CBG’s Netflix Suggestions – July 2017

It’s hard to believe that summer is already here, but yet here it is. The kids are finishing up school, the days are longer, and there seems to be more time to go outside and enjoy the beautiful world around us.

But what do we do when it’s raining? We turn to NETFLIX, of course!! And believe me…there are a LOT of reasons to turn to Netflix in July. There are too many to mention, so I’m going to provide some of my recommendations here:

Friends From College

July 14

I had no idea what this Netflix Original was about until I saw the trailer and I gotta say…I’m so glad that I did!! 

This looks to be the exact type of quirky, well-written, well-acted “dram-edy” that I enjoy watching from time to time. The cast looks fantastic (Colbie Smulders! Keegan-Michael Key! Fred Savage??), it’s from the director of one of my favourite movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and the trailer makes this series look REALLY good.

Basically, it’s about a group of friends from Harvard who are facing down their forties. The show has interwoven and complicated relationships in a comedic exploration of old friendships, former romantic entanglements, and balancing adult life with nostalgia for the past. 

I hope my expectations aren’t too high…but right now I can’t wait!!

Ghost

July 6

This classic love story is back and available on Netflix the first week of July! It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen this blockbuster, so I’m hoping it hasn’t aged poorly.

Starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, the premise of the movie sounds really cheesy and REALLY bad. The movie is about a young man who is murdered, but then finds that his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger…all with the help of a reluctant psychic. 

When you read it, it kind of sounds like a goofy 80’s comedy. It’s not, though…so if you’re looking for a romantic evening with your significant other, this is highly recommended!

Snowden

July 1

I’ve heard a lot about Edward Snowden…from theories on why he is an American traitor to explanations on why he is an American hero. With a cast headlined by the incredibly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I’m really intrigued to watch this and see the story unfold.

Of course, where it’s an Oliver Stone movie I’ll have to take it with a grain of salt as his versions of “the truth” can sometimes be a bit slanted, but with a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes I’m willing to take a chance that I’ll still be entertained.

Pixels

July 11

I know, I know…it’s an Adam Sandler movie and was critically panned (only a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but my son LOVED this flick. And yes, I realize that it wasn’t the best acting or storyline in the world, but if you want to turn off your brain with your kids for a couple of hours, this is the perfect movie for that. 

Plus it’s kinda fun to re-live some of the older arcade games that I grew up with come to live as actual alien invaders!

Castlevania

July 7

This is a Netflix original series that is based off of the very popular classic video game series. Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy that follows the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan as he tries to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hands of Dracula himself! 

Adi Shankar, producer of the series, recently stated that the series is “very much done in the vein of Game of Thrones.” Taking that into consider in addition to (a) being familiar with the story and (b) having watched the trailer, I’m certainly willing to give this series a shot. 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

July 14

My wife and I watched the first Jack Reacher movie with zero expectations and were pleasantly suprised. Tom Cruise was riveting in the role…even though we weren’t exactly sure what that role was. Months later, we couldn’t tell you what the movie was about…but we could still remember that we liked it a lot.

We entered the sequel with slightly higher expectations.  Again, don’t ask us what the movie was about (I know it co-stars Colbie Smulders, though!), but we both ended up liking it again. 

So if you like your action “straight-up” and not “in your face”, I think you’ll really enjoy this movie. Cruise may be on autopilot here, but it’s still a great performance.

Arrival

July 28

I feel as though this movie was just in theatres a couple of months ago, so I think it’s pretty awesome that it’s already available on Netflix.

The plot of the movie is that twelve mysterious spacecraft have appeared around the world (I know…haven’t we been here before?). But instead of a Will Smith-led war movie for the ages, this is MUCh more subdued as linguistics professor Louise Banks (played by the awesome Amy Adams) is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

The movie co-stars Jeremy Renner and Forrest Whitaker, so the cast is top notch. If you think you’ve seen this type of “alien invasion” movie before, you haven’t. This movie was one of those “quietly successful” blockbusters that kind of took people by surprise because it was that good of a movie. Definitely recommended!

To The Bone

July 14

I’ve heard really good things about this Netflix original (it was a pick-up from the Sundance Film Festival and currently has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). So even though this type of movie is “not my jam”, I’m willing to give it a shot.

The film shares the story of 20-year-old Ellen (played by Lily Collins) and her battle with anorexia. Ellen enters a group home run by an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) where she and the other residents go on a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing journey – navigating their addictions and finding the path to choosing life.

