This week Free Guy, the sci-fi action romcom starring Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer, lands on Disney Plus and HBO Max following its theatrical debut last year. Wes Anderson’s comedic anthology The French Dispatch also comes to streaming on HBO Max this week, along with the new suspense thriller No Exit on Hulu and the occult horror film Hellbender on Shudder.
That’s not all: there’s also a ton of new releases available to rent on VOD this week, including the surreal dark comedy Big Gold Brick featuring Oscar Isaac, the Kurt Warner sports biopic American Underdog, the sci-fi romantic comedy Strawberry Mansion, and much (much) more.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the new movies you can watch on streaming and VOD this weekend.
Ryan Reynolds stars in Shawn Levy’s sci-fi action comedy Free Guy as Guy, an NPC working as a bank teller in a massive open-world video game filled with chaos and mayhem. Seemingly unaware of the nature of the world he lives in, Guy is perfectly content with his life until he crosses paths with a mysterious player named Millie (Jodie Comer) on a personal mission inside the game. Donning a pair of special glasses that allows him to see the game for what it is, Guy attempts to help Millie and discover more about himself in the process. From our review,
The first half of Free Guy is solid, with several great gags and subtle background nods to popular game franchises like Halo or Megaman, which won’t necessarily stand out, except to the most eagle-eyed viewers. But in the the film’s latter half, and especially its final act, Free Guy starts dabbling with a whole mess of ideas, including, but not limited to, performative online personas, collective action as a catalyst for systemic change, gun violence in America, a rebuke of toxic online behavior, and regrettably, a deus ex machina resolution powered entirely by highly recognizable licensed IP.
The French Dispatch
Where to watch: Available to stream on HBO Max
Wes Anderson’s latest comedy anthology The French Dispatch is a self-proclaimed “love letter to journalists,” following the misadventures of a group of hapless columnists working for the eccentric editor of an American newspaper in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé (Boredom-upon-Apathy). Anderson’s proclivity for fastidiously detailed sets, bright colors, irreverent deadpan humor, and quirky characters has won him both acclaim and criticism throughout his career.
How does The French Dispatch compare to his previous work? From our review,
The film is divided into five separate vignettes, each a reported column belonging to a specific newspaper section, written by one of the journalists. As is often the case with anthology-style films, some sections work better than others. Anderson’s penchant for dry comedy used to explain grief, the inner workings of dysfunctional people, and children experiencing the loss of innocence comes to the forefront once again. And yet this is the director’s least digestible work. It’s supposedly a love letter to the New Yorker of yore, but while The French Dispatch features Anderson’s familiar aesthetic style, it’s often a distant omnibus that might appeal only to his most ardent fans.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Hulu
The 2022 thriller No Exit stars Havana Rose Liu (The Sky is Everywhere) as Darby, a college student who escapes from rehab to return home for a family emergency, only to be stranded at a mountain rest stop during a blizzard. Taking refuge from the storm, she inadvertently discovers a young girl being held captive in one of the vehicles outside, and that one (or more) of the strangers stranded alongside her is the culprit. As the storm rages, Darby must deduce the identity of the kidnapper in order to deliver the child from harm, all while saving her own life in the process.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Shudder
The latest feature from The Adams filmmaking family, Hellbender is an occult coming-of-age horror film. Teenager Izzy (Zelda Adams) has been secluded to an isolated life with her mother her whole life because of a rare illness. When she rebels and makes a secret friend nearby, hidden secrets emerge about her condition and her family’s dark past.
Directed, written, produced, scored and edited by husband-and-wife duo John Adams and Toby Poser and their daughter Zelda, the movie also stars Lulu Adams, making it a full family affair. It also features music from the family’s punk band H6LLB6ND6R.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
The Turkish Netflix original UFO has absolutely nothing to do with flying saucers, but rather illegal street bike racing and yearning romance. When Deniz (Ipek Filiz Yazici), an aspiring musician and student, begins dating hotshot Ese (Mert Ramazan Demir), their families clash and tragedy strikes as the two star-crossed lovers attempt to pursue a life together.
Big Gold Brick
The dark comedy Big Gold Brick stars Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines) as Samuel Liston, a fledgling writer recovering from a traumatic brain injury caused by Floyd Deveraux (Andy Garcia), an enigmatic and presumably wealthy father of two. Guilt-ridden for his role in Samuel’s accident, Floyd hires the young man to write his biography. The situation becomes progressively more bizarre as Samuel becomes acquainted with Floyd’s second wife Jacqueline (Megan Fox), his kind-hearted daughter Lily (Lucy Hale), and his pyromaniac son Edward (Leonidas Castrounis). Oscar Isaac, who executive produced the film alongside Kristen Wiig, also stars in the film as a mysterious gold eyepatch-wearing, submachine gun-touting eccentric named Anselm.
The story of Kurt Warner’s journey to the NFL is almost mythic within sports circles. After a successful senior season at the University of Northern Iowa, he went four years without getting an NFL job and ended up stocking shelves at a local grocery store. After excelling when given an opportunity in the Arena Football League, Warner was picked up by the St. Louis Rams, eventually leading them to their first Super Bowl title and becoming one of the most successful undrafted players in the history of modern American sports.
