We're halfway into 2023, but it's already been a great year at the movies. Film historians would be delighted to look back at some surprise box office hits like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, an adaptation of the seminal Nintendo video game franchise, which earned $1.344 billion (about Rs. 11,063 crore) — a massive feat, considering how annoyed fans were when they learnt Chris Pratt was going to be voicing the titular plumber. Boosting the animation slate, however, was Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which threw Miles Morales onto a multiversal adventure, while Keanu Reeves got dressed in black once again in John Wick: Chapter 4, heading on a revenge path against the ones who left him to die. Revenge was another major theme in the latest Fast & Furious movie, which brought in a brand new villain.
The superhero movie fatigue is finally hitting — about damn time — causing them to severely underperform in theatres, regardless of some being creative in their presentation. A lot of the big money-makers have already headed over to VOD and streaming services, but I wouldn't call them award contenders. Nevertheless, here's a list of 2023's major film releases that you can watch from the comfort of your home.
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Major releases of 2023 available on streaming and VOD right now
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Aside from the casting drama, The Super Mario Bros. Movie had some narrative flaws, aimed at bombarding its audience with as many easter eggs as possible, as a means to feed off nostalgia. Regardless, it was a joyful experience for kids, who got to experience a movie that did justice to the Mario games' playful themes, by incorporating a fresh origin story. In it, siblings Mario (Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are immigrant plumbers working in Brooklyn, New York City, who get warped down a mysterious underground pipe onto a magical world. Unfortunately, they get separated in the process, with Mario landing in the vibrant Mushroom Kingdom, while Luigi is plopped onto the Dark Lands, ruled by the evil king Bowser (Jack Black).
Teaming up with Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Toad (Keegan-Michael Key), Mario not only has to free his imprisoned brother, but is also dragged into a world-saving mission, as the evil turtle threatens to destroy it all. As mentioned before, fan service is in full force here, as our heroes race along the sparkling Rainbow Road, get slapped around by the goofy Donkey Kong on Monkey Island, and we even get to see the shapeshifting Tanooki outfit. Oh, and there's also a beautiful musical piece from Bowser — a piano ballad — which he dedicates to Peach, as an expression of love. You can tell the voice actor Black was having way too much fun with the overly playful yodelling and all.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie is available to rent on Prime Video. Alternatively, you can opt for Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV, which also come with options to buy the film. When the film receives a streaming date, it should arrive on JioCinema, seeing as Viacom18 recently signed a deal with NBCUniversal.
John Wick: Chapter 4
In hiding with the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), John Wick (Reeves) has been training for the day he gets to exact his revenge on the High Table, the cultish organisation of hitmen, who previously betrayed him and left him severely injured. The end goal, however, runs a bit deeper than that, with Wick wanting to be relieved from the murderous lifestyle, which is hard to attain, thanks to a new formidable enemy Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), who puts a bounty on his head. While the pair agree to single combat, where only one of them can survive, Wick's path to the destination is nothing but an elaborate trap laid with waves of armoured assassins, who wouldn't stop at anything.
John Wick: Chapter 4 adds a new assassin dog in the equation, themes of bitter friendship by way of the blind hitman Caine (Donnie Yen), and plentiful ‘car-fu' action. Chad Stahelski is the returning director for the film, albeit the creator Derek Kolstand bids adieu to the franchise. The film also stars Ian McShane as the crime lord Winston, Lance Reddick as the Continental Hotel concierge Charon, Hiroyuki Sanada (Bullet Train) as the katana-wielding old ally of Wick, Shimazu, and Rina Sawayama as the feisty assassin Akira. It's also worth noting that John Wick 5 is in early development at Lionsgate, alongside a AAA video game.
John Wick 4 is up for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV, via a paid add-on subscription to the Lionsgate channel. You can also rent or purchase it on Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Peter Quill (Pratt) and the remaining Guardians, still reeling from the death of Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), have now set their base on planet Knowhere, which immediately gets attacked by the gold-tinted Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). With their headquarters in shambles and a critically wounded Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the crew embark on an interstellar journey to Orgocorp's headquarters, in order to override a chip from the loudmouthed furball's body. Of course, with such a tragic accident, it was only time we learnt of Rocket's past, as he reminisces of the time he spent at the experimental facility, where the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) ran tests on him and his friends Wal Rus and Lylla.
The notion of romance in Quill's life is also rekindled when he encounters the alternate version of Gamora — introduced in Avengers: Endgame — leading to some funny exchanges between the two. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 marks the end of the trilogy and director James Gunn's goodbye to Marvel for the foreseeable future, as he turns his focus to charting a new course for the rival DC Universe. The film grossed a worldwide total of $841.6 million (about Rs. 6,925 crore), which despite seeming small for an MCU flick, isn't as big of a commercial failure as the next name on this list.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is out now to rent and purchase VOD, across Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV. It should eventually make it to streaming on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
In the days since the Avengers' successful battle against Thanos, Scott Lang/ Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has been living a pretty normal life, often struggling with his daughter Cassandra's (Kathryn Newton) teenage angst, as with every other parent. Unbeknownst to the Pym family, the little genius had been working on a device that can help establish contact with the Quantum Realm, inadvertently getting themselves sucked into a world flush with exotic wildlife and a hugely populated megacity, ruled by the multiversal overlord Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
As they try to find a way to escape the kingdom, Ant-Man, who was always treated as an afterthought, receives a warm welcome from the emperor and accepts an undisclosed task, in the hopes that he receives some time back — the five years lost during the Blip event. As the deal falls through, the two are put at odds against each other, revealing the mutated M.O.D.O.K. (Corey Stoll) and Janet Van Dyne's (Michelle Pfeiffer) long-kept secrets. The film also brings back Evangeline Lilly, who returns as Hope/ Wasp and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Fair warning though: the CGI is horrendous in certain places, with the backgrounds appearing cheaply crafted and super distracting from the vibrant tone Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is trying to exhibit. VFX artists who worked on the film blamed Marvel Studios for diverting its major resources and crew members towards Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, causing theirs to suffer.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is up for streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. You can also buy or rent it on Google Play Movies, YouTube Movies, and Apple TV.
In less than two weeks since its theatrical release, Fast X became the first Hollywood movie of the year to break the 100-crore mark in India, highlighting the need for goofy, over-the-top action movies in the summer. While certainly not as outrageous as heading to space — as seen in F9 — Fast X upped the ante with explosions, be it blowing up the Vatican, an entire dam, and even John Cena riding around in cars armed with cannons. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has a new formidable enemy in town, Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), who's been planning his revenge for the past 12 years, having witnessed his druglord father Hernan Reyes' murder back in 2011's Fast Five.
Reunited with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej Parker (Ludacris), former street racer Dom must rise to the occasion and prevent his family from being harmed, by whatever means possible. Serving as the first of a two-part finale — maybe three — the film brings new additions by way of Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad), and Rita Moreno.
Fast X is now available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and Zee5, with further options to buy on Apple TV.
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