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  • Energy Regulator Acts to Improve Power Grid Security
  • With growing concern over nation-state cyber attacks comes an increasing need to secure the critical infrastructure. In the Quadrennial Energy Review published in January 2017, the U.S. Energy Departm
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • Booz Allen to Acquire AI-based Morphick
  • Contracting giant Booz Allen is to acquire cybersecurity firm Morphick. Few details have been made public -- there is no statement on the price involved nor the future of existing Morphick staff. Neve
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • Locky Uses DDE Attack for Distribution
  • While continuing to spread via spam emails sent by the Necurs botnet, the Locky ransomware has switched to new attack techniques in recent campaigns, in an attempt to evade detection and improve infec
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • Driving Security Orchestration with Your Cyber Threat Intelligence Playbook
  • A newish buzzword in the cybersecurity world is “orchestration”. Which to me is the junction where people, process and technology all come together. It's where people build automation into process
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • EquiFIX - Lessons Learned From the Most Impactful Breach in U.S. History
  • While Equifax is the latest major data breach to hit the headlines, we know it will not be the last. How prepared is your organization if you were similarly targeted? read more
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • Visa Makes Biometrics Easier for Financial Institutions
  • The acceptance and adoption of biometrics as a primary or second factor in multi-factor authentication has been considerably slower than expected. There are signs now, however, that it is finally gath
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • Google Prompt Now Primary Choice for 2-Step Verification
  • Google has taken yet another step toward improving the security of its users by making Google prompt the primary choice for 2-Step Verification (2SV), instead of SMS. read more
    Friday, October 20, 2017

  • New Mirai-Linked IoT Botnet Emerges
  • A new, massive botnet is currently recruiting improperly secured Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as IP wireless cameras, Check Point warns. read more
    Friday, October 20, 2017

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      » TechRadar: Video news

      • The best TV shows to stream on Stan
      • UPDATE: Parks and Recreation has made its way to Stan, immediately earning a place on our list of the best TV shows to stream on the service – find out why 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.

        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

        If you were ever worried that a TV version of the hit Australian slasher series Wolf Creek would pull its punches, you can take those fears and bury them in the desert – within its opening minutes, Mick Taylor (menacingly played to perfection by John Jarratt) has already decimated a vacationing family (including a child). The incident leaves a survivor in Eve (Lucy Fry), sending her on an ill-advised quest for vengeance. Featuring gloriously high production values and a great cast of supporting characters, Wolf Creek is sure to take horror fans on a spine-tingling trip through the darkest reaches of the Australian Outback. Just make sure to turn around and head in the opposite direction if you see Mick coming your way...

        Seasons on Stan: 1

        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


        Friday, October 20, 2017

      • Stream and scream with 13 scary flicks this Halloween
      • Looking for a monstrously good time this Halloween but don't want to leave the house? Well, what better way to celebrate this positively ghoulish time of year than to cosy up on the couch (or behind it) and have your own horror movie marathon?

        This year has seen SVOD kick off in Australia in a massive way, meaning that we have more horror movies to stream than ever before.

        Here are our recommendations for the top ten horror movies currently streaming on Australian SVOD services.

        Of course we have to start by picking the definitive movie to watch this time of year, John Carpenter's Halloween. Though it didn't create the American slasher sub-genre (that honour goes to Bob Clark's holiday horror, Black Christmas), Halloween was the first hugely successful movie of its kind, spawning several sequels and countless imitators. The film sees escaped mental patient Michael Myers stalk and kill a number of babysitting teens on Halloween night. Will fresh-faced teen Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) be able to survive this night of terror?

        Watch Halloween on SBS On Demand

        One of the more popular horror movies of recent times, 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 die horribly after it catches you. Oh, and if the person you pass it on to dies, it will come right back after you again. To make matters worse, 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. With a stylish atmosphere and a truly great synth score, It Follows is definitely worth your time this Halloween.

        Watch It Follows on Netflix

        The remake to the classic splatter flick The Evil Dead, this 2013 version takes the series in an even gorier direction than before. Director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) ratchets the tension by leaving out the slapstick comedy that the series ended up embracing from Evil Dead II onwards. Though no one in the cast can fill the Bruce Campbell-sized void left behind by the star's absence from this particular entry, the film is a slime-covered blast that puts its actors through hell regardless – just the way it should be. 

        Watch Evil Dead on Netflix

        One of the most notorious horror movies of all time, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has garnered a well-deserved reputation as one of the best examples of pure horror ever committed to celluloid. It's been named one of the 250 best films of all time by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine, and a print of the film is even part of New York City's Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. This drive-in classic sees a group of youngsters terrorised by a family of redneck cannibals, in particular, by a heavyset, chainsaw-wielding madman known as Leatherface. The fact that this film was shot on a shoestring budget with (mostly) first-time actors just makes the whole thing feel more terrifyingly real.

        Watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on SBS On Demand

        From Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, Marvel's Daredevil) comes an extremely-meta take on a well-worn  horror scenario. It all starts as you'd expect – a group of young people (including a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) take a break from college to go relax at a 'cabin in the woods' and before long, all hell breaks loose. What these kids don't know, however, is that a secret organisation is behind all of the horrors they're experiencing. To reveal any more than that would ruin the film's many surprises, so trust us when we say that The Cabin in the Woods is clever, hilarious, gory and a must-see for any self-respecting horror fan that wants to see their genre expectations flipped. 

        Watch The Cabin in the Woods on Stan

        If you love horror comedies, you'll be sure to get a kick out of the demented Netflix Original The Babysitter, from director McG (Charlie's Angels). It's not uncommon for young people to develop a crush on their babysitter, but what happens when that sitter turns out to be a sadistic, devil-worshipping killer with a group of equally psychotic friends? Gory and funny in equal measure, The Babysitter is destined to become a Halloween sleepover favourite amongst teenagers. 

        Watch The Babysitter on Netflix

        One of the most stylish and atmospheric horror movies ever made, Suspiria is the Dario Argento-directed shocker that every self-respecting horror fan should see at least once. It follows Suzy (Jessica Harper), a ballerina who travels to Berlin in order to study at a prestigious ballet academy. From day one, things do not seem right at this place, and quickly it becomes evident that the school is being run by a coven of murderous witches! With an incredible and truly iconic score from composer Goblin, as well as some of the most colourful cinematography and inventive camera work you'll ever see, Suspiria is a horror masterpiece. 