Finally…July 2017 sees the Netflix Canada debut of…

ROGUE ONE:

A Star Wars Story

July 18

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it is to have Star Wars movies streaming on Netflix. Sure, I own the blu-rays (as I owned the dvd’s and the VHS versions before that!), but there’s something about the convenience of watching it thru Netflix that just makes things more fun.

If you haven’t seen this movie, you are in for a treat. This takes place in the short time before the original Star Wars: A New Hope, as it tells the story about how the Rebel Alliance actually captured the plans to the Death Star and placed them into R2-D2 and C3-PO…thus launching a movie universe that is ever expanding.

And if I can be 100% honest here…Rogue One is one of the best movies in the entire franchise. I’d dare say it’s even in my “Top 3” in terms of Star Wars movies, and for a life-long fan that’s really saying something!

Want to see what else is coming to Netflix Canada in July? 

*****

Have I missed any? Are there any of your own “must sees” coming out in July? If you have any suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know as I would love to hear them. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

 

CBG’s Netflix Suggestions – January 2017

It’s a whole new year and it’s time to kick-start those resolutions! For me, those resolutions include catching up on some of the Netflix programs that I wanted to watch in 2016 but never got around to doing it.

Therefore, my picks for January are some of the programs available on Netflix that I really want to see but haven’t had the opportunity to as of yet…

Marvel’s Luke Cage

I remember reading the comic adventures of Power Man & Iron Fist when I was a kid, so when I heard that Netflix was going to make series of both superheroes, I was really excited to see how a modern take on the characters would look.

I’ve watched and loved the series of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, so I am fully aware of what Netflix brings to the table in terms of quality programming and a realistic take on these incredible human beings. So you may be asking yourselves why I haven’t yet watched this series?

Well…I’ve started it, so I guess that’s why this is the top pick for me. After watching the first couple of episodes, I’m really loving the gritty realism that Netflix brought to this series. I’m definitely “all in” and I can’t wait to finish watching how Luke Cage deals with both Cottonmouth and his own morals at the same time.

Elstree 1976

I am a MASSIVE Star Wars fan and have been since watching the original on the big screen way back in 1977 shortly after it premiered. So I do whatever I can to gather information on stuff from behind the scenes whenever possible (it’s my “nerdy side” coming through, I guess).

This is a documentary where actors and extras reminisce about their time on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and how making the film affected their lives. It shows “Then and Now” footage of bit players who appeared in the movie and tells the story of how the film and its legions of fans changed their lives forever.

While I’ve always watched stories from the stars of the movies reminiscing about creating these films, I’ve never heard the tales from extras and “bit players”. So needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing this one.

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

I gotta be honest…I don’t really know a lot about this series. What I do know, however, is that almost every new take on the Roman Empire (ex: Rome, Spartacus: War of the Damned, etc.) has been excellent, so I am definitely looking forward to seeing this play out. 

Now, what makes this intriguing is that it’s not a “series” with a new spin on it…it’s a docuseries based on historical events. I like that because sometimes new versions can go off the rails in their attempts to “entertain” as well as educate.

Reign of Blood is done in six parts and derives its origins from the historical Roman Empire and tells the story of Commodus, who was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He was the son of Rome’s greatest philosopher king, but he was also the fool who brought down an empire.

The Big Short

I have heard a TON of really good things about this movie, but for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

Four men, who are in the world of high-finance, predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s. However, the big banks don’t have the same foresight so they decide to take on the big banks and walk away with unbelievable wealth.

The cast is what really intrigues me…Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carrell. Wow…talk about a great group of actors! Needless to say I’ve got to find the time to watch this Academy Award winning movie.

Gotham

I’ve been extremely hesitant to watch any of the television series that deal with superheros because, quite frankly, the film versions are better 99% of the time. As much as I love the Marvel cinematic universe, I’ve never watched a single episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of course, having said that let’s not ignore the fact that Netflix has done an incredible job with Marvel characters thus far (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and what I’ve seen of Luke Cage to this point have been stellar series). But with the floodgates seemingly opened on television (ex: The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, etc.),  I just didn’t know if I’d want to dive into another series.

