Blu-ray Review: “Honest Thief”

  • HONEST THIEF
  • Starring: Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh
  • Directed by: Mark Williams
  • Rated: PG 13
  • Running time: 1 hr 39 mins
  • Universal Home Video

The film opens with Carter (Neeson) pulling off a final heist, in which he is very meticulous in his methods. In fact, he’s been nicknamed “the In & Out Bandit”. Carter then ventures into a storage facility to store personal items and “some of the funds”. He’s wise not to put the money all in one place. But here’s when our protagonist or antagonist, depending on where in the film you’re referring to him, makes his complete 180 degree turn. At the storage facility, Carter meets a woman and falls in love. So now he no longer wants to rob banks and wishes to give back the money and turn himself in. Hence he is now earned his title character, “Honest Thief”.

The film is directed by Mark Williams, who has worked on the television series “Ozark” (which I haven’t seen) and “The Accountant” with Ben Affleck (on both of those projects Williams also served as a producer). Set in Boston, the movie also stars Kate Walsh, Jeffrey Donovan, Jai Courtney, Anthony Ramos and Robert Patrick.

In this film Liam Neeson is not the good guy we’re used to seeing. This isn’t Taken nor The Commuter. He’s a bad guy that wants to do good. So Carter informs the FBI of his crimes and they don’t believe him. Who robs banks and now wishes to turn ithemselves in? Someone who has met the right woman. And as one character put it, “that’s got to be some woman.” Carter’s girlfriend is portrayed by Kate Walsh, who is caught up in the chase towards the 9 million dollars that Carter wants to turn in.

The film has some great action scenes including a house explosion that I loved! Carter is also a demolition expert, something he learned in the Armed Forces, which is how he blows the bank vault. Narrative in the film moves at a brisk pace. When Carter is on the run, he gets into some scuffles where I wanted to see the fighting skills Neeson is famous for in other films, but this isn’t “Taken.” He just knows how to blow up things. The baddies in the FBI are atypical. One has a heart change and the other is bent on getting that $9 million. Robert Patrick makes an appearance as an FBI supervisor (you will definitely remember him from Terminator 2 as the villainous T-1000).

I watched the film on Blu Ray where the sound and picture were crisp and clean. “Honest Thief,” to me, was a slight let down at first because my expectations were too high. I was looking for “Taken” or even “The Communter” but that’s okay. It just shows that Neeson is more than one dimensional. He has an amazing range and can play various roles.

There are no extras included in this set.

Blu-ray Review: “Psycho Goreman”

  • PSYCHO GOREMAN
  • Starring: Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre
  • Directed by: Steven Kostanski
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Running time: 1hr 39 mins
  • RLJE Films

     As the mark of a full year of shutdowns and quarantines goes sloth-crawling by and we begrudgingly re-examine (for the thousandth time) the trials we’ve survived (however barely) … there’s still a piece of us constantly looking for a beacon of hope. There’s questions to be asked. Will you continue to mask up and socially distance or are you moving to Texas? Will you be getting the vaccine or waiting it out? If you’re a monster kid… you have one more important question: are you going to rent Psycho Goreman or buy the damn thing and watch it on loop until you break your Blu-ray player?  Your answer better be BUY because this movie is that good. Except Psycho Goreman ‘PG for short!’ isn’t a blinding beacon of hope… he’s a foul-mouthed alien overlord sent here to destroy the universe and resurrect the creature feature genre.

     Canadian Director/Writer Steven Kostanski, who previously delivered the Lovecraftian THE VOID in 2016, clearly has a tremendous affinity for practical effects and eccentric storytelling. Psycho Goreman takes us onto the battlefield in a crazy war of good vs. evil and evil vs. evil — with blood, guts and meme-worthy Gigaxian one liners flying everywhere. Ninety nine minutes  that plays like an R-Rated visit with Power Rangers in the most hilarious and bonkers capacity imaginable. Psycho Goreman drop kicked exactly what I needed into my lap when I genuinely COULD NOT handle a single extra day of “2020 Part 2″‘s regularly scheduled SNAFU lineup.

I hereby present to you…my wish list for movies from BEFORE Psycho Goreman came to earth:

[✓] A resurgence of credit-roll theme songs. This was one of the greatest things about the 80s and 90s. Remember when they commissioned artists to write completely asinine lyrics and roll them into absolute BANGERS? It’s musical slapdash that I’m, honestly, 105% here for. Calling it now — this will be the next thing to make a comeback in cinema of a certain brand.

[✓]  Millennial 80s/90s nostalgia vibes…with heart. Not something that feels like a filmmaker googled ‘what were the late 80s like?’ and used an immersion blender to make an on screen disaster. I’m honestly so exhaustively far past being done with branded cookie cutter faux 80s-kid content. I want someone and something to bottle the feelings I felt watching shows after school but bigger, grosser and more fucked up… because I’m not six, I’m thirty six. I’ve humbly traded in Pogs and Gushers for IcyHot and Tums and so NOW I want to see body parts flying. I want kids using bad language and monsters who talk dirty. I want to root for a kid who is authentically and effortlessly cooler than I ever was and a monster who is sexier than I’ll ever be able to be.

