April 2019’s Best Streaming Titles: Ultraman, The Fifth Element, Dragonslayer, The Jerk, The Shawshank Redemption

Coming soon: 3DCG anime, Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic, dragons, Steve Martin, Stephen King, and more.
The Fifth Element - Luc Besson

As Netflix et al. add more content, it’s difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So at the start of every month, I publish a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Ultraman (April 1)

The latest incarnation — and there have been many — of the popular Japanese superhero comes to Netflix. This time, though, it’s Ultraman’s son who dons the super suit and defends Earth against alien foes. Based on Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi’s manga, Netflix’s Ultraman is a 3DCG adaptation by Production I.G and Sola Digital Arts, and directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Shinji Aramaki (Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Appleseed).

All the President’s Men (April 1)

All the President’s Men stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post journalists whose coverage of the Watergate scandal was instrumental in bringing down Richard Nixon’s presidency. Critically acclaimed upon its release in 1976, the political thriller based on true events has since appeared on numerous “best of” lists and was even added to the United States National Film Registry in 2010.

Snatch (April 1)

Following the smash success of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, writer/director Guy Ritchie’s sophomore film found him returning with a similarly convoluted criminal comedy with an ensemble cast that emphasizes style way over substance. Snatch begins with a diamond heist that eventually turns into a comedy of errors, but through twists and turns, involves ex-KGB agents, bare-knuckle boxing matches, and Brad Pitt sporting a very distinctive Irish accent.

The Fifth Element (April 1)

There are certain movies that, if I ever come across them playing on the TV, I will stop everything I’m doing and watch them. Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is one such movie, with its sci-fi tale about a great evil that can only be stopped by a young woman. Packed to the gills with stunning visuals and set design, as well as an intriguing mythology all its own and a manic sense of energy, The Fifth Element is a blast to watch.

Burning (April 29)

All of my film critic friends have been raving about Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, which racked up prizes at numerous festivals, including Cannes and Toronto. It’s also the first Korean film to make the shortlist for the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar (though it wasn’t ultimately nominated). Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami — which instantly piqued my curiosity — Burning follows the relationship and conflict that evolves between a struggling writer, a rich man, and the woman that they both seem to love.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in April 2019.


The Addams Family (April 1)

This seemed like the most unlikely adaptation, but it’s actually quite a delightful little cult comedy, due in large part to the film’s casting. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston are perfect as Gomez and Morticia Addams, but it’s Christina Ricci’s deadpan portrayal of Wednesday Addams that steals the show. Behind the scenes, the film was quite a difficult production, hampered by illness, technical issues, and studio gaffes. But you’d never notice that from the film’s manic energy.

Dragonslayer (April 1)

Who’s the greatest cinematic dragon of all time? There can, of course, be only one answer: Dragonslayer’s Vermithrax Pejorative. As a Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions co-production, Dragonslayer caused some controversy for being much darker and more violent than typical Disney fare. But the film received high praise upon release, and has since become a cult classic. Both Guillermo del Toro and George R.R. Martin are big fans, with del Toro even calling Vermithrax “one of the most perfect creature designs ever made.”

The Jerk (April 1)

“It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.” Thus begins The Jerk, the first feature film starring role for Steve Martin, and one of his most iconic performances. The film is basically a showpiece for Martin’s absurd form of comedy, as he plays a lovable — and rhythm-less — loser who strikes it rich with a silly invention, and experiences all kinds of pitfalls with his newfound wealth.

The Shining (April 1)

One of the greatest horror films of all time, period. When Jack Torrance takes a job as the winter caretaker for a remote hotel, he looks forward to having lots of time to write his new book. But malevolent forces in the hotel have other plans, and soon, Jack begins sliding into a madness that threatens the lives of his wife and son. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the 1977 Stephen King novel contains some of the creepiest and most indelible images in all of film history.

A Quiet Place (April 2)

A Quiet Place was one of 2018’s biggest hits, horror or otherwise, as it followed a single family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by monsters who hunt by sound. Which means that their survival requires absolute silence. A Quiet Place wasn’t just a box office success, but also received numerous accolades for its tense atmosphere and solid performances, interesting premise, and as an allegory for parenthood.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in April 2019.

Amazon Prime

Blade II (April 1)

For his entry into the Blade series of superhero movies, Guillermo del Toro upped the body horror and brought in Donnie Yen for some martial arts expertise, and the result is the best one in the series. Wesley Snipes’ human/vampire warrior finds himself allied with his blood-sucking foes when a new threat emerges that threatens both the human and vampire worlds. The film also stars Kris Kristofferson, Leonor Varela, a young Norman Reedus, and del Toro regular Ron Perlman.

The Shawshank Redemption (April 1)

A box office failure during its theatrical run back in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption subsequently enjoyed massive success in both the home video market and on cable TV. Written and directed by Frank Darabont, the film is arguably the best Stephen King adaptation — it’s based on his Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption novella — and stars Tim Robbins as an unjustly imprisoned man who uses his wits and skills to survive and even thrive in a brutal prison.

The Tick, Season 2 (April 5)

Based on Ben Edlund’s cult classic comic book series, The Tick stars Peter Serafinowicz as the titular hero, a super-strong but not-so-bright individual who is determined to be his city’s greatest superhero. Helping him in that plan is his sidekick Arthur, a former accountant who dons a moth-inspired super-suit. As you can probably tell, the series is comedy, and its cheeky treatment of superheroics has been highly praised.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in April 2019. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.