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'Terra Formars: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Rinko Kikuchi, Rila Fukushima, Shun Oguri, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1999) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: In an attempt to colonize Mars, 21st century scientists seed the planet with algae to absorb sun light and purify the atmosphere, and cockroaches who in turn spread the algae as they feed.

500 years later, the first manned mission to Mars loses contact with Earth, and a second ship is sent to investigate.

Blu-ray Verdict: Not a bad movie for the scope that it was created and filmed within, here we are now in the crowded 21st century where we laid out green (terraform) areas on Mars so human life could inhabit it.

Basically put, we gave it moss and cockroaches! A crew of selected criminals (why it is always criminals?!) and others go to Mars in 2599 to eliminate the now over-sized (quite literally) roach problem!

Of course, when they get there they discover the roaches are large, humanoid, and bloody well aggressive. But, rather than just kill them with conventional weapons, the crew resorts to injecting themselves with the DNA of various insects to give themselves a superpower (!) in order to make their superpower seem feasible!

Come on now, stay with me here. Sure there's no Caspar Van Dien with a machine gun, winning every battle against the bugs, even though he had no logistical right to, but what we do have are a band of actors/characters that do their very best.

Containing some nice special effect, all be they not of the highest level, 'Terra Formars' could benefit from some up to dat CGI, sure, but overall the storyline holds up.

Based on the popular Manga series of the same name, 'Terra Formars' is an action-packed space adventure brought to life by one of Japan’s most celebrated contemporary filmmakers. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
Newly-translated English subtitles
The Making of Terra Formars - feature-length documentary on the film's production featuring a host of cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
Extended cast interviews
Footage from the 2016 Japanese premiere
Outtakes
Image Gallery
Theatrical and teaser trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Tom Mes

www.ArrowFilms.com





'I Still See You' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Bella Thorne, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Price-Francis, Richard Harmon, Sara Thompson, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / PG-13 / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: 'I Still See You' is set ten years after an apocalyptic event that killed millions and left the world inhabited by ghosts.

Blu-ray Verdict: Based on the 2012 novel "Break My Heart 1,000 Times", written by Daniel Waters, 'I Still See You' has great atmosphere, an original plot, stunning cinematography, an excellent soundtrack and one heck of a rather beautiful cast! What else do you need from a good (teen) thriller?

It's ten years after the Event, an accident at a high energy experiment in Chicago. Many were killed and it has brought back the dead from the past in the form of spiritual remnants.

These rems recreate moments in their lives. Veronica Calder (Bella Thorne) lost her father in the Event and he spends every morning reading the paper during breakfast in their small town of Jewel City.

August Bittner (Dermot Mulroney) is a trusted teacher and Kirk Lane (Richard Harmon) is the mysterious new student. Veronica's life spirals when a new rem shows up in her bathroom.

The premise is intriguing and the first half goes well enough. Bella Thorne is built for these dark teen characters and so is Richard Harmon. It could been a good ghost horror story but several things happen that strips it of the earlier promise.

The minor issue is Mr. Bittner. He's not a science teacher and his knowledge of the Event is head-scratching in the moment. It makes more sense that she would ask the nerd with the crush to set up the panic room.

It's obviously done for the plot but it doesn't make character sense. The bigger issue are the rems and their actual powers. The ending suddenly introduces new capabilities for them.

It needs some foreshadowing but better yet, the movie could have ended without changing them. Bittner could have been distracted by his daughter without physically touching her. The rems are more compelling if they can't affect the physical world.

In closing, and although the movie is filled with sometimes beautiful images you simply cannot call the story highly original. The start was promising, sure, but as the film progressed it all became rather superficial (although still highly watchable, of course). And guessing the ultimate outcome wasn't so hard either, but you will get a kick out of it, trust me! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Scott Speer
"Remnants: Manifesting I Still See You' Featurette
'Break My Heart 1,000 Times: Novel To Screen' Featurette
Audio Commentary with Director Scott Speer and Actress Bella Thorne

Enter an entire world that’s haunted when 'I Still See You' arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital December 11th from Lionsgate.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'Viking Destiny' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Terence Stamp, Anna Demetriou, Paul Freeman, Victoria Broom, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A Viking Princess is forced to flee her kingdom after being framed for the murder of her father, the King. Under the guidance of the God Odin, she travels the world gaining wisdom and building the army she needs to win back her throne.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Viking Destiny' (originally called 'Of Gods and Warriors') takes the viewer into the world of Norse, the world of the Vikings, and a very tough world it looks too.

Beginning with the text bar 'Once Upon A Time...' and a very cool voice over by Terence Stamp (Song For Marion, The Limey) we are dropped into this violent world with a brutal beach battle which pulls no punches and sheaths no swords.

