Little Monsters (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
(Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Daniel Stern, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1989) 2020 / LGF)
Overview: New to the Vestron Collector’s Series, 'Little Monsters' is the story of Brian (Fred Savage), a sixth-grader who’s recently moved to a new town and made friends with Maurice (Howie Mandel) — the monster who lives under Brian's bed!
Maurice introduces Brian to the world of monsters, where junk food rules, adults aren’t allowed, and the fun and games never end. But when Brian's brother is kidnapped, it’s time for Brian to get serious and fight the monsters on their turf in this zany cult favorite.
Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, 'Little Monsters' is a funny and moving family comedy that reminds me of my childhood days when I first saw the movie. I thought then, and having rewatched it now on this incredible new Blu-ray special edition, that the cast was perfect, the script was hilarious, and the special and make-up effects were outstanding.
Brian Stevenson (Fred Savage) has just moved into a new house with his parents and little brother Eric (Ben Savage). He has no friends and is not doing well with grades. That is until he discovers that a monster named Maurice (Howie Mandell) has invaded his room!
He starts out scared of Maurice, but quickly becomes best friends with him. Maurice takes Brian to a world of Monsters under his bed and shows him the time of his life.
Brian finds out though that the world is ruled by an evil monster (Frank Whaley) who terrorizes people and has not been seen lately. So, and together, Brian and Maurice embark on an adventure of a lifetime to put this monster away.
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), Howie Mandell (Bobby's World), Ben Savage (Boy Meets World), Rick Ducommun (Blank Check, Scary Movie), Frank Whaley (Pulp Fiction, Field of Dreams), Devin Ratray (Home Alone 1 & 2), and Daniel Stern (The Wonder Years) all star here and wow, what a delightful flashback to the movies of the late '80s, that's for sure!
Directed by Richard Greenberg, Savage, who was riding high in films right around here - soon to be stepping side though for the '90s to welcome in the late '80s heart throb duo of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim - is genuinely excellently innocent, and all puffy-cheeked here.
And although his maniacal behavior does occasionally become exhausting, Mandel's performance is certainly energetic, and you can't help but love him when he drinks a bully's apple juice, only to refill it with p*ss!! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
• *NEW* Audio Commentary with Jarret Gahan, Editor-in-Chief of CultofMonster.com
• *NEW* Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer David Newman
• *NEW* “Call Him Maurice” – An Interview with Actor Howie Mandel
• *NEW* “Beneath the Bed” – An Interview with Producer Andrew Licht
• *NEW* “Monsters Big & Small” – An Interview with Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short
• *NEW* Vintage Interviews with Actors Fred Savage, Ben Savage, Special Makeup Effects Creator Robert Short, and Director Richard Alan Greenberg
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• “Making Maurice” – Vintage Footage of Howie Mandel’s Makeup Transformation
• Vintage EPK & VHS Promo
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery
With 6 new special features, including an all new interview with Howie Mandel, the 'Little Monsters' Blu-ray will be available September 15th, 2020 for the suggested retail price of $17.99.
Shivers (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
(Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1975) 2020 / LGF)
Overview: A cult favorite, 'Shivers' is acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg’s feature-length debut and new to the Vestron Collector’s Series.
When the residents of a luxury apartment complex outside Montreal are infiltrated by parasites and transformed into violent, sex-crazed maniacs, it’s up to Dr. Roger St. Luc to contain the outbreak from spreading to the city at large in a film that “scares and shocks us because it’s so cleverly made” (Roger Ebert).
Blu-ray Verdict: With a story line premise that a virulent strain of ugly and lethal parasites turn the residents of a swanky deluxe apartment complex into depraved sex-crazed fiends, a directed by filmmaker David Cronenberg, well, you know you're in for a right royal visual treat from the off!
Doctor Roger St. Luc (the hopelessly bland Paul Hampton) and his amiable colleague Rollo Linsky (a wonderfully engaging portrayal by Joe Silver) try to figure out what's going on before it's too late.
Writer/director David Cronenberg concocts an unsparingly bleak meditation on the horrors of mankind being reduced to sheer psychotic libido impulses (check out the scene with a homely fat middle-aged woman jumping a younger man while exclaiming "I'm hungry for love!") and does a sound job of creating and maintaining a cold, icky tone which becomes more increasingly creepy and unnerving as the grim narrative progresses towards a wild pull-out-all-the-stops climax which plays like a perverted version of 'Night of the Living Dead.'
The acting is rather hit or miss: Hampton barely registers as the insipid would-be hero, the ever-alluring Lynn Lowry contributes a memorably sexy turn as the enticing Nurse Forsythe, Barbara Steele projects her usual sense of class and commanding presence as poised lesbian Betts, Allan Kolman does well as the infected Nicholas Tudor, and pretty Susan Petrie likewise impresses as Tudor's sweet, distraught wife Janine.
Moreover, this picture comes through with several effectively nasty moments: the jolting opening with a deranged old scientist murdering his teenage mistress, cutting opening her abdomen, and pouring acid in her stomach prior to slitting his own throat; Betts being violated by a parasite while taking a bath, a parasite attacking Linsky by attaching itself to his face, and a brief, yet startling shot of two little kids on leashes walking on all fours and barking like dogs.
Robert Saad's plain cinematography presents a credible evocation of everyday pedestrian reality while the spare, chilling score does the shuddery trick. Joe Blasco's hideously ghastly and gruesome make-up f/x deliver the disgusting goods.
Plus there's a wickedly twisted sense of blithely morbid black humor at work throughout. Not peak Cronenberg, but still worthwhile and engrossing all the same! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
• *NEW* Audio Commentary with Writer-Director David Cronenberg and Co-Producer Don Carmody
• *NEW* “Mind Over Matter” – An Interview with Writer-Director David Cronenberg
• *NEW* “Good Night Nurse” – An Interview with Actress Lynn Lowry
• *NEW* “Outside and Within” – An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator Joe Blasco
• *NEW* “Celebrating Cinépix” – An Interview with Greg Dunning
• Archival 1998 David Cronenberg Interview
• Still Gallery with Optional Archival Audio Interview with Executive Producer John Dunning
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spot
• Radio Spots
With five new special features including an all-new audio commentary with David Cronenberg, 'Shivers' will be available September 15th, 2020 on Blu-ray for the suggested retail price of $17.99.
'First Cow' [Blu-ray Combo Pack]
(Alia Shawkat, John Magaro, Dylan Smith, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2019) 2020 / LGF)
Overview: Two travelers, on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest, dream of striking it rich — but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a wealthy businessman’s prized dairy cow.
With their scheme landing somewhere between honest ingenuity and pure grift, renowned filmmaker Kelly Reichardt finds a graceful and deeply moving origin story of America in their unlikely friendship and fragile life at the margins.
Blu-ray Verdict: Based on the 2004 novel "The Half-Life" by Jonathan Raymond ("Night Moves") and adapted by Raymond and Reichardt, 'First Cow' is set on the Oregon frontier sometime in 1820's.
Shot in a boxy 4:3 ratio, similar to the Westerns of the 1950s, the cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt ('Meek's Cutoff') and a haunting score by William Tyler reveals the pristine beauty of the Oregon wilderness as well as the primitive conditions in which most trappers and explorers lived.
At the beginning of the film, a quote from poet William Blake, "The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship" sets the tone as the opening shot introduces us to a barge slowly making its way down the Columbia River, which is where the story takes place.
Telling it like it is, 'First Cow' is a quite stunning tale about friendship and the necessary things we do to make hay.
The central performances are excellent and slow narration with pleasant country music means you really get that 'The Straight Story' and 'Lone Star' underlay, background vibe.
Furthermore, the film's visual style is impressive, but it's story and pacing is what really impressed me here (although its, at times, watching-paint-dry affect, might not be for everyone, of course!)
In truth, the cinematography is yet another aspect I found to be truly excellent. The framing is on point and impressive and it adds a lot to the film's style.
Oh, and the production design and costumes are also really good here too as it honestly looks and "feels" like these characters have just stepped out of the 1820s.
I personally haven't seen any of director Kelly Reichardt's previous works, but after watching this I am more than interested to complete her filmography.
Sure, there are things about the overall tone of the film that bothered me somewhat, but the story, characters, and especially the way the film is shot held my attention throughout.
It's hard to recommend this movie to those who are casual viewers and are simply looking to be entertained though, because I can almost guarantee that you won't be - unless you're a film buff and know what to expect.
While our society is often permeated by the sense that our joy is wearing out and that we are in danger of losing our connection to other human beings, Reichardt's sensitive and haunting film renews our understanding of the deep and abiding companionship we can still share with each other - in moments of beauty and tragedy, in an age that feels closer to the end than the beginning.
