Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss bring Sherlock Holmes into the present day, in slick, stylish fashion. Benedict Cumberbatch shot to fame on the strength of the title role – but Martin Freeman's performance as the down-to-earth John Watson is just as important to the show's success, with a thousand Tumblrs now dedicated to capturing their interplay in GIF form.
Netflix has the first two series available to view – they may be short at just three episodes each, but those episodes are just as long (and packed with twisty-turny plotting) as any movie. Pace yourself and space them out for maximum enjoyment.
A terrorism and spy thriller with a cracking twist (at least in the first season): we don’t know if the terrorist really is a terrorist – or if he even knows whether or not he’s one.
Homeland gets its hooks into you very quickly, and while the premise and plot have a tendency to stretch the bounds of believability at times, there’s always something that’ll keep you watching. At first it’s that is-he-or-isn’t-he hook, but soon it’s the performances from a great cast, with Claire Danes’ portrayal of bipolar CIA officer the clear standout. Currently, the first three seasons are available to stream on Netflix.
– Sam Kieldsen
More after the break...
James Bond returns for his 50th anniversary adventure – and as you'd expect, the past hangs heavily on this film and its characters. Daniel Craig's Bond is older and war-weary – after just two films! – while Judi Dench's M is forced to confront her past mistakes, when a rogue agent that she betrayed returns to seek revenge.
The film's even structured as a journey into the past, with the final act taking place at Bond's childhood home; in a sly touch, its location in the Scottish Highlands harks back to the John Buchan thrillers that preceded Ian Fleming's Bond.
Bond's producers enlisted some top-flight talent for this instalment, and it paid off; Javier Bardem is clearly having a whale of a time camping it up as villainous hacker Silva, while American Beauty director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins team up to make this one of the most gorgeously-shot Bond films ever.
As stylish as an Aston Martin DB5, and just as entertaining.
As JJ Abrams gears up to direct the new Star Wars film, it's worth revisiting his homage to the 1970s cinema that was defined by film-makers like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. A love letter to the era – and to the director's youthful exploits as a film-maker – it follows a gang of kids who inadvertently catch an alien monster on film while they're making a creature feature movie.
Mashing up the wonder of The Goonies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. with the scares of Jaws, it's no mere pastiche – this is an exciting adventure story in its own right, and is compelling proof that Abrams is the best choice to take the helm of the Millennium Falcon.
Captain America: The First Avenger
With Captain America: The Winter Soldier hitting cinemas, it's a good opportunity to revisit the original film – a WW2 action-adventure that has more in common with Indiana Jones than Saving Private Ryan. Weedy Steve Rogers is determined to make the grade and fight the Nazi menace – but he's hamstrung by his 4F physique. When he's given the chance of enlisting in the US Army's Super Soldier program, he becomes Captain America – the Star-Spangled Man, taking the fight to the German deep science division, HYDRA.
Director Joe Johnston has a flair for comic-book adventure, having previously directed The Rocketeer – and here, he pays tribute to the derring-do of wartime serials. Hugo Weaving camps it up as hissable villain the Red Skull (complete with Werner Herzog accent), while Chris Evans brings layers to Captain America, making him more than just a flag-waving steroidal freak. This is a more nuanced portrait of heroism than you'd expect, playing on themes of self-sacrifice; in wartime, there are no happy endings.