Jason Momoa vs. Dave Bautista + John Cena vs. Vacation Friends + more of The Witcher franchise = a great streaming weekend.
The streaming game takes a detour this week with an action-heavy line up that arrives in time to distract the hell out of us amid multiple global crises. This week, Apple TV+ and Hulu tie for first place to give you the most bang for your buck, and both services are really bringing the content crush. On the former, the second season of See sets up Momoa and Bautista in a brotherly rivalry for the ages, and there’s a newish thriller series, a Sundance movie, and more Ted Lasso. And on the latter, John Cena is behaving badly with the service also offering fresh episodes of worthy new TV shows. However, that’s not all that you have to look forward to in your home theater.
Netflix has a handful of great new offerings, including a prequel in The Witcher franchise. Don’t count out HBO Max, AMC+, Amazon Prime, Paramount+ this week, either. Here’s the best of the new streaming selections for this weekend.
Vacation Friends (Hulu film) — If you can’t get enough of John Cena’s entry into mainstream movies, then this will be a raw, raunchy treat for you. The WWE star portrays a party guy who shows up uninvited at a wedding of former “vacation friends,” who happen to be a mild-mannered couple portrayed by Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji. Enjoy the chaos, and let’s all be thankful that romantic-esque, Frat Pack-esque comedies still exist for us to enjoy for a much needed break from reality. This film’s directed by Silicon Valley‘s Clay Tarver, who also co-writes here.
Archer (FXX series on Hulu) — Season 12 begins with an identity crisis after the gang halts a nuclear catastrophe, and the only reward is a stay at a rat-infested hotel. Then a team-building exercise doesn’t go as planned for The Agency.
American Horror Story: Double Feature (FX series on Hulu) — A struggling writer moves to an isolated town to buckle down for winter. Sound familiar? Well, this story takes place in a beach town, not the Overlook Hotel, and there are “residents” in the town that won’t lie low.
Reservation Dogs: (FX on Hulu series) — Taika Waititi’s FX on Hulu followup to What We Do in the Shadows brings us a comedy series that’s co-written by Native American filmmaker Sterlin Harjo. Yes, the lead quartet in this show rocks suits that look strikingly similar to the characters of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, yet they’re four Indigenous teens who want to commit crime and simply can’t pull it off. The show was shot in and near Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and these teens hope to make it all the way to California. The cast and crew come from indigenous communities, from where Harjo and Waititi are aiming their storytelling styles as well.
Nine Perfect Strangers: Nicole Kidman’s one of several A-listers who’ve made themselves at home on the so-called “small screen” in recent years, and after a few Emmys and a Golden Globe for Big Little Lies and a Globe nomination for The Undoing, she’s not done yet. She portrays a wellness guru that might remind you of certain celebrities who shill bizarre products and claim that they’ll change your life with a dash of snake oil. Yes, the Paddington villain is here to shake up your little world again.
See: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — Apple TV+’s See helped launch the tech giant’s streaming service less than two years ago, and the show was so wild and wooly that it worked. Jason Momoa’s back in fur coats and in warrior mode as Baba Voss. This season, he’s antagonized by Dave Bautista, which should add enough drama to keep the (somewhat silly) story alive, in a world where no one can see, but everyone is beautiful to look at from an audience standpoint. One of those sighted miracle-twins needs rescuing, so that propels much of the action early this season, but mostly, it’s all about clashing egos and warring beards. A good time, in other words.
Truth Be Told: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — Octavia Spencer and Kate Hudson star in this show about a true-crime podcaster who achieves notoriety, although everything comes back to bite her in the butt after someone that she helped to convict was, well, wrongfully convicted. In this season, Spencer’s podcaster (Poppy) launches a new case that’s deeply personal, given that it involves Hudson’s media mogul (Micah), and soon enough, their friendship may be on the line, along with their reputations.
CODA (Apple TV+ movie) — This Sundance-awarded film (of four awards, including the Directing Award, the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize) from Vendome Pictures touches down on your streaming devices. The story follows a teenager named Ruby, who happens to be the only member of a deaf family who’s able to hear. She’s not only involved with all of the usual teenage concerns but also interpreting duties for her parents and the family business. When she joins her school’s choir, things get rough after she blossoms and finds herself with a difficult choice: keep meeting all of those family obligations, or strike out on her own venture.
Ted Lasso: Season 2 (Apple TV+ series) — First thing’s first: Everyone who’s caught a glimpse of this Bill Lawrence co-created and developed series loves it. That’s a notable feat, considering that star Jason Sudeikis first portrayed the title character way back in 2013 for NBC Sports’ promos for Premier League coverage. Fast forward to the fresh hell that was 2020, and the show surfaced as one of the year’s lone bright spots. Ted Lasso is somehow both relentlessly and charmingly cheery, although there’s always the spectre of Led Tasso to consider.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (Netflix film) — To tide us over until The Witcher‘s second season arrives with more grumpy Geralt of Rivia, please set your calendars accordingly for this prequel anime film. The picture will go back in time to explore the early monster-hunting years of Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir, who appears to be enjoying himself a lot more than his successor. Theo James voices the character, who will be live-action portrayed by Kim Bodnia further down the line. And although the iconic Witcher baths only recently become canon, they’ve always been there, at least retroactively.
UNTOLD: Caitlyn Jenner (Netflix film) — Crystal Moselle (Betty, The Wolfpack) directs this docu-film-series’ third installment to cover the 1970s Olympic run of Caitlyn Jenner. The decathlon is no joke in terms of the athletic feat required for the job, but for Jenner, the more difficult challenge was coming into her own identity. Superstardom is one thing, but what came afterward is what allows Jenner to reflect about past and present.
Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes (Netflix series) — A small Norwegian town takes center stage due to its stagnant death rate, which is causing a family-driven funeral home to suffer. One of those family members, Live Hallangen, dies and wakes up on a forensic table, and she’s dying of hunger. This leads her to quite a conundrum: will she help the family business survive by helping herself survive, and by sacrificing the lives of the town’s residents? Dark stuff.
Open Your Eyes: (Netflix series) — An amnesia patient begins to recover after her family’s killed in an accident, and she bonds with those who have similarly traumatic experiences. Soon enough, things get mysterious with visions and odd dreams, and she wonders exactly where she’s receiving the treatment and whether all is really as it seems. These leads to an attempted escape, and plenty of suspense while mysteries continue to unfold.
Clickbait (Netflix series) — Adrian Grenier plays a loving family man who mysteriously disappears, only to surface in a viral internet video that accuses him of being a domestic abuser who will be killed after a certain number of views. No one’s sure whether this is a confession or a threat, and yikes. This promises to be (according to the synopsis) a “high stakes thriller that explores the ways in which our most dangerous and uncontrolled impulses are fueled in the age of social media,” but it sounds awfully stressful.
He’s All That: (Netflix film) — Cobra Kai‘s Tanner Buchanan stars in this gender-swapped version of 1999’s She’s All That. He portrays an antisocial outsider, and of course, a social media influencer (played by Addison Rae) takes it upon herself to transform him into a prom king. And yeah, of course she starts to fall for the guy… is there any other way that this film would go? That’s part of the franchise’s charm.
Titletown High: (Netflix series) — This unscripted series follows a highly successful high-school football program in Georgia that’s known as “TitleTown.” The Wildcats team is chasing their old glory days while grappling with rivalries, romance, and other drama. The show promises unprecedented access on the field and behind the scenes in order to provide a compelling look at American football culture.
The Other Two: Season 1 (HBO Max series) — Lorne Michaels of SNL fame executive produces this series that’s created, written, and also executive produced by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider (formerly co-head writers of SNL). The cast includes Drew Tarver, Heléne Yorke, Case Walker, Ken Marino, and Molly Shannon, and the plot follows a showbiz family, in which a 14-year-old pop star decides that it’s time to officially retire. Meanwhile, the family’s 53-year-old matriarch (Shannon) is enjoying ubiquity of her own, so “The Other Two” will do everything they can to shine as well.
Reminiscence: (Warner Bros. film on HBO Max) — Another movie meant for theaters has landed in your living room. This action thriller stars Hugh Jackman as a private investigator whose ground central happens to be people’s minds. He helps people unearth lost memories while living on the fringe of Miami society. One client becomes a dangerous obsession, and this certainly ain’t Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, although it sounds like the most unlikely reversal ever.
Sweet Life: Los Angeles: Season 1 (HBO Max series) — The WarnerMedia streaming service is keeping up with its summer of unscripted content that also includes The Hype and FBoy Island. In particular, this show follows a group of young, Black, and ambitious mid-20 somethings while they pursue dreams. Of course, those dreams not only happen to be professional but also involve loyalty and love. The quarter-life mark is a milestone unlike any other, and in South Los Angeles, this group of long-time friends comes together for a three-episode drop, which will be followed by more episodes running through September 2.
What If…? (Disney+ series) — We’re in the multiverse, baby. The MCU’s officially launching headfirst into that realm after Loki‘s season finale, and this show’s Twitter account clarified official participation as well. And that sounds about right. I’ve been looking forward to these alternate-reality scenarios since catching D23 footage a few years ago, and Disney+ will show us a wealth of scenarios that stand separate from the existing canon (thus far). Last week, Agent Carter took the serum and became Captain Carter, and then T’Challa materialized as Star Lord. This week, expect Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Loki’s stories to revolve around a murder mystery, and for whatever reason, Tony Stark eats a donut.
The Walking Dead: Season 11A (AMC series) — This zombie-apocalypse universe’s flagship series returns for one final rodeo with two spinoffs still in motion, so it’s time to wrap this puppy up before the various shows’ timelines begin to intersect. Negan’s no longer the show’s villain, Alpha’s been vanquished, and Carol’s about to split from the group. When one really thinks about all the careers that this show has bolstered (Steven Yeun, Dania Guerra, Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, and so on), it’s impressive that Norman Reedus has stuck it out for the long haul, so Daryl and Carol must end this show by literally riding off into the sunset by motorcycle. We’ll accept nothing else.
Evil: Season 2 (Paramount+ series) — A skeptical psychologist and a Catholic priest in training team up in a bit of an X-Files dynamic that’s exclusively focused upon unsolved mysteries within the church, including a serial killer who may be possessed by Satan. Expect an examination of true evil as scientific and religious perspectives face off.
Annette (Amazon Prime film) — Adam Driver’s singing into a vagina for some odd reason in this movie that includes the most outlandish of setups for reasons that don’t make complete sense. Yet Driver’s stand-up comedian is accompanied by Marion Cotillard’s opera singer, and the pair falls in love before giving birth to the title character, who is gifted beyond belief with an exceptional destiny. Expect an examination of passion and fame and everything in between.
Modern Love: Season 2 (Amazon Prime series) — Who doesn’t want to watch
Jon Snow Kit Harington romance Lucy Boynton? It’s the return of the popular anthology series that found inspiration in the famed New York Times column. Relationships and connections shall happen, as well as betrayals and revelations, and the cast is chock full of talent you already know and love, including Tobias Menzies, Minnie Driver, Garrett Hedlund. All rules of love shall be henceforth broken in locales including Dublin and the whole of New York, including that Big Apple. Did I mention? Jon Snow getting randy again is not to be missed.