The streaming services are making it feel like summer by continuing to excel in the superhero department with the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows on Disney+ and a subversive new series on Amazon Prime, all while HBO Max continues to ride with Zack Snyder’s Justice League wave of comic book-fan redemption. However, things got very serious in the streaming world this week when a blockbuster fight came to small screens with Godzilla vs. Kong, which is only one reason why HBO Max can’t be beat this weekend. The WarnerMedia streaming service is also launching a darkly absurd comedy series (starring Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, and Billy Magnussen) with a premise that fits right into our cynical little world. And the streamer’s also digging further into the QAnon rabbit hole and taking a dive into the nightmarish pandemic cruise world.
Yet the other streaming services are still putting up a good fight. While HBO Max is this week’s clear winner, Netflix is launching a typically plentiful supply of films and TV shows. Those selections include Idris Elba in a cowboy hat (!), and Hulu has a wonderfully intriguing new documentary plus some FX-on-Hulu next-day selections. Disney+ is keeping things going strong, and Amazon Prime’s continuing to soar to stratospheric heights. Here are the highlights of a great content weekend.
Made For Love (HBO Max series) — HBO Max recently struck dark-comedy gold with The Flight Attendant, and the WarnerMedia streamer is poised to do so again with Cristin Milioti maneuvering around a premise that’s even more dizzying than that of Palm Springs. Cristin stars as Hazel, and Ray Romano plays her father, who’s attempting to help her flee from a god-awful marriage with a guy (Billy Magnussen) who’s implanted a chip in her brain so that he can track her every move and emotion. It’s such a cynical spin on relationships, and it’s terrifying, all of it, to consider, but heck, this show will suck you into its compelling vortex. Did we mention that dad is a widower with a “synthetic partner”? Oh boy.
Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — As you are well aware, we’ve seen a very long year without blockbusters (or almost any movies at all) in theaters, but a mega-blockbuster has arrived in both streaming and theatrical formats. It’s quite literally an actioner of gigantic proportions in a battle (starring Alexander Skarsgard and Rebecca Hall) for all of the ages. Not only does Kong punch Godzilla, but Godzilla punches back. It’s not quite Fast 9 in terms of ripped dudes with one-liners, but damn, it’s one hell of a movie event.
The Last Cruise (HBO film on HBO Max) — You will probably never want to set sail on a cruise ship again after watching this film, which charts the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship that became ground central for the largest initial COVID-19 outbreak outside of China. The ship set sail from Japan on January 20, 2020, and on month later, at least 700 infections popped up, which symbolized a self-quarantined picture of how global normalcy was about to evaporate for at least one year. Hopefully, the new revelations about what transpired will act as a cautionary tale for budding future pandemics.
Q: Into the Storm (HBO Max limited series) — You’ve heard all of those wild QAnon conspiracy theories, and this weekend, this six-part documentary series continues to chronicle the movement’s evolution. Filmmaker Cullen Hoback drives into the rabbit hole to reveal how the mysterious “Q” wields conspiracies as information warfare to manipulate thinking and influence American culture. In the end, this series will touch upon the Internet’s darkest corners and explore how “unfettered free speech” (according to the synopsis) can go to dangerous places.
Concrete Cowboy (Netflix film) — Idris Elba in a cowboy hat should be enough of an attraction here, but assuming that you want to know about the all-important plot, here we go. A troubled teen (Caleb McLaughlin) spends the summer in North Philadelphia, where he’s torn between diving into a life or crime or embracing the urban-cowboy subculture that’s embodied by his estranged dad (Elba). The story’s based upon Ghetto Cowboy, the novel by G.Neri, and the film co-stars Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint, and Clifford “Method Man” Smith.
The Serpent (Netflix series) — This series is inspired by real events with entirely scripted dialogue, all to bring viewers the saga of a serial conman, Charles Sobhraj, and law enforcement’s attempt to nab him. He and his girlfriend, Marie-Andrée Leclerc, became prime suspects in a series of murders of tourists, and they also carried out crime sprees in Asia during the mid 1970s. It’s up to a junior diplomat to help set off a chain of events to eventually help Sobhraj transform into the subject of arrest warrants around the world, which in turn makes him Interpol’s most wanted man.
Worn Stories (Netflix series) — Marie Kondo-land, this ain’t. Closets become ground central for a supply of tales behind the meaning of particular articles of clothing. Whether it’s a pair of boots or a uniform, these cherished items launch funny, tragic, poignant, and celebratory themes, all interpreted through the eyes of cultural figures and talented storytellers.
Prank Encounters: Season 2 (Netflix series) — Gaten Matarazzo of Stranger Things hosts this elaborate hidden-camera prank show that causes two complete strangers to collide while carrying out assignments that transform into supernatural surprises.
Haunted: Latin America (Netflix series) — The chilling reenactments of paranormal house sightings comes to life, south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in this (theoretically) reality-based series.
WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn (Hulu documentary) — Hippie-messianic leader Adam Neumann’s story gets the spotlight, along with the rise and fall of a venture-capitalist bubble-bursting for the ages. Former WeWork members, journalist, and experts come together to tell the tale of how this venture transformed into a unicorn investment while much more was going on behind the scenes.
Mayans M.C.: Season 3 episode (FX on Hulu) — This biker drama’s in a darker third gear with the club all wrestling with various personal and professional demons. This week, the M.C. attempts to solve their heroin problem while EZ’s attempting to figure out who let the club down.
Snowfall: Season 4 episode (FX on Hulu) — The John Singleton-co-created series sees Franklin blindsided while tracking down stolen cash is the name of the game for Teddy and Avi on a voyage to Panama.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+ series) — After WandaVision proved that Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige could still bring their A+ game, even on the small screen, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes are here for the buddy action-comedy that fans have dreamed of. Last week, the show mined the depths of systemic racism with a side of couple’s therapy, and Sharon Carter still hasn’t showed up, but she got a shoutout last week, so hopefully, we’ll see her kicking butt soon. Oh, and it’s Zemo time this week, so that should be plenty confrontational.
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+ series) — Emilio Estevez is back in this new-generation revival of the classic films. Co-starring Lauren Graham and Brady Noon, the Mighty Ducks junior hockey team is now a powerhouse in its division, and it’s brutal in selecting who can make the cut. Estevez is still the Ducks’ original coach, and he’s helping a new team of underdogs after the New Ducks boot a 12-year-old boy named Evan. Rude!
Invincible (Amazon Prime series) — This animated romp drops a new episode and pleases both fans of The Boys and The Walking Dead, and the latter reference has everything to do with the source material by Robert Kirkman. Invincible is an ultraviolent deconstruction of the superhero, and yes, we’ve seen plenty of dismantling already, but this story has heart. Stephen Yeun makes a fantastic leading man here, and the cast (J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Walton Goggins, Jason Mantzoukas, Zazie Beetz, Zachary Quinto, Mark Hamill, and several TWD names) is ridiculously good.
Creepshow: Season 2 (Shudder and AMC+ series) — The spooky anthology show returns with many, many featured players on board, including Ali Larter, C. Thomas Howell, Ted Raimi, Kevin Dillon, Anna Camp, Josh McDermitt, Adam Pally, and Ashley Laurence. Just FYI, the Marilyn Manson episode got axed following Evan Rachel Wood’s allegations against the so-called shock rocker.