Netflix Picks: 12th December 2014

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Have you ever sat in front of Netflix and spent so long trying to choose something to watch, that when you finally decide, you have no time left to watch it?  You are not alone!  We have searched through the darkest depths of Netflix to bring you the streaming service’s hidden gems.  We’re not quite ready to succumb to the lure of Christmas films just yet so you won’t see any on the list this week, but there are still plenty of other options to keep you entertained over the weekend.

Netflix Original – Marco Polo


Netflix has good form with its original content, with only yesterday seeing House of Cards and Orange is The New Black picking up three Golden Globe nominations apiece.  Released today, the 10-episode show follows Italian explorer Marco Polo in his early years in the court of  Kublai Khan.  Marco Polo is certainly the most ambitious project yet from Netflix, with beautiful cinematography reflecting the luscious surroundings of 13th Century China.  There are also some tightly choreographed martial arts fight scenes that will keep you gripped.  You can read more of our coverage on Marco Polo here.

 Catch Up – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Last week we recommended the first film in The Hobbit series, and although the third installment is released today, there is still time to catch up with the second film before you head to the cinema!  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug sees Bilbo Baggins and his gang of dwarves and elves continue their journey to reclaim their homeland Erebor from evil dragon Smaug.  The action is increased in this exciting installment, and although another lengthy watch at nearly three hours, the film never drags.  You can read our full review of the new film, The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies here.

New to Netflix – A Hard Day’s Night

the beatles a-hard-days-night

These days when we hear a film is being made with a band in it, we expect something along the lines of a One Direction concert film, fortunately Netflix has chosen to add the Beatles film debut, A Hard Day’s Night to remind us that bands in films aren’t automatically a bad thing.  Released 50 years ago in 1964, the mockumentary style film follows a ‘day in the life’ of the fab four, seeing them travel from Liverpool to London to perform on a TV show.  Rather than just a vehicle for their songs, the film is a spectacularly fun romp through the group’s day, and showcases their natural humour.  Ringo in particular shows he could have had an alternative career as a comedic actor, through a wonderful silent montage that Charlie Chaplin would have been proud of.  A joyous watch that you don’t have to be a Beatles fan to enjoy.

 Animated – Rango


In a year when no Pixar films were released, ILM’s first film, Rango, won Best Animated Feature at the 2011 Academy Awards.  A stunning animation that tells the story of chameleon house pet, Rango (Johnny Depp) and what happens when he accidentally ends up in the lawless town of Dirt, a town in dire need of a new sheriff.   A surreal and existential animated film, aimed at children, doesn’t appear to be a winning formula, but Rango really works.  It is certainly quite odd in places, but is all the better for it, and it shares more than a few nods to writer Hunter S. Thompson, who Depp famously played in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  With enough silliness and in-jokes for both children and adults to enjoy, Rango is a great alternative to the Pixar domination.

Guilty Pleasure – Broken Arrow


After his magnificent comeback as Vincent Vega in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, John Travolta’s career choices fell a little flat, following it up with roles as an angel (Michael), and a man with telekinesis powers (Phenomenon).  What this period should be remembered by however, is Travolta’s venture as a camp villain in John Woo action films; Face/Off, and Broken Arrow.  Although Face/Off  is always remembered for leads Nicholas Cage and Travolta hamming it up to ridiculous levels, Broken Arrow sees Travolta in an equally absurd role.  Travolta is joined by Christian Slater, and the film sees them playing military pilots, who are on a top-secret mission carrying nuclear missiles.  Unfortunately for Slater, Travolta turns rogue and intends to sell the bombs, and won’t let anything stand in his way.  What follows is a game of cat and mouse, and some very over-the-top acting from Travolta.