10 best movies to test your new TV and soundbar

10 best movies to test your new TV and soundbar
(Image credit: Universal)

When you've just invested in one of the best TVs, you need to be able to show it off. Some films do that better than others, so we've rounded up the ten best movies to show off your new TV. In addition - because we know that many modern TVs need a separate soundbar for a proper home theater feel - we've chosen movies with epic sound, to help you show off your entire home entertainment system. 

Sure, many of these movies may not be to your taste, but you should find something on this list to help you show off your TV. If you've invested in one of the best soundbars, there are certain movies that really double-down on score and audio, so while they may not necessarily be visually stunning, we've included a handful on this list too. 

We would very much recommend that if you have an OLED or QLED TV, you should be viewing movies in 4K Blu-ray (using one of the best Blu-ray players) or 4K UHD streaming (via one of the best movie streaming sites like Disney Plus or Netflix) to bring out the superior colors and contrasts, as well as the HDR. If you've gone for a regular 4K TV, you can still put it to good use with regular Blu-rays and Full HD content.

Make sure you have one of the best HDMI cables to guarantee a clear signal, and be sure to get a fibre deal that can handle 4K streaming, and has unlimited downloads.

10. Aquaman

Aquaman on 4K

(Image credit: Warner)

How it tests your TV
While the movie itself is pretty average, Aquaman is visually incredible, especially when it comes to the underwater city scenes. What's more, the 4K version retains the scenes that were shot in IMAX, so it actually fills an entire 16:9 screen without the usual letterbox effect. The difference in picture is very, very noticeable and it really shows off something like a QLED with its brighter colors.

What jars a little is that the IMAX isn't consistent, so the letterbox reappears during some of the quieter scenes. While this makes the bigger set-pieces even more explosive and colorful, you are left wishing for consistency. The sound effects and score are perfect for soundbars too, especially the warped underwater audio and 'bubbling' noises, so it's a great all-rounder for testing a home theater system. As DC movies go, Wonder Woman is far superior, but it doesn't have the same visual and audio clout.

9. Life of Pi

Life of Pi Blu Ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

How it tests your TV 
To say that Life of Pi offers vibrant visuals would be the understatement of the century. Life of Pi tells the story of a young boy lost at sea after a shipwreck, stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger. The movie was lauded for its stunning CGI when it debuted, and even today it still offers one of the most stunningly colorful palettes in cinema. This is an ideal movie to test your TVs HDR and color-range capabilities.

The soundtrack is more lowkey than many others in our listing, but that gives you the perfect chance to test out the true audio range of your TV speakers, as they can’t hide behind aggressive bass. The muted orchestral tones blended with traditional Indian instruments will show off the balance and range of your speakers. 

8. Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse

Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse on 4K

(Image credit: Sony)

How it tests your TV
In a word: color. Into the Spiderverse is a fully animated movie that tells the origin story of the Miles Morales version of Spidey. Not only is it a superb watch, with some absolutely crazy multiverse moments, but it's a fantastic way to show off the color range of your new TV. The range of vibrant colors in the animation absolutely pop on a QLED set, and are guaranteed to make friends envious of your set-up if you sit down for a movie night with them.

The smoothness of the animation is excellent too, which really sets off a TV with a higher refresh rate. OLED's deep blacks and superb contrast gets a good workout too, although perhaps not as much as you get with a darker movie like some on our list. Sound-wise, the hip-hop-heavy score will challenge the bass capabilities of your speakers nicely, although the sound design isn't particularly standout.

7. Inception 

Inception Blu ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

How it tests your TV
Would it be cheeky of us to just type out the BWUUHHHHH sound that jumps to everyone’s mind when they think of Christopher Nolan’s excellent, sci-fi mind heist movie Inception? This is definitely one to test out the audio capabilities of your TV or sound system, specifically the bass. Beyond that iconic noise, Inception has a real depth and range to its audio showcase, with quiet moments, bombastic action scenes and an epic soundtrack.

But even beyond that, Inception is a visual tour de force with varied environments and color profiles as the heroes move between the various levels of their dream world. From the muted, orange hues of the hotel to the cold white harshness of the mountaintop fortress, Inception will show off the color capabilities of your TV.

6. John Wick 3

John Wick 3 on 4K

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

How it tests your TV
Pick any movie from the John Wick franchise, buy the 4K version, and you'll get an excellent workout for your new 4K TV. We chose JW3 because it's the newest, so the 4K render and HDR is slightly superior, but we think the Rome scenes in JW2 are actually a great tester for your TV and speakers too, as the range of audio in the gunshots - as the chase moves from open-air to interior tunnels - really demonstrates audio range.

