With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we bring you this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair well with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to Lone Survivor, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and 47 Ronin for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of wild survival stories, adventurous comedies, and some martial art epics inspired by real events.
Based on the best-selling memoir of Marcus Luttrell, this gritty drama tells the shocking story of SEAL Team 10 and the failed "Operation Red Wing," which resulted in terrible losses, yet showed remarkable bravery. Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster star; Peter Berg directs.
In my upcoming interview with Luttrell, he spoke with admiration about docudramas that show us stories that are stranger than fiction. In honor of him and his incredible story, we present three movies that tell true stories of survival in the face of insane odds.
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) Inspired by the Tsavo Man-Eaters, this fictionalized historical thriller stars Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer as two men who must face off against an anomaly: a pair of male lions who are hunting together. During the building of the African Uganda-Mombasa Railway in 1898, the nighttime offers nightmares for the construction team working for a merciless baron of the British Empire. Man, beast, business and superstition face off in this moody movie. Stephen Hopkins directs.
Kon-Tiki (2012) This extraordinary drama out of Norway reveals the harrowing and inspiring story of Thor Heyerdal, a 1940s explorer who set out on a 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific Ocean on a balsawood raft to prove his theory on how Peruvians settled in Polynesia before the time of Christopher Columbus. Storms, starvation and sharks are just a few of the troubles he and his crew of four face in this epic journey that mesmerized the world. Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen and Anders Baasmo Christiansen star; Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg direct.
The Way Back (2010) Based on the memoir of Polish POW Slawomir Rawicz, this docudrama depicts the tremendous trek he and a small band of prisoners made to escape the Siberian Gulag that held them in World War II. On foot, this group of seven traveled 4000 miles through the Gobi Desert, Tibet and ghmilayas before finding themselves in the friendly territory of British-ruled India. Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris and Colin Farrell star; Peter Weir directs.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller directs and stars in this whimsical interpretation of the James Thurber short story of the same name. The titular Mitty is a timid man who dreams of great adventure. So when an excuse to leap into a globe-trekking journey presents itself, he dives in! Kristen Wiig co-stars. Read our full review here.
For more stories of enviable--and wonderfully funny--adventures, we recommend this trio of titles. Whether you played pirates as a kid, imagined yourself as a mountain man or built your own proton pack for busting ghosts, you're sure to thrill over these clever comedies.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Who didn't want to be a pirate after seeing this grand adventure of high seas and low lifes? Johnny Depp stars as Captain Jack Sparrow, a mad but brilliant pirate who connives and swashbuckles to seek treasure and his long lost ship the Black Pearl. Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley co-star; Gore Verbinki directs.
Prince Avalanche (2013) Writer-director David Gordon Green returns to form with this thoughtful and hilarious comedy about two men making the best of the wilderness. A remake of the Icelandic comedy Either Way, Prince Avalanche centers on two highway workers who camp in the forest-fire ravaged landscapes of 1988 Texas as they repaint and repair the long stretch of isolated road leading to less isolated places. While Alvin (Paul Rudd) sees this as a welcomed retreat to re-evaluate his life, Lance (Emile Hirsch) is itching to get out. Inspired odd couple antics ensue.
Ghostbusters (1984) This comedy classic stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the titular paranormal police. They ain't afraid of no ghosts! Setting up shop in an abandoned firehouse, these parapsychologists turned exterminators become New York City's only hope when a powerful supernatural overtakes the Big Apple. Ivan Reitman directs.
Keanu Reeves fronts this samurai story that follows a band of disgraced Ronin's quest to reclaim the honor of their shamed master and bring down the vile lord who engineered his demise. Dragons, shapeshifting sorceresses, princesses and giants all come into play in this fantastical samurai tale. Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki and Rinko Kikuchi co-star; Carl Rinsch directs. Read our full review here.
Though you might not suspect it from its fantasy flourishes, 47 Ronin is loosely based on a true Japanese story that has made its way into legend. For more dramas that boast martial arts mastery through the poetic license inherent in movie adaptations, check out these three films about real-life warriors whose awe-inspiring adventures made them legend.
13 Assassins (2010) Set in 1840s Japan, 13 Assassins introduces a cruel ruler to whom rape and murder of innocents is essentially a hobby. The people would be powerless were it not for the brave and noble samurai who rise up to take him down! Kôji Yakusho and Takayuki Yamada star; Takashi Miike directs.
Wing Chun (1994) Before Wing Chun was the form of Kungfu preferred by Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr., it was the name of a woman who is credited with creating the form to fight off a warlord who wished to force her into marriage. Her story serves as the inspiration for this Michelle Yeoh vehicle, where she plays a woman with sensational fighting skills and little patience for the men who underestimate her. Yuen Woo-ping directs.
Ip Man (2008) And lastly the story of a more modern legend, Ip Man (A.K.A. Yip Man), a Chinese martial artist and Wing Chun grandmaster who--among other achievements--was a mentor for Bruce Lee. Ip's eldest son served as a consultant on this romantic biopic that shows his father as a hero who stood up to the invading Japanese forces in 1937. Donnie Yen and Simon Yam star; Wilson Yip directs.