A sci-fi thriller in the “Alien” tradition, the formulaic “Life” is far from a classic but it’s a decent time-waster especially for genre fans who can’t get enough of slimy, homicidal space creatures.
Nearing the end of their mission, astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson) discover a single cell on Mars and decide to bring it to life with glucose. Soon, the rapidly-growing creature, nicknamed Calvin, is picking off its victims one by one.
There’s not nearly enough humor but director Daniel Espinosa (“Safe House”) does a pretty good job of blending terror and ingenuity. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Also new to VOD and Streaming
Okja: Tilda Swinton and her “Snowpiercer” director Bong Joon Ho reunite for this fantasy actioner about a South Korean youngster named Mija (newcomer Seo Hyun An) who risks her life to rescue her best friend — a cuddly, six-ton creature named Okja – from an evil CEO (Swinton) who wants to exploit the beast. On her rescue mission, Mija crosses paths with capitalists, consumers and demonstrators, all of whom are battling to control the fate of the animal. Can Mija figure out a way to bring her best friend home? Watch for Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Steven Yeun and Lily Collins in supporting roles. On Netflix.
All Nighter: Good friends can be found in the strangest of places. That’s the theme of this slight but charming comedy about a workaholic father (J.K. Simmons) forced to team up with his daughter’s (Analeigh Tipton) ex-boyfriend (Emile Hirsch) to track her down. As the men journey through nighttime Los Angeles, they encounter all kinds of crazy characters while discovering some truths about themselves. Simmons brings an almost feral grace to the role of an over-protective father while Hirsch dials back his charisma to play a banjo picket lost in a post-breakup funk. “All Nighter” might be just another bromance but it’s a particularly fun and heartfelt one. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Mine: In the mold of “127 Hours,” “Buried” and “The Shallows” comes a (mostly) solo thriller about a hero who must use his smarts to stay alive. Armie Hammer stars as a Marine who, during a mission in the Iraqi desert, steps on a mine. If he moves, he dies. So, as he waits 54 hours to be rescued, Hammer faces sandstorms, wild animals and armed enemies. Perhaps if “Mine” had been shorter and more briskly paced it would have worked. But, as it is, the movie grows repetitive and dull. And while Hammer tries hard to keep you interested, his performance lacks power and subtlety. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Everybody Loves Somebody: With Hollywood seemingly out of the rom-com business, it’s refreshing to see indie studios like Pantelion Films, the first Latino studio, picking up some of the slack. Karla Souza is delightful as a successful Los Angeles gynecologist who finds herself torn between an old flame (Jose Maria Yazpik) and a work crush (Ben O’Toole). It’s a standard set-up made fresh with clever dialogue, breathtaking scenery, nifty performances and a heartwarming theme about the importance of staying close to your extended family. Prepare to be charmed. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Utopians: Set in Hong Kong, this uneven coming-of-age film centers on an uptight college student named Hins (Adonis He) who finds himself falling in love with his charismatic philosophy professor (Jackie Chow). If that wasn’t an explosive enough premise, “Utopians” serves up explicit fantasy sequences in which most of the characters surrounding Hins casually walk around without their clothes on. Written and directed by the Chinese provocateur Scud, “Utopians” is a little too ambitious for its own good but it still manages to raise some fascinating questions about sexuality, gender and religion. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
GLOW: Expect shoulder pads, big hair and lots of leotards in this series about women’s wrestling in Los Angeles in the 1980s. Created by “Nurse Jackie” veterans Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, “GLOW’ stars Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin as two frenemies who hope to revive their stalled acting careers by joining the Glorious Ladies of Wrestling and throwing down in the ring. Helping to guide their every move is GLOW’s crafty director and coach (Marc Maron). Early reviews have been positive and have pegged stand-up comic Maron as the series’ most valuable player. On Netflix.
Prime Suspect: As PBS unveils “Tennison: The Early Years,” check out where it all began with this top-notch police procedural starring Helen Mirren as the hardboiled Inspector Jane Tennison. All of the cases cracked by Tennison are fascinating but the first murder investigation is arguably the best one. In Mirren’s hands, the hard-drinking, chain-smoking Tennison is as fascinating as the murder cases she sets out to solve. On Britbox.
For the Kids
Yu-Gi-Oh - The Dark Side of Dimensions: The stakes have never been higher nor the rivalries as fierce as they are in the latest chapter of the animated “Yu-Gi-Oh!” saga. Ten years in the making, this feature-length adventure boasts an all-new story from original create Kazuki Takahashi. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu
Bunnicula: Night of the Vegetable: Get ready for some hare-raising fun as vampire rabbit Bunnicula winds up being adopted by the 13-year-old Mina and her carefree dog Harold and paranoid cat Chester. As Bunnicula attracts all sorts of otherworldly oddities, the gang is never short of hysterical happenings. Dim the lights and munch on some carrots as you and your kids enjoy all things that go bump in the night. On Amazon, Google, iTunes and Vudu