Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What's On Netflix: ARQ (A Second Look)

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film or series currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans.  This week Jonathan takes a look at the Netflix Original sci-fi film...ARQ.

Netflix has consistently put out quality programming. From TV shows like House of Cards or the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows to movies like Beasts of No Nation and The Fundamentals of Caring, Netflix has become a hotspot for quality entertainment. However, along with their instant classics, there's a fairly large cache of Netflix films that slip through the cracks. One of these films this year was ARQ.

ARQ does not fall among Netflix' best. However, it does not fail either. It is definitely worth a watch, especially given its extremely short runtime. ARQ's biggest weakness, when you strip away everything else, is simple clichéd storytelling.

Robbie Amell (cousin of Arrow's Stephen Amell) is Renton, a scientist who has developed an Automatic Repeat reQuest machine (ARQ). This spinning cylinder, through a freak power surge, has locked Renton, his ex-girlfriend, Hannah, and three criminals in a three hour, fourteen minute, fifteen second time loop (get it? 3.1415? GET IT?). Over the course of this endless repeating of events, Renton must find a way to escape his attackers and save Hannah before it's too late.

The science in this film is minimal and mostly limited to official-sounding mumbo-jumbo in order to advance the plot. I never really cared that the rules of the universe didn't really make cohesive sense as I watched. However, it should be noted that if you sat through a movie like Interstellar and critiqued its use of space travel and laws of physics, then you will not enjoy yourself during ARQ, which is heavy on the "fi" and low on the "sci."

Within that, however, ARQ is nothing we haven't seen before. It pulls off the "stuck in a loop" cliché story line adequately well. It, I guess, is difficult to screw up a storyline we've seen so many damn times in so many different ways. Thinking it through, ARQ would have made a phenomenal episode of a TV show. It flows with a pacing that would've lent itself well to a small-screen fifty-minute episode.

Finally, the acting has to be mentioned. Please, please, Robbie Amell? Please stop acting. Please find a pizza place to delivery drive for. Your pretty face will earn you lots of tips. Just please stop. Please, please stop. Your supporting cast wasn't much better, but you were genuinely atrocious in this movie.

So, did I hate this movie? No. In the end, I didn't. I actually am glad I watched it. Why?

The ending is absolutely wonderful. Emotional depth is brought in like a storm, a clever tying up of the events occurs, and I legitimately felt pleased with what I saw. I expected things to turn out in a standard, pretty way. Instead, without spoiling anything, I can say that the ending to ARQ will make you think.

However, I had to slog through eighty minutes of a less-than-mediocre movie to get there. There are sparks of brilliance in this short movie that reminded me why I love cheesy sci-fi. There are moments of idiocy that reminded me why cheesy sci-fi so oftentimes fails.

Here's my take: if you like dumb sci-fi movies and have access to alcohol, turn this on late one night and just drink it in. Laugh at it. Enjoy it. But don't take it too seriously. And if anyone knows Robbie Amell, please pass on my warmest regards. And a slap in the face.

Jonathan's Score: 6/10

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