Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the latest installment in the long-suffering Ghostbusters franchise, is finally premiering in theaters after being delayed four times since it was first announced. If you aren’t up to venturing out to your local theater to see whether there is indeed something strange in your neighborhood, not to worry: There are plenty of great new releases to watch via streaming and video on demand this weekend.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature-length adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical Tick, Tick… Boom! lands on Netflix this weekend, while a host of recent releases like Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, the political thriller Zeros and Ones starring Ethan Hawke, Jungle Cruise, Candyman, and more finally make their way to VOD.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the new movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
Tick, Tick… Boom!
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on the autobiographical musical of the same name by Rent creator Jonathan Larson, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom! stars Andrew Garfield as Jon, a promising theater composer struggling to make his mark on the world. Frustrated with his lack of success and anxious about his upcoming 30th birthday, Jon remains dogged in his personal mission to create something great, while remaining oblivious to the medical condition that will eventually claim his life. From our review,
But from moment to moment, this version of Tick, Tick… Boom! is heartfelt and moving. It’s a generous two-hour thank-you note from Miranda to the man who helped make his career possible. Several of the songs are show-stoppers, including the ballad “Why” (a touching reflection on Jon’s lifelong friendship with Michael), the jaunty ditty “Boho Days” (which is like Rent compressed into three minutes), the comedic “Therapy” (a dissection of a broken relationship, in the style of Kander and Ebb musicals like Chicago and Cabaret), and “Sunday” (a Sondheim-derived ode to brunch with an impressive list of cameos Netflix has asked critics not to reveal). Musical-theater buffs are going to want to watch the best numbers from this film on repeat, and there are many of them.
Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max
The 2021 biopic drama King Richard stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, the father of future tennis superstars Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton) who attempts to both raise and coach the young prodigies to greatness. From our review,
This film, without explicitly saying so, is a version of events approved by the real-life Williams family. That leads to friction between the glossy, wholesome triumphs common to most sports biopics, and the uneasy interrogation needed for a character like Williams, a vain leader who’s guiding his daughters toward tremendous triumphs, while feeding them uncomfortable and even disturbing messages. That push and pull between frankness and a spin that flatters Williams keeps Green’s King Richard from being a truly great film. But it doesn’t inhibit it from being enjoyable. It’s tonally conflicted, but it’s an oddly compelling piece about an unlikely Black family succeeding in a white-dominated space.
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright’s giallo-inspired psychological horror thriller Last Night in Soho stars Thomasin McKenzie (Old, Jojo Rabbit) as Ellie, a timid aspiring fashion designer who romanticizes the bygone era of 1960s glamor. After moving to London to attend college, Ellie begins to experience vivid dreams of living in ’60s Soho through the eyes of Sandie (The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy), a wannabe singer whisked into a whirlwind relationship with a charming manager named Jack (Matt Smith). Those dreams lead to some absolutely amazing effects work, but before long, they take a darker turn, bleeding into her conscious reality and haunting her at every turn. To reconcile the past, Ellie has to track down a ruthless killer without becoming a victim herself. From our review,
Soho feels like Wright’s most explicit interrogation of his own sentimental impulses, and simultaneously, his most stylistically grandiose work. But central to this story, too, is the violent and lurid exploitation of women. This is certainly Edgar Wright at his Edgar Wright-iest, but even as he’s arguing against celebrating the past in Last Night in Soho, he’s celebrating it himself, in ways that are hard to escape, and at times, harder still to enjoy.
Zeros and Ones
Set over the course of one night, Abel Ferrara’s gritty political-thriller Zeros and Ones stars Ethan Hawke in the dual role of J.J., an American soldier stationed in Rome, and Justin, his militant twin brother. When the Vatican is attacked and the threat of an imminent terrorist bombing is declared, J.J must race to find out what his brother knows of the attack and thwart it before the world is tipped into utter chaos. The trailer looks exciting, and the premise alone sounds eerily similar to Hawke’s previous performance in the 2014 sci-fi action thriller Predestination crossed with Ang Lee’s 2019 film Gemini Man. So if you’re a fan of either one of those movies, you should absolutely give this one a shot.
