The It List: HBO doc tells coronavirus origin story of Diamond Princess cruise ship's COVID outbreak, 'Raya and the Last Dragon' releases on digital, Demi Lovato drops new album and the best in pop culture the week of March 29, 2021

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·18-min read

The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. During the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are staying at home, we’re going to spotlight things you can enjoy from your couch, whether solo or in small groups, and leave out the rest. With that in mind, here are our picks for March 29 - April 4, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

WATCH IT: Get a behind-the-scenes account of the final voyage of the Diamond Princess in the HBO documentary The Last Cruise

One of the early epicenters of the emerging coronavirus pandemic was the Diamond Princess — a luxury cruise ship that took 2,666 passengers, and 1,045 crew members, on a tour of Southeast Asia in January 2020. After a stop in Hong Kong, the ship was informed that a disembarking passenger had tested positive for COVID-19. Within days, the virus swept through the ship, eventually infecting over 700 people, fourteen of whom died. Hannah Olson’s new documentary, The Last Cruise, reconstructs the last voyage of the Princess Diamond, using footage filmed by dozens of the people aboard the ship. Among the things the documentary exposes is the extreme class divide between the way the wealthy passengers and the crew members were treated by the ship’s owners, and medical personnel.

The Last Cruise also reveals how the closed confines of the Princess Diamond allowed scientists and doctors to study how coronavirus spread, although those findings were ignored by the world at large. "In the process of making this film, it was jarring to document how much we knew about the virus back in February 2020, before COVID-19 had even been declared a pandemic,” Olson tells Yahoo Entertainment via e-mail. “At the same time that the U.S. government was telling us not to worry and actively discouraging us from buying masks, the film shows that they were sending their own people on the Diamond Princess in full hazmat suits.” This exclusive clip reveals one of those strange encounters, as two elderly passengers are met by an American aid worker in hazmat gear offering them passage off the ship and on to a plane bound for the U.S. “Are we going to go like you are?” one of them asks. It sounds like he’s joking… but at that point the stakes truly were life and death. — Ethan Alter

The Last Cruise premieres Tuesday, March 30 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

WATCH IT: Raya and the Last Dragon saves the day on digital

There is a lot to love about Disney’s latest animated adventure. One, the barrier-breaking film is the studio’s first to introduce a Southeast Asian heroine, the eponymous warrior Raya, voiced by Star Wars alum Kelly Marie Tran. Two, the film might be the most action-stuffed Disney Animation entry to date, playing like an Indiana Jones adventure for families. And three, joining Tran’s Raya as the titular dragon is Awkwafina, who brings laughs by the case load in a hilarious voice performance. Four – and we can keep going – it’s absolutely visually stunning, with gorgeous, almost hyper real animation. The new digital release also comes stuffed with extras, including a war chest of deleted scenes in storyboard form, one of which you can sample exclusively above (note: those are “scratch voices” in the clip – not the actual cast members). — Kevin Polowy

Raya and the Last Dragon releases early on digital Friday, April 2, and on 4K Blu-ray and DVD May 18.

WATCH IT: Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan befriend the wrong stranger in the thriller Every Breath You Take

Four years after winning his Oscar for Kenneth Lonergan’s wrenching drama Manchester by the Sea, Casey Affleck plays another grieving father in the new psychological thriller Every Breath You Take. After their son is killed in a traffic accident, psychiatrist Philip (Affleck) and his wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan) find themselves living in the same house, but separated by grief. And that’s the exact point that a handsome stranger named James (Sam Claflin from The Hunger Games franchise) chooses to walk into their lives. Introducing himself as the brother of one of Philip’s patients — who took her own life, and threatened his career in the process — James integrates himself into the family, befriending them and their teenage daughter. But Philip comes to suspect that there’s something off about this new family “friend.” In this exclusive clip, he gently tries to nudge James out of their lives… but it’s clear he’s not going without a fight. — E.A.

Every Breath You Take premieres Friday, April 2 in theaters (get tickets on Atom Tickets) and on VOD.

STREAM IT: The wild WeWork saga is re-told in the Hulu documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

How did WeWork go from the future of office management to yet another high-profile business world flameout? That question is answered in Jed Rothstein’s new documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn. Mixing archival footage and interviews with former WeWork executives and journalists, the movie charts how charismatic founder Adam Neumann sold the world on a big idea that didn’t stand up to scrutiny. This exclusive clip from the film spotlight’s Neumann’s Tony Robbins-style ability to win over a big crowd, turning even hardened skeptics into devout believers. — E.A.

WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn premieres Friday, April 2 on Hulu.

