This week finds both DC and Marvel launching landmark entries in their respective superhero universes, while Shudder releases a movie about killer pants as well as old silent classics
‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ (HBO Max)
2017’s Justice League suffered an extremely troubled production. Director Zack Snyder, who had previously helmed the DCEU’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, left the project due to a family tragedy, and Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the film in time for its release. Whedon, who famously directed Marvel’s The Avengers and Age of Ultron, attempted to bring more humor and levity to the franchise.
But that approach clashed with the universe’s prior entries, which were usually grittier and more self-serious. The film was a disappointment for many, leading DC fans to start petitions and campaigns asking for Snyder’s original vision to be released. Their persistence won out. After millions of dollars spent on shooting new footage and completing visual effects, Snyder’s Justice League will be released on HBO Max with a whopping four-hour runtime. It’s likely to be the superhero event of the year.
‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ (Disney+)
After the very different style of WandaVision, the next Marvel Studios Disney+ series is set to return to the more familiar look and feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The series will take place mere months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and puts the spotlight onto Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) following the retirement of their friend and leader Steve Rogers.
Sam AKA The Falcon is grappling with being given the responsibility of possibly taking up the mantle of Captain America, whilst Bucky is struggling to find his place in a world that’s only seen him as a villain – the brainwashed assassin known as the Winter Soldier. The series promises to deliver large scale action on par with Marvel’s feature length films, while the episodic format allows for more in-depth time with two of more secondary characters of the MCU.
Slaxx follows a young and idealistic girl named Libby (Romane Denis), who scores her dream job of working for a renowned clothing company. They’re just about to unveil their latest product, a pair of form-fitting jeans that can adapt to any body size. But this particular pair of pants is possessed by an unknown and bloodthirsty force, and once it begins killing off the store’s employees one by one, it’s up to Libby and her coworker Shruti (Sehar Bhojani) to put a stop to it, all while still having to work under the overachieving eye of their manager, Craig (Brett Donahue).
Slaxx may have a very silly premise but it also surprisingly offers some pointed commentary about consumerism while supplying plenty of insanely bloody violence. It’s a slasher movie after all, one that lures you with its ridiculously fun concept – much like 2010’s Rubber – but keeps you hooked with how smart is proves itself to be.
‘Cosmic Sin’ (VOD)
Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo star in this new epic sci-fi adventure set in the year 2524, four hundred years after humans started colonizing the outer planets. Retired Military General James Ford (Willis) is called back into service after soldiers on a remote planet are attacked by a hostile alien fleet. The threat against the human race escalates into an inevitable interstellar war. General Ford teams up with General Eron Ryle (Grillo) and a team of elite soldiers in a race to stop the imminent attack before it is too late.
There’s nothing too complicated here. For those looking to see Willis and Grillo take on hordes of aliens in schlocky B-movie action, it doesn’t get much more fun than this.
Happily stars Joel McHale and Kerry Brishé as a couple who, after 14 years of marriage, still can’t keep their hands off each other. But their constant public displays of affection lead to resentment from their friends, and they begin to question everyone’s loyalty, including each other’s. Then, a visit from a mysterious stranger thrusts them into an existential crisis, leading to a dead body, a lot of questions and a very tense vacation.
The one and only Jack Black acts as one of the film’s producers, and the cast is rounded out by Stephen Root, Natalie Morales, Paul Scheer, and Natalie Zea. Part dark comedy and part unexpected thriller, Happy needs to be on your must-watch list.
‘The Last Blockbuster’ (Netflix)
Through a series of interviews and history lessons, this documentary tells the tale of the final Blockbuster location left in the world: A Bend, Oregon store led by manager Sandi Harding. The Last Blockbuster explores the rise of the digital age and streaming, as well as companies’ ability or inability to adapt.
In a recent post shared on the official Facebook page for the film, the team shared, “A lot of people know that Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix early on and they passed on the opportunity. In an ironic twist of fate, our movie, ‘The Last Blockbuster’ is coming to Netflix one week from today. 3/15. We are beyond excited for people to get to see this tribute to era of home video on the world’s largest streaming service. Just don’t forget to rewind it when you’re done watching it and bring it back by noon on Wednesday.”
F.W. Murnau’s 1922 horror masterpiece Nosferatu is a vital part of cinematic history, which stars Max Schreck as a creepy vampire named Count Orlock. The silent German expressionist film has left an enormous impact on movies, providing some of the earliest and most effective scares and filming techniques to ever be seen by audiences around the globe.
In 1997, famed movie critic Roger Ebert had this to say about Nosferatu: “Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films. The film is in awe of its material. It seems to really believe in vampires. … Is Murnau’s Nosferatu scary in the modern sense? Not for me. I admire it more for its artistry and ideas, its atmosphere and images, than for its ability to manipulate my emotions like a skilful modern horror film. It knows none of the later tricks of the trade, like sudden threats that pop in from the side of the screen. But Nosferatu remains effective: It doesn’t scare us, but it haunts us.”
Intersect is based on the legendary works of fantasy horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, and is likely to contain interdimensional creatures and plenty of science fiction elements all told in a mystery box-style presentation.
Written and directed by Gus Holwerda, the film follows a group of young and aspiring scientists who attend Miskatonic University – a fictional place that appears in many Cthulhu Mythos stories. The scientists work to create a world-changing time machine, only to learn that they are being manipulated by mysterious, unseen forces from another dimension.
‘Speed’ (HBO Max)
1994’s Speed is an action thriller with one of the most memorable and heavily parodied premises: A terrorist rigs a public bus with a bomb, one that will arm itself once the bus reaches a speed of 50 miles per hour and is set to explode and kill all of the passengers should the bus drop below that exact speed.
The film has long been applauded for its enormously fun accessibility and edge-of-your-seat thrills, having been met with critical acclaim and a sizable box office haul upon its release, as well as earning itself two Academy Awards. It stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, and Jeff Daniels.
‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ (Shudder)
Shudder is delivering a number of classic German silent horror films this week, and 1920’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is widely considered to be the quintessential work of the era. Directed by Robert Wiene, the film tells the story of a deranged hypnotist who commits a series of murders using his strange talents.
The film has been a major influence on cinema throughout the world, both for its horror content and its artistic style, which does away with a grounded and naturalistic look in favor of bizarre production design. Unusual angles, strange and twisted forms and lines, and its use of shadows and streaks of light all combine into a masterwork of cult cinema. Horror aficionados would do well to check it out and brush up on their history.
Also streaming this week:
Netflix – ‘Audrey’, ‘The BFG’, ‘The Lost Pirate Kingdom (Season 1), ‘Savages’, ‘Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal’, ‘Deadly Illusions’, ‘Skylines’
Hulu – ‘Identity’, ‘Hunter Hunter’
Shudder – ‘Koko-Di Koko-Da’, ‘Hosts’, ‘It Cuts Deep’, ‘Game of Death’, ‘Shakma’, ‘The Great Gabbo’, ‘White Zombie’
HBO Max – ‘Three Busy Debras’, ‘Superman: The Animated Series’
COMING THIS WEEK:
Netflix – ‘Hospital’, ‘Jiu Jitsu’, ‘Bad Trip’, ‘The Irregulars’
Hulu – ‘Collective’, ‘Solar Opposites (Season 2)’, ‘The Hurricane Heist’
Shudder – ‘Violation’, ‘Let’s Scare Julie’, ‘White of the Eye’, ‘The Untamed’
HBO Max – ‘Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy’, ‘Hotel Coppelia’
Disney+ – ‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers’
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