Now that the kids have gone back to school, things have gotten relatively quiet in the streaming wars. One thing that alarms though is in looking at the list below, you see the usual titles from late last year being added to Now TV, Lovefilm etc, but where is the new stuff on Netflix? Sure they have added some good catalogue stuff but Gambit is their only title? Really?

It’s not looking good for Netflix which sucks because as I have said before, their software and its reliability and ease of use would mean they would have this war all sewn up if they could just land the big films the way Lovefilm and Now TV are doing, The Hobbit and Breaking Bad are their only recent big wins since Orange is the New Black. With the other big ones averaging at least one huge new title a week, Netflix really need to keep up.

Anyway, this week’s pick of the litter is below:


Taken 2 (2012)

The first Taken was a brutal, brief and efficient slice of badassery which transformed the career of Liam Neeson after it proved to be a massive box office success in the states. This second instalment goes the same route and echoes the plot of the first film.

As a result it’s very much a case of been here done this and there are some frankly laughable lapses in logic including Maggie Grace throwing grenades around Turkey to cause a distraction. Focussing on Liam Neeson’s Brian Mills without his family and possibly his old CIA buddies would have been more interesting and it remains a missed opportunity.

Available on Now TV

X-men First Class team

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Matthew Vaughn’s reboot/prequel of the Marvel comics mutant saga is probably the best X film produced so far. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are perfectly cast as Professor Charles Xavier and his nemesis/friend Magneto or Erik Lensherr. You also have a heart-breaking sub plot about Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and her friendship with Charles going sour due to opposing ideologies that develop when Magneto comes into their lives.

But all the emotion means nothing if you don’t have the action and X-Men First Class has lots of retro bond style coolness which means it stands up with the best blockbusters around. The finale is spine tingling and leaves you wanting more, which we are going to get with a mix of the old/new with Days of Future Past next summer.

Available on Lovefilm Instant


The Master (2012)

In my opinion, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film is his best since Boogie Nights. Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood have their fans and these are films I admire more than love and I could be close to loving The Master. The main reason for this is the relationship between Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cult leader and Joaquin Phoenix’s damaged sailor. Phoenix’s performance here is so strong and so transforming that it’s amazing he was overlooked in favour of another predictable Daniel Day-Lewis embodiment.

Phoenix looks in actual physical pain throughout this and is a live wire of a person, ready to go off at any moment. The ‘is it Scientology’ stuff takes a back seat to the relationships and at its core it’s another Anderson tale about dysfunctional families but just so happens to be his most affecting for some time.

Available on Now TV

The Collection

The Collection (2012)

You may or may not remember The Collector which was released into cinemas late last decade and appealed mainly to the SAW crowd. The first film was pretty good for what it was and this second instalment goes the Aliens route and pits a SWAT team into a nightclub which the evil and sadistic Collector has booby-trapped to inflict maximum amounts of pain.

Short, sharp and shocking, this is a great fun horror movie and delves deeper into the bogeyman’s origins. People moan that we don’t have any great movie maniacs these days and a great one has been created right under their noses. A must see for any horror fan.

Available on Lovefilm Instant.


Gambit (2012)

This got slated when it was released late last year and considering the pedigree, it’s true it should have been better. Maybe because I was expecting a car crash I actually found this to be a great deal of fun in an old-fashioned kind of way. Colin Firth is charming and clumsy, Cameron Diaz is bubbly and Alan Rickman is camp and eeeevil. All in all it’s a good one to watch on a lazy Sunday and won’t take up loads of time either. Still Coens must do better!

Available on Netflix.


Mental (2012)

This independent Australian production has a lot going for it. It has wonderful, colourful production design and has Toni Collette back at her quirky best re-uniting with director PJ Hogan. It has a universal story about a dysfunctional family learning to love their flaws and not wallow in being different.

This would be enough except there is a reveal and switch in the plot part way through which means it out stays its welcome and is never as interesting as the first half. Still for a quirky independent fix, you could do worse.

