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    Billions: Season One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 14th, 2016

    “What we do has consequences, intended and unintended. The decisions we make, the actions we bring have weight.” 

    When upcoming heavyweight contenders like Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin get together, you have reason to expect big things. And Billions is very much about heavyweights. The entire show is one big metaphor for a heavyweight prizefight. In one corner you have U.S Attorney Chuck “The Scholar” Rhodes, played by Paul Giamatti. He’s the reigning world champion with a record of 80+ to 0. In the other corner is Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, played by Damian Lewis; he could also be considered undefeated.
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    South Park: Season 19 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 15th, 2016

    “Going on down to South Park and meet some friends of mine.”

    After 20 years or more, they really do feel like friends. I’ve known Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny longer than most real people in my life. Only the Simpsons have been around longer these days. Over those years South Park has always been a series of stories that rarely connect with each other in any significant way. There have been multi-part episodes, and certain experiences have come back up over the years. Still, we’re talking about a universe where killing Kenny had become a running joke and happened pretty much in every episode.
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    Vigilante Diaries (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 7th, 2016

    “That’s me, Mike Hanover, and I just killed a man in a taco shop bathroom. Hey, he started it. I been hiding near the border looking for The Vigilante…” 

    You’ve found him. Anchor Bay’s The Vigilante actually started life as a web series. The web episodes followed the exploits of The Vigilante, played by Paul Sloan and his sidekick The Kid, played by Kevin L. Walker. It was pretty much a hyper-superhero kind of series with ramped-up action on a limited budget. Now we have a feature film version that is quite the mixture of genre films. You get a little grindhouse mixed with some Leone Spaghetti Western with extra sauce
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    The Wave (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 22nd, 2016

    Disaster films are something that for me screams American cinema of the 90’s.  I know there were films before that had come out, but a good portion of my teen years of the 90’s were of the mega-blockbuster variety like Twister, Dante’s Peak, The Perfect Storm, and so forth.  Now we have The Wave, the first disaster film to come out of Norway, and from the looks of the trailers they were going for something BIG.  This is a film that comes out with so much potential and is a film that could even possibly find an American audience that could look past the fact that subtitles may be involved.  With the way technology has come along over the years, smaller countries have been able to produce films as big as anything released in our cinemas here in the states.  Now here’s the question: is it any good, though?
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    10 Cloverfield Lane (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 15th, 2016

    Bad Robot, in my eyes, is simply the best at keeping things a secret.  In this day and age, to be able to surprise audiences is just about an impossible task.  When the first Cloverfield trailer was released in 2007 in front of Transformers, it was a trailer that had us all guessing up until its release.  In my opinion Cloverfield was one of the best found-footage films to come out and was a grand achievement, considering it was a monster film that had been pretty much been kept under wraps until its actual release.  Bad Robot managed to surprise us again, releasing a trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane that set the internet on fire with theories and hopes for this to be a long-awaited sequel.  But is that what this really is?
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    Ray Donovan: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 7th, 2016

    “A good family business is not the same as a good family.” 

    You can say that again. The television landscape is changing, at least on cable. Ray Donovan is the latest in the string of new shows that are attracting talent once thought out of reach for television. A show starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight: this Showtime series looked to be something very special… and it has gotten better… perhaps a lot better.
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    Flesh and Bone (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 7th, 2016

    “Ballet is the ultimate optical illusion. We make effort appear effortless.”

    If ballet dancers make the seemingly impossible look graceful and elegant, then Flesh and Bone similarly soars when it doesn’t try quite so hard to conjure drama. The best version of this provocative Starz miniseries explores the psychological toll that ambition, competition, and the (impossible?) quest for creative perfection can take. Unfortunately, the series also introduces way too many subplots and distractions during its 8-episode run.
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    Tut (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 15th, 2015

    It wasn’t until I settled in to watch Spike TV’s three-part/six-hour miniseries based on the (relatively short) life of King Tut that I realized we hadn’t really seen his story depicted on screen before. I mean, it’s probably a bad sign that the most famous on-screen portrayal of the ancient Egyptian monarch comes courtesy of…Steve Martin. Given the liberties this miniseries takes with casting and storytelling, I reckon some historians would’ve preferred Martin as the famous pharaoh here. However, I still found this to be a suitably entertaining and attractive (if somewhat overstuffed) melodrama.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Penny Dreadful: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 12th, 2015

