Big Mid-Month Update of Netflix Streaming Releases

A little bit of this, a little bit of that – don’t miiss The Babadook! As with the recent large acquisition of African movies, Netflix appears to have negotiated quite a set of Latin movies and television. Did I mention don’t miss The Babadook?

Action & Adventure: The Man with the Iron Fists 2

Comedy: One Small Hitch, Craig Ferguson: Does This Need to be Said?, Good Luck Chuck

Documentary: Winnebago Man, kink, All In: The Poker Movie, Love Me, Pump, Super High Me

Bound

Drama: Bound (2015), Knife Fight, Tracks, Love Hunter, Night has Settled, A Second Chance

Family: Bratz Kidz: Fairy Tales

Brotherhood of Blades

Foreign: Brotherhood of Blades, Goodbye to Language, Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman, Colosio: El asesinato, El Baile de San Juan, Flu, La Cama, Leaving No Trace, Nicotina, Paradas Continuas, Polo Polo Recargado 2, Polo Polo VIP 2, Two Embraces, Zurdo

Horror: The Babadook, The Canal

Television: Bob Zoom, Las Aparicio, Lo Que la Vide me Robo, Los Caballeros Las Prefieren Brutas, Los Heroes del Norte, Pompidou, Por Ella Soy Eva, Scrotal Recall, Wild Iberia, Splatalot, and new episodes of Aguila Roja and Johnny Test

The Lookalike

Thriller: The Lookalike

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 4/14/15

I guess the big news is Netflix’ Daredevil, which I’m hoping to binge on this weekend. There are also a slew of new documentaries and foreign (African) films.

Crank

Action & Adventure: Crank

Documentary: Actress, The Invisible Front, Monk with a Camera, Breath of Freedom, The Great Invisible, Helicopter Missions: Viet Nam Firefights, Hindenburg: The Untold Story, History in HD: Shooting Iwo Jima, The Hunt for Bin Laden, The Incredible Bionic Man, My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn, Speed Kills: Jungle, Speed Kills: Ocean, Speed Kills: Savannah, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, The Teacher Who Defied Hitler

Drama: The World Made Straight

Pioneer

Foreign: Pioneer, The Awakening (2013), Broken (2013), Burning Bridges, Confusion Na Wa, Finding Mercy, Finding Mercy 2, Flower Girl, Forgetting June, Keeping My Man, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Lagos Cougars, Lies Men Tell, Mad Couple, Mad Couple 2, Matters Arising, Mission to Murder Hitler, October 1, Onye Ozi, Ties That Bind, Yves Saint Laurent

Daredevil

Television: The Code, Daredevil, Halt and Catch Fire, Super 4, Air Disasters, and new episodes of Legit, Transformers Rescue Bots, and Wilfred

Thriller: Preservation

Furious 7 – Part Deux Vroom Vroom

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.”

Well I spent yesterday detailing how atrocious the script for Furious 7 was. The thing is there’s another movie here. The other Furious 7 is all about the casting and that film is knocked out of the park.

All of the previous crew return in Furious 7 although Sung Kang as Han only appears in the scene repeated from the end of Fast & Furious 6. The multi-ethnic portion is a good sell for the international market. Obviously there is a lot of sentiment for Paul Walker’s final performance. Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are given star roles but there are plenty of good moments for Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Mia (Jordana Brewster).

Jason Statham is a great tough guy and it’s a wonderful coup that Furious 7 was able to convince him to play a villain. While not a great actor, he oozes danger. Unfortunately, they go overboard with this and make him unstoppable. He is a former special forces assassin with obvious psychic abilities.

Kurt Russell is brought out of retirement to play the enigmatic Mr. Nobody. I honestly thought that the next time I would see him would be in The Expendables 4 (or 5). He is suitably cool and appeals to older audiences. They also give him a kick-butt action sequence.

In smaller henchmen roles, they have wisely cast MMA champion Ronda Rousey and martial arts master Tony Jaa. Naturally, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey) have a rousing good fight that is a highlight of the film. Kiet (Tony Jaa) has several scenes but his inside the bus fight with Brian (Paul Walker) is one of the other highlights.

