Look at Paramount+ Launch Day

Yup, another streaming service has launched. Like most streaming services, it’s been available in the US for a while now, launching shows exclusively on that service, and then wondering why people in other countries are illegally watching it instead of waiting months and ignoring spoilers online while trying to be part of the fandom. There’s a lot of streaming services available now, so is another one really worth getting? I’ll provide the key points and let you decide.

Price

Pretty cheap really, especially compared to other services. It’s either £6.99 a month, or you can save £14 a year by buying an annual membership for £69.90. Here are the others for comparison:

Disney+: £7.99p/m or £79.90 a year.

Amazon Prime: £7.99p/m or £79 a year.

Netflix: Between £6.99 and £15.99p/m

Mubi: £9.99p/m or £95.88 a year

Apple+: £4.99p/m

BritBox: £5.99p/m

Like most services, Paramount+ does have a 7day free trial

Availability

The service is available in the usual places:

Desktop

Phone (iPhone and android)

Apple TV

Android TV

FireTV

Roku

Chromecast

Samsung TV

Sky Q

Sky Glass

For all of them, check your model is compatible. Have seen a few people say firestick version doesn’t work, just autoruns free trial and can’t set up profiles for parental controls, and can’t search. There is one thing missing though: consoles. Xbox and Playstations have been marketed as “entertainment devices”, so a large streaming service not being available cuts out a lot of customers, especially when other streaming services are available. I think they will be launching a console-friendly version soon, but to not have one at launch is a bit of a letdown.

User Interface

Do you like the layout of Disney+? Then you’ll like this, the layout is near identical. I get why, having something completely new could be disorientating to users. But it does mean that it lacks a visual identity.

Content

This is the weakest part of the service so far. The content is not quite up to the level of the others. This ties into the user interface too. Like Disney+, they have tabs at the top:

  • Paramount+ Originals and Exclusives
  • Showtime
  • Comedy Cental
  • MTV
  • Nickelodeon
  • Nick JR.
  • Smithsonian Channel

There’s just not enough content at the moment for some of those categories. Nick Jr. has less than 30 things in that section, Showtime has 31, Comedy Central has a laughable SIX. You don’t need a separate channel just for 6 items.

It’s got some okay stuff in terms of TV shows, but most of it is stuff that has only recently come off other streaming services (or in some cases is still there): South Park, Cheers, Broad City.

On the plus side there are quite a few good movies on there, but there are also some weird omissions. It has one Halloween movie, the sixth one. That’s almost worst than not having any at all. I was excited by all the Friday The 13th movies there, but it doesn’t. It has them up to and including the eighth one, so it doesn’t have Jason X, Jason Goes To Hell, Freddy Vs. Jason, or the remake. The last two make sense as they’re not essential to the franchise, but the other two are a bit weird. Also missing, the third one. That’s a weird one to miss out, especially as it’s very important to the franchise as it’s where Jason got his hockey mask.

I’m hoping they expand the content soon, the UK is already losing out by not having any of the sports available to international users, so it needs something to make up for that.

Summary

So is it worth getting? Unless you’re desperate for some of the exclusives, I don’t think it is at the moment. That’s solely down to the content. They need to start adding more stuff. To me, what made Disney+ a lot better is when they added Star, it meant that even non-disney fans could find a lot of things to like. Paramount doesn’t have that, it’s missing the hook to draw people in. At the moment it seems like they’re counting on Star Trek to draw people in, outside of that it doesn’t have that much to offer. The movies especially need more. The advantage of having some of these services is when they launch new-ish movies on there. This doesn’t have that. I think it will be adding some new releases, but at the moment under “new releases and blockbuster movies” they have South Park, Ray Donovan, Paw Patrol, Paranamoral Activity (released 2021), Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, and some Transformers movies. Not really something that makes it worth it.

I have confidence that in the coming months, they will improve the content and it will be worth getting. But at the moment? Not really sure of the point of it. There’s no “oh no, you NEED this service because…….”. The best reason to get it now is to get locked into a yearly one in case they raise the price in the future.

