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    Come What May (Blu-ray)

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

    Don’t call it a comeback, but World War II movies are having a bit of a renaissance. (Seriously, don’t call it a comeback…they’ve been here for years.) There are seemingly endless ways to approach a WWII story — Hacksaw Ridge and Allied were in theatres recently, while the next few months will bring The Zookeeper’s Wife and Dunkirk — but the majority of movies that actually get made skew toward the American/British perspective. That’s the main reason Come What May — a somewhat sappy, intensely personal film from France — stands out from the pack.
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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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    A War (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 15th, 2016

    It’s ok to be upset. We’re all upset.”

    A War is about a Danish commander and his weary, overwhelmed young soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. But besides finding a fresh angle to explore a conflict that has essentially been going on for the entire 21st century — Denmark sent nearly 10,000 military personnel to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2013 — this morally complex movie succeeds because it fully explores the toll war takes on everyone involved. In this case, that also includes the unfortunate civilians caught in between the gunfire and at least one weary, overwhelmed wife/mother back home with three young children.
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    13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 30th, 2016

    “Welcome to Benghazi.”

    It shouldn’t matter what your politics might be. The events in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 bring up some very important questions. Contrary to one 2016 presidential hopeful’s declaration, it does make a difference. It did to the people who were there. It does for the families of the four who lost their lives. And it should make a difference to you. With such a political hotbed issue, you’ll find that 13 Hours goes out of its way to avoid the political questions. Some might view this as an oversight, but I think it gives the film a greater sense of credibility and makes its impact on the audience to fill in their own political blanks.
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    War Pigs (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 10th, 2015

    In a war, there’s really only two things that are gonna ruin your day…officers and orders.”

    The concept of duty — particularly giving and following orders that will almost certainly result in death — is at the forefront of War Pigs, a straight-to-DVD actioner that doesn’t actually have that much action in it. For a movie with the likes of Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Lidell gracing its Blu-ray cover, scaling back on the butt-kicking seems like a death sentence. However, I was surprised to find the action sequences were actually the weak link in this limited but reasonably entertaining World War II yarn.
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    All Quiet On The Western Front:The Uncut Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 15th, 2015

    “This story is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war” – Erich Maria Remarque

    Like most people from my generation, I suspect, I saw this version of All Quiet On The Western Front first in a high school history class. I can’t for the moment recall if it had been a world history class or American history.
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    Civil War 360

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

    I’m as excited as you are to (finally!) have a three-day weekend. But between scarfing down hot dogs or hopping from one pool party to the next, it can’t hurt to take a few moments to acknowledge why we observe Memorial Day in the first place. You probably know the annual holiday pays tribute to the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S Armed Forces. What you may not know is that Memorial Day originated shortly after the U.S. Civil War. This three-part documentary miniseries strives to examine “America’s Bloodiest War” from every angle.
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    Shout at the Devil (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 7th, 2013

    “This story is based on a remarkable but true incident that took place in Africa in 1913 before the Great War, when the world was very different.”

    The moviemaking business was also drastically different in 1976, the year this British, pre-WWI romp was released. Today, the risk-averse film industry has made large-scale adventures like Shout at the Devil — starring big personalities trekking across even bigger locations — all but extinct. I get that greenscreens and CGI are more cost-effective. But a movie’s ability to transport its audience gets an extra jolt when we know we’re looking at the real thing.
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    WWII From Space (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 6th, 2013

    “This is America’s war as never seen before…”

    When you consider the countless documentaries, miniseries and feature films dedicated to the Second World War, you’d think the defining conflict of the 20th century has been covered from every possible angle. And you’d be wrong! History has taken to the skies with WWII From Space, a two-hour special that originally aired on the cable network in December and promised to bring viewers an unprecedented, extraterrestrial perspective of the war.
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    Day of the Falcon (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 21st, 2013

