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    Chupacabra Territory

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 25th, 2017

    I have to admit I’m a sucker for cryptozoology, and stories about chupacabras and Bigfoot are fun to talk about. In the reality-TV-show world, there are many shows that have people travelling in the woods in search of evidence of these creatures. The proof is sketchy at best, but still it makes for entertaining television. Now we have the found-footage film Chupacabra Territory that dares to take us on an adventure into chupacabra territory where four hikers manage to get lost in the woods.  Is the found footage worth checking out? Well, that all depends how big a fan of the found-footage genre you happen to be.
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    The Marine 5: Battleground (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on April 24th, 2017

    The WWE is like a dog with a bone, refusing to let this franchise as well as its other one (12 rounds) go. I will give them this: they are maintaining some consistency with Mike “The Miz” Mizanin reprising his role of Jake Carter for the third time for The Marine 5: Battleground. This time around, however, the series won’t just star one WWE superstar, but six. That’s right you read correctly, six WWE superstars have come together for this action film. With the addition of The Mix come Bo Dallas, Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Naomi, and Maryse Ouellet Mizanin. Didn’t recognize any of those names? Don’t worry; me neither, as my days of watching wrestling ended with the end of the attitude era.
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    Mars (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 21st, 2017

    I was eight years old when Armstrong first stepped on the moon in July of 1969. Like every kid my age, it filled me with a feeling that I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of humanity’s grand exploration of space. By the time I was 15, we had landed the first probes on Mars. We were certainly on our way. The sky literally wasn’t the limit anymore. But then it all stopped. By the 80’s we had shifted our focus to low Earth orbit, and we haven’t explored the limits of space with a manned mission in nearly 50 years. Even the Space Shuttle is gone, and we don’t even have the capability to send Americans to the space station that we mostly paid for without hitching a ride with the Russians. And if you’ve been following world events at all, that ride isn’t a sure thing anymore. That 8-year-old with the mile-wide grin would never have believed we’d be so earthbound by the time he reached his mid-50’s.
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    Veep: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 20th, 2017

    As it turns out, there’s a virtually unprecedented tie in the Electoral College.”

    If you thought the latest U.S. presidential election cycle was a soul-crushing and unpredictable mess, you should take a peek at what’s happening on Veep. (At least we got a definitive real-life result…eventually.) The show’s outstanding fifth season begins with President Selina Meyer — who assumed the office after her predecessor resigned — locked in a frustrating Electoral College tie as she seeks to become the first woman to be *elected* to the highest office in the land. President Meyer sums up her predicament in a manner befitting HBO’s caustic, constantly-cussing comedy: “didn’t those Founding F—ers ever hear of an odd number?!”
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    Split (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 20th, 2017

    When it comes to writer/ director M. Night Shyamalan, it’s hard to find a more polarizing director between film critics and film geeks. I was a fan up until he did The Village. It’s not as though I “hated” the film; I just was getting sick of the gimmick plot twists that seemed to go hand in hand with his work.  As he continued to release films, I just would shrug at the trailers, and my enthusiasm for his films quickly declined.  For me Unbreakable has grown to be my favorite work of his, which is funny to me because the first time I saw it I had a hard time deciding how I felt about the film.  It was a comic/ superhero film that showed us perhaps what it would be like in the real world if some regular Joe realized he was perhaps meant for something greater.
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    The Circus Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 17th, 2017

    Ben Franklin once said that there are two things that no one should see made. He was talking about sausage and laws. In the 18th century most people had little exposure to the workings of their government. Campaigns were waged on the road in public squares, and seldom by the person running for office. Party nominations were held in halls attended only by the party faithful. It was here in the span of a few days that a nomination would be haggled out of the delegates who attended. Since the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, the selection of nominees was handed to the registered voters, usually of the party in a series of primary elections that begin in January of each election year. The campaigning has become intense and now often begins nearly a year before that first nomination struggle.
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    The Bye Bye Man (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 14th, 2017

    Every year there are dozens upon dozens of horror films released, each with the intention to make an impact on the genre.  Horror is easily my favorite genre in film, but it’s a genre that easily allows itself to spill into other genres. It doesn’t matter to me what the budget is, or whether the special effects are on point; what matters most is if the story holds up.  I mention this because going into The Bye Bye Man I had heard some pretty bad things, but I don’t usually let that get in the way of my opinion of a film; after all, everyone has their own tastes.  For me the film’s tagline “Don’t think it. Don’t say it.” should have the added line, “Don’t remember it.”
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    Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 13th, 2017

    “Think inside the box.”

