It seems like there’s a new streaming service popping up every week – not that we’re complaining. One of the newest kids on the block is FilmStruck, a classic film streaming service from the folks at TCM and Criterion. Subscribers get everything from old silent movies to modern documentaries, art films, and foreign films. But is this service any good? We’ll let you know in our complete review.
FilmStruck organizes its content in a way that’s a bit different from other streaming services. There’s a real focus here on curated collections. The first thing you see when opening the app are tiles featuring various collections: “Israeli Cinema,” for instance, or “Existentialism in Film.” It’s an interesting way to browse if you’re open to a lot of different types of films, or if you’re looking for a bit more of a film school vibe. If you’re the sort of person who likes to ask the waiter for recommendations, FilmStruck’s default content discovery scheme will appeal to you.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about FilmStruck’s content discovery setup is that the first page you land on – the FilmStruck page with the curated tiles described above – doesn’t include any content from The Criterion Channel. To get that, you’ll have to navigate over to The Criterion Channel’s own section, or else go to “Browse.” Under browse, at last, you’ll have all of the content in one place organized in the classic Netflix style of rows under genres.
FilmStruck’s curated lists are cool and suit its target audience well, but I’m really not sure why it was necessary to divide the FilmStruck side from The Criterion Channel side.
FilmStruck offers two content libraries: the FilmStruck library, which includes a bunch of the kinds of movies you’d see on TCM; and The Criterion Channel, which has more modern offerings but focuses on artsy films, foreign films, and the like. You can choose your level of access: your options are FilmStruck-only and FilmStruck + Criterion Channel (see the Price section for more details).
Both libraries are impressive, though they’re certainly tailored to a certain type of movie buff. If you’re a film nerd with a taste for classic, influential, or downright weird cinema, this is a service for you. If you just want to watch Top Gun or something, well, not so much.
Both libraries seemed pretty large when I finally browsed, but some of FilmStruck’s content discovery features made them seem limited at first.
I had issues streaming FilmStruck on my Amazon Fire TV using Wi-Fi. The stream would get choppy and pixelated, seemingly catching up with the buffering. On the web app and iOS, I had no issues at all.
FilmStruck is available through your browser and on Android and iOS devices, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. I had issues with its performance on Fire TV, as I detailed in the section above. The platform support here is pretty unspectacular (where is Roku?), but that likely has a lot to do with the service being brand new.
FilmStruck offers its content in two tiers. You can get just plan old “FilmStruck” – with no Criterion Channel content – for $6.99/month, or a little more than single-genre services like Seeso and Shudder charge. For the full FilmStruck + Criterion Channel experience, you’ll need to pay $10.99/month – which puts you firmly in Netflix territory. To me, the service seems a bit overpriced for a newcomer. You can also choose an annual rate of $99.
It’s also worth noting here that FilmStruck’s free trial clocks in at two weeks – twice as generous as most competitors’.
I’m glad that FilmStruck exists, and it’s certainly a promising concept for film buffs. But I wasn’t very impressed with the streaming quality on Amazon Fire TV, the content discovery methods won’t suit everyone’s taste, and the price is a bit steep. If you’re a film buff and don’t use Fire TV, this one is worth checking out. All other can safely steer clear.
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