The holiday season means there are new movies and TV shows coming at us from every direction. Adventure Time fans with HBO Max are likely devoting 45 minutes this weekend to Obsidian, a new special that continues the story of Bubblegum and Marceline. For all your Life Day needs, Disney Plus has the second-ever Star Wars-themed Holiday Special, this time rendered in LEGOs and spanning the prequel, original, and sequel trilogies.
We may also watch the trailer for We Are Heroes, the pure, chaotic, joyful sequel to The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl headed to Netflix in January, over and over and over again until our brains melt. It’s just that kind of month!
On top of that all, this week offers a trove of movies that kinda sorta hit theaters earlier this year, along with some higher-quality straight-to-demand titles worthy of interest. So to help you wade through all the options, here are the new movies you can watch on VOD this weekend.
The New Mutants
After years of sitting in limbo, Fault in Your Stars director Josh Boone’s horror-ish take on the X-Men finally crept into theaters in August. Technically it’s still in theaters, but the movie hasn’t exactly been the savior that multiplexes hoped it and Tenet would be; so far it’s only grossed $23 million in the U.S.. For many, New Mutants was destined for a home video watch — and now the time has come to entertain that morbid curiosity. From our review:
The characters of New Mutants are squeezed into a plot that’s kind of like if Stephen King had written One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, while never laying claim to any one thing in particular. The superhero horror-film moves from scare scenes to a teen-flick with attitude and chill vibez, but never fully embodies one direction or the other, leaving it without impact.
The Personal History of David Copperfield
Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $5.99 on Apple
From Veep creator Armando Iannucci, this reimagining of Charles Dickens’ novel casts Dev Patel as the adventuresome David. The cast is stacked — Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Peter Capaldi, Daisy May Cooper, and Benedict Wong all pop up — and Iannucci keeps the adaptation lights on its feet. From Vulture’s review:
The Personal History of David Copperfield doesn’t make fun of its source material so much as it has fun with it [...] It’s a sweeter, milder affair than Iannucci’s last film, 2017’s The Death of Stalin — that bitterly dark comedy that portrayed the power struggles of the Central Committee as a mundane but murderous dysfunctional workplace. But there’s a resilient buoyancy running through The Personal History of David Copperfield that proves irresistibly moving by the end of its journey. Its protagonist weathers hardships and cruelties in addition to benefiting from acts of kindness, and yet he never loses his capacity to be fascinated by people, a quality that’s comforting without feeling cloying.
The latest film from Martha Marcy May Marlene director Sean Durkin is a nasty family drama about the poisonous effects of greed. It’s also a perfect showcase for Jude Law and Carrie Coon, who battle like titans when they find themselves out of their depth and in crippling debt. From Vox.com’s review:
The Nest isn’t a haunted house movie, per se, but it draws on some of the visual tropes of the genre. It frequently feels as if something sinister is lurking around every corner. But the most sinister element in The Nest — and the most terrifying — is the havoc that blind ambition wreaks when it’s tied to a feeling of wounded entitlement. That’s the gargoyle that hovers around Rory (Jude Law), a wildly successful entrepreneur who moves his American family back to his native England for a job he’s eager to take. His wife Allison (Carrie Coon), a horse trainer, is reticent to leave the US, but she goes along with it. And his stepdaughter Samantha (Oona Roche) and son Ben (Charlie Shotwell) adjust to their new lives well enough. They’ve moved around a lot. They know the drill.
In Jiu Jitsu, Nicolas Cage basically plays Raiden from Mortal Kombat as The Dude from The Big Lebowski, guiding a band of fighters as they take on an alien who wants to kick their ass. Tony Jaw, Frank Grillo and Alain Moussi all show up. Is it the greatest movie of all time? Close. From our review:
Once it kicks into gear, it never feels like a waste of viewers’ time, either. As the film progresses, the alien fighters’ human opponents fall by the wayside as they take on the extraterrestrial killing machine. The set-up owes a lot to the man-vs.-alien classic Predator, and so, at times, does the execution, with our heroes taking on a being capable of camouflaging itself in the middle of the forest. But originality isn’t really the point. And though any Cage-free attempts at comedy fall flat, the action remains exciting, thanks in large part to Logothetis’ steady-handed, no-frills approach.
Where to watch it: Streaming on Hulu
The trailer for Run had serious Munchausen-by-proxy thriller vibes. Is there something more going on under the surface? With director Aneesh Chaganty, who was behind the computer-screen chase film Searching, anything seems possible.
New on Netflix this weekend
- Alien Xmas, a stop-motion holiday lark in the vein of the old Christmas specials
- If anything happens I love you, the first of a number of new animated shorts headed to the platform
- The Princess Switch: Switched Again — it’s right there in the title!
- And on Sunday, Dolly Parton’s latest masterpiece, Christmas on the Square
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo lead the cast of Prince of Egypt and Brave director Brenda Chapman’s first live-action film, which reimagines and intertwines the stories of Peter Pan and a Wonderland-bound Alice. The result, as we get into in our review, becomes something of a spot-the-reference game.
Chapman opens and closes Come Away with sequences where adult Alice (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) reads Yeats’ “The Stolen Child” to her own children, and between those bookends, even more literary allusions abound. Come Away fills Peter and Alice’s world with clear origin points for everything from the crocodile that eats Captain Hook’s hand to the Red Queen’s “Off with their heads!” catchphrase. There are so many blatant viewer-nudges that they start to feel more like farce than reference. By the time Peter and Alice encounter a goofy haberdasher (played by The Wire’s Clarke Peters), spouting the Mad Hatter’s riddles and familiar lines, it’s hard not to step outside the movie and wonder what’s actually real in this story, and whether the film’s outsized attempts at whimsy and wonder can survive the fuzzy execution.
Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds
Where to watch it: Stream on Apple TV Plus
The new film from renowned documentarian Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man) and Cambridge volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer is a transfixing look at the cosmic history of meteorites and their impact on Earthly culture. Interviews with scientists, artists, and historians are woven together with Herzog’s gliding camera and poetic voice over to build something truly epic. As the filmmaker told Polygon in an exclusive interview, the point of Fireball is to behold the larger-than-life wonders of space. “It’s the excitement of science and the sense of awe. That’s exactly what science and filmmaking have in common. If I didn’t have a sense of awe, I wouldn’t have any of my films.”
OK, Echo Boomers. Michael Shannon leads a pack of young guns, including Patrick Schwarzenegger and Alex Pettyfer, in a conventional art heist movie where people around in masks and brandish guns. As THR puts it:
Seth Savoy’s debut feature attempts to update the venerable genre by adding sociological themes to the mix, making a social statement about how today’s millennials are forced to pursue a life of crime because of unjust economic opportunities. The result is that the slackly paced Echo Boomers has all the excitement of a feature-length essay in The Nation.
Watchmen’s Malin Akerman produced and stars in this R-rated comedy about a financially struggling woman who vents her frustrations in the fight club arena. She shows enough promise that she recruits an ex-boxer (Alec Baldwin) to whip her into shape. Comedy, drama, and punches ensue.
One of Paramount’s many movies intended to hit theaters this year, only to bounce to VOD in hopes of finding a quarantined audience, Jungleland stars two heavy-hitters, Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell, as brothers making it in the world of bare-knuckle boxing. The journey is what you might expect — bad decisions, crime bosses, the fight of their lives — but by all accounts, both actors deliver knockout performances.