This is a very interesting week for the best new movies streaming online. Since we’ve started tracking these releases closely, we’ve noticed some weeks that are heavy on blockbusters or documentaries, but few seem as well-spread out as this week.
Up front, there’s Sonic the Hedgehog’s return to the cinema, which is debuting on demand and on Paramount Plus simultaneously. It’s a fun ride, but it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all kind of film. Which is why we’re very excited that the worldwide box office-crusher RRR — the most interesting film on this list — is finally on Netflix. Beloved around the world for wild action scenes, including one where a man catches a motorcycle, RRR skipped over the normal Digital Release that we’d expect (and how multiple items on this list are distributed).
Then, you’ve got an Anthony Hopkins movie that was originally sold as an NFT, a very timely documentary about one of Vladimir Putin’s political adversaries and another documentary about a very controversial musician who died at the age of 20. Oh, and a fun-looking YA rom com that used to be on HBO Max can be seen without the service.
Let’s break down the seven movies you should watch this week. And also check out our guide to what to watch this weekend.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Paramount Plus and Digital Release)
The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie was the kind of pleasant surprise that gamers have been trained to not believe in: an actually fun cinematic adaptation of a video game. Alongside Detective Pikachu, it suggested change was afoot. The Uncharted movie may have slid things back a bit afterwards, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 reminded us that why speedy and snarky blue hedgehog is the king of this particular kind of movie.
That said, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a team effort thanks to the introductions of his friend Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey), and his frenemy Knuckles (Idris Elba). The former adds a bit more heart to the movie, while the latter? Imagine what would happen if Idris Elba (and not Dave Bautista) was cast in the literal-minded Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. Elba makes the antagonistic echidna work well on the big screen with great line reads for the dim-witted character who becomes a pawn in Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey)’s plan for revenge.
Carrey, as was the case last time, steals every single scene he’s given the chance to, which makes sense as the movie is about Robotnik’s quest to steal the Chaos Emeralds. As someone who paid to see Sonic 2 in theaters, I give this one a recommendation for a fun time, provided your expectations are set for playful fun.
Stream it on Paramount Plus or rent it on Amazon Prime right now
This former HBO Max exclusive is a YA romcom that sends Walt (Cole Sprouse of Riverdale) along for the ride when he falls for Sophie (Lana Condor of To All The Boys films). Or maybe Walt doesn’t know he digs Sophie yet. What he does know is that she’s seemingly picked the wrong guy to chase all the way to Mars. Sophie, in the middle of the longest-distance relationship this side of the multiverse, seems to humor him.
After being found snuck aboard the ship to Mars, Walt tells Sophie that visiting the red planet has been his life-long dream. Or at least that’s his excuse until he finds the fortitude to be honest and upfront. On board, Walt meeds Leon (Zach Braff) who may be just the advice counselor he needs to sort his emotions out before Sophie and her boyfriend meet up on Mars.
Buy or rent it on Amazon Prime Video
It’s time to Rise, Roar, and Revolt — as one of the biggest movies of the year (grossing more than $150 million around the world) is finally streaming. But Netflix didn’t entirely prepare folks for this, as the film came in under the radar stealthily last Friday.
But ever since we discovered that the Indian film RRR was on Netflix, we’ve been excited to stream it (but also a bit confused, more on that below). Set in 1920’s India, RRR is an epic tale of justice centered around a pair of folk heroes in India: Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.). Watch the trailer if you haven’t already heard, and see a dude catch a motorcycle. Director S. S. Rajamouli refers to the film as a tale of an “imaginary friendship between two superheroes.”
Praised for bonkers action scenes that have some thinking American action films need to level up, RRR’s Netflix release comes with a small asterisk. This is the Hindi dub of the film, as Netflix decided against using the native Telugu. This may be because Indian streaming service ZEE5 has the Telugu rights, but there doesn’t seem to be a great reason why the Telugu version can’t be shared.
Stream it on Netflix right now
Around the world, five people have been told they’re a part of the path to save humanity. Each hadn’t been aware of the other until now, and they’re being told they need to work on something called a “reactivation plan,” to save humanity.
All five of these people were selected because they were devotees of Finley Hart (Anthony Hopkins), who’s since passed away, but talks to these people via seemingly pre-recorded messages. Hart’s death is its own mystery, as he claims he passed away because of this plan. Oddly enough, Zero Contact was released as an NFT on the Vuele platform. But, thankfully, you can simply buy or rent it online now.
Buy or rent Zero Contact on Amazon Prime Video and other services
Navalny (HBO Max)
Challenging an incumbent politician shouldn’t put your life in danger, but Alexey Navalny challenged one of the most dangerous political leaders: Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The documentary presents both his rise and his hospitalization when he’s poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent.
Directed by Daniel Roher, Navalny gives its titular protagonist a chance to say “really?” and a chance to ask why he was poisoned. HBO Max is stepping up to fill some of the void left behind by CNN Plus, as this film originally debuted on CNN (and would have very easily fit on the since-departed streaming service).
Stream it on HBO Max starting Thursday (May 26)
Look At Me: XXXTentacion (Hulu)
Fame and youth rarely mix well, as was the tragic story of Jahseh Onfroy, better known as rapper XXXTENTACION (pronounced X-X-X-ten-ta-cion). Look At Me: XXXTENTACION is a mix of previously unseen archival footage and interviews with his family, friends and romantic partners, all looking to analyze the dark stories that are inextricable from Onfroy’s fame.
Numerous disturbing incidents litter Onfroy’s history, including the stabbing of his manager and an arrest over charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman (with other charges including witness tampering). This documentary looks to show both Onfroy’s popularity and push at the question of why he wasn’t stopped from spiraling out of control before being shot in a robbery and dying at the age of 20.
Stream it on Hulu starting Thursday (May 26)
We Feed People (Disney Plus)
Need a feel good story with a funny human at the center of it? I sure do. And director Ron Howard is bringing one with We Feed People, a National Geographic documentary film about beloved chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen initiative.
Andrés (whose voice is so charming he should release a cookbook audio book) sees food as a way to change lives. And in the 12 years the World Central Kitchen has been active, he’s taken it from a small project to a well-regarded humanitarian air organization that does invaluable work during disasters.
Stream it on Disney Plus starting Friday (May 27)