What to stream: Cops, orcs, and elves in ‘Bright’ on Netflix, ‘Gunpowder’ on HBO, ‘Dunkirk’ on VOD, and more

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton star in the Netflix Original Film directed by David Ayer

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 debuts its most expensive original feature yet: the cop thriller Bright (2017, not rated) set in an alternate universe Los Angeles. Will Smith is a cop who teams up with the first Orc patrolman (Joel Edgerton) on the force to track down a deadly new weapon. The reviews, however, have been brutal: “There’s boring, there’s bad, and then there’s Bright, a movie so profoundly awful that Republicans will probably try to pass it into law over Christmas break,” writes David Ehrlich for Indiewire, and Andy Webster proclaims it “a loud, ungainly hybrid that does not serve police procedurals or fantasy spectaculars very well” at The New York Times.

David Ayer (Suicide Squad) directs from an original script by Max Landis (American Ultra) and Noomi Rapace and Edgar Ramírez co-star. Now streaming on Netflix.

Kit Harrington, Liv Tyler, and Tom Cullen star in the four-part miniseries Gunpowder, the lavish HBO dramatization of the real-life 17th century plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up the House of Lords. All four episodes on HBO Now and HBO On Demand.

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017, PG) is a dramatization of the British army’s evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, with the help of civilian ships ferrying soldiers across the English Channel, as an epic experimental film with minimal dialogue, juggled timelines, and intimate scenes that share the experience of the soldiers and civilians. It’s unique and immediate and striking. On Cable On Demand and video-on-demand, plus DVD and Blu-ray.

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Dame Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria once again in Victoria and Abdul (2017, PG-13), based on the true story of the monarch’s friendship with a young Indian clerk (Ali Fazal). Stephen Frears directs.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a civilian who lost both legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in Stronger (2017, R), also based on a true story.

The award-winning drama The King’s Choice (Norway, 2017, not rated, with subtitles), which dramatizes the country’s defiance in the face of the Nazi threat in World War II, is Norway’s official submission to the Academy Awards.

Also new: the animated The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017, PG) with the voices of Jackie Chan and Dave Franco, biographical drama Rebel in the Rye (2017, PG-13) with Nicholas Hoult as J.D. Salinger, and mother! (2017, R) with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, a passionate but polarizing allegory that appeared on many “worst of the year” lists.


From Canada comes The Indian Detective, a 4-part miniseries about a Canadian cop in Mumbai to visit family who stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy, and from Spain comes La Casa de Papel (Spain, with subtitles), also known as Money Heist, about a criminal genius who takes over the Royal Mint hostage with a loyal crew (15 episodes).

Three non-fiction shows debut also debut this week:

More streaming TV:

Christmas movies: Miss Me This Christmas (2017, not rated) and You Can’t Fight Christmas (2017, not rated) offer holiday romance with African-American casts.

Foreign affairs: The Women’s Balcony (Israel, 2016, not rated, with subtitles), a comedy about a revolt against a conservative rabbi, and historical action thriller God of War (China, 2017, not rated, with subtitles) with Vincent Zhao and Sammo Hung;

Stand-up: Russell Howard: Recalibrate.

Amazon Prime

The Last Post (2016), a BBC mini-series about British soldiers in 1965 defending the last outposts of the colonial empire in the Middle East, makes its U.S. debut on Amazon Prime.

More streaming TV: the evolution of artificial intelligence continues in Humans: Season 2 and, in the holiday spirit, Doctor Who Christmas Special (2016) teams The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) up with a superhero (Justin Chatwin) to save Manhattan.

The complete series: the 2003 reboot Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries and the four-season Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), perhaps the best science fiction TV series of the 21st century so far, are now streaming for Amazon Prime members (except for the first episode of season one, which Amazon is inexplicably charging for). Also newly arrived are the complete runs of the comic detective shows Monk (2002-2009) with Tony Shalhoub as an OCD detective (8 seasons) and Psych with James Roday as a fake psychic and Dulé Hill as his best friend and partner.


Adventureland (2009, R), a smart, observant coming-of-age drama set in a cheap theme park, stars in Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in their first big screen collaboration.

Also new: family adventure comedy Monster Trucks (2017, PG) with Lucas Till and Jane Levy, offbeat comedy Lemon (2017, not rated) with Brett Gelman and Judy Greer, and fraternity drama Goat (2016, R) with Nick Jonas and James Franco.

Streaming TV: Nick Nolte is Graves, a former U.S. president who wants to right the wrongs of his administration, in the debut season of the political satire, and for kids is the Cartoon Network animated adventure Mighty Magiswords: Season 1, Part 1.

Foreign affairs: a team of archeologists rouse an ancient monster in Ragnarok (Norway, 2013, PG-13, with subtitles) and Vengeance of an Assassin (Thailand, 2014, not rated, with subtitles) is a martial arts thriller from Panna Rittikrai, the action director of the hit “Ong Bak” films.


Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin are retired buddies who plot a bank robbery in the comedy Going in Style (2017, PG-13).

The documentary Agnelli (2017) profiles Gianni Agnelli, the playboy head of Fiat in Italy, and 15: A Quinceanera Story profiles five Latina girls coming of age in four short documentaries.

Arriving Saturday night is The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017, PG-13) with Jessica Chastain.

FilmStruck / Criterion Channel

Directors of the Week are Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger and 12 films are added to the streaming service, including Powell’s breakthrough feature The Edge of the World (1937), magnificent romantic dramas I Know Where I’m Going! (1945) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946), and Powell’s controversial thriller Peeping Tom (1960).

Also new on FilmStruck: Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) with James Mason and Ava Gardner, Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky (1976, R) with Peter Falk and John Cassavetes, and the complete, restored silent movie classic Metropolis (Germany, 1926).

New on Criterion Channel is Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (Germany, 1982, PG, with subtitles) with Klaus Kinski and Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (UK/Japan, 1983, R, with subtitles) with David Bowie.

Acorn TV

L’Accident (France, with subtitles) is a 6-episode miniseries about a widower who investigates a seemingly simple traffic accident that killed his wife and uncovers a web of lies.

From Australia comes East of Everything, a drama with Richard Roxburgh from the creators of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. All 13 episodes now streaming.

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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 at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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