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April 2018’s Best Streaming Titles: Speed Racer, The Iron Giant, The Handmaid’s Tale, Spaceballs & more

Also: Liu Kang and Shang Tsung, Jack Sparrow, South Korean superheroics, Sam Raimi noir, and The Man With No Name.
The Iron Giant - Brad Bird
The Iron Giant

As Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al. add more content, it can be difficult to know what to look for amidst all of the new titles. Every month, I compile a list of particularly noteworthy and interesting movies and TV shows to add to your streaming queues.

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Bad Boys (April 1)

Sometimes, you just want to see some wanton cinematic destruction, and in those cases, Bad Boys will easily fill the bill. Directed by Michael Bay (which should really be your first clue), Bad Boys follows the typical buddy cop film formula, with Martin Lawrence and Will Smith playing a couple of hotshot cops who have to take down a drug dealer — with copious amounts of Bayhem thrown in for good measure.

Mortal Kombat (April 1)

Back in the ’90s, Mortal Kombat was the bomb. I still remember playing as Sub-Zero and ripping out my opponent’s spine in front of my aghast youth pastor. Ah, those were the days. So if/when I watch Mortal Kombat, it’ll be purely out of nostalgia — and not out of some mistaken impression that it’s actually anything resembling a good film.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (April 1)

I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl with my boys a few weeks ago, and it held up pretty well. Far better than you’d expect from a movie inspired by an amusement park ride, anyway. Dead Man’s Chest continues with the fantastical seafaring adventures, with Johnny Depp swaggering for all he’s worth as Captain Jack Sparrow and some fantastic special effects for the villainous Davy Jones (played with devilish charm by Bill Nighy).

Speed Racer (April 1)

This live-action adaptation of the classic Speed Racer anime is the ultimate example of a film that’s so over-the-top stylized that its style becomes its substance (read my review). Directed by the Wachowskis (aka, the folks who brought you the Matrix films), Speed Racer is a kaleidoscopic blast of visual effects that is often completely (and delightfully) ludicrous, and yet, there are some surprisingly emotional moments in there, too.

The Iron Giant (April 1)

Brad Bird’s The Incredibles 2 (aka, my most anticipated movie of 2018) comes out this summer. So April is the perfect time to revisit his directorial debut, an adaptation of Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. Set during the ’50s, The Iron Giant blends classic sci-fi and Cold War-era paranoia into a charming coming-of-age story between a boy and a gigantic robot. I unashamedly wept the first time I saw the film’s heart-wrenching finale, and I still get chills whenever I think of the word “Superman.” The film did poorly during its initial release due to the studio’s poor promotion, but the ensuing years have been very kind to its legacy, and for good reason: it’s a classic in every sense of the word.

Lost in Space (4/13)

Netflix continues to mine nostalgia and reboot older series with this, a reboot of the classic Lost in Space series. It follows the Robinson family who suddenly find themselves on an alien planet after a space exploration mission goes wrong. On paper, the premise could make this a fine family-friendly sci-fi adventure, but the trailer hints at something a bit darker and grittier.

Psychokinesis (April 25)

Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan was a huge success, both in its native South Korea and around the world (it was the highest grossing Korean film in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore). Whereas Train to Busan tackled the zombie genre, Yeon’s follow-up tackles the superhero genre. Psychokinesis follows a man named Shin who suddenly gains psychic powers and tries to use his newfound abilities to help others, but finds himself in over his head.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Netflix in April 2018.


A Simple Plan (April 1)

Before his Spider-Man movies helped launch our current fascination with big screen superheroes, Sam Raimi — who also established his cult cred with the Evil Dead movies — directed this excellent slow-burning noir about a some friends who stumble across a plane crash and a bunch of money. Of course, things soon go horribly wrong as suspicion and distrust mount, with disastrous consequences looming over everyone.

For a Few Dollars More (April 1)

The second film in Sergio Leone’s legendary “Dollars” trilogy of spaghetti westerns, For a Few Dollars More stars Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood as a pair of bounty hunters tracking down a vicious outlaw gang leader. The film also stars actor Klaus Kinski, best known for his (in)famous collaborations with director Werner Herzog.

The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2 (April 25)

The first season of The Handmaid’s Tale was an unmitigated success. Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel won numerous awards, including “Outstanding Drama Series” at the Emmys and “Best Television Series — Drama” at the Golden Globes. The second season expands on Atwood’s story and will feature 13 episodes, as well as some new faces (Marisa Tomei, Clea DuVall, Bradley Whitford).

Spaceballs (April 1) 

I still remember the first time I saw Spaceballs. I was in junior high at the time, and I had no idea what the movie was, but the moment I saw the “We brake for nobody” bumper sticker on Spaceball One, I knew my life would never be the same. One of the most quotable movies of all time — e.g., “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.” — Spaceballs is a true comedy classic.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Hulu in April 2018.

Amazon Prime

The Florida Project (April 6)

Sean Baker first gained acclaim for 2015’s Tangerine, a film about a transgender sex worker that was shot entirely on iPhones. His most recent film, The Florida Project, follows a group of young children –many played by first-time actors — and their adventures while living at a Florida motel. The film also stars Willem Dafoe in a critically acclaimed performance as the motel’s manager.

Click here for a complete list of everything arriving on and leaving Amazon in April 2018. As usual, there’s a lot of overlap between Hulu and Amazon Prime’s offerings.

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