All The Cool Stuff Coming To Netflix In February 2023
February is among other things Black History Month, and there are some cool things offered this month that celebrate Black excellence on Netflix. There’s a portrait of the basketball legend who was also a human rights leader. Jada Pinkett-Smith narrates a hybrid documentary series about a kickass 17th century African warrior queen. And two kids discover their “truck driver” father is actually a Boba Fett-level badass.
Yes, this month’s list of offerings include a nod to Valentine’s Day with a rom-com from the creator of “Elite.” But the more promising offerings this month range from a Sundance Film Festival-winning short film to the final season of everybody’s favorite death metal screaming fox to a docuseries about a wealthy Southern family with some spectacularly nasty secrets.
Whether you want to indulge your trashier urges with a docuseries about the world’s richest dog or want to beat Hollywood by seeing the original South Korean version of a thriller involving a smartphone, this short month is packed with stuff well worth streaming.
Now Available on Netflix
Arctic–Mads Mikkelsen stars in this survival drama directed by Joe Penna. Overgard’s (Mikkelsen) plane may have crashed in the middle of an Arctic nowhere. But he’s got a survival system in place that’ll keep him alive until he’s rescued. However, the rescue helicopter that arrives crashes, leaving its young woman survivor in a coma. To keep the comatose woman alive, Overgard must now march through the deadly cold dragging the sled carrying her. Can he reach a seasonal station with his charge in time?
Detective Conan: The Culprit Hanzawa–In the “Detective Conan” series, the running visual joke is that a black silhouette represents an unknown culprit. In this spinoff from that series, this dark silhouetted figure has a name (Hanzawa) and an identity (a determination to kill a certain man in Beika Town). Whether Hanzawa actually succeeds at his task is a different story altogether.
Flushed Away–This final collaboration between Aardman Animation (“Wallace And Gromit”) and Dreamworks Animation also happened to be Aardman’s first all-CGI animated film. Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman) is a pampered pet rat living in luxury. However, a disastrous attempt to rid himself of a pest results in St. James’ accidentally getting flushed down the toilet. The formerly well-to-do rat finds himself in a vast underground metropolis known as Ratropolis. There, he meets streetwise scavenger rat Rita Malone (Kate Winslet), who’s trying to raise money for her large family. But both rats soon become the target of the rat-hating boss known as The Toad (Ian McKellen).
Gunther’s Millions–Here’s your trashy TV docuseries of the month. Gunther VI is a German Shepherd who has a net worth of $400-500 million. This windfall came about because his human German Countess Carlotta Leibenstein had no human heirs to inherit her fortune. Former university professor Maurizio Mian, whose mother was the Countess’ close friend, winds up becoming Gunther’s caretaker. But once the dog’s financial security is assured via the Gunther Trust, Mian sets out to turn the dog into a celebrity. As this docuseries shows, the craziness that followed must be seen to be believed. It includes Madonna’s old house, Gunther’s personal entertainment group The Burgundians, and a bizarre scientific experiment.
Warsha–-Dania Bdeir’s delightful Sundance award-winning short comes to Netflix. A Syrian migrant laborer works at a Beirut construction site where the safety conditions can charitably be described as dubious. So why does he volunteer to operate The Beast, a rickety crane on which several prior workers have been injured? The answer will surprise and delight the viewer.
The Plan–Young Jamie lives what she thinks is a perfect dream life with her boyfriend Steve. She thinks nothing of her willingness to do anything to keep him happy. Kim, Jamie’s best friend, feels her friend’s life isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Steve’s surprise for Jamie forces her to face an uncomfortable truth.
Stromboli–In this adaptation of Saskia Noort’s book of the same name, Sara (Elise Schaap, “Undercover”) is trying to mentally bounce back from her recent divorce and a bad argument with her daughter. A guru’s “From Fear To Love” retreat being held on the volcanic island of Stromboli seems to offer Sara that recovery path. But instead of comfort, she finds herself forced to face the dark and painful past she’s been avoiding.
True Spirit–This biopic recounts the story of Australian teenager Jessica Watson’s 2009 effort to sail alone, non-stop, and unassisted around the world. Her 210 day journey would involve navigating some incredibly difficult stretches of ocean and having her boat knocked down seven times. Despite encounters with 30-foot-high waves and cyclone-strength winds, Watson would defy the odds and complete a journey that many people had considered impossible.
Coming Soon to Netflix in February
Bill Russell: Legend–This new documentary from director Sam Pollard (“MLK/FBI”) on Netflix recounts the life and legacy of basketball legend Bill Russell. The basketball teams Russell led would earn back-to-back NCAA championships, an Olympic Gold Medal, and 11 NBA championship titles. Off the court, Russell became a human rights leader by speaking out against segregation, leading boycotts against the NBA’s systemic racism, and even marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. In other words, Russell’s the real-life hero that Florida Governor De Swastika and his fellow GQP racists would prefer today’s kids not know about.