[✓]  Practical effects out the yinyang. I don’t care what the story is… CGI in horror, generally, should be outlawed. Go big. Then bigger. Keep going. Did everything explode all over the place? Turn it up to eleven. More alien guts! Look at these costumes! We’re almost there. Make me look up who did the fx work. “Give ALL these people a raise!”  Ahhh. That’s perfect. If this is the only redeeming element then so be it… but if it works in tandem with a story that makes me want to suspend disbelief in every capacity then all the better. I’m in.

[✓] A soundtrack that I need to buy, like, yesterday: I consume a lot of tunes and I appreciate the greatest cinematic needle-drops as much as the next dweeb but good lord, there is something to be said about an original score that lets me live my own personal version of on screen adventures with outrageously, bombastic earworms. I’m there. You wanna release it on vinyl in deluxe packaging? Take my money. I want you to deliver to my ears… big hair, big drums, big synth, big aural explosions and none of this Stranger Things nonsense. I don’t like being manipulated. Bring those things and mean it because I very much am paying attention to the man and the noise behind the curtain.

(https://waxworkrecords.com/collections/all/products/pg-psycho-goreman in case you want to buy your own.)

[✓]  Yo, literally just anything to be excited about? I don’t have the mental or emotional bandwidth anymore to recreationally consume anything that requires work. I want something that’s easily digestible and leaves me feeling amazing. I’m just getting back to the point where I’m willing to roll the dice and try to connect with something media-wise but, directly, I’m telling you that I’m looking for lightning in a bottle. So much of what we’re getting now is just more of the same thing we’ve just recently seen: major IP fatigue up in my brain. Show me something new and weird and make him ugly but charming so I can do a hard swipe right. Give me light and snappy. Let me cheer for and also laugh at and with him. Anything that makes me feel bad is getting turned off.

[✓] Make me want a whole line of action figures and a series of school supplies. I need a trapper keeper with gay-friendly alien monsters and a thermos to take soup to work in. Why are things meant for adults never flashy or covered in drippy, neon, monster madness? I’m sad that I’m not represented.

[✓] Give me a monster-kid I identify with and hey… it’s 2021 so it better be a girl and no one better be sexualizing her. We’re done being here for that purpose. I want a little girl on screen who I believe, with every fiber of my being, could save or destroy the universe with her death-glare and smart mouth alone. Not a single super power required.

[✓] Make me LOVE this movie. I want to authentically insist that the people I care about see this movie so they’ll be able to have the same magical feelings I did. I’ve spent much of my adult film-watching experience itching for just one more opportunity to dip my toes into the syrupy pool of Spielbergian kid-adventure but that’s not really where I’m at anymore. You never TRULY outgrow the things you loved in your formative years but now, as a parent, I think I’ve dropped the desire for a newly packaged version of that.  I want to see what someone like MY kid would do with an E.T. like experience. My daughter isn’t the Elliot type and, if we’re being honest, I never was either.  Maybe if an alien comes to earth, I don’t want it to be a sob fest. Maybe I want it to be a party. Maybe I want to see aliens play rock music? Quick…add that to the list.  [✓]

     There’s a fine line when you expect originality. There’s formulas that flourish because they’re dependable. The Hero Cycle’s Call to Action will forever exist because deep down most of us want to be emotionally guided to a promised feel-good moment. We want to feel like our however-fleeting emotional investment to characters and their story has contributed to our own personal journey… and temporarily that’s totally fine.

     For those of you who find your viewing habits to be influenced by the current social atmosphere, there’s absolutely something to be said about returning to things-familiar. Sharing a moment, or ninety, with characters who are in the time of their lives before developing a sense of reflexivity is really comforting. Envy inducing. I think we’ve all had many moments during this past year where we wish we were in our childhood and entirely unconcerned with adult stressors or problems. Re-examining things we loved as children seemed right and safe because we knew what to expect. However as movie fans we have to encourage the continuation of new storytelling. Steven Kostanski had the opportunity to go big and went huge. I think someone must’ve told him to go nuts and he really went for it. In a time when so many things within the genre lean hard into serious, dark and emotionally exhaustive arthouse-horror… this was a bold move that at this moment in time I’m incredibly grateful for. He made something new and he made it really damn fun. Fun: Little word. Means everything in this moment.

     The world is seriously scary enough right now but that doesn’t mean we can’t still like horror. I’m happy someone lightened things up by making it weird, gross and thrilling. Go watch Psycho Goreman and keep an eye on Steven Kostanski. And Steven, (if you see this) can we make sure this toy line happens? We’re all here for tiny, plastic hunky boys!

PSYCHO GOREMAN, available on DVD and Blu-ray starting March 16. 