    Day of the Falcon is a photogenic, lavish reminder that violence and strife in the Middle East existed well before it could be broadcast on CNN. The film — set in the early part of the 20th century — also works as a throwback to the sort of rollicking, epic-scale adventure films David Lean was making at the height of his powers and that no one seems terribly interested in making anymore. Don’t get me wrong: Day of the Falcon is no Lawrence of Arabia or Bridge on the River Kwai, but it’s an accetable 21st century substitute.
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    Special Forces (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 7th, 2013

    In a film the pays its respects to the French soldiers who are participating in the war on terror as well as the journalists that risk their lives to cover the war, Special Forces delivers more of the same in this new release.  Though the default setting has the spoken language in English and has English-speaking stars, don’t let this French release fool you; the dubbing is terrible and the film is better viewed in its original language. Elsa (Diane Krugar) is a French journalist who is in Afghanistan to cover a story about a woman sold as a child.  By now we should all know speaking against the politics in these countries is not just bad, but when you are a woman this could get you killed.
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    Allegiance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jonathan Foster on January 13th, 2013

    What do you do when you have to choose between the law and what is morally right? Lieutenant Danny Sefton (Seth Gabel, TV’s Dirty Sexy Money and Fringe) faces that very problem in Allegiance. Having lost the respect of the men in his command by transferring to a recruiting position right before they are to deploy to Iraq, Sefton faces a crisis of conscience when one of those men — Specialist Chris Reyes (Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, Like Mike, Roll Bounce) — has his non-deployment waiver revoked.
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    Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 10th, 2013

    “Our enemy here is Al-Qaeda. It’s no secret they are not afraid to die. Neither are we. Tonight we know why we are here. We know who we are. Tonight we fight for something truly greater than ourselves. Tonight we ride.”

    “It’s a good day to be a SEAL, good day to be an American.” Yes, I am aware that I’ve already opened with a film quote, but truthfully this film has quite a few good ones. Seal Team Six is the telling of Operation Geronimo, the successful mission that lead to the assassination of Al-Qaeda leader and engineer of the September 11th attack, Osama Bin Laden.
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    Wild Geese, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on December 30th, 2012

    In my youth, I watched a healthy dose of A-Team. Four men who branded as war criminals for a crime they did not commit doing odd jobs for money. Perhaps that is over simplifying things, but it did provide me with tons of fun hours cheering for explosions and witnessing the genius known as Murdoch for my viewing pleasure. Today, we take a look at a film which might be in the vein of what the four guys of A-Team might have been like if they were transported to Africa during the turbulent 60’s. We have today, the film called: The Wild Geese.

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    For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 12th, 2012

    Less than 100 years ago, the Mexican government declared war on the Catholic Church. This movie tells the story of the ensuing conflict known as Cristiada (also called the Cristero War), which took place between 1926 and 1929. In showing us all the different ways war can affect a country and all the different ways rebels can contribute to a cause, the movie sort of forgot to tell us why the Mexican government declared war on the church in the first place.
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    White Vengeance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 3rd, 2012

    “A military mystery that lasted 2,000 years.”

    White Vengeance assumes a certain level of knowledge about ancient Chinese history that, except for all you ancient Chinese history scholars reading this review, most of us don’t have. As a result, the film’s disorienting opening act had me constantly backtracking to figure out who was who, and why they were betraying or trying to assassinate each other. In other words, I started to feel like getting to the end of this ambitious movie might take a little under 2,000 years.
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    La Grande Illusion (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2012

    – “It’s our duty, this is war.”
    – “Agreed, but even so let’s remember our manners.”

    You know how Citizen Kane is considered by some to be the greatest film of all time? Well, I’m the kind of curious movie nerd who subsequently wonders which film was atop Kane auteur Orson Welles’ personal list. Unfortunately, I can’t ask him, but there’s evidence suggesting the answer was Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion/Grand Illusion.
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    My Way (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 21st, 2012

    “An Asian man wearing a German uniform was discovered by the U.S. military at Normandy on D-Day. Upon questioning, he was identified as a Korean.”

