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.
There is a variety of big-budget films ready to stream into your home with the click of your cable remote today. First up is director J.J. Abrams's Super 8, a sci-fi adventure about a group of children circa 1980 that are making a low-budget zombie drama when they witness a massive train derailment. The wreck unleashes a mysterious creature on their small town that starts kidnapping the residents—including their friend—in this Steven Spielberg-produced hit that recaptures the spirit of movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and The Goonies.
The remake of Conan the Barbarian doesn't have Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it does have Game of Thrones' Jason Momoa as the titular warrior who traverses the continent of Hyboria seeking revenge for the murder of his parents and the slaughter of his village. Conan is also available to stream in 3D.
Also available this week for the wee ones is Spy Kids: All the Time of the World in 2D and 3D as well as Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 3D.
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.
You can rent or download to own Super 8, Conan the Barbarian, Beauty and the Beast and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World on iTunes and Vudu, but if you want to check out a 3D version of the latter titles you'll need to do it on cable VOD or buy the Blu-ray 3D. Amazon doesn't have the fourth Spy Kids movie available for streaming, but it does have this week's aforementioned other big three releases. Blockbuster lags behind a bit in terms of new releases by only offering Conan the Barbarian.
Another exciting offering that Amazon, iTunes and Vudu boast this week that is also available on cable VOD is a theatrical rental of Lars von Trier's Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst as a bride whose wedding is crashed by a new planet called Melancholia that is getting dangerously close to Earth. The director stirred up some controversy at the Cannes Film Festival for joking about being a Nazi and by admitting sympathy for Adolf Hitler, but the movie still is getting some Oscar buzz, especially for Dunst. Melancholia is currently playing in theaters and the DVD and Blu-ray won't be available until March, but you can still rent it right now on the services mentioned.
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.
It usually takes a little longer for recent theatrical titles to make their way to Netflix's one-price streaming catalog, but new this week is Take Me Home Tonight—an homage to '80s coming-of-age comedies that stars Topher Grace and Anna Faris. You can also "say hello to my little friend" in the form of Brian De Palma's Scarface, the Al Pacino gangster classic that recently made its Blu-ray debut. Team K-Stew members who can't get enough of their Bella might want to check her out as a teen call girl in the 2010 drama Welcome to the Rileys.
The most intriguing new stream available has to be the unusual documentary Life in a Day. Director Kevin Macdonald and a team of editors condense more than 4,500 hours of video footage into 95 minutes for a look at the remarkable and mundane life on Earth that happened on July 24, 2010.