Danny's March Madness Blu-Ray and DVD reviews Part 1
Here is the March Round of the latest on Blu-Ray and DVD that has been released over the last several weeks which has enjoyed a fruitful of releases including Oscar Winners such as Birdman and Whiplash. We have plenty to offer this time around, so here we go.
Top Five (**1/2) Paramount/2014/R/1 Hour 43 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 At times, slick entertaining, but meandering semiautobiographical film Written, Directed and Starring Chris Rock who stars as a famous comedian who's life is pretty much a mess. With a new film coming out trying to breakout of his comedy acting range, a reality show styled wedding on the horizon to the beautiful Gabrielle Union, his recurring past and current demons with drugs and alcohol and while he's hanging out with his closest friend Rosario Dawson, a reporter with a few secrets of her own. The film is beautifully shot with its' great New York look and sporadically funny and suffers pretty much from Rock trying to do so much here. Even the cameos by Cedric "The Entertainer", Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, and Adam Sandler along with the rest of the cast including J.B. Smooth, Romany Malco, and Tracy Morgan really feel forced and shoehorned in the story that Rock is trying to tell. Overhyped when it came out, it a bit of a disappointment in the end. Solid special features are included including about half an hours worth of deleted scenes.
The Rewrite (***) RLJ/Image Entertainment/2014/R/1 Hour 47 Minutes./Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 Very entertaining comedy starring Hugh Grant as a washed up Hollywood Oscar winning screenwriter who deseperately takes the job a small college in Binghamton, New York teaching a screenwriting class while trying to figure out why he got there in the first place while he starts to fall for a fun, perky single mom played by Oscar Winner Marisa Tomei. The film is a redemption film for Writer/Director after his misfire, Don't Worry About The Morgans which also starred Grant in 2009 after directing the fun and engaging, Music & Lyrics also starring Grant with the lovely Drew Barrymore. Grant has solid support here with recent Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons, Alison Janney, Chris Elliot and the lovely Bella Heathcoate. Some nice special features are included here.
Big Hero 6 (****) Disney/2014/PG/1 Hour 42 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 This Oscar Winning animated film by Disney is charming and exciting featuring some solid animation about a young boy genius named Hiro, who creates a robot after discovering a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion, a robot named Baymax, Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city. The film was a big hit for many reasons and it's easy to see why mainly because it is a lot of fun and filed with a lot of solid positives to go around. A 3D version is also available and a great assortment of special features is included.
Vice (**1/2) Lionsgate/2014/R/1 Hour 36 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 Slick and surprisingly entertaining, but uninspired thriller that takes after better movies such as The Sixth Day, Surrogates and Futureworld. The film stars Bruce Willis (Yes, The Bruce Willis!) as the creator of a resort where anyone could fulfill their deepest and darkest fantasies from sexual tryst to murder with artificially produced robots that look like regular humans. However, one of them becomes self aware of who they are (the sexy Amber Chylders), the co-creator of Vice (Bryan Greenberg) and a gung-ho VICE hating cop (Thomas Jane) join in the protect her to bring down Willis and VICE along with it. The film is very ambitious for what tries to do despite the small budget and this will be one that will enjoy a cult status for years to come. Willis in his brief time really hams it up as the main villain while Jane going from the annoying stupid sidekick role in Drive Hard with John Cusack to a better role this time around. Chylders is definitely the eye candy that holds this whole thing together. Very good special features are included in this package.
The Breakfast Club: 30th Anniversary Edition (*****) Universal/1985/R/1 Hour 37 Minutes./Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 This is the late Writer/Director John Hughes magnum opus and one that is still brilliant after thirty years with its' hard driving soundtrack and real high school setting about a group of five different types of students that include Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy ranging from popular to rebel that throughout their turbulent day, form a strong bond in which they surprisingly all have something in common in the end that transcends their semantics. The film made stars out of the entire cast as well as Paul Gleason, as the unforgettable principal and also made Hughes a bonafide sought after writer/director in the next few years. Universal has restored the film for this special edition which is worth getting if you don't already have it despite it's repeat of the previous discs' features. A great film that truly deserves all the accolades and attention that has garnered over the years.
Sneakers (****) Universal/1992/PG-13/2 Hours 6 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 This is Field of Dreams' Director Phil Alden Robinson follow up to his masterpiece with this spy caper involving Robert Redford as a former 60's radical gone underground who modern day San Francisco has an elite group of computer wizards including the late River Phoenix, David Stratheirn and Dan Aykroyd along with the tough as nails Sydney Poitier as a former disgraced cop backing them up as security consultants. When Redford is offered a lucrative job to steal a mysterious box containing a computer chip that can literally decypher any encrypted code in the free world, he and his team along with his girlfriend Mary McDonell end up in serious danger when a person from Redford's past played by Ben Kingsley returns to exact revenge. The film is a fun little caper film that isn't made anymore and Redford and company are having fun here and with good reason. All the special features from the original Special Edition DVD are reprised here.