        Watch Suspiria on Stan

        He's been to Manhattan, then to Hell, only to eventually end up in outer space, but where Jason Voorhees really always belonged was Camp Crystal Lake. Thankfully, that's exactly where the hockey mask-wearing slasher was returned to in the Friday the 13th remake, released in 2009. Even people who don't like the film have to admit that bringing Jason back to his old stomping ground was the right decision, and here we get to see him cut down not one, but two groups of promiscuous college kids. Serves them right for having fun!

        Watch Friday the 13th on Netflix

        Though it was remade a couple years back, the original Carrie, directed by Brian De Palma, is a horror masterpiece that has the distinction of being the first movie adapted from one of Stephen King's novels. Thanks to a religiously domineering mother (Piper Laurie), Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a social outcast at school. Relentlessly tormented at home and at school, Carrie starts developing telekinetic powers as a means of defence. Things start looking up for Carrie when the most popular guy in school (William Katt) asks Carrie to go to the prom with him. However, her classmates have planned a prank on her on prom night that is sure to have explosive consequences. Featuring a young John Travolta in his first film role, Carrie is one of the best horror movies ever made.

        Watch Carrie on Stan

        A movie that has likely made countless tourists hesitant to travel across the Outback, Wolf Creek became a global sensation when it released back in 2005, with its memorably-ocker killer Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) gaining immediate admittance to the horror villain 'hall of fame' thanks to his bloodlust and his sick sense of humour. Loosely based on the Ivan Milat killings and the Bradley John Murdoch murder of English tourist Peter Falconio, Wolf Creek is a nail-bitingly intense horror film that some people may find hard to stomach.

        Watch Wolf Creek on Stan

        From Aussie director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) comes this spooky story of a family terrorised by a demonic presence. Inspired by (supposedly) true events from the lives of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring is a non-stop 'frightmare' that will have you covering your eyes on more than one occasion. And, if you enjoy this film, you can also follow it up with the equally-terrifying sequel, The Conjuring 2 – also available to stream on Netflix. 

        Watch The Conjuring on Netflix

        Another homegrown horror film for the list, The Babadook is one of the most critically-acclaimed horror films released in the last few years, making a huge splash overseas and winning a number of awards in the process. After losing her husband in a terrible accident, a mother has to come to grips her young son's intense fear of a (twisted) children's book monster that he believes is terrorising him. Though she dismisses his stories at first, his horrified reactions start to intensify, and before long, this evil presence known as The Babadook aggressively comes after her. Original, unpredictable and legitimately scary, The Babadook taps into every child's most primal fears, regardless of their age.  

        Watch The Babadook on Netflix

        A film that will make vegans cringe, Raw is a shocking new horror film from France that sees a young woman dared to eat raw meat for the first time as part of a veterinary school initiation. This causes her to develop an insatiable carnivorous hunger that sends her spiralling off the rails, maybe even into cannibalistic territory... Not for the squeamish.  

        Watch Raw on SBS On Demand


        Thursday, October 19, 2017

      • The best 4K TVs of 2017 in India
      • After a period of frantic progress in TV tech, things have thankfully calmed down  a little bit. 

        Whereas if you bought a new TV a couple of years ago you would have been left kicking yourself as 4K and HDR took over, nowadays you can rest assured that these technologies are going to stick around for a good number of years. 

        But just because a TV supports the latest and greatest tech, that doesn't mean it does it well. There's a large amount of variation in the quality of their interfaces, HDR, and physical design. 

        Our constantly updated list of the best 4K TVs is the best way to find a set that does what you need it to do without spending more money than you need to on extraneous features. 

        The world of TV buying can feel unapproachable when you're first getting into it, but give it some time and it will all make sense. Let's try and make your buying decision at least a bit easier with our picks for the best 4K TVs.

        Here's our current line-up, with details down below:

        1. LG C7 OLED
        2. Samsung Q9F
        3. LG E7 OLED
        4. Panasonic EX750
        5. Sony XE93
        6. Sony Bravia X9300E
        7. Samsung Q7F QLED
        • Need to give your TV's sound a boost? Check out our guide to the best soundbars available.

        At the top of our list for 2017 is the LG OLED C7 – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It's here because it delivers better brightness and light control than last year’s C6 (something we weren't sure was even possible), making it a high dynamic range performer that doesn't sacrifice OLED’s class-leading standard dynamic range capabilities. It delivers its new picture thrills at a price that finally makes OLED a financially viable alternative to top-end LCD sets  making it, beyond a doubt, one of 2017’s most irresistible TVs.

        There are other OLEDs worth considering this year but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2017.

        Read the full review: LG OLED C7

        Best 4K Tvs

        Samsung was the first brand to introduce an HDR-compatible screen way back in 2015, but it's not been resting on its haunches ever since. Not just this, Netflix itself recommends you to go for this TV as it's one of the finest in the league for 4K content streaming. 

        It'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 color striping in HDR colours, but in all other respects this is the best television around at the moment. 

        Read the full review: Samsung Q9F

        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. 

        However beyond its aesthetic appearance, the set delivers the same great picture quality we've come to expect from OLED, with blacks that are far darker than any you'll see from an LCD TV. 

        It's black levels were already impressive, but LG's development this year has been to boost the maximum brightness level that the set is capable of, resulting in images that really pop. 

        LG's flagship this year is 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. 

        For all those reasons and more, the E7 OLED is a worthwhile addition to any home theater.

        Read the full review: LG OLED E7

        It might not be OLED, but the Panasonic TX-50EX750 shows LCD still has a lot going for it in 2017. 

        Whites and colors generally are bright and clear, blacks are surprisingly black for an LCD and the overall form-factor is nice and simple (in a good way).

        The only question we have left is price. Panasonic wasn’t sharing pricing details when the set was revealed, but we’re hoping this provides a nice budget counter-argument to its high-end sets.

        Read the full review: Panasonic EX750

        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. Another amazing option for  those who love burning some serious  4K content, even Netflix says this TV is one of the finest to stream its content.

