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    Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 16th, 2017

    There was a 20th anniversary edition of Michael Mann’s Heat planned a couple of years ago by the folks at Warner Brothers. There was hope of a 4K restoration and more. The rights ended up reverting to 20th Century Fox before any of that could happen. Now Fox has released something they are calling The Director’s Definitive Edition, but it is the same cut and print of the film as used in the last Warner Brothers’ Blu-ray release. So I really can’t tell you what is definitive except for a couple of new and more recent bonus features.
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    The Expendables 2 (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 11th, 2017

    “I got this…”

    When Sly Stallone delivered his homage to the 1980’s action film in The Expendables he hit a lot of the action film requisites. It was old-school fun with a new-school level of effects and production design. But with all of his efforts to bring back the 1980’s action star hero, there was one beat he couldn’t have connected with until a couple of years later. You see, action films are like potato chips. You can’t have just one. Films like First Blood, Die Hard, Terminator, and all of the others always had one final thing in common…the sequels. In case you thought that The Expendables was a one-off, the sequel was inevitable. And this is one case where the second film might be a little better than the first. Sure, it’s somewhat of a two-hour cliché, but who says there’s anything wrong with that?
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    The Expendables (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 2nd, 2017

    “Man, we’ll die with you. Just don’t ask us to do it twice.”

    Remember the old days of the action movie? Those films where someone like Stallone or Schwarzenegger would run around and take out armies of bad guys while barely breaking a sweat. You know the kind of movie I’m talking about. The ones where the hero goes up against a hail of bullets and explosions and manages to pick off the bad guys without catching a single slug himself. These were the days when a guy like Bruce Willis could fall thirty floors, get a spike impaled in his ribcage, have a ton of concrete wall fall on his head, and get run over by a truck, but still manage to take out the bad guy while muttering some witty little catchphrase that we would all be repeating, because if we could deliver the line just right that meant we were tough guys too
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    Allied (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 2nd, 2017

    Brad Pitt appears to be making this World War II thing a bit of a niche. In recent years he went from Inglourious Basterds to the superior Fury and now to Allied. I wish I could say that he’s getting better, but Allied marks a step backwards for the actor in more ways than just the performance. It’s an unfortunate aspect of Hollywood that sexy rumors and scandals sell more theater tickets than a good movie. Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have called it quits, and the scuttlebutt is that it was Pitt’s fling with Allied co-star Marion Cotillard that caused the split. I don’t know if any of that is true and honestly wouldn’t care a hill of beans if it were.
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    Arrival (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 15th, 2017

    “There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived…”

    The problem is that this starts out with the kind of story we’ve seen a thousand times before. The alien invasion theme is nothing new. H.G. Wells was describing it back in the 19th Century with War of the Worlds. Unrelated Orson Welles scared the crap out of a depression-era radio audience with the same story. Independence Day gave us a brilliantly visual story that also begins the same way: alien ships begin to take strategic positions around the world. Here we go again, right? Wrong. We should have guessed from the beginning that when director Denis Villeneuve tackles a genre, he’s going to turn it on his head. We’d seen him do it before.
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    The Man Who Fell To Earth: Limited Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on February 2nd, 2017

    It’s been 40 years since the release of The Man Who Fell to Earth, and in that time a lot has changed. If I’m being honest, this isn’t a film that really holds up too well.  Last year the star of the film, David Bowie, passed away, and it would seem prosperous and logical to crank out an anniversary edition of the film.  As it stands this film isn’t considered so much a classic, but a cult film that fans of Bowie and certain sci-fi fans hold in high regard.  For me, this was simply a title I had heard of in passing during talks about Bowie or sci-fi films, but it was never a film that really called to me.  To the disappointment of several friends, I’m not much of a fan of David Bowie’s music, and science fiction just isn’t a genre I’m in love with.
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    Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on February 1st, 2017

    Forbes magazine called Jack Reacher and author Lee Childs the strongest brand in publishing as much for his over $100,000,000 in sales and billion-dollar imprint as for the strong loyalty of fans and favorable ratings of the readers. The 21st Jack Reacher novel, Night School, is coming out in a couple of weeks (which I’m sure Simon & Shuster would thank me for mentioning, but they don’t need my help), and Reacher fans will be buying in droves. The second Reacher movie will be out on November 21. One of the first things I want to address is that Lee Childs had been actively involved in the picking of Tom Cruise to be Jack Reacher.
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    In Order of Disappearance (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 21st, 2016