American Underdog is the film adaptation of this story, starring Zachary Levi as Warner, Anna Paquin as his wife Brenda, and Dennis Quaid as Rams head coach Dick Vermeil. Directed by Christian filmmaking duo the Erwin brothers, expect this to be a sports biopic with a focus on faith, a topic Warner has spoken about at length.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
If you’re aching for another assassin action thrilling in the vein of 2017’s Atomic Blonde, 2019’s Anna, or Netflix’s 2021 film Kate, then The Protégé, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), should be right up your alley. Starring Maggie Q (Nikita), the film centers on the story of Anna, a young contract killer adopted by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and raised to be his partner and apprentice. When Moody is brutally executed at the behest of devious businessman Michael Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), Anna embarks on a campaign of vengeance to uncover the reason why Moody was targeted, all while fending off Moody’s killer. From our review,
This is a film where Maggie Q balances her way out of a noose. She fires through a refrigerator door and drenches her assailant with milk and bits of food; she flips and kicks and shoots. But all of that happens in the same movie that asks her to keep a straight face while saying, “You point a gun at my pussy, and then you ask me to bed? I like your style.” Some of The Protégé’s missteps can be tolerated because the film gives Maggie Q a lead role with some teeth, but that line asks too much. The Protégé can’t just let Anna kick ass: It has to tack on a try-hard romantic subplot whose primary function seems to be insisting that Anna is a wild sexual being. Is that relevant to the story at hand? Not really. It’s a shame Maggie Q was so busy carrying The Protégé on her back that she couldn’t make time to kick the film’s embarrassing script into shape, too.
The Burning Sea
The disaster epic The Burning Sea follows a team of Norwegian researchers, among them submarine operator Sofia (Kristine Kujath Thorp), who rush to rescue the lives of the operators of an oil rig that has collapsed due to a crack in the ocean floor. What they discover in lieu of survivors are the makings of a nigh-apocalyptic event of mass destruction. The massive amounts of oil leaking from the collapsed rig erupt into a firestorm that threatens to engulf anyone left in its path.
The Desperate Hour
Naomi Watts stars in The Desperate Hour as Amy Carr, a recently widowed mother whose life is thrown into a tailspin in the wake of a mass shooting at her son’s school while jogging through the woods. Miles away from town, Amy desperately races home to intervene on her son’s behalf and rescue him.
Stephanie Laing’s (Veep, Made For Love) Family Squares is a “screenlife” drama that imagines a scenario even more terrifying than being haunted by a ghost (2014’s Unfriended), losing your daughter (2018’s Searching), or being cyberstalked by a terrorist organization (2018’s Profile): being stuck on a video call with your extended family for a wake. When Grandma Mabel, the beloved matriarch of the dysfunctional Worth family, passes away, the estranged relatives are brought together via a teleconferencing program for the reading of her last will and testament. Mayhem ensues as long-suppressed secrets are revealed, forcing the family to confront one another and resolve their issues.
Let Me Be Me
The coming of age documentary Let Me Be Me follows the story of Kyle Westphal, a man with autism whose childhood fascination for fabric and textures is nurtured through an experimental treatment program, motivating him to become a professional fashion designer. Westphal’s family look back on the two decades of his development in the program, offering a glimpse not only into their lives but the growing understanding of autism spectrum disorder in the United States.
Drew Waters (True Detective) stars in the 2022 western Desperate Riders as Kansas Red, a lone gunslinger who rescues a young boy named Billy (Sam Ashby) from a card game shootout. When asked to rescue the boy’s family from a nefarious outlaw known as Thorn (Trace Adkins), Red agrees — eventually running into Leslie (Vanessa Lee Evigan), a beautiful tough-as-nails woman who escapes from Thorn’s men. As Red and co. prepare to face down Thorn, Leslie’s own personal past with the outlaw comes to light and complicates the situation.
In a delightful mash-up of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Matt Groening’s Futurama, Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley’s sci-fi romcom Strawberry Mansion is set in a dystopian future where dreams can be taxed and infested by advertisements. Audley stars as James Preble, a government “dream auditor” who travels to the home of an aging artist (Penny Fuller) and inadvertently finds himself falling in love with her as he combs through her subconscious stored on an enormous collection of videotapes. The trailer looks cool and absolutely bonkers; if you happen to like Gondry’s aforementioned masterpiece or sci-fi that skews the line between earnest and cerebral, this one is certainly worth a watch.
Inspired by Japanese anime, DC’s latest animated feature Catwoman: Hunted stars vigilante cat burglar Selina Kyle as she embarks on yet another star-studded heist. When her attempt to pilfer a priceless jewel lands her in the crosshairs of a clandestine group of villains led by Black Mask and Interpol, she’ll have to turn to the aid of Batwoman in order to save her own skin and once again come out on top. Written by Greg Weisman (Gargoyles) and directed by Shinsuke Terasawa (XXXHolic), Catwoman: Hunted looks like the closest DC has ever come to producing their own superheroine-themed take on Sayo Yamamoto’s Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.