Choo choo, all aboard the Jungle Cruise! The latest effort in Disney’s ongoing effort to spin every one of its notable theme-park rides into a sustainable theatrical franchise, Jungle Cruise stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Frank “Skipper” Wolff, a riverboat captain hired to transport Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) into the heart of the exotic jungle in search of the Tree of Life. It’s not exactly Fitzcarraldo or The Lost City of Z, but it does have zombie snake-men and CG-animated leopards, plus Jesse Plemons as a German aristocrat in a submarine. From our review,
Jungle Cruise is beholden not just to the antiquated tropes of archaeological adventure movies, but also the ride’s own problematic legacy. To their credit, the filmmakers do their best to subvert that legacy. The choice to have the coveted treasure be part of the natural world, instead of the ruins of an ancient civilization already helps. But the best adaptation is that the indigenous people of the jungle are civilized, and they’re Frank’s buddies — they only attack the tourists because they have an agreement where he pays them to scare the travelers for extra thrills. The leader of the tribe — the infamous Trader Sam, originally an outdated park character — is a woman in the movie. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and is more of an Easter Egg than a woman of color with a story of her own, but at least the filmmakers are acknowledging the ride’s past and considering how to modernize their thinking.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder
As anyone familiar with Nicolas Cage’s work knows, there’s no such thing as “over-the-top” to the Oscar-winning actor. So when it comes to Prisoners of the Ghostland, a neo-noir Western action movie starring Cage as a criminal mercenary named Hero sent to a parallel dimension to rescue a warlord’s granddaughter, it’s really just par for the course for Cage at this point. There’s samurai action, gore, and testicle-mounted explosives galore, and it absolutely, unequivocally whips. From our review,
Prisoners of the Ghostland is primed for the packed-house, few-drinks-in midnight-movie slot. Presented in the less-than-ideal at-home venue, by nature of virtual Sundance, it’s a delightful love letter to action-movie excess. Like The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending or, more literally, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sono embraces cartoon nonsense logic in order to whisk Cage to each of the film’s unexpected mile markers. The Governor is American, so obviously he strolls out in all whites and a cowboy hat. The samurai warriors might as well be RPG NPCs engaging in a sword battle set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” A sequence depicting the accident that melted the countryside into a decaying shade of its former self flips across the screen like the pages of a manga. A star who has perfected the mouth-agape, raised-eyebrow “Wut?” face is the glue that keeps all the pieces stuck to the collage.
DaCosta’s 2021 sequel to the 1992 horror classic Candyman recontextualizes the original film in surprising (and critically divisive) ways, imagining the phantom serial killer Candyman less as a singular specter, and more as a generational trauma conjured by the sacrifice of Black people victimized by systemic violence. While the creative ambitions of DaCosta’s film are admirable, the film itself might leave something to be desired for some viewers. From our review,
Like Anthony, DaCosta seems to want to say something substantial with her work. Her Candyman makes broad metaphorical strokes about the larger urban Black experience, but it’s aimed at an oblivious audience that needs didactic storytelling to understand racial politics. The film’s end is particularly muddled, doing more to set up a sequel than to smartly bind together Candyman’s varied, nascent themes. The film is missing out on a cohesive vision, to the point where the audience will spend the entire film waiting for the flashbacks and summaries to end, and for DaCosta’s movie to finally begin. But by the end, she’s only offered a visually stunning homage to the original film. For a director of her talent, that isn’t enough.
