Paywalls are a Good Thing

As we slide further into a streaming future and an increasing number of providers, more and more shows and movies are becoming locked away behind numerous paywalls and I’m… well, the natural thing to write here is that I’m obviously missing out massively. But I don’t necessarily think I am. I’m beginning to think its a question of liberation, an indication of the increasing irrelevance of franchises I once thought hugely important.

I watched The Walking Dead for several years, but thankfully gave up on it before its final seasons slipped behind the Disney paywall. I quite enjoyed Outlander for a few years, but fell behind before it too slipped behind a different paywall. Star Trek seems to be slipping behind a Paramount paywall, but other than curiosity regards how disappointing  Strange New Worlds probably turns out, I can’t say I really care. They should have probably done me a favour and put Picard behind that paywall so I couldn’t have suffered through its Season Two (unofficial subtitle ‘The Death of Trek’).

I’ve never subscribed to Disney+ so I haven’t seen any of the Marvel tv shows, or Star Wars tv shows, or some of the movies being put on there and nowhere else (except for those few movies that arrive on disc that I decide to take a punt on). It was a bit annoying at first, hearing great things about The Mandalorian, and a Boba Fett series certainly seemed intriguing, but as time has moved on, I’ve realised I haven’t missed them at all, and according to some reviews, I haven’t missed out on too much of any value/worth, either.  There definitely seems an indication that Disney making so much Marvel and Star Wars content risks diluting the value of those properties, and quality control seems to have definitely fallen to the wayside in the drive to ensure fresh new content pops up on the streaming service. And there’s the odd twist that there’s so many Marvel tv shows presumably linking to the films, that me not watching Disney+ makes the film themselves less appealing to me than ever. I understand back in the 1990s many comic fans gave up on the massive comic crossover arcs that required me them to buy comic series they wouldn’t ordinarily touch with a barge pole, if only because they couldn’t afford to buy them all. Is that happening with streaming platforms and franchises? Might it happen to the MCU too? You can watch the films but they will reference to series and events and characters one hasn’t seen and therefore make less sense? As if the MCU wasn’t hard enough to keep track of anyway.

Maybe I’m getting old. I have been increasingly diverted by older movies, such as the film noir that I have been watching and collecting (becoming a substantially large percentage of the titles on my shelving these days). They don’t show too many of those older films on the streaming services. Actually I find it curious, that so much regards these streaming services seems to be about genre shows, which seems oddly niche, considering streamers are after subscription numbers, and I would have thought that meant chasing Mr Average, not the geek sitting in the basement or up in the back room. Or did the geeks inherit the Earth after all, and nobody’s watching soaps or sitcoms anymore? Its just a bit weird. Maybe in an alternative universe everyone’s watching Westerns or cop dramas or something.

I’m not suggesting that streamers are the Great Evil – there are some great shows and movies being made, that I cannot imagine ever seeing the light of day through any other vendor- like Amazon’s The Boys or Netflix’s Stranger Things. But its true that the elephant in the room regards streaming services (and its not just Disney+ at fault here, as Netflix is as guilty as any) – is that to keep subscribers the services have to ensure a steady flow of new content for them to consume before they get bored and turn elsewhere, but it requires so much content that quality inevitably suffers. How many Netflix Originals turn out to be any good, never mind actually great? If Disney just made one Star Wars mini-series a year, would it enable them to make it at least consistently logical and honest to the franchises mythology?  I’ve heard things about that Obi-Wan series, how bad it is, from reliable people I know that have seen it, that are mind-boggling, frankly. Disney would have to pay me to see it, not the other way around.

There are many tv shows I would like to see, like Apple’s For All Mankind series from Ronald D Moore. But what kind of viewing figures does that show actually get, or indeed most any of the shows on these streaming platforms? How many people actually watch Star Trek: Discovery? A generation past made who shot JR or who killed Laura Palmer hugely popular discussions and as everything fragments that seems to be increasingly rare- maybe its impossible now. I’ve watched tv shows and been unable to even find anyone else who watched them at all, never mind anyone to share them with in conversation. Maybe that’s the result of paywalls, but isn’t that making much of its content irrelevant that would usually be what we used to call water-cooler television? Is that really a Good Thing?