Available on NOW TV

The Tree of Life

Tree of Life (2011)

I love Terrence Malick films typically but here he started to lose me. I still think that To the Wonder is the worst film I have seen this year (twirling, why so much twirling?). I loved The Thin Red Line and The New World even though the length compromised their original vision, but here I just don’t get it. I mean why start at the beginning of time and indulge all that imagery if when the core story kicks in, we don’t get the stirring coming of age story it constantly threatens to be?

Without anything to latch on to, all the beautiful imagery and music in the world won’t mean much. Sean Penn comes off worse of all in a mumbling performance somehow lost in the editing shuffle. Some people love this so maybe I am wrong but I’m worried that this is now going to be what Malick is remembered for at this point.

Available on Lovefilm Instant

30 Minutes or Less 3

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

For a story based on a tragic true life tale, 30 Minutes or Less sure is lightweight. Everything here is played for comedy and seems very rushed. The banter and buddy chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari is spot on but really needed time to breathe to make it more effecting rather than something that just happens.

Danny McBride gets all the best scenes and lines but remains an acquired taste but an effective villain here nonetheless. Not terrible by any means but seems like it could have been so much more.

Available on Lovefilm Instant.


Phantoms (1998)

“Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms yo”, even in spite of that line spoken by the immortal Jason Mewes in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Phantoms remains somewhat underrated. The film went straight to video in the UK and was marketed as a Scream clone in the states which it isn’t at all. Phantoms, based on the book by Dean Koontz is creepy as hell and really builds the atmosphere.

Director Joe Chappelle does a fantastic job with relatively derivative material which riffs on The Mist, The Thing and Aliens and yet somehow just works. Plus it proves my theory that moths are evil and the most dangerous creature on the planet.

Available on Netflix

Tango and Cash

Tango and Cash (1989)

For an example of the barrel scraping that took place in the late 80s as the action genre ran out of steam, look no further than Tango and Cash. Sylvester Stallone plays a cop who is a typical 80s yuppie who is teamed up with Kurt Russell’s blue collar detective who has a ridiculous gun.

The two are framed and sent to prison by their arch nemesis Jack Palance who messes around with mazes and mice to prove a point in what looks like a nightclub. Apart from one section in a prison which is actually quite cool, none of this holds up. Its cheesy, it’s loud and it’s cliché, so yeah its Friday night post pub masterpiece theatre.

Available on Lovefilm Instant.

Executive Decision

Executive Decision (1996)

From poor Kurt Russell to great Kurt Russell. Instead of a poor actioner made in the wake of Lethal Weapon, here we get a superior thriller made in the wake of Speed. It truly is a thriller though rather than an action movie even though it features Steven Seagal in an extended cameo.

Basically you have a team of soldiers stuck in the belly of a terrorist dominated 747. Seems simple and not much you can do with it, but Executive Decision is tense, surprising and just darn cool. It’s a wonder the editor turned director Stuart Baird never did anything this good again.

Available on Lovefilm Instant.


Rushmore (1998)

Wes Anderson’s second film is the one that really cemented his style and features a never better central performance by Jason Schwartzman as the befuddled perfectionist student at the titular academy. Then along comes Bill Murray at the beginning of a comeback with his first sad sack mid-life crisis performance and somehow still doesn’t steal it from Schwartzman but gives him equal footing as the story unfolds.

Anderson would go on to better this twice and return to similar themes but this is still a great example of where independent cinema was at the end of the 90s.

Available on Netflix.

Don’t be a Menace to South Central whilst Drinking your Juice in the Hood

Don’t be a Menace to South Central whilst Drinking your Juice in the Hood (1996)

There was a time, and I am not ashamed to admit it, when what the Wayans brothers were doing was actually genuinely funny. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka is a spot on spoof of the 70s Blaxploitation movies they obviously grew up watching. This film was the follow-up which spoofed the renewed surge in black cinema and the urban morality plays that filled cinemas in the early 90s.

The joke hadn’t grown stale at this point so much of this is right on the money and I LOL’d, I LOL’d lots. Then came Scary Movie and then a dip into mediocre crass schlock from which they have never recovered. A shame….

Available on Netflix.