Got Sky Q, Sky Glass or Sky Stream? Ultra HD comes as standard with your Sky Q multiroom subscription, and costs just £5-a-month extra with Sky Glass or Sky Stream, and while it doesn’t extend to everything available, the catalogue is steadily growing all the time. Here’s Stuff’s pick of the best that Sky 4K has to offer…
Gotham City is hardly known for its delightful weather and friendly locals, but in Matt Reeves’ The Batman the sun never seems to rise and there’s yet another psychopathic killer on the loose. Making his debut as the Caped Crusader is Robert Pattinson, who mopes around in the dark like he’s just missed out on tickets for the My Chemical Romance reunion tour, while Paul Dano’s depiction of the Riddler is about as far away from Jim Carey’s as you can possibly imagine – all unhinged video messages and army surplus chic.
At three hours long, The Batman might be a slog for some, but it rewards patience with some exhilarating set pieces. And for those bored of glossy superhero movies its grittier tone will be a welcome change; if its main protagonist didn’t spend so much time dressed as a bat it’d pass as a Fincher-esque serial-killer thriller.
If you think Hamlet would be improved if it included more Vikings, wolf hats and farting, you should probably spend two-and-a-half hours with The Northman. Based on the same Old Norse tale that inspired Shakespeare, it tells the story of Alexander Skarsgård’s Amleth, the son of a king who’s on a mission to get revenge for his father’s brutal murder. The twist? His uncle is the killer and is now married to Amleth’s mum. And you thought your family was dysfunctional.
Fortunately, this quest is made somewhat easier by the fact that Amleth looks like he should be competing in Asgard’s Strongest Man. He hacks, stabs and bludgeons his way through villages and forests, over mountains and across seas, but what sets The Northman apart from other mythical blockbusters is how beautifully shot it is. Bashing heads has never looked so good.
You’d think Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and co would’ve grown out of launching themselves into things, firing each other out of stuff and generally doing things you shouldn’t try at home, but Jackass Forever proves there’s no age limit on their death-defying antics.
They know they can’t go on doing this too much longer, though, so Jackass Forever introduces some new, younger faces to the crew, but the basic formula remains the same. It’d be nice if they didn’t feel the need to involve animals quite so often – it’s unlikely the tarantula, scorpion or bear signed a consent form – but it’s hard to imagine you’ll find a movie with a higher laughs-per-minute rate this year.
The Many Saints of Newark
There were nearly 15 years between the end of The Sopranos and the release of The Many Saints of Newark in 2021, which means the show’s creator and film’s co-writer, David Cross, has had plenty of time to think about how to follow what is arguably the greatest TV series of all time.
What you get with The Many Saints of Newark isn’t the straight-up Tony Soprano origin story that many expected, particularly after James Gandolfini’s real-life son Michael was cast as the mobster’s younger self. But anyone who’s seen The Sopranos – and it seems unlikely anyone watching will be unfamiliar with the series – will know that something as simple as that was never likely. It might not live up to the impossibly high expectations, but there’s still plenty here for fans to sink their teeth into.
Gangs of London
With possibly the highest body count of any show on TV, series one of Gangs of London was a more-than-a-little-bit-ludicrous mixture of Eastenders and The Raid. Similarities to the latter were no coincidence – the series was conceived by that film’s creators, Gareth Evans and Matt Flannery, whose adrenaline-pumping, bullet-riddled set-pieces made the first series of Gangs of London so mindlessly watchable, even if it was a touch ‘Guy Ritchie by Waitrose’ at times.
The pair were less involved in this follow-up season – and it shows. While it still has plenty of blood-spattered moments – the shootout in a posh Paris nightclub and an assault on one of the big cheese’s mansions spring to mind – it can’t quite reach the thrilling heights of series one, spending a bit too much time being all serious and not enough cracking skulls. Oh, and the name’s still rubbish.
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.
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.
When Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus meets Woody Harrelson’s Twinkie-munching Tallahassee in the midst of a zombie outbreak, the unlikely pair begin a cross-country mission to find out if the former’s parents have survived with their brains intact, encountering an undead Bill Murray on the way.
Zombieland is silly, outrageously violent and easily rewatchable, a bit like an American Shaun of the Dead, plus it has what is probably the best opening sequence of any film released in the past 10 years (and not just because it’s soundtracked by Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls).
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.
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.
If you were to make a list of movie scenes worth remastering in 4K, the meme-tastic bit in Jurassic Park when Jeff Goldblum’s injured Ian Malcolm unbuttons his shirt and reclines on a table in an apparent attempt to seduce Richard Attenborough would easily make the top five.
Fortunately for everybody involved, the whole of Spielberg’s classic dino ‘em up has had its pixels buffed up, not just that one sequence, so one of the greatest blockbusters ever made is available in Ultra HD. In fact, its two immediate sequels are there too, but they’re rubbish.
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.