REVIEW: CODA (well, sort of) - A Problem With Apple TV Plus

 I had unlimited chances to watch CODA, the Apple TV Plus film that just won the Best Picture award at the Oscars.  CODA stands for 'Children of Deaf Adults, and is about a teenager girl with deaf parents.  There was never a good reason why I kept putting it off, and I felt the need to finally pull the trigger after  it won the biggest award in Hollywood.  I have Apple TV Plus, but because it happens to land in a bundle I am subscribed to, and it is not a service I would pay for otherwise.

The main reason I would not pay specifically for Apple TV Plus is that it really is the lesser of all streaming options, at least in my opinion.  In Canada, it costs six dollars a month and its programming consists of almost only Apple TV original content (I think they have old episodes of Fragil Rock).  There isn't a third party back catalogue of shows or movies, making the viewing options incredibly lean.  For me, it just is not worth it at all, even at six dollars.

Original content is a good thing, but what I enjoy most about streaming services is the ability to watch other material, be it older movies, documentaries, or foreign films.  However, since the high profile victory of CODA, I needed to make myself familiar with it.  My wife had watched it, and the scenes that I had seen appealed to me.

When I first started watching it yesterday, I was a little thrown off that there were no subtitles for the sign language communication that was happening between characters.  I was only five minutes in, and tried watching again from the beginning.  Thankfully, now there were subtitles.  At least temporarily.  After a few mere minutes, they had disappeared.  I found that by hitting the button to go back a handful of seconds the subtitles would again emerge from their unnecessary slumber.  And then disappear again.

And then I stopped watching.

Reviewing movies can be tricky at times.  When watching a film and I miss something, my inclination is to skip back a few seconds and rewatch.  If a shot of a cell phone screen with an important text message for us to read is too brief, I want to go back to it and pause the movie so I can read it.  Recently, I have decided against doing such things.  My review of a film should be based off of what was presented and how it was presented, without me having to intervene in the flow of the film.

What happened with CODA is a technical issue on Apple TV, but this was their movie being viewed on their platform.  I wasn't watching a bootlegged copy of it, I was using exactly what they had provided for the money paid.  As a viewer, I don't feel like there should be any responsibility on my part to actively troubleshoot my way through their product.  As I said, my review of a film should be based off of what was presented, and after two attempts to fix an issue that appeared to be ongoing, I came to the decision to just watch and judge what I saw.

Unfortunately, now I was missing massive amounts of dialogue, which lead me to stop watching altogether.  I really wanted to see the film and review it, and may try again at a later date.  Part of me feels as though I am being too much of a stickler, but to review a film I truly do believe I shouldn't have to get personally involved in the process.

  This isn't the first time I have had subtitle issues with Apple.  I purchased One Cut of the Dead through iTunes, and noticed that there wasn't consistency with subtitles.  If there were a bunch of people talking in a short period of time, the displayed text was random.  I could watch a scene, and then immediately rewatch it, and there would be a change in both the dialogue that was shown as well as the duration it remained on the screen.  I had never encountered this sort of issue anywhere else.

Apple purchased distribution rights to this film, and it is placed on their very own created platform, through their own software and viewed through their own portals.  This, while not paid for specifically but through a bundle, is what my money had bought.  I really wish I could have provided some sort of insight to a highly praised film, but I cannot.  All I can do is view what I paid for from the company that took my money.

Rating - I don't know 

Apple TV Plus Rating - 0 out of 4 stars