Overall, it's a very, very well-made film that fully deserves all the attention it has been lauded, and a much wider audience from here on in, down the years. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:
• "A Place in This World" Featurette
Including a bonus featurette, 'First Cow' will be available September 8th, 2020 on Blu-ray (plus DVD & Digital) for the suggested retail price of $24.99.
'The Shadow Of Violence'
(Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Liam Carney, et al / DVD / R / 2020 / LGF)
Overview: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, former boxer Douglas Arm Armstrong, played by Cosmo Jarvis from Hunter Killer, has become a feared enforcer for the drug dealing Devers family.
When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller co-starring Barry Keoghan ('Dunkirk') and Ned Dennehy ('Peaky Blinders').
DVD Verdict: Originally titled 'Calm Horses,' there's nothing here that we haven't seen before, BUT seldom have we seen it done this well!
It's an Irish gangster movie of sorts but it doesn't follow the rules of other gangster films or movies dealing with criminals or family feuds.
Everything about it is different from its location on Ireland's West coast to its characters. Indeed, this is more a character study than a history of violence, which for the U.S. it got renamed 'The Shadow of Violence,' one assumes.
Its central character is 'Arm', a dim-witted former boxer now acting as an enforcer for the Devers' family. He's a bit like Steinbeck's Lennie but with a mean streak and he's played, quite magnificently, by Cosmo Jarvis.
The original title, 'Calm with Horses' actually refers to his love for the animals and their calming influence on him and it also refers to how horses are used therapeutically to calm down his autistic young son.
However, things go badly wrong for Arm when one of the Devers' clan, (a terrific Barry Keoghan), orders him to kill the man who abused one of the girls in the family.
Working from a wonderfully intelligent script by Joe Murtagh, in turn adapted from a Colin Barrett short story, first-time feature director Nick Rowland never puts a foot wrong; drawing superlative performances from his largely unknown cast and dragging us into the film's central premise like he's been doing this sort of thing for years.
As I said, the material isn't new and Rowland isn't afraid to show off his influences, (mostly British gangster pictures, and we're not talking Guy Ritchie here, as well as the best of American independent cinema), but he brings to his material a freshness and a brilliance I can only marvel at.
Without doubt, this is one of the best films of the year and now that it is out on DVD from Lionsgate, I would rush out and purchase it now, if I were you! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'The Shadow of Violence' will be available September 1st, 2020 on DVD for the suggested retail price of $19.98.
'The Deeper You Dig: Special Edition'
(John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: Bogus tarot card reader Ivy (Toby Poser) and her teenage daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) are an unconventional but loving mother/daughter team.
But when reclusive Kurt (John Adams) moves in down the road, a tragic accident results in Echo’s murder, causing three lives to collide in mysterious and wicked ways.
Blu-ray Verdict: In this film, and one whose entire production was a family affair, having been written, directed, and produced by John Adams, his wife Toby Poser, and their daughter, Zelda; who all, in turn, star, shoot, and compose the films score, we get brought forth a dark, unsettling meditation on grief, survival and the brittle barrier that separates the living from the dead.
Ivy Allen (Toby Poser) is a medium who has lost her sight, but still practices the Tarot business. Her goth fourteen-year-old daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) likes to sled in upstate New York.
Kurt Miller (John Adams), their new neighbor, is restoring a house. He's the kind of guy that eats out all the time, drinks, drives a truck, and doesn't slow down when he sees deer crossing the road.
Sadly, he runs into Echo, but immediately has issues burying the body in frozen ground. Much like a Poe tale, he is haunted and starts to crawl within himself, whilst at the same time knowing full well he has to deal with the real world and all the questions that are now coming his way.
Ivy senses that her daughter is dead and her suspicions fall instinctively on Kurt. With the fires of anger and revenge both now flowing equally within her, she knows, sooner or later, and no matter what everybody else can, in this case, cannot prove, one way or another, Kurt will pay for what he has done.
Beautifully shot in a wondrous, and apt minimalistic fashion, and one very reminiscent, to me, of 'The Shining,' the eerie snowy setting combines majestically with the overall sense of quiet, stoic loneliness.
Inclusive of what can only be described as "nightmarish phantasmal" scenes that depict the dark and unknown side of the afterlife (or the cosmos, if interpreting as a Lovecraft devotee), we unerringly watch in as the antagonist is slowly driven mad; and, trust me, at times, well, it is not pleasant viewing and can be upsetting to behold.
However, this all combined is how one can "see" the whole picture come together and, thankfully not liberally scattered jump scares throughout, the plot unfolds nicely; although there are some traditional scares to lovingly behold, of course.
In conclusion, 'The Deeper You Dig' an admittedly slow-burning, psychological piece, but it comes complete with a gory, violent, and highly satisfying climax and twist at the end! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Exclusive 2-Disc set containing 'The Deeper You Dig' (2019) and 'The Hatred' (2018).
DISC ONE – 'The Deeper You Dig'
High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
Original lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams
At Home with the Adams Family, an exclusive, in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig
It’s in the Blood: The Family in the Horror Genre, an exclusive visual essay by critic Anton Bitel exploring the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams Family’s broader filmography
Special effects breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay
FrightFest TV interview with the Adams Family
Hellbender Music Videos
DISC TWO – 'The Hatred'
High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
Original lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Kid Kalifornia music videos
+ Reversible sleeve featuring two exclusive choices of artwork
Limited edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Neil Mitchell
Official Purchase Link
Official HD Trailer
'Mall Rats: Special Edition'
(Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Shannen Doherty, Jeremy London, Jason Lee, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / (1995) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: Simultaneously dumped by their girlfriends, comic book obsessive Brodie (Jason Lee) and best friend TS (Jeremy London) plan to ease the pain of their losses by taking take a trip to the local mall.
Amongst shoppers, they discover the mall is being used as the venue for a dating show, in which TS’s girlfriend Brandi is the star.
Hatching a plan to win back their significant others, Brodie and TS enlist the help of professional delinquents Jay and Silent Bob to hijack the gameshow in a bid to win back Brandi.
Blu-ray Verdict: Featuring a cast including Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, who would go on to be recurring collaborators in Smith’s movies, 'Mallrats' celebrates its 25th Anniversary in this limited edition set boasting a brand new restoration and hours of bonus content.
In my humble opinion, 'Mallrats,' Kevin Smith's second and most maligned film until 'Jersey Girl,' isn't really that much of a stretch from 'Clerks.'
Mostly it just feels like a movie that got taken away from its creator by the studio system trying to make it more marketable - every filmmaker has at least one such experience.
Still, Smith's comedic brilliance shines through in the writing. Characters are still aimless losers with nothing better to do than hang out and have epic conversations about meaningless nonsense.
One of my favorite such discussions revolves around whether the cookie bakery is regarded as part of the food court, and another pontificates on Superman's romantic life.
As with 'Clerks,' the protagonists are experiencing miniature crises with their girlfriends, the resolution of which leads to the obvious but not heavy-handed moral Smith always interjects in his films.
My only real complaint is the artificially "feel-good" ending, which feels too trite and sensational for what had, for the previous seventy minutes or so, been such a down-to-earth, slice-of-life comedy.
It's like a bad Adam Sandler movie, the kind that always seems to end with cheering crowds and joyfully tearful make-up smooches. The bad guy gets his comeuppance, the lovable characters go on to fame and fortune, and everything is wrapped up in a neat little package.
One of the things I love about 'Clerks' was that the ending, while resolving the conflict, ends without tying all the loose ends together.
While Smith generically employs happy endings, they usually don't feel quite as predictable and saccharine. I've never heard him speak out on the subject, but I get the feeling the new ending was probably tacked on as the result of poor test screenings, or changed at the script stage because of the asinine notes studios like to give to more inexperienced indie directors.
That all said, the cast is great. Jason Lee, of course, steals every scene he's in, even though he's supposed to be the "sidekick" here.
He's a talented actor, and it's too bad that, with the possible exception of 'The Incredibles' and 'My Name is Earl' (I've only seen a few episodes), he's never been utilized quite as effectively as he is in a Kevin Smith movie.
Jason Mewes, mercifully, retains the role of Jay in spite of the studio's wishes, and is as always a foul-mouthed fireball of energy.
Joey Lauren Adams is suitably adorable, even in her role as a cheating ex-Shannen Doherty is wonderfully spirited and appropriately irritable without coming across as shrewish or horrible.
Jeremy London performs his "straight man" role admirably, though since his job is to react to the lunacy around him more than participate in it, the audience never sympathizes with him the way we should (perhaps a bit of underwriting on Smith's part).
The beautiful Claire Forlani is cute enough, but her performance feels sort of flat for some reason.
