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The death knell of summer is slowly starting to vibrate through all the heat and humidity. Say it ain’t so, streamers! What will the fall bring? I’m not sure, but according to the Huffington Post, Netflix is paying close attention to what shows people are pirating, so that they’ll have a good idea of what people will want to stream. While I’m not one to promote illegal downloading or anything, I’m all about pointing people in the right direction in getting the sci-fi that they want. So, let’s all take the hint. In the meantime, let’s get into the most recent streaming releases, shall we?
Haven: Seasons 1-3 (Netflix Instant)
While this Syfy original series was initially conceived as an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, one of his shortest works, it almost immediately bucked the source material for something more supernatural. Emily Rose plays an FBI agent who moves up to Haven, Maine and finds her investigation soon incorporates “The Troubles,” some paranormal business that affects the town’s citizens every so often. No spoilers here, but not everything or everyone is as it seems. This probably would have been a stronger series had it aired anywhere but Syfy, but it’s got its high points, and definitely got more interesting as the seasons went on. Season 4 just started up on September 13, so if you ever wanted to get caught up, now’s the time.
Fringe Season 5 (Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime)
Unfortunately, there’s no new season of Fringe starting up on Fox, because Fox kills everything that’s good. Though admittedly, this series lasted longer than most. But the final season was still only 13 episodes. There’s quite a bit of time flipping going on, with the season taking place in 2036, as first seen in a Season 4 episode. You want to know why the future is such a dystopia? You’ll find out, in one of the rare “final seasons” that really hits on all cylinders, with a finale that manages to work as both a plot-driven and emotional conclusion.
Strange Frame (Netflix Instant)
Mark Strange Frame as one of the most unique films you’ll ever encounter, though that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love it. It’s the 28th century, and humans have left Earth behind, genetically modifying themselves in many ways to be able to live on other worlds. Two lesbian musicians, played by Pitch Black/Farscape‘s Claudia Black and voiceover actress Tara Strong, begin a relationship and attempt to take on the oppressive forces that want to bring them down. Or something. The story almost plays second fiddle (or saxophone) to the gorgeously trippy, mostly-hand-drawn cut-out animation used here, often with eye-popping 3D elements. The supporting cast is filled with sci-fi faves George Takei, Michael Dorn, Alan Tudyk, and Ron Glass. Also, Tim Curry.
The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (Hulu Plus)
This 2001 Hallmark Channel mini-series was both ahead of its time — and for a show about the guy who wrote The Time Machine, that’s a strange thing — and also on the wrong channel. The three episodes are 90 minutes each and each adapt two of H.G. Wells stories into a narrative that takes each story as if the events were real and being investigated by Wells (Tom Ward) and his girlfriend Jane (Katy Carmichael). The stories “The New Accelerator,” “The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper,” “The Crystal Egg,” “The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes,” “The Truth about Pyecraft” and “The Stolen Bacillus” are all featured. This treatment needs to be given to many more authors.
Sputnik Mania (Hulu Plus)
For those who think the space race was all fun and games, and I’m not sure there’s really anybody out there like that, Sputnik Mania will quickly turn those ideas around. Created by filmmaker David Hoffman in 2007, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch, this documentary uses archival footage and soothing narration from actor Liev Schreiber to tell the story of how quickly political fear-mongering turned the U.S.’ sense of wonder into something much more negative. After all, the Soviet Union could have used those rockets to blow us up, couldn’t they? They’re just trying to make the U.S. look like we’re still in the stone age, aren’t they? Things never change around here.
Outpost: Black Sun (Hulu Plus)
The sequel to the Nazi zombie horror that isn’t Dead Snow, this Steve Barker-directed feature isn’t as good as its surprisingly solid predecessor, and centers around a plot that goes way farther than a film about Nazi zombies needs to go.
Atlantic Rim (Hulu Plus)
You’ll be wishing for Nazi zombies when it comes to The Asylum’s horrendous rip on Pacific Rim. (Also known as Attack From Beneath and From the Sea.) Giant, shittily rendered CGI robots battle giant, shittily rendered CGI monsters. Charlie Hunnam’s worst acting is still miles ahead of the thespianism of ex-Baywatch star David Chokachi and Naughty by Nature’s Treach. This is a flick where you need to get your friends involved before watching. If this isn’t enough, there’s also Category 8 with Matthew Modine, or maybe Frankenfish with Tory Kittles. Because those both also came out recently. Movie marathon time, guys.
Assuming you haven’t smothered yourself to death inside a bucket of poisoned popcorn after watching the above triple feature, I hope to see you for the next Cross the Streams. Thanks for reading!