Posted in Podcasts by Gino Sassani on December 9th, 2021
RLJE Films has just released their lycanthrope horror/comedy Werewolves Within on Dec 7th. It’s a rather unique take on the often tired werewolf story. I had the chance to talk to the film’s director, Josh Ruben. Josh took time out of his busy holiday schedule to talk about the film. I found his insights rather interesting, and I think you might agree. You won’t need a wiretap warrant to eavesdrop on the call. Bang it here to listen to my chat with Josh Ruben.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on December 8th, 2021
When Netflix released The Haunting of Hill House, I fell in love with the series. I have watched it several times since its release, and it continues to hold up. So when it was announced that Mike Flanagan would be returning to do a follow-up series, it was impossible not to get my hopes up. Mike Flanagan is perhaps the best thing to happen to horror in quite a while. He doesn’t depend on gore or crazy special FX, but instead his focus is more on that natural evil that people can do to one another. From Hush to Doctor Sleep to The Haunting of Hill House and his most current work Midnight Mass and all his projects in between, he’s maintained a consistency that I feel ranks him as one of the better visual storytellers of the past decade, and he seems to only get better with each project.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on November 26th, 2021
“It was a name that sounded so sweet … Synonymous with wealth, style, power. But that name was a curse, too.”
If you’ve ever seen me show up for a movie screening in my sweats and t -shirt, you will know instantly that I’m not going to ever be confused with a person of high fashion. I dress for comfort, and accessorizing usually means I’ve got shoes and socks on. The jargon of the industry is Greek to me, and I guess sometimes it really is. I’ve certainly heard of Gucci, but the extent of that knowledge is along the lines of those famous patterned bags that they sell on the street downtown for $20 with no questions asked. Of course those bags often appear to have misspelled the name, so I know a few folks walking around with a Gutchi on their arm and a Rolax on their wrist. I’m guessing that’s not exactly dressed for fashion. Ridley Scott rides to the rescue. I still can’t tell the bags apart, but I now know a little bit about the famous family that those guys are ripping off.
Holiday Gift Guide Spotlight – Warner Brothers – Middle Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)
Posted in Holiday Gift Guides by Gino Sassani on November 26th, 2021
I think I see your problem. You have this list. It’s a list of people you need/want to buy a Christmas gift for. The trouble is that they’re into home theater, and you don’t know Star Trek from Star Wars. You couldn’t tell a Wolf Man from a Wolverine. And you always thought that Paranormal Activity was something too kinky to talk about. Fortunately, Upcomingdiscs has come to the rescue every Christmas with our Gift Guide Spotlights. Keep checking back to see more recommendations for your holiday shopping. These gift guides ARE NOT paid advertisements. We take no money to publish them. With conditions as they are, shopping won’t be easy this season. The nice thing about discs is that they’re so easy to get from places like Amazon that you can give a great gift and stay perfectly safe while you do it. First up it’s Warner Brothers with what I consider the best home theater gift of the season. The Middle Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
Posted in The Reel World by Jeremy Butler on November 25th, 2021
Good story, unique characters, and original music. I’d say that Disney delivers on its 60th animated movie. In recent years, Disney has taken us all over the map as they introduced characters (formerly known as Disney princesses) from all different walks of life. From a Norwegian-inspired kingdom (Arendelle) to the Polynesian island (Motunui), this time taking us to the mountains of Colombia. That has always been something that I appreciated about Disney’s film: their wide-reaching landscape. It’s like the cinematic version of Epcot. Another thing I’m grateful about this film is the fact that I was about to make it a family affair, as my wife and daughter joined me for this experience. It’s been a while since we’ve had a film where we could seek the Nalyce stamp of approval, and now we finally have a candidate. Bottom line up front: it did get her stamp of approval, as well as mine.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 25th, 2021
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Another holiday season and another release of the classic It’s A Wonderful Life. This edition looks like a storybook case and has both the restored black & white version as well as the recent colorized versions of the films. If you have one of the UHD 4K collections, you pretty much have the definitive version of the film, and the audio and visual aren’t likely to get any better than that. But there are many of you out there who have not made the switch to UHD. This is likely going to be that best ever release for you. You get two versions of the film in an attractive and safe case.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 25th, 2021
When we got aboard the Snowpiercer, it would seem like a new world order was going to be happening. Well, that still holds true for Season 2, but not quite the way we were initially imagining. Did you see what I did there, “got aboard,” because it’s a train. OK, OK; that’s my one joke. Last we saw Daveed Diggs’ Layton, he’d finally managed to seize control of the train carrying the last of humanity following an apocalyptic freezing of the planet. His reign is extremely short-lived, however, as he is almost immediately threatened by the return of Mr. Wilford (Sean Bean) and Melanie’s thought-dead daughter, Alexandra (Rowan Blanchard). I can tell you that after this cliffhanger of a season last season, I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation for the next season. And this season doesn’t disappoint, as the power struggle for the train is continued with a new adversaries, as old adversaries become new allies.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 25th, 2021
This was actually the first movie I ever saw on a date. Nearly twenty years ago. The most interesting thing being that I can tell all sorts of things about that experience, but for the life of me, I can’t tell you a thing about the movie. Prior to re-watching it, that is, and having done so, I now understand why it faded from memory, because it isn’t a movie that really makes a lasting impression. This is surprising given that the film is credited as the first photorealistic computer animated film, as well the most expensive video-game inspired film up until 2010. The thing is, it’s a film that if you ask me, never really should have been. The story is not compelling, and it does not accurately depict the source material by which it was inspired. They share the same name, but none of the characters or the plot of the film originated from the video game franchise. Talk about a bait and switch.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 25th, 2021
“We are the only people who are capable of handling time-traveling aliens.”
