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Thu
06
Aug

The Journey to Mordor Went Faster and Clearer than Season One of His Dark Materials

HDM Season 1

The premise of Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS is one with a lot of promise. It's theological at its core, positing an alternate world much like our own, with an identical creation story of Adam, Eve, and Serpent. But beyond that, things diverge. The world is one of dirigible and balloon transport, and the architecture seems older and more industrial revolution era. But beyodn the trappings of technology, there is more: humans are born with a "daemon" -- a spirit animal that can change its form until the human host reaches puberty, at which point it settles on one specific animal. The connection between human and daemon is considered sacred, and indeed what effects one is felt on the other. When humans die, their daemons disintegrate.

Wed
05
Aug

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Season 2: Forgettable Actions in Venezuela

Jack Ryan Season 2

I've greatly enjoyed the movies adapting Tom Clancy's novels. There was plenty of action and suspense, and you felt the character was always in a (wait for it) clear and present danger.

Now, I admittedly missed the first season of the JACK RYAN streaming series, and honestly I wasn't lost entering the second season without it. The storyline here was clearly a new beginning bringing back the titular character (played by John Krasinski) with James Greer (Wendell Pierce), and introducing Mike November (Michael Kelly). The setting is Venezuela, where the current corrupt leader, Nicolas Reyes (Jordi Mollà), is having his position challenged in the upcoming election by Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umaña).

Wed
29
Jul

Halfway Through Watching, You Realize: You Should Have Left

You Should Have Left

The arthouse horror film YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT has more than a few good elements to work with when crafting a haunted house story. Unfortunately, it doesn't make as much use of them as it should.

A former banker, Theo (Kevin Bacon), and his actress wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried), rent a house in the Welsh countryside while Susanna films a movie there. If you're immediately thinking about the age disparity between Bacon (who has apparently grown up to become Randy Travis) and BIG LOVE actress, it's actually acknowledged in the plot, when one of Susanna's co-workers question if Theo is her father.

Tue
28
Jul

Bring HBO's The Outsider Inside on Blu-ray

The Outsider Season 1

While HBO's THE OUTSIDER was based on a singular novel, and while the series wrapped up an entire story arc within its confines, I find it comforting to see that the home video release of the series is listed on Amazon as "The First Season." This doesn't appear anywhere on the box art, so whether or not this cast -- or parts of this cast -- will return for another mystery is anyone's guess, but it's a ray of hope nonetheless.

The show kicks off with the gruesome murder of a child, where video, eyewitness, and even DNA evidence point to the killer as being the upstanding citizen and Little League coach, Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn), who knows what it's like to lose a child, wants to make an exampe of Maitland and arranges his arrest to be made very publicly.

Thu
23
Jul

Scoob! Gets Scooby-Doo Right--but Nobody Else

Scoob Bluray

The first trailer for SCOOB! looked promising. We saw a stray pup find a friend, and we saw a lonely kid find a team. If this had stayed with that, an adolescent version of Mystery Inc, things might have gone a lot better, because it really was one of the better parts of the film.

Thu
16
Jul

Russian SF Flick Attraction 2: Invasion Visually Fun -- So Watch Muted

Attraction 2 Invasion

ATTRACTION 2 is a visually stunning work of science fiction, and the trailers for it certainly communicated that fact, drawing in new fans as well as those who had already seen the 2017 ATTRACTION to which this is the sequel. It's shots of outer space satellite action, the scenes of flying through the city in a miniatur pod craft -- in fact, the entire cinematography is a thing to be admired from beginning to end.

And if visuals were all it took to make a great film, then this one would be a success. But there's also story and dialogue to be considered, and that's where this Blu-ray release just fails to capture me. To be fair, I am watching an American dub; the dialogue in the original Russian, were I able to do more than say 'good morning' and 'let's get coffee', might make more sense.

Fri
26
Jun

Magic and Monsters Collide when Shazam Makes LEGO Debut

Shazam - Magic and Monsters

We saw this hinted at in the last LEGO BATMAN animated movie, FAMILY MATTERS. It was more than just an Easter Egg when Batman received assistance from a young boy named Billy Batson, as was revealed in the movie's after-credits scene that showed Billy boarding a mysterious subway car that whisked him away.

Fri
12
Jun

Blumhouse Hunt a Swiftian Satire Through Modern Lens

The Hunt Blu-ray

When THE HUNT was first publicized, it was received with a tremendous amount of online criticism. The elevator pitch was that it was going to be a riff on "The Most Dangerous Game" except that those hunted would be kidnapped Trump supporters released into the wilds of a private estate, to be chased down and killed in gruesome fashion by powerful elites. It was seen as further persecution of conservatives in some corners, and as the seal of approval or an open season on GOP voters by others. Paranoia, as the bards put it so eloquently, runs deep.

