July 2022’s Best Streaming Titles: Hot Fuzz, Mad Max, Big Trouble in Little China, Stranger Things, John Wick
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. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.
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Amazon Prime Video
Hot Fuzz (Jul 1)
Nicholas Angel is London’s best cop. He’s so good, in fact, that he makes all of the other cops look bad. Which is why he gets transferred to the sleepy town of Sandford, where the crime rate is zero and nothing bad ever happens. But when locals start disappearing, Angel’s convinced something’s going on. Has Sandford gotten to him, or has he cracked the biggest case of his career? Inspired by classic buddy cop films like Lethal Weapon, Hot Fuzz is action comedy of the highest sort (read my review).
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Jul 1)
After watching this charming and elegant documentary, you’ll never look at your job the same way again. You’ll certainly never look at sushi the same way again. Jiro Ono is the world’s most celebrated sushi chef, and his constant drive to hone and perfect his craft is inspiring, just as his joy in producing sushi is infectious. And yet, the documentary doesn’t shy away from the personal cost of such devotion. Read my review over at Christ and Pop Culture.
Kiltro (Jul 1)
When you think of martial arts cinema, chances are that Hong Kong and China are the first countries that come to mind. But Kiltro comes to us from Chile. Marko Zaror, who has previously worked as The Rock’s stun double, stars as a young thug in love with a local girl who’s the daughter of a local martial arts master. Soon, our hero is drawn into conflict with a mysterious sect of martial artists and must master a deadly skill to take on a new foe that threatens everyone.
Pieces of April (Jul 1)
In this Peter Hedges dramedy, a rebellious young woman (Katie Holmes) decides to host her conservative, uptight family for Thanksgiving dinner. While she struggles to make the meal, her family encounters plenty of issues of their own as they travel to her Manhattan apartment. Pieces of April is heartwarming in the best sense of the word; it gives us characters who are deeply flawed and yet also deeply sympathetic. As such, it’s hard to not get caught up in this messed up family’s plight, and want the best for them.
The Terminal List, Season One (Jul 1)
I hated The Terminal List when I (tried to) read it back in 2019; I described it as “revenge porn for the far right crowd” in my review. And yet, Amazon Prime’s adaptation is on this list, and for one reason: Chris Pratt. I know some like to dog on Pratt, but I find him eminently watchable, and director Antoine Fuqua knows how to make stylish films. That being said, I have very low expectations, and I’ll have no problem turning it off should it feature the novel’s lazy caricatures and sadistic violence. But hopefully, this will be everything that Without Remorse could’ve been.
Paper Girls, Season One (Jul 29)
It’s Halloween 1988, and four paper girls just want to finish their early morning delivery routes and get home. But when they find a mysterious time machine that allows them to visit their older selves, they become the target for a group of militant time-travelers that want to control the technology. Based on the award-winning comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls is definitely tapping into the same vibe as Stranger Things, but with a time travel twist.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in July 2022.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Jul 1)
The Universal Soldier films, in which dead soldiers are brought back from the grave for dangerous missions, are far from high art. But Day of Reckoning stands out thanks to its surreal and even nightmarish atmosphere. Scott Adkins stars as a former soldier driven to avenge his family’s murder, only to be drawn into a bigger and stranger conspiracy. The film also stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, who reprised their roles from earlier Universal Soldier films.
The World’s End (Jul 1)
In this epic conclusion to Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, a group of former high school pals reconnect for one last bar crawl. But what begins as a night of getting drunk and airing old grievances becomes something else entirely when the alien invasion starts happening. As with all of Wright’s work, The World’s End is packed with pop culture references, a killer soundtrack, stylish filmmaking, and a solid cast that includes Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Rosamund Pike.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Jul 9)
George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolute juggernaut of a film, from its mind-blowing visuals of an apocalyptic wasteland to some of the most insane and over-the-top action sequences in recent history. Indeed, you’ll often find yourself wondering how no one died during the making of this film. Even more surprising, though, are the quiet and even hauntingly beautiful moments that Miller intersperses amongst the action and chaos.
Godzilla (Jul 16)
I wasn’t terribly impressed by the 2014 Godzilla film, directed by Gareth Edwards. If only because it seemed to squander a really talented cast. But I’ve changed my assessment in recent years. Edwards definitely plays up the awe factor, making Godzilla and his monster foes as, well, monstrous as possible. But also as mysterious as possible. The film contains some truly indelible images of the Big G in action.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in July 2022.
Big Trouble in Little China (Jul 1)
Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a cocky, loud-mouthed trucker who finds himself in way over his head (though he won’t admit it) when he’s caught up in a war between rival Chinatown gangs, a war that soon becomes supernatural. One of John Carpenter’s best films, Big Trouble in Little China is a rowdy, hilarious ode to classic kung fu films. As Burton, Russell delivers one of his most iconic performances, with James Hong and Victor Wong stealing the show as rival Chinese sorcerors.
Independence Day (Jul 1)
When it comes to over-the-top, special effects-filled, big screen spectacle, it doesn’t get much better than Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day. Yes, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum taking on an alien invasion may require you to suspend your disbelief higher and longer than you’d like to, especially if you’re concerned about, say, the science of the movie’s events. But if you do, you’re in for a whole lot of explosion-filled, world-saving, alien-busting fun.
