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    Into the Storm (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 21st, 2014

    Breaking news: anyone who goes to see movie called Into the Storm is probably more interested in “the Storm than they are in any of the people running away from it. The good news is the film understands this, to an extent, and clocks in at a slender 89 minutes. Of course, the titular Storm doesn’t appear for every one of those 89 minutes. This is very bad news because Into the Storm is populated with characters and storylines that are both forgettable and irritating. It’s basically Twister with somewhat better effects, but much less interesting people.
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    Housebound (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 19th, 2014

    Laughing out loud and getting startled out of your wits are two of the most visceral reactions you can have as a moviegoer. For a director to elicit either reaction is challenging enough, which is why I was so delighted to be feeling both during the thrilling, funny finale of Housebound. It’s an even more impressive feat when you consider it was accomplished by a first-time filmmaker working on a shoestring budget.
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    The Prince (Blu-ray)

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

    “That man brings hell with him wherever he goes.”

    The “man” is supposed to be Paul Brennan (Jason Patric), a retired mob enforcer-turned-unassuming auto mechanic who reluctantly returns to his violent ways after his daughter goes missing. But the real culprit might be director Brian A. Miller. With The Prince and this year’s The Outsider, the director has made two consecutive sub-Taken crime dramas that lack the cohesion, refinement or energy to work even as satisfyingly junky action movies.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Deliver Us From Evil

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 26th, 2014

    Inspired by the actual accounts of an NYPD sergeant.”

    Deliver Us From Evil comes attached with what may be the most flowery variation yet of the “Based on a True Story” tag I’m always wary of. The deliberately-worded phrase is designed to lend an air of verisimilitude to the inherently supernatural demonic possession genre. (Not unlike what The Conjuring did with its real-life paranormal investigators on its way to becoming a smash.) While Deliver Us From Evil has a few decent jolts, it doesn’t come close to capitalizing on the promise of its unique source material.
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    Sons of Liberty

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 7th, 2014

    By the time the innovative opening credits for Sons of Liberty wrap up, the movie has outlined an expansive backstory that mixes historical fact (the real-life Sons of Liberty form in Boston in 1765) and fiction (Allister Salinger, the head of the mysterious Ordo Mundi, designs the first successful human clone in 1974). It’s surprisingly dense stuff, especially for a jumbled, straight-to-DVD action/thriller that mostly plays out like a particularly violent episode of NCIS.
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    Night Moves

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

    There are movies that can be described as slow burns, and then there’s Night Moves. Director Kelly Reichardt frames much of her 112-minute thriller in a way that invites you to pay an inordinate amount of attention to the lush greenery, winding trails, and tranquil water the film’s three protagonists go to dangerous lengths to preserve. The extended, quiet sequences and exceedingly simple plot also encourage viewers to fill in spaces in the story that seem to have been intentionally left blank. This deliberate approach will undoubtedly infuriate and bore some people, but I personally found it absorbing enough to recommend as an unconventionally tense drama.
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    Rosemary’s Baby (2014) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 19th, 2014

    It’s kind of astounding that it took this long for somebody to revisit Rosemary’s Baby. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting Roman Polanski’s indelible 1968 adaptation of Ira Levin’s 1967 novel was crying out for a remake. It’s just that at this point you’d be hard pressed to find any horror classic — or any horror film, period — that hasn’t been re-done. (Stay strong, Exorcist!) And you probably wouldn’t expect said horror classic to be re-imagined as a bloody network TV miniseries.
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    Rage (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 14th, 2014

    At this point in his alternately mocked and celebrated career, Nicolas Cage starring in a movie called Rage seems redundant. (Especially since “Rage” would be a much more eloquent title for this classic YouTube video.) Yet here he is starring in what looks like a Taken ripoff…until you realize he already starred in a Taken ripoff two years earlier. To its credit, Rage does appear to want to say some interesting things about the way secrets refuse to stay buried and the perils of resorting to violence. Unfortunately, the film often takes the most misguided and clichéd avenues to get there.
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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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    13 Sins (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 23rd, 2014

    “Congratulations! You have been selected to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime game show. Of a long list of candidates in financial need, you have been chosen to compete for a fantastic cash prize.”