        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 XE93

        Android TV continues to frustrate, and there’s a backlight clouding price to pay for the TV’s high brightness levels. That said, Sony's X9300E series nonetheless improves on Sony’s 2016’s Slim Backlight Drive models in every way, delivering in the process some of the most spectacular pictures ever seen on a TV in 2017.

        Read the full review: Sony X9300E

        QLED is delivering on Samsung’s promise of better, brighter screens at a more affordable price, with the Samsung Q7F leading the charge as the manufacturer’s entry-level set. 

        Unfortunately, though, the Samsung Q7F QLED is an extraordinary TV hindered by ordinary issues. It’s one of the brightest, most colorful and we daresay one of the most enjoyable TVs to watch from Samsung in 2017. And while it would be nice to unequivocally recommend it, some damning black level performance, issues with off-axis viewing, audio and operating system performance keep on the most beautiful TVs from being one of this year’s best. 

        Read the full review: Samsung Q7F QLED TV


        Wednesday, October 18, 2017

      • The best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies
      • UPDATE: Ridley Scott's undisputed classic Blade Runner has been released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray – just in time for the cinema release of its sequel. Get the full rundown on the film's technical qualities on page 3!

        In our busy lives, it’s truly difficult to really make time to make it down to the cinema to watch It or Blade Runner 2049 in their full cinematic beauty, or lack thereof. However, with the best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, we can get surprisingly close to that theater experience from the comfort of our own living rooms.

        4K Ultra HD resolutions boast visual fidelity that’s about as high as movie watchers can experience today. And with high-dynamic-range (HDR), the color reproduction of movie images as well as the contrast between light and dark is really just night and day compared to standard-definition content. The result is a highly cinematic experience that will bring the movie theater to you and put streaming content to shame. 

        If you’ve already gone out and bought a TV capable of 4K HDR playback, you’ve likely already know that services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Youtube offer a great deal of 4K Ultra HD video content. Netflix may have their beloved Netflix Originals ready for your watching pleasure, but finding the newest and hottest movies in 4K Ultra HD with HDR will be a little more challenging. 

        So, while streaming platforms may offer a lot of awesome content to enjoy on your 4K TV, it could be awhile before these services match the content offering of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Plus, the quality of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies will be superior to what you’d get streaming the same video, as the audio and video aren’t compressed for more efficient delivery.

        With that in mind, we've constructed a list of the best and most-impressive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies currently available today. Each of the discs on this list, regardless of how good the films contained on them are, can be considered 'reference quality' and we've thoroughly tested each to ensure they're really 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 discs have made the list!

        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 impresses yet again with another stellar superhero-themed 4K disc, only this time, the movie in question is aiming for a sense of gritty realism, making it perfect for the Ultra HD treatment. 

        Right out of the gate, Logan's opening night-time sequence sets the tone for what we can expect from this HDR presentation. Despite being a low-light scene, we have no trouble seeing incredible detail in the desert surroundings and Logan's black limousine. 

        As far as colors go, 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 extraordinary in this presentation, with impressive HDR-enhanced highlights. 

        As the film progresses, 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 US or UK, you may have also received a 4K version of Logan Noir, a black and white presentation created exclusively for the film's home release. Unfortunately, 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

        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

        The Fate of the Furious

        The eighth film in the blockbuster Fast and Furious franchise sings the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to incredible HDR-enhanced colors, 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


        Tuesday, October 17, 2017

      • The best TVs for gaming on PS4 and Xbox
      • When the original Xbox One and PS4 consoles came out, it looked like video games - on consoles, at least - had opted to sit out the 4K revolution that was already sweeping the TV world: Both consoles were originally resolutely HD-only, and there wasn’t so much as a sniff of support for the high dynamic range (HDR) technology that was just joining 4K on the TV scene.

        Skip forward three years and mid-generation hardware updates have given us the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S: consoles capable of outputting both 4K and HDR for video and gaming purposes. (Although, PCs are starting to see graphics cards supporting 4K and HDR, too.) To sweeten the deal, just ‘round the corner we have the Xbox One X – the most powerful console ever made, capable of delivering a whole new era of native 4K/HDR gaming beauty.

        While this is all brilliant news for the quality of our gaming experiences, though, it puts ever more pressure on your TV. A console can have all the power in the world, but if it’s attached to a TV that can’t harness that power it might as well be a ZX Spectrum. Well, not quite, but you get our point.

        Unlocking the good stuff

        So what exactly does a TV need to be able to do these days to unlock your full gaming potential? Let’s start with arguably the most basic requirement: 4K.

        Resolution revolution: The Xbox One S outputs all of its games in 4K, achieved via surprisingly good built-in upscaling. 

        The PS4 Pro outputs games in 4K too, using a mix of upscaling and in-game enhancement. The Xbox One X, meanwhile, has been designed with enough power to drive more games than ever before with native, game engine-integrated 4K support. Yes, you can still get non-4K Xbox One and PS4 consoles, and the Nintendo Switch isn’t interested in 4K either. And yes, non-4K games will have to be upscaled by a 4K TV, so won’t be totally ‘pure’. However, upscaling is remarkably good on the best 4K TVs now, and can be done without adding significant delay to the time it takes a TV to render pictures.

        4K resolution can be transformative, especially on big screens. And basically 4K is just the way everything is going now (both in the gaming and video worlds), so not being set up for it with your new TV just doesn’t make sense.

        Change your range: Sitting right alongside 4K in today’s video world is high dynamic range (HDR) technology. This delivers pictures with a much wider light range than the standard dynamic range pictures we’ve been living with for decades in a bid to get the pictures we’re seeing on our screens looking closer to the way our eyes see the real world.

        The Xbox One S supports HDR on some of its games, and via some of its streaming apps. The same situation applies for both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and naturally the Xbox One X will deliver HDR too. Most people would say that HDR done well delivers more impact than 4K, especially on small screens. 

        The only problem is that HDR puts a lot of pressure on a TV, since it demands both much more brightness than SDR, and better contrast so that the extra brightness and deeper blacks can potentially share the screen simultaneously. In fact, HDR done badly can look worse than SDR done decently well; something to think about if you’re considering buying a very cheap TV.

        Let there be light! One of the most important elements of a good HDR performance is brightness. Many movies and games target 1000 nits or so for their brightest elements, so if you have a TV less bright than that it won’t unlock HDR’s full potential. Especially in a video game environment, where graphics can be more stark in contrast terms than ‘real life’ tends to be.

