I hate questions like this, in the same way I hate, "What's your favourite movie?"
That's because there are many stellar examples out there. On the HD DVD front, I'd pick The Searchers, Hot Fuzz, U-571, Shrek the Third (almost 3 dimensional), Beowulf... the list goes on. I'm still working on getting a BD player.
Of the relatively recent titles I've seen, I'd say Kill Bill knocked my socks off as much as any other titles. The Incredible Hulk has some serious audio punch and is definitely no slouch in terms of PQ (although I'm not a big fan of the CGI used as usual), but I prefer Kill Bill for the overall PQ/AQ package myself (not to mention the quality of the movie itself). Of course, some will allege and complain that the Kill Bill Vol 1 BD does not offer QT's original artistic intent and has a theatrical version that was essentially "censored" by the MPAA.
I also liked the Iron Man BD for overall package, but some have said that the AQ is suspect (compared to the DD 5.1 track on the DVD release and maybe what they can remember from theaters?). I'll say it certainly doesn't pack the same audio punch that the Hulk BD does.
I haven't seen the Transformer BD (and am not particularly interested in it), but I imagine that one would rate up there as well.
If you want a fun musical, consider Enchanted or Hairspray perhaps -- though I've become suspicious of whether Hairspray hasn't gotten the dreaded heavy-handed DNR treatment that many New Line titles have had.
And yeah, there are also the few Pixar (and similar) releases like Cars, Ratattouille, etc.
There is NOTHING wrong with the Iron Man audio as long as you disable DRC on your pre/pro or BR player. This disc is known to have a flag that enables DRC to "ON" which is why some are underwhelmed by the audio. Turn DRC off and strap down your house! This track is VERY dynamic.
Transformers is among the best for A/V that I have seen. There are quite a few ref titles though.
King Kong on HD-DVD also comes to mind as a standout in terms of A/V. The upcoming BR should be even better somehow!
I appreciate all the inputs. I figured there might be one or two standouts blu-ray discs that could show off the latest technologies. I've just upgraded my whole system and would like to have a few kick butt movies to show off my new Onkyo 706 and Samsung LN52A850 LCD. I wonder what Ron Epstein uses to test his system.
If you want "kick butt", then I gotta think Kill Bill Vol 1 should fit the bill in more ways than one (or maybe three).
RE: the Iron Man issue, I didn't know about the automatic DRC. That would explain it. How exactly does one turn it off (on the PS3) though? I've always had my PS3's DRC setting turned off AFAIK -- and it pumps out the lossless audio decoded already to MPCM, so I doubt there are any flags being passed to my processor. Is there something else that needs to be done via the BD menu?
No. What happens on my receiver is because of the bitstreaming. I correct it by turning the DRC setting off on my receiver once I start playing the feature. It's my understanding this only happens when you send the signal to the receiver to be decoded. Since your PS3 already decodes then sends, you should be fine.
For PQ, Speedracer is incredible. For AQ Inc.Hulk is very impressive. I've recently been impressed with Planet ot Apes, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Kung-Fu Panda. If I had to pick any others they would be, X3, I-Robot, Die Hard collection and Golden Compass. Those are what I feel are standout Blu's.
I only went blu about a week ago, and so far I only have 2 discs: Iron Man and Sleeping Beauty. I so far only have a 19" flatscreen with 720i resolution--I'll have more to say next month when I buy a nice big 32" (or so) with 1080. But to answer the question, Sleeping Beauty kicked butt--even in just 720, there's so much information and color, and clarity coming out of that disc. The soundtrack is phenomenal (I have all Bose equipment there!) But yeah--they went far beyond just doing a nice job with this disc!! As for Iron Man--it's great, but at 720 I didn't think it was blowing me away. I'll have to get back to you on this.
Of course, cgi animated features that were produced digitally in the first place are going to look spectacular in HD. Next on my list is, of course, Kung Fu Panda.