I've held the same perception for Netflix original movies for as long as they have been doing them, which is that they're basically a bonus. They're free movies! There is no labor of going to the theater and the price already included in the dues that my ex-girlfriend pays for the Netflix subscription I use. So when they release a bunch of stinkers (think THE REDICULOUS SIX, FATHER OF THE YEAR, THE WRONG MISSY) and letdowns (think BRIGHT, TRIPLE FRONTIER) I sort of graded them on a curve because of that value ad. That made it easier for me associate Netflix originals with the good shows and also very good movies they've made (ROMA, BEASTS OF NO NATION, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME).
In 2021, though, that value ad is gone. Not only have the rest of the streaming services caught up with original productions, but they're theatrical movies are going to VOD and streaming too. So for me, as a *critic*, I'm going to have their slop under way more of a microscope. Part of that is recognizing that a majority of their releases have been either disappointing, bad, or unwatchable. Here is a quick breakdown of their heavy hitters that they showed in the trailer.
1. The Harder They Fall - WESTERN - "Nat Love reassembles his former gang to seek revenge against the man who murdered his parents" - (Starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo, Regina King) Release date unknown:
Out of the entire group of movies Netflix has, this one might have the best potential. It is a killer cast that comes at a great time for classic westerns and also has an interesting back-end. Jeymes Samuel, better known as his stage name "The Bullitts"(which is cool as hell) is directing. I wasn't too familiar with him before looking him up, but he is basically a multi-hyphenate who has done music across a ton of genres as well as producing. He's also the younger brother of Seal, which is kinda cool. He also co-wrote this with Boaz Yakin, director of 'The Rookie', 'Remember the Titans', and that dog movie 'Max'.
2. Thunder Force - SUPERHERO COMEDY - "In a world terrorized by super-villains, one woman has developed the process to give superpowers to regular people. But when scientist Emily Stanton accidentally imbues her estranged best-friend with incredible abilities, the two women must become the first superhero team. Now, it is up to Thunder Force to battle the super-powered Miscreants and save Chicago from the clutches of The King." - (Starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer) Release date unknown:
There are few things on this earth that I would like to watch less than this. If I had 2 rooms to walk into, one with this and another with Dagestani terrorists beheading Russian soldiers, I would at least hesitate in my choice. The reason for that isn't just because of the goofy concept, it's mostly because this is a Ben Falcone joint. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he is Melissa McCarthy's husband and has had roles in 'Bridesmaids', 'Identity Thief', 'The Heat', and more. Recently, he has dipped his toes into directing his wife in comedy movies, which has been disastrous. 'Tammy', 'The Boss', 'Life of the Party', 'Superintelligence'. He directed McCarthy in all four and they have a combined score of 73/100 (11, 26, 20, 16) on MovieRankings.Net ICYMI. Enough.
3. Bruised - SPORTS - "Disgraced mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Jackie Justice has to face one of the rising stars of the MMA world and deal with the return of her 6-year-old son to the mother he deserves." - (Starring Halle Berry) Release date unknown:
Berry is starring but this is also her directorial debut. There are a lot of great MMA movies(and some bad ones) so this is a big time "we'll see" type movie. I'm more on the pessimistic side to be completely honest, though. That said, Jackie Justice is a fucking awesome fighter name.
4. Tick, Tick...Boom! - MUSICAL DRAMA - "An aspiring theatre composer endures a midlife crisis as he approaches 30 and does not feel close to his dream" - (Starring Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens and Bradley Whitford) Release date unknown:
Like with Berry, this is Lin-Manuel Miranda's directorial debut. Unlike with Berry, Miranda is adapting an already successful play of the same name. Miranda is an interesting cat. He is obviously an incredibly talented brain, but he is also a very annoying personality and does not have a particularly great voice. I haven't really loved much of his recent stuff (his BMX chimney sweep character in 'Marry Poppins Returns' was unbearable) but he has 'In the Heights' releasing soon and this, which I hope is a return to form. I also really enjoy Andrew Garfield and think he is underratedly great.
5. The Kissing Booth 3 - TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY - "Elle must decide where to attend college." - (Starring Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Molly Ringwald) Release date unknown:
There is a very clear audience for these movies that neither me nor any of you reading right now are part of. These movies are almost never good but they cater well to their demo.
6. To All the Boys: Always and Forever - TEEN ROMANTIC COMEDY - "After graduation, Lara Jean, Peter and their friends go on holiday together and almost have sex but Peter chooses not to. At home, Lara Jean finds out that Peter is considering transferring to UNC and his mum asks Lara Jean to break-up with Peter because their relationship could affect his future, so Lara Jean does" - (Starring Lara Condor and Noah Centineo) Release date unknown:
See previous description.