Blu-ray Review: “News of the World”

  • NEWS OF THE WORLD
  • Starring:  Tom Hanks, Helena Zendel and Ray McKinnon
  • Directed by: Paul Greengrass
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  1 hr 58 mins
  • Universal Pictures

News is everywhere today.  Back in my day, you needed to watch television to learn what was happening, both locally and around the world.  Or subscribe to a newspaper.  Today there are 24 hour television news networks, Facebook, Twitter and all other assortments of way to get the word out.  So imagine having to gather in a darkened room, pay ten-cents and have someone read you the news.  If you can then allow me to introduce you to Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd.

Now that the Civil War has ended, Captain Kidd (Hanks, outstanding as usual) earns his living traveling the country on horseback, picking up newspapers along the way.  He is known as a “News Reader,” and his choice of stories, and the way he tells them, earn him a decent living.  It’s 1870 and tonight we find him in the town of West Falls, Texas preparing for an evening of reading.  As he continues on his travels he comes across a young girl named Johanna (Zendel) who had been raised by Kiowa Indians but is now being sent to live with her remaining living relatives (her parents having been killed). Kidd takes her to the local settlement but is told by the authorities that he can either wait with her for three months – when the necessary people are scheduled to arrive – or take her to her family himself.  She is now his responsibility.  Determined to reunite her with her relatives, Kidd sets out with Johanna into the wild Texas wilderness.

Though well-paced, “News of the World” is not the type of film I expected from Paul Greengrass, whose amazing action work includes three “Bourne” films, “Captain Phillips” and the heart-wrenching “United 93,” which earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Director.  Along the way to San Antonio (where Johanna’s relatives have settled) the pair run into all kinds of problems, including a band of no-goods who at first try to buy Johanna then decide to take her with violence. But Captain Kidd is a sharp guy – and a hell of a good shot.  As the film progresses, Kidd and Johanna form a bond.  He is protective of her as a father would be and she does her best to help him with his business, imploring those interested in Kidd’s news service to ante up a dime. 

Hanks is his usual excellent self, seemingly able to inhabit any character he plays, much like Jimmy Stewart did in his career.  Ms. Zendel is equally outstanding.  Already the youngest actress (she is currently 12 years old) in history to win the Lola for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” at the German Film Awards for her performance in 2019’s “System Crasher,” her inability to speak English only intensifies her work as most of her communication is done through body language and with her eyes.  It’s plain to see that Johanna has seen plenty in her young life and Ms. Zendel lets you see it on screen.

The film is beautifully photographed, with much credit due to Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (“Sweeney Todd,” “The Martian”).  He shoots the Texas landscape beautifully and a scene where Kidd and Johanna are caught in a sandstorm is breathtaking.  

The film has been released on home video to coincide with the Academy Award nominations, of which it received four: Original Score, Production Design, Cinematography and Sound. Surprisingly, besides containing one of Hanks’ best performances, the actor was not nominated.

The disc also comes with plenty of extras, including Deleted Scenes,several Featurets and an Audio Commentary by director Paul Greengrass.

Blu-ray Feature “I Spit on Your Grave: Collector’s Edition”

Who doesn’t love amazing box sets? Especially when it comes it horror fans, we love our collector’s editions. Ronin Flix might be responsible for making 2020 suck a little bit less as they are releasing a new 3-Disc Collector’s Edition of “I Spit on Your Grave”. This new box set features a new 4K scan and restoration of the original uncut feature film as well as the 2019 sequel, “I Spit on Your Grave: Deju Vu” and feature length documentary film “Growing Up With I Spit on Your Grave”.

The Collectible Box Set doesn’t just end with the movies though also included is a deluxe custom slipcase with original artwork by Adam Stothard, a Newly Commissioned 44 Page Book featuring exclusive historical photos and liner notes by horror writers Michael Gingold and Meagan Navarro, 2 collectible fold out mini-posters (16×20) and replica VHS box-style magnets. Ronin Flix spared no expense here and delivered a rock solid collection of goodies for us horror fans.

Official Premises: In 1978, one film changed the face of cinema forever: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Camille Keaton stars as Jennifer Hills, a young and beautiful career woman who rents a back-woods cabin to write her first novel. Attacked by a group of local lowlifes and left for dead, she devises a horrific plan to inflict revenge in some of the most unforgettable scenes on film. 42 years later, the sequel, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU, sends successful writer Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) back to where it all began to face the wrath of the families of those she left for dead. Kidnapped along with her daughter Christy (Jamie Bernadette), it’s a tense game of hunt or be hunted against a ruthless gang of degenerates overseen by a violently unhinged matriarch Becky (Maria Olsen). Additionally, this box set includes, GROWING UP WITH I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, an exhaustive analysis of the film’s history directed by Meir Zarchi’s son, Terry Zarchi.

