What to stream this week - school holidays edition
SO the school holidays are upon us but don't despair - there's some top family-friendly flicks to stream right now.
There's also a top-notch thriller and an equally terrifying doco among the picks on Foxtel Now, Netflix, Stan and SBS on Demand.
PADDINGTON 2 (G) ****1/2
The 2014 adaptation of Michael Bond's wonderful Paddington books performed a minor miracle.
Not only did the filmmakers capture the refined and infinitely loveable spirit of everyone's favourite marmalade-addicted Peruvian bear.
They also crafted one of the finest family movies of any era. The good news on the sequel is that one good minor miracle deserves another:
Paddington 2 is the equal of its predecessor, not allowing standards to slip anywhere. A fantastic effort when you consider little Paddington (voiced to perfection by Ben Whishaw) spends a fair whack of the flick doing jail time with some highly unsavoury types.
Padds has been framed for robbery by a nefarious actor-turned-crook (Hugh Grant), so it is up to his good friends the Brown family (Sally Hawkins is a standout as the mum) to clear his name.
Meanwhile, Paddington becomes best buds with the meanest bloke in the slammer, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson). A complete all-ages delight.
FERDINAND (PG) ***
It has been 80 years since author Munro Leaf's pacifist picture-book parable first became a favourite of children.
Surprisingly, the movies have never given any feature-length love to the beautiful tale of a Spanish bull who would rather be exploring nature than goring matadors.
Enter crowd-pleasing animation specialist Carlos Saldanha (director of Ice Age and Rio) with a vibrant and engaging affair that doesn't forget the timeless message about aggression and bullying Leaf intended to impart.
The voice cast is exceptionally strong, with well-known he-man John Cena making a remarkably fine fit for the shy and retiring title role. His chemistry with comic sidekick Kate McKinnon (as Lupe the goat) is a highlight of the movie.
THE BLEEDING EDGE (M) ***1/2
Despite its plain-wrap shooting style and dry, analytical tone, this American doco is one of the most vital and worrying pieces of investigative reporting going around right now.
The subject is the $700 billion per-year industry that has boomed in the past decade around the development and use of non-biological medical devices in the health care field.
Though the fundamental rationale behind the trend has been to extend the lifespan and preserve the quality of life for patients, the reality for some has been anything but.
The problem highlighted here repeatedly is that testing procedures and regulatory safeguards for new medical technologies are nowhere near as rigorous as they should be.
As has been the case in the pharmaceutical industry, the rush to push new products into the market without adequate examination of their potential after-effects is racking up casualties at an alarming rate.
Many of the terrifying stories chronicled here (particularly in the areas of surgical robotics and birth control) ask questions which must be answered urgently.
EYE IN THE SKY (M) ***1/2
SBS ON DEMAND
An intelligent, well-rounded military drama challenging both the efficiency and ethics of modern remote-controlled warfare.
Helen Mirren stars as Col. Katherine Powell, a London-based analyst closing in a terrorist target in Kenya.
A drone pilot stationed in the US (Aaron Paul) has been working surveillance on the project, which will culminate in a devastating missile strike.
However, the proximity of a small child who resides within the 'kill zone' demands a decision be made quickly, and lived with forever.
Skilful pacing and restrained scripting pay off strongly here, as does the final on-screen appearance of the late, great Alan Rickman, whose commanding presence is used sparingly, but tellingly.
BORG VS. MCENROE (M) ***
Was the 1980 Wimbledon Mens Final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe the greatest game of tennis ever played?
This dramatised take on that tumultuous five-setter believes the answer is most certainly yes. Borg (portrayed with inscrutable focus by Sverrir Gudnason) was the epitome of the Scandinavian iceman.
And there will never be another American hothead as instantly inflammable as McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf, a good physical and emotional match for the role, even if his tennis skills are suspect).
Once the plot dispenses with the off-court soap operas, the big game itself is an epic stunner. Particularly the amazing fourth set, where Borg butchers no less than seven match points.
LET ME IN (MA15+) ****
Excellent remake of the sublime 2008 Swedish classic, Let the Right One In.
In a sharp left-hand turn from his debut hit Cloverfield, writer-director Matt Reeves has retained all of the unworldly beauty and powerful emotion of the original, while adding a few deft (and entirely appropriate) touches of his own.
Australia's Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a bullied child who bonds with his mysterious new neighbour, a young girl who only appears at night. Touching and terrifying in equal measure, achieving sharp, emotionally resonant shocks all too rare for the horror genre.
CHIPS (MA15+) *1/2
NETFLIX, FOXTEL NOW
Making a great, or even good, dumb action comedy from the bare bones of an old TV show is much, much harder than it seems.
Do it right, and a 21/22 Jump Street can be the winning result. Do it wrong, like CHIPS, and everyone loses. This is a loose, louche and lamely lowbrow reboot of a popular series which ran from 1977 through 1983.
The general gist was two buddies working as motorcycle cops on the mean streets and traffic-choked freeways of Los Angeles.
This update isn't really interested in playing up the retro goofiness of the concept. Instead, it tries (and fails) to be a two-wheeled version of the 2016 hit The Nice Guys.
Needless to say, stars Dax Shepard (who also writes and directs here) and Michael Pena are no Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Their mismatched characters are investigating a cluttered, clichéd crime caper which is hard to follow, and cracking a ton of grotty gags which are tough to laugh at.