As the summer movie season comes to a close in theaters this month, streaming platforms are gearing up with some highly anticipated releases. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which was a massive success in theaters, grossing over $1 billion worldwide, is now available on Peacock, making it a great option for families. For Marvel fans, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” directed by James Gunn, can be enjoyed on Disney+ after earning $845 million at the box office during the summer.
Netflix, not to be outdone, is hoping to capture audiences with its new potential franchise-starter, “Heart of Stone,” starring Gal Gadot in an espionage thriller. Netflix already saw success with Gadot’s previous film “Red Notice,” co-starring Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson, which became one of the platform’s most popular movies.
Additionally, it’s likely that “Fast X,” the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, will hit streaming platforms soon after finishing its theatrical run, although Peacock’s official announcement is still pending.
Overall, August offers an exciting selection of new films on streaming services, catering to various audiences and preferences.
In 2023, Universal and Illumination’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” achieved immense success at the box office, grossing a staggering $1.3 billion worldwide. The film, featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Jack Black, and Anya Taylor-Joy, follows Mario on an adventurous journey through the Mushroom Kingdom and other worlds to rescue his brother, Luigi. Renowned critic Owen Gleiberman from Variety praised the film as a Critic’s Pick, describing it as a rare video game adaptation that captures the playful essence of video games. The movie effectively utilizes the dynamic and visually appealing medium of computer animation while presenting a captivating fairy-tale story that resonates with the audience.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (Aug. 2 on Disney+)
Earlier this year, Marvel faced a setback with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which didn’t perform well at the box office. However, James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” came to the rescue, becoming a box office hit with $845 million worldwide. The movie also received critical acclaim as Gunn skillfully concluded his beloved trilogy on a heartwarming note.
In the film, the Guardians embark on a mission to rescue Rocket Raccoon from his evil creator, the villainous High Evolutionary. Variety’s review praised James Gunn’s ability to bring the underdog superhero trilogy to a satisfying and emotional conclusion. The movie’s jam-packed, planet-hopping adventure, spanning 150 minutes, creates an experience that feels more like binge-watching a beloved TV series with a rush of endorphins than a conventional moviegoing experience. Overall, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” delivered an enjoyable and memorable finale to the trilogy, earning both commercial success and critical acclaim.
Asteroid City (Aug. 11 on Peacock)
Wes Anderson’s latest film, “Asteroid City,” is set to make its exclusive debut on Peacock this month, following a successful domestic box office run, earning $27.7 million during the summer. The movie, distributed by Focus Features, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a mix of reviews. However, Anderson’s dedicated fanbase turned out in large numbers to theaters to experience the ensemble comedy-drama.
The story is set in a desert town that finds itself in quarantine after an alien makes contact with the townspeople. The film boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzmann, Tom Hanks, Maya Rudolph, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Hope Davis, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Margot Robbie, and many others.
With its unique blend of comedy and drama, “Asteroid City” promises to be another signature Wes Anderson production that will captivate audiences on Peacock.
Heart of Stone (Aug. 11 on Netflix)
Gal Gadot is taking on a new role as a super spy in Netflix’s thrilling espionage movie “Heart of Stone,” set to be the streaming platform’s major original release in August. Directed by Tom Harper and written by Greg Rucka and Allison Schroeder, the film follows Gadot’s character, an international intelligence agent, who is tasked with protecting a mysterious object from falling into the wrong hands on behalf of a peacekeeping organization.
Joining Gadot in the movie are Jamie Dornan, Alia Bhatt, Sophie Okonedo, and Matthias Schweighöfer. The film’s trailer showcases several intense and action-packed scenes, including a thrilling motorcycle chase through the Alps and a high-speed car chase through the streets of Lisbon. Gadot is also seen performing daring feats, such as paragliding off a snowy embankment and engaging in extreme skydiving.
With its adrenaline-pumping action and Gadot’s charismatic performance, “Heart of Stone” is poised to be an exciting addition to Netflix’s lineup in August.
The Monkey King (Aug. 18 on Netflix)
One of Netflix’s prominent family offerings this month is the animated adventure film “The Monkey King.” The story revolves around a stick-wielding monkey who joins forces with a young girl to embark on an epic quest for immortality, encountering demons, dragons, and gods along the way. The animated movie is a major production directed by Stephen Chow, a well-known actor and director recognized for his works like “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer.”