Another Replicant alert

Blade2Imagine, in Richard Burton’s voice:  “No-one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that Replicant affairs would be increasingly watched from the darkened living-rooms of VHS and Blu-ray owners. No-one could have dreamed that Blade Runner’s video sales were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few fans even considered the possibility of sequels. And yet, across the gulf of Hollywood, minds immeasurably greedier than ours regarded this film’s long-lasting  popularity with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us…”

Reading the announcement last night that Ridley Scott is executive-producing a television series, Blade Runner 2099, for Amazon Studios…  filled me with a mixture of excitement (hey, more Blade Runner!), dismay (television series?) and a creeping sense of terror (Ridley?).

At least its Amazon that brought the rights and is financing it, so it won’t be stuck behind a paywall like that Blade Runner anime (I’m possibly fortunate regards that, as its reportedly pretty poor) so hey, I’ll be able to watch it. If I dare.

So anyway, more Blade Runner. You know, if you could go back in time to me in the early/mid-‘eighties and tell me about all the Blade Runner stuff that would be going on post-millennium, the Final Cut, Harrison Ford appearing in a Blade Runner documentary and also in a sequel movie, and yeah, a sequel movie actually being bloody good too…. Well, I remember the days when few people, if any, had even heard of Blade Runner, and the few that had seen it had mostly seen it on horrible pan n’ scan versions on VHS or Betamax. As I have stated before, Blade Runner was the very definition of ‘Cult’.

I texted my mate Andy about Blade Runner: 2099; we saw the original film together back in September 1982 and dozens of times on video over the years since. His response was one of tired resignation. I’m done with all these sequels and reboots, he told me. He’d got no interest left. He may have a point: BR2049 was a fortuitous event, when the various creative talents aligned, just as they had with the 1982 film, to create something possibly greater than the sum of its parts. Its something which can’t be said for the Alien franchise, albeit I appreciate some prefer Aliens over the original 1979 film. Given time enough, Blade Runner‘s luck is sure to run out, and I’d hate for the original to be tarnished by it.

I suppose that its not fair, really, describing a project as ‘television’ when its likely an eight-or ten-part series made for a huge amount of money for something like Amazon or Netflix or Disney+ or AppleTV, its not really television the way that people of my generation instinctively think about it, Its a different beast now.

But I’d prefer to have had Villeneuve in creative control over it rather than Ridley. Ridley failed to energise the Alien franchise (one could argue his Prometheus and Alien: Covenant did as much harm as good, although others would argue that in the latter’s case, he had to contend with lots of studio mandates that fatally damaged the film) and even as one of his biggest fans I always rile at his assertion that Deckard was a Replicant. Obviously he is attracted to the intellectual idea, rather than how it supports the narrative in any way: I think the narrative of the Blade Runner films is better served by Deckard being human, but I appreciate the fact that in the two films it can be viewed either way. Maybe the series being set in 2099 will give sufficient distance that the subject isn’t even raised.

The Boys are back in town with Season Two

boysBack in August last year I was really surprised by The Boys, a wildly irreverent take on the Superhero genre that was dropped onto Amazon Prime, especially since I’d never heard of the Garth Ennis creation that it was based on. It proved to be one of Amazon’s biggest successes and a clear indication that Amazon had to be compared to the likes of Netflix regards worthy genre series.

I wrote back then that the joy of The Boys was its anti-Marvel/DC stance: “These guys lie and kill with wild abandon, and with no supervillains to keep them in check or validate their existence they run amok abusing their powers/position and manipulate public opinion through corporate videos and events. We can recognise the manipulation of social media and celebrity culture and it all looks pretty realistic”. 

That is partly addressed with season two, in that the central storyline is how the superheroes Corporate paymaster, Vought, orchestrates an outside threat of what are either super-terrorists or super-villains, in order to justify their position above both the law and public/government scrutiny. The position of good and evil seems immaterial to Vought, whose CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito, who one suspects plays these parts on autopilot) confesses a position that its really all about the bottom line, and profit: right and wrong has nothing to do with it. It suggests a commentary on the power of corporations, multi-nationals and the boys from Silicon Valley in our real world.