In truth, the film is actually a riff on "The Most Dangerous Game" except that those hunted would be... oh. Okay, so maybe the elevator pitch plot was actually spot on in that regard -- but it was hardly the whole story.

Thu
28
May

Harley Quinn: Potty-Mouth Bloodbath Version Fun for Adult Comics Fans

Harley Quinn Season One DVD

If you go into the DC Universe streaming series HARLEY QUINN expecting it to be an extension of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES or any of the other DCAU projects, then you've put up an unnecessary barrier to enjoying this show. Yes, the series has Batman and Robin and the Justice League, and yes it has more DCU villains than you could feasibly lock up in a single asylum. But this is the DCU as viewed through the lens of Mad Magazine, with the editors high on cocaine while wearing bondage gear. It's irreverent, it's foul-mouthed -- and it's funny AF.

Wed
27
May

After 30 Years, Top Gun on Blu-Ray Will Still Take Your Breath Away

Top Gun 4K Blu-ray

In 1986, TOP GUN put audiences in the cockpit for the visual ride of their lives. The story of hotshot Navy pilot, Maverick (Tom Cruise), captured the imaginations of men and women, young and old, with its thrilling camera work with fighter planes and its smoldering romance scenes between Cruise and Navy pilot instructor Charlie (Kelly McGillis).

Maverick and his partner Goose (Anthony Edwards) are sent to Top Gun, the elite fighting academy, to learn combat flight maneuvers so they rely less on their missiles and more on their dogfighting tecniques. But it's more than just a class -- it's a competition among the best the Navy has to offer, and Maverick finds himself in a heated race with Iceman (Val Kilmer) for the top spot.

Tue
05
May

Save Lucifer -- The Fourth Season, That Is -- In Your DVD Cabinet

Lucifer Season 4

After LUCIFER got nixed from broadcast television after it's third season, the fandom for the show came out in force to get the series renewed. Their #SaveLucifer campaign literally raised hell online, even getting a boost from celebrity Twitter expert William Shatner. And in the end, their revolt had the desired effect. The box art for the DVD release of the third season, which originally read "Final Season," got changed at the eleventh hour -- a clear indication that there was a disturbance in the force.

The diligence of the fans was rewarded, and Warner Brothers moved forward with a fourth season of LUCIFER, taking the devil to his new home on Netflix. And now that fourth season is being packaged up for the home entertainment market.

Sun
12
Apr

V: The Final Battle on Blu-ray

V: The Final Battle

In 1984, the country was fully caught up in the fever of the first trilogy of STAR WARS films, and television had stepped up to fill that void with programs like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and the simplistically titled and high-minded sci-fi thriller, V.

The "V" stood for "The Visitors," who were aliens who had come to Earth under the pretense of helping mankind. But the show was actually the long-form version of Damon Knight's short-story, "To Serve Man," because the Visitors were actually lizard people wearing human skin disguises, here to plunder our resources and process human beings as a food source.

Wed
08
Apr

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge Hits Like a Hard "R" G.I. Joe

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge

MORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: SCORPION'S REVENGE opens, as one would expect, by presenting itself as the origin of Hanzo Hasashi (voiced by Patrick Seitz), a great warrior who returns to his village to find it completely eradicated, including his wife. His final vision before his death is the brutal murder of his young son.

Hasashi awakens in the Netherrealm, where he is about to be tortured for all eternity by a demon. But Hasashi's will is indomitable, and he manages to fight his way through an army of demons, to the door of Quan Chi (Darin De Paul), who offers Hasashi an opportunity to get his life and family back -- by obtaining the key to unlock Quan Chi's imprisoned master through a competition held between the many realms. The competition comes with an opportunity for revenge against the man who killed Hasashi's family. And so Scorpion is born.

Fri
27
Mar

Eastwood's Richard Jewell a Captivating Look at a Moment in History

Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood's RICHARD JEWELL is a compelling look at the actual events of 1996 and the bombing that took place at the Olympic Games in Atlanta Georgia.