In closing, 'Mallrats,' while it definitely suffers from a sophomore slump, is still a great entry in the Jersey Chronicles, and has more than enough redemptive qualities to put it in a league far above 90% of most studio comedies. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
-Brand new restoration by Arrow Films of both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the film, approved by director Kevin Smith and cinematographer David Klein.
-Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity
-High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations
-Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp
-Fold out poster featuring replica blueprints for ‘Operation Drive-by’ and ‘Operation Dark Knight’
DISC ONE – Theatrical and Extended Cuts
-Original DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Audio commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes
-Brand new introduction to the film by Kevin Smith
-My Mallrat Memories – and all-new interview with Kevin Smith
-A newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Kevin Smith
-Brand new interview with actor Jason Mewes
-Brand new interview with Cinematographer David Klein
-Hollywood of the North: A newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film
-Deleted Scenes – Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira discuss deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film
-Outtakes and behind the scenes footage
-Cast interviews from the original set
-Erection of an Epic: The making of Mallrats – archival retrospective with cat and crew looking at the making and release of the film
-Q&A with Kevin Smith – archival Q&A filmed for the 10th anniversary
-Build Me Up Buttercup music video
DISC TWO – TV Cut
Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity
-Original stereo audio
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
-Brand new introduction to the TV cut by director Kevin Smith
-Stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film’s opening sequence
Amazon Purchase Link
'Warning From Space: Special Edition'
(Keizô Kawasaki, Toyomi Karita, Bin Yagisawa, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1956) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: UFOs are seen around Tokyo, but because they look like giant starfish the aliens cannot approach us without creating panic!
Hence one of them sacrifices itself and takes the form of a popular female singer. It/she warns mankind that a meteor will crash on Earth.
While the approaching meteor causes hotter and hotter weather, mankind runs and builds a last-chance, anti-meteor weapon!
Blu-ray Verdict: Telling it like it is, 'Warning From Space' is a rather cheesy and laughable science fiction effort from Japan, in which Earth is attacked by aliens which look like giant starfish (the cheap costumes have to be seen to be believed!).
In order to cut down on budget, one of the aliens disguises itself as a female singer and it turns out that the aliens aren't bad at all, but rather wishing to help mankind by warning them of an impending meteor strike.
The action is made up of the usual disaster set-pieces achieved with miniature effects and guys in suits arguing in official rooms in a bid to make things right.
That all said, where once only a dubbed version with poor picture quality was available, now we got a quite wondrous High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, with original uncompressed Japanese mono audio and even an optional newly translated English subtitles included, toboot!
If you weren't aware, 'Warning From Space' was made by Japan's Daiei studio which later gave us the 'Gamera' series of movies and it also seems to borrow ideas that were contained in the 1950s sci-fi classics, 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' and 'When Worlds Collide,' which is no bad thing (given how good those two movies were, of course).
So, in conclusion, if you want to watch actors trying to entertain you with dialogue cut out of a crackerjack box for characters, cut out of a refrigerator box in a plot cut out of the ads in a comic book, settle in and watch this delightfully goofy sci-fi flick, 'Warning From Space.'
Oh, and if the plot confuses you, I suggest buying a ton of old sci-fi pulp magazines from 1930-1960 and reading them, 'cause by the time you're through, you'll understand the plot like the back of your hand! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
– Optional newly translated English subtitles
– Brand new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!
– First-ever HD transfer of the American release version of the film, including a newly restored English dub track
– Theatrical Trailers
– Image galleries
– Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin
Amazon Purchase Link
Original Japanese Trailer
'The Secret Garden' [Blu-ray Combo Pack]
(Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Dixie Egerickx, Edan Hayhurst, Amir Wilson, et al / Blu-ray / PG / 2020 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Overview: 'The Secret Garden,' starring Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Dixie Egerickx, is a new take on the beloved classic novel of the same name written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Set in England during a new time period in 1947, the film follows a young orphan girl who, after being sent to live with her uncle, discovers a magical garden on the grounds of his estate.
Blu-ray Verdict: So we're all on the same page, 'The Secret Garden' is a remake of the 1993 movie of the same name. This remake is directed by Marc Munden, who is better known as the director of TV series such as National Treasure and The Crimson Petal and the White.
In the film, the parents of 10-year-old Mary Lennox (Dixie Engerickx) die. This is why she is brought to her uncle Archibald Cravan (Colin Firth).
Her uncle lives in a large country house with his sick son Colin (Edan Hayhurst). Mary is a curious girl and she decides to fully investigate her uncle's large mansion.
She finds a mysterious door that gives her access to a secret garden. In this garden Mary discovers that special things are possible here.
She tries to get her nephew to go to the garden in the hope that he can heal here. Colin is just too negative to come with her. Mary must now find a way to convince Colin of the wonders that are possible in the secret garden.
This film, like the 1993 film of the same name and many other films of the same name, is also based on the book by writer Frances Hodgson Burnett.
For example, the story of the film may seem somewhat familiar to older viewers, but this new version is so much more fun for young children of this generation.
Parents familiar with an older version of this film could watch this film with their children and then compare the two different films.
The film does have beautiful scenes that take place in the secret garden, because it is filled with beautiful images and some animals.
Older viewers can see that most of these images are filmed with CGI and in front of a green screen, but younger viewers can enjoy these beautiful images and continue to fantasize about them.
Because of the script, characters of Dixie Egerickx such as a newly turned orphan and the sick Edan Hayhurst come across as somewhat negative for much of the film.
Although both have good reason to be negative, as a viewer it is difficult to empathize with them and it is difficult to like them.
It would have been better to introduce the characters to the viewers in a more positive way, as the characters only become positive themselves when they are in the secret garden.
That all said, the film is carried by Amir Wilson who plays the helper's son in the household and "lead" actors such as Colin Firth and Julie Walters, have nothing but minor roles in the film, to be quite honest.
In conclusion and even though it may not be remembered as affectionately as its previous adaptation, I'd say that this film still has just enough in it for most audiences to enjoy.
Nevertheless, the 1993 film is still the better one and I definitely prefer it for the various reasons stated above.
Watching both of these films has actually made me interested in reading the original novel to see how it compares to all these onscreen treatments and I am certain the story is better in print form. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Extras of:
Concept to Reality
Page to Screen
'The Secret Garden' [Blu-ray Combo Pack] is out October 6th, 2020 via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
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Official Twitter Page
'American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules'
(Madison Pettis, Lizze Broadway, Natasha Behnam, Piper Curda, Darren Barnet, et al / DVD / R / 2020 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Overview: It's Senior year! Annie, Kayla, Michelle, and Stephanie decide to finally harness their girl power and band together to get what they want.
The boys won't know what hit them when these sassy sweethearts are calling the shots. Wild parties, sexy adventures and a Stifler bring the heat in this hot new slice of American Pie!
DVD Verdict: In truth, my thoughts are this: If they were going to make another 'American Pie' movie, why wouldn't you make it (such as this fifth one) with the original cast (or as many as you could rope together, of course).
I’m sure they’d all be open to doing to, as (sadly) none of them do that much other stuff anyway, so quite why they weren't roped in is beyond me.
For actors such as Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Sean William Scott, possibly Eugene Levy, specifically, would have chewed Universal's hands off for the option, me thinks, which means we get a new instalment that features a batch of all new, young and pretty faces (that we have no prior attachment too, of course).
Anyhoo, we do luckily get some rather talented and deserving character actors here in 'Girls' Rules,' with this latest straight-to-video instalment in the long-running sex comedy series playing out much as you would expect.
Featuring Madison Pettis, Piper Curda, Natasha Behnam, and Lizze Broadway as four high school seniors who decide to finally harness their girl power to get what they want, one look at the front cover art and you know exactly what is going to happen, what edible item will got spotlighted midway through, and how it will end (always messily, but never painfully). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules' [DVD] is out October 6th, 2020 via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Official Facebook Page
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(Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis, Eliza Scanlen, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / IFC Films)
Overview: When seriously ill teenager Milla falls madly in love with smalltime drug dealer Moses, it’s her parents’ worst nightmare.
But as Milla’s first brush with love brings her a new lust for life, things get messy and traditional morals go out the window. Milla soon shows everyone in her orbit – her parents, Moses, a sensitive music teacher, a budding child violinist, and a disarmingly honest, pregnant neighbor – how to live like you have nothing to lose.
What might have been a disaster for the Finlay family instead leads to letting go and finding grace in the glorious chaos of life.
'Babyteeth' joyously explores how good it is not to be dead yet and how far we will go for love.
Blu-ray Verdict: Though it's far from the easiest watch, 'Babyteeth' is a truly gorgeous film, and one that offers a beautiful outlook on life while taking on challenging and sobering real-world drama.
