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    Lethal Weapon: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 22nd, 2017

    When I first heard that the Lethal Weapon franchise was moving to television, I had very mixed reactions. Like most fans of the films, I remained hungry for more. My hopes of future films were dashed around the time Mel Gibson began his career as a Hollywood pariah and was abandoned by many in the industry. I guessed almost immediately that the films were over, at least for a very long time. You go through the usual stages of grief, and about the time I reached the acceptance stage, Matthew Miller comes along and decides to revive the franchise for the small screen. At first I was thinking, yes, this is great.
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    Supernatural: The Complete Twelfth Season (Blu-ray)

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

    “Don’t you get it? This is all meaningless. Heaven, hell, this world if it ever meant anything, that moment is passed. Nothing down here but a bunch of hopeless, distraction addicts, so filled with emptiness, so desperate to fill up the void. They don’t mind being served another stale rerun of a rerun of a rerun.”

    No stale reruns here. Season 12 of Supernatural picks up exactly where the previous year left off. The brothers are not together at the moment. Dean has just helped out God’s sister and gets a pretty sweet gift in return, while Sam’s at the bunker and is surprised by a British lass with a gun.
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    Wonder Woman (Blu-ray 3D)

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

    You have been my greatest love. Be careful, Diana…they do not deserve you.”

    Ever since Richard Donner made us believe that a man can fly with 1978’s Superman — considered by many to be the first modern superhero film — we’ve gotten three different Men of Steel, along with five different versions of Batman (if you don’t count Will Arnett’s voiceover work). Heck, in the last 15 years alone we’ve had three Spider-Men and (incredibly) gone through three Hulks! Yet in all that time, a movie starring Wonder Woman — a superhero just as iconic as all the ones I just mentioned — could never get off the ground…until now. I’m happy to report it was worth the wait.
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    The Flash: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 19th, 2017

    “I made a big mistake…. I wanted a new life. I wanted to start over, and that’s what I did. But somehow I made things worse. So I reset everything. I put everything back to the way that it was before, except some things weren’t the same any more. Not even a little bit.”

    That something is called Flashpoint. It’s one of the biggest events not only in the Flash comic universe, but it had ramifications across the DC landscape and led to more than a few changes in that world. This season of The Flash uses that story arc to guide Season 3, but like everything else in these comic shows, it is quite different than the printed event.
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    The Moderns (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 18th, 2017

    Seems like a new boatload of expatriates gets dumped here every day.”

    In The Moderns, “here” happens to be 1926 Paris, a time and place that immediately conjures joie de vivre images of lavish parties and complete artistic freedom. And while both of those things are technically on display in filmmaker Alan Rudolph’s 1988 drama, the movie turns down the volume on the Roaring Twenties to explore the tricky and transactional connection between art and commerce…and how it can extend to personal relationships.
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    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 15th, 2017

    What can you tell me about African Americans and science?”

    Anyone who even halfway paid attention in their high school science class knows that a polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s. And if you were especially attentive, you even know the vaccine was developed by American researcher Jonas Salk. Unfortunately, the story that is far less commonly told in classrooms is that of Henrietta Lacks, the poor black woman whose “immortalized” HeLa cell line gave birth to the biomedical industry. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks takes a curious approach: instead of merely shining a light on its worthy subject, this powerful (and overstuffed) HBO film is about *the quest* to bring Henrietta back to life.
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    Megan Leavey (Blu-ray)

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

    Armies have been using dogs in battle for thousands of years. The Romans would turn the dogs on their enemy as a signal of the approaching legions, hence the expression “let loose the dogs of war”. But in recent decades dogs have found a new, perhaps more noble calling during wartime. Dogs have been used to search for lost soldiers. They have been trained to assist wounded soldiers. They have also learned to sniff out explosives, helping to clear mines and saving the lives of their handlers and hundreds of soldiers and civilians. That’s the kind of dog Rex is. And you’ll fall in love with him just as the titular character Megan Leavey did. The movie Megan Leavey is a bit of a character study, and one of those characters is a German Shepherd.
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    Gotham: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 1st, 2017

    “Enjoy the trip. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

    It has been six months since the second season ended. A herd of creatures and experiments rained down on Gotham City. They were the product of experimentation by Dr. Strange, played by B.D. Wong. This, of course, is Dr. Hugo Strange, mad scientist, and not Marvel’s Stephen Sorcerer Supreme. Jim Gordon (McKenzie) is no longer a member of the police force but has found a niche as a bounty hunter rounding up the creatures and bringing them in for cash.
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    Disneynature: Born in China (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 1st, 2017

    The sheer beauty of China manifests itself in so many different ways, in so many remote corners. It sometimes feels like another world.”

