Got Sky Q but no 4K telly to plug your box into? Have you any idea how many pixels you’re missing out on?
Ultra HD comes as standard with your Sky Q multiroom subscription, and costs just £5-a-month extra with Sky Glass, and while it doesn’t extend to everything available, the catalogue is steadily growing all the time. Here’s Stuff’s pick of Sky’s 4K menu…
When struggling Callie’s estranged father dies alone leaving her his dilapidated farmhouse, the single mother drags her two teenage kids to a sleepy Oklahoma town that’s been experiencing mysterious ground tremors on a daily basis. You don’t need a PKE Meter to work out what’s causing them, or which legendary spook-catching quartet Callie’s dad used to belong to, but that’s not the point of Jason Reitman’s film.
It’s a shame that Afterlife could be seen as placating the misogynist morons who hijacked 2016’s all-female remake, which, ironically, bore far greater resemblance to the original than this does, but that doesn’t stop it being a fun-filled love letter to the ‘80s classic – even if things do get overly schmaltzy at the end.
When David Lynch adapted James Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel for the big screen back in 1984 it should’ve been a triumphant meeting of minds – but over 30 years later we finally have the movie Dune deserves. Or the first part of it at least.
Denis Villeneuve directs an all-star ensemble cast including Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides – the young heir to an intergalactic empire. With subterranean sandworms that are big enough to swallow skyscrapers whole, spaceships that look like giant mechanical wasps, and stunning cinematography and sound design, this is a film that deserves to be seen in 4K.
In the Earth
If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. No, not a bunch of teddy bears eating crisps and scotch eggs, but a creepingly intense mix of ominous fog, amateur surgeons, and strange botanical rituals.
In the Earth sees a scientist and a park ranger venture deep into the wilderness in search of a colleague who has gone AWOL. Instead, they find forest-dwelling Zach, played brilliantly by The League of Gentleman’s Reece Shearsmith, a master of combining the horrifying and the hilarious – and he doesn’t disappoint here.
Despite shooting during a pandemic and on an almost non-existent budget, director Ben Wheatley’s National Trust Chainsaw Massacre is a masterful combination of folk-horror, sci-fi and psychedelia that’s reminiscent of everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Evil Dead. You’ll never look at your house plants the same way again.
A Quiet Place Part 2
Coming up against a monster that can’t see might sound preferable to an encounter with one that has all five senses intact, but if you’ve seen 2018’s A Quiet Place you’ll know it’s not as simple as that. With their superpowered hearing, even the slightest sound is enough to attract the vicious blind monsters that terrorise Earth here.
After a heart-pounding flashback that explains how we got to this point, Part 2 picks up pretty much where the original left off. Emily Blunt’s Evelyn and her children, including newborn Abbott in a specially constructed soundproof carry cot, decide to leave the relative safety of their farmhouse home and seek out some fellow survivors.
While the central conceit doesn’t pack quite the same punch the second time around, A Quiet Place Part 2 is another nerve-shredding 90 minutes that’ll have you tip-toeing to bed afterwards.
Sky Italia’s Gomorrah returns for its fifth and final season – and those who’ve followed the lives of Gennaro, Ciro and co since the beginning will not be disappointed by how this story ends.
Genny ended season four by going into hiding, but with Naples threatening to boil over and an old acquaintance apparently coming back from the dead, his self-imposed exile doesn’t last long.
Gomorrah’s appeal has always lied in its twists and turns, unfiltered violence and outrageous interior design – and there’s plenty of all three on offer here.
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Two decades after the titular dudes last entered a time-travelling phone box, this threequel finds them stuck in a musical rut – and with time running out before the world ends they must save it by writing the ultimate bodacious banger.
It’s rare that you’ll encounter a cover version that’s better than the original song, and while Bill & Ted Face the Music can’t buck that trend, for those with a penchant for the pair’s original ‘90s adventures it’ll still feel like pulling on a poncho of warm nostalgia.
Bored of buddy comedies that rely too much on nob jokes and gross set pieces? The Climb takes an all-too-familiar trope – what happens when a woman comes between two life-long pals – and puts a fresh spin on it, full of authenticity and heart.
The friends are Mike and Kyle, the former a successful high-school football player, the latter his nerdier, chunkier mate, and The Climb’s multiple chapters each focus on a different rite of passage in their lives and their relationship. It’s witty, believable, well-written, and you don’t even have to be into cycling to enjoy it.
