New on the Screen: on Netflix and in Theaters This Holy Week
It’s Holy Week, and for those who aren’t leaving the country or heading out of town; what’s on at the cinema, and on Netflix, may be our best entertainment options for the week.
On Netflix, there’s the new Netflix Original movie, The Silence, and the first season of their own zombie series Black Summer. There’s also The Perfect Date, starring Noah Centineo, but I have to confess you’d need to glue me to a chair and staple my eyes open to get me to watch that one. Even Black Summer, starring Jamie King, looks like it’s a Johnny Come Lately in the zombie game; and you wonder how this one even got the studio ‘green light’––perhaps some six years ago, it might have made some sense? But this late in the game, I don’t think so.
The Silence could have been a notable film if A Quiet Place, Hitchcock’s The Birds, The Mist, Alien, and even Netflix’s own Bird Box of last year, didn’t already exist. But alas, they all do, so anyone who’s into suspense horror will find the tropes and beats of Silence all too familiar and hackneyed. It’s interesting to note that the book, The Silence is based on predates A Quiet Place; but unfortunately, the premise of a nuclear family facing flying monsters activated by sound was done so much better in the film.
I mention The Mist as The Silence doesn’t just settle with these flying abominations, but adds the element of cults, mutilations, and the search for fertile maidens - I kid you not. From a marketing standpoint, one can see how Netflix will generate interest for The Silence with the YA audience, as Kiernan Shipka and Miranda Otto from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are in The Silence’s cast––but this time, Otto plays Shipka’s Mom and not aunt. The always dependable Stanley Tucci plays the father; and by the end, you wish there was more dependable story-telling. The Vesps may be frightful creatures, but even they’ll be screeching before this Netflix Original ends.
So if you want a pleasant surprise, head to the cinema and look for Laika’s latest stop-motion, claymation offering, Missing Link. It’s got solid old school story-telling that’s set in Victorian England, with the right amount of cheeky fun, and earnest messaging. It’s about friendship, self-discovery, and becoming the evolved man. And yes, Laika is the studio that gave us Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, and Kubo and the Two Strings.
Essentially, it’s a travel buddy film, involving intrepid but self-absorbed explorer Lionel Frost (voiced wonderfully by Hugh Jackman) and the lonely Sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis), who yearns for Frost to take him to the Himalayas to meet his cousins, the Yetis. There’s also wonderfully sketched characters voiced by Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, and the despicable Stephen Fry. And what’s great is how it can be enjoyed on two levels: the kids enjoy the story with a moral, and all the physical comedy; while the adults can appreciate the stunning visual worlds created for the film, and the very silly Monty Python-esque humor. It’s very easy to forget how stop motion is painstakingly created yet made to look so seamless on the screen.
Do watch Missing Link before it disappears from the cinemas. Bring the children, as I was surprised by how the kids were laughing and following the story during the screening I caught.