But from everything I’ve heard, Gotham is an excellent series on its own. It’s a unique twist on the Batman tale where we meet Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne before Batman has even been created. The stories are really focused on the origins of many of Batman’s eventual arch-villain nemesis’s: including Penguin, RiddlerCatwomanPoison IvyTwo-Face, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, Mad Hatter, and Ra’s al Ghul

To me, this sounds like a crazy way to introduce all of these bad guys…where they really all around Gotham in the years before Bruce Wayne turned into Batman? Well…from everything I’ve read and have been told, the series does a great job of introducing everybody without being too over-the-top. So for that reason alone, I’m willing to give it a shot.

**********

That makes up my “2017 Netflix Resolution” list. Are there any shows that you’ve been wanting to watch but just haven’t had the time yet? If you have any suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know as I would love to hear them. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

The Best Movies of 2016

best-of-the-best

Deadpool 

deadpoolI was never a Deadpool comic reader. I had only heard of “The Merc With A Mouth”  in passing from time to time. It wasn’t until the test footage of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was released that I became 100% on board with the concept. To say that this was a role that Reynolds was born to play would be a massive understatement.

deadpool-2From beginning to end, Deadpool provides a hilarious blend of action, violence, gross-out comedy, and 4th-wall-breaking comedic brilliance that makes this movie one of the most uniquely entertaining you’ll ever see. The story doesn’t suck, either…which really helps this move along.

In a year where the majority of superhero movies failed to live-up to the hype (I’m looking at you, Batman vs Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse), Deadpool exceeded expectations to provide the best movie of the year.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue-one-1I think it’s fair to say that this movie has exceeded expectations, both critically and financially. The way this movie is selling tickets, it just might end up being the #1 movie of the year at the box office both domestically and internationally. 

But set that all aside…Rogue One is an incredible movie reminiscent of classic war movies like Saving Private Ryan (seriously). The battle sequences are spectacular, the acting is above-par, and the characters are likable and entertaining. You can really tell that director Gareth Edwards was a massive Star Wars fan growing up.

rogue-one-2If you are a Star Wars fan, you’re probably going to end up having this movie in your Top 3 list…it’s that good. If you’re NOT a Star Wars fan, though, I’d still dare say give it a shot. It’s a stand-alone movie that is a prequel to the original Star Wars: A New Hope but doesn’t require a viewing of that film in order to understand what’s going on. 

At the end of the day, selling LucasFilm to Disney has been one of the best things to ever happen to Star Wars. It’s also one of the best things to ever happen to Marvel, too, because the next top movie of the year is…

Captain America: Civil War 

civil-war-1Of course, after finishing the initial blurb up top about how superhero movies disappointed in 2016, I’m jumping right into another superhero movie. No apologies, though…Captain America: Civil War was Marvel’s way of showing DC and Fox how a superhero movie is SUPPOSED to be done. Combining multiple storylines and characters in a way that was both believable and intelligent, Civil War was able to provide a movie experience that did not disappoint. And honestly, have you ever seen a more believable “giant” on screen than Ant-Man at the airport?

The Jungle Book 

the-jungle-bookAs a huge fan of the original (both as a child and again as a parent), I was a little hesitant to give The Jungle Book remake a chance. I’m so glad that I did, though! This movie is as good a live-action adaptation as you’re ever going to find. The CGI is so flawless that you forget you’re not really watching wolves talk to a tiger. And aside from a couple of diversions, the original’s storyline is almost completely followed in this movie. DEFINITELY a must-watch.

Warcraft 

warcraftI might get some flack and eye-rolls for this choice, but I think this movie was massively under-rated. The CGI was flawless, which is important because the majority of the movie was based on CGI-based characters and backgrounds. There were slower moments, to be sure, but for someone like myself who had never played the original game this movie was a very unique fantasy tale. My son absolutely LOVED this movie, so why should I disagree just because it wasn’t the biggest box-office hit of the year?

The Big Short

the-big-shortI honestly wouldn’t be able to explain this movie to you, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t find it extremely entertaining. I thought the acting was awesome (it’s really an all-star cast here), the characters were compelling, and the story itself was easy to follow…it was just the details of the story that didn’t make much sense at first. Trust me…you’ll have to see it to truly understand. In a year where there were massive big-budget movies, this was a really welcome choice. 

*****

What were some of YOUR favourite movies in 2016? I’ll be recapping my faves in television and music as the week continues!

 

Throwback Thursday – The Star Wars Reminder

Star Wars Force Awakens Yes, yes…I fully realize that I have already pimped myself out to Netflix Canada because Star Wars: The Force Awakens is streaming in Canada (exclusively!) right now. But as it was a “Throwback Thursday” and I saw another tidbit from Netflix in my inbox, I felt as though I had to post one more time.

