Summer movie season has fully moved online, as theaters across the country remain closed through the end of July. But social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t be entertained, which is why we’re grateful for streaming services continuing to bring us new content to watch. And this Fourth of July weekend brings a trio of great films in the Hamilton movie on Disney Plus, war drama The Outpost on premium video on demand and wacky rom-com Desperados on Netflix.
Both Hamilton and The Outpost were supposed to open in theaters. The former is essentially a broadcast of filmed performances from the Broadway show. Disney bought and slated it for fall 2021. However, in these pandemic times, the Mouse House gave us the gift of an early release on Disney Plus. As for The Outpost, it would’ve been one of the first films to release in reopened theaters. However, the surge of coronavirus cases in many states led big chains like AMC and Regal to postpone their reopenings.
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Now, theaters may open back up in late July — depending on how well the pandemic is managed in the next few weeks. Already, major blockbusters like Mulan and Tenet have delayed their release dates until August. In the meantime, we still have streaming. Here's what to know about the three big movies debuting this weekend.
Hamilton (Disney Plus)
If you, like us, have experienced Hamilton FOMO, then this is your shot to finally watch the musical everybody has been talking about for the last few years. The hit Broadway stage show is coming to Disney Plus, aptly in time for Independence Day, so that the masses can also partake in the hip-hop-infused tale of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
The Hamilton movie is not an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical; instead, it’s a stitched-up broadcast of several performances filmed in 2016. Nothing can truly replicate the experience of seeing Hamilton live on Broadway, but this movie has its own unique points. Director Thomas Kail uses different camera angles to capture moments in extremely up close and personal fashion. And for new fans like me, the movie provides a high-definition look at the superb lighting, costumes and production design. It’s the best seat in the house.
The Hamilton movie’s arrival is as timely and necessary to the cultural landscape as the Broadway show’s was in 2015 — perhaps even more so. The tale of the American Revolution was revolutionary in itself in many ways: in Miranda’s choice of hip-hop as the musical’s main genre; in the choice to cast actors of color as notable figures like Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr; and in highlighting an immigrant’s important role in building a nascent nation. At a time when the country is so divided and leadership is so lacking, Hamilton is the entertaining inspiration we all need right now.
The Outpost (VOD)
War movies have been around since filmmaking first began, so it may feel like they’re a dime a dozen. But The Outpost is getting good reviews for its unflinching and intense look at the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, a real event that took place in 2009. The movie is based on Jake Tappers nonfiction account of Combat Outpost Keating, which was opened to interact with the Afghan locals. It was also located dangerously close to Taliban forces and the U.S. soldiers were drawn into a deadly and disastrous fight.
In the second half of the film, once that battle gets underway, it’s an “extraordinary sh--tshow of mayhem and violence,” as director Rod Lurie has put it. There’s almost a documentary feel to it that echoes the non-stop, harrowing sequences in war movies like Black Hawk Down. The Outpost isn’t meant to be inspirational or uplifting; what it does is show the bloody and brutal cost paid by young soldiers.
The Outpost is available for rental on demand at Vudu, iTunes, Amazon and other digital stores.
For anyone looking for lighter fare this weekend, this romantic comedy is just the ticket. We’ve always thought Nasim Pedrad, formerly of Saturday Night Live, should be in more stuff. Our wish has come true, since she stars as Wesley, a young woman who thinks she’s met the perfect guy. But when he seemingly ghosts her, she sends him a long, vicious email rant. Later, Wesley learns the guy has been in the hospital in Mexico due to multiple injuries. Oops. Her bad.
Wesley enlists her two best friends (Anna Camp and Sarah Burns) to fly down to Mexico with her so she can break into the guy’s phone and delete the email before he ever sees it. While there, she runs into a bad blind date (Lamorne Morris) and gets him involved in the shenanigans, which involve goats, dolphins and Mexican jail.
Look, sometimes we all just want to watch a couple hours of silliness and wacky hijinks and that’s OK!