We’re big fans of streaming services thanks to their low costs, mobile apps which mean you’re not tired down to a single device, and regularly updated library of content but for many film lovers they also have some disadvantages compared to buying and owning a film on DVD and Blu-ray.
The first downside is that, unlike plucking a disc from your shelf, you can never be certain that a given film will always be available when you want to watch it because of the way streaming servicesdrop titles after a period in order to free up cash for more acquisitions.
The other peeve of committed film enthusiasts is that such services tend to lack the ‘making of’, commentaries and other extras which we’re accustomed to being included on a Blu-ray or DVD release and even selected digital download releases available from outlets such as iTunes.
But while they lack the official extras, delve a little deeper and you’ll find that some services’ libraries include a selection of documentaries which take you behind the cameras and into the minds of the cast and crew responsible for some of the cinema’s most iconic franchises and characters.
And, whereas the features which come on an official release are often cut down in length to fit on the disc and, at times, edited to meet the studio’s desired PR outcomes, the documentaries available on streaming services tend to offer a longer and more honest insight.
Currently available on Netflix UK are four of our favourite such features – the first is Back in Time, a 94 minute exploration of the Back to the Future franchise featuring interviews with stars Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd as well as Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg.
The film was originally released on 21 October 2015, the day which Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II – that entry in the series is currently enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to perceived similarities between US President Donald Trump and Biff Tannen who became “the luckiest man on Earth” after successfully betting on top sporting events with the aid of a stolen almanac listing future results.
The involvement of Fox who, save for a short lived sitcom, has largely focused on voice acting in recent years, is especially poignant, and fans will appreciate seeing some of the footage filmed by Eric Stoltz who was originally cast as Marty when Fox’s commitments to Family Ties meant he was unavailable to take up the part.
Another emotional look into film making is provided by For the Love of Spock, an almost two hour epic in which Adam Nimoy interviews members of the original Star Trek cast about his father Leonard’s near 50 year relationship with the character of Spock.
The older Nimoy appears courtesy of archive footage while co-stars such as William Shatner, George Takei plus Zac Quinto, who played the Young Spock in the J.J. Abrams reboot, appear in all-new interviews.
Trek fans are also catered for with The Captains, in which Shatner interviews the other actors – Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula and Chris Pine – who played starship captains in the five incarnations of Star Trek which followed the original 1960s series.
Voiced by Star Trek’s Colm Meaney, the last of our pick is I Am Your Father which explores the man behind the mask in popular culture’s other sci-fi hit – Star Wars.
British TV audiences originally knew David Prowse as the Green Cross Code Man and many still have fond memories of the road safety adverts he fronted:
However his domestic popularity was drastically eclipsed by the world wide fame he achieved as one of cinema’s truly iconic villains – Darth Vader.
This 2015 documentary lifts the lid on Prowse’s story, including his falling out with Star Wars producers after it emerged another actor would play the unmasked Vader in the character’s death scene at the end of Return of the Jedi.
The documentary includes some rare and unofficial on-set footage as well as contributions from Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz, actor Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) plus fans.
Once you’ve seen this particular feature you’ll appreciate how sanitised so many of the official documentaries can be!