Annihilation: Alex Garland’s sophomore directorial effort (following 2014’s excellent Ex Machina) is getting great reviews, but the US is the only territory in which it will receive a theatrical release. Paramount’s new risk-averse management team sold it off to Netflix globally and it will premiere on the service in just 12 days. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy, which I am not familiar with. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Metacritic: 81%
Game Night: Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star in this comedic thriller from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Daley and Goldstein’s track record is all over the place (they wrote the really fun Spiderman: Homecoming…but directed the dreadful Vacation reboot) but critics are mostly on-board for this effort. Expect some jarring tonal shifts. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Metacritic: 66%
New and notable streaming
Mute: In the pre-streaming age, Duncan Jones would have been sent to Director’s Jail for some valuable contemplation time following the critical and box office failure of 2016’s Warcraft. However, it’s a new era and he immediately landed a greenlight for this sci-fi noir from Netflix after every other studio turned him down. That does not appear to have been a good decision for anyone. Rotten Tomatoes: 9%, Metacritic: 35% (Netflix)
Question for the masses: Mute (which Jones tried to get made for a decade) is the latest in a long line of disastrous cinematic passion projects. Why is this so often the case?