Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: Up in the Air

Ok, so this review is actually a bait and switch. Last night, Lisa wanted to watch a movie. I had neglected to sign up for Netflix, but then remembered that the PS3 had on-line movie rentals through the Playstation Store, so I fired up the game machine and looked through the store looking for something to watch.

It wasn't hard to find something to watch, since Up in the Air [Blu-ray] was a movie that everyone on our St. Vincent Trip talked about. It felt odd not to have the Amazon reviews available while browsing, but I got over that since we wanted to watch the movie.

Purchasing is a bit of a snag, since you can only buy Playstation Store dollars in units of $5 at a time, but I could see myself making regular use of this feature, so there wasn't a lot of resistance on my part. Once the download started, I could see that my WiFi connection while good, wasn't going to instantaneously download the movie for me to watch right away. However, once the PS3 had downloaded about 5% of the movie, an option appeared to watch the movie while downloading. It took no more than 3 minutes to get to this point, but getting Lisa ready to watch the movie took at least 10 minutes, so it was no big deal.

The nice thing about watching the movie this way, as opposed to say, Redbox is that there are no ads. You click play, and the movie immediately starts. No trailers, no menu, nothing. Just what all online rental experiences should be like. The picture quality is absolutely amazing. As mentioned before, the PS3 upscaling works smoothly and magically, and Up in the Air wasn't the kind of movie that needed HD anyway.

Twice, however, the playback stopped when the playback went faster than the download could handle. Each time, we'd stop and do other stuff for a bit so that we wouldn't get stuttering. I think if I had about 30 minutes of buffer time before watching the movie, I don't think we would have even gotten a pause. I would certainly do this kind of rental again, as opposed to renting from Redbox or paying a monthly fee to Netflix (though as a cheapskate, I would of course get a free trial from Netflix first). For HD movies, however, there's some planning needed since it would take quite a while to download the entire movie to disk. That's probably better done through a regular Blu-Ray rental or Netflix.

As for the movie itself: I liked it. Unlike Hollywood movies, there's a plot twist that doesn't end happily for the protagonist, which I thought was unusual. Worth the rental, but I don't think we needed to see it in the theater.
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