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Thu, 18 Jan 2018 01:10:00 +0000
The best TV shows on Foxtel Now: the top television series to stream right now
Foxtel Now has a wealth of excellent shows to instantly stream – here are the best ones.

Best 4K Blu-ray Player Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Players you can buy in 2018.

The fact that you're here, looking for the best 4K Blu-ray player right now says something about you: you're ahead of the curve. You like owning the latest and greatest technology or, if not owning, at least knowing about the best-of-the-best upcoming tech. 

And why shouldn't you? A day will come soon when everyone will want to watch their favorite TV shows and movies in an ultra crisp 3840 × 2160 resolution.

While looking at 4K Blu-ray players this early in the game makes you an early adopter, manufacturers don't have the same sort of passionate drive to have the latest and greatest that you do.

While most manufacturers have one or two models on the market at the moment, the list of available Ultra-HD Blu-ray players is still a fairly short list.

The good news is that while there aren't many 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players at the moment, content for these players is growing at an exponential rate.

Netflix has started to film many of its shows in 4K high dynamic range, and Amazon and Google Play TV & Movies have recently followed suit. Ultra HD films have started to make their way to store shelves, too, in greater number and include huge hits like The Martian, Wonder Woman and The Revenant. 

But these are just the tip of the very high-resolution iceberg. Expect to see  dozens more of these high-capacity discs make their way to an electronics retailer near you in the coming weeks and months.

What else do I need to watch a UHD Blu-ray?

In order to get a true 4K experience, remember that you'll need a 4K Blu-ray player, a 4K Blu-ray disc and, of course, a 4K TV in order to watch it. Don't have that last one? Check out our guide to the best 4K TV.

If you don't have a 4K TV, your 4K Blu-ray player will still work, but it will only display images in 1080p. Buy a regular Blu-ray instead of a 4K version and it will still play in 3840 × 2160 resolution, but it won't be a native 4K image and will be noticeably different than had you used an Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Enough with the caveats. Here are the the best 4K Blu-ray players in the world:

  1. Panasonic DMP-UB700 
  2. Oppo UDP-203 
  3. Sony UBP-X800
  4. Panasonic DMP-UB900 
  5. Samsung UBD-M9500 
  6. Sony UBP-X1000ES
  7. Panasonic DMP-UB300 
  8. Xbox One X
  9. Xbox One S 
  10. Samsung UBD-K8500

When it comes to 4K UHD image quality, the DMP-UB700 effectively sets a new benchmark for price and performance. 

Streaming service support, with HDR-enabled 4K Netflix, is well worth trumpeting and the player does a swell job with 24-bit audio, be it with FLAC or DSD files. 

If you're prepared to spend slightly more then you'll be rewarded with support for Dolby Vision and more universal disc support, but as it stands the UB700 offers the most balanced mix of price, audio visual performance, and features. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB700

The Oppo UDP-203 is the most expensive Blu-ray player on this list, but depending on your needs it might just be exactly what you're looking for. 

The player supports a full suite of both video and audio formats, including the niche SACD, and features a total of three HDMI ports (one for video and audio, one for audio, and another to act as an HDMI passthrough).

It even supports the premium Dolby Vision HDR standard, which is still a rarity in players.

Unfortunately the Oppo doesn't include support for streaming services such as Netflix, but if you want a premium disc player (at a premium price), this is the one for you. 

Read the full review: Oppo UDP-203

Sony might have been a little late to the Ultra HD Blu-ray party, but its first player is a great machine. It's solidly made, and its overall image quality is superb. 

As an added bonus, the player also supports a wide range of audio formats, can play SACDs, and even DVD-As. 

So why does the player sit the number three slot in our list? Well, unfortunately it lacks support for Dolby Vision, the high-end HDR format that discs are increasingly offering support for, and which the Oppo UDP-203 does now support thanks to a firmware update. Its also more expensive than our top pick, the Panasonic DMP-UB700. 

If you want a UHD player that also doubles as a very capable music player, then the Sony UBP-X800 is a great choice, but if you're after something focussed solely on playing movies, then there are better or cheaper options out there. 

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X800

Best 4K Blu-ray player

The DMP-UB900 will restore you faith in physical media. In full 4K HDR guise it offers a level of performance that will have new 4K TV owners gasping. Ultra-HD Blu-ray brings the experience of 4K digital cinema to the home, and rewards with brilliant colour fidelity, deep contrast and almost three-dimensional clarity.

Factor in solid file playback support, plus 4K iterations of Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and you have a machine that'll make your new 4K HDR TV look sensational.

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB900

Looking back at it now, Samsung’s first Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the Samsung UBD-K8500 (found further down the list) seems like a bit of a trial run.

Its build quality was rudimental as Samsung tried to undercut rival debut units on price. It didn’t carry any sort of built-in display. Its picture quality was OK as a starting point for a new format, but was soon overwhelmed by more heavy duty rivals. And while the deck did what it needed to, its feature count was soon exposed as pretty limited. 

The new $399 (£450, about AU$500) UBD-M9500 feels like such a specific response to its predecessor’s limitations that you can almost imagine Samsung sitting down and ticking the old problems off one by one. 

The result is a far more accomplished player that deserves a seat at the serious mid-range 4K Blu-ray player table - even though a couple of deliberate omissions might frustrate some quarters of the AV enthusiast market.

Read the full review: Samsung UBD-M9500

The UBP-X1000ES is Sony’s premium 4K Blu-ray offering, a posh stablemate to the unfeasibly fine UBP-X800. In terms of performance and value, the latter can be considered one of the best value UHD Blu-ray players available, so clearly this more expensive sibling needs to be rather special to warrant a premium. 

To that end, the UBP-X1000ES delivers pristine UHD Blu-ray images and its audio performance is excellent, be it via HDMI or two channel analogue. The player is also artfully built, and incorporates a high-end 192kHz/ 32bit DAC and offers a gold-plated phono analogue audio output on the rear. 

Ultimately, though, the X1000ES is considerably more expensive than the UBP-X800, and doesn’t quite have the feature roster of the Dolby Vision-enabled, MQA-playing Oppo UHD-203 - and if you’re looking for a UHD player with comparable audio chops (although admittedly not universal disc compatibility), then Panasonic’s DMP-UB900 provides cheaper competition.  

Read the full review: Sony UBP-X1000ES

You'll make a couple of compromises if you want to take advantage of the DMP UB300's budget price-tag – there's no built-in Wi-Fi for example, and rear ports are incredibly limited – but thankfully the machine doesn't scrimp where it matters. 

Picture quality is excellent, it supports a wide range of audio codecs and formats, and there's also streaming services built in if you're willing to go down the wired ethernet route. 

Read the full review: Panasonic DMP-UB300

The Xbox One X is a beast of a gaming console. It offers 6 teraflops of performance, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM and an eight-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz. By far and away, it's the most powerful device listed on this page. But despite all that power under the hood, it's not the best 4K Blu-ray player. Sure, it can play 4K UHD discs - and it even supports Dolby Atmos audio - but the images that it produces aren't likely to blow you away. That's probably because the Xbox One X doesn't have the same level of picture-upscaling that some of the other dedicated media players on this list have. While the Xbox One X might not be as good of a 4K Blu-ray player as the Oppo or the Sony, we'd like to see either one of those players handle an Xbox One X game.

Read the full review: Xbox One X

Not holding the title of a "proper Blu-ray player" doesn't stop the Xbox One S from being a great, cheap way to play 4K Blu-ray discs. 

Sporting a Blu-ray disc drive and the capacity to run Netflix in 4K Ultra-HD, Microsoft's latest iteration of the Xbox is a great 'jack-of-all-trades' machine that's capable of satisfying your UHD disc needs as well as playing the latest console game released for the system. 

The downside of it being able to do everything is that you'll be working with an interface designed primarily for gaming. The controller that comes with the console isn't the most efficient way to control movie playback, and the machine lacks support for Dolby Vision. 

Regardless, if you want a machine that can handle both your gaming and your home cinema needs, the Xbox One S is the console for the job. 

Read the full review: Xbox One S

Best 4K Blu-ray player

The K8500 is currently the cheapest route into 4K Blu-ray. It's also a useful hub for 4K OTT services from Netflix and Amazon, and while the design is a bit Marmite, you'll be consistently impressed by its loading speed and colourful UI.

You can get better image quality, support for more formats and better build quality by spending more money, but if you want a cheap machine that covers the basics, then the Samsung UBD-K8500 is yet to be beaten on price. 

Read the full review: Samsung UBD-K8500


Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:29:00 +0000
The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players you can buy right now
They're few in number right now, but 4K Blu-ray players are really picking up steam.

Best 4K TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best 4K TVs you can buy for any budget in 2018.

[Update: we're well into Black Friday deals season, and many of our top picks for the best 4K TVs are seeing discounts. If you're in the UK, the LG OLED B7 at number 6 in our list is discounted by £1000 at Very.co.uk. This was already LG's cheapest set, so a reduction of this size makes it even better value.]

Far from being the niche high-end technology that it was a few years ago, 4K resolution (also known as Ultra HD) has more recently exploded into the mainstream. 

If you're buying even a mid-range TV these days it's more than likely going to be 4K, which means four times the resolution of traditional HD displays. 

Thankfully there's now a lot of content for the new standard. Netflix and Amazon both offer 4K streams, Ultra HD Blu-rays are increasingly common, and even gaming is getting in on the action with the 4K toting Xbox One X

But making a good 4K TVs isn't just about how many pixels you can push to a screen; it's about the quality of those pixels. To that end, there's even newer technology that we're excited about, like High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut, that promise to take all those new pixels and make them truly shine. 

If the world of TV buying feels unapproachable when you're first getting into it, don't worry. Give it some time and it will all make sense. Plus, you've got us here to help you pick out the best 4K TV on the market.

Over the years, hundreds of TVs have passed through our reviewers' doorsteps. Using that wealth of experience, we've created a list of the best 4K TVs. We constantly update the list with the latest and greatest panels, so if you see things shuffled around a bit since the last time you were here, don't freak out.

Additional resources:

Best 4K TV

Thanks to the thinness the technology affords, OLED televisions often look striking, but LG's OLEDE7's 'picture on glass' design looks especially fantastic. 

Sure, the E7 might not have the same sexy allure as LG's flagship from this year, the crazy-expensive OLED W7, but frankly the E7 offers a very similar level of quality at a much lower price. It still looks great, it's still packing Dolby Atmos, and although it can't boast the wallpaper thinness of the W7, it's not far off. 

If you want almost all the high-end features LG's OLED series have to offer without taking out a second mortgage on your home, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile, cost-effective addition to any home theater.

Read the full review: LG OLED E7

Best 4K Tvs

Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen back in 2015, but it's not been resting on its haunches ever since. 

Samsung's latest flagship, the Q9F, is a perfect example of this. It ups the brightness to 1500 nits, 50% higher than the level required for UHD Premium certification, and the brightest TV we've ever tested. 

Outside of an impressive-sounding number this brightness has a real impact on the set's image quality. Detail is preserved in even the brightest areas of the image, and colors are exceptionally vivid and bright. 

Even non-HDR content looks fantastic thanks to Samsung's SDR upscaling technology. 

No television is perfect, and the Q9F can occasionally suffer from some backlight clouding around bright objects. Additionally some settings cause colour striping with HDR, but minor flaws aside this is one of the best TVs around in 2018. 

Read the full review: Samsung Q9F

Best 4K TV

Although LCDs haven't quite achieved the same black levels as their OLED rivals like the LG E7 above, the Sony XE90's HDR performance comes tantalizingly close. 

This is achieved through the set's direct LED backlight, which allows it to achieve a brightness uniformity that edge-lit displays often fall short of. 

Add in fantastic detail and motion handling, and you've got yourself a set that strikes an excellent balance between price and performance, and is well worth a look, even if its Android TV interface can feel a little cluttered, and its remote a little cheap. 

Read the full review: Sony XE90

Best 4K TV

The 55A1 – and the A1 OLED series overall – are crowd pleasers in just about every way. Their ‘picture only’ design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than I’d thought possible, too. 

The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1’s exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we’ve long suspected: More brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things. 

Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED

Best 4K TV

Panasonic was so obsessed with nailing high dynamic range picture quality on its flagship 4K TV series for 2016 that it came up with an all-new 'honeycomb' LCD panel technology. This puts physical dividers between the areas of the different 'zones' of picture illuminated by its direct-lit backlight system to cut down on the usual LCD problems of backlight clouding around bright HDR objects, and even introduces a new diffuser filter to try and stop the light 'breaks' between different LED zones looking too obvious.

Even this doesn't completely solve LED's light control issues with very extreme HDR content, but it certainly does enable the TV to deliver picture quality with HDR sources that for the majority of the time are second only to Samsung's KS9500 TVs for their combination of dynamism, detailing and sheer spectacle - and the DX902s cost hundreds of pounds less than their Samsung rivals.

Read the full review: Panasonic DX902

Best 4K TV

LG's 'B' line of OLEDs has consistently offered a great entry point into the display technology without compromising on what makes it so exciting. 

The B7 series is no different. Contained within the TVs is exactly the same panel that's powering the more expensive C7, E7 and yes even the W7 LG televisions, which means an exceptional bump over last year's OLED panels at a much lower price. 

So where has LG saved the money? In a word, sound. The B7's downward firing speakers are the worst all the company's OLED TVs. Not only that, but the set is also currently unable to pass Dolby Atmos to an external sound system over HDMI (although a firmware update to fix this is on the way). 

If however, you're content to put up with a standard surround sound experience, then the B7 is a fantastic entryway into a piece of TV tech that still feels futuristic in 2018. 

Read the full review: LG OLED B7

With a price tag of nigh £6,000, the 65EZ1002 needs to be special. Fortunately, it is. By implementing a number of features usually reserved for the professional mastering monitor world, Pana’s flagship OLED is able to deliver the most consistently beautiful and accurate pictures seen to date, with both HDR and SDR sources. It also offers a highly effective smart system, and a strong audio performance from its built-in soundbar.

For AV enthusiasts keen to reproduce their favourite directors’ vision at home with no expenses spared, the 65EZ1002 is simply as good as it gets. 

Best 4K TVs

On paper the 65PUS7601's pictures shouldn't really work. It only delivers 700 nits of brightness versus the 1000 nits we're seeing from the highest-level TVs this year, and it only hits around 76% of the expanded 'DCI-P3' colour range usually considered necessary for a premium HDR experience.

The reality of watching the 65PUS7601, however, is that once you've wrestled with a rather complicated picture set up system it produces one of the most immersive and spectacular pictures the TV world has to offer. Particularly key to its success is its direct LED backlight system, which manages to deliver a good (albeit not full) sense of HDR without causing nearly as many backlight clouding distractions as any of its more extravagantly bright rivals.

The 65PUS7601 does this, moreover, while also giving you the hundreds of apps available via Google's Android TV smart platform and costing many hundreds of pounds less than other direct-lit 4K rivals like the Panasonic DX902s and Samsung KS9500s.

Read the full review: Philips 65PUS7670

Best 4K TV

The Sony XE93 range is the more premium range that sits alongside the XE90 above and it's certainly a more ambitious set. 

The XE93 features a Sony innovation known as 'slim backlight drive' which attempts to deliver areas of concentrated light in the screen while maintaining a slim form-factor. 

For the most part this system performs admirably, and creates fantastically bright images that have real punch and intensity to them. 

But the system does have it's issues with keeping this brightness to the bright areas of the image, where it can occasionally see this light 'bleed' out into darker parts of the image. 

Thankfully this set is also no slouch in the sound department; it's happily one of the better sounding TVs out there. 

So the XE93 is a great looking set, but while it may be much more premium than the XE90 listed above, it doesn't quite go all the way in justifying its increased cost. 

Read the full review: Sony 55XE93 or the Sony 65XE93

Best 4K TV

The Panasonic DX750s are some of the cheapest TVs around to offer both 4K and HDR playback. Yet despite their affordability they are also very likeable performers. In fact, with the standard dynamic range sources we still spend the vast majority of our time watching they're nothign short of excellent thanks to their winning combination of 4K sharpness, strong contrast and natural, nuanced colour tones.

With HDR the situation is a little less emphatic, as the screen doesn't have the colour or brightness range to provide a truly full blooded HDR performance. There are various occasional backlight distractions with HDR playback too that you have to work hard in the set up menus to try and minimise. Actually, though, for most of the time the DX750s still look good with HDR and deliver at least a flavour of the extra colour and light dynamics that make it so special.

Add to all this Panasonic's friendly, customisable Firefox TV smart engine and you've got a TV range that offers fearsome amounts of bang for your buck.

Read the full review: Panasonic DX750


Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:25:00 +0000
The 10 best 4K TVs of 2018
Don't settle for 1080p. These 4K TVs have incredible clarity, amazing colour and, of course, a 3840

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 16:02:00 +0000
The 10 best 4K TVs of 2018
Need an awesome 4K TV? We've tested dozens of the best and can now safely crown the king of screens in 2018.

It's hard not to get excited about any new games console, meaning it'll be nigh impossible to contain ourselves when Sony announces the PS5. 

Yes, the fifth member of the PlayStation console family is still to be confirmed and as much as we'd love to say we know there's one coming in the near future, that's not something we can actually say for sure. It's actually hard to determine just when we'll get our first glimpse of Sony's PS5 (or PlayStation 5 if we're being formal).

There is some good news though; although we're not entirely sure when the PS5 will be revealed, Sony's President and CEO, Shawn Layden, has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will be coming eventually in an interview with Golem.de. Sadly he said it wouldn't be anytime soon. But we know it's coming! 

We can't really blame Sony for not wanting to start up the next generation of consoles just yet. It's not been long at all since the PS4 Pro was released and it's been even less time since Microsoft released its competitor, the Xbox One X

These mid-generation 4K upgrades have managed to extend the lifespan of the current generation significantly and we can't see another upgrade coming for another couple of years. 

Check out the video below to see Jon and Gerald discuss the differences between the PS4, PS4 Pro and PS4 VR.

There's also the question of what, exactly, the PS5 could do better. 

Sony now has a system that's capable of both HDR and 4K upscaled gameplay which, for most gamers, is more than enough for the time-being.

Unless Sony has a treasure trove of 8K TVs ready to ship out exclusively with PS5 consoles, there might not be a point in launching a new system right now if the focus is going to be on visual enhancements.

But, perhaps even more importantly, the console's existence and recent success has called into question whether a proper follow-up to the PS4 will ever be needed. We might be moving towards a more iterative hardware cycle. 

When Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony's Worldwide Studios, was asked about the PS5, he responded that he thought the PS5 was a question of 'if' rather than 'when'

Though Sony briefly had the most powerful console on the market with the PS4 Pro, Microsoft threw a spanner into the works in November 2017 with its Xbox One X. It's too early to tell just yet but that could spell trouble for Sony. 

But just because Microsoft has launched a new system doesn't necessarily mean that Sony will counter immediately – there are good reasons to believe that Sony is less comfortable with the idea of taking a mobile phone-style “upgrade every year” approach to consoles in the future, including comments from Yoshida himself. 

Also, it boils down to simple economics: it’s well documented that the longer a console can persist on the high-street shelves, the more profitable it becomes, as economies of scale reduce manufacturing costs, while a large install base means publishers can sell more copies of their latest games.

What does that mean for the PS5? Will Sony's fifth console come to fruition? What would it do differently? What can it do differently? 

For right now, at least, we don't have all the answers. 

But instead of twiddling our thumbs and waiting for Sony to plop the next system on our laps, we've done some digging to try and get to the bottom of the mystery that's kept us up at night: what is the PS5 and when is it coming out?

PS5 Release date

With no official word from Sony, it's difficult to know exactly when we might get to see a PS5, so all we have for the moment is the guesswork of industry analysts to go on. 

Analysts are predicting we could see the PlayStation 5 as soon as 2018 but the most likely outcome is 2019. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, analyst Damian Thong (who previously predicted the PS4 Pro and Slim) suggested that the console would arrive in the latter half of 2018.

Another analyst, however, believes we'll have to wait a little longer. Speaking to GamingBolt, Michael Pachter said that though he thinks the PS5 will be a half step and will be backwards compatible with the PS4 Pro he doesn't think we'll see it until "2019 or 2020 but probably 2019." 

This slightly later release, he says, would make more sense as it would fall in line with predictions for when the 4K TV market in the US will reach 50%. "I think Sony has probably got the next console cycle lined up already", he says, "I think they already know what they've got to do."

More recently Pachter reiterated this claim, saying that Sony would most likely release the new console in 2020. He added that at this time he thinks the PS4 Pro will become the base model PlayStation and will see a reduction in price. 

We’ve got the TVs: can we have proper 4K gaming?

The PS4 Pro offers a tantalising hint of what 4K gaming could be like. But the stark fact remains: it still doesn’t have the grunt to do native 4K consistently. 

Its “checkerboard” technique of taking single pixels and using each to render four pixels in 4K resolution is clever and it can do native 4K output but it often has to sacrifice resolution to keep performance consistent. 

Chris Kingsley, CTO and co-founder of developer Rebellion, dangles an even more ambitious technological carrot in front of a putative PS5: “Obviously new hardware should be able to support 4K TVs and possibly even 8K TVs at a push!” 

Native 4K support, surely, will be a basic requirement of the PlayStation 5. And if Sony cracks that particular problem with alacrity, it could even mean that a PlayStation 5 will arrive sooner than anticipated.

ps5 games

The VR effect

Sony recently became the first console manufacturer to embrace virtual reality, thanks to the PlayStation VR, but if you examine PlayStation VR closely – and observe how it operates on the PS4 Pro – it invites speculation about how a PS5 might take VR to a new level. 

Currently, PlayStation VR operates at lower resolution than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – but, as it stands, even its current incarnation almost pushes the base PlayStation 4 beyond its limits. Running a PlayStation VR on a PS4 Pro brings improved frame-rates, which are very handy indeed in terms of the overall VR experience, but even the PS4 Pro can’t overcome the resolution constraints set by the PlayStation VR headset.

Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration of PlayStation VR

So it’s a good bet that, presuming PlayStation VR is successful (and it already appears to be catching on) Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration: which would provide an obvious selling point for the PlayStation 5. 

