Today marks the premiere of West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the iconic 1957 musical written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. If you’re feeling up to going out to the theater this weekend to get your musical fix, not to worry — there’s plenty of new and exciting releases to watch from home on VOD and streaming.
Dear Evan Hansen, the divisive theatrical adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical, is finally available to rent on VOD, while the 2021 drama The Unforgivable starring Sandra Bullock is finally streaming on Netflix following its limited theatrical premiere. Not to mention Encounter, the new sci-fi family drama starring Riz Ahmed on Amazon Prime!
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.
Dear Evan Hansen
Adapted from the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical of the same name, Stephen Chbosky’s coming-of-age musical film Dear Evan Hansen stars Ben Platt as a high school senior with Social Anxiety disorder who embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the wake of the death of a classmate. There’s been a lot of chatter about the film since it first came out, not the least of which directed at Platt’s, uh, questionable portrayal of an adolescent youth. Is this a “so bad it’s good” kind of musical, or just plain bad? From our review,
Platt’s technically accomplished, otherwise disastrous performance starts to make more sense as an act of compensation. His veiny, strangulated delivery while singing is the only way he can convey his inner turmoil, working against the wooden inertia of his posture and blocking. Director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) similarly struggles to create a scale sufficient to fill the silver screen. At his corniest, he illustrates that Evan has gone viral by flinging a flurry of smartphone video responses through a black vacuum until they coalesce and form an Instagram photo. As Evan searches for hints of beauty in his school’s everyday drabness — Chbosky’s aesthetic could be fairly described as “the ‘before’ part of a commercial for mood-altering medication” — the film gets stuck in the banality he’s trying to escape.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on Sally Wainwright’s 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven, Sandra Bullock stars in The Unforgivable as Ruth Slater, a former convict who attempts to rebuild her life in the aftermath of a brutal crime. As she struggles to acclimate back to a life in a place that no longer feels like home, Ruth will have to confront those who aren’t willing to forgive her for what’s she done and will stop at nothing until her sins are repaid in blood. From our review,
Despite a deep ensemble led by a transformative Bullock, Unforgivable moves at a turgid pace, lacking the urgency and pathos required in a redemption narrative with any hopes that the audience will pull for its damaged protagonist. Similar to Kidman in Destroyer, Bullock’s appearance oscillates from strained and ragged in present-day scenes, to bright, in-full-make-up in sequences set in the past. Bullock portrays Slater as terse, strained at the jaw, and always at the edge of eruption. Slater tries to keep a low profile. She’s often guarded — she’s served her time, but her reputation as a cop-killer will always follow her around. It’s why when a coworker at the fish-packing plant, the kind, generous Blake (Jon Bernthal, still sporting his King Richard mustache) falls for her, she initially seems hesitant to pursue the first tiny shred of kindness given to her. Slater doesn’t believe she deserves redemption.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime
Following his soul-stirring performances in 2019’s Sound of Metal and 2020’s Mogul Mowgli, Riz Ahmed returns with another rousing turn in the sci-fi thriller Encounter as Malik, a dishonorably discharge Marine who believes that alien parasites have taken over humanity. On the run with his two young sons following a deadly encounter with law enforcement, Malik attempts to raise and protect his family as best as he can in the wake of this alien threat. But are Malik’s fears real, or a fabrication of a distressed mind? The trailer bears a resemblance to the premise and tone of 2016’s Midnight Special, with Octavia Spencer playing an equivalent role to Adam Driver’s in that film as Malik’s Parole officer.
The Hating Game
Based on Sally Thorne’s novel of the same name, The Hating Game stars Lucy Hale (Scream 4) and Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies) as Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, two co-workers who hate each other’s guts. When a highly coveted position opens up at their company, the two professional rivals vie to one-up the other, only to realize that there may be something more between them than simple workplace animosity.
Agnes stars Hayley McFarland (The Conjuring) as a young nun who finds herself seized by violent and disturbing visions that cause her to behave erratically. Concerned for her well-being, as well as the safety of the convent, her fellow Sisters seek the aid of Father Donaghue (Ben Hall), a veteran priest and a young aspiring priest named Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) to perform an exorcism on Agnes and rid of the the demons that have taken refuge in her body. If you’re looking for a psychological horror thriller in the vein of Saint Maud or an alternative to the nunsploitation du jour Benedetta, Agnes is the perfect watch.
The Last Son
Funny Face and Dark Night director Tim Sutton’s Western action-revenge drama The Last Son stars Sam Worthington as Isaac LeMay, a notorious outlaw haunted by the prophecy that he will be killed by one of his own children. Taking a page out of the playbook of the Greek titan Cronus, LeMay sets out to murder his estranged progeny, including his long-lost son Cal (Colson Baker aka “Machine Gun Kelly”). Hunted by Sheriff Solomon (Sam Worthington) and his own son, LeMay must find a way to either end the curse or surrender to his inevitable fate.