Unfortunately, while director James Wan has a fantastic stunt team on his hands, he still resorts to the now standard shaky cam and fast editing of action sequences. The sequences aren’t ruined but most of them aren’t allowed proper room to breathe. Wan often seems more interested in various camera tricks than in the mutlimillion dollar stunts.

While the cast is excellent, the movie is not. It is quite watchable however. If all you want is to see some good fights, pretty people, and fast cars then Furious 7 will take care of you. It is also a loving homage to Paul Walker, that is one part they did get right.

Furious 7 – Brain Dead or Brain Deader?

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.

I want to talk about two movies. Back in 2013, I spent some time ragging on the aggressively stupid Fast & Furious 6. I would not have thought it possible for the franchise to get stupider but I was so wrong. Furious 7 easily has the dumbest, most poorly plotted, cliched excuse for a script since the last Transformers fiasco.

Although I am certain that much of this is by committee, blame must be laid at the feet of scribe Chris Morgan. He has written the script for five of the Fast & Furious movies and, if he was trying before, he certainly isn’t now.

I congratulate Morgan on coming up with the single most irrelevant MacGuffin in the history of cinema. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the F&F gang join a not-so-clandestine organization to recover an item that would tell them where Deckard Shaw is. The thing is that the group is unable to go ANYWHERE without Deckard Shaw being there.

Seriously, I mean ANYWHERE. They literally parachute onto an obscure highway in Azerbaijan and *SURPRISE* Deckard Shaw shows up on that highway. They crash a party in Abu Dhabi and *SURPRISE* who steps off the elevator but Deckard Shaw. Morgan doesn’t even bother with a reason why he would be there. They jaunt off to Los Angeles and, well, you get the picture.

Deckard is also quite psychic in several other scenes. When he confronts Hobbs, he says “like I said…” and then proceeds with information that he never actually said or even hinted at. Deckard is able to, in the span of 36 hours per a news report, attack Hobbs, steal information about the crew, jet off to Tokyo, track down and kill Han, and mail a package containing a ‘smart’ bomb back to Toretto’s house. He also has some mystical knowledge that Toretto is right by the bomb, even though Deckard is in Tokyo.

I say smart bomb because, while it entirely destroys Toretto’s house, it does absolutely no damage to the house next door, even the windows. Moving on from the plotting, the dialogue is just dreadful. I would say that it’s a throwback to 80s action cinema but if so, it’s to bad 80s action cinema. The one-liners fall with dull thuds and there are no clever retorts.

You just earned yourself a dance with the devil, boy.”

“Did you bring the cavalry?” – “Woman, I am the cavalry” (although he actually says calvary)

“The thing about street fights… the street always wins.”

“Would you believe I knocked him out with my charm?” – “You’re not that charming, b*tch.

As per the norm, Furious 7 has no idea of what a hacker is or does. Unfortunately for a 2015 movie, Furious also has no idea how the internet works or for that matter cell phone service, towers in particular. Honestly, the ignorance on display here is embarrassing. Talk about setting the bar low.

More tomorrow – I have to go wipe the froth from my lips.

The Animal Houses October Built

The Houses October Built and Animal are currently available on instant Netflix

The Houses October Built

 

The Houses October Built (2014) – Not rated

Five friends hit the road to find the best gimmicky Halloween haunted house, but soon a terrifyingly real evil begins to hound their steps.

Ugh. Found footage again? Seriously? As is becoming more and more prevalent, the found footage angle is just sheer laziness. At the end of the film, if you bother to think of it at all, you will wonder how this could possibly be found footage.

The idea behind The Houses October Built is at least sound and novel. A group of friends video various hardcore haunted attractions, always looking for the most extreme. This allows them to spend the first two acts exploring the current state of those attractions before turning to the obvious in the third act.

Sadly, while the attractions are interesting, the material is not handled in a very interesting way. The entire movie is a very closed affair. Bobby Roe is a writer and the director as well as playing ‘Bobby’. Zack Andrews is a writer and producer and plays ‘Zack’. Jeff Larson, surprise, plays ‘Jeff’ as well as being a first assistant director and writer.