And if a PlayStation VR 2 headset could be sold without an external black box, it should be markedly cheaper, further accelerating VR’s march into the mainstream.

Rebellion’s Kingsley makes another good point about second-generation VR. “Anything that reduces the leads has to be a good thing,” he says. 

The umbilical cord which currently attaches VR headset-wearers to their consoles or PCs obviously goes against VR’s entire immersive nature, and we’re already beginning to see, for example, a third-party implementation for the HTC Vive that renders it wireless. It’s a safe bet that the capacity for running a wireless PlayStation VR 2 will be built into the PS5. 

But Kingsley’s PlayStation VR 2 wish-list goes further: “Wide vertical and horizontal field-of-view would be top of my list, and of course, that would require 4K resolution per eye, and high dynamic range would be great too.” 

HDR and wider fields of view should be achievable but sadly, we don’t reckon full 4K VR is likely to be a possibility even for the PS5. As Kingsley points out, that would require 4K rendering per eye, which equates to 8K rendering overall, which we expect to be beyond the PS5’s capabilities. 

That said, perhaps Sony will find some clever technological bodge to get around that before it releases its fifth PlayStation console.

ratchet and clank

What form will the PS5 take?

It has been suggested that future consoles could take radically different forms to current ones, thanks to advances in cloud computing bringing about the ability to stream games, thereby doing away with the components that make consoles so bulky. But we don’t reckon Sony will take a more Nintendo-like approach and put the PS5 in a tiny box. 

One reason for that is that with the PS4, Sony has only just committed to using what are basically the innards of a PC – the first three PlayStation variants used proprietary components which, in the PS3, were so esoteric that the console flopped. Developers, certainly, are massively relieved that the PS4 took the PC route. 

"We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.”

Chris Kingsley

“Developers want the ability to make the best games using the minimum amount of effort. We want to focus on being creative and getting things to just work,” Kingsley says. “So the hardware should be based around current console hardware, which is in turn based on PC hardware. We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.” 

All the above are achievable, but will the PS5 still have a hard disk? 

Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House spoke at the PS4’s launch about how deciding to put hard disks and 8Gb of RAM in the PS4 were both “Billion-dollar decisions”. The fact that Sony has now made external hard drive support possible for the PS4 and Pro is a step in the right direction and this is something that could be carried over the the PS5, which will undoubtedly have to deal with even larger 4K assets. 

Streaming games

Of course, if games were just streamed to the PS5 that problem would disappear entirely, and Sony already has a game-streaming service in the form of PlayStation Now

So why isn’t this more of a definite feature rather than something on our wishlist? Well, Sony is remaining tight-lipped about PlayStation Now uptake figures, but we suspect they are pretty unimpressive. It has certainly had issues with setting the right subscription charges, given that PlayStation Now effectively gives backwards compatibility – a “luxury” that was previously free for owners of PlayStation 2s and 3s. 

There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the console for those with mega-fast broadband

But the biggest issue is broadband speeds. Even 4K TV requires a minimum of 25Mbps broadband in order to provide satisfactory streaming, and it’s doubtful whether 4K game streaming – with extra information on top of the visual side – would even work reliably at such speeds. There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the console for those with mega-fast broadband, perhaps with a mobile phone-style subscription model that has an upfront hardware costs. 

But for the PS5 to sell anything like its predecessors, there would have to be a conventional version with similar innards to the PS4

In his recent autumn statement, chancellor Philip Hammond announced an infrastructure investment aimed at bringing fast broadband and 5G mobile data to the UK. But the earliest that would have an impact would be 2021, and the PS5 will almost certainly arrive before then. Perhaps its first mid-cycle update, though, will be a streaming version which takes advantage of burgeoning 5G networks?

Optical discs or not?

The rise of download games, which continue to eat into the physical disc market, means that pundits have been predicting that consoles will go discless for about a decade now. However, our guess is that the PS5 won’t be the first system to risk venturing down that road, at least not until it catches wind of Microsoft doing the same thing. 

Sony has taken a lot of (justifiable) flak for not putting a 4K Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Pro – making it a less attractive purchase for film and TV buffs than the Xbox One S

Surveys continue to show that gamers are still attached to the possibility of buying games on physical discs – not least because they can then sell them (a practice that the games industry hates), and due to their persistent hard disk space issues, although it’s only the current generation of consoles which has insisted on installing entire contents of Blu-ray discs onto hard disks. 

If Sony were to axe the Blu-ray drive from the PS5, gamers would expect several terabytes of storage in compensation. 

Kingsley gives a developer’s view on the topic: “I think the days of delivering films and games via disc are on the decline, as most people are going digital; however, some people like physical discs, so who knows  whether that decline will level out and remain present but at a lower level than now?”

Download figures have been on the rise over the last year but EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has said that he thinks consoles and disc drives will continue to stick around.

“Consoles and disc drives probably stay around for a long period of time [...] I think it's the consumer deciding what's the easiest way for them to buy a game.

“And it may mean they no longer have a store down the street from them so they decide to buy it [digitally] maybe it's easier for them to do.”

So when can we expect the PS5?

Given that the PlayStation 4 was launched in 2013 and Sony’s previous consoles arrived in six-year intervals, it would be easy to project that it will launch the PlayStation 5 in 2019. The sort of technology available then should easily allow full native 4K games without saddling the PS5 with a massive price-tag and, by 2019, 4K TVs will be the norm, rather than the exception, in the average household.

2020 might be the year in which Sony unleashes the PS5 on the world, as the first native 4K console with wireless VR ... as long as Microsoft doesn’t get there first

So it would be a surprise if Sony doesn’t want to capitalise on that at the earliest possible juncture. However, Kingsley points at the PS4 Pro, and reckons that could have an effect on the length of the current console cycle: “It’s a difficult one to judge, but overall I think it’s fair to say that the overall cycle will lengthen slightly.” 

Especially if the PS4 Pro wildly outsells the base PS4, which admittedly isn’t something we anticipate happening once it has reached a critical mass of households with 4K TVs. 

So perhaps 2020 might be the year in which Sony unleashes the PS5 on the world, as the first native 4K console with wireless VR ... as long as Microsoft doesn’t get there first.


Mon, 15 Jan 2018 06:20:00 +0000
PS5: what will the Sony PlayStation 5 be like and when will we see it?
PS5: All our hopes, desires and dreams for Sony's fifth major home video game console.

UPDATE: The latest adaptation of Stephen King's classic horror novel It has been added to our list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, as has the recent Charlize Theron actioner Atomic Blonde. Find out more about these discs on Page 5!

In our busy lives, it’s truly difficult to make it down to the cinema to witness the cinematic splendor of all the newest films like It or Dunkirk – we just have too much going on. But what if we told you there was another way? The best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray movies can give you an experience that is about the closest thing you can actually get to having a movie theater in your living room. In fact, we'd with the advent of HDR, Dolby Vision and readily available Dolby Atmos sound systems, it's arguable better. And let's not forget the film buffs among us who simply want to watch certain movies over and over again. 

The image fidelity that the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays offer is the closest thing to a true cinematic experience that cinephiles can get outside of a movie theater. And now that high dynamic range (HDR) is slowly becoming more and more prevalent by the day, the color reproduction will make standard definition movies look decrepit in comparison. The high resolution and HDR combine to bring you an experience that is unlike anything you’ve likely seen before in your own living room. That’s not to mention that the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays will absolutely demolish anything you can stream online.  

While it’s true that some streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do offer a good amount of content in 4K – Netflix Originals for instance – you’ll be sorely out of luck if you’re trying to find the newest movies in 4K with HDR on those platforms. And even among older titles, finding titles that are compatible with both technologies will be rare indeed.

These streaming services might have a ton of amazing content that takes advantage of your 4K TV, but you it might take you a long time to be able to find the same amount of content offered by the best 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays. And even if you do decide to just wait it out, the image quality of streaming video doesn’t even come close to the fidelity offered by 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies you can buy today. Each of the discs on this list, regardless of how good the actual films are, can be considered 'reference quality' and we've exhaustively tested each to ensure they're truly worthy of our recommendation. Best of all, every 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc is region free, so anyone with a 4K Blu-ray player can enjoy these films.

Read on to find out which Blu-rays have made the list!

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Arriving on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an upscaled transfer based on a 2K digital intermediate, Kingsman: The Golden Circle shines on the format thanks to some terrific HDR color depth and a significant uptick in fine detail across the board.

Colors are incredibly rich here, with the film's many sets and costumes looking particularly vibrant on the format. Explosions, in particular, look especially vivid and hot, while flesh tones look appropriately realistic and warm.

Though not sourced from a 4K master, the detail here is excellent, with fine lines and wrinkles looking particularly clean. Clothing looks pristine, with fibres and stitching clearly visible, giving the film's presentation a more immersive look overall. 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle looks best however, during its many slow-motion action sequences, in which we really get a good look at all of the extra detail afforded by the format. Elsewhere, more fast-paced and kinetic action scenes, such as the film's opening car chase, look astonishingly crisp. 

Visual effects also benefit from the added resolution and visual clarity, with the film's robot dogs receiving added complexity in their moving parts. Overall, if you liked Kingsman: The Golden Circle, this is easily the best way to watch it in your own living room.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 141 minutes

Wonder Woman

Making her stunning debut on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, Wonder Woman looks, well, wonderful. Shot on a combination of 35mm film and using the Arri Alexa 65 digital camera, Wonder Woman receives an unbelievable boost in visual fidelity, even if its digital intermediate was mastered at 2K.

Color reproduction and contrast are where Wonder Woman really shines, with the former looking especially beautiful during the scenes set on Diana's home island of Themyscira. Blues and greens are especially lush here, really selling the warm, sunny paradise setting. This is juxtaposed brilliantly against the grim and gray World War 1 tone that comprises much of the film's second half.

This is where contrast becomes particularly important, as much detail is revealed in the dark, dirty environments surrounding the main characters. The smoke-covered battlefield of No Man's Land is especially breathtaking, with its layers of smoky depth creating the illusion of an atmosphere that you can all but touch. 

Dirt and debris flies as Diana marches into the line of fire, with every speck clearly visible and contributing to the feel of the scene. Then there's Wonder Woman herself, whose famous red, blue and gold costume stands out gloriously against her war-torn surroundings.

For the film's fiery, explosion-filled finale, Wonder Woman's HDR color grading really delivers when it comes to highlights in the fire effects and sparks that populate the scene. At every turn, Wonder Woman is a fantastic example of how this format is ideal for this type of movie. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 141 minutes

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

James Gunn is in no small way responsible for Disney and Marvel finally hopping aboard the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray train, the landmark director insisting that his visually-spectacular new film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, be released on the only format that could do it justice. And, what a first title! A reference quality disc if ever there was one, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the kind of film that will make doubters of the young format stand up and take notice. 

The film's opening credits, in which Baby Groot dances in the foreground while a whole lot of intergalactic action takes place in the background, is frankly breathtaking, making full use of the format's superior level of detail. See the neon lettering that decorates each name in the credits, now bursting with a super bright and realistic glow. Behind Groot, you'll spot a near constant flurry of rainbow-like bursts of mist and thousands of multi-colored particles, now even more vibrant thanks to the disc's increased resolution and the wider color palette that HDR brings in. 

Detail is also amazing, with animated characters like Rocket and Groot looking especially detailed – just look at Rocket's realistic fur and the woodgrain texture that Groot exhibits. Costumes also get a notable boost in texture – it's now possible to see fuzzy fabric and stitching. 

What’s really impressive is that the entire movie keeps its level of visual chaos up without ever dropping the ball. As the film gets more out there in terms of locations and visual effects, the number of show-stopping 4K HDR scenes continuously grows, making this a disc that will floor viewers from beginning to end. Contrast and color levels have been impeccably chosen, too, with the disc avoiding the blown-out brightness that some releases on the format have unfortunately had. 

If there's one downside to the 4K release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it's that the film's IMAX sequences are not presented full-frame in that eye-popping shifting aspect ratio like they are on the 3D Blu-ray. Star Trek Into Darkness sported this kind of presentation on its 4K release and left our jaws glued to the floor, so it would've been great to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 presented in the same way.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 137 minutes

Logan

Fox does it yet again with another fantastic superhero-themed 4K Blu-ray, only this time, the movie on the disc is shooting for a sense of gritty realism, making it more than ideal for the Ultra HD treatment. 

From the very beginning, Logan's opening night-time sequence sets the tone for what we’re going to get from this HDR presentation. Despite being a low-light scene, we have no trouble seeing pristine detail in the Logan’s black limousine and the surrounding desert.

When it comes to the color representation, Logan exhibits a realistic palette that faithfully renders the dusty, western-style environments the film is mostly set in. The blistering New Mexico sun also looks amazing in this presentation, with impressive HDR-enhanced highlights. 

As the film goes on, we also start to see a lot of wear and tear on Logan's attire and his skin, with bloody wounds that look quite realistic. This is no doubt an advantage the 4K Ultra HD presentation has inherited from its true 4K digital intermediate. 

If you're in the UK or US, you may have also received a 4K version of Logan Noir, a black and white feature created just for the film's home release. However, we were unable to test this monochromatic version of the film, though it would be interesting to see how HDR can improve something in black and white.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.38:1, Runtime: 137 minutes

Deadpool

Deadpool

Speaking on the 4K Blu-ray release of his film, Deadpool, director Tim Miller told TechRadar that "the Ultra HD is f***ing amazing in the level of detail." Having thoroughly inspected the disc for ourselves, we absolutely have to agree. Shot at 3K on the Arri Alexa camera and then finished at 4K, Deadpool's Ultra HD Blu-ray closely resembles the film's theatrical presentation, only with the added bonus of HDR – which is exclusive to the film's home release.

Immediately evident from first viewing, Deadpool at 4K offers a much greater level of visual detail than the film's regular Blu-ray. By far the film's most eye-popping element, Deadpool's suit shows more fine detail in its fabric and stitching, and the wider color gamut offered by HDR makes the costume's various shades of red not only stand out more, but also blend together more naturally. As with most CGI and green screen-heavy films, the added resolution gives the film a slightly-heightened vibe, one that seems fully intended by its filmmakers. The film's fully computer-generated character, Colossus, also looks better, with HDR allowing for improved specular lighting on the character's reflective metal body.

Add to this a punchy and immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack, and Deadpool becomes one of the format's first must-own discs.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 108 minutes

X-Men: Apocalypse

XMen Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse was originally captured at 6K in the Redcode RAW format, which offers filmmakers an increased level of post-production control, making it perfect for HDR post processing. Finished on a 4K digital intermediate, X-Men: Apocalypse comes to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with no loss to visual fidelity whatsoever. A visual effects showcase if ever there was one, the end result, pardon the pun, is x-traordinary.

From its Ancient Egypt opening through to its apocalyptic finale, X-Men: Apocalypse dazzles in Ultra HD. Costumes and makeup benefit greatly from the added resolution afforded by format, opening our eyes to the incredible work that goes into their creation. There's an immediately noticeable increase in detail, as well as an added depth of texture.

As you would expect from a movie in which characters frequently shoot beams of energy from their hands/eyes/sceptres, lighting effects are a particular highlight here. Increased contrast and a wider color gamut mean that light blooming appears much more natural, avoiding the usual blocky-glow that plagues images with a lower color depth. It's also an extremely colorful movie, with numerous blue and purple characters on its roster. Thanks to HDR, and the added color gradations that it offers, characters show much more individual detail on screen. Without question, this Ultra HD Blu-ray is the preferred way to experience X-Men: Apocalypse.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, Runtime: 144 minutes

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

Batman v Superman

As director Zack Snyder typically shoots on 35mm film stock, his films can be scanned at 4K without any real loss in visual fidelity. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder also opted to capture certain sections of the movie with 4K digital cameras, and on 70mm film stock using Panavision 65 cameras. The film was then finished on a 4K digital intermediate, which makes its Ultra HD Blu-ray release pretty close to what most people would've seen at their local multiplex (if not what they might have seen at IMAX and 70mm screenings).

Admittedly, the movie itself is quite grim, dark and muted in its presentation, but that doesn't stop its 4K Blu-ray from being super impressive – the disc's added resolution and color depth mean that Batman v Superman looks as good as it possibly can at home. HDR support allows for tremendous contrast and vivid colors (when they do appear). Fire in particular, looks vibrant and lifelike, achieving a level of brightness that makes it look even more incandescent. Everything else on screen has finer definition, allowing you to really appreciate the detailed texture of Batman's suit, for instance.

If you're a fan of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is a no-brainer – along with its inclusion of the more brutal and violent director's cut, the disc is also a testament to how 4K and HDR can improve the overall viewing experience.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 182 minutes

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider Man 2

Much like Batman v Superman, The Amazing Spider-Man was shot on 35mm film and later scanned and transferred to a 4K digital intermediate. Whatever you may think of the film itself, its Ultra HD presentation here is utterly sublime. Vibrant and colorful throughout, TASM2 especially shines during its effects-heavy set pieces.

Watching Spidey swing through New York on sunny days is a real treat – the film's beautiful blue skies really pop on this transfer, presumably aided by some HDR tinkering. The red and blue of Spider-Man's costume shimmers in the sunlight in a realistic manner, and the added resolution makes the spandex's rippling in the wind much more noticeable.

The real standout though, is the villainous character of Electro. With his translucent blue skin, constantly changing shades and pulsing with electricity, Electro's presence throughout the film is a real show-stopper. The scene in which he reveals his new form in the middle of Times Square, surrounded by the area's huge electronic billboards, is one of the most dynamic scenes I've personally witnessed on a television screen. Thanks to HDR, the scene's many colorful lights emit a more naturalistic light bloom that never shows signs of bleeding into the background.

Best of all, this Ultra HD presentation of the film manages to achieve all of this without losing its filmic appearance. A truly exceptional disc.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 142 minutes

War for the Planet of the Apes

One of the most impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases to date, War for the Planet of the Apes is ape-solutely spectacular on the format (sorry). We all know how astonishing the film's visual effects are (read more about how they were created in our Weta Digital VFX report), but its photo-realistic apes hold up magnificently under the increased scrutiny of 4K and HDR (despite being upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate). 

Unsurprisingly, fur looks especially good here, looking completely natural at all times, particularly with light shining through it. Facial textures also receive increased detail, with the various wrinkles in the apes faces looking extra defined. 

Though the disc's increased resolution is a boon for video enthusiasts, the real showstopper here is the wider color gamut afforded by its HDR presentation. Much of the film is spent in darkness, yet we now get to see more detail and definition in those dark areas. Small details in costumes and props are now much clearer because of it. 

The overall palette looks richer, too, with the film's forest settings feeling more lush and its white snow looking brighter and more tangible. Skin tones in humans also receive an uptick, looking warmer and more natural than they did in the cinema. 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a must-own for fans of the series, thanks to its exceptional fine detail quality, deep blacks, and terrific use of HDR. Stay tuned for reviews of the other two films in the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 139 minutes

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Remastered from a 4K scan, Blade Runner: The Final Cut looks absolutely astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. We're not just saying that it looks good for an old film – it looks amazing regardless of when it was filmed. 

The transfer reveals an exceptional level of clarity in what is generally a dark and smoky film. The noirish, rain-slicked, neon-soaked streets of futuristic Los Angeles look more detailed than ever, with the HDR-enhanced visuals giving us our best look at Rick Deckard's world to date. 

Witness, for instance, the staggering level of detail found in the film's miniatures – one particularly shot showing the Tyrell building will blow you away with its clarity, revealing all the intricacies of the model in question, including the many glittering lights all over the structure giving you the illusion of thousands of offices within. You won't even mind that the illusion is slightly broken by the obviousness of the miniature work, because you'll be too busy appreciating the spectacular craftsmanship and on display. 

Elsewhere, the whole film gets a visual uptick, with HDR helping significantly when it comes to the smooth gradation of colours and lighting. Clothing, skin textures and hair all look better in this version, and the various extreme close-ups of eyeballs all show extra detail now. 

If you're a fan of Blade Runner, chances are that you already own The Final Cut of the film on Blu-ray. While it's highly likely that both releases come from the same 4K digital intermediate, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version blows previous Blu-ray and HD DVD releases of the film out of the water. This is the best that Blade Runner has ever looked, period. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 118 minutes

Alien: Covenant

Though it's been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate (much like the 4K release of director Ridley Scott's previous film, The Martian), Alien: Covenant looks expectedly magnificent on the Ultra HD Blu-ray format. 

As this is a dark film with a muted palette (despite its many outdoor daytime scenes), an emphasis has been placed on HDR's ability to provide deeper, more lifelike contrast, much to the benefit of Alien: Covenant's astounding cinematography. 

Colors appear richer, too, standing out even more against the film's greyish blue tones. The alien itself also looks magnificent, with its inky-hued skin receiving added translucence and detail, benefitting from the disc's improved contrast and wider color gamut. 

Those of you with OLED TVs will get an even better viewing experience, with the technology's infinite contrast taking full advantage of the film's tenebrous atmosphere.

But it's not all about the Xenomorphs – the film's human characters also look terrific thanks to the 4K release's bump in resolution and enhanced colors, with faces revealing extra definition and skin tones looking warmer and more naturalistic than the film's SDR presentation. 

Adding to the film's immense visuals is a beefy Dolby Atmos track that focuses on atmospherics with occasional moments of bombast. Admittedly, we wish the disc offered a DTS Headphone:X track, as that would've made for an appropriately nerve-jangling experience akin to the recent video game release, Alien: Isolation. 

Still, we can't complain, as Alien: Covenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is hard to fault when it comes to the film's video and audio presentation. If you're a fan of the film, consider this a must-have.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 122 minutes

Ghost in the Shell

As you might expect, Ghost in the Shell looks glorious on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its neon-drenched cyberpunk setting really popping on the format. Though much of the film takes place in dark areas, the disc impresses throughout, particularly during scenes where vibrant colors are juxtaposed against dark environments. 

We were also blown away by how well the special effects stand up in this increased resolution, given that the film was finished at a 2K resolution. Still, you only have to watch the film's first major action sequence (pun intended), in which Scarlett Johansson's Major character applies active camouflage and blasts through a window to shoot down some haywire robot geishas, to get an idea of how impressive this presentation is. The scene is bursting with color and HDR-enhanced highlights, with reflective glass flying through the scene and slow-motion gunfire at every turn. 