Copshop, the latest action thriller from Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team (2010) director Joe Carnahan, stars Frank Grillo (Boss Level) as Teddy Murretto, a resourceful con artists who gets himself locked up in order to escape the grasp of Bob VIddick (Gerard Butler), a ruthless assassin hellbent on collecting his bounty. Unfortunately for Teddy, Bob finds a way to get locked up in the same police station as him, and on top of that, he’s not the only one gunning for his head. The trailer looks as stylish, explosive, and eccentric as you would expect from Carnahan’s previous work, with Toby Huss (King of the Hill) co-starring as deranged elderly hitman named Tony.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
The Power of the Dog
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank, a charismatic yet ruthless rancher who sets his sights on tormenting Rose (Kirsten Dunst), a widow and her impressionable son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When Phil’s brother George marries Rose, his desire and method of intimidating them only intensifies ... that is, until he takes the young Peter under his wing. Does Phil harbor some unrequited, ill-communicated love for Rose and her son, or are there darker motives behind his strange behavior? From our review,
No seismic events occur in The Power of the Dog. There are no gun fights or cattle stampedes. Its meditative quality makes its abrupt ending feel even more sudden. But this is one of those movies that invites rewatches, and Campion is one of those directors who rewards careful subsequent viewing. On a second watch, the connective tissues surrounding the narrative’s tendons don’t just become apparent, they gain a muscular meaning, a robustness that makes the film’s one major reveal even more enlivening. The Power of the Dog doesn’t just mark Campion’s return — it’s the best movie of 2021 so far. This psychological Western’s themes of isolation and toxic masculinity are an ever-tightening lasso of seemingly innocuous events, and they import more horror and meaning on every closer inspection, corralling viewers under an unforgettable spell.
The Summit of the Gods
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on Jiro Taniguchi’s manga series of the same name, Patrick Imbert’s animated drama The Summit of the Gods follows the story of young Japanese reporter whose quest for the truth behind the first attempted expedition to climb Mount Everest leads him to embark on his own climb of the fabled mountain. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this past summer, Imbert’s film has garnered significant acclaimed for its stunning visuals, deft pacing, and and impressive characters.
Set in the year 10,191, Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of the celebrated Frank Herbert sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, son and heir to the powerful Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), who is forced to leave the planet of his birth to become the newly appointed stewards of Arrakis, a desert planet home to a coveted resource known as melange. There are sword fights, politics, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and oh — these colossal creatures called sandworms that burst out of the ground before devouring people. Honestly, there’s way too much to explain about Dune than can fit in a single paragraph, which is why we so lovingly put together this handy-dandy guide to explain its vast and strange universe. But enough of all that, let’s hone in on the biggest question: should you set aside time this weekend to watch Villeneuve’s latest, hulking sci-fi extravaganza? From our review,
If you can get lost in the cocoon of production, costume, and art-design opulence, and sink into the Big Event angle of it all — which is why people go to the movies, isn’t it? — the film, styled as Dune: Part One, can be overwhelmingly evocative. The problem, though, is the film’s pervasive emotional emptiness. Villeneuve and his co-writers, Jon Spaihts (of Passengers and Prometheus) and Eric Roth, rush through character journeys, and shortchange ostensible hero Paul Atreides (wild-hair-haver Timothée Chalamet). They skip over explaining most of the dense mythology of this world, instead collapsing entire communities into thinly rendered versions of other recognizable pop-culture figures. (The Fremen more or less become Tusken Raiders; the Bene Gesserit are Macbeth’s witches.) And the result of all that streamlining is that the connective thread linking all these disparate elements into a cohesive whole is nowhere to be found. The film is a splendid, threadbare tapestry that unravels as you’re watching it.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus
Based on Jeff Kinney’s coming-of-age book series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows Greg Heffley, a mischievous young student with an overactive imagination who worries about the challenges of navigating his first year of middle school. Together with his best friend Rowley, Greg tries to fit and make new friends, all while tripping into one misadventure after another. For a children’s film, the trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid has some pretty impressive animation and some genuinely clever humor. If you’ve never read or seen anything of the series, don’t worry — this new movie recounts the events of the first book alone so you won’t miss anything.
Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV) directs and stars in Castle Falls, an action thriller centered on the story of rival gangs looking for a stash of millions of dollars hidden in a luxury condominium on the verge of demolition. Hidden by a now-imprisoned gang leader, three desperate parties now vie for the prize: A prison guard (Lundgren) looking to use the money to pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment; a blue-collar demolition man (Scott Adkins) who accidentally discovers the money; and the gang whose leader stashed the cash away in the first place. With only 90 minutes to go before the condo is destroyed, the question of who will get out with the money quickly becomes as much a question as who will get out alive at all. Normally we wouldn’t bet against Adkins, but Lundgren did direct the movie...