Netflix may now be charging £18 (or $23/AU$23) per month for its Premium tier, but there’s no doubting the sheer volume, or indeed the quality, of the shows and movies on the service being offered with 4K HDR pictures and Dolby Atmos surround sound. With new programming frequently being presented in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, Netflix remains the go-to streaming service for home cinema entertainment.
But with such a plethora of series and movies available on Netflix, discovering new releases that will truly show your 4K TV and immersive audio system off to their best is no easy task.
Luckily, we’ve been putting in the legwork (we know, poor us...), so all you have to do is trust our recommendations, crank up the volume, dim the house lights, and hit 'Play'…
One Piece (TV show)
This visually inventive live-action version of the classic Japanese pirate anime looks like no other show on Netflix. Unlike Cowboy Bebop (Netflix’s previous live-action anime effort), One Piece has proved wildly successful (a second season has already been confirmed) and follows its animated inspiration with slavish determination.
Picture quality and visual effects are excellent. The show’s 4K, Dolby Vision HDR images look sumptuous, big on colour and dynamics, while the soundtrack rolls, pitches and yaws like a galleon in a storm – Luffy’s deck battle with cruel pirate Alvida will give your surround and height speakers a dizzying workout.
Time-looping short film Flashback is both a great little fantasy head-scratcher and a concise sound and vision demo reel. Presented in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, its widescreen imagery is suitably cinematic, with inventive use of HDR and colour – look out for the subtle glow of the nightlight in the bedroom and the neon-lit laser tag sequence. It’s sonically dramatic, too: when the soundfield spins, you’ll be able to sort the vanilla soundbars from truly immersive audio systems.
Bodies (TV show)
Based on a Vertigo graphic novel, sci-fi mystery Bodies pushes the envelope both in terms of storytelling (one body, four time periods, multiple detectives) and immersive sound design – when the lights go on the fritz (it happens a lot in Longharvest Lane), the sound of electricity arcs front to back in a most satisfying fashion. So many Dolby Atmos TV mixes sound televisual and a bit flat, but Bodies is far more ambitious and bears repeat viewing for its sonics alone.
Note also how score changes with each change of time period, honking and immersive in the present day, becoming more monophonic when we flip back to the 1940s, and so on. Oh yes, and it also stars Stephen Graham, so you’ll simply have to watch it!
Bird Box Barcelona (Movie)
This Spanish-language sister to Sandra Bullock’s similarly titled (sub-'Barcelona') horror thriller relocates the alien invasion action to the titular Spanish city, where a lookalike apocalypse is taking place. Once again, humans have to wear blindfolds when out and about as just a glimpse of the unseen invaders is enough to persuade us mere mortals to commit suicide in some horrible fashion. The cast may be stumbling in the dark, but you’ll certainly want to watch wide-eyed because the film is rich in 4k detail and fast-paced action sequences. Cinematographer Daniel Aranyó fills his frame with desolate city scenes (Barcelona is known for its architecture after all), while the darker sequences are certain to test the limits of your TV’s ability to resolve near-shadow detail.
The Dolby Atmos sound design also entertains, particularly when those pesky alien invaders get inside the heads of their hapless victims, creating a whirling soundstage of taunting voices.
Fubar (TV show)
With shades of True Lies, this Arnold Scwarzenegger-starring spy romp is a great showcase for big LFE moments, elaborate explosions and copious gunplay. Arnie plays a CIA veteran who has to partner his smarter daughter on a series of outlandish missions. If you like your action tongue-in-cheek, then you’re in the right stream.
The show opens with The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil, wide and stereophonic, before it’s dissected by wailing fire trucks. Then there’s the echoing ambience of a sewerage system and a huge bass bomb blast. We were grinning even before the witty banter. Who cares if the show makes no sense, it sounds great!
There’s also some excellent HDR – we love the cool techy lighting effects – and the 4K resolution is superb, with the delineation of bristles on Arnie’s chin proving a good deal more challenging than most test charts you’ll ever see.
Who Is Erin Carter? (TV show)
No one is quite who they seem to be in this quirky cops and robbers limited series. Evin Ahmad plays an expat school-teaching mom, quietly going about her business in Spain until she becomes involved in a supermarket robbery. After dispatching the robbers with impressive efficiency, her image is splashed across the news. It turns out Erin is not who she appears to be, and she’s a good deal more dangerous than the average supply teacher.
With warm and sunny full-frame 4K images, presented in Dolby Vision HDR and lifted by some excellent choreography, this Netflix original is an easy recommendation for action addicts. It’s consistently more exciting than Amazon Prime Video’s John Wick spin-off, The Continental.
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