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    Hell on Wheels: Season 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 31st, 2014

    “Make no mistake. Blood will be spilled. Lives will be lost. Fortunes will be made. Men will be ruined. There will be betrayal and scandal and perfidy of epic proportions.”

    With a statement like that, how can you not want to check out AMC’s newest drama series Hell On Wheels? I’ve been told the title sounds like it’s about motorcycle gangs, and I couldn’t agree more. The term refers to the mobile tent city that housed the workers on the Union Pacific Railroad and the support entourage the camp attracted. It was a virtual tent city that had all of the essentials: a church, bar, and whorehouse.
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    Lullaby

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 31st, 2014

    The impending death of a loved one tends to dredge up a complex mix of emotions. (Unfortunately, I speak from relatively recent personal experience.) In addition to the obvious sadness, there can be guilt, resentment, anger, relief, and other sentiments that combine to create a messy stew of feelings. Putting those feelings on the page or on a screen is an emotional minefield, since you risk veering jarringly from one tone to the next. The task becomes even trickier when you attempt to introduce humor into the equation. Lullaby stumbles over a few of those mines, but is otherwise a well-acted, modestly-affecting dramedy.
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    Noah (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 30th, 2014

    No matter how far removed you may be from Sunday school — or even if you never attended in the first place — chances are you know that God spoke to Noah. You also know He told him to build an ark in anticipation of a catastrophic flood meant to wipe out mankind. What you may not have realized (or remembered) is that, in the Bible, Noah himself doesn’t speak at all until well after that rain starts. So in adapting the famous Book of Genesis story to the screen, any filmmaker is going to have to take a certain amount of liberties. And when that filmmaker is Darren Aronofsky, the result is a strange, uncommonly thoughtful blockbuster that is as flawed as the hero it presents.
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    The Legend of Billie Jean: Special “Fair is Fair” Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 29th, 2014

    Don’t you ever get tired of vanilla?”

    There’s a special breed of ’80s movie that appears hopelessly dated on the surface yet remains impulsively watchable. (Insert your own, “So you mean *every* ’80s movie?!” joke.) The Legend of Billie Jean — with its hilarious-in-hindsight fashion and Pat Benatar theme song — certainly fits the “trapped in the ’80s” bill. However, the 1985 film — now making its Blu-ray debut courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment — still manages to entertain by tapping into the timeless spirit of teenage rebellion.
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    Smithsonian Channel: Shark Collection

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Normandy D. Piccolo on July 29th, 2014

    “The shark is an evolutionary marvel that should be respected and revered.”

    You will definitely need a bigger boat for this adventurous “Sharkathon”, featuring three separate documentaries about sharks all packed onto one DVD like sardines in a can. Everything you could possibly want to know about sharks, from their feeding habits, to the deterioration of their population due to overfishing, to mercury levels consumed by humans, to what makes sharks tick can all be found on, Smithsonian Channel Shark Collection.
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    Angriest Man in Brooklyn (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 28th, 2014

    Robin Williams is one of those actors that I just wonder what happened to them.  Through the 80’s and 90’s Williams was simply box office gold with his comedic timing and great impressions, but I’ve always been more drawn to the more serious roles Williams delivered.  Awakenings, The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo, these are just a few of his roles that have stuck with me over the years that made it easy to look past his cinematic missteps.
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    All Cheerleaders Die

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on July 24th, 2014

    There are people who love horror films and only horror films. For these people, they can never get enough. They will look at anything and everything. There are the people who like movies about high school and sports. Then there are people who like to see hot chicks. All Cheerleaders Die wants to make everybody happy. It starts out with a girl making a student movie about the cheerleading squad. The girls on the squad show off what cool witches with a B they are since they look out for their dogs on the football team.
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    Aerial America: Southwest Collection (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 24th, 2014

