Welcome to February’s Crop of Instant Netflix Titles

Here they are (I particularly enjoyed Horns even though there is a sexual assault):

Action/Adventure: Into the Blue 2: The Reef, King Arthur, Quest for Fire

Anime: Bleach the Movie: Hellverse, Naruto Shippoden: The Movie

Classic: Houseboat

Comedy: Not Another Happy Ending, Along Came Polly, The Brothers Bloom, Bulletproof, Cecil B. Demented, Danny Deckchair, Diggstown, Expelled, Fools Rush In, Four Seasons, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Hitch, Hot Pursuit, Lars and the Real Girl, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Next Stop Wonderland, The Other End of the Line, To Be or Not to Be, We’re No Angels

Documentary: Fifi Howls From Happiness, Last Hijack, And the Oscar Goes To…, DisneyNature: Wings of Life, Enquiring Minds, Generation Iron, The Ghosts in Our Machine, Gucci: The Director, Isolated, The New Public, Now: In the Wings on a World Stage, Paul Williams: Still Alive, The Search for Michael Rockefeller, This May Be the Last Time, We Could Be King

Drama: Coach Carter, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Field of Lost Shoes, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Gimme Shelter, Home, Joe, Leaving Las Vegas, My First Mister, The Object of Beauty, Proof, Showgirls, Steel Magnolias, Ulee’s Gold, The Verdict

Family: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Zapped

Starship Troopers

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Starship Troopers (making four Starship Troopers movies on Netflix)

Foreign: Cam Girl, Dark Valley (Das finstere Tal), Nights With Theodore, Salvo, August Eighth, Bodyguard, The Forgotten Kingdom, Ghost Graduation, Poklosie (Aftermath), Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Horns

Horror: Horns, An American Haunting, Borderland, Crazy Eights, Dark Ride, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Killer Mermaid, Lake Dead, Mulberry Street, Nightmare Man, Re-Animator, Unearthed, Wicked Little Things

Spartacus

Television: Bob the Builder: Teamwork Time, Cunning Single Lady, Fleabag Monkeyface, It’s Okay That’s Love, Plankton Invasion, Departures, Life Stories, Magic City, MASH, Roaring with Pride, RWBY, Wildest Africa, Street Food, Wildest Middle East, World’s Wildest City, The Travel Bug, Shaun Ryder on UFOs, and new episodes of Spartacus

This ‘n’ That – The Guild, Starship Troopers Invasion, Archer

The Guild (all six seasons), Archer (four seasons), and Starship Troopers Invasion are currently available on instant Netflix.

The Guild

The Guild (2007-13) – Not rated

Fantasy and reality collide in this engaging Internet series that follows a quirky group of gamers, including Codex (Felicia Day) and Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), as they struggle to balance real-world relationships with their commitments to playing an addictive online video game. Bound in a tight-knit guild dubbed the Knights of Good, these hopeless geeks confront stiff challenges from controlling mothers, rival factions and, at times, each other.

True story – my wife and I met playing Dungeons & Dragons in college. Admittedly I was the one playing while Jenny was visiting her father but later she joined the group. Many years later, the three of us used to play World of Warcraft far too much. I think that’s the only way people play that game.

Felicia Day started her own web series to lampoon her addiction to World of Warcraft. The Guild was funny and insightful. Jenny and I really enjoyed the first five seasons but we think the series may be played out now as the sixth season was very ho-hum.

Don’t be turned off by the time commitment – a season is only 45-90 minutes.

Archer

Archer (2009-13) – Rated TV-MA

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

I have previously reviewed Archer but now the fourth season is available. It has yet to wear out its welcome and the fourth season is still quite enjoyable.

Starship Troopers Invasion

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012) – Rated R

A starship crew on a secret mission goes missing in a nebula, and troopers must embark on a rescue mission while also combating invading alien bugs.”

I’m not sure who the audience is for this film. Special effects aficionados will be disappointed that it is animated. While there are nods to Robert Heinlein’s original work, there is little of his work here.