Do you like 2004’s Primer? Do you like watching actors argue with themselves, but don’t feel like watching Zeros and Ones or 1998’s Dead Ringers? Multiverse should be right up your alley then. The sci-fi thriller follows Loretta (Paloma Kwiatkowski), Danny (Robert Naylor), Amy (Sandra Mae Frank), and Gerry (Munro Chambers), four young scientists on the verge of discovering a means of proving multiverse theory. In the wake of a devastating tragedy, the group become even more fixated on accomplishing their goal and finding a way to travel to another universe. But their actions could inadvertently endanger the lives of not only their loved ones, but every universe that has ever existed.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings follows the story of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), an unassuming man working in San Francisco as a valet. Unbeknownst to his best friend Katy (Awkwafina), he’s both a formidable martial-arts master and the son of the notorious leader of the Ten Rings criminal empire. Hunted by his father’s underlings, Shang-Chi has to confront his past if wants to save both the world and his family. From our review,
At its heart, Shang-Chi is not a story of heroes and villains, but a family drama concerned with three people coming to terms with long-suppressed anger and grief. Director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Just Mercy), who co-wrote the script alongside Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham, unspools this drama tenderly and with plenty of humor — anchored by a tremendous performance from Tony Leung, who brings a level of subtle humanity to every moment he’s on screen.
No Time To Die
Set several years after the events of 2015’s Spectre, No Time to Die centers on a since-retired James Bond being re-recruited to rescue a kidnapped scientist. He becomes entangled with Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a terrorist whose vendetta threatens not only those who Bond holds dear, but the entire world. How does Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond compare to previous entries in the series? From our review,
It would be easier to be less cynical if No Time to Die convincingly delivered on its commitments to Bond’s humanity, rather than nudging it into a handful of scattered scenes, around a lumbering, half-baked drama spiked with explosions and car chases. Maybe the film really is “about family and relationships,” but to the extent that it is, it underscores the dearth of imagination that’s just barely fueling the biggest blockbusters, the inevitability that all our modern heroes will eventually feel as stale as the smug ladykillers they once replaced.
The Suicide Squad
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad features returning stars Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), Viola Davis (Widows), and Jai Courtney (Terminator Genisys), joined by series newcomers Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), John Cena (F9: the Fast Saga), David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), and a whole bunch of others. Set an indeterminate amount of time after the previous movie, the new Suicide Squad is dispatched to the South American island of Corto Maltese on a covert mission to ensure national security to shave a few years off their prison sentences. A giant starfish may say otherwise. From our review,
Comparing The Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit hard to avoid, especially since Gunn has such a well-defined sensibility that has now been applied to make unlikely crowd-pleasers across two mega-franchises at competing studios. Mostly, as above, the comparison is favorable — but other times it isn’t. The Suicide Squad is at its best when it’s doing things that Marvel Studios will not: R-rated action comedy, setpieces that prioritize performers over computer effects, and a story that isn’t afraid to gesture at real-world geopolitical conflict. It’s at its weakest when it embraces a Marvel-style ending, filing away its rough edges to deliver a sentimental finish that leaves the status quo more or less intact for potential future projects.
