Get ready to pop some popcorn and freeze some Junior Mints: With movie theaters temporarily closed, several studios have opted to release their films digitally and ahead of schedule on various on-demand movie rental platforms like iTunes and Amazon, plus some gaming platforms and cable providers. (While other movies, like A Quiet Place II, slated to be released this weekend, have been postponed.) This means you can now see brand-new movies just a few weeks after their original theatrical release date—or in a few cases, on the same date—rather than waiting several weeks or months to watch them at home. Read on for a list of the first batch of movies available early this way, from Pixar's Onward to The Invisible Man, accompanied by our critics' reviews where applicable. Follow the links to see trailers and find out more about where to stream these movies.
AVAILABLE FRIDAY, MARCH 20
From the moment Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) bounded down the steps of his staircase in full scowl, I wanted to see Emma again. I went in pretty hyped up because Anya Taylor-Joy was making full use of her signature penetrating stare to play the character closer to the book—little did I expect that she would be matched frown for frown by Nighy, playing her father, whose background sighing and perpetual phobia of drafts lit up every scene with an endearing ridiculousness. SUZETTE SMITH
It starts out with Young Elsa and Young Anna, and, I don’t know, this is just my opinion, but I didn’t think that part was very necessary, necessarily? I thought the story was good. I thought the parts were well thought out and they had some depth to them, if you know what I mean? Like some parts were really sad, and some parts could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Also, you know how in the first Frozen, there’s like this main song that you know is the main song? In this one, there’s like three or four different songs that could be that main song. There were songs that like Elsa and Anna and Kristoff sang that could qualify for that position. I thought they were fine. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
Available on Disney+
More than anything else, The Hunt plays out like a long, gore-happy episode of The Twilight Zone. The premise—initially, at least—is simple: In a riff on the 1924 short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” rich, urban “elites” round up a dozen rural “deplorables,” set them loose on the grounds of a woodsy, sprawling estate, and hunt them down for sport. But a clever twist or two later, The Hunt, written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof—the latter coming off his success with HBO’s extraordinary Watchmen—ends up offering a bit more than dark humor and skull-crunching violence. Not a lot more, mind you—just as The Hunt was blasted, sight unseen, by conservatives last fall, it’s also in danger of being overhyped. But The Hunt does have something smart to say, and it’s all the more impressive that it gets its point across despite—or, actually, because of—all the limbs and bullets that’re flying all over the place. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Invisible Man
Film students and theorists are going to be studying the career of writer/director Leigh Whannell for decades, trying to suss out how this young Australian has mined piles of gold from high-concept but low-budget popcorn fare. Whannell's been responsible for bringing two hugely successful horror franchises into the world—the sagas of Saw and Insidious—and, in 2018, turned the fairly ridiculous B-movie plot of Upgrade into a hit thanks to his stylized direction and pulpy action sequences. Whannell is about to have another hit on his hands with Blumhouse Productions’ The Invisible Man, starring an excellent Elisabeth Moss. Made on a slender budget that was likely eaten up by CGI effects, this riff on H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic is a slow, steady squeeze from a vise that doesn’t release its grip until its final shot. ROBERT HAM
In this dramatization of a true, infuriating story, Michael B. Jordan plays the lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who, with the help of activist Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), fights racism and systemic legal injustice to save the life of an innocent condemned man, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx).
(Released March 17)
Especially when compared to Pixar's best, there's definitely stuff to nitpick in the studio's latest, Onward. Fair? Maybe, but then again, even Pixar movies can have a hard time living up to Pixar movies. But to focus on Onward's benign, minor missteps—none of which detract from the story's surprisingly emotional arc—is to miss the bigger picture. Funny and wholly original, it's a fantasy adventure that digs into something nearly all of us know but rarely talk about: How the memory of an absent family member can hang over the lives of the living. ERIK HENRIKSEN
AVAILABLE TUESDAY, MARCH 24
The nanotech superhero Bloodshot tries to distinguish reality from his corporate overlords' brainwashing in this adaptation of the popular comic.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is Harley Quinn/Margot Robbie’s show, and just like in the not-so-great Suicide Squad, it’s a show she clearly steals. Cathy Yan’s direction is both spry and delicious, and if the plot occasionally drags, the action and fight scenes are wild, juicy, and comically over the top, and the choreography is better than any superhero movie in recent memory. While the other cast members may have trouble keeping up with Robbie's laser-focused characterization, Birds of Prey is a feisty, fun, and distinctly feminist take within a glut of male-oriented superhero cinema.
The Way Back
Ben Affleck plays an alcoholic coach who returns to the town where he was a teen basketball star in this redemption drama by Gavin O'Connor.
AVAILABLE MARCH 27
I Still Believe
The true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his journey of love and loss.
AVAILABLE APRIL 10
Trolls World Tour
Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also devoted to six different kinds of music — funk, country, techno, classical, pop and rock. When rockers Queen Barb and King Thrash set out to destroy the other music, Poppy and Branch embark on a daring mission to unite the trolls and save the diverse melodies from becoming extinct.