        It’s perfectly possible for TVs to deliver great HDR pictures without reaching 1000 nits and more of brightness. This is particularly true with OLED screens, for instance. But the darker a screen, the harder its processing is going to have to work to try and figure out how to resolve picture information in HDR areas above its capabilities.

        Lag? Lame! If you’re a really serious gamer - especially when it comes to reaction-based online games - you need to care about input lag: The time it takes for a particular TV to render image data received at its inputs. Obviously you’re looking for low numbers if you don’t want to be shot in the face by an opponent your TV hasn’t even shown yet!

        Again, manufacturers don’t tend to provide input lag figures in their provided specifications. However, we generally measure input lag on the TVs we test. Also, I’ve provided the input lag measurements for all of our recommended TVs.

        Roger that – over and out: Sound design has always played an integral part in a great gaming experience. It’s getting taken to another level these days, though, with the arrival of surround sound gaming. In fact, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles even support Dolby Atmos: Dolby’s most advanced sound system yet, which introduces a height channel and ‘object based’ precision to the soundstage.

        With impressively good timing, LG is about to roll out support for Dolby Atmos over HDMI to its 2017 OLED TVs (some of which ship with integrated sound bars) any moment now. Also, while integrated Atmos support isn’t found elsewhere yet, this year has seen a surge in TVs featuring really powerful sound systems. So unless you’re thinking of investing in an external sound system, it will certainly pay you to have sound as well as picture quality in mind when you buy your gaming TV.

        Things to pay attention to are whether speakers are facing forwards (as this will almost always give you a more direct, clean sound); rated power output; whether there’s a dedicated bass speaker (often found on a TV’s rear); built-in soundbars; and the number of individual speakers used.

        The chosen ones

        OK, now that the essential buying advice done and you're an AV expert, let’s now pick out our selection of the best gaming TVs you can currently buy, taking in a combination of price and sheer quality.

        Samsung 55KS7500

        This high-end 65-inch Samsung set has a number of unique gaming-friendly advantages. For starters, unique screen filters mean that pictures are almost completely unaffected by ambient light. And trust us: being able to game in daylight and enjoy pictures that look as intense, bright and contrast rich as they do in a dark room is nothing short of a revelation.

        The 65-inch screen also delivers hands down the brightest pictures the TV world has seen, which works wonders on the intensity of a typical game’s graphics - especially if the game is available in HDR.

        The set resolves 4K resolutions majestically too, while its heavy duty build quality enables it to produce a fairly potent and distortion-free audio performance (despite its having seemingly no visible speakers).

        If all that wasn’t exciting enough, the QE65Q9FAM blows out the competition with an exceptionally low 12ms of input lag when using its Game mode.

        The QE65Q9FAM can suffer with some gentle light clouding issues during very high contrast HDR sequences, and it’s also, alas, painfully expensive. But if you want the best, etc…

        Review link: Samsung Q9F QLED TV

        LG OLED55C6V

        While the OLED55E7 doesn’t have nearly as much HDR-friendly brightness as the Samsung Q9F range, it’s stunning when it comes to the other end of the brightness story, delivering gorgeously rich, deep black colours completely free of the sort of clouding issues that LCD TVs suffer with. Also, while OLED can’t yet go as measurably bright as LCD, the way the darkest pixel in an OLED picture can sit right next to the brightest with no contamination between the two gives the OLED55E7’s pictures a lovely luminous quality that’s particularly effective during dark game settings.

        It’s great to see, too, that LG has got input lag down to just 22ms across all source types (using its Game picture preset).

        One last big attraction of the OLED55E7 is its built-in sound bar. This will soon be able to handle Dolby Atmos from the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles, and can produce a huge wall of bass-rich sound (provided you run it LOUD) that works brilliantly for gaming without the need for an external audio system.

        Review link: LG OLED E7

        Sony W809

        Sony’s XE9305 range is unique in the LCD TV world for using two light guide plates. This essentially gives it twice as much control over how much light reaches different parts of the screen as you get with other edge-lit LCD TVs.

        As a result, the 55-inch 55XE9305 – XBR-55X930E in the US – can put ferociously bright HDR highlights (up to 1400 nits and more) on the screen alongside deep blacks more effectively than any other edge LCD to date.

        Colours also look superbly rich and vibrant thanks to Sony’s Triluminos processing, and no brands handle motion as slickly as Sony. You can sometimes see traces of light ‘blocking’ around stand-out HDR objects, but for the most part the 55XE9305’s pictures are blisteringly bright gaming nirvana.

        The only niggle is the 55XE9305’s input lag figure of around 38ms. This is slightly higher than we’d ideally see, and occasionally momentarily slips to 52ms.

        Read the full review: Sony XBR-X930E / KD-XE93 Series

        Sony KD-75X9405D

        Samsung's MU7000 Series is the brightest TVs in their price class, immediately giving it an advantage over the affordable competition for HDR gaming – especially as they surprisingly manages to deliver better (or, at least, more consistent) black levels than Samsung’s more expensive 2017 models.

        They don’t use local dimming, however. While this means it can’t get as deep with its black colours as TVs that do use local dimming, it also means you don’t see as many distracting clouding problems.

        Oh, FYI: the 49-inch panel is only 8-bit, but colours still look rich and mostly free of striping (and bigger MU7000s are actually 10-bit). Even better, input lag on the UE49MU7000’s Game mode is a phenomenally low 12ms.

        Read the review: Samsung MU7000 Series

        Panasonic 40DX600

        Panasonic’s latest LCD TV might not be as bright as most of its rivals, but it does have a rather cool trick up its sleeve: new digitally enhanced backlight technology that adjusts the angle of each pixel to reduce the usual light clouding problems associated with LCD technology. This gives you dark gaming scenes more uniformity, making it easier to remain immersed in the action.

        The 50EX750 also stands out from the crowd for gaming with its outstanding 10ms of input lag when using its gaming mode. Frustratingly you actually get comfortably the best picture quality from the 50EX750 if you use its Dynamic picture preset - but you could always stick with Dynamic for most of your gaming and only switch to Game when you’re playing something where reaction times are really important.

