This weekend once again saw the theatrical release calendar buckle over COVID-19 concerns, as the Delta variant continues to raise questions over theater safety and general interest in heading back to the movies. Sony opted to bump Venom: Let there Be Carnage a few weeks to October, while Disney and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit Disney Plus just 45 days after its theatrical debut in September, a new condensed window for the studio. But this weekend still sees the debut of Don’t Breathe 2, showing at least some confidence in audiences trekking to the local multiplex.
While going to the movies might be a toin coss, there are still plenty of options to watch at home this weekend. We’ve got the VOD premiere of Black Widow; the fourth and final entry in the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, Evangelion 3.0+1.0, which streams exclusively on Amazon Prime Video; Apple’s touching Sundance pickup, Coda; and the latest “screenlife” movie, the political thriller Profile.
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.
Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
The long-awaited final installment of the Rebuild of Evangelion film tetralogy is finally here! Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time finds Shinji still emotionally adrift following the harrowing conclusion of Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. Will he, Asuka, Rei, and the WILLE resistance be able to band together and stop NERV from initiating the Fourth Impact and destroying humanity, and will Hideaki Anno finally put an end to the Evangelion series itself? From our review,
Twenty-six years after the TV premiere of Neon Genesis Evangelion (and 24 years after its theatrical alternate ending, The End of Evangelion), Hideaki Anno’s seemingly never-ending saga has finally come to a close. The much-awaited, long-delayed fourth installment in the Rebuild of Evangelion film series that retells the original TV series’ story, Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time scales the steep emotional walls built by its predecessors, and bloodies its fingers during the climb. But it also features unusually quiet stretches, which allow for moving reflections involving the film’s lead characters, young mecha pilots Ikari Shinji (Ogata Megumi), Shikinami Asuka Langley (Miyamura Yūko) and Ayanami Rei (Hayashibara Megumi). It’s bold, dazzling, introspective, and occasionally disturbing, which makes it a fitting capper to not only the new film series, but to the Evangelion story as a whole.
Where to watch: Available to buy for $29.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
After a stint on Disney Plus Premier Access and in theaters, the latest Marvel movie is available to pick up on VOD services. Set between the events of 2015’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow finds Natasha Romanoff alone and on the run after siding with Steve Rogers in the wake of the Sokovia Accords. Pursued by a mysterious assassin known as the Taskmaster, Natasha turns to old allies and confronts her sordid history to find answers and possible redemption for the sins of her past. From our review:
Black Widow mostly feels like an apology. It arrives as the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, two years (one of them a pandemic mulligan) after the 22nd film, Avengers: Endgame, featured an emotional scene that in no uncertain terms killed off Black Widow’s main character, Natasha Romanoff. Black Widow had been a consistent presence in the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2, and she was one of the key connective figures that helped all of these movies actually feel like a universe. She also seemed to be one of the only women of consequence in the entire franchise. And after coming and going, she’s only getting her own stand-alone movie now, which makes Black Widow feel like an afterthought. It’s only the second MCU film to star a female character, and that character isn’t even alive to take us somewhere new.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Apple TV Plus
As her senior year comes to an end, Ruby (Emilia Jones), the only hearing person in her Deaf family, is torn between studying music at college and remaining at home to help — and maybe save — the family fishing business. Costarring Deaf actors Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Coda is one of those down-to-earth family dramas that’s actually touching and genuine at every step. Here’s a bit from our Sundance review from earlier this year:
[Director Siân] Heder finds her way into tension and tougher questions. The family’s fear of the unknown is compounded by the possibilities on the horizon: Ruby has a fabulous voice, a skill her parents will never be able to comprehend as a viable future for their daughter. The anxiety arrives just as Frank’s own career path is thrown out of whack; he’s been fishing all of his life, but the extortion of fisherman by dock bigwigs turns his life into a mini Elia Kazan drama. It isn’t as grim as On the Waterfront, but Frank, Leo, Jackie, and eventually Ruby all wind up in a fight to take hold of their business and livelihoods. There’s a lot on the line, and Heder strings it all together in a mainstream package that recalls everything from Ordinary People to Save the Last Dance and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And while the drama is immediate and timely like those films, it also feels like it has a past and present. This is to say: Yes, I would watch five seasons of the Parenthood version of CODA.
Where to watch: In theaters and available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
If you’re a fan of computer screen thrillers like 2018’s Searching or Unfriended: Dark Web, you’ll want to check out Profile. Valene Kane (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gangs of London) stars as Amy, a British investigative journalist who goes undercover to infiltrate an online Islamic State recruitment program. As she finds herself seduced by her recruiter Biel (Shazad Latif), it’s not long before Amy finds herself dangerously close to not only exposing her identity but imperiling both her life and the lives of those closest to her.