Of course, that can only mean The D.C. Legends Of Tomorrow. This is the sleeper of the entire Arrowverse. It’s never really been one of the higher-rated shows, but it has a strong cult audience and has survived more than one season on the proverbial bubble and has beaten back a pandemic and outlasted such better shows as Arrow and Supergirl. I always enjoy it, but I do find it the hardest show to completely follow. It will delve into the silly and the absolutely crazy, and it’s pretty much jumping sharks on a weekly basis. It doesn’t help that every year sees a huge shakeup of the cast, and this season was no exception.
Posted in The Reel World by Jeremy Butler on November 20th, 2021
“Venus Williams is going to be the number 1 tennis player in the world. Absolutely. But you are going to be greatest of all time.”
He was a man with a plan. A 78-page plan, if you want to be exact. We’ve heard the story of Venus and Serena Williams, two sisters from Compton who went on to become two of the greatest tennis stars in the world. Now we will learn the story of the man behind the two tennis legends. Their father, Richard Williams, or as the title says, King Richard. But who could we trust to properly represent the story, and more importantly, who could embody the man? A man who is rapidly becoming a legend in his own domain. In fact, his name and legacy were recently solidified on a soundstage at the Tyler Perry Studio in Atlanta: Will Smith. Now, Will Smith is not a character to be disregarded.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 20th, 2021
I will say this for DC animated movies, they sure do pack a lot of story in their limited runtime. This film is only an hour, and somehow it felt like two and half hours of storytelling were comfortably fitted into that time. I know stories that don’t accomplish half as much with double the time. That is an accomplishment in itself. This re-release brings back the 2011 animated film based on the four-issue story arc of the same name. It’s a bit of a origin story, encompassing Batman’s first year operating as the Dark Knight at the height of corruption in Gotham. It is also a bit of a origin story for Batman’s nemesis turned ally, James Gordon, who wages his own war against the corruption in the police department. I remember watching this a few years ago, and it didn’t really hold my attention. However, on this outing, I was thoroughly engaged and entranced by the story. That just goes to show you that first impressions can change.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on November 20th, 2021
When it comes to dystopian-type films, it is very difficult to break ground. In the span of cinematic history, we have seemed some good ones (Mad Max, Snowpiercer), and we seen some bad ones (Chaos Walking, Battlefield Earth). Unfortunately, I would have to rate The Colony (a.k.a. Tides) in the latter group rather than the former. Simply put, there just wasn’t anything about the film that resonated with me. Many of the plot themes felt recycled and predictable. The story follows an astronaut returning to Earth to determine whether it is habitable following years of climate change, pandemics, and war that have decimated the planet. Upon arrival, she immediately finds herself captured by those left behind on the planet. So apparently the planet was not that inhabitable to begin with. Around this time the film started to give me The 100 vibes
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 17th, 2021
“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie.”