    Coming out of Norway we have In Order of Disappearance, a film I knew nothing about aside from the cover art. To be , it pretty much reminded me of any of the numerous revenge films we’ve seen Liam Neeson in.  Stellan Skarsgard instead stars in this revenge romp that I feel got lost in translation with me.  It’s not that I couldn’t understand the base of the film being a revenge tale; this is very much clear as day, but it is the film’s sense of humor that borders on being dry and black, to other points I feel it’s just a Norwegian thing.  Usually one of the first things I do with a foreign film is I make sure everything is set to the original language track and use the subtitles to follow along (never been a fan of dubbing).
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    I.T. (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 24th, 2016

    There is a way this film could have been great if not a little amusing. Imagine if James Bond was being stalked by Q; what would Bond do?  Sure, I’ll admit it’s a silly notion, but it’s all I could think about as I watched this film about a millionaire and his family being stalked by a disgruntled I.T. worker.  In general, it’s a story we see a couple of times a year, the seemingly charming figure that comes into a person’s life that turns out to be crazy and throws everyone’s life into chaos.  Films like Cape Fear and One Hour Photo are just a couple of examples of films that tackled the stalker sub-genre; even last year’s overlooked gem The Gift showed you can still be terrifying with a little creativity.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” The Id (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 30th, 2016

    This is one of those titles that came along where I had no idea what to expect.  I knew it was a horror title, and really that is about it.  The problem with doing films in a single location, though it may save you money when it comes to the actual production, is that in return you put an added pressure on your performers and the story to not be boring and keeping the story moving.  It can be done; after all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of my favorite films of the year, and most of it takes place in a bunker.  When it comes to The Id, how did the film turn out? Well, I feel it was a victim of its own design.
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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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    X-men: First Class (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on October 12th, 2016

    If you are looking for action and adventure, then you will not want to miss X-Men: First Class, a top-notch production that thrills.  The storyline under the able direction of Matthew Vaughn contains all the explosiveness you would expect from a prequel to Marvel Comics’ famous X-Men. It’s the beginning of the saga, and we find Magneto (Michael Fassbender) being haunted by the death of someone close him.  Escaping the clutches of the evil Nazi war criminal Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), Magneto meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy).
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Masks (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 8th, 2016

    After the release of The Editor on Blu-ray last year and with the remake of Susperia in the works, it would seem that there is a slow revival of the Giallo film.  For those unaware of the term or style, it’s basically a horror/ mystery film that tended to have slasher elements that emerged out of Italy.  These were beautiful and stylish films that directors like Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci were the ambassadors of.  While The Editor was more of a spoof of the genre, though well done, it is Masks that has really gotten my attention.  Though it comes out of Germany, the love and attention to detail in adding so many of the familiar hallmarks of the Giallo film makes Masks more than just a simple homage, but it’s so well executed I could have believed this was a lost Dario Argento film.
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    The Invitation (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 29th, 2016

    It seems there have been a lot of horror films involving dinner parties that have gone wrong.  You’re Next may be the best example to take on this idea, and I have to admit to being a fan of the film. It was a fun hipster horror film that kept the story moving forward and delivered more than a fair share of violence and gore.  Then there was last year’s creepy gem The Gift, a film that captured the horror of the past coming back to haunt you.  When it comes to The Invitation, it’s a film that seems like a hodgepodge of both You’re Next and The Gift, but also a handful of other films.  It’s a film that feels so familiar, but as you watch it manages to avoid many of the stereotypical film tropes viewers have grown used to over the years.
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    Eddie The Eagle (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

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

    When I was a kid in the 1970’s there was a weekend sports show on ABC called The Wide World Of Sports. It was a catch-all for those sports that don’t have the kind of national branding of football or baseball. It was the kind of show for boxing, gymnastics, or skiing. I don’t remember a single episode that I saw. What I do remember along with anyone who has ever watched it is the opening sequence. We were promised the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat. With that last line we saw the image of a ski jumper taking a horrible wreck as he comes off the jump. In the 40 years since I still often wonder about the guy whose legacy will always be the very definition of unmitigated failure, and painful failure at that.
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    Knight of Cups (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 29th, 2016

    After a tidy, 20-year gap between making 1978’s Days of Heaven and 1998’s The Thin Red Line, director Terrence Malick has morphed into a regular workaholic. Since 2005, the enigmatic filmmaker has cranked out a whopping (for him) four movies, including 2015’s Knight of Cups. Malick’s most recent effort strikes many of the same lyrical, dazzling, and confounding notes as Tree of Life, which is the best-received film from the director’s surprisingly prolific recent run. But while Knight of Cups undeniably has glimmers of grand beauty and ambition, it mostly plays as if someone made a spot-on parody of a Terrence Malick film.
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    Star Trek (2009) (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 22nd, 2016

    “Space…the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before!”

    Every Star Trek fan has had that phrase beaten into their brain about as many times as Uncle Ben’s mantra about great power and great responsibility. Who knew that the tagline was appropriate to filmmaking? When J.J. Abrams signed on to direct the reboot/remake/reimagining/rehash (insert your own word here) of Star Trek, he quickly made it known that he was not really that into the franchise.
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    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 16th, 2016

    “He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!”

    After its shortened three year run, it looked like Star Trek was dead and gone. A very short lived animation series was the first attempt to carry on. Before long it too was a thing of the past. Then something rather amazing happened. Star Trek found a home in syndication. The local television markets aired the shows in a somewhat edited form, and they were rewarded with record-breaking local ratings. It didn’t take long before Paramount saw the possibilities
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    The Bear (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 6th, 2016

    Shout Factory digs into the archives for this one. It was back in 1988 that French director Jean-Jacques Annaud went into the wilds to bring us The Bear. Of course he’s best known for his take on primitive humans in the more successful Quest for Fire. Like that film, The Bear uses almost no dialog. While it appears to be a nature story akin to Disney’s recent Bears, these animals are trained and following a carefully-crafted script based on a novel written by fellow Frenchman Gerard Brach. There is also a small use of stop-action bears that were created by Jim Henson out of his Creature Shop.
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    Noma: My Perfect Storm (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2016

    It was as if all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place since what was being discussed here was a matter of creating something unique: a cuisine based exclusively on raw Nordic ingredients.”

    That pull quote, which appears at the start of Noma: My Perfect Storm, accidentally serves as a microcosm for the film as a whole. The excitement that builds at the prospect of witnessing something special quickly gives way to a chilly, undercooked experience.
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    Weaponized (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 4th, 2016

    Weaponized can’t seem to make up its mind about what kind of action flick it wants to be. It appears to be the story of a grief-stricken military contractor who obsessively pursues a dangerous experimental program, but instead the film focuses on a brawny, brooding homicide detective. On top of that, the Blu-ray’s cover art prominently features an imposing robot that doesn’t even factor into the plot until about 10 minutes before the credits roll. Most importantly, the movie totally ignores the schlockiness of its botched, cliche-ridden plot and plays everything distressingly straight, which makes Weaponized a pretty joyless trip to the near future.
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    Hitman: Agent 47 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on January 2nd, 2016

    “History of man is defined by war. And war is defined by the men who fight it.”

    Well, it is definitely more high-tech than the 2007 version, but is that necessarily a good thing? That’s what you are here to find out in this reboot of the popular video game of the same name (minus the Agent 47 part, that is). Rupert Friend is Agent 47 in this updated version, and I will say that despite my initial upset feelings about the recasting of the character, he does an excellent job as the highly motivated and proficient assassin.
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    Mr. Holmes (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 11th, 2015

    “Different, entirely.” 

    I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid. Mixed amidst those Universal horror films I watched with my Pop on weekend chiller shows was an occasional Universal Holmes film with Basil Rathbone as the master of deduction. Soon followed the Doyle books, and a new world was opened for me forever. Since those days we have seen every kind of incarnation of the character possible, or so I thought. I’ve seen Holmes as a child in Spielberg’s Young Sherlock Holmes. There have been several comedies and even a musical or two. Robert Downey Jr. has turned him into an action hero, and Benedict Cumberbatch has brought him into the modern world.
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    Tiger House (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on November 3rd, 2015

    There are no tigers — or any other large cats — to be found in Tiger House. The closest we get is a rather hefty guard dog whose screen time is tragically cut short. (Figured I’d give the animal lovers out there a fair warning.) Instead, the only prowling we see in this low-budget home invasion thriller comes from the violent gang of thieves who bust into a suburban home and hold the unsuspecting family inside hostage. Unfortunately for the crooks, there’s already an uninvited visitor in the house.
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    The Benoit Jacquot Collection (Blu-ray)

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

    Un, deux, trois! Cohen Media Group has given us an engrossing triple dose of French director Benoit Jacquot. The films —The Disenchanted, A Single Girl, and Keep It Quiet — span a decade and coincide with the moment when the post-New Wave filmmaker started gaining international acclaim. Each of the titles makes its HD debut with this release, and they all offer an intriguing look at Parisian life. The movies also feature some enchanting performances from their leading ladies.
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