Albums from Janelle Monáe and Niall Horan, as well as a TV movie about a Frito-Lay janitor who claims to have invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are among the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you.
Among the offerings worth your time as selected by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists are the streaming debut of “Avatar: The Way of Water” and the celebrity-stuffed “Stars on Mars,” where the likes of Lance Armstrong and Ariel Winter are put in a Mars simulation and presented with a series of challenges to colonize their version of the Red Planet.
NEW MOVIES TO STREAM
— “Avatar: The Way of Water” finally washes onto streaming shores Wednesday. James Cameron's sci-fi sequel will begin streaming on Disney+ and HBO Max after becoming the third highest-grossing movie of all time in theaters. “The Way of Water” has made $2.32 billion at the box office, trailing only the $2.9 billion of the original “Avatar” and the $2.79 billion of “Avengers: Endgame.” In her review, AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr called “The Way of Water,” “a truly dazzling cinematic experience that will have you floating on a blockbuster high.”
— Nike,Tetris and Blackberry have all gotten the big-screen treatment this year. Now, it's Cheetos' turn. “Flamin' Hot,” which debuts Friday on Hulu, is about Richard Montañez, a Frito-Lay janitor who claims to have invented the spicier Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Directed by Eva Longoria, the movie is based on Montañez's memoir, “Flamin’ Hot: The Incredible True Story of One Man’s Rise from Janitor to Top Executive.” Though reports have cast doubt on the veracity of his claims, AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy in his review calls it “a winning tale of perseverance, family love, proud heritage and blue-collar success.”
— As “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” hits theaters, Disney+ is streaming all four previous “Indiana Jones” movies, plus the series “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.” Since May 31, subscribers have been able to watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." And, yes, “Raiders” is still No. 1.
NEW MUSIC TO STREAM
— Niall Horan shows back up with “The Show,” his third solo album and first since 2020’s chart-topping “Heartbreak Weather.” A coach for “The Voice” and former member of One Direction, Horan has released two singles from the new collection — the sweeping and driving “Heaven” and the catchy “Meltdown,” a musical promise that ”when it all melts down/I’ll be there.” He’s also announced his first headlining shows in six years as well as his biggest venues to date across Europe, Oceania and North America.
— Sensuality will be on tap when Janelle Monáe releases “The Age of Pleasure,” her first album since 2018. “’Cause for your love, I’ll take my time/Just wanna feel your hips on mine,” Monáe sings in the single “Lipstick Lover.” Another offering is “Float” featuring Seun Kuti and Egypt 80, which has been used by the NBA and contains the line “It’s hard to look at my resume and not find a reason to toast.” In her review, the AP's Cristina Jaleru writes “listening to the album is like being at the world’s most polite orgy.”
— It’s back to his day job for Jason Isbell. The singer-songwriter has already been the subject of the HBO documentary “Running With Our Eyes Closed” and got a role in Martin Scorsese’s movie “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Now comes the album “Weathervanes” with his band the 400 Unit. The 13-tracks include the powerful anti-gun violence song “Save The World” and the intimate “Death Wish,” with a partner struggling to help the other cope with their self-destructive behavior. “Who’s left to pray to/What’s the difference in breakdown and a breakthrough?” he sings. In his review, AP's Dave Capbell, writes the album “reflects the forever process of learning oneself and how to live and love complex people in a broken world.”
NEW SERIES TO STREAM
— Twelve celebrities, including former cyclist Lance Armstrong, Ariel Winter of “Modern Family” and Tom Schwartz of “Vanderpump Rules,” are put in a Mars simulation and presented with a series of challenges to colonize their version of the Red Planet. William Shatner, Captain Kirk from “Star Trek” and the oldest person to fly to space, serves as host from mission control. “If you need anything, anything at all, you’re on your own,” says Shatner in the trailer. “Stars on Mars” debuts Monday on Fox.
— When “Cruel Summer” debuted its first season in 2021 on Freeform, it was an immediate hit for the network. Season two features a new cast and new mystery but, like its predecessor, takes place over alternate timelines. Lexi Underwood of “Little Fires Everywhere” stars alongside Sadie Stanley, and Griffin Gluck with Jessica Biel as a co-executive producer. The story is set in the Pacific Northwest against the backdrop of the Y2K time period, when the tech world feared computers and government systems would malfunction over programming when the calendar flipped to the year 2000. Fans of the Shonda Rhimes series “Private Practice” may also be tickled to see KaDee Strickland, Paul Adelstein and Gluck reunite in “Cruel Summer” after working together on the former ABC series.
— Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” drops its fourth and final season on Thursday. The series stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in a coming-of-age story about an Indian American high school teen coping with the sudden death of her father, first loves and lusts, friendship, and self-identity. Even better, it’s narrated by John McEnroe. In season four, Ramakrishnan’s Devi is in her senior year of high school and getting ready to go to college. The show, co-created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher is whip smart (as is Kaling’s trademark), up to date on pop culture, funny and touching.
NEW VIDEO GAMES TO PLAY
— Fans of Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo series have been to hell and back waiting for a new chapter — the last one came out more than a decade ago — but Diablo IV has finally arrived. The conflict between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells is still raging, and some knuckleheads have decided now would be a good time to reawaken the superpowerful demon queen Lilith. Your character — rogue, sorcerer, necromancer, barbarian or druid — has the thankless job of trying to prevent Lilith from wreaking too much havoc in the mortal plane called Sanctuary. Blizzard has turned Sanctuary into a sprawling open world with a beefy solo campaign, plenty of side missions, player vs. player arenas and the promise of many quests to come. The war resumes Tuesday on PC, Xbox X/S/One and PlayStation 5/4, although early access has already opened for deluxe and ultimate edition buyers.
— Sweden’s Frictional Games has been building an eerie alternate world since 2010, when it launched the surprise indie hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The nightmare continues in Amnesia: The Bunker, in which battle-scarred World War I soldier Henri Clement finds himself trapped underground with a beast that may be even more dangerous than the chaos ravaging the surface. Frictional says the bunker is more expansive than previous Amnesia settings, and Henri can at least fight back with his revolver — though ammunition may be hard to come by. The horror sets in Tuesday on PC, Xbox X/S/One and PlayStation 5/4.
Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.
The Associated Press