STREAM IT: Veep’s Sarah Sutherland and Wynnona Earp’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley get serious in the small-scale drama Like a House on Fire

Premiering at last year’s virtual edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, the made-in-Canada indie film Like a House on Fire is the first star vehicle for the third generation of the Sutherland clan. Former Veep ensemble player Sarah Sutherland — daughter of Kiefer and granddaughter of Donald — plays Dara, an emotionally troubled woman who returns home to her husband and daughter after a two-year absence hoping to pick up where they left off. But as you’ll see in this exclusive clip, when she knocks on the door, she learns that her place in the family is now occupied by Therese, played by Wynonna Earp demon-fighter, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, who is also seven months pregnant. That charged meeting completely rewrites the joyous homecoming that Dara had in her mind’s eye, and threatens her already precarious mental state. How long until we get all three Sutherlands in the same movie? — E.A.

Like a House on Fire premieres Tuesday, March 30 on VOD platforms including iTunes and Apple TV.

WATCH IT: The latest America Reframed documentary The Place That Makes Us depicts a hurting city trying to make a comeback

Now in its ninth season, the World Channel’s documentary series, America Reframed, has already visited Pahokee, Fla. and Lordstown, Ohio. This week’s installment, The Place That Makes Us, stays in the Buckeye State and visits Youngstown — a once thriving industrial city that’s fallen on hard times, with decreasing employment and rising crime rates. Director Karla Murthy follows a cross-section of citizens that have committed themselves to building a new Youngstown on the foundation of the old, including Tiffany — who works as a community developer identifying vacant houses for rehabilitation — and Bernie, a single mother hoping to purchase her first home. In this exclusive clip, she gives the director a tour of the dilapidated house she’s currently renting.

“We first met Bernie at one of her housing counseling meetings,” Murthy explains via e-mail. “She had been going for a year, working to improve her credit and financial situation so that she could buy her first house, something she never thought was possible before. By sheer luck, she was interested in one of the vacant blighted houses we had been filming as it was being rehabbed. We were able to capture the moment she falls in love with the house as she walks through it for the first time, and nervously decides to put in an offer. But you'll have to watch the film to see if she was able to fulfill her dream!" — E.A.

The Place That Makes Us premieres Tuesday, March 30 at 8 p.m. as part of America Reframed on World Channel, WorldChannel.org and the PBS app.

WATCH IT: The biggest of titans finally clash in Godzilla vs. Kong

Let’s face it, Legendary’s MonsterVerse has yielded some decidedly mixed results in its first three offerings — 2014’s Godzilla, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. That trifecta of course, was all part of the build-up to this week’s titan throwdown Godzilla vs. Kong, and one of the brightest spots of this young movie year is reporting that the highly anticipated monster match is easily the best film of the series. Director Adam Wingard orchestrates some seriously satisfying bouts between the two heavyweights, but maybe just as important to the picture is that he seems to be the series’ first helmer to make the requisite human stories involved almost as interesting as his skyscraper smashers. That’s thanks in large part to an entertaining ragtag trio played by Millie Bobby Brown, Bryan Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison, as well as a touching turn by young newcomer Kaylee Hottle. Fans should be thrilled. — K.P.

Godzilla vs. Kong premieres Wednesday, March 31 in theaters (get tickets at Fandango) and on HBO Max.

HEAR IT: Demi Lovato perfects the art of starting over

Coinciding with the release of her bombshell YouTube docuseries Dancing With the Devil — in which Lovato opens up about her near-fatal 2018 overdose and subsequent journey of recovery and self-discovery — the former Disney star continues her comeback on the eagerly anticipated Dancing With the Devil... the Art of Starting Over. Lovato’s confessional, ballad-heavy seventh studio album (and first since 2017) has already yielded the critically acclaimed singles “Anyone,” “What Other People Say” with Sam Fischer and “Dancing With the Devil”; Ariana Grande, Saweetie, Noah Cyrus and hitmaker Justin Tranter are also featured. — Lyndsey Parker

Dancing With the Devil... the Art of Starting Over by Demi Lovato is available Friday, April 2 to download/stream on Apple Music.

