Cable On Demand
Cable offers VOD programming (same-day-as-disc releases, older titles and pre-theatrical exclusives) for rent, usually for 24- or 48-hour periods at prices from about $2.99 for older titles to $9.99 for new or exclusive releases. Since cable offers a direct connection from your cable provider, its VOD offerings are usually less prone to outside interference and can be streamed with surround sound and 3D when available.
Hugo, Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning love letter to A Trip to the Moon director Georges Méliès, follows a boy orphan who lives in a Paris train station and his quest to repair a one-of-a-kind automaton given to him by his father. The heartfelt family film—a real departure for the director of The Departed and Shutter Island—features some of the best use of 3-D technology in recent memory and is available in both 2-D and 3-D on On Demand. Read our review of the Blu-ray here.
Rowan Atkinson returns as the titular bumbling spy in the sequel Johnny English Reborn, a parody of James Bond films. This type of British humor is truly an acquired taste, but it's bloody available on bloody On Demand the same bloody day as DVD and Blu-ray.
Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is a love story set against the background of the Bosnian War that tore the region apart in the 1990s. The movie is not available on DVD and Blu-ray until March 27, but you can stream it right now on On Demand.
The award-winning drama Detachment starring Adrien Brody as a teacher in a troubled high school has not even come out in theaters yet, but you can rent it right now on On Demand for a premium price.
Summer—heck, even spring—seems far away, but your cable provider seems eager to stream some popcorn flicks now that another tedious, self-serious Oscar season has been laid to rest. Check out Vin Diesel in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick now as the actor is busy filming the sequel for a 2013 release. The Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi funfest Total Recall is now available a few months before the remake debuts in theaters. Also available for streaming are Stargate, The Planet of the Apes (1968), Starship Troopers, Krull, Flash Gordon, I Am Legend, Jason and the Argonauts and Star Trek (2009), the latter of which just recently got yanked from Netflix's Watch Instantly.
These four services stream movies to your TV via computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible connected device. Like cable VOD, they offer new titles for rent from about $3.99 to $6.99, but, unlike cable, they also offer the option of downloading the movie to own from about $14.99 to $19.99. Usually movies presented in HD cost a bit more than streaming a SD version.
Hugo, Johnny English Reborn, In the Land of Blood and Honey and Detachment are all available to rent and/or own on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes right now. Blockbuster currently only offers Johnny English Reborn for rent or download.
The so-bad-it's-almost-funny teen thriller Beneath the Darkness stars an unhinged Dennis Quaid as a small-town mortician who really, really hates high school trespassers on his supposedly haunted property. The R-rated movie is available on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes to rent or download.
We're not sure what's so amusing about being too drunk and stupid to use protection during a one-night stand, but that is the premise mined for laughs in The Pill. After the aforementioned booze-fueled tryst, a guy (Noah Bean) convinces the woman he just slept with (Rachel Boston) to take a morning-after pill and must wait around for 12 hours with her to make sure she takes the second dose. The Pill is available to swallow on all services except Blockbuster as well as cable On Demand-- check out the trailer for the film here.
Netflix's all-you-can-stream buffet costs $7.99 per month and gives instant access to thousands of movies and television shows via a computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible device. Don't depend on Netflix streaming for same-day-as-disc releases, however. Instead, Netflix offers catalog titles, vintage movies, indie flicks and TV episodes with unlimited access for one monthly price.
The most notable new release available on Watch Instantly this week is the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which is about Kevin Clash—the man behind the lovable Sesame Street character. Also available is the apartheid-era South African drama The Bang Bang Club and another volume of Futurama episodes.
What's alarming is the number of choice titles that are expiring from Netflix. Before the week is over, you can say goodbye to Toy Story 3, TRON: Legacy, Let Me In, Tangled, Prince of Persia, Howl's Moving Castle, Batman Forever, JFK, Panic Room, The Machinist, Black Snake Moan, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Frozen, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans, Secretariat, Apocalypto, The Crazies (2009), Hellboy, Gnomeo and Juliet, City Island, Big Trouble in Little China, Vertigo, Beetlejuice, Mars Needs Moms! and A Man Apart. Part of the reason for the mass exodus is that Netflix's deal with Starz just expired, so all of the Starz movies and TV shows that Netflix users have enjoyed for years are being yanked this week. If you want to see any of them on Netflix one last time, you'd better start streaming for your life.