When an AT&T security guard named Richard Jewell spotted a suspicious backpack, he insists police investigate it. This was a pre-9/11 world, where people weren't as hyper-aware of abandoned knapsacks and packages. Inside the pack were three very large pipe bombs, and the evacuation of the area is ordered. When the bomb went off, 111 people were injured, and Alice Hawthorne (44, Albany, Georgia) and Melih Uzunyol (40, Turkey) lost their lives. But the devastation could have been much worse. By all rights, Richard Jewel was a hero.

Until the FBI and the media decided he wasn't, and began profiling him as the person who planted the bomb in order to set himself up to look like a hero.

Mon
23
Mar

Titans a Team of Lesser Criminals in DCU Second Season

Titans Season 2

The second season of TITANS picks up with -- and rapidly resolves -- the first season cliffhanger, which saw Raven's father, Trigon, take over all the Titans and begin his slow-walk of death to the world. With Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) being the only member unaffected he gets through to Raven (Teagan Croft) who in turn reaches out to Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). One by one Trigon loses his grasp on their souls, as Raven takes out her father with a mighty release of her powers. 

Sun
22
Mar

Uncut Gems Unsettling Cinema

Uncut Gems Adam Sandler

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a jeweler living the high life at a high cost. He maintains a home with his wife and children, as well as an apartment with his girlfriend, Julia (Julia Fox), but it takes more than selling high-end jewelry to a select clientele. Howard has so many shady irons in the fire that he has to become an expert juggler and proficient liar just to keep his head above water.

Sun
15
Mar

What if Superman Landed in Soviet Russia? Superman: Red Son Releases on Blu-ray and Digital

Superman: Red Son

The Mark Millar Elseworld's tale gets an animated adaptation as DC Entertainment releases SUPERMAN: RED SON on Blu-ray this week.

The premise of the Elseworld's graphic novels was a genius concept, wherein all the elements of an event in the DC Universe would remain fairly the same save for one change that altered the course. With SUPERMAN: RED SON, that change was a half-day; twelve hours, in which the Earth's rotation made it so that Superman's rocket did not land in a Kansas wheat field, but in a wheat field within Stalin's Russia. This gave Millar the playground to test the ages-old argument of nature versus nurture, as Kal-El is raised to support the State and believe in the ideals of communism, while still having within him the innate desire to help people.

Mon
09
Mar

Charlie's Angels (2019) an Object Lesson in Killing Franchises

Charlie's Angels 2019

It's not uncommon that a film have a theme. In fact, it's expected. You watch the film, you digest the plot, and you come away with the idea that, "This was a metaphor for this particular idea."

With CHARLIE'S ANGELS (2019), the theme is explicitly stated up front, and then slowly moves on from there to hammer that idea home. And that idea is this: Men are bad.

In this Elizabeth Banks take on the CHARLIE'S ANGELS franchise, the Townsend Agency has been taken international, just as John Bosley (Patrick Stewart) is retiring. As a tribute of sorts, every agency's lieutenant is given the rank of "Bosley," which doesn't get confusing at all. So Elizabeth Banks' character in this film is called Bosley as she directs the activities of her Angels while also directing the actors playing them.

Sun
08
Mar

Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary Bad Taste with Splattertastic Enthusiasm

Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary

GHOST KILLERS VS. BLOODY MARY is designed to appeal to the fans of cult, independent gross-out gore flicks. If you have a collection of Troma titles and early Peter Jackson works, then this is an edition that will fit nicely onto your shelf.

The basic plot of the story involves a YouTube ghost hunting group that is struggling for clicks as they overact and overemote while faking the ghosts they are seeking to destroy. When a high school student is hospitalized after a purported encounter with an urban legend spook, the principal calls the group in to do their thing and make the local parents feel better. He doesn't believe there really is a ghost, but he's heard of their YouTube channel and he thinks that putting on a good show will help people relax. And the Ghoul Hunters are more than happy to take the money to put on a show.

Mon
17
Feb

Swamp Thing Done in One Season - Maybe

Swamp Thing Complete Series 2019

SWAMP THING was one of a handful of original series created for the DC UNIVERSE streaming service -- and it's first casualty. While it completed it's first season of ten episodes, it became clear near the end that the writing was on the wall and things began to get wrapped up in a huge hurry. But there is still hope that fans may see more of the muck-encrusted mockery of a man, if the post-credits teaser of the final episode is any indication.

In this adaptation of the Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson series, Abigail Arcane (GOTHAM's CRYSTAL REED) is a doctor with the Center for Disease Control, who finds herself assigned to a team to investigate a mysterious disease plaguing the town of Marais, Louisiana. The assignment is particularly troublesome to Abby, because Marais is her former home, and we find that she left it under a cloud years ago.

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