What to stream: ‘The Defenders’ – the super anti-team on Netflix

Mike Colter, Scott Glenn, Finn Jones, Krysten Ritter, and Charlie Cox in Marvel's The Defenders

Here’s what’s new and ready to stream now on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, FilmStruck, video-on-demand, and other streaming services …

Netflix hosts the small screen superhero event of the year: The Defenders, the long-promised team-up of Matt Murdoch/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones). More down to earth than The Avengers, they aren’t necessarily team players, which is part of the fun. The bicker, clash, and flick a lot of shit at Danny, the brooding rich white kid with the Iron Fist.

Sigourney Weaver takes villain duties as the leader of The Hand and its plan for world domination and characters from the solo series make appearances, including Elektra (Elodie Yung) and, of course, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), who has appeared in all four series as the private nurse to the heroes and makes the initial introductions between the loner heroes. The team doesn’t actually get together for a couple of episodes but the show weaves their individual journeys together with a momentum that the solo shows never managed.

That makes The Defenders is swifter, punchier show, less complex but more energetic and splashy, and the character chemistry even makes the self-serious Danny Rand a little more bearable.

The advance reviews haven’t all been glowing but they have been overwhelmingly positive. By any measure it is a return to form after the misfire of Iron Fist, and at its best it is a blast. “Both their heroic vulnerabilities and the franchise’s weaknesses are superseded by the collective and the joy of watching a super-sensed, ultra-strong, bulletproof, luminous fist-wielding foursome smash soulless corporate henchmen into smithereens,” writes Sophie Gilbert for The Atlantic.

8 episodes. Queue it up!

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Alien: Covenant, the sixth film in the series, detours a ship filled with colonists en route to populate a new world and drops them on a planet filled with… well, you know how it works. Katherine Waterston leads the human resistance to the alien threat and Michael Fassbender plays two roles (R). Also on DVD and Blu-ray.

Doug Liman directs the cat-and-mouse war thriller The Wall with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as American soldiers trapped by a crack Iraqi sniper.

Liev Schreiber is Chuck in the story of the real-life underdog boxer who inspired “Rocky” (R).

Also new: comedy How to be a Latin Lover with Eugenio Derbez and Salma Hayek (PG-13) and teen romantic drama Everything, Everything (PG-13).

Foreign language offerings include Fanny’s Journey from France with Cecile De France and Léa Pool’s The Passion of Augustine from French Canada (both not rated, with subtitles)

Available same day as select theaters nationwide are hostage thriller 6 Days, a with Abbie Cornish and Mark Strong (not rated), crime drama Shot Caller with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jon Bernthal (R), offbeat comedy Lemon with Brett Gelman and Judy Greer (not rated), and Slamdance award winner Dave Made a Maze, a slacker comedy with Nick Thune (not rated).

Netflix

Noomi Rapace plays multiple roles in What Happened to Monday (2017), a science fiction thriller about identical septuplets on the run from a draconian government (not rated).

Matthew McConaughey is a maverick entrepreneur and prospector who strikes Gold (2016) and fights to keep it (R).

Also new: romantic drama The Sweet Life (2016) with Chris Messina and Abigail Spencer (not rated), hockey comedy Goon (2011) with Seann William Scott (R), and gambling thriller 21 (2008) with Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey (PG-13).

Kid stuff: From Japan comes the animated series Glitter Force Doki Doki: Season 1. Also new: Dinotrux: Season 5 and the family-friendly adventure Arthur and the Invisibles (2006), a mix of live-action and animation from Valerian director Luc Besson (PG).

Stand-up: Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo

Amazon Prime

King Hu’s Come Drink With Me (Hong Kong, 1966) is a landmark of Hong Kong cinema that redefined the wuxia pian (“martial chivalry” genre) (not rated, with subtitles). Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

The BBC mini-series Undercover stars Sophie Okonedo as a barrister committed to social justice and Adrian Lester as her husband, who has been hiding a secret from her for 20 years. 6 episodes.

City of Vice: Season 1 (2008) dramatizes the story of the first London police force formed in 1749 as a period crime thriller. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.

More streaming TV: The Honeymooners: The Lost Episodes (1951-1953) presents 37 episodes of the landmark sitcom when it was still part of The Jackie Gleason Show and Being Human: Season 1 from Britain presents the original version of the supernatural drama.

Kid stuff: Emmy-winning animated series Tumble Leaf: Season 3 for preschoolers.

Stand-up: Nick Offerman & Megan Mullally: Summer of 69 (No Apostrophe)

Hulu

Matthew McConaughey is Dirk Pitt in Sahara (2005) the big screen version of the Clive Cussler adventure novel, co-starring Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz (PG-13).

Streaming TV: Pamela Adlon is up for an Emmy for the FX comedy Better Things: Season 1. Also new: Lifetime drama Mary Kills People: Season 1, which takes on the issue of euthanasia, and IFC comedy Stan Against Evil: Season 1 with John C. McGinley.

Also new: Hamlet (1990) with Mel Gibson and Glenn Close (PG), Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson (PG), undercover thriller Narc (2002) with Ray Liotta and Jason Patric (R), and the original Love Story (1970) with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw (PG).

HBO Now

The Harry Potter spin-off / prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) sends British magic scholar New Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to 1920s New York and unleashes magical creatures into the human world (PG-13).

Warren Beatty directs and stars in Rules Don’t Apply (2016) as Howard Hughes (R).

Arriving on Saturday is the dark, often brutal thriller Nocturnal Animals (2016) with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal (R).

Showtime Anytime

Stand-up: Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood

FilmStruck / Criterion Channel

FilmStruck showcases films of Richard Lester, including A Hard Day’s Night (1964) with the Beatles and the comic swashbucklers The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974) (both PG).

FilmStruck’s curated collection of eighties indies include the Coen Bros.’s debut Blood Simple (1984, R), Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan Stranger Than Paradise (1984, R), Jonathan Demme’s screwball thriller Something Wild (1986, R), and the groundbreaking Losing Ground (1982) from Kathleen Collins (not rated).

Acorn TV

The American premiere of the British documentary Hunting the KGB Killers plus the cheeky Australian legal comic drama Rake: Series 4.

Free

Charlottesville: Race and Terror – Vice News covered the events in Charlottesville, Virginia for the HBO nightly show VICE News Tonight and has made the 22-minute program available to stream for free.

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About Sean Axmaker

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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