As in previous months, Netflix’s best new acquisitions are, for the most part, great family-friendly films.
Marvel’s Iron Fist
Yet another of the Marvel Netflix shows to set up The Defenders, Iron Fist is a character that is ripe for adaptation. Unlike most other Marvel superheroes, Iron Fist draws his inspiration from martial arts, in a way that calls back to meditation and “inner peace,” much like a more adult version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, though in a modern context. The caveat here is that there is a large degree of Eastern mysticism influence to the character. To what extent that will be present I’m not sure, but the themes of peace and heroism will be worth indulging in, even if there aspects of the implicit theology I would disagree with.
Before the studio Laika made the phenomenal Kubo and the Two Strings, they made Coraline. Based on the Neil Gaiman book of the same name, Coraline is the story of a girl who feels neglected by her family, and slips off into a sort of mirror fantasy world. In that world, she also has parents – and ones that are much more attentive – but with one quirk: they have black buttons for eyes. Coraline is every bit as creepy as it sounds, but with good reason. It implores children to be careful whom they trust, and teachers them that even those that are kind could have ill motives. In so doing, it nurtures trust in parents, even while encouraging parents to be careful not to overlook their children. Read our review here.
This film’s theme can be summed up quite well in what is possibly its most famous line: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” That idea has a plethora of implications for life issues amd bioethics, and it’s the primary theme of a scary kid’s movie about dinosaurs. That’s impressive. The fact that it’s based on a novel by Michael Crichton shows there, and to the film’s credit, it does what good science fiction does best: tackling ethical issues while having a blast at the same time.
Pete’s Dragon (2016)
One of the better films of 2016, Pete’s Dragon is an update worthy of retelling, with an incredibly moving picture of parenthood, compassion, friendship, and belonging. It’s driving at a different point than the original, thus justifying the remake, and includes a very emotional performance from Dallas Bryce Howard, and some of the best CGI/live action integration we’ve seen in recent years. Emotionally fulfilling and family-friendly, this film is a winner. This was one of my favorite films of 2016, and you can read our review here.
While The BFG did not make the splash I expected it to, it does hit a formula that I really like: a kid meets a friendly giant, and the film is directed by a very visual storyteller. This time the director is Stephen Speilberg, and while I never expected the film to be as good as E.T. (who admittedly is not a giant), I do have high hopes. I should mention that I have not seen this film myself, but it has come highly recommended, and I’d encourage you to check it out as well.