Valentine’s Day is upon us, so we’ve scoured the big three streaming services – Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime – for movies that meld geeky themes with love. Some are tragic, some are salty, and some even involve zombies. Ain’t love grand?
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Image: Paramount.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Screenwriter Lorene Scafaria made her directorial debut with this quirky take on the run-up to the apocalypse. Neighbours Steve Carell and Keira Knightley meet soon after it’s announced that an asteroid is hurtling toward the Earth. Fortunately for the odd couple, the time they have left is enough to take a wacky road trip (and, inevitably, fall for each other) amid the chaos, with amusing characters played by Patton Oswalt, Melanie Lynskey, Derek Luke, Martin Sheen, Connie Britton and William Peterson all popping up before doomsday hits.
Let the Right One In
One of the greatest movies of the last 10 years, Let the Right One In would be a poignant tale of first love, except for all the throat-ripping that goes on – as is tradition when boy meets girl… who isn’t actually a girl but instead a centuries-old vampire. Strange circumstances aside, their emotional connection can’t be denied, and these young soul mates’ version of “happily ever after” makes for one of horror’s strangest yet most eerily adorable final scenes ever.
Between American Gods and Good Omens, Neil Gaiman adaptations are particularly hot right now, but he’s racked up a ton over the years. In 2007, his popular 1999 novel Stardust got the big-screen treatment, courtesy of Matthew Vaughn, now best-known for the Kingsman films. In a fantasy kingdom, a young man (Daredevil‘s Charlie Cox) tracks down a fallen star to win over his beloved but ends up falling in love with the star (Claire Danes) instead. This story has everything that a dark fairy tale needs – including kings, unicorns, pirates, and a campy evil witch played by Michelle Pfeiffer – and manages to feel magical, even when things do get a tad overstuffed. It’s also available on Amazon Prime.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
David Fincher – a director generally more associated with grittier fare, such as Zodiac, Se7en and Gone Girl – delves into romance with this fable very loosely based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Brad Pitt plays the title character, a man who’s born in 1918 already resembling a very old man… and then proceeds to age in reverse, thanks to some remarkable special effects, until he dies as an 84-year-old baby in 2003. This complicates his relationship with Daisy (Cate Blanchett), to say the least, though it also makes their romance (when it’s age-appropriate, that is) all the more remarkable.
Image: Columbia Pictures
In this girlie spin on Big, a wannabe-popular teen named Jenna wishes to be older and cooler and magics herself into her future life – where she happens to be a big-time magazine editor played by Jennifer Garner. Garner is believably charming as a dorky kid from the 1980s flailing around a glamorous grown-up life in 2004, doling out life advice from Pat Benatar songs and saving a work party with a “Thriller” dance-off. Of course, unlike the kid in Big, Jenna has actually lived those intervening 17 years and realises (to her horror) that she transformed into a ruthless snake along the way. Oops! You’ll see the ending of this formulaic rom-com coming a mile away, but Garner’s performance and the above-average supporting cast (Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Mark Ruffalo) actually make it worth your while. Also known as 13 Going on 30 in the US.