For a while I had a post bubbling up in the back of my brain, a post about how, despite all the money I pay every month for cable and HBO and Netflix and Amazon Prime, if I want to watch a movie of any recent vintage the odds are my only option when it comes to streaming is to pay another $6-15 to watch it via pay per view.
If I was serious about just watching movies I could chuck all of those services, take the money down to Target every Tuesday, and just buy every new release on disk and probably end up spending less than I do now.
Of course, we don’t just watch movies at our house. We watch shows produced on all of those services plus sports plus the news plus… hrmm… mostly re-runs of Big Bang Theory, which appears to be available on some channel on cable 24/7 so simply turning on the TV and hopping to a channel at random is likely to come up with an episode.
But I still want to watch reasonably recent movies when I want to and not for whatever long/short time period one of those services might deign to show it to me. (There is also the issue with actually finding the movies. When I use the Comcast search with “free to me,” “HD,” and “English” as search parameters I still end up with over 1,500 choices on a list I can see 9 at a time that won’t sort by “new shit I haven’t watched yet.”)
So my mind has been turning to old school Netflix, the disks in the mail version that we used to use regularly last decade.
I guess, technically, it is DVD.com now.
However it is still linked to the Netflix site and my account for the streaming service is also the account for that, so I’m still calling it Netflix.
Anyway, this was how we used to regularly watch recently released movies, not to mention whole TV series. We could burn through a whole season of 24 muy pronto thanks to chapter setup. An episode was barely past 40 minutes sans commercials to start with, and when you could chapter skip past “previously on 24…” and the end credits, the whole thing dropped under 30 minutes. You could get stuck into the hilarity of that show pretty quickly.
My brother-in-law, whose motivations in life beyond living and dying with the Green Bay Packers every NFL season remain a mystery to me, decided to give my wife a $30 gift card to Netflix for Christmas.
It seemed odd. I mean, we subscribe to the streaming service, so it wouldn’t go to waste or anything, but I just wonder how that sprang to mind.
So in the post-Holiday clean-up I ended up with the gift card sitting on my desk, so I went to Netflix and decided to use it to reactivate the physical disk service. Going for the two-disks-at-a-time option (I guess three is no longer an option) and Blu-Ray it looked like $30 would cover two months of service.
But I got a third month free. It has been so long since we had disk delivery that I was eligible for 30 days free. My old, overloaded queue was gone. That was probably a good thing however. So I went to the New Releases section and loaded up on new releases and Netflix started sending disks our way.
One of the good things about Netflix is that we’re very close to one of their distribution centers… and the HQ, which I pass every day… so if I drop a disk return in the mail on Monday we have the replacement on Wednesday.
So we will be on a recent movie binge for a while. The first on the list was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which was visually stunning… I wish we had seen it on the big screen… but the characters were dull, the acting flat, and the plot uninspired, so it really only had graphics and Luc Besson weirdness going for it. Worth a watch for the latter alone if you’re into it, but it was no Fifth Element.
We will see how long our dalliance with physical Netflix lasts. I have fond memories of new disks in the mail and quick turn around and all that. But I also know that from time to time our house would become a remote disk storage facility when we other things kept us from sitting down to watch the items we had waiting. If it goes well I will be tempted to turn off HBO in favor of disks, if only because the final installment of Game of Thrones is now out in 2019.
Next up is War for the Planet of the Apes and the first season of the Starz series Outlander… so I guess it isn’t all movies.
Also, since we’re on about Netflix, we also watched Bright. I liked it. But I was also a big fan of Alien Nation back in the day, and it had enough of that vibe to hook me. I was certainly fine with the “screw any back story, just take it as is and run with it!” plan. I like to figure things out as we go along and don’t need to be spoon fed everything, so appreciated that aspect of it. However, I seem to be in a minority on that front. The reviews are bad, often citing missing details, but Netflix has re-upped for a sequel. I’m not sure it was that good, but Netflix needs content.