I won't go into to much of the story line, because the beauty of most films, and especially the work that David writes is seeing where the story unfolds, and what journey the characters go through in this film.

Now with anything medieval or with anything involving a sword and "olden times" there will always be a comparison to the work of HBO and George RR Martins Game Of Thrones, but please don't do that with 'Viking Destiny.'

I mean sure, whilst the world of Thrones spans many continents, dragons, the living dead and other fantastical elements, 'Viking Destiny' deals with the real thing, so to speak.

The film has everything. It's leading actress Anna Demetriou, who plays the role of Helle, is wonderful and takes to the screen as if she owns it (and she does own it) with her journey through the film.

We like her, we care for her, and we also know that she is more than capable of taking care of herself. This is perfect team work from Anna's performance, alongside David's writing and directing and with only a very short filmography at the moment, Anna Demetriou is most definitely one actress to keep an eye on.

The film also features the wonderfully iconic Terence Stamp, a man who has been in so many films I could fill a full article just with his screen appearances. Here in 'Viking Destiny' he shares his scenes with the aforementioned Anna.

Yep, the man who currently has 88 film and television appearances to his name alongside Anna Demetriou, who is starring here in her very first feature film, and yet it's a lovely cinematic experience to behold them together.

In closing, I loved this movie! The cast seemed to really enjoy their characters and worked hard to become them and I loved the fight scenes at the varied locations. Good job and well done to the cast, crew, and director. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.38:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

One True Heir: A Warrior's Destiny
Of Gods, Women & Men: The Cast
Strength From Within: Staging The Battles

A world full of action and adventure comes home when 'Viking Destiny' arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital December 4th from Lionsgate.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'The Super' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Val Kilmer, Paul Ben-Victor, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / (2017) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A man becomes the superintendent of a large New York City apartment building where people mysteriously go missing.

Blu-ray Verdict: Let's all be honest here, with Val Kilmer you never know what to expect any more. He often just mails it in or coasts (and apparently can be a nightmare to work with), but when he decides to turn it on he can still be a great actor.

It's nice to see him at his acting best again. 'The Super' is a mystery/thriller with him just in a supporting role, but he steals the show.

The movie is about Phil Lodge who moves with his two daughters into an apartment building in New York City where he has the job of superintendent. Kilmer plays Walter, a resident who is very weird. Pretty soon the residents start disappearing...!

The movie takes a simple concept, but gives it a nice twist that actually for a change wasn't expected by everyone watching. It's got a lot of gore for a non-horror movie, but as a thriller it has some great scares.

Again though, as it pays to mention it, there are some great performances by Val Kilmer, Yul Vasquez and Paul Ben Victor. Sure, Kilmer's role is an extended cameo of sorts, but I want you to know he's on top form and just brilliant here in his role. I'd recommend it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

"He Has Your Keys: Making The Super" Featurette

Whenever you think you’re alone, just remember that he’s always watching when 'The Super' arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and Digital December 18 from Lionsgate.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'Lizzie' [Blu-ray + Digital]
(Kristen Stewart, Chloë Sevigny, Fiona Shaw, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / (2017) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: 'Lizzie' is a psychological thriller based on the infamous 1892 murders of the Borden family.

Blu-ray Verdict: "Lizzie Borden took an ax, And gave her mother forty whacks. And when she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one."

It likely speaks volumes about the effectiveness of popular verse that when the ax begins to swing at about the halfway point of the new motion picture 'Lizzie,' the viewer’s mind almost automatically begins to count the number of strokes the title character administers to her stepmother and; a few minutes later, her father.

But it also speaks well of the movie’s fidelity to the facts of the case that the number of whacks dispensed by the younger Borden in the picture ultimately tops off in the teens, as in the actual 1892 murders - eighteen and eleven respectively, instead of the low forties suggested by the famous Mother Goose rhyme.

As history informs us, Lizzie Borden was famous for being the prime suspect in killing her mother in law and then her father in 1892.

Indeed, it was widely acknowledged there were squabbles over money with her father's new wife and the murder weapon was found in the basement, plus witnesses (with no vested interest) that cast suspicion on Lizzie.

Lizzie has become somewhat of a feminist icon (probably because of the violence and "getting away with it"). Most feminists overlook murdering her mother in law first and the generous wealth the family had.

Instead, they focus in on sexual abuse allegations (which should have meant the father was killed first and only the father was killed). I digress.

It's fascinating to watch how much we glorify violent and murderous women today (eg. domestic violence by a mother on her child is almost never reported in the papers).

It will be fascinating to see how today's generation is viewed in 20 years time with glorification of murderers and endorsement of violent female family members.

If you're a feminist and you want to root for someone who murdered a man and woman in the peace of their own home and then inherited a lot of money, this is your film.