“Don’t try to understand it. Feel it,” a white-coated scientist tells John David Washington’s anonymous protagonist near the beginning of Tenet. She’s talking about the film’s central conceit, that people and objects can be ‘inverted’ to travel backwards through time, but she might as well be talking about the movie itself.
Stop and think too hard about Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-mashing blockbuster and you’ll end up giving yourself a headache, but from a technical perspective it’s astonishing – and we don’t just mean they’ve used a very powerful graphics card for the special effects. Prop your eyelids open and just let it all flood in.
There hasn’t been a movie this profoundly silly that takes itself so seriously since, well, the last Christopher Nolan film – but if you don’t enjoy it you can always invert your decision to watch it in the first place.
Promising Young Woman
With its bubblegum colour palette and pop soundtrack, Promising Young Woman might look like a happy-go-lucky rom-com, but just like its lead character it has a hidden agenda. Carey Mulligan plays a 30-year-old medical school dropout called Cassandra, who pretends to be drunk on nights out in order to teach the self-confessed ‘nice guys’ who try to take advantage of her a thing or two about consent.
It’s this ambiguity that makes Promising Young Woman so watchable, especially when Cassie bumps into a former classmate and her unusual hobby escalates to something more personally vengeful. Of course, there are more wide-reaching, societal targets being skewered here too, not least the tendency to value a man’s career over a woman’s safety, but unfortunately it’s going to take more than one promising young woman to change that.
There are many who consider Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s absurd, ironic, and contradictory anti-war novel of 1961, to be unfilmable. It’s somewhat appropriate, then, that this mini-series is the second time it’s been done (even if the 1970 film did turn out to be pretty ropey).
Originally screened in the UK on Channel 4 but now available on Sky in 4K, this highly polished six-part adaptation follows John ‘Yo-Yo’ Yossarian’s attempts to remove himself from the theatre of war – a quest that’s thwarted by an ever-increasing quota of bombing missions and the inescapable clause of the title.
There’s no denying that this Catch-22 can’t capture all of the subtleties, nuances and complexities of Heller’s book, but taken on its own it still manages to be both horrific and hilarious in almost equal measure.
This Is England 86-90
Vicky McLure might best-known for hunting bent coppers in Line of Duty, but for a lot of people she will always be Lol in Shane Meadows’ brilliant and bruising This Is England. First introduced in the 2007 film, Meadows went on to make three subsequent TV series of the same name, all set two years apart, and all now available in Ultra HD on Sky.
Those extra pixels don’t make any of them easier to watch, with more than their fair share of bleakness and brutal violence, but there’s almost always a much-needed injection of laugh-out-loud comic relief just around the corner.
With multiple series-stealing performances across all three eras and a slightly lighter tone in TIE ‘90 (rave culture will do that for you), bingeing this lot will give you a real craving for the much-discussed final feature-length installment, which is likely to be set a decade later. We can’t wait.
Drug cartels and the Mafia are hardly underrepresented when it comes to movies and TV, but both together in one? Now we’re talking. ZeroZeroZero links the two groups together via a multimillion-dollar transatlantic drug deal, with a family of American brokers caught up in the middle – and the result is one of the best new series in years.
From the mountains of Calabria to the sprawling slums of Monterrey, via the oceans and deserts in between, this globe-trotting, time-hopping eight-parter is bleak but often breathtaking. Among the Heat-esque gunfights and deadly power struggles there’s also a surprisingly human touch, largely thanks to the excellent Andrea Risborough, with a pulsing soundtrack by Mogwai to top things off.
Released to mark the 50th anniversary of the human race’s grandest day out, Apollo 11 doesn’t need any talking heads or a grand voiceover to make the events of July 1969 feel significant, just the occasional graphic among the never-before-seen footage to keep you abreast of the main stages of the astronauts’ journey to the moon.
From the pre-launch preparations and crowds of people watching from the Florida shores, to a bustling mission control and the wild post-landing celebrations, some of the 4K film looks like it was shot yesterday, which sometimes makes you feel like you’re watching an incredibly well-conceived dramatisation. But the otherworldly pictures shot from onboard the spacecraft will always be mesmerising, no matter the number of pixels.