Indeed, its true that The Boys operates as a metaphor for modern issues in just the same way original Star Trek did at its best. Conspiracy theorists will have a ball with how events are manipulated through social media and its quite timely in how it raises race issues (how sad it is that race issues always seem so timely?), with its white-supremacist/secret Nazi ‘heroine’ Stormfront (Aya Cash), how she cynically manipulates the press and media to serve her ends. I also got a kick out of the ‘movies-within-the-show’ VCU and its comparisons to the MCU (turning the behind the scenes of the MCU into a soap opera, which is a delicious idea- imagine Thor bitching that Captain America gets all the best lines in Endgame). Its all very arch and witty and dark, and yes, just as wildly violent and gory as last year. The Boys is a great show that while this latest edition largely offers more of the same, it could well be argued its even better. Roll on Season three!

Having completed its weekly airing schedule, all episodes of The Boys Season Two are now available for bingeing on Amazon Prime.

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge

deep1I watched this because I stumbled upon it somewhere in the depths of Amazon Prime’s still rather clumsy interface; turns out I watched this so you don’t have to: my loss, your gain, its one of THOSE reviews I suppose.

I don’t know what it is about James Cameron: he’s made some of the most popular films of our generation, whether it be films I don’t particularlly like (Aliens) or films that I recklessly adore (The Abyss), his films are still a huge part of the cultural zeitgeist, and then, of course, there is Titanic, which is something else entirely, but yeah, he’s one of the most successful and popular directors working today. He’s one of those directors who, if he’s working on a new movie, you sit up and take notice. Hell, he was almost single-handedly responsible for all those expensive cinema visits watching 3D films over the last decade and all those 3D TV’s sold. Its a wonder we can ever forgive him.

Its just that, somehow away from his movies, he’s so instantly irritating; just the sight of him bugs me. I don’t know why; maybe its suppressed jealously of the Man on Top of The World. Its not that I’m belittling his achievements (my last paragaraph hopefully explained that) because hell, his record speaks for itself, and I’m sure he is possibly a very nice guy at heart. Ruthless, maybe; I just have the feeling a Very Sweet Guy would never be able to get a James Cameron movie made, and maybe thats a part of it; he reminds me of Nick Nolte’s character in The Thin Red Line, who I always describe as “one of the worlds biggest bastards” but I suppose that gets the job done.

He seems something of a geek; you can tell that just from the films that he makes and the tv shows he’s been involved with, and I imagine that if he sat me down to tear me a new one about this post we’d possibly end up having a very pleasant conversation about our favourite movies. I don’t know what it is: possibly its my introvert Englishness at odds with his loud brash Americanness (is that such a thing?)  but my God he winds me up whenever he looks at a camera and opens his mouth. And God help me, this documentary has him on camera a lot, and yes he does open his mouth volumously, so yes, it was quite an experience.

Yet I love The Abyss. How can I have such an inherently instinctive irritation regards a guy who made one of my favourite movies? I know there are many issues with The Abyss. yes it is very flawed and yes it features toe-curdling dialogue that makes George Lucas seem a veritable poet, but when I saw it at the cinema many moons ago and later the improved DC edition on VHS way back when it was an engrossing experience like few others.

This documentary, with Cameron taking a brand-new submersible on a record-breaking attempt to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, should be right down my Abyss-loving alley. Well, maybe heres the thing-  while I watched this thing on Amazon Prime, this doc has been released on Blu-ray. Cameron hasn’t deemed it worthy bothering to authorise a Blu-ray release of The Abyss, like ever, in all the years that HD format has been out, and yet he managed to deem this doc worthier of the effort. I can see and hear The Ego playing with his expensive toys in his pursuit of a deepsea dive into the unknown, and yet… Bud Brigman’s dive languishes on non-anamorphic DVD in horrible SD? For the last several years I have refused to rewatch The Abyss because, hell, I’m making a stand for HD (and now 4K-UHD), I’ve had enough of this film in SD and I’m not going to bloody take it anymore, thankyou. I can imagine Cameron pulling me to one side “well, f–k you Smithy, here’s a movie about me on Blu-ray instead. Have you seen the 3D version?”

