The first season of this magnificent Netflix original drama is all about the rise of drug baron Pablo Escobar, the second captures the true story of his downfall after years on the run, and the third concerns the Colombian kingpins who suceed him. You can expect a mix of tense action sequences, real news footage and superb moustaches – and it's worth watching in 4K for the extra detail on Escobar’s superb selection of sweaters alone.
Altered Carbon (S1-2)
Altered Carbon is set in the kind of neon-soaked cyberpunk hellhole – created via dizzyingly expensive special effects – that positively demands to be delivered in 4K and HDR. And, thankfully for us, it is!
This glossy, gory cyber-noir takes us 300-odd years into the future, where Earth has become an overpopulated, dirty, decadent mess – but outright death is a rarity. That’s because your consciousness, digitally backed up on a device called a “stack”, can be transported between bodies – if, of course, you can afford to pay the exorbitant fee such an operation entails.
Into this terrifying new world drops hard-boiled anti-hero Takeshi Kovacs, released from prison and dropped into a snazzy, buffed-up Joel Kinnaman-shaped sleeve after a couple of centuries on ice. Why has Kovacs been brought back after so long? In order to solve a murder, of course – a mystery that the insanely wealthy victim (who’s now reincarnated in a fresh cloned sleeve, natch) believes only Kovacs’ unique skills can unwrap.
Blade Runner 2049
The long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s eye-popping cyberpunk classic manages to outdo its predecessor on the visual stylistics, arguably being one of the most stunningly beautiful films ever made. Big ups to director Denis Villeneuve and Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, then, who’ve produced a rare treat for the eyes that owners of 4K televisions shouldn’t pass up. Pick it up on 4K Blu-ray for the ultimate in image quality, but those who baulk at the cost can stream it for much less.
Better Call Saul (S1-5)
No one really likes lawyers. They don’t have millions of adoring fans on Instagram, and their spirit animals are sharks – cold, grey killers, with dead, soulless eyes. But they’re not all bad. Take the slick and lovable Saul Goodman, aka Slippin’ Jimmy – a slick, rule-bending practitioner of justice who won our hearts in Breaking Bad, a show with incredible cinematography that has transitioned into this equally spectacular spin-off.
Moneyball’s not exactly replete with the kind of million-dollar action sequences that’ll give your fancy new telly a workout. Heck: there’s not even that much baseball in it. In fact, it’s kind of like Excel: The Movie, but the story of how Billy Beane turned the Oakland A’s from whipping boys into winners by studying stats is so well scripted by Aaron Sorkin that the performances of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill effortlessly capture the team’s underdog spirit. The result? A potential snoozathon becomes one of the most engrossing movies of recent years.
The Man In The High Castle (S1-4)
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half? You’d have a damn good plot for a novel, said Philip K. Dick. And, said Amazon over 50 years later, a fairly daring basis for one of its original TV series.
Knowing the scrutiny its first moves as a studio would receive, Amazon pumped a load of dug-up gold into the production. Which is good, because now that it’s available in 4K (with HDR) you can amuse yourself picking up the alt-history references in the newspapers and shop signs as the characters go about their captivating plot-based business in classy period sets.
Black Mirror (S1-5)
Black Mirror’s move from Channel 4 to Netflix has meant a bigger budget, giving Charlie Brooker’s series of dark, self-contained cautionary tales a grander scope. It’s also meant an image quality upgrade to 4K and HDR which, given the show’s cynical view of chasing the latest tech trend, feels somewhat ironic – but when it looks this good, we’ll take it regardless.
Luca Guadagnino’s stylish reimagining of the Dario Argento classic is likely to divide audiences. Ponderously paced and tottering under the weight of more themes and ideas than it knows what to do with, this is peak arthouse horror – and some might find the inevitable gory payoff too little reward for the time invested.
Others will appreciate the movie’s strong sense of place (late 1970s Berlin, a divided city stricken by political turmoil) and the way it builds its oppressive atmosphere with sound effects, strange camera angles and Thom Yorke’s krautrock-inspired score; it’s not a showy movie, but it looks great in 4K. Dakota Johnson stars as a naive American joining a prestigious all-female dance company that just might be a coven of witches, while Tilda Swinton excels in three separate roles.
American Gods (S1-2)
Based on the celebrated Neil Gaiman novel, this big budget series from Bryan Fuller (previously producer of Hannibal) weaves together cords of ancient mythology, modern mythology, Americana and pop culture to create a modern fantasy fable – a magical realist tale about immigration, above other things. The cast includes the classy likes of Ian McShane, Peter Stormare and Gillian Anderson, but British viewers might be tickled to see former Hollyoaks hunk Ricky Whittle in the leading role – and doing a very decent job along with it.
American Gods has a distinctive, stylish look that benefits from its Ultra HD rendering - but given the series' clever use of colour and contrast, we're a tad disappointed that HDR isn't on the menu.
Violent yet beautiful, menacing and stunning in equal measure. No, not Titus Welliver’s moody homicide detective - the city of Los Angeles. LA is as big a part of Amazon's gritty crime drama as Bosch himself, and it looks flippin’ gorgeous in 4K with HDR.
Tune in for the beautiful rolling shots of LA, sprawling out from the Hollywood hills in UHD resolution, and you’ll soon be hooked by the clever murder mystery plot.
At the time of writing, a fourth season has just dropped onto Amazon Prime – which means binge-watchers have a whole heap of murder, conspiracy and assorted shadiness to dive into.