John Wick 3 is a visual spectacle that provides a huge range of colors, but also really works the black levels on an OLED set. The final fight at the penthouse of The Continental will make the contrast of your set absolutely shine because of the night time setting, the city scape, and the abundance of glass and reflections.

5.  Logan

Logan 4K blu ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

How it tests your TV
One of the bleakest superhero stories ever put to screen, Logan is a fantastic movie to test how your TV handles HDR. To suit the dark and brutal themes of the movie, Logan features a varied but muted color palette. Contrast is used to excellent effect though, with dark shadows and overexposed sunlight throughout the predominantly desert setting of the movie. 

With so much of the visuals being cast in darkness and shadow, you’ll get a real sense for how your TV handles visual depth in dark areas. If your TV doesn’t cope with darkness well, or you get the halo effect in high-contrast scenes, you’ll lose a lot of the detail. Something like the LG C9 is going to present these scenes beautifully. The hotel section, with Charles and Logan, will also put your sound system to the test, with the screeching high notes and a reverberating bass dominating the whole scene.

4. Harry Potter movie series

Harry Potter collection on 4K

(Image credit: Warner)

How it tests your TV
While the earlier movies won't give your TV and soundbar the same kind of workout, the later films - from Goblet of Fire onwards - really, really do. The darker scenes are perfect for showing off OLED contrast, especially when you get the action scenes that liberally fire brighly-colored spell blasts across the screen. Pans across Hogwarts look excellent on larger panels too, and the darker areas and classrooms test out your TV's HDR capabilities.

Sound is superb in the Harry Potter movies too, and the 4K masters also enhance the classical scores for each movie. It's a serious test of your soundbar - for bass and treble - when the soundtrack kicks in during the busier scenes, mixing with the effects. If you have a competent audio set-up, something like the climactic fights in the Deathly Hallows P2 will really show it off.

3. Avengers: End Game

Avengers Endgame blu ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

How it tests your TV
Another superhero movie, but while Logan is dark and washed out, Avengers Endgame is a veritable explosion of color that will really test your TVs capabilities. And it happens to be a fantastic summer blockbuster to boot, even if we think that Infinity War is the better movie overall.

Comic book heroes are known for their colorful costumes, and this movie contains just about every single mainstream Marvel superhero there is. At the same time, some of the quieter scenes, especially those set in space will test how well your set handles deep blacks.

Throw in the epic orchestral soundtrack and the thunderous final battle and you’ll give your TVs audio systems a decent workout too. It’s not super heavy on the bass, but with lasers flying, hammers dropping and spaceships exploding, Endgame is a great movie to test your TVs audio setup. It’s Dolby Atmos supported too, so you’ll be able to get the most out of your surround sound system.

2. 1917

1917 on 4K

(Image credit: Universal)

How it tests your TV
1917 is an absolute powerhouse of a movie, and easily one of the best war films ever created. The cinematography is second to none, and it'll give your TV's contrast, color range, motion capabilities, and screen-size a real test. The scene where Schofield enters Ecoust at night, illuminated by flares, is breathtaking on an OLED panel, as is his dash to call off the final attack at the climax of the movie. However,  the smaller, more claustrophobic scenes also provide breathtaking pictures, especially as they were shot with a wider 35mm lens to make the scenery feel like it's closing in on the pair.

Sound-wise 1917 is a tour de force, and every gunshot and bullet-ping tests the capability of a good soundbar or surround-sound system. What really sets it apart for us, however, is the way sound fades in from moments of silence or quiet. Yes, a noisy movie like Dunkirk can challenge a sound system, but it's the way silence is presented and punctuated that really tests one. 1917 does this expertly. If you value your AV set-up in any way, and love movies, this is an essential watch. 

1. Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 blu ray

(Image credit: Amazon)

How it tests your TV
The follow up to one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, Blade Runner 2049 somehow managed to live up to the legacy of its predecessor. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful movies of the past decade with breathtaking visual effects and a superb use of color and contrast. From the dusty orange hues of the desert to the neon lights of the city, there is such a huge color range to explore here, all courtesy of multiple-award-winning cinematographer, Roger Deakins. Blade Runner 2049 will give any TV the best possible chance to shine, but we’d most highly recommend watching it on a high-end 4K TV, preferably a QLED or OLED screen to get the most out of it.

The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful too, with eerie synth and rumbling bass dominating. Again, this is going to sound great coming out of just about anything, but it will really shine with a high quality sound bar or surround sound system to fully immerse yourself.

Andy Hartup

Andy was the previous Editor-in-Chief of Top Ten Reviews. With over 18 years experience in both online and print journalism, Andy has worked for a host of world-leading tech and gaming brands, including PC Gamer and GamesRadar. He specializes in photography, technology and smart home, and has provided expert comment for sites like The Guardian. In his spare time Andy is an amateur photographer, and teaches at the National Film and TV School.