The Third Day
From Summerisle to Royston Vasey, there are some places where it’s just not worth booking an Airbnb – and after watching The Third Day you’ll want to add Osea Island to the list. Jude Law’s Sam stumbles upon this seemingly idyllic community by accident, but the evasive residents, dismembered animals, and bright orange insects soon suggest all is not as it seems.
Unsurprisingly, The Third Day owes a significant debt to The Wicker Man (the original, not Nic Cage’s comedy remake) but the involvement of immersive theatre company Punchdrunk makes this six-parter a real assault on the senses. That’s particularly true of the first three episodes, which veer from dreamlike to nightmarish as Sam gradually loses his grip on reality.
Unfortunately, the 12-hour, single-take episode that was live-streamed at the start of October and sits between the two halves isn’t available on-demand, although based on what went before it, watching that might be enough to tip anyone over the edge into madness.
For fans of Neapolitan gangster series Gomorrah, anti-hero Ciro Di Marzio always felt like the main man – and not just because he’s never encountered a situation too gloomy to wear sunglasses. It’s no great surprise, then, that he’s the subject of this feature-length spin-off.
While not quite a straight origin story, L’Immortale shows how Ciro went from an orphan stealing car stereos on the streets of Naples to fighting for control of the Latvian drug scene. While it won’t make total sense unless you’ve seen up to the end of season three of Gomorrah, which is also available in 4K on Sky, L’Immortale very much shares the show’s DNA.
Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men
If the Wu-Tang Clan’s live shows are anything to go by, just getting all of them in one room is a significant achievement in itself – but there’s a lot more to Of Mics and Men than just a nostalgic get-together.
With archive footage of the group’s raucous early shows, a visit to Method Man’s former workplace on Liberty Island, and talking heads from Jim Jarmusch, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and each surviving member and their entourage, this four-part documentary examines how the punk ethos that made the Clan such a formidable force in the early ‘90s gradually weakened under the strain of their individual egos. If anything, it’s amazing they managed to squeeze it all into four hours.
Gangs of London
Eastenders meets The Raid. That’s how we imagine Gareth Evans pitched this more-than-a-little-bit-ludicrous nine-parter to the big cheeses at Sky. Of course, comparisons to the latter should come as no surprise – Evans is the man behind that adrenaline-pumping bulletstorm too – but Albert Square has never seen a fight as brutal as anything in Gangs of London.
It’s a bit ‘Guy Ritchie by Waitrose’ at times, and it’s needlessly complicated at others, but when things kick off there’s not a hint of mercy. Bones are split, skulls are cracked and blood is spilled. A lot of it. Could’ve put a bit more effort into the name though.
The Trip to Greece
It’s been nearly 10 years since Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon first toured the Lake District in a Chelsea tractor, eating in fancy restaurants, doing impressions and trying to have the last word. Surely the format can’t still work for a fourth series?
This time the duo are retracing the steps of Odysseus, which means they start in Turkey, where Coogan sets the tone with a Partridge-style ‘A-ha!’ from within a Trojan horse. They spend the rest of this very British comedy odyssey comparing Greek relics to Legoland, espousing the advances in modern dentistry as Don Corleone, and considering a cockney Henry VIII.
You’d think the appeal would’ve worn off by now, but with its breathtaking scenery and the pair’s often quite revealing banter, there remains something quite compelling about eavesdropping on their working holidays. Series 3, The Trip to Spain, is also now available in Ultra HD.
Imagine writing a sitcom about an interplanetary cruise that goes wrong and discovering that, according to experts from NASA, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, one of the best things for protecting a spaceship against galactic radiation is human plops. With gags like that being dropped into your lap, who needs to write any others?
Fortunately, series creator Armando Iannucci isn’t that lazy, so Avenue 5 is full of the typically inventive dialogue, memorable characters and couldn’t-make-it-up scrapes familiar from his previous work on The Thick of It and Veep. The first episode isn’t the strongest but once it gets into its stride Avenue 5 is much more than just Red Dwarf for the Tesla generation.
Martin Scorsese’s bromance with Leonardo DiCaprio continued for a fourth straight film when the Oscar-dodging actor appeared as US Marshal Teddy Daniels in 2010’s nouveau Hitchcockian Shutter Island.
