Olivia Rodrigo’s much-anticipated sophomore album and LaKeith Stanfield starring in the eight-part horror fantasy series “The Changeling” 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 Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” starring Halle Bailey, the video game NBA 2K24 pays tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and the popular comfort show “Virgin River” returns for its fifth season on Netflix.
NEW MOVIES TO STREAM
— The latest Disney live-action remake, “The Little Mermaid,” landed on Disney+ on Wednesday. Not everyone has been a fan of the studio’s regular retreads of animation classics. But they’ve been dependable box-office successes; earlier this year, “The Little Mermaid” grossed $568.6 million worldwide. In her review, AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr called this “Mermaid” “a somewhat drab undertaking with sparks of bioluminescence” that “doesn’t really sing.” But one element of Rob Marshall’s film has been more widely hailed: the breakthrough performance of Halle Bailey as Ariel.
— “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” goes the other way, taking a usually live-action franchise into animation. (The first Ninja Turtles movie, in 1990, came out a year before the original “Little Mermaid”; one born in ooze, the other the sea.) The track record of the films that have followed has been pretty poor. But “Mutant Mayhem,” director Jeff Rowe (co-director of “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” ) and co-written by co-producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is a vibrant, hip-hop spin for the turtles. In my review of the film, which is available now on video-on-demand, I praised it for some good gags and clever innovations but “one brilliant idea: casting Ice Cube as the voice of the movie’s mutant insect supervillain Super Fly.”
— Olivia Rodrigo breathed new life into the angsty power ballad when she dropped “Drivers License” back in January 2021, the lead single on her debut LP, “SOUR.” One-hit wonder she was not: then came the fiery power pop-punk of “Good 4 U” and “Brutal.” In 2023, “GUTS,” her highly anticipated sophomore release, builds off the life experiences of a pop superstar now in the throes of fame — and her early 20s. The first two tracks released from the album — the blood-sucking piano ballad “Vampire” and cheeky backslide anthem “Bad Idea Right?” — are miles away from each other and undeniable partners; the perfect tease for a punk-y album unafraid of taking dynamic swings. ( Read AP’s review.)
— The K-pop behemoth BTS aren’t active as a group right now; it’s seven members are taking turns fulfilling South Korea’s mandatory military service ( Jin and J-hope have enlisted; Suga has begun the process ). In that absence, the remaining members have taken turns releasing solo material. It’s a bit of brilliant business and fan service: Can you miss a boy band that never really went away? The latest to charm the public with his singular star power is V, on his forthcoming solo release, “Layover.” His rich baritone slides over the retro R&B production of his mournful bilingual singles “Love Me Again” and “Rainy Days.” ( Read AP’s review.)
— A new series on PBS demonstrates how animals are adapting to climate change in surprising and even inspiring ways. “Evolution Earth” shows animal migration and behavior changes in response to our changing planet. Like the Edith’s Checkerspot, a butterfly that is thriving at higher elevations, moving away from the heat. The five-part series is narrated by evolutionary biologist Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton.
— The popular comfort show “Virgin River” returns for its fifth season on Netflix. Starring Alexandra Breckenridge and Martin Henderson, the series follows residents of a small, fictional town in northern California where neighbors help neighbors and the one bar in town also has a gourmet chef. Yes, there’s drama but life seems easier in Virgin River. The first 10 episodes debuted Thursday with two additional holiday episodes dropping in November.
— LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”, “Haunted Mansion”) executive produces and stars in “The Changeling” for Apple TV+. The eight-part horror fantasy series is based on a best-selling book of the same name by Victor LaValle. Stanfield plays Apollo, a rare book dealer in New York whose marriage to a librarian named Emma takes a shocking turn after they welcome a son. The show is a dark mystery that delves into heavy themes including past trauma and parenting fears while also exposing how difficult it is to navigate those things in today’s technology-driven world. The first three episodes of “The Changeling” drop Friday.
— It’s 2330, and humanity has finally ditched this planet and ventured out beyond the Solar System. In Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield, you’re a new recruit to Constellation, a band of explorers searching for rare artifacts. It’s a huge project, with more than 1,000 planets to visit — some civilized and friendly, others not so much. Against that sprawling background, the developers are promising a vast array of choices, from what your character and spaceship look like to how you want to deal with the various factions spread across the galaxy. Here on Earth in 2023, Microsoft and Bethesda have a lot riding on Starfield: It’s the most ambitious Xbox game of the year, and it’s the first new universe from the studio since it launched The Elder Scrolls in 1994. Liftoff commenced Wednesday on Xbox X/S and PC.
— The real NBA season is still a month and a half away, but 2K Sports knows that virtual basketball fans are itching to get back on the court. NBA 2K24 pays tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant with “Mamba Moments,” which let you relive some of the most dramatic games of his career. This year’s edition also introduces “ProPlay,” which translates actual NBA footage into gameplay. And 2K says it has revamped and upgraded its offensive moves, delivering tighter control over layups, dunks and even dribbling. Tipoff is Friday on PlayStation 5/4, Xbox X/S/One and PC.