Welcome back to another Cross the Streams, which hadn’t been around for a while due to too much stream crossing, resulting in me having to undergo a special procedure to remove all the junk from my system. But this edition is jam-packed with a plethora of quality goodies that have hit the Internet in recent weeks. The only way you could get bored is if you stopped reading right now.
Enough small talk. Let’s get down to brass sci-fi tacks and take a look at what’s new in streaming science fiction, including Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant Video, and more.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Seasons 1-6 (Netflix Instant)
A lot of tie-in cartoons over the years have been substandard crap, and while The Clone Wars started out as a fairly average take on the Star Wars universe, it became so much more over the course of the next few seasons, expanding the link between the second and third Episodes with excitement, sweet-ass CGI, and more ample storytelling skills than Lucas has shown in many years. Not to mention the host of voice actors that crop up over the course of its run. The major plus here is that Netflix has added the never-before-seen sixth season, which fans thought they might never see after the show was canceled post-Disney buyout. May the Force, and so on.
Orphan Black: Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
My favorite new series of 2013 (and possibly my favorite debut season of any TV series), Orphan Black took no time at all to throw viewers into dramatic quagmires involving clones, a religious zealot, a secret agency, suspicious cops, and more. Would the darkly comedic high-stakes drama have worked as well without the masterful thespian skills of leading lady Tatiana Maslany playing so many different characters? Probably not, but luckily we don’t have to worry about such things. With the second season coming back next month, there’s no better time than now to tickle your curiosity and funny bones.
Cloud Atlas (HBO Go)
This was that movie where, uh, Tom Hanks played like 12 dudes, right? In adapting David Mitchell’s 2004 time-and-space-spanning novel, Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings certainly looked danger in the face and gave it six new faces. With an all-star cast and ambition to spare, Cloud Atlas takes audiences from the Pacific Islands to a dystopian future, all the while heaping on concepts, emotions, and make-up effects. And somehow it all worked. Just bring the asprin.
Ghostbusters 2 (Netflix Instant)
There’s something strange and cash-grabby in the neighborhood, and it’s >Ivan Reitman’s sequel to the comedy classic Ghostbusters. By no means a terrible movie, this follow-up does suffer from lazy writing that mimics the first film’s set pieces, but at least they are memorable. You don’t often get to see the Statue of Liberty walking around destroying shit, and you also don’t get to see this much slime outside of a Nickelodeon awards show. Plus, Vigo the Carpathian was a formidable opponent for the fearsome foursome. But could somebody have told Peter MacNicol to not do that, and by “that” I mean everything?
Men in Black II (Netflix Instant)
Speaking of sequels that were created with dollar signs in mind instead of naturally good ideas, Men in Black II brought Will Smith’s Agent J back to kick a few more extraterrestrials’ asses, all while Tommy Lee Jones’s memory-wiped Agent K has to readjust to clandestine government tasks. I haven’t watched this since seeing it in theaters in 2002, though I remember being sorely disappointed. Someone tell me if this film holds up.
The Returned: Season 1 (Netflix Instant)
Even though we’re still chin-deep in the zombie phenomenon, the French series The Returned (based on the 2004 film Les Revenants) isn’t overloaded with crowds of rotted flesh-eating creatures, but instead takes a more cerebral look at returning from the dead. A group of people inexplicably come back to their lives in a small mountain town, both perplexing and overwhelming their family and friends. It may not entirely fit into the science fiction genre, given the lack of ostentatious explanations for everything, but this is still a great drama that should fit right into GFR fans’ wheelhouses.
Sound of My Voice (HBO Go)
Zat Batmanglij’s debut feature, Sound of My Voice is a quiet look at belief and what guides people’s trust in the unknown. Nicole Vicius and Christopher Denham play a couple who are making a documentary about a small cult led by Brit Marling’s Maggie, who claims she is a time traveler from the year 2054. Though the initial plans are to expose Maggie as a fraud, her possible legitimacy causes turmoil for our undercover duo. Though I wish it were more impactful, this is still a heady movie that should be rewarding for both skeptics and believers.
The Final Cut (Netflix Instant)
While nowhere near as unsettling as he was in One Hour Photo, Robin Williams is convincingly normal as Alan Hakman, a man who makes his money splicing together digital memories to form a personal retrospective called a Rememory. He enters into a plot that involves removing evidence that his company’s founder is a pervert, and then things go haywire. It’s been years since I watched it, but I remember thinking it was a pretty tight thriller. But maybe that was just someone messing with my memories.
Class of 1999 (Hulu Plus)
This was one of my favorite cornball thrillers to watch as a kid, as it seemed to come on Cinemax on an hourly basis. As the less successful sequel to 1982’s Class of 1984, this no-holds-barred actioner takes place in a world where the most dangerous place in the city is high school, where gang violence has become so insane that cyborgs are brought in to keep things safe. Then the droids turn bad and shit gets goofy. If nothing else, watch it because it stars Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, and Pam Grier.
You can also find The Starving Games on Netflix, but I wouldn’t go around telling people that you did. See you next time, streamers.