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    Ex Machina (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 23rd, 2015

    “You wanna see something cool?”

    If you’re old enough to remember audio tape, you might be old enough to remember Memorex. If you remember Memorex, you should recall their popular slogan: “Is it live or is it Memorex?”. Of course, the idea was that the tape quality was so good you couldn’t distinguish it from the real thing. What if robotics and artificial intelligence reached that same plateau? The point where you could not tell the difference between an actual human being and an artificial one.
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    Absolution (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 13th, 2015

    I wanna tell you something. I’ve been a bad man…I’ve been a very bad man most of my life. So, I decided I want to do one thing in my life. One good thing in my life before I die.”

    Those words are spoken by elite contract killer John Alexander at the start of Absolution, a straight-to-DVD offering that is largely cobbled together from the spare parts of other junky action flicks. The film stars Steven Seagal, who was a very bad man on-screen during his early ’90s heyday. John wants to do one good thing before his time is up; coincidentally, all I want is for Seagal to make one action movie that at least comes close to recapturing the spark that made him a star. Absolution is not that film.
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    Maggie (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 7th, 2015

    Maggie is a slow zombie movie. You might assume I’m describing where this film falls on the fast zombie vs. slow zombie spectrum. (For the record, the monsters in Maggie do move at a decidedly deliberate pace.) However, the deliberate pace also applies to the way first-time director Henry Hobson unfurls his story in this bleak zombie drama. Everybody in this film — including a playing-against-type Arnold Schwarzenegger — shuffles and lumbers their way through their lives, whether or not they’ve been infected with a lethal virus. In other words, this is pretty much the last thing you’d expect from a movie that has both Schwarzenegger and zombies…and that’s a big reason of why I dig it.
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    Last Knights (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 6th, 2015

    “During the long, dark period of the Great Wars, an elite class of soldier rose from battle. Their unbreakable code was simple: possess a noble heart of courage, right conduct, and absolute devotion to one’s master. From out of those years of bloodshed an empire would emerge. Its power would assimilate persons of every color, creed, and faith. This uncontested rule eroded the traditions of the great knights… but not for all.”

    Last Knights is an ambitious direct-to-video production. It sports a rather elite class of actors headed by Morgan Freeman, who adds a ton of gravitas to any role he plays.
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    The Forger (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 29th, 2015

    It honestly took me a while to get over the opening shot of The Forger. The shot itself is rather unremarkable: it’s a simple close-up of star John Travolta sitting in a small room by himself and staring straight ahead. But between his ridiculously obvious wig and the waxy texture of his face — the actor now looks like he’s wearing a Michael Myers-style “John Travolta” mask — I knew it was going to be pretty difficult to take him seriously, no matter who or what was playing. It’s a shame because there’s actually a pretty decent family drama to be found within The Forger.
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    Beyond the Reach (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 17th, 2015

    I’m hard pressed to think of a movie star who is better at playing rich a-holes than Michael Douglas. He’s played a Murderous Rich A-Hole, a Rich A-Hole Who Gets Put In His Place, and a Self-Destructive Rich A-Hole, to name just a few. And that’s not even counting his Oscar-winning turn as Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko, the Definitive Rich A-Hole. It’s tempting to tidily sum up Beyond the Reach as “Gekko’s Got a Gun.” Unfortunately, what starts out as a picturesque two-hander becomes more preposterous as it goes along before completely flying off the rails in the final act.
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    The DUFF (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 11th, 2015

    “That’s your job as The DUFF…Designated Ugly Fat Friend.”

    Let’s just get this out of the way right at the top. The idea that Mae Whitman — or any other actress cast as the lead in a mainstream Hollywood movie — is “Ugly” and “Fat” is absurd. (Not to mention entirely subjective.) So it’s tempting to dismiss The DUFF as the latest bit of evidence that there’s no truth in advertising. But then you’d be missing out on a charming teen comedy that grabs the snarky underdog baton previously held by the likes of Mean Girls and Easy A.
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    Cut Bank (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 27th, 2015

    “Welcome to Cut Bank, MT. coldest spot in the nation.”

