Find out what's new in streaming sci-fi!
Track or trout, streamers. (I think I said that wrong.) Is everyone getting ready for a candy-filled Halloween, or are the New Years diets still kicking? Basically, I’m asking if I can have your candy. In return, I give you these five streaming options to make your week go by a little easier. But only if it’s good candy.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime)
The highest domestic grossing movie of 2013, Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was a stellar follow-up to the first film, despite covering 3/4 of the same ground. (It was bigger and more extravagant, guys.) Watch Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) act as if they love each other despite having contrary feelings. Watch as Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz pull off outfits that you or I would look suicidal in. Watch Stanley Tucci reprise his role as the best host of anything ever. And most importantly, watch Philip Seymour Hoffman playing one of his final big screen roles.
The 100: Season 1 (Netflix Instant)
The CW isn’t exactly drowning in programming that GFR fans would readily get into, but The 100 is the rare young adult drama where the stakes are more important and interesting than the slightly hammy performances. (Though those, too, have gotten better with time.) The hook is solid: nearly a century after nuclear war left the Earth unlivable, 100 troubled youths are sent back down to the surface to see how things are going and if a future there (here?) is possible. Both on the planet and in the space station above, danger lurks around every corner and no one is safe. Season 2 just started, but judging from its abysmal ratings, fans might not have long left with it.
Radio Free Albemuth (Netflix Instant)
Writer/director John Alan Simon’s long-delayed Radio Free Albemuth is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, which served as an unofficial beginning to his VALIS trilogy, based on the legendary author’s purported paranormal experiences and hallucinations. This version takes place in 1985 and follows the vision-receiving record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) and best friend Philip K. Dick (Shea Whigham) as they stumble into a giant conspiracy that changes their lives forever. The film also stars The Walking Dead‘s Scott Wilson as the Nixon-ish President Fremont and Alanis Morissette as “the mysterious character.” Or something.
Sleep Dealer (Hulu Plus)
A film that I hope is in no way a sign of the future, Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer is a well-crafted futuristic thriller that also takes on issues like immigration and having huge cords sticking out of people’s heads. It takes place in a world where factory workers get jacked into big machines that let them control robots across the border — we’ll call this world Mexico. Tech-savvy Memo (Luis Fernando Pena) accidentally hears something he shouldn’t have on a handheld radio, and it provokes him to get his life out of the poor village where he lives. You don’t need a budget if you have big ideas, but Sleep Dealer could have used a bigger budget and some tighter ideas. Still, it’s an extremely interesting area for indie sci-fi to explore.
Septic Man (Hulu Plus)
Let’s be clear here. Jesse Thomas Cook’s mini-budget horror Septic Man isn’t a very good film — just read my review here — but it’s the kind of not-very-good that makes for a pretty great movie-watching experience. A sewer worker named Jack (Jason David Brown) gets stuck inside the sewer on a day when the entire town has been evacuated due to a water contamination problem that he is trying to fix. The plot, which also includes a pair of weirdo antagonists, doesn’t go very far, but few films have ever been this intent on causing their audiences to gag audibly. It’s like the Citizen Kane of movies about people who turn into shit-vomit monsters.