Documentary series, The Movies That Made Us takes up some of the most famous Hollywood movies from the 80s and 90s and tells the story of how they were made (and almost not made). After the successful run of season 1, Netflix expanded the catalog with a season 2. Let’s see how it compares to season 1 and whether or not it’s worth your time.
Episode 1: Back to the Future
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote the script of the 1985 science fiction film, Back to the Future. It was later directed by Zemeckis himself. The film follows Marty McFly, who travels back in time in mad scientist Doc’s modified DeLorean, and accidentally prevents his parents from meeting. Now, Marty must ensure that his parents meet and have their first kiss, or he’ll be erased from existence. Back to the Future has been listed among the greatest films of all time, and it rightfully deserves that spot. The first installment in the series is undoubtedly the strongest and even today remains a favorite among many. Even Rick & Morty started out as a parody of Doc & Marty.
The change of narrator is a very welcome change. While the whimsical tone and cringe humor still remain, the new narrator is moderately better. The formulaic structure of the first season remains. However, using all available material (archival footage, film scenes, BTS) is significantly better than season 1. For starters, they’ve taken the time to present these materials in a manner that resonates with the Back to the Future Aesthetic. The change is minuscule, but it adds a whole new layer of enjoyment to the episode while also adding a distinct character to the narrative.
So far, The Movies That Made Us Season 2 has a strong start. It still is formulaic but looks more promising.
Episode 2: Pretty Woman
1990 rom-com, Pretty Woman is written by J. F. Lawton and directed by Garry Marshall. The film stars Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. It is about a wealthy corporate raider who develops feelings for an escort he hires for a weekend. Pretty Woman is the highest-grossing rom-com of all time, being the third highest-grossing film of 1990. Despite mixed reviews, it was nominated for several awards and remains a widely popular film.
This is the second film featured in this series that I haven’t watched. Yet, this film is so popular that I pretty much know the movie without having actually watched it. Also, the makers took a creative decision to tailor-make the graphics, and editing for each episode definitely added a charm to this episode that I could appreciate and enjoy despite not having watched the film. It really doesn’t matter whether you know this film or not. The makers have ensured that you’ll enjoy the episode and then feel like watching the movie too.
Episode 3: Jurassic Park
The 1993 science fiction film, Jurassic Park was adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, who also wrote the screenplay alongside David Koepp. The film directed by Steven Spielberg is set in the fictional Jurassic Park. A wealthy billionaire has resurrected dinosaurs from DNA preserved in amber and is now awaiting approval to open the park to the public. Still, things don’t seem as safe as they appear. Jurassic Park, to this day, is one of Spielberg’s best films. Not only was it the highest-grossing film of 1993, but it remained the highest-grossing film ever until the release of the 1997 film Titanic. I watched this film recently, and apart from a few CGI shots, it still holds the power and effect it had back in the day.
This is probably one of the best episodes of the series so far. The presentation of how they actually built Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs, and everything was the most exciting thing I saw in this series. The episode does justice to the masterpiece that is Jurassic Park. There was an added layer of conflict in the form of CGI vs. animatronics, which made the narrative more engaging. Of all the movies presented in season 2, Jurassic Park is objectively the best, and it’s no surprise that the episode’s quality reflects that. The only thing missing is Spielberg himself in the episode. I would’ve loved to hear him speak about the movie.
Episode 4: Forrest Gump
Based on the novel by Winston Groom, Forrest Gump was adapted by Eric Roth and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks as the titular character, a slow-witted but kind-hearted fellow who unwittingly affects many significant events in American History. The film remains a trendy one, although several criticisms have arisen in recent years. I recently watched the movie and found it to be one of those too-good-to-be-true kinds of films, and that just didn’t work for me. However, the film’s popularity hasn’t diminished much, and the upcoming Laal Singh Chaddha is a Bollywood adaptation of this classic, so I guess the legacy of Forrest Gump remains strong.
The last episode of season 2 ends on a lovely note. Like all the other episodes of season 2, this too utilized the film footage and BTS masterfully to weave an entertaining experience. I might not have enjoyed the movie much, but I certainly enjoyed watching the story of its making. Overall, a satisfactory ending to this lovely season.
What Works & What Doesn’t
Season 2 covers some of the most iconic movies from the late 80s and 90s. While the experience was undoubtedly more nostalgic than season 1 (more 90s film in season 2 than in season 1), there still isn’t much to analyze here. This continues to remain the run-of-the-mill Netflix docu-series or behind-the-scenes that it was in season 1.
What definitely improved from season 1 was the use of b rolls, graphics, and intercutting with film footage to add a flavor to each episode. The formula was very much evident, yet every episode felt distinct enough. Season 1 wasn’t bad, but season 2 was significantly better, if only for those really minute details. Guess the devil really is in the details.
The Movies That Made Us Season 2 isn’t much different from season 1, apart from the added praise for the editors and makers in tailor-making each episode closer to the film it features. Once again, I’d like to tell you not to binge on this. If you really want to get the most out of it, watch it one episode at a time.
It isn’t a piece of art, nor is it a waste of time. This series is just your run-of-the-mill docu-series, and if you like movie trivia, you’re certainly in for a treat.
The Movies That Made Us is a Netflix Documentary Series created by Brian Volk-Weiss. Season 1 and Season 2 are streaming on Netflix.