Chromosome 21 Season 1–In this Chilean mystery series, PDI detective Mariana has an unusual homicide case dropped into her lap. A murdered man has been discovered, and the only person in the proximity of the corpse is Tomy, who has Down’s Syndrome. Tomy’s clothes have blood stains on them, so is he the killer or the sole witness? And if he’s the witness, how reliable is anything he says about what he saw?
The Exchange Season 1–This new historical financial drama hails from Kuwait. It’s 1980s Kuwait, and recently divorced mother Farida wants to become self-sufficient. To realize her dream, she turns to her cousin Munira. That cousin currently works as a clerk in her bank’s trading section at the Kuwaiti Stock Exchange. However, Munira has smarts, strength of character, and determination to be a success if she were given an opportunity. The two women decide to join forces to make a name for themselves in the stock market world…even if it means pitting themselves against the Exchange’s hidebound ways and its boys’ club environment. Based on a true story.
The Substitute–The new film from Diego Lerman (“Suddenly”) concerns university professor Lucio, who takes a substitute literature teacher job at an underserved Buenos Aires high school in his old neighborhood. He faces two great challenges. One is finding a way to connect with students more concerned with surviving the neighborhood’s prevalence of drugs and violence. The other is living up to the legacy of his father, the beloved community organizer “El Chileno.” When one of Lucio’s students gets into trouble with the local crime kingpin, this substitute needs to become more than a teacher to protect both the endangered student and his fragile bond with his class.
My Dad The Bounty Hunter–In this family-friendly animated science fiction adventure, siblings Lisa and Sean have gotten tired of absentee father Terry continually rescheduling visits and missing planned events because of his job. If their father can’t keep his promises of quality time for them, they’ll force him to make time by stowing away in his car as he drives to his job. That’s when the kids discover their dad’s actually a bounty hunter. But will that knowledge heal the past hurts caused by Terry?
10 Days Of A Good Man–Turkish writer Mehmet Eroglu adapts the first part of his mystery thriller trilogy to the screen. Sadik is a former lawyer who’s turned to private investigation work. The missing person matter he’s working on sends him on an unexpected life-changing quest. Central to that quest will be this moral dilemma: Can a person who’s never harmed anyone be considered a good man? Can a person who’s willing to get their hands dirty for the sake of justice be considered a bad man?
In Love All Over Again–This new romantic comedy series on Netflix comes from Carlos Montero (“Elite”). In 2003 Madrid, two strangers named Julio and Irene meet at a movie premiere. Irene has decided to make a short film and convinces Julio to star in it. The two unexpectedly fall in love with each other. The story suddenly skips to 2021. Irene is writing the script for a movie about her love affair with Julio. It’s not clear yet what’s happened to their relationship, but it is clear that Irene’s film will be about the power of falling in love over and over again.
African Queens: Njinga—Jada Pinkett Smith executive produces and narrates this documentary/dramatization hybrid miniseries about the life and reign of the 17th century warrior Queen Njinga. Ndongo and Matamba, the regions she ruled, are today part of northern Angola. During her 39-year reign, Njinga waged several wars of resistance against Portuguese imperialism. Her leadership would make her an Angolan national hero.
Full Swing Season 1–Netflix’s newest sports documentary series does a deep dive into the lives of such professional golfers as Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Matt Fitzpatrick during the 2022 Tour season. Besides the PGA Tour, the series will also follow its subjects to the Masters/Augusta National, PGA Championship, US Open, and Open Championship. The biggest drama this season involves the divisions caused in the professional golfing world by the announcement of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
The Law According To Lidia Poet–In late 19th century Turin, Lidia Poet’s desire to practice as a lawyer seems to reach a dead end thanks to a court order forbidding her from practicing law. But this proud if penniless woman takes a job at her brother Enrico’s law firm so she can prepare an appeal of the court’s ruling. Meanwhile, Poet plans to prove to the court both her skills and her competence by solving several murders using such baffling new techniques as fingerprinting. This series tells the story of the woman who would become Italy’s first female lawyer, and the sociopolitical ripple effects of her actions.
Red Rose Season 1–This new BBC series from creators Michael and Paul Clarkson (“The Haunting Of Bly Manor”) on Netflix gives Internet challenges a horror twist. A group of British teens from Bolton have completed their GCSEs and are looking forward to a long hot lazy summer. One of the teens, Rochelle “Roch” Jones, downloads a mysterious app called Red Rose onto her smartphone. Initially appearing to be helpful, the app soon starts messing with Roch’s friendships and eventually makes increasingly onerous demands with threats of dire consequences for disobedience. Appearances by Roch’s dead mother suggest the app has supernatural teeth behind its threats.
