This weekend sees the release of The Green Knight, the latest Arthurian fantasy drama from A Ghost Story director David Lowery, starring Dev Patel as Sir Gawain. So far, the majority of reviews — including our own — are touting it as a masterpiece.
But don’t worry, even if you aren’t feeling up to venturing out to theaters this weekend, there are still plenty of exciting new releases to watch on VOD and streaming, including more than a few movies that are also currently in theaters, such as F9: The Fast Saga and Disney’s Jungle Cruise. We’ve got Twist, Martin Owen’s modern-day adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the conspiracy documentary Enemies of the State, Trent O’Donnell’s comedy Ride the Eagle starring Jake Johnson, and much more!
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch on video on demand and streaming this weekend.
F9: The Fast Saga
F is for family that does stuff together! In F9: The Fast Saga, the (supposedly) penultimate chapter in the long-running Fast and Furious franchise, that “stuff” involves Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his ride-or-die crew of civilian stunt drivers turned clandestine super-spies being pitted in a race (pun intended) against time to stop a devastating super-weapon from falling into the wrong hands. Things get even more complicated when Dom’s estranged brother Jakob (John Cena) shows up to throw a wrench in the works, pitting the two Toretto siblings in a deadly battle of wills as they hash out their baggage. Oh yeah, Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) go to space in this one. From our review,
F9 counteracts any character development by devoting a grating amount of time to meta-commentary on its own ridiculousness. On this lap of the franchise, Roman confronts the existential nature of the family’s inability to be harmed. How do they never get shot? How do they survive every car crash? Have they been chosen? If these were the incoherent mutterings of a man in constant action, it might be the perfect seriousness-deflating banter to cap any given action set-piece. But there are entire dialogue-driven scenes unpacking the possible supernatural forces at work in the Fast franchise. If the asides are setup for the series’ eventual crossover with Diesel’s Last Witch Hunter universe (c’mon, it’s good!), then the film isn’t taking the magical element seriously enough. If it’s just comic relief, it’s padding that falls flat — but not as flat as the five-minute gag about which Star Wars character Charlize Theron’s villain Cipher would be, the moment F9 goes full cringe.
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on Disney Plus Premier
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.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An action-packed crime-thriller remake of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist that reimagines the rosy-cheeked orphan with a heart of gold as a wayward teenage graffiti artist with a gift for parkour. No? Well, that’s what Martin Owen’s Twist is, in a nutshell. Rafferty Law (Repo Men) stars as Oliver Twist opposite Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) as his criminal mentor Fagin, with Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) rounding out the principal cast as Twist’s nemesis Sikes. Admittedly, this whole premise sounds odd and seems more than likely to fall flat, but at least it’s unique.
Enemies of the State
Matt DeHart, an Air National Guard veteran turned whistleblower, working with the online hacktivist group Anonymous, fled to Canada in 2013, alleging that he had inadvertently stumbled across information so sensitive that the FBI wanted him detained … or worse. The FBI paints a different story, alleging that DeHart was an online child predator and that he sought asylum to evade the consequences. Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary Enemies of the State delves into the labyrinthine drama implicating DeHart and his family, poring through reams of legal documents and interviewing agents and suspects connected to the case in order to unravel the truth and its possible implications.
Ride the Eagle
Jake Johnson (New Girl, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse) stars in Trent O’Donnell’s Ride the Eagle as Leif, a pot-smoking conga-band drummer who leaves his life in the city to move out to a picturesque cabin in Northern California bequeathed to him by his estranged mother Honey (Susan Sarandon). Before he can actually move in, however, he’ll have to complete a to-do list left behind by his mom as a part of his conditional inheritance. So it’s like the 12 labors of Hercules, only instead of a quest to become a god, it’s about transferring real estate and growing into an emotionally mature, self-sufficient adult. Also, it’s a comedy!
