Russell Crowe ascended to Hollywood stardom off the back of this swords-and-sandals epic, in which he plays a celebrated Roman general who, when cruelly betrayed by Joaquin Phoenix’s power-mad new emperor, is forced to fight his way to vengeance via the blood-stained pits of gladiatorial combat.
Directed with typical visual panache by Ridley Scott, Gladiator is a stirring Hollywood blockbuster of the highest order, ticking off a whole range of boxes in its two and a half hours: sweeping vistas, soaring emotion, romance, bloody fight scenes and a truly hateful villain. Movies of its type don’t always age well – astonishingly, this is almost 20 years old – but thanks to Scott’s mastery behind the camera and Crowe’s Oscar-nominated performance, this is one that’ll still feel fresh in another decade or two.
We’ve seen the story of Bonnie and Clyde told from the bank-robbing duo’s perspective many times, but Netflix’s new movie promises a grittier, less starry-eyed portrayal.
Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson star as the ageing Texas Rangers – regarded as outdated relics of the Old West, entirely unsuited to the sophistications of 1930s law enforcement – drafted in to put an end to the lovers’ murderous spree; it’s a worthwhile watch for the interactions between these two alone.
The Legend of Cocaine Island
This breezily enjoyable Netflix-produced documentary movie recounts a real-life hunt for buried Caribbean treasure (several kilos of illegal narcotics with a street value of a few million dollars) and its consequences – a tall tale with a twist in its tail, indeed.
Retold through interviews with and reconstructions starring the various real-life players, including a very unlikely Florida drug lord, his opiate-addicted associate and the frightening street dealer they enlist in an advisory role, this film functions both as cautionary tale and call to action – because the illicit loot may well still be out there…
Mötley Crüe is undoubtedly the biggest hair metal band of all time – a quartet of leather-trousered Hollywood bad boys that redrafted the rulebook when it came to rock and roll misbehaviour.
Their 1980s rise to stardom is depicted in lurid detail in this Netflix-produced biopic, which dispenses with the Bohemian Rhapsody-style whitewashing in order to gleefully present the Crüe’s antics (think trashed hotel rooms, drug overdoses, vehicular homicide and throwing up on strippers) in wonderfully lurid detail.
Love Death + Robots
An 18-strong collection of R-rated animated short films about the future executive produced by Tim Miller and David Fincher, this might be one of Netflix’s most original Originals to date – even if its preoccupation with depictions of graphic violence, sex and “edgy” themes might prove a bit too OTT for many viewers.
With a variety of animation styles on show and a bunch of clever ideas to stuff inside your head a, Love Death + Robots is an audio-visual treat that offers up a similarly thought-provoking approach to Black Mirror.
The Thing (1982)
Deep and crisp and even it may be, but the Antarctic snow of John Carpenter’s cult classic is far from pure.
This movie’s titular parasitic extraterrestrial, unwittingly woken from an aeons-long icy slumber beneath the permafrost, is able to assume human form, leading to near-unbearable suspense (who is human, and who is the alien?) as the inhabitants of a remote research station are preyed upon in gruesome fashion.
The cast, led by a luxuriantly-bearded Kurt Russell, do an admirable job of portraying the paranoia and tension as they’re picked off one by one. Wonderful stuff from a horror master.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The swashbuckling, squabbling and swaggering quintet of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket and Baby Groot returns for another space adventure and, once again, the fate of the entire universe ends up rests in their hands. Hopefully they can stop arguing long enough to save it.
In a world where there are, some might suggest, perhaps a little too many Marvel movies out there (hey, it’s just a thought…), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 stands out by virtue of its humour and humanity (and yes, we’re aware that all bar one of our heroes aren’t human at all). But don’t fret – if you’re looking for spaceship dogfights, exploding planets and all manner of CGI extravagance, there’s plenty of that, too.
Queer Eye (S3)
Dragging the makeover show kicking and screaming into the 21st century, the remixed Queer Eye is back on Netflix with a third batch of episodes.
You likely already know the formula – a quintet of style experts descend upon an unsuspecting schlub to give his looks and lifestyle a much-needed overhaul – but the sheer emotional tsunami that follows in the Fab Five’s wake might surprise and delight you. It’s no accident that Queer Eye has become one of Netflix’s most beloved new shows – and proof positive that even makeover shows themselves can benefit from a timely makeover.
Back to the Future trilogy
We could mention something about hitting 88mph, or talk about how where we’re going, we won’t need roads, but there’s llittle point. You’ve heard it all before, and you know all the lines inside out.
Why? Because the Back to the Future movies – all three of which have just been added to Netflix – are engrained into all of our heads. This trilogy has it all: time travel, a mad scientist, 80s nostalgia, action, and more Easter eggs than you can shake a Gibson ES-345 at. So what if the guitar itself came out two years after Marty’s high school dance? Just enjoy the show, man.
Released way back in 1992, Quentin Tarantino’s first movie as a director has what would come to be seen as his trademark fingerprints all over it: think graphic violence, tons of swearing, witty dialogue, a non-linear timeline and clever use of fairly obscure music. Nowadays, these are the things we expect – nay, demand – from QT and his legions of imitators, but back in the early 90s this low-budget debut felt raw, fresh, vital and incredibly cool.
After a jewellery store heist goes dreadfully awry, the surviving robbers reconvene in a warehouse to lay low and find out what went wrong – was it mere bad luck or is there a mole in the group who tipped off the cops? Twisting, turning and carried along with great performances from Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi and an unforgettably scary Michael Madsen, Reservoir Dogs may not be Tarantino’s best, but it’s a belter all the same.