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.
When telling stories the whole world already knows there’s a danger that they just don’t offer enough jeopardy. So while we know that Ryan Gosling’s Neil Armstrong will take mankind’s pioneering steps on the moon at the end of First Man, what makes the film so compelling is the journey he went on while Apollo 11 was still just a twinkle in NASA’s eye.
From his days flying experimental high-altitude jets and puking his guts up on a G-force simulator, to the parade of funerals he has to attend for colleagues, First Man reveals the myriad human costs of the space program, both large and small. If you’re a moron, it also proves how easy the whole thing would’ve been to fake.
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.
When a small, wrinkly telecommunications expert with a glowing finger is discovered living in a wood shed in a Californian suburb, he enlists a school boy named Elliott to help him get in touch with his estranged family. Oh, did we mention he’s an alien from outer space?
Spielberg’s sci-fi classic doesn’t need 4K to shine, but it certainly gives you another reason to watch a film you’ve almost certainly seen more often than you visit some members of your extended family.
Bonus fact: the girl Elliott kisses in biology class went on to play the stripper in Under Siege a decade later. How about that for an unconventional double-bill for your next movie night?
With its unpredictable plot, unfiltered violence and intoxicating setting, Sky Italia’s Gomorrah has quietly become one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV – and this long-awaited fourth series of the brutal mafia drama shows no signs of changing that.
With Ciro out of the picture and Patrizia handed more power in Naples, Gennaro has entered something of a Stringer Bell phase – doing his best to go legit but occasionally lapsing into old habits when things don’t quite go to plan. With his extended family now on the scene, both Enzo’s young team and the Capaccios agitating for more influence, and Patri’s lack of experience often apparent, how long can the uneasy truce really last?
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.
Mission Impossible: Fallout
On paper, Mission Impossible: Fallout is a checklist of seen-it-all-before action movie cliches: shadowy terrorist organisations, stolen plutonium, rogue agents and more guns than a surprise birthday party at Rambo’s house. On your telly, though, it’s an edge-of-your-sofa stonker.
With a film like this it’s all about the execution, and while there are plot points that are unnecessarily convoluted, the whole thing is propelled by some of the most nerve-shredding action sequences ever seen. From a skydive through a lightning storm to a helicopter chase amid the mountains of Kashmir that really gives your telly a chance to show off its 4K skills, Fallout is far better than any film starring a 56-year-old Tom Cruise has any right to be.
For an African-American man to go undercover in the Ku Klux Klan, he’s going to need more than just a white hood for a disguise. So when Colorado Springs’ first black cop spontaneously puts a call in to the Klan and arranges a face-to-face meeting with the local branch, he sends one of his white colleagues instead.
Set in the 1970s and based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, Spike Jonze’s heavily embellished version might sound like heavy going but the sharp script, and gradual build up of tension as the pair get more and more involved, stops the potential reality of the situation becoming too much. That’s not to say it doesn’t pack a powerful punch, though, particularly when Jonze draws unignorable parallels with modern-day America.
When you settle in for a movie night you’re not always in the mood for a multi-layered, thought-provoking drama. Sometimes you just want to watch Jason Statham have a fight with a fish the size of an Isle of Wight ferry.
It’s a good job, then, that The Meg exists. Having disturbed a prehistoric megalodon at the bottom of the sea, a marine research team calls upon diver Jonas (Statham and his globe-trotting accent) to return to the depths that haunt him after a previous rescue mission ended badly.
Obviously it’s no Citizen Kane, and there’s a suspicion that it only exists to facilitate the pun just before the end credits roll, but who doesn’t want to watch a boat drag Jason Statham along, like a bit of big, angry, bald bait, all in 4K?
There’s a danger when remastering classic films in 4K that all those extra pixels will make the special effects look ropey. And while the shark in Jaws certainly doesn’t look any more realistic in Ultra HD, it was hardly the most convincing man-eater in the first place.
That’s not to say the rest of the film suffers as a result. The increased resolution makes Amity Island look even more idyllic (as long as you ignore what’s in the water) and Steven Spielberg’s direction is still a masterclass in tension that’s arguably never been beaten.