This Week on Netflix Instant: Taking of Pellham 123 & More
by Ethan Anderton
February 16, 2010
Last week, we premiered our new weekly column highlighting some of the brand new releases on Netflix Instant every week. It seems like a lot of you enjoyed this new feature, and we're glad we can keep bringing you closer to movies in any way we can. That's why, along with our highlighted updates from the Netflix library, starting this week, we're also going to point out some other interesting releases at some other great (and legal) streaming distribution sites. Following your normal Netflix line-up this week through February 21, you'll see offerings from The Auteurs, SnagFilms, and Hulu available online for your viewing pleasure.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (Available Now):
Damn straight! This cult classic sci-fi/horror is as silly, cheesy and stupid as it gets, and I love every minute of it. Brothers Stephen, Charlies and Eward Chiodo (who would later go on to do puppet work for films like Critters and Team America: World Police) are responsible for for this staple of 80's horror that sees a race of aliens, who resemble frightening, monster-like clowns, invading Earth and harvesting humans inside cotton candy cocoons. Weapons like popcorn guns, hungry balloon animals and deadly shadow puppets seem innocent enough to ensnare the unsuspecting people of Earth before it's too late. Yes, it's every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (Available Now):
Along with Franco Zeffirelli and Kenneth Branagh's more recent adaptations of William Shakespeare's classic tragedy, the legendary Laurence Olivier's venture into Denmark is one of the pinnacle iterations of one of the most famous plays ever written. Also starring as Hamlet, Olivier set the standard of Shakespearean adaptations going on to win the Oscars for Best Actor as well as Best Picture. Though not exactly as riveting as it might have been in 1948, the film is still a staple in cinematic history despite upsetting purists of Shakespeare by making drastic cuts in the story, reducing its length by nearly half. But if you have any interest in film history or Shakespeare, this is certainly worth your time.
Scanners (Available Now):
If you haven't seen this flick, you've surely heard referenced "that scene from Scanners" in which psychic powers are used to make a man's head explode right in front of your eyes. No one other than director David Croneberg would bring such a peculiar, but mind-blowing (pun intended) installment of horror/thrillers. Patrick McGoohan and Michael Ironside star in this film which focuses on the corporation ConSec, a weaponry and security systems company, which tries to use Scanners (people with telepathic and telekinetic abilities) for its own diabolical purposes.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (Available February 18th):
Director Tony Scott and the masterful Denzel Washington team-up for a third time in this remake of the 1974 crime thriller of the same name, but this time they throw John Travolta into the mix with his first action role since his poor turn in 2004's The Punisher. Though not as captivating as the original, it's still a decent return to the genre for Travolta, and Washington stands strong too despite sitting in a chair for 85% of the film. Unfortunately it's the heist itself that isn't compelling, despite the decent banter between Travolta and Washington's characters and the revealed motivation for holding up a train in an underground tunnel with, seemingly, nowhere to run.
The Road Warrior (Available February 19th):
With director George Miller making a return to the Mad Max franchise in the not too distant future, why not take a look back at the preceding legacy with the second installment of Mel Gibson's post-apocalyptic action romp. This chapter has Mad Max on a never-ending mission to find gasoline as Lord Humungus and his rogue warriors relentlessly pursue Max and his fuel-depot encampment. Roger Ebert called this one "a film of pure action, of kinetic energy organized around the barest possible bones of a plot." Sometimes that makes for the best possible action movie.
Raising Arizona (Available February 20th):
One of the earlier films from the dynamic directing duo of the Coen Brothers, this 1987 misadventure has a young Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter as a married couple unable to have a baby. So what better plan for an ex-con (Cage) and an ex-cop (Hunter) than to kidnap one of the infant quintuplets of local furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona? This off-the-wall comedy is pure Coen Brothers through-and-through, but with even a little more exaggeration (after all the tagline for the film is "a comedy beyond belief") which even has room for frequent Coen collaborators John Goodman and Frances McDormand.
Year One (Available February 21st):
Unfortunately for Harold Ramis, this most recent directing venture of his plays out like a series of extended "Saturday Night Live" sketches set in ancient times. Fortunately, no matter how sloppy the narrative, there are still some laughs to be had even if the film restricted itself to a PG-13 rating. Michael Cera and Jack Black are a couple of misfit cavemen banished from their tribe when they stumble upon damsels in distress (Juno Temple and Olivia Wilde) and are in hot pursuit for their rescue encountering the likes of Cain (David Cross) and Abel (Paul Rudd) and many more. A half-ass attempt at comedy with a few laughs, but not Ramis' best effort.
For the rest of the new titles, since there's so many, we've decided to give you a list separated by the site where you can find each title. Also, because these films are only available online and, unlike Netflix's films, unable to be streamed to your TV via several different Netflix-ready devices like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, certain TiVo's and soon the Nintendo Wii, I feel like being limited to watching these on your computer (unless you're savvy enough to hook it up to your television) sort of cheapens the viewing experience. But still, we thought you should be made aware of these various titles now available for your viewing pleasure.
The Auteurs: Your online cinema. Anytime. Anywhere.
Velvet Goldmine, Quiz Show, Beyond the Sea, The Muse, Serenity, Leaving Las Vegas, Crank, My Kid Could Paint That, Hot Fuzz, Slap Shot, Ransom, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
That's all for this week's installment of new Netflix Instant titles and other free movies to check out online. And remember, if you ever want to look back at titles already released, look forward to movies on the way, or check out the entire library of Netflix Instant titles, you can head over to InstantWatcher (in my opinion the most complete listing of Netflix's instant titles, updated daily) or also StreamingSoon, whose hawk-eyes are on the lookout for future streaming release dates. And of course we'll also be back next week with the latest line-up of new titles. Now go watch some movies! Are you satisfied with this week's new selection?