    Elliot Brindle (Webber) is having a tough patch in life. He wants to marry the woman who is about to have their baby, but his financial situation isn’t going to support a new family.
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    Enemy (Blu-ray)

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

    What would you do if you spotted your exact duplicate? Would you take a closer look so that your brain could try to confirm what your eyes were seeing? Check with your parents to make sure you didn’t have a long-lost twin they never told you about? And how long before you pinched yourself to ensure you weren’t dreaming? These were the sorts of questions that popped in my head as I watched Enemy, a stylish and mind-bending psychological drama.
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    True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 3rd, 2014

    I don’t know why death still surprises me.”

    As someone who’s seen every single episode of True Blood, I suppose nothing should surprise me by now. HBO’s vampire drama has given us more than its share of head-turning sex scenes and a hearty helping of over-the-top violence. However, the further the series ventured from Bon Temps and its core group of characters, the more it seemed to lose its way, even as a satisfying guilty pleasure. This penultimate season still relied on an overly-crowded cast of supernaturals. But it was ultimately an encouraging sign that the show might get back to basics as it prepares to end its run this summer.
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    Beyond the Trophy

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 2nd, 2014

    The tagline for Beyond the Trophy definitively states that “Power is the only thing that matters.” Well, having watched this low-budget cops and kingpins crime drama, I humbly disagree. The film strives to tell a story about the violent perils of all-consuming power. Unfortunately, Beyond the Trophy forgot to include some of the stuff that matters to movie-watchers: things like “focused storytelling”, “coherent action sequences”, and “fresh characters.”
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    Mischief Night

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 21st, 2014

    “You just never know who’s gonna be at the door.”

    A virginal babysitter with bad cell phone reception is terrorized by a masked killer in Mischief Night. You don’t have to be a gorehound to know this is basically the plot of every slasher movie ever made. So it’s natural for viewers to expect some sort of swerve to differentiate this horror flick from all those that came before it. With the flawed, micro-budgeted Mischief Night, that swerve comes courtesy of the film’s intriguing assertion that a “boogeyman” can come from anywhere.
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    Mobius (Blu-ray)

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

    “I’d have loved to be a spy, but it’s a dangerous game and it pays s—.”

    For a lot of moviegoers, the word “spy” evokes tuxedos, gadgets, and exotic accents. Möbius — a French/Russian production from French filmmaker Eric Rochant — only employs the last of those tropes while falling in line with more low-key espionage adventures like Three Days of the Condor and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that this film gets up to some subterfuge of its own; Möbius is a love story posing as a spy thriller.
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    Swerve (Blu-ray)

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

    “If something was to come your way, I mean something so irresistible that you just had to have it, do you think you could sacrifice everything for it and not regret it?”

    When it comes to down-on-their-luck men in movies, that “something” could be any number of things. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s pretty much always a woman or a large sum of money. In Swerve — a twisty Australian thriller that goes down a number of familiar roads — our hero is tempted by both.
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    The Outsider (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 12th, 2014

    British badass Craig Fairbrass looks more like the henchman in an action movie than the hero. (To be fair, Fairbrass looks like the lead henchman who always gives the hero a little more trouble than you’d expect, but he looks like a henchman nonetheless.) The actor has worked steadily in England and Hollywood, including a role in Cliffhanger where he played one of John Lithgow’s (you guessed it) henchmen. With The Outsider, Fairbrass earns a story credit and the right to play the hero in this junky, bruising, low-budget cross between Taken and The Limey.
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    Hours