Here’s another thing- spoilers be damned, when Cameron eventually suceeds and hits rock bottom, as it were (“The Ego has landed” I think he announced, but I possibly misheard him) we find NOTHING. Its like the surface of the moon down there, only darker, obviously, and Cameron’s excitement at discovering a, er, hill, is almost endearing, its so funny. At least Bud found an alien city. WHICH WOULD LOOK BLOODY GREAT IN 4K UHD, JAMES (just saying).

The Expanse: Season Four

exp1At the time, here in the UK it entailed importing the Blu-rays, but I started this year watching season two of The Expanse and watched season three immediately after, thoroughly enjoying both the series, safe in the knowledge that a fourth season was due later thanks to Amazon having saved the show from cancellation. We had to wait a little longer than we’d hoped for this fourth season to drop but it turned out to be a great early Christmas present.

Did I mention how hooked I am on this show? Three episodes on the Friday that it dropped (staying up until the early hours even after a typically long Friday shift at work), four episodes on the Saturday, and the rest on the Sunday- ten episodes over three days. Its just that kind of show for me, and while I can understand the argument that a ‘normal’ (if there is such a thing these days) weekly transmission schedule may have served the show better regards weekly digest and discussion, how can one resist binge-watching such a great and satisfying show?

Alas, it leaves me having to start another long wait for more new episodes- currently the team are mid-way filming the fifth season (thanks to Amazon green-lighting two whole seasons), so a late 2020 estimate seems reasonable. So I’ve decided to finally do the decent thing and start reading the books, the first three of which have handily just been reprinted in hardcover (well, it was either that or re-watch the whole thing again, tempting as that is). That’s me covered for reading into the New Year.

So I’ve praised the show up and not gotten into any details regards why it is so great. I think that’s related to my reticence regards reading the books that the show is based on. I love watching each episode not knowing whats going to happen next, and have carefully avoided spoilers on the ‘net, and am worried that if I get carried away I’ll eventually be reading the books beyond where the show has gotten and possibly spoil my enjoyment of the series (there’s one problem that Game of Thrones never had in the end). Having published the eighth book now, the authors have made it clear that the series ends with a final ninth book, which is obviously going to come out before the corresponding television season does. I know, First World problems and all that. But its a pertinent point that I’m intensely reticent to spoil anyone’s enjoyment by giving away anything at all if they read one of my posts and decide to give the show a go.

So anyway, its a pretty great cast, some great characters (I’m still pissed that some don’t survive to the fifth season, so consider that a further indication of its ‘Game of Thrones in Space’ description being apt), and it looks pretty damned gorgeous streaming it in 4K UHD. The visual effects are excellent, the writing is great… and it features Real Science, and Real Physics, which is something rather new to television science fiction. Now that Amazon has it, the future for the show just seems brighter, and the odds of getting all nine seasons more likely than it ever was. As we are approaching, in theory, the midway point of the whole saga next year, this seems an ideal time for people to jump on board the gunship Rocinante and find out what a protomolecule of alien origin can do.

(The Expanse is available in its entirety on Amazon Prime, and the first three seasons on DVD and Blu-ray)

Carnival Row Episodes 5 – 8

carnival3Eight episodes seems to have become the de facto length for most tv shows now. I find that a little curious as its something that may have benefitted Game of Thrones years ago, as it stuck to HBOs preference for ten-episode seasons and eight might have been a better sweet spot for the show. Well, that ship has sailed off into the West with Anya Stark so I mention that just in passing.

Carnival Row, then, completes its first season of eight episodes whilst a second season is already being set for production. While its always nice to be enjoying a new series in the knowledge that more is to come, that does carry the caveat that very often these multi-season shows have deliberate story arcs and a regrettable tendency to fall back to cliffhanger endings each season finale. It was something new and fun back in the days of Babylon 5, but it has become increasingly irritating as JMS’s serial epic has since been so widely adopted as a model for genre television.