This 2014 horror movie is based on a 2011 documentary of the same name, featuring much of the same talent. The horror movie isn’t bad but I expect that the documentary is better since those are the aspects that work best in the horror movie.

Animal

 

Animal (2014) – Not rated

When plans for a weekend getaway hit a dead end, friends find themselves in unfamiliar territory, pursued by a menacing and bloodthirsty predator.”

Spam in a cabin. The only easier horror setting than young people in an RV (The Houses October Built) is young people in a secluded cabin. I love creature features but Animal plays things so generically and by the numbers that it sucks a lot of life out of the feature.

I suppose the title would be the easiest indicator of the level of effort they went to. Keke Palmer, who plays Alissa in the film, also wrote and performed the title track, Animal. The monster is interesting enough, the feature is well-paced, and ends at an hour and twenty without overstaying its welcome, apart from a failed ending.

If you need an utterly generic monster fix, Animal will fit the bill – you just won’t remember it a week from now.

 

The Unbreakable ABCs of Kimmy Schmidt’s Death 2

The ABCs of Death 2 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are currently available on instant Netflix.

The ABCs of Death 2

 

The ABCs of Death 2 (2014) – Not Rated

This comic horror anthology includes tales of a hitman’s botched plan, a boy whose grandfather sleeps under his bed and a jury comprised of zombies.

The ABCs of Death 2 is simple. If you liked The ABCs of Death, then you will like this. If you didn’t, then you won’t. Each director is given just a few minutes to tell their story, based on an assigned letter of the alphabet. As with the original, the stories vary wildly in quality. None are abominably bad but neither are any of them gems you will want to own.

The ABCs of Death 2 ends up being a passable waste of two hours if you don’t mind horror shorts.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015) – Rated TV-14

From “30 Rock” executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock comes this hilarious comedy series starring Ellie Kemper (“The Office,” “Bridesmaids”) as a woman who is rescued from a doomsday cult and starts life over as a nanny for a socialite (Jane Krakowski from “30 Rock”) in New York City. Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers and a couple of past-due library books, she takes on a world she didn’t think even existed anymore.”

Well, being sick over the holiday weekend allowed Jenny and I to binge a bit on Netflix. Jenny loves a good sitcom, especially a good-natured one. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sure fits the bill. It is not surprising that this is from 30 Rock veterans, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, as the tone, but not the content, is similar.

Ellie Kemper (The Office) is excessively likeable as our resident Pollyanna, the titular Kimmy Schmidt. While she anchors the series, she is more than ably supported by Tituss Burgess as Kimmy’s roommate, Titus Andromedon. 30 Rock veteran Jane Krakowski plays Kimmy’s rich boss. Finally, a radiant Carol Kane plays Kimmy’s landlord. All are quite funny and play to their strengths.

While not a laugh riot, Kimmy Schmidt is very enjoyable and I look forward to a second season. Sadly, at a baker’s dozen of sub-half-hour episodes, the binge was over all too soon.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 4/7/15

Yay! I’m not exactly well but caught up to speed.

Bandolero!

Classic: Bandolero!

Comedy: Delta Farce, Charlie Bartlett, Life Partners

The Sheik

Documentary: Nfinity Champions League Cheerleading Event, Moto 6: The Movie, The Sheik

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage

Foreign: The Circle

The Quiet Ones

Horror: The Quiet Ones, Starry Eyes

Television: Ace of Cakes, Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Flip or Flop, Hitler and the Nazis, The Layover, Food Network Star, Iron Chef America, Vanilla Ice Goes Amish, I Hate Christian Laettner, Road to the NHL Winter Classic, and new episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen, Good Eats, Buying & Selling, Property Brothers, Monarch of the Glen, and Derek

That Guy Who Was in That Thing with Mr. Peabody & Sherman Archer

That Guy Who Was in That Thing, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and the first five seasons of Archer are currently available on instant Netflix

Archer

 

Archer (2009-14) – Rated TV-MA

Suave, sophisticated spy Archer may have the coolest gadgets, but he still has issues when it comes to dealing with his boss, who is also his mother.”