Munich (****) Universal/2005/R/2 Hours 45 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 Oscar nominated account of the real life Munich Olympics bombings in 1972 Directed by Oscar Winner Steven Spielberg starring Eric Bana and a pre James Bond, Daniel Craig who are part of an Israeli team sent in secret on a mission to hunt down the terrorists who killed eleven of their own people during the bombings which really took a toll on all those involved. This film redeemed Spielberg after the debacle of War Of The Worlds earlier that year and shows his strong sense of direction and timing that is armed with a script by playwright Tony Kushner (which was Oscar nominated as well) and another great score by Oscar Winner John Williams. All the great features included on the rare limited edition two DVD set from 2006 are all included here for the first time since that release which came and went very quickly.
The Captive (**) Lionsgate/2014/R/1 Hour 54 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 Inconsistent and slow moving thriller from famed Canadian Director Atom Egoyan that stars Ryan Reynolds as a desperate father searching for his missing daughter, who years after her kidnapping is still kept alive by the kidnapper. The film features a solid cast that includes Rosario Dawson, Mirelle Enos, and Alexia Fast as Reynolds' now grown up daughter. Egoyan is a good director that has written and directed better films than this one, but it has its' positives as well. Not terrible, but not great either.
More from the Olive Films Branch!
Behind Enemy LInes (**1/2) Olive Films/1997/R/1 Hour 34 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 Low budget and at times, entertaining action-thriller starring Thomas Ian Griffith, who deserves to be seen again as former Marine who with his partner were sent on a mission to retreive some nuclear triggers went wrong and with his partner captured by a rogue Thai army and their ruthless general, he goes back into rescue his partner and make sure the triggers stay out of the wrong hands. The film is a little slow and lacking in energy at times, especially when Griffith isn't on screen. Still it's a good little Saturday afternoon matinee film.
Allan Quartermain And The Lost City Of Gold (**) Olive Films/1987/PG/1 Hour 39 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1 After King Solomon's Mines was a hit during the Summer of 1985, Cannon Films already had in the can the films' sequel ready to be released which was filmed back to back with the original one. The film continues the exploits of adventurer Allan Quartermain (Richard Chamberlain) and his new bride, Jessie (Sharon Stone) on a quest along with their companion (James Earl Jones) who after receiving a mysterious gold piece, Quatermain travels to Africa to find his brother, who is searching for a lost white tribe. In his search, Quatermain discovers a lost civilizatio, the city of gold itself and a manical tribal leader Agnon (played by Henry Silva, who Steven Seagal would kill in his debut film, Above The Law not long after) The film is not even close to being worth of its' predecessor, but there is some really over the top campy moments to make it a really bad but good film. including the WTF question of "What is the great James Earl Jones doing in this thing!" Stick with the first one which is light years better than this one and that isn't saying much.
Without A Clue (***) Olive Films/1988/PG/1 Hour 47 Minutes/Aspect Ratio:1:85.1 Fun and engaging comedic version of Sherlock Holmes featuring the talents of Oscar Winners Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley as Holmes and Watson respectively in Writer/Director Thom Eberhardt's film which has Watson as a brilliant crime solver and Holmes as a down on his luck drunk. To keep his great reputation safe, Watson hires an actor to play Holmes and when Watson himself is kidnapped, it is up to Holmes' stand in to figure out all the clues leading to Watson's kidnapper and mount a rescue. The film is charmingly goofy and it is helped by a fine score by the late Henry Mancini, who adds even more sophistication to the film.
Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission/ Dirty Dozen Fatal Mission (**) Olive Films 1987/1988/1 Hour 36 Minutes (Each Film)/Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1 Direct to television sequels starring Telly Savalas, who was in the brilliant original 1967 film along with the late Ernest Borgnine as Savalas leads a group of military soldiers on deadly missions. Not bad follows to the original films, but the original film they are definitely aren't.
Night Game (***) Olive Films/1989/R/1 Hour 36 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 Slick and entertaining thriller starring Roy Scheider as a hard boiled cop investigating the murders of several women in Galveston, Texas that seem to be related to the Houston Astros baseball team and every time a particular player appears in the game. The murderer soon stars to make a target of Scheider's fiancée Karen Young and urgently tries to put the pieces together to solve the murders. The film is solid throughout with Scheider giving a good performance here and featuring an excellent PIno Donaggio score, the film which was lost in limbo has found new life again.
How To Beat The High Cost Of Living (***) Olive Films/1980/PG/1 Hour 45 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 Cheerful, but uneven comedy revolving around three women: a divorcee with three kids (Susan Saint James), a seemingly happy and beautiful woman (Oscar Winner Jessica Lange) married to a wealthy Animal doctor and another divorcee (Jane Curtin) whose boyfriend ditched her and emptied their bank account. While all three have gone broke, the three hatch a scheme to rob a big barrel of money inside their local shopping mall at a big event. The film has many fine moments and a solid cast that also includes Fred Willard, Richard Benjamin and Dabney Coleman, but this is definitely Saint James, Lange and Curtin's show and they're very good together.