Just in time for the holidays, this features a new 4K scan and restoration of director Meir Zarchi’s 35mm original camera negative of “I Spit On Your Grave”, along with a newly restored original mono soundtrack and for the first time on Blu-ray in North America, “Growing Up With I Spit On Your Grave”. Additionally, there is a collection of special features including a new location featurette hosted by writer Michael Gingold,  Audio Commentary with writer / director Meir Zarchi, Audio Commentary with Film Critic Joe Bob Briggs, new cast interviews and deleted scenes, an exclusive making-of featurette, rare and behind-the-scenes photos from the set, home movies, reversible cover art (“I Spit on Your Grave” only).
  
Ronin Flix is proud to present this commemorative box set as its second release, following a highly praised first release of “Hardware”. The 3 disc Collector’s Edition “I Spit on Your Grave” Blu-ray Box Set will be available for pre-order exclusively on roninflix.com now. The initial print run will be limited to 5,000 copies. So shouting out to all horror fans, this is a must own and a great gift for this holiday season and a very reasonable price.

Blu-ray Review: “Back to the Future – the Ultimate Trilogy”

In the summer of 1985 a film made it’s way to theatres rather unexpectedly. I was a theatre manager when “Back to the Future” opened up and the two things I remember best about the film was that it was released earlier than planned (I have buttons announcing the film opening on July 19th. However, with nothing to show in theatres during the coveted Fourth of July period, Universal dropped it on July 3rd) and that, when the film was over, the credit card read THE END. Not exactly. “Back to the Future” would go on to spawn two sequels and a legion of fans and I couldn’t think of a better day than today, October 21 – the day Marty goes back in time – to rave about the new Blu-ray release of “Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy!”

The story in a nutshell: Marty McFly is a “slacker” who loves playing guitar and riding his skateboard. His friendship with Doc Brown ends up sending him back in time to 1955, where he meets the young boy and girl who will become his parents. Hijinks ensue. In BTTF II Marty and Doc actually go into the future – JAWS 19 anyone – and back. Part III takes them to the old West. But no matter what century they’re in, the story is top notch and the two characters beloved.

But Mike, you’re saying, I already have these films on Blu-ray. Why should I get the Ultimate Trilogy? Besides the amazing video and audio, there are a lot of bonus goodies carried over from the 30th Anniversary Edition but you can now watch these new amazing extras:

A tour of the “Back to the Future” exhibit at the Hollywood Museum

A three-part feature that takes you behind the scenes on “Back to the Future: The Musical,” with a couple of music videos from the show.

Audition tapes of other actors considered for the film, including C. Thomas Howell and Ben Stiller reading for Marty McFly, Kyra Sedgwick autidioning for Jennifer Parker and Billy Zane and Peter DeLuise auditioning for Biff (Zane would make the film as a member of Biff’s gang).

All this and great extras on all three films, including Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Commentaries and much more. Sadly, no Eric Stoltz footage, though when I interviewed Bob Gale (one of the writers/producers) he told me they haven’t released the footage because they felt it would reflect badly on Stoltz. There are plenty of photos of Stoltz on the set but the only footage I’ve ever seen is a quick shot of him walking across the street. However, if you’re sharp eyed, you’ll see that it is Stoltz’s hand that punches Biff in the soda shop. Look even closer and you’ll see it’s clearly the side of Stoltz’s head. I wonder if he gets residuals.

Digital Review “You Should Have Left”

“You Should Have Left” had the chance to be epic. Kevin Bacon was reuniting with the writer/director David Koepp, they last teamed up on 1999’s “Stir of Echoes”. Throw in one of my Hollywood crushes, Amanda Seyfried (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again“, “Les Misérables”), and you have a winner…right?! Sorry, this slow burn thriller-at best (not horror) doesn’t pay off in the end. Performances from Bacon and Seyfried were OK, no issues there. Well, maybe all except for Seyfried’s over-the-top orgasm (during an off-camera sex scene). The house in the film definitely interested me more than the movie itself.
 
Official Premise: In this psychological thriller from Blumhouse Productions and legendary screenwriter Koepp, Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried star as a couple seeking a restful vacation in a remote home in the Welsh countryside. What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a terrifying nightmare when reality begins to unravel, dark episodes from the past resurface, and a sinister force in the house refuses to let them leave.

I give them credit for attempting to get to where they were trying to get to, since they never quite make it fully. The idea of the haunted house was kinda neat but I would have loved to seen it fleshed more. A little less mystery. Honestly, though if that house is on AirBNB someone tell me because its gorgeous! There are no extra content included with the digital code.

Blu-ray Review “The Outsider: The Complete First Season”

Season: 4 out of stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

After the success of “IT”, there has been a full flow of Stephen King’s novels being adapted into film or TV being kicked into production. “The Outsider” is based off of King’s 2018 book. The show is backed with a great cast packed with great twists and turns that will keep you gripped to the TV until the climax. Ben Mendelsohn has made his name playing lead baddies in “Rogue One” and “Ready Player One” recently. It is nice seeing the other side of him in this series. Jason Bateman nails the dramatic angle again for sure after “Ozark”. This show was a big hit for HBO’s being labeled as its most watched new series in the last three years. So expect a second season in the works very soon!