I appreciate why she's a feminist icon. Intolerant, violent, self-seeking, wealthy - and heavy backing by the main stream media, no matter how despicable. She would have been glorified by the #metoo movement.

In closing, Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart have an undeniable chemistry, and grant us with award worthy performances, that bring us into the world of Lizzie Borden.

More of a suspenseful drama than horror, but with an ending that will leave you floored, 'Lizzie' delivers everything I could've wished for in this genre of biographical movie. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

"Understanding Lizzie" Featurette

It all started with an axe. Experience “a chilling reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murder” (Sara Stewart, New York Post) when 'Lizzie' arrives on Digital December 4th and on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD, and On Demand December 11th from Lionsgate.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'The Real Story: Master and Commander'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: The historians and experts who worked behind the scenes of 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' will now share the real story of how they brought their recreation of the 19th-century seafaring adventure to the big screen.

DVD Verdict: Though it is a work of fiction, few films have been meticulously researched as 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.'

Here in 'The Real Story: Master and Commander,' the historians and experts who worked behind the scenes lovingly share their thoughts and, most importantly, observations of how they helped bring this stunning recreation of the 19th-century seafaring adventure to the big screen.

Inclusive of tales of brutal conditions at sea, and stories of the real-life swashbuckling captain who inspired the Hollywood character, Lucky Jack Aubrey, running at just a scant 45 minutes, it still manages to enthrall, trust me.

Indeed, we learn that as much as Sir John "Jack" Aubrey, JP MP FRS is a fictional character in the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian, the fact he was based on a more nefarious captain of the high seas just adds to that character portrayal.

The series portrays his rise from lieutenant to rear-admiral in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and, moreover, showcases his remarkable early success that indeed earned him the nickname "Lucky" Jack Aubrey.

In the film, during the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Jack Aubrey of HMS Surprise is ordered to fight the French privateer Acheron. Acheron ambushes Surprise, causing heavy damage, while remaining undamaged by the British guns.

The ship's boats tow Surprise into a fog bank to evade pursuit. Aubrey's officers tell him that Surprise is no match for Acheron, and that they should abandon the chase.

Aubrey points out that the Acheron must not be allowed to plunder the British whaling fleet. He orders the Surprise refitted at sea, rather than returning to port for repairs.

Shortly afterwards, Acheron again ambushes Surprise, but Aubrey slips away in the night by using a decoy raft and ship's lamps.

The film, which cost $150 million to make, was a co-production of 20th Century Fox, Miramax Films, Universal Pictures, and Samuel Goldwyn Films, and released on November 14th, 2003. The film grossed $212 million worldwide. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.SmithsonianChannel.com





'Hell Fest' [Blu-ray Combo Pack]
(Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Tony Todd, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A masked serial killer turns a horror-themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

Blu-ray Verdict: Released into theaters in October, it was just when the beautiful autumn colors emerged and the spooky season of Halloween came alongside it!

Along with the jack o' lanterns, fun size candy, and parities, this is also when the often popular haunts come to town. These haunts cater to those that want something genuinely scary, as if they've stepped into their favorite horror movies...without the serial killers of course.

I've only been to a few and have had more laughs then fears. This is because I more appreciate the haunts in a similar way a stage show is pulled off.

So why are there dedicated fans that keep going further with mazes where they tough you (yes, they can do that)? Again, it's a part of the Halloween atmosphere that a part of the escapism people desire.

We already know were going to survive the night, but we love to see if our internal suspension of disbelief can activate and put us in the fear we want.

I can understand it can be too intense for a lot of people, but again, it's all a part of the season. It's nice to see a movie like 'Hell Fest' to set a slasher within a haunt park.

A young college student Natalie (Played by Amy Forsyth) is visiting her former roommate Brooke (played by Reign Edwards) and classmate Taylor (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus). Not only are they going to the haunt park Hell Fest, but their meeting up with friends, including Gavin (played by Robby Attal) who got everyone V.I.P. passes (which means no line waiting).

Along with the various people coming in, they see that Hell Fest of full of scare actors, several mazes to explore and even an entire land called "the Deadlands" where the actors are allowed to touch and go further with their scares.

The problem? An unnamed person enters the park and into the mazes and starts randomly killing off guests. Our heroes don't see anything wrong until this guy acquires a mask and starts to stalk them around. At first they dismiss him as a really good actor, but when friends start disappearing, they got more uneasy.

Even when they try talking to security (who tells them that he can arrest someone for doing their job), they don't seem to have a lot of options. The further they get to the Deadlands, the more they feel like they've descended into hell.

So by reading this, you can already tell that 'Hell Fest' follows a lot of slasher tropes that we've seen before; the group of college kids, unresponsive authority, walking along somewhere, killer with a mask, and such.