Soul (2020)

Two minutes into this I knew it would break me. Somehow I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this so I genuinely had no idea what to expect, I knew it had something to do with music, but other than that, nothing. This is the part where I say “and I’m glad as it meant I went in with no expectations so I enjoyed it more since it was all a surprise). I’m not entirely sure thats applicable here though as I feel that even if saw a trailer, I still would have enjoyed this. It has so much heart and soul (OMG that’s the title of the movie) that no trailer could have ruined this movie for me. It could have put all the plot points in, ruined the ending, used a Black Eyed Peas song, all things I normally hate from trailers. It could have done all of that and I still would have enjoyed the film.

By this point, you know what you’re getting with Pixar, you’re either going to get one of the greatest kids films you’ve ever seen (Monsters Inc, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo), or you’re going to get something that at some point will make you cry like a baby cutting onions while wearing menthol-shooting glasses in front of a stranger. This is the second one, and very much so. I’m not really sure whether this would count as a kids movie, would you show this to a child? It seems you’d only show this to a child if you wanted them to have an existential crisis. Disney have done stuff like this before, the obvious one being Inside Out, but that distracted you with it all taking place in a childs head, and having a colourful playfulness to a lot of the darkness. This is different, it has a certain playfulness to it, yes. But it’s still a playfulness rooted firmly in the concept that the main character is dead and scared of moving onto nothingness as he feels he’s accomplished nothing. There’s no sugarcoating the medicine in this, it’s incredibly in your face and there is a chance that this will hurt its chances of being loved among kids.

For someone like me? I loved it. Pixar know what they’re doing. They generally make films which can only be made as animated (with the possible exception of Wall-E maybe) and this is no exception. Yes, a lot of it takes place in this world featuring a person and a cat talking, so you can do that live action. But the moments taking place outside of the real world, which exist as more of an abstract concept than a reality? That does things that ONLY animation can do. The fluid nature of the characters being shown as shapes and concepts is not something that would be possible in live action.

So in summary, if you have disney+, you HAVE to watch this. If you don’t, find another way to watch it. The first truly great film I’ve seen this year, and in terms of animated films it will take something truly special to upstate it.

Artemis Fowl (2020)

I was REALLY looking forward to this. I LOVE the books, they’re fun, unique, and have a great plot running throughout the whole series. Sure, it made some missteps (one character in particular was set up to be a major part, and then just ignored for the rest of the series). Part of my love for the series comes from the complex characters. Artemis himself starts off the series as the antagonist, he’s essentially a child sociopath. If he was an adult he’d be a Bond villain: calm, calculating, and incredibly vicious, willing to do anything to achieve his goals (the series starts with him shooting and kidnapping a fairy, being the first person in millennia to do so). Which is why I was deeply concerned by the casting call, which described him as:

“warm hearted and with a great sense of humour; he has fun in whatever situation he is in and loves life”

It then got worse with the casting of Judi Dench as Commander Root, gender-swapping the character. Now I know how that sounds: “bloody SJW’s ruining everything, James Bond has to be a straight white male who’s hair colour, body, and personality keeps changing”. But it’s not that, it’s that it ruins one of the core dynamics of the book. In the book, Holly Short (who, incidentally has “nut-brown” skin in the book, yet is very white in the film) is notable for being the first female captain, and her relationship with Root is based on that, as he has to be harder on her than everybody else because if she fails, people will use it as a justification for keeping women away from the position forever, she has to be perfect, and he has to make sure she is. With Root also being a woman, that dynamic and backstory is gone.

Also gone, is Butler. I mean, he’s in the film, but it’s not the same character as in the book. Firstly, he’s black, not eurasian (and in the books his family have served the Fowl’s for generations, and having a black family serve a rich white family for generations is……unfortunate). Also in the books he is highly secretive of his real name, only mentioning it when he’s about to die, he insists on being referred to as “Butler”. In this, it’s the opposite, he insists on going by his first name. This is a confusing change, it adds nothing to the story, so I can’t get the justification for changing it. It seems like it was just changed for the sake of changing it. He also does a little spin for no reason, and everybody who reads the books knows how he detests that, he specifically mentions it.

So aside from being a TERRIBLE adaptation, is it a good film on it’s own merits? Lol, no. The plot is incredibly dull (and I’m still not entirely sure what the thing they’re searching for actually does outside of “driving the plot”), the characters are dull, the performances, well I feel if I said how I felt it would verge on bullying.

I detest this film for what it was, for what it wasn’t, and for what it could have been. I saw it for free on disney+, and still feel cheated. This could have been something great, instead it’s just an example of how bad Disney are at their job sometimes.