Still some viewers might be taken aback by the film's many dark scenes, though they truly come alive when combined with OLED's capacity for infinite contrast. This is truly a demo-worthy disc in that regard. 

Also, while some film buffs may scoff at a film that isn't presented in the letterbox format, Ghost in the Shell looks fantastic as its 1.78:1 aspect ratio fills the entire frame – particularly impressive during overhead shots of the film's futuristic cityscape.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Passengers

Shot at a resolution of 6.5K and then finished with with a 4K digital intermediate, Passengers soars on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. An ideal candidate for demonstration purposes, the format allows the viewer to truly absorb the impeccable craftsmanship that went into the film's exception production design and special effects work. Taking place entirely on an enormous spacecraft. Passengers offers ample opportunities for glorious space gazing and futuristic interior design. 

There are times in this 4K presentation when the photographic clarity of the film is so high and lifelike, it almost feels like you're watching a play. Other times, the digital photography is so clean and sharp, that it gives the film an unreal quality, almost like it's partly animated. Of course, this is completely intentional and only serves to make Passengers look even more astounding on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Of course, the film's HDR colors contrast level keep everything in check.

Skin tones are remarkably true to life, and while the film's stars come across a little too beautiful at times (seriously, no one can look that great at all times) Passengers is exactly the kind of film that the 4K Ultra HD format was made for. It's a showcase for gorgeous people hanging out on stunning sets doing remarkable things with the help of magnificent visual effects. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 116 minutes

Lucy

Arriving on Ultra HD Blu-ray with an absolutely stunning transfer sourced from a 4K digital intermediate, Lucy demonstrates the strengths of the format by showcasing immense fine detail, exceptionally-realistic skin tones and textures, and truly-dynamic color reproduction throughout.

From the film's opening scene, which features Lucy the primate in a prehistoric setting, this presentation solidifies its place as one of the format's best reference-quality discs. The detail in the hominid's face and fur is utterly astounding, as are the colors and textures in its surrounding habitat. 

As was mentioned earlier, skin tones and textures are also incredible on Lucy's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, looking supremely lifelike at all times. Seriously, if you can find pores and imperfections on the face of someone as beautiful as Scarlett Johansson, you know you've reached an unparalleled level of clarity. 

Likewise, as the film starts to veer into true science-fiction territory, the disc continues to shine, displaying vibrant HDR-enhanced colors and terrific contrast. Even if you only have a passing admiration for Luc Besson's trippy action film, you owe it to yourself to check out Lucy on 4K Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 89 minutes

Oblivion

As a science-fiction film with a very sleek and minimalistic art design, Oblivion makes an ideal candidate for the added resolution of 4K. Though the transfer was taken from a 2K digital intermediate (common with visual effects-driven films), Oblivion looks sharp and clean, if not immediately mind-blowing. 

With that said, as the film enters its darker scenes, the impressive color gamut and contrast afforded by the film's HDR grading give the film a real sense of depth and vibrancy, particularly in the film's indoor drone shootout sequence. Bloom lighting and sparks from the scene's many explosions burn white-hot, showcasing the brilliant brightness that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is capable of. Likewise, close-up shots of the drones show a wonderful level of detail.

Though the film has a mostly washed-out grey and blue tone, skin tones appear quite naturalistic and at times appear to be the most vibrant thing on screen. Facial textures also excel, showing fine details like pores and individual hairs in Tom Cruise's five o'clock shadow. Grime, cuts and bruises also look benefit from the format's added clarity.

Giving the film a visual uptick in every category over the standard Blu-ray edition, for fans, this is by far the best way to experience Oblivion.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 125 minutes

Pacific Rim

The reference-quality Blu-ray disc of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim threatens to stomp the rest of your Blu-ray collection and land itself at the top of the pile for visual quality. 

Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, much like Star Trek Into Darkness, this does not stop Pacific Rim from looking utterly sensational on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, your entire television screen will be used to display the film's many giant robot vs monster set pieces. 

Thanks to some HDR tinkering, the film's colors and contrast now look even better than they did when the film was in theatres. Witness the rainswept battle that opens the film to see how good its vivid colors look against the inky blacks of a night-time sky. The added resolution afforded by 4K Blu-ray makes the rain look more detailed and realistic. Sparks that fly within the Jaeger cockpit are also more clearly defined and burn hotter than ever before.

Though the entire film is a showstopper, anyone that has seen Pacific Rim will know that its mid-film Hong Kong monster battle is the best-looking section of the film, and believe us when we say that it has never looked better than it does on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The city's neon-soaked skyline radiates with beautiful and realistic bloom lighting, making the best of the film's high-dynamic-range upgrade.

Even if you already own Pacific Rim on 3D Blu-ray, you owe it to yourself to see how incredible the film can look on 4K Ultra HD. This is absolutely a reference quality disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 131 minutes

Independence Day: Resurgence

Sourced from a true 4K digital intermediate, Independence Day: Resurgence roars onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray without losing any detail whatsoever – in fact, the film's presentation is improved by the inclusion of HDR (that said, the ultimate way to watch a film of this magnitude will always be on the biggest cinema screen possible). 

A much darker and gloomier picture than its predecessor, Independence Day: Resurgence features many scenes surrounded by inky blacks that would look exceptional on an OLED display. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to one for testing purposes, so we can only say that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray's increased contrast and vivid colors make Independence Day: Resurgence look fantastic on any HDR-compatible TV.

Its various scenes of computer-assisted citywide destruction unfurl on screen with an extreme level of visual clarity and detail, acting as a showcase of what the 4K format is capable of. Many times, the film's turquoise alien tech takes centre stage, glowing with a naturalistic light bloom that never shows obvious signs of color gradation (see the film's opening scene to see how well light fades into darkness). 

If you're a fan of the film, there's no better way to watch Independence Day: Resurgence than on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Chappie

Chappie

Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) is known for his knack for seamlessly blending science fiction elements into everyday scenarios, offering a uniquely down-to-earth view of a world filled with robots and aliens. His film Chappie is no exception. Set mostly around the slums of Johannesburg, Chappie's mostly daytime action allows this 4K HDR presentation to really pop.

Shot by Redcode RAW (5K) cameras and finished on a 4K digital intermediate, Chappie's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray practically mirrors what was shown in theatres, only with HDR providing improved contrast and more naturalistic colors. The detail in the titular robot character is astonishing, with the steely greys and blues of his frame making the orange highlights of his arm and antenna stand out even more. You can also see details in Chappie's dirty, scratched body that just weren't visible on the film's regular Blu-ray. Best of all, the expressive LED lights on Chappie's face now show much finer detail, making the character seem even more like a real world object, and not just a marvel of computer-generated wizardry.

Though the film can be quite grimy at times, it's got a lively, vibrant undercurrent to it, employing a Day-Go style thanks to Chappie's co-stars, the rap-rave group Die Antwoord. The group brings its signature art style to the film's costumes and set design, all of which looks fantastic when aided by HDR's wider color gamut. Now, bring on District 9 and Elysium in 4K!

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

Star Trek

Star Trek

Though it's been 'upconverted' from a 2K digital intermediate (which is what you likely saw in theatres upon release), J.J. Abrams' first Star Trek movie looks absolutely wonderful on 4K Blu-ray – the release actually lends some weight to argument that Ultra HD discs don't need to come from a true 4K source in order to impress.

Director J.J. Abrams' may be guilty of relying a little heavily on his 'lens flare' technique on both of his Star Trek films, but the effect looks better than ever here thanks to HDR's increased color gamut and contrast levels. Light blooms looks completely natural, avoiding harsh shade transitions entirely. Elsewhere, the Ultra HD Blu-ray offers amazing detail when it comes to facial textures on the film's many creatures and alien races – Eric Bana's Romulan character Nero looks especially good, with the disc's increased resolution showing just how great the film's Oscar-winning make-up and facial prosthetics are.

While Star Trek's Ultra HD Blu-ray disc may be outclassed by its sequel's truly (inter)stellar 4K release (listed below), this is by far the best way to experience J.J.'s first voyage on the USS Enterprise at home.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness

When it comes to the visual quality, the Ultra HD Blu-ray for Star Trek Into Darkness is absolutely mind-blowing – we'd even go as far as calling it the most impressive 4K release on this list. With over 30 minutes of the film shot in the IMAX format, J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness cuts back and forth between a traditional 2.40:1 letterbox presentation for its non-showy scenes, and the more vision-encompassing 1.78:1 aspect ratio for the film's spectacle-driven moments (this presentation is exclusive to the film's Ultra HD release). Though the film looks great throughout (despite being sourced from the film's 2K digital intermediate), the level of detail displayed in these IMAX scenes is absolutely astonishing.

From its very first scene (pictured above), in which Kirk and Bones are chased through a vibrant red forest by the primitive Nibiru tribe, Star Trek Into Darkness will make an instant believer of any 4K/HDR naysayer. Witness, for instance, the cracked, flaking skin on the faces of the Nibiru tribes people, shown up close and in great detail. Marvel at the naturalistic skin tones, visible pores and wrinkles shown on actors Chris Pine and Karl Urban's faces, offering a level of immersion that 3D just cannot compete with.

Another scene, in which Spock drops down into a volcano, is also a showstopper – with its swirling specks of fire and ember, and contrast enhanced greatly by HDR, the scene becomes a showcase for the emerging 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. Until more IMAX-enhanced films start to be released, consider Star Trek Into Darkness your go-to 4K reference disc.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, 1.78:1, Runtime: 132 minutes

Trolls

Looking like a cotton candy machine exploded in a glitter factory, Trolls is one of the most vibrant and colorful films currently available on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. And, as you'd expect, there are huge HDR-related benefits to owning the film in 4K over the still admirable regular Blu-ray version. 

First off, the colors are astonishing. This is visual eye candy to the max, and while you might expect the vibrancy to be dialled up significantly on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, the disc's HDR allows for more naturalistic blending and shading. Combined with improved brightness and color, the overall presentation achieves a richer, more nuanced color palette that avoids looking sickly sweet and garish, and manages to do so without losing its vividness. 

Then comes the disc's fine detail, which receives a tremendous uptick at the 4K resolution. Each of the trolls in the film has a furry, felt-like texture that comes across even stronger when you can see fine hairs swaying on their arms and faces. Of course, their big colorful troll hair looks even more realistic than ever before. An impressive release that demonstrates the subtleties of HDR's wider color gamut, Trolls is the most impressive animated 4K release to date. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.35:1, Runtime: 92 minutes

Labyrinth

Starting with an outdoor scene shot in natural light, Jim Henson's classic family film Labyrinth does not immediately impress on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Looking soft and full of grain, you'd be forgiven for thinking that not a lot of work has gone into this transfer. 

However, once these initial minutes pass, and as the film moves into studio sets with professional lighting and controlled environments, the real Ultra HD magic begins. It's at this point that Labyrinth's brand new 4K scan (sourced from the original 35mm negative) becomes truly mind-blowing.

Taking advantage of the format's added resolution, Labyrinth shows extraordinary detail in the film's many puppets. Fur looks sublime, with individual strands of hair becoming clearly visible. Quite frankly, they look so good, it's almost as if you could reach out and touch them. The film's fantastic makeup work and matte paintings also hold up magnificently under the increased scrutiny of 4K. 

Though Labyrinth's 4K Blu-ray provides an incredible visual upgrade in all areas, perhaps the most important thing about this release is that it manages to keep the film's original filmic texture, with no digital noise reduction to speak of. Though we're watching a digital scan, the presentation always feels film-like. 

Labyrinth has never looked better than it does here, and while this presentation can't top the likes of Star Trek Into Darkness in terms of spectacular visual clarity, for a 30-year-old film populated mostly by puppets, this release is a triumph.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 101 minutes

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Ninja Turtles

Boasting incredible detail and rich, vibrant colors, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a noticeable step up from its already impressive regular Blu-ray release. Look closely and you'll notice that each of the turtles has realistic, scaly skin textures that make you understand just how much work has gone into bringing these characters to life – heck, you can even see the enamel on their teeth!

Other digital characters also look fantastic. Notice the individual textures given to Bebop and Rocksteady, giving each creation its own unique look and texture. Splinter also impresses, with the added resolution on display allowing you to see individual hairs and whiskers that weren't as noticeable in regular HD.

Though most impressive during its daytime scenes (which include the film's spectacular, effects-heavy finale), TMNT: Out of the Shadows also impresses in the darker subterranean moments set within the turtles' sewer lair. The color palette and contrast on display are exceptional, adding a real depth to the image. Fans should consider this 4K Blu-ray release as the definitive way to watch the turtles' latest big screen adventure.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 112 minutes

The LEGO Movie

The Lego Movie

One of the things that immediately strikes you about The LEGO Movie's Ultra HD presentation is that the film has received a significantly brighter and more vivid color palette. Not only that, contrast has also increased by leaps and bounds, making the film's characters look even more like real, stop-motion minifigs – even fingerprints are visible, despite everything on screen being computer generated. Touches like this are what makes 4K and HDR so important to our overall immersion in the film.

Notice the deep blacks in any scene featuring Batman, or the beautiful, naturalistic bloom lighting found in the Old West portion of the film, or how about the gorgeous orange light emitting from film's spaceship (SPACESHIP!!) finale?

Though this release has been upscaled from a 2K master (the film was captured at 2.8K), The LEGO Movie looks incredible in Ultra HD. Vibrant colors and wonderful contrast levels make this 4K release an essential purchase for fans of the movie.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1, Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1, Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 101 minutes

It

The latest adaptation of Stephen King's terrifying novel It arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an exceptional transfer (despite being upscaled from a 2K master) that is improved by the inclusion of HDR10 and Dolby Vision. 

Though a lot of the film takes place in dark and dank environments, visibility is always high in It, with some perfectly-judged HDR and Dolby Vision tinkering letting you see all the detail in the shadows without sacrificing all that creepy darkness. 

Detail also receives a huge boost thanks to the added resolution of this 4K presentation, most evident in the crackling clown makeup on Pennywise's forehead, and the exquisite detailing of his freaky costume. Admittedly, some CGI elements become more obvious in 4K, but the trade-off is totally worth it when it comes to the disc's high dynamic range presentation and the increased detail seen here. 

It also packs one of the most bombastic and effective audio tracks of any 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray released to date, with perfectly balanced Dolby Atmos and DTS tracks that will scare the pants off of you. You'll hear every creak, every noise, and every scream with the utmost clarity, depth and dimensionality.

One of the best 4K discs released to date, It is a must-have for horror fans, especially those with access to TV that supports HDR10 or Dolby Vision.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

Atomic Blonde

One of the most stylish films of the year, Atomic Blonde screams onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an incredibly vibrant and neon-soaked transfer that burns with intense reds and is cooled again by striking blues. 

As you've probably come to expect from the format, color reproduction is extraordinary here, with HDR making the '80s-inspired cinematography a real boost in the vividness department. 

Clothing, hair, skin tones all look realistic here, despite the muted color palette of some scenes in this Cold War spy movie. Oh yeah, and the various cuts, bruises and scrapes acquired by lead star Charlize Theron as she kicks butt across Berlin also look appropriately gnarly, too. 

Though it lacks a Dolby Atmos track, the DTS:X Master Audio one featured here does a terrific job of pummelling your ears with various explosions, gunshots and an expertly-crafted playlist of thumping '80s tunes. If you loved John Wick, this is definitely one for your collection. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English DTS 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1 French (Canada) DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes

Dunkirk

The best film of 2017? It's got to be up there. Christopher Nolan's take on the harrowing evacuation of Dunkirk at the height of the second World War is a masterclass in tension, practical effects and historical storytelling.

Playing with time and the sequence of events over the nail-biting rescue, Nolan takes full advantage of the IMAX format to bring an epic scale to the horrors of war, with a soundtrack that melds scraping atonal notes with the sounds of the death-dealing machinery bearing down on the troops. You'll be on the edge of your seat from the moment the very first shot is fired until the credits roll. 

It's not to be missed then, and it's a particularly impressive disc to have in your 4K UHD Blu-ray collection. With the majority of the film shot in 70mm for IMAX screens, your full screen will often be taken over by the lapping waves and grim beaches of Dunkirk, presented with a fine sharpness that brings out the incredible detail in the recreated period piece. HDR visuals also make the action sequences really pop, bringing an added depth to what may have appeared as a muted, almost watercolor-like presentation in digitally projected cinemas.

That soundtrack isn't undersold either (it really has to be heard to be believed, at as loud a volume as the neighbours can stand), but note that Dolby Atmos is not supported here.

If you're a fan of Christopher Nolan, all his other movies (barring Memento) are now available in 4K HDR too. As many are older titles, you need to be ready for a slightly softer upscaled presentation, but the HDR benefits remain clear to see. You'll find The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar and Inception in stores alongside Dunkirk.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (4K master), Audio: English DTS:HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital, Aspect ratio (variable): 2.2:1 & 1.78:1, Runtime: 106 minutes

The Fate of the Furious

The eighth film in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise sings the praises of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to incredible HDR-enhanced brightness, driving home just what the format is capable of (see what we did there?)

Flesh tones look astonishing on this disc, as do the HDR-enhanced explosions that litter the film. Colors also impress – witness the opening race in sunny Cuba to see how much of a difference HDR makes to this kind of film.

Another show-stopping scene involves a prison riot, with vibrant orange prison uniforms standing out even more than on the film's regular blu-ray. 

The disc also presents the film in Dolby Vision as well as HDR10, which should be exciting for people who own TVs that can support the format and the added color depth that it brings. For everyone else, the disc defaults to standard HDR, which is still very impressive.

Perhaps the film's most standout sequence though, involves a huge frozen lake and a submarine. The white ice that surrounds this setting really allows the film's HDR/Dolby Vision presentation to flex some real muscle, with bright highlights getting a good workout. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 136 minutes

Patriots Day

Here's a film that doesn't need a blockbuster scope or enormous amounts of CGI to dazzle on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Patriots Day recounts the devastating events surrounding 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in a very naturalistic and matter-of-fact kind of way. 

The film aims to put you right there during not only the explosions that changed everything, but the eventual chase to capture the assailants responsible. In this regard, the film's cinematography succeeds magnificently in capturing a sense of realism, thanks to some incredibly sharp digital photography (captured in 3.4K with a 2K digital intermediate) and exceptionally lifelike HDR color grading. 

Skintones are as close to reality as I've seen from any film on the 4K Ultra HD format. Lines and pores are clearly visible, and make it even easier to read the emotions displayed on the characters' faces.

Later in the film, during an extended night-time firefight in suburbia, the disc jumps to another level of clarity entirely. Shadow detail gets a huge boost, making it easier to follow the action in what would normally be an underlit setting. 

In fact, we'd go as far as to say that Patriots Day acts as a showcase for what HDR can bring to a films lighting and color palette, with fire taking on an especially important role. Surprising as it may be, this is a demo-worthy disc. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 133 minutes

John Wick: Chapter 2

Immediately exhibiting the benefits of increased resolution and the wider color gamut afforded by the inclusion of HDR in its presentation, John Wick: Chapter 2 comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders with a visually-sensational night-time chase through Manhattan (actually Montreal). 

Surrounded by lights and colorful billboards, the disc's HDR-enhanced contrast allows viewers to peer into the darkness and clearly see objects and details that they'd normally normally miss in regular high definition. Witness, for instance, the film's show-stopping shootout inside the catacombs in Rome – the characters are enveloped in darkness and yet we can clearly see everything that's going on thanks to some terrific lighting and high-dynamic-range magic. 

Immediately prior to that scene, a night-time concerto amongst the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome demonstrates incredible highlights, with red and blue LED lights surrounding the stage as spotlights swirl around in all directions. 

The incredible visuals just keep on coming with this release. We have a shootout in a museum where vibrant red blood splatters over a number of statues, a neon-enhanced 'hall of mirrors' battle inspired by Enter the Dragon, fight scenes taking place in a dark and vivid underground metro, and the list goes on and on. One of the most dynamic releases on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format, this is absolutely the best way to experience John Wick: Chapter 2.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 122 minutes

Hacksaw Ridge

Though sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Hacksaw Ridge arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gloriously-detailed transfer that's bolstered by a terrific HDR color gamut. 

In its first half, the film radiates with natural-looking light and the kind of clear cinematography that only digital cameras can achieve. Though the disc's increased resolution makes it easy to spot green screen work on a couple of occasions, the added clarity that's made possible by the Ultra HD format far outweighs these minor infractions.

Later, the added detail provided by the format's higher resolution, as well as the wider color gamut it offers, brings a shocking level of detail and an added feeling of authenticity to the film's many gruesome war scenes. If you find intense scenes involving bloody viscera and shredded appendages hard to stomach, you're going to have an even harder time experiencing them on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Elsewhere, high-dynamic-range allows the film's cinematography to really shine, showing very realistic color and light reproduction, especially in dark scenes. At times, Hacksaw Ridge's war scenes forego realistic color palettes in favour of a stylised, almost monochromatic look. Here, HDR allows you to really notice the different shades at work, rather than simply looking dull and grey. These scenes are also punctuated by a barrage of explosions, juxtaposing bright bursts of color over a bleak battlefield.

Top this off with a dynamic and concussive Dolby Atmos audio track, and what you have in Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best releases on the format.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1, Runtime: 131 minutes

The Neon Demon

One of the few 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles that doesn't come with HDR enhancements, Nicolas Winding Refn's horror thriller The Neon Demon looks utterly glorious on the format nonetheless. If you want to get your hands on the film in razor-sharp 2160p, you'll have to import this English-friendly German release, which includes all the special features found on the regular Blu-ray in the US and UK – don't you just love how all 4K UHD discs are region free?

With regards to the disc's lack of HDR, you may be surprised to learn that the famously-visual director is actually quite color blind. An inability to see midtones has led Refn to favour high contrast and extreme colors throughout his career, as evidenced by the films Drive and Only God Forgives. Because of this, it's probably safe to assume that he wouldn't get much out of the high-dynamic-range experience.

Sourced from a 4K master (but shot at 3.4K), The Neon Demon looks incredible on Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its high resolution offering a noticeable uptick in detail over the 1080p version included in this package. 

