After a rather limp April slate, Netflix is springing into summer blockbuster season in May, packing its release schedule full of original films, high-profile pandemic acquisitions, and long-awaited new seasons of a few of its most popular series (or at least a few with vocal online fanbases—we see you, Castlevania stans). Will it be enough to help the streamer recover some of its eroding market share? Only time will tell. (But probably not.)
Most of the attention—at least online—will go to Army of the Dead, the next film from internet martyr Zack Snyder (Zack Snyder’s Justice League), who appears to be doing his best to inject new life into two tired genres by marrying them together: the heist film and the zombie thriller, set in Vegas, just for good measure. Call it “Ocean’s Undead,” with Dave Bautista leading an oddball crew of mercs (including comedian Tig Notaro in a truly inspired bit of casting) as they break into the quarantined, zombie-filled City of Second Chances to steal a few billion wasting away in casino vaults. Because money is totally going to be worth something amid the zombie apocalypse. Yes, that’s nitpicking, as the trailer makes it look pretty damn fun.
The second-biggest new “Netflix Film” isn’t really a Netflix film at all—the streamer acquired The Woman in the Window (May 14) from 20th Century Studios after its release was bumped off the 2020 schedule due to, well, you know. The Amy Adams star vehicle was already a troubled production: It’s based on a bestselling novel by pseudonymous author A.J. Finn, who was quasi-cancelled a few years ago for his weird behavior while working in New York publishing; and despite the presence of Oscar-friendly director Joe Wright (Atonement) and a script by Pulitzer-winning playwright Tracy Letts, the film endured lengthy reshoots after poor test screenings. Still, not every movie that limps into release two years later than originally planned is a disaster, right?
Another movie of note: Oxygen (May 12), a claustrophobic sci-fi thriller from horror filmmaker Alexandre Aja in which a woman (Mélanie Laurent) awakens in a futuristic cryogenic chamber and must rely on the presence of an unseen voice in her ears to survive, and hopefully (for me, at least; I do not like enclosed spaces) escape. It looks intense—but I’m most intrigued that it was originally conceived as a vehicle for... Anne Hathaway?
Netflix is also launching another high-profile comic book adaptation to join The Umbrella Academy. Based on the comic from Mark Millar (Kick Ass), Jupiter’s Legacy is one of those revisionist “reexamining the place of costumed heroes in popular culture” things, which means you can probably expect a lot of blood and swearing. I do appreciate the dedication to goofy Silver Age-style costumes though; you can see what I mean in the trailer.
Otherwise, yes, at some point this month we’re finally getting another batch of episodes of the wonderful Master of None from Aziz Ansari (speaking of getting quasi-cancelled, though he seems to have pulled out of it by handling himself well); according to IndieWire, this shortened, 5-episode run will focus on supporting character Denise, played by Lena Waithe, who is also co-writing with Ansari. A fourth season the anime-influenced video game adaptation Castlevania is on the way, as is more Selena, Trash Truck, and Love Death + Robots. It’s almost like Netflix doesn’t want you to go outside at all this summer.
What’s coming to Netflix in May 2021
Coming soon (no date announced)
Available May 1
Aliens Stole My Body
Angelina Ballerina: Season 5
Angelina Ballerina: Season 6
Back to the Future
Back to the Future Part II
Back to the Future Part III
Barney and Friends: Season 13
Barney and Friends: Season 14
Best of the Best
Dead Again in Tombstone
Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Never Back Down
Resident Evil: Afterlife
Resident Evil: Extinction
Sitting in Limbo
State of Play
The Land Before Time
The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure