I’ve written before about the Wonderfully Weird Channels of the Roku and how the little device is a gift of modern technology for which I have always been thankful. Well, now I am afraid to report to you that I have to look this gift horse in the mouth.
The idea of ad supported streaming channels is a good one. There are billions of feet of film and video tape sitting on the shelves of movie studios or media companies just gathering dust, and they could be out there making rent. There are movies and shows that would never be profitable burning onto a disk, packaging and putting on store shelves, but if they were being broadcast or available to stream for free, somebody would watch. Why not make a little money off of these old properties with a few commercial interruptions? No subscription fee for a few commercials? Seems like an agreeable trade off.
I have been running into the same problem with Amazon’s Prime as I did with Netflix in that I am spending more and more time trying to find something to watch rather than watching something. Amazon’s search engine is terrible, and there suddenly seems to be a surplus of direct-to-streaming action films that features a major star. I watched one called Acts of Violence which featured Bruce Willis prominently on the cover art, but it turns out that he is in a minor, supporting role. It’s sort of like Bela Lugosi’s part in Ed Wood’s Plan Nine from Outer Space. The whole film was built around Lugosi although he is barely in it,and the same can be said of this video with Willis. The library seems to be crowded with a lot of these low-rent action and horror flicks.
So I end up checking out some of the free ad-supported movie channels that I have gathered as they have popped up. Their libraries aren’t as deep as Netflix or Amazon which makes it easier to find something to watch. I gave the Popcornflix channel a look and was pleased with the selection I found.
Black Sunday is a terrific thriller based on a Thomas “Silence of the Lambs” Harris novel, and it was probably going to be THE PICTURE OF 1977 in the minds of movie moguls and theater owners before that goofy space opera released the same year loused all of that up. It was directed by John Frankenheimer who has delivered several classics in the thriller genre including The Manchurian Candidate and Seconds. It’s a good film. I’ve read the novel and seen it before, but I figured I’d put it on,do a bit of drawing and hunker down and really pay attention to the climax during the third act.
But first a word from our sponsors…
The show started with five commercials. Fine. That’s what I expected. Two of them were for spray paint which I thought was unusual since I don’t ever remember seeing a spray paint commercial before. This ad was filled with overjoyed people brought to an even greater ecstasy with the addition of spray paint. It was sort of like a Coke or Pepsi commercial where the product is a lifestyle choice rather than a means to an end. I’m not sure what the connection was between the product and a 40 year old movie about a terrorist plot, but it ran. Weird. The movie starts. 15 minutes later in, the story breaks for five more commercials — the same five commercials played in the same order.
And 15 minutes after that.
And 15 minutes after that.
I bailed. At first, it seemed all right. Time to hit the kitchen or bathroom, but it wouldn’t let up. Maybe if they switched up the commercials, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but the same ads ran over and over again. I quit for the night and went to bed early instead.
I tried again the following evening. It is a good movie, and I was getting to the good part. What can I say? Five commercials again. I think I got spray paint again and maybe a pharmaceutical, but there was also an ad from a very self-important musical group I’ve never heard of promoting their big new album release. Every 15 minutes. I couldn’t take it any more. I quit, and I deleted the channel from my Roku.
Popcornflix has a decent lineup of movies, but no movie is compelling enough to put up with that aggravation of endless and repeated commercials. I’ve watched other ad supported channels, but nothing was as bad as this. Sorry guys. Do better.