Brought to life in effortless style by director Shannon Murphy and featuring an ensemble of fantastic performances, it's a mesmerizing watch with a touching and heartbreaking core.
There's so much to love about 'Babyteeth,' but one of the things that makes it so gripping throughout is the way in which it evolves over the course of its runtime.
After all, we've seen countless coming-of-age movies before, and if this were to just follow the same path, there wouldn't be quite as much to write home about.
'Babyteeth' indeed starts off as a sweet and moving portrait of teen rebellion, first love and self-discovery, as we follow Eliza Scanlen as a teenage girl who, under the pressure of a serious illness, begins to break out of her childlike shell and see the world through new eyes.
Scanlen's performance is wonderful right from the start, as she has the perfect blend of wide-eyed innocence and innate fire and curiosity to make her character's development both convincing and gripping to watch.
That means, as a coming-of-age drama, 'Babyteeth' really impresses in its early stages, and grabs your attention for the rest of the film.
Following on from its opening act, 'Babyteeth' begins to evolve into a more challenging drama, tackling difficult issues such as suffering with cancer and drug addiction.
The themes of self-discovery and coming-of-age still remain, but the focus is widened in the second act from Scanlen's character to herself and her family and friends.
With that, the film opens up really nicely as it offers an affecting yet still heartfelt perspective on the struggles of her parents, as well as Moses, the troubled young man who she falls for.
Toby Wallace's wonderful performance as Moses is integral to the story, and his likeability in spite of a questionable lifestyle allow you to sympathize with him and eventually come to understand why he is the way he is, and what he's really like.
Meanwhile, Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn are equally impressive as Scanlen's parents, and with understated yet convincing and emotionally charged performances, are able to develop their characters and their struggles into important and fascinating parts of the story, without overshadowing the central focus.
That range of drama and focus means 'Babyteeth' is so much more than your average coming-of-age drama, and it gives the film such striking gravitas throughout, as it shows time and time again that it's not afraid to take on challenging issues with a unique and eye-opening outlook.
Yet while the film certainly hits hard with that dramatic gravitas, it also manages to avoid telling its story without an overwhelming sense of melancholy.
It does that through the use of a wonderfully honest and down-to-earth sense of humor, but more importantly through a powerfully positive perspective on life.
Shining a light on the brighter moments in a difficult situation, 'Babyteeth' consistently offers drama to warm your soul just as it captivates with often weighty storytelling.
That does mean the swings between the joyful highs and the devastating lows are particularly intense, making the film somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, but it really allows you to appreciate this story in both a positive and sobering light.
Another part of what make 'Babyteeth' so gorgeous is its use of music and visuals. With mesmerizing (yes, I used that word again, but it truly is) direction from Shannon Murphy throughout, this film delights thanks to a beautiful score and intimate, often even psychedelic cinematography, lending it a powerful sense of cool and elegance that only pulls you deeper into its enthralling trance.
In conclusion, from start to finish, 'Babyteeth' is a truly wonderful film that both hits hard and makes you smile. Its only trouble is a slightly rushed opening act, with too few details left up to interpretation that leaves you chasing the story for the first twenty minutes, but apart from that, there's little to criticize about this film.
Utterly gorgeous, emotionally resonant and unique in so many ways, 'Babyteeth' is one of the best coming-of-age dramas ever made. It's not an easy watch, but neither is it an overwhelmingly tough watch.
Telling a difficult story complete with gripping dramatic range, this film impresses so much thanks to an ensemble of incredible performances, gorgeous directing, effortless style, heartfelt humor and a distinctive outlook on life. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Babyteeth' [Blu-ray] is out September 22nd, 2020 via MPI Home Media.
'To Your Last Death' [Blu-ray]
(Morena Baccarin, William Shatner, Ray Wise, Bill Moseley, Dani Lennon, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2019) 2020 / Quiver Films)
Overview: After emerging as the sole survivor in a deadly revenge game set up by her father to punish his children, Miriam receives an offer from a supernatural entity to go back in time and try again.
Now, Miriam must survive both her father's blood lust and the Gamemaster's ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life.
Features the voice cast of Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise, Dani Lennon, Bill Moseley and William Shatner.
Blu-ray Verdict: Whilst not knowing quite what to expect from the off, as doing too much homework can sometimes ruin the entire viewing experience, I have to say that I genuinely found this film to be a very intriguing, and highly enjoyable hour and a half of viewing material.
Chock full of well crafted detail, whether it be the forefront or background scenery, the character expressions and mannerisms themselves, or even the, at times, sumptuously delivered one-liners from Morena Baccarin's 'Gamemaster' role, it is obvious that a lot of care, attention and devoted love for the art was put into making and producing 'To Your Last Death.'
Opening with a voice-over monologue from the one, the only William Shatner as 'The Overseer,' he introduces us to 'Miriam DeKalb' (Dani Lennon) as she escapes a building by smashing her way through a door window with a fire axe!
Miriam is, of course, immediately taken to a hospital where a 'Detective Lang' (Tom Lommel) questions her about the incident. Miriam informs him of something rather unbelievable (and heinously gruesome) that had just taken place, causing her to run, but he does not believe her in the slightest.
All alone, feeling unstable, and with nobody believing her story, she is visited by 'The Gamemaster' (Morena Baccarin). Wherein The Gamemaster gives her the option to go back (in time) and this time, knowing what she knows now, have another crack at it; this time with some external rules in play.
Confused, and more than a little wary, Miriam agrees when she is shown proof that her current predicament is actually way worse than she had first realized!
With the animation, to my mind, that moreover of an artsy comic book styling, complete with sharp edge work, and defined facial features - that truly highlight all the full on blood and gore scenes to a tee - it also embraces early colorful Japanese animation too.
With a defined, and equally spread balance of dark humor combined with the aforementioned blood, gore and overall sense of pulsating, yet at times, confused dread, I just cannot see how fans of animated gore, or even fans of "real filmed" movie gore cannot come together on loving this film to bits!
Shatner as 'The Overseer,' which when he speaks gives you the feeling, if you shut your eyes for a few seconds, that you are listening to an audio book, is in cruise control here, but still remains at his usual Shatner best, and aside from the brilliant aforementioned Baccarin as 'The Gamemaster,' it's Ray Wise as the demonically angered, and always ready to implode 'Cyrus DeKalb' that steals the show here!
In closing, and alongside some rather strikingly stellar animation, the script flourishes along with its imbued characters, and complete with a few plot twists (and some red herrings, so beware), it all comes together with an honest, well-developed and satisfying depth of enjoyment.
This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and as for the extras, they include a Director's Commentary with director Jason Axinn, and a Zoom panel with Axinn, star Dani Lennon and others, an Interview with star William Shatner, Interviews and behind the scenes with stars Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise, Bill Moseley, Dani Lennon and Florence Hartigan, a Behind The Scenes reel, Comic Con Panels, an Animation Demo with lead animator Mohammad Ali Sharifpour, Unused Artwork and Animation, Crowdfunding highlights, Featurettes on the development of the film, and more!
Official Purchase Link
'Valley Girl' [Blu-ray]
(Jessica Rothe, Josh Whitehouse, Jessie Ennis, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / NR / 2020 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Set to a new wave '80s soundtrack, whilst now being a musical adaptation of the 1983 film, a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds defy their parents and friends to stay together.
Blu-ray Verdict: Knowing the original very well, I got to watch this musical version last night, not knowing quite what to expect - as too much homework can, most times, lead to a spoiled viewing experience, in my humble opinion), and I have to say that I found this update rather pleasing on both the eyes and the ears!
Although the trailer doesn't tell the whole story, simply put, this version is an '80s boy meets '80s girl plot, with era-appropriate music, choreography, oh-so bright colors, lots and lots of wondrous '80s clothing and enough cheesy lines to make you feel right at home!
The entire cast was excellent in their roles, the choreography to both the music and even the driving scenes combined with their hairstyles and dance moves was spot on to the era too.
OK, sure, being a musical they did take 20 minutes (or more) to actually get to the point, or to ask a question, or to look into something, but when a movie like this is so chock full of color and musical explosions well, you've mostly forgiven them come the end!
Much like a movie of the Disney ilk, if you are a fan of classics such as 'Grease,' 'Mamma Mia,' or even the latter day 'High School Musical' series, you are going to LOVE this film.
But, and saving the best for last, the premise of the story is actually being told as a memory of Alicia Silverstone, who plays the mother of a current teenager, and who herself was knee deep in these sorts of movies herself back in the '80s!
Also sneaking in some some lovingly inserted, and very welcome cameos from the original cast of the 1983 film, sure, the original was a movie full of tired clichés, but here in 2020's musical version, all that tiredness has even exorcised and we have one doozy of a good time to settle in with her, trust me! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 6th, 2020. The Blu-ray features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition and a Digital version of the movie.