        Samsung UE65KS9500

        While the OLED55B7 lacks the ultra-glamorous design and built-in soundbar of the LG OLED55E7 higher up this list, remarkably it delivers almost exactly the same high level of contrast-rich picture quality for a whole lot less.

        Input lag remains equally strong at just 21ms too, and while it’s important to stress again that OLED’s 740 nits of peak brightness limits the impact of its HDR pictures in some ways, its ability to place deep black colours just a pixel away.

        Read the review: LG OLED B7 

        Samsung UE32K5600

        One of our final recommendations for a gaming TV is another big one. This gives us the chance to raise one final issue about gaming on today’s consoles and PCs compared with previous generations: that you really have to think big if you’re going to get anything like the ultimate gaming experience.

        This is partly because you need a relatively large screen to get the most from 4K resolutions, but also because the main TV brands are increasingly only building truly HDR-friendly colour, contrast and brightness performances into their relatively large - and, alas, expensive - TVs.

        Even a 55-inch Sony model struggles for brightness a little in its bid to make 4K HDR pictures relatively affordable. However, it does a great job with colours within that brightness limitation thanks to Sony’s Triluminos processing engine, while its black level performance is outstanding for such an affordable and edge-lit LCD model. It also only suffers with 21ms of input lag on average - though oddly, lag occasionally slips to around 50ms for a frame or two.

        Philips 65PUS7601

        The 65PUS7601 boasts arguably the single most aggressively game-friendly feature on this list, in the shape of its Ambilight system. Ambilight uses LED lights ranged along the TV's rear left, right and top edges to throw out coloured lights that can be continually matched in terms of shade, intensity and even location to the colours in the picture you're watching; the result is greatly enhanced connection with what you're watching, something that's especially useful where gaming is concerned. The Ambilight system even features a dedicated gaming mode, designed to react faster than normal to changes in your game graphics. The 65PUS7601 also provides generally strong (for its reasonably low price) 4K and HDR picture quality, and you can get input lag down to only around 30ms if you're careful how you set it up. The set even features a dedicated HDR game mode that adjusts the HDR processing to suit the relatively stark and precise look of game graphics versus 'natural' video.

        A little more buying advice for the road...

        If you want to learn more about shopping for gaming TVs, we've added a bit more info below. Read on to level up your AV knowledge skill!

        Bits and B.O.B.s: Connected to the HDR point, you might want to think about your gaming TV’s bit depth. The best HDR experience requires a 10-bit screen able to support 1024 values of each RGB colour - otherwise you will get an inferior colour performance, including, possibly, colour striping where you should see subtle blends. Most premium HDR TVs these days are 10-bit, but it’s far from a given at the relatively affordable end of the TV market.

        The Xbox One S and PS4 consoles automatically assess the bit-depth of your TV and select the optimum HDR video output accordingly. The Xbox One S even provides a description of your TV’s capabilities under 4K TV Details in its Advanced Video Settings menu. The Xbox One X will presumably do the same.

        To be clear, it’s entirely possible for an 8-bit TV to deliver a good HDR colour performance if they have a strong video processing engine. But 10-bit panels certainly have an immediate advantage.

        One other point to add here is that some TVs - including high-end Samsung models - actually support 12-bit colour management/processing, even though their panels are only natively 10-bit. The Xbox One S and presumably Xbox One X both provide Colour Depth boxes in their Video Fidelity settings that let you select the maximum bit performance for your particular TV.

        Colour purity: Another advanced setting but important thing to consider for the ultimate gaming visuals is chroma subsampling.

        This video compression term refers to a TV’s colour purity, and is usually written in such terms as 4:4:4 and 4:2:0. These numbers reveal how many pixels colour is sampled from in the top and bottom rows for every two rows of four pixels. So with 4:2:0, for instance, colour is being sampled from two pixels in the top row and no pixels in the bottom row.

        From this it follows that the bigger the numbers are, the purer the colour performance will be, as there’s less ‘guesstimating’ of what colours should look like. The problem is, full 4:4:4 colour support requires a lot of extra image data, and so cannot be handled by the HDMI connections or processing of all TVs.

        In truth, the differences in picture quality between 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 and even 4:2:0 aren’t usually enormous. They can be more pronounced with gaming graphics than video, though, so it’s worth trying to check what a TV you’re thinking of buying can support - even though it’s not information regularly carried in TV spec lists. The latest consoles are pretty good at detecting the optimum chroma subsampling a TV can support, automatically adjusting their outputs according.

        It’s something that can cause annoying ‘handshaking’ issues with some TVs, though, so both the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro now provide subsampling ‘limiter’ options in their video output menus (‘Enable 4:2:2’ on the Xbox One S, and 2160 YUV4:2:0 on the PS4 Pro). 

        Frame rate handling: Now that the Xbox One X is almost here and promising native 4K resolution games running at 60 frames a second, make sure that whatever TV you buy has the latest specification HDMI sockets. If it doesn’t have at least one HDMI socket built to the v2.0a specification, it won’t be able to receive 4K resolution at anything higher than 30 frames a second.

        Fortunately far more of this year’s 4K TVs do feature HDMI 2.0a sockets than in previous years, but it’s still something that’s worth double checking - especially if you’re buying a particularly cheap TV.

        Now you know everything there is to know about gaming TVs! 


        Monday, October 16, 2017

      • The best Best Buy Cyber Monday deals 2017
      • Best Buy’s Cyber Monday deals may surpass its own Black Friday deals, especially as Cyber Monday has recently become the bigger shopping day. Apart from making it easier to shop than Black Friday, because Cyber Monday is all about online deals, Best Buy’s Cyber Monday deals will broaden the scope of the deals thanks to its extended online marketplace.

        This year, Cyber Monday will be November 27, putting it just weeks away. That means it's about time to start planning for what purchases you want to make while the prices are at their lowest. If you want to find the best deals, you can save yourself a lot of work by keeping an eye on this page, as we’ll keep it updated leading up to and during Cyber Monday.

        Shopping online at Best Buy might not help you clearly picture how a new laundry machine or big screen TV will fit into your house, but it will definitely make it easy to quickly browse everything Best Buy has to offer. Online shopping also makes it easy to compare prices and features of various products without having to run up and down aisles and repeatedly check product description tags.

