This weekend sees the release of Space Jam: A New Legacy, the long-awaited sequel to the 1996’s original, starring LeBron James and Don Cheadle. There’s a ton of new releases besides the Looney Tunes return to the basketball court though in the form of Fear Street Part Three: 1666, Netflix’s assassin action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, the Romeo and Juliet gangster love drama Die in a Gunfight, and much more.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here are the movies you can watch with the click of a button this weekend.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Space Jam: A New Legacy stars LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself who, in a thwarted attempt to grow closer to his computer game-obsessed son Dom, is transported into the Warner Bros. Serververse and held captive by a nefarious artificial intelligence known as Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle). To escape, LeBron must assemble the Looney Toons cast from across the corners of several Warner Bros. franchises and compete in a winner-takes-all basketball match against the Rhythm’s Goon Squad of virtual basketball icons like Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson. From our review,
The first Space Jam was born out of an attempt to sell sneakers. In a dizzying display of corporate dominance, the new Space Jam is trying to sell everything Warner Bros. has ever made. Space Jam: A New Legacy isn’t really a movie — it’s a crash course in vertical integration and brand identity, a marketing slideshow with a two-hour running time. Its viewers are taken on a whirlwind tour through every Warner IP geared toward every demographic: Wonder Woman’s Themyscira for girls and women, The Matrix for older men, Harry Potter for Old adults under 40 who haven’t been reading the news much, and so forth. This is how Hollywood works now. This is the future of blockbuster movies.
Fear Street Part Three: 1666
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
The third and final film in Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street series, adapted from R.L. Stine’s books, skews the farthest from the established genre conventions of the former two installments with a period horror setting that plunges deep into the backstory of the trilogy’s ostensible antagonist, Sarah Fier. From our review,
Fear Street: 1666 pulls back the veils of time in order to exhume the long-buried truth behind the witch’s curse and the root of Shadyside’s mutual animosity with its sister city Sunnyvale. Sarah, in stark contrast to the malevolent figure the series has made her out to be so far, was not unlike Deena once: a kind-hearted, mild-mannered teenager whose rebellious temperament and repressed sexual identity put her at odds with the prevailing social sentiments of her time. Sarah harbors a love for her childhood friend Hannah Miller (Olivia Scott Welch), parallel to Deena’s relationship with her ex-girlfriend Sam, and when accusations of carnal sin and witchcraft begin to brew in Union following a string of inexplicable and horrifying omens, the closeness between the two naturally makes them targets for suspicion and resentment.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus
A Quiet Place Part II takes place shortly after the events of its 2018 predecessor, with Evelyn Abbott and her family abandoning their now-compromised farmhouse to venture out in search of survivors in a world overrun with ravenous alien creatures with hypersensitive hearing. However, the farther out they trek, the more apparent it becomes that there are far greater horrors along the trail apart from their would-be extraterrestrial predators. From our review,
Mostly, the sequel takes the highs of the first movie a little higher, while its lows are about the same. A Quiet Place Part II continues to get a lot of mileage out of toying with horror’s deep relationship with sound, using wonderfully mixed audio to reorient the audience’s sense of peril toward everything aural, and using that threat to ratchet up the tension. Through sound, staging, and performance, scares are wrung out of silence, and the smallest bump can shock viewers with the terror of a gunshot. Furthermore, while thrills are the main draw, the movie’s cast does tremendous work with dramatic scenes communicated in ASL. The care taken in these more intimate scenes does a lot to smooth over the ways disability is factored into the genre conceit. Part II, like the film before it, runs the risk of being overbearing in building to a finale where a hearing aid saves the world, but it at least does the work of rooting that moment in Regan’s arc of independence.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy) stars Sam, a professional assassin who adopts the family trade when her mother Scarlett (Lena Headley), a legendary hit-woman abandons her under mysterious circumstances. When Sam’s latest mission goes awry, she chooses to protect young girl (Chloe Coleman) whose life is threatened by an ensuing gang war. With no other choice but to go rogue, Sam must enlist the help of her estranged mother and her lethal associates (Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino) in order to survive. From our review,
Gunpowder Milkshake, the latest John Wick knockoff, can be described like this: What if that female-superheroes-assemble moment from Avengers: Endgame was expanded into a full two-hour movie, starring one of the actors from that specific scene, and incorporating plenty of bisexual lighting and a cute kid for good measure? The simplicity (and arguably superficiality) of this kind of girl-power-rah-rah energy is the fuel of Netflix’s unnuanced, ungraceful, often uninteresting Gunpowder Milkshake. The film’s intermittent delights are momentarily satisfying, but then numbness sets in, like the brain freeze that blooms after you slurp on the film’s titular ice-cream treat.
