August 2020’s Best Streaming Titles: Jurassic Park, Cobra Kai, Star Trek, 007, Inception, Batman

Dinosaur spectacle, crane kicks, Khaaaaaaaan, cinema’s greatest spy, dream hackers, the Caped Crusader, and more.
Inception - Christopher Nolan
Joseph Gordon-Levitt bends the mind in Christopher Nolan’s Inception

As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the newly added titles. So I’ve compiled a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies, TV shows, etc. to add to your streaming queues in the new month.


Netflix

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (August 1)

When a man discovers that his ex-girlfriend paid a company to erase her memories of their relationship, he sets out to do the same, sending him on a mind-bending journey through his own memories. What follows is an utterly unique film filled with ingenious visuals and a trippy storyline — as one might expect from a movie made by Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, and starring Jim Carrey — that’s filled with unexpected poignancy as it explores themes of memory, love, grace, and forgiveness. (Read my review.)

Jurassic Park (August 1)

Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel arrives on Netflix (along with its two sequels). Scientists figure out a way to clone extinct dinosaurs, and the first thing they do? Why, create an amusement park on a remote island, of course. What can go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, and it’s up to some paleontologists and Jeff Goldblum’s chaos mathematician to find a way to survive when life, uh, finds a way. Jurassic Park is a summer blockbuster in the best way possible.

The NeverEnding Story (August 1)

Young Bastion is obsessed with books, which provide him with an escape from his lonely, bullied existence. When he begins reading a mysterious book titled The Neverending Story, he discovers the magical land of Fantasia, which is slowly being devoured by the malevolent ​“Nothing.” But this story might be more real than he can possibly imagine. Though disavowed by the original author, The NeverEnding Story was a critical and commercial success in 1984, and is still a beloved classic.

Project Power (August 14)

In this Netflix original, an illegal drug exists that gives you superpowers, but only for five minutes and at the risk of your life. Jamie Foxx plays a former soldier trying to track down the drug’s creators who have his daughter. Joining him is a cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a young drug dealer (Dominique Fishback) — but the three may have to take the drug themselves to complete the mission. Project Power looks like another late night guilty pleasure in the vein of Bright and Extraction.

Cobra Kai, Seasons 1 – 2 (August 28)

30 years after the events of the first Karate Kid movie, Daniel LaRusso squares off against his old foe Johnny Lawrence, who has re-opened the infamous Cobra Kai dojo and become sensei to a bunch of bullied, down-and-out kids. Originally produced for YouTube, Cobra Kai has now moved over to Netflix, who will be releasing the third season later this summer.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in August 2020.


Hulu

City Slickers (August 1)

When a couple of urban fellas — Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby — sign up to participate in two-week cattle drive, they see it as a way to escape the doldrums of their everyday lives fraught with midlife crises and loveless marriages. But they soon find they might’ve bitten off more than they can chew, especially when they meet the trail boss, a surprisingly wise old curmudgeon played with charm to spare by Jack Palance (who won a ​“Best Supporting Actor” Oscar for his performance).

The Last Stand (August 1)

Kim Ji-woon is one of South Korea’s most acclaimed directors, thanks to stylish films like A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, the Bad, the Weird. So what does he do for his Hollywood debut? Direct an action thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a worn out small-town sheriff who must defend his town from a drug lord trying to escape to Mexico. Obviously.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (August 1)

Following the ambitious-though-flawed Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan is a lean, sleek space adventure movie. Kirk and the Enterprise find themselves locked in a battle of wits (and phasers) with the one and only Khan Noonien Singh (played with malevolent charm by the great Ricardo Montalban), who is intent on acquiring a top secret Federation technology. Arguably the best Star Trek movie of all time.

Top Gun (August 1)

I feel the need… the need for speed! There was time, around 6th grade, when Top Gun was the greatest movie of all time, and I wanted nothing more than to be Pete ​“Maverick” Mitchell and fly my own F-14 Tomcat. Directed with visual panache to spare by the late Tony Scott, filled with amazing scenes of aerial combat and maneuvers, and accompanied by a killer soundtrack featuring Kenny Loggins, Cheap Trick, and Berlin, Top Gun is flashy Hollywood entertainment at its finest.

