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    Shark Week: Jawsome Encounters

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 20th, 2016

    Pop quiz! Which of the following titles belong to Shark Week specials, and which of them are the names of SyFy original movies? Zombie Sharks, Sharkageddon, Monster Hammerhead, Lair of the Mega Shark, and Sharksanity. (I’ll give you a few seconds to mull it over…ok, ready to guess?) The answer, of course, is that *all* of those titles belong to Shark Week, Discovery Channel’s long-running, wildly popular, and increasingly ludicrous summertime ritual.
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    The Confirmation (Blu-ray)

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

    I don’t know what kind of trouble he can get into in a day.”

    At first glance, those words — spoken by a father in the midst of a particularly eventful weekend with his estranged son — sound like a filmmaker giving himself permission to put his characters in the most outrageous situations possible. But The Confirmation actually shines by keeping things simple. The movie is a low-key, thoroughly affecting story of a father and son forging an unexpected connection.
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    Dirty Grandpa: Unrated (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 25th, 2016

    Robert De Niro and Zac Efron have a combined seven Academy Award nominations and a pair of Oscar wins to their names. So it was only a matter of time until these titans of cinema joined forces on the big screen. All joking aside, none of us were expecting Dirty Grandpa to pump up De Niro’s Oscar tally. What *is* a bit surprising — other than how truly bad this charmless, dimwitted, mean-spirited “comedy” turned out to be — is that Efron kind of outclasses his legendary counterpart.
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    The Witch (Blu-ray)

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

    After Robert Eggers received best director out of Sundance, The Witch became a film that went on my radar. Following the release of the trailer to the film I was hooked; its startling yet beautiful imagery was enough to get my attention.  As buzz built around the film as it continued to awe audiences in various festivals, my anticipation for this film was getting out of control.  Could a film really be this great? Is it possible to make a film that still shocks and terrifies audiences?  By the time I found myself getting to this screening, The Witch now was a film that unfairly had something to prove to me, I poked the bear and dared this film to blow me away. As the lights dimmed and the film played out, I came away with more than I asked for.
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    Misconduct (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 12th, 2016

    There’s a grand, lurid tradition of cinematic saps who think with the wrong head and get themselves in a heap of trouble. Misconduct tries to tap into that spirit while also mimicking none other than Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma (who was pretty much mimicking Hitchcock himself). Those are some lofty goals, but — at least on paper — Misconduct has some heavy hitters on hand to help achieve them. Unfortunately, this legal thriller is guilty of sloppy, nonsensical storytelling and largely wasting the talents of a pair of screen legends.
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    Remember (Bluray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 10th, 2016

    With every day that passes we lose those who survived the horrors of World War 2, and eventually there will no longer be those with memories to share from the past, and all that will be left are the films and newspapers from another era.  As these survivors grow older, their memories fade, and all that is left are fragments pieced together from what they can remember.  In the new film Remember from Atom Egoyan, he delivers an intimate tale about a man suffering from dementia who is seeking revenge for atrocities committed in the past.  Considering Egoyan’s last film left me a little underwhelmed I went into this film with caution, and the result is that I think this may be Egoyan’s best work.
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    Backtrack (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on May 4th, 2016

    Whatever happened to the days of telling a story without having some kind of gimmick or need to have to have a twist in the plot to show the viewer just how clever you are?  I blame The Sixth Sense for this, because ever since the film came out it seems a requirement to be considered a thriller is you have to have some kind of twist, whether it’s at the midpoint or towards the end, somehow you have to find a way to jam that twist in there.  I’m not saying let’s just throw the ban hammer down on all twists, but they should be used to only further the plot, because at this point it’s just gotten silly, and when you start piecing things together after the film you realize how little sense it all makes.
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    Grace and Frankie: Season One

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

    Am I irrelevant? I refuse to be irrelevant.”

    Outside of The Golden Girls, there haven’t been too many TV shows where the entire main cast is eligible for social security. Then again, chasing the 18-49 demo that advertisers covet isn’t much of a concern for a subscription-based service like Netflix, which debuted Grace and Frankie last year. Naturally, the series — whose four main actors are each 75 and older — has its share of geriatric humor. (Although the broken hip doesn’t occur till Ep. 5/“The Fall”.) More importantly, it also has some genuinely funny things to say about companionship and reinvention.
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    The Last Witch Hunter (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on April 13th, 2016

    “Witches live among us. Their magic passed from an ancient race, diluted, half-forgotten, but dangerously powerful. After centuries of conflict, a truce was forged. Witches would be allowed to live and govern themselves if they followed one strict rule: that magic never be used against humans. But a truce is a fragile thing…”