This will definitely not appeal to those looking for a new kind of horror movie (like Hereditary). This seems to be more proud that it's trying to be a typical slasher. Because of that, I didn't mind it. A lot of it has to do with it's setting and atmosphere.

'Hell Fest' is full of theme park-like Halloween imagery that looks really cool. I was afraid they would try to pull off haunt mazes that only Hollywood effects teams were capable of.

Instead, each maze has the right balance of over the top gory, but also over the top fakery. This feels like something that would be built at Knott's Berry Farm or Universal Studios. Part of me really wants to visit this place...without the killing of course.

Even the scare actors seems spot on with some coming up to them at random points, and some in full makeup hosting scary shows about guillotines.

Of course, the story is minimal, as what's served is an excuse to show off the park. The main actors like Amy Forsyth and Bex Taylor-Klaus do fine in their parts. Their interesting enough that we'd want to visit the park with them.

Even when they are eventually chased by the killer (I swear, I don't even think they gave him a name), we do want to see them survive. Also like a lot of slashers, without giving anything away, it does tease for a potential sequel in a trope manner we've seen before. I'd, however, would love to see this one continue!

I'll give this eight tickets to Knott's Scary Farm out of ten. 'Hell Fest' may be a typical slasher, but it's so atmospheric, that those that have been to these haunts will probably like it fine.

It's hard to be overly critical as it's also short, running no more then eighty-five minutes. It's a fun watch. So see it and understand it's all a part of the show! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Trills And Kills Making Hell Fest
Theatrical Trailer

Experience a terrifying celebration of the horror genre when 'Hell Fest' arrives on Digital December 28th and on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand January 8th from Lionsgate.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'Night School: Extended Cut 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray'
(Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Rob Riggle, Romany Malco, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: When accidentally destroying his workplace gets successful salesman Teddy (Kevin Hart) fired, he can't find another decent job unless he finally gets his GED.

But two major things stand in his way: Carrie (Tiffany Haddish), a teacher with no time for grown-up class clowns, and Stewart (Taran Killam), Teddy's high school nemesis-turned-principal who will do anything to see him fail.

Now every school rule is about to be broken when they all go head-to-head in a wild battle of wits, pranks and lessons you can't learn in books. Night School is in session!

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Studios Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings next month with the release of the hilariously funny 'Night School' in the 4K home video format on January 1st, 2019.

For my money, this 'Night School - Extended Cut: 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 HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Night School' 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: MPEG-4 AVC; Resolution: 1080p; 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; like in most all Rob Riggle scenes, to be very honest!

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 some scenes, much like the scenes when Hart is driving along with his parking lot "tussles" with Haddish!) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: DTS 5.1; and French: DTS-HD HR 7.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR10 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, 'Night School' is a wild comedy starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, and delivers exactly what you would expect from a comedy starring these two!

It peppers in plenty of jokes, some hit while others miss so badly that they can hardly be recognized as attempts at humor. There's such an eclectic mix of silly, sweet and ridiculous that's the result of six writer patching together the script. It easily could have been a disaster if not for the talented ensemble of on-screen talent.

'Girls Trip' director Malcolm D. Lee once again displays his aptitude for letting Haddish showcase her personality. She is equally a force when imposing her gruff edge and when showing her softer side as a no-nonsense teacher who leads the night school class for those prepping for the GED.

That's where she meets Hart's character, Teddy, a serial hustler in life who lost his sales job and now must pass the GED to begin a new job in finance and impress his successful fiancé.

Everyone in the night school class has their own reason for being there, but I question the logic of it all in 2018 because their desired career opportunities would be more likely to require a college education than only high school.

Nevertheless, Hart's classmates include a mom who got pregnant in high school (Mary Lynn Rajskub), a oddball conspiracy theorist (Romany Malco, who is hilarious in his limited role), and large man who is an even larger doofus (Rob Riggle), to name a few.

Give Riggle credit for his commitment. He consistently pours his heart into every line with the sincerest of effort, even the ones he must have known had no chance at eliciting even a chuckle.

Some of the other performers have more to work with but each achieves maximum laughs from the mediocre material.

The jokes mostly come from the most obvious places, which comes across as lazy writing. There's about three too many sight gags, one of which is admittedly hilarious despite being disgusting to point that it's impossible not to look away. The other physical humor ploys, including over-the-top comic violence, grow tired quickly.

The script hits the pause button on jokes, it unveils a heart beneath it all. These tender moments aren't exactly masterful, more like gooey to the point just shy of eye-roll worthy. But them credit for trying. All considered, this movie earns a passing score that could have been better if the filmmakers had just put in a little more work.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the 4K Ultra HD's special features, with one of them being Gag Reel "Extra Credit"! Just as it indicates, this is just a bunch of funny footage that was deemed too much to keep in the movie, but Lord knows why as it's some truly funny sh*t!

