his vision of the film. Most of them film was shot in native 3D, but large segments were converted from 2D-to-3D as well. However, the combination of both techniques are woven together seamlessly, resulting in a 3D film with lots of depth, but not overly sticking out at you. In addition, the color, detail, and contrast hold up well in 3D (make sure you have your 3D TV adjusted well for 3D viewing).

Also, the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is excellent, however, if you are looking for great acting, just forget about that part and enjoy the sights and sounds. The entire disc package includes both the 2D and 3D Blu-ray versions, a DVD version, and an additional Blu-ray Disc with three hours of great bonus features that take through the entire process of bringing this story to the screen.
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9. Puss in Boots 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack

DreamWorks' take on Puss in Boots another example of how good 3D can be on Blu-ray disc. The detail and visual layering are excellent, and the 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is excellent, and definitely complements the 3D viewing experience. If you purchase the 3D Blu-ray Combo pack, it includes both the 3D and 2D Blu-ray disc versions of the film, as well as the DVD and access to a digital copy that you can give to kids to play on their own DVD players or compatible portable devices.

In addition to the film, there is also a newly created 3D short titled The Three Diablos, which is also great, as well as host of fun-to-watch bonus features (most features only included on the 2D Blu-ray Disc).
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Compare Prices on the 3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack.
Compare Prices on 2D Blu-ray/DVD Pack/Digital Copy Combo Pack.

10. Hugo Limited Edition 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack

Martin Scorsese's Hugo is not only a great 3D movie - it is a great movie. The film is a delight to watch in either 2D or 3D, but the masterful use of 3D is woven in the film as an effective storytelling tool that draws you in to the world of a 1930's Paris train station and its cast of distinguished characters. 3D is used to great effect that adds visual texture and perspective that makes you feel that you are actually in the movie. As the story develops, the viewer, along with Hugo and his friend Isabelle, discover the magic of the movies that is inspiring.

In addition, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel sound mix complements the 3D viewing experience perfectly.
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