The voice cast includes Jimmy O. Yang as The Monkey King, Bowen Yang as the Dragon King, and other talented actors such as Jo Koy, Stephanie Hsu, and BD Wong. Based on the classic novel “Journey to the West” written by Wu Cheng’en during the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s, “The Monkey King” promises to be an exciting and entertaining adventure for families on Netflix.
Lost in Translation (Aug. 1 on Netflix)
Sofia Coppola is making her return to the festival circuit this year with “Priscilla,” a film backed by A24, which will have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and serve as the centerpiece screening at the New York Film Festival. While eagerly awaiting the new film, don’t miss the opportunity to stream her Oscar-winning classic, “Lost in Translation,” available on Netflix.
In “Lost in Translation,” Bill Murray portrays a faded Hollywood movie star who travels to Tokyo to shoot whiskey advertisements. During his stay at a hotel, he befriends a young college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson. Murray’s outstanding performance earned him an Oscar nomination, and Coppola received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
According to Variety’s review, the film presents a poignant reflection on how alienating environments can bring together unlikely individuals and create unexpected and intense connections. With its alluring and thought-provoking narrative, “Lost in Translation” showcases Coppola’s perceptiveness and maturity as a filmmaker.
Paddington (Aug. 14 on Netflix)
Paul King, the director of Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated film “Wonka,” starring Timothée Chalamet, owes his major studio gig to the breakout success of his “Paddington” movies. In light of this achievement, the first installment of the “Paddington” franchise is arriving on Netflix this month.
In “Paddington,” the eponymous bear, voiced by Ben Whishaw, embarks on a journey from the jungles of Peru to London in search of a new home. The movie features a talented live-action cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Nicole Kidman.
Variety’s review lauds the film, describing it as a bright and breezy big-screen debut for the beloved literary bear, and credits “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman for another successful project.
The success of “Paddington” opened doors for Paul King, leading him to direct the highly anticipated “Wonka” film for Warner Bros., featuring the talented actor Timothée Chalamet in the lead role.
Depp v. Heard (Aug. 16 on Netflix)
Netflix’s upcoming documentary “Depp v. Heard,” directed by Emmy and BAFTA nominee Emma Cooper, delves into the highly publicized libel trial that captivated Hollywood in 2022. The film presents the testimonies of both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, side by side, aiming to uncover the truth behind the legal battle. The documentary also explores the aftermath of the trial on social media, where Heard became a target of online harassment.
The dispute arose when Depp sued Heard over an op-ed she had written, where she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp argued that this wording had caused severe damage to his career and reputation. Ultimately, the jury ruled more in Depp’s favor, determining that Heard had defamed him in the op-ed.
Through this documentary, viewers will gain insight into the complexities of the legal case and the broader implications it had on both individuals’ lives and the conversation surrounding domestic abuse in the public eye.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Aug. 11 on Disney+)
In April, Disney+ added Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” trilogy and Andrew Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” to its library, marking the first time these Sony-owned superhero movies were available on the streaming platform. Following that, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man made his Disney+ debut with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in May. Now, the collection is expanding further with the addition of Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” a movie that received mixed reviews and was considered a financial disappointment.
Despite the film’s reception and subsequent decision to replace Garfield with Tom Holland for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its arrival on Disney+ is seen as a reason to celebrate, as the streaming service now offers an extensive collection of Spider-Man movie history. Fans can enjoy the complete evolution of the iconic superhero character through these various film adaptations on Disney+.
Maggie’s Plan (Aug 1. on HBO Max)
Greta Gerwig’s star power has soared with the success of her upcoming film “Barbie.” With this blockbuster success, it is hoped that more people will discover her remarkable indie projects. One such gem is “Maggie’s Plan,” a romantic dramedy directed by Rebecca Miller, where Gerwig shines in the lead role.
In the movie, Gerwig portrays Maggie, a woman who decides to have a baby on her own but unexpectedly finds herself falling for a married man, played by Ethan Hawke. Variety’s review praises the film’s craftsmanship, from the brisk pace of Sabine Hoffman’s editing to the warm and inviting visuals captured by Sam Levy. The design contributions also add to the film’s appeal.