Thankfully Carnival Row, while teasing future plot-points as its first season draws to a close, nonetheless manages to wrap up most of its current storyline. I was a little disappointed in how some parts of this story was wrapped up perhaps a little bit too neatly, but perhaps thats the price to pay to still keep it self-contained enough. I suppose its a natural problem for initial seasons that they have to introduce the world and its characters, particularly one so outlandish as this, as well as having a satisfying beginning, middle and end.

On the whole it was a pretty good series and promised much for future installments. I hope that a second season will benefit from the experience of this first season and perhaps take the opportunity of more risks and left-field storytelling. I did think that the best of this season was its world-building and establishing its mythology, and that the murder mystery that formed the backbone of its actual storyline turned out more predictable than I’d hoped. More surprises next year, please.


Carnival Row Episodes 1 – 4: Magnificent World-Building

"Carnaval Row" Ep101 D22/38 Photo: Jan Thijs 2017While not everything is up to such a high standard, we have been spoiled over the past few years with some really sophisticated television shows that can be superior to anything the cinema gives us. As production values soar and often equal those of cinema (as suggested way back in the days of Babylon 5, CGI has been a great leveller between silver screen and home), television has used its great advantage of running-time to great effect- indeed, the serialisation of so many film franchises is an example of cinema heeding this fact and mimicking television. It could well be argued that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really episodic storytelling for the silver screen.

As far as production value goes, most of these new television shows are not cheap, and largely owe their existence to non-Network channels, such as HBO or streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon. The biggest of them all, apparently, is The Lord of the Rings series from Amazon, which is set to commence shooting in New Zealand early next year. What I have heard of its scale and ambition, that show may well break the wall (to borrow a line from BR2049) between the worlds of television and cinema, and so prove there is no distinction between the two at all. We may even be past that point already, depending upon how one views such epics as Game of Thrones or Westworld or Altered Carbon.  It may ultimately not even be a Good Thing, either, as I’d suggest that good storytelling can often benefit from limitations. Good drama depends more upon good characters and conflict, rather than hordes of CGI armies and spectacle. Too often have good movies been spoiled by reliance on spectacle simply because they are perceived to need to be a blockbuster, to draw audiences in for some new sense of scale in action and visuals. Without access to all such visual splendour, traditional genre television has had to rely on more old-fashioned stuff like good storytelling, characterisation etc

carival4Latest of Amazon’s offerings is Carnival Row, an eight-episode series starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Its a Victorian steampunk fantasy that is visually arresting: giving it the ‘look’ of a lavish period drama, and then populating it with strange steampunk tech and fantasy creatures such as horned/hoofed satyrs (the Pucks) and dragonfly-winged fairies (the Fae), Centaurs, Trolls, and even a Cthulhu-like monster lurking in the underground maze of the sewers, is something of a masterstroke. But what I found really impressive is its world-building: instead of drawing attention to all the more fantastic visual elements, instead it is offered up as something ordinary, even mundane. The remarkable is simply unremarkable. Moreover, the dialogue is wonderfully dense at times, referencing races, objects, religions, places, and not feeling the need to explain them- they are instead almost offhand details that add a sense of depth and colour to the piece. Rather than explain everything we see and hear, we are left to pick up the pieces ourselves. On the one hand, it is mostly incidental; we can follow the plot regardless, but for anyone wishing to go the extra mile, so to speak, it offers another level of meaning and detail to that plot. Its Tolkien by way of Charles Dickens.

