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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Proof that sci-fi movies don’t need big budgets to tackle big issues in a thoughtful manner, Europa Report is a low-budget flick about humanity’s potential first contact. Shot with a “found footage” approach that gives the film a documentary-esque feel, and using data from NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to ensure scientific accuracy, Europa Report is a nice change of pace from effects-filled Hollywood blockbusters.
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.
Peter Gibbons seems to have it made with his cushy job. But the office environment is stifling and his overbearing boss, Bill Lumbergh, drives him nuts. After a hypnosis session goes wrong, Peter finds himself seeing life in a new way — which includes openly rebelling against his office drone lifestyle. Though a box office failure, the film has achieved a cult status over the years. Anyone who has ever sat through a boring meeting, had to come in on the weekends, or dealt with malfunctioning office equipment can relate to Office Space’s humorous absurdities.
The iconic comedy troupe — who created such legendary sketches as “Chicken Lady,” “The Daves I Know,” and “Head Crusher” — returns from the grave (sort of) for a new season of chaos. Now, here’s hoping that MTV’s The State experiences a similar revival, too.
Sissy Spacek and J. K. Simmons star in this sci-fi drama about an older couple who have a portal to a deserted planet in their backyard. The pair are living out their golden years with visits to the alien world, but the arrival of a mysterious stranger threatens to change all of that.
Here’s everything arriving on Amazon Prime Video in May 2022.
In this adaptation of Sarah Perry’s acclaimed novel, a woman in Victorian England moves to the remote village of Essex and becomes fascinated by rumors of a mythical sea serpent. But when tragic events begin occurring, the villagers blame her for bringing the monster into their midst. Further complicating things, she and the town’s married vicar are falling for each other. The Essex Serpent stars Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston.
In this follow-up movie to the animated series from the late ’80s and early ’90s — which I definitely watched alongside DuckTales — the chipmunk pair have gone their separate ways after their TV series was canceled. But when one of their cast mates goes missing, Chip and Dale must put aside their differences. This looks absolutely bonkers and could go either way — and I’m here for it. Especially considering the incredible voice cast, which includes John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Keegan-Michael Key, J.K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, and Will Arnett.
Set after the events of the Star Wars prequels, Obi-Wan Kenobi finds the titular Jedi living a hermit’s life on Tatooine, where he keeps watch over the young Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, the Empire has launched a galaxy-wide manhunt for any remaining Jedi led by the malevolent Grand Inquisitor. Ewan McGregor reprises his role as the famous Jedi, and he’s joined by Rupert Friend, Joel Edgerton, Kumail Nanjiani, and Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader.
Here’s everything arriving on Disney+ in May 2022.
Bottle Rocket may have been Wes Anderson’s first feature film, but even then, his aesthetic was well in-place: quirky characters, offbeat storylines, and a dry sense of humor. Bottle Rocket follows Dignan (Luke Wilson), who dreams of being a criminal mastermind. But after he assembles his hapless gang, things quickly go off the rails. Bottle Rocket also stars Luke Wilson and James Caan.
Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong, and Tony Leung star in this film about of a pair of loosely connected love stories. The first follows the unlikely connection between a heartbroken cop and a drug smuggler. The second follows a young waitress who becomes infatuated with a cop who visits her snack bar. Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai, Chungking Express is whimsical, melancholy, stylish — and utterly delightful (read my review).
Originally intended to be part of Chungking Express, and a spiritual sequel of sorts, Wong Kar-wai’s Fallen Angels tells another pair of stories about love, loss, and the bizarre connections between people. As the title might suggest, Fallen Angels is darker and more melancholy than Chungking Express, but it’s still full of style and memorable moments, especially the final scene.
Based on the ’60s-era TV show of the same name, The Fugitive follows a man (Harrison Ford) who is wrongly accused of killing his wife, and goes on the run to prove his innocence. The film was a critical and commercial success, thanks to strong performances by Ford and Tommy Lee Jones as the U.S. Marshal trying to bring him in, some impressive action sequences, and a suspenseful plot. Trivia: The Fugitive was the first American film screened in China in decades.