Gerwig’s portrayal of Maggie is endearing, making her a likable character even when her decisions may not seem wise. Similarly, Hawke delivers a sympathetic performance as a hapless and roguish man-boy, who repeatedly relies on women to rescue him, only to grow resentful of their interventions.
“Maggie’s Plan” showcases Greta Gerwig’s talent in the indie film scene, and it serves as a delightful and well-crafted romantic dramedy worth exploring alongside her other acclaimed works.
We’re the Millers (Aug. 1 on Hulu)
“We’re the Millers,” released in 2013, stands out as a nearly perfect example of a big, enjoyable August comedy. Amid the popularity of R-rated comedies at the time and fueled by the star power of Jennifer Aniston, the film grossed an impressive $270 million worldwide.
In the movie, Aniston portrays a stripper who joins forces with a local pot dealer, played by Jason Sudeikis, to smuggle drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border for a lucrative payday. To appear less suspicious during their journey, they convince their neighbors, portrayed by Emma Roberts and Will Poulter, to pose as their children, adopting the facade of a loving family on a wild road trip.
“We’re the Millers” is characterized by its vulgarity, absurdity, and non-stop humor. The film’s outrageous premise and comedic performances create a memorable and entertaining experience, making it a standout in the genre of August comedies.
Skinamarink (Aug. 4 on Hulu)
IFC Films’ low-budget horror movie “Skinamarink” created waves in the indie box office earlier this year, raking in nearly $2 million domestically. Originally released on the horror platform Shudder in February, the film is now available for streaming at no extra cost to Amazon Prime Video subscribers.
Directed by Kyle Edward Ball, the story revolves around two children who wake up one night to find their parents missing and their home sealed off with no way out. Critic Owen Gleiberman from Variety praised the film as “terrifying” in his review, describing it as a demanding yet visionary chiller that resembles a demon puzzle illuminated by a cathode-ray tube. He even included it in his list of the best films of 2023 so far.
With its indie success and critical acclaim, “Skinamarink” has proven to be a noteworthy addition to the horror genre and is now more accessible to a broader audience through Amazon Prime Video.
Enys Men (Aug. 9 on Hulu)
Mark Jenkin’s folk horror film “Enys Men” takes viewers on a mesmerizing journey to a remote 1970s island through beautifully psychedelic 16mm visuals. Variety’s review draws parallels to iconic British cult classics like “The Wicker Man” and “The Blood on Satan’s Claw,” as well as paying homage to “Don’t Look Now” with the striking red raincoat worn by the woman in the film. Additionally, there are echoes of Kubrickian twists and a touch of Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” making “Enys Men” a compelling addition to the people-going-crazy-with-isolation-on-an-island subgenre.
To Catch a Killer (Aug. 19 on Hulu)
According to Variety’s review of “To Catch a Killer,” the first English-language feature by Argentine director Damian Szifon, the film is an expertly handled investigative thriller. The story follows Shailene Woodley’s character, a young Baltimore cop, who is recruited by the FBI to hunt down a serial killer. The movie boasts a talented supporting cast, including Ben Mendelsohn, Jovan Adepo, and Ralph Ineson.
The review praises the film as a captivating page-turner on screen, describing it as a solid investigative procedural that may not tread new ground, but nonetheless delivers ample suspense, engaging characters, and well-executed action in a confident manner. “To Catch a Killer” keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its compelling storyline and strong filmmaking.
How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Aug. 24 on Hulu)
Daniel Goldhaber’s attention-grabbing climate change action thriller, “How to Blow Up a Pipeline,” revolves around a group of eight individuals who unite to carry out the titular act at two locations in the name of climate activism. The indie film boasts an ensemble cast, including Ariela Barer, Kristine Froseth, Lukas Gage, Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, Jayme Lawson, Marcus Scribner, Jake Weary, and Irene Bedard.
According to Variety’s review, the film thoughtfully grapples with the questions of whether the characters’ actions constitute “eco-terrorism” and if violence can ever be justified in the pursuit of progress. “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is a powerful and straightforward drama-thriller that courageously addresses a divisive and crucial topic.
Saw – Sav VI (Aug. 1 on Prime Video)
Next month, horror fans can expect the release of the 10th “Saw” movie, which sees the return of franchise veteran Tobin Bell. In preparation for the new installment, Prime Video has made the first six “Saw” movies available for streaming this month. The series is well-known for its constantly twisting ongoing mythology, making it essential for fans to catch up on the previous films.
