For whatever reason, I’ve gone this long into Cross the Streams without really branching out from my core group of featured sites to incorporate some of the other legal outlets that aren’t solely for public domain movies and don’t have extremely short windows of availability. So I’ll try to start throwing a few other ones in the mix as I find them. And I’d appreciate any suggestions on other quality sites whose catalogs deserve attention. This week, HBO Go gets the top honors. Let’s kick things right off the planet with everyone’s favorite space cowboy, Tom Cruise.
Oblivion (HBO Go)
On paper, but not necessarily screenplay software, Oblivion sounded like it could have been an extremely interesting sci-fi mystery without a lot of fluff. Unfortunately, the screenplay from Academy Award winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) and playwright Karl Gajdusek (Trespass) just didn’t take the mysteries deep enough, and director Joseph Kosinski was comfortable handling himself when it came to striking visuals and images that look really great as posters. But that doesn’t mean it was a feat in direction, or that he drew the best performances from his talented cast, including Cruise as a memory-wiped repairman who works with power stations on an Earth that’d been uninhabitable for many decades following a war with aliens. Then he starts remembering things and uncovering things and it all amounts to a movie that’s certainly worth watching, but which fails to live up to its planet-orbiting potential. It also stars Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Melissa Leo, Andrea Riseborough, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Warm Bodies (HBO Go)
You might as well make this one a date movie, because Warm Bodies is a zombie romantic comedy, and while it’s good enough to stand alone for a solo viewing…I mean, come on. Based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, Jonathan Levine’s adaptation centers on R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie whose brain diet not only sates the hunger but also allows him to feel more human through experiencing his victims’ memories. He becomes infatuated with a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) after he kills her boyfriend half in self-defense. He slowly begins to win her over as his humanity is restoring itself. The film also stars John Malkovich as Julie’s Malkovichian father, Rob Corddry as R’s goon friend M, and Dave Franco as the “sorry I spoiled it” dead boyfriend. It could have used something else to make it a tad more distinct, but it a relatively low-budget production that made a ton of money and many of the novel’s fans happy. It’s always more important to please a book’s fans than it is to please me.
Cockneys vs. Zombies (Netflix Instant)
Once the Warm Bodies part of your date night is over, blow out that one candle, have some drunk sex, and throw on Matthias Hoene’s feature debut Cockneys vs. Zombies. It’s a much less subtle horror comedy, with a focus on gore, amped-up accents, and cornball humor. The plot follows Andy MacGuire (Harry Treadaway) and his older brother Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) as they plan a bank robbery with a few of their friends in order to save their grandfather’s retirement home from being demolished. It just so happens a zombie apocalypse is happening at the same time, and you bet your undead ass some hijinks ensue as they battle their way to reach his grandfather.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (Redbox Instant)
Even these days, it’s rare for a film franchise to make it to its third entry without feeling like much of the steam has gone. But then, not all third films have Master Blaster in them. I’ve always thought, if Master Blaster would have taken Sofia Coppola’s place in The Godfather III, there wouldn’t be an issue. Fifteen years after the events in The Road Warrior, even though Mel Gibson sill looks like he was having a rough late twenties, Max gets attacked and robbed, leading him into the pigshit-fueled land of Bartertown, run by Tina Turner’s Aunty Entity. Once the Thunderdome comes into it, get outta town. “Two men enter! One man leaves!” I’m not sure why they felt the need to inject a bunch of children into the narrative, but that all could have been worse. With the fourth installment of the series on the way, what better time than now to pick a fight?
The Deep – 2010 TV Miniseries (Hulu Plus)
If you’re thinking about watching The Abyss for the 17th time this year, but you want something that’s kind of similar but not as well crafted, then look for further than the 2010 BBC miniseries The Deep, which follows a team of submarine-housed oceanographers on a mission for a bio-fuel source not long after the crew from a similar mission went missing. Bad things occur, and the group must figure out a way to survive and get back to the surface. I haven’t even seen it, but nearly every review I could find online used a combination of the words “generic,” “clichéd,” and/or “predictable.” Maybe I’ll give it a shot next time I’m stuck at the bottom of the ocean with nothing to do.
ThingamaBob (Hulu Plus)
This intriguing series from History Channel tasks inventor Bob Partington with creating never-before-seen inventions out of three disparate items from American’s past. For example, in Saturday’s episode, which should be up for streaming on Sunday, he’ll be given an electrical wall plug, an ice cream cone, and a sousaphone, and he’ll have to make three different inventions that can either help someone do something or just do something randomly awesome. It seems like there should be a show like this called Is Bong?, at least on Colorado public access. Anyway, there are currently only two episodes up, but they’re well worth a watch.
I can’t even invent a way to end this. Goodbye.