Jenny and I binged on fifth season Archer before moving on to the very disappointing third season of House of Cards. Fifth season Archer has a completely different setting. This time the members of ISIS have become impromptu drug dealers. Other than that, you have pretty much the same cast and jokes (although they appear to have left out my favorite, “this is why we have ants”).

So it is slightly disappointing in that much is recycled but still quite funny (and offensive for those of delicate sensibilities). An enjoyable, albeit forgettable, time was had by all.

That Guy

 

That Guy…Who Was in That Thing (2012) – Rated TV-14

Sixteen male actors — who are highly recognizable but not stars — detail their ups and downs as they struggle to forge careers in Hollywood.”

Speaking of forgettable, That Guy…Who Was in That Thing is the story of sixteen hardworking actors where you’ll recognize them but probably won’t know their names. It is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who have been successful without having ‘made’ it.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) – Rated PG

Resurrected from the 1960s animated series “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” canine genius Mr. Peabody and young Sherman take a dizzying ride through time.

I like to change up what I’m watching with my granddaughter from time to time. She can watch the same thing a near infinite number of times but I need a bit of variety. Taking a bit of a break from The PowerPuff Girls and The Octonauts, we watched Mr. Peabody & Sherman. She seemed fine with it as one of the two main characters is a dog.

I thought it was dreadful drek. It is not at all in the spirit of the original. Say goodbye to the goofy, clever humor of the original and hello to factory made cinema.

This is clearly a children’s movie (as it is about two 7-year-olds and a dog) and is even rated PG. Yet we have the typically evil social worker trying to break up the family. We also have a visit to France during the Terror, i.e. when the backlog of executions necessitated the manufacture of a faster method of execution, Le Guillotine. The children also manage to cause the death of one of the main characters.

Rather than crib from the original show, the writers appear to have borrowed their bits from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. There is supposed to be a heartwarming message at the center of this that a dog can be a proper parent. So much so that they hammer it into us again and again.

Bleh! Avoid this and don’t let your children see it either.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for April

A little bit late due to my plague issues but here’s the flood of April catalog releases.

Hercules in New York

Action & Adventure: Allies, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, Braveheart, Chaos, Death Wish, Death Wish 2, Drop Zone, Enter the Ninja, Gladiator, Hercules in New York, The Last Samurai, National Security, The Objective, The Punisher, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, The Seven-Ups, Thief, Three Kings, Titanic, Wild Wild West, Wrong Turn at Tahoe

Anime: Berserk: The Egg of the King

Classic: The Graduate, Night Train to Munich

Comedy: Love the One You’re With, Swearnet: The Movie, 50 First Dates, All Relative, The Closer You Get, The Beautician and the Beast, Bebe’s Kids, The Big Lebowski, Blue State, Buffalo Soldiers, Down to Earth, Down to You, Going Overboard, Kicking & Screaming, The Longest Yard (2005), Nine to Five, Saved!, Tapeheads, This is Spinal Tap, Twins, Two Can Play That Game, Whiteboyz, Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling, Wooly Boys

Documentary: Atari: Game Over, Approaching the Elephant, Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda, Deepsea Challenge, A Field Full of Secrets, Hotline, Killer Legends, Maravilla, Nash, Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show, Step Into Liquid, What They Left Behind

Drama: Ask Me Anything, Common, Flight 93, Twelve Mile Road, Veronika Decides to Die, Affluenza, Anatomy of a Love Seen, Angela’s Ashes, Another Woman, Autumn in New York, Bella, Belly, Beyond Borders, Bloody Sunday, The Bounty, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Coldwater, Dead Man Walking, Driving Miss Daisy, The Falls, Five Minutes of Heaven, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Man Who Never Was, Mommie Dearest, Racing with the Moon, The Reckoning, Remember Me, The Seminarian, Shrink, Sunset Strip (2000), The Thing Called Love, Till Human Voices Wake Us