    I grew up on the horror comics of the 1970’s. Eerie and Creepy were two of my favorites. My father would buy them and pass them down to me when he finished reading them. They were black and white so that they could take advantage of a loophole in the Comics Code and often featured lurid and gory stories of horror and depravity. Probably not the most appropriate reading for a young boy, but I ate them up. Before those comics there were the EC horror comics from Bill Gaines in the 1950’s. Titles like Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror called out to readers with gory and hideous covers. But it didn’t really start there.
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    The Curse of Downers Grove (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 4th, 2015

    If nothing else, The Curse of Downers Grove lives up (or rather down) to its morose title. It’s too bad because this (non-)thriller actually has a promising premise: every year, a supposed curse in the titular suburban Illinois town kills a senior at the local high school. The movie could’ve gone for darkly comic thrills or tried to construct a mystery around who the latest victim might be, to name just a couple of examples. Instead, this shoddy, inert flick squanders a variety of opportunities on the way to its preposterous conclusion.
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    Lost After Dark (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 31st, 2015

    And you thought the ’80s were dead.”

    The tongue-in-cheek tagline for this film is the first of many signs that this throwback slasher flick doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’ve always thought the best parodies are the ones that show genuine affection, rather than superiority, toward the genre they’re mocking. Lost After Dark sometimes wobbles as it walks the tricky tightrope between homage and legit horror movie, but there’s no doubt the filmmakers enjoyed their many sleepless nights with the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, and more.
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    Halt and Catch Fire (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 7th, 2015

    “An early computer command that sent the machine into a race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained.”

    That command? It’s Halt And Catch Fire. Television is very much like that. So many shows out there are competing for your attention. Even on the same network there’s often competition for the resources of the studios and the sponsors who provide the paydays. Now AMC has added another original series to compete for your attention…and precious time. You guessed it. Halt And Catch Fire. Does it work? Let’s find out. 
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    Echoes (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 20th, 2015

    Imagine the horror of being asleep and then suddenly you wake up, paralyzed.  Your eyes flutter frantically about as you struggle to move, but nothing will budge.  From the corner of your eye you see movement.  You’re not alone, and the person who is in the room with you is ready to kill you. This is the hook Echoes attempts to use to suck the viewers in.  As a psychological thriller about sleep paralysis, it’s unfortunate that the only suspense the film manages to deliver on is just when the film will finally come to its painfully boring conclusion.
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    The Missing (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 14th, 2015

    The longest-running crime dramas tend to be “case of the week” mysteries where the perp is comfortably caught within the hour. It’s a formula for sure, but it’s one that’s easy to replicate and works quite well if you have the right talent and personalities involved. In reality, of course, there are many cases when the crook isn’t captured before the end credits…or ever. The accompanying anger and uncertainty is much trickier (and messier) to convey dramatically. The Missing — a limited series from England that aired on Starz — isn’t the first show to tackle that territory, but it’s certainly a compelling recent example.
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    Da Vinci’s Demons Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 11th, 2015

    “I’m Leonardo da Vinci. Revolutionary painter, artist and visionary, of the Republic of Florence.”

    The term “Renaissance man” is often used to describe a person who has a very wide range of interests in which they have become quite skilled. It’s taken from the traits of the many artists, innovators and writers of the 15th century. And while the term might well apply to any number of such historical figures, there is none for whom it is more apt than Leonardo DaVinci. 
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    Jeff Dunham: All Over the Map (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 28th, 2014

    “How the hell did this happen? I mean, I’m on the other side of the planet, and people know who I am and they’re laughing at my jokes.”