    To help celebrate Earth Day each year, Disneynature — the independent film unit at the Mouse House dedicated to making nature documentaries — has gotten in the habit of immersing us in a different corner of the animal kingdom. While it’s a bit surprising that it took nine movies to finally arrive in China, the wait was absolutely worth it for fans of cuddly critters and breathtaking landscapes. The country’s otherworldly beauty makes up for some off-kilter narration and less-than-thrilling (invented) storylines.
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    Hickok (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 31st, 2017

    “Sometimes it takes a good man to stop bad people.”

    And sometimes you can have good actors and a rich genre to draw upon with classic characters and still not get the job done. Sadly, that’s the big story for Hickok. This one arrived with some rather high expectations. It was being released in 4K, which appeared to signal some confidence from Cinedigm, who are just entering the UHD fray. The cast is also a good sign. Luke Hemsworth plays the titular character with a supporting cast that includes legend Bruce Dern, Trace Adkins, and Kris Kristofferson.
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    Supergirl: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 30th, 2017

    “When I was a child, my planet Krypton was dying. I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off course, and by the time I got here, my cousin had already grown up and become… Superman. I hid who I really was until one day when an accident forced me to reveal myself to the world. To most people, I’m a reporter at CatCo Worldwide Media. But in secret, I work with my adoptive sister for the D.E.O. to protect my city from alien life and anyone else that means to cause it harm. I am Supergirl.”

    A lot of things have changed with the second season of Supergirl. The series spent its first season on CBS but was always considered somewhat a part of the DC Television Universe.
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    Batman and Harley Quinn: Limited-Edition Gift Set (Blu-ray)

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

    We need Harley Quinn.”

    Warner Bros. still has a bit of a ways to go before its stable of DC Comics superheroes catches up to Disney’s dominant Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Warner and DC have long had the upper hand on both the small screen (Smallville, Arrow, The Flash) and with their animated, direct-to-video offerings. Before Wonder Woman saved the day earlier this summer, one of DC’s recent big-screen highlights was the way Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn enlivened the supervillain mash-up Suicide Squad. And while I’m fully aware that Harley’s appeal lies in being a strong, sexy, wisecracking nutjob, I wish the makers of this well-deserved small-screen showcase had taken her a bit more seriously.
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    Chuck (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 21st, 2017

    My name is Chuck Wepner. You don’t know me…well, you do know me, but you don’t know you know me.”

    Unless you’re a hardcore boxing fan (or a Jersey boy/girl), chances are you don’t know the name Chuck Wepner. On the other hand, you don’t have to be a sports buff or a movie buff to know the name Rocky Balboa. Wepner is a former heavyweight boxer, and his 1975 title bout with Muhammad Ali served as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s Oscar-winning classic. Originally titled The Bleeder (my two cents…they should’ve stuck with that title), Chuck is the story of “The Real Rocky.”
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    John Wayne Double Feature Rio Lobo/Big Jake (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 15th, 2017

    “It is, I think, going to be a very harsh and unpleasant kind of business and will, I think, require an extremely harsh and unpleasant kind of man to see to it.” 

    That man, of course, is John Wayne. They called him The Duke, and he was indeed western cinema royalty for six decades. He represented the American ideal of the tough guy who stood up for the weak and didn’t shy away from a fight. His characters usually worked hard, and they played just as hard. He had a unique way of turning a phrase and has been one of the most widely impersonated Hollywood voices. By the time the 1970’s rolled around, Wayne was coming to the end of a long career.
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    Big Little Lies (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 10th, 2017

    Big Little Lies — HBO’s star-studded and (deservedly) Emmy-nominated limited series — is structured like a typical murder mystery. We know someone has been killed, but we don’t know the perpetrator or even identity of the victim. On top of that, the limited series format promises that we’ll actually have an answer by time these episodes wrap up (**cough** The Killing). But the reason Big Little Lies shines— other than top-notch performances and stellar direction — is because beneath the murder-mystery veneer lies a darkly funny drama about all manner of adult relationships: husband/wife, ex-husband/ex-wife, mother/daughter, mother/fellow-mother, and so on.
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    Blindspot: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 10th, 2017

    When we begin the second season of Blindspot, three months have passed since the first season’s explosive finale. We are placed back in the action with the same time having passed on the show. Jane (Alexander) has been kept at a covert CIA black ops location where she is being tortured for information. It is a fortuitous time to rejoin the action, because we arrive just in time to see her engineer a clever escape. Meanwhile Kurt Weller (Stapleton) and his team have been back to more mundane FBI cases, and it’s obvious they miss the excitement of working the tattoos. They’re about to get their wish, and things are about to get pretty intense as we join the sophomore season of Martin Gero’s Blindspot.
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    Going in Style 2017 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on August 9th, 2017

    Putting a twist on the original movie Going in Style, director Zach Braff does a good job of reviving the comedy for modern-day audiences.  He turns up the laughter with memorable situation comedy and actors who can deliver some of the best one-liners.  It’s a lot of fun for a date night or just a chance to get away from the humdrum to laugh a little. Retired and trying to scrape by on his retirement check, Joe Harding (Michael Caine) is about to hit an unexpected brick wall. With his mortgage in jeopardy from lack of timely payments and his granddaughter needing help with tuition, he’s in a very tight spot.  His best friends Albert Garner (Alan Arkin) and Willie Davis (Morgan Freeman), who have been living together for the past 25 years to curb expenses, are about to be in the same boat.
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    Gifted (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 8th, 2017

    Extraordinary people come with singular issues and needs.”

