Check out what's new to rent and own this week on the various streaming services such as cable On Demand, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Blockbuster and, of course, Netflix.
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.
Fanboy enthusiasm and incessant Internet chatter doesn't translate into box office dollars, as we saw with Dredd—a reimagining of the British comic hero starring Karl Urban as the titular urban cop that serves as judge, juror and instant executioner in Mega-City One. This time the geeks were right, though, because this sci-fi action movie is not only far superior to Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dredd, it is a dazzling remake with druggy visuals, unapologetic violence, a deranged villain (Lena Headey) and dark humor. Dredd is available in 2D and 3D on cable On Demand the same day it arrives on DVD and a Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D dual disc.
Parents always complain that there are not enough quality films for children, and yet not enough of them lined up to see the well-reviewed, charming Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's feature-length version of his stop-motion short of the same name. The story about a young boy named Victor who uses science to resurrect his beloved dog Sparky is heartwarming and oddball, like the best Burton movies are. See Frankenweenie in 2D or 3D on cable On Demand the same day it arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.
From the creators of Baraka comes Samsara, another visually arresting, dialogue-free sensory experience shot over five years in 25 countries that explores man's manipulation of the natural world. Shot entirely on 70 mm film, the movie demands a Blu-ray presentation, but you can also stream a high-definition version that approaches BD quality on cable On Demand.
Charlie Sheen returns to the big screen in the raunchy comedy A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III on February 8. The Roman Coppola-directed film costars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Dermot Mulroney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Patricia Arquette and is available to rent right now on cable—weeks before its theatrical release.
In the mystery thriller Riddle, a college student (Elisabeth Harnois) explores the rural town of Riddle, Pennsylvania in search of her missing brother and locks horns with the local sheriff (Val Kilmer) and town elder (William Sadler) as she begins to uncover the secret the town has kept about an abandoned psychiatric hospital. This Riddle doesn’t unravel on DVD and Blu-ray until February 12, but you can stream it beginning on January 10 on cable On Demand.
In previous weeks, we told you about the availability for purchase of the Jennifer Lawrence teen thriller House at the End of the Street and the action-comedy Hit & Run starring Bradley Cooper on other VOD services. Both movies are now available for rent on cable On Demand.
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.
There is little consistency with how the four major VOD services handle this week's new releases listed above on cable On Demand. Vudu and iTunes offer Dredd, Frankenweenie and Samsara for rent or purchase, while Amazon has Dredd, Frankenweenie and the pre-theatrical rent for Charles Swann. Blockbuster currently has none of these on its digital service.
Adam Sandler (oh boy) and Adam Sanberg (oh boy oh boy) are the lead voices in the inexplicable animated hit Hotel Transylvania, about Dracula's lavish resort where monsters and their families can live it up without humans bothering them. The movie doesn't draw blood on DVD and Blu-ray until late January, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on all four VOD services. If you download from Vudu, you will also get some bonus features included as part of the package.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star in the cop drama End of Watch, written and directed by David Ayer—the writer of Training Day. The gritty movie filmed from the cops' perspective can't arrest you on DVD and Blu-ray until January 22, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on all four services from between $14.99 and $22.99, depending on the quality you prefer.
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.
There is one big score this week on Netflix's Watch Instantly: Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise's fourth Mission has his Ethan Hunt teaming up with Jeremy Renner and others in places like Moscow and Dubai as the rogue IMF agents attempt to avert a nuclear war. Another welcome addition added on January 2 is Brian De Palma's The Untouchables, the period gangster classic starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro and many more.
Netflix is retiring a bunch of titles this week, but most are kiddie titles like Chobits and Kiddy Grade. We adults are losing ExTerminators, Heartbreaker, Alamar and George A. Romero's Deadtime Stories: Volume 1.