Netflix Releases Way Too Many Movie: An Apprehensive Preview of the Biggest Streamer's Upcoming Movies
I have no idea when movie theatres will be allowed to be open again in Ontario and even more importantly, what movie will actually get releases this year, so that I can watch them in a movie theatre. My goal this year is to write reviews of everything I watch this year (even if that means a few will need to be capsule reviews) and I'd like to have a healthy collection of 2021 releases. One of my goals is to add my perspective on the conversation going around the pictures shaping the culture of the year. But the precarious fate of the movie theatre means that seeing movies upon their release in theatres may not be an option for a good portion of the year and the $20 - $30 charge for premium VOD means that most of my reviews of new releases are destined to be coming from the streaming services.
Even though I have been critical of many of their original pictures, Netflix is still the leader of the streamers. There latest sizzle reel of their 2021 movies is a big deal when most of us are going to be stuck at home for many more months.
I don't think the promise of a movie being released every single week garnered the reaction in me that Netflix wanted. My guess is that statement was supposed to be make me go, 'Hot diggity! Look at those exciting movies I'll get to see. Netflix is a digital Santa tossing out treasures for us all!' Instead, it was more like, 'Ugh. There goes the gargoyle farting out more forgettable content that no person could ever keep track of.' Because Netflix has proven that they can deliver amazing movies, but they have also proven they are more concerned about quantity and just stuffing their service with flashy picture noises that can play in background while you fold your laundry.
The good vs not-so-good for Netflix movies ratio leans towards the negative side or it may just feel like that, because they release so many new movies. When you churn out over 52 movies in a single year, it is almost impossible for it all to be high-quality, and I highly doubt they are even that concerned with a large portion of the movies even being good. They just want to keep their libraries filled with stuff that they own and have the infamous 'content' to dwindle away the hours.
Netflix obviously cares about some of their movies being good. This is the service that gave us Beasts of No Nation, Roma, Marriage Story, The Irishman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Dick Johnson is Dead and several other movies that have been praised on The Movie Breakdown. They desperately want one of their movies to win the Best Picture Oscar. They love the critical praise as much as any other studio. They just reserve it for a specific few while everything else just feels like time fillers.
What chance do they have? Netflix releases more than double the number of movies than any other studio. That will likely continue to be the case even with Warner Brothers and Disney now making movies for both their streaming services, movie theatres and VOD. Or maybe I'm floating in a fantasy world of denial over the reality of one hundred movies coming from each studio to feed the content beast is going to be the future.
I'm whining about the factory-like mass production of movies and series, but Netflix delivered a sizzle reel because I'm supposed to be dazzled by the diverse slate and big stars. There is a part of me that appreciates that it isn't an influx of pictures based on established series, and most of the movies are either original or adaptations of things that haven't been beaten into a fine paste for the past 30 years. This is worth celebrating. It is great that Netflix seems to be interested in original stories and by all accounts, allows for huge creative freedom to all kinds of directors from diverse background. Yes, I applaud all that.
The problem is I've been doing this review game for a quite a few years now and I have reviewed probably over a hundred Netflix movies and I'd say there is barely a handful that I'd say are great. There are more that fall under good and decent. but an overflowing waste bucket of bad and forgettable. This is the problem when it is about producing content rather than focusing on making each one a good movie and a valuable piece of art.
The issue is mostly due to having so many movies crammed on the plate that it is impossible to have the time to do proper quality control. Amazon Studios isn't perfect either and created a few duds, but due to just producing much less films, they have a much higher percentage of quality. Disney Plus also has a higher hit rate for their exclusive movies at this point, but I also realize with the race being to stock up the streaming services with movies you own that the direction may be going towards the Netflix strategy.
Here I am being a Negative Ned when Netflix is trying to get me all pumped and hyped. It was a well-produced sizzle reel, and they have some big names attached. Due to the movie theatre continuing to be a non-factor, their movies have a strong chance of being a big part of the movie conversations this year. There is a bit of an old school vibe from 20 or 30 years ago where the events movies lean on the big stars and high-concept rather than 'Hey look! That is the new movie version of a comic or TV show or toy or movie or soft drink that I loved as a kid!' I am excited about Netflix embracing star powers and originality especially with them digging into some once hot genres that get little attention from big studios today like romantic comedies, Westerns or star-led action-thrillers.
