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    Looking: The Complete Series and The Movie (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 1st, 2016

    The most remarkable thing about Looking might have been how thoroughly unremarkable it was. The HBO dramedy — which followed the love lives of three gay friends in San Francisco — sidestepped any sort of headline-grabbing sensationalism. However, Looking was often low-key to the point that it bypassed being funny or particularly entertaining. The latter point was a bigger issue early on since the show’s naturalistic tone made Looking more engrossing as the series progressed and deepened its roster of characters. You can see for yourself how the show got better as it went along now that HBO has released the entire Looking saga — two seasons and a movie — in one handy Blu-ray set.
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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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    Return Of The Living Dead 3 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 29th, 2016

    Fresh out of the vaults comes another cult classic. Vestron Video has decided to unleash Return of the Living Dead 3 for horror fans to snatch up this holiday season.  Considering the titles that Vestron has already released, for some this might be a title that will leave fans scratching their heads about there being an urge to re-master this film, much less crank out a Blu-ray with so many features.  Well, the simple answer is that the person in charge of acquiring and releasing these titles knows that there are fanboys like me out there who will shell out the money for a product that’s given this kind of attention.  Return of the Living Dead is a cult classic and is mostly responsible for casual moviegoers making the connection with zombies and brain eating
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    I.T. (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 24th, 2016

    There is a way this film could have been great if not a little amusing. Imagine if James Bond was being stalked by Q; what would Bond do?  Sure, I’ll admit it’s a silly notion, but it’s all I could think about as I watched this film about a millionaire and his family being stalked by a disgruntled I.T. worker.  In general, it’s a story we see a couple of times a year, the seemingly charming figure that comes into a person’s life that turns out to be crazy and throws everyone’s life into chaos.  Films like Cape Fear and One Hour Photo are just a couple of examples of films that tackled the stalker sub-genre; even last year’s overlooked gem The Gift showed you can still be terrifying with a little creativity.
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    Star Trek: The Animated Series (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 24th, 2016

    “Space…the final frontier. These are the continuing 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 one man gone before!”

    Of course, we never did get five years from that original show when it ended after just three years in 1969. The new film series has tried to fix that for us. The latest film picks up the five-year mission just after three years have gone by. It’s a double homage to the original show.
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    Army Of One (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 23rd, 2016

    It’s been a while since Nicolas Cage has been in a big studio-released film.  It doesn’t mean he’s doing bad movies; it just means he’s not doing any tent-pole releases that flood the multiplex.  Seeing Nicolas Cage in a film like Army of One is simply a snapshot of how modern cinema has to evolve for better or for worse.  Really, I don’t mean to come off as though this is a bad film or inferior to any other films past or present, but ten years ago this is a film that would have had a much wider release and would easily have gotten more attention.  After all, who could resist Nicolas Cage in a film helmed by the director of Borat?
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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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    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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    Kickboxer: Vengeance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 10th, 2016

    No rules, no ref. Just your wit and skill to keep you alive.”

    Last year, Creed became a critical and audience favorite by reviving a beloved dormant franchise and re-casting its brawny original star in a supporting role as a mentor. I’m not going to pretend that 1989’s Kickboxer (starring Jean-Claude Van Damme) is anywhere near as beloved — or as good — as Rocky. But Kickboxer: Vengeance, a reboot/remake of Van Damme’s campy action favorite, hits some of the same notes as Creed…except for the part where it’s a critical and audience favorite.
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    Hell on Wheels: The Final Episodes (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 4th, 2016

    “This train don’t stop.” That’s what we’re told in an Elton John ballad. But it doesn’t matter if it’s that Midnight Train to Georgia or a freight train, you can bet the farm that it’s going to run out of track.  That’s for sure, and you can expect more than a little crying over it all. The saddest news, however, is the show’s final year. You really should not even think about joining the series from this point. I suspect it will still be quite entertaining, but for the full experience you do have to start from the beginning. The evolution of the Cullen character from Civil War veteran out for vengeance to the man who we see in the fifth season is a rather nice journey to witness. So saddle up for the first four. You can find the reviews for other seasons here.
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    Skiptrace (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 3rd, 2016

    You’re no spring chicken anymore.”