Casino Royale (August 31)

In this, his first outing as legendary spy James Bond, Daniel Craig certainly made an impression. Working as a sort of franchise reboot, Casino Royale is set at the beginning of 007’s career, as he investigates a terrorist financier named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen, great as always) and discovers the existence of a sinister organization. Though it features the same gadgetry, jaw-dropping set pieces, and femme fatales of previous Bond films, Casino Royale also embraced a grittier, more realistic aesthetic à la the Jason Bourne films. (Read my review.)

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in August 2020.


Amazon Prime

Inception (August 1)

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is about as trippy as big budget Hollywood spectacles get, featuring a group of dream hackers who hire a new recruit to infiltrate the subconscious of an executive. Filled with mind-blowing visuals and some incredibly clever action set pieces — and a hotly debated ending — Inception is proof that Hollywood action movies can be plenty cerebral.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in August 2020. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.


Disney+

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Adventure Awaits (August 7)

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge” is the name of a massive Star Wars-inspired theme park located at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This two-hour documentary offers viewers a ​“behind the scenes” look at the theme park’s planning, construction, and spectacle. Given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this documentary — hosted by Neil Patrick Harris — will probably be the safest way to experience ​“Galaxy’s Edge” for the foreseeable future.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (August 14)

Scott Lang has been living under house arrest following the events of Captain America: Civil War. But when he receives a strange message from the Quantum Realm, he must become Ant-Man again. Lang quickly finds himself facing a powerful new foe even as he tries to stay one step ahead of the federal agents on his case. Thankfully, he’s got a partner this time.

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (August 28)

When your sister’s kidnapped by aliens, what do you do? Well, if you’re the enterprising duo of Phineas and Ferb — along with their pet platypus, Perry — you probably whip up some really clever inventions, gather your friends together, and save her. Oh, and throw in a couple of really delightful musical numbers for good measure. In addition to the acclaimed series’ regular voice cast, Phineas and Ferb the Movie will also feature the dulcet tones of Ali Wong, Wayne Brady, Thomas Middleditch, and Diedrich Bader.

Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in August 2020.


HBO Max

All the President’s Men (August 1)

It seems rather apropos to be streaming one of the great ​“speaking truth to power” movies of all time. Based on Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s book, and starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the famous journalists, it follows their investigation into the Watergate scandal and its connections to President Nixon. Considered one of the most inspiring movies of all time, All the President’s Men was added to the National Film Registry in 2010.

Batman (August 1)

Though Christopher Nolan’s ​“Dark Knight” trilogy could be considered the gold standard of live action Batman adaptations, Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader is not without its merits. It’s gaudy, gothic, and hyper-stylized, boasts some scenery chewing of the finest sort courtesy of Jack Nicholson’s Joker, and has a funky Prince soundtrack.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (August 1)

What else can I say about Blade Runner that hasn’t already been said? Without a doubt one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, its sense of atmosphere and gritty vision of the future has influenced countless films since its release in 1982. The ​“Final Cut” was released in 2007 with additional footage (including a complete version of the unicorn dream scene), and is considered by Ridley Scott to be the definitive version of the film.

The Promised Neverland, Season 1 (August 4)

The lives of the orphans at Grace Field House are idyllic and carefree. Until, that is, some of them unwittingly discover the hideous truth: they’re actually being raised as food for the demonic monsters that rule the world outside their familiar walls. And so begins a battle of wits as the orphans try to plan their escape while staying one step ahead of their now-ominous caretakers. The Promised Neverland is one of my favorite animé series of the last few years. (Read my review.)

Lovecraft Country, Series Première (August 16)

Based on Matt Ruff’s critically acclaimed novel, Lovecraft Country follows a black man traveling through the Jim Crow-era South in search of his missing father. If dealing with constant racism and discrimination wasn’t bad enough already, he and his cohorts are forced to confront otherworldly horrors, too. Horrors that might be linked, somehow, to his own family.

Here’s everything arriving on and leaving HBO Max in August 2020.