WATCH IT: Benson and Stabler reunite for the new Law & Order: Organized Crime

Dun, dun. Dick Wolf’s latest drama debuts in a special event on the Peacock network. Christopher Meloni, who played Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit from 1999 to 2011, returns to that show for the first time in a decade alongside his former partner, Olivia Benson, who’s played by Mariska Hargitay. Then she joins him as he, dealing with what’s pitched as a “devastating personal loss,” fights some of the city’s most powerful mobsters. The spinoff was originally scheduled to air last year — and was even teased on social media — but it was ultimately pushed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Benson and Stabler are inextricably linked, locked and connected,” Meloni, whose character disappeared after talks between him and the network broke down, told the New York Post in July. “I think there is truly and deeply a worthwhile, inherent drama in exploring that relationship and the complexity of how Stabler left — the unresolved emotions both characters feel and how the fans feel.” — Raechal Shewfelt

Law & Order: Organized Crime premieres Thursday, April 1 at 10 p.m. on NBC.

PLAY IT: Celebrate 25 years of catching them all with new Mega Construx Pokemon toys from Mattel

(Image: Mattel)
(Image: Mattel)

Believe it or not, Pikachu and the rest of those pesky pocket monsters have been around for a quarter century. And Mattel is marking the anniversary with a new line of Mega Construx sets, which lets you build a variety of critters — in various shapes and sizes — from the Pokemon universe. If you’d like to start small, pick up one of the Poke Balls that come with an assortment of pint-sized figures. After that, you can graduate to 4-inch versions of Bulbasaur, Charmander and Pikachu. Once you’ve got that training under your belt, it’s time for the Mega Construx sets. Choose between a 12-inch Pikachu or an 11-inch Eeevee or, better yet, build ‘em both. After all, like the song says, you’ve gotta catch ‘em all. — E.A.

Mattel’s Mega Construx Pokemon toys are available at Amazon and Walmart.

STREAM IT: The OGs compete on The Challenge: All Stars

Aneesa. Teck. Beth S. Trishelle. Twenty-two of the biggest names in the history of this MTV franchise are putting on their helmets for another round of fierce competition. And longtime host TJ Lavin said the game, played this time in Argentina’s Andes Mountains, will be as fierce as always. The designers of the courses didn’t take into account that, for example, Mark, who originally competed on the first season of Road Rules back in 1994, is now 49. “I was like, ‘Dude might’ve made this a little too hard,’” Lavin said on the latest edition of the Watch With Us: Challenge Edition podcast. “On the first challenge, I was like, ‘The real Challenge kids who are in their 20s couldn’t have done this.’ So some of the stuff we did, maybe we overshot the difficulties. It was very, very hard, and they get it done. I was very impressed.” — R.S.

The Challenge: All Stars is premieres Thursday, April 1 on Paramount+.

STREAM IT: The K-pop (r)evolution will be televised

The eight-part YouTube Original series K-Pop Evolution chronicles the rise of South Korean pop acts like EXO, NCT, Super Junior, Red Velvet, Baekhyun, BoA, Danny Im, Doyoung, Han Seung Yeon, Ha:tfelt, Hui, Jinho, Joon Park, Kang Daniel, KANGTA, Kino, LEETEUK, Sandara Park, Seulgi, TAEMIN, Taeyong, Tony An and even “Gangnam Style” star PSY. The in-depth series will also explore the history of the K-pop phenomenon. — L.P.

K-Pop Evolution premieres Wednesday, March 31 at 9 a.m. on YouTube, with new episodes going up every Wednesday.

READ IT: Back to the Future DeLorean time machine workshop manual lets DIYers channel their inner Doc Brown

(Images: Insight Editions)
(Images: Insight Editions)

Listen up, Future fanatics, this new book is about as close as you can come to a do-it-yourself DeLorean time machine. Authored by franchise co-creator Bob Gale and artist/super-fan Joe Walker, the DeLorean Time Machine — Doc Brown’s Owner’s Workshop Manual is chock full of technical specs, sketches, photos and the good doctor’s own handwritten notebook entries detailing the creation of his original era-hopping supercar and the other models featured in the blockbuster trilogy, all presented in the style of classic auto-shop gearhead guides. — Marcus Errico

Back to the Future: DeLorean Time Machine — Doc Brown’s Owners’ Workshop Manual is available Tuesday, March 30 from Amazon.

WATCH IT: The Oscar-nominated shorts come to a theater near you and to digital, too

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Beyond the film festival circuit, it’s rare we get a chance to watch short film in movie theaters. (Of course, we haven’t been watching anything in movie theaters lately.) One of the rare exceptions? ShortsTV’s annual roll-out of the 15 projects nominated in the Academy Awards’ Best Live Action Short, Best Animated Short and Best Documentary Short categories, which will also be released digitally in 2021 as well. The always-international slate has a little more star power this year, with Pedro Almodóvar, Tilda Swinton, Oscar Isaac, Marlee Matlin and rapper-turned-actor Joey Bada$$ all involved in the live action category, while Pixar competes, per usual, with its charming Soul opening act Burrow. Overall, plenty of gems to be discovered, especially if you’re of the ilk that winces at long runtimes — and of course it’s also one reliable way to step ahead of the competition when filling out your Oscar ballot. — K.P.

