After a post-holiday lull, the major streaming services are back in full speed as we enter the third week of 2022.
It's a good week for streaming premieres, and we'll sell it like an informercial:
Log on this week, and the whole family can stream HBO Max’s Peacemaker, Amazon Prime’s Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, Hulu’s How I Met Your Father and Netflix’s Heavenly Bites. But that's not all. Just for firing up their smart TV, Shakespearean-minded adult streamers also get Apple TV Plus’ The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, absolutely free ... if they purchased an Apple gadget within the last three months. And that's still not all. You also get the release of Ray Donovan: The Movie, which should appease those Showtime subscribers bereaved after the series canceled abruptly in 2020. We'll also throw in this HBO Max semi-autobiographical film, Somebody Somewhere, which stars comedian Bridget Everett as a middle aged woman lost in life.
Peacemaker (HBO Max, Jan. 13)
James Gunn, director of the 2021 DC Comics feature, The Suicide Squad, created and wrote this eight-episode spinoff series starring John Cena as title character Christopher Smith. HBO’s trailer isn’t exactly impressive, but Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which starred Cena, certainly clicked with critics, who aggregated it at 90%.
Wolf Like Me (Peacock, Jan. 13)
From Little Monsters director Abe Forsythe, this six-episode, half-hour series is about "vulnerability, secrets and finding love later in life." Isla Fisher plays Mary, an advice columnist, while Josh Gad is cast as Gary, a single dad stilling mourning the death of his wife. “Fisher is especially strong, playing Mary’s deeply wounded psyche and the comic side of her dark secret with equal sincerity. Whether you want to find Wolf Like Me utterly serious or likably silly, it’s all there in her performance, which made me laugh and tear up in equal measure," wrote the Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg.
Don’t Look Deeper (Roku Channel, Jan .14)
Don’t Look Deeper is the latest offering from the Quibi catalog, which Roku acquired in January 2021. The premise: a high school student realizes she’s not human, which puts her life in jeopardy. The sci-fi drama touts a solid cast, including Helena Howard, Don Cheadle and Emily Mortimer, with Catherine Hardwick (Twilight) directing. High-caliber actors mixed with big budgets can sometimes lead to high-quality content. (Right before he launched Quibi, founder Jeffrey Katzenberg famously bragged that the service was spending $100,000 a minute to produce some of its shows.)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple TV Plus, Jan. 14)
The film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Scottish play stars Oscar winners Denzel Washington and France McDormand. Fellow Academy Award winner Joel Coen directed the black-and-white film, which premiered in September at the New York Film Festival. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s better known works, and Coen is one of the most iconic and influential directors of his generation, which makes The Tragedy of Macbeth hard to resist. The film scored a 93% aggregated rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the Chicago Sun Times’ Richard Roeper calling it, "One of the most visually striking and leanest versions of “the Scottish play” ever put on film.”
Ray Donovan: The Movie (Showtime, Jan. 14)
The long-running crime drama is back in feature-length form, two years after Showtime abruptly canceled the series following the Season 7 finale. Starring Liev Schreiber as a fixer for the rich and famous, the series ended on a cliffhanger. The film picks up where the series ended, with Schreiber chasing after Mickey Donovan (Jon Voight). Schreiber co-wrote the script with series showrunner David Hollander, who directed the film. TV critic Matt Rousch compares the Ray Donovan movie favorably to David Chase's prequel film for The Sopranos. "The difference being that The Many Saints of Newark was a story that wasn’t screaming to be told, while Ray Donovan: The Movie fills in essential details of the events causing the rift between responsible young Ray (Chris Gray) and swaggering dad Mickey (the charismatic Bill Heck), haunting Ray into his adulthood."
Use of Force: The Policing of Black America (Peacock, Jan. 14)
Produced by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, Use of Force: The Policing of Black America is the latest documentary to take in the issue of police brutality against people of color, joining similarly targeted recent explorations including Craig Atkinson’s Do Not Resist (2016), David Heilbroner and Kate Davis’ Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (2018) and Rick Rowley’s 16 Shots (2019). Notably, Use of Force will premiere directly on Peacock on Jan. 14 and will not have a documentary festival run, which in most cases helps nonfiction films build word of mouth before a wide broadcast or streaming service premiere.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (Amazon Prime Video, Jan. 14)
The fourth installment of the hit Sony Pictures computer animated monster franchise is finally arrives. Sony originally intended to release the family-friendly film in theaters on Oct. 1, 2021, but with no vaccine being offered to the movie’s intended audience, that plan was thrown out. Amazon picked up the film for a reported $100 million. The voices of Adam Sandler and Kevin James, which drove the first three Hotel Transylvania films, are not featured in the fourth installment, but who cares about that ... or the movie’s plot? It’s winter and Omicron is out of control so, if you’ve got kids under the age of five, it’s something to do. That's almost as valuable as free shipping on Amazon Prime purchases.
Somebody Somewhere (HBO Max, Jan. 16)
Kansas-born stand-up comic and cabaret artist Bridget Everett knows how to tell a joke and steal a scene, but can she be the star of a TV show? HBO thinks so. Somebody Somewhere, which was inspired by Everett’s real life, revolves around Sam (played by Everett), a middle-aged woman drifting through life. “Blessed with an eagle eye for detail, a laid-back sense of humor and a disarming sense of compassion, Somebody Somewhere is a mostly low-key delight that occasionally spills over into sheer exuberance," noted the Hollywood Reporter's Angie Han
How I Met Your Father (Hulu, Jan. 18)
Eight years after the coming-of-cirrhosis comedy How I Met Your Mother wrapped its boozy if highly successful nine-season run on CBS, a spinoff series is, er, on tap at Hulu. As the title sort of indicates, this latest iteration focuses on the viewpoint of a young female searcher instead of a young man, famously played in creator/EP Carter Bays and Craig Thomas' original comedy classic by Josh Radnor, who of course drank weekly alongside Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and -- waaait for it -- Neil Patrick Harris. In this new rendition, it's Sophie (played by Hilary Duff) who must navigates the dating scene until she finds her future husband. Kim Cattrall, awkwardly self-exiled from HBO's reboot of Sex and the City, plays the flash-forward "old" version Sophie. Francia Raisa and Tom Ainsley co-star in the series co-created and co-EP'd by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger. Both worked together in the writers' rooms of This Is Us, Love, Victor and About a Boy.
Heavenly Bites (Netflix, Jan. 19)
A six-part food series, Heavenly Bites is an exploration of Mexican culinary eccentricities. Like Netflix’s Chef’s Table and High on the Hog, Heavenly Bites seeks to reveal the culture behind various cuisines
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