This week, Netflix released a bombshell announcement that the streaming giant had secured the exclusive U.S. rights to stream Sony Pictures’ upcoming slate of releases including Venom: There Will Be Carnage and the upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel. Disney just announced that Phoebe Waller-Bridge and series composer John Williams would be joining the tentatively titled Indiana Jones 5 starring Harrison Ford, and Marvel finally released the long-awaited (see: one week) hourlong video of Baron Zemo’s awkward dancing club scene in the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
As for new releases of films available to stream and rent at home, we’ve got the much-delayed and finally released Biggie Smalls murder thriller City of Lies, Netflix’s new superhero buddy comedy Thunder Force starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, the intense homebound horror mystery thriller Held starring Jill Awbrey (All We Have Left) and Bart Johnson (High School Musical), and much more! To help you get a handle on what’s new and available to watch, here are the movies you can watch on VOD this weekend.
City of Lies
Brad Furman’s crime film City of Lies, based on Randall Sullivan’s 2003 nonfiction book on the investigation into Christopher “The Notorious BIG” Wallace’s murder, was shelved a month before it was set to release in 2018 amid several controversies, including allegations of domestic assault directed at the film’s lead, Johnny Depp. Three years and one pandemic later, it’s finally here, for better or worse. Depp stars as retired LAPD detective Russell Poole who, with the assistance of journalist Jack Jackson (Forest Whitaker), attempts to unravel the tangled web of half-truths and motivations behind the plot to take Biggie Smalls’ life.
Jill Awbrey (All We Have Left) and Bart Johnson (High School Musical) star in Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing’s horror thriller Held as Emma and Henry, a troubled couple who attempt to repair their ailing marriage by journeying to a remote vacation rental. Their getaway plans are disturbed when the “Voice,” a masked predator who looks like a cross between a Slipknot understudy and the French electronic musician Gesaffelstein, crashes the party. As events get more brutal, and it’s clear the Voice has an intimate knowledge of their relationship, the couple must work together to uncover the truth and find a way out before it’s too late.
Based on André Carl van der Merwe’s book, Oliver Hermanus’ romance drama Moffie (a derogatory Afrikaans term for a gay man) follows Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), a young man in 1981 South Africa who is enlisted into compulsory military service to defend the Apartheid regime. Forced to endure two years of brutal and racist training, Nicholas struggles with his inability to live up to the farcical macho image expected of him by his family, peers, and heritage, all while desperately trying to maintain the secret of his homosexuality.
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix
On the surface, Thunder Force sounds like the female superhero buddy comedy equivalent of 2011’s Bridesmaids or 2019’s The Hustle. Set in a world where supervillains are commonplace, Ben Falcone’s latest comedy follows estranged childhood friends Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer) who reunite after the latter devises an experimental treatment that gives them superpowers. Endowed with these newfound abilities, the pair set out to fight crime and protect the city — hopefully without breaking too many things in the process. From our review:
Thunder Force might help illustrate why there are so few pure superhero comedy movies. Superhero action speaks to the secret kid inside many of us who sees someone getting thrown through a wall and thinks, Whoo, that’s badass, I wish I could do that. Doing the same thing and making it hilarious is difficult enough without juggling all the other complicated elements that make a sharp comedy. Thunder Force occasionally nails the funny aspects of a superpowered world, mostly through sheer force of absurdity. But it’s missing an awful lot of the elements of good comedy in general.
Director Pål Øie’s 2019 Norwegian thriller stars Thorbjørn Harr (Vikings) as a first responder sent to rescue a group of people trapped in tunnel in the aftermath of terrible truck crash. With a blizzard raging outside and a nascent wildfire swelling in intensity, the mission to rescue the people trapped inside becomes a race against time and the elements.
