A Return to Physical Netflix

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.

A Netflix Company

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.

7 thoughts on “A Return to Physical Netflix

  1. ibaien

    for $90m, netflix could’ve bought the entire shadowrun IP with enough money left over for a cab ride home…

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @ibaien – The question is, why would Netflix want to do that? Not knocking it as an RPG or anything, but it didn’t keep FASA alive and all Netflix wants to do is make content for their platform, not get involve with that penny ante level of stuff. Buying the Shadow Run IP would just be a complication.

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  3. zaphod6502

    Here in Australia where our streaming choices are a lot more limiting we subscribe to Netflix and use Channel BT for anything else we can’t obtain by “normal” means. As we have fibre to the home (98Mbps down and 38 Mbps up) it is far more efficient for us to download or stream everything.

    I was actually surprised you still had a DVD delivery service available in the US. I guess it makes sense for a lot of people if their internet access is poor but I would never want to return to physical media ever again.

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  4. stropp2

    From what I’ve heard, most of the bad reviews for Bright are coming from professional movie reviewers. The average punter-who-watches-for-entertainment review seems to be generally positive about it.

    That gels with my experience of professional reviews over the years where they seem to give review movie out-of-type, where an action movie is panned because it doesn’t have enough of a story. Really, when you have Arnie or Stallone who needs deep arty-farty storylines?

    As for streaming, unfortunately I can’t do that yet. My broadband isn’t that great. Big game downloads still take ages. I’m waiting for the NBN to come to my area, hopefully sometime this year. Maybe streaming will become an option then.

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  5. matterall373

    Great read. I’m in the same place, assessing the cost of HBO, SHOWTIME, Netflix, and Prime (Amazon)… The one difference is commercials. I wont use anything with commercials in it. Most DVD’s have previews they force you to watch before you get to the menu. That bothers me. That said, we also subscribe to DVD.com (Netflix) because the wife insists on it. Something’s got to give.

    My current idea is to get netflix DVD, rip them down for viewing later (takes care of the forced trailers) and then use a media streaming NAS., of course, I destroy the films after viewing because I seldom rewatch a movie. Who wants all that storage taken up by movies you’ll never see again?

    Thanks for the self-examination. It resonated with me.

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  6. Telwyn

    We watched Valerian last week, it was as you said visually stunning but deficient in other areas – for us the awful dialogue writing in parts was the most jarring. A shame as Fifth Element is one of my favourite films. I’m looking forward to seeing Bright, yet one more reason to go get Netflix finally – not that we have the spare time for more TV!

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  7. Rob

    The featurettes for Valerian said that Luc Besson told the designer of The Fifth Element to look at the Valerian comics for inspiration. Which is why the movies have a similar aesthetic.

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