Official 'Valley Girl' Facebook Page
Official Purchase Link
'300' (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital)
(Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / R / (2006) 2020 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: The epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) assaults the screen with the blood, thunder and awe of its ferocious visual style faithfully recreated in an intense blend of live-action and CGI animation.
Retelling the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, it depicts the titanic clash in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army.
Experience history at sword point and moviemaking with a cutting edge.
Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant '300’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this October 6th, 2020.
For my money, this '300: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.
So, what we have is '300' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.
Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.
Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.
For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the BEST scene in the movie, for my money, when Leonidas and Xerxes are talking at cliff's edge, "The 300 at his back...ready to die for him without a moment's pause...every one of them...ready to die...his helmet is stifling...his shield is heavy...your spear...you there...Ephialtes...may you live forever....Leonidas, your spear...Stelios!...slaughter them!...his helmet was stifling...it narrowed his vision, and he must see far...his shield was heavy...it threw him off balance...and his target is far away...the old ones say we Spartans are descended from Hercules himself...bold Leonidas gives testament to our bloodline...his roar is long and loud."
Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the very first battle scene, where Leonidas, the king of Sparta, motivates his warriors to defend the Hot Gates), which is now interestingly different, and more "alive" with this incredible 1080p Blu-ray rendering.
As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.
Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.
Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, for me, the 480 BC Battle of Thermopylae is the stuff of military legend when, in popular lore, a mere 300 Spartans commanded by King Leonidas held off a Persian force led by Xerxes the Great that Herodotus claimed as 2.6 million.
In truth, the Spartans were backed by a mixed force of almost 7,000, while there are enormous variations in modern estimates of the multi-ethnic Persian army, but somewhere between 100,000-200,000 seems realistic. Whatever the actual figures, the odds against the Spartans were terrible, death was inevitable, and their honor secure.
The story was first told on film in 1962 when director Rudolph Maté went to Greece and shot a worthy, but conventional and surprisingly leaden, version entitled 'The 300 Spartans', starring American Richard Egan as King Leonidas and the British David Farrar as Xerxes.
'300' takes the same basic narrative and presents it in an utterly different style in a blood-fest when 'The Wild Bunch' meets 'Kill Bill' and the visuals are like nothing else, except save for perhaps 'Sin City'.
This time the director is Zack Snyder, known for his music videos, and the location is a studio set in Montreal with green backgrounds later filled by superb computer-generated graphics and the whole storybook style is based on the graphic novel by co-producer Frank Miller.
Both versions use the legendary exchange: "When we attack today, our arrows will blot out the sun!" "Good; then we will fight in the shade." But only '300' has such fun, throwaway lines as: "Spartans! Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hell!"
Ever since its first public showing at the Berlin Film Festival, most critics have mauled '300' and it presents an easy target for those wanting something more cerebral: there is virtually no plot or characterization, the script is sparse and bland, much of the acting is exaggerated and over-loud, when it is not homo-erotic it is oddly camp, and the whole thing is stereotypical when it is not outright xenophobic and politically incorrect.
And yet, as entertainment, it has much to offer: the sepia-tinged visuals are absolutely stunning and the fight sequences viscerally exciting. I was fortunate enough to see it in IMAX back in the day and I regularly felt blood-splattered and exhausted and quite ready to leap into the action.
Back in the day (2006), there are no big names in the cast list which actually helped the sense of history, but did not raise the thespian talent quotient, of course.
Gerard Butler (now the big star we know and love) plays King Leonidas with a Scottish accent, while the Brazilian Rodrigo Santoro is a version of Xerxes bedazzled with ethnic metalwork.
Most of the warriors are literally larger than life: the actors playing the Spartans reveal most of their bodies with digitally-enhanced muscles, while on Xerxes' side characters include a huge hunchback, a giant emissary and a claw-armed executioner as well the metal-masked Immortals.
This is before we get on to an enormous raging rhino and bedecked elephants. Truly this is a battle with a circus-like cast. The love interest comes from the feisty wife of Leonidas, Queen Gorgo, portrayed by the alluring British actress Lena Headey. There is even a scene in a rippling corn field borrowed from 'Gladiator.
At the end of the day, what makes the movie are the thrilling fight sequences with encounters in which the film is slowed down and then speeded up to give a video-game quality that is unlike anything you have previously seen on the big (or now in this case, small) screen.
When a sword slashes, or a spear lunges, or an arrow whistles, you really feel and hear it. At times, it is as if a picture by Hieronymus Bosch had come to life!
Ultra HD showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.
'300' will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) and features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc of '300'.
Fans can also own '300' in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on October 6th, 2020. The Blu-ray disc of 300 will include more than 3 hours of previously released special features, including commentary from Zack Snyder.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of '300' will also feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.
To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar.
Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.
This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:
• Commentary with director/co-writer Zack Snyder, co-writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong
• The 300: Fact or Fiction
• Who Were the Partans? The Warriors of '300'
• Preparing for Battle: The Original Test Footage
• The Frank Miller Tapes
• Making of '300'
• Making '300' in Images
• Webisode: Production Design
• Webisode: Wardrobe
• Webisode: Stunt Work
• Webisode: Lena Headey
• Webisode: Adapting the Graphic Novel
• Webisode: Gerard Butler
• Webisode: Rodrigo Santoro
• Webisode: Training the Actors
• Webisode: Culture of the Sparta City/State
• Webisode: A Glimpse from the Set: Making '300'
• Webisode: Scene Studies from '300'
• Webisode: Fantastic Characters of '300'
• Deleted Scenes with introduction by Zack Snyder
'300: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link
'Batman: Death in the Family'
(Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella, John DiMaggio, Zehra Fazal, Nick Carson, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / NR / 2020 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Trained as Batman’s protégé, Jason Todd brings a relentless sense of justice as Robin, who sets his sights on bringing down the Joker.
But can Batman save Robin from a fate worse than death? Tragedy, revenge and redemption await in this groundbreaking DC film! Who will live? Who will die? Who will watch over Gotham?
Blu-ray Verdict: OK, before we dive into this quite brilliant 'Batman: Death in the Family' film, it should be known that this is the third animated film in which Bruce Greenwood has voiced Batman (following 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' (2010) and 'Batman: Gotham by Gaslight' (2018).
Although, and additionally, Greenwood voices Batman in the animated TV series 'Young Justice,' although Jensen Ackles, who originally voiced Jason Todd in 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' does not return due to scheduling conflicts with the final (delayed) season of Supernatural.
In the original comics, DC had two separate 900 numbers where readers can determine whether Jason Todd should live or die. Ergo, this new film is similar to the original poll in how the viewer can determine Jason's fate as it is also the very first DC animated interactive film.
In this new version, the animated film is an interactive storytelling presentation with numerous “branches,” allowing the viewer multiple options from which to choose and alter the path of the core characters (Batman, Robin, Joker, Red Hood and more).
As the second person to assume the role of Batman's sidekick, Jason Todd had a completely different personality than the original Robin.
Rash and prone to ignore Batman's instructions, Jason was always quick to act without regard to consequences. In this fatal instance, Robin ignores his mentor's warnings when he attempts to take on the Joker by himself and pays the ultimate price.
Driven by anger with Superman by his side, Batman seeks his vengeance as he looks to end the Joker's threat forever.
Originally conceived as an "acrobatic" replacement to Dick Grayson, he wasn’t actually very popular from the off! Fans just didn't care that Batman had a "side kick," and moreover, didn't want Batman to even have one!
At the time back then, the Batman comic books were going through a wee decline and Detective Comics was losing readers and was even (and again) on a list of books to be cancelled!
But, in stepped Frank Miller, who created a different end for Batman, that sprang from a very definite beginning. The DC universe went through a crisis and Jason’s origin was altered.
So now he was just some low life street punk who had tried to boost the wheels from the Batmobile, but the man in black had seen something in the lad and raised him to be the next Robin.
At the beginning of 'Batman: Death in the Family,' we find Robin has been grounded for disobeying Batman. Then, and in what con only be described as a "well-timed coincidence" (the kind that only exists in comics, of course), Jason gets some family information that leads him on an African safari hunt for his mom!
But, of course, the Joker is also Africa bound with a number of schemes to get rich so he can get back to being top dog in Gotham!
So, if you're playing along at home, we now have Bruce Wayne and Batman in Africa at the same time, along with Robin and the Joker! Oh, and all three of their mothers happen to be in Africa too ... along with a nuclear bomb (courtesy of the Joker, of course!)
But, and even with that all said, the premise us handled well enough, kept above water nicely, all the way to the third chapter, when the unthinkable happens.
