Netflix’s Rebel Moon, new Hunger Games, and every new movie to watch

Netflix’s Rebel Moon, new Hunger Games, and every new movie to watch

Happy December, Polygon readers! It’s the last weekend before the Christmas holiday, and we’ve got a whole sack full of exciting new releases on streaming and VOD for you!

This week, Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, the first installment of Zack Snyder’s epic space opera starring Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) finally comes to Netflix along with Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro. Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi action thriller The Creator finally comes to Hulu, and the black comedy thriller Saltburn arrives on Prime Video. There’s plenty of new movies available to rent this week as well, including The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, and much more.

Here’s everything new to watch this weekend!


New on Netflix

Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Doona Bae in Netflix’s Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire, dual-wielding two suspiciously lightsaber-like glowing red plasma swords and staring into the camera

Image: Netflix

Genre: Epic space opera
Run time: 2h 15m
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Michiel Huisman

Zack Snyder returns to Netflix with an all-new, Star Wars- and Seven Samurai-inspired space opera in the form of Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire. Set in a far-off galaxy besieged by a brutal interplanetary empire, the film follows the story of a soldier-turned-farmer who must recruit a band of warriors to fight alongside her against the regime she once served. Also, Anthony Hopkins shows up as a robot and Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas) has cool definitely-not-lightsaber butcher swords. Neat!

From our review,

The best that can be said about Snyder is that he’s at least capable of a kind of manic brouhaha that’s not unbecoming in this kind of genre filmmaking. Despite the lack of character or emotion in his films, he certainly can be one of the best filmmakers at capturing the pure excess of a piece of lurid fantasy art, or the distinct flair of a Frank Miller drawing. But in Child of Fire, the results couldn’t even be called stylish. The CGI seems to degenerate as the running time goes on. The production and costume design had this Dune agnostic bumping that film up half a star on Letterboxd. And Tom Holkenborg’s score sounds like Space Enya.

Maestro

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Bradley Cooper conducting an orchestra seen from the middle row in a black-and-white scene from Netflix’s Maestro

Photo: Jason McDonald/Netflix

Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 2h 9m
Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this biographical drama about the life of the acclaimed American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein and his complicated relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre.

From our review,

Maestro takes on new shades when compared with Cooper’s directorial debut, that Star Is Born remake. It’s the inverse of Maestro in a lot of ways. In A Star Is Born, singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) sees something magical in Ally (Lady Gaga), and struggles to cope as they fall in love and her career eclipses his. Conversely, Maestro is built around Leonard Bernstein’s marriage to Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan), who Bernstein is captivated by and devoted to — at least, part of him is. Felicia, who first appears on camera in a black-and-white sequence, illuminates the screen with her talents and ambitions, then is ironically suffocated as Cooper widens Maestro’s aspect ratio and fills it with color. Leonard’s ambition, his dueling appetites, and his affairs with men like David Oppenheim (Matt Bomer) edge her out and dim her world.

Operation Napoleon

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

A man in a blue snowsuit shovels the wreckage of a Nazi biplane out of the snow with two figures riding snowmobiles in the distance in Operation Napoleon.

Image: Magnet Releasing/Magnolia

Genre: Historical thriller
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Óskar Þór Axelsson
Cast: Vivian Ólafsdóttir, Jack Fox, Iain Glen

An Icelandic lawyer (Vivian Ólafsdóttir) finds herself drawn into a deadly international conspiracy after her brother accidentally stumbles upon a German World War II plane buried beneath the snow. Hunted by ruthless criminals and a unrelenting CIA director (Iain Glen), she’ll have to get to the heart of the mystery if she has any hope of surviving.

New on Hulu

The Creator

Where to watch: Available to stream on Hulu

Joshua, the protagonist of The Creator, rides a bus with his Sim companion, the child Alphie

Image: 20th Century Studios

Genre: Sci-fi action
Run time: 2h 15m
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: John David Washington, Gemma Chan, Ken Watanabe

John David Washington (Tenet) stars in Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ latest sci-fi adventure as an undercover operative in the far-future searching for the mysterious creator of a rogue-artificial intelligence. After being entrusted with the care of a human-like robot named “Alphie” (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), the pair embark on a journey in search of answers and salvation.

From our review,

The Creator would be a wonderful video game. I mean that earnestly — video games are terrific for interacting with lore, with the bits and bobs of world-building that all storytellers spend years developing, but leave as subtext in the story proper. That can also be true of video games, but games of larger scope often flesh out their virtual worlds with said lore, which players are often free to roam and engage with. There are all sorts of ways that lore can become text — optional conversations with characters, diary and book excerpts to read, video or audio ephemera, all ambient and non-compulsory, a substrate where the player can find meaning whether the main narrative is fulfilling or not. The Creator is a fully realized future in the service of a rote story and flat characters that only gesture in compelling directions; I’d rather not bother with that story at all.

New on Prime Video

Saltburn

Where to watch: Available to stream on Prime Video

Oliver (Barry Keoghan), in black tie dress, sits at what appears to be an fancy table covered in candles of all descriptions, reflecting his face back at him — except the more you look, the more it’s clear that the reflection is in a different position, standing with its eyes lowered. From the movie Saltburn

Image: Prime Video

Genre: Psychological thriller
Run time: 2h 11m
Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Archie Madekwe

‘What if The Talented Mr. Ripley, but set in a palatial Oxford-family estate with young adults in the mid-2000s?”

That’s essentially the premise of this black comedy about class and privilege starring Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Jacob Elordi (Euphoria), from Promising Young Woman filmmaker Emerald Fennell.