7. The Woman in the Window - PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER - "An agoraphobic psychologist befriends a neighbor across the street from her New York City brownstone condo, only to see her own life turned upside down when the woman disappears and she suspects foul play." (Starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Julianne Moore) Release date unknown:
Amy Adam's last Netflix movie, 'Hillbilly Elegy' was a bit of a dumpster fire. I think the pieces are together for this one to really be good, though. The cast is pretty amazing across the board, and I really like the idea of this entire movie taking place in a confined place and sort of putting us in the shoes of someone with agoraphobia. The director, Joe Wright, is mostly known for literary adaptations 'Atonement' and 'Pride & Prejudice' as well as Gary Oldman's Oscar movie 'Darkest Hour'. None of his previous work really screams to me that he knows how to handle this, but he has a decent enough track record where I'm willing to go into it with an open mind.
8. Escape From Spiderhead - SCIENCE FICTION - "In the near future, two prisoners take part in a new drug test in order to shorten their prison sentences." - (Starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett) Release date unknown
This is based on a short story of the same name that I haven't read before, but for people who are fans of that, you should be happy for a few reasons. The first of which is that the combination of Hemsworth and Teller is fantastic no matter what the property is. The Second is that this was adapted by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the brains behind 'Deadpool'. The last of which is that it was directed by Joseph Kosinski, who made the criminally underrated 'Tron: Legacy' and 'Only the Brave' and is also doing 'Top Gun: Maverick'. He also made 2 of the most influential video game commercials ever in The Starry Night Halo 3 and Mad World Gears of War
9. Yes Day - COMEDY - "Always feeling like they have to say NO to their kids and co-workers, Allison and Carlos decide to give their three kids a YES DAY -- where for 24 hours the kids make the rules. Little did they know that they'd be going on a whirlwind adventure around Los Angeles, that would bring the family closer to each other than ever before." - (Starring Jennifer Garner, Edgar Ramirez and Jenna Ortega) Releases March 12th:
This is based off the kids book of the same name, and is directed by Miguel Arteta(Cedar Rapids) and adapted by Justin Malen (Office Christmas Party). This seems to me, in concept, to just be the kids version of 'The Purge'. Nothing wrong with that!
10. Sweet Girl - ACTION THRILLER - "The plot follows a devastated husband who vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife's death while protecting the only family he has left, his daughter" - (Starring Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced and Marissa Tomei) Release date unknown:
I'm not sure if it's just the bad summary, but this looks like the most cookie cutter action trash I've ever seen. I really like Momoa and Merced was great in both Dora and Sicario 2(She was one of the only redeeming parts of that movie), but god. Action movies are coming back in a huge way with innovative new styles, so you just can't release trash like this against it.
11. Army of the Dead - ZOMBIE HEIST - "Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever." - (Starring Dave Bautista, Omari Hardwick, Hiroyuki Sanada) Release date unknown:
I kind of like this, and hear me out. This sort of horror-entertainment is squarely in director Zack Snyder's wheelhouse. I also am a big fan of Bautista as an actor (although I'd rather see him in more serious roles and less of these action ones). The reason I kind of like this is that it seems pretty self-aware and most of all unique. The Zombie movie market got way too over-saturated and died out a little bit, and this seems like something that is at least a little different. That's all I want out of any movie. Also, apparently Chris D'Elia was cast in this movie but I think he was rightfully cut from it. I think me and Tommy Smokes are the only two people who really disliked him before he got outed as a bad guy, so shoutout to us.
12. Outside the Wire - SCIENCE FICTION - "In the near future, a drone pilot is sent into a deadly militarized zone and must work with an android officer to locate a doomsday device." - (Starring Anthony Mackie, Damson Idris and Pilou Asbaek) Releases January 15th:
Now THIS is the sort of sci-fi stuff that I'm all about. This comes from Swedish director Mikael Håfström, who previously did 'Escape Plan' which I rather liked, and was written by Rob Yescombe (The Division) and Rowan Athale (Wasteland). That is a crew I like for this sort of movie, and the cast is even better. Anthony Mackie is one of the more charismatic actors working right now and I really liked Damon Idris's episode of 'Black Mirror'. Also, Pilou Asbaek fucking rules. One of the few shining lights of the late stage Game of Thrones seasons. I can already see this movie being one that RT critics poo poo at but regular people like.
13. Bad Trip - HIDDEN CAMERA COMEDY - The film follows two best friends who take a road trip from Florida to New York City so one of them can declare his love for his high school crush, all the while being chased by the other's criminal sister, whose car they have stolen for the trip. - (Starring Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish) Releases February 28th:
This sort of stuff is what former LCB guest Eric Andre does best. This looks like an easy watch that should make us feel all the funny warm and awkward feelings we love from that sort of content. Apparently Andre also screened the movie for Sacha Baron Cohen, who is obviously a pro at this kind of thing. I can't find if SBC gave a seal of approval or anything, but he did, in fact, watch it.