No one knew those rules better than Wes Craven. He helped to create them, after all. Starting in 1972 with the cult favorite The Last House On The Left, he followed that just two years later with The Hills Have Eyes, which led to a sequel. But it wasn’t until a decade later that he would deliver his masterpiece and most successful franchise, Nightmare On Elm Street. Wes Craven introduced the world to Freddy Kruger, and our dreams have never been quite the same since. While others attempted to reproduce the same results with many sequels, it was Craven himself who put Freddy to bed with New Nightmare exactly 10 years after his birth.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on November 17th, 2021
From Bride of Frankenstein to Night of the Living Dead and even Godzilla, horror has been a platform filmmakers have used for decades to handle larger societal issues. In 1992 when the first Candyman released, it was a film that tackled issues of class and race, but it did so in a manner that didn’t feel forced, and in doing so it added an extra level to what I’d consider one of the best horror films of the 90’s. I love the story of Candyman, and the performance Tony Todd gave this tragic character was an equal blend of horror, menace, and sympathy. The way the first film builds its impending doom for Helen Lyle has rarely been matched in films since. Watching as her life crumbles around her up until the moment she finally surrenders herself to Candyman and accepts her awful fate is an impactful moment. The sequels just never lived up to the first film, and it’s a shame,
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on November 17th, 2021
“I, Cordell Walker, do solemnly swear…”
No, this is not the next spin-off of the zombie Walking Dead franchise. There’s a new ranger in town, and his name is Cordell Walker. I know what you’re thinking: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” That’s where you’d be wrong. They might share the same name and job, but this Walker is nothing like the Chuck Norris version that lasted for over a decade when you include made-for-television movies. This Walker is much younger. He was a Marine who had joined after 9/11. He has a family. His wife was killed a year ago, and now he’s trying to raise his son and daughter with the help of his parents, who were no longer living in the Norris series. The episodes are more of an ongoing story arc,
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 11th, 2021
“My name is Nicky Shen, and this has been my home for three years. A Shaolin monastery in Yunnan Province, China. My mom sent me on a cultural tour of China. Turned out, it was really a matchmaking tour to land me a Chinese husband. Just one of the many ways my mom tried to control my destiny. I panicked. I ran. That was the first time anyone told me I had a choice in anything. I was only planning to spend the night. But then I saw something that I knew I wanted to be a part of. These women were warriors. And so I stayed. Pei-Ling became my Shifu, my mentor.”
The new Kung Fu series at the CW is not really anything like the 1970’s show that starred David Carradine. And while the credits claim to be based on that show, they really do not have anything in common. This show is not a period piece but exists in current day San Francisco. The titular character is no longer a middle-aged quiet hero or a guy. Instead we have law school drop-out Nicky Shen, a twenty-something woman who doesn’t quite have a handle on who she is.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 11th, 2021
“My name is Harris K. Telemacher. I live in Los Angeles, and I’ve had seven heart attacks. All imagined. That is to say, I was deeply unhappy, but I didn’t know it because I was so happy all of the time.”
Steve Martin plays a wacky TV weatherman who develops a close friendship with an electronic freeway sign in the sleeper hit comedy L.A. Story. I found the critically acclaimed film to lack hilarity, but it does get marks for inventiveness. Martin is enjoyable in most anything he’s in, even if the material is not so great. L.A. Story is one such example of an actor rising above said material. Most of the over-the-top silliness misses the mark, and Marilu Henner has little more to do than play the cliché of snobbish socialite. The true love of the Martin character’s life – played by Victoria Tennant – is so bland vanilla I would have much rather seen him end up with his free-spirited squeeze toy (Sarah Jessica Parker), though any such relationship would be doomed to fail. At least there would be some excitement.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 9th, 2021
“You’re going on a journey. A journey through memory. Your destination? A place and time you’ve been before. To reach it, all you have to do is follow my voice.”
So, an interesting factoid that I learned about the film’s director Lisa Joy: she is the sister-in-law of director Christopher Nolan. This doesn’t really add anything to the review, just an interesting fact that I thought I’d share. Then again, I do remember thinking when the film first opened up that it felt very shades-of-Nolan. Not to say that Nolan had any influence over the film, but just the idea of a movie based off a construct is very much in his wheelhouse. Memory is the construct that is explored in this film, and I must admit that the addictive nature with which the film portrays this construct did have some appeal;
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on November 9th, 2021
It’s hard to believe that one of the most popular comedy shows of the 1950’s was not really a show at all, at least not in the way that we think of a television series today. The show began its life in 1951 as a segment on the popular Cavalcade of Stars. At that time only Jackie Gleason and Art Carney starred in their familiar roles. Alice was played by Pert Kelton. The series took its more recognizable look when it became part of The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955.That’s also when Joyce Randolph joined the series as Trixie Norton. The series would take up a half hour of the slot. The second half was taken up by a larger variety of pieces, usually a series called Stage Show. The show would come and go, with other cast members coming and going over time. Even Art Carney had left The Jackie Gleason Show at one time, only to return in 1957 to the role.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on November 6th, 2021
“So now that Captain Rogers and Iron Man are both gone, who do you think’s gonna lead the Avengers?”
