February 2022’s Best Streaming Titles: The Dark Knight, The Tree of Life, Key & Peele, Free Guy

The Caped Crusader, Terrence Malick, sketch comedy, video game hijinks, and more.
The Tree of Life - Terence Malick
Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life comes to Hulu this month

As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Netflix

The Addams Family (Feb 1)

This seemed like the most unlikely adaptation, but it’s actually quite a delightful little cult comedy, due in large part to the film’s casting. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston are perfect as Gomez and Morticia Addams, but it’s Christina Ricci’s deadpan portrayal of Wednesday Addams that steals the show. Behind the scenes, the film was quite a difficult production, hampered by illness, technical issues, and studio gaffes. But you’d never notice that from the film’s manic energy.

The Dark Knight (Feb 1)

The best DC film of all time (sorry Wonder Woman). The second film in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy finds the Caped Crusader coming into conflict with his arch-nemesis the Joker, played by Heath Ledger. Sadly, this would be one of Ledger’s final roles — he died in 2008 as a result of an accidental overdose — but his bravura performance was one for the ages, and earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The Foreigner (Feb 1)

In this suspenseful thriller set in London and Belfast, Jackie Chan plays a seemingly nondescript man seeking justice for his daughter after she dies in a terrorist bombing. Unfortunately for the bombers, he was a special forces soldier during the Vietnam War, and he’s not afraid to put his deadly skills to use in order to get vengeance. Grim and gritty, The Foreigner is a far cry from Chan’s usual action/comedy blend, but it’s also something of a revelation, and proof that Chan can carry purely dramatic fare.

Bigbug (Feb 11)

The latest from Jean-Pierre Jeunet — the director of Amélie and The City of Lost Children — is set in the year 2050, where people are suddenly trapped inside their seemingly perfect homes by their household devices as an android rebellion occurs beyond their walls. Given Jeunet’s past work, I expect Bigbug to be chock-full of whimsical visuals and unexpected twists and turns.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Feb 15)

Based on the 1978 children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable family flick about a scientist who creates a machine capable of creating all manner of food-oriented weather. Yeah, it’s a silly premise, but the film’s visual cleverness and engaging storyline makes it far more than its title might suggest.

Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in February 2022.


Hulu

Airplane! (Feb 1)

What remains to be said about this, one of the greatest comedies of all time? Its near-endless supply of sight gags, absurdities, cameos, and slapstick humor is something for the ages. From Robert Stack’s battle with a bunch of Hare Krishnas to Lloyd Bridges’ glue-sniffing, from the epic disco battle to the jive translation, Airplane! has everything you could possibly want in a movie, and then some.

Broken Arrow (Feb 1)

John Woo’s Hollywood fare doesn’t hold a candle to the over-the-top Hong Kong movies that made his name synonymous with action cinema. That being said, Broken Arrow is a definite guilty pleasure of mine. The plot is ludicrous — an Air Force pilot must track down a nuclear warhead that his superior officer intends to sell to terrorists — but there’s still something eminently watchable about it, be it the stunning Utah scenery or John Travolta’s scene-chewing performance.

Fight Club (Feb 1)

When it was released in 1999, Fight Club generated no small amount of controversy due to its dark, seemingly nihilistic plot about a couple of guys (Edward Norton, Brad Pitt) who start an underground fight club that eventually grows into an anarchist cell. But all of the hullabaloo over the film’s darkness and violence overlooked the fact that it also made some valid points about the hollowness of consumerism and materialism (read my review). Since then, Fight Club’s reputation has grown, with some critics calling it a defining movie of the late 20th century.

The French Connection (Feb 1)

In this classic action thriller, detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) is in pursuit of a powerful heroin smuggler. Inspired by a true story, The French Connection is best known for containing one of the greatest car chases of all time. It would later go on to win numerous awards, including Oscars for best picture, actor, director, and film editing.

The Tree of Life (Feb 1)

Directed by the enigmatic Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life is a luminous and visually stunning treatise on God, mortality, heaven, grace, and the power of fathers to shape their childrens’ lives for better or worse. Jumping between the 1960s and 2010 — with a notable segue that depicts the creation of the universe and the age of the dinosaurs — The Tree of Life is about as ambitious and transcendent as cinema gets.

District B13 (Feb 15)

If it weren’t for District B13, parkour probably wouldn’t be quite the household word that it is. In the year 2010, Paris has been overrun by gangs, one of which threatens the city with a nuclear weapon. The only ones who can stop them are a renegade cop and a former gangster. And of course, the power of parkour. The plot is threadbare but the action sequences are breathtaking, as characters race and leap across the rooftops of Paris without the aid of wires or CGI (read my review).

Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in February 2022.


