Streaming Review

The Last Blockbuster review – a love letter to physical media

This low-budget documentary, featuring Kevin Smith, provides fascinating insight into the last remaining Blockbuster video store

In a year that has forced us to reflect on how and where we watch films, The Last Blockbuster couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time in the medium’s history. Part nostalgia-trip for the by-gone era of video rentals, part fascinating insight into the company’s last remaining store, this affable documentary from Taylor Morden is a love letter to a brand that once stood as the cornerstone of physical media.

Brought home in The Last Blockbuster are the enduring quirks that the company supplied; the culture of re-watching, the exclusivity of a film if the store had only one copy to rent, even the fond memories of racking up extortionate late fees.

Though it features talking heads from the likes of Kevin Smith, Adam Brody and Paul Scheer, it’s the store's long-standing general manager, Sandi Harding, who shines as the film’s standout interviewee. Affectionately titled the “Blockbuster Mom,” she claims to have hired almost all of the local teens in Bend, Oregon, during her 14 year stint at the video rental store.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, The Last Blockbuster is clearly a low-budget effort that doesn’t stray far away from conventional documentary tropes. But the amateurish nature adds to its charm; the film is dogeared and a little grubby, much like the box of an over-rented VHS, yet it is functions as a feel-good watch, offering a hit of nostalgia in an era plagued by digital releases and endless viewing options.

Whether you’re an ex-video renter or someone who’s only ever known digital streaming on-demand, this documentary serves as a nice reminder of what film watching means to people from all walks of life. Whilst VHS tapes won't provide common ground for the majority of movie-goers these days, the sentiment of simply loving movies certainly will. The Last Blockbuster is a worthy ode to a lost tradition.

The Last Blockbuster is now available on various streaming platforms.

Where to watch

More Reviews...

MLK/FBI review – vital corrective to the history of Martin Luther King

Sam Pollard's essential documentary explores the brutal FBI campaign against Dr. King and finds a villain in J. Edgar Hoover

Ham on Rye review – oddball indie is both joyful and jarring

The awkwardness of teenagedom is captured in an enigmatic coming-of-ager that seems to tell everything and nothing at once

Blithe Spirit review – Noël Coward adaptation is awkwardly out of time

An impressive cast, including Judi Dench, Dan Stevens and Isla Fisher, can't quite pull this classic play into the 21st century

Dear Comrades! review – bleak study of Russia’s brutal history

Andrey Konchalovsky's black-and-white reconstruction of a state-sponsored massacre is rigorous and powerful, but very hard to love


Best Films to Stream This Week in the UK

With the country in lockdown, we highlight the best new streaming releases, from moving dramas to essential documentaries

Netflix Announce Plans to Release a New Film Every Week in 2021

Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds united to explain the streaming giant's ambitious plans for the next twelve months

What Is the Best Extended Take in Cinema?

To coincide with Pieces of a Woman and its remarkable 24-minute continuous shot, our writers weigh in on their favourite long takes

Every Pixar Film, Ranked

With their latest, Soul, now on Disney+, Ella Kemp braves the entire Pixar canon and sorts the misfires from the masterpieces...