Both the Alternate Opening with Commentary by Director Malcolm D. Lee and the Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Lee are an interesting look into the world of directing Hart, and another one is the Extended Performance "El Sueno" ... trust me, don't ask, just watch!

School is back in session when 'NIGHT SCHOOL' arrives on Digital and the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on December 11th, 2018, On Demand December 28th, 2018 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD January 1st, 2019, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the aforementioned Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of 'Night School - Extended Version'
Gag Reel "Extra Credit"
Feature Commentary with Director Malcolm D. Lee
Alternate Opening with Commentary by Director Malcolm D. Lee
Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Malcolm D. Lee
Gag Reel
Night School's in Session!
Who's the Student? Who's the Teacher?
Prom Night Revisited
Cap 'n Gown 'n Giggles
Making of the Dance Battle
Christian Chicken
Game Over
Extended Performance "El Sueno"

Official Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link





Schindler's List: 25th Anniversary Edition 4K UHD
(Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / NR / 2018 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: Commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Steven Spielberg's cinematic masterpiece, 'Schindler's List', one of the most historically significant films of all time.

Winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, this incredible true story follows the enigmatic Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Studios Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the hilariously funny 'Night School' in the 4K home video format on December 18th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Schindler's List: 25th Anniversary Edition: 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 HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Schindler's List: 25th Anniversary Edition' 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: Native 4K (2160p); HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10; Aspect ratio: 1.85:1; and Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1.

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.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and what was obviously, even then, some of the graded material (notably in some scenes where Neeson and Kingsley are arguing, funnily enough).

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; and French: DTS 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR10 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, and 'Schindler's List' is one of those movies that elicits such a strong reaction not only the first time one sees it, but every subsequent time that people often respond without fully being able to think through what they are saying.

Personally, it is one of my favorites, as I have emerged from each viewing of it exhausted, torn, and enlightened from an experience explores many sides of humanity during one of the most terrifying times in recent history.

Some, however, have responded very negatively to what they term historical inaccuracies, lack of focus on the real issues, or for others, overblown sentimentality.

Not being Spielberg, I have no idea what his intentions were, but I would argue that no single movie can ever truly capture the experience of an entire continent during a six year period or war, much less a 13 year period of Nazi rule in Germany.

Regardless of how incredible Schindler's List is, it should only be the first of many Holocaust movies to be made. Thus, I agree with people who argue that there was more to the Holocaust than this film, but to not recognize the greatness of this film for that reason is simply ridiculous.

This movie explores human nature, therein lies its true greatness. It asks each and every one of us to search the depths of our character, and ask ourselves what we would do in a situation where our moral, spiritual, and physical beings were threatened from every direction.

Do we really expect film to be reality? I don't. I go to movies to make me think, to make me look inward and learn something about myself, to tell explore a part of reality that I had not ever seen before.

'Schindler's List' does exactly this better than almost any other film through nearly flawless acting, beautiful cinematography, and a fantastic story, historically accurate or not.

I don't want to relive the Holocaust, I consider myself quite fortunate that I have never had, and hopefully never will have, to make the decisions facing either Stern, Goethe, or Schindler.

Instead, the Holocaust should be taught and learned about to discover more about humanity, hopefully to reach an understanding of ourselves that we can use in the future. That's what this film does; it's a work of art.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the 4K Ultra HD's special features, with the stand out one (for me, at least), being the highly impressive, and brand new featurette, Schindler's List: 25 Years Later.

Running at just under 40 minutes, this piece presents an on-stage discussion following a 2018 screening at The Beacon Theater for the Tribeca Film Festival.

Participants include Director Steven Spielberg and Actors Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall, and Embeth Davidtz. The discussion is moderated by Film Critic Janet Maslin.

The discussions heard that night included Spielberg reminiscing about seeing the film for the first time in many years, how he became involved in the production, performance qualities, memories from the production, viewing the film once again with an audience, film construction, casting details, interactions with the cast, the film's importance, and so much more.

The other new featurette is the much shorter, although no less powerful Let Their Testimonies Speak - Stronger Than Hate (3:50) where Steven Spielberg introduces a short piece that champions the importance of love in a world of hate and violence.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the aforementioned Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of Schindler's List
Schindler's List: 25 Years Later
Voices from the List
USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg (2018)
Let Their Testimonies Speak - Stronger Than Hate
About IWitness (2018)

Official 25th Anniversary Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link





'The House with a Clock in Its Walls: 4K Ultra HD'
(Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG / 2018 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett star in 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls'.

The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town's sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches!

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Studios Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings next month with the release of the hilariously funny 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' in the 4K home video format on January 1st, 2019.