Having arrived to investigate the disappearance of a patient from the island’s secure psychiatric facility, Daniels and his partner are soon trapped there by a huge storm. With the hospital’s staff oddly uncooperative and various parts of the island off limits, including the mysterious lighthouse, things soon take a turn for the strange. Shutter Island is far from Scorsese’s finest work, but even that puts it among the best of most other directors.
Edge of Tomorrow
If hostile aliens had invaded Earth during the filming of Groundhog Day, and Tom Cruise had been cast as the lead instead of Bill Murray, the result might’ve looked a bit like Edge of Tomorrow.
Cruise stars as Major William Cage, a combat novice who gets thrown in at the deep end in the fight against the invading hoard. But when he clocks that every time he dies he wakes up back where he started, Cage uses his unlimited lives to perfect his fighting skills and gradually gain the upper hand. Edge of Tomorrow is a lean, nimble blockbuster that doesn’t even have to rely on repeatedly killing Tom Cruise to keep things entertaining.
Unless you work for The Sun, you’re probably well aware that Chernobyl is based on a true story. Unlike a lot of other major tragedies, though, the events of 26 April 1986 have largely avoided dramatisation – and with this five-part series HBO has absolutely nailed it.
Depicting a paranoid and secretive state in a crisis like nothing seen before or since, Chernobyl reconstructs the disaster with exquisite attention to detail. From the accident at the power plant itself to its devastating and far-reaching consequences, this is masterfully made TV. You’ll never look at a cement mixer in the same way again.
Bad Boys II
However you feel about a third installment of Bad Boys being made, the first one was a bonafide ‘90s classic. And while its sequel has its fair share of issues, it also has a few moments of exhilarating brilliance, not least the bit when the bad guys launch cars from the back of a transporter at Will Smith’s pursuing Ferrari.
Sure, the script is massively cliched but the chemistry between Smith and Martin Lawrence still fizzes and it arguably captures Michael Bay at his brainless peak, blowing stuff up just because he can. In a time when everyone seems obsessed with superheroes and CGI, this guilty pleasure almost feels nostalgic.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Despite being 50 years old, Kubrick’s sci-fi classic might just be the ideal film for 4K, offering beautifully shot images of everything from prehistoric desert plains to psychedelic alternate dimensions via some beautifully choreographed spaceship ballet.
But this isn’t some brainless, CGI-riddled space opera. Inspired by an Arthur C Clarke short story called The Sentinel, 2001 is packed with themes that were way ahead of its time, from artificial intelligence to the search for alien life. It’s slow going (not a word is said for the first 20 minutes) but there’s a reason it consistently bothers the business end of best film lists.
Saving Private Ryan
Has there been a more viscerally overwhelming 25 minutes of cinema than the Normandy landings sequence at the start of Saving Private Ryan? Even 20 years after its release, Spielberg’s World War 2 epic hasn’t lost a thing, particularly in Ultra HD.
Even though it views events through star-spangled specs, it does a fine job of capturing the fear, bravery and despair of Tom Hanks’s young platoon as they attempt to rescue the last remaining Ryan son from occupied France. A true modern classic.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Collector’s Edition
Proof that not all alien invasions are about enslaving the human race and turning every city back into building materials, Spielberg’s sci-fi classic tells the story of a group of people who start to experience unexplained visions after odd encounters with unidentified forces.
A bit like E.T. for hipsters, its pace feels particularly slow compared to modern blockbusters, but it has a sense of curiosity and wide-eyed wonder that’s often lacking in the apocalypse-obsessed movies of today. If you liked Arrival, Close Encounters is its spiritual ancestor.
Now into its third series (with all three available in Ultra HD), Billions is about a grumpy US Attorney (Paul Giamatti’s Chuck) and his nemesis: a charitable-but-devious hedge fund manager called Axe, played by Homeland’s Damian Lewis.
But wait! Come back! It’s not all spreadsheets and interest rates. Yes, there’s a fair amount of baffling finance talk but it’s much funnier than you’d imagine, with the drama coming from the power struggle between these two big-bucks heavyweights. It’s classic cat ‘n’ mouse stuff, but on this occasion both animals are so rich they’re almost untouchable. Almost…
How to get Sky Q
You can purchase a Sky Q package directly from Sky, from just an extra £12 p/m on top of your current TV plan.