While I’m a firm believer that movies are best experienced on the big screen, that’s just not a possibility at the moment.
Our film consumption is strictly an at-home venture for at least the next six to 12 weeks with theaters closed because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19.
While I’m sure we’re all thankful for our homes, no time is a good time to be basically stuck there 24/7. It’s a huge adjustment for all of us.
However, there have never been more options for at-home viewing of movies of all sorts than today with the bevy of streaming platforms available.
Of course, I really don’t have to tell you that if you’re reading this story, do I? Many of you are likely far more experienced at using Video on Demand (VOD), Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon Prime than me.
Top recommendations for Video on Demand
There are a ton of choices on this landscape with basically every movie that had been in theaters the last four or five months being available to rent.
I’ve never been a big VOD consumer because I’ve generally already seen most of the movies I’m interested in at the theater, but I certainly see the value in VOD movie night for a family based on the cost and hassle of going to the theater.
With going out to the movies curtailed for the short term, I’m not sure I’m going to hop on the VOD train just yet. There’s nothing scheduled in the next few weeks that I can’t wait to see elsewhere for less.
However, here’s my top-three recommendations of newish movies available today or soon on VOD:
1. The Call of the Wild
“The Call of the Wild” is a really sturdy film that I’m hoping will become a family classic. There is some violence and drunkenness, but it’s not too harsh. The computer-generated effects do push the movie to the verge of being animated film, but Harrison Ford’s performance in the classic tale by author Jack London is one of Ford’s best in years. He plays a prospector who saves a sled dog, which in turn saves him. It’s available starting today on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu.
2. The Invisible Man
“The Invisible Man” isn’t a family film. It deserves its “R” rating in no uncertain terms. It’s a tense and violent psychological thriller that’s as strong as any recent effort in the genre through two acts. The third act jumps the track in terms of believability, but by that point, you’re so invested, you won’t care. Elisabeth Moss is a fine actress, and she carries this movie over the finish line. It’s available now on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu.
3. The Way Back
“The Way Back” is going to remind you a bit of “Hoosiers.” It will, but that’s not a bad thing. Ben Affleck plays a former high school basketball player whose life has spun out of control because of booze. When he takes over coaching his old high school team, he’s a barely functioning alcoholic, but also a natural at coaching and motivating his players. You may think you know exactly where this movie is going and how it will end, but you don’t. Affleck is great in the movie. If Academy Award nominations were given out based on the movies released so far this year, Affleck would not only be nominated, but he’d also win. “The Way Back” is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu.
It’s simply overwhelming the amount of programing that streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and even Disney + roll on and roll off their menus each month.
Much of it is great material, and I encourage you to peruse their sites as well as google articles from other publications that compile complete lists of that material. The lists are simply enormous. It’s almost too many choices, even at time like this when we are basically homebound.
However, the key bit of news this week on the streaming front is that CBS All Access is offering a month’s free trial through April 23.
The streaming platform allows you to watch all of CBS’s regular TV shows when you want, as well as gives you access to the platform’s original programming, including “Picard,” “Star Trek Discovery,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Interrogation,” “Tell Me A Story,” “The Good Fight,” and others.
If you’ve been wondering what any of those shows we’re like, here’s you chance to check them out for free.
Wonder Woman 1984 release pushed to August
Warner Bros. announced earlier this week that it was not going to bypass theaters with its summer tentpole film “Wonder Woman 1984” and debut it on VOD as some rumors insisted.
WB moved the release date for the film that was scheduled to open June to Aug. 14. The studio anticipates theaters will be back up and running by then and that movie fans will be looking forward to seeing a blockbuster at that point.
The movie’s reported $200 million-budget meant that there was never any serious conversations about debuting the film on VOD, where the film top-end gross would have been about a tenth of what the film possibly could earn in theaters.
The first “Wonder Woman” film grossed more than $800 million in 2017, and the sequel was expected to perform in a similar fashion if not better before the corona virus turned the world upside down.
Should theaters remain closed through the June and July, WB might opt to push the date back further. All announced dates concerning film debuts for the rest of the year should be viewed as tenuous until theaters are back running as usual.
The good news is that China has plans to open up 500 theaters with more to come as the nation sees its cases of the virus continue to drop. Hopefully, United States theaters will be in a similar if not better situation in the next eight to 12 weeks.