Blu-ray Review “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”

Starring: Vin Diesel, Nina Dobrev, Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Toni Collette
Director: D.J. Caruso
Number of discs: 2
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Paramount
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Run Time: 96 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Vin Diesel is a man that does not give up. The film “Pitch Black” was a good film that was turned into a mediocre franchise. “The Fast and Furious” was a film that was great and turned into a global phenomenon that normally wouldn’t have had more than one film. Same goes with “xXx”. The book should have been closed after the second film, yet here we are with another installment riding on the popularity of Vin Diesel. The film is honestly crap, no joke, there are some cool action scenes but literally this doesn’t have the power of Diesel’s “Fast and Furious” franchise, which was probably the hopes here. Worth watching for a laugh but otherwise nothing smart of that this third sequel at all and I have a feeling unfortunately we haven’t seen the end of Xander Cage.

Official Premise: The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

Paramount is releasing this film as a combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD copy included. The 1080p transfer is near flawless. This film is definitely beautiful to look at and shows off its beautiful shooting locations quite well. The audio on this Blu-ray is also near perfect with both a Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 tracks included. These tracks are amazing with the action in the film and really shake the walls, no questions.

The special features are decent and worth checking out if you loved the film but otherwise not much here other than four featurettes and a gag reel. The first featurette focuses on bringing back the franchise to live in “Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns”. Since this film is basically made for an international market, “Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast” looks at the new cast brought in to sweeten the deal. “Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location” showcases the snazzy locations where this film was shot. Lastly, the highlight of the film is it stunts and the last featurette focuses on those in “I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts”.

“Army of One” with Russell Brand & Nicolas Cage Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand November 15, 2016

    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ONE MAN’S MOSTLY TRUE QUEST TO CAPTURE OSAMA BIN LADEN

 Available on Digital HD November 4, 2016

Available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand November 15, 2016 

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – (Sept. 27, 2016) – Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, National Treasure) and Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek), embark on one hell of a holy mission in the hilarious comedy Army of One, the mostly true story of one man’s quest to single- handedly capture Osama Bin Laden. Directed by Emmy Award® winning director Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Seinfeld”) with screenplay by Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman, Army of One will arrive on Blu-rayCombo Pack, DVD, and On Demand November 15, 2016 from Anchor Bay Entertainment and on Digital HD November 4, 2016.

Gary Faulkner (Cage) is an ex-con, unemployed handyman, and modern day Don Quixote who receives a vision from God (Brand) telling him to capture Osama Bin Laden. Armed with only a single sword purchased from a home-shopping network, Gary travels to Pakistan to complete his mission. While on his quest, Gary encounters old friends back home in Colorado, the new friends he makes in Pakistan, the enemies he makes at the CIA – and even God and Osama themselves. Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rainn Wilson, and Paul Scheer also star in this hilarious tale of patriotism and one man’s quest for justice.

Army of One Blu-ray™ and DVD include a “Making of Army of One” bonus featurette and will be available for $29.99 SRP and $22.98 SRP, respectively.

To learn more about the film, please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

ABOUT THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY AND DIMENSION FILMS

The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and Distribution Company launched in October 2005 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax Films in 1979. TWC also encompasses Dimension Films, the genre label founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein. During Harvey and Bob’s tenure at Miramax and TWC, they have received 351 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards.

Since 2005, TWC and Dimension Films have released such films as VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA; THE READER; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS; SCRE4M; SPY KIDS: THE KING’S SPEECH; UNDEFEATED; THE ARTIST; THE MASTER; SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK; DJANGO UNCHAINED; SCARY MOVIE 5; LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER; PHILOMENA; THE IMITATION GAME; PADDINGTON; WOMAN IN GOLD; SOUTHPAW, CAROL, MACBETH, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, SING STREET, and HANDS OF STONE. Upcoming releases include AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING, THE FOUNDER and GOLD.