It is at this point that you need to remember that it was the readership of the time, thanks to a 900 number, that decided Robin's fate!
Of course, we move gentle past that particular point and continue to witness some of the strongest Batman storylines to date, in my humble opinion.
And, finally, and not to give anything away, but there is an obvious point to make in the last chapter, when Batman says “Who killed Jason”, for you have to consider, well, Has he just given away his secret identity?!
It’s inevitable that the ending has to have a Did he? or Didn’t he? survive element, which would help set Batman on a more destructive path until the idea of Robin would get another run out, and so therein, it does get kinda left open ended, so to speak.
'Batman: Death in the Family arrives on Blu-ray™ and Digital on October 13th, 2020.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, 'Batman: Death in the Family' serves as the anchor for an anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts - including "Sgt. Rock," "Adam Strange," "Death" and "The Phantom Stranger."
FYI: The interactive component is only available on the Blu-ray. The Digital version of 'Batman: Death in the Family' offers four fully-played out linear versions of the short.
'Batman: Death in the Family' - "Don't Go After Joker Alone" Clip
'Batman: Death in the Family' - "Opening Title Sequence" Clip
'RWBY - Volume 7' [Blu-ray]
(Lindsay Jones, Kara Eberle, Arryn Zech, Barbara Dunkelman, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang have fought hard alongside their friends to bring the Relic of Knowledge to Atlas, the northernmost Kingdom in Remnant.
However, the futuristic urban-sprawl may hide just as much danger as the Grimm-infested tundra that surrounds it.
Enemies and allies will collide as our heroes fight to stop Salem's forces, but banding together is dangerous when you don't know who you can trust.
Blu-ray Verdict: Well, after a rather long hiatus, Warner Bros. finally brought us Volume 7 of 'RWBY,' which not only was devoured this end in one evening, but itself tries to cram so much into so little episodes - all whilst expanding its lore in terms of characters, story, and big reveals - that you'll need paperwork to follow along!
That said, all the characters we know and love now have complex motivations, all be they (for the most part) well intentioned, but they make some rather imperfect decisions along the way, that's for sure (just like life, to be fair).
With the show's recurring theme of how trust and love can bring people together, these 13 new episodes most definitely showcase an entire season of uncertainty here; and one that sees the main heroes challenged by self-doubt.
Such as when they visit the Kingdom of Atlas, they overly state (within the script) a lot of What should we do? Who should we trust? Are we doing the right thing? et al.
Which is fine, but throughout the other six volumes, I don't personally recall them being so overly wary of such decision making and subsequent consequences.
Anyhoo, moving on and here in Volume 7 there are people they thought they could trust, but maybe they shouldn’t along with people they didn’t think they could trust, but, yep, you guessed it, totally can!
And whilst that’s clearly the case in a number of ways with how the plot progresses, latterly it begins to contradict itself through a series of small lies that were, at first, well-intentioned, but later begin to escalate; culminating in some rather devastating consequences.
We get introduced to new characters and even get to witness the unexpected return of old ones. Personally, it was rather nice to see people such as Robyn Hill (voiced by Cristina Vee), who shows that there are indeed people in Mantle who actively want to help their own people; whilst the Ace-Ops (who are equally entertaining, yet at the same time blindly obedient), only see each other as teammates instead of friends.
Qrow (now voiced by Jason Liebrecht) also has his share of wonderful moments, such as building his budding friendship with the Ace-Ops leader Clover, which the fandom blindly perceived as something romantic due to how their opposite luck powers "complimenting" each other!
Oh, and Penny’s grandiose return helped bring some lighthearted moments back to the group, even if she had her own share of drama later in the story with the way her superiors treat her as just a robot.
So, all in all, 'RWBY - Volume 7' feels very heroic in moments, very triumphant at others, whilst at the same time seemingly hopeless (but that gets worked on, as aforementioned.
Sure, ok, the end result isn’t a perfect world within Weiss’s homeland, but it is a world that still has a fighting chance to reclaim its soul (and hopefully, with the recently announced Volume 8 currently in production, we could potentially see how all the struggles, hardships, and sacrifices for that soul play out next time).
FYI: Created by the late Monty Oum (Red vs. Blue), 'RWBY' is one of Rooster Teeth’s most beloved, viewed and shared series. As the first western-produced anime series to be distributed in Japan, 'RWBY' episodes have averaged more than 7 million views, and the franchise has accumulated over 271 million views since its inception.
To date, the series has sold nearly 670k units sold on DVD and Blu-ray, and registered consumer products sales in excess of $20 million. 'RWBY' has a fervent fanbase in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.
Rooster Teeth’s epic anime-inspired series following the journeys of four unified huntresses-in-training arrives for its spectacular seventh season when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment presents 'RWBY - Volume 7' on Digital ($14.99 SRP USA & Canada) and Blu-ray ($19.98 SRP USA, $24.98 SRP Canada) starting October 13th, 2020.
'Cold Light Of Day' [Limited Edition] [Blu-ray]
(Bob Flag, Martin Byrne-Quinn, Geoffrey Greenhill, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1998) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: February, 1983. Detectives are called to a residential address in the London suburbs following reports that the drains have been clogged by human remains.
One of the property's residents, Dennis Nilsen a mild-mannered and unassuming civil servant is brought in for questioning, leading to the discovery of one of the most shocking and disturbing cases of serial murder ever to rock Britain.
Offering a grim and gritty retelling of the story of Des Nilsen, often dubbed the British Jeffery Dahmer , 1989's 'Cold Light of Day' stars Bob Flag (the face of Big Brother in Michael Radford's 1984) as Nilsen-cipher Jorden March, delivering one of the most chilling and credible portrayals of a serial killer ever committed to screen.
Blu-ray Verdict: Following smartly on the heals of the new British three-part television drama miniseries, also based on the 1983 arrest of Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen, and which premiered on the 14th September, 2020, this 1989 version also has just the right amount of "ick" associated with it for the killer.
To bring you up to date, between 1978 and 1983, Dennis Nilsen - an outwardly unremarkable former soldier and police officer turned civil servant - killed at least fifteen men and boys (most of them students or homeless) in gruesome circumstances, allegedly retaining the corpses for sex acts before disposing of the butchered remains by hiding them in cupboards, under the floorboards, or simply by flushing them down the toilet.
This grimy, clammy, little-seen independent film is a lightly fictionalized account of Nilsen's hideous deeds, with a standout performance from Bob Flag as the milquetoast murderer, here renamed Jorden March.
Fhiona Louise's film, clearly made on a shoestring budget, steers clear of exploitation tactics, choosing instead to cast its characters adrift in a singularly bleak, uncaring and desolate world of tatty pubs, squalid bed-sits, greasy cafés and grubby bathrooms.
The police interrogation of March is inter-cut with flashbacks that reveal not just his crimes (a living room disembowelment and the discovery of what's blocking the drains will send a shiver down the spines of even the hardiest souls) but also provide a window of understanding into what has tipped the apparently kindly loner over the edge.
Louise's direction is unobtrusive and detached, allowing the lengthy exchanges between the characters to play out in several lengthy takes, but it's this cold, flat, cinema-verité style that affords the proceedings much of their chilling power, conveying the sense that such horrors really could be unfolding in the street, or even the house, just around the corner.
In conclusion, 'Cold Light Of Day' is an easy film to admire - it won several awards - but it's not an easy film to watch, let alone enjoy! As a fitting footnote, a caption card dedicates the preceding horrors to "those too sensitive for this world" - which, in his own perverse and twisted way, Nilsen surely was. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new 2K restoration from the original 16mm camera negative approved by director Fhiona-Louise
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with writer/director Fhiona-Louise
Brand new audio commentary with film historians/writers Dean Brandum and Andrew Nette
Newly-filmed interview with actor Martin Byrne-Quinn
Newly-filmed interview with actor Steve Munroe
Original 'Cold Light of Day' promo film made to raise financing for the feature
Two short films starring Cold Light of Day director Fhiona-Louise and photographed by Star Wars DP David Tattershall, newly restored in HD: 'Metropolis Apocalypse' (1988, 11 mins) and 'Sleepwalker' (1993, 2 mins)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Limited Edition Die-cut O-card
Limited Edition collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jo Botting and a look at how the press reported Dennis Nilsen's real-life crimes by Jeff Billington
Limited Edition of 2000 units
Amazon Purchase Link
'The Last Starfighter' (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
(Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Preston, Dan O'Herlihy, Wil Wheaton, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1984) 2020 / Arrow Video - MVD Visual)
Overview: Video game expert Alex Rogan finds himself transported to another planet after conquering 'The Last Starfighter' video game only to find out it was just a test.
He was recruited to join the team of best starfighters to defend their world from the attack.