Aside from its 4K resolution, deep blacks and scorchingly vibrant colors are the big selling point here – though we were unable to test the film on an OLED television, the promise of individually-lit pixels beaming and pulsing out of the pitch black darkness of certain scenes has us giddy at the possibilities on hand. 

Essentially a feature-length exercise in immense style and cinematography, it would be hard to imagine a film more suited to the 4K Ultra HD format. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1, German DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1, Runtime: 118 minutes

Deepwater Horizon

Based on the devastating true story of an enormous oil rig disaster that occurred in 2010, often cited as one of the largest man-made disasters in history, it is perhaps in bad taste to describe Deepwater Horizon as a tremendously visceral and visually spectacular film, given the lives that were lost on that fateful day. Regardless, we must still call 'em like we see 'em, and Deepwater Horizon looks incredible on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. 

Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Lone Survivor) brings his tough and gritty film to the format with exceptional results. Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, Deepwater Horizon delivers strong detail and impressive dynamics, with its HDR enhanced presentation offering great depth and color reproduction. 

Witness, for instance, the fantastic textures in the many scenes featuring actors smeared in oil and covered in dust and debris. Likewise, the film's many explosions burst with astonishing clarity thanks to the format's higher dynamic range. Fire is so bright that you can almost feel the heat emanating from your screen.  

Visuals aside, Deepwater Horizon's audio presentation also receives top marks, with a Dolby Atmos presentation that will shake your living room once those aforementioned explosions start. The film's audio dynamics will bounce around your room, placing you right in the action. Helicopters flying overhead are particularly impressive here, making Deepwater Horizon a reference quality disc in both video and audio categories. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 107 minutes

The Shallows

Providing even more proof that you don't need a 4K master to get exceptional 4K UHD Blu-ray results, the entertaining shark attack movie The Shallows has emerged on the format with an absolutely sublime audio and video presentation.

Upscaled from a 2K master, The Shallows looks astonishingly crisp, with the film's digital photography lending immense clarity to the film's many surfing scenes. Witness, for instance, star Blake Lively's resting 'beachface', which reveals detailed pores, fine lines and even the salty texture of someone who's spent all day swimming in the ocean and soaking in sun rays. Unsurprisingly, the waves look spectacular, too.

Also complementing The Shallows' incredible visual presentation is an amazing Dolby Atmos track which faithfully reproduces the film's clever sound design. It's a muscular track that really puts you in the action, handling all of the film's audio dynamics with ease. Scenes where Lively is submerged make your living room feel like it's underwater, and one particular moment where an underwater GoPro shot breaks through the surface makes your ears pop like the real thing. 

Occasionally, the added resolution of the disc makes some of the film's shark attack scenes look a little fake, but overall The Shallows is one of the best looking and sounding releases that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format has produced. Highly recommended.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 86 minutes

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release brings with it some enormous expectations, as the film is one of the more visually dazzling action blockbusters in recent memory. Thankfully, Fury Road absolutely delivers, despite having been upscaled from a 2K digital intermediate. This might seem like a bummer, but that's how the film was presented in theatres, and it looked pretty freakin' good there, didn't it?

With its colors undergoing a re-grading process in HDR, Fury Road looks more sensational than ever in Ultra HD. The film's many explosions now burn with added intensity, and improved contrast and increased resolution give the film a more painterly appearance, especially in the film's huge storm sequence.

Some might argue that this makes Mad Max: Fury Road's CGI stand out more, I believe it only adds to the film's artistic quality. Elsewhere, you'll find more realistic skin tones and textures, brilliant lighting, richer landscapes and shinier chrome. Mad Max: Fury Road's Ultra HD release is definitely worth the upgrade for fans, though we'd love to see what the added resolution of 4K and HDR could do with the film's new Black and Chrome version.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 120 minutes

The Revenant

The Revenant

As close to a flawless 4K presentation as the format has so far produced, The Revenant looks utterly fantastic on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot digitally at resolutions of up to 6.5K (and finished on a 4K digital intermediate) using only natural light sources, The Revenant offers a very natural-looking presentation, giving the audience a more authentic idea of what it must feel like to be in the freezing wilderness alongside Leo and Co.

Compare the The Revenant's 4K disc to the regular Blu-ray packaged with it, and you'll notice that the discs provide quite different presentations of the film. This is because director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki re-graded the entire film in HDR exclusively for this UHD release. By comparison, the regular 1080p Blu-ray looks much cooler, with more dominant blues and greys taking centre stage. Meanwhile, the 4K disc offers more naturalistic skin tones and a warmer overall palette, making the film's many icy landscapes appear whiter and more true to life.

Speaking of landscapes, the added resolution and contrast of The Revenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray makes them appear more grand and breathtaking, offering more fine detail and depth. Improved bloom lighting also lets the sun shine without bleeding into obvious and distracting shade transitions. A reference disc if ever there was one, The Revenant belongs in everyone's 4K collection.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 156 minutes

Warcraft: The Beginning

Warcraft

Though you'd expect HDR to make films more vibrant and colorful, Warcraft's presentation has taken a more subtle approach to the film's coloring. Less garish than its regular Blu-ray counterpart, Warcraft's Ultra HD presentation offers more naturalistic colors, especially when it comes to orc skin tones. That's not to say that this presentation is muted in any way – Fel magic looks spectacularly vivid and bright, giving the film a suitably other-worldly and fantastical appearance.

As expected, the real show-stoppers here are the orcs, lovingly realised through terrific motion-capture performances and CGI wizardry (as opposed to the other kind of wizardry seen in the film itself). Lead orc Durotan's facial expressions are more detailed and realistic, thanks to the disc's bumped-up resolution. Getting to actually see fine lines, wrinkles and textures in these characters' faces make them much more believable (though the illusion is still broken whenever they're standing next to the film's human characters). Other CGI creations, like the Gryphon Lothar rides during the film's climax, or the kingdom of Azeroth itself, exhibit an exceptionally high level of detail.

While it is another example of an upscaled film sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Warcraft's 4K presentation nonetheless offers enhanced clarity, improved contrast and naturalistic tones. This Ultra HD release is definitely the best way to watch Warcraft: The Beginning in 2D.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 123 minutes

Sausage Party

The idea behind Sausage Party was for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to create a hilariously filthy R-rated animate comedy with Pixar-level animation. While it doesn't quite reach those lofty heights, the film looks fantastic on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray nonetheless. 

Finished at 2K and then upscaled to 4K, Sausage Party still manages to eek out a whole lot of extra detail over its regular Blu-ray counterpart. This is largely thanks to some HDR tinkering, which gives the film's colors and lighting a more detailed and pleasing look overall. 

Certain foods gain extra details in their textures, with the sausages themselves looking like real objects that you can touch. In fact, the move to high-dynamic-range makes everything look more realistic (while still keeping that stylised animated look). 

Sure, there are better-looking CGI animated films available on this blossoming format (just look at our Trolls entry in the family movies section), but Sausage Party still looks good enough to eat. For fans of the film, this is as good as it's ever going to look. 

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 16-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 1.85:1, Runtime: 89 minutes

Planet Earth II

BBC

Okay, so we're cheating a little bit here, as BBC's Planet Earth II is a documentary series, not a movie. However, much like how the first Planet Earth series was a showcase for the Blu-ray format, Planet Earth II proves to be an astounding demo disc that easily highlights the 4K Ultra HD format's greatest strengths.

With numerous locales spread over six episodes, Planet Earth II gives the viewer a whole lot of variety in the eye candy department. In the first episode alone, the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean are juxtaposed against the volcanic majesty of the Galapagos islands, offering lifelike HDR visuals at both ends of the color spectrum. 

Creature close-ups are astonishing in their sharpness, exhibiting high detail in faces and fur. Just as impressive are the series' signature drone shots, which give you a bird's-eye view of various landscapes, including mountains, jungles and even cities in the final episode. 

A major selling point of Planet Earth II is that it was all captured in Native 4K and is presented here exactly as intended by its creators. Add to this the otherworldly feel attributed by the use of slow motion photography, and what you have is the definitive 4K Ultra HD disc to make people's jaws drop. A must-have addition to any serious 4K collection.

Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1  (48kHz, 16-bit) Aspect ratio: 1.78:1, Runtime: 300 minutes


Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:08:49 +0000
The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies
Your ultimate guide to the most impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray films currently available.

We've seen the teasers for Netflix's upcoming cyberpunk series Altered Carbon, but now we've got a spectacular new full-length trailer to feast our (hopefully original) eyes on. 

Based on the acclaimed novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is set in a distant future where the ability to transfer human consciousness to new bodies renders death meaningless (well, for rich people, at least). 

Waking up in the body of a disgraced cop some 250 years after his death, soldier Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is tasked with solving the murder of wealthy aristocrat Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). 

The kicker? It's the victim himself that's handing him the job – though he can't remember exactly what happened before his death, which the police have ruled as a suicide, he's convinced it was actually a homicide. 

As you can see from the trailer below, the Netflix Original series looks quite expensive, with its Blade Runner-style visuals and many action set-pieces. We're hoping the show lives up to its stunning trailers and provides plenty of thought-provoking philosophical discussion when it arrives on the service on February 2, 2018.


Thu, 11 Jan 2018 06:05:00 +0000
Netflix's cyberpunk series Altered Carbon gets an action-packed new trailer
The new full-length trailer for the upcoming science fiction series Altered Carbon delivers some serious butt-kicking.

UPDATED: Good Time has been added to our list of the best movies on Netflix Australia. It's a gritty New York-set movie starring Robert Pattinson in the type of role that will make you forget all about his silly vampire movies! Find out more on page 5!

If you're new to Netflix and want to find the best movies to watch, or you're tired of browsing the app for 30 minutes before finding something to watch, you've come to the right place. With thousands of movies at your disposal, it's easy to get stuck in binge-watching mode, but finding the honest-to-goodness best films can be a bit of a hassle.

In an effort to determine the best of the best, we've put together a list of the greatest possible films you can watch – curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes – so that you don't have to sift through the muck. We'll keep this best-of list up to date with the latest movies that are must-watch, so you waste zero screen time searching.

As tech enthusiasts, it's perhaps unsurprising that we're obsessed with science fiction here at TechRadar. From glorious space operas to mind-bending films that make you think, there's something for everyone on our list of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix Australia.

Rogue One: A Star Wars story

As the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One had some pretty lofty expectations to live up to. Rather than try to replicate the formula that made The Force Awakens such a smashing success, director Gareth Edwards delivered a proper war film, one that had more in common with Saving Private Ryan than The Empire Strikes Back. Remember in A New Hope when the Rebellion got its hands on the Death Star plans that would lead to victory at the end of that film? Rogue One is about the group that stole those plans. Yes, it is a Star Wars prequel film, but don't worry – there's no Jar Jar Binks in sight. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Edge of Tomorrow

A terrific science fiction war film starring Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow plays like a cross between Halo and Groundhog Day, where the Cruiser is thrown directly into an alien war only to die almost immediately and then forced to repeat the day over and over, becoming a little more battle-hardened each time. Joining him is Emily Blunt, playing a tough-as-nails soldier who helps Cruise figure out a way to close this never-ending time loop and end the war for good. Backed by a terrific script and some fine chemistry between Cruise and Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow is a fantastic special effect extravaganza that should please both sci-fi and action fans.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

District 9

The film that put both director Neill Blomkamp (Elysium) and star Sharlto Copley (Powers) on the international stage, District 9 is an ingenious science fiction Apartheid allegory that puts marooned aliens in South African concentration camps. An anti-alien pencil pusher (Copley) has his whole world turned upside down when he is sprayed with some kind of liquid that is slowly turning him into an alien, and now he has to team up with one of the "prawns" he so despises if he has any hope of turning back to normal. Hilarious, action-packed and filled with flinch-worthy body horror moments, District 9 is an instant classic that rightfully earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Midnight Special

The kind of smart science fiction film that Steven Spielberg used to make in his 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' heyday, Midnight Special continually offers a sense of wonder as its story unfolds. Without spoiling too much, the film centres on Roy (Michael Shannon), a father who must protect his special son  Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) from both the US government and a cult after it's discovered that the boy has otherworldly powers. Along for the ride are Alton's mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) and Roy's close friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). With surprises around every corner, you never really know where Midnight Special is going, though what you can expect are some truly terrific performances and a mind-blowing finale. Fans of Stranger Things should check this out. 

IMDB Rating: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Minority Report

What if you could prevent murders before they've occurred? More importantly, what would you do if you were due to be sentenced over a murder you haven't committed yet? That is the premise of Steven Spielberg's spectacular sci-fi film, Minority Report. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name, the film sees Tom Cruise play the head of a futuristic 'Precrime' Division tasked with stopping murderers from carrying out their violent actions. They can do this thanks to the psychic abilities of three siblings known as 'Precogs'. But what happens when this trio of soothsayers predicts a murder carried about by Cruise himself? Spoiler alert, he runs! A visually stunning film that's filled with ingenious and forward-thinking technological ideas that will likely become a reality in years to come, Minority Report is intense and action-packed. 

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

The Terminator

Best movies on Netflix

While other films from the same time period have struggled to stay relevant, The Terminator remains as interesting and unique as it was 33 years ago. An undisputed classic of intense, unrelenting action, The Terminator kickstarted the career of uber-director James Cameron, who would go on to direct such classic blockbusters as Aliens, Titanic, Avatar and, of course, Terminator 2L Judgment Day. If you're looking for a retro masterpiece that holds up to modern-day cinema standards, you can stop searching – The Terminator is a must-see for any fan of science fiction, action and horror. 

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens

A triumphant return to the screen for the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens sees the characters we love from the original trilogy, like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia, set off another adventure with a new generation of wonderful characters. Ironically, for a series set among the stars, Director J.J. Abrams brings the franchise back to Earth by dialling down the CGI that hobbled the prequel trilogy – this is a Star Wars movie that uses real locations and sets, as well as puppets and actors in costume, to recreate the spirit of Episodes IV through VI. Featuring thrilling action, incredible special effects and terrific performances, The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars film in over 30 years.

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Gravity

Gravity

It took an agonising seven years for director Alfonso Cuarón to follow his masterful last film, Children of Men, but what an incredible follow-up! With Gravity, he sure did stick the landing (ahem) and hit this one right out of orbit (I'll let myself out). This nail-bitingly intense film, in which Sandra Bullock's character must use her wits to survive in space after a catastrophic shuttle accident, is a technical marvel – the kind of film that wows even the likes of James Cameron, who called Gravity "the best space film ever done." A perfect marriage of drama and special effects, Gravity is an absolute classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

We all love a good scare (so long as we're safe and sound at the end of it), so with that in mind, we've taken the liberty of shining a spotlight on some of the best horror movies currently streaming on Netflix Australia. These freaky flicks are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine!

It Follows

Considered a modern horror classic by many, It Follows sees a young girl (Maika Monroe) terrorised by a sexually-transmitted demon. This terrifying apparition looks different every time and will chase you relentlessly until you either pass it on by sleeping with someone else, or until it catches up to you and finishes you off for good. To make matters worse, if the person you pass it on to dies, it will turn its attention back to you again. Did we mention that it can only be seen by the people that have been 'infected', so your friends won't be able to help as much as they'd like to? Yeah, it kinda sucks. Stylish, atmospheric and with a terrific John Carpenter-inspired synth score, It Follows in an effective horror movie which may suffer a little from a few odd decisions by its characters, but is still well worth watching.

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

The Babysitter

One for the horror comedy fans, the Netflix Original film The Babysitter, from director McG (Charlie's Angels), is an energetic and fun flick with some killer one-liners and a star-making performance from Aussie actress Samara Weaving (yes, she's related to Hugo), whom horror fans may remember from her role in the first season of Ash vs Evil Dead. The plot is simple: kid develops a crush on his incredibly cool babysitter, only to find out that she's sadistic, devil-worshipping killer with a group of equally psychotic friends, all of whom are planning to kill him. Though he's a total wimp, he must now fight back in order to survive. Gory and funny in equal measure, The Babysitter is a hell of a time.

IMDB Rating: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Evil Dead

One of the few horror remakes that fans of the original have embraced, The Evil Dead (2013) takes the outrageous series in an even gorier direction than ever before. Director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) drops the slapstick comedy that was introduced in Evil Dead II, dialling up the gory grossness that made the original film an instant classic among horror fans. Sure, it lacks the winning charisma of Bruce Campbell, whose presence is definitely missed and cannot be replaced the mostly bland cast found here, but the film is still a slime-covered blast that puts its actors through hell regardless – just the way it should be. Groovy. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 61%

Documentaries offer unprecedented insight into the lives of real people and the extraordinary events that surround them. Fiction is great, but fact truly has the power to move and inspire people like nothing else. With that said, here are some of the best documentaries currently available to stream on Netflix Australia. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream

An epic 4-hour documentary on the classic rock band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Peter Bogdanovich's all-encompassing opus follows Tom Petty and his band from childhood to 2007 and is packed with candid interviews with the band's members, as well as the people that helped them become who they are. Having tragically passed away at age 66, Tom Petty will forever be remembered as one of the best songwriters in rock and roll, and a pioneering artist for everyone who has come since. If you've only just become aware of Tom Petty following his untimely death and want to know more about his impact on rock music, Runnin' Down a Dream has you covered. 

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Amanda Knox

Following the enormous success of its original docu-series Making a Murderer, Netflix has once again returned to the ever-popular 'true crime' well with Amanda Knox. The Netflix Original documentary tells the harrowing story of an American exchange student who spent four years in an Italian prison after being convicted for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Forced to endure the prosecution's various character assassination tactics, including public slut-shaming, Knox maintains her innocence at all times, with her appeals eventually reaching Italy's Supreme Court. Amanda Knox is an effective and truly eye-opening documentary that is not to be missed.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Rubble Kings

Thought the classic '70s film The Warriors was pure make-believe? You'd be surprised how much truth was actually buried under all the crazy costumes. Throughout the decade, the New York City borough known as The Bronx was teeming with gang violence; each gang with its own uniform, its own war-chief and its own piece of turf to fiercely defend against rival gangs – sometimes to the death. Rubble Kings documents this fascinating era, interviewing many of the key players and giving insight into the series of events that would eventually bring peace to The Bronx at the tail end of the tumultuous decade. Fans of The Warriors, The Get Down and Hip-Hop Evolution will adore Rubble Kings.  Okay, boppers. It's time to add Rubble Kings to your Netflix queue...

IMDB Rating: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

We love a good thriller, which is why we've narrowed down some of the best ones that are now available to watch on Netflix Australia. These films will have you on the edge of your seat in suspense, so sit back, try to relax, and enjoy.

Gerald's Game

2017 has been a great year for Stephen King adaptations (ahem, The Dark Tower aside), and the new Netflix Original film Gerald's Game joins It and 1922 in the upper echelon. In an attempt to rekindle their marriage, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie (Carla Gugino) retreat to a remote lake house. When a sex game goes awry, Jessie is left alone and handcuffed to the bed and must overcome her mounting paranoia and deep, personal demons. Though the film mostly takes place within the one room, Gerald's Game remains thrilling from start to finish. It also features one of the best performances of Gugino's career. 

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Munich

Though he's established a rabid fan base due to the success of blockbuster films like Jurassic Park, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Steven Spielberg is arguably in at his best when tackling more grown up fare – films like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan can attest to that. However, there is one film in particular that is arguably the most complex and adult of his entire career, and that film is Munich. Based on the real-life tragedy that occurred during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, in which the entire Israeli team was taken hostage and then massacred by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, the film sheds light on Israel's secret retaliation missions. Allegedly, these black ops saw undercover Mossad agents (played here by the likes of Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Ciarán Hinds) track down and assassinate the men believed responsible in a rather public manner. Rather than take sides in the still ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, Spielberg questions the cost of vengeance on the conscience and soul of an entire country, asking whether it ultimately achieves anything other than more bloodshed. A riveting film that does not shy away from the story's more harrowing aspects. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Wake in Fright

Wake in Fright

One of the most powerful and harrowing films in Australian cinema history, Wake in Fright forces audiences to take a good hard look at Australia's destructively macho drinking culture. Marooned in a small outback town while he waits for a train to Sydney, schoolteacher John Grant (Gary Bond) stops in at a local pub to pass the time. Sounds innocent enough, right? Unfortunately for John, a chance encounter with a pack of local louts sends him on an incredibly dark odyssey into the Australian heart of darkness. As shocking and menacing as any horror movie, Wake in Fright is an extremely confronting masterpiece that requires a strong stomach.

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Drive

Drive

Drive is the film that made it cool to love Ryan Gosling. Based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis, this pulpy thriller is one of the most stylish films of the last decade, having almost single-handedly revived the neon '80s synth-pop scene. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Only God Forgives), Drive sees Gosling play a nameless stunt driver who works as a shady wheelman by night. When a job goes horribly wrong, this 'driver' must dispense violent justice to make things right for those he cares for. The film's immense influence can be felt across all forms of media – the video game Hotline Miami, in particular, owes a large debt of gratitude to Drive. A loving ode to the early tough-guy crime movies of Michael Mann, Drive is essential viewing.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs

Simultaneously terrifying and mesmerising, The Silence of the Lambs is the film that catapulted the fictional character of Dr. Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter to mythic proportions. This brilliantly psychotic serial killer, played with great menace by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the role won him an Oscar, has since gone on be the subject of several films, books and even a fantastic television series. But while his impact on The Silence of the Lambs is huge, the story belongs to Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an FBI trainee who is given the task of consulting with the infamous man-eater in an effort to track down a deranged killer that's skinning his victims. Foster's role is less showy but more impressive, played with equal parts determination and vulnerability. We fear for her because we see ourselves in her shoes, but also because we get a real sense of what drives her character, both emotionally and mentally. These characters may have appeared in many other films, but The Silence of the Lambs is still the best by a long stretch. A true masterpiece.

IMDB Rating: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

We're serious cinephiles here at at TechRadar. It's not all about Star Wars around here – we enjoy a good tear-jerker, too. There are many sensitive drama films streaming on Netflix Australia right, and these are some of the best ones. So grab a hanky and get ready for a heavy night in. 

