Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, The Little Mermaid, and every other new movie to watch at home this weekend

Happy Friday, Polygon readers!

Each week, we round up the most notable releases new to streaming and VOD, highlighting the biggest and best new movies for you to watch at home. This week, we have a Jackie Chan/John Cena action movie on Netflix, as well as the streaming debut of Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey.

In addition, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts rolls out onto Paramount Plus after its VOD premiere last week. The satirical superhero comedy Smoking Causes Coughing comes to streaming on Hulu, while the biographical comedy The Beanie Bubble premieres on Apple TV Plus. There’s several new releases on VOD aside from the aforementioned Disney musical, like the psychological thriller Sympathy for the Devil starring Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad) and Nicolas Cage.

Here’s the lowdown on everything new to watch this weekend!

New on Netflix

Hidden Strike

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

(L-R) John Cena and Jackie Chan in Hidden Strike Image: XYZ Films

Genre: Action adventure
Run time: 1h 43m
Director: Scott Waugh
Cast: Jackie Chan, John Cena, Pilou Asbæk

Jackie Chan and John Cena star as two ex-special forces soldiers who are tasked with escorting civilians across one of the most dangerous territories in the entire world in this explosive action adventure film. This movie has spent years in post-production, but we finally have the chance to see two of the most iconic action stars of their respective generations do their respective things together.

Happiness for Beginners

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

(L to R) Esteban Benito as Mason, Ellie Kemper as Helen, Gus Birney as Kaylee and Julia Shiplett as Sue go hiking with backpacks in Happiness for Beginners. Photo: Barbara Nitke/Netflix

Genre: Romantic comedy
Run time: 1h 43m
Director: Vicky Wight
Cast: Luke Grimes, Ellie Kemper, Ben Cook

This romantic comedy follows Helen (Ellie Kemper), a recently divorced woman who embarks on a survival course hiking the Appalachian trail alongside a group of strangers. While on her trip, she rediscovers not only her own capacity for resilience, but her desire to — as the Netflix official synopsis puts it — “live and love again.”

Miraculous: Ladybug & Cat Noir, The Movie

Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix

Image: Netflix

Genre: Musical superhero romance
Run time: 1h 45m
Director: Jeremy Zag
Cast: Cristina Valenzuela, Bryce Papenbrook, Keith Silverstein

Based on the French animated children’s show of the same name, this musical superhero movie follows two teenagers who transform into Ladybug and Cat Noir, a vigilante duo who join forces to protect the city of Paris from a group of supervillains led by their new nemesis, Hawk Moth.

New on Hulu

Smoking Causes Coughing

Where to watch: Available to stream on Hulu

The five superheroes of Tobacco Force and their robot sidekick pose on a wooded hill in a still from Smoking Causes Coughing Image: Magnet Releasing

Genre: Comedy anthology
Run time: 1h 17m
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anaïs Demoustier

The new film from director Quentin Dupieux (Rubber), also known by his musical alias Mr. Oizo, is an irreverent parody of Japanese sci-fi tokusatsu (“special effects”) films and the iconic Super Sentai (aka Power Rangers) TV franchise.

After getting their asses kicked by an alien turtle monster, the five superheroes known as “the Tobacco Force” are sent to a team-building retreat to improve their working relationships. Things, as you can probably expect, do not go exactly according to plan.

From our review:

When faced with imminent destruction, our heroes wind up nervously chain-smoking anyway, while reflecting on the absurdity and missed opportunities of their lives. If there’s one takeaway from Smoking Causes Coughing, it may be that: Life is short and illogical, and it often feels like one big joke that’s just a beat away from a punchline.

New on Crunchyroll

One Piece Film: Red

Where to watch: Available to stream on Crunchyroll

Straw-hat-wearing pirate Luffy, the center of the One Piece anime and manga franchise, greets his old friend Uta with open arms and a hugely open mouth in One Piece Film: Red Image: Toei/Crunchyroll

Genre: Fantasy action-adventure
Run time: 1h 55m
Director: Gorô Taniguchi
Cast: Mayumi Tanaka, Shuichi Ikeda, Kaori Nazuka

The fifteenth stand-alone movie set in the universe of Eiichiro Oda’s popular fantasy adventure series follows Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirate crew as they attend the concert for Uta, the world’s most elusive pop star. When Uta reveals her identity as the adopted daughter of “Red-Haired” Shanks, Luffy’s former mentor, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to change the balance of power between the World Government and the pirates forever. Just in time before the release of Netflix’s own live-action TV adaptation starring Iñaki Godoy and Mackenyu (Rurouni Kenshin: The Final).