Family: The Aviators, Dr. Dolittle 3, Garfield’s Pet Force, Jasper: Journey to the End of the World, Pet Pals in Windland, The Sandlot 2, The Universal Force, Barnyard, Clockstoppers, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, Fly Me to the Moon, A Horse for Summer, A Little Game, Racing Stripes

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Death Squad, The Dead Zone, Flesh + Blood, Godzilla (1998), Space Cowboys, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Unbreakable, Unforgettable

Foreign: The Devil’s Violinist, Salvation Army, Agora, And Now…Ladies and Gentlemen…, Our Paradise, Queen

Underworld

Horror: Wolfcop, Devil’s Backbone Texas, The Houses October Built, Cujo, The Devil’s Rejects, Disturbing Behavior, Frankenstein (2004), Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun 5: In the Hood, Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood, My Bloody Valentine (1981), Nurse, Open Water, Open Water 2: Adrift, The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Rites of Spring, Sleepaway Camp II, Sleepaway Camp III, Survival of the Dead, Underworld

Television: The Crazy Ones, Happy Tree Friends, Residue, Death in Paradise, The Jewel in the Crown, Maya the Bee, Vic the Viking, and new episodes of Red vs. Blue, Bob’s Burgers, MASH, Top Gear, Vicar of Dibley, and Louie

Bound

Thriller: Peacock, 29 Palms, American Psycho, American Psycho 2, Bound, The Escapist, Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut, Snake Eyes, Suicide Kings, Whispers in the Dark

House of Cards Falls Down

Ugh. I missed a Friday posting because I apparently have the plague. I’ll try and stay on top of things this week if I can stop hacking up a lung. Three seasons of House of Cards is currently available on instant Netflix

House of Cards

 

House of Cards (2013-5) – Rated TV-MA

This Emmy-winning original thriller series stars Golden Globe winner Kevin Spacey as ruthless, cunning Congressman Francis Underwood, who will stop at nothing to conquer the halls of power in Washington D.C. His secret weapon: his gorgeous, ambitious, and equally conniving wife Claire (Golden Globe winner Robin Wright).

I loved the original BBC miniseries House of Cards (1990) and its two followups, all currently available on instant Netflix. It was a brilliant updating of Shakespeare’s Richard III, complete with breaking the fourth wall. Star Ian Richardson was a marvel. It was so perfect that I approached Netflix’ Americanization of the series with some trepidation.

I need not have worried. Kevin Spacey is an absolute delight as Francis Underwood. Robin Wright makes for a marvelous Claire Underwood/Lady MacBeth. The changes in politics do not undermine the story at all. The first two seasons of House of Cards are marvelous exercises in the use of power.

This brings us to the recently released third season of House of Cards. Bless Netflix for releasing their series a season at a time. My wife and I far prefer to binge on series than to watch from week to week. The third season/series of the BBC House of Cards was not as good as the first two but was a fine and fitting end to the series.

The third season of Netflix’ House of Cards is just awful. Let me clarify. The show itself isn’t awful per se and Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and the rest of the cast are still superb. It just appears that whoever wrote the first two seasons disappeared and was replaced by a hack or certainly someone who did not understand what made the first two seasons work.

Francis and Claire Underwood were able to manipulate their way to the top through various acts of subterfuge, backroom deals, blackmail, and the devotion/ambition of various underlings. Third season Francis is no longer bright, much less brilliant, and goes out of his way to alienate everyone who could possibly help him. Stamper, one of the more fascinating characters from previous seasons, is given enormous screentime while at the same time is essentially sidelined for the entire season. We get to watch him eat, go to AA meetings, sleep, and generally wait over and over again for someone to use him.

One of the writers comes up with the America Works program, clearly someone fresh off a course on Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Russian premier is a Putin-like thug. There are some callbacks to previous seasons but mostly ones that will have you scratching your head as you thought that topic had already been settled. There are so many moments where the screenwriters spent all their time figuring out if they could do something, without stopping to think if they should.

Third season Francis is basically a high-functioning idiot and Claire is little better. No spoilers but I will say that they have Claire do something (several somethings actually) that no First Lady has ever done. It doesn’t smack of bold writing so much as fantasy land. Do yourself a favor and stop at the end of season two.