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.
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, rises on cable On Demand the same day it debuts on DVD and Blu-ray. Christian Bale's last adventure as the Dark Knight finds him facing his most formidable foe yet, Bane (Tom Hardy), a former member of the League of Shadows who plans on detonating a nuclear device in Gotham City. Although she is never called Catwoman on-screen, Anne Hathaway is a revelation as Selina—you're never quite sure whose side she's on, if any.
Tommy Lee Jones and Oscar-hoarder Meryl Streep play a long-married couple having a crisis in Hope Springs. This dramedy for the middle-aged/senior set premieres on cable On Demand the same day it springs up on DVD and Blu-ray.
In the fantasy family movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a childless couple buries a box in their backyard with their wishes for an infant. Soon the titular child is born, but he is not what he seems. The Disney flick starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton blooms on cable the same day as disc.
Last week we reported that the indie darling Beasts of the Southern Wild was available on other VOD services, but now it is also available for rent on cable. Other independent titles and smaller releases this week include the documentary Dying to Do Letterman about comedian Steve Mazan's journey to fulfill his dream of doing stand-up on the show after hearing news that he is dying of cancer, the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and the basketball family flick Thunderstruck starring Kevin Durant.
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.
Amazon, Vudu and iTunes have all three of this week's cable On Demand major features for rent or purchase: The Dark Knight Rises, Hope Springs and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Blockbuster offers the first two but not the latter on its digital service.
The fourth Bourne movie, The Bourne Legacy, does not star Matt Damon but does feature Jeremy Renner as genetically engineered agent Aaron Cross who is targeted for elimination after Jason Bourne's actions threaten to expose several secret government programs. Rachel Weisz stars as a marked doctor who goes on the lam with Cross in this Bourne-again sequel. The Bourne Legacy doesn't debut on disc until December 11, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on all four services for as little as $14.99.
Family Guy creator Seth Macfarlane's outrageous comedy Ted stars Mark Wahlberg as John, a guy whose teddy bear came to life as a kid and hasn't left his side since, which is causing problems at home with John's girlfriend (Mila Kunis). Can John grow up and have adult responsibilities and still keep the foul-mouthed titular teddy with a penchant for boozing, snorting and womanizing? You can find out now—a week before it arrives on DVD and Blu-ray—by purchasing it on all four VOD services, all of which except Blockbuster also carry the unrated version in addition to the R-rated theatrical cut.
In the action flick Stolen, Nicolas Cage plays an ex-thief recently released from prison who is forced to do one more heist in order to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Stolen doesn't arrive on DVD and Blu-ray until early next year, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on Vudu and iTunes.
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.
Netflix added a bunch of new titles to its Watch Instantly library last Saturday when the calendar flipped to December, but the spirit of giving continues. New this week are the original Red Dawn, the stoner comedy Half Baked, the buddy-cop classic Bad Boys II, the mystery thriller Identity with John Cusack, and Steven Spielberg's motion-capture animated feature The Adventures of Tintin.
So what is Netflix retiring this week? Nothing to get too upset about: Killers with Ashton Kutcher, Shadows and Lies with James Franco, The Independent with Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo, 1993's Heidi with Jane Seymour, and Full Ride starring Riley Smith.