We’ve published a lot of what-to-watch lists over the years, but rarely do we get to publish the favorites of some of the creative talent that makes the Netflix shows and movies we love. Today, we are fortunate to feature Adi Shankar, who has just released his new project, Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix, exclusively on Netflix.
This is part 2 of our talk with Shankar, which took place in mid-October. In the first part, we discussed the brand-new Netflix show that dropped on October 19th.
Before diving into the top five, Shankar shared his passion for all things sci-fi, a theme prevalent in his numerous works on Netflix.
“I love science fiction,” he told us, adding that the format doesn’t matter to him—it could be movies, comics, or books. Expanding further, Shankar elaborated, “I love just the concept of science fiction, particularly because, in contrast to fantasy, a great science fiction work serves as a mirror. It functions as social satire. Without the social satire component, it’s just a superficial theme. It’s just an action movie with laser guns. But when you make it about apartheid in South Africa, then you get District 9.”
With that in mind, here are Shankar’s picks that are currently streaming on Netflix. Please note that regional availability may vary for some of the licensed titles mentioned below.
Shankar’s first pick was Snowpiercer, the 2013 post-apocalyptic movie from Bong Joon-ho that was later adapted into a TV series that Shankar also expressed his love for.
Shankar remarks with admiration, “The cross-continental collaboration in the production is truly remarkable. Originating from a French graphic novel, ‘Snowpiercer’ was subsequently adapted by the visionary Bong Joon-ho and headlined by a renowned American actor. It’s emblematic of a pioneering trilateral co-production between Korea, Europe, and America—something quite avant-garde for its time.”
“Snowpiercer seamlessly amalgamates the grandiosity of a Hollywood blockbuster with the nuanced cadence characteristic of independent filmmaking, all presented through a cosmopolitan cinematic prism.”
Shankar also told us about how he tried to produce the movie too, trying to board the project while working with Park Chan-wook on a movie called Corsica 72. Alas, he unfortunately couldn’t get his studio partners on board, and he refers to it as “one of the great tragedies of my life.”
Shankar shares how he was shown an early animatic that Bong Joon-ho had put together for the opening fight sequence and recalls it “felt like the best video game fight scene ever and I knew this movie would be a classic.”
Next up on Shankar’s list was The Platform, the Spanish-language sci-fi movie that mixed in a healthy dose of horror. It was released on Netflix globally back in March 2020 and went on to do big numbers for the streamer. In fact, it remains the second most-watched international movie in Netflix history.
“Great art shows you who you are. It doesn’t just slam a message down your throat. You can talk to 40 people who watch The Platform and you’re going to get 40 different analyses about what it’s about and what it’s trying to say. That’s why it’s great; it doesn’t want to program you. It’s not propaganda.”
When asked whether he watched it later on or immediately after its Netflix release, Shankar responded that it was “straight away,” adding the decisions made in the 10-second reel on the Netflix UI that it would be for him.
What Happened to Monday?
Released all the way back in 2017, What Happened to Monday? was Netflix’s sci-fi movie from director Tommy Wirkola, seeing Noomi Repace play the role of eight siblings in hiding due to overpopulation and one child policy rules set by the government.
Shankar shared that he tried to option the screenplay for the movie, after his agent Laura Walker at CAA sent him the script back in 2010. He recalled that the script was pitched to him as a perfect star vehicle for Shia LaBeouf. Shankar felt a profound connection to the film’s central themes surrounding the one-child policy. Having grown up in Hong Kong, a region under China’s one-child policy, he was familiar with its implications. “But I was also born in Calcutta, India — an overpopulated city drowning in poverty where it’s virtually impossible to extend help to everyone. That reality of most of the people born in my hometown weighed heavily on me, as a child,” he continued. “What Happened to Monday?’s screenplay resonated with the moral dilemmas I grappled with during my formative years. It wasn’t just a script for me; it was an echo of my personal journey.”
Raffaella De Laurentiis controlled the screenplay for the movie, and Shankar recalls meeting Raffaella who he adored. During that meeting Rafaella set up a meeting with Shankar and her father legendary producer Dino de Laurentiis (Flash Gordon, Serpico, Barbarella).
“A few days after meeting Raffaella I get invited to meet at his Dino home. It’s on top of a hill. And I remember going, ‘This is the home Conan the Barbarian would have lived in if he was living in America right now and had become a king.’ I met Dino; I met his lovely wife, Martha, he showed me a bunch of movies and a video of him getting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy. He was talking to me about up-and-coming filmmakers he dug and the Barbarella reboot. We were just talking, vibing, and just getting to know each other. Sadly Dino passed away a few days later, and I realised that I ended up being one of his last meetings.”
Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack (1988)
Netflix is the home to a slew of old anime, including multiple entries in the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise, with Shankar picking out Char’s Counterattack as the must-watch.
“I think it’s just so relevant for today. You know, ultimately when I look at it thematically, you go, oh, yeah, this is giant robot battles. Great. But it’s also talking about how it’s examining the consequences our actions have on future generations.”
When asked about whether this would be the movie you’d start with if you’ve never been exposed to Mobile Suit Gundam, Shankar confessed there’s no great entry point comparing it to the likes of Dragon Ball Z but stated, “I think the best way to almost approach it now is almost look at it as a historical piece of art. I would go on YouTube. Do a quick recap of the franchise and then experience that movie.”
Finally, Shankar picked out Dredd, which he has a definite personal connection to. He served as an executive producer on the project. It is set in a futuristic city where the police are judges, juries, and executioners.
“Alex Garland just knocked it out of the park with the script,” Shankar said, going on to say that Karl Urban made the movie what it is and praised him beyond just his role in Dredd.
“The thing about Karl Urban that I really dig: Most movie stars have one archetype they play. Kar, however,l is extremely versatile. He’s able to physically transform his body and face to the point of becoming unrecognizable. You look at the guy he played in Thor Ragnarok versus the guy he played in The Bourne Supremacy versus his character on The Boys. I mean, he’s just physically such a chameleon. However, he also has that Harrison Ford leading man energy.”
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is now streaming on Netflix and more information about Devil May Cry is coming up at Geeked Week.