The time has come once again for that most hallowed and accessible of online streaming services known as Netflix to cut a few titles from its voluminous selection of films and television shows while adding many more guaranteed to please its subscriber base.
Below you’ll find my picks for the best of Netflix’s new additions for the month of February 2016. As usual, most of the titles are available for viewing at the start of the month, but there are a few more set to premiere later in the month that those of us unable to get out to the movie theater much will find to be of great interest.
Armageddon (February 1)
Chaotic, saccharine, and often completely bonkers, Armageddon could very well be the ultimate Michael Bay movie. It was one of my favorite movies of 1998, but then again I was 19 at the time so howzabout cutting me a little slack? Compared to the director’s Transformers franchise, his epic tale of blue collar roughnecks getting launched into outer space by a skeptical but desperate NASA to take on a merciless asteroid seems almost like an indie drama. At least by watching this movie in the privacy of your own home you have the luxury of skipping past the dreaded “animal crackers” scene.
Better Call Saul: Season 1 (February 1)
The Breaking Bad prequel series that gave the great Bob Odenkirk the spotlight all to himself for a change has garnered strong reviews and ratings and looks to be getting better as it heads into its second season. Before that happens, you can catch up on the first and see where the twisted saga of this shady amateur lawyer and professional loser began.
Charlie’s Angels (February 1)
Charlie’s Angels the television show was cheesy and campy and objectified its female leads to the extreme while presenting them as strong, independent, and resourceful action stars and role models for women everywhere. The movie version, a pet project of co-star and producer Drew Barrymore, followed suit when it was released to theaters in the late autumn of 2000 and was an impressive box office blockbuster. Had it flopped, we would never again had to suffer through one of director McG‘s misguided follow-up attempts to prove he was no one-hit wonder. But at least the movie we got was a swift and painless blast of intellectually-deprived fun, as fast, loud, and shiny as the Flash jingling his car keys in front of your eyes for ninety minutes.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (February 26)
The original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a masterpiece of cinema that successfully merged arthouse drama with innovative martial arts sequences and was rewarded with four Oscars for its troubles. The long-in-development sequel Sword of Destiny, a Netflix exclusive, replaces the first film’s astonishing and nuanced direction from Ang Lee with a more action-heavy approach from the legendary fight choreographer Woo-Ping Yuen. Michelle Yeoh returns as the valiant warrior Yu Shu Lien and is joined by fellow kung fu movie great Donnie Yen (Ip Man) as well as Jason Scott Lee (Soldier, Balls of Fury). This could be a good one.
Dope (February 15)
Good friends, great music, and a stash of Ecstasy hidden in an unsuspecting character’s backpack all lie at the heart of Rick Famuyiwa‘s comic-thriller/coming of age tale that was one of last year’s most acclaimed films. I have yet to see it, so thank you Netflix for ensuring that this flick will be making its way into my queue in a few weeks.
Full Metal Jacket (February 1)
Stanley Kubrick‘s harrowing, bitterly comedic Vietnam War drama lost its chance to make a cultural and financial impact at the time of its release due to arriving in the wake of Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winner Platoon, but it has grown over the years into a worthy film that examines the destructive nature of war and the permanent damage it can inflict on the heart and soul. Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio deliver breakthrough performances as young Marines ill-equipped for a few tours of duty in the killing fields of Southeast Asia, and you’ll be unable to erase R. Lee Ermey‘s screen-quaking turn as their brutal and unrelenting drill sergeant from your memory. But trust me, you won’t want to do that.
Sin City (February 1)
Still one of the best comic book movies ever made, and certainly the most faithful. Robert Rodriguez took hold of the latest advances in digital filmmaking and applied them to making a cinematic anthology film based on Frank Miller‘s classic Dark Horse Comics series Sin City that would emulate the look and feel of the original comics like nothing the silver screen had ever witnessed. He even brought Miller on board to co-direct the project and rounded up a dynamic ensemble cast, lead by the likes of Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Benecio Del Toro, and a resurrected Mickey Rourke, to bring the veteran comic scribe and artist’s Rogues’ Gallery of tough guys and tougher ladies to life.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (February 1)
Sloppy storytelling and sub-par visual effects nearly sink this justifiably hated, William Shatner-directed entry in the Star Trek franchise, but cast chemistry, some decent performances (the late Leonard Nimoy could never be lousy when he was playing Spock), and a strong sense of mindless fun help keep The Final Frontier from devolving into total disaster. I’ll take this one over Star Trek Into Darkness any day.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (February 1)
He may be an Oscar-nominated director now for The Big Short, but Adam McKay will always be the man who could bring out the best in Will Ferrell when they collaborated for fearlessly funny explorations of the mediocrity of American men. Talladega Nights saw the McKay-Ferrell working their magic in a sprawling and often weird comedy set in the world of NASCAR and brought John C. Reilly, Amy Adams, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jane Lynch, and many other hilarity MVPs along for the wild fun. It may run a little long, but it’s insanely quotable and will have you laughing so hard at times you may be pronounced dead as the end credits roll.
Teen Witch (February 1)
HBO used to run this oddball high school comedy directly aimed at the undemanding youth market almost every day during the summer when I was in the fifth grade. That would explain why a movie low on laughs and imagination but extremely high on musical interludes where spoiled suburban brats rap like they just heard their first Public Enemy album was able to garner a cult following. I’m sure at least one person will read this and take nothing away from it except, “Ooooh! Teen Witch is on Netflix!”
Among the titles that will be leaving Netflix this month are Bad Santa, Big Fish, Fletch, The Hurt Locker, Rain Man, and The Terminator. You can find a complete list of this month’s new Netflix arrivals and departures here.
That wraps up my choices for the best movies and TV to watch this month on Netflix. Having a subscription is one of the best investments that someone who is rarely away from their laptop for long like myself can make. I highly recommend getting one. Come back next time for more recommendations.