The original “Saw,” directed by James Wan, remains a standout in the franchise. Variety described it as a “crude concoction” and “a noisy, nasty feature debut” for Wan, who later went on to direct other blockbuster horror films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring.” As fans anticipate the new movie, revisiting the original will give them an opportunity to experience the roots of the series and its acclaimed director’s early work.
Red White & Royal Blue (Aug. 11 on Prime Video)
Prime Video’s highly anticipated political romance film, “Red, White & Royal Blue,” has the potential to become the streamer’s biggest original movie of the summer. The movie features breakout stars Taylor Zakhar Perez from “The Kissing Booth” and Nicholas Galitzine from “Purple Hearts.” Based on Casey McQuiston’s immensely popular 2019 novel, the story revolves around the anticipated romance between the sons of the U.S. president and the British king.
Despite being enemies from across the pond, an unexpected bond forms when they are compelled to come together to broker peace on behalf of their parents. The star-studded cast includes Uma Thurman, Stephen Fry, Sarah Shahi, Ellie Bamber, Clifton Collins Jr., Rachel Hilson, and Thomas Flynn, adding to the excitement surrounding the film’s release on Prime Video.
Cocaine Bear (Aug. 15 on Prime Video)
After its debut on Peacock in April, the gory comedy “Cocaine Bear,” directed by Elizabeth Banks, is now available on Prime Video at no extra cost to subscribers. The movie became a spring hit for Universal Pictures, grossing $85 million worldwide, following the success of the studio’s early 2023 horror blockbuster “M3gan.”
Inspired by a true story, “Cocaine Bear” follows multiple characters who encounter a grizzly bear that ingested pounds of cocaine during a drug deal gone awry. Variety’s review praises the film as better than “Snakes on a Plane” and envisions it as a captivating blend of a wilderness thriller and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Described as nutty, luridly preposterous, and irresistibly intriguing, “Cocaine Bear” presents an outlandish and entertaining viewing experience that leaves audiences wondering, “WTF-are-we-watching?”
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Aug. 25 on Prime Video)
Paramount’s fantasy tentpole “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” received mixed box office returns, but the reviews surprisingly praised the film, especially its star, Chris Pine. Directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, the movie features an ensemble cast, including Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, and Sophia Lillis, portraying a group of bandits and con artists who unite to steal a fantastical relic from one of their former comrades.
According to Variety’s review, the film skillfully turns typical pop-fantasy elements into an enjoyable and unique experience. The intricacy in the staging of “Honor Among Thieves” helps balance out the derivative nature of the plot, making it an engaging and entertaining watch. Despite its so-so box office performance, the strong critical reception highlights the film’s success in providing fun and excitement through its fantasy world and talented cast, especially Chris Pine in the lead role.
Champions (Aug. 29 on Prime Video)
In the sports comedy “Champions,” co-diWomen Talking (Aug. 29 on Prime Video)rected by Bobby Farrelly, Woody Harrelson takes on the role of a prickly basketball coach responsible for coaching a team of disabled players. Harrelson’s character is a minor league basketball coach who faces legal troubles and is ordered by the court to coach a Special Olympics team for 90 days. The film, released by Focus Features, found modest success in the spring with nearly $20 million in worldwide earnings.
Variety’s review notes that if “Champions” had been released three decades earlier, it would have been the quintessential feel-good film of 1993. While the movie as a whole has its merits, it particularly excels in creating memorable and three-dimensional characters among the players, which lays a solid foundation for the heartwarming narrative.
Women Talking (Aug. 29 on Prime Video)
“Women Talking,” written by Sarah Polley, earned her an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film centers on the women of an abused and isolated Mennonite community as they come together to decide whether to stay in the colony or seek a new home. Critics praised the movie, and it generated strong awards buzz. However, despite the positive reception, “Women Talking” had a relatively modest performance at the box office, barely crossing the $5 million mark domestically and not surpassing $10 million worldwide.
The film’s arrival on Prime Video this month is expected to draw more viewers and bring attention to its powerful narrative. According to Variety’s film critic Peter Debruge, “Women Talking” is a compelling and uncompromising drama that serves as a potent act of nonviolent protest. The film’s themes and performances were lauded, and it has the potential to reach a wider audience through its release on the streaming platform.