    One of the major through lines in season 3 of Silicon Valley is that our heroes at Pied Piper have created a product so ahead of its time that it is failing to connect with consumers, which puts the start-up company in peril. Fortunately, HBO’s brainy and bawdy tech comedy hasn’t had any problems connecting with its audience: the show’s confident and hilarious third season seamlessly mixes talk of “compression algorithms” with outrageous sight gags involving horses getting, um, familiar with each other.
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    Office Christmas Party (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 12th, 2017

    The trouble with most holiday films is that once the holiday passes, there is about another year of waiting till it seems right to put the film on again.  Everyone knows about A Christmas Story and Polar Express, but really, the staple holiday films are sparse, but they are great.  Every year, despite the high probability to fail, studios churn out some holiday films in the hopes that one of these attempted swings will turn out to be a box office giant. I believe it’s safe to say that there hasn’t been a holiday hit for a while, but despite the long odds, Office Christmas Party comes out strong with a big cast and raunchy intentions.  Is it enough to lure people into the darkened Cineplex or have you want to go out to Netflix or Redbox to cure those holiday fever blues?
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    Daughters of the Dust (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 12th, 2017

    “At the turn of the century, Sea Island Gullahs, descendants of African Captives, remained isolated from the mainland of South Carolina and Georgia. As a result of their isolation, the Gullah created and maintained a distinct, imaginative, and original African American culture.”

    Prior to watching Daughters of the Dust, I was completely unfamiliar with Sea Island Gullahs. To tell their story, the film (intentionally) deviates from the traditional narrative playbook, which doesn’t necessarily make for the most pleasurable movie-watching experience. However, the three key adjectives used in the opening text — “distinct,” “imaginative,” and “original” — absolutely apply here.
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    Drunk History: Season Four

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on April 11th, 2017

    Drunk History is a good example of a good idea that lost steam very quickly. I remember when initial idea was aired as a web series produced by Funny or Die in 2007, and it was a rather brilliant idea. The show was not picked up by a major network for six years; then in the summer of 2013, it made its premiere on Comedy Central. Granted, I remember being excited about this premiere. However, about midway through that first season, I realized how too much of a great idea can be a bad thing. The format just became tiresome and dull after a few episodes. Now, four years later, the show has returned for four entire seasons, but it definitely feels it has run its course.
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    Why Him? (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 6th, 2017

    Let me tell you a few things about movie reviewers. We’re the kind of people who love watching movies. We spend entirely too much time doing so, and we can find some entertainment even in a bad film. We’re the kind of folks who don’t ask what’s playing when asked if we want to go to the movies. The answer is always yes. When someone applies to write for Upcomingdiscs, one of the first things I tell them is that they have to watch a movie all the way through…no matter how bad it might be. I’ve always been the kind of person who could do that. I’ve watched some stinkers in my day, and I never once left a film until the ending. Sure, there have been a couple of times I was tempted. I’ve had a few painful experiences. No film has ever put me to the test as much as Why Him? Halfway through the movie I was asking Why me?
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    Archer: Season 7

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 6th, 2017

    With Season 8 gearing up, Season 7 of Archer makes its way onto DVD, for many to binge and catch up before the season premiere. I have to admit this was a show I had watched perhaps a handful of episodes but I could never quite get into.  I’ll admit at times I can be a bit thick-headed when it comes to watching an animated series. After repeated requests (or demands that may or may not have been at gunpoint), I settled in and binged a season of Archer.  To my surprise, I had a blast with the show and quickly devoured more episodes which finally caught me up to Season 7.  So what trouble has the former world’s greatest secret agent, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) gotten himself into?
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    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 5th, 2017

    “You have to start somewhere.”

    I could sense a great disturbance in the Force. I could not quite put my finger on the reason, but there appeared to be much to worry about with the debut of the first ever Star Wars film that was not one of the driving episodes in the epic story of the Skywalker family and friends. There was worry that Disney might have been pushing their luck with these sidetrack stories. The Force Awakens was very good, but should the Mouse House really be tempting fate with such “filler” material? Then there were the disturbing reports that the film required so many rewrites that as much as $5 million had been spent on the services of Tony Gilroy to provide those touch-ups.
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    Silence (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2017

    “The price for your glory is their suffering!”

    For most of us, hearing the name “Martin Scorsese” leads to iconic wiseguys, rock and roll, and Robert De Niro/Leonardo DiCaprio movies dancing into our mind’s eye. Further down the list of Marty-related things — probably even below Scorsese’s real-life film preservation work — but no less crucial to appreciating the director’s filmography is the role that faith has played in his personal and professional lives. The most obvious manifestations are the three religious epics Scorsese has directed, including his latest film Silence.
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    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2017

    I’m writing a book about magical creatures.”