Inevitably, Carnival Row is a drama of its time. At its heart it is a blatant allegory of mass migration, its economic impact and resultant racism and bigotry familiar to most news reports of our day. The various fantastical races of this fantasy -the Pucks, the Fae and the other bizarre creatures, have been displaced by the carnage of war between competing human nations fighting over the mineral wealth of their Old World that dates back long before humans came into the world. The Pact, the victorious human nation, has slaughtered most of the Fae and forced any survivors to either flee or perish as their villages and homes are destroyed. The Burgue, the human nation that lost the war and whose armies have retreated to its own land, has granted some manner of sanctuary for the creatures, with many of them settling into Carnival Row, something of a ghetto of disrepute and a melting-pot for the various races, traditions and religions.

carnival1Here Human, Puck, Fae, Centaur and Troll manage to keep some manner of peace but the tensions are high.  The Burgue’s central government is split between those who wish to maintain sanctuary for the migrant races and those who fear the alien outsiders that are perceived as taking worker’s jobs and spreading crime and disease. An aristocratic family formerly of wealth and good standing but now on the cusp of bankruptcy and poverty, are horrified when a rich Puck businessman moves next door and threatens to bring down the neighbourhood.  A young Fae, Vignette Stonemoss (Delevingne), the sole survivor of a ship that fled her homeland with refugees, is forced into servitude to pay back the money she owes for her passage to ‘freedom’. A streetwise police inspector, Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) is, unlike most of the police, sympathetic to the plight of Carnival Row’s more colourful denizens and has to circumvent the indifference (and outright hostility) of his superiors when trying to solve a series of bloody and horrible murders in the Row.

The art direction is wondrous, the set designs richly designed and quite elegant. The sense of period lends a reality to everything that makes some of the fantastical elements all the more convincing. Coupled with the beautiful cinematography (which looks really amazing in 4K UHD, with lovely use of HDR) these sets and costumes are a joy to behold. Its really quite cinematic and quite convincing. There is a genuine sense of place, and reality. The casting and acting is really fine, too, with an interesting use of accents bringing another layer of detail to it.

I’m really enjoying it, and so soon after The Boys aired, its clear that Amazon is really moving up a gear with some of its original shows -indeed, perhaps only now are we seeing the results of its increasing investment into the gathering streaming wars. I was rather indifferent to the prospects for Amazons Lord of the Rings show, but on the strength of these two most recent series, my interest has been raised.



peterloo3Peterloo is an often gripping and very troubling account of real events that echo across the centuries to current events that we see on the news from Hong Kong every weekend. The more things change, the more they stay the same, it would seem. On 16 August 1819, during what passed for a nineteenth-century pro-democracy demonstration in St Peter’s Field, Manchester, an apparently rather drunk band of cavalry and yeomanry (whose self-congratulatory commander was elsewhere, literally enjoying a day at the races) charged wielding sabres into a crowd of over 100,000 unarmed people who were there to hear the words of famed orator Henry Hunt (Rory Kinnear). The troops killed eighteen and injured over six hundred, and the British Government was very pleased with itself, jailing Hunt for two years while not punishing anybody for the deaths.

While I was impressed by the sense of time and place, I did have a few issues with the film. While the events are abhorrent and unthinkable, they almost seem to descend into farce and caricature, like something from a Blackadder episode (the Prince Regent such a self-entitled Royal ass it’s almost too much to take seriously). It may very well be historically accurate in all respects, and if so it’s only all the more damning, but it skirts the event horizon of believability. Maybe we’ve just moved on so far with reforms since (albeit some might argue still not far enough) that those days seem too distant and from some other world. Maybe we’re fooling ourselves, considering events in Hong Kong, that things like this are wholly of the past, but the near-farce demonstrated in the film does it a disservice I think. At times it feels almost too camp, almost too Monty Python.

Peterloo is also at least a half-hour too long. While the political and intellectual arguments do require some airing, the lengthy debates at clandestine public meetings or in Parliament are very long and the endless talk, talk, talk proves wearisome, doing the film few favours, although I am sure director Mike Leigh was simply trying to explain some of the intricacies of the political climate and views. A leaner film might have served it better- as it is, it runs two and a half hours, and while I do not mind long films,  it feels like a long two and a half hours.

peterloo1I also missed what I expected to be some text at the close of the story to explain what happened next (instead I had to revert to google). It proved a little frustrating, that after spending so long in that milieu with those many characters, not to see what happened afterwards, what the repercussions were, seems an odd oversight by the film makers. The film is left bereft of perspective – imagine had Glory ended with the bodies being dumped into the mass grave with no text to explain how those events depicted in that film impacted the fortunes of that civil war and racial politics. The fade-out straight to end credits seems like a mistake, an error of judgement, to me.

