|Is Netflix Streaming Good Enough for the Serious Movie Buff?|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Video Related Articles|
|Written by Thomas Spurlin|
|Wednesday, 23 December 2009|
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Each film has a home page that has a small interface at the top that enables playing the film / TV episode, giving a star rating between one (1) and five (5), and removing it from the Instant Queue. Underneath all that, some descriptors for the film / TV episode are available: a small cast listing, a synopsis for the film, runtime, year the film came out, the director, and its category. For instance, Federico Fellini's Amarcord flops firmly in the "Foreign Classics" section. To activate the film, click on the "play" option and wait for the film to pop up. Wait times for the content to begin streaming vary, but they're mostly very quick -- taking roughly 20-30 seconds to load up.
After watching a handful of films available in both anamorphic and non-anamorphic presentations on home video, many of the prints range from looking very similar to their retail counterparts to drastically different and, sadly, incorrect. Let's get the negatives out of the way first. The print damage from 10 Things I Hate About You looked similar through an aliased yet colorful widescreen-enhanced image, about what it looks like to zoom in on the non-anamorphic disc, but From Dusk 'til Dawn comes out full-framed and looking rather drab.
On the flipside of things, the presentation for Chris Marker's La Jetee (sourced from Criterion / Janus, of which there are plenty) was properly framed at 1.66:1 and Tell No One at 2.35:1 -- both truthful to the director's intent and of very high quality. It's worth noting that full-frame sources, tested by both "The Office" (UK) and Tetsuo: The Iron Man, come out as stretched 4x3 material even if the selection for "Normal" upscaling is elected from the Video Settings menu. Also, all the audio cranks out as a non-dynamic 2.0 Stereo sound track, but it never distorts, blips, or cuts out.
The SD quality obviously isn't as good as on standard DVD, nor HD quality compared to Blu-ray, especially when considering the audio, but it may be a tolerable gap depending on your needs. Now, whether this new streaming service is enough of a selling point to cough up $9 for Netflix, if you aren't subscribing yet, is a pretty easy question to answer. Those finicky with quality won't be very fond of the audio limitations and may want to stick to physical media. But for those seeking immediate access, the myriad of films available for instant viewing easily makes the entry price worth the subscription fee.