Netflix Watch: Amazing Revelations

The movies highlighted in today’s Netflix post are only revelations in so far as that they’re unique and different takes on sci-fi plots. One sees humanity’s salvation arise from the workplace, while the other offers a very engaging philosophical conversation on immortality.

‘Drones’

Starring Angela Bettis (‘May’) as a prickly, nervy accountant, ‘Drones’ imagines the humor and silly shenanigans of ‘The Office’ and ‘Office Space’ within a sci-fi alien invasion universe. A normal day at Omnilink is turned upside down when a traumatized Brian (Jonathan M. Woodward) accidentally stumbles upon his best friend’s (Samm Levine) secret identity. A brief explanation offered in the form of water-cooler banter and office melodrama gets the subtle absurdity going, and slowly reveals the company at the center for humanity’s survival. Timing couldn’t be worse since Brain has only now built up the courage to ask Amy on a date.

The banality and staleness of the workplace are given a quirky twist in this low-budget comedy co-directed by Amber Benson and first-timer Adam Busch. Benson is best remembered as Tara in the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ TV series, where she played Willow’s Wiccan girlfriend. Here, she demonstrates that she’s just as comfortable in the role of filmmaker. To be fair, ‘Drones’ doesn’t exhibit anything that would indicate a worthwhile or unique talent behind the camera. It’s possible that her two previous films, which she also wrote, might do more justice in displaying her aptitude. It’s also unclear just how much Busch assisted in the movie’s completion. Still, Benson proves competent and delivers an easy, mostly gratifying way of to kill 90 minutes.

‘The Man from Earth’

Taken from the final-written screenplay by Jerome Bixby, the popular sci-fi/fantasy author from the ’50s and ’60s, ‘The Man from Earth’ is an amazingly wonderful and highly-original story that deserves more attention from audiences. Bixby is the inspiration behind the memorable ‘Twilight Zone’ episode ‘It’s a Good Life’, and also wrote a few teleplays for the ‘Star Trek’ series, such as ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and ‘Requiem for Methuselah’. This particular script took him three decades to complete and nearly another for it to be made into a motion picture, which he sadly never got a chance to see.

Things start off innocently enough as a man named John Oldman (David Lee Smith) is seen packing his truck and welcoming several of his work colleagues into his practically empty house. After a bit of pressure, John finally explains that he’s leaving because he suspects people will begin to notice that he’s not aging. He eventually reveals that he’s in fact a Cro-Magnon – a real living, breathing 14,000-year-old prehistoric man! But the real genius of the story and film is in the conversation that ensues, and Smith is so brilliant and convincing in the role than he even has the audience believing him. Bixby amazingly pushes the possibilities of the sci-fi genre, beautifully mixing fantasy with the hypothetically plausible and the profoundly philosophical. I can’t praise this movie enough. It’s terrifically engaging and challenging, something you simply must watch to appreciate.

2 comments

  1. EM

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention that, like Benson, Busch also eventually became a familiar face on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, playing the man who killed Benson’s character.

    The Man From Earth isn’t bad for an all-talk movie—a sort of My Dinner With Andre for philosophical sci-fi/fantasy themes. I think Andre’s better, but The Man From Earth is at least thought-provoking. And if you don’t like the discussion—well, fortunately there’s some good Beethoven to help you through it. And if you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan, you may enjoy spotting some genre actors.

    • M. Enois Duarte
      Author

      You’re totally right! I goofed on that part and missed Adam Busch is the same actor. I was too focused on this being Benson’s movie.

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