Blu-ray Verdict: For those unware, 'The Last Starfighter' is directed by Nick Castle and written by Jonathan R. Betuel. It stars Lance Guest, Robert Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart, Dan O'Herlihy and Norman Snow. Music is by Craig Safan and features wondrous cinematography by King Baggot.
The story sees Guest as Alex Rogan, an everyday teenage boy who upon breaking the high-score record on a trailer park arcade game, suddenly finds himself recruited by an alien defense unit to fight an evil army out in space.
The advancements of computers and all their devilish electronic off shoots have rendered many of the pioneering effects films of yesteryear as rudimentary antiques. Where once films like 'Tron' and 'The Last Starfighter' blazed the trail that many would follow over the years, now they seem, if you believe the multitude of new era reviews for them, to hold only nostalgia value to video game players who were still at school in the early 1980's.
That's something of a disservice, for although they do indeed rely in the main on effects work and razz dazzle '80s credibility, the stories are enjoyably fantastical and not without thought and merit.
That said, 'The Last Starfighter' is one of the better ones because it manages to be both an exciting and sweet picture, one that is completely disarming.
Certainly it marries Spielberg homespun values with George Lucas operatics, but in the form of its teen protagonist it also dots the fantasy canvas with angsty worth. So much so that now when one revisits the film with older eyes, we can appreciate more fully that young Alex is in a rut, the crossroads of his life, a life he's struggling to make sense of.
Also more appreciation can now be made of the relationship Alex has with Grig (O'Herlihy), his flight navigator up in the galaxy, someone whom he calls a Gung-Ho iguana! This relationship is nicely drawn, here is where Alex finds not only his friend, but also his father figure, something he doesn't have the privilege of down on Earth.
Whilst up there fighting an intergalactic battle, Alex on Earth has been replaced by a Replicant Beta Model to ensure he is not missed. Here is where much of the film's fun is gleaned from.
Interesting to note that originally this arc in the film wasn't to be that huge, but test screenings encouraged director Castle into a rethink.
And the film is the better for it as the Beta tries to keep the flame going with the girlfriend (Stewart adorable girl next door type) and ensure he's not found out by any Ko-Dan spies!
Here Guest earns his corn, it's a very good duel performance from the youngster and it's a shame his career never really took off post the film's release.
However, none of this means the film is full of depth, it still remains a very simple story full of fantastical incredulity. But the underlying message of improving oneself, not settling for second best, is rich and puts some potency in the narrative.
Still, it's safe to say that most tuning into 'The Last Starfighter' want whizz bang space adventure frolics, which thankfully we do get.
The effects are, of course, variable, though not as cheap looking in High Definition as one expected, while the action is nicely constructed by Castle and his team.
The villains, led by a Po-faced Norman Snow make their mark, while Robert Preston, a legend to Western and film noir fans in the '40s and 50's, gives a wonderfully sweet and affecting turn as Centauri, the game inventor who whisks Alex away to the planet Rylos for his life changing challenge.
In closing, and more than just a film for nostalgists and gamer types, 'The Last Starfighter' is pretty solid entertainment from its core to the outer layers and still such a flashback gem to behold today! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative
High Definition Blu- ray (1080p) presentation
Uncompressed 2.0 stereo, 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 4.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with star Lance Guest and his son Jackson Guest
Brand new audio commentary with Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast
Archival audio commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb
Maggie's Memories: Revisiting 'The Last Starfighter' - A new interview with actress Catherine Mary Stewart
Into the Starscape: Composing 'The Last Starfighter' - A new interview with composer Craig Safan
Incredible Odds: Writing 'The Last Starfighter' - A new interview with screenwriter Jonathan Betuel
Interstellar Hit-Beast: Creating the Special Effects - A new interview with special effects supervisor Kevin Pike
Excalibur Test: Inside Digital Productions - A new interview with sci-fi author Greg Bear on Digital Productions, the company responsible for the CGI in 'The Last Starfighter'
Greetings Starfighter! Inside the Arcade Game, an interview with arcade game collector Estil Vance on reconstructing the Starfighter game
Heroes of the Screen archival featurette
Crossing the Frontier: Making 'The Last Starfighter' archival 4-part documentary
Theatrical and Teaser Trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ferguson
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY Limited Edition O-Card; Limited Edition Reversible Poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork;
Collector's booklet featuring new writing by Amanda Reyes and sci-fi author Greg Bear's never-before-published Omni magazine article on Digital Productions (the company responsible for the CGI in 'The Last Starfighter').
Amazon Purchase Link
(Justin Salinger, Francis Chouler, Gabriel Harry Meltz, et al / DVD / TV-14 / 2020 / LGF)
Overview: Executive produced by Academy Award® winner Leonardo DiCaprio, 'Grant' tells the remarkable and quintessentially American story of a humble man who overcomes incredible obstacles to rise to the highest ranks of power and save the nation not once, but twice.
This complete three-part miniseries seamlessly blends expert commentary, dramatic reenactments, and beautifully enhanced archival imagery to reveal the true legacy of the unlikely hero who led the nation during its greatest tests: the Civil War and Reconstruction.
DVD Verdict: Just released, 'Grant' is a three-part mini-series based on historian Ron Chernow's 2017 book of the same name.
Without commercials, which is a very important point to highlight, this is a 4-hour film that's part dramatic reenactment featuring Justin Salinger in the lead role and part documentary with a diverse cast of erudite and interesting commentators.
Ulysses S. Grant has been described as "an inspired commander, an adequate president, a dull companion and a roaring drunk." Personally, I take issue with that last description. Grant might've had an issue with alcohol, but that doesn't make him a "roaring drunk."
I know real life drunkards and they waste their lives sitting around looking for their next drink, accomplishing very little. Drunks don't lead the biggest military force on Earth and win battle-after-battle, as well as the great war itself.
Nor are they able to lead a country the size of the USA for eight years and have a successful marriage & family that overcome great challenges over and over.
Moving on and this might actually be my favorite Civil War movie of all time. As good, or better, than the best you can cite, such like 'Ride with the Devil' (1999), 'Glory' (1989), 'Cold Mountain' (2003), 'The Horse Soldiers' (1959) and 'Gods and Generals' (2002).
Furthermore, to my mind, 'Grant' is the best cinematic source to understand the bigger picture of The Civil War, especially as far as the Union's strategy to victory.
For instance, what was the purpose of the Battle of Shiloh? If it was a Union victory, why did reporters lambaste Grant as an incompetent drunk and why was he demoted?
After crossing the Mississippi, why did Grant go east to fight two battles and capture Jackson, Mississippi, BEFORE going to Vicksburg?
And what was the strategic value of the Battle of the Wilderness? Petersburg and Cold Harbor?
The reenactments are totally realistic with utterly savage battle scenes. This is what it was like, folks. War is hell. Thankfully, the film doesn't end with Lee's surrender at Appomattax, but goes on to address Grant's final 22 years of life as President during Reconstruction, his wide travels, tragedies and finishing his memoir, three days before passing away.
For the record, I myself just read Grant's memoirs, so I was so glad this production arrived here on DVD at this (nearly) very same time.
Through reading Grant's memoirs, I realized many new things about the Civil War. I was amazed at his memories of everything and all the battles fought.
His memoirs and this documentary really brought home what a terrible war this was. Again, this show 'Grant' was done very well and I loved Justin Salinger's portrayal of the man himself, Grant (FYI: The History Channel also aired a program called 'Lee and Grant,' which is also excellent and well worth your time if you also loved this new release). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Official 'Grant' Trailer
Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me [Blu-ray]
(Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / Eagle Vision)
Overview: This intimate portrait by Oscar-nominated director Mike Figgis is the first in-depth film biography of the artist, Ronnie Wood (72), and traces his many lives and careers.
A man still at the cutting edge in his seventies, the film tells the story from his humble beginnings in north London, where his older brothers shaped the musical powerhouse he would become, to the unique career that has not only spanned over 50 years (so far), but also traversed some of the most influential musicians the world has ever known.
Blu-ray Verdict: "I was in the hands of destiny all my life and being in the right place at the right time". Words spoken by the man himself, his voice aged and cracked, low and gruff, but nonetheless as sincere, and as openly honest about his success as any human could ever be in his profession.
As for his wild life heyday's, when asked it they had gotten him into a lot of trouble, he quickly replies, "No, it got me into a lot of pleasure!"
A big, wide grin on his face, along with a chuckle, he adds, "I wouldn't change anything ... except I'd do it with my eyes open a bit me," he knowingly, and casually smiles, once more.
It's statements such as those, and his genuinely expressed love for life, whilst seeing all he has been (negatively) through as a stepping stone to a better place, that makes this 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' documentary (a title inspired by his surgery for lung cancer in 2017, and which is actually washed over very quickly here) one of the most engaging, and revealing I have had the pleasure to watch in the past decade.
