Before the TV series by the same name arrives on TBS (of all places) in 2020, you’ll want to check out Snowpiercer on Netflix ASAP. Set in a future where a climate-correction experiment gone wrong has killed all life, the last lucky few members of the human race travel aboard the Snowpiercer, a globetrotting train. However, mankind resorts to the same evils that divided themselves against each other for millennia, leading to a class structure that separates and segregates the travelers all along the length of the train. With conflict among the classes comes the escalation to violence and the discovery of awful, awful truths.
Snowpierecer is damn close to a perfect movie. It perfectly encapsulates many if not all of the evils of society and the primitive forces that drive human beings, even those who claim themselves to be civilized. The cinematography is one-of-a-kind owing to the stretched and linear nature of the train itself, forcing the camera and the audience to watch along as the narrative unspools in a side-scrolling manner. The action unfurls in unique and captivating, if gut-wrenching, ways, all the more powerful because of the social struggles that act as the backdrop. It’s truly remarkable storytelling, top to bottom and tip to tail. Seek it out sooner than later.
One of the highest-profile movies to hit Netflix but bypass a traditional theatrical rollout was Okja, Bong Joon Ho‘s follow up to 2013’s Snowpiercer. It’s an eviscerating takedown of both the modern agricultural industry and the intertwined science of genetic engineering. The story takes the science to extreme and, at times, ridiculous proportions and makes no attempt to portray beneficial real-world achievements in an equal light. However, the moral of the story is hard to miss: Humans who play God soon lose their very humanity.
Okja follows the title character, a genetically engineered super-animal raised naturally/organically in South Korea by caretaker Mija. Since Okja is the choicest of the bred animals, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation seeks to take back their property and study it exhaustively in order to recoup their investment and improve their stock, both agriculturally and financially. Mija does everything in her power to bring her friend back home, though animal rights activists, hired corporate muscle, and even the media will complicate matters. It’s a tough watch at times, especially for those on the front lines of the fight for animal welfare, but it’s a lesson worth repeating just the same.
Beyond Skyline is a special kind of WTF. Of all the movies to spawn a franchise, I never would have guessed the much-derided 2010 sci-fi pic Skyline could pull it off, much less that the follow-up film would be such a gleeful, globe-trotting action-packed adventure. A proud, pulpy B-movie featuring aliens that rip the brain right out of your skull, Beyond Skyline stars Frank Grillo as a cop at odds with his son (Jonny Weston) when an alien attack sends them scrambling for their lives. Once the aliens make contact, the film ricochets through settings and characters at a breakneck pace, packing in a paperback book series worth of sci-fi lunacy into a single feature film that travels from subterranean tunnels to the nuclear wasteland of Los Angeles to an alien ship, and all the way to Laos, where Mark teams with rebels to battle the alien threat. You’ve got Frank Grillo playing hero with a baby in one hand and a space-blaster on the other, Antonio Fargas as a Vietnam vet who calls everybody “bitch”, Iko Uwais and Yaya Ruhain beating the shit out of giant aliens, and there’s even an honest-to-god Kaiju battle. Beyond Skyline won’t be for everyone, but if you love a bananas B-movie, the feature debut from writer-director Liam O’Donnell ticks all the right boxes.