Holy Dark Knight, HBO Max! It’s looking like 2021 is the year you may have to decide that paying $14.99 for HBO Max is actually fine. The fledgling streamer just announced its new programming for January 2021, and let’s just call it like it is: There’s a lot of fucking Batman. There’s also a new Tiger Woods documentary series, and surprisingly, more family-oriented stuff than we expected.
After the online launch of WW84, and the comeback of the old ’70s Wonder Woman too, HBO Max is flexing its muscles a bit. Considering everything from Dune to Matrix 4 to The Suicide Squad is hitting this service in 2021, now’s a good time to break-down just exactly what you’re getting every month on HBO Max. Let’s dive into what’s new for January 2021 on HBO Max. Pow!
January 1 — A Batman-palooza kicks-off the month with shows and movies of both the live-action and animated variety. Tune in for Batman Begins, Batman Beyond, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Bad Blood, Batman: Death in the Family, Batman: Hush, and Batman: The Animated Series, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. In total, this means you’ve got a wide range of Batman stuff that stars everyone from Christian Bale to Mark Hamill, and from Gary Oldman to Adam West.
Just in case you’re confused, yes, this means that Batman: The Animated Series will be on HBO Max for the foreseeable future.
Kids and families can watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Codename: Kids Next Door, Courage the Cowardly Dog (definitely for older, more mature kids), The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, Happy Feet, March of the Penguins, TMNT, Superman: Doomsday, Superman: Man of Tomorrow and Superman Returns.
And after the kids are asleep, there’s Escape from New York, Gremlins and Gremlins 2, Kong: Skull Island, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pulp Fiction, Ready Player One, and V for Vendetta. We’d also like to point out that all of these movies are great for watching on your phone, in bed, when you can’t go back to sleep because your infant/toddler/teenager has woken you up for the 10th time in the night.
January 4 — HBO Max viewers will have access to the new HBO original series, 30 Coins. An eight-episode drama, it centers on Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández), an exorcist, boxer, an ex-convict who is exiled by the church to serves as the priest of a remote Spanish town. Vergara’s past and old enemies come back to haunt him, literally, as strange things start to occur. Meanwhile, Mayor Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and local vet Elena (Megan Montaner) doggedly chase the truth and a cursed coin distorts reality and sits at the heart of a global conspiracy.
January 10 – Tiger, a two-part documentary exploring the rise, fall, and comeback of golfer Tiger Woods, will debut on HBO (and, thus HBO Max). The doc promises to examine not just his time on the links, but the demons that sidelined him for a year, via never-before-seen-footage and interviews, including the first-ever sit-down with Rachel Uchitel, the woman at the center of the sex scandal that crashed Wood’s world forever.
January 12 — Families will enjoy a wide variety of programming, including Against the Wild and Against the Wild 2: Survive the Serengeti, Alpha and Omega 5: Family Vacation, Alpha and Omega 6: Dino Digs, Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, Leapfrog Letter Factory Adventures: Amazing Word Explorers, Leapfrog Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade, Leapfrog Letter Factory Adventures: The Letter Machine Rescue Team, Leapfrog: Numberland, Ollie & Moon, Seasons 1 and 2, Other Parents, Seasons 1 and 2, and The Spy Next Door.
Highly recommended is the little-seen live-action gem, The Escape Artist, a touching coming-of-age story about a teenage magician (played Griffin O’Neal). Released in 1982 (and completely overlooked), the film co-stars Raul Julia and features a supporting cast that boasts Desi Arnaz, Teri Garr, Dead End Kids veterans Huntz Hall and Gabriel Dell, and Harry Anderson.
More action-oriented titles include the original Michael Caine version of Get Carter, The Man Who Would Be King (arguably Sean Connery’s finest non-Bond outing, plus Michael Caine again!), and Reservoir Dogs. Among other worthwhile additions: Tender Mercies, Blue Valentine, Earth Girls Are Easy, and the early Bill Murray semi-classic, Meatballs.
January 14 – Seasons one and two of Search Party aired on TBS, but HBO Max picked up the popular show for season three, which aired last summer, and season four, premiering in January. The dark comedy, which stars the awesome Alia Shawkat (you remember her from Arrested Development), reinvents itself each year, so no one knows yet what’s on tap this go-round.
January 15 – Love him or hate him, Bill Maher knows how to stir the pot, and he invites surprisingly eclectic guests to help him do so on Real Time with Bill Maher each and every week.
January 16 – Uma Thurman is out for revenge in Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Kill Bill, Vol. 2. They’re completely different films, both fantastic, with writer-director Quentin Tarantino at the top of his craft. Lucy Liu is riveting as the lethal O-Ren Ishii in Vol. 1, while David Carradine’s turn as slithery Bill in Vol. 2 resurrected his career. As always, Tarantino showcase old favorites, and the recipients of his largesse in the Kill Bill epics include not only Carradine, but also Daryl Hannah, Sonny Chiba, Michael Parks, Bo Svenson, and Gordon Liu. But, we don’t need to need to tell you this stuff right? I mean, if you haven’t seen Kill Bill yet, what’s stopping you?
January 21 – HBO Max is the American home for the hugely popular Italian crime saga Gomorrah, with the third of the show’s four seasons premiering this month. On the opposite side of the spectrum, grandparents, parents, and children might want to gather together for 10 new episodes of Looney Tunes Cartoons featuring such classic characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety, Wile E. Coyote, and more wreaking havoc in fresh episodes.
January 22 – Aficionados of The Lounge Lizards and its co-founder John Lurie should check out Painting with John. According to HBO Max, the new and unscripted series (written, directed by and starring Lurie) is “part meditative tutorial, part fireside chat,” with Lurie stationed “at his worktable, honing his watercolor techniques and sharing what he’s learned about life.”
January 24 – Euphoria-fans received a Christmas gift in December with a bonus episode that featured series star Zendaya. And now, for the second bonus episode, like the first, shot under strict COVID-19 safety protocols, the focus shifts to Jules (Hunter Schafer). Schafer actually co-wrote and co-executive produced the episode, “F*ck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob,” with series creator Sam Levinson. In it, Jules contemplates the momentous events of the previous year.
January 30 – Action, action, action is the name of the game, with The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and the Rock-fronted The Scorpion King. Seeking something quirkier? May we suggest the visually inventive and purely entertaining series Pushing Daisies, starring Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz. Pace plays a pie-maker who, with merely a touch, can bring back dead things… from plants to people. But there’s a price. For everything he reanimates, something else must die. And if he touches something again, it dies permanently, which proves problematic when he resurrects Chuck (Friel), his recently deceased childhood friend and greatest love, back to life. It won’t be for everyone, and was kind of a cable series for mainstream TV, thus its short life.
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