    It’s been more than four years since Jackie Chan — the legendary Hong Kong superstar who has been kicking butt and scoring scoring laughs on screen since the 1970s — announced he was retiring from action movies. Sure, Chan quickly backpedaled, but I don’t know that anyone would’ve held it against the actor (who is now 62) if he’d stuck to his word. After decades of grueling injuries, Chan has noticeably slowed down. That being said, the old man still has a few tricks up his sleeve in Skiptrace.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” The Id (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 30th, 2016

    This is one of those titles that came along where I had no idea what to expect.  I knew it was a horror title, and really that is about it.  The problem with doing films in a single location, though it may save you money when it comes to the actual production, is that in return you put an added pressure on your performers and the story to not be boring and keeping the story moving.  It can be done; after all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of my favorite films of the year, and most of it takes place in a bunker.  When it comes to The Id, how did the film turn out? Well, I feel it was a victim of its own design.
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    Mr. Church (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 28th, 2016

    There’s a black man in our kitchen cooking eggs!”

    The kitchen-bound black man in this case is Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church, which on the surface appears to be the latest in a sneakily long line of movies (Driving Miss Daisy, The Help, The Butler) where saintly, subservient African Americans enlighten their white counterparts. Those movies can be cloying at best and downright insulting at worst if placed in the wrong hands. But if done right, they can really resonate with audiences. (As evidenced by the fact that the movies I mentioned earlier were pretty big hits.) Mr. Church falls somewhere in between.
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    Our Kind Of Traitor

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 28th, 2016

    When it comes to spy novelist John le Carre (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager), his books seem to produce great films and mini-series but are far from being box-office darlings. Each production of one of his novels seems to be filled with talent in front of and behind the camera.  When it comes to the release of Our Kind of Traitor, despite the impressive cast it’s a film that managed to slip through the cracks and seems to have limped its way to a DVD/Blu-ray release when really it’s a film that deserves to be appreciated more on the big screen.  While it may not be filled with the spectacle of special effects and explosions, it’s a film that garners some impressive performances throughout and has a story that quickly pulls the viewer in.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Lights Out (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 23rd, 2016

    Everyone is afraid of the dark…and that’s what she feeds on.”

    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am a full-grown adult. That means I can’t in good conscience admit to being afraid of the dark. The most I’ll concede is a sense of uneasiness if I’m in a dark space because I might bump into something. And if I hear a strange noise in the middle of the night, my mind might start creating sinister shapes out of shadows. (Hold on…am I afraid of the dark?!) Either way, that primal and unshakable fear of what could be hiding just out of sight is what powers Lights Out, one of the leaner, nimbler, and flat-out most enjoyable low-budget horror flicks in recent years.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Waxwork/Waxwork II (Blu-ray)

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

    The third release of the Vestron Video Collector’s Series that Lionsgate has decided to put out isn’t just one film but two, Waxwork and its sequel Waxwork 2: Lost in Time.  If you think just because it’s a two-for-one release that they may have taken the lazy route on handling the transfers and features, well, I can happily say that you’d be wrong.  If you like campy horror, especially the kind that existed during the late 80’s on into the early 90’s, then this is the kind of double-feature set you’ll have a blast with.  It doesn’t hurt, either, that it’s being released just in time to be enjoyed for those of you looking to put together some horror movie marathons during the Halloween season
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    The Night Of (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 21st, 2016

    You know, I miss James Gandolfini. I know that HBO misses him as well. When The Sopranos finished, Gandolfini signed a development deal with HBO. He would not only work in front of the camera but help find and produce material for the network. We all know what happened next. Gandolfini passed suddenly, just when it seems he was breaking out of his Tony Soprano typecast, and one gets the feeling that he was going to do great things. One solid indication of that promise comes in the HBO series The Night Of… which was one of those passion projects that the man never got to see through.
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    Blood Father (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 19th, 2016

