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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Arrival (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

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

    “There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived…”

    The problem is that this starts out with the kind of story we’ve seen a thousand times before. The alien invasion theme is nothing new. H.G. Wells was describing it back in the 19th Century with War of the Worlds. Unrelated Orson Welles scared the crap out of a depression-era radio audience with the same story. Independence Day gave us a brilliantly visual story that also begins the same way: alien ships begin to take strategic positions around the world. Here we go again, right? Wrong. We should have guessed from the beginning that when director Denis Villeneuve tackles a genre, he’s going to turn it on his head. We’d seen him do it before.
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    Pinocchio: Walt Disney Signature Collection (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 2nd, 2017

    “When you wish upon a star. Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do… Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

    The song has become a standard. Every kid knows it. Walt Disney Studios has made it their theme song. You hear it each time you load up a Disney disc. If you have been fortunate enough to have visited Walt Disney World, you’ve heard it the entire day long.
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    Morgan (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on December 19th, 2016

    The sci-fi horror thriller Morgan turns brutal when a scientific experiment goes awry, turning a lab into a blood-fest. Now on Blu-ray and DVD in a combo pack that includes an HD download, the film has all the trappings for a nighttime couples’ shocker. You will not want to see this one alone, especially if you want to get the best out of your video choice. So turn the lights down, get the popcorn ready, maybe your favorite beverage, and expect the unexpected. Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), the Risk Manager of SynSect, a genetics research company, arrives at a secluded lab surrounded by a forest following a reported incident of violence.
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    Ben-Hur (2016) (Blu-ray)

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

    In 1959 when Ben-Hur came out, it was a massive undertaking that nearly closed the gates for MGM after nearly bankrupting the studio.  It was a huge risk in producing such a large-scale epic that fortunately paid off and became one of the studio’s cornerstone successes.  The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his fall from being a prince, to becoming a slave, to eventually becoming a hero to the people in the arena is such a familiar story that it’s hard to not feel you’ve seen this before without even entering the theater.  In some parts I look at Gladiator and see somewhat the same film, only being set in a separate time and place.  But really, the story of betrayal at the highest levels, and seeing great figures fall only to pull themselves up again is a theme Hollywood seems to relish, and it seems to attract many viewers in the process
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    Pete’s Dragon (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 1st, 2016

    “Sometimes a dragon gets lost…and winds up far from his home.” 

    It appears to be the intention at Walt Disney Studios that each of its animated classics is to be remade as a live-action film. You can certainly understand the why that might be so. Computer-generated images have passed into the realm of photo-realistic presentations. Today there isn’t anything you can’t bring into the “real” world to interact with actual flesh and blood actors. The concept brought us the brilliant Jon Favreau version of The Jungle Book. Not all of these attempts have been or will be quite so successful. I count Pete’s Dragon among one of those lesser-than films.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 18th, 2016

    Does death only come for the wicked and leave the decent behind?”

    Throughout its first five seasons, Game of Thrones has been relentlessly cruel to its viewers heroes in a way that shocked audiences and upended genre expectations. But as Thrones edges toward its conclusion — and as the TV adaptation becomes more unmoored than ever from the George R.R. Martin novels that inspired it — certain storytelling conventions seem to be inevitably taking over. I seriously doubt this saga will have a traditional “happy ending,” but season 6 is as close as the show has ever come to being a full-blown crowd-pleaser.
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    The Jungle Book (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 29th, 2016

    “This is the law of the jungle…”

    Disney appears to have a law that all of its classic cartoon features must now be made into live-action films. As I’ve mentioned in my review of the original classic The Jungle Book, the animated feature was the end of an important era at Walt Disney Studios. It was released about a year after Walt’s death and was the last film he supervised from beginning to end. In the wake of Walt’s death the studio experienced a sharp turnover and complete retooling of the animation department. With only the nine old men to carry the traditions of Walt into the future, The Jungle Book would forever mark a distinct milestone in the history of animated feature films.
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    Kung Fu Panda 3 (Blu-ray)

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

    “Never underestimate the impact of dramatic entrance!”

    It’s hard to maintain the attention of the 21st-century child. Animated movies have to combine enough elements of charm and action to keep their attention for a little under two hours. If you want to keep a franchise going, you have to rip out your sequels in reasonably tight schedules. It’s been over four years since Kung Fu Panda 2, and we waited nearly that long between the first and second entry. That’s a long time in a culture where we move from fad to fad almost by the hour.
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    Star Trek: The Original Series: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 23rd, 2016

    “Space…The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!”

    Paramount was bold indeed when they undertook the remaster project of the original series. Not only did they clean up the prints, but they took the decidedly risky option of redoing most of the f/x shots from the original prints.
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    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 16th, 2016

    “He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!”

    After its shortened three year run, it looked like Star Trek was dead and gone. A very short lived animation series was the first attempt to carry on. Before long it too was a thing of the past. Then something rather amazing happened. Star Trek found a home in syndication. The local television markets aired the shows in a somewhat edited form, and they were rewarded with record-breaking local ratings. It didn’t take long before Paramount saw the possibilities
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    The Martian: Extended Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 13th, 2016

    In 1979, Ridley Scott taught us that in space no one can hear you scream. More than 35 years after Alien established him as a top directorial talent, Scott has slightly amended that statement to read “in space no one can hear you…blast disco music and binge watch Happy Days.” These lighthearted coping mechanisms — used here to deal with a truly horrifying and hopeless situation — are strong indicators of what you’re in for with The Martian, which is both brainier and much funnier than your average space epic. Now the sci-fi blockbuster returns to home video with an Extended Edition.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season — Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 6th, 2016

    “All men must die.”