    On the surface, being blessed with a genius-level intellect seems like good thing, right? So it’s interesting that movies about uncommonly smart people (Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, and The Imitation Game to name a few) tend to focus on the extreme isolation and inevitable exploitation of these individuals. Gifted is about a potential “one-in-a-billion” math prodigy and her weary, protective uncle, who carries himself like someone who’s seen too many movies about exploited geniuses and knows full well that “nobody likes a smart-ass.”
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    S.W.A.T.: Under Siege (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on August 4th, 2017

    An action film with a running time of 89 minutes should mean that it’s going to be lean on the story and keep things moving at a fast pace.  S.W.A.T: Under Siege delivers just that, but unfortunately in the process delivers something that we’ve seen many times before.  The film is being branded as a sequel (by name only) to S.W.A.T (2003), the film with Colin Farrell which was an adaptation from the TV series from the 70’s.  S.W.A.T: Under Siege has nothing to do with any of the previous incarnations, and has relocated from sunny California to Seattle Washington. But is the film worth checking out?  Well I’m not a fan of sequels that go straight to DVD, but this film does dangle a wild card for the audience that convinced me to give this a shot, Michael Jai White (Spawn, Black Dynamite).
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    Crashing: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2017

    It’s not all it’s cut out to be…it’s not about being on stage all the time. It’s about the killing of time.”

    There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of sitcoms starring stand-up comedians. Many of them (Roseanne, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond) have grafted the comic’s persona onto a family-friendly format. Even the shows that have depicted the life of a comic tend to take a surreal approach (Louie) or fast-forward to the part where the star is an established comedian (Seinfeld). HBO’s Crashing stands out because it honestly (and painfully) depicts the struggle of an aspiring stand-up…and makes it look very, very funny.
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    Girls: The Final Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 3rd, 2017

    My persona’s very, like, witty yet narcissistic.”

    These self-aware words are spoken by Hannah Horvath, the on-screen alter ego of Girls star/creator Lena Dunham during the premiere of the show’s final season. Of course, anyone who’s watched Girls knows the “witty yet narcissistic” label applies to practically every character in Dunham’s often flawed (and even-more-often brilliant) HBO dramedy. So while this final batch of episodes includes some superb moments, it’s not a total surprise that this polarizing series concludes its run with a frustrating finale that is more satisfying for the show’s creators than it is for its fans.
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    Unforgettable (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 26th, 2017

    I’m done with crazy.”

    When it comes to movies about psychotically wronged women, the crazier things get, the better. Unfortunately, the makers of Unforgettable — a dull domestic drama/wannabe thriller — never got the memo. It’s a shame because the movie had some of the ingredients to be a deliciously pulpy thriller, including an amusingly unhinged turn from one of its stars. But in the end, this comes off as a Lifetime movie that slipped through the cracks, fell upwards, and was accidentally released in theaters.
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    Prison Break: Event Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 14th, 2017

    “Freedom has a price. I died 7 years ago. Left behind a brother, a wife, a son, but the dead talk if you listen. They’re there with you. Reaching out. Trying to tell us something. Because not all deaths are the same. Some are real. Some are a story. Question is: do you believe the story? Was the man who died who you thought he was? The dead talk. If you listen…”

    The same can be said for dead series. Fox has been riding a wave of series revivals that have brought shows back from the dead in a limited-run event series format, and it has actually been doing well for the network
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    The Belko Experiment (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 5th, 2017

    When a film like The Belko Experiment comes along there is a part of me that wonders, how far off is the film from reality? Films like Death Race 2000, The Running Man, The Purge, and Battle Royale have all flirted with the idea of the government using murder as a form of entertainment while also using it as a way to control the public. You look at the violence in the world and how numb we’ve all seemed to have gotten towards violence in the news and our favorite TV shows. I can’t help but wonder, would it be so crazy to see murder on our television screens?  Looking back at history and the gladiator times, there was murder for entertainment, where families would cheer on the bloodshed and carnage.
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    The Zookeeper’s Wife (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 3rd, 2017

    “What have you been up to in your little zoo?”

    It appears that we have been due for one of those untold stories amid the many tales of courage and bravery both fact and fiction, real and imagined, that have been told of the World War II era. There have been plenty of the battlefield hero films that include last year’s exceptional Hacksaw Ridge from Mel Gibson. Then there are the quiet and unlikely heroes. These are people who did incredible things that were often unknown during the war and often even after it was all over. Schindler’s List has become the gold standard for these kinds of emotional war movies. The Zookeeper’s Wife is set in the mold of that kind of a film, telling essentially that very kind of tale.
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