Where to watch: In theaters and available to rent for $11.99 on Vudu and $9.99 on Amazon Prime Video and Apple
John Boyega (Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker) stars in Chase Palmer’s Naked Singularity as Casi, an promising young NYC public defender who becomes increasingly unnerved by the glaring inequities of the very justice system he finds himself a part of. As his disillusionment leads him to question the stability of the very fabric of the universe, Casi approached with a dangerous proposition by a former client (Olivia Cooke) to beat the system at its own game via a high-stakes drug heist. If that sounds like, well, a lot; that’s because it is. From our review,
Palmer’s high-concept sci-fi isn’t as thought-provoking as its references to Voltaire’s Candide would indicate. The philosophical beats groan under the narrative’s overburdened weight. The heist component falls flat because Casi and Dave’s plan is intelligible. Without a big-name case to center viewers’ attention, the courtroom drama lacks, well, drama. And the film’s primary focus — how can Casi fix a stacked system? — isn’t approached with any intelligence. Considering the bold premise outlined by Palmer, which invited the chance for bolder choices, the lackluster ending leaves one wanting. Palmer’s Naked Similarity is a dilettante movie, raising plenty of important questions while providing little intellectual rigor, and even less action-packed excitement.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
John David Washington (Tenet) stars in the Netflix suspense-thriller Beckett as an American tourist vacationing in Greece with his girlfriend April (Alicia Vikander). Following a tragic car accident, Beckett finds himself the inadvertent target of a manhunt related to a vast and lethal political conspiracy. With no-one and nowhere else to turn to, Beckett must evade capture and trek across the country to the American embassy if he has any hope of clearing his name, making it back home, and most importantly, survive.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
The Suicide Squad
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s standalone sequel, which streams for free on HBO Max until Sept. 5, 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 finds itself 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.
Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
Nicolas Cage (Mandy) stars in Michael Sarnoski’s revenge drama Pig as Rob, a former chef-turned-reclusive truffle forager living deep in the forests of Oregon with his prize hog. When Rob is assaulted and his pig is stolen, he’ll have to embark on tense journey back to his past stomping grounds in order to retrieve. Though the casting of Cage alone and the premise alone may lead one to suspect that this is just the latest in a long string of John Wick riffs, the film turns out to be anything but. Based on our pals at Vulture’s review, Pig is a tense, soulful, drama following a man as he parses through the regrets of his past and cuts anyone standing in his way down to the bone with nothing save a word.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Hamilton producer Lin-Manuel Miranda stars in Sony Pictures Animation’s comedy Vivo as a lovable, music-obsessed kinkajou who forms a bond with the elderly Andrés. When tragedy befalls the duo, Vivo embarks on a quest to deliver a message to Andrés’ former partner Marta Sandoval; a love letter written to her in the form of a song. Features gorgeous settings and several new songs written by Miranda himself, Vivo looks like it’ll be a sincere feel-good time. From our review:
Miranda’s songwriting skills are still stellar, but the best part of Vivo happens when the music and animation work in tandem to elevate the story, playing with the visual style to highlight the music, so it all meshes together in a beautiful symphony. Andrés sings about his memories with Marta, and the movie shifts into a retro concert-poster style, with bright blocks of color and soft edges. When Gabi sings an anthem to being unapologetically weird, it becomes a neon techscape. These moments are transcendent, a testament to both the strength of the music and the creativity of the animation production design.
John and the Hole
Where to watch: In select theaters and available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video; $6.99 on Apple, Vudu
Based on a short story by Birdman screenwriter Nicolás Giacobone, Pascual Sisto’s American psychological thriller John and the Hole stars Charlie Shotwell as a 13-year-old who traps his family in a mysterious hole buried near his home. The film co-stars Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty) as John’s parents Brad and Anna, as well as Taissa Farmiga (The Final Girls) as John’s older sister Laurie. From our review,
John and the Hole doesn’t hit like Lanthimos’ surrealist larks or Lynne Ramsay’s portrait of a school killer, We Need to Talk About Kevin, but it does ask provocative questions about modern children and their modern parents. (I guess what I’m saying is that it’s the good version of Modern Family.) Risks emerge as society becomes more attuned to the complexity of young people, and respects them as more adult than previous generations. Kids are still kids, and not every young person is on the same developmental track. Money, privilege, and personal philosophy all challenge the evolving norms. Why would a kid push their parents into a hole? Why wouldn’t they? Few movies ask the question, to be honest.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
Featuring behind-the-scenes footage spanning Val Kilmer’s entire life shot by the actor himself, Leo Scott and Ting Poo’s documentary Val centers on the daily life of the actor through the trials and triumphs of his professional career, his personal life, his struggles with cancer, and his dedication to the craft of acting and storytelling. Val looks like it’ll shape up to be an exceptional and unique documentary of one of the most iconic screen presences of the late 20th century.