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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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    Jack Irish: Season 1

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 19th, 2016

    He’s just got a knack for being in the wrong spot at exactly the right time.”

    Jack Irish, the disheveled former lawyer-turned-debt collector with a nose for trouble, is at it again. The character is the creation of novelist Peter Temple, but Australian TV audiences got to know Jack thanks to a trio of TV movies starring the great Guy Pearce. The movies were successful enough that Jack Irish returned as a six-episode series that brings the entire gang back together.
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    Jack Irish: The Movies (Blu-ray)

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

    Who do you think I am? Miss Marple?”

    Despite his knack for becoming entangled in byzantine plots and conspiracies, no one would confuse Jack Irish for an Agatha Christie character. Instead, Jack is the creation of novelist Peter Temple, and the character’s rumpled charm and general aversion to violence means he has more in common with Jim Rockford than Hercule Poirot. The character has been adapted for Australian television and brought to life thanks to a winning performance by the great Guy Pearce. You can now get to know Jack yourself since Acorn Media was nice enough to put three Jack Irish TV movies on Blu-ray.
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    All Hallows’ Eve 2

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

    My first All Hallows’ Eve experience was an unexpected fright delight. The 2013 horror film featured a trio of stories tied together by a creepy clown and a familiar “babysitter-in-peril” plot line; it was a fun, unsettling, and grungy throwback to low-budget scares. So you can’t blame me for actually being pretty excited when I found out they’d made another one. Unfortunately, this sequel is a disappointing, thoroughly unsatisfying mish-mash that undoes practically everything that was good about its predecessor.
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    Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on January 18th, 2016

    In our experience, almost everything ends in death.”

    Given its morbid-sounding title, I suppose you can also say that in the case of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, things *start* in death as well. The inevitability of death — a notion that is simultaneously profound and crushingly simple — is one of several big picture ideas explored by the small potatoes title characters. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, now making its Blu-ray debut, is equal parts brilliant and befuddling. But as thought-provoking and exhilarating (and funny!) as the exchanges are, I’m not entirely sure this material was meant to be presented as a movie.
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    Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 31st, 2015

    We’re in hell.”

    The Blu-ray cover for Bone Tomahawk features a grizzled Kurt Russell donning a cowboy hat. That image immediately indicated to me that I would be in steady, exceedingly capable hands for the forthcoming Western adventure. What I didn’t necessarily expect was for Bone Tomahawk to also deliver one of the more frightening, engrossing, and pulse-pounding movie-watching experiences of the year.
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    Burying the Ex (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on August 4th, 2015

    Feel like your girlfriend can be a little clingy? You’ve got nothing on Max, the slacker at the center of Burying the Ex. The movie operates in a genre — mixing broad comedy and horror — that has been largely (and sadly) missing from the big screen for the better part of two decades. That’s why I was delighted to see that the man at the helm here is none other than Joe Dante (1978’s Piranha, Gremlins 1 and 2), who has made some of the best horror comedies of all time. Burying the Ex isn’t near that level, but it’s still a fun and welcome diversion.
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    The Cobbler (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 14th, 2015

    “To truly know a man, you must walk in his shoes.”

    On the lone special feature of any substance included on this Blu-ray, director/co-writer Thomas McCarthy admits The Cobbler was inspired by the well-known idiom listed above. I’m all for getting as many original ideas on the big screen as possible. But even if you don’t think basing a feature film on a popular saying is a shaky proposition, The Cobbler severely underwhelms because it totally fails to capitalize on its high-concept premise in an intriguing way.
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    Into the Woods: Original Broadway Production (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 9th, 2014

    I wish…”

    There’s no shortage of wishing (not to mention pining, longing, yearning, etc.) in some of our most beloved fairy tales. Into the Woods — the Tony-winning Broadway musical created by Stephen Sondheim and frequent collaborator James Lapine — illustrates what happens when certain characters get their storybook ending. Since there’s a big, shiny Disney adaptation on the way, it made sense for Image Entertainment to offer a performance of the stage show on Blu-ray. However, I wish…some more effort had been put into this release.
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    “31 Nights of Terror” The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill

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

    Despite its found-footage conceit and similar-sounding title, The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill is somewhat of a different demon animal than a certain recent horror franchise. Given that found-footage fatigue seems to be setting in among critics and audiences, any sort of deviation from the norm should be welcome. The problem is this film ultimately doesn’t deviate far enough and hedges its bets with a climax that seems transplanted in from a handful of other movies. More importantly, viewers will probably be too bored to even care by the time movie gets around to being scary.
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    Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on September 1st, 2014

    The backwoods flesh-eating disease film Cabin Fever was writer/ director Eli Roth’s first dip into horror and helped establish Roth as one of the “it” guys of the industry despite having a limited film catalog.  The film’s cringe-worthy deaths, not to mention the memorable bathtub sequence, made the film an overnight sensation, and when talk of a potential sequel came out, I was more than a little excited.  Picking up the reins for Roth would be another young rising star of the horror genre, Ti West.
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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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    Voodoo Possession

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

    We all know looks can be deceiving, but Voodoo Possession takes that notion to the extreme. Almost nothing about the film’s DVD cover art correlates to what you’ll actually see on screen. Cult favorite Danny Trejo gets top billing despite playing a largely inconsequential role in the story. (You know a movie’s in trouble when it’s banking on Trejo’s star power; even the Machete movies relied mostly on stunt casting.) The cover is dominated by someone who looks like Samara from The Ring standing in front of Shutter Island. (Naturally, the girl has nothing to do with this movie.) At least there is, in fact, voodoo in this occasionally intriguing, ultimately lousy low-budget horror flick.
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    Galactic Adventures Double Feature: 3D Sun / Mars 3D (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 4th, 2013

    Galactic Adventures from Image Entertainment is a nifty little collection of two Solar System IMAX films both running just under a half hour. The two short documentaries off a 3D ride to both the Sun and Mars. The films were produced in 2007 with 3D Sun opening at The Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. Both films have made the circuit of science museums throughout the country and come to you now through the modern milestone of home 3D for the first time ever
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