Official Premise: Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, The Outsider is a new drama series that follows a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy. When 11-year-old Frankie Peterson’s body is found mutilated in the Georgia woods, police detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) sets out to investigate – with eyewitnesses and physical evidence pointing to Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), a popular high school teacher, Little League coach, doting husband and father. While the case appears ironclad, Ralph is baffled by the emergence of contradictory evidence that places his suspect in a neighboring city at the time of the murder. The mysterious set of circumstances surrounding this horrifying crime leads Ralph, a seasoned cop still grieving the recent death of his own son, to bring in unorthodox private investigator Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), whose uncanny abilities he hopes will help explain the unexplainable.

The incredible cast of The Outsider includes Emmy®- and Golden Globe nominee Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline,” “Ready Player One”), Tony Award winner and Oscar® and Golden Globe nominee Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple,” “Harriet”), Bill Camp (Emmy®-nominee for “The Night Of”), Mare Winningham (Oscar® nominee for “Georgia”), Paddy Considine (HBO’s upcoming “The Third Day”), Julianne Nicholson (HBO’s upcoming “Mare of Easttown”), Yul Vázquez (“Divorce”), Jeremy Bobb (CINEMAX’s “The Knick”) and Marc Menchaca (“The Sinner”), with Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman (“Ozark,” “Arrested Development”) as Terry Maitland.

The 1080p transfer of the episodes are sharp, like “Castle Rock”, this show does not have an 4K Ultra HD release. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks work perfectly with the score leading these episodes with great suspense. In addition to all 10 exhilarating episodes from season one, The Outsider: The Complete First Season the Blu-ray features over 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes bonus content including the all-new featurette “EL CUCO. THE BABA YAGA. THE OUTSIDER.” In this never-before-seen featurette you dive deeper into the real-world origins and supernatural abilities of the being at the center of The Outsider with interview from the creators and cast. The rest of the featurettes are worth taking a look at but nothing too stunning to jump out at you. “Invitation to Set” takes you through a tour of the show’s shooting locations. We have brief interviews with Stephen King and Jason Bateman. Lastly, “Adapting The Outsider” talks about bringing the story to life from the book to small screen.

BONUS FEATURES

  • EL CUCO. THE BABA YAGA. THE OUTSIDER – All New Featurette
  • Invitation to Set
  • Stephen King and The Outsider
  • Jason Bateman and The Outsider
  • Adapting The Outsider

10 ONE-HOUR EPISODES

  1. Fish in a Barrel
  2. Roanoke
  3. Dark Uncle
  4. Que Viene el Coco
  5. Tear-Drinker
  6. The One About The Yiddish Vampire
  7. In the Pines, In the Pines
  8. Foxhead
  9. Tigers and Bears
  10.  Must/Can’t

Blu-ray Review: Castle Rock: The Complete Second Season

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

Right off the bat let me start with the fact that “Castle Rock” fans are going to be pretty disappointed with this release. First of all the first season of “Castle Rock” was released in 4K UHD, so where is the 4K release for season two? I guess we know sales weren’t as expected, I assume. Either way season two is a far superior than than the first. Let’s just say that Lizzie Caplan knocks it outta the park with her performance. So, great season but I am sure fans like myself were hoping for that 4K release as well.

Studio description: Stephen King’s multiverse, Castle Rock, is a place which combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of the best-selling author’s best-loved works. In season two, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes (Lizzie Caplan, Masters of Sex), Stephen King’s nurse from hell, gets waylaid in the small town of Castle Rock. Local businessman Reginald “Pop” Merrill (played by Academy® Award-winning actor Tim Robbins – Mystic River) is dragged into the fight, when Pop’s nephew, legendary bully John “Ace” Merrill (Paul Sparks, House of Cards), stirs up trouble. It’s another eerily unforgettable season of Castle Rock, as the mysterious town’s ongoing epic saga continues to unfold.

Season two of Castle Rock also stars Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) as Abdi Howlwadaag, Yusra Warsama as Dr. Nadia Howlwadaag, Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) as Joy and Matthew Alan as Chris Merrill (Snowfall, 13 Reasons Why).

Along with the ten one-hour episodes, the special features on the release are really sad. There is no commentary tracks included, which I am sure fans would have dug. All we get is new featurette called “ANNIE WILKES: Mother of Sorrow”, which runs about ten minutes. The Blu-ray itself still looks good even though its not 4K. The 1080p transfer is solid and sharp, works well with dark scenes. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks also carry the seasons mystery and suspense well.

