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    Split (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on April 20th, 2017

    When it comes to writer/ director M. Night Shyamalan, it’s hard to find a more polarizing director between film critics and film geeks. I was a fan up until he did The Village. It’s not as though I “hated” the film; I just was getting sick of the gimmick plot twists that seemed to go hand in hand with his work.  As he continued to release films, I just would shrug at the trailers, and my enthusiasm for his films quickly declined.  For me Unbreakable has grown to be my favorite work of his, which is funny to me because the first time I saw it I had a hard time deciding how I felt about the film.  It was a comic/ superhero film that showed us perhaps what it would be like in the real world if some regular Joe realized he was perhaps meant for something greater.
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    Silence (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2017

    “The price for your glory is their suffering!”

    For most of us, hearing the name “Martin Scorsese” leads to iconic wiseguys, rock and roll, and Robert De Niro/Leonardo DiCaprio movies dancing into our mind’s eye. Further down the list of Marty-related things — probably even below Scorsese’s real-life film preservation work — but no less crucial to appreciating the director’s filmography is the role that faith has played in his personal and professional lives. The most obvious manifestations are the three religious epics Scorsese has directed, including his latest film Silence.
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    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 30th, 2017

    I’m writing a book about magical creatures.”

    The wizarding world J.K. Rowling conjured for her Harry Potter series captured the imaginations of children (and many, many adults) throughout the globe because it was precisely that…a fully realized, living and breathing world with its own lingo and lore. So while spinning off a corner of that universe might seem like a blatant cash grab, Rowling’s imagination has provided particularly fertile ground for new franchise opportunities. (OK, OK…the part where Warner Bros. agreed to make five of these before the first one even came out *does* feel like a cash grab.) For example, this latest crowd-pleasing stab at a billion-dollar series is based on…a fictional textbook mentioned in Rowling’s Potter saga.
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    Fences (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 22nd, 2017

    “Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.”

    In its transition from stage to screen, Fences — the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by the late August Wilson — doesn’t venture far beyond the Maxson household. And that’s precisely the point: director/star Denzel Washington isn’t overly concerned with masking the story’s stage origins. The existential claustrophobia that the characters in the play have been carrying their entire lives is right up there on the cramped screen.
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    Moana (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 16th, 2017

    – “OK, first, I’m not a princess…”

    – “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

    Disney Animation’s 1990s renaissance was followed by an early 21st century lull for its non-Pixar offerings. The princess-centric formula was played out, so Disney pivoted and started doing things like giving Rapunzel and Eugene Flynn Rider equal billing in 2010’s Tangled and making Frozen (which would’ve definitely been called “The Snow Queen” in the ’90s) a story about sisterly love as opposed to happily ever after. One of the things I love about the outstanding Moana is that it offers a refreshing, thoughtful and exhilarating new approach to the classical Disney princess formula.
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    100 Streets (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on March 13th, 2017

    Life’s pretty simple, you know. It’s long periods of waiting broken up by brief moments of change. That’s it…that’s all it is.”

    100 Streets tells three barely-connected stories set in the same one-square-mile area of present-day London. (The neighborhoods of Chelsea and Battersea to be exact.) The stories are each quite compelling in their own right, and they’re performed by a talented group of actors. Unfortunately, the movie is occasionally bogged down by distracting, pseudo-profound soliloquies like the one at the top of this review. I appreciate the stabs at thoughtfulness and depth, but they come off as forced here and are more likely to make you roll your eyes than inspire you.
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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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    John Wick (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on February 9th, 2017

    “John Wick isn’t the Boogeyman. He’s the guy you call to kill the Boogeyman”

    Taking a shot as a hitman in his latest film John Wick, Keanu Reeves delivers his character with authority in this explosive crime drama.  The film turns out to be an ideal fit for the star and his former stunt double turned director as they move to one perfectly choreographed fight scene after another. It’s a fast-action gauntlet that lasts nearly the whole 96 minutes.
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    Queen of Katwe (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on February 3rd, 2017

    In chess, the small one can become the big one.”

    It’s hard to stand out in the Disney family when your big brothers and sisters are Star Wars, Marvel, and the studio’s own blockbuster animated offerings. (Not to mention live-action re-imaginings of its own classic animated offerings.) While those properties have been making a racket at the box office, the Mouse House has also been quietly cranking out family-friendly, multi-cultural sports dramas in recent years, including 2014’s Million Dollar Arm, and 2015’s McFarland U.S.A. I’m not sure if Queen of Katwe is the best of that bunch (I really enjoyed McFarland) but it certainly has the most unlikely hero.
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    The Accountant (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 16th, 2017

    It would seem as though Ben Affleck is finally starting to shed the stigma of doing bad films.  He’s been on a roll since he took on the role of George Reeves in Hollywoodland and has also in the process become an accomplished director.  When the trailer first dropped for The Accountant, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as you look at the laundry list of talent that fills the cast, it quickly became a film I had my eye on.  What is surprising is despite there being franchises that seem to cover the same territory i.e.: Jack Reacher and the Jason Bourne films, is there room for another lone-wolf killing machine film?  Before going into this it was a question that bothered me; heck, I’m already burnt out of the Jason Bourne films, and with a new Jack Reacher film on the horizon, the saturation is noticeable.
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    31 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on January 9th, 2017

    There is something about a Rob Zombie film that will always be a draw, and it is always the realism that he brings to the screen.  Whether it’s The Devil’s Rejects or his version of Halloween, he always presents it in a way that I feel is grounded in reality.  Perhaps it’s also because I live in Florida, and there are some small towns that you don’t want to break down in at night for fear of crossing some crazed backwoods types.  To put it out there, I was a fan of Rob Zombie before he was putting out movies, and I have all of his albums; he’s just a guy who does stuff that I really dig.  That being said, I can be objective in saying his films have been a bit all over the place, but Lords of Salem was a piece of work that I simply loved, and I felt it showed a lot of growth from his previous films and worked well as a slow burn.
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    Snowden (Blu-ray)

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

    It’s been just about four years since Savages (2012) hit the big screen.  For me Savages was Oliver Stone simply having a blast, shooting an over-the-top action film fueled by sex, drugs, and violence.  Now it seems Stone has stepped back into the paranoid, government-conspiracy form that he seems to be best known for with Snowden.  Whether you view him as a traitor to the United States or a self-sacrificing lamb to expose the government and its illegal wiretapping, it’s a choice that is up to you going into this film.  Personally, while I feel his intentions were good, still, he did betray his government and committed treason.  What I had hoped with this film is that Oliver Stone would capture both sides of the coin, but as the title would suggest, Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is front and center on this ride, and that’s not my only problem here.
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    Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 23rd, 2016

    There’s a man comin’, and he aims to bury you.”

    That sort of threat — especially when it’s made within the trigger-happy Western genre — usually refers to a wronged hero looking to rain vengeance upon some dastardly villain who wronged him in an extremely personal way. The only most interesting thing about Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story is that our presumed hero is the one being hunted…and the “bad guy” has a legitimate gripe.
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    Sully (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 21st, 2016

    Clint Eastwood is 86 years old. He is also one of the best film directors working today. His latest film shows no signs of a man winding down his life, let alone his career. I obviously hinted that most other actors (or directors) his age have long ago died or checked into a nursing home. Eastwood looks lean and mean and still directs that way. Eastwood is interesting, as well, because he tends to pick projects that are outside the Hollywood studio corporate thinking. In other words, Eastwood is his own man and does pretty much anything he wants. His films as an actor and director have courted controversy way back to the days of Dirty Harry and A Fistful of Dollars. His films as a director and his personal political views are always full of contradictions that suggest a vibrant, searching mind. Sully is Eastwood’s latest film, starring Tom Hanks, and it is deceptively complex as well. On one level, Sully is a textbook depiction of a famous true life event.
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    Morgan (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on December 19th, 2016

    The sci-fi horror thriller Morgan turns brutal when a scientific experiment goes awry, turning a lab into a blood-fest. Now on Blu-ray and DVD in a combo pack that includes an HD download, the film has all the trappings for a nighttime couples’ shocker. You will not want to see this one alone, especially if you want to get the best out of your video choice. So turn the lights down, get the popcorn ready, maybe your favorite beverage, and expect the unexpected. Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), the Risk Manager of SynSect, a genetics research company, arrives at a secluded lab surrounded by a forest following a reported incident of violence.
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    Suicide Squad (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2016

    In the days leading up to the release of Suicide Squad, over the internet there has been one of the most vicious attacks on a film before its release that I can remember.  Sure, we had all the negative talk about Ghostbusters, but that was before anyone had ever seen the film, and as screenings came along, opinions seemed to sway.  Now I was lucky enough to attend a screening Monday for Suicide Squad, and there were up to 150 people turned away at the door because the auditorium was filled to capacity. I mean, the buzz for this was high, and we DC fans were giddy, because this film was our hope that WB would be turning things around.  I mention all this because now this has managed to become one of the worst-reviewed films of the year, and I’m just sitting here like WTF happened, did they see some other cut of the film?
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    Ben-Hur (2016) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 15th, 2016

    In 1959 when Ben-Hur came out, it was a massive undertaking that nearly closed the gates for MGM after nearly bankrupting the studio.  It was a huge risk in producing such a large-scale epic that fortunately paid off and became one of the studio’s cornerstone successes.  The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his fall from being a prince, to becoming a slave, to eventually becoming a hero to the people in the arena is such a familiar story that it’s hard to not feel you’ve seen this before without even entering the theater.  In some parts I look at Gladiator and see somewhat the same film, only being set in a separate time and place.  But really, the story of betrayal at the highest levels, and seeing great figures fall only to pull themselves up again is a theme Hollywood seems to relish, and it seems to attract many viewers in the process
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    Mad Max: Fury Road Black & Chrome (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 8th, 2016

    It was rumored from the very beginning that George Miller was considering a black & white format for the film. There are box office risks associated with such a brave choice. We’re hearing some of the same thoughts coming out of the Logan shoot. The nice thing about the sophistication of home video today is that there is now an outlet for those kinds of artistic choices, and this is a pretty solid example of it. It’s hoped more of these kinds of alternate ideas can make it to home video giving filmmakers the chance to unleash things that might just be too risky at the box office. You still get the original film as part of of this combo so you’re not giving anything up.
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    Jason Bourne (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on December 7th, 2016

    Moviegoers tend to have better memories than amnesiac assassins, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve mostly put The Bourne Legacy out of our minds. Universal’s underwhelming, halfhearted attempt to spin off one of its more lucrative franchises all but guaranteed the eventual return of original star Matt Damon and two-time director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum). The duo has re-teamed for the entertaining yet inessential Jason Bourne, which — for better and worse — will feel extremely familiar for fans of the trilogy
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    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on December 1st, 2016

    “In penance for their uprising each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public reaping. These tributes shall be delivered to the custody of the Capitol and then transferred to a public arena where they will fight to the death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as the Hunger Games.”

    Now that all four films are out on UHD Blu-ray in glorious 4K, we have the opportunity to view them all again from the very beginning. It’s easier to catch the subtle nuances that were planted in the earlier films that would pay off over the four-film run. It took us four years to do that originally. Now you can do it in a day. Jeremy Butler takes us on the final part of that journey with The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 2 (2015).
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    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1(UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 1st, 2016

    “In penance for their uprising each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public reaping. These tributes shall be delivered to the custody of the Capitol and then transferred to a public arena where they will fight to the death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Hunger Games.”

    Now that all four films are out on UHD Blu-ray in glorious 4K, we have the opportunity to view them all again from the very beginning. It’s easier to catch the subtle nuances that were planted in the earlier films that would pay off over the four-film run. It took us four years to do that originally. Now you can do it in a day. Gino Sassani takes us on the next part of that journey with The Hunger Games The Mockingjay Part 1 (2014).
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    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

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

    “In penance for their uprising each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public reaping. These tributes shall be delivered to the custody of the Capitol and then transferred to a public arena where they will fight to the death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Hunger Games.”

    Now that all four films are out on UHD Blu-ray in glorious 4K, we have the opportunity to view them all again from the very beginning. It’s easier to catch the subtle nuances that were planted in the earlier films that would pay off over the four-film run. It took us four years to do that originally. Now you can do it in a day. John Ceballos takes us on the next part of that journey with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).
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    The Hunger Games (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

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

    “In penance for their uprising each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public reaping. These tributes shall be delivered to the custody of the Capitol and then transferred to a public arena where they will fight to the death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Hunger Games.”

    Now that all four films are out on UHD Blu-ray in glorious 4K, we have the opportunity to view them all again from the very beginning. It’s easier to catch the subtle nuances that were planted in the earlier films that would pay off over the four-film run. It took us four years to do that originally. Now you can do it in a day. John Ceballos takes us on the first part of that journey with The Hunger Games (2012).
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    Mechanic: Resurrection (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 29th, 2016

    1n 1972 Charles Bronson played The Mechanic, Arthur Bishop. He was a hitman with a high level of skill. When he tries to pass on that skill, he’s betrayed, and he has to get himself a heaping helping of revenge. In 2011 Bronson did indeed pass the character to Jason Statham when the film was remade. Unfortunately, Bronson had passed in 2003 and couldn’t actually pass the torch on the screen. Statham turned the character into more of an action anti-hero, and the film really didn’t perform at the box office. It never made back its budget in the domestic market and barely made money when the worldwide take was finally counted.
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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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