The Anthony Mackie is a cyborg movie, Outside the Wire, feels like a traditional January movie, so makes sense it is out now and expectations aren't particularly high, even if Mackie may or may not be the new Captain America, Speaking of old-school, I am a big fan of Netflix doing a big star-driven romantic drama, Malcolm & Marie, starring two destined to be mega-stars in Zendaya and John David Washington that is an ambitious looking black and white drama that no modern big studio would probably take a gamble.
Speaking of going all in on movies big studios mostly ignore now. I wouldn't have ever guessed that To All the Boys I Loved Before would spawn a buzzworthy movie trilogy, and I can't think of many romantic comedies before this that even got a sequel. I really enjoyed the first two movies and so, I am all in on the final chapter in To All the Boys: Always and Forever. These movies made Lana Condor and Noah Centineo into stars and I get excited any time I hear they are going to be in something. They created a movie couple that I am cheering on and I have every confidence this one will be as delightful and fun as the first two. Oddly enough, I am more excited about this than most of the big star-driven spectacles being hyped for this year.
I am a fan that Netflix is allowing some big-name actors to get a chance at directing. That is a thing that seemed much more common in the 1980s and 1990s, so I'm excited that the streamer is allowing talented people try out different skills. Halle Berry tackles a drama about a female MMA fighter battling for custody of her son in Bruised for her directorial debut. Lin-Manuel Miranda debut as a director is something he knows well about a guy struggling to make ends meet while creating a musical in Tick, Tick . . . Boom!, and while not her debut, I am intrigued to see Amy Poehler take on a coming of age high school movie in Moxie that make me wonder if it will have a Mean Girls like vibe.
I'm sure I'll see and review the Jennifer Garner starring Yes, Day, because like most parents I'm always looking for stuff to watch with my kids. I admit it looks like it may be destined to fit amongst movies like Sleepover and Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as harmless but forgettable stuff that entertain my kids for about 90 minutes but doesn't do too much for me.
I was surprised to see Back to the Outback as the only animated feature to make the sizzle reel because Netflix had revealed plans to have six original animated features a year. It does look like they indeed have a few more big animated movies planned, but my guess. is either this is the only one that they know will make the schedule for sure or they are saving the others for later in the year for another round of hype. Looking at some of their planned movies for 2021, they look to have a Aardman movie lined up in a sequel to Chicken Run, which based on that studio's track record, makes it one of my most anticipated movies for the year.
There are a few big event animated movies that look slated for this year. There is the fantasy adventure My Father's Dragon based on Ruth Stile Gannett's 1948 children's novel, that sight unseen is another movie that I look forward to watching with my kids and could be something very special based off the source material. In a stop motion animated movie that has been in the works for years and has had many movie geeks stoked, we look to finally be getting Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, which I am not sure if I will be able to see with my kids, but I am very excited to finally watch.
An animated movie I am sure to be destined to see with Everett is Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I am sure this one will be endlessly hyped on my front page. I've never seen the cartoon series The Loud House, but I'm destined to see the feature length adaptation with my kids as well. You know that I'm all over a stop-motion animated fantasy horror comedy voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key in a movie about two scheming demon brothers, Wendell and Wild. Most of the planned animated movies seem worth getting excited about.
I am big fan of Jennifer Hudson, so I'm all down to see her starring in a drama where she is supported by John David Washington and Jeffery Wright in Monster, and this got some buzz at the Sundance Festival two years ago, so not a fresh release, but I will be happy to finally see it. I am also thrilled to see a new Dave Bautista flick, even if it is directed by Zack Snyder thus giving me mixed feeling about the zombie heist film, Army of the Dead. Gina Rodriguez is another actor that always delivers, so I am ready to see her star in a sci-fi thriller that also have actors I really love seeing in Barry Pepper and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Awake. I often don't often get too excited about movies that Netflix buys from other studios because it usually means that studio knows they have a dud, but Bad Trip is a comedy that has people who often make me laugh in Lil Rel Howery and Tiffany Haddish.