    The official tagline for Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones also doubles as a helpful reminder of author George R.R. Martin’s no-character-is-safe philosophy. But even plastering that quote all over posters and promos isn’t likely to prepare you for the most devastating and thrilling season of a show that specializes in “devastating and thrilling.” Those thrills have now been given an extra kick: Game of Thrones is the first TV show to be offered in all-encompassing Dolby Atmos. After re-releasing seasons 1 and 2 in a pair of handsome Steelbook cases late last year, HBO has given the next two chapters in Martin’s saga the same treatment.
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    Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season — Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 6th, 2016

    Even if Game of Thrones had inexplicably wrapped its run after two stellar seasons, the fantasy series would’ve gone down as a landmark in television history because of its unprecedented scale and audacious storytelling. Those qualities have been brought to thrilling life in each of the show’s Blu-ray releases, but HBO still decided to kick it up a notch. Game of Thrones is the first TV show to be offered in all-encompassing Dolby Atmos. After re-releasing seasons 1 and 2 in a pair of handsome Steelbook cases late last year, HBO has given the next two chapters in George R.R. Martin’s saga the same treatment.
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    The Finest Hours (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on May 26th, 2016

    There are many films that depict the ferocity and cataclysmic power of the vast ocean. It is a fearsome display that cannot be imagined in any way that compares to the reality of the experience. The Perfect Storm, Life of Pi, The Guardian, and Titanic are just a few examples of disasters at sea. It is the United States Coast Guard’s job to rescue distressed people under severe emergencies at sea. The Finest Hours is a depiction of a true-life sea rescue under the most challenging and horrifying conditions. It is known as the most successful small boat rescue ever recorded. When I say small boat, it is the rescue boat I’m talking about, but the ship they were singlehandedly sent to rescue was a gigantic T2 tanker Pendleton, which had split in half on open seas.
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    The Revenant (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on April 20th, 2016

    America was once a primitive expanse where only very small groups of hardy hopefuls ever tried to venture across. It was a vast and endless wilderness that was mostly a mystery. This was the land of roving Indian tribes and undiscovered species of animals. This was a land of all kinds of danger. Life was one long hunt and endless battle against every kind of predator and natural enemy. There are so many remarkable moments in The Revenant that I will start with the bear attack. It is an unbelievably harrowing event that cannot be described in words that will in any way convey what you see on the screen. That one sequence alone is worth the price of admission
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    Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 29th, 2016

    “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…”

    It sure does seem like it was a long time ago since Star Wars was actually very good. It doesn’t matter if you thought Empire or Jedi was the last good film; few people that I’ve encountered mentioned the more recent trilogy in the same sacred breath as those original films. Star Wars gave us swashbuckler adventure in the spirit of the early serials. Then it was about a mythical epic story that swept a generation into its colorful universe. What George Lucas created in the late 1970’s will never die. But before long it became more about the creator and less about engaging the fans. The attitude turned into “this is my franchise and I’ll do whatever the heck I want to do with it.”
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    The Big Short (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 14th, 2016

    I’m guessing most of you still don’t really know what happened.”

    There is absolutely nothing funny about the financial crisis of 2008. Besides the fact that the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble led to the failure of countless businesses and a disastrous decline in consumer wealth, the crisis involved key phrases like “credit default swap” and “collateralized debt obligation.” Those terms are much more likely to make your eyes glaze over in boredom or confusion than they are to inspire laughs. The Big Short cannily recognizes this challenge and crafts a farcical, incisive narrative about a small group of outcasts who saw the whole thing coming.
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    Creed (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 2nd, 2016

    The last time we checked in on Rocky Balboa was 2006. It was a bittersweet coda to a franchise that provided 30 years and six films of the life and times of Rocky Balboa. Some were truly great films. I’d count the first and last as in that category. Some were near misses like the third and fourth films, while the fifth was pretty much a total disaster. In those years and films we watched Rocky go from a hungry Philadelphia wannabe boxer to the champion several times over. Like the franchise, the character had his own highs and lows. There’s no question that the Rocky franchise has gone the distance. And while it might have been a split decision, the Rocky films still stand as the champion of the film genre.
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    The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Extended Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 17th, 2016

    “Will you follow me, one last time?”

    It’s time to say goodbye to Middle Earth, at least from a cinematic perspective. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies marks the last time we shall see Peter Jackson’s version of Middle Earth. Sure, Ian McKellen has told us he wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of a return. I would. There is certainly enough work from Tolkien to support future adventures, but the rights to anything beyond these books belongs to the Tolkien estate.
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    Spectre (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 13th, 2016

    “You have got a tricky day ahead of you.”

    It’s safe to say that Daniel Craig peaked as James Bond with Skyfall. Sam Mendes was the man who figured out how to make Craig work in the part. The secret wasn’t in the classic images of Bond’s past, but in the future. Instead of trying to mold Craig into Bond, Mendes molded Bond into Craig. It was the right thing to do as long as Daniel Craig was going to continue in the role. With Mendes repeating as director and John Logan from Gladiator and Penny Dreadful fame handling the script, expectations were through the roof for this one.
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