10 One-Hour Episodes:

  1. Let the River Run
  2. New Jerusalem
  3. Ties that Bind
  4. Restore Hope
  5. The Laughing Place
  6. The Mother
  7. The Word
  8. Dirty
  9. Caveat Emptor
  10. Clean

Blu-ray Review: “The Invisible Man” (2020)

DIrected by: Leigh Whannell
Starring:  Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Distributed by: Universal Home Video
Running time: 124 minutes

  • Film: 4 out of 5 stars
  • A/V: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

There’s a great joke I first heard in the eighth grade that deals with a mishap involving Superman, Wonder Woman and the Invisible Man.  I can’t relate it hear but believe me, the punchline is killer.  So is the latest incarnation of the Invisible Man.

We open on a couple in bed.  As Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) sleeps, Cecilia (Moss) gets up, gathers some things and makes her way quietly out of the state of the art house.  Doing her best to avoid cameras and not set off alarms, she makes her way to the road, where a ride is waiting.  But she will soon find out that you can’t run away from some things, no matter how hard you try.

Genuinely terrifying, with a tour-de-force performance by Ms. Moss, “The Invisible Man” starts off slowly and clumsy.  20-minutes in I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to see a rehash of “Sleeping with the Enemy,” only with a Patrick Bergin that I couldn’t see.  But just as that thought came into my head, writer/director Whannell flipped the switch, taking the film into directions I never would have imagined.

There have been many attempts at filming H.G. Wells’ story of a man with the power of invisibility, from the 1933 Universal Horror Classic “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains to the 2000 Kevin Bacon-starrer “Hollow Man.”  Heck, even Kurt Russell and Chevy Chase have taken comedic shots at the story.  But here, the main theme is terror, especially to an audience who is on the edge of their seats, intently staring at the screen and looking for the slightest hint the bad guy is there.

Moss is a revelation here.  Best known for her television and streaming work (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaids Tale”) and a strong supporting turn in last year’s Jordan Peele horror masterpiece, “Us,” she has the unenviable job of basically interacting with a character that the audience never sees.  Whether arguing, pleading or physically fighting with our villain, it’s just her on the screen, yet you feel her terror, especially when she is violently struggling with an entity that she (nor the audience) can see.  Mr. Whannell, no stranger to horror thanks to his involvement in the “Saw” and “Insidious” film series, keeps the pace moving (after the first half-hour) and uses his camera as an almost additional character.  The musical score, by Benjamin Wallfisch (“IT,” “Bladerunner: 2049), helps set the mood as well.  The result is the most terrifying film since the aforementioned “Us.”  If you’re a fan of horror, you definitely need this one in your collection.

Digital Review “Infinity Train: Book One”

“Infinity Train” is a new show created by Owen Dennis (former writer and storyboard artist from “Regular Show”) which aired on Cartoon Network. The show was split into two books, the first book will take you on a journey will all 10 episodes from the first season. Also included with Book One is an hour of epic bonus features including commentaries, documentaries, animatics, and more! I love the animation style from this show, it is simple yet extremely complex. The colors are so vibrant. I can’t wait to see what season two will bring as each episode literally draws you in deeper and deeper into the mystery of the show.

Official Premise: Join Tulip on a mind-bending journey aboard the mysterious Infinity Train, alongside her companions Atticus, the canine king of Corginia, and One-One, a robot with dueling personalities. With puzzles and perils awaiting them in every car and the relentless Steward on their trail, will Tulip ever find a way off the train and return home?

The voice cast is also very impressive Ashley Johnson aka Chrissy Seaver in “Growing Pains” and tons of other voice over projects including “Teen Titans” and the video game “The Last of Us”. Also included is Ernie Hudson aka Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters film series. Reocurring characters include Kate Mulgrew aka Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, Lena Headey aka Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones and Dee Bradley Baker from Phineas and Ferb, SpongeBob SquarePants and 100’s of other shows.

Infinity Train: Book One is available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and others.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Animatics
  • Infinity Train Gallery
  • Commentary
  • The Mix of the Final Episode
  • The Train Documentaries

10 EPISODES

  1. The Grid Car
  2. The Beach Car
  3. The Corgi Car
  4. The Crystal Car
  5. The Cat’s Car
  6. The Unfinished Car
  7. The Chrome Car
  8. The Ball Pit Car
  9. The Past Car
  10. The Engine

Blu-ray Review “Tommy Boy: 25th Anniversary Steelbook”

Celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year, “Tommy Boy” comes home with a brand new Limited Edition Steelbook arriving 05/26/2020 exclusively at FYE. It’s crazy to think that it has been 25 years since this film has come out. I remember seeing it in the theaters and literally falling out of my seat laughing, which doesn’t happen very often. There really aren’t comedies like this these days. The combo of Chris Farley and David Space really delivered one of the best comedies ever with “Tommy Boy”.

Leave it up to FYE for delivering yet another amazing exclusive Steelbook. They have some of the best steelbook releases recently. FYE understands that collector’s love these releases and they are always on the ball of releasing some great titles with fantastic steelbook releases. The artwork for this film is great especially love the choice of the inside case photo that they chose. Fans of “Tommy Boy” should definitely pick this up at your local FYE or online at their shop.