For my money, this 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls: 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 HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' 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; like in most all of the magical experiences that seem to come complete with gold sparkles attached!

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 some scenes, much like the scenes where the puppets downstairs all come to life and begin to round up our there heroes!) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: DTS-HD HR 7.1; and French: DTS-HD HR 7.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR10 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, Horror mastermind Eli Roth attempts to turn away from the dark side and go towards the light but for his newest film 'The House With A Clock In Its Walls.'

The film takes on the story of a young orphan to which his uncle is a wizard or some magic man and goes on this weird and twisted quest to find this hidden clock in their house's walls and stop an evil plot to end humanity. As ridiculous as the story sounds, you could easily find it quite entertaining.

So, yes, the film is about a boy whose parent's recently passed away. He now has to go live with his uncle, who lives in a very strange house. The boy soon realizes that the house and his uncle are stranger than they seem.

The uncle is a warlock, and the house is basically alive. There is a clock hidden within the house placed there by the former inhabitant. Things happen, and the boy resurrects this owner. He soon realizes the mistake he has caused and must then try to stop this evil spirit from accessing this clock within the house.

In truth, apart from the inclusion of Lorenza Izzo (Roth's former wife), you can't really place this as an Eli Roth film. The effects are mixed, they seem bad at times and other times seem passable.

Owen Vaccaro, as Lewis, debuts impressively characterizing his inner pedant and emotional vulnerabilities. It is truly exciting to watch his character struggle and master the magic arts and current social status.

Jack Black, as Jonathan, is my favorite character as he excels with vibrant gestures and comic timing. His struggles and determination to connect with nephew Lewis about his orphanage are touching to watch and strengthened the movie's emotional core.

Cate Blanchett, as Florence, is enthralling with her sharp remarks and magic finesse. Last, but not least, Kyle McLachlan, as Isaac Izard, goes all in with his villainous and determined goals with the help of his equally cunning wife Selena, played by Renee Elise Goldsberry.

My favorite scene is the movie's introduction of the clock's ticking because the ambient sound mixing and design left me craving more. However, my problem with this movie stems from the plot development in general as the movie does not really get going until halfway through by delving full force into Izzard's endeavors.

This leaves the first half feeling dull and repetitive at times as it just feels like an hour-long introduction to the house. That said, the message of the movie is to always believe in hope and people, as that carries Lewis past his family tragedy and elevates him to become a hero.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the 4K Ultra HD's special features, with one of them being Warlocks and Witches, witch (see what I did there ... no ... oh well, please yourselves then!) is a wondrous four-part feature that takes a closer look at casting the main roles and the qualities the actors brought to the film. Included are Finding Lewis (2:16), Jack's Magical Journey (2:57), The Great Cate (2:19), and The Terrifying Eddie Izard (2:26).

Then another good one is Movie Magic which is a five-part feature that explores locations, objects, and visual effects. Included are The Ultimate Haunted House (2:26), Automatons Attack (2:18), Pumpkin Puke (2:10), Moving Pieces (1:24), and Baby Jack (1:36).

Lastly, I would give a two thumbs up to Eli Roth: Director's Journals, a rather informative six-part supplement that features Roth discussing locations and making various scenes, including a cameo appearance. Included are Candler Mansion (1:34), Newnan, GA (1:04), The Chair (1:02), Comrade Ivan (1:03), New Zebedee Elementary (1:06), and Wrap Day (1:39).

'The House With a Clock in its Walls' arrives on Digital and via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on November 27th, 2018, as well as on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM, DVD and On Demand on December 18th, 2018.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the aforementioned Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls'
Alternate Opening and Ending
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
Feature Commentary with Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black
Warlocks and Witches
Movie Magic
Tick Tock: Bringing the Book to Life
Eli Roth: Director's Journals
Owen Goes Behind the Scenes
Theme Song Challenge
Do You Know Jack Black?
Abracadabra!
Jack Black's Greatest Fear
The Mighty Wurlitzer

Official Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link





'Hobbyhorse Revolution: Special Edition'
(Mariam Njie, Elsa Salo, Alisa Aarniomäki, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: Oscar-nominated director Selma Vilhunen presents this documentary about young hobbyhorse enthusiasts. Over the past ten years, hobbyhorse riding has become a global phenomenon and a way of life for thousands of young people.

'HOBBYHORSE REVOLUTION' is a funny and moving film about the power of imagination and the strength of a community.

Blu-ray Verdict: A funny, and at times unexpectedly moving film, 'Hobbyhorse Revolution' is about teenagers with growing pains, who discover their own voice and talent through riding and grooming toy horses.