Good Time

Good Time stars Robert Pattinson in the type of performance that will make you forget all about his involvement in the Twilight saga. We're talking young De Niro good, here. When his mentally-challenged brother is snatched by the police after a bank robbery, Connie (Pattinson) sets out to do anything he can to free his brother before getting sent to the brutal Rikers Island jail complex. This sets off a night that spirals out of control extremely fast. There's pretty much no way of predicting what will happen next. Gritty and grimy, Good Time is an intense film with an incredible soundtrack and fantastic cinematography. One of the best films of 2017. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

The Revenant

The film that finally bagged Leonardo DiCaprio a much-deserved Academy Award, The Revenant is at once a stunning technical achievement and a gut-wrenching tale of survival in the harshest wilderness imaginable. Based on the true story of Hugh Glass (though fudged a little for the sake of added drama), a man who was left for dead by his fur-trapping party after a savage bear attack (amazingly realised here in one of the film's many single-take camera shots). Now, Glass must carry himself across 200 miles of snowy hell to track down down the man who killed his son (that part is made up) and left him to die alone, played here by a mumbly Tom Hardy. A powerful film with incredibly cinematography and exceptional performances, The Revenant is a must-see piece of cinema.

MDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

Full Metal Jacket

An astonishing work of immense power, Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece Full Metal Jacket examines man's innate desire to kill, memorably told against the backdrop of the controversial Vietnam War. The film is split in two halves – the first, which is set at boot camp, follows a young recruit who is pushed right over the edge by an abusive drill sergeant. The latter half focuses on a military journalist who watches in horror as Vietnamese people are killed indiscriminately by the soldiers he's following for reasons they don't even understand. Will they make a killing machine out of him, too? Essential viewing for war film aficionados. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Lawrence of Arabia (Restored Version)

One of the greatest historical epics of all time, Lawrence of Arabia has arrived on Netflix in its recently restored form. Trust us when we say that the film, which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, looks even more sublime now than ever before. Desert landscapes are vast and immaculate, skies (and Peter O'Toole's eyes) are the incredibly blue, and close-up detail is off the charts. Still, underneath all the eye candy on display, lies one of the most inspiring war stories of all time, all of which is based on true events in the life of British officer T.E Lawrence, who led the Arab tribes against the Turks in WWI. If you haven't seen Lawrence of Arabia before, we suggest you set aside a weekend (this movie is very, very long) and remedy that as soon as possible. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

As Netflix's first original movie, Beasts of No Nation had a lot to prove. The VOD scene had traditionally been associated with low budget indies and D-grade horror films, but with Beasts of No Nation, Netflix managed to convince people that high quality (dare I say, Oscar-calibre) films could be streamed at home and shown in theatres at the same time. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective season 1), Beasts follows the loss of a child soldier's innocence as he's forced to do unspeakable things. The film hits like a sledgehammer, never shying away from the brutality and horror experienced by this young boy (played masterfully by newcomer Abraham Attah). Equally powerful is Idris Elba's portrayal as the boy's remorseless and despicable commander. Though not what you'd call a crowd-pleaser, we hope that Netflix continues to bring us brilliant films like this.

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Blue is the Warmest Color

As soulful as it is erotically-charged, it's not hard to see why Blue is the Warmest Color won the highest prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival – its portrayal of two women who fall in love and allow each other to discover their true selves is truly special. Though Emma (Léa Seydoux) is a blue-haired free spirit, Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin. While Adèle's friends initially shun Emma due to her sexuality, she soon realises that Emma is the only person with whom she can express herself openly and bare her soul to. Together, the pair experience the ups and downs of a mature relationship, while also exploring social acceptance and their sexuality. A beautiful masterpiece that will take you on an emotional roller-coaster throughout its lengthy 3-hour running time, Blue is the Warmest Color is a film you won't soon forget. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Okja

Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) is an eclectic filmmaker, and his latest work, Okja, is in a genre all of its own. Is it an adventure film? Is it science fiction? Is it a drama? Is it a fairy tale? Is it satire? The answer is... all of the above. With a style that's somewhere between Spielberg and Miyazaki, the film follows a young Korean girl's quest to rescue her best friend Okja, a super-pig that was created by the multi-national conglomerate Mirando Corporation for the purposes of consumption. Flipping between heartbreaking and joyful at the drop of a hat, Okja is an emotional roller coaster of a film that may well have you reconsidering your dietary choices. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Schindler's List

This is one of the most affecting movies that you will ever see. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a factory owner who begins to help his Jewish workers during World War II after he sees them persecuted by the Nazi Germans, the movie is a study in brevity. Steven Spielberg manages to find the human stories in the atrocity of WWII without shying away from the true horror of what happened during the conflict. Winner of several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, Schindler's List is a film you won't soon forget. 

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Selma

A heartfelt and considered look at Martin Luther King Jr's struggle to gain equal voting rights, campaigning in racially-charged Alabama, Selma was one of the finest films of 2014 and was rightly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar as a result. It may have missed out on the top gong, or a Best Director nod for director Ava DuVernay, but David Oyelowo's performance as the civil rights leader is a powerful one, with a supporting cast recreating the inspiring story with great respect. With recent real-life events showing that racial tension is still as prevalent in 2017 as it was in the 1960s, Selma is more relevant than ever. Powerful and moving, Selma is a must see film about courage, determination and the fight for equality among all people, regardless of their colour. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

Need a good laugh? Netflix Australia is home to some terrific comedies, with a number of hilarious movies ready to stream in an instant. Some are light-hearted, while others are pitch black. With that in mind, there's a comedy for everyone below. 

Coming to America

Perhaps the most charming and endlessly entertaining comedy of Eddie Murphy's career, Coming to America takes the standard 'fish out of water' concept and weaves pure magic with it. Unhappy with the arranged marriage set up by royal parents, Prince Akeem of the wealthy (and fictitious) African nation of Zamunda sets off for America in search of love with help from his squire, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Before long, Akeem falls for the smart and independent Lisa (Shari Headley), heir to the McDowell's fast food restaurant empire. Insistent that he win her affections with his personality and not his wealth, Akeem and Semmi pretend to be poor and acquire jobs at McDowell's. Now, the pair must contend with Lisa's over-protective father (John Amos) and her jerk boyfriend (Eriq La Salle). Full of heart and bloody hilarious, Coming to America is a comedy classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Fight Club

fight club

You know what they say: black comedy is still comedy! While the first rule of Fight Club may be that you shouldn't talk about Fight Club, it's extremely hard to keep quiet about a film as provocative as this. Though its messages are based in extremely dark satire, David Fincher's film is as nihilistic and anarchistic as any major film studio has ever produced. Violent, gross and incendiary, Fight Club sees emasculated males bash each other's faces in to make themselves feel manly once more. While the film's themes are intended in jest (the film is basically Gen X's ultra-dark version of a Marx Brothers comedy), they certainly resonated strongly with certain fans, many of which would go on to start their own fight clubs. Despite being misunderstood by its biggest admirers, Fight Club is one of the must-see films of the late '90s.

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz

Following the success of their classic rom-zom-com, Shaun of the Dead, director Edgar Wright, star and writer Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost teamed up once again to bring their hilarious sensibilities to the buddy-cop movie genre with Hot Fuzz. London super-cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is involuntarily transferred to a village in the English countryside for making his superiors look bad by comparison. There, he teams up with dim-witted (but well-meaning) cop Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and together, the pair uncover a murder conspiracy. If films like Point Break and Bad Boys II are in constant rotation at your place, you absolutely owe it to yourself to grab a Cornetto and watch Hot Fuzz.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

American Psycho

American Psycho

It may look like a thriller, but Just like its main character, American Psycho is something entirely different under the surface. Quite frankly, most people don't expect this film to be as funny and endlessly quotable as it is. Director Mary Harron and co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner did the unthinkable when they took on the job of adapting Bret Easton-Ellis' hugely controversial and largely unfilmable book, American Psycho – they looked beyond the source material's horrendously graphic and seemingly never-ending violence to focus on the scathing satire of the greed-obsessed '80s buried underneath. Christian Bale solidified himself as one of the world's most exciting actors in the role of Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street yuppie with an insatiable lust for blood and dinner reservations. Both shocking and hilarious, American Psycho is a remarkably clever cult classic.

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

Though they live on the other side of the law, we as people tend to be fascinated by criminals. Whether it's the outlaw lifestyles they lead, or the fact that they live those lives on the edge and do things most of us wouldn't dream of, something about their stories makes them cinematic gold. Here are some of the best crime movies now streaming on Netflix Australia.

Snatch

A rollicking crime caper movie from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels writer and director Guy Ritchie, Snatch takes everything great about that movie and dials it up to 11. Featuring a large cast of colourful cockney crooks, including Jason Statham, Stephen Graham, Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones  and Brad Pitt (particularly memorable as an unintelligible Gypsy boxer), Snatch flies thick and fast with hilarious quotable lines and energetic performances. Whether they're chasing after a diamond the size of a fist, or betting on illegal bare-knuckle brawls, you can expect these characters to end up getting into all kinds of mischief. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

City of God

The Shawshank Redemption

If you've blasted your way through both seasons of Narcos and want another South American crime epic to get stuck into, consider City of God as your next destination. Based on true events that took place over three decades in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, the film accurately recreates the lively and energetic vibe of Brazil, but also counters it some truly harrowing scenes of devastating violence. In the 'City of God', children brandish firearms and kill each other indiscriminately over petty drug deals. While that might sound like too much to bear, the terrific filmmaking on display from Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund will keep you on the edge of your seat, as will the film's authentic performers and compelling story. One of the greatest films of all time, City of God is like Goodfellas scored to a samba beat.

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Pulp Fiction

Perhaps the most influential movie of the 90s, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, the big prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the hearts and minds of an entire pop culture-obsessed generation. Presented as an ingenious crime anthology with three interlocking parts, Pulp Fiction follows two hitmen as they go on a job and experience what may or may not be an act of God, a dinner date with the crime boss' wife which (almost) spirals out of control, and a boxer who accepts money from the aforementioned boss to take a dive, but opts to skip town instead. Violent, audacious and with little concern to the rules of cinema, Pulp Fiction is the kind of whip-smart classic that can be watched at the drop of a hat. The film may have seen its fair share of imitators over the years, but none of that has diluted Pulp Fiction's immense power. 

IMDB Rating: 8.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Buckle up for some heart-pounding entertainment with some of the most kick-ass action movies now streaming on Netflix Australia. Adrenaline junkies will get a kick out of every one of the brawny movies listed below. 

Mad Max: Fury Road

The world has gone to hell following a cataclysmic event, plunging headfirst into madness and chaos. All that remains is a wasteland governed by tyrannical men, populated by downtrodden hordes, and hopefully, rescued by mythical heroes. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) rules with an iron fist, doling out meagre amounts of water to the masses, while keeping a stable of wives for himself to breed future warlords. His most trusted Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) has betrayed him and freed these women from their lives of sexual slavery. Now, the chase is on, as Immortan Joe and his party of warboys set out to retrieve their "property". If Furiosa and co. are to succeed, they’ll need the help of Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a wandering road warrior in search of a cause. Director George Miller has crafted the most dynamic, vibrant and sensational action blockbuster of the decade with Fury Road. it’s an inventive, high-octane kick in the guts to a film industry that has played it safe for far too long. The chases and stunts in this film are unparalleled. Best of all, the film's cut-to-the-chase plot manages to sneak in a powerful and extremely timely rebuttal to patriarchy.

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

Boyka: Undisputed

Fight fans raised on the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Donnie Yen are no doubt familiar with Scott Adkins, the British martial arts sensation that has made a name for himself as a heavy in big Hollywood blockbusters (Doctor Strange, The Expendables 2, The Bourne Ultimatum) and as a leading man with a number of franchises under his (black) belt (Ninja 1 & 2, Undisputed 2 & 3). Now, Adkins has returned to what is arguably his best character with Boyka: Undisputed, which has been made available to stream on Netflix for the first time. For those who haven't seen the previous two Adkins entries in the Undisputed series, Boyka is a Russian prison fighter who entered the series as a villain in the second instalment, only to become the hero in the third film. In Boyka: Undisputed, we follow the beastly fighter as he tries to find redemption by helping the wife of a man he accidentally killed in the ring. Come for the phenomenally-staged, CGI-free fight sequences, but stay for the sincere story. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

Marvel's Doctor Strange

Marvel's first cosmic adventure film, Doctor Strange sees the talented surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) turn to the mystical arts in search of a cure for his mangled hands. More arrogant than the usual Marvel superhero (yes, even more so than Tony Stark), Doctor Strange must learn to get over his own ego before he can rise up and be the hero he was born to be. With trippy visuals and mind-bending twists that make the film Inception look tame by comparison, Doctor Strange is both familiar and incredibly unique among the superhero blockbusters that have been released so far. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Rambo

Living off the grid in Southeast Asia, John Rambo is dragged back on to the battlefield once more when a group of missionaries is taken hostage by despicable war criminals in war-torn Burma. To get them back, he's going to have to blast through an entire army. Kicking the level of gruesome violence up to the extreme, Rambo is not a film for the squeamish. However, if you love the character and enjoy seeing irredeemable baddies get torn apart by 50-caliber machine gun fire and makeshift machetes, this is the movie for you – just don't expect high art (check out the disparity between the IMDB user score and Rotten Tomatoes critic score below).

IMDB Rating: 7.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 37%

Con Air

One of the most entertaining action movies of the '90s, the Nicolas Cage vehicle (in more ways than one) Con Air has been added to Netflix Australia. After spending seven years in jail for accidentally killing a man while protecting his wife, newly paroled ex-con (and former US Ranger) Cameron Poe (Cage) is on a prisoner transport plane heading home to meet his daughter for the first time. Unfortunately for him, this is going to be one bumpy ride, as a group of death row inmates who are also onboard decide to hijack the plane in a last ditch attempt at freedom. Packed with colourful characters and terrific one-liners, Con Air is the kind of brawny action movie they just don't make anymore.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

Captain America: Civil War

Though Marvel Studios films are known for being visually spectacular, action-packed and epic in scope, the real reason audiences around the world have embraced the Marvel Cinematic Universe is because of its characters. While we may have our favourites, we've spent enough time with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America to know what these beloved heroes stand for – they don't always agree with each other, but this dynamic of differing opinions is the key to The Avengers successful. That's all well and good when there's a clear enemy to face, but what happens when these super-powered individuals fall on opposing sides of an issue that strikes at very heart of the team? Answer: friends and teammates will go to war with each other. Easily the Marvel film with the highest emotional stakes to date, Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal entry in the ongoing Marvel saga, one that provides no easy answers. Neither side is wrong about its stance, yet we know that there will ultimately be only one victor. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Django Unchained

Best movies on Netflix

Quentin Tarantino is loved and revered for his work in American cinema, and lately his takes on classic '70s movies. Like his take on Inglourious Basterds before it, Django Unchained deals with role reversal in a historically controversial time. The story of revenge and justice, Django (played by Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz) set off to hunt down a gang of felons before the ultimate promise of setting Django free. Like other Tarantino films, it doesn't shy away from the grotesque and gory or mind going against the grain, making it easy to recommend and easier to watch time and time again. And, Netflix also provides QT fans with the ability to stream his classic films Inglourious Basterds and Reservoir Dogs.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

Need some kid-friendly entertainment that will make the whole family happy? We've selected some of the best family movies that Netflix Australia has to offer. Each one of these films is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. 

Moana

Having achieved monumental success with its film Frozen, Disney had a lot to live up to with its next major 'Disney Princess' movie, and it still managed to blow away expectations with Moana – a visually stunning tale of an independent free-spirit (played by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) who sets off on a journey to save her island from a devastating curse indadvertedly set by the selfish demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Though it follows all the familiar Disney beats that we've come to expect over the years, Moana is well written, wonderfully animated and terrifically acted. You may also find its many catchy songs stuck in your head for days after watching it. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom) is a writer/director know for his whimsical and inimitable style, with characters who are fleshed out (regardless of whether they're actually people) and have warmth and heart to spare. With his first foray into family-fare, Fantastic Mr. Fox, the visionary filmmaker succeeded in creating his most accessible film to date. Based on the classic story by Roald Dahl, the film follows a wily fox (played with incredible charm and terrific comedic timing by George Clooney) who bandies together with his family (voiced by Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman) and friends (including voice work from regular Wes Anderson collaborator, Bill Murray) to fight off the mean farmers that plan to destroy their homes. Featuring wonderful stop-motion animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a heartfelt and hilarious film that's destined to become a family favourite. 

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Iron Giant

Criminally overlooked by audiences upon initial release, The Iron Giant is an animated film that has steadily grown in appreciation over the years, to the point where many traditional animation purists now consider it an undisputed classic. The feature-length debut of director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), and Set during the 1950s at the height of the 'Red Scare' period of America's history, The Iron Giant tells the story of a lonely boy named Hogarth (Eli Marienthal) who makes a new best friend in an enormous amnesiac robot (Vin Diesel). The robot eventually realises that he was actually built as a weapon, and before long, the authorities find out about him and set out on a quest to destroy the gentle giant. Now the boy and his metallic friend have to protect each other at all costs. A touching film in the tradition of E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, The Iron Giant deserves to be considered as not just a terrific animated film, but as one the greatest films of the '90s, period. 

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Back to the Future

Idiocracy

A time-travelling classic from director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) and producer Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Back to the Future sees 1980s teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) race back to the 1950s to ensure that his parents meet during high school and fall in love – he better succeed, because if he fails, he'll be wiped from existence in his current timeline! To do this, he'll need help from Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) – an eccentric scientist who's built a working time machine in the form of a DeLorean sports car. A fantastic fish-out-of-water tale that leans heavily on 1950s nostalgia, great performances and terrific visual effects, Back to the Future can be considered a high-watermark from everyone involved.

IMDB Rating: 8.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Zootopia

Best movies on Netflix

More than just a cute movie about talking animals, Disney's Zootopia cleverly sneaks messages about prejudice, tolerance, and even the war on drugs, into its animated take on cop movie procedurals. Though its characters may be bunnies, foxes and other wild animals, the idea of not judging someone by their race (or in this case, species) is more important than ever right now. Gorgeously animated with loveable characters and a hilarious script full of jokes that only adults will get (there's even a Breaking Bad reference at one point), Zootopia continues Disney's streak of incredible animated films. Now bring on Zootopia 2!

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%


Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:28:42 +0000
The best movies on Netflix: great films you can watch in Australia right now
Sick of browsing endlessly? Don't know what to search for? These are the movies on Netflix you have to see.

As the number of shows and movies available to stream in Australia continues to grow at an impressive rate, it can be tough to keep up with all the new additions to each streaming service each month.

We've all come to anticipate a new stable of Netflix Originals releases each month, but figuring out which shows they are and when exactly they become available isn't so easy. And what about the large number licensed shows and films that are made available to stream, if only for a limited time?

In an effort to keep you informed of the best shows and movies that are in the process of being added to Netflix, we'll be bringing you an updated list of what you can expect on the service on a monthly basis. 

Not only that, we'll also be singling out the biggest releases, as well as a number of quality TV shows and films which we believe deserve your Netflixing time. 

So get ready to kick off the new year with an epic binge – here's what's new on Netflix in January 2018.

TV shows highlights for January 2018

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Collections (5/1/2018)

What could be more entertaining that an informal talk show where Jerry Seinfeld hangs out with his comedian friends in classic cars before stopping for coffee and chatting some more? Nothing! Well, perhaps a show about nothing...

American Horror Story: Roanoke (19/1/2018)

In the sixth self-contained season of American Horror Story, a couple moves to North Carolina following a senseless attack in an attempt to start over. However, they soon find out that their new home is anything but welcoming.

Black Lightning: Season 1 (23/1/2018) 

From the makers of Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl comes the latest DC hero to hit the small screen, Black Lightning. It follows a retired vigilante who leaves behind his quiet life as a school principal only to start fighting crime once again in his New Orleans community.

Movies highlights for January 2018

Marvel Studios Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (21/1/2018)

The follow-up to one of the best Marvel movies to date, Guardians Vol. 2 sees the Guardians try to keep newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage. Expect Baby Groot to steal the show.

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series (1/1/2018)

The original Swedish trilogy based on Stieg Larsson's groundbreaking novels, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, in which goth hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) attempt to expose hate crimes committed against women.

Raging Bull  (1/1/2018)

Robert De Niro, in perhaps his greatest performance, portrays the real-life boxer Jake LaMotta – a man whose personal demons follow him into the ring, and whose sins are paid for in blood. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

The Wolf of Wall Street (28/1/2018)

Another classic biopic directed by Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street follows the exploits of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who devised an incredibly illegal way of making millions of dollars on the stock market. Naturally, he and his cronies spend the money on drugs, hookers, more drugs and more hookers.

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (26/1/2018)

From director David Wain (Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer) comes this hilarious look at the early days of the iconic comedy magazine National Lampoons. Expect cameos galore. 