New on Paramount Plus

Beau is Afraid

Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus

Joaquin Phoenix as Beau Wasserman in Beau Is Afraid.

Image: A24

Genre: Surrealist tragicomedy horror
Run time: 2h 59m
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan

A24 horror maestro Ari Aster returns with a different kind of project in this horror-comedy about a man confronting his fears after the death of his mother.

Golda

Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus

Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, sitting at a table and speaking into a red corded telephone with the flag of Israel in the background in Golda.

Image: Bleecker Street Media

Genre: Biographical drama
Run time: 1h 40m
Director: Guy Nattiv
Cast: Helen Mirren, Camille Cottin, Liev Schreiber

Helen Mirren stars in this biographical drama about Golda Meir, the 4th Prime Minister of Israel, and her role during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

New to rent

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) leers over Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

Photo: Murray Close/Lionsgate

Genre: Dystopian action
Run time: 2h 37m
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Peter Dinklage

Francis Lawrence returns to the world of The Hunger Games to tell the story of the early years of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), who would go on to become the president of Panem and the nemesis of Katniss Everdeen.

Set 60 years before the events of the first film, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes recalls the fateful meeting between Coriolanus and Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from District 12 who would leave a profound impact on his life and worldview.

From our review,

Collins’ book and Lawrence’s movie don’t redo the action of the Hunger Games events; they dissect them, then force us to sit on the Capitol side of the equation. They demand to know why we were even drawn to the love triangle, the pretty dresses, and the themed arenas in the first place. We’ve always been the spectators, after all, watching Katniss’ story from a safe distance. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes shows us what happens if we get too carried away by propaganda, luxury, and the promise of safety. In that way, it’s a fitting end to the franchise — and a fitting end to the way the genre evolved into a beast of its own.

Trolls: Band Together

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

(L-R) Ablaze (voiced by Joey Fatone), Hype (JC Chasez), Branch (Justin Timberlake), Trickee (Chris Kirkpatrick) and Boom (Lance Bass) in Trolls Band Together

Image: DreamWorks/Universal

Genre: Adventure comedy
Run time: 1h 31m
Directors: Walt Dohrn, Tim Heitz
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Kenan Thompson

The Trolls have returned, and they’re getting the band back together! After Branch’s brother Floyd is kidnapped, he’ll have to team up with Poppy to reunite with his other brothers in order to find the culprit and save the day.

Thanksgiving

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

A man in a John Carver mask holds a pitchfork from the movie Thanksgiving

Photo: Pief Weyman/Sony Pictures

Genre: Slasher horror
Run time: 1h 46m
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Addison Rae, Gina Gershon

Just in time for Christmas, Eli Roth is back with a brand new holiday-themed slasher! After a tragic Black Friday riot, the quiet town of Plymouth, Massachusetts is terrorized by a Thanksgiving-inspired killer wearing a ghoulish John Carver mask.

From our review,

Comedic slashers where both halves complement each other are rare, even among the genre’s most entertaining offerings. Movies like Totally Killer or Happy Death Day are too funny and lighthearted to ever really earn a genuine scare, while a movie like House of 1000 Corpses is so dark and gross that the humor isn’t likely to land on a first viewing. Few movies have ever struck that balance quite as well as Craven’s four Scream movies. Thanksgiving doesn’t quite reach that series’ meteoric heights, but it comes far closer than anything else in recent years — including the Scream franchise itself.

Silent Night

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Joel Kinnaman, wearing body armor and wielding a shotgun, prepares to climb a staircase in Silent Night.

Photo: Carlos Latapi/Lionsgate

Genre: Action thriller
Run time: 1h 44m
Director: John Woo
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Scott Mescudi, Harold Torres

After nearly 20 years, action movie legend John Woo has returned with a Christmas-themed revenge thriller starring Joel Kinnaman as a vigilante who embarks on a mission to exact vengeance on the gang who murdered his son in a Christmas Eve drive-by. Polygon spoke to Woo about the process that went into this film and why he was first attracted to the unique project.

Anatomy of a Fall

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

A dead, bloody body in the snow in Anatomy of a Fall, as someone near talks on the phone

Image: Neon

Genre: Crime thriller
Run time: 2h 31m
Director: Justine Triet
Cast: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner

This Palme d’Or-winning French courtroom drama follows the story of a writer trying to prove her innocence following the mysterious death of her husband outside of their home. Was it murder or was it suicide? Beyond a simple interrogation of guilt, the film is a psychological thriller that delves deep into the complicated circumstances behind the couple’s relationship.

Dream Scenario

Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

A schlubby-looking Nicolas Cage holds a backpack and stands in front of a car with “LOSER” painted on it in bright pink letters in Dream Scenario.

Image: A24

Genre: Horror comedy
Run time: 1h 42m
Director: Kristoffer Borgli
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera

Nicolas Cage (The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent) continues his streak of meta self-referential projects in this horror-comedy about a mild-mannered biology professor who inexplicably becomes famous overnight after appearing in the dreams of people around the world.

From our review,

Dream Scenario’s vague, nebulous type of fame gives Borgli an avenue to comment on celebrity and its price without taking a specific stand. He’s just exploring the cost of being highly visible, being up for endless interpretation by total strangers, and being disconnected in the public eye from any actual real-world intentions or actions. Once Paul starts deliberately taking a more active role in people’s dreams, the script takes a Charlie Kaufman-esque approach, playing with the ideas around so-called cancel culture as part of the world of instant fame. He also keeps the visuals refreshing and interesting, fully veering into dream-sequence horror, with enjoyably weird results.

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