        Since Best Buy Cyber Monday deals are sure to include a lot of TVs, computers, and smartphones, being able to compare product specifications and features across multiple devices at once will help you find the best product at the best price. 

        For those hoping upgrade their existing array of electronics and software, Best Buy’s Cyber Monday deals are sure to include something that will do just that.

        Best Buy ads to leak ahead of time

        Ads for Best Buy's greatest Cyber Monday deals will likely start showing up over the weekend after Thanksgiving. Currently, there are none available.

        Spotting advertisements early offers a good opportunity to find the most interesting deals and compare them with the discounts other major retailers are offering. Planning what to buy where means knowing where the deals actually are. Best Buy will have plenty of deals showing up for electronics, but don’t forget to check for deals from retailers that aren’t exclusively focused on electronics to see if they have similar or better deals.

        In November, some Cyber Monday ads might leak early. Check back here regularly to see if any have shown up so you can have the best opportunity to plan your shopping for Cyber Monday.

        Before Cyber Monday: Current Best Buy deals

        Best Buy has a massive 29-inch Ultra-Wide LG monitor for $310 as an open-box model, saving $30. The monitor uses a 2,560 x 1,080 resolution IPS panel for wide viewing angles, and includes FreeSync for a smoother gaming experience.

        A whole load of video games are on sale for $30 off, effectively halving the price of a lot of them. The discunted titles include Overwatch, Ghost Recon Wildlands and even GTA V.

        Best Buy has a deal going on a MacBook Pro. It's $100 off, bringing this 13-inch MacBook Pro to $1,699. It includes 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and an Intel Core i5 processor.

        You can save $500 off a 55-inch Sony 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR. It's normally $1,699, but is currently just $1,199.

        Expected Best Buy deals

        Whether it’s hardware or software, you can expect there to be a deal at Best Buy this coming Cyber Monday.

        Computer and software deals - There are likely to be sales on Windows laptops, Chromebooks, and MacBooks. Software packages like Adobe’s creative suite and Microsoft Office are likely to have discounts as well.

        Video game and console deals - Video games and gaming consoles are always popular items on Cyber Monday, so expect to see discounts on Sony’s, Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s consoles. Look out for deals on new games as well, such as Star Wars Battlefront 2, Destiny 2, Pokken Tournament DX, Middle Earth :Shadow of War, Assassin’s Creed Origins and plenty more. The new Xbox One X will also be hitting the market in early November, so bundle deals should be popular for Best Buy this coming Cyber Monday.

        Smartphone deals - Best Buy already has occasional deals on smartphones like the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8, but expect even more offerings come Cyber Monday. The iPhone 8  and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will have been on shelves for a little while by then, so look out for deals surrounding the two smartphones, though don't expect insane price cuts.

        Setup and installation deals - Best Buy also offers a number of services, so if you’re looking for complicated electronics that might require installation or setup, keep an eye out for any discounts Best Buy offers to get your new purchases in working order.

        Best Buy Cyber Monday advice

        Thanks to its online nature, Cyber Monday doesn’t have the same nightmarish stampede at Best Buy’s doorways as Black Friday has been known for. Unfortunately, too many people trying to get to Bestbuy.com at the same time can result in you not being able to find the product you want and press the buy button. Try to find some backup retailers to buy from if you know what you want, so that internet congestion doesn’t ruin the day.

        You can also try using a VPN to get around an endless loading screen in your browser. This will help you route your internet connection through a server in a different part of the country, where Bestbuy.com servers might not be as busy. This could let you make your purchases while everyone else in town spends Cyber Monday clicking their browser’s refresh button.

        If you want to be sure you’re getting the best price online before you press the buy button, check out TechRadar’s Pricehawk Chrome extension. It allows you to compare the prices between multiple retailers so you can decide where to buy for the best Cyber Monday deals.

        For those shoppers on the prowl for very specific products, make sure you know the exact model number of the product you want before hand. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday come with a load of deals and special products that can trip you up. For example, if you’re looking for a 55-inch LG 4K TV, you might see a half-dozen different models that are 4K and measure 55 inches, but they could use different screen technologies or offer widely varying features. If you know exactly which model you want in advance, you can avoid being blinded by the lower price tag or greater discount on what may be an inferior product.

        Lastly, when you find a product you know you want, don’t be slow about getting it. Inventory levels are your worst enemy on Cyber Monday. If you’ve had a webpage open for a while, the listed inventory may be lower than you see on your screen. And if you let items sit in your cart for too long, it’s possible you’ll find they’ve sold out when you go to make the purchase. Don’t be impulsive, but do plan early so you can act fast.


        Monday, October 16, 2017

      • The best Best Buy Black Friday deals 2017
      • Best Buy’s Black Friday deals are nearly upon us. Black Friday is only a few short weeks away, landing on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving. For techies, Best Buy’s Black Friday deals will be one of the best ways to get a great price on the latest gear and gadgets.

        Anyone looking for a new 65-inch 4K TV or an Ultra HD Blu-ray player would already have an easy time shopping at Best Buy, since it’s a one-stop shop for everything tech-related. It even has home appliances, car sound systems, and plenty of music, movies and video games. For most tech needs, Best Buy is an easy place to go.

        All of that shopping gets better on Black Friday, when these big-ticket items see their prices come out of the sky and down toward something more realistic for shoppers on a budget. Sure, some electronics are still going to be expensive, but Black Friday will be an opportunity to get the best price on them.

        Anyone hoping to upgrade their kitchen, living room, gaming setup or even their car can expect Best Buy’s Black Friday deals in 2017 to make serious upgrades way more affordable.

        Best Buy ads to leak ahead of time

        Ads for Best Buy Black Friday deals haven’t leaked yet, but they will likely start popping in the lead up to Thanksgiving, giving shoppers an opportunity to see what’s going to be on sale.

        Taking a look at early ads can help you figure out what you want to buy and where. Best Buy will have a lot of deals, but it’s important to compare the deals from these ads with other retailers ads to see where you can get the best price on the product you want.

        Knowing which stores will have the products you want will also help you plan your Black Friday better, as you’ll want to target the best deals as early as possible to avoid finding an empty shelf.

