Steam Police: Here’s Johnny!

Posted in The Screening Room by - April 25, 2015

I haven’t used Netflix in a long while. It’s a service that’s valuable for a few months until you’ve seen everything good, at which point you spend more time scrolling through shit options than actually watching the content. That’s why I understand the value of this series, and why I hope to suggest a few gems that you may not have found in your own mining operations. The following list will be in descending order from most depressing to funniest, in case you’d like to skip to the end.


Snowpiercer is one of my favorite films to hit the big screens in a long while. With a cast made up of Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, and Jamie Bell, it would be real tough to fail based on acting ability alone. Combine that with its dark, gritty, and action packed story of class warfare on a bullet train traveling through a subarctic wasteland and you find yourself watching an excellent film that essentially becomes war in a bottle.

Director John-ho Bong manages to make a compelling and complete world inside a luxury train built by an eccentric engineer. 17 years after the world freezes over, a class system has developed between people that paid for tickets and those that hitched a ride to save their own skins. When it becomes unbearable to the lower class, Curtis, played by Chris Evans, leads his people against the wealthy forward train cars. Snowpiercer tells the tale of what men are willing to sacrifice for their ideals, what power does to people, and what mankind will do to survive.

Be warned, it is not a pretty picture. If you’re looking for a happy film, do not watch Snowpiercer. It describes a cold and brutal idea of what mankind is when the chips are down and the layers of society are stripped away and it is not an uplifting image. However, if you’re looking for an action packed, hard hitting story that turns multiple clichés on their heads, Snowpiercer is for you.

For fans of: Oblivion (if it had been good), the apocalypse, revolutions, and Sunshine

Hell on Wheels

The only TV show on the list this week, Hell on Wheels, is a western made by AMC. It follows Cullen Bohannan, played by Anson Mount, a confederate veteran who’s wife and child died during a union offensive in the civil war. The first season opens with Bohannan hunting down the last of the men responsible. That seems cliché, but it quickly shifts focus and becomes far more concerned with the progress being made on the transcontinental railroad. The show follows Bohannan and a cast of other colorful and some times twisted characters as they struggle to survive out past the edge of what counted as civilization in the wild west. Bohannan’s character is calculating, cold, and committed as he tries to find purpose in something other than revenge. He stays alive by keeping both his calm and his ammo count when under fire.

The show also has one of the most artfully crafted episodes of a television show I have ever seen. It doesn’t occur until season 4, which is not yet available on Netflix, but its emotional content, understandable character choices, and its breathtaking ending creates my favorite hour in all of television.

With three seasons on Netflix, one season completely aired, and one more to go before the series finale, don’t miss out on Hell on Wheels from AMC

For fans of: The Walking Dead, 3:10 to Yuma, Deadwood, and Justified

Get the Gringo

Get the Gringo is a Mel Gibson vehicle that flew under the radar in 2012. I’ll admit that Mel Gibson has a tarnished reputation, but the trailer looked entertaining, and I couldn’t help but check it out. Get the Gringo follows Driver, a career criminal and pursued bank robber. Driver, played by Gibson, jumps his car across the border between the United States and Mexico, and ends up going to jail in Mexico, where he hopes to use his stolen funds to bribe his way through the court system. Unfortunately for him, he underestimates the corruption of the country’s law enforcement officers and ends up in a prison that operates more like a small town than a correctional facility.

The movie is a comedy, setting up Driver as the smooth fish out of water surrounded by a world of dangerous criminals who can’t or won’t speak his language. Driver has to prove he’s got the balls and the smarts to survive while trying to find out who has his money, and being latched on to by another prisoner’s estranged son doesn’t make it any easier for him.

For fans of: Payback, Lethal Weapon, and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

If you’re a fan of comedy and horror and you haven’t watched Tucker and Dale vs Evil, then you are missing out on something amazing. The film is about Tucker, played by Alan Tudyk, and Dale, played by Tyler Labine, as two redneck best buds that take beer and some fishing gear up to a cabin they just bought in the mountains. The cabin is a fixer upper, so they come prepared with hammers, shovels, and a wood chipper. At the same time, a group of college kids decide to go camping in the same mountains, where years ago a mad man had butchered a similar group of kids. They spot Tucker and Dale, and through a series of unfortunate events, decide that the two hillbillies are trying to kill them. The rest of the movie plays out as the two friendly good ‘ole boys try to figure out what’s going on as the kids try to “defend” themselves.

Tudyk and Labine play out their characters and the relationship they share to perfection. Their interactions with not only each other but the college students are hilarious. The role reversal of the often maligned group of human beings becoming the protagonists of the film manages to make even the most typical of horror tropes into a joke. The ending is even more absurd than the basic premise, with a twist that’ll make you squirt milk through your nose.

For fans of: Cabin in the Woods, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and horror parodies.

Galaxy Quest

The final entry this week is Galaxy Quest, which I have previously reviewed in the Screening RoomGalaxy Quest is different from the rest of the movies on my list because it has little to no real gore. An alien pig gets turned inside out, a space ship explodes, and an alien gets tortured. Aside from that, the movie is all humor and parody references to science fiction. It’s packed full of entertainment and quality laughs.

Tim Allen plays Captain Jason Nesmith, the lead actor on a Star Trek style television show. When aliens see the shows as a documentary and build an entire society based around the show’s values and qualities. They kidnap Nesmith, along with his loveable crew of disenfranchised actors and actresses, in order to save them from a monstrous enemy known as Sarris. The cast is star studded and absurdly talented, even including a bit part played by a young Rainn Wilson.

For fans of: Star Trek, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Spaceballs

This post was written by
Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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