Ankle Biter light saberY’see, Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. For example, I introduced my son to the original trilogy when he was only 3 years old. A little young? Probably. As a dad wanting to see his son’s eyes light up, however, it didn’t bother me too much. There is no blood or cursing…just some special effects lasers and some explosions. Needless to say, he was immediately a fan and has been a fan ever since.

And yes…we’ve already watched The Force Awakens twice on Netflix since July 15th, even though we saw it in the theatres.

And then I think way back to 2009 when I was just beginning to date my amazing wife, Sunshine. She had never seen the movie before and even faked crying with her ex just to get out of watching it with him.

Star Wars IV: A New HopeOn this occasion, however, she decided to give it a shot. We went overboard with the snacks (peanut M&M’s, Doritos, Reece’s Pieces) and watched Star Wars together. She didn’t hate it, so I have always considered that a massive “win” for me. And the fact that we were able to document this night with a photo makes it all the more memorable…

Sunshine - Star Wars

This brings me back to the item that I found in my inbox from Netflix Canada. It was a recipe for “Wookie Cookies“. I mean, if you’re going to truly sit back and enjoy the glory that is Star Wars with your family, you might as well go all-out!

WookieCookie_Recipe

Thanks, Netflix! You never fail to put a smile on my face!

Canada Day? How About Canada Month!

Netflix CanadaY’know, sometimes I feel as though ‘Canada Day’ should be more like ‘Canada Month’. I mean, it’s not like I want the entire month off (though that’s not a horrible idea), but I think our country is so freakin’ awesome that I want to celebrate it all month long. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

My good friends at Netflix Canada have helped me celebrate my great home country throughout July, and I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights:

  • TPB - NetflixTrailer Park Boys. Listen…I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve been to the trailer park where the boys originally filmed their show. I know just how Canadian this show actually is (from time to time, anyway). The fact that it has crossed-over in popularity with other parts of the world just makes it all the more unique. The twisted tales of Ricky, Julien, and Bubbles never fail to entertain as long as you have the right sense of humour to truly enjoy it (viewer discretion IS advised, after all).
  • How I Met Your MotherHow I Met Your Mother. This is a television series that my family did not watch during its initial run. Thankfully, Netflix has all nine seasons available to binge-watch! As a family, we’re all hooked on this show and are up to the fourth season now. What makes it Canadian? Well, you can’t watch the show and not fall in love with Robin Scherbatsky (played by Cobie Smulders, who is originally from Vancouver, BC.). Not only that, but if you watch the episodes that involve Canadian pop icon Robin Sparkles and then don’t feel like going to the mall…well…I don’t know if we can still be friends.
  • Change UpThe Change-Up. This movie is silly, but still full of chuckles and fun. Former best friends Mitch (Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) have drifted apart over the years. After a drunken reunion where they profess their envy of the other’s life, they wake up to find that they have somehow switched bodies. They soon discover that things are not as great as they thought they were and then try to find a way to return their lives to normal.
  • DegrassiDegrassi: Next Class. My girls (aged 11 and 13) absolutely LOVE this show. And much like the two previous incarnations, this is a Canadian series that is filmed in Toronto. The show follows a group of high school sophomores and juniors from the fictional Degrassi Community School. What made the show popular previously is what has made it popular again: it depicts some of the typical issues and challenges common to every teenager’s life (ex: cyber bullying, mental illness, sexuality, drug use, racial discrimination, etc.). While I don’t watch this show, it’s definitely one that I will let my kids watch and learn from.
  • CaillouCaillou. I’ll be the first to admit that I was never really a fan of Caillou when my kids were younger. But this is a Canadian program produced by a Canadian studio that continues to entertain kids of the newer generation. The series is based on the books by Canadian educator/writer Hélène Desputeaux and centers around a 4-year old boy named Caillou who is fascinated by the world around him. It’s a show primarily designed for toddlers so keep that in mind if you’re first-time viewer.

Finally, there was one more reason Netflix gave me reason to celebrate being Canadian…

H Key Art

That’s right…Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted on Netflix Canada during the month of July!! I know that my American friends weren’t overly thrilled to hear that Canucks were able to watch this movie on Netflix, but I provide no apologies! This is freaking awesome!!

Prod stillI’m a life-long Star Wars fan from the moment I saw the original in the theatres back in 1977. I have helped my son become a huge Star Wars fan and we both saw The Force Awakens in theatres and thought it blew our minds. I was going to buy it on Blu-ray, but I’m putting that purchase off for the time being so we can continue to repeat watch the movie on Netflix…whenever we want!