I was, quite literally, fascinated by this new documentary in which teenagers, and those that looked nothing like I expected them to (shame on me, I guess) sought out the comfort of inanimate objects (much like record collectors, but for wood enthusiasts!)

The film follows three young girls - Aisku, Elsa and Alisa - whose lives have been transformed by their new interest: hobbyhorses. Despite a lack of understanding by some, the girls bravely and spiritedly pursue their hobby; along the way garnering respect and even admiration from some of those shocked at the start.

Indeed, if not for that alone, 'Hobbyhorse Revolution' celebrates its subject matter with enthusiasm, resulting in a doc which is both deeply moving and endlessly amusing.

Simply put, this is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of women coming together to create their own magic and power. Agreed that the absurdity of the whole thing (to most passerby's, I'll grant you) made it hard for me to connect emotionally with the girls at the start, halfway through you're at ease with your mind that it's not actually a mockumentary! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer

www.FilmRise.com





'Maniac' [4K Restoration: 3-Disc Limited Edition]
(Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Kelly Piper, Tom Savini, Gail Lawrence, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray + CD / R / (1980) 2018 / Blue Underground)

Overview: Frank Zito misses his mother, who was killed in a car accident years before. She was abusive to him, and made money selling her body, but Frank still misses her.

He tries to keep her from leaving him, and reform her evil ways, by killing young women and putting their scalps on mannequins which he displays around his apartment.

Photographer Anna D'Antoni takes a picture of him in the park, and he pursues and befriends her. Is she the one he has been looking for or just another mother wannabe?

Blu-ray Verdict: Directed by William Lustig (MANIAC COP 2, VIGILANTE) and featuring landmark gore effects by Tom Savini (DAWN OF THE DEAD, FRIDAY THE 13th), this relentlessly shocking and disturbing film was originally censored all over the world due to its graphic violence!

Now Blue Underground is thrilled to present 'Maniac' in a brand-new 4K Restoration from its recently discovered 16mm original camera negative, overflowing with hours of new and archival extras!

But more on all of those later, as for now, let's get into the movie! Split down the middle, this schizoid film is a repertoire of what can be deemed both a slasher and splatter movie.

We have seen the typical slasher film stars such as Michael Myers (Halloween - 1978), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th - 1980) and Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984).

These fantasy stalkers' work well on their own, but, when combined with the added ingredient of the Splatter genre, buckets of blood and missing limbs abundant, the pace suddenly becomes more shocking, more degrading and with blood-letting by the bucket loads to whet the appetite.

Films such as the English Hammer Film Productions of the sixties and seventies, Intolerance (1916), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Evil Dead (1981) and of course, Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson's ultra-gore fest and blackest of comedies Braindead (1992) are all fine examples of the splatter label.

Throughout his carrier, Joe Spinell (1936 - 1989) had performed in possibly some of the greatest movies within the last forty years: The Godfather, Pt's I & II, Rocky I & II, Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and Taxi Driver (1976).

It is here, in his personal work via his attributes of starring, screenplay writing, story and Executive Producer that this 1980's classic slasher / splatter film 'Maniac' came to represent one of the most disturbing and shocking serial killers on screen since Norman Bates back in the early sixties.

A hater of women, or more to the point a man who has had the misfortune to be the miss-interpreter of women, and with a deep seated hatred fueled by his mother, this is a mind that has taken upon itself to reek havoc, vengeance and inherited blame onto his victims.

A disturbed mind has to also reside in the physical, and we see Frank Zito coming home after a bad night out in his tiny one room apartment, a shrine to all things female and childlike.

Dirty, broken and caged dolls sit aside centerfolds pinned onto the wall; framed pictures of his childhood are hung next to religious images, female mannequins that are dressed in his victims' attire, their scalped hair and their blood.

Tainted masks and images of death are a constant reminder of a mind in turmoil, a shrine to the female gender and madness in all respects.

Unlike the Bates Motel where we see our killer roaming free to explore his weakness, Zito's roaming ground is the streets of the seedier side of New York City.

There is evil, too, that is condensed into the tiny environment of his apartment that has the spectator tight up and in the thick of it all. Alienating as it first appears, director William Lustig and Joe Spinell has our leading man talking only to himself and the mannequins that he has made in the image of Woman that are the testament to his morbid indifference.

Spurned on by a grizzly, haunting and excellent score, both electronic and musical, by Jay Chattaway (Maniac Cop - 1988, "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - 1987 / 94 etc), this is a fine signature tune, both her own and Zito's, that helps delve only deeper into the confusion of this primal scream. Mr. Carpenter would be pleased.

What is surprising with this narrative is the capability of Frank Zito to totally change persona, a doppelganger of social skill, intellect and wit, switching sides and crossing the line, to fully exploit the new arena he finds himself.