...and the rest for January 2018

Lovesick: Season 3 (1/1/2018)

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2 (5/1/2018)

Disjointed: Part 2 (12/1/2018)

Tiempos de guerra: Season 1 (18/1/2018) 

Drug Lords: Season 1 (19/1/2018)

Grace and Frankie: Season 4 (19/1/2018)

Van Helsing: Season 2 (19/1/2018)

One Day At A Time: Season 2 (26/1/2018)

El Ministerio del Tiempo: Season 3 (28/1/2018)

Babylon Berlin: Season 1 & 2 (30/1/2018)

Black Lightning: Season 1 (23/1/2018) 

The Polka King (12/1/2018)

The Open House (19/1/2018)

A Futile and Stupid Gesture (26/1/2018)

Alejandro Riaño Especial de Stand Up (10/1/2018)

Tom Segura: Disgraceful (12/1/2018) 

Katt Williams: Great America (16/1/2018)

Arango y Sanint: Ríase El Show (17/1/2018) 

Todd Glass: Act Happy  (23/1/2018) 

Ricardo Quevedo: Hay gente así (24/1/2018) 

Sebastián Marcelo Wainraich (26/1/2018) 

Mau Nieto: Viviendo sobrio… desde el bar (26/1/2018)

Kavin Jay: Everybody Calm Down! (26/1/2018) 

Rotten (5/1/2018)

Somebody Feed Phil (12/1/2018) 

Dirty Money (26/1/2018)

Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 1 (19/1/2018)

The Adventures of Puss in Boots: Season 6 (26/1/2018)

Llama Llama: Season 1 (26/1/2018)

DEVILMAN crybaby: Season 1 (5/1/2018) 

Don Jon (1/1/2018) 

Groundhog Day (1/1/2018) 

Hook (1/1/2018) 

American Hustle (21/1/2018) 

Mad Max (26/1/2018) 

Suits: Season 6 New Episodes (26/1/2018) 

The Wolf of Wall Street (28/1/2018) 

Treasures From The Wreck Of The Unbelievable (1/1/2018) 

AlphaGo (1/1/2018) 

The Lego Batman Movie (1/1/2018)

Girl, Interrupted (1/1/2018) 

The Da Vinci Code (1/1/2018) 

Weeds: Season 1 -8  (1/1/2018) 

Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World (1/1/2018) 

27 Dresses  (1/1/2018)

Mud (1/1/2018) 

The Intouchables (1/1/2018) 

The Place Beyond the Pines (01/01/2018) 

21  (1/1/2018) 

Beauty Shop (1/1/2018)

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (1/1/2018) 

Gangster Squad (1/1/2018) 

Riddick (1/1/2018) 

Scary Movie 5 (1/1/2018) 

Burlesque (1/1/2018) 

Big Daddy  (1/1/2018) 

Big Fish (1/1/2018) 

Just Go With It (1/1/2018) 

The Karate Kid (1/1/2018) 

He Named Me Malala (1/1/2018) 

Mustang Island (2/1/2018)

Gotham: Season 2 (6/1/2018) 

Before I Wake (12/1/2018) 

The Man Who Would Be Polka King (12/1/2018) 

The Vault (14/1/2018) 

Jane Got a Gun (15/1/2018) 

Unrest (15/1/2018) 

Miss You Already (17/1/2018) 

Rita: Season 4 (17/1/2018) 

Bad Day for the Cut (18/1/2018) 

Chips (19/1/2018) 

Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time (23/1/2018) 

Acts of Vengeance (25/1/2018) 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (26/1/2018)

Run, Fatboy, Run (26/1/2018)

The Hurt Locker (26/1/2018)

The Inbetweeners (26/1/2018)

The Force (29/1/2018)


Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:28:05 +0000
Here's what's new on Netflix Australia in January 2018
We highlight the best additions and list everything new that’s coming this month to Netflix.

As each streaming service's content library continues to grow, it's hard to keep track of the best movies these platforms have to offer. When it comes to the Australian streaming service Stan, there's an enormous amount of films of variable quality available to stream instantly. Our job is to sift through that huge catalogue and pick out the 'crème de la crème' for you.

To make things as straightforward as possible, we've separated our choices into genres, so that you can jump straight to the type of movie you actually feel like watching. Curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, these films should offer something for everyone. We'll keep this list up to date with must-watch movies, so you can spend less time browsing and more time watching! Here are the best movies on Stan.

Need some kid-friendly content to entertain the family with? Stan has a number of great kids and family movies on offer that should keep everyone happy. These films are guaranteed to please the whole family.

Red Dog

An Australian family favourite, Red Dog tells the heartwarming true story of a delightful pooch that united an entire community while roaming the Outback looking for his actual owner. The dog brings people together everywhere he goes – some people find love, others find themselves. Starring Josh Lucas and Rachael Taylor, Red Dog is a beautiful movie that the whole family will enjoy. Though the dog is red, this is a true-blue Aussie classic. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes 82%

Speed Racer

A movie that's way better than its reputation would suggest (the film was derided upon its initial release but has steadily grown a cult following), Speed Racer was clearly a passion project for the Wachowskis, directors of The Matrix. A tale of integrity, family and standing up to corruption, Speed Racer is much more than a sugary kids film (though it is that, too). Featuring some of the most mind-blowing and cartoony visuals of any live action film in existence, Speed Racer puts its pedal to the metal and achieves some deliriously psychedelic race sequences in the process. Sure, it'll still have its fair share of detractors who refuse to get behind its incredibly vibrant and overwhelming visuals, but give it a chance and you might just find it to be a sensational family film with a huge heart. 

IMDB Rating: 6.0, Rotten Tomatoes 40%

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

When one thinks of director Zack Snyder, the mind often goes to his violent action films, such as 300, Watchmen and Batman v Superman. But did you know he also directed an Australian animated kids film about warrior owls? While obviously lighter in tone than some of his other works, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is just as stylish as you'd expect from Zack Snyder, with his liberal use of slow-motion and speed-ramping giving the film that unmistakable Snyder look and feel. Featuring stunning animation and terrific voice performances from Aussie actors like Ryan Kwanten, Essie Davis, Abbie Cornish, Richard Roxburgh and Joel Edgerton, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is a real hoot.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes 50%

Happy Feet

Another Australian animated kids film about birds, Happy Feet took the world by storm when it released in 2006. A delightful family film from director George Miller (Babe, Mad Max: Fury Road), Happy Feet follows a penguin named mumble whose lack of singing talent leads him to dance to find his mate. With an all-star cast featuring Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Brittany Murphy, Happy Feet is guaranteed to make you tap your feet. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes 75%

Where the Wild Things Are

Based on the classic children's book by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are is an awe-inspiring story of a young boy named Max (Max Records) who runs away from home after an argument with his mum (Cathertine Keener), only to end up on an island filled with creatures who name him as their king. Max instantly befriends a gentle giant named Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) and while everything is going well for a while, things start to turn dark, leading Max to realise how much he misses home. Directed by Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich), Where the Wild Things Are is an artful family film that hits you right in the heart.

IMDB Rating: 6.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

Feel like watching something that'll put a tingle in your spine? Well, look no further, because Stan has a large selection of horror films that should please even the most hardened gore-hound. These are some of the best.

Carrie

There have been countless Stephen King film adaptations over the last few decades, but Carrie was the first (and arguably best). Sissy Spacek plays a tormented teenage girl who is pushed over the edge by her mean classmates and domineering mother – with incredibly violent results. A bloody classic. 

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

The Descent

Not one for claustrophobic types, The Descent follows a caving expedition that goes horribly wrong, leaving a group of women to fend for themselves against some truly terrifying cave-dwelling creatures. An absolute masterpiece of terror, The Descent is one of the best horror movies to come out of the UK.

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Scream

The late, great horror director Wes Craven had a habit of making a game-changing fright flick at least once per decade. In the '70s, it was The Last House on the Left. In the '80s, he birthed the horror icon Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The kids of the '90s, however, had grown accustomed to the usual horror tropes, which is why Craven's self-aware slasher Scream became such a sensation. The characters in this knew they were in a horror film, which allowed the movie to exploit the genre's rules at every turn. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Wolf Creek

Loosely inspired by actual events, Wolf Creek gave birth to Australia's first real horror icon in Mick Taylor (John Jarratt), a sadistic bushman who enjoys nothing more than hunting and killing tourists in the middle of the Outback. Once you've watched this, check out its sequel, Wolf Creek 2, as well as the incredible Stan Original series. 

IMDB Rating: 6.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 53%

Cabin in the Woods

Another self-aware horror movie in the vein of Scream, Cabin in the Woods acts as a meta-commentary of the horror genre and its audience. We've all seen countless horror films set in a cabin, each one featuring a different group of stock characters facing some form of horrific demise – we don't even seem to mind that only the threat itself ever really seems to change. The joke here is that there are actually people behind the scenes who are pulling the strings – it's all a matter of re-arranging the pieces to see what happens next. Starring Chris Hemsworth (before he was famous) and written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers), Cabin in the Woods is both clever and scary.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 9.2

In the mood for a good tear-jerker? What about a serious, high-brow piece of cinema? The films below should do the trick. Here are our picks for the best dramas on Stan. 

Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck became global megastars off the back of Good Will Hunting, each bagging an Oscar for writing the film's incredible screenplay. Damon plays Will, a troubled young man from the South Boston projects who is gifted with unparalleled intellect and a photographic memory. When his gift is discovered by a genius M.I.T. professor (Stellan Skarsgård), Will is sent to see a psychologist (Robin Williams) in an attempt to get his life back in order so that he can reach his full potential. A tear-jerking masterpiece.

IMDB Rating: 8.3,  Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Chopper

Playing Australia's most notorious criminal, Eric Bana absolutely disappears into the role of Chopper Read. At the time, it was unthinkable that the TV funnyman could convince in such a dark and intense role, but his comedic edge, backed by the hulking frame he developed for the film, turned out to be a match made in heaven. Perhaps the best and most quotable Aussie true(ish) crime movie ever made. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

Moonlight

Winner of the Best Picture award at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight is a shattering chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a gay African-American male. Told in three segments, the lead role of Chiron is portrayed by three different actors, each facing the struggles of growing up in a poor neighbourhood in Miami. Burdened by drug-addicted mother, Chiron's only guidance comes from an unlikely source in local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali in his Oscar winning role). Gripping and powerful, Moonlight is a triumph.

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 98% 

Animal Kingdom

After the death of his mum, Joshua (James Frecheville) is forced to live with his maternal grandmother (Jacki Weaver), the matriarch of a crime family that starts to fall apart after the after one of her sons is killed by police and the others kill a random cop in retaliation. Will Joshua fall into this cycle of violence, or will he resist it? Playing out like a Greek tragedy in the suburbs of Melbourne, Animal Kingdom is one of the most powerful Australian films of all time.

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Raging Bull

Based on the life of real life boxing champ Ray LaMotta (Robert De Niro giving what is perhaps the most powerful performance of his career), Raging Bull explores a man gripped by insecurity – one who'd rather get his face bashed in than confront his own demons. Abusive to his wife (Cathy Moriarty) and violent towards his brother (Joe Pesci, also magnificent), LaMotta frequently attempts to pay for his sins in the ring, each gruelling fight feeling like a culmination of his troubles at home. De Niro famously packed on the kilos to portray an out of shape LaMotta past his prime, but that's arguably the least impressive aspect of this amazingly raw and ferocious performance. One of director Martin Scorsese's greatest achievements, Raging Bull is a gripping study of toxic masculinity.

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Need a good laugh? Stan has a number of great comedies in its library, and these are some of our favourites. Here are the best comedies currently streaming on Stan.

Zoolander

Though it wasn't immediately loved at release, Zoolander has grown over the years into an honest-to-goodness comedy classic. Ben Stiller is the titular beef-witted male model that is duped into a plot to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister. Owen Wilson plays Hansel, an up-and-coming rival to Zoolander. Though the two initially hate each other, they soon come together in an attempt to stop the evil plan that has been orchestrated by the truly ridiculous fashion designer, Mugatu (Will Ferrell). Backed with quotable lines and hilarious scenes, Zoolander is really, really, really, ridiculously funny. 

IMDB Rating: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Jim Carrey was an unstoppable force in the early nineties, and along with The Mark and Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective solidified him as the world's biggest comedy star. Carrey plays a ridiculously over-the-top private dick who specialises in animal-related cases. When the NFL's Miami Dolphins mascot is stolen, it's up to Ace to find out where it is and who was behind it. Cue a whole lot of hilarious tomfoolery!

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 46%

American Ultra


Like Pineapple Express meets The Bourne Identity, American Ultra is much better than it has any right to be. Jesse Eisenberg plays a stoner convenience store clerk who hears some specific words and is promptly activated into a CIA killing machine. In an effort to cover up this mess, the agency sends two agents (Topher Grace and Connie Britton) to neutralise the situation, but things don't fly as smoothly as they'd hoped. Playing opposite Kristen Stewart, Eisenberg does a decent job of playing an action hero. Funny and surprisingly violent and action packed, American Ultra is an underrated gem. 

IMDB Rating: 6.1

In Bruges

A hilariously dark comedy about hit men who must lay low in Belgium after a hit gone wrong, In Bruges is the type of movie that will have you laughing uncontrollably one minute, then crying the next. Writer/director Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) delivers a witty script filled with sudden moments of brutal violence that will leave you speechless. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Swingers

The indie film that made stars out Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, Swingers is a hilariously hip film (well, in the '90s it was) about friendship and moving on from a devastating breakup. Stylish and energetic, the film also made Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. Worth watching for the hilariously-needy answering machine scene alone. Based on a winning script by Favreau (who would go on to huge success as a director with films like Iron Man and The Jungle Book), the movie is so, so money. 

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

If you're a fan of muscular action films, you've come to the right place. Stan has a great selection of high-octane, testosterone-fuelled movies for adrenaline junkies. Here are our picks for best action movies on Stan.

The Expendables

The film that rounded up some of the greatest action movie stars of the '80s and '90s (along with a couple of newcomers), Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables will bring a huge smile to the face of anyone who grew up during this high-testosterone era. Joining Stallone are the likes of Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews and more. While the film itself is far from perfect, we can't help but get a kick out of seeing our heroes fighting alongside each other. 

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino's grand homage to exploitation cinema, Kill Bill sees star Uma Thurman go on a roaring rampage of revenge, killing everyone who was involved in her attempted assassination. Fresh out of a coma after several years, this former assassin will make her old associates pay, one-by-one, for ruining her life. And when that's done, she's taking her blood-drenched katana on a trip to meet Bill (David Carradine), her former boss and lover. Split into two pieces (both of which are now streaming on Stan), Kill Bill is a violent revenge masterpiece. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

The Terminator

James Cameron made his career with this time travel-themed action thriller, which also worked to solidify Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the biggest stars on the planet. Arnold plays a Terminator – a cyborg killing machine that's sent back in time to kill a great military leader's mother (Linda Hamilton) before he's ever conceived. This mother's child will eventually be responsible for defeating the machines in the distant future. Thankfully, a human soldier (Michael Biehn) has also travelled back in time to protect her. Perfectly mixing action, sci-fi and horror, The Terminator is a white-knuckle experience from beginning to end.

IMDB Rating: 8.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Mad Max

Long before he reached Fury Road, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) was a highway cop in a particularly rough part of Australia – his beat ravaged by murderous and borderline savage street cretins. When Max's family and partner are killed by a gang with a vendetta, he gets mad. Extremely mad. One of Australian cinema's most classic films, Mad Max is high-octane revenge thriller that boasts some of the greatest scenes of vehicular carnage ever committed to celluloid. Max would eventually end up in a post-apocalyptic future, but his humble origins should never be forgotten.

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

The Nice Guys

Shane Black, writer and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, returns to the world of gumshoe detectives with The Nice Guys, a smart and funny mystery that establishes Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a comedic match made in heaven. Set in the late '70s, Crowe's tough guy enforcer teams up with Gosling's bumbling private eye to solve the mystery of a dead porn star. Filled with hilarious one-liners and terrific action sequences, The Nice Guys is the kind of movie they really don't make anymore, which makes its very existence something of a miracle, wouldn't you say?

IMDB Rating: 7.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

We all like a good thriller, and Stan is chock-full of them. If you want a film that will have you on the edge of your seat, you've come to the right place. Below is a list of some of the best thrillers currently available on Stan.

Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal is incredibly creepy as Louis Bloom, a man who makes money by filming grisly crime footage and selling it to news stations in Los Angeles. Driven by greed and hubris, Louis starts blurring the line between observer and active participant, eventually instigating violent incidents in order to get the scoop. A cutting commentary on our modern news cycle obsession, Nightcrawler is a riveting thriller with terrific performances.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Wake in Fright

An absolutely brilliant and confronting critique of Australian drinking culture and 'mateship', Canadian director Ted Kotchoff (First Blood) does not hold back at all when it comes to showing some of our country's uglier aspects with Wake in Fright. A school teacher finds himself trapped in an Outback mining town after losing all his money in a two-up game, leading him to go on a night of binge-drinking, fighting and kangaroo shooting with some unhinged locals. It's safe to say that he may never be the same again after this night...

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 100% 

Léon: The Professional

French director Luc Besson has made several cult classic films (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, The Big Blue), but perhaps none is more beloved than Léon: The Professional. Notable for being Natalie Portman's first film, Léon tells the story of a lonely assassin (Jean Reno) who befriends a young girl after her whole family is killed by a crooked cop (Gary Oldman). Violent and thrilling, yet filled with warmth and heart, Léon: The Professional is bloody fantastic. 

IMDB Rating: 8.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Science fiction films offer us visions of the future (well, from the perspective of the times in which they were made) that open our minds to the possibilities of what humankind might be capable of, in both the good and bad sense. These are some of the best sci-fi films on Stan.

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott's thought-provoking cyberpunk masterpiece wasn't fully appreciated until a decade after its release, where it received a director's cut that addressed and excised some of the studio interference that plagued the theatrical version of the film. Harrison Ford plays Deckard, the titular Blade Runner. He's a cop of sorts whose job is to hunt down and eliminate rogue replicants, which are like artificial humans created as off-world slave labour. When a group of them decide they'd rather live, going on a killing spree in the process, Deckard sets out to take them down, but maybe this time it won't be so easy... 

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

RoboCop

A cutting satire of corporate greed in the '80s, Robocop is more than the sum of its parts. Brilliantly directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Starship Troopers), the film sees a rookie cop viciously murdered by a group of criminals, only to be revived by a corporation and used as a robotic crime-fighting product. Pretty soon, his memories start to return, and it's only a matter of time before he tracks down his killers and discovers the real intents of his makers. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

The Matrix

A science fiction classic, The Matrix is a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence packaged as an action-packed, visual effects spectacular. Inspired by martial arts films, anime and cyberpunk literature, The Matrix sees Neo (Keanu Reeves) discover that the world as we know it is an elaborate computer simulation that masks the real truth – Earth is a wasteland and humans are being kept alive in chambers to act as the batteries powering our new machine overlords. Whoa. 

IMDB Rating: 8.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg is known for making heart-warming, sentimental movies, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial might be the one that best embodies that. A classic family film about a lonely kid (Henry Thomas) who develops a bond with a friendly alien marooned on our planet, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is capable of melting even the coldest of hearts. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%


Tue, 09 Jan 2018 01:00:56 +0000
The best movies on Stan: a list of the top films streaming in Australia now
Stan has a huge selection of movies to choose from, so we've taken the liberty of picking out some of the best ones for you.

Sony has had an odd relationship with Ultra HD Blu-ray over the past couple of years. While the likes of Samsung and Panasonic dived headlong into supporting the new 4K disc standard, Sony held back, a decision made a little surprising given its history with physical media. 

After all, Sony threw its support behind both DVD and Blu-ray by including players in its PlayStation consoles – effectively sneaking them into millions of households that might not have otherwise bothered to make the upgrade. 

In classic Sony fashion, once its debut UBP-X800 appeared, it was a lovely little player with the added benefit of supporting SACD, DVD-A, and Hi-Res Audio files. It seemed like  the extra time in the over had done great things for the player. 

Unfortunately there was just one thing missing, and that was support for the Dolby Vision HDR standard – which has started to appear on a small handful of discs and which we’ve been very impressed with indeed

Thankfully, Sony has remedied this with the UBP-X700. Announced at CES 2018, it's an Ultra HD Blu-ray player that now includes support for Dolby’s 12-bit, scene-by-scene mastered, HDR tour-de-force. 

The HDR10+ problem

There’s just one problem though, and that’s that while Sony has been busy integrating Dolby Vision and new standard, named HDR10+, has crept out. This CES the new standard was accepted into the UHD Blu-ray spec, and Panasonic had a new player ready to support it. 

Shifting goalposts doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

With no HDR10+ Blu-ray discs having been released, and with future adoption of the standard still in flux, we don’t yet know whether Sony’s UBP-X700 will miss HDR10+ much, but with the world of physical media increasingly serving a premium enthusiast niche it could prove to be a problem. 

Fingers crossed that Sony takes a similar attitude to HDR10+ as it did with Dolby Vision on its TVs where it added support via a firmware update a few months after release. 


Mon, 08 Jan 2018 21:39:58 +0000
Sony embraces Dolby Vision with its latest Ultra HD Blu-ray player
The UBP-X700 comes packing support for the premium HDR standard, but misses out on HDR10+ support.

Panasonic, a member of the HDR10+ Alliance battling against Dolby Vision for 4K supremacy, is supporting the HDR10+ metadata format on two of its new Blu-ray players, the company announced at CES 2018

What's more, and somewhat surprisingly, Panasonic is also supporting rival format Dolby Vision on its highest-end player, the UB820. The company's other two released 4K models, the UB420 and UB330, only support HDR10+ and HDR10, respectively. 

In fact, none of Panasonic’s TVs actually support Dolby yet. Owners of non-Panasonic, Dolby-enabled sets may have the most to gain from the UB820, as they can hedge their bets on both dynamic 4K formats until one or the other wins out.

Panasonic’s Blu-ray players use a Hollywood Cinematic Experience (HCX) engine that optimizes “chroma processing”, meant to apparently make the colors of UHD films as close to theater-quality as possible for high-end TVs.

For lower-quality TV sets, this Blu-ray line has an Optimum HDR Processor that scales discs and streams to match their lower capacity for color or contrast. Because most SDR or low-end HDR sets cut off any hues or brightness beyond their maximum settings, the UB820 and UB420 scale these traits back inside the player instead, matching the TV’s capacity so the full video range is preserved.

The UB820 and UB840 also achieve high-quality sound with a 7.1 channel audio output and twin HDMI ports to isolate video and audio. And all three sets support 4K video-on-demand.

Place your bets

As with Dolby and HDR10+, Panasonic isn’t risking going all-in on one virtual assistant. With any Google Assistant- or Amazon Alexa-enabled device, Blu-ray owners will be able to start, stop, and fast forward films with ease. 

The company also plans to expand VOD features to opening and controlling native apps; Forbes reports that the players will support Netflix, YouTube and, in some territories, Amazon video.

All three sets are due to come out this spring. But it’s unclear for now what kind of Blu-ray discs Panasonic owners will be buying for their players. As of yet, there aren't any HDR10+ discs on sale; you'll only find HDR10+ videos via streaming sites like Amazon.

Dolby format is supported by a majority of Hollywood studios, but Warner Bros. just announced it will remaster all of their 4K content for HDR10+. Industry experts say that Blu-Ray discs can’t support Dolby and HDR10+ format simultaneously due to their size, so the company may choose to support one over the other on its new discs in the near future. 


Thu, 04 Jan 2018 08:18:47 +0000
Panasonic's new Blu-ray players are the first to support HDR10+
Panasonic is pushing HDR10 to the limit with its new players, but hedging its bets with Dolby Vision on its top model.