    When you make a darkly comic crime thriller that centers around a bunch of bumbling schemers and a single, righteous cop — and then you name that movie after a frigid, real-life city in the northern part of the U.S. — the comparisons to Fargo are simply impossible to ignore. Thankfully, Cut Bank is buoyed by its own dry, lively cast of characters who are brought to life by a nimble set of performers.
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    Cymbeline (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 21st, 2015

    At this point, it’s pretty difficult to find a play by William Shakespeare that hasn’t been produced for the stage or adapted for the screen many times over. So imagine my surprise when I came across Cymbeline, a Shakespearean play I’d never even heard of. (Though maybe that says more about me than it does about the play’s popularity.) Filmmaker Michael Almereyda transplants the action to the present day, but the tablets, cell phones, and other anachronistic touches aren’t enough to inject life into a languid, lurching film that largely squanders a pretty impressive cast.
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    Mortdecai (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 18th, 2015

    “A man of your age has no excuse for looking or behaving like a fugitive from a home for alcoholic music hall artistes.”

    Sound like anyone you know? Johnny Depp is one hell of a talented actor. There are few in the industry than can so completely inhabit a character. He has an uncanny ability to make you forget Johnny Depp the actor and lose yourself in his performance. He is a chameleon physically and expressively. Unfortunately, Johnny has had trouble finding box office gold lately. You see, he’s having a lot of fun at our expense. But it’s not just we who are footing the bill for his tomfoolery. The studios are handing out hundreds of millions of dollars for box office misses
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    Tracers (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 11th, 2015

    “It’s like being kids again. The streets are our playground.”

    The above quote refers to parkour, the art and discipline of moving through urban spaces that was popularized in France. French practitioners of parkour are called “traceurs,” which gives this totally clichéd, consistently ridiculous, but occasionally breathtaking action flick its title. You’ve seen the plot before (many times), but Tracers still vaults itself above the straight-to-DVD pack thanks to its freewheeling free-running sequences.
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    Manhattan: Season 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 10th, 2015

    “There’s something I need to tell you. We’re building a weapon. It’s not like any weapon the world’s ever seen. It draws its energy from a fast-neutron chain reaction. It releases the power of an ancient star. If it works, and it’s going to work, it will be the more destructive than all the bombs dropped in all the wars in history put together. It’ll bring armies to their knees. Cities will disappear in the blink of an eye. The world will be united in peace by the most just and noble country in the history of mankind or it will burn to the ground. Whoever builds it first, there’s the endgame. So it has to be us, whatever it costs.”

    It’s one of those dramatic stories where mankind is altered forever.
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    Voices (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 9th, 2015

    This is a movie that snuck up on me.  I had seen the trailers, and it looked like goofy fun, but I really wasn’t prepared for how this film would linger in my mind and follow me around.  First let me just say this film is not for everyone; this is one of the darkest comedies I’ve seen in quite some time, but on top of that this is one of the most tragic films as well.  At first glance the trailer for The Voices has you thinking this is going to be American Psycho meets Dr. Dolittle (only one character can hear the animals talking), and for the most part that is this film.  But as the final act kicked in, I realized this was really so much more.
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    Wild Card (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 7th, 2015

    When it comes to screenwriters in the industry, William Goldman is virtually the king of the written word.  From writing such hits as Marathon Man and All The President’s Men to The Princess Bride, Goldman will always be a legend in Hollywood even if it has been a while since his last successful original work.  Wild Card is a remake of the Burt Reynolds version of Heat back in 1986.  It’s been a few decades since watching the film, so instead of trying to remember anything from it how about I just stick to this stylized version?
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    Son of a Gun (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 20th, 2015

    From the moment Son of a Gun opens up taking you behind bars as JR (Brenton Thwaites) is being processed into an Australian prison, it is the start of a journey that throws everything at its audience till the final credits roll.  I have a hard time figuring out just how to classify Son of a Gun; it is everything from being a film about self-discovery, a guys-behind-bars film, to being a heist film and so much more. The title refers to JR as he goes about serving his time behind bars and captures the attention of an infamous thief Brendan (Ewan McGregor).
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    Vice (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 18th, 2015

    What if there was a place where you can act out your wildest fantasy, whether it be murder, theft, or sex, and at the end of the day you could go home as though nothing happened?  That is the tease Vice offers its audience in a sci-fi action film that blends bits of Blade Runner, Stange Days and Westworld into one tight little package.  For fans of the sci-fi genre, the movies I reference are staples in the genre, but let me be clear; at no time does Vice measure up to these films. When we meet Kelly (newcomer Ambyr Childers), she is an android leading a life behind the walls of VICE where she is programmed to live the same day over day after day.
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    Revelation: The End of Days

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2015

    2,000 years ago, the Bible prophesied the return of Christ…but only after God inflicts seven years of torment on the world to test the faith of mankind.”