After over a decade of ruling the feature film comic book universe, I have to ask the question that no one really wants to ask or answer. A lot of things have happened in the real world since the release of the two-part Avengers coda to the last phase of films. In over 22 films, there were only a couple I would have called sub-par and less I would have called stinkers. That hasn’t been the case with the start of the post-pandemic Marvel Cinematic Universe. It started with Black Widow, which I have argued doesn’t belong here. It works as the third film in a trilogy that includes the last two Captain America films. It has the same feel and much of the same style. I liked it but felt it was horribly mistimed. Things being what they are, that might be expected. Then came along Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, which brought an interesting new dynamic to the MCU but still fell somewhat flat with fans.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on November 5th, 2021
Well, this is an interesting plot twist. From antagonist to protagonist. When we last saw Gulf War veteran Norman Nordstrom, he was recovering in the hospital from a gunshot wound, having just spent the previous night protecting his home against intruders. Before you start painting him with a hero brush, it’s worth mentioning that Norman isn’t exactly squeaky clean, given that he was holding a woman hostage after artificially inseminating her to provide with a child to replace the one that said woman accidently killed. It’s also worth mentioning that he also attempted to impregnate one of the home invaders following the inadvertent death of the woman carrying his child. The first Don’t Breathe was an interesting and unique horror thriller film that premiered at South by Southwest festival back in 2016 before going on to become a theatrical commercial success.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 5th, 2021
If you were a child in the 1960’s or 1970’s, you were around at the golden age of the Christmas television special. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and there were a ton of holiday charms that came and went each year. But there were a handful that became classics and found their way to the airwaves every year in December. Of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas became one of these, and it is indeed among the best. It was not the only special to become beloved by generations of viewers. Now Dreamworks has brought together seven of the most memorable of these classics. This was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me, as it will be for millions of children of all ages who looked forward to these event broadcasts each and every year. Now you can watch them whenever you want. And they might not be just for Christmas anymore.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on November 1st, 2021
Superman: The Animated Series was partly made in the same fashion as the massively popular Batman: The Animated Series. The tone was a little more serious, and the stakes were raised in order to create a sense that Superman might just have met his match. It was first produced in 1996 and made 54 episodes through the year 2000. The show received high praise for raising the bar but at the same time keeping what was important to the mythos of Superman. In fact, it even received a nomination for an Emmy. Besides Smallville, this probably stands out as the best television adaption of the one known as Superman, the Last Son of Krypton and hero to the planet Earth (and beyond).
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on October 30th, 2021
“Can anyone give me an example of a myth or a story They’re afraid of?”
Look at every element of Searchlight’s new horror film Antlers and you see nothing but the promise of an extraordinary horror film. Guillermo del Toro is one of the producers and he’s got a reputation for building some of the best horror atmosphere you’ll ever see. He’s one of those visual geniuses that has been inspired by the black & white classics of the genre and his imagination is truly amazing. The film is based on Nick Antosca’s short story The Quiet Boy which itself has some pretty incredible imagery. The film also sports a pretty sweet cast starting with Keri Russell known for the Cold War series The Americans. There’s Jesse Plemons who blew me away on Friday Night Lights and hasn’t disappointed yet. Young Jeremy T. Thomas has a pretty good career if his performance here is any indication of what he can do. The kid does one of the best deadpans I’ve seen since Christina Ricci’s wonderful Wednesday Addams. The British Columbia locations are truly stunning. This looks like a truly great film. And it’s certainly not a bad film. But it’s far from great. It’s an okay film and often that would be fine with me. I enjoy an average horror film as much as the next guy. The trouble is this should have been great and that’s a huge disappointment.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 29th, 2021
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Disney/ Marvel decided to fire James Gunn over a couple of tweets and Warner Brothers decided to scoop up the talented director to helm a reboot of The Suicide Squad. Personally, I feel this was the best move WB has done with their DC film projects since the Christopher Nolan Batman films. I’ll come out and say it; I haven’t been a fan of the DC cinematic universe. Wonder Woman and Shazam were decent, but they simply don’t hold up to what Marvel has been able to produce. While I’m fine with attempting to tell more mature storylines and appeal to an older audience, my biggest problem with the DC films is that they just weren’t fun. (Shazam is perhaps the only exception to this.) I’m not part of the “Release the Snyder cut” crowd; instead I just want to see a comic book film that can be entertaining and not take itself too seriously, and that brings me back to James Gunn. I’m a fan of Gunn. I absolutely adore what he’s done with The Guardians of the Galaxy. Those are both in my top five of the Marvel films, because I love how he handles the group of misfit heroes.