Are these popular Netflix Originals worth your time?

Netflix has been this generations Blockbuster movie store. The only difference is that it’s now on the wonderful, but sometimes terrifying world of the internet. With over 4000 titles, from “The Princess Diaries” to “Star Wars,” Netflix has it all and more. Among those 4000 titles, are over 700 Netflix Original shows and movies. But with so many options, which ones are worth your time, and which ones should you take off your watch list? This is my review of 5 of the most popular Netflix originals that are available right now.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Rated: PG-13

IMDB review: 7.3/10

My review: 8.5/10

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is probably the best feel good movie I’ve seen in a very long time. If you’re ever feeling down and need something to cheer you up, watch this movie!

The movie is about Lara Jean Covey, an innocent 16 year old who loves to read romance novels. She has lived with her 2 sisters and dad for most of her life, as her mother passed away when she was young. Her oldest sister Margot, is leaving for college in Scotland and this sparks the break up between Margot and her long-term boyfriend, Josh, who Lara Jean has had a crush on for quite some time, despite her efforts to suppress her feelings.

You soon learn that Lara Jean has a box full of letters, that she wrote to boys whenever she had a crush so intense she didn’t know what to do. She has never sent the letters, they’re just for her to remember how powerful her emotions can be, and I imagine they have sentimental value too. Through mysterious complications, the letters get out, and Lara Jean is stuck with a new problem in Peter Kavinsky, a recipient of one of the letters.

With high school drama, romance and family troubles, Lara Jean has a lot to endure. Though it may sound like just another dumb chick flick, I promise you it’s not. The tone of the movie is much more sentimental than comedy, though of course there are funny parts. It builds strong family/sibling relationships, as well as friendships and romantic relationships. The movie is also beautifully, partially shot in right here in Portland! While the film being set in Portland isn’t super important to the story, it’s still pretty cool. I would highly recommend it!

Stranger Things

Rated: TV-14

IMDB review: 9/10

My review: 9/10

                     Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the extremely popular Netflix Original, Stranger Things. Most of you probably know what it’s about, but for those who don’t, here’s the rundown:

In Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s, a group of four geeky kids, Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Will, encounter many supernatural things, including a monster, the Demagorgon, and an outworldly place, the Upside Down. But the story all starts one night at Mike’s house where the boys are playing Dungeons and Dragons. The boys soon have to go home as it’s getting late, so they say goodbye to Mike and begin their bike rides home. Lucas splits off from the other two pretty early in to the ride, while Dustin and Will bike longer as they live closer together. Will then departs and goes home to find no one is home and through a pretty mysterious turn of events, Will ends up going missing.

The whole first season’s premise is the boys, trying to find Will. Along the way, they encounter Eleven, a girl with supernatural powers and a tragic past. The four boys are a very tight knit group, so bringing Eleven into group changes the dynamic and causes some tension. Mike and Eleven become close very quickly, while it takes the others more time to get used to the new member. Eleven also has never really been in the world, so teaching her how to make friends and basically how to act normal is definitely a struggle. The main perspectives for the show come from the kids, but some other perspectives around the town are seen as well.

The show currently has two seasons with the third and supposedly final season on the way being released mid July. It shows amazingly developed friendships and the characters within those bonds. Every character has layers and really good relationships with other characters whether it be friends, romantic interests or family. This thriller is certainly worth your time.

Sex Education

Rated: TV-MA

IMDB review: 8.5/10

My review: 10/10

                     DISCLAIMER: This show contains fairly graphic sexual situations as well as a lot of vulgar language with some violence and serious, possibly triggering situations.

I started watching this show after a friend recommended it to me, and I was pretty skeptical at first as the first scene you see is two people being pretty intimate together. But, don’t let it alarm you! All scenes from there on out are not to that scale. The show did an incredible job at developing characters, so much so that you even find yourself sympathizing or even empathizing with the main bully. The show has complex female characters which is amazing! The male characters are of course amazingly developed as well, but you don’t see a lot of well-developed female characters in entertainment, so when you do, it’s pretty awesome.

The main premise is that Otis, the main character’s mom, is a sex therapist. She essentially helps couples who are having trouble in the bedroom through talking it out/suggestions. Otis and Eric, Otis’ flamboyant and somewhat closeted, gay best friend, are starting their junior year of high school, and while Eric is excited, Otis is nervous that people will find out he is still a virgin as most people in the school seem to have lost their virginities over the summer.