    Vin Diesel has made the Fast and Furious franchise into a massive global behemoth, but Diesel is not a global behemoth on his own. He has had successes and failures. He is someone who seems to be an unlikely star. He tried to make Riddick (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick) into a multi-film franchise and accomplished it through sheer force of will
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    The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 11th, 2016

    Thanks to The Sound of Music, millions of people around the world are familiar with the von Trapp family saga. (They probably have the second most popular Austrian name among movie fans, behind some guy named Schwarzenegger.) Given that The Sound of Music is one of the most popular movies of all time, any filmmaker would be wise to offer a fresh perspective in telling a von Trapp story. Enter The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music, which puts eldest von Trapp daughter Liesl Agathe in the center of the action.
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    Mojave (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on April 8th, 2016

    Look at where the world is because of solitary dudes going mental in the desert.”

    Depressed, deplorable artist Tom heads to the Mojave Desert, where he unexpectedly meets his match in crazed, charismatic drifter Jack. The fact that their tense encounter results in a death is one of the least surprising things about Mojave. What initially appears to be a cat-and-mouse game set in the desert turns out to be an interesting, uneven meditation on perception vs. reality that spills over into the vapid world of Hollywood.
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    Expendables 3 (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

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

    Welcome to the 21st century!”

    Welcome to the world of 4K UHD Blu-ray. This is our first 4k review. It won’t be the last.

    Sylvester Stallone has dedicated the better part of the last decade to giving moviegoers what they wanted 20 years ago. It started with 2006’s Rocky Balboa, which closed out Stallone’s signature franchise in the satisfying manner fans have been craving since 1990’s Rocky V debacle. We’ve also gotten another Rambo sequel, as well as long-awaited team ups with icons both real (Schwarzenegger in Escape Plan) and cinematic (Grudge Match was “Rocky vs. Raging Bull”). But Stallone’s biggest recent success is the veritable fantasy team of action stars he’s assembled for the Expendables films.
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    Exposed (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 3rd, 2016

    Keanu Reeves is a guy who I don’t think anyone would be crazy enough to say is a “great actor”, but instead he’s a guy who has been in some pretty great films.  For me he’s an actor I grew up with from his days doing the Bill and Ted movies and Point Break. (Seriously, how dare they attempt to remake that gem?)  Between Speed and The Matrix, those are the two movies I’ve held onto for so long as his career took a more interesting turn; that is until John Wick came along and blew my mind with all the insane coolness that was up on the screen.  Finally it seemed I was on track to getting the Keanu Reeves that I grew up watching.  I know, so what’s the point of all this?  Well, until now, none of the Reeves films that I’ve liked could I really say it was because of his performance, and Exposed is finally the film he’s needed where he can show he’s more than just a brooding action star.
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    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on March 23rd, 2016

    It’s the one that fans have been waiting for. The conclusion of the only adaptation series to rival the star power of Twilight in my opinion (Divergent comes close, but the popularity is clearly with this Jennifer Lawrence-led series). Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 is the culmination of all the action set up in the first film. It’s time to finally take the fight to President Snow, and this film delivers in every aspect. Action sequences are tier-one as well as being character-driven, all the while staying faithful to the source material. Accomplishing all these tasks is always difficult; however, this film appears to do it with ease. 
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    Room (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 17th, 2016

    “When I was small, I only knew small things. But now I’m five, I know everything!”

    Room opens on the day that Jack, the movie’s relentlessly curious young protagonist, turns five. Jack is our entry point and guide through this story, but there’s at least one important thing he doesn’t know. In Room, we see how a mother and her son cope with one of the most harrowing circumstances imaginable. It should make for a grim experience, but this wonderfully-crafted film winds up being a moving story about resilience and how parents and their children can draw strength from one another.
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    Manhattan: Season 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 14th, 2016

    “There’s always some variable you didn’t account for.”

    Manhattan is one of those variables. It’s one of those dramatic stories where mankind is altered forever. If it weren’t absolutely true, someone would have had to make it up. Every child in schools around the world knows about the atomic bombs that ended World War II. We’ve all seen the terrible destruction that exceeded even the expectations of the scientists and engineers who designed and built these bombs. We all live in the aftermath of these events.
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    Extraction (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 25th, 2016

    “Don’t ever threaten my family again.”