Clone Wars title treatmentAdd to that the fact that all SIX seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars are also available on Netflix and you can only imagine the bonding experiences my son and I have had over the past couple of weeks. There is so much Star Wars fun to be had that we barely have time to watch anything else!

So let’s revel in the fact that Netflix Canada has helped us all celebrate Canada Day during the entire month. Maybe this is the beginning of a new Canadian holiday?

My Son’s Netflix Inspired Halloween Costume

As a member of the Netflix Canada Stream Team, I was asked to show any of my children wearing a Netflix-inspired Halloween costume. This was extremely easy for me because my son is an extremely creative and inspired nine-year-old. He told me at the beginning of the month that he had not only come up with his Halloween costume, but had created his own “super hero” based on something we had watched together on Netflix.

Star Wars The Clone WarsBack in June, we watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I introduced the Star Wars universe to my son at a pretty young age (he was 3, if I remember correctly) because there was no bad language, no blood, and the violence was pretty cartoon-esque. Where we had watched all six movies repeatedly over the past six years, his love of the franchise was beginning to wane a little bit.

I knew that the new Star Wars movie was coming out in December, so introducing him to an extended “cannon” Star Wars universe meant that his love for everything Star Wars would be rekindled.

He came up with an idea all of his own for Jacob Future, which was a cross between a super-hero and a Jedi, wielding a lightsaber and using the Force for the purposes of good fighting against evil. Heck…he even came up with a back-story that included his wife, kids, and even GRANDKIDS. He invented a storyline for how he received his powers and who he fought his biggest battles against.

I took a number of photos as he prepared his costume for the days leading up to Halloween. He was super excited to look like a wolf (his favourite animal) who happened to be a Jedi. It’s weird, I know…but I was totally thrilled to know he was creating this all with his imagination. THAT is a very cool thing for a parent to experience.

After looking through some of the photos, I figured that I could do some photo editing to truly give him a sense of being a “Jedi super hero” from the Star Wars universe. We talked about the bad guys he wanted to face and I ended up with a couple of fun creations that he absolutely loved.

Take a look!

Jacob Future - Super Hero 3

Jacob Future - Super Hero 2

Did anything on Netflix inspire YOUR kids this year for Halloween?

Preparing for a new Star Wars generation

Star Wars The Clone WarsI’m a guy who grew up on Star Wars. The first movie I remember watching in a theatre as a kid was Star Wars from the balcony of whatever theatre I was at (remember theatre balconies?). As an adult, I was more than happy to pass my love of this movie universe down to my son…and it’s one of the things that we happily get to bond over.

He was almost as excited as I was when the new Star Wars: Episode 7 trailer was released recently. We’ve both been counting down the months until the time arrives when we can experience new Star Wars memories together for the first time.

Star Wars Clone WarsTo prepare for doing that, I decided that we should watch some Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix.  The series is set in the fictional Star Wars galaxy during the three years between the prequel films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. What makes it fun for me is the fact that the stories are considered part of the Star Wars canon, so they “really took place” and are officially part of the new Star Wars expanded universe that launches with Episode VII in December. The hundreds of books and video games and comic books that have been released over the past 30+ years are just stories but are not considered part of the actual Star Wars universe, so watching The Clone Wars is a pretty cool way to understand character development.

Clone Wars villainsAnd that’s the great thing about watching this series as an adult fan. I could see the progression of Anakin Skywalker from Season One through Season Five, so the way he acted in Revenge of the Sith made a little bit more sense. It was definitely a progression as opposed to “I’m grown up now, so I’m unhappy with my Jedi life blah blah blah”. In addition to that, the series introduced us to new characters that very well may appear in the new expanded universe movies (I just read over the weekend that Cad Bane might actually appear in the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One anthology movie coming out in December 2016). 

From a kid’s point of view, it’s simply an awesomely entertaining cartoon to watch. The storylines are interesting, the characters are well developed, and the action sequences are fantastic. Add to that the numerous Star Wars “new trilogy” characters that appear in the show and you’ve got my kid’s attention span, which is not easily done these days.

So if you’re a fan of Star Wars, your kid is a fan of Star Wars, or you simply want to watch something fun with your family that’s a little on the “action-y” side, then start streaming away on Netflix! With six seasons to watch, you’ll be able to “binge watch” to your heart’s content. Clone Wars on Netflix