    My Way cannily opens with this bit of real-life information. As the movie reaches its heartbreaking conclusion, we know only one of a pair of lifelong rivals-turned-friends — one Korean, one Japanese — will make it to the end.
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    The American Dream

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 4th, 2012

    Have found footage films jumped the shark? (If the answer is yes, someone’s going to have to hunt down the beast that ate the shark-jumping cameraman so we can retrieve the tape and see exactly what happened.) Though the genre dates all the way back to 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust, it saw a spike with 1999’s Blair Witch Project and has become the horror delivery vehicle du jour thanks to recent hits like The Devil Inside and the Paranormal Activity films. To be fair, The American Dream doesn’t completely qualify as a found footage film — as far as I can tell, no one finds the protagonist’s camera — but the movie is a sign that the genre may have already seen its best days.
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    Red Scorpion (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 19th, 2012

    “Nikolai Petrovich Rachenko…our warrior elite…a very powerful and valuable tool…if he can be controlled.”

    It’s no secret that they just don’t make action movies like they used to. (Sylvester Stallone just shot a brawny arm into the air in protest. I see you, Sly!) These days the odds of seeing a pretty boy like Matt Damon and a perennial tough guy like Bruce Willis headlining an action flick are just about even. You’re just as likely to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in family fare like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island as you are in an manly romp like Fast Five. Heck, the Arnold Schwarzenegger role in the upcoming Total Recall remake is being played by…Colin Farrell.
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    Act of Valor (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 12th, 2012

    “Before my father died, he said that the worst thing about growing old was that other men stopped seeing you as dangerous. I’ve always remembered that, how being dangerous was sacred, a badge of honor. You live your life by a code, an ethos. Everyone does. It’s your shoreline. It’s what guides you home. And, trust me, you’re always trying to go home.”

    It would be easy to dismiss Act Of Valor as either a recruiting tool piece of propaganda or yet another in an endless line of war films attempting to capture some form of authenticity.
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    Red Tails (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 5th, 2012

    “Blacks are mentally inferior, by nature subservient, and cowards in the face of danger. They are therefore unfit for combat.” – U.S. Army War College Study 1925

    Obviously, there’s another story to be told here. George Lucas says that he’s been wanting to tell this story for over 20 years. It’s a story that has often been told in both film and documentary form. In none of those cases has the movie been made into the kind of spectacle film that we find in Red Tails.
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    Coriolanus (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 29th, 2012

    “This Martius is grown from man to dragon. He has wings. He’s more than a creeping thing. There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.”

    There’s a certain hierarchy when it comes to the amount of cinematic interpretations of William Shakespeare’s plays. At the top tier, we have the endlessly adapted Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth the Scottish Play. A step below that, you’ve probably got your King Lear, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a few more. And about a dozen tiers below that, we finally come across Coriolanus.
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    Memorial Day (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 28th, 2012

    “It’s Memorial Day. What am I supposed to remember?”

    Happy Memorial Day, everyone! When I saw that I would be reviewing a movie called Memorial Day, I was afraid Garry Marshall had made another one of his awful ensemble romantic comedies — ala Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve — that stars everyone in Hollywood…and Hector Elizondo. Thankfully, this film is simply an (overly) earnest dedication to the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, as well as their families.
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    The Front Line (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 3rd, 2012

    In terms of major conflicts involving the United States, the Korean War has sort of gotten the short end of the cinematic stick with American audiences. Most people can easily rattle off their favorite movies dealing with World War II, the Vietnam War or the U.S. Civil War, but when it comes to the Korean War the options are comparatively more limited. Off the top of my head, there’s M*A*S*H, the original Manchurian Candidate, and Don Draper suffering one of the most famous cases of identity theft. (I realize Mad Men is a TV show, so forgive me for reaching.)
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