Discovering new things is fun. And since Netflix offers us so much content, it means that clicking on unrecognizable movie covers could lead us on new cinematic adventures, whether we're delving into the quirky style of an up-and-coming indie director or visiting an exotic location during a foreign film.
But sometimes clicking on strange movies isn't so fun. Especially when we're initially teased with the presence of big Hollywood stars. If you know the faces on the cover, but you've never heard of the movie itself, that's usually a bad sign. Could this be a straight-to-DVD stinker? Very likely. There's probably a copy spilling out of a discount bin at your local Wal-Mart right now.
Netflix seems to contain a number of these straight-to-DVD titles, the type of movies where budgets are low and performances are mailed in. Here are a few A-list offenders that we noticed in Netflix's 'recently added' section:
KILLING SEASON (Robert De Niro, John Travolta):
This 2013 thriller, about a U.S. war veteran and a former Serbian soldier trying to hunt each other down in the Appalachian Mountains, had potential to be awesome. De Niro and Travolta appearing in the same movie for the first time? Intriguing. But the bland script, slow pacing and Travolta's awkward attempt at a Serbian accent (is it any wonder he called Idina Menzel "Adele Dazeem” at the Oscars?) killed anything good about this movie. Still not convinced it’s a dud? The flick grossed less than $40,000 at the box office (no, that’s not a typo). And its rating over with critics? Let’s just say they had to dispatch the bomb squad to Rottentomatoes.com.
FATHER OF INVENTION (Kevin Spacey):
Spacey stars as an inventor that tries to put his life back together after spending eight years in prison. This 2010 film tries to combine comic moments with an uplifting message of redemption, but the final result turns out to be predictable and forgettable, despite some funny lines from Craig Robinson. It all feels like a waste of Spacey's immense talents, but we'll forgive him, since he “posed” for a photo with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
MEETING EVIL (Samuel L. Jackson, Luke Wilson):
This film-noir-style movie from 2012 focuses on the relationship between a mild-mannered real estate agent (Wilson), and a mysterious stranger that likes to murder people (Jackson). The cheap production values and shallow dialogue with melodramatic lines like, ‘All I do is kill people who are already dead,’ will make you cringe. We shouldn't be surprised that Jackson signed on to star in this project, though. He does a paycheque movie like this once a year (Google recent movies like Reasonable Doubt, Arena and Unthinkable, and you'll get the idea).
SETUP (Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillipe, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson):
You know it's bad news when 50 Cent stars as the main character. For the production of this 2011 crime-thriller, which involves heists, betrayals and nonsensical plot choices, it feels like they just filmed a 12-year-old's garbled version of a Guy Ritchie story. And while the trailer makes it look like Willis appears in the entire movie, he actually only shows up for a few minutes. If you can believe it, Willis and Fiddy have actually co-starred in another straight-to-DVD film, 2012's Fire with Fire. Don't worry it's not on Netflix yet. But it's definitely in that Wal-Mart bin.