New on Netflix Instant: 'Elles' and 'Goats' in 'The Grey'
Plus TV hits 'Once Upon a Time' and 'Revenge,' BritCrime 'Midsomer Murders,' and more
"The Grey" (Universal) drops Liam Neeson in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness and pits him against a pack of ravenous wolves in Joe Carnahan's muscular survival thriller. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny appreciates that Carnahan "tries to come to terms with what one really needs, steely attitude aside, to survive in an environment in which literally everything is against you."
Arriving a week after its disc debut is "Goats" (2012), starring stars David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Justin Kirk, and Ty Burrell as the eccentric adults in the life of confused adolescent Graham Phillips. MSN film critic James Rocchi warns that "it it's just another indie film: featuring large stars in small-but-showy parts where the overacting makes up for the underpayment…" Also coming on the heels of its disc is the French drama "Elles" (2011) with Juliette Binoche. Reviews here.
Last season's shows are arriving in droves as the new season begins on TV, and perhaps the most engaging of these is the surprise hit "Once Upon a Time: Season One," the "other" network show about fairy tale figures in the modern world ("Grimm" has already begun on TV). This is more of a small town melodrama with roots in the classic tales of magic, heroes, witches, and curses, with a Wicked Witch (Lana Parilla) ruling them all as a suburban mayor taking her vengeance on Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and other characters.
"Revenge: The Complete First Season," a juicy nighttime soap opera of the rich and beautiful in the Hamptons and a ferocious scheme of righteous vengeance, was one of the success stories of the 2011-2012 TV season, thanks to the gleeful bad behavior and queen bee control by Madeleine Stowe.
"Scandal: The Complete First Season," created by Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy") and starring Kerry Washington as the politically-connected head of D.C. crisis management firm, started splashy and aggressively provocative and became increasingly more interesting as the abbreviated first season developed.
A couple of these are not returning: "Terra Nova: Season One," the short-lived science fiction series of a human colony sent back in time to the prehistoric era, delivers a lush jungle world and an impressive wildlife park spectacle of GCI dinosaurs, but not much else. And "Ringer: Season One," the evil twin melodrama with Sarah Michelle Geller, arrives on Netflix Instant before disc.
Fans of laid-back British mystery will enjoy "Midsomer Murders: Series 1-10" (1997-2007), starring John Nettles as the unflappable DCI Barnaby, who investigate so many murder cases in his quiet little corner of Britain that you might think this cluster of quaint country villages in rural Midsomer is the murder capital of England. There's a dry black humor under the easy pace.
Rowan Atkinson stars in "Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean" (1989-1995), the entire run of the original British comedy series about a bumbling goofball in (mostly) silent movie skits of modern life. Bean is a completely different animal from Atkinson’s usual caustic, scheming comic creature, a sweet, befuddled man-child with a touch of endearing sneakiness, a whole lot of pluck, and a child’s understanding of the world.
"Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011), the 2011 "Doctor Who" Christmas special, sends the Doctor on a holiday adventure to World War II Britain and a Christmas Tree planet where fun takes a deadly turn.
"RoboCop: Dark Justice" (2001) is the first feature-length installment in a four-part mini-series originally made for Canadian TV, a low budget science fiction thriller starring Page Fletcher as Robocop, resurrected in an even more cutthroat corporate culture than seen in the movies. Surprisingly interesting and very dark. The series continues in "Meltdown," "Resurrection," and "Crash and Burn."