I am beginning to regret my mean words directed towards Netflix because it looks to be the place where I'll get my John David Washington fix as I've mentioned him a few times already. He is also in a thriller that also stars Alicia Vikander and Boyd Holbrook in Beckett. I also love me some Idris Elba and modern takes on Westerns, and I'm set to get both in Concrete Cowboy.
I never read the Fear Street book series by R.L. Stine, but I think that has a lot to do with it coming out when I was already out of the target age. I know he is a beloved author by many, and so the movie adaptation is sure to be a major event on the streamer and I'll be all set to review it. Everett is a big fan of the two Goosebumps movies, but I don't know enough about Fear Street to be confident that Everett can see it with me. I hope to watch more horrors that he can see this year as he is becoming a fan of the genre.
Kissing Both 3 is the final chapter in the other popular romantic comedy trilogy. I really disliked the first two, but I'm so deep in now, that it is inevitable I will watch the third installment too. I also can respect there are many people that have liked these movies way more than I have.
The Woman in the Window was one of my most anitcipated movies. . . three years ago when it was originally supposed to come out. The fact Disney sold this movie rather than put it on Hulu makes me nervous that it is one giant mess. But I love psychological thrillers and I love Amy Adams even more, so I will go in with hope of being delightfully surprised.
I am surprise that there haven't been more studios that have tried to tell some original stories that are in the superhero subgenre. It is a genre that opens itself up to parody or comedy. I am excited to see a fresh take of the superhero adventure in Thunder Force with non-traditional leads for such movies in Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer. McCarthy has missed the mark for me in her last few comedies, but the little clip of this gives me hope it is going to be a fun time.
I have heard some buzz about the new Marilyn Monroe picture starring another actor that I am excited about in Ana de Armas, and I was surprised to find out Blonde is a Netflix original. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is another actor that I love every time she is in something and team her up with Woody Harrelson in an action thriller called Kate and consider me sold on checking it out. I also love Chris Hemsworth, but to be honest, I still feel the disappointment of Extraction boiling in my gut, but I have to remind myself that doesn't mean his new movie Escape from Spiderhead won't break Netflix's streak of not being very good at blockbuster type movies.
One of the biggest event movies on Netflix this year is the type of picture that Hollywood did a lot in the past. There used to be a time that a major movie was packed with stars, has something very topical to explore and had a big-name director in charge. My guess is we won't see Don't Look Up until near the end of the year, but my instinct says this will be worth the wait. Adam McKay helms his latest political dramedy with an all-star cast that includes superstars like Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill and Meryl Streep. I am super excited about this one and this is obviously one of the big Oscar hopefuls for Netflix. As I said even when criticizing Netflix, they always have a few really great movies a year and this should be one of them.
Netflix's biggest tentpole like film of the year is Red Notice that not only has a huge budget but was in a bidding war with Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony and Legendary, so this one may look and feel like a real big action event. It helps that it has three of the biggest current box office draws in Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds. I have no idea what this is about, but I've been hearing rumblings of this movie for a few years, and I am excited about a tentpole not based on a well-known superhero movie or a picture from the 1980s.
Starting last year, Netflix really seems to be digging into the action genre. Most of them have missed the mark for me, but I am interested in seeing Jason Momoa's latest action thriller in Sweet Girl. While I am not sold on Netflix action, I am sold on Jake Gyllenhaal and he is starring in a crime thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua in The Guilty that also is beefed up with Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Riley Keough and Paul Dano. I'm always down with more Westerns and The Harder They Fall has a fresh take with a mostly black cast that includes great talents like Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Lakeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo.
It sounds like I just listed every 2021 Netflix release, and I am not even close. Again, that is what happens when they aim to release a movie every week and to be honest, some weeks I think there is two or three coming out.
After doing this the last few years, I can't shake the knowledge that a good portion of these movies turn out to be disappointments. But with no movie theatres open in most areas and many movies continuing to be pushed, Netflix is going to be an even bigger part of the movie conversation in 2021. There are bound to be some memorable and wonderful pictures in this batch. I look forward to reviewing the next classic.