Tag Archives: Blu-Ray

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.

The Great Star Wars Saga Viewing Order Question

The Star Wars saga, remastered (again) and pressed onto Blu-Ray, is coming out this Friday, September 16th.

Must have!

Naturally, I have it on pre-order and Amazon.com promises that I will have it on Friday.  So you can guess what is part of the plan for this coming weekend.

Yes, I know George Lucas couldn’t resist pissing on our memories yet again.  The man who said, “People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians” cannot help but play the barbarian repeatedly himself.  Maybe I missed a footnote with an auteur exception somewhere.

But I am a sucker.  This is the Blu-Ray version.  And who knows how much he’ll change the next time around.  Howard the Duck will probably end up as one of the bounty hunters in the next version. (As somebody wryly asked, why doesn’t he mess with that movie?  It sure as hell needs more tinkering than Star Wars does.)

Plus look at all the extras it has!  The first six discs are the movies, then there are three more discs of additional material.

Disc Seven – NEW! Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III

  • Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more

Disc Eight – NEW! Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI

  • Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more

Disc Nine – The Star Wars Documentaries

  • NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) – Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures…these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world.
  • NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) – George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time.
  • NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) – The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more — and don’t miss “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace!
  • The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) – Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality!
  • Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Go behind the scenes — and into the costumes — as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams.
  • Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) – See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update.
  • Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) – Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.

Extras! Extras! Extras!

Though I have to wonder, with George Lucas at the helm, what constitutes a deleted scene these days?  Han shooting first?

Whatever.   It is a coming to our house this weekend.

Which leads me to the first real question (since there was no question about me buying it).

In which order should this new set be viewed?  I have a few thoughts on the subject, each with a different driving emotion.

Logic – Pure logic says that episode order is correct.  But then you hit that episode IV drop in production values and acting skill.  I’m sorry, but there is a reason that Harrison Ford had a huge post-Star Wars movie career while Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher did not.  Plus that order pretty much ruins any surprises in the second half of the series, not to mention the distinct possibility of Jar-Jar binks provoking violent reactions.

Nostalgia – Nostalgia says that the release order is really the way see the series.  That is the way you would show it to somebody who had never seen the films before.  Episodes III pretty much spoils episodes IV and V after all.  But I am always somebody who likes to get the hard part out of the way first, so maybe it is better to bite the midichlorian bullet first.  Besides which, I hate Ewoks so much, I might throw something at the TV, ending the showing half way through.

Practicality – Practicality says that watching episodes IV and V is enough and then we should start in on the extras, thus avoiding both Jar-Jar and Ewoks.  Except that is something of a waste.  I bought all six movies.  Plus I like episode II and have to salute anybody having the balls to take on making episode III.  How do you make a movie even watchable when everybody knows both where it starts and how the whole thing has to end. We all went into episode III with a huge mental checklist of exactly what had to happen.  It was an impossible task.  Plus I must admit I cheered when Darth Vader took his first rasping breath in his new suit.

Fluff!!! – Given three discs of extras, I could probably spend my time just immersed in that without watching any of the movies.

So I figure it is time for a poll.

Feel free to suggest your own ordering or selection or to take issue with any or all of my above assertions in the comments.  Grousing about George Lucas, Darth Maul, Jar-Jar Binks, Ewoks, midichlorians, or any other aspect of the series is also welcome.

You’re among friends and we all have to get through this together.