        Expect some advertisements for Best Buy Black Friday deals to leak early, and check back here. We will post the advertisements as soon as we find them, giving you an opportunity to check the deals out early and compare with other retailers.

        Before Black Friday: Current Best Buy deals

        Best Buy has a 17-inch Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 laptop for $899 after a $150 discount. It's packed with a 7th-gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and even a dedicated GeForce 940MX graphics processor.

        A 27-inch Acer Full HD monitor is just $149 after a $100 discount. It has IPS display technology for wide viewing angles, and a low response time making it ready for gaming.

        Best Buy has a combo sale going for the Xbox One. It is discounting controllers and headsets from Microsoft with the purchase of an Xbox One console.

        Best Buy also has a nice price-cut on a 55-inch Samsung 4K Ultra HD TV for $699, down from $799.

        Expected Best Buy deals

        Since Best Buy is a major electronics and appliances store, expect some serious deals in these categories.

        4K TV deals - Last year, there were deals on loads of 4K TVs. So for Best Buy Black Friday deals in 2017, expect even 4K TVs with HDR.

        Smartphone deals - The new iPhone 8 is now on the market, so when Black Friday 2017 comes around, Best Buy will probably offer some incentive to customers, such as hefty gift cards. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has already been getting a lot of great deals recently, but expect even better ones to pop up for Black Friday.

        Console and game bundle deals - Last year there were deals on the Xbox One S bundled with games like Gears of War 4 and Battlefield 1 and the PS4 bundled with Uncharted 4. Expect this year to include deals on the new Xbox One X and Star Wars Battlefront 2, as well as the PS4 Pro and Destiny 2.

        Other tech deals - Drones and cameras will also be sure to see loads of deals, and all types of computers and computer parts are likely to see lowered prices.

        Best Buy Black Friday advice

        A lot of people shop Black Friday, so there will be heavy competition for all of the best deals. Prioritize the items you want most and the ones with the largest amount of savings, so you can get to them before they sell out and maximize your savings on Black Friday.

        Pay close attention to the dates listed on deals. Black Friday has grown into something of a weeklong affair in recent years, so see if any deals start earlier, and be sure to go for the ones you want as soon as you can

        If you pay attention to product reviews, and you know exactly the product you want, make sure to check model numbers when you’re in the store. Black Friday can come with some special models made just for the shopping day, and a 55-inch Sony 4K TV you find on the shelf this Black Friday might not be the same as the one you read all the glowing reviews about.

        If you find a Best Buy Black Friday deal you want, try to determine if it will also be online. Competition in stores can make it hard to get in the door and snag the product you want before it sells out, so having the internet as a backup (or even primary) method of getting the product may help you land the deals you’re most excited about.

        Check out TechRadar’s Pricehawk Chrome extension to compare the prices you see online with those offers by other retailers. Always make sure you’re getting the best deal, or find back-up retailers in case Best Buy sells out of the product you wanted.

        If you plan to shop mostly online, a VPN may help you avoid internet congestion. Too many people going to the same website to get the same deals can result in next to no one actually reaching the page. With a VPN, you can route your traffic to a different region that may not have servers so busy, allowing you to essentially beat the line.

        Finally, if you’ve found a deal that you absolutely have to have, don’t sit around. Popular products sell out quickly on Black Friday, so buy what you want before it’s gone.


        Monday, October 16, 2017

      • It just got easier to combine your Amazon, iTunes and Google Play movie library
      • Buying movies through different services just got a lot less complicated thanks to a new 'Movies Anywhere' initiative that combines your splintered film library.

        This means you'll now have access to a single library of movies if you buy them (or bought them in the past) through Google Play, Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.

        Best of all, Movies Anywhere is device and platform agnostic. It works across iOS 11, Android, Amazon Fire, Roku and Chromecast.

        What do you have to do to merge your movie library? Downloading the Movie Anywhere app or logging into the new website is all it takes to bring them all under one virtual roof.

        Here's what it solves

        Movies Anywhere solves the annoyance of downloading a movie to a platform like Amazon, for example, and then realizing that you can't easily watch it on a specific TV or set-top that doesn't have the app (like Apple TV 4K at the moment – we're still waiting for that long-promised app). 

        Even if both the movie and service are available to you, finding out which service you bought on a specific movie from was always an issue. Cycling between the apps to figure out "Which store did I download The Matrix from again?" was a chore.

        Finally, if you see a movie for a cheaper price on Amazon vs iTunes, say when all of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals happen next month, you can shop around. "I prefer Amazon, but... it's cheaper on iTunes..." Stop right there. Movies Anywhere just solved your first-world problem. 

        Big names backing your movie buying binge

        Having one place for almost all of your movies sounds much more consumer friendly, and it's an idea that comes from Disney, which previously pushed its cross-platform Ultraviolet program.

        However, while Movies Anywhere works much the same way, it involves more major studios: Disney, Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. 

        All of these companies are finally increasing ease of use when it comes to watching their movies. Why? Well, for one thing, Netflix has become known for addictive binge watching, ease of use and its own original content (that doesn't involve anyone from Disney to Warner Bros). That's a threat.

        With a total of five key studios backing the same idea Disney had three years ago, having access to a giant digital movie locker is finally ready to become the norm, not the exception.

        Free movies to sign up

        To start things out, Amazon and other services are offering five free movies so you can test out the expanded Movies Anywhere service.

        All you need to do is connect two or more accounts through the Movies Anywhere app in order to download these movies for free.

        This single-library strategy is a nice incentive for consumers who may be wary of buying movies because they're siloed to one platform and one account. 

        Starting today, with Movies Anywhere and thanks to the the benefits of Family Sharing, online movie purchases don't seem so limiting.


        Thursday, October 12, 2017

      • The best movies on Netflix: great films you can watch in Australia right now
      • UPDATED: We've given our list of the best movies on Netflix Australia a big overhaul, removing some films that are no longer on the service and added a handful of new titles. Read on to find out which films have made the list!

        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.

        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%

        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%

        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%

        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%

        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%

        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%

        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%

        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%


        Tuesday, October 10, 2017

      • Star Wars: Episode 8 release date, trailers and rumors
      • Update: The first official trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is here.

        Original article follows...

        We are just three excruciating months away from the release of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi – the eighth film in the mainline Star Wars series and one that we are itching to see. 