Official Premise: The gust-busting duo of crack-up comedians Chris Farley and David Space star in one of the funniest films of the ’90s. To save the family business, two ne’er-do-well traveling salesmen hit the road with disastrously funny consequences. Tommy Boy is a larger-than-life movie, with a great supporting cast that includes Rod Lowe, Bo Derek, Dan Aykroyd and Brian Dennehy.

The Blu-ray disc included is the same as the “Holy Schnike Edition”, which was released back in 2008. Paramount presents the film in a solid 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. The film shows its age a little bit but the transfer is overall very nice. There is a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack included as well, which works fine with the dialogue and the soundtrack.

The special features are worth checking out as well. First up, we get a commentary track from director Peter Segal. You can tell that he enjoyed watching the film due to laughing at various scenes. The rest of the extras are all in 480p, so DVD quality, due to the age of the film. There are storyboard comparisons, a bunch of deleted / extended and alternate scenes as well as a photo gallery. Lastly there are four featurettes, a gag reel and some trailers included.

I can’t wait to see what FYE releases next for their exclusive steelbook releases. I am keeping my figures crossed for some of Terry Gilliam’s classics like “Brazil” or “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. I can see FYE nailing some of his film with a solid steelbook releases.

Blu-Ray Review: “Mystify Michael Hutchence”

Directed By: Richard Lowenstein

Distributed By: Shout Factory

Runtime: 102 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars

Special Features: 4 out of 5 stars

The fascinating new documentary “Mystify Michael Hutchence” comes to Blu-ray™ and DVD on March 31, 2020 via ShoutFactory.com and Amazon.com. The film takes an in-depth look into the life and tragic death of the lead singer of INXS. Written and directed by Richard Lowenstein (Dogs in Space) who was a close friend of the artist, “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is a powerfully intimate and insightful portrait of the internationally renowned INXS front man.

Right away I want to make potential viewers aware that “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is not a film specifically about the band INXS. Yes, obviously the group whose hits include “What You Need” “Never Tear Us Apart” and “New Sensation” do play a part in the story of Michael Huthence however, what “Mystify” does do is take a deeper and more personal look at the enigmatic front man. From his early years as a shy and somewhat introverted youth to, his involvement with the formation and success of INXS “Mystify” leaves no stone unturned. Though I found the did seemed t be a bit scattered and spotty at times there was still enough substance and detail to give the viewer a solid sense of what Hutchence was like throughout the various stages if is life. As the film begins to close in on the singer’s struggles and subsequent suicide you can’t help but feel some sense of internal grief and sadness.   

Over an hour of special features are included with the Blu-ray and DVD releases including extended interviews with the people closest to Michael prior to his death along with interviews of Hutchence himself discussing the formation of INXS, his growing up on film sets around Hong Kong and the use of INXS music in commercials. I found this portion of the release complimented the film nicely as each section provided even more depth to what was covered in the film.  

 “Mystify Michael Hutchence” is not just a film for INXS fans as Michaels story is a captivating one that keeps viewers attention throughout the films 102 minute run time. Despite the somewhat scattered presentation the film does give viewers plenty of footage and interviews some of which were previously unseen making for an interesting viewing experience.   

Blu-ray Review “Spies in Disguise”

Directors: Nick Bruno, Troy Quane
Starring: Tom Holland, Will Smith, Karen Gillan, Ben Mendelsohn, Rashida Jones, Masi Oka
20th Century Fox
Running Time: 101 min
Rated PG
Release Date: Mar 10, 2020

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Talk about a hot voice cast including Tom Holland (“Spider-Man” franchise), Will Smith (“Men in Black”). I really wanted to love this film, but it didn’t really hit it home for me. There are parts I really liked but I wanted this to be so much funnier. The supporting cast also are fantastic including Karen Gillan (“Jumanji” franchise), Ben Mendelsohn (“Ready Player One”), Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”). The action is hot in the film. The gadgets are fun also. I can’t see myself watching this film over and over again, but I don’t regret seeing it once. Kids will definitely dig it as my 8-year-old loved it.

Official Premise: In this high-flying animated comedy, super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is none of the above. But this unlikely duo must team up for the ultimate mission to save the world when a “biodynamic concealment” experiment transforms Lance into a brave, fierce, majestic…pigeon!

The Blu-ray 1080p transfer is solid! The colors and the animation really pop. The film definitely has a nice style to it and the transfer works really well. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 also delivers the film’s action perfectly. There are also Spanish and French tracks included on the disc, but they are only Dolby Digital 5.1, which is quite the drop-in quality.