Produced by the same mad geniuses responsible for Airplane!, Top Secret! stars Val Kilmer as Nick Rivers, an Elvis-like rock star who travels to East Germany and must stop the Communists from unleashing a horrible new weapon. Like Airplane!, Top Secret! lampoons numerous movies, particularly classic Elvis Presley musicals and war movies, and it’s chock full with classic sight gags — including the greatest Ford Pinto-related joke in the history of cinema.
Here’s everything arriving on HBO Max in May 2022.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in this sci-fi thriller about an ambitious politician who, upon randomly meeting a woman and falling in love with her, discovers a mysterious group that supposedly runs the world. But when he tries to rebel against their supposed plan for his life, he sets in motion events that quickly spiral out of control. As you might guess, The Adjustment Bureau is a high-minded film, delving into concepts like predestination, free will, and God’s omnipotence.
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost celebrate the action movie genre with this tale of a big city cop who’s sent to the quietest and safest town in all of England. But when people start dying in strange and gruesome ways, he thinks he’s stumbled across a criminal conspiracy. Or is his quaint new home just driving him mad? Hot Fuzz takes every single action movie cliché and ramps them up to eleven, with the result being a brilliant homage/parody that’s a pretty great action movie in its own right (read my review).
Tony Jaa became a martial arts film sensation over night thanks to this delirious gem of a movie. Jaa plays Ting, a villager who travels to the big city of Bangkok to retrieve a stolen Buddha statue. The statue was stolen by a gang of vicious thieves, so it’s a good thing that Ting is skilled in Muay Thai kickboxing. Filled with stunts and fight scenes that’ll leave your jaw on the ground, Ong Bak is one of the great martial arts films of last 20 years (read my review).
Ryan Reynolds stars as the infamous “Merc with a Mouth” in this madcap Marvel movie (which, to be clear, is not part of the MCU). Wade Wilson is a mercenary who’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After undergoing medical procedures that leave him horribly scarred but awaken latent superpowers, he decides to track down those responsible — and cue the nonstop violence and obscenity-filled jokes. (There’s a reason Deadpool is rated “R.”) The movie was a passion project for Reynolds, who spent years trying to get it made, and it paid off: Deadpool was a runaway critical and commercial success.
Here’s everything arriving on Hulu in May 2022.
One of the all-time great romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally follows its titular couple over the course of several years as they grow up, get careers, fall in and out of love, and make terrible mistakes. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan give classic performances as the two leads, a pair of unlikely friends in a “will they or won’t they” relationship. The film also stars Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby, and was written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner.
Omar Sy became an international star thanks to Netflix’s Lupin (which has been renewed for a third season). He returns in The Takedown, an action comedy directed by Lupin’s Louis Leterrier. Two cops — one unorthodox (Sy) and the other by-the-books (Laurent Lafitte) — must join forces when their investigation uncovers a dangerous criminal conspiracy. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before (Lethal Weapon, anyone?), but between Sy’s charisma and Leterrier’s style, I have no doubt that The Takedown will be thoroughly entertaining.
Netflix’s animated anthology returns for a third season of adults only chaos. Hopefully, this season will fall somewhere between the first season (which got pretty gratuitous at times) and the second season (which was fairly underwhelming). Among the third volume’s episodes will be a sequel to “Three Robots,” one of season one’s highlights.
Let me make one thing clear: I hated the first season of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (read my review). It was an absolute and utter train wreck in virtually every possible way. So why am I including it here? Because it’s Ghost in the Shell, and I’m a nerd, and I’m going to check it out in the (vain, probably) hope that Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki — two very talented directors — will do right by Kusanagi, Batou, and the rest of the Public Security Section 9 gang.
Has it really been three years since the third season of Stranger Things? The fourth season finds the gang split up across the nation, with Eleven and her adopted family adapting to life in California and looking forward to spring break and visiting the Mike and the rest of the Hawkins gang. Surely nothing untoward involving psychic powers, shadowy government agents, and extra-dimensional horrors will happen, right? Stranger Things’ fourth season will actually be split into two parts, with “Volume Two” arriving on July 1.
Here’s everything arriving on Netflix in May 2022.
Anson Mount stars as Christopher Pike, the original captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, in this series set a decade before the original Star Trek. (Mount’s Pike previously appeared in Star Trek: Discovery, to positive fan response.) It seems pretty obvious that Strange New Worlds is going to focus heavily on the exploration aspect of Star Trek, as Pike and his crew “chart the stars.”