Die in a Gunfight
Where to watch: Available to rent for $5.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
The White Lotus’ Alexandra Daddario and Diego Boneta star in director Collin Schiffli’s garish gangster action romance drama Die in a Gunfight as Mary and Ben, two star-crossed scions of rival crime families pitted in a centuries-long feud. The discovery of their romance triggers a domino effect that threatens to engulf everyone around them in a violent open war for love and supremacy. With premise on a whole taking obvious cues from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Die in a Gunfight looks like a blast.
Out of Death
Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple, and Vudu
Out of Death stars Bruce Willis as Jack Harris, a retired cop who treks out to his family’s cabin in the remote wilderness in search of peace and solitude. Things take a turn for the worse however when he crosses paths with Shannon (Jaime King), a hiker on the run from a corrupt police officer after witnesses an illicit drug deal gone horribly wrong. Fearing for their lives, Jack must resort to every ounce of his aptitude for violence and cunning to save Shannon and bring her would-be murderers to justice.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Where to watch: Available to stream on Disney Plus Premier Access
Set between the events of 2015’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow finds Natasha Romanoff alone and on the run after siding with Steve Rogers in the wake of the Sokovia Accords. Pursued by a mysterious assassin known as the Taskmaster, Natasha turns to old allies and confronts her sordid history to find answers and possible redemption for the sins of her past. From our review:
Black Widow mostly feels like an apology. It arrives as the 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, two years (one of them a pandemic mulligan) after the 22nd film, Avengers: Endgame, featured an emotional scene that in no uncertain terms killed off Black Widow’s main character, Natasha Romanoff. Black Widow had been a consistent presence in the MCU since 2010’s Iron Man 2, and she was one of the key connective figures that helped all of these movies actually feel like a universe. She also seemed to be one of the only women of consequence in the entire franchise. And after coming and going, she’s only getting her own stand-alone movie now, which makes Black Widow feel like an afterthought. It’s only the second MCU film to star a female character, and that character isn’t even alive to take us somewhere new.
Fear Street Part Two: 1978
Where to watch it: Available to stream on Netflix
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 picks up the thread of the previous installment in the Fear Street trilogy, turning back the clocks to explore the story of “Ziggy” Berman (Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink) and her sister Cindy as they struggle to survive the terrifying Camp Nightwing massacre of 1978. From our review:
Like most middle chapters, Fear Street 1978 struggles to stand on its own, rather than functioning primarily as a bridge between the trilogy’s first and final installments. The final 15 minutes of the film are inarguably its strongest, jumping forward back to 1994 as Deena and Josh exhume Sarah Fier’s hand at the tree where she was hanged, now the site of the Shadyside Mall, where Heather Watkins was murdered in the previous film. As Deena attempts to lay Fier’s remains to rest, she’s struck by a vision not unlike what Sam experienced, one that seemingly transports her back in time to 1666, the year when Sunnyvale and Shadyside were founded, and the origin of the witch’s curse.
Where to watch it: Available to rent for $4.99 on Amazon Prime Video; $6.99 on Apple, Vudu
If you like sci-fi horror thrillers featuring intrepid female protagonists waking up in claustrophobic situations, Meander will totally be up your alley. Gaia Weiss stars as Lisa, a mysterious woman who, after accepting a ride from an ominous stranger, wakes up in a strange metallic labyrinth wearing nothing but a catsuit and a bulky bracelet with a countdown timer. Navigating a deadly series of puzzles, traps, and the murderous intentions of another prisoner trapped alongside her, Lisa will have to use all her wits to escape and see her daughter again. Sounds like Vincenzo Natali’s Cube meets David Schmoeller’s 1986 horror thriller Crawlspace.