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
The Forever Purge
The fifth installment in the dystopian action horror series, The Forever Purge is set eight years after the events of 2016’s The Purge: Election Year, with the New Founding Fathers of America having regained control of the US government and re-instituted the annual Purge. Following the Purge’s resolution, a band of lawless marauders decide to prolong the Purge indefinitely, wrecking a wave of havoc as survivors attempt to protect themselves. From our review:
While the Purge franchise’s lack of subtlety is a big part of its charm, The Forever Purge is probably the biggest test of these movies’ unsubtle methods. There’s the delicious irony of a scenario where Americans desperately want to get into Mexico, but it’s burdened with a condescending execution. While Adela and Juan are ostensibly the protagonists, the Tucker family get all the actual character arcs. An overwhelming chunk of The Forever Purge’s brisk 103 minutes is devoted to the film’s Mexican immigrants saving the Tuckers’ lives, helping them survive, and furthering their moral development. It is, frankly, an insulting running thread that sours an otherwise deft horror-thriller.
Blood Red Sky
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Blood Red Sky, an action horror film directed by Peter Thorwarth, stars Peri Baumeister as Nadja, a woman with a mysterious illness who boards an overnight flight from Germany with her 10-year-old son. When a group of terrorists hijacks the plane and threatens the passengers, Nadja must make an impossible decision: leave them to their fate, or become the monster she’s worked so hard to hide, in order to save them all?
Adapted from a 2015 viral Twitter thread by Aziah “Zola” Wells, Zola follows the story of a stripper who embarks on a wild road trip to Florida and gets ensnared in a bizarre, deadly scheme involving sex work, murder, and profoundly odd characters. From our review:
... [L]ike Uncut Gems and The Farewell, Zola is the product of a new generation of filmmakers, late-age millennial auteurs who don’t need to bow down to the past and settle for pastiche. For Bravo, that means conveying the stress of our current moment, whether it’s a rap track devolving into Mica Levi-composed ambience, or letting the dialogue rip in loud, near-unintelligible ways. Zola is a confident film with a confident protagonist, and the agency on display is infectious.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
Underworld star Kate Beckinsale stars in Tanya Wexler’s action comedy Jolt as Lindy, a beautiful and funny young woman who experiences periods of intense hyper-violent rage due to a mysterious neurological disorder she’s had since her youth. Relying on the help of a special electrode-lined vest invented by her trust physician Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci) to control her impulses, Lindy begins to feel as though she can pursue a normal life when she starts dating Justin (Jai Courtney), an unassuming accountant with a trustworthy disposition. However, when Lindy discovers that Justin has been murdered, she chooses to hone her long-simmering lifelong rage into a weapon in search of revenge and answers. From our review:
Jolt initially seems like a gender-switched version of Crank. That 2006 cult film and its 2009 sequel Crank: High Voltage both star Jason Statham as a hitman who, for various convoluted reasons, needs to keep his adrenaline high and his heart pumping, via fistfights, street races, public sex, and eventually by strapping himself to a car battery. Jolt isn’t as wonderfully ludicrous as those films, and it wastes a little too much time setting up a staid “All women want to be loved” narrative throughline. But when the film lets action-mode Beckinsale do what she does best, which is charm guys with her face, then punch their faces, Jolt clicks together.
Starring Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary) and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Wyatt Rockefeller’s sci-fi thriller Settlers follows a family of explorers who, following a devastating ecological disaster, abandon Earth in hopes of eking out a new life on a nascent Martian colony. When the family takes in a mysterious stranger amid ongoing attacks by a group of marauding bandits, they’ll have to find a way to survive the planet’s harsh and barren terrain — along with each other. From our review:
Films could do worse than mimicking some of the narrative overlaps between Aliens and High Life, but Rockefeller only repeats other science fiction, rather than inventing big ideas of his own. The result is that the film’s most interesting ideas — Ilsa mournfully saying of Earth, “We don’t know where we’re from”; terraforming as a kind of genocide — go unexplored in favor of a story that scrapes low enough to propose sexual assault as character development. When Reza tells Remmy that someday, Mars is “gonna be just like Earth,” a braver sci-fi offering would spin that line as a warning.
Midnight In The Switchgrass
Bruce Willis and Megan Fox star in Randall Emmett’s Midnight in the Switchgrass as Karl Helter and Rebecca Lombardi, two FBI agents who cross paths in Florida when they’re brought in to help stop a serial killer. When their undercover sting collaboration with state officer Byron Crawford (Emile Hirsch) is blown, the three will have to work together in order to stay alive and catch the culprit.