Kung Fu Hustle (Jul 1)
Sing (Stephen Chow) has one dream in life: to become a member of the feared Axe Gang. But when he encounters a group of reclusive and unlikely martial artists, he’s slowly begins to realize that he could be something more. But not without plenty of hijinks — this is a Stephen Chow movie, after all. Coming on the heels of Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle went even further into CGI-fuelled leaps of martial arts slapstick. While Shaolin Soccer is the better film overall, Kung Fu Hustle still has plenty of hilarious delights all its own.
The Replacement Killers (Jul 1)
As Chow Yun-Fat’s international debut, The Replacement Killers sought to capture the action and energy of his classic Hong Kong films (e.g., Hard Boiled, The Killer). It sort of fails at that, but it’s still an entertaining film, with Chow starring as hitman who suddenly develops a conscience (surprise!) and must go on the run with the help of Mira Sorvino’s forger. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (his first feature film), The Replacement Killers also stars Michael Rooker, Jürgen Prochnow, and Danny Trejo.
Sexy Beast (Jul 1)
Gary “Gal” Dove used to be skilled thief, but now he just wants to relax in his retirement and spend time with his beloved wife. That all changes when Don Logan arrives and badgers Dove into working one last job. Though Sexy Beast was Jonathan Glazer’s first feature film, you’d never know it from his confident direction and sense of style. It also doesn’t hurt that Ben Kingsley turns in a towering performance as the sociopathic Logan.
Centurion (Jul 15)
Inspired by the historical disappearance of Rome’s Ninth Legion, Centurion follows a group of Roman soldiers who must survive in the British wilderness while being pursued by enemy forces. Though it was a box office failure, Centurion is a decent historical action film starring Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Riz Ahmed, and Imogen Poots.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in July 2022.
Goodfellas (Jul 1)
Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic is based on the true story of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta), a mob associate who eventually became an FBI informant. The film follows Hill’s introduction to the mob life, and his rise and fall in the gang through the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. The film was nominated for multiple Oscars, eventually winning “Best Supporting Actor” for Joe Pesci’s performance as the unhinged Tommy DeVito.
Stranger Things, Season Four (Volume Two) (Jul 1)
Confession time: I haven’t watched the first volume of Stranger Things’ fourth season, mainly because I want to sit down and binge through the entire thing, and I’ve been doing my best to avoid any spoilers. Although I’ve gathered that Kate Bush has experienced something of a career renaissance due to series’ usage of “Running Up That Hill” — which makes me very happy.
Vinland Saga, Season One (Jul 7)
Adapted from Makoto Yukimura’s acclaimed historical manga, Vinland Saga follows a young Viking prince named Thorfinn who has sworn vengeance on the man who killed his father. But even as he longs to avenge his father’s death, Thorfinn wants to become an explorer and search for the mythical place known as Vinland. Vinland Saga’s first season originally aired back in 2019; a second season will begin airing in Japan next January.
The Sea Beast (Jul 8)
The Sea Beast is Netflix’s latest attempt at a tentpole animated title. Directed by Chris Williams (Moana, Big Hero 6) and featuring the voices of Karl Urban, Jared Harris, and Dan Stevens, The Sea Beast follows the adventures of a famous monster hunter who finds himself saddled with a young stowaway as they venture into uncharted waters in search of the biggest beasties of them all.
Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, Season One (Jul 14)
Jack Black is back as Po the Panda in the first season of The Dragon Knight, a new animated series from Netflix. When a pair of weasels conspire to steal four powerful weapons that could destroy the world, Po must team up with a knight from England (voiced by Rita Ora) to track them down. Expect plenty of martial arts hijinks and maybe even a valuable life lesson or two.
The Gray Man (Jul 22)
Starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans as two rival CIA operatives, and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo — who previously directed a couple of small indie films called Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame — The Gray Man is Netflix’s biggest, most expensive film to date. The globe-hopping action/espionage film, which also stars Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfre Woodard, looks to give the Mission: Impossible franchise a run for their money.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in July 2022.
Batman (Jul 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. (Batman Returns also starts streaming on September 1.)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jul 1)
Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, it’s no surprise that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a trippy, mind-blowing film. What may be surprising is how emotional and heartfelt it becomes, as a couple — played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet — undergoes a medical procedure to erase themselves from each other’s memories when their relationship lands on the rocks. With its endearing leads, clever storyline, and imaginative visuals, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a feast for the eyes and the heart (read my review).
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Jul 1)
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, the third Harry Potter film is widely considered the best of the series thanks to Cuarón’s skilled, stylistic filmmaking. Harry and his friends must not only survive their third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they must also contend with an escapee from the titular prison, a dangerous criminal with a strange connection to the young wizard.
The John Wick Trilogy (Jul 1)
The premise seems really corny: a hitman comes out of retirement after a group of thugs kill the dog that his wife left him before she died. But the John Wick movies take that premise and spin it into some of the best action filmmaking of the last decade. Keanu Reeves stars as the titular hitman, whose unearthly skills allow him to dispatch wave after wave of assassins, goons, and tough guys, with plenty of style to spare.
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star opposite each other in this thriller about a hitman who squares off against his future self as they both search for a powerful psychic who could alter the future. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Looper injects some clever new twists into the tried and true time travel formula. Johnson previously worked with Gordon-Levitt in 2005’s Brick.
Here’s everything arriving on Peacock in July 2022.