Instant-Watching-Viewer's-GuideEach week we take a look at what’s new and what’s essential viewing on the various VOD and movie streaming services.

This week’s theme seems to weighty and important drama although there is the best comedy from last year as well, a classic buddy cop action flick, zombie lunacy and Star Trek. Perhaps because we are moving into the awards season, Netflix has decided to move with it and add some acclaimed drama for the long dark nights ahead.


Pitch Perfect (2012)

For a comedy about acapella made in the wake of the success of Glee, Pitch Perfect sure is a well written and performed film. Coming as a complete surprise at the end of last year, the story should have led to all manner of clichés as wannabe DJ Anna Kendrick arrives at college and is inducted into an all-girl acapella group who are failing into blandness against a comical all male rival group. So of course the wannabe DJ rubs some funk on to their routine and they take it all the way to regionals. What could have been a bland stalwart of screen 9 of your local multiplex during the school holidays is elevated into classic territory by a great script by Kay Cannon based on the book by Mickey Rapkin. Its non-stop funny with endlessly quotable lines, the kind of comedy that was all too sparse last year.

Available on Now TV

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams in Trouble with the Curve


Trouble with the Curve (2012)

My big worry is that now this is going to be Clint Eastwood’s on screen swan song rather than the more fitting and y’know quality, Gran Torino. The first 45 minutes or so are good with Clint Eastwood’s seasoned baseball scout losing his sight and worrying about his career and it seems like it’s becoming a considered study of old age, but then….it gets messy. They introduce a bland romance between Amy Adams estranged daughter and Justin Timberlake’s former superstar. Then there is a historical child abuse reveal which feels clumsy and manipulative and then a discovery of a baseball wunderkind out of nowhere. None of these plot strands ever coalesce into a satisfying whole and it feels like a real waste of the talent involved.

Available on Now TV

The Hunt

The Hunt (2012)

Thomas Vinterberg’s latest searing drama feels like it has an important message that the world isn’t quite ready to hear yet. Mads Mikkelsen plays a well-liked primary school teacher in a small town who thanks to the mischievous older brother of one of his pupils and one moment of naughty behaviour, ends up being implicated as being a paedophile. What’s terrifying about this film is how easily everything falls apart around this innocent man who we as an audience know is innocent. I say terrifying but at a certain point it becomes infuriating as everyone is so quick to throw this good person to the wolves, there is definitely an air of guilty and that is the end of it with this kind of situation and we have seen that sadly played out in tabloids over recent weeks. Mikkelsen has quietly become one of the most fascinating actors around over the last few years and his performance here is perhaps his best so far, never losing the gravitas and dignity he has in the face of absolute hopelessness even as he explodes in one extremely well staged scene. A very well made, well written and worthwhile drama that will make you think.

Available on Netflix

REC 3 Genesis

Rec: Genesis (2012)

After all that seriousness, it’s time for some zombie fun. The third Rec film has not pleased the hard-core fans but ignoring the shift in tone and format it is far better than any undead film that skipped the cinema should be. Going solo this time, director Paco Plaza ditches the found footage in the first quarter and instead focuses on where the viral outbreak started at a wedding in the countryside. It’s just as kinetic, thrilling and bloody as the last two but this time with a vein of much-needed humour.

Available on Lovefilm

The Sweeney Set 4

The Sweeney (2012)

For a British made crime saga based on an old TV series, this is definitely better than you think it’s going to be. Even though it is directed by Nick Love, features musician Ben Drew (Plan B) in a prominent role and stretches believability to breaking point with regards to how the coppers do their job and what they get up to, it’s still a fairly thrilling way to spend two hours. Probably not better than Welcome to the Punch which also had some major flaws but did a British Michael Mann better than what Nick Love does here.

Available on Lovefilm

What Richard Did

What Richard Did (2012)

Back in serious land for this Irish drama from last year. If you are going to give this a look, make sure it’s a sunny day out because this is probably the most depressing film from last year. Filmed with a stark, unfussy eye the film concerns a promising, popular teenager named Richard who after one too many one night ends up delivering a final kick in a fight which actually kills someone. The rest of the film is the fall out as Richard deals with his guilt and weighs up his options and how it affects his relationships. The finale is perhaps a bit too ambiguous but this is still really well done if maybe a little too heavy for a weekend watch.

Available on Netflix


Alice in Wonderland (2010)

We should have known that eventually Tim Burton was going to make this film and yet none of us did anything to stop him, no one whispered in his ear and told him no and then this travesty was birthed into the world. Burton’s wonderland is a bland, over colourful and dull world featuring bland Mia Wasikowska and an over the top Johnny Depp who looks like modern-day Madonna. The story never involves, the set pieces never move and somehow this made millions. A tragedy considering that before this Burton made Sweeney Todd and Big Fish.

Available on Netflix

Sorcerer's Apprentice BAnner

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

A failed franchise perhaps based on a Mickey Mouse cartoon and perhaps not. Nicolas Cage stars as a wizard who inducts Jay Baruchel into an underworld of magic and mystery and I can’t remember the rest. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice isn’t a bad film but is truly lightweight summer fare that never rises above entertaining. Great performance from Toby Kebbell though who is fast becoming the best secondary character actor in the business.

Available on Netflix

The Replacement Killers

The Replacement Killers (1998)

Worth watching for the curiosity value of what Hollywood did based on the boom in interest in Hong Kong cinema in the early 90s. Hollywood never really knew what to do with charismatic Chow Yun-Fat and here they proved it by not changing things up from HK and plonking him in a film about a haunted assassin who has barely any character and looks cool in a gun fight. Mira Sorvino adds spunk as a forger caught in the cross fire but the plot is so contrived and barely there that all the good work in the world makes little difference. Director Antoine Fuqua would go on to direct Training Day and Chow Yun-Fat would do better work in The Corruptor before going back to Hong Kong and making Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which finally gave him the international superstar status he deserved.

Available on Netflix

lethal weapon- Danny Glover and Mel Gibson


Lethal Weapon (1987)

Lovefilm seems to have a really nice monopoly on action films of the old school when Shane Black, Tony Scott and Joel Silver all rose to prominence. The original buddy cop classic is the one which signalled there was about to be a shift away from the muscle men that were in vogue back then, then Die Hard would arrive a year later and the rest is history. Lethal Weapon is still really great, Mel Gibson is superbly nutty, Danny Glover is wonderfully harassed and the script clicks like few others from back then. The sequels would dilute Gibson’s character to the point where the title Lethal Weapon was meaningless but the original remains a classic yardstick against which all others are measured.

Available on Lovefilm

Star Trek The Next Generation 2

Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons 1-4 (1987-1991)

The reinvention of television Trek is now on the streaming services for the casual trek fan who doesn’t want to invest in the discs at home. A warning though, the first two seasons of this have not aged well at all. Patrick Stewart is fine as Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his weight as a performer really lends itself to the role even from the beginning. It’s the others that suffer and the style of camera they were using on TV back then means that this looks almost like it’s being projected on to a cloud of smoke rather than appearing on the TV screen. The quality of the show really picks up from season 3 onwards with the characters being developed and the Borg being introduced.

Available on Netflix