Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is one of the biggest new Netflix movies to stream in December 2023, and it's already a big hit. The Chicken Run sequel rocketed to number two in the Netflix streaming charts, racking up nearly 12 million views. It's everything you'd expect from Aardman Animations, with tons of sight gags and plenty of slapstick for all ages to enjoy.
But if you look a little further down the charts, you'll see two more unexpected new entrants. Underwater, which has racked up close to six million views, and Old, which is only a few hundred thousand views behind it. The former was a flop when it was released back in 2020, while Old has a pretty uninspiring 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In Old, a vacationing family discovers that the secluded beach where they're relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day. Eek!
It's a great concept, but as the 50% Rotten Tomatoes score indicates, Old has been deeply divisive. The people who disliked it really disliked it, with The Cinematic Reel saying that the film proved that "M. Night Shyamalan is a one-trick pony who isn’t the most exciting filmmaker". The Australian Herald Sun reckons that it could be a good hate-watch: "Old is frustrating, Old is foolish, Old is fun, and Old just has to be the so-bad-it's-good movie of the year."
There's no doubt that Old is flawed. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth watching. Jenny Heaton of Alternative Lens said that "there’s just enough chills and suspense here to give it a trepidatious recommendation," while Scott Weinberg of Thrillist suggested that while it "doesn't rank among M. Night's finest, [it] has enough interesting ideas, compelling characters, and disturbing moments to keep genre fans happy".
In Underwater, a team of oceanic researchers have to find safety after an earthquake devastates their deepwater research and drilling facility. What happens next, according to The New Daily, is "Alien, but with big fish". The core idea may be as old as Alien, but Scott Weinberg of Thrillist reckons that "when it's re-told this damn well, you can sign me up every time".
Donald Clarke of the Irish Times wasn't so happy, but did manage to make an excellent 70s music-related joke: the film is "murky, murky, cheap, cheap!". Starburst liked it more, arguing that "Underwater is an enjoyably delivered, well made, moist monster melee that is perfectly equipped to offer a submerged cinematic wave of entertainment". It's derivative as its water is deep, but it's still enormously entertaining.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.