This past week was rocked by the news of Amazon’s acquisition of MGM Studios for $8.45 billion. The announcement comes in the wake of last week’s shocking news that AT&T would be merging WarnerMedia with Discovery to create a new standalone entity big enough to compete with streaming giants such as Netflix and Disney Plus. The latter flexes its muscles this week with the simultaneous release of Cruella theaters and streaming via Disney Plus Premier Access.
As the majors vie for your at-home attention, the week is also packed with new releases. There’s the aforementioned Cruella, the long-delayed Chaos Walking starring Tom Holland and Daisey Ridley (which is actually pretty good!), the PVOD release of Wrath of Man, and a documentary about Moby titled ... Moby Doc.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
Where to watch it: In theaters and available on Disney Plus Premier Access
Who doesn’t love a villainous origin story? Emma Stone stars in Craig Gillespie’s Cruella as the infamous Dalmatian murdering fashionista, years before her fateful clash with Roger Radcliffe and his adorable pets. Set in 1970s London, the film follows aspiring fashion designer Estella’s descent into villainy as she gradually becomes Joker-fied in an Devil Wears Prada-esque feud with her nefarious employer-turned-rival Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). From our review,
The movie’s entire first half hour is completely unnecessary. There are a lot of scenes of Estella as a child (with her funky black-and-white hair), but none of them ever really pay off. Most of what she sets up through action and voiceover could be handled with a few lines of dialogue, or a single flashback. But Gillespie gives us enough of child-Cruella to flesh out a completely separate movie. Tonally, that first act feels like one, too — a sort of anti-Matilda where a precocious young girl pushes back at her bullies by being an even bigger bully, only to get kicked out of a posh private school. Then through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up living as a squatter in an abandoned building, surviving by committing petty crimes. That whole pre-origin-story origin story just drags the movie down, even if on its own it could make for a fun Disney Channel Original Movie.
Wrath of Man
Jason Statham stars in frequent collaborator Guy Ritchie’s 2021 action thriller Wrath of Man as Patrick Hill, a mysterious loner who works security for an armored truck company. When Patrick successfully foils an attempt by a band of robbers to rob his truck, Patrick’s past and motivations for taking the job are gradually brought to light, revealing a long-simmering plot for revenge that will see every obstacle in his path laid to waste in his bid for vengeance.
Based on Patrick Ness’ sci-fi novel series of the same name, The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Todd Hewitt, a young man living on a newly colonized planet in the wake of bitter civil that resulted in the death of the entire female population. Todd discovers Viola (Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a mysterious girl who is inexplicably stranded when her ship crash lands on the planet. With no one else to turn to and with her life immediately under threat, Todd and Viola must band together in order to discover the truth behind the planet’s history and their own nascent powers. From our review,
Chaos Walking moves briskly through all of this nonsense in Liman’s trademark rough-and-tumble style. Holland and Ridley stay close to their Disney-franchise personas: He’s gawky and sensitive, she’s scrappy and wary. But there’s a reason they were so beloved as Peter Parker and Rey, respectively, and the movie takes easy, enjoyable advantage of their charisma. This fantasy-Western of sorts is full of modest pleasures like that. The costumes by Kate Hawley (Crimson Peak and Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, among others) mix rustic faux-frontier coziness with muted futurism. Certain world-building details are allowed to stay in the background, rather than taking on the weight of mythology. And Liman positions his actors with an intuitive feel for dramatic blocking. Though the movie’s concepts leave a lot of comic potential untapped, there is a funny moment when Todd realizes he’ll be bunking with a guy who dreams only of baseball games.
Where to watch it: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on a true story, director Julio Quintana’s Blue Miracle follows Hector (Raymond Cruz), the guardian of a Mexican boys home who enters into the world’s biggest fishing tournament in order to save his orphanage. Teaming up with Wade (Dennis Quaid), a washed up fishing boat captain, Hector and his kids defy the odds to challenge and overcome their hardships and bond as an adopted family.
Starring Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) and Jerry O’Connell (Billions), Endangered Species follows the harrowing survival-adventure story of a wealthy American family who are left stranded in the wilderness of Kenya after their safari vehicle is attacked by a rhino. Miles away from any help, the family must band together to overcome this nightmarish struggle and wage a war of survival against the elements.
Long Weekend stars Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story) as Bart, a down-on-his luck bro who falls in love with the mysterious Vienna (Zoë Chao) over a spontaneous long weekend trip. As the two grow closer, unexpected revelations threatened to disrupt their budding romance right as it’s about to bloom. Can the pair successfully navigate these hurdles and make this newfound love work?
Bralver’s “surrealist” documentary Moby Doc chronicles the life of musician Richard Melville Hall aka Moby throughout the various phases of his career, from his breakout success with albums like Everything is Wrong and tracks like Strange Ways to his precipitous decline into pop obscurity. Narrated by Moby himself and featuring interviews with David Lynch, David Bowie, and Shepard Fairey, Moby Doc is a introspective journey into the mind of artist reflecting on his life and career while steering a course for the future.
