Is Netflix the new straight-to-video?

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DEPENDING on your point of view, Netflix has established itself either as a haven for intelligent, challenging science-fiction drama, or as a dumping ground for follies which were too obviously flawed to merit a theatrical release. First, the streaming giant surprised subscribers by adding “The Cloverfield Paradox” to its catalogue with almost no advance warning. Then came “Mute”, a future-noir thriller directed by Duncan Jones (“Moon”, “Source Code”). Both films offer sci-fi devotees a welcome change from superhero blockbusters and “Star Wars” episodes. Unfortunately, both films are also dreadful: they have 17% and 12% critical ratings on Rotten Tomatoes respectively.

Now Netflix is releasing “Annihilation”, which is written and directed by Alex Garland, the novelist-turned-screenwriter who scripted “28 Days Later” (2002) and “Sunshine” (2007) before making his directorial debut with “Ex Machina” in 2014. It was set to be distributed by Paramount, but when test audiences were nonplussed, and Mr Garland refused…Continue reading

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