    It’s not quite seven years long, but this two-part, three-hour TV movie — History’s latest foray into original filmmaking — is likely to test the faith (and patience) of anyone who watches it. Revelation: The End of Days is intentionally less glossy than previous network offerings like Bonnie & Clyde and Houdini because it takes a ground-level look at the apocalypse. But in scaling back to achieve that aesthetic, the result is both frustrating and amateurish.
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    Captive (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on March 10th, 2015

    I’m starting to wonder if it is time we officially made a sub-genre for kidnapping films.  It’s a storyline that has been played out for decades but continues to offer up some engaging and oftentimes heart-wrenching tales that for the most part have happy endings but that seems to be a far stretch from reality, though I doubt audiences are looking for these bleak realistic endings and mostly prefer the Hollywood ending where everyone is rescued in just the nick of time.  When Prisoners came out, I had hopes that it would be a film that wouldn’t shy away from the harsh realities, and for the most part it succeeded, but I still felt it held back.
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    The Homesman (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 25th, 2015

    “There’s been some trouble with the women hereabouts…it’s bad.” 

    What exactly is a Western? That’s the question that the cast and crew of The Homesman struggle with here. They appear to be divided on the subject, and the same sentiment will likely make this one a little harder to pigeonhole. That’s not necessarily important except when it comes to marketing a film. An audience wants some kind of an idea what they’re getting when they see it on the shelf of their local video store. Tommy Lee Jones wrote, directed and stared in this period piece, and he’d rather you not call it a Western. Others connected with the film are on board with the genre label.
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    Dying of the Light (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 23rd, 2015

    Sometimes in film the drama behind the scenes can be more interesting than the actual film we see up on the big screen. For writer/director Paul Schrader, having drama behind the scenes that effects the final project that we get to see is something he is more familiar with than he’d care to admit to.  The firestorm that occurred with the release of 2005’s Dominion: The Prequel to the Exorcist became so intense that the studio insisted upon a new director to come in and do extensive reshoots that subsequently led to the release of a separate film directed by Renny Harlin
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    Jessabelle (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 15th, 2015

    When I think about the swamps of the Louisiana bayou, with the exception of hungry gators lurking beneath the murky depths, I can’t help but think about the connection it has to the supernatural.  I blame seeing Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond for this.  It’s a film that haunted me when I was a kid, and the imagery has stuck with me over the years.  There have been numerous films over the years that have explored the supernatural of the bayou; most successfully we saw this in the Kate Hudson thriller The Skeleton Key.
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    Dinosaur 13 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 9th, 2015

    Even though in this documentary we may not get to experience T-Rexes chasing after unfortunate paleontologists while running amuck in a theme park, Dinosaur 13 still manages to be an engaging adventure from start to finish.  This is a film that reaches out to all the young kids inside all of us who while growing up dreamed about what life was like when dinosaurs once ruled the world.  It taps into that adventurous bug that was once inside all of us as kids about exploring and discovering worlds that have not yet been discovered and creatures that now can only survive in our imaginations
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    Tusk (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul O'Callaghan on January 1st, 2015

    What if two radio guys sat around and made up a movie on the air? In this case it actually wasn’t radio guys, because they weren’t broadcasters, but podcasters. I guess the fine distinction between broad and pod is that pod goes out to the world through the internet. It’s kind of like Indie radio. Kevin Smith is a very indie guy and even calls his podcast a smodcast. Smith and his buddy, producer Scott Mosier, were doing their smodcast and talking about a post on GumTree.uk about roommate advertisements. It evolved into crazy talk about what might happen.
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    The Skeleton Twins (Blu-ray)

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

    “You know what the sad thing is? We’re a good team.”

    Up until they teamed up to star in The Skeleton Twins, there was nothing sad about the team of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Regardless of how you feel about the quality of Saturday Night Live in recent years, Wiig (the only cast member to earn an Oscar nomination — for co-writing Bridesmaids — while still appearing on the show) and Hader (with “Stefon” and a laundry list of impressions that ranged from Alan Alda to Al Pacino) were clear standouts. So you’d expect their first post-SNL big-screen team up to be a laugh riot. That’s not exactly the case.
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    The Expendables 3 (Blu-ray)

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

    Welcome to the 21st century!”

    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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