Netflix Retro Review - November 2014

Long ago, before the internet was widespread, before DVRs and the like.  The only way you could record your favorite movies and TV shows was to wait for them to come on TV, fire up your VCR and record it to VHS.  Nowadays we are fortunate to have services like Netflix, which gives us the opportunity to watch a whole bevy of movies and TV shows from the 90s.

To that end, I will be compiling a list of ten things on Netflix which 90s kids may have once recorded on VHS to enjoy later.  Let the nostalgia begin!

You think casting Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight was a controversial choice?  It's got nothing on Warner Brothers' decision to go with Mr. Mom (Michael Keeton) as the titular hero of 1989's Batman.  For some unexplainable reason, Keeton totally works as both Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego.  Even more impressive is Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, which he played with the just the right balance of crazy, dark and funny.  In fact his performance was so good many doubted anybody would ever top it (spoiler alert: somebody did).  

As good as the performances are, it's the film's art direction that really sets it apart.  With Burton helping the feature a good helping of the Gothic feel is to be expected.  This works wonders for the film's portrayal of Gotham which feels like it was conjured straight from the Batman comics of the 80s.  The tone set in this film was continued in the incredible Batman: The Animated Series, a show that most 90s kids remember with fondness.  I know Burton is an acquired taste, and the film might have a bit too much camp by today's standards, but it has still managed to remain one of my all-time favorite Bat-flicks.

Pokemon was utterly inescapable in the 90s.  Like a terrible pandemic, Pokemon Fever spread from kid to kid.  There were many ways the disease spread.  It could be found on your child's Game Boy, or on school playgrounds in the form of cards (until schools banned the cards) and of course on the TV.  For myself, the television show ended up being my first exposure to the world of Pocket Monsters.  In fact I originally thought the games were based on the show instead of the other way around.  The adventures of Ash Ketchum and friends ended up being the bait that led me into a rabbit hole I still have yet to get out of.

Relive the beginning of your crippling addiction to the world of Pokemon by watching the original episodes, and lose yourself to remembering a time when you were still innocent and naive enough to believe there was no harm in enjoying Pokemon.  Just be aware that over here in America, we had some stuff censored out of the show...

...which is probably a good thing.

I don't think there was a boy alive in the 90s who did not love him some Ninja Turtles.  Long before Michael Bay got his dirty, explosive hands on the franchise this first live-action film was released in 1990.  Instead of gigantic CGI, weird looking monstrosities we were treated to four actors in specially designed puppet/suits, which were provided by the Jim Henson workshop.  The movie is filled with charm.  Sure it may not be the greatest story in the world, but the source material is about four mutated turtles who were taught martial arts by a mutated rat, so come on, give it a break.

This was one of Michael Jacobs' creations from the 90s.  In case that name means nothing to you, this is the same guy who gave the world the sublime beauty that is Boy Meets World.  In addition to the trademark then-contempary humor of Jacobs, Jim Henson's workshop provided the puppet/suits.

The shows revolves around a somewhat dysfunctional pre-historic reptilian family and the life lessons they learn each week.  It's like a mixture of The Flinstones, The Simpsons and The Muppet Show.

In addition to some hilarious bits ("We're gonna need another Timmy!") the show also offered thinly veiled commentary on tough social issues.  It's one of those rare shows that can be enjoyed by parents just as much as it is by children.   Family entertainment at its finest.

Look, I would love for Netflix to have the entire run of Batman: The Animated Series but alas, they do not so we are stuck with the next best thing.  Actually "next best thing" doesn't do Batman Beyond  justice.  The series is set in a wold in which Bruce Wayne has retired after suffering a heart attack.  He has passed the cowl on to young Terry McGinnis.  With writing as intelligent and in some cases, more original than its predecessor, Batman Beyond is a must-see for any Bat-Fanatic.

Like this totally awesome Bat-Fan.  So much swag.

When I was a little kid I loved this movie more than any other (with the exception of Hook and Back to the Future Part III). I loved this movie so much I had a Rocketeer lunchbox and thermos which looked something like this.

Remember how cool lunch boxes used to be?

Watching this movie as an adult, I was surprised to find that I still enjoyed this movie a great deal.  What's not to love about WWII-Era super-hero flicks?  The special effects in the film actually hold up surprisingly well.  If you have never seen this fantastic film, I suggest you get on over to Netflix and watch it now!

This movie is criminally underrated.  As one of the less successful films released during the Disney Animation "renaissance," this film is often forgotten, as it lies in the massive shadows of films like Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and laddin.  The film is not helped out by the fact that Disney has a terrible track-record for sequels.  This sequel however, is much better than the original.  The feature has an impressive cast including Bob Newart, Eva Gabor, John Candy and George C. Scott, in addition to beautiful animation, fantastic music and an appropriately heartwarming story.  If you have never seen this dark horse, I definitely recommend watching it as soon as possible.

If you want to catch some gold ol' fashioned irresponsible child endagnerment, you will have to hurry since The Magic School Bus will be removed from Netflix on 11/19.  Seriously, this show is one of the reasons I am addicted to learning random science facts.  It got me utterly hooked discovering the world through science.  Also, I just love that Arnold is the only person who realizes that Miss Frizzle is utterly insane, and that her "field trips" are not at all on the level.

It's been conclusively proven that Anastasia was indeed killed by the Bolsheviks with the rest of the Romanov family, though many believe she managed to escape.  This movie looks at the story of Anastasia offering one of the possible ways she may have escaped and lived on.  It also features an undead Rasputin, so you know, that's pretty cool.

Normally movies that disregard history so blatantly irk me greatly, but honestly this is an absolutely beautiful movie.  The animation rivals Disney films in many respects, the songs are catchy and the pacing is absolutely perfect for a family film.  Also, did I mention the undead Rasputin?  Rasputin was nuts.

This film has always held a special spot in my heart, as I am sure it has for many other 90s kids.  Looking at the life of an adult Peter Pan is such a unique idea, and the studio's choice of Robin Williams is absolutely perfect.  There was something about the twinkle in his eyes that made him seem like he was still a little boy at heart that made him so believable as Peter Pan.  Looking back at it now, this film is a little cheesy and some of the dialogue is sketchy at best, but there is just an unexplainable charm this film possesses.  Dustin Hoffman should also be mentioned for his amazing Captain Hook and Bob Hoskins absolutely owned the part of Smee.

So there you have it.  Ten movies and TV shows that you can watch all throughout the month of November on Netflix.  Do you have any other suggestions?  Let me know in the comments below!

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