Odds and Ends on Blu-Ray and DVD
Allayah: Portrait of An R&B Princess Lionsgate/NR/2014/1 Hour 30 Minutes. Another LIfetime film this time based on the life of the late R&B singer Allayah played marvellously by Alexandra Shipp, who's playing Storm in the upcoming X-Men Apocalypse movie released next year. The film pretty much tells her raise to fame along with her tragic and shocking passing before the film "Queen of the Damned" was going to be released by Warner Bros. The film is definitely worth seeing for Shipp alone.
Jungle Shuffle 3D Cinedigm/G/2014/1 Hour 25 Minutes. Decent innocent film featuring the voices of Clueless star Alicia Silverstone along with Josh and Drake's, Drake Bell amongst others about a cocti that falls in love with an accident-prone cocti and captured by a mad scientist who attempts to make a "super chicken". While this film is a major mess for adults, children of very very young ages will drive parents crazy watching this thing.
Innocence Cinedigm/PG-13/2014/1 Hour 36 Minutes. This mess of a film reunites two Law & Order actors in Stephanie March and Linus Roache along with the added bonus of the beautiful Kelly Reilly, who made a splash as Denzel Washington's friend and lover in the thoughtful drama, Flight. This film which is a mess revolves around a young 16 year old teen whose mother dies and moves to Manhattan with her novelist father and starts to attend an exclusive prep school that harbors dark secrets run by a group of beautiful women that depend on the blood of virgins to keep their looks.
Gomer Pyle: USMC The Complete Series Paramount/24 Discs/3786 Minutes This complete series box for the hit series starring Jim Nabors which has been repackaged for a lower prices is a worthwhile set featuring the entire five season run of the show. Fans of the series will rejoyce.
Petticoat Junction Family Favorite Episodes Paramount/3 Hours 24 Minutes This single disc DVD features eight of the hit series most highly rated episodes featuring the adventures of Shady Rest Hotel caretaker Kate Bradley and her three beautiful daughters, Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo, and Billie Jo along with their lazy Uncle Joe.
Matlock's Greatest Cases 1986-1993/Paramount/3 Discs/569 Minutes. This 3 disc set is a compilation of the hit series' most popular episodes featured during the shows' run. Featuring 12 Episodes including a two-parter, the show featured now famous stars such as NCIS New Oreleans' Scott Bakula, Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and the late Don Knotts of Three's Company.
Late Phases: Night Of The Lone Wolf MPI Video/NR/1 Hour 36 Minutes Slick and mildly entertaining thriller starring Nick Damanci as a blind man who moves into a small retirement community town where neighbors are being murdered about once a month. Sensing that it is the work of something not human, he starts to prepare himself for battle of whatever is out there and kill it.
Halo: Nightfall Season 1 Microsoft Studios/2014/NR/1 Hour 30 Minutes Slick, fast paced and action filled mini film based on the popular video game that eventually will get its' theatrical film adaptation off the ground with Twentieth Century-Fox sooner or later. In the meantime, we have to make do with film which is very good for what it is in telling the story of one of the game central characters' Jamieson Locke. Worth a look especially for the games' die hard fans.
Muck Starz!/Anchor Bay/2014/NR/1 Hour 39 Minutes This is a lower than low horror film that revolves around a group of teens who barely survive an attack in the marshes of Cape Cod which houses a secret Indian burial ground and find shelter in a vacation home which doesn't provide any protection as the teens are still hunted by whatever attacked them in the marshes along with a deep dark secret that lurks inside the house (who didn't see this coming!)
Bankstas! ARC Entertainment/2013/NR/1 Hour 20 MInutes. Lifeless and dreary comedy about two guys who get wind of a student loan corrpution scheme in which they find ways to find the investment bank behind it from going through with it. Alan Thicke and Laura Vandervoot are the only reasons to watch this, the rest you can just basically throw away.
Pick of the Month
Musicals: 4 Movie Collection (Calamity Jane / The Band Wagon / Kiss Me Kate / Singin' in the Rain 1952-53) Warner Brothers/4 Discs This is a wonderful collection of musicals of yesteryear that features the great Singing In The Rain which never gets tired to go along with a 3D version of Kiss Me Kate, Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon and Calamity Jane. This is definitely a bang for your buck set that is worth every penny especailly Singin' In The Rain, which is still brilliant after all these years. A Great Set not to be missed!
That should do it for this round of reviews, stay tuned for the next one featuring more reviews including Interstellar, Olive Films titles and Twilight Time as soon as they finally arrive. Till then the Blu-Ray player is off!