    I can’t be the only one who misses seeing Mel Gibson in a tent pole movie for the studio every year.  Sure, he said some rotten things, but does it matter what he does in his personal life?  The man still is a great actor and an even better director.  Hollywood has always been forgiving of its talent; it’s a system that seems to enjoy seeing talent make a comeback and do some amazing work.  What it seems is that sometimes we forget that these icons on the screen are human, and they make mistakes and do stupid things and they have to own these experiences for the rest of their lives in the spotlight.
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    The Infiltrator (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on October 19th, 2016

    Growing up one of coolest jobs I thought was out there was undercover work. Not to diminish all the threats to one’s well-being associated with that profession, but come on, who didn’t want the opportunity to reinvent themselves as someone else entirely. Undercover affords that opportunity. That said, it does not come without a cost, and that cost is explored thoroughly in The Infiltrator, a based on a true story tale about a U.S. Customs agent who infiltrates the most successful and equally dangerous drug cartel led by the one and only Pablo Escobar. An interesting little tidbit that I was unaware of before the opening credits was that this film was shot right here in the Tampa area, which provided recognizable environment and a chance to pick out familiar territory.
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    The Last King (Blu-ray)

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

    Imagine if Three Men and a Baby was remade with just two guys, a baby, a battle axe, and a bunch of arrows. Despite its exceedingly generic Americanized title, The Last King has a little something different to offer action-weary movie watchers. The story is set in a time and place — 13th century Norway during the country’s civil war — that is probably unfamiliar to U.S. audiences. And while much of the hand-to-hand combat and royal treachery will prove cliched to some, they are presented with some fun tweaks and an occasionally sentimental tone that doesn’t always mesh with the hard-hitting action.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Satanic (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 13th, 2016

    When you have a title like Satanic, it’s kind of hard to not start to build up expectations right out of the gate.  I like a horror film that isn’t afraid to go dark and play with the subject matter of the occult, because honestly it’s the only topic that can manage to get under my skin.  The Exorcist in my opinion is hands down the best horror film of all time and manages to haunt me after a viewing simply because the boy I once was who went to Catholic mass every Sunday knew that it could happen.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Penny Dreadful: The Final Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 12th, 2016

    “…And then all light will end, and the world will live in darkness. The very air will be pestilence to mankind. And our brethren, the night creatures, will emerge and feed.”

    We could be talking about the end of the world. We could also be talking about the untimely demise of Penny Dreadful with just its third season at Showtime. It came with a suddenness, and not without controversy. John Logan originally planned for the series to go 6-7 years.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Masks (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 8th, 2016

    After the release of The Editor on Blu-ray last year and with the remake of Susperia in the works, it would seem that there is a slow revival of the Giallo film.  For those unaware of the term or style, it’s basically a horror/ mystery film that tended to have slasher elements that emerged out of Italy.  These were beautiful and stylish films that directors like Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci were the ambassadors of.  While The Editor was more of a spoof of the genre, though well done, it is Masks that has really gotten my attention.  Though it comes out of Germany, the love and attention to detail in adding so many of the familiar hallmarks of the Giallo film makes Masks more than just a simple homage, but it’s so well executed I could have believed this was a lost Dario Argento film.
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    Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)

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

    “Did I miss anything while I was gone?”

    Did you ever. Banshee came to an end with this, the fourth season, and it did not go quietly, to be sure. But it’s not how it ends, but how this final season begins that’s a bit of a mystery. There is a time jump of a little over 18 months that will cause you to feel like you might have missed something. If that doesn’t confuse you, the season’s constant tripping around in time will turn this season into a show very different from the Banshee we’ve come to know and love.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” The Neon Demon (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 6th, 2016

    “Are you food or are you sex?”

    When it comes to director Nicholas Winding Refn, he’s a director from whom I’m never all too sure what to expect.  For me Drive is one of my favorite films in the past ten years, while Only God Forgives simply bored me; despite the stunning imagery, it had nothing else going for it.. His films going even further back are just as much of a mixed bag, so coming into The Neon Demon I knew better than to get my hopes up, and that I should just go ahead and let the film stand on its own, as it should.
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