        Here's the good news: Production wrapped on the eighth episode back in July, which means the film is definitely on track for its December 15 release date. 

        Despite being less than a year away, however, there hasn't been too much said about what the sequel to one of 2015's highest grossing films has in store.

        That said, we've done a bit of digging and found some information of our own.

        So, what do we expect to see from Episode VIII? If you haven't yet seen The Force Awakens, a) what is wrong with you? and b) spoilers will lie ahead. Big ones. We're talking massive, planet-destroying spoilers. Got it? Good.

        Let's continue.

        Episode VIII title and release date

        Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi will hit cinemas on December 15 2017, after being pushed back from its initial release date of May 26 the same year. It means waiting an extra seven months, but we did think that the original timeframe was a bit ambitious for a film of this scale.

        The title is obviously a cryptic one. The Last Jedi could mean any number of things but chances are good that it's a reference to Luke's new padawan, Rey. 

        Considering that both Luke and Leia are Jedi, there are obviously more than one of the galactic space wizards left in the galaxy but Rey, as we know from Episode VII The Force Awakens, might be the last person to carry the title Jedi. 

        Scary as it might seem, it could also be a reference to the possible deaths of Luke and Leia in the franchise, making the title very literal. 

        Of course, this is all just conjecture at this point as Rey, Luke and Leia are all seen in the latest trailer alive and well.

        Star Wars: Episode 8 The Last Jedi poster

        Trailers

        The first official trailer for Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi is here and it looks smashing! You can check out the trailer but a warning- it reveals some story plots.

        The most recent trailer was revealed at Disney's D23 Expo in July and you can watch it for yourself below.

        The first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi was unveiled during Star Wars Celebration 2017. Check it out below! 

        Of course, then there was the Disney D23 event held in Anaheim, CA. We got a surprising amount of Star Wars news from of Disney's big fan event and although we didn't get an official story trailer, we did get a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel as has been released prior to previous films. 

        At just under three minutes long, this video shows exciting clips from the film itself as well as from its shooting. There are interviews with cast and crew and an insight into Rey's continuing journey, the many exciting new aliens that are being physically crafted for the film as well as how much work goes into special effects. 

        You can watch the video for yourself below:

        Episode 8 casting

        JJ Abrams will be hopping off the director's chair and handing over the reins to Rian Johnson, best known for writing and directing Brick and Looper (and a few episodes of Breaking Bad). Abrams will stay as executive producer, however.

        It's been confirmed that all of the original cast members (barring Harrison Ford) will be making a return. Joining them this time is Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

        So who, exactly, are these new cast members going to play in Episode 8? 

        Well, again, there's no confirmation here, but Del Toro was recently listed on a site called Wikiwand as Sir Vicrum Fett, a clear homage and perhaps descendent of Jango Fett and perhaps a brother to Boba Fett, the feared and very easily killed bounty hunter from the original trilogy.

        As for Laura Dern, according to our sister site GamesRadar+, she's most likely going to play Admiral Holdo, a stylish New Order commander who's as smart as Leia but with a vicious twist.

        Finally, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, we actually have some good information on how she'll fit into The Last Jedi. She'll be playing the role of Rose, a member of The Resistance forces a.k.a. what became of the Rebel Alliance after the establishment of the New Republic at the end of Episode VI. 

        SW

        Episode 8: what we know of the story so far

        Little is known about what VIII's story will hold, but we do know that it will pick up straight after The Force Awakens, with Rey having discovered Luke Skywalker's whereabouts, as confirmed by the teaser trailer.

        The Force Awakens left many questions unanswered. Who is Rey really? Is Finn Force sensitive? What's with C-3PO's red arm? Why is R2-D2, the bearer of all knowledge who refuses to tell anyone anything, such a dick?

        Colin Trevorrow, who will be directing Episode IX, has already promised us a "profoundly satisfying" answer to the mystery surrounding Rey's parents.

        "Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy," he said. "She deserves it. We'll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was something that happened a long time ago, far away, and we're just telling you what happened."

        One theory is that Luke is Rey's father, but… surely it's got to be something more interesting than that, right?

        The Force Awakens ended with a wounded Kylo Ren being taken to Supreme Leader Snoke to complete his training - but what does that mean? And more importantly, who is Snoke? One theory that has been floating about, courtesy of this tweet, is that Snoke is actually Vader, who didn't really die. We don't buy it for a second, but the scar is admittedly convincing.

        We expect some of the film will show Luke training Rey, harking back to his own training from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. It will also be interesting to see how Kylo Ren's character develops. He just murdered his own father, but he's still conflicted between the dark side and the light - or was Han's death the final part of his transition to Sith?

        Either way, it's a script that's been well received by Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver. Speaking to Collider, he's compared the next entry to the hallowed Empire Strikes Back.

        Episode 8 set photos

        On April 28 director Rian Johnson celebrated hitting the halfway point in the Episode 8's filming schedule by releasing a couple of set photos.

        Episode 8 Set Photo

        The photos don't shed much new light on the film, but it's nice to see confirmation that Episode 8 will indeed contain the ships and shiny helmets that the series is known for.

        Episode 8 Set Photo

        Bonus: A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

        One of the cinema world's most tragic losses last year was that of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). Her death came as a bitter shock and one that no one could have predicted. While many in the community mourn her loss, we feel there needs to be a heartfelt thank you given to the woman who helped inspire thousands of women to be leaders, actresses and good-hearted people. 

        A fantastic tribute debuted at Star Wars Celebration 2017 which we feel has perfectly summarized the life of the actress and her contributions to the series.

        Want more on Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi? Keep checking back here as we approach the film's December 15, 2017 release date. 

        Episode 9?

        Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi isn't even out yet, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start talking about the film's sequel – and book-end for the new trilogy – Star Wars Episode 9, which will now open on December 20, 2019. 

        Recently it was announced that the film's first director Colin Trevorrow was ousted from his role, a blow lessened when, less than a day later, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be returning to co-write and direct the 9th film. 

        Given his experience with the franchise (he directed and co-wrote The Force Awakens), our take is that Abrams is a good choice to tie up new trilogy – even if that means moving the film's release date back a few months to accommodate the switch.

        Joe Osborne and Hugh Langley have also contributed to this report


        Monday, October 09, 2017


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