Simply put, Ronnie Wood is a genuine, 24-carat rock star guitarist. He has paid his dues, played hard, lived fast (in every sense) and somehow survived to tell the tale.
And tell it he does, in Figgis's revealing, biographical documentary, which charts Wood's stellar and storied career. From his childhood and entry into the 1960s music scene, through to his time with the Jeff Beck Group, achieving fame with The Faces alongside band-mate Rod Stewart and finally becoming an indispensable and permanent member of The Rolling Stones, Figgis captures it all.perfect rock and roll treat. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1080p AVC) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:
Live from the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne: 'Wee Wee Hours' (with Imelda May), 'Johnny B. Goode,' and 'Blue Feeling.'
In The Studio
Half Man, Half Horse
'Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me ' [Blu-ray] is out October 9th, 2020 via Eagle Vision.
'Ronnie Wood: Somebody Up There Likes Me' Trailer
(Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Visnjic, Stephanie Gil, Alejandra Howard, Jorge Lamelas, et al / DVD / NR / 2020 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Overview: Experience the astonishing story of three children whose shared spiritual visions heralded a miracle and has inspired millions in Picturehouse’s 'Fatima,' the uplifting and historical drama based on the captivating story of one of the Catholic Church’s most fabled places of pilgrimage.
DVD: On May 13th, 1917, three children, 10-year-old Lúcia (Stephanie Gil, "Terminator: Dark Fate") and her younger cousins Francisco (Jorge Lamelas) and Jacinta (Alejandra Howard, "Cleo" TV series) were tending their family's flock of sheep at the Cova da Iria, the family pastureland in the Portuguese village of Aljustrel on the outskirts of Fátima, when they had a striking vision of a Lady (Joana Ribiero, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote") dressed in white near a small oak tree.
Claiming that she came from heaven, she asks the children to return to the same place on the thirteenth day of each month for the next five months, promising that a miracle would be performed that will convince the people of the village of her appearance and receive her message of peace. She also gives the children personal messages that could only be revealed later.
Written by Barbara Nicolosi, Valerio D'Annunzio and Marco Pontecorvo and taken from Lúcia's memoirs, 'Fatima,' directed by Pontecorvo ("Partly Cloudy with Sunny Spells"), son of director Gillo Pontecorvo ("The Battle of Algiers"), peeks beyond the boundaries of the known in his retelling of the fact-based 1917 sighting of the Lady identified as the Virgin Mary, first brought to the screen in 1952 in "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima."
The present story is told from the point of view of the three young children, especially that of Lúcia who bears the main task of convincing the community of the authenticity of her visions.
The film is book-ended by a fictional conversation held at the Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal in 1989 between a now elderly Sister Lúcia (Sônia Braga, "Bacurau") and Professor Nichols (Harvey Keitel, "The Irishman"), a skeptical Professor of Religion.
Though the flashbacks attempt to put the visions in a modern day context, the experience of the children unfolds in real time and they deliver performances that are real and beautifully realized, especially that of Gil whose beatific smile is enough to convince us of her divine revelation. According to Pontecorvo, "Lúcia, for me, is someone that can see beyond and can get in touch with another level in a way that not all of us have the possibility of doing."
Unlike many Hollywood films in which spiritual events are artificially enhanced by CGI effects and heavenly sounding music to create a "spiritual feeling," Pontecorvo's depiction of the Lady is of a real woman who walks barefoot on the mud, not a fuzzy image floating in the air.
Filmed entirely in Portugal by cinematographer Vincenzo Carpineta ("Let's Talk"), 'Fatima' creates a striking sense of place and time. It is the time of World War I and a weary world prays for peace.
The villagers gather daily in the town square to listen as mayor Artur Santos (Goran Visnjic, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") reads the names of local soldiers who have been declared dead or missing. Lúcia's family hopefully await news from the front about Lúcia's brother Manuel (Elmano Sancho, "The Black Book").
People struggling with the loss of a loved one receive little comfort, however, from a hardline anti-clerical government.
As Lúcia struggles to overcome the disbelief of her mother, Maria Rosa (Lúcia Moniz, "Hero on the Front") and her father Antonio (Marco D'Almeida, "Night Train to Lisbon"), she must also deal with the outright hostility of the mayor, the local pastor Father Ferreira (Joaquim de Almeida, "The Hitman's Bodyguard"), and the bishop (João D'Ávila, "The Easy Way").
During one of Mary's visits at Fátima, the children experience a vision of Hell with all its accompanying charms such as an ocean of fire, devils, and shrieking souls, but the Lady tells them that her visit was a way of saving the tormented souls in Hell.
Despite the children's belief in what they had seen, they are pressured by her parents, the church, and the secular officials to recant and admit their story was just a made-up game.
On October 13th, however, a perceived miracle took place before an estimated 50,000 people who testified that the midday sun suddenly appeared like a silver disk, then began "to rotate, dance, and whirl like a pinwheel."
Wobbling across the sky, it plunged towards the earth as people screamed and looked for a place to hide and then sighed in relief and amazement as the sun re-ascended towards its rightful position in the sky.
Today, the basilica of Our Lady of Fatima stands near the Cova da Iria as the Lady requested and draws thousands of visitors each year. In 2017 Pope Francis canonized Francisco and Jacinta, both of whom died in the flu epidemic of 1918, while Lúcia's canonization is still pending.
'Fatima' is a lovely film that, unlike previous versions of the story, explores the inner life of the characters and portrays the Marian visits without being preachy.
What the visions represent is beyond the scope of this review, yet, as Anne Baring says in her book, "The Dream of the Cosmos," "the passionate longing of the human heart has always been to press beyond the boundaries of the known, to break through the limitations of our understanding, to extend the horizon of awareness."
Marian apparitions as well as other visions of the "Divine Feminine," according to a Newsweek magazine article in 1997 article, have numbered at least four hundred in the twentieth century alone and have been reported from antiquity down into modern times at times appearing as Isis, Kali, Durga, and Ishtar as well as the Virgin Mary.
Ergo, 'Fatima' challenges our normal consensus view of reality and strives to evoke in us a renewed sense of mystery regardless of our religious or secular beliefs. Allowing us to see the world through a broader lens, it points us towards a new connection with the cosmos. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:
Andrea Bocelli: The Making Of "Gratia Plena"
The vision of Director Marco Pontecorvo
Meet the Seers of Fatima
Meet the cast of Fatima
The Making of a Miracle
Behind the lens of Fatima
Set Design and the Art of Cristina Onori
Costume Design and the Art of Daniela Ciancio
'Fatima' @ Facebook
'Fatima' @ Instagram
'Fatima' @ Twitter
(Byung-hun Lee, Jung-woo Ha, Hye-jin Jeon, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2020 / MPI Home Video)
Overview: Following a volcanic eruption along the China-North Korea border that leaves the entire Korean peninsula in shambles, seismologists warn that an even greater eruption is forth coming-one that could devastate the entire region.
Blu-ray Verdict: With the impending fate of entire Korean peninsula resting in their hands, enlisting the help of renowned Korean-American scientist Bong-rae (Don LEE), the government scrambles to find a way to stop the impending explosion.
Bong-rae’s plan calls for the use of nuclear warheads, which are currently held in North Korean territory and their precise location known only by imprisoned defector Jun-pyong (LEE Byung Hun).
After a freak accident leaves explosive disposal expert In-chang (HA Jung Woo) in charge of the team tasked with extracting Jun-pyong and locating the warheads, the two very different soldiers must work together to race against the clock and save all of Korea before it’s too late.
My goodness, wow! In truth, this action packed disaster movie is go-go gadget from the very off, opening with the one big explosion and culminating in another much-like it right at the very end.
The CGI and overall effects here are really well executed and are as good as anything Hollywood could have done, in my humble opinion.
Add to that some full on battle sequences, choreographed fight scenes and overall manically scripted mayhem sequences, and 'Ashfall' (originally titled 'Baekdusan') is easily one of the most exciting movies of 2020.
Along the way you also get to side with certain characters, feel for them when things happen around them, and in some cases, cheer when certain things happen to them!
The storyline is rather complex at times, overly for some strange reason, but spliced with black humor and some just brilliantly timed comedic retorts, the overly political subplot (involving nukes and the usual suspects) is soon nullified.
So, if you like your action films on the relentless energy side, and understand that each of the characters has to get into some form of hot water at least once along the way, and with a ticking time bomb just waiting patiently for the worst possible moment to go off, well my friends, 'Ashfall' is most definitely the movie for you! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Ashfall' [Blu-ray] is out now via MPI Home Video.
Official 'Ashfall' Trailer