Oz the Great and Powerful

We understand that no matter how much you love them, going out to the movies isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes there’s a huge storm that ravages the middle of the country and you’re just glad to have power enough to watch a DVD, let alone go outside to your local cineplex. Sometimes its just easier to not put on pants. Trust me, I know this better than most. Which is why we offer a weekly alternative. Through the magic of our Video On Demand Power Ranker, a custom-built supercomputer, we present a list of the best films you can see without even leaving the couch. This week, there’s sci-fi, magic, wonder and WikiLeaks.

1. Oz the Great and Powerful

The Pitch: Sam Raimi returns us to the world of Oz to complete a journey that Walt Disney started almost a century ago, bringing to life the story of how the Wizard (James Franco) came to be. On his way to becoming the man behind the curtain, he meets a series of lovely witches, played by Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis. Still, the real beauty is in the world-building and digital character creation in the world of Oz. It’s bright, colorful and just epic enough to remind us that this is summer and we deserve grand spectacle.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand and Xbox Live.

2. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

The Pitch: Controversial and sure to stir some discussion, award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney takes on one of the most polarizing figures of the Internet age, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It chronicles with unprecedented immediacy the scandal of WikiLeaks and the exposure of classified materials by Bradley Manning, now called the largest security breach in U.S. history. Is Assange a hero or a terrorist? Is Manning a righteous whistleblower or a traitor? Gibney’s doc attempts to present the facts so that you can make your own decision. It also provides you with plenty of thought-provoking imagery that allows its audience to ruminate on the state of privacy and the role of government in the 21st century.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live.

3. Berberian Sound Studio

The Pitch: Toby Jones stars as a sound engineer who is brought in to work on a project he assumes is about horses. The problem is that the film he is to engineer might be called The Equestrian Vortex, but it’s more of a horror film about a priest torturing a witch. As our Adam Charles explained in his Fantastic Fest 2012 review, the film’s very nature causes Jones’ character to begin a slow, spiraling mental breakdown. And the precise technical nature of the film itself may lead to similar results for the audience. It gets into our heads and plays around a little bit, leaving a mark that becomes more indelible the further away you try to run.

Available On: iTunes, Cable on Demand and Xbox Live.

4. Snitch

The Pitch: The Rock goes undercover in a crime syndicate to save the life (and jail time) of his teenage son. Fast cars, drug dealing, Michael K. Williams led action might be exactly what we need in the wake of seeing Fast & Furious 6. Because yes, Dwayne Johnson is that compelling as an action star. As a moviegoing audience, we could do much worse.

Available On: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand and Xbox Live.

5. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Pitch: Jim Carrey and Steve Carell star as superstar magicians competing for the fleeting affection of the American people. Steve Buscemi follows them around with his Steve Buscemi eyes. It comes with a bit of morbid curiosity that leads me to even put this one the list. It’s got high profile talent and was granted a wide release. And it is a digital release a few weeks in advance of the DVD. But critics, including our own Rob Hunter, eviscerated this movie. Furthermore, audiences on RottenTomatoes went along with critics, matching the critic score of 37% approval with a 42% approval of their own. Finally they can get one of those promo commercials right: “Critics and audiences agree, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is bad.”

Available On: iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and Xbox Live.

Also Streaming This Week

Click the links to visit our full reviews, where available:

Upside Down – on iTunes, Vudu and Xbox Live.

As Cool As I Am – on iTunes, Amazon, Cable on Demand, Sundance Now and Xbox Live.

Movie 43 – on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live.

Dead Man’s Burden – on Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand and Xbox Live.

Twixt – on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Cable on Demand and Xbox Live.

Click here to see our rankings from last week. Comment below and tell us what you’re watching this weekend.


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