The Beat Asia’s Guide to HBO Releases for January 2023
January 12, 2023
HBO, TV’s premier destination for prestige drama, has always been about quality over quantity. Their release lineup won’t fill up a whole page, but they are never short of clout. So, best believe that when they say they’re doing something, it’s most definitely something to watch. “The Sopranos,” “True Detective” and “Game of Thrones” are just a few of the cultural-defining content that the network has produced in its unfairly rich history.
This coming year, HBO’s select releases show that their focus on great IP is still as sharp as ever. But, let’s start small and focus on what’s on the table for January.
Here are the most notable HBO exclusives to start the New Year:
‘The Climb’ (HBO Exclusive), Jan. 12
When anything on TV is situated in something rugged, there’s already a good chance that Jason Momoa is in it. The hulking actor, who rose to fame as the best-looking “Aquaman” to ever exist (comics included), has another world-trekking IP on his belt. “The Climb” is an HBO reality show not about the Miley Cyrus song but about the chance for amateur wall climbers to gain clout and cash.
HBO being HBO, this wouldn’t just be any other reality show. The subject itself, wall climbing, is very dangerous. More than that, the participants won’t be ascending indoor walls. They’ll be going out to some of the most technically challenging crags in the world. Adding to that aforementioned bodily harm, the contestants will also be competing for a US$100,000 prize and a sponsorship deal. Undeniable is the fact that the combination of danger and competition make for great TV.
‘Velma’ (HBO Exclusive), Jan. 12
In some corners of the Internet, Velma and her signature “Jinkies!” screech have an especially heavy cultural weight. After all, Scooby Doo material was ubiquitous in the ‘90s and remains a productive IP to serve its most loyal fans. Nothing they have produced, though, is going to be anything like “Velma.” This adult-animated series with Velma Dinkley as the central character will play on our obsession with true crime.
Mindy Kaling will voice the titular character, and has there ever been a more perfect pair of voice and character? We just hope our most favorite crime-sniffing fur friend will make a cameo.
‘The Last of Us’ (HBO Exclusive), Jan.19
From the very beginning, “The Last of Us” was destined for an adaptation. It’s one of the most lifelike video games ever made, one of the best video games ever made, and it has a story that makes for a blockbuster IP. And with TV fast becoming the entertainment medium of choice for the post-pandemic world, the legendary game has found a suitable platform to tell its entire story. In 2023, when the lockdowns and Armageddon daydreams are nearly in the rearview, “The Last of Us” will make its much-awaited debut.
Two “Game of Thrones” alums are starring in the upcoming show, Pedro Pascal, who played the unforgettable Oberyn Martell, and Bella Ramsey, who brought the steely Lyanna Mormont to life. They will play Joel and Ellie who are travelling across a post-apocalyptic version of continental U.S. to find a cure to a mutant virus.
Let’s just say that if the show is faithful to its source material, there will be some scenes that will be extremely hard to forget to say the least.
‘Marry Me,’ Jan. 7
We can never get enough of the humanity’s gift to this world that is Jennifer Lopez. The ageless Hollywood pop star is back on the big screen on this graphic novel adaptation of a sham romance-turned-real-love tale with Owen Wilson. This is ‘90s rom-com made in the 2020s, and this time, J Lo won’t be a maid anymore but who she is meant to be: a queen of the industry.
‘Kung Fu Panda’ 1 & 2, Jan. 15
Jack Black’s iconic panda-stic animated martial arts movie is a tonic for the soul. Both “Kung-Fu Panda” are legitimate Hollywood blockbusters, with a cast so star-studded it could rival any big-budget movie in the last 20 years. But, this movie would not have worked so well and be so gut-bustingly funny without Jack Black. He is Po, and Po is him.
‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ Jan. 21
Last year’s screen darling was none other than “Top Gun: Maverick.” Among the many movies that supposedly ushered in the “new age of movies,” this is the one that lived up to the hype. It exceeded all expectations, performing magnificently on all fronts: awards, ticket sales, reviews, and many others. It even earned the rarest award of them all: the Better-Than-The-Original award.
If you ever wavered on the belief that Tom Cruise is one of the greatest Hollywood stars, you need to see him on “Top Gun: Maverick.” As great as this movie could have been without him, his presence blew the top off every expectation there was for this flick.
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