TWC boasts an active television production division, which garnered twelve Emmy nominations in 2015. TWC Television produces the reality powerhouse Project Runway, with its spin-off series Project Runway All Stars, hosted by Alyssa Milano, Project Runway Jr, featuring supermodel Hannah Davis and fashion critic Kelley Osbourne Under The Gunn, and Threads. Scripted series include John Fusco’sMarco Polo with Netflix, going into its second season, and War & Peace, which debuted on Lifetime, A&E and HISTORY in 2016. Scripted projects in development include Ten Commandments, Daniel Stashower’s The Hour Of Peril and military drama Six. TWC will also launch several new projects in 2016 across several networks, including MTV, Lifetime, and AMC.

ABOUT ANCHOR BAY ENTERTAINMENT

Anchor Bay Entertainment is a leading independent home entertainment company that acquires and releases a wide array of filmed entertainment in the theatrical and home entertainment markets, including STARZ Original series, children’s entertainment, fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports and specialty films on Blu-ray™ and DVD formats. The company has long-term distribution agreements in place for select programming with The Weinstein Company, AMC Networks and Entertainment Studios, among others. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif., Anchor Bay Entertainment (www.anchorbayentertainment.com) is a full service distributor in the North American market. Anchor Bay Entertainment is a Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA, STRZB) business, www.starz.com.

Army of One Blu-ray™

Street Date:  Nov. 15, 2016

Pre-book: Oct. 12, 2016

Catalog #: BD64459  

UPC: 01313264459280

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rating: R

SRP: $26.99

Format: Widescreen

Aspect Ratio: 2.39

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Army of One DVD

Street Date: Nov. 15, 2016

Pre-book: Oct. 12, 2016

Catalog #: WC64458

UPC: 01313264458580

Run Time: 93 Minutes

Rating:  R

SRP: $22.98

Format: Widescreen

Aspect Ratio: 2.39

Audio: English 5.1 DTSHD-MA

Academy Award-winner, Nicolas Cage talks about his role in “Left Behind”

Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage is a man that does not need any introduction. He is well-known worldwide for being one of the most versatile actors of all time, equally known for his poignant portrayals in both drama and comedy. Some of his more notable films include “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “National Treasure”. Coming up next, Cage stars in “Left Behind,” a Christian-themed apocalyptic action film based on the best-selling book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Additionally, Cage recently completed filming Paul Schrader’s “The Dying of the Light” with Anton Yelchin and is currently in production on “The Runner,” which also stars Sarah Paulson, Peter Fonda and Connie Nielsen. Media Mikes had a chance to attend a teleconference with the actor to chat about his role in “Left Behind” and what we can expect the film.

Can you give us a little background on your character Rayford Steele and his importance in the film?
Nicolas Cage: Well I mean Ray Steele is a captain of a jumbo jet, a transatlantic jumbo jet going to London, England. And he’s an important guy on that airplane and he has a flirtation and there’s a chemistry that’s happening with the flight attendant, so marvelously played by Nicky Whelan. He loses track of what’s really valuable to him in terms of his treasures within which is his love for his family. He’s kind of, not that he’s a bad guy but he’s making a mistake that many people make that are in powerful positions lose track of the importance of family. They’re drawn away, or they’re seduced from their true inner-values by something attractive, or something flirtatious, or something that has the call of the wild. Ray Steele gets back to his true need for family through this experience and through this extraordinary experience and understands the value of family and just wants to get back to that no matter what happens. Just to be able to get back on the phone with his daughter and say I’m sorry and “I love you”. And I think that’s as simple as that. I think that is heart-wrenching. And if you have a heart I don’t think it’s possible to see the movie and not get a little verklempt. I mean it, there’s some very poignant, emotional moments.

What was it about this script or what regarding the movie in general that drew you in?
NC: I really said “Yes” on the merits of the screenplay. And also to work with, to work with Vic again, the director. I think all artists, if you’re tapped in, if you’re tuned in, to the zeitgeist and they’re open to that then they’re going to pick up on that. I felt that the script was a challenge and it gave me a chance to really try to make the extraordinary, believable and to do something authentic within performance so that everything around me was going into chaos. People were just appearing on the airplane and how did I make that organic? And again, all the actors, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, they were all on-point. And I find that exciting. To me, it was, it was an exercise and I’m very happy with the results.

