DVD & BLU-RAY
FlixWorthy: The Mostly Sci-Fi Spectacular!
Author: David Wharton
published: 2010-07-02 16:15:30
Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your weekly guide to Netflix streaming. Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's streaming catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.
(2009, Rated R, 88 min.)
At the very least, Zombieland featured hands-down the greatest celebrity cameo in history (one which, if you've managed to avoid learning about this long, I'm certainly not going to spoil). Fortunately, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick managed to find something wholly unexpected in a zombie movie: a little originality. Following in the footsteps of Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland embraces the truth that zombie movies are pretty much played out, and the only thing left at this point is to laugh at them. Then, while you're busy laughing, you begin to realize that, sonnovagun, they slipped a pretty damn good zombie movie in there amongst all the satire. Jesse Eisenberg stars in his second 2009 movie ending in -land (alongside the also excellent Adventureland) and does his best to convince people that he's not just that guy you call when Michael Cera is busy. Woody Harrelson steals every scene he's in as Tallahassee, a gifted zombie slayer with a taste for Twinkies, and Emma Stone succeeds in climbing near the top of David's Celebrity Crush List.
Double-Feature It With:
(2006, Rated R, 92 min.)
Another entry in the post-modern comedic dissection of the zombie phenomenon, Fido envisions an alternate, 1950s-style universe where the zombie apocalypse proved to be just another day-to-day annoyance. After radiation from space begins raising the dead, the undead have become not a lumbering menace, but a new underclass, collared and used for manual labor.
(1986, Rated R, 137 min., HD)
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you want to truly understand just how mediocre a movie Avatar is, watch it back to back with Aliens. Arguably James Cameron's best movie (and I might well argue with you, because I love me some Abyss), Aliens set the bar for science-fiction action that has yet to be equaled or surpassed. It's the movie that spawned an entire genre of video-games. It features an unforgettable cast of characters who have been aped and referenced for two decades. Ripley is the female action hero everyone since has had to live up to. There's never been a better benevolent android than Bishop. Michael Biehn may have been good as Kyle Reese, but he was better as Cpl. Dwayne Hicks. The action is blood-pumping, the pacing is pitch-perfect, and the dialogue is endlessly quotable. Predators is looking like it might just have recaptured the magic of the original film and put all that Aliens vs.... nonsense behind us. We can only hope somebody will eventually do the same for this franchise (Ridley Scott, I'm looking at you).
Double-Feature It With...
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
(1991, Rated R, 137 min., HD)
Another entry in Cameron's Top 3, and easily the best of the Terminator movies. You've got Arnold in his defining role, Linda Hamilton turning her mild-mannered performance from the first film on its ear, and Robert Patrick proving you don't have to be bulky to be a threat. And, um, Edward Furlong.
(1994, Not Rated, Five Seasons)
Thanks to Netflix, you can now stream two of the great underrated science-fiction series of the past 20 years right into your home: Farscape and Babylon 5. Over the span of five seasons (and several stand-alone movies), creator J. Michael Straczynski wove a true "novel for television" centered around the titular space station, an addictive mix of intergalactic conflict, ancient mysteries, and personal tragedy. Unusual for series television at the time, Babylon 5 launched with a five-year plan in place, and while that master plan saw its share of unavoidable alterations over the years (such as when regular Claudia Christian bailed after season four), those underlying bones show through often, making for plenty of "Holy Crap" moments where a throwaway line in season one becomes a major plot point in season five. B5 also features two of the most compelling and fascinating arcs ever televised in the characters of Ambassadors G'Kar (the late and much-missed Andreas Kastulas) and Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik). As I said, the first season has its share of weak moments, but stick with it: seasons two through four are simply amazing storytelling. (The above link goes to season one, but seasons two, three, four, and five are also streaming).
Double-Feature It With...
Doctor Who: Season 1
(2005, TV-PG, 13 episodes)
While you're exploring one of the great SF series of the '90s, why not also check out the thoroughly enjoyable 21st century face-lift another genre classic received this decade. Step inside the TARDIS with The Doctor, all of time and space awaits.
(TV-PG, Four seasons)
Just in time for Futurama's triumphant return to television over on Comedy Central, Netflix has added all four of the previous seasons to its streaming catalogue. After accidentally being cryogenically frozen, pizza-delivery boy Philip J. Fry (voiced by Billy West) awakens 1,000 years later in a world that hasn't changed nearly as much as you might think, aliens and pneumatic travel tubes aside. He takes a job at an interplanetary delivery service run by his distant nephew, Professor Farnsworth (also West). Also on the crew are a hard-drinking, kleptomaniac robot named Bender (v. John DiMaggio); a lovely, one-eyed alien named Leela (v. Katey Sagal); the lobster-like Doctor Zoidberg (v. West), whose medical talents are questionable at best; the spoiled and accident-prone Amy Wong (v. Lauren Tom); and accountant/former limbo pro Hermes Conrad (v. Phil LaMarr). Together, the crew of the Planet Express face racism on a world of robots, accidentally drink royalty, and acquire the last anchovy in existence. The Simpsons may have the longer run and the most acclaim, but I'd argue that Futurama is easily a better show, even ignoring The Simpsons' tedious recent years. In addition to all four seasons, you can also stream all four of the stand-alone movies they did between the last cancellation and the latest renewal: Bender's Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender's Game, and Into the Wild Green Yonder.
Double-Feature It With:
(2004, Not Rated, 27 episodes)
There's no way I can sell you on Invader Zim better than Leverage creator John Rogers sold me.
(1985, Rated PG-13, 110 min., HD)
A great little underseen '80s gem, Enemy Mine takes the time-honored concept of stranding two enemies together and breaking down their preconceptions and hatreds out of sheer necessity. This time, however, the enemies in question are Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid), an Earthborn starfighter pilot, and Jerriba Shigan (Louis Gossett Jr.), his opposite number from the reptile-like Draconian aliens with whom humanity is at war. After a dogfight through the atmosphere of an uncharted planet, the two crash onto a harsh and unforgiving terrain, try to kill each other, and eventually realize that their only hope of survival is to cooperate, at least until rescue comes. The years pass...and rescue never comes. Despite being at each other's throats initially, the two soon form a powerful bond of friendship. Quaid gives one of my favorite of his performances as the crusty Davidge, and Gossett Jr. brings the character behind his head-encasing make-up to life in a way few prosthetic-hidden actors have since matched. And just FYI, if it looks like I'm crying at the end, that's just because I have something in my eye...
Double-Feature It With:
(1984, Rated PG, 115 min., HD)
Speaking of underrated '80s SF movies, I'll always have a soft spot for the John Carpenter-directed story of a wayward alien who crashes to Earth and learns to love...but never quite wraps his head around that whole red-light/green-light thing.
Last Chance Theater -- Expiring Soon!
Double Impact (Expires 7/07)
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays twins. What's not to love?
Swing Vote (Expires 7/07)
The fate of our great democracy hangs on Kevin Costner.
10 Things I Hate About You (Expires 7/09)
And this kid went on to become The Joker.
To read the FlixWorthy archives, click here!
Around The Web