THE BEATLES: GET BACK (DISNEY+)
It was supposed to be a way of reinvigorating a jaded quartet.
A back-to-basics approach that would result in new music and a televised concert “for the world”. Proof that the “Fab Four” could survive – and thrive – after the death of their beloved manager Brian Epstein 16 months earlier.
But, as Sir Peter Jackson’s three-part, near eight-hour series documents, in astonishing, lovingly restored and enhanced details, January 1969’s coming together “did not go well”.
Culled from 60 hours of film and 150 hours of audio, it would be easy to argue that the famed “Jackson bloat is back” with a vengeance, but the truth is, hardly a second is wasted. It’s hard not to be fascinated by not only watching the Fab Four at work (and play), but also seeing them complain about the catering and discuss the previous night’s television – and that’s before the ennui and seeming fear and loathing really kick in. And this was all more than 50 years ago, you say? Thanks to Jackson and company’s astonishing restoration techniques, it looks like it was just Yesterday.
This six-part Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series is another cleverly conceived, brilliantly cast piece of the Phase 4-puzzle. After the confusing, sometimes confounding star-studded fantasy of the Eternals and the timey-wimey Doctor Who-esque hijinks of Loki, it is something of a relief to have a tale that’s a little more gritty and down-to-earth.
Indeed, while there’s something of a Die Hard-esque swagger to this festive fare, it also feels closer in style to the near-forgotten Netflix Marvel series like Jessica Jones or Daredevil, than the other “official” MCU spin-offs.
And don’t be fooled by the title, while Jeremy Renner’s grizzled archer certainly has a key role to play, this really is the origin story for fellow bow-and-arrow enthusiast Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld, bringing the same charisma that lit up Transformers’ tonal reboot Bumblebee).
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Korea’s pop-culture hot streak continues with this compelling, chilling six-part thriller.
From the creative and twisted mind that gave the world the unforgettable 2016 action-horror Train to Busan – Yeon Sang-ho – it’s a police procedural-meets-cult drama, with more than a side order of spooky supernatural goings-on.
A melding of Drag Me to Hell, Ringu, Final Destination and Ghost that doesn’t stint on the spills and thrills, as a Seoul-set battle for hearts, minds and seemingly souls plays out.
Vibrant, haunting, horrifying and thought-provoking, and boasting plenty of twists and turns (and a clever switch in focus part-way through), Hellbound might not have Squid Games’ shock value, but its gripping narrative and arresting visions still pack a punch.
HIGHTOWN (TVNZ ONDEMAND)
Eight-part, Cape Cod-set US crime drama about National Marine Fisheries Service Agent Jackie Quiñones (Monica Raymund), whose free-wheeling life is thrown into disarray when she discovers a body on the beach and becomes convinced it’s up to her to solve the murder.
That brings her into contact with the abrasive and equally troubled Cape Cod Interagency Narcotics Unit Sergeant Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale). A second, 10-part season is currently screening in America.
“The show has such a gift in Raymund as Quiñones, who layers her part so expertly and convincingly that – without wanting to denigrate the rest, which is solidly entertaining – her scenes seem almost to come from a different endeavour entirely,” wrote The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan.
Hightown is now available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand.
THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR (APPLE TV+)
Inspired by real-life events, this eight-part drama details the bizarre relationship between psychiatrist-to-the-stars Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf (Paul Rudd) and his longtime patient Martin “Marty” Markowitz (Will Ferrell).
Over the course of their relationship, the all-too-charming Ike slowly inserts himself into Marty’s life, even moving into Marty’s Hamptons home and persuading Marty to name him president of the family business.
“If you watch The Shrink Next Door as a showcase for two extraordinary actors, you will likely have a great viewing experience. I certainly did,” wrote Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert.
TIN STAR: LIVERPOOL (NEON)
The third – and apparently final – six-part season of this gritty crime thriller sees the Worth family relocating from the Canadian Rockies back to the UK in order to confront “their menacing past”.
The secrets Jack (Tim Roth) and Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) have held onto for the past 20 years have the potential to threaten a group of dangerous criminals who are still operating on Merseyside. Deadliest of all could be Michael Ryan (Ian Hart), a fearless, resourceful and clever businessman, who, while generating major redevelopment within the city, also has firm ties to the area’s underworld.
“There is much to enjoy in the show, even when it is at its silliest,” wrote The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson. “It still looks great, whether in the crowded living room of a care home or a brightly painted, multi-coloured staircase, mid-gunfight.
Welcome to Earth is now available to stream on Disney+
WELCOME TO EARTH (DISNEY+)
One Strange Rock duo Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky reunite for this six-part series which sees the former embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to explore our planet’s greatest wonders and reveal its most hidden secrets.
Guided by elite explorers, he gets up close and personal with thrilling spectacles that include volcanoes that roar in silence and animal swarms that appear to have a mind of their own.
“Welcome To Earth finds one of the biggest A-list stars humbled by what he sees, hears and feels, and the fact that Will Smith gives himself over to these experiences is what makes the show a fascinating watch,” wrote Decider’s Joel Keller.
Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci and our own Melanie Lynskey head an impressive ensemble assembled for this 10-part combination of survival epic, psychological horror story and coming-of-age drama.
It’s the story of a team of wildly talented high school football players who have to overcome many obstacles and privations in order to survive a plane crash deep in the remote wilderness.
Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s juicy premise is very much pitching itself as a kind of Lost-meets-Mare of Easttown, by way of Now and Then, Cruel Summer and The Wilds, Lord of theFlies-esque behaviour is teased throughout the opening episode (directed with flair and no small amount of swagger by Destroyer’s Karyn Kusama), as we also learn about each of the key members of the team, both back in high school and today.
At once fast-paced and slow-burning, Yellowjackets benefits from some smart casting between the younger and older versions of the characters. Throw in an evocative soundtrack that, in the first instalment includes classic cuts by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, the Smashing Pumpkins and Inxs, and the result is an intriguing cocktail that could well become the talk of early summer.