    In Extraction, a government analyst embarks on an unsanctioned rescue mission after his father — an over-the-hill CIA field operative — is kidnapped by a shadowy group of bad guys. In a related story, I think I got my dad a CD for Father’s Day last year. But while the hero of Extraction might edge me out in the Son of the Year race, the rest of this crummy actioner is basically a harmless debacle.
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    MI – 5 (Blu-ray)

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

    On the surface MI-5 looks to be a mundane direct-to-video film attempting to cash in on a couple of things. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the fifth in the series and often referred to as MI:5. The new James Bond film has a plot involving the head of MI-5 attempting to take down the MI-6 department and our beloved 007. None of these would contribute to the fortuitous name. Rather it’s the difference in racial sensitivity between Britain and the United States. MI-5 is actually a feature-film version of the long-running British series Spooks. The film’s original title happens to be Spooks: The Greater Good.
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    Freeheld (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 9th, 2016

    The story is the star in Freeheld, which chronicles a same-sex couple’s fight for equality. The film is based on the Oscar-winning documentary short of the same name and follows Laurel Hester, a New Jersey cop with terminal lung cancer, as she attempts to pass her pension benefits to domestic partner Stacie Andree. Despite being a modest production, Freeheld was able to enlist some top-drawer acting talent. Unfortunately, it also attracted a risk-averse team of filmmakers who tell Laurel and Stacie’s story in a thoroughly rote and uninspired manner.
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    Last Witch Hunter (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on February 8th, 2016

    “Witches live among us. Their magic passed from an ancient race, diluted, half-forgotten but dangerously powerful. After centuries of conflict, a truce was forged. Witches would be allowed to live and govern themselves if they followed one strict rule: that magic never be used against humans. But a truce is a fragile thing…”

    Vin Diesel has made the Fast and Furious franchise into a massive global behemoth, but Diesel is not a global behemoth on his own. He has had successes and failures. He is someone who seems to be an unlikely star. He tried to make Riddick (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick) into a multi-film franchise and accomplished it through sheer force of will, but his stardom largely rests on Fast and Furious. Diesel bristles at being typecast, so he has always tried to find new vehicles that will demonstrate his range
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    Heist (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 31st, 2016

    “Stealing from the Pope is suicide.” 

    We’re not talking about that pope. We’re talking about Robert DeNiro in his latest direct-to-video feature film Heist. It’s true that DeNiro hasn’t exactly been picky lately with his parts. He commands a big paycheck, often for just showing up on the credits. It’s common among actors particularly those like DeNiro who have made quite a name for themselves and find themselves in the back nine of their career.
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    Knock Knock (Blu-ray)

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

    I have to admit that I’m not much of a Keanu Reeves fan. However, I’m a huge fan of Keanu Reeves movies. Let’s face it, Keanu can be quite wooden with as much screen presence as a test pattern. OK, I’m showing my age with that line. But one thing he knows how to do well is pick great films to star in. From The Matrix and the recent very hit John Wick to the underrated The Devil’s Advocate, Reeves can sure pick ’em. The worse case scenario here would be Keanu in an uninteresting movie. Well…Knock Knock. Who’s there? An uninteresting Keanu Reeves film.
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    The Condemned 2 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 21st, 2016

    Here comes another in the long line of movies featuring a WWE superstar. Boy, I tell you, the floodgates open after The Rock (although now he goes by Dwayne Johnson) proved it was possible to move from wrestling stardom to silver screen stardom. That said, none them have really made the leap successfully since him; however, that is not from a lack of trying. This time around, Randy “The Viper” Orton looks to try his luck in the sequel to a WWE sponsored film in The Condemned 2.
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    The Giant King

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

    Yak: The Giant King is a 2012 animated offering from Thailand. It is based on Ramakien, the country’s version of a famous Hindu epic poem. Neither of those facts is readily apparent in the packaging and presentation of The Giant King, an American adaptation that was recently released on DVD. On the one hand, it helps explain why the dialogue here hardly ever matches the characters’ lip movements. But knowing that this crude, chintzy offering is actually based on something rather substantial makes it even more of a letdown.
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    Cooties (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 9th, 2016

    “I’m under some medication for a medical condition so I may not be seeing this correctly. But I’m pretty sure I might be seeing some of your students possibly eating Mr. Peterson. Again it could be the medication.” 

    Cooties starts out with the grossest sequence in the entire film. You might not want to start this film if you’re eating, particularly if you’re eating chicken nuggets. Ben Franklin once warned us that there were two things one should never see made: laws and sausages. He might just as well have been talking chicken nuggets.
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