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus
Based on the beloved Scholastic children’s book series, Clifford the Big Red Dog follows the story of middle schooler Emily (Darby Camp) who, struggling to fit in at her fancy private school, is introduced to a small red puppy named Clifford by a magical man/eccentric who just kinda sets up a tent in the middle of Central Park and gives kids pets. Kinda weird. As Emily’s love for Clifford grows, so does the puppy’s size. He becomes a massive creature who frolics across New York City and warms the hearts of everyone he crosses paths with. Casey (Jack Whitehall), Emily’s grouchy homeless uncle, wants nothing to do with the dog, but when a nefarious biotech company aims its sights on the big red pup, he and Emily will have to team up to rescue Clifford and get him back home safely. Weirdly, it’s kind of like The Day the Earth Stood Still. No one understands Clifford! But they want to destroy him. Poor pup.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, actor Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga as Irene and Clare, two childhood friends who reunite in adulthood, having been radically affected by their respective lived experiences as African-American woman. While Irene (Thompson) lives as a Black woman, Clare’s lighter skin allows her to “pass” for a white woman, escaping and inadvertently enforcing the prejudices of her time. As their rekindled friendship begins to strain under the weight of their shared secret, both must reckon with challenges that come with performing their respective identities. Shot in exquisite black-and-white — which quickly goes from obvious metaphor to integral lens — Hall charts the course of two women with a deep sense of psychology. A million movies have been shot around New York, and yet Passing discovers an entirely new corner of the world in its streets.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson star in the action-comedy-heist-adventure Red Notice. Nolan Booth (Reynolds) is a wisecracking international art thief, competing with Sarah “The Bishop” Black, his Carmen San Diego-esque rival and nemesis. John Hartley (Johnson), the FBI’s top criminal profiler, is tasked with bringing them to justice. When Black frames Hartley, he has to team up with Booth to clear his name and stop her from stealing Queen Cleopatra’s bejeweled eggs. Star power aside, is the actual movie any good? Uhhhhhhhhhh. From our review,
Neither the film, the script, nor the actors provide any reason to care about these characters or this plot. What does it matter if they attain all three eggs? The world isn’t on the verge of ending. No governments are being harmed. No one’s life is in danger. Instead, this film is merely an incoherent preamble, a jalopy star vehicle where quality is secondary to producing a franchise launching pad. The film eventually winds toward a legend involving Hitler’s art dealer, with a dreadfully shot car chase set underground, caked in hideous visual effects. The grand finale is so unlikely that the incomprehensible screenwriting logic necessary to sell it provides a coma-inducing whiplash.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder
The Australian horror adventure thriller Great White stars Katrina Bowden (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) and Aaron Jakubenko (The Shannara Chronicles) as expectant parents Kaz and Charlie, who end up stranded miles from shore along with three other passengers when their seaplane is attacked by a shark. (Yes, really.) With nothing but an inflatable life raft and a handful of supplies to sustain them, the group must attempt to survive long enough to reach help before the shark gets them. If you liked Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows or Jon Turteltaub’s The Meg, you’ll probably dig Great White, which isn’t brilliant cinema, but does deliver the required “who will get eaten first?” tension of a shark movie. From our review:
Commercial director Martin Wilson, making his feature-film debut, certainly tries to give Great White some gravitas. He and screenwriter Michael Boughen pack the screen with angst, as the clearly doomed characters all navigate their own weighty turmoil. The filmmakers are certainly shooting for something closer to Jaws than to Ghost Shark, and their wide-scale vistas suggest what the early sequences in Jaws might have looked like if Steven Spielberg had drone cameras back in 1975. Wilson’s film rarely looks cheap: It’s colorful and vibrant, full of cool turquoise-water vistas and aerial shots that feel like they’re selling tropical vacations.
Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago — The Ultimate Director’s Cut
You ever just sit back and wonder, “Hey, what would Rocky IV be like if it didn’t have Paulie’s birthday robot, or if Apollo Creed’s fight and resulting death at the hands of Ivan Drago was motivated by something other than blind hubris?” No? Well, Sylvester Stallone sure has. So much so that he re-edited the entire movie while in quarantine last year, adding an additional 42 minutes of footage — nearly doubling the film’s original run time. How does this new version compare to the original? From our review,
Given its remarkably slender narrative of 91 minutes, Rocky IV is more training montage than movie. So when Stallone announced an “extended director’s cut” this past September, the notion sounded like grist for an SNL Digital Short. But the actor-director was deathly serious, and, now, so is Rocky IV. This once gaudy touchstone of ‘80s cinema has been transformed into a strangely grim rumination on the warrior’s code. Visually and tonally, it’s a much different experience. And let’s get this straight: those “42 minutes of new footage” promised in the press announcement are in there, but at 93 minutes (with credits), it also means a third of the movie that’s been a cable mainstay since the beginning of the glasnost era is gone. This is not your bearded Gen X uncle’s Rocky IV.