There are some huge new titles debuting on UK streaming platforms this week. Perhaps the most high profile new titles on show this week are the Disney+ releases, with the streaming debut of the animated sequel smash Frozen II, as well as a filmed version of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s American history musical Hamilton.
Also up this week are the heart-stopping Mission Impossible: Fallout and more laidback, stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the former a rollicking actioner that brings Tom Cruise ever closer to finally doing a stunt in space, the latter a showcase of nice suits, short tempers and large deltoids (all a good thing).
So, for your weekend offering, here is a selection of the best new titles for each streaming platform, by platform:
Please note that a subscription will be required to watch.
Frozen II (2019)
Just as parents had finally convinced their kids to stop singing ‘Let It Go’, the sequel to Frozen, the 2013 animated mega-hit from Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, finally came around. Focusing on a secret history of Elsa and Anna’s kingdom, the film draws on the spiritual and environmentalist anime of Hayao Miyazaki as the group discovers a clash between the natural world and the civilisation they represent.
Read more: Explaining the hype behind Hamilton
It certainly feels more ambitious than its predecessor in this regard, proving almost fully willing to tear everything down that the first Frozen idolised as the characters mature. That, and the songs are pretty catchy - the standout being Idina Menzel performing ‘Show Yourself’, which could be considered the sister song to Let It Go.
It’s all realised with fluid and often rather gorgeous animation, playing with both astonishing photorealism as well as pretty abstraction as Elsa journeys out into the unknown. In a rather nice touch, Disney+ has also just launched a 6-part docu-series called Into The Unknown: Making Frozen II, which makes an ideal accompaniment to the film, discussing cut content as well as the day-to-day pressures of the film’s animators.
Frozen II is also available to stream on Now TV and Sky Cinema.
Also new on Disney+ this week: Hamilton
Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)
The latest in a series of films that is becoming increasingly close to feeling like some kind of action movie Russian Roulette for Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible: Fallout might be the series’s new peak. A near perfect synthesis of spycraft, impact fully choreographed action scenes and stunts, and Cruise’s insatiable death wish, this continuation of Cruise and Quarrie’s previous collaboration Rogue Nation sees him butt heads with old foes and frenemies alike, with Sean Harris and Rebecca Ferguson returning as the diabolical Solomon Lane and formidable double agent Ilsa Faust respectively.
Also joining the stacked cast is a moustachioed Henry Cavill, whose imposing physique brings entertaining heft to every punch and scowl. This latest impossible mission is a true white knuckle ride, building up to the mighty crescendo of a helicopter dogfight in which Cruise is both stuntman and cameraman, one that will have even the most weathered action fan sweating.
Also new on Netflix this week: The Truman Show, The Green Mile
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
As someone who has never been too enthused by the works of Guy Ritchie, his 2015 effort The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is the closest I’ve come to understanding the director’s brash, in-your-face appeal. Based on the TV series of the same name and based in the same time period of the Cold War post-Cuban Missle Crisis, the film’s strengths lie in its decadence, old-school espionage and charming animosity and (occasionally homoerotic) chemistry between leads Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill (who rarely gets to be this charming), and Alicia Vikander.
The setup feels appropriately retro: smarmy CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and short-tempered Russian assassin Illya Kuryakin hate each other, but have to work together to kill an extremely good looking arms dealer played by Elizabeth Debicki. The patchy and bloated scripting may leave something to be desired but the appeal here is mostly visual, Ritchie at his best when he dials back his often overwrought stylistic tics and simply lets his three beautiful leads show off their comic timing while wearing stylish costumes.
Also new on Amazon Prime this week: Star Trek, Secretary
Frequently said of Michael Lehman’s dark high school satire is that it absolutely wouldn’t get made today. This rings true, but it’s also undeniable how prophetic it is, from its violent cynicism to its disdain for just about everything the mainstream, particularly its more earnest contemporaries in the genre of high school movie.
Taking place in the affluently white vicinity of Westerburg High School, the film revolves around the sardonic and acerbic Veronica Sawyer (Winona Rider), who becomes tired of running with "The Heathers”, an elite clique of popular girls comprised of Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), the envious Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), and cowardly Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk). Veronica becomes morbidly fascinated with J.D. (Christian Slater), who intends to defy the social pecking order in the most direct way possible: murder!
The film’s has a palpable disdain for Reaganite culture, defined by a falsely sunny view of American life and pining for the nuclear family, and that cynicism would come to define an entire generation of high school dramas that followed – from Mean Girls to the very literal hellscape of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Sunnydale High.
Also new on Shudder this week: Grand Piano, A Perfect Getaway
Wheel of Time (2003)
Perhaps partly due to his parts in things like The Mandalorian or cameos in Parks and Recreation, both of which make use of his idiosyncratic monotone, people have come to readily perceive Werner Herzog as some kind of comical nihilist. This couldn’t be further from the truth – the German filmmaker’s documentarian interests more than proving the opposite, from his study of loneliness in the upcoming Family Romance, LLC to Mubi’s latest curation, Wheel of Time.
Both films display one of Herzog’s most foremost interests: human rituals and the pursuit of empathy. Of course, coming to fully understand a spiritual practice and the enlightenment it pursues through observation alone is something of a futile effort, but Herzog’s examination of a Tibetan Buddhist initiation rite, taking place in 2002 in India in the Dalai Lama’s presence, is a genuinely profound experience.
Also new on MUBI this week: 8 1/2, The Invincibles