The Indian television market is no stranger to 4K televisions. Yet, 2017 was perhaps the year when these became mainstream.

To be fair, these TVs are yet to take over the market, but with more and more brands making cheaper 4K TVs, it seems only a matter of time now. The high end TVs from Sony, Samsung and LG are still out of reach for everyone, but one could expect these to become cheaper in 2018 and beyond.

Sony announced its Bravia A1 television last year, competing with LG in the OLED market. Samsung's answer to these OLED panels was with its own QLED technology. Needless to say, there's really a lot happening in the television market, and we're here to help you make the right choices.

  1. Sony Bravia A1 OLED
  2. LG C7 OLED
  3. Samsung QLED Q8C
  4. Sony Z9D
  5. Samsung Frame TV

Sony's Bravia A1 series is its first foray into the OLED market, unveiled at CES last year. The televisions made it to India in July 2017 and have reigned supreme, in terms of performance, since then. Sony uses Acoustic Surface technology to deliver excellent audio despite the TV's thin form factor. That, combined with the absolute best picture quality you can get today, makes this the best television to buy in the market. If you can afford it that is. 

Read the full review: Sony A1E OLED 

LG's televisions used to be the best till Sony came along with its OLED TVs. Yet, the LG OLED C7 is a TV that many will like. It's thin, good looking and runs on the company's WebOS platform. While LG's TVs may not equal Sony's in picture quality, that's very tough to determine unless you're comparing side by side. At the same price range, we wouldn't be surprised if you're conflicted between these two.

Read the full review: LG OLED C7

The Samsung Q8C runs on the company's QLED technology, and its highlight is in punchy colours and high contrast. Much like the two TVs mentioned above, this one also supports HDR playback, though it lacks Dolby Vision support right now.

The QLED Q8C is also curved and combined with Samsung's no-gap wall mount, it's an excellent addition to any media center. It's suited to anyone looking for a high end TV that adds to your living room's aesthetics too.

Read the full review: Samsung Q8C QLED

With 500 dimming zones, the Sony Z9D is without a doubt the most value for money television amongst high-end offerings. It supports HDR playback and provides picture quality that could rival the best OLED televisions on the market today, including Sony's own Bravia A1.

The Z9D also provides decent audio quality, and is loud enough for small to medium sized rooms too.

Read the full review: Sony Z9D

The Samsung Frame is perhaps the most beautiful television on the market right now. It's meant to look like a piece of art, and for the most part it does that job admirably. The television comes with a built in art collection and is built to look like a picture frame. Samsung has compromised picture quality, but that's only compared to the absolute high end TVS out there. The Frame is cheaper than those though, and you really have to see it to believe it.


Sat, 30 Dec 2017 00:11:00 +0000
The best 4K TVs of 2018 in India
TVs with 4K resolution are slowly catching up in India. And these are the best televisions to buy if you're going for that.

The Apple TV is a neat device that turns any TV into a Smart TV and you've come to the right place if you're looking for Apple TV deals, including all the latest information on how to buy the new Apple TV 4K.

You'll be able to stream online content from major apps like Netflix and iPlayer, and there's a huge wealth of App store and iTunes content to enjoy on the big screen too. For the older Apple TV units, there is no native app for Amazon Instant Video though. Thankfully, Apple and Amazon have called a truce for the upcoming Apple TV 4K, which will finally see the Netflix rival join Apple TV.

The new Apple TV 4K is available now from $179/£179. The fourth generation Apple TV (aka the 2015 model) usually costs around $149/£139 for the 32GB version, so you shouldn't pay any more. We'll run through the best deals for the 3rd and 4th generation models too. The outdated older-gen models have been discontinued, so we haven't included them in the roundup. 

Apple is remarkably slow to the 4K streaming race and hasn't done itself any favours by coming in with the most expensive price compared to the Amazon Fire TV, or the best Roku deals and Chromecast Ultra deals.

Apple TV 4K deals

Talk about being late to the party! Fans of all things Apple have been waiting for a Ultra HD Apple TV 4K for a few years now while the likes of Amazon, Roku and Google have all beaten the Cupertino firm to the punch. Apple TV 4K is finally available to buy though.

The Apple TV 4K has some catching up to do, but will come with 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. The inclusion of Amazon Instant Video support means this could become your new all-in-one device if you're already settled into the Apple ecosystem. It can go one better than the competition too thanks to Dolby Vision support, not that there's a huge amount of DV content yet. Apple TV 4K prices start at $179, £179, AU$249 for the 32GB version, then $199, £199, AU$279 for the 64GB  model.

Cheap Apple TV deals

Apple TV 4th gen (2015) deals

The 2015 version of Apple TV is on sale now and was seen as the best yet in the series before the Apple TV 4K came along. An updated remote control with a touchpad and a Siri-friendly microphone will make iPhone users feel right at home. There are 32GB and 64GB models available. The 32GB Apple TV should be enough for most users, especially if you're mainly going to stream media.

Cheap Apple TV deals

Apple TV 3rd gen deals

You can save a lot of money if you're willing to opt for the older third generation Apple TV. This was the first Apple TV to feature 1080p, so you're still set for full HD loveliness. The remote control is a bit dated compared to the new Siri-friendly one on the 4th gen machine, but you still have the option of using the AirPlay app on an iPad/iPhone instead. There's no on-board storage, so this model is strictly for streaming only. This version has an optional optical out audio connection - a feature cut from the 2015 model for some reason.


Sat, 30 Dec 2017 00:08:00 +0000
The best Apple TV deals in the January sales 2018
Our guide for the very best Apple TV prices is updated and checked every day.

In a video streaming world dominated by Netflix, Amazon, Google and Apple among others, Roku is the plucky underdog that continues to hold its own. Now is a great time to get a discounted Roku deal too.

The Roku is a media streaming box that plus into your TV via an HDMI port. It turns any old TV into a super smart one, adding Netflix, Amazon, Spotify and Now TV streaming, screen mirroring, game playing and on the latest versions, 4K and HDR playback.

The Roku family is your one-stop shop for all your streaming needs without tying you in to any particular service or app store.

The Roku Premiere+ and Roku Express in particular are two of our absolute favourite living room devices. If you're thinking of picking one of these up, we couldn't recommend them more highly. By comparison, you could check out our Chromecast deals  or Amazon's Fire TV and Fire TV stick prices.

Here are the best Roku deals currently available...

Roku Streaming Stick Plus deals

A tiny yet superb 4K streaming device

Roku continues to give rival streaming devices something to worry about as the new Roku Streaming Stick Plus is super modern, super small and, most importantly, super cheap. Not to mention, unlike many of the older models on this page it's been released in the UK too. Now Brits can finally join the 4K Roku party like the US has been enjoying for years! You're even getting HDR content from supported apps too.

Roku Premiere+ deals

The best value 4K HDR streaming device

The Roku Premiere+ is the best intersection of value and performance for a 4K streaming player available right now. It's a capable piece of hardware and the Plus version includes HDR (High Dynamic Range) playback over the older Premiere model. An optional ethernet connection enables smooth 4K HDR streaming if your Wi-Fi isn't quite up to the task. We're loving the option for private listening via the headphones plugged into the remote too. Note: This Roku was not released in the UK. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

Roku Premiere deals

An excellent 4K streaming device

This standard Roku Premiere lacks a few key features compared to the Roku Premiere+ above. Say goodbye to HDR and ports for an ethernet connection and MicroSD card. You can't plug headphones into the remote either. As a 4K streamer, this is a bargain, but we'd advise opting for the Plus model as the aforementioned features are a steal for a few dollars more. You might find 4K streaming a smoother experience when cabled in instead of Wi-Fi too. This Roku was not released in the UK either. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below. 

Roku Ultra deals

The one with all the features

The Roku Ultra is the most feature-packed of all the Roku media streamers. It has all the quality 4K and HDR streaming and ports of the Roku Premiere+. So what do you get for the extra cash? The remote control gets the most attention on the Ultra as it can be used for voice search, it has extra buttons to make it a handy game controller and there's even a little speaker to help you find it via a button on the console. There's also a USB storage slot and an optical out audio port. So, handy extras, but the Premiere+ is arguably better value for money. This Roku was not released in the UK either. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

roku 4 deals

Roku 4 deals

Once the Roku champion, now usurped by the Roku Ultra

The 4K-capable Roku 4 is slowly being phased out by the newer Roku Ultra. The two streaming devices are largely similar in terms of features, but the Roku Ultra is arguably the one to go for as it features enhanced sound and allows for HDR (High Dynamic Range) streaming too. With the Ultra generally costing the same, or maybe $15 more at most, we'd go for that one first for a bit of future-proofing. Note: This Roku was not released in the UK. So don't expect many (if any) UK prices below.

roku 3 deals

Roku 3 deals

The Roku 3 is the best Roku model available in the UK

Where the Roku 3 really scores is in its wonderful usability, be it the blazing processor speed or the improved functionality the hardware tweaks have bestowed upon it. It's responsive, simple and not beholden to a proprietary content library. Whether you're looking for a streaming box to help you cut the cord, or augment your cable subscription, the Roku 3 has the features, build quality and simplicity you're looking for. US buyers may want to pay a little bit more for the Roku Premiere instead and get 4K streaming.

Roku Express deals

The best entry-level streamer

For US buyers, this is the cheapest Roku family member. The Roku Express is newer and cheaper than the Roku Streaming Stick and does all the same jobs. If you want tot turn any HDMI TV into a Smart TV for as little as possible - this is for you. Although, the Quad-Core enabled Roku Streaming Stick does fun a bit faster. It's not for you if you live in the UK though, but you can still buy the similar Roku Streaming Stick below.

Roku streaming stick deals

Roku Streaming Stick deals

It's a Roku streamer in HDMI-stick form like a Chromecast

It's not quite as affordable as the Chromecast, but it has more of the apps that people want right now, including Amazon Instant Video. That's significant because Amazon often has cheaper HD movie rentals than other services. There are a number of new streaming devices out right now, but the the Roku Streaming Stick stands as the most efficient way to make a normal HDTV into a smart TV without springing for a pricier set-top box. Newer models have surpassed this one though and it's increasingly hard to get hold of in the UK. In all honesty, we'd opt for the Roku Streaming Stick Plus (near the top of this list) as it's not that much more expensive at all and can show 4K HDR content.


Sat, 30 Dec 2017 00:06:00 +0000
The best Roku deals in the January sales 2018
If you're after a new Roku, we've found all of the best deals so you can get the cheapest price.

The Google Chromecast is not only one of the most useful and innovative gadgets of the last few years, it's also dazzlingly cheap. And if you're looking to pick one up for the cheapest possible price, you've come to the right place! We usually see some decent discounts at this time of year too.

Chromecast is a Wi-Fi HDMI dongle that you plug directly into your TV. From there you can use your smartphone or tablet to 'throw' video at your TV over Wi-Fii, whether it be Netflix movies, live football matches from the major broadcasters or simply just a funny YouTube video. On this page we'll find you the best prices for the Chromecast Ultra, Chromecast 2 (or just Chromecast now) and Chromecast Audio and explain how they differ.

With prices already incredibly cheap, there's no need to hang on for the sales. If you're in the UK or US and would prefer to stream content from a standalone box, you should take a look at the latest Roku deals.

What is a good Chromecast deal?

This one's easy. The standard price for a Chromecast 2 is $35 in the USA, £30 in the UK and $58 in Australia. You should never, ever pay more than that because you can always find one for that price.

cheap chromecast deals

Chromecast 2 deals

The Chromecast 2, or 'new Chromecast' as it's also known, is very similar to the now discontinued 2013 Chromecast. Sure, it looks a little different. And it's got slightly faster network performance and a few other tweaks such as coming with a dangly cable instead of as a rigid stick. But essentially the same product in a different shape - that's why the prices were basically the same. If you can find one for the same price, get this new one.

cheap chromecast audio deals

Chromecast Audio deals

While it doesn't offer true multi-room streaming at the moment (fingers crossed that comes soon), this easy-to-use and affordable device modernizes any trusty set of wired speakers you already own with wireless capabilities. In doing so, it also opens them up to features that will grow and get even better over time. Got an old set of speakers or an ancient iPod dock? Turn it into a wireless speaker with Chromecast Audio!

cheap chromecast ultra deals

Chromecast Ultra deals

The 4K Chromecast Ultra is the newest member of the Chromecast family. If you have a 4K TV or are planning on getting one, it's certainly worth picking one of these up. The Chromecast Ultra is a cheaper alternative to Amazon's Fire TV or the US-only Roku 4 for getting 4K content on your TV. Chromecast Ultra deals are usually around £69/US$69/AU$95, so anything cheaper is an added bonus.


Tue, 19 Dec 2017 21:10:56 +0000
The best Chromecast deals in the January sales 2018
We check Chromecast prices from thousands of retailers every day so you always get the cheapest deals.

Update: YouTube TV is expanding. Again. This time the service is coming to a whopping 34 new metropolitan areas, including New Orleans, Green Bay, San Diego and San Antonio. That brings the total number of markets to a record-high 83. 

If that's not enough, YouTube TV will also be getting Roku, Apple TV and Roku apps in the first half of 2018. 

Original article continues below... 

YouTube TV is hoping to re-shape the cord-cutting movement - and it has good reason to believe that can happen. After all, YouTube was the biggest name in video streaming long before Hulu, Netflix and Amazon ever thought to get into the video-on-demand game. 

The service is essentially a cable replacement, offering live TV to your phone, tablet and television without a costly cable subscription and contract.

It's a deal that feels too good to be true for those of us bombarded by cable box rental fees, hidden charges and ever-higher cable bills. And while it has some negatives out there - like being available in just 83 cities across the US - it could one day put cable companies in their place.

How to watch YouTube TV

YouTube TV is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, meaning you can stream app video content to your television, too.

That makes both the Chromecast and Apple TV compatible by extension, and Google confirmed in September that it's working on both an Android TV and Roku app for YouTube TV. 

Now, it's also worth pointing out that to access YouTube TV, not only are you going to need a subscription to the service but also an internet service plan from one of your local ISPs (for most folks, that's AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon).

This is something most folks pay for already and therefore hasn't been figured into the cost of YouTube TV - but it's worth noting nonetheless. 

Why YouTube TV is new, but important

Why is YouTube TV going to be big? Well, while PlayStation Vue and Sling TV had to carve out a new audience for their products, YouTube TV already has one – one billion users that live in 88 countries and speak 76 different languages. 

Sure, both Sony and DISH are large corporations, but do they have one billion people using their products to stream videos every year? Not likely.

OK, so YouTube TV is going to be big, you get that. But what exactly is YouTube TV and why should you care? Let’s talk about it. 

What is YouTube TV? 

YouTube TV is a US-exclusive live TV streaming service – think Netflix but instead of on-demand TV shows and movies you’ll see cable channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN and Disney among many, many more. It’s like cable in the sense that everything is divided by channel and, yes, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for it, but the difference here is that you’ll be able to take shows whenever and wherever you go. 

Well, sort of. Because YouTube TV has mainstream local stations (NBC, ABC, FOX, etc...), it initially launched in a few cities and then expanded out into other regions – similar to how PlayStation Vue started. 

Loading up the service for the first time, we were recommended shows like Archer, The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and many more. We easily found enough content to keep us entertained for the time-being, plus will have plenty to watch next time we log-on thanks to YouTube TV's stellar Cloud DVR. 

Cloud DVR, if you've never heard that term before, allows you to record your favorite shows as they air and save them, well, to the cloud so that you can watch them later. It’s TiVo, but everything’s online. YouTube TV promises unlimited storage for shows for up to nine months – a serious advantage over the competition which usually only offer 28 days of storage.

YouTube TV on every device? We hope so.

Also, unlike Sling TV which wants you to buy a more expensive package to allow more than one user to watch TV at a time, YouTube says that its service will allow up to six people in the family to access the service and will allow up to three of them tune into the service simultaneously on the same account – a big advantage when you’re looking to replace cable and you have a big family.

The other thing we know about YouTube TV is its price: $35 a month. For comparison, that’s slightly more expensive than Sling TV’s basic $20-per-month package and a few dollars less than PlayStation Vue’s basic $39 package that includes local stations like CBS, NBC, etc…

Cut to the chase

What channels are included?

First off, all the mainstream local channels are on-board: NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. That means every NFL game up to and including the Super Bowl, are yours to watch every Sunday. AMC has also signed on, which means you'll still be able to get your Walking Dead fix on Sundays.

Beyond the local stuff, you’ve got all the channels that fall under the umbrella of those companies – i.e. ESPN, CSN, FOX Sports, USA, FX, Disney, E!, Bravo, SyFy, FXX, National Geographic, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC and more. 

Here's the complete picture of every channel so far.

On top of all those channels shown above, you’ll also get access to YouTube’s own network of shows, YouTube Red Originals. Shows on this ‘network’ (a term we use very lightly here) include Scare PewDiePie and exclusive films that you’ve probably never heard of. This really isn’t a huge draw for most people, but hey, maybe the money that comes in from YouTube TV can be used to crank up the quality of this content to near-Netflix levels.

Now, like Amazon Video, you can actually tack on additional premium stations for an extra fee. Right now the list of premium offerings include FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime, which cost around $10 extra per month. 

OK, so who’s missing so far? Well, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, MTV and TNT aren’t there, which is a bit of a bummer, and there aren’t as many channels for kids on YouTube TV as there are on Sling TV – a potential problem for parents. 

HBO hasn’t signed up for the service yet either, which is strange considering that it peddles its wares on Amazon Video, but then again you can always subscribe to HBO Now if you really need your Game of Thrones on the go. 

How is it different than YouTube Red?

This can be sort of confusing, so listen up. YouTube Red is an ad-free version of YouTube that has a few fun features like allowing you to keep a video playing even when your phone is turned off. A subscription to YouTube Red also gives you access to the YouTube Red Originals channel that we talked about earlier. 

What YouTube Red won't allow you to do is watch live TV or cable TV content. For that you'll need YouTube TV. 

YouTube TV, like YouTube Red, will start as a US-only service and then might possibly expand out into other territories. YouTube wants to roll its Red service out to the UK sometime in 2017, but it's facing problems doing so. It's more than likely YouTube TV would follow in that path, unfortunately. 

Is there some crossover potential here between these two services? Absolutely. Maybe a subscription to YouTube TV also nets you a free subscription to Red. But we'll just have to wait to find out more from YouTube if that's the case. 

Is YouTube TV a better deal than cable? 

That’s a good question. The answer here is ‘maybe’. Depending on how your cable service provider packages its internet and cable bundles. If you’re already paying for internet service, you can tack on an extra $30 for YouTube TV and maybe a $10-per-month subscription to Netflix and have just as much content as you’d have from a cable TV service that usually run $60-70 per month. 

That being said, if you’re paying for one of those bundles that allows you to package cable, internet and phone service together for a lower price, YouTube TV might not come out to be any less. 

You're still going to need cable (or HBO Now) for your Game of Thrones fix

The benefits of going for a streaming service over a cable service are the ability to watch shows wherever you go, the potential to use Cloud DVR to save shows for later and the no-obligations contract that allows you to cancel your account without a termination fee. On top of everything else, you don’t need to rent a cable box from companies like Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T, because the streaming service comes in through whatever device you’re using. 

In short, YouTube TV can offer as many channels as basic cable does, without the need for a cable box and 12-month contract, which is why we consider it a win. It does all that and offers Cloud DVR, is available a plethora of apps for devices like Roku, Apple TV and the various game consoles and does video-on-demand, making it one of the best streaming services on the planet. 

So, when can you watch it? Right now. Just head over to tv.youtube.com to start your free trial.


Tue, 19 Dec 2017 04:53:56 +0000
YouTube TV: Everything you need to know about the TV streaming service
YouTube TV is available right now. So what is it? How does it work? We’ve got the answers.

Ho ho ho! It's that time of year again! You know, the time where families all around Australia get together to eat, drink, be merry, open presents and suffer through the sweltering summer heat while watching winter-set Christmas movies! 

Now, thanks to the magic of streaming, it's possible to watch a number of classic holiday movies on demand – right from the air-conditioned comfort of your living room. It's a Christmas miracle!

To make this the most holly jolly Xmas ever, we've taken the liberty of browsing Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and Foxtel Now in order to curate the perfect list of seasonal films to watch these holidays. Without further ado, here are the best Christmas-themed movies currently streaming in Australia. 

Every year around this time, people continue to ask the very easy to answer question: is Die Hard a Christmas movie? The answer, obviously, is yes. Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a New York cop who travels over to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with the family he's separated from. While visiting his wife's Christmas party in the Nakatomi Plaza, a group of terrorists take the building under siege, and now, it's up to John to save everybody. A definitive action classic, Die Hard sits alongside Lethal Weapon as one of the best holiday-set action movies ever made. 

Die Hard is available on Foxtel Now

Will Ferrell is delightful as Buddy, a human raised by Elves who travels from the North Pole to New York in an effort to reunite with his biological father, played here by James Caan. It's also from director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), so this isn't your usual throwaway Christmas comedy. Both silly and moving, Elf is the kind of Christmas movie that everyone in the family can enjoy. 

Elf is available on Netflix and Stan

Billy Bob Thornton isn't your ordinary Santa. In fact, the guy he plays here is a total scumbag in pretty much every sense of the word – which is what makes him so hilarious when dealing with impressionable children! Things start to change (slightly) when he meets a troubled kid who could do with a role model. Crass and not for the easily offended, Bad Santa is the perfect Christmas movie for people who hate Christmas movies.

Bad Santa is available on Netflix

The film that (briefly) made Macaulay Culkin a star, Home Alone is one of the most fun and inventive Christmas movies ever made. When the McCallister family accidentally leaves him at home for the Christmas holidays, Kevin (Culkin) thinks his wishes have come true. Though he initially loves that his annoying family isn't around, that joy is short-lived – a pair of burglars called the Wet Bandits have plans on robbing his home, and now Kevin must get creative and booby trap his entire home in order to keep them out. 

Home Alone is available on Foxtel Now

Starring the legendary entertainer Bing Crosby, you'd be forgiven for thinking that his classic song, White Christmas, was made for this film. In fact, that song was released 12 years earlier, showing just how much of a lasting impact the song has enjoyed since its release in 1942. A wonderful musical comedy for the whole family, White Christmas is the very definition of a classic Xmas movie.