Aggretsuko Season 5–It’s the final season for the cute animated fox who does death metal karaoke screams on Netflix. Will Retsuko and Haida’s relationship deepen to the point where they get married? Will Hyodo demand payback for the big favor he did Retsuko in Season 4? And what does it mean that Retsuko will be “running for office?” The only answer is to watch and find out.
Dearest–At age 30, Rio Sanada is the CEO of Sanada Wellness, a subsidiary of the Sanada Holdings group run by her mother. One day, the young CEO becomes a material witness in a series of murder cases. The homicides are somehow tied to a missing person case from 2006, which took place in a country village that Sanada lived in at the time. While a trio of the CEO’s lawyers do what they can to provide legal cover, a police detective whose first love was Sanada tries to find out the truth behind those cases.
The Full-Time Wife Escapist–This series is an adaptation of Tsunami Umino’s rom-com manga of the same name. Recent college graduate and single woman Mikuri Moriyama has continually failed to find regular employment. Her dad arranges with his former co-worker, single salaryman Hiramasa Tsuzaki, a housekeeper job for his daughter. But when Mikuri’s dad announces he’s retiring with his wife to the countryside, how can Mikuri avoid a return to unemployment? Her answer: expand her housekeeper job for Tsuzaki and treat the “wife” role as a full-time job. (This writer will be over here looking for an exit rather than be in the same room with an unamused Chantal Akerman who’s just risen from her grave.)
Ganglands Season 2– The French crime thriller pitting a robber named Medhi and his protege against the government and the big drug dealers is back. Saber and Sofia have set their eyes on taking over the Antwerp docks and expanding their drug empire from there to the rest of Europe. But that plan will not sit well with the current drug lords controlling those same docks. Viewers will hopefully learn the backstory behind Mehdi’s relationship with his brother as well as the reason why the robber was violently liberated from the hospital by Liana.
Unlocked–If this South Korean thriller doesn’t get eyed by Hollywood for a crappy remake, this writer will be greatly surprised. What can be worse than losing your smartphone, which contains everything about your life? Na-mi’s about to find out the hard way after her lost smartphone is returned to her by Jun-yeong. What she doesn’t know is that before returning the phone, Jun-yeong installed some spyware on it. Using that spyware, he soon learns everything about Na-mi, from where she lives to her social network. Now he’s approaching her incognito. This development should worry Jun-yeong’s police detective father Ji-man. There are signs his son’s already implicated in one murder, and there may be other suspicious deaths to be laid at Jun-yeong’s feet.
Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal–This true crime docuseries on Netflix traces how a trio of suspicious deaths led to the unraveling of the Murdaugh family legacy. In South Carolina’s Low Country, the Murdaughs were one of the area’s most powerful families thanks to their immense wealth and their influence over local law enforcement. But the death of teen Mallory Beach in a drunken boating accident would spark the undermining of the Murdaughs’ reputation. Shortly after Beach’s death, both Paul Murdaugh (the driver of the boat that killed Beach) and his mother Maggie were found brutally murdered. Those suspicious deaths would eventually lead to public revelations about the Murdaughs’ hand in decades of corruption and criminal cover-ups.
Triptych– In this Spanish-language mystery thriller, Becca is a police forensics expert whose newest homicide case gets unexpectedly personal. The victim, Aleida Trujano, looks exactly like her. Becca soon learns that she’s actually an identical triplet who was separated at birth from her two sisters. She sets out to find what happened to her sisters and what other unwelcome secrets are lurking in her past.
Call Me Chihiro–Chihiro used to be a sex worker. Now she works at Nokonoko Bento, a small beachside bento stand in a seaside town. She may have a foul mouth, and goes at her own pace. Yet she becomes an object of fascination and comfort to the lonely souls who come to her stand. These lost souls will include an elementary school boy waiting for his mother to come home, a high school girl unable to speak from her heart, and a generally silent homeless man. Based on the Yasuda Hiroyuki manga “Chihiro-san.”
Oddballs Season 2– The Netflix incarnation of Robert James Rallison’s animated YouTube series gets a new season. For the uninitiated, the series follows the misadventures of James (a marshmallow kid), Max (a crocodile), and Echo (a time traveler from the future). James has an unfortunate but entertaining habit of responding to everyday annoyances by devising solutions that regularly end in disaster. Hopefully, the new season will see whether Toasty the sentient toaster is going ahead with its plans to bring about the end of the world. Will the new season also have something as crazy as life-size dinosaur chicken nuggets? Tune in and find out.