From our review,

For all those nods to One Piece’s past, One Piece Film: Red is entirely accessible to newcomers. Even people who’ve never seen a single episode of the show or read any of the manga can still follow and enjoy Red. Some of the details will fly over their heads, but the lively story and engaging songs should keep them entertained. (Even if we never do get to hear Luffy sing.)

Longtime One Piece fans, though, are in for something magical. Uta potentially represents a huge shift in the balance of power across One Piece. While the movie’s events haven’t been confirmed as series canon, Uta herself appears in chapter 1055 of the manga, meaning that she is part of the main plot. If her character and motivation are carried over to the story’s official continuum, it could mean that the most exciting One Piece stories are still ahead of us.

New on Paramount Plus

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Where to watch: Available to stream on Paramount Plus

Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) aiming an arm-mounted energy cannon in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Image: Paramount Pictures

Genre: Sci-fi action
Run time: 2h 7m
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen

This stand-alone sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee and prequel to Michael Bay’s Transformers follows Optimus Prime and his band of Autobots as they team up with a race of fellow Cybertronians, the Maximals, to fight against a giant planet-eating abomination known as Unicron (think Marvel’s Galactus, but the robot version of that).

From our review:

Alien robot cars and their space battles are concepts with such basic, gee-whiz sci-fi appeal that they’ve worked numerous times across decades of comics and cartoons. And yet there’s little childlike wonder to the Transformers live-action movies, which often stuff their frames with visually oppressive, eyesore conceptions of things that ought to be simple and imaginative. Virtually all of the Transformers movies feel like they’re trying to defeat their audience, but this time, the movie wins.

New on Apple TV Plus

The Beanie Bubble

Where to watch: Available to stream on Apple TV Plus

(L-R) Elizabeth Banks and Zach Galifianakis in pink formal attire with a blue beanie baby and a pink cane in The Beanie Bubble. Image: Apple TV Plus

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 50m
Directors: Kristin Gore, Damian Kulash
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Snook

Before non-fungible tokens and Bitcoin, there were Beanie Babies. This comedy stars Zach Galifianakis as Ty Warner, the billionaire toy manufacturer responsible for the iconic stuffed toy line, chronicling his meteoric rise to wealth and power as well as his subsequent fall.

New to rent

The Little Mermaid

Where to watch: Available to purchase for $19.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Halle Bailey with Ariel’s green fin and red hair singing while looking up from the bottom of the ocean in The Little Mermaid Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Genre: Fantasy musical
Run time: 2h 15m
Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Halle Bailey, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay

The latest live-action adaptation of an animated Disney classic puts singer Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel. One of the biggest box-office hits of the year so far, it’s finally available to watch at home.

From our review:

What makes The Little Mermaid isn’t whether the fish look good, or what exactly fuels Triton and Ursula’s feud. It all comes back to Ariel and her journey, which is fueled by the central romance between her and Eric. Just because Ariel falls in love doesn’t mean she’s not a strong and beloved protagonist, and just because Eric is a handsome and dashing prince doesn’t mean he lacks the substance behind that charming smile. By updating their romance, the 2023 Little Mermaid makes the love story more satisfying — and resonant for a new generation.

Joy Ride

Where to watch: Available to rent for $19.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

(L-R) Stephanie Hsu, Sherry Cola, Ashley Park, and Sabrina Wu in Joyride. Image: Araquel/Lionsgate

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 35m
Director: Adele Lim
Cast: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu

What if someone took the 2017 comedy Girls Trip and combined it with the soul-searching drama of Return to Seoul? You might get something like Joy Ride, the new comedy about a four Chinese American friends who bond through their shared adventure to track down their birth mothers.

Sympathy for the Devil

Where to watch: Available to rent for $6.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

A bearded Nicholas Cage in a red suit aiming a gun from the backseat of a car and smiling maniacally in Sympathy for the Devil. Image: RLJE Films

Genre: Psychological thriller
Run time: 1h 30m
Director: Yuval Adler
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joel Kinnaman

Do you remember the 2004 movie Collateral? You know, the one where Jamie Foxx plays a cab driver that’s forced to chauffeur a contract killer played by Tom Cruise around Los Angeles as he picks off targets one by one over the course of a night? That movie rocks. What if I told you that there’s a movie that’s like that, but instead it stars Joel Kinnaman being forced to drive a psychotic gun-toting passenger played by Nicolas Cage? Well, that’s this movie!