The best 4K gaming monitors offer a wider variety of uses with its potential in image quality, the level of detail, and clarity. While some color-accurate products can double as a money-making display if you are an imaging professional, the other entertainment purpose largely underutilized is movie playback. We frequently watch our copies of 4K-UHD films or streaming services on regular smart TVs, but there are those of us who would prefer to sit in a comfortable gaming chair and sit close to the action for unprecedented clarity brought about by the thicker pixel density of PC monitors. These cutting edge gadgets also offer vastly improved aspects such as deeper contrasts and faster pixel response times making them superior to a regular TV. This guide presents the best UHD movies you can watch to flex your 4K monitor’s abilities.
II. Asus ROG Swift PG27AQ
For this guide, we tested and watched all ten movies with the Asus ROG PG27AQ, one of the best gaming monitors for its rich color adjustment settings, beautiful 27″ IPS panel and robust design which makes it a top choice for gamers who want to enjoy Ultra-HD entertainment in a well-equipped package. This product also comes with Nvidia’s G-Sync, so your graphics will be as smooth as the movies you can watch on the gorgeous panel from AU Optronics. For more information on this model, you can read more in our detailed review article here.
III. The Best Movies
1. Mad Max Fury Road
The Dystopian world death-race styled action thriller by George Miller is one of my latest favorite action movies of all time for its gut-wrenching action sequences and explosive effects. The environment may seem bland or shaded singularly, but displaying a reddish and barren desert correctly is one of the many challenges for color accuracy. If you watch this multi-award-winning film on both a 4K TV and a fantastic UHD monitor, one of the biggest differences will lie in small details like how the cars splashed around in the sand. Instead of a regular dash, watching at a near-field distance and a higher pixel density almost gave my eyes a perception of the graininess as the sand thrashed about when the off-road tires screeched through the desert. The details on the apocalyptic vehicles like Imperator Furiosa’s war rig became more evident like how the sand and rust mixed to give its undersides a realistic worn-out image.
Best Scene: The Final Car Chase Deathmatch
This part is where the details I was talking about became more apparent. From when the plows acting as tow-hooks clamped onto the squishy sandy surface, you could see how detailed the dust trails are much better represented instead of appearing as a simple cloud. The explosions and the damage also became more visceral as chunks of glass and steel fell off the War Rig. Detailed fireballs and blood spatter made the experience even better.
2. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batfleck and Supes didn’t sit well with critics and box office ratings, but for image quality ventures this is my current favorite since the movie’s post processing and overall ambiance biased more on a murky noir, unlike the sunny desert setting of our previous entry. Zach Snyder shoots most of his work on 35mm and 70mm film, but he also used 4K digital cameras and finished everything in 4K digital. This method is ideal for 4K home video conversion since it does not incur and losses in image quality. Fantastic contrast plays a huge role in helping you see the grim details of this film, since most of the action sequences like the heavily anticipated clash between the dark knight and the godlike Kryptonian. Inky blacks played a key role here, but excellent grayscale performance is also critical. But when illumination splashed onto the screen like when Batsy showed the Kryptonite spear or when the fires raged on as Doomsday stood against our heroes, the light they bore appeared more like an intense incandescence rather than a simple dash of light.
Best Scene: Batman and Superman’s Clash (With a sorely anticlimactic end)
We all hate how the two titan’s mothers shared the name Martha which caused them to stop from killing each other, but this is where contrast played a great role in delivering a sinister feel to a typical clash between two fan-favorite heroes. Bits and pieces of the walls flew about and appeared crystal clear instead of a dash of blurs. The detail of Batman’s suit was also a source of major eye candy in the dark, thanks to the fantastic contrast performance of our gaming monitor.
3. Star Trek: Into the Darkness
The second outing of the new Captain James T. Kirk is one of the remarkable examples of how 4K delivers out of this world levels of detail and color. From the opening scene alone where Capt. Kirk and Spock ran through a blood-red forest. Having a quicker pixel response helps the image transition to display the woods with clarity instead of appearing as red blurs as the pair ran past the lush vegetation. The Nibiru tribesmen who were pursuing them also seemed crisp on a responsive 4K gaming monitor with their flaky skin. The space travels of the USS Enterprise also provided a visual fiesta as the massive ship posted its form on a spectacular backdrop of planets and the stars. This movie is a top choice if you want to harness the visual tenacity of your chosen 4K gaming display.
Best Scene: Spock’s Daring Leap Into a Volcano
This scene is another highlight of the movie if you are into hardcore detail and effects. The fiery bowels of the volcano accentuated by ember and sparks flying around made a spectacular and breathtaking scene. Spock’s suit also showed off a ridiculous level of clarity with each bronze-colored plate glistening against the magma.
4. The Revenant
The Oscar-winning Revenant is another excellent example to test your UHD gaming monitor’s color accuracy. The film was shot in a realistic setting only illuminated by natural light, so you can expect your screen’s contrast levels to play a huge part in displaying the gritty details of this thrilling adventure. The snowy atmosphere needs a true level of white balance and screen uniformity so the harshness of the cold and the bleached whiteness can be displayed correctly, and against this backdrop, the uncompromising details of the leathers, fur, and the other old-world aspects appear bright with being overly stylized. The dark crimson of the blood splashed seemed more gooey and violent, providing an enjoyable but visually traumatizing realization of the misadventures of the character played by Leo.
Best Scene: Bear Attack!!!
This scene is one of the best and practical results of the use of a neutral environment shot with the 6.5K film to capture every bit of detail. You can clearly see the movement of the fur and the cavities on the bear’s teeth as it was mauling Leo, and as the light shone through the treetops, the scene appeared all the more gut-wrenching and harrowing in 4K UHD.
5. The Shallows
One of the best benefits you can from Ultra HD is that it displays paradise settings like no other. The Shallows is a shark-attack thriller shot in a secluded beach setting somewhere on the coast of Mexico. The focus of this movie lies more in the surfing aspect and the enjoyment of mother nature as Blake Lively rushed through the waves of the pristine blue waters. The waves were excellently portrayed with minimal blurring in our 4K monitor test as each drop of water zipped past the screen when Blake’s surfboard sliced through the water. The lush greens of the islands in the backdrop were also pleasant on the eyes, with the shade displaying accurately without any bluish tints mixing as the picture transitions. The shark attack scenes did look faker than it normally is when compared to normal 1080p viewing, but we did appreciate seeing the Ampullae of Lorenzini (sensory pores)on the beast’s snout. The blood mixing in the water was also realistic since 4K helped it appear to be mixing with the water instead of showing as a cloud of red pasted on the blue backdrop.
Best Scene: Surfing Sequence
From the point where the actress stood at the edge of the shoreline with her “beach face,” Blake’s skin seemed alive and sunkissed, exposed to the salty air and the hot rays of the coastal sun. As she leaped into each wave, the splashes she made and the crash of the waters against the shore and her board appeared crystal clear instead of becoming blurry bits of H2O.
6. Warcraft: The Beginning
If you are plastering your oglers onto a 4K gaming monitor, then you must be familiar with the Warcraft franchise and its CGI movie released a year ago. The film used a mix of real actors and computer graphics to create the Orcs, and while it did not mix well at some points, some highlights were even more enjoyable in 4K. The Orcs were rendered will full dramatic detail from the neutral and green skin tones to the bits and pieces of their primitive armor and weapons. The faces and muscles did appear more realistic since UHD enhances the details which accentuate the showcase; from the wrinkles of the skin to the veins and scars that ran across the several faces of the characters involved. The Kingdom of Azeroth’s aerial shot is also a fantastic example to test the abilities of your 4K monitor since this part of the film mixes glistening colors and architectural details shown from a distance to create an awe-inspiring and humbling effect.
Best Scene: Durotan versus Gul’dan
The wrinkles and muscle flexing became even more crucial to this scene since this is where one of the main protagonists engages the evil Gul’dan in a traditional deathmatch. The kicker in this part is where Gul’dan uses Fel magic to cheat Durotan and drain his life force since he could not defeat him in hand to hand combat. You could see the skeletal details and the transitions of the wrinkling skin in superb detail which made the anti-climax all the more heart-breaking. Poor Durotan.
Interstellar is a freakish representation of the woes humanity faces when we eventually reach the brink and need to explore the vastness of deep space. The movie depicts out space and the mysterious bodies we have yet to discover with beautiful cinematics and rendering brought about by the genius minds who imagined them. From the watery world to the icy planet where the crew finds the missing ship, 4K’s level of detail is crucial in conveying the diverse environments from the harshness of the frozen world to the massive tidal wave crash threatening to wipe out the small landing vessel our heroes were riding. Black holes were also beautifully executed to create their terrifying and mysterious presence, and presenting them against a lonely ink-black backdrop is a challenge fulfilled by a display with fantastic contrast capabilities.