Where to watch it: Available to stream on Hulu
Billed as this year’s Booksmart, Parks and Recreation star-turned-director Natalie Morales’ young adult comedy Plan B stars Victoria Moroles (Teen Wolf) and Kuhoo Verma (Insomnia) as straight-laced student Lupe and slacker Sunny, two high school best friends who set off on a hectic 24 hour search for contraceptives after a regrettable first-time sexual encounter? Simple, right? Unfortunately, they live in the conservative American heartland where you’d have better luck striking oil than finding ready access to anti-pregnancy healthcare. Watch these two get into all kinds of shenanigans and hijinks as they try to hunt down that elusive Plan B and grow closer for the experience.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Army of the Dead
Where to watch it: In theaters and available to stream on Netflix
Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Omari Hardwick (Sorry to Bother You), Ana de la Reguera (Narcos), Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat), Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) and more star in Justice League director Zack Snyder’s zombie apocalypse heist thriller Army of the Dead. Set in the aftermath of a mysterious viral outbreak that reanimates the dead into carnivorous predators, a group of mercenaries are recruited to venture into an overrun Las Vegas casino to pull off the greatest heist of their lives. From our review,
Snyder understands the tonality of a modern zombie film. Like Dawn of the Dead, it’s where his trademark snark shines best. One laugh-out-loud moment involves a newscaster quoting the president on his decision to bomb Vegas on the 4th of July: “Really cool, and the ultimate fireworks show. Actually kind of patriotic, if you think about it.” If Army of the Dead were only darkly comedic, however, it’d become tiresome quickly. Since his first film, Snyder has certainly added a heartfelt tenor to his overembellished storytelling: The failed father-daughter relationship between Scott and Kate undergirds all the outsized gun fights, supplying the film with real-world heartache. Snyder also has Bautista, whose advanced sense of physicality is further translated into his quiet forlornness. More than a few scenes here are reminiscent of his stellar work as a soulful replicant in Blade Runner 2049.
The Little Things
John Lee Hancock’s neo-noir crime thriller The Little Things, which premiered then disappeared from HBO Max earlier this year, stars Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as Joe “Deke” Deacon and Jim Baxter, a veteran sheriff and Los Angeles detective pursuing a lead on a mysterious string of murders. When their investigation brings them to a potential suspect in the form of loner Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), the two are embroiled in a frantic all-consuming quest for answers and justice. From our review,
The Little Things is a fascinating cat-and-mouse game that the experienced Deke is all too familiar with, but one that exposes Jimmy for prey. The detectives’ insecurities lead them to bond over their shared obsession, and Washington deftly balances that fine line between controllable neuroticism and irrepressible compulsion. While he initially plays Deke as though he were a tentative recovering addict, a man who went cold turkey from his obsession of solving cases only to find this new hit, he later takes command and transforms into the swaggering Denzel that audiences are used to. The confidence he projects, however, isn’t without fail. Deke is carrying mountains of baggage. And at night, when he’s alone, that baggage opens up to flashbacks to his final failed case. The managed image he projects to Jimmy versus his fractured inner self provides a deeply psychological film its sturdy base.
Based on Jane Harper’s 2016 novel of the same name, director Robert Connolly’s mystery drama thriller The Dry stars Eric Bana (Munich), who really deserves more than being the eighth-billed actor in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur (although he was good in that). Bana stars as Aaron Falk, an Australian fed who learns that his childhood friend allegedly murdered his own family, then took his home life. The grisly act prompts Aaron to go back to his hometown after 20 years to investigate his friend’s death. From critic Bilge Ebiri’s excellent review over at our sister site Vulture,
The new Australian thriller The Dry is filled with such an overwhelming sense of grief, of regret and grim foreboding, that you may lose sight of the central mystery for stretches of the movie. That’s not to suggest that Robert Connolly’s film can’t function as genre entertainment; on the contrary, it’s a gripping, grisly piece of work. But its emotional emphasis lies elsewhere, beyond the mere ins and outs of who did what where and to whom.
If you’re a fan of Coralie Fargeat’s 2017 rape revenge thriller (aptly titled) Revenge, Vincent Paronnaud’s latest film Hunted will probably be up your alley. Starring Lucie Debay, Ciaran O’Brien, and Arieh Worthalter, Hunted follows the story of Eve, a young woman who is abducted by a pair of men following a raucous night out. Escaping into the woods following a sudden accident, Eve must resort to all her wits and guile in order to defeat her would-be captors and escape to safety.
Riders of Justice
Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Death Stranding) stars in Anders Thomas Jensen’s Riders of Justice as Markus, an ex-military man returns home to care for his teenage daughter following his wife’s tragic death. Suspecting that the accident may have been murder, Markus embarks on a mission to flush out the conspirators behind the plot and exact justice.
Blair Witch and You’re Next writer Simon Barrett’s horror mystery thriller Seance stars Suki Waterhouse as Camille Meadows, a recently matriculated student at the prestigious Edelvine Academy for Girls. After taking part in a late-night séance ritual that conjures the spirit of a former student that haunts the school, the participants in the ritual find themselves stalked by malevolent forces that seek to claim their lives. It’s up to Camille to uncover the true circumstances behind the specter’s passing in order to survive.
Where to watch it: Available to stream on Shudder
What if the kids from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial befriended Ivan Ooze from Power Rangers: The Movie? That’s pretty much the elevator pitch for Psycho Goreman in a nutshell. Written and directed by The Void co-director Steven Kostanski, the film stars Nita-Josee Hanna as Mimi, a young girl who along with her brother Luke (Owen Myre) unwittingly resurrects an ancient alien overlord. Using a magical amulet, the pair manipulate the monster to concoct their own childish schemes, all while accidentally attracting the attention of a group of intergalactic assassins who quickly descend upon their small suburban town.
Sound of Violence
The horror crime thriller Sound of Violence stars Jasmin Savoy Brown (Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, The Leftovers) as Alexis, a young woman who, years after having recovered her lost hearing while witnessing the brutal murder of her family, discovers she possesses long dormant psychic-synesthetic abilities that respond to music. Alexis’ quest to realize the perfect sound — much like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille did for smell in 2006’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer — slowly builds into one bordering on obsession, as her sound experiment become increasingly more gruesome in their scope and design.