Amazon Prime Video

Die Hard (Feb 1)

One of the greatest action movies of all time, period. Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, a sardonic detective from New York who’s visiting his estranged wife in Los Angeles for a Christmas party at her office. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of terrorists break up the party and hold everyone hostage. It’s up to McClane to take on the terrorists — who are led by Alan Rickman at his most suave — armed with little more than some one-liners. Suffice to say, the terrorists don’t stand a chance.

I Heart Huckabees (Feb 1)

A philosophical comedy about a pair of existential detectives helping a miserable environmentalist and a shallow corporate executive that stars Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Isabelle Huppert, Naomi Watts, and Mark Wahlberg in what is arguably the funniest performance of his career. What more could you want? (Read my TIFF review.)

Key & Peele, Seasons 1 – 2 (Feb 1)

Before there was Get Out, before there was Keanu, there was Key & Peele. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s acclaimed sketch comedy series focused on such hot button issues as race relations, ethnic stereotypes, and the right way to pronounce “Aaron.” (If you know, you know.) And it was consistently hilarious, whether the duo was showing off Obama’s “anger translator,” the “East/West Bowl Football Players,” or the Valets.

Reign of Fire (Feb 1)

In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi actioner, humanity has been all but wiped out following the reemergence of dragons. Yes, dragons. A band of survivors led by Christopher Bale are doing their best to eke out an existence, but when a group of American soldiers led by Matthew McConaughey show up with plans to kill the head dragon, the two groups must figure out how to work together and survive. Because, you know, dragons. Reign of Fire has “B” movie written all over it, but solid performances and topnotch production and special effects make it more than the sum of its parts.

Robocop (Feb 1)

On its surface, Robocop seems like a pretty straightforward action/sci-fi movie: dedicated cop gets gunned down by vicious thugs and is reborn as an unstoppable cybernetic enforcer. But this being a Paul Verhoeven movie, it’s no surprise that Robocop also packs a darkly satirical edge that skewers corporate greed.

The Protégé (Feb 25)

Anna was trained to be the world’s best assassin by a man named Moody. But when Moody is killed, Anna — naturally — vows revenge on the men who had him killed. It sounds like a dozen other movies, but I can’t help but be intrigued by the talent involved: Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Keaton play the film’s three leads with Martin Campbell (The Foreigner, Casino Royale, GoldenEye) directing.

Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in February 2022.


Disney+

Free Guy (Feb 23)

Free Guy shouldn’t be as entertaining as it is, but its story about a man named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who’s forced to realize that he’s actually a character in a video game succeeds because of its total dedication to its premise. That, and Reynolds’ charisma. It also doesn’t hurt that Free Guy stars Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, and Taika Waititi as an egotistical video game developer, as well as Channing Tatum in a hilarious cameo.

Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in February 2022.


HBO Max

Black Dynamite (Feb 1)

In this hilarious parody/homage to classic blaxploitation films, Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) is the baddest mofo in the hood. But in order to defeat The Man who killed his brother, the dealers pumping heroin into the streets, and the fiendish Dr. Wu’s kung fu treachery, Black Dynamite will have to unleash his full martial arts fury… and show the ladies some love, too.

Chinatown (Feb 1)

Chinatown may be overshadowed by the crimes committed by its director, Roman Polanski. Which is a shame, because Chinatown is considered one of the greatest movies, and certainly one of the greatest noir movies, of all time. A private investigator (Jack Nicholson) finds himself in a political conspiracy involving California water rights in the ’30s, only to discover an even deeper and more disturbing mystery.

Donnie Darko (Feb 1)

When I first saw Donnie Darko after months of anticipation, it felt like writer/director Richard Kelly had somehow tapped directly into my sub-conscious with his fantastical film about a troubled young man who begins to see apocalyptic visions. I found it utterly fascinating and compelling (read my review). Weaving together sci-fi, fantasy, horror, high school angst and melodrama, some wonderfully dark humor, and a killer soundtrack, Donnie Darko is one of the great indie films of all time.

Network (Feb 1)

Directed by Sidney Lumet, Network is bleak satire about a fictional TV network attempts to improve its ratings by embracing lurid and controversial content. Given that the film was released in 1976, that seems almost prophetic. Network boasts an impressive cast, including Ned Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, and Peter Finch as the disillusioned newscaster who delivers one of cinema’s greatest lines.

Raised By Wolves, Season 2 (Feb 3)

Season two of this Ridley Scott-produced sci-fi series finds a pair of android “parents” still fighting to ensure that their small family of children survive threats — both internal and external — on a distant planet.

The French Dispatch (Feb 25)

The most recent film from director Wes Anderson is a multi-storyline film about the final days of a newspaper’s foreign bureau in France. Anderson has described The French Dispatch as a “love letter to journalists,” and he’s joined by the usual Anderson players, including Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, and of course, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.

Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in February 2022.