In terms of pure entertainment value and a deep archive, it’s been hard to beat the Korean film and TV show platform Showbox. The app provides access to thousands and thousands of videos, some of them full-length feature movies.
While Showbox has seen a rocky timeline over the years and seems to be shuttered for good this time, there are still many good sources for free movies and legal paid services that match the quality and quantity of available films and shows.
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Our top legal alternatives to Showbox
A favorite pick as a paid, commercial service - with an incredibly deep collection of TV shows and recent releases - Fandango Now caters to the discerning viewer.
More than just about any other streaming service, Fandango Now tends to emphasize quality. Many of the shows and movies are streamed in 4K with HDR color formatting. In even a cursory search, you can uncover older classic TV shows like Doctor Who but also little-known documentaries, B-grade movies, and many foreign films, some at a very low price. One example of the quality - the movie Little Women is available for purchase in 4K with HDR.
Vudu is another movie streaming service for people who want higher-than-normal quality. It’s far from a simple browser app that lets you watch old movies. Owned by Walmart, the service matches up nicely with Fandango Now in terms of 4K content and a deep archive. One example is a search for the classic show MacGyver which is available for $14.99 (and includes four seasons). On the same service, you can also stream the new version of the show. Vudu also offers a wide selection of free movies, including a section called New This Week. Some examples of movies you can stream for free include I Am Number Four, St. Vincent, and Happy Feet. All you need is the app and an Internet connection to watch them.
Let's be honest, no list like this would be complete without Netflix. A powerhouse of original programming that started as a way to order DVD discs by mail, Netflix stands out because of the extensive library. There is a show or movie for just about any taste -- from science fiction to true crime documentaries to romance movies. For those with eclectic tastes, the suggestion engine is quite unique in that it knows what you watch and what you like. There are suggestions based on your past viewing that will surprise you, including little-known classic rock documentaries and sci-fi shows no one remembers anymore.
Another excellent source for free (and legal) movies, including Korean dramas, is YouTube. The well-known site seems to cater to viewers who like prank videos and gadget reviews, but there is a wide selection of public domain movies, indie films, and classics. Of course, since YouTube is owned by Google it is also highly searchable -- you can type the name of any actor, a movie from a specific country location, or themes like “foodie movies” and expect to find a wealth of options. YouTube is also reliable -- when you find videos, you typically don’t have to deal with a lot of overhead, bandwidth congestion, or a barrage of banner ads.
One of the most obvious sources of Korean dramas, movies, and shows is called Viki (a play on Video and Wikipedia). Like Showbox, the Viki site does a good job of matching your tastes for one series with alternatives, suggested whenever you watch a new show. There is also an incredible depth in how much information you can find on actors, correlating one favorite star in a new drama with a back-catalog of other options for that same celebrity. An interesting side note here: similar to services like Showbox that provided a wealth of content summaries and ratings, the data for Wiki is rich and deep - and provided by a team of volunteers.
Public Domain Movies
If you are really wanting to stream or download free movies, one good source is called Public Domain Movies. This extensive collection of films have lost their copyright for one reason or another (because they are older or because the copyright expired).
There are classic movies but also B-grade films like She Gods of Shark Reef (which is worth a stream just for the shock value). Movies like The Woman in Green are well-known classics. One major advantage here is that you don’t need to register or subscribe. When you click on a movie, it starts streaming right in a browser window on just about any device (laptop, tablet, or phone).
A lesser-known service, but one that certainly deserves more attention, is called TV Player. It caters to a U.K. audience that might prefer the BBC shows and documentaries (and news channel) but also includes access to the History Channel, Food Network, and TLC. There are also premium channels available for recent movie releases.
The app works on mobile devices, and there’s even a new option to use Chromecast to stream media from your mobile device to an HDTV television that supports this Google service (such as many HiSense models). The app has some extra perks -- for example, there’s a “catch-up” feature where you can continue watching a show on a different device and there’s the ability to download videos so you can watch them later when you are not able to connect (such as on a plane).
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