    One of the miracles of modern technology is its ability to shrink the world down so you can practically (well, proverbially) hold it in the palm of your hand. The cheerily square Smithsonian Channel series Aerial America goes the other way. In fact, the best thing about the show is how it utilizes technology to fill every inch of your screen with some of the most famous — along with some of the more underappreciated — U.S. landmarks using a larger-than-life/bird’s-eye point of view most of us wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy.
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    Gangster

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 23rd, 2014

    When I first picked up this title to review it was a film I knew nothing about other than what the DVD cover revealed, which as it turns out was very little.  I like going into most films cold so there is no room for expectations to get in the way.  With such a generic title and a cast that had a few names that rang a bell and knowing nothing about the story, I figured the film had equal chances to be good or simply a stinker I’d forget by the weekend.  As it turns out, Gangster is a gritty little drama that not so much took me by surprise but instead left me wanting so much more.
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    Cesar Chavez (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 23rd, 2014

    The fact that we haven’t gotten a movie about Cesar Chavez until now is both surprising and not all that shocking. It’s surprising because the Mexican American labor leader was arguably as big of a civil rights icon to Latino workers as Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the country’s black community in the 1960s. On the other hand, the extended wait for a Chavez movie isn’t all that shocking when you consider his efforts took place in the largely un-cinematic realm of grape boycotts. The bland, well-meaning Cesar Chavez makes the case for his impactful deeds, even if it doesn’t totally present him as a vibrant, complex man worthy of the biopic treatment.
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    Open Grave (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 22nd, 2014

    It happens all the time. It’s just as common on large-budget films as it is on the small films. Someone comes up with a great hook. It’s a clever idea with all of the potential to be very good. It might even start off that way. Too many times the road traveled is a road to nowhere, and potential was lost somewhere along the path. That’s exactly the issue with Open Grave. The opening sequence is one of those scenes that really sticks with you. A guy wakes up in a huge pit filled with dead and rotting human beings.
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    Gridiron Gang (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 22nd, 2014

    “There are over 120,000 juveniles incarcerated in detection centers across the United States. Upon release 75% will either return to prison or die in the street. What follows is based on the true story of Camp Kilpatrick and the people there who tried to make a difference.”

    The Rock — sorry, Dwayne Johnson, sure has come a long way from his melodramatic days as a WWE superstar.
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    The Junior Spy Agency

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Normandy D. Piccolo on July 22nd, 2014

    “Magnum, Rockford and Marlowe never had to rake leaves before a case.” 

    ~ Sam Steele Junior

    Whoever said homework can’t be fun never met Writer/Director Tom Whitus. Mr. Whitus has donned the fedora once more and penned another adventurous Sam Steele detective movie aimed at children. The Junior Spy Agency (2014) (aka: Sam Steele and the Crystal Chalice (2011)) follows in the gumshoes of Mr Whitus’ previous work, Sam Steele and the Junior Detective Agency (2009).
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    Sabotage (Blu-ray)

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

    - “Are you some kind of big deal?”

    - “Yeah, I’ve been around.”

    The box office has not been kind to Arnold Schwarzenegger ever since he stopped being “The Governator” and started headlining movies again. Not counting his Expendable glorified cameos, Ahnuld’s three movies — The Last Stand, Escape Plan, and Sabotage — are among the lowest domestic grossers of his career. It’s clear that not a lot of people are seeing these movies, which is kind of a shame.
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    Transcendence (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 21st, 2014

    “Maybe it was all inevitable. An unavoidable collision between mankind and technology.”

    Just about any project that Christopher Nolan has any attachment to is going to get my attention.  And from the first glimpses of the film in the early teasers, Transcendence always felt like a film Nolan would seem right at home making.  Instead, taking the helm for the first time as director is Wally Pfister.  Though this may be his first time in the director’s chair, Pfister is no stranger to working on pictures of large scale; after all, he’s been Nolan’s director of photography since Memento back in 2000.
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    Donnie Brasco (Theatrical Cut) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 21st, 2014

    Pacino and Depp in a mob drama about an undercover fed and his unknowing Mafioso mentor? Fuggedaboudit. Donnie Brasco is based on the true story of F.B.I. agent Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp, Blow), who spent six successful years undercover in the New York Mafia, as one Donnie Brasco. The film opens with Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino, Heat), an aging made man, connecting with Donnie about a diamond ring. Donnie’s cover is he’s in the jewelry “business”, and Lefty wants to unload a ring some guy …gave him as payment for a debt.
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    Last Action Hero (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 20th, 2014

    “Let me know when the governor gets here.”