    Despite his status as one of the biggest draws in stand-up comedy, Jeff Dunham really does seem taken aback by his success. On one hand, you wouldn’t necessarily expect a ventriloquist to be one of the hottest names in comedy in 2014. Then again, the hard work and precision he has put into his act is evident every time he takes the stage. For his latest comedy special, Dunham packed up his puppets and took his show on the road like never before.
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    Key & Peele: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 30th, 2014

    It’s been quite some time since The Chappelle Show went off the air, and it would appear Comedy Central has finally found its replacement.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say the show is on the same par, but what Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele bring to the small screen is something that has piqued my interest and shows some potential.  Both Key and Peele got their big break from working on the sketch comedy show MADtv, and it would seem they are taking their talents and what they learned to bring us something that is a little familiar but still fresh and keeps its audience laughing.
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    The Dead 2: India (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 22nd, 2014

    Sibling filmmakers Howard J. and Jonathan Ford seem to be huge believers in the “Location, location, location” real estate adage. The duo — collectively known as The Ford Brothers — previously made The Dead, which was billed as “the first zombie road movie set against the spectacular scenery of Africa.” I actually wasn’t a fan of that flick, but saw enough technical skill and enough potential in the concept to make me curious about a follow-up. With The Dead 2: India, the Ford Brothers have once again transplanted old-fashioned zombie thrills to an exotic, under-explored location. Only this time, they brought a story and more engaging performers along for the trip.
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    South Park: Season 17 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 18th, 2014

    “Oh boy, zombie apocalypse!”

    No, it’s just South Park. But it has invaded pop culture as much as zombies have over its amazing 18-year run. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been walking a tightrope for over 18 years now, and it just doesn’t get old. One of the reasons the show doesn’t grow stale is their ability to make such a quick turnaround on current events.
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    Spartacus: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 17th, 2014

    “Spartacus’ mongrel horde has swelled with each passing victory since Glaber’s defeat at Vesuvius. They added thousands to rank liberating the mines of Lucania. Slaves across the Republic, humble and grateful to their masters for so many years, have broken to treachery in the wake of the ever-expanding legend of Spartacus.”

    Starz has had a pretty good run with their Spartacus series. Coming off the style of blood and violence that was popularized with Zach Snyder’s 300, Spartacus brought that comic book/graphic novel intensity to television.
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    Born to Race: Fast Track (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 9th, 2014

    Drag racing is for fast cars. Road racing…that’s for fast drivers.”

    I imagine that distinction — along with one character scolding another for pulling a “Vin Diesel stunt” — is meant to set this straight-to-DVD racing drama apart from the Fast & Furious franchise. That separation is an interesting choice for a couple of reasons. On one hand, I assume it’s been easier to finance any car-centric flick ever since a certain high-octane film series proved there’s an audience for the genre. Then again, the increasingly staggering success of the Fast movies seems to be directly proportional to how ludicrous they’ve become.
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    The Possession of Michael King (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 27th, 2014

    Here is a film that delves into a subject not many people care to openly discuss but poses a question that everyone who’s lost someone they love can relate to.  When prayer and faith don’t seem to deliver the answers you want for those that need closure that therapy can’t seem to provide, where does one turn?  It’s this hopeless feeling of loss that seems to be what attracts Michael King (Shane Johnson) to investigate the possibility of the supernatural.
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    Tosh.O – Collas plus Exposed Arms

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on July 19th, 2014

    Here comes Volume four of this clip commentary comedy show (CCC could catch on as a sub-genre title couldn’t it?). This time we get two seasons worth of episodes; the “Collas” and “Exposed Arms” entitled seasons, as it were. Very little is different as far as format or new segments are concerned since the last time I wrote about this show.
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    Ray Donovan: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 13th, 2014

    “It’s a different world out there.”

    You can say that again. The television landscape is changing, at least on cable. Ray Donovan is the latest in the string of new shows that are attracting talent once thought out of reach for television. A show starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, this Showtime series looked to be something very special… and it almost is.
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    Falling Skies: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 5th, 2014

    “Our planet, our war.”

    Those four words neatly summarize the overriding theme for the third season of Falling Skies, TNT’s earnest alien invasion drama. While the show still takes its broad thematic cues from the American Revolutionary War, this batch of episodes directly references some of the uneasy alliances formed during World War II. So in between the numerous instances of human characters shooting at aliens — and at each other — the show explored the question of whether the enemy of my enemy really is my friend.
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