We Don’t Deserve Dogs
Who doesn’t love dogs? No one, that’s who! Matthew Salleh’s latest documentary is a people-pleasing, albeit unconventional film: a globetrotting journey across 11 countries including Chile, Uganda, Nepal, Finland, and Romania to capture intimate portraits of the common and extraordinary relationships and bonds between dogs and their owners. We Don’t Deserve Dogs is a kaleidoscopic odyssey of unconventional portraits of humanity, love, and friendship spanning across the world.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Godzilla vs. Kong
Where to watch it: Stream on HBO Max
The capstone of Legendary Entertainment’s Monsterverse reimagining of Toho’s most famous Kaiju is finally here in Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong. In a fight between an ancient behemoth lizard that emits radiation and big ol’ ape with a heart of gold and palm full of sign language, who wins? The answer’s obvious: We do! From our review,
Godzilla vs. Kong is a 113-minute argument for movies projected on giant screens in front of crowds of people. It’s a smooth-brained good time. Depending on local pandemic recovery progress and restrictions, it will either triumphantly welcome moviegoers back into theaters with tremendous spectacle, or make the wait hurt that much more, as they watch it on HBO Max instead. I watched it at home, on my 55-inch TV, absolutely furious that I couldn’t see it in a theater, or at the very least, project it on the side of my apartment building. But I couldn’t stay mad for long, because I was too busy cheering out loud at the spectacle in front of me.
Where to watch it: Stream on Netflix
Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin stars in Ricky Staub’s (Snow White and the Huntsman) Concrete Cowboy as Cole, an errant teenager from Detroit who is sent to live with his estranged father Harp (Idris Elba), the leader of a local group of urban cowboys in North Philadelphia. From our review,
All of Concrete Cowboy’s performances are solid, with McLaughlin carrying the story emotionally, and Jerome balancing vulnerability and pride as charming, tempting Smush. Orange Is the New Black star Lorraine Toussaint is also a standout as Nessie, the stables’ tough-love matriarch. In addition to the professional actors, the cast also includes members of the Fletcher Street Stables community. Newcomers Ivannah Mercedes and Jamil “Mil” Prattis add warmth and authenticity through their comfort around the horses and in the stable stalls. Fletcher Street members also serve as a type of Greek chorus, commenting on Cole’s acclimation to working in the stables.
Wonder Woman 1984
Gal Gadot returns as the Amazonian Demigoddess Diana of Themyscira in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 (sans ancient lamentation music)! When a power-hungry businessman (Pedro Pascal) and a former colleague (Kristen Wiig) plot to conquer humanity using a mysterious ancient artifact that grants wishes, Diana must don her indestructible bracelets, golden tiara, and multicolored leotard to once again rescue the world as Wonder Woman. From our review:
Wonder Woman is a heroine who lifts us up, who brings her compassion and light to every fight she faces, who was once willing to lose the Lasso of Truth in the comics for the sake of saving a single Amazon warrior. This version of Diana is more selfish, curdled by her own grief, and limited by her own choices. She mirrors Minerva, who has been limited by society, in all things save one: she still loves the world enough to be capable of sacrifice. The current DC movie universe is always dark, but it seems that with a movie drenched in the neon aesthetic of the ’80s, they’ve finally found a way to dim even Wonder Woman’s light.
Rachel Sennott executive produces and stars in Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby as Max, a bisexual college senior who runs into her sugar daddy and ex-girlfriend at a Jewish funeral service with her parents. Jude Dry’s review for Indiewire describes the film as “claustrophobic Jewish humor with a sexy premise” which, from the looks of the trailer, totally seems to track.
Where to watch it: Stream on HBO Max
Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s eponymous documentary Tina on the Grammy Award-winning artist Tina Turner is an exhaustive and salient survey into the the euphoric life and tumultuous trials of the one and only “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.” Featuring extensive archival footage of Turner’s lifelong career and interviews with the singer herself, Tina charts its subject’s improbable rise to stardom and her enduring legacy as one of rock and soul music’s indelible trailblazers.
Every Breath You Take
Vaughn Stein’s psychological thriller Every Breath You Take stars Academy Award winner Casey Affleck as Phillip, a psychiatrist whose career is jeopardized in the wake of his patient’s suicide. Inviting his patient’s surviving brother (Sam Clafin) into his home, Phillip soon finds the life he has built with his wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan) and their daughter Lucy (India Eisley) thrust into a perilous tailspin of deceit and manipulation.