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Tue
08
Sep

Direct-to-DVD Too Good for Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite

Cats Dogs 3 Paws Unite DVD

The CATS & DOGS franchise operates on the conceit that animals can all talk, and that cats and dogs work together to operate a high-tech MI-6 inspired operation to protect the world from other cats and dogs who have evil plans for the world. Using voice actors and CGI, it was an entertaining franchise for children to watch, and had enough of a plot to keep the adults awake.

With this third installment, PAWS UNITE, the notion of an engaging plot has been thrown out with the kitty litter.

Sun
06
Sep

35 Years Later, The Goonies Still Fun

Goonies 4K

Talk to any child of the 80s about what made that era so great, and eventually talk will come around to THE GOONIES, the Steven Spielberg production that brought a motley group of outcast kids together on a treasure hunt that pitted them against criminals and clues in an effort to save their homes from a greedy real estate developer.

In addition to being the first big-screen appearances for actors Sean Astin and Josh Brolin, THE GOONIES featured Corey Feldman, who was already an accomplished actor but who certainly came to prominence due to this film, and Anne Ramsey, perfectly cast as Mama Fratelli, the leader of a family counterfeiting gang that sets up operations in an old restaurant that happens to sit atop the entrance to a series of underground tunnels used hundreds of years ago by pirates -- pirates whose treasure is fabled to still exist somewhere in the catacombs.

Mon
31
Aug

Superman: Man of Tomorrow Misses Audience of Today

Superman Man of Tomorrow Review

With JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR, the interconnected DC Animated Universe was brought to a close -- or a new beginning, depending on your perspective.

SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW may be that new beginning, as it gives viewers a Superman who as not yet even put on the cape. 

Clark Kent (Darren Criss) is an intern for the Daily Planet, yet to have his own byline. Lois Lane (Alexandra Daddario) has only just broken into the ranks of the press, having been responsible for the downfall of corrupt magnate Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto). The world is only just getting introduced to the idea of superheroes, what with the rare glimpses of Superman's exploits as the "flying man" wearing the aviator helmet and goggles, and the even rarer shots of the Bat Man of Gotham City.

Tue
25
Aug

History Channel's Washington a Personal Glimpse at American Founding Father

Washington DVD

Jeff Daniels narrates WASHINGTON, a three-part miniseries for The History Channel that mixes re-enactment with seated interview segments that do a deep-dive into the events in the life of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Nicholas Rowe (YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES) plays the titular founding father in program that strips away the folk history to reveal the man beneath, complete with flaws and failures. From his first military command -- which resulted in an embarrassing attack on a French diplomatic party with Washington signing a confession branding him as an assassin -- to his tactical decisions as the Commander in Chief of his own army in the American Revolution, WASHINGTON is a story of growth and maturiing, of making mistakes and learning from them. Rowe presents a stoic Washington throughout, even when forced to make hard decisions such as hanging deserters or having mutineers execute their leaders in a firing squad.

Wed
19
Aug

The Flash Season Six: Success is Erased

Flash Season 6 Bluray

2020 was meant to be the biggest year ever for CW's THE FLASH. From the very first episode when viewers got teased with that headline from the future, we knew the series was building toward the legendary "Crisis on Infinite Earths" story -- a story which, in comics, rebuilt the entire DC Universe from scratch at the cost of the lives of The Flash and Supergirl. And while it seemed unlikely that the showrunners were going to sacrifice two of their titular characters for the sake of telling the story, expectations among fans were nonetheless high.

Wed
12
Aug

Batwoman Season One Blu-ray: A Study in How Social Messaging Defeats Story Success

Batwoman Season One Blu-ray

From its very preconception, BATWOMAN seemed to be a project destined for failure on the CW. From the inflammatory pre-show trailers to the shoe-horned identity-driven approach to storytelling, the series was determined to trip over itself to be something rather than letting an organically told story do the work for them, ultimately resulting in the lead actress, Ruby Rose, opting to leave the role of Kate Kane -- the titular hero -- after the freshman year.

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.

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