So a not wholly-successful film I think. I suspect it may have gotten away from Leigh, that he lost control of it somewhat. Stil, its harrowing but educating viewing and certainly worth a watch, but I am left with the feeling that the events deserved a better film, somehow. Perhaps if I watch it again I may feel differently.

(Another) Sign o’ the Times

I’m beginning to think I’m living on some other planet to most folks, and that the title of this blog is getting more pertinent than ever. I read on the news today that Avengers: Endgame has broken UK records for digital downloads. In its first week it has totalled 335,400 downloads.

Who are these people buying digital downloads? Who are these people who have abandoned physical formats and jumped onto this digital train to God only knows where? I don’t get it. I don’t think I ever will. Ever since I ‘lost’ my digital purchase of Robotron on my old Xbox 360, a few dozen digital albums I bought on Virgin Music several years ago and my digital copy of Blade Runner that mysteriously vanished from my Flixster account, I’ve sworn off digital anything. I don’t trust it. Far as I can see, nobody ‘owns’ anything when they buy something digitally, its instead just a license and I can trust any vendor about as much as I can trust Rancors are vegan.

But digital is certainly popular with someone. Me, I can easily wait an extra week or two to buy a copy on 4K disc if its a film I really want to see at its best, or on blu-ray or wait a few months longer to see it on streaming via Prime or Netflix or maybe Sky. But I’ve got shelves of discs behind me that most folks are just not interested in, home video collections going as out of fashion as decent Star Wars movies.

The BBC news report also states that as far as Avengers: Endgame is concerned, its widely expected that it won’t appear on other platforms such as Sky, Netflix or Amazon and will instead other than digital sales will only appear on Disney’s own Disney+ platform for streaming. As long as physical disc formats are still in the mix and I have that choice, then I’m reluctantly fine with the situation (to a point) but I am sure we can all see where the future is eventually heading.  Sign o’ the times indeed. I’m feeling old enough these days without this nonsense.


Trailer Madness: The Expanse Season Four etc

Comic-con hit San Diego last weekend and lots of trailers and teasers hit the net. I particularly enjoyed the footage Amazon dropped of season four of The Expanse: a five-minute sequence from one of the episodes and a teaser proper featuring highlights from the season. It looks like it’s going to be great, although Amazon likely disappointed many by revealing that the season isn’t going to be released until mid-December. While it will no doubt prove a great Christmas present to us fans, it leaves us with a longer wait than we might have expected. Perhaps there is still a lot of post-production work still to be done (it’s easy to forget, considering the scale of something like this show, how tricky and time-consuming it must be to pull off).

Other trailers of note included an expanded one for Westworld Season Three, which won’t arrive until next year. After the mixed season two, I have cautiously high hopes that season three will be a return to form- it certainly is ripe with all sorts of possibilities. Although the second season had its issues it was still one of the most interesting things I watched last year. I have both seasons on disc and keep trying to find the time to watch them, its infuriating really, but there is just so much to watch these days it gets so tricky to manage the time enough to rewatch stuff. Have we ever had it as good as we do now, all this genre stuff out there? Probably just as well I have little current interest in ever subscribing to Disney+ when it (eventually) reaches these shores- something just has to give.

Amazon have announced that season four of The Man in the High Castle will arrive in November and that this will be the final season, promising a proper conclusion to the series. As I have yet to watch season three, I guess that means I’ll be watching that in October to prepare for the final season, and squeezing that in before The Expanse arrives December.  I’ve enjoyed The Man in the High Castle very much, although I’ve found it a more intellectually satisfying exercise than an emotional one, leaving me some sense of distance from it (hence why I’ve not watched season three yet). Which reminds me, I still have the latest season of Outlander to watch. Crikey. Maybe it’s just as well The Expanse isn’t coming until December afterall.