    The wizarding world J.K. Rowling conjured for her Harry Potter series captured the imaginations of children (and many, many adults) throughout the globe because it was precisely that…a fully realized, living and breathing world with its own lingo and lore. So while spinning off a corner of that universe might seem like a blatant cash grab, Rowling’s imagination has provided particularly fertile ground for new franchise opportunities. (OK, OK…the part where Warner Bros. agreed to make five of these before the first one even came out *does* feel like a cash grab.) For example, this latest crowd-pleasing stab at a billion-dollar series is based on…a fictional textbook mentioned in Rowling’s Potter saga.
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    Split

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 30th, 2017

    Let me preface this review by clarifying that this is not M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 thriller about a dangerous man with different personalities. Instead, this review addresses Deborah Kampmeier’s Split (2016). It is an unfortunate circumstance for films to share the same name when released in the same year, especially if one of the directors has a considerable amount of fame under his belt. Thankfully, Kampmeier’s film came through the Upcoming Discs hub; otherwise, I might never have heard about it through my traditional consumption. Split is most certainly worth the watch, but the imagery is uncomfortably intense for the majority of the film. To the average film consumer, I offer a fair warning to stay away. However, Split delivers image after image of disturbing symbolism, nearing the caliber of Alejandro Jodorowski.
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    A Kind of Murder (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 27th, 2017

    You ever hear that old adage about not putting your hands too close to the flame? Obviously Walter Stackhouse, Patrick Wilson’s character in A Kind of Murder, did not heed the warning as he finds himself embroiled in a murder conspiracy of his own while investigating a separate one. This film noir is based on a novel from the famous author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. Murder mysteries in recent months have become a huge interest of mine, so when presented with this film, I was extremely excited with the opportunity. However, after watching, though I was intrigued by the whodunit aspect, I found the other areas lacking, specifically connecting with the lead character.
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    When Calls The Heart: The Heart Of Faith

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 27th, 2017

    I am not the target audience for this Hallmark Channel series. Despite this fact, it was not hard to find something to like about When Calls the Heart: Heart of Faith. This Christmas special which takes place between the Season 3 finale and the impending Season 4 premiere tugs on the heartstrings and provides a festive feeling in the month of March. Odd, I know, but who says you can only have holiday cheer during the winter season? More than that, the special preaches the true meaning of Christmas as we watch a town come together to accomplish something not for themselves but for the betterment of the committee.
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    Insecure: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 24th, 2017

    “Black women aren’t bitter. We’re just tired of being expected to settle for less.”

    When people talk about racial and gender equality, they typically point to notions like everyone having the right to vote or the same opportunity to pursue their personal or professional passion without fear of discrimination. The premise of Insecure — HBO’s funny and insightful comedy series about modern relationships — is not quite that lofty, but no less worthy: black women reserve the right to be just as neurotic and lead love lives that are every bit as messy as their white counterparts.
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    Sing (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on March 23rd, 2017

    Probably the most silly of animated films this year, and that’s a good thing for Sing. Enjoyable, very funny, touching, and absolutely incredibly wacky. The family film targets children, but the adults will enjoy it a lot more than the average toon. I’m surprised the filmmakers waited so long to put the film in theaters, but with no children’s anime to stop it from becoming a blockbuster, it’s a very possible chance it will. Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey voiced), the grandson of a theatre owner, has the tough job of bringing the venue back to its glory after he inherited the entertainment palace.
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    Fences (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 22nd, 2017

    “Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.”

    In its transition from stage to screen, Fences — the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by the late August Wilson — doesn’t venture far beyond the Maxson household. And that’s precisely the point: director/star Denzel Washington isn’t overly concerned with masking the story’s stage origins. The existential claustrophobia that the characters in the play have been carrying their entire lives is right up there on the cramped screen.
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    Bloodrunners

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 20th, 2017

    We’ve reached a point where I’m starting to wonder if there is anything new that can be brought to the vampire genre. They may not be my favorite horror creature, but vampire movies tend to be fun for the most part, and being fun is mostly what we look for when we decide to check out a horror film. Bloodrunners attempts to show us something new, taking us back to the prohibition era of the 1930’s, but is this a trip worth taking? Grab a bottle of hooch and a stake for the road, because it’s nightfall, and I’m about to dive into this vampire tale.
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    Moana (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2017

    – “OK, first, I’m not a princess…”

    – “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

    Disney Animation’s 1990s renaissance was followed by an early 21st century lull for its non-Pixar offerings. The princess-centric formula was played out, so Disney pivoted and started doing things like giving Rapunzel and Eugene Flynn Rider equal billing in 2010’s Tangled and making Frozen (which would’ve definitely been called “The Snow Queen” in the ’90s) a story about sisterly love as opposed to happily ever after. One of the things I love about the outstanding Moana is that it offers a refreshing, thoughtful and exhilarating new approach to the classical Disney princess formula.
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    100 Streets (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 13th, 2017

    Life’s pretty simple, you know. It’s long periods of waiting broken up by brief moments of change. That’s it…that’s all it is.”

    100 Streets tells three barely-connected stories set in the same one-square-mile area of present-day London. (The neighborhoods of Chelsea and Battersea to be exact.) The stories are each quite compelling in their own right, and they’re performed by a talented group of actors. Unfortunately, the movie is occasionally bogged down by distracting, pseudo-profound soliloquies like the one at the top of this review. I appreciate the stabs at thoughtfulness and depth, but they come off as forced here and are more likely to make you roll your eyes than inspire you.
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