Best Scene: Landing on the Icy Planet to Explore
From the landing of the vessel to exploring the cracked and rocky surface, 4K does this section of the film a great amount of justice. The clarity represented the snow storms and the texture of the surface with exceptional detail, making the out of this world environment create a visual impact on the harshness and difficulties the actors experienced.
8. The Martian
This film is about delivering a secluded and dangerous feel to the individual viewer, so 4K UHD’s realism is important in displaying every object and detail. This title depicts Matt Damon as forgotten astronaut who is stuck in Mars, a wildly volatile planet with dust storms, extreme temperature shifts, and a cruel landscape. The scenery plays a role in conveying to the audience the brutality of surviving on a distant planet. Every crack and crevice in the Martian floor look like it has depth and the jagged edges appeared as if they could slice skin, while the dust storms felt like it was blowing at your face with numerous objects flung around by the force of the wind. Pixel transition is again critical for this movie’s thrilling sequences, while contrast helps depict the strange environment.
Best Scene: Matt Damon Explores the Martian Landscape
In one part of the film where the lead actor decides to fix the Exploration Vehicle to find other sites, there were shots which depicted the vast and lonesome landscape of this red planet to full effect. 4K enhances the realism of this rendered scene by displaying every bit of detail with the sharpness and clarity it provides, giving the viewer a mind-boggling visual of what our neighboring planet could look like up close.
9. X-Men Apocalypse
This entry is more about masked or costume-toting heroes who shoot beams from their eyes, create adverse weather conditions, and manipulate mass and metal via telekinetic powers. Makeup, lighting effects, and costumes play a huge role in this movie, so 4K UHD is an excellent platform to experience a beloved story and its characters which originally came from the pages of a comic book. Contrast and color accuracy is critical to this movie, so the costume textures and light blooms appear natural and realistic. The sharpness of 4K also enhances the rendered environments like the scene in Egypt or the final clash to create a sense of the magnitude of the battlegrounds the antagonists selected.
Best Scene: Quicksilver Saves the Students
This sequence shows the zippy hero Quicksilver running around the school to grab each student before the building blows apart. Portraying two speeds (slow and ultrafast) is tricky, and it involves a lot of moving objects which should appear solid since they are running in the background which is stuck in slow motion. 4K’s detail works in a lot of ways to showcase this technically challenging scene while the hero blazes around, and finally, the explosive climax also appeared terrifying thanks to the vibrancy of the flames and the objects that fell apart.
This last entry is also a superhero movie, and to start, we must say that you have to check out Deadpool’s red costume in Ultra-HD. The mixing shades of red and the leathery texture of the suit are exciting to see in 4K especially when the camera zooms in as the hero maneuvers to slaughter his victims. The higher resolution provides an exhilarating vibe to an already explosive storyline, and the blood splatters including the goon who got squished on the highway sign gave a visceral and gory impact, an effect which the original character story regularly implies. The titan made of steel, Colossus, also appeared genuinely pleasing thanks to the excellent lighting and on every layer of steel muscles he has displayed thru the sharpness of this resolution. This title is also action-packed, so having a fast pixel transition time is necessary to enjoy every fight scene this movie has in its storyline.
Best Scene: Final Battle as the Ship Flips
The final clash between our obnoxious hero and his overly serious antagonist was the exciting highlight between all the numerous fight scenes this movie entails. The flying debris, explosions and the fantastic combat are better experienced in 4K, all while enjoying Deadpool’s rhetorics and amazing costume.
IV. Final Thoughts
Most of the movies we selected here were shot in ideal settings which was critical to how it was converted for home video without any image fidelity losses. When buying your movies, make sure it has the 4K Ultra-HD logo instead of Bluray to take advantage of better details and clarity thanks to the lower compression rates used for this format. Also, you can see the HDR logo plastered on the cover images of some of the movies, so it is safe to say that these copies will look extremely better on some of the upcoming HDR-capable monitors we recently saw at CES 2017. But at the time of this writing, if you already have an excellent 4K display like the Asus PG27AQ we used to watch each title, you’re in a for a visual ride unlike any other.