How familiar were you with the “Left Behind” series before getting on board?
NC: I was not familiar with the “Left Behind” series. I’m familiar with the rapture of course. My brother, Mark, is a Christian pastor, and he was very excited about this. And he said, “Nicky, you’ve really got to to do this”. I’d already wanted to make the movie because I thought it was such a great script and an opportunity again to do something challenging. But when I saw how passionate he was, I thought, “Well, yeah I want to make this movie for my brother too”.

What was it like working with director Vic Armstrong?
NC: Well actually I’m very comfortable working with Vic. I got to spend quite a bit of time with him on another movie that we made, called “Season of the Witch”. And it was a good experience and I thought that he directed me to a good performance and something that I was very proud of and wanted to work with him again. I knew that I would be able to relax with him and that I would be able to go within and just sort of exhale and be in the moment and be in the scene. That he would allow his actors to breathe and to be relaxed and to find the truth of their performances. And it really shows in the movie. I mean, across the board, of Chad Michael Murray, and Nicky and Cassi again just powerfully real performances. And I knew that that would happen working again with Vic.

Weston Cage talks about music and solo album “Wes Cage”

Weston Cage is no stranger to the entertainment business. The son of Hollywood heavy weight Nicholas Cage, Weston has dabbled in everything from acting and soundtrack scoring to fronting his own underground metal band “Eyes of Noctum”. Weston’s newest project is his first solo music effort simply titled “Wes Cage”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Weston recently about the project which he describes simply as “Ghost Metal”.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your new single?
Weston Cage: “Tell Me Why” is one of those songs that is very different from the rest of the tracks on the album. The record was written with a specific formula in order to have traditional ghost metal sound. It is true to the essence of what I was going for. “Tell Me Why” has a lot of classic roots as it’s a little thrashy while the chorus sticks out. We used a detuned piano in the background along with a lot of industrial elements. My wife wrote the lyrics which are sort about this tortured individual. What’s amazing about the interpretation of the song is that the lyrics can be taken in any way that the listener wants.

AL: What was it like working with your wife on the song lyrics?
WC: It was very refreshing. It was easier for me as the lyrics I write tend to be a bit wordy. Sometimes we have to go in and sort of Frankenstein up my lyrics to make them a little more workable. Having Danielle come in for this track was really great.

AL: Can you tell us about the decision to shift from being in a band to being a solo artist?
WC: I definitely wanted to cater to a larger audience. I also wanted to experiment with some things that are disliked in the black metal genre. I wanted to add more industrial elements and draw on some of my world influence. I wanted to be able to just explore a little more. The other tracks on this new album have more of a symphonic/industrial element to them. Again I just really wanted to be free to explore my influences.

AL: What type of process do you take creatively when working on new material?
WC: It’s a pretty interesting process actually.  I am very unorthodox. I meditate and, during meditation I go so deep that I start to hear things which stem from the unknown. I might hear a melody or something and then elaborate from there. Before I know it I have two or three riffs and the rest of the song starts to come together. I use a variety of instrumentation while creating.

AL: Coming from a family mostly known for film what do you think it was that sparked your interest in music?
WC: Music has been a passion of mine from very early on. When I heard some of my great grandfather and great uncles music I got inspired. Some of that music from “The Godfather” really sparked my interest. As a kid there was always music playing in the background. Everything from Enya to Nine Inch Nails along with other music that had these vast array of sounds. Those definitely planted the seeds in my blood.

AL: Can you tell us about some of the other projects you have in the works?
WC: I have quite a few films lined up right now. I have one that will be shooting Portland that is sort of like a grittier version of “Harold and Kumar”. There are a few others that will be quite interesting as well. One film is dealing with Babylonian/Sumerian history. Musically has been pretty focused on this new solo stuff. On average I have been writing about 15 songs per month. Right now I think I have enough material for 4 more albums.  It will be the gnarly reduction process that I have to get myself through to get rid of the songs that maybe aren’t the best.