The live action and animation short film programs will be released in theaters and virtually Friday, April 2. The documentary program will be available virtually on April 2 and theatrically on April 9. Get more info here.

WATCH IT: The knives are out on Top Chef: Portland

Remember restaurants, or even watching other people — literally, anyone else, please — do all the cooking besides you? Top Chef is back to break you out of your pandemic food rut, with Padma, Tom and a new batch of chef-testants setting up shop in Portland, Oreg. for Season 18 (and yes, there is a Portlandia-related cameo). While it’s no small feat that production pulled off a new season in the middle of a pandemic, there have been some concessions, including socially distant catering gigs and celebrity chefs appearing over Zoom. Judging by the heartstring-tugging trailer, the pandemic will of course be a poignant backdrop, with frontline workers among those being fed and at least one chef sharing how his restaurant closed. Pack your tissues and go. — Erin Donnelly

Top Chef Season 18 premiere airs Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. on Bravo.

WATCH IT: On the big screen or small, Wonder Woman 1984 tops its 2017 predecessor

Unpopular opinion alert: Wonder Woman 1984 is a major improvement over 2017’s Wonder Woman. Maybe even by battlefield leaps and bounds. With all that exposition out of the way, Patty Jenkins crafts a roundly entertaining '80s-set sequel that’s thrilling, awe-inspiring in its aerial scenes, funny in a dare-we-say Marvel-esque fashion (all hail Kristen Wiig), and features one of DC’s best villain turns not named Joker (all hail Pedro Pascal, who trots around the globe with the frenetic, sweat energy of Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems). It’s too long and there are some third act issues, and sure, has some general plot wonkiness, but welcome to superhero moviemaking. Most critics would disagree with these sentiments: The film registered only a 59 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and was dragged for days on social media (theory: the controversial WB/HBO Max announcement landed the film unfairly sharp criticism). All we’re saying is consider giving it another chance on home entertainment. — K.P.

Wonder Woman 1984 is now on digital and available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD beginning Tuesday, March 30 on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Hall of Flame: Top 100 Roast Moments puts celebs in the hot seat

Is there anyone who would pass up a laugh right now? Comedy Central is providing plenty with this look at the best jokes at its famous roasts of Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin, Martha Stewart, Rob Lowe and more over the years. Comedian Nikki Glaser hosts the five-night event. Luenell, Heather McDonald, Daniel Franzese — who’s best known for playing Damian in Mean Girls — and Foodgod (aka Kim Kardashian friend Joanathan Cheban) are among those who will offer quips and context behind the burns that need it. Of course, some speak for themselves, such as when frequent roastmaster Jeff Ross teased Bieber at his 2015 event, “Selena Gomez wanted to be here, but she’s dating men now.” He was a good sport about it. — R.S.

Hall of Flame: Top 100 Roast Moments begins Monday, March 29 at 10 p.m. and continues nightly through April 2 on Comedy Central.

WATCH IT: Criterion releases Defending Your Life, the low-key Albert Brooks-Meryl Streep classic

Defending Your Life was not a major box office hit when it was released 30 years ago this month. Critics did, however, recognize its charms, and Albert Brooks’s rom-com about a neurotic advertising exec (Brooks) who falls for Meryl Streep’s free spirit while both await judgement day in purgatory received heavenly reviews. Yet somehow the film — the very definition of “holding up” three decades later — has only grown in stature over the years. Brooks has even said he’s received “thousands” of letters from people who’ve been comforted by his warm depiction of the afterlife. It all makes a perfect candidate for the Criterion treatment — and the release comes with an updated 4K digital restoration and other new features including a convo between Brooks and filmmaker Robert Weide, excerpts from interviews with Brooks and the late Rip Torn circa 1991, and more. — K.P.

Defending Your Life (The Criterion Collection) is available Tuesday, March 30 on Amazon.

HEAR IT: The Fratellis shoot for the moon

Aughts indie fans who haven’t followed the Scottish garage trio since their reformation in 2012 might be surprised by the Spectorian sound of their symphonic sixth album, Half Drunk Under a Full Moon. Reminiscent of the Beach Boys, Motown, the Waterboys, and the Bugsy Malone soundtrack, the increasingly ambitious Fratellis shoot for the moon and reach for the stars – and they succeed. — L.P.

Half Drunk Under a Full Moon by The Fratellis is available Friday, April 2 to download/stream on Apple Music.

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo