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    Kong: Skull Island (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 19th, 2017

    Every year it seems the “summer” movie season seems to start sooner than the year before.  Here we are, the second Friday of March, and already we’ve seen the huge box office weekend for Logan, and now this weekend we have the release of Kong: Skull Island.  Ever since Kong first graced the big screen back in 1933, every film that followed was a mega-event. Personally it wasn’t till 2005 that theatergoers got to fully experience the massive beast in all his glory as he became worthy of the title “the 8th wonder of the world”.  Now we have Legendary Entertainment playing in the giant monster movie sandbox with plans to set up a series of monster films.  All this leads up to the inevitable clash of the kaiju monsters where we will finally see the showdown of Godzilla vs. King Kong.  Before we begin to get too excited, how does our current trip to Skull Island fare?
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    The Fate of the Furious (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on July 12th, 2017

    Family is everything to Dominic Toretto. He has said as much in Furious 7, “I don’t have friends, I have family.” Over the course of seven films, we have seen him undertake impossible tasks including driving a car off a plane or through a building in order to rescue or avenge a member of said family. So what would make him make him betray that very family? In The Fate of the Furious, the team will face the biggest challenge they have ever faced when they find themselves working against their very leader. The long-running film franchise continues to up the ante with the action, producing its most action-packed film to date. Every time I think that there is no way the series can top itself, they add a tank or drive off a plane. This time, they got a submarine, y’all.
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    The Belko Experiment (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 5th, 2017

    When a film like The Belko Experiment comes along there is a part of me that wonders, how far off is the film from reality? Films like Death Race 2000, The Running Man, The Purge, and Battle Royale have all flirted with the idea of the government using murder as a form of entertainment while also using it as a way to control the public. You look at the violence in the world and how numb we’ve all seemed to have gotten towards violence in the news and our favorite TV shows. I can’t help but wonder, would it be so crazy to see murder on our television screens?  Looking back at history and the gladiator times, there was murder for entertainment, where families would cheer on the bloodshed and carnage.
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    The Zookeeper’s Wife (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 3rd, 2017

    “What have you been up to in your little zoo?”

    It appears that we have been due for one of those untold stories amid the many tales of courage and bravery both fact and fiction, real and imagined, that have been told of the World War II era. There have been plenty of the battlefield hero films that include last year’s exceptional Hacksaw Ridge from Mel Gibson. Then there are the quiet and unlikely heroes. These are people who did incredible things that were often unknown during the war and often even after it was all over. Schindler’s List has become the gold standard for these kinds of emotional war movies. The Zookeeper’s Wife is set in the mold of that kind of a film, telling essentially that very kind of tale.
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    John Wick: Chapter 2 (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 22nd, 2017

    “You wanted me back. I’m back.”

    Keanu Reeves has enjoyed somewhat of a career renaissance thanks in no small part to the success of John Wick in 2014. There he teamed up with some stunt friends of his going back to The Matrix, and together they brought a new action hero to the screen that was as much graphic novel as it was action film. It would become the directing debut of the stunt team of Stahelski and David Leitch. Along with their action star, everyone stuck to what they knew and refused to overcomplicate the whole thing.
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    A United Kingdom (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 21st, 2017

    “We should not be fighting for segregation, we should be fighting for equality.”

    That’s the sort of rousing statement any random politician on the campaign trail might use to rile up a crowd of supporters at a pep rally. And even though those words are spoken here by a man in the midst of heavy political turmoil, the beauty of A United Kingdom — a straightforward but nevertheless impactful fact-based drama about forbidden love — is that they are actually born out of an intensely personal conflict.
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    Kill ’em All (Blu-ray)

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

    It used to be when you had a straight-to-DVD release, you knew better than to set the bar too high.  From time to time you would find that occasional gem that slipped through the cracks and turned out to be something awesome, but this was a rare occurrence. With the way films are released now, the talent you are seeing in straight-to-DVD releases has improved, as have the budgets, since getting a film on the big screen has become a greater financial challenge.  I mention this only because I look at a title like Kill’em All and wonder if they even cared. The actors are here and doing their job, but it’s the figures behind the scenes that I’m calling out here.
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    The Lego Batman Movie (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 14th, 2017

    Black…all important movies start with a black screen…”

    I completely understand if you’re Batman-ed out by now. The Caped Crusader barely had a chance to catch his breath since the end of Christopher Nolan’s landmark superhero trilogy in 2012 and being pressed back into duty to help kickstart Warner Bros.’ budding superhero universe last year. But between those two iterations, we got a glimpse at a fresh, knowingly funny version of a hero that takes himself entirely too seriously. Batman was a scene-stealing supporting player in 2014’s blockbuster The Lego Movie, and now he once again takes center stage in a sharp, hilarious, irreverent adventure that celebrates practically every version of the beloved character.
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    Beauty and the Beast (2017) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on June 8th, 2017

    “Who could ever learn to love a beast?”

    Although it’s not quite a tale as old as time, people around the world have been enchanted by the story of “Beauty and the Beast” for centuries. The French fairytale was first published in 1740 and has subsequently spawned everything from a classic 1946 big-screen romance to Ron Perlman. Still, the most popular iteration of this story is Disney’s beloved 1991 animated musical, which helped solidify the Mouse House’s cartoon revival and serves as the most direct inspiration for this dazzling live-action adaptation. Then again, the fact that this new version is essentially a pretty close copy of a copy takes some of the bloom off this particular rose.
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    Get Out (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 18th, 2017

    Sometimes…if there’s too many white people, I get nervous.”

    Some of the very best horror films/psychological thrillers succeed by taking a relatable source of anxiety and cranking it to 11. For example, The Exorcist can be viewed as the worst-case scenario for anyone suffering a crisis of faith, while The Shining taps into the madness of being cooped up with your family for too long. Get Out works because it uses the nerve-wracking experience of meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time as a jumping-off point to tell a subversive, insightful, and entertaining story that mashes together Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives.
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    Fifty Shades Darker – Unrated Edition (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on May 11th, 2017

    From the suggestion of the title, you would think that we would be diving deeper into the world of BDSM, but after watching, the only thing that I can say about Fifty Shades Darker is that it’s a love story. Yes, I know that it was always a love story, but the first film possessed an edge and intensity which no longer exist in the sequel. Disappointing is too pale a word for the film. From its failure to properly capture the essence of the source material, less than engaging performance of the leads, and the vanilla nature of the sex scenes, the movie does not live up to the hype. If 50 Shades of Grey pushed the envelope with its sexuality, 50 Shades Darker embraces the commercialism of a sequel for profit rather than effect.
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    A Dog’s Purpose (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Delia on May 2nd, 2017

    When’s the last time you saw a good dog movie with love, devotion, and heroism?  Not the animated type, but one that stars dogs doing some awesome stunts, creating the love for animals and even inspiration.  Well, you can find all that and more in the movie A Dog’s Purpose, a fun, adventure of a dog’s life that runs full circle.  It’s fun for the whole family, but don’t be surprised when your youngster starts begging for a new furry friend. After escaping from a cage, a starving young pup gets saved by Elizabeth (Juliet Rylance).  Her son Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) wants to keep the dog, and after an intervention with his father, Elizabeth wins out.
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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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