This is around the time the two meet Maeve, a fellow classmate who lives on her own in a trailer park. After Otis and Maeve accidentally help a classmate with some intimacy troubles he is having with his girlfriend, Maeve gets the idea that she and Otis could run a sex therapy business at school. After a lot of consideration, Otis agrees and the two begin their secret business. Maeve handles the business and Otis does the therapy as he’s learned so much over the years of living with his sex therapist mother.

There is only one season out right now, but it has been confirmed there will be another! Though it has common stereotypes, such as the gay best friend or the edgy loner girl, it takes the stereotypes and creates complex characters underneath them, which is truly a brilliant idea. The relationships, friends, romantic interests and families, are very well-developed as well, and you love every pair that’s on screen! So what are you waiting for, go watch the first episode!

The Kissing Booth

Rated: PG-13

IMDB review: 6/10

My review: 2/10

            Ah yes, The Kissing Booth, a movie that is usually very hit or miss for most viewers. I personally would say it was a hard miss, as the movie is just really not well done.

The premise is very stereotypical: the main character, Elle and her best friend Lee, have been best friends their whole lives as they were born on the same day, same time and in the same hospital as each other. Elle, has been crushing on Lee’s older brother, Noah since she was just a little girl. Elle, not being the most popular at school and Noah being a king of the school, makes the two polar opposites.

Elle knows that if she and Noah ever dated, Lee would definitely not approve, and him being her best friend, she obviously couldn’t do that to him. Yet through a complication, Noah and Elle end up kissing and soon after dating.

Now just based on that, it sounds pretty stereotypical right? But hey there were stereotypes in “Sex Education” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” too, so we won’t count that against them too heavily. But, unlike those two, the characters are not likable or well developed in the slightest. You find Elle annoying and not loyal, Lee as possessive and also annoying, and Noah is a jerk and also annoying. Elle and Noah are annoying as neither of them take Lee into consideration and hide their relationship from him the whole movie. Elle herself is also annoying because she is the very stereotypical “Oh no what am I to do?! There’s no way out of this situation!” character who goes and messes up more and says the exact same thing. She is definitely not a strong female character. Lee is also annoying as he replaces Elle for his new girlfriend almost immediately upon meeting her, and is also very disapproving of Elle and Noah’s relationship when it doesn’t have a lot to do with him.

Overall, the characters weren’t developed well, the relationships were rushed and over the top, and the general tone and concept of the film was irritating and cliche. I would not recommend this movie, but if you want to see for yourself, you’re more than welcome to. But, I will warn you, it’s not a bad movie that’s fun to watch with friends and laugh at, it’s just a bad movie.

Bandersnatch

Rated: NR

IMDB review: 7.5/10

My review: 9.5/10

            DISCLAIMER: My personal rating of the movie would be TV-MA as it contains some graphic scenes of violence/death, drugs and contains possibly triggering situations.

Now, this isn’t really a movie, nor is it a game, it is a mix of both, and it’s a really genius idea. Essentially, Bandersnatch (part of the Black Mirror series, also a great Netflix Original I’d highly recommend) is a choose your own adventure movie. In total, the movie has a runtime of 5 hours, but this is only if you play through every single different possibility, which can’t be done in one run through. The runtime that is most common for each viewer is 90 minutes, including do overs.

Since the movie has so many different possibilities, it’s hard to give a small summary as so many different things can happen or not happen. But the basic outline of the movie is that it takes place in 1984, and follows Stefan, a young video game fan and designer. He is working on a game of his own, Bandersnatch, based off a book his mother owned before she tragically died in a train crash. The book is a choose your own adventure book, and so Stefan decides to make a choose your own adventure video game, which for the time was pretty advanced.

As Stefan gets deeper and deeper into the game, he learns more about the author of the original book, the people around him, and himself. There are wild twists and turns, and the overall tone of the film is thrilling. Fair warning though, you won’t know how to think after finishing the film. The game really messes with your perception of reality in a quite brilliant way. The smallest thing like choosing which cereal to eat in the morning or what music to listen to on the bus can make the biggest difference, and it’s an overall phenomenal concept. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you do too!

By: Emma Brady-Wright