Sorry for this week’s delay!
Spring is fast approaching, and with it, movies. Even in a pandemic, March is historically when better movies start hitting theaters and VoD. This year blockbuster season will start even earlier with folks hungering for content, likely around the end of this month into April. Until then, there’s a bevy of new films out. Take your pick.
New and noteworthy…
A gorgeous entry from Disney Animation Studios, tells a fairly rote story of a young princess on a mission to save the world, but set in a mythical stand-in for Southeast Asia. Setting it apart is witty writing that’ll entice young and old alike and great voice acting from Kelly Marie Tran, Akwafina, and Benedict Wong (to name a few). The price tag might scare some folks away, but it’ll wash out the sour taste left by Mulan. Trailer. 108 mins. Buy it on Disney+ Premium ($30)
If you need a shot of zany comedy, Barb and Star has you covered. Featuring the chatty duo (played by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) on vacation, the film will have you laughing and wondering what the writers were smoking. It also features a hammy Jamie Dornan (maybe his best performance?), a ton of famous cameos, and a couple musical numbers. It’s a strong contender for most fun film of the year. Trailer. 106 mins. Rent onVoD at Amazon or YouTube ($19.99)
Supposedly the most streamed debut for an Amazon Prime film, Coming 2 America is more retread than sequel. It certainly doesn’t do anything new (they barely “Come 2 America,” but there’s enough nostalgia here to make it worth your while. The Ruth E. Carter costumes are top notch, as usual, and the soundtrack is fire. It’s not the original, but there’s worse ways to spend an evening. Trailer. 109 mins. Stream on Amazon Prime.
A little action…
This little seen 2016 flick was an early foray for Netflix int original action. A sci-fi-esque plotline about the undead being weaponized isn’t exactly original, but some of the action set pieces and better-than-usual cast of Emily Mortimer and James Badge Dale give it some heft. Looking for an action-y flick that you don’t have to turn your brain on for and isn’t overly gory, this is for you. Trailer. 107 mins. Stream on Netflix.
The plot makes it sound bad: an ex-Delta soldier has Groundhog Day-syndrome where he dies over and over as he tries to unravel the mystery of his space-time loop (and who murdered Naomi Watts). But clever writing, a charismatic Frank Grillo, famous cameos, and creative set pieces allow for a quick action experience that delights more than it bores. Trailer. 94 mins. Find it on Hulu.
The most action-heavy of director Hayao Miyazaki’s films, Princess Mononoke is if you turned Fern Gully in a dark, violent tale. The first of his films to be widely distributed in the US, the 1997 classic is an epic about man vs. nature: Forest gods, the indomitable spirit of industry, curses, destruction, rebirth, and living a pure life. A must see for any animation fan. And if you watch the dub, you get the pleasure of hearing a truly wild Billy Bob Thornton performance). Trailer. 133 mins. Stream on HBO Max.
Taking source material from Bong Joon Ho’s English language debut (and cult classic) of the same name, the series expands in a way that both serves the world building and entertainment factor. Stuck on a train at the end of the world, Daveed Diggs plays the de facto leader of the poorest against Jennifer Connolly’s first class concierge pulling the strings. In this classist tale, the secrets will come out, and the blood will pour. Trailer. Season 1 is streaming on HBO Max, and Season 2 is currently airing on TNT.
Shoutout Letterboxd for helping the film community keep track!
For last week’s recommendations, check it out here.