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.
(2008, Not Rated, Two seasons, HD)
To say that I didn't have high hopes for The Sarah Connor Chronicles when it first aired would be something of an understatement. At that point Terminator 3 had already made a strong case that any Terminator without James Cameron's involvement was not worth pursuing. Plus, the mythology was already rife with inherent paradox, so was it really a good idea to tangle those webs even further with an ongoing series? How would that even work? Was Skynet just going to keep sending new Terminator models back, week after week, without ever hitting upon the idea of traveling back a bit further and shooting a teenaged Sarah Connor in the ovaries? Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by Lena Headey making a decent Sarah, Thomas Dekker managing to make John not terribly annoying, and Summer Glau stealing the show as yet another pint-sized killing machine. Credit Glau's ballet background for selling the physicality of a machine, and credit showrunner Josh Friedman and his writers for actually finding a way to convolute the franchise's already convoluted mythology just a little further, and in just the right way to make a highly entertaining series out of it. Hell, they even made Brian Austin Green tolerable as Derek Reese! Both the first and second seasons are streaming in HD.
Double-Feature It With:
(2002, Not Rated, 14 eps.)
Call this one "Kickass and Cancelled By Fox Theatre." Summer Glau is great as the android Cameron, but she'll always be River Tam to me. It's a shame neither series got the extended run they deserved, but bundled together they're a great way to kill a few weeks this summer.
(2009, Rated PG-13, 158 min.)
Sometimes you want compelling characters and quotable dialogue. Sometimes you want rich themes that examine the depths of the human soul, the eternal questions that our species has been asking since we first learned to speak and think and sing. Sometimes you want to experience stories that will change your life and your view of the world. And sometimes...sometimes you just want to watch shit blow up. Roland Emmerich has been one of the leading purveyors of S.B.U. for over a decade, ever since he wiped the White House off its own lawn in Independence Day. By all accounts, 2012 is dumber than a bag of hammers, but it's an endearing, well-meaning kind of dumb. As opposed to, say, the Michael Bay brand of stupid, which is more like the drunk, angry idiot that's trying to start a fight at the Applebee's bar because he thinks your shirt looks gay. You can always rely on Emmerich for a world-smashing good time, just so long as you don't pay attention to the plot or anything the characters are saying. Just sit back, pop some popcorn, and think of it as a really expensive effects demo reel. Or just leave it playing in the background like an apocalyptic screensaver.
Double-Feature It With...
(1996, Rated PG-13, 145 min.)
Speaking of Independence Day, why not bookend Emmerich's latest exercise in Ragnarok with his original, and still most beloved? Mayan doomsday prophecies are well and good, but the end of the world isn't nearly as much fun if you don't have aliens, Will Smith, crop dusters, and Jeff Goldblum saving the world with a laptop.
(1975, Rated PG, 125 min.)
Just think: those last two Emmerich blockbusters might not even exist had Steven Spielberg not come along and invented the genre with a little tale of three friends and their ill-fated fishing expedition. Even 35 years later, Jaws still holds up, even in the face of dated fashions and a sketchy-looking shark. Just think how many iconic moments this film contains: the screams of the skinny dipper as something unseen pulls her below the surface; the "We're going to need a bigger boat" moment; Quint's Indianapolis speech; the head popping out of the sunken boat. This is the movie that scared an entire generation off the beach, and I challenge you to be comfortable venturing more than a few feet into the surf within a few weeks of watching it even today. As for all the sequels that followed...well, when you break the mold with the first one, it's kind of hard to put it back together again. Still, if you're a completionist, all three sequels are streaming for your amusement: Jaws 2, Jaws 3, and Jaws: The Revenge.
Double-Feature It With:
(1996, Rated R, 109 min., HD)
One good tale of man versus nature deserves another. Based on a true story, The Ghost and the Darkness tells the tale of a colonial Ugandan railroad being treated like a buffet by a pair of man-eating lions. The engineer in charge (Val Kilmer) enlists the services of a notorious hunter (Michael Douglas) to try and take the beasts down.
(1997, Rated R, 154 min.)
Less experimental than some of Quentin Tarantino's higher-profile flicks, Jackie Brown is just a straight-up, old-school crime caper. Based on Elmore Leonard's novel, Rum Punch, JB casts Pam Grier as the titular lead, a flight attendant who makes a little extra scratch on the side by smuggling money into the country for a shady gun runner named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). After her little scheme is busted, Jackie is caught between the A.T.F. and L.A.P.D. cops who want her to help them bring Ordell down, and Ordell himself, who doesn't trust her not to do so. Soon she's pitting both sides against each other with a scheme that could leave her sitting pretty...or just dead. Tarantino is a natural match for Leonard's material, and it's a shame the two names haven't been linked on screen more often. It might live in the shadow of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, and Inglourious Basterds, but Jackie Brown is as solid a crime flick as you're likely to find. Fun trivia note: A.T. F. agent Ray Nicolette also turns up in Out of Sight, played by Michael Keaton in both films.
Double-Feature It With:
(2002, Rated R, 103 min., HD)
Before Val Kilmer enjoyed a brief resurrection of awesomeness courtesy of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, he starred in this underseen neo-noir about a strung-out police informant who leads a double life as a trumpet player and tries to solve his wife's murder. Vincent D'Onofrio is also along for the ride as a drug dealer with the misleadingly cuddly nickname of Pooh Bear.
(2002, TV-14, Two seasons)
After Babylon 5 finished spinning the adventures of our last, best hope for peace, but before creator J. Michael Straczynski became an A-list Hollywood screenwriter with the Oscar-nominated Changeling, JMS adapted Belgian writer Hermann Huppen's post-apocalyptic comic series into Showtime's Jeremiah. Set in the near future, Jeremiah envisions a world where a plague has killed everyone above the age of puberty, leaving an entire planet of children to make their own way with no adult guidance. The show picks up a good decade or so after the "Big Death," with its title character (Luke Perry) meeting and befriending a fellow wanderer named Kurdy (The Cosby Show's Malcolm-Jamal Warner). The two stumble into all manner of adventures on the road, and soon become involved with a group of technologically advanced survivors who've been hiding out in a fortified government facility and are aiming to rebuild civilization. The show is hit or miss, but when it's on its game it's a lot of fun, and both Perry and Warner are excellent leads in very different roles than the ones they're best known for. Keep an eye out for Perry's fellow 90210 alum Jason Priestly in a memorable villainous turn, and Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin as a mysterious regular in season two.
Double-Feature It With...
(1992, TV-14, 22 eps.)
The pilot episode was directed by Russell Mulcahy, who directed the original Highlander movie, which was spun off into this long-running syndicated series starring Adrian Paul, who was in Love Potion No. 9 with Sandra Bullock, who was in Loverboy with Kevin Bacon.
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