14. O2 - SURVIVAL THRILLER - "A woman wakes in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there, and must find a way out before running out of air" - (Starring Melanie Laurent) Release Date Unknown:
Functionally, this reminds me a little bit of the Ryan Reynolds movie 'Buried' which I liked. The difference here being that it is starring 'Inglorious Basterds' star and director in her own wright, Melanie Laurent, and the fact this this was directed by Alexandre Aja. If you aren't familiar with the name, Aja has done some solid horror movies like 'Crawl', and 'The Hills Have Eyes' remake. The former was one of the most pleasant surprises of last year (and also one of the last movies I went to a screener for). There is potential here because of the cast, director, and claustrophobic content, but we'll see.
15. The Last Mercenary - ACTION COMEDY - N/A - (Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme) Release date unknown:
There really isn't a ton to work off of here. It's a French language movie that is written and directed by extremely french people. Like, so french that they don't have english-language wiki entries. That doesn't mean that it will be bad, but we just don't have a ton to work off of. I love JCVD and will always root for him to succeed.
16. Kate - ACTION THRILLER - "A female assassin, who after being poisoned and given less than 24 hours to live, goes on a manhunt through the streets of Tokyo and befriends a daughter of a past target" - (Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Woody Harrelson) Release date unknown:
On the back end, one thing that should excite people is that David Leitch is producing. He is the guy behind 'John Wick', 'Atomic Blonde', 'Deadpool 2' and 'Hobbs & Shaw'. We talked a little to one of his former collaborators, Sam Hargrave(director of 'Extraction') and he told us about how this new wave of action movies owes a lot of it's success due to their ability to tell stories though action. That said, there is only so much Leitch can do as a producer. French director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan(The Huntsman: Winter's War) is behind the wheel on this, and we don't have a ton of tape on him. I really like Mary Elizabeth Winstead as an actress, but I'm not sure if I buy her as an action star just yet. Woody Harrelson is great at anything he does, though, so I have hope.
17. Fear Street - HORROR - "In 1994, a group of teenagers find out that the terrifying events that have occurred in their town of Shadyside, Ohio, may be connected to each other, and that they may be the next targets." - (Starring Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr. and Ashley Zuckerman) Release Date Unknown:
This is based off of the R.L. Stein book series of the same name, and apparently this aims to be the first film in a trilogy that will be released one month after another on Netflix. This is a Chernin joint, so it will obviously be incredible.
18. Night Teeth - THRILLER - "A young chauffeur picks up two mysterious women for a night of party-hopping across LA. But when his passengers reveal their true nature — and a dangerous underworld lurking in the shadows — he must fight to stay alive." - (Starring Jorge Lendeborg jr., Debby Ryan, Alfie Allen and Alexander Ludwig) Release Date Unknown:
This is directed by first time director Adam Randall off a screenplay from first time writer Brent Dillon. I think Lendeborg was pretty solid in 'Bumblebee', and Debby Ryan is ok when not doing fat suit Netflix movies. I'm more interested in the tertiary roles from 'Game of Thrones' alum Alfie Allen and 'Vikings' alum Alexander Ludwig. Overall, though, this is a big time pass. Make a better name for your movie!
19. Malcolm & Marie - BLACK-AND-WHITE DRAMA - "A filmmaker returns home with his girlfriend following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what's sure to be imminent critical and financial success. The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love." - (Starring Zendaya and John David Washington) Releasing February 5th:
This movie reunited 'Euphoria' director/actress combo Sam Levinson and Zendaya while adding in one of the great rising stars in John David Washington. I'm calling my shot here: this movie is going to rule. It won't be for everyone, but it is going to be really fucking good. Levinson has basically proven himself as a master of relationships and is really god damn good at dialogue. We know he is comfortable with Zendaya and JDW is incredible. The whole movie was shot in 2 weeks while 'Euphoria' production was halted for COVID restrictions.
20. Monster.- DRAMA - "Monster by Walter Dean Myers is a 1999 novel about Steve Harmon, a sixteen-year-old boy on trial for his alleged complicity in a robbery-turned-murder. Steve is accused of participating in a deadly drugstore robbery. While in prison awaiting trial, he decides to document his experience as a screenplay." - (Starring Jennifer Hudson, Kelvin Harrison Jr. Jennifer Ehle, Jeffrey Wright, John David Washington and Tim Blake Neslon) Release Unknown:
This movie has had an interesting production history in that it's original release was in 2018 at Sundance. netflix got the rights in 2020 and is now slating it to release later this year. I don't know the novel this is based off of, but it has an incredible cast. Kelvin Harrison Jr. was great in both 'Waves' and 'Luce', and I really do think he is going to be one of the biggest Oscar stars in the future. This is from director Anthony Mandler, who is mostly known for doing music videos.