    Well, he’s in the house, and I’m going to get a lot of razzing for this review of Last Action Hero. The person who thought I should see a shrink for looking forward to the next Saw film is going to be calling for my outright commitment to an institution dedicated to covering walls with nice padding so we won’t hurt ourselves. I know this film is generally considered “bad” by critics and moviegoers alike.
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    Antboy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 20th, 2014

    Not to be mistaken for the much anticipated Ant-Man that should release next year from Marvel, Antboy is the latest import out of Denmark that shows that the worldwide box office is becoming a more level and diverse playing field.  For the longest time foreign films were a thing that belonged in art house cinema and found in a tiny section at the mom-and-pop video store.  Now in a generation of the internet and most notably Netflix, the wide range of foreign cinema is being made available, and in my opinion this is a great thing.
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    Anaconda (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 20th, 2014

    “Tales of monstrous, man-eating anacondas have been recounted for centuries by tribespeople of the Amazon Basin, some of whom are said to worship these giant snakes. Anacondas are among the most ferocious and enormous creatures on Earth.”

    Today Anaconda would have most certainly been made as a “found-footage” film. All of the makings of one of these trending movies are there.
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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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    How It All Began: Origins of Master Mantak Chia

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Normandy D. Piccolo on July 18th, 2014

    “We are that which we are really seeking.”

    Back in the early 80‘s, Grandmaster Mantak Chia stepped outside of traditional Chinese rule and shared a very guarded secret with the world. The Universal Healing Tao System. Where the body, soul and spirit learn to live in balance and harmony with the universe through an understanding of energy
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    Rio 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 17th, 2014

    “Who cares about a bunch of birds?”

    Well, judging by the fact that the original Rio grossed $484 million worldwide, it seems more than a few people were invested. The avian adventure from Blue Sky Studios may not have soared as high as Disney/Pixar or DreamWorks Animation’s best efforts — or even Blue Sky’s own Ice Age juggernaut — but it proved to be a dazzling, lucrative diversion in the spring of 2011. This charming sequel, which arrived almost three years to the day later and grossed a near-identical $487 million worldwide, retains the disposable, toe-tapping charm of its predecessor.
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    How the West Was Won: The Complete Second Season

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 16th, 2014

    The West — once a land of awesome but tranquil beauty — had become a battleground for a hundred diverse reasons.”

    The “second” season of How the West Was Won — and I’ll explain in a bit why the word “second” deserves to be in quotation marks — does a strong job dramatizing the myriad dangers of the Old West. This batch of episodes showcases vengeful gunfighters, greedy gold prospectors, a taxing cattle drive, and the tenuous relationship between frontiersmen and Native Americans. Of course, at the center of it all is one particularly intrepid clan.
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    Under the Skin (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 15th, 2014

    There is nothing wrong with your monitor. Jonathan Glazer controls all that you see and hear. That tiny speck of light you see is just the beginning. The beginning of an experience you will not soon forget. The light appears distant…cold… foreboding. It’s coming closer to us, or we are coming closer to it. The distant star grows while you are assaulted with some of the most bizarre sounds you have ever heard. It’s somewhat uncomfortable. You squirm in your seat.
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    Stage Fright (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 14th, 2014

    “Isn’t it wrong to sing and dance when someone has just died?”

    When I first hear a film is going to attempt to be a horror musical, all I can do is simply shake my head at the thought of how bad this may be.  But that’s not to say that I couldn’t be very wrong.  Repo! The Genetic Opera was a rock opera that I had a blast with, and I’m not ashamed to admit I even purchased the soundtrack after the release.
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