The Blu-ray edition of Spies In Disguise includes a “Super Secret Spy Mode,” which is an immersive, in-movie experience which delivers Easter eggs, fun facts, and behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the film. Get the thrill of the movie while enjoying it, definitely the best of both worlds. I wish that more Blu-rays came with features like this. Usually, I can’t get my daughter to sit through the special features since she they lose her attention but this one was interactive and added a lot to the film.

The rest of the special features included are “Infiltrating Blue Sky Studios”, which goes inside the studio that made the film, pretty cool stuff. There is a featurette called “The Top Secret Guide to Gadgets”. The music in this film is important there are two music videos includes as well as behind-the-scene looks into both of the songs, “Then There Were Two” and “Freak of Nature”.

Next up, there are a few featurettes on the behind-the-scenes into the production including a gallery of images as well as Color Keys and Moment Paintings, Character Designs and Props and Gadgets Concept Art. Lastly the Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD copy of the film as well as a digital code.

Blu-ray Review: Dark Waters

Directed by: Todd Haynes
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins
Distributed by: Universal Home Video
Running time: 126

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
A/V: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

1975. A group of youngsters out on a Saturday night. They take their trucks and their beer to the local swimming hole and jump in. A pretty standard night for the teenagers in West Virginia (or anywhere else for that matter). They are surprised when they are rousted out of the water by strange men with hoses in boats.

1998. After being informed he is moving up in the law firm he works for, Attorney Rob Billot (Ruffalo) is informed that he has a visitor. The man, a farmer named Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) has come to ask for help regarding the horrific deaths of cows on his farm. At first Rob hesitates to speak with Wilbur but, when he learns that the man is friends with his grandmother in West Virginia, he agrees to listen. What he hears -and later witnesses – will change his life forever.

At first I thought this film would play out as a male-led version of “Erin Brockovich.” I was wrong. While I enjoyed that Julia Roberts flick, it didn’t pack the heart that “Dark Waters” does. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that Mark Ruffalo is not only a talented actor but he has been, and is, very vocal about the world’s environment. I imagine him hearing the pitch for this film and just saying “yes.” Intentional or not, Ruffalo’s personal passions inhabit his character, and you feel that passion.

Ruffalo is joined by a strong cast of supporting actors, including Hathaway, Robbins (in only his third film in five years), Victor Garber, Mare Winningham and a grizzly Bill Pullman. The script, based on a New York Times magazine article, is strong but not preachy. The direction is strong and Mr. Haynes keeps the film flowing smoothly over it’s two-plus hour length.

Oddly, this is the 2nd time Mark Ruffalo has taken on DuPont. He ended up on the wrong end of a gun in “Foxcatcher” so maybe this film was his way of getting even!

Blu-ray Review “Parasite”

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, Jang Hye-jin
Distributed by: CJ Entertainment
Running time: 132 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
A/V: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Director Bong Joon Ho has been on my radar since “The Host”, and “Snowpiercer”. Two amazing movies that the average viewers have never seen but hopefully that will change now. “Parasite” made history as the first Korean film to be nominated for an Oscar®. The film received six Oscar® nominations and ended up winning not only Best International Film but also Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay. This film is definitely the underdog and deserved everything it got. It is a very unique and original film and I am glad to see it get the attention it deserves.

Featuring incredible must-see performances from the entire cast including Song Kang Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host), Lee Sun Kyun (A Hard Day, Paju), Cho Yeo Jeong (The Servant, Obsessed), Choi Woo Shik (Okja, Train to Busan), Park So Dam (The Priests, The Silenced), Lee Jung Eun (Okja, The Wailing) and Chang Hyae Jin (Marine Boy, If It Snows on Christmas). Everyone in this cast does an amazing job. I am huge fan of Song Kang Ho and I am glad to see him back with director Bong Joon Ho. I would definitely call this film an ensemble cast. Literally outstanding.

Official Premise: In PARASITE, meet the Park family, the picture of aspirational wealth and the Kim family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kim’s sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.

Technically this release is amazing. The 1080p transfer is gorgeous. The colors are simply gorgeous. According to IMDB, this film was shot at a resolution of 6.5K and finished at 4K and then downscaled to 1080p. But simply, this film just looks beautiful. The Korean language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is the only audio option on the disc. There is no dub track only English subtitles are included. This is the way to watch the film anyway. I wouldn’t want to see this dubbed. The score works well with this track also. It is just simply perfect. Overall, in terms of technical merits this release deserves a big major thumbs up!

Despite the amazing A/V on this release, personally I am a bit disappointed in the Blu-ray release for “Parasite”, I feel like it was rushed to release. It also didn’t get a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release, which is a bit sad. With the way this film was shot it would be amazing in 4K. It is though available to stream in 4K Ultra HD if that is your thing, just not on disc. Also the special features aren’t very special. There is only one extra included on this Blu-ray disc, which is a Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho. It is worth watching if you enjoyed the film but I was really hoping for more. I don’t think anyone expected this film to do what it did. Hopefully there will be a re-release of this film in 4K Ultra HD in a nice steelbook release in the future.

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