21. Moxie - COMEDY DRAMA - "Fed up with the sexist and toxic status quo at her high school, a shy 16-year-old finds inspiration from her mother’s rebellious past and anonymously publishes a zine that sparks a school-wide, coming-of-rage revolution." - (Starring Hadley Robinson, Amy Poehler, Ike Barinholtz and Marcia Gay Harden) - Releases March 3rd:
I had to look up what the fuck a "Zine" was to understand what this synopsis was talking about, but either way this stinks. I like the people involved and Poehler directing is a plus, but hard pass.
22. The White Tiger - DRAMA - "Balram Halwai narrates his epic and darkly humorous rise from poor villager to successful entrepreneur in modern India. Cunning and ambitious, our young hero jockeys his way into becoming a driver for Ashok and Pinky , who have just returned from America. Society has trained Balram to be one thing — a servant — so he makes himself indispensable to his rich masters. But after a night of betrayal, he realizes the corrupt lengths they will go to trap him and save themselves. On the verge of losing everything, Balram rebels against a rigged and unequal system to rise up and become a new kind of master." (Starring Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas) Releases January 22nd:
This synopsis was just too long. TOO LONG
Apparently it's not bad, since it has a 88% on RT off 25 reviews. I don't really know the first two guys but I do like Chopra a lot. More importantly, the trailer looked very legit. Let's ride!
23. Double Dad - COMEDY - "While her mom is away, a teen sneaks out of the hippie commune where she lives and embarks on a life-changing adventure to discover who her father is" - (Starring Maisa Silva and Eduardo Moscovis) Releases January 15th:
Brazilian Mama Mia. I'm not sure that this will appeal to many of you guys, but if you're Brazilian or a Portuguese speaker, maybe check it out.
24. Back to the Outback - ANIMATED COMEDY - "Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them like they're monsters, a group of Australia's deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback." - (Starring Rachel House, Isla Fisher, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Wayne Knight, and Keith Urban) Release date unknown:
Going off the description, this looks like an amalgam of every animated animal movie ever made. As a big fan of Eric Bana and all the Aussie imported entertainers, I'm all about this. I'd be remiss if I didn't show his horrible Arnie impression from back when he had a skit comedy show down under.
25. Beauty - DRAMA - "The story of Beauty, an up-and-coming young singer with a glamorous career ahead of her, and Jasmine, a butch queer woman who falls for her best friend, Beauty" - (Starring Aleyse Shannon, Giancarlo Esposito and Sharon Stone) Release date unknown:
There isn't really much to pull here, but the concept is interesting since it isn't something many of us have perspective on. This is obviously a LGBTQ story and it was written by one of the great LGBTQ voices in hollywood, Lena Waithe. I'm also a big Giancarlo and Stone guy, so I'll approach it optimistically.
26. Red Notice - ACTION COMEDY THRILLER - "An INTERPOL-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler and two rival criminals, there’s no telling what will happen." - (Starring The Rock, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds) Release date unknown:
This one is the big dog. With a budget of around $150 Million, it's going to be the second most expensive movie Netflix has ever released only behind 'The Grey Man' which is still in production. Obviously when you hear big budget -> Ryan Reynolds -> Netflix, you might immediately think of '6 Underground', and I get that. However, that film was not self aware where I think this one will be. It was directed by one of the first ever LCB guest, Rawson Marshall Thurber, who collaborated with The Rock on 'Central Intelligence' and 'Skyscraper'. Even if it doesn't turn out great, it will be entertaining.
27. Don't Look Up - POLITICAL SATIRE DISASTER - "Don’t Look Up tells the story of two low-level astronomers, who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth." - (Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Chris Evans, Ron Perlman, Tyler Perry and Matthew Perry) Release date unknown.
'Red Notice' may be the big dog, but I think that this has the most potential to be the best movie Netflix releases this year. Besides this insanely stacked cast, it also has Adam McKay writing and directing. If that name doesn't ring a bell, he is the director of 'Anchorman', Talladega Nights', 'Step Brothers', 'The Other Guys' 'Vice', 'The Big Short' and more. He was also head writer at SNL on SNL for a while(during the good years), and an EP/Director on 'Eastbound & Down' and 'Succession'. He is a fucking animal and is brilliant at satire. Be prepared for this movie to be one of the best of the year.