White Christmas is available on Netflix

Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is perhaps the most beloved Christmas movie of all. James Stewart plays a depressed businessman who wishes he'd never been born at all. An angel hears his wish, and decides to show him what life would be like for his family and friends if he'd never existed at all. At once terribly sad and then tremendously heartwarming, It's a Wonderful Life is impossible to dislike.

It's a Wonderful Life is available on Amazon Prime Video

Loosely based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Scrooged sees Bill Murray do what he does best: play a hilarious jerk who eventually learns how to be a good person. While not immediately loved at the time of its release (a large part is due to its humour being quite silly), it has since developed a bit of a following, with people realising that Bill Murray is simply great at this kind of thing. Funny and touching.

Scrooged is available on Netflix

The Brits are great at Christmas-set romantic comedies (see The Holiday), but their best and most memorable is arguably Love Actually, which is from the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. The film follows eight different couples living in London in the lead up to Christmas, each with their own love-based entanglements to deal with. A hilarious and sweet Christmas flick. Watch it with someone you love.

Love Actually is available on Stan

Not every Christmas movie is a jolly ol' time! On the contrary, some people want their holiday movies tinged with horror. For those unfamiliar with the folkloric figure known as Krampus, this half-goat, half-demon is like the opposite of Santa Claus, in that he punishes naughty children by eating them. Starring Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding), Krampus does have a slight comedic tone at times, but don't be fooled – this is one scary flick with a killer ending. Maybe send the kids to bed before watching this one!

Krampus is available on Netflix

The stories of Dr Seuss hold a special place in the hearts of many generations, and this adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a spot-on take on this classic material. As the titular Grinch, Jim Carrey gives one of his most memorable performances under an enormous amount of makeup and in a huge furry green costume. Though the Grinch spends his time trying to make the citizens of Whoville miserable, a young girl (Taylor Momsen) attempts to befriend this monster to melt his frozen heart. A fantastic and family-friendly Christmas movie. 

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available on Amazon Prime Video


Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:45:56 +0000
Best Christmas movies: 10 best Xmas films to stream these holidays
Get into the holiday spirit with these classic Christmas films, now streaming in Australia.

UPDATE: The second season of Wolf Creek is available on Stan – find out more about it on the next slide!

Anyone who's used the streaming service Stan knows that there's a veritable smorgasbord of great content available to stream at any given moment, which can make the decision of what to watch an overwhelming prospect.

This is why we've created the TechRadar guide to the greatest TV shows on Stan right now (in no particular order). We'll keep this best TV show list constantly updated with the latest television shows that you should be watching and also tell you why.

A few years ago, it would've been unthinkable to imagine that one of Australia's highest quality television shows would be small screen version of Wolf Creek, complete with the legendary John Jarratt returning to the character that made him an international star. But thanks to Stan, that's exactly what's happened, and now we've got a second season to sink our teeth into. The first season followed a woman whose family was murdered by the Outback serial killer Mick Taylor (Jarratt), leading to an epic game of cat and mouse between the two. Now, Mick is back, and this time he's set his deadly gaze on a bus full of tourists. Who will survive and what will be left of them? You'll have to watch to find out!

Seasons on Stan: 2

It's hard to argue with 12 seasons (and counting) and an enormously devoted fanbase – Supernatural is sometimes dark, sometimes fun and sometimes spooky fantasy show that follows the Winchester brothers as they travel around hunting demons, ghosts and creatures of all kinds. What's not to like? With its leading actors sharing an incredible chemistry that makes them come across as real brothers, Supernatural is the kind of show that fans of Buffy and Angel would totally get a kick out of. With so many episodes already available, Supernatural is the perfect binge-worthy show for fans of all things creepy and mysterious. 

Seasons on Stan: 12

An Amy Poehler-led comedy series that made stars out of Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation follows Leslie Knope (Poehler), an ambitious Parks Department worker who consistently tries to make her small town a better place. Unfortunately for her, she is usually impeded by her disinterested boss, Ron Swanson (Offerman), as well the usual governmental bureaucracy that stands in the way of change. Fans of shows like The Office and 30 Rock will love Parks and Recreation.

Seasons on Stan: 7

A trailblazing series that fostered equality during its initial run, Will & Grace has returned in 2017 with the reunion that fans of the sitcom have been wanting for years. The show follows a gay lawyer named Will (Eric McCormack) and his straight interior decorator roommate Grace (Debra Messing) as they struggle to find love in New York. Along for the ride are Will's flamboyant friend, Jack (Sean Hayes), and Grace's well-off assistant, Karen (Megan Mullally). The new series beings the foursome directly into today's turbulent political climate with expectedly zany results. On top of being the exclusive Australian home of the new Will & Grace series, Stan also hosts all eight seasons of the original series, so fans will be able to binge their hearts out. Now, if we could only get a Friends reunion...

Seasons on Stan: 9

An ambitious sci-fi anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams adapts ten of the famous author's short stories for the small screen. Even if his name is unfamiliar to you, chances are you've watched one of the many films adapted from Dick's classic works, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly. Available exclusively through Stan in Australia, Electric Dreams tells a different story each episode, and has an incredible cast including Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, Anna Paquin and Bryan Cranston, who also acts as executive producer. A thought-provoking series that tackles a number of important ethical and political issues, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams has all the makings of a new science fiction classic. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

A refreshing Australian comedy/drama series, The Other Guy has more in common with the likes of Netflix's US series Master of None than just about any Australian show in recent memory. Starring comedian Matt Okine, The Other Guy tells dramatised versions of real relationship stories from Okine's own life – sometimes funny, other times heartbreaking, With terrific writing that focuses on character over punchlines, you should definitely give the Stan Original series The Other Guy a shot. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

A show with an absolutely killer premise, Dexter is a police procedural with a twist – what if the Miami P.D.'s most talented forensics expert was also the most notorious serial killer in the city's history? Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) can't help but indulge in his murderous urges, which involve chopping people up and collecting their blood for his microscope slide collection. However, thanks to the tutelage of his cop adoptive father (James Remar), Dexter is able to focus his bloodlust on people who deserve it, in this case, murderers of innocent people. But how long can Dexter remain undetected within his department? And will his detective sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) find out about his horrendous hobby? The first four seasons of Dexter are absolutely magnificent, and while the show takes a bit of a dive after that, it remains required viewing at all times. Bloody good.

Seasons on Stan: 8

From the surprising creative team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, more famous for writing comedies such as Pineapple Express and Superbad, comes Preacher, a violent adaption of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's classic comic series of the same name. Jesse (Dominic Cooper), a troubled Texas preacher with a criminal past, discovers that he has the power to speak as if channeling the voice of God, which in turn causes people to do whatever he says. Problem is, sometimes they take his words all too literally, often with gruesome consequences. To make matters worse, the arrival of an ex-girlfriend named Tulip (Ruth Negga) and a wise-cracking Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) threaten to push Jesse back over the edge into darkness. A slow burn horror show with a dark sense of humour, Preacher is now in its second season, with new episodes fast-tracked from the US. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

From Executive Producer Jim Carrey comes I'm Dying Up Here, a new dramedy series that follows a group of sardonic Los Angeles comedians in the '70s, all of which are hoping to get their big break, maybe even landing a couch spot on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Funny and quick-witted, yet sad and thoughtful, the show offers a glimpse into the struggle and dedication that goes into pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. As you'd expect from a Showtime series, the show does not shy away from the sex, drugs and hard-living lifestyles of its characters. Get on board this one early, because these kinds of shows have a tendency of not sticking around too long. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

Sure, the original Twin Peaks series has been on this list for quite some time, so you may be asking yourself why the much-hyped series return would warrant its own entry. Those who have seen the first episodes of the 2017 version however, can certainly attest to this being an entirely different animal indeed. Darker and more twisted than before, the new Twin Peaks eschews the soap opera stylings of the '90s version in favour of something more akin to co-creator David Lynch's cinematic accomplishments. Prone to long stretches without dialogue and numerous trip-out sequences, this Twin Peaks recalls Lynch's own films Lost Highway, Inland Empire and even his feature-length debut, Eraserhead. Of course, Lynch has also stated that his polarising Twin Peaks follow-up, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, is the key to understanding this new series, so that may offer some insight into what this new show is attempting to do. Both the original TV series and its cinematic sequel are available to stream on Stan, so you may want to catch up on those before jumping straight into this mind-bending revival. The new Twin Peaks is bound to divide audiences once again, but the only way you'll only know which side you fall on is to take the plunge into this tenebrous abyss. 

Seasons on Stan: 1

This wild series from Rob Thomas, the man behind Veronica Mars, has an absolutely unique premise – after having been turned into a zombie, Olivia "Liv" Moore (get it? Live more?) takes on a job at a morgue. With no control over her hunger, Liv takes starts eating the brains of murder victims, only to discover that this gives her a look into the final moments of the victims' lives. Now, her boss is encouraging her to eat brains, so that she can use her new-found powers to solve crimes (see? I told you this crazy show was unique). Based on a Vertigo comic, iZombie is one of the coolest new shows of year. Best of all, each new episode of the show is fast-tracked on Stan, with Season 3 having just kicked off in all its ghoulish glory.

Seasons on Stan: 4

One of the most successful and critically-acclaimed shows of all time, Breaking Bad follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high-school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer. With death on the horizon, Walter assumes the alter-ego Heisenberg and puts his chemistry knowledge to use in the production of crystal meth, with help from his drug dealing ex-student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). How far will Walter go to provide for his family, and will they even be around when all is said and done? Truly, one of the most riveting television shows to ever hit the small screen, Breaking Bad is essential viewing.

Seasons on Stan: 5

Possibly the most gorgeously grotesque show on television (American Horror Story doesn't even come close), Hannibal follows the world's most famous cannibal psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), as he attempts to evade discovery by his friends, FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and FBI director Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Fans of serial killer thrillers owe it to themselves to check out Hannibal, as the show manages to be even more horrifying than the Thomas Harris novels and films it's based on. It also happens to be the best-looking show currently on the air, with an operatic flair that puts most films to shame.

Seasons on Stan: 3

Due to the immense success of his previous show, Breaking Bad, creator Vince Gilligan was given the opportunity to create this prequel spin-off series set six years prior. The show follows the fan favourite character Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and the events of his life which led him to become the delightfully crooked lawyer we know and love. Similar in style and tone to Breaking Bad (though not quite as grim), Better Call Saul is a welcome continuation of a beloved franchise. Expect to see lots of familiar faces as the show progresses.

Seasons on Stan: 3

Following the exploits of a particularly low-rent community college, Community is a geeky, pop-culture obsessed delight. Community's homaging of all things movies, television and video games is spot on and incredibly realised, due to top notch direction, writing and performances. Best of all, the entire series is available on Stan, with new episodes appearing on the service as soon as they air in the United States.

Seasons on Stan: 6

Based on the terrific Stephen King novel of the same name, 11.22.63 is the story of Jake (James Franco), a high school teacher who is tasked with travelling back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK, thus preventing the Vietnam War from ever happening. Jake arrives 3 years before that fateful day and he'll need all that time to unravel the mystery and make sure he takes out the right target. Produced by JJ Abrams and with heavy involvement from King, 11.22.63 is a riveting thriller that will have you counting the days between each fast-tracked episode.

Seasons on Stan: 1

A western series set in the modern day, Justified sees tough-as-nails U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) return to his hometown of Kentucky to dole out some seriously old-school justice. He'll also have to deal with his old acquaintance Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), a petty criminal posing as a white supremacist who may or may not get a chance to turn his life around. Seriously good stuff.

Seasons on Stan: 6

We all fell in love with Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Joey and Phoebe during the '90s, and now we can revisit every single one of their hilarious antics exclusively on Stan! Completely remastered in HD and presented in widescreen, this is the definitive way to watch all 10 seasons of Friends – quite frankly, the fact that we're able to watch a '90s sitcom in this kind of quality is astounding. We wish all our favourite shows from yesteryear were treated with this kind of loving attention. Your move, Seinfeld!

Seasons on Stan: 10

Before he was the showrunner for Marvel's Daredevil, Steven DeKnight worked on the gratuitously violent and sexual series Spartacus. At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's nothing more to the show than meat-headed beefcakes fighting and screwing in a 300-aping manner, but there's so much more going on – we follow Spartacus (the late Andy Whitfield and his replacement, Liam McIntyre) as he is taken into slavery and forced to do cruel and unimaginable things in the gladiatorial arena, just waiting for the day that he can finally get his revenge on slave-owners Batiatus (John Hannah) and Lucretia (Lucy Lawless). All of this culminates in one of the most satisfying season finales in recent memory. Be warned – this show is filled with grotesque violence and an immense amount of sex and nudity. It's like Game of Thrones times ten.

Series on Stan: 4

If you're a devoted fan of the Evil Dead series of films, then Ash vs Evil Dead is enough to warrant a Stan subscription all on its own. Bruce Campbell returns as Ash, the heroic jackass who keeps letting 'Deadite' demons into the world, only to have to violently dispatch them with his trusty boomstick and chainsaw hand. Director Sam Raimi also returns, directing the visually spectacular pilot and producing with his partner since the beginning, Robert Tapert. Just as hilarious and gory as the movies that preceded it, Ash vs Evil Dead does not disappoint in the slightest.

Series on Stan: 2

Perhaps the greatest sitcom ever made, Seinfeld has finally made its way onto Stan in its entirety. Not only that, the "show about nothing" has been completely remastered, presented here in both widescreen and high definition – not bad for a sitcom from the early '90s! A revolutionary series that took a few seasons to initially catch on with audiences, Seinfeld follows a group eccentric and self-absorbed friends from New York who relentlessly pick apart the people they meet and the situations they happen to find themselves in – all in the observational style of comedy that made comedian and star Jerry Seinfeld famous in the first place . Featuring enough classic characters to give The Simpsons a run for its money, Seinfeld is required viewing for comedy fans. 

Seasons on Stan: 9

From creators Steve and Nancy Carell comes Angie Tribeca, a hilarious spoof comedy series that parodies modern cop procedural shows like CSI, Law and Order and NCIS with a nodding wink to Police Squad, The Naked Gun and Loaded Weapon 1. Rashida Jones is particularly fantastic as the titular detective, though the show is also filled with celebrity cameos, including Bill Murray and James Franco. Some may find the constant stream of goofy (and somewhat predictable) jokes a little overbearing, but if you long for the return of this kind of thing, you'll have an absolute blast with Angie Tribeca.

Seasons on Stan: 3

The CW has done a terrific job with its DC Comics properties, kicking off its own small screen DC Universe with the popular series Arrow. In the five years since that series came to be, the North American network has brought a number of interconnected DC shows into its stable, including Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. However, we'd argue that the strongest show in its impressive lineup is The Flash – it absolutely nails the Scarlet Speedster in a way that even the upcoming big screen version of the character looks unable to top. We put this down to Grant Gustin's incredibly charming and likeable performance as the fastest man alive, as well as the terrific ensemble cast that joins him on his adventures every week. Funny, dramatic, action-packed and filled with terrific visual effects work, The Flash is the best DC Comics show currently on television. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

A fantastic reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, the series Sherlock brings world's most famous detective (played magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch) to modern-day London where he solves crimes with his friend, Watson (Martin Freeman). Cumberbatch plays Sherlock with a borderline personality disorder, maybe even reaching into the realm of Asperger’s Syndrome. When combined with Watson's more grounded influence, the pair become an inseparable crime-solving duo. Exclusive to Stan, Sherlock is now in its fourth and final season, each consisting of three movie-length episodes. If you love these characters or British mystery shows in general, Sherlock is required viewing.

Seasons on Stan: 4

One of the most classic and mind-blowing television shows of all time, Twin Peaks redefined the general public's perception of what a television drama was supposed to be like. Creator David Lynch presented the world with a standard murder mystery scenario, which would go on to become more bizarre and out there with every episode. When popular high school student Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is found murdered, FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) arrives in the town of Twin Peaks with two agendas – to find out who killed her, and to eat some damn fine cherry pie. Peppered with a range of eccentric characters, Twin Peaks is one-of-a-kind. Also, with the new Twin Peaks reboot currently streaming on Stan, now's as good a time as any to get yourself caught up.

Seasons on Stan: 2

Those who've seen the Oscar-winning film Black Swan know just how cutthroat the world of professional ballet can be, with the immense pressure placed on dancers and the constant backstabbing that takes place. Flesh and Bone explores similar territory, following an incredibly talented ballerina named Claire (Sarah Hay) who at first seems uptight and sexually repressed, but is actually hiding some seriously dark secrets some deep emotional problems. Created by Moira Walley-Beckett (producer of Breaking Bad) and with direction from David Michôd (Animal Kingdom), Flesh and Bone is a beautiful, tragic and shocking show that is worth your time.

Seasons on Stan: 1

HBO's western series Deadwood was devastatingly cancelled before its time, but thankfully we can relive the show's harsh and brutal world on Stan in its entirety. Ex-lawman Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant, clearly loving his status as a modern day western hero) arrives in the lawless town of Deadwood to start a hardware business and provide for his dead brother's family. Before long, the crime and corruption of this town, headed by bar owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), forces Bullock back into the life he tried so desperately to leave behind. Deadwood is an utterly fantastic show.

Seasons on Stan: 3

A cop show with a difference, The Shield follows a tactical strike team headed by Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) that is as violent and corrupt as the street gangs it faces on a daily basis. Set in the fictional Los Angeles district of Farmington, Mackey and his crew (which includes Justified's Walton Goggins) must cover their tracks so that their ghastly exploits aren't discovered by detectives Claudette (CCH Pounder) and Dutch (Jay Karnes). Somewhat of a precursor to the show Sons of Anarchy, which also deals with gangs in a fictional Californian town, stars many of the same people and is also written by Kurt Sutter, The Shield is hard-hitting drama at its finest.

Seasons on Stan: 7

It's safe to assume that if you're reading this website, you're quite tech-savvy, so you'd probably have an intimate knowledge of what it's like to deal with computer illiterate people. The IT Crowd understands this frustration in a way that only those who've actually lived it can – and it's absolutely bloody hilarious. The show follows the misadventures of tech support officers Jen (Katherine Parkinson), Roy (Chris O'Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade), both in the office and out in the real world – spurred on in part by their eccentric boss, Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry). It's like a geeky, British version of Seinfeld.

Seasons on Stan: 4

With a hilarious partnership that began on the old sketch comedy series Mad TV, bi-racial comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele shot to superstardom with their own Comedy Central series, Key and Peele. Tackling a range of issues including relationships, race and celebrity, Key and Peele will leave no stone unturned in their quest to make you laugh uncontrollably. Featuring brilliant impersonations, observations and characterisations, Key and Peele is essential viewing for fans of sketch comedy.

Seasons on Stan: 5

If you're in your early thirties, chances are that Dawson's Creek played a significant part in your high school years. Whether you identified with these impossibly good-looking and verbose supposed teenagers, or you just had the hots for Dawson (James Van Der Beek), Joey (Katie Holmes), Jen (Michelle Williams) or Pacey (Joshua Jackson), Dawson's Creek was surprisingly compelling viewing for a teenage melodrama. Relive your youth by watching Dawson's Creek in its entirety on Stan.

Seasons on Stan: 6

Another show that was taken from us far too soon, Party Down is a comedy about group of out-of-work actors (and one hard science fiction writer) who are forced to take on jobs at a catering service. Each episode takes place at a different party, furthering the characters' relationships in the process. Featuring hilarious turns from Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Ken Marino and Jane Lynch, Party Down is most certainly the kind of show that deserves to be rediscovered on Stan.

Seasons on Stan: 2

Following on from director Shane Meadows' semi-autobiographical masterpiece This is England (also available to stream on Stan), This is England '86 and '88 see all of the film's cast members return to continue their characters' stories in the longer format of television. With the whole skinhead scene left behind them, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), Woody (Joseph Gilgun) and Lol (Vicky McLure) each try to find their place in the world, all to the backdrop of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Fans of the film will love these two follow-up shows, and if you haven't seen the movie they're based on, we highly recommend that, too. So far, only This is England '86 and '88 are available on Stan, though we expect that the third and final series, This is England '90, will eventually make its way to the service. 

Seasons on Stan: 2

Taking a page out of Netflix's successful playbook, Stan opted to produce its own original series this year in No Activity, a hilarious improvisational cop show in which almost nothing at all happens. Patrick Brammall and Darren Gilshenan play two detectives on stakeout who pass the time with oddball observations and banter. That's pretty much the entire gist of the series, though there is an overarching story in there, too. Highly recommended, Stan's first original series is a wonderfully inventive and funny show.

Seasons on Stan: 2

Before they hit the big time with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright made a splash with Spaced, a hilarious comedy series about a man (Pegg) and woman (Jessica Hynes) who pretend to be a professional couple in order to get a good deal on a flat. Not only would they have to keep up the facade, but they'd also have to deal with their crazy new neighbours. Filled with geeky references and the kind of quick-fire humour that made Pegg, Frost and Wright famous, Spaced is a delightful series that many people of a certain age will immediately empathise with. 

Seasons on Stan: 2


Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:38:55 +0000
The best TV shows to stream on Stan
Stan has an abundance of great TV shows on offer, so here's what you should be watching first.

We've been following Bright, the upcoming Netflix Original that re-teams Will Smith with his Suicide Squad director David Ayer, for a long time now. Thankfully, the wait is almost over, with the fantasy/cop movie mash-up set to drop on the service on December 22, 2017. 

Looking like a cross between Ayers' own police drama End of Watch and The Lord of the Rings (with a dash of Shadowrun thrown in for good measure), Bright sees Smith partner with the world's first Orc police officer to retrieve a an incredibly powerful magic wand before it gets into the wrong hands. 

While the trailer, which you can watch below, features some rehashed material, it does offer a better look at Noomi Rapace's warrior priestess character –though we still don't know which side she's on. 

We also get an exclusive first listen to 'Crown' – a new song from the Bright soundtrack performed by Camila Cabello & Grey. If that song isn't your cup of tea, Edgerton's character has an Orc love song that you might enjoy...



Latest Bright trailer shines light on warrior priestesses and Orc love songs
Netflix's fantasy cop movie starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton gets a third (and presumably final) trailer.
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