While a new “Scream” is intended to scare some of the excitement at the anemic box office, there are many other worthwhile titles streaming or coming to theaters.
Here’s what to look for, and what to avoid.
“peacemaker”: When it comes to the masterminds who lead superhero series and movies, James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) is an exceptional, a fearless writer/director whose irreverent, rowdy ways lead him to Taika Waititi (“Thor: Ragnarok”). ) and a high note in the career of “Peacemaker” Gunn. Fans of “Deadpool”‘s rude/raunchy demeanor will love this addictive eight-part HBO Max series—a spinoff of the gonzo box-office flop “Suicide Squad.” It distances itself from anything Disney+ offers, and is full of nudity and violence and unrestrained fangs.
Gunn wrote and directed most of the episodes, and his R-rated riffing injects emotion and excitement into the run-of-the-mill superhero franchise. But he’s not the only one who finds ‘Peacemaker’ to be mean and dirty. Talented comedian John Cena brings some sexy swagger to the title role, while portraying the superhero as a meat-and-potatoes, a lunkhead, clueless, guy who manages to be a feel-good guy, even if he doesn’t. Anything but “wake up.” In this loopy series, the Peacemaker is resurrected after a “Suicide Squad” and becomes part of a special ops team tasked with taking out evil entities running about the world. His new crew can barely tolerate this crap-off, yet can’t help but be somewhat charmed by it. Robert Patrick appears as the Peacemaker’s racist father (assistant to the plot), while Danielle Brooks emerges as the Peacemaker’s new partner, as does Freddy Stroma as Adrian Chase/Vigilant – whom some of the best Laughter ensues. “Peacemaker” skewers the superhero genre with respect—and does something different; An unconventional, laugh-out-loud romp that’s as rude as it is enjoyable. Description: 3 out of 4 stars; Available January 13 on HBO Max.
“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania”: Amazon Prime supposedly drives the final nail in the coffin of this animated franchise following Count Drake and his monster chums. Animation won’t win any awards on this fourth outing, which slips from memory before the credits roll, but it all works thanks to the A-list voice cast (including Andy Samberg, Kathryn Hahn, and Selena Gomez, whoever is) An executive producer.) The story follows these classic monsters reverting to human form, while Drake’s hyperactive son-in-law (Samberg) turns into a monster. It’s all friendly and laughable, but nothing more. Description: 2½ stars; Available on Amazon Prime on January 14.
“Spilled”: Whatever happened to the sleazy erotic thriller – those addictive B-movies brimming with numb plot twists and stupid lusty human behavior? Once dominating cable TV, these guilty pleasures have lost their heat. Director Luis Prieto and screenwriter David Laffery try to throw gas at the dying briquettes with this effort, but 92 minutes of loud, highly unfinished sex, an asinine neo-noir plot and lame dialogue are spoken with incredible wood. “Shameless” star Cameron Monaghan is a pauper here, a wealthy puppet going through a divorce and falling for a femme fatale (Lily Krug) who deals in homosexuality and there are so many red flags around her that she’s booing. Can take down 737. She catches the creepy eye of a peeping Tom motel owner (John Malkovich, so outrageously good at being a sled), but that subplot hits a dead end. Frank Grillo comes in late in the game but doesn’t add much, while the twists — in both script and sheet — are so nondescript you can nod. Description: 1½ stars; Available to stream on January 14 across multiple platforms.
“Sex Appeal”: What happened to the teen sex comedy? Once embraced by young and old alike, the genre finds its prospects dimmed by a more politically correct culture. Enter Hulu’s utterly sexy but casually amusing offering, a mildly raunchy coming-of-age sex comedy about minded high school senior Avery (Mika Abdullah) experimenting with sex for the first time so that he can take a cue from canoodling. To create an award winning app. Clueless Avery enlists the help of his bestie (Jake Short) to show him how to have sex the right way. However, that has been crushing her over the years. The setup has potential, but the screenplay mostly goes through the motions, introducing just a few colorful and clever sex bits. While “Sex Appeal” may not be compared to Neftlix’s “Sex Education,” which is sharp and sensual, it has a sex-positive message with a great ending and features comedians Fortune Femster, Margaret Cho and Rebecca Henderson. There are three entertaining supporting performances. , Description: 2½ stars; Available January 14 on Hulu.
“Belle”: Japanese animator Mamoru Hosoda’s brilliantly animated fable tackles Instagramming culture and how we hide from reality by creating alternate, often too-perfect images of ourselves. Such is the spiritual dilemma of Suzu, a shy, insecure and isolated high school student who is raised by her father. When she steps into a popular virtual world, she transforms into Belle, a singer loved by all. But the virtual world is also crawling with monsters and soon becomes a rage through this global internet community. Who is behind this animal? Hosoda’s answer hits you in the gut for driving “Belle” into a more complex narrative territory. it’s terrific. Description: three and a half stars; Opens in select theaters on January 14.
“Velvet Queen”: Nature documentaries don’t get better than Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier’s panoramic trip to the Tibetan mountains, where we follow two men to find and photograph the elusive, reclusive snow leopard. In addition to stunning, evocative camerawork, “Queen” one-ups other adventure documents with its meditative quality, an approach that captures the essence of why nature photographer Munier and author Sylvain Tesson first embarked on the journey. Description: 4 stars; Opens in select theaters on January 14.
“Delicious”: It may throw a lot of material on the table, but director Eric Besnard’s creation is a special meal, an epic and cinematic delight. Rooted in the emergence of the first restaurant, it is set in 1789 France, a culinary era when all the rich and royal ate great, and the commoners, not so much. Subject to the cramped whims of the fussy and privileged Duke of Chamfort (Benjamin LaVernhee, given very little screen time), Chef Pierre Manson (Gregory Gedbois) after trying to nudge the Duke to eat outside his comfort zone loses his gig. So Pierre returns to the country and reluctantly takes on middle-aged apprentice Louise (Isabelle Carr). Both shoulders are raw wounds from their past, but form a strong team. So are two actors in this mouthwatering foodie drama that is as delicious as the dishes made in it. Description: 3 stars; Available to stream January 14th.
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