Fans of Verhoeven’s snarky 1997 original will find that this continues the story of a few of the characters. Unfortunately they are voiced by completely different actors and all of the humor and satire have been stripped from the film.

I do have a few good things to say about Invasion. It is far better than the abominable, live action, direct-to-DVD Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. Invasion is competently made and animation allows them to show scenes that would have been prohibitively expensive in live action CGI. There just doesn’t seem to be much life in the movie.

 

Science Fiction – Top Ten List

As this is the end of the year, it seems the time for Top 10 lists. I’ll be doing Top 10 lists of films currently available on instant Netflix. I’ve disqualified all the films that show as expiring on or before 1/1/10. Today is my list of Top 10 Science Fiction films – these are in no particular order.

Wall-E

WATCH: Wall-E (2008) – Rated G

Pixar has a can’t miss record so far. Even so this is a particularly haunting film. There is almost no dialogue in the first act and it’s still riveting. The film is absolutely gorgeous in so many ways.

Time After Time

WATCH: Time After Time (1979) – Rated PG

Malcolm McDowell and David Warner give the performances of their careers as H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper respectively. Jack the Ripper steals the Time Machine and travels to the future to escape justice. This is a superb blending of science fiction, action and romance.

Silent Running

WATCH: Silent Running (1971) – Rated G

Silent Running is a precursor to Wall-E’s environmental premise. Bruce Dern always plays people who are off or crazy but here he fits perfectly as an off-kilter botanist trying to protect the last forest. Also like Wall-E, Director Douglas Trumbull imbues three androids with almost human personalities.

Body Snatchers

WATCH: Body Snatchers (1993) – Rated R

While this is the third and third-best of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers adaptations, it is still highly entertaining. It is also the only one available on instant Netflix.

Terminator 2

WATCH: Terminator 2 Judgment Day (1991) – Rated R

This is the film where James Cameron raised the bar for special effects (and budgets). Like Pixar, all of James Cameron’s movies are good and some are classics. This one is a classic with some of the most fantastic action set pieces ever made.

Starship Troopers

WATCH: Starship Troopers (1997) – Rated R for graphic science-fiction violence and gore and for some language and nudity.

This is my guilty pleasure of the list. Starship Troopers is not an especially good film but it has very well designed creatures, lots of ironic humor and ample gore. The battle scenes are grand and frantic. This is a great check-your-brain at the door thrill ride. Whatever you do, don’t expect the complexities of Heinlein’s novel.

Men in Black

WATCH: Men in Black (1997) – Rated PG-13 for language and science fiction violence.

Is Will Smith ever not likable? The key to a good buddy comedy is having opposites that are both fun and have chemistry. Crotchety Tommy Lee Jones + good-natured Will Smith + science fiction = box office gold. Look for an early scene-stealing role from Monk’s Tony Shalhoub.

Planet of the Apes

WATCH: Planet of the Apes (1968) – Rated G.

This is the most classic film on the list. The climactic scene is one of the greatest reveals in cinema history. Sadly it has become so iconic that it isn’t really a surprise even if you haven’t seen the film (heck just look at the photo). If you are under 40, try watching this film while remembering that it was filmed in the 60s and is about race relations (among other things).

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

WATCH: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) – Rated PG for sequences of stylized science fiction violence and brief mild language.

The special effects on this film are incredible. One of the first films to replace everything with green screen, this is a wonderful throwback to the Flash Gordon serials of yore. Not everything makes logical sense and the acting ranges from good down to what you would expect from the old serials. The real reason to watch this is the cinematography and Deco art design.

Serenity

WATCH: Serenity (2005) – Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action and some sexual references.

While I did not order the list in any way, this one is my personal favorite. It is amazing that a TV series (Firefly) that was canceled after only 14 episodes (only 11 of which aired) was so popular on DVD that a theatrical release sequel was made. Joss Whedon is a wonderful wordsmith and the dialogue in this movie is crisp and wonderful as are the relationships between the characters. All of the cast are excellent as always but Chiwetel Ejiofor is absolutely amazing as a government operative on their trail.