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 7th, 2014

    Paul Walker built his career on playing tarnished golden boys (Varsity Blues, The Skulls) before breaking out with the Fast & Furious franchise. He wasn’t as decorated as fellow recently-departed colleagues like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O’Toole, James Gandolfini and Harold Ramis, but Walker was unequivocally a Hollywood success. Hours is one of the last films the actor completed before his November death in a single-car accident. The film quickly loses its way after a promising start, but Walker is easily the best thing in it. His work here is a bittersweet glimpse at the sort of roles he might’ve taken on as he progressed through his 40’s.
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    The Americans: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)

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

    “…Super secret spies living next door. They look like us. They speak better English than we do. I mean, come on. Someone’s been reading too many spy novels.”

    And now someone has expertly taken the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of a great spy novel, transplanted it onto our television screens, and called it The Americans. While the show is very clearly set during the Reagan era, its complex, multi-layered portrayal of the human beings on both sides of the Cold War makes it feel thrillingly alive today.
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    Scorned (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 6th, 2014

    Don’t try to figure this out…I’m just a crazy, horny bitch.”

    This column strongly opposes cheating on your significant other. But if you absolutely can’t help yourself, you’ve got to be smarter about it than the numbskull played by Billy Zane in this film. In Scorned — a junky, over-the-top cross between Fatal Attraction and Misery — his girlfriend is an admitted manic-depressive who regularly takes as much medication as she can stuff in her purse. So what exactly did this dolt think would happen when she found out that he was sleeping with her best friend?
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    Collision (Blu-ray)

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

    Collision is ostensibly about a honeymooning couple who gets stranded in the desert, and how the harsh, unforgiving terrain shines a light on their many secrets. But the coolest thing about this thriller — besides the spectacularly violent car crash that sets the plot in motion and gives the film its title — is how the story could’ve been told from any of the marooned characters’ perspectives. I just wish writer/director David Marconi hadn’t taken the most winding, contrived road possible to arrive at his destination.
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    We Are What We Are

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 13th, 2014

    Within the first few minutes of We Are What We Are, the Parker family suffers an immense loss. The death doesn’t exactly come as a shock because the film opens with a series of arresting and foreboding images doused by a torrential rain that fails to wash away the family’s worries (or incriminating evidence). This atmospheric, thoroughly creepy horror movie winds up going to a number of grisly places, but, in a lot of ways, it’s really just the story of how the reclusive clan deals with that loss.
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    Parkland (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 18th, 2013

    On November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, made a political trip to Dallas, Texas with his wife, Jacqueline, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.”

    Of course, you don’t have to be an American History buff to know what happened next. The circumstances surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination instantly seared themselves into the country’s collective consciousness. This month marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, which has brought along the expected number of tributes, TV specials and movies breaking down the crime and its corresponding conspiracy theories. Parkland, however, serves as a microcosm of how Kennedy’s assassination affected an entire nation.
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    Ambushed (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 11th, 2013

    The most surprising thing about Ambushed is that it’s not quite as generic as its completely uninspired title might suggest. (Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 15 movies that could credibly be re-titled Ambushed; I’m sure you can too.) This particular straight-to-DVD action thriller is being sold as The Expendables-lite, with tough guy supporting players (and Ambushed producers) Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture — along with Vinnie Jones, who really should’ve been in an Expendables movie by now — glowering from the Blu-ray cover. But this stylish L.A. drama — which liberally borrows from superior crime flicks — has a few tricks of its own.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” Embrace of the Vampire (1995) (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on October 19th, 2013

    So, it is the Upcomingdiscs.com 31 Nights of Terror and your favorite columnist, Mr. Michael “Hey, were you expecting John Ceballos?” Durr has stepped in for a review about some of his favorite subjects. Cheesy Horror flics and Alyssa Milano. Today’s title is an absolute cult classic and that is the original 1995 Vampire thriller, Embrace of the Vampire. So strap yourself in, and prepare to watch something so beautiful that it brings a tear to this columnist’s eyes. (Tissue please)
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