Befriending unknowing fashion photographer Anna D'Antoni (Caroline Munro: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, 1974 and The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977), with her photos of women laid across her wall.

There are comparisons, as Zito would believe, to her artistic works of preservation, via the photograph, of life, the life of woman and Zito's "still life" of his work, his preservation of life via the mutilation, destruction and the dressing of his ladies: the mannequins. He quickly claims his prize, he quickly slides back into the abyss and the sense is set for a mental explosion of paranoia hell.

Robert Lindsay, the films cinematographer and camera operator, has an eye for the suspenseful, with beautiful shots of atmosphere, it is also with Jay Chattaway's ear, Tom Savini's hands and the imagination of the late Joe Spinell that 'Maniac' is a film that both terrorizes and amazes.

This, being the heart of a good film, such as Maniac, with conflict and schism from start to finish, this will, literally, make the hairs stand on the back of your neck. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

WORLD PREMIERE! New 4K Restoration from the recently discovered 16mm original camera negative!
3-Disc Set (Blu-ray + Blu-ray + CD) includes High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) Widescreen 1.85:1 feature presentation + another Blu-ray PACKED with additional bonus material + Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD with MANIAC score by Jay Chattaway
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD (English); 2.0 DTS-HD (English); Dolby Digital 2.0 (Castellano, Français, Italiano, Deutsch)
Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Italiano, Dansk, Suomi, Nederlands, Svenska, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai
Audio Commentary #1 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig and Co-Producer Andrew W. Garroni
Audio Commentary #2 with Co-Producer/Director William Lustig, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini, Editor Lorenzo Marinelli, and Joe Spinell assistant Luke Walter
NEW! Maniac Outtakes Featurette
NEW! Returning to the Scene of the Crime with William Lustig
Anna and the Killer Interview with Star Caroline Munro (13:08)
The Death Dealer Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Savini (12:11)
Dark Notes Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway (12:13)
Maniac Men Interview with Songwriters Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky (10:38)
Mr. Robbie: 'Maniac 2' Promo Reel (7:28)
The Joe Spinell Story (49:12)
NEW! Collectable Booklet with new essay by author Michael Gingold
MANIAC PUBLICITY: 'Paul Wunder' Radio Interview with William Lustig, Joe Spinell, and Carline Munro (19:11), William Lustig on 'Movie Madness' (47:18), Joe Spinell at Cannes (0:44), Joe Spinell on 'The Joe Franklin Show' (13:13) and Carline Munro TV Interview (2:54)
MANIAC CONTROVERSY: A selection of archival broadcast TV news clips, interviews and reactions to the film. (41:15)
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Radio Spot

www.Blue-Underground.com





'Jane Fonda's Lean Routine & Lower Body Solution'
(Jane Fonda / DVD / NR / (1990) 2018 / Lightyear Entertainment)

Overview: The twelfth fitness tape in Jane's series ('Lean Routine') gives users an hour of dance aerobics in a new setting.

It is designed to be done in 20, 40, or 60 minute segments to fit all levels of fitness and users' busy schedules.

Following the workout is a 15 minute segment on nutrition - what to eat, how much of it to eat, and how you can make it improve your diet and actually eat more while losing weight.

The second of these flashback releases, 'Lower Body Solution,' allows Fonda to work the lower body.

DVD Verdict: First up is 'Jane Fonda's Lean Routine,' where the always-beautiful (even today) screen gem provides the ultimate fat burning workout for everyone.

Featuring Low Impact / High Energy Aerobics that take you through Every Fitness Level, along with Aerobic Interval Training, it sure keeps up a tolerable rhythm - especially as two of the workout levels are, thankfully, able to be done whilst sprawled on the floor!

That accounts, luckily, for both high impact and low impact and thus it is one of the few workout videos that doesn't bore me after around the third time of using it!

Mainly because the music is tolerable. And therein is something else to note as there are 13 original songs included here throughout, with each song uniquely choreographed, and chaptered so you can navigate to your favorites.

I've tried muting it and using my own music sometimes, which, for the most part is possible (because the beat is pretty much the same all the way through), but you miss out on all the encouragements from Jane!

Something you should know though, is that when the Lean Routine came out, the LEAN part of the title was advertised and written on the cover art as:

L - for Low Impact/High Energy Aerobics
E - for Every Fitness Level
A - for Aerobic Interval Training
N - for Nutrition Program

However, this new DVD release from Lightyear Entertainment does NOT include the nutrition program, sorry.

In the second of these flashback releases, 'Jane Fonda's Lower Body Solution,' she works the lower body in two ways: 35 minutes of low-impact aerobic dance with some step, then 25 minutes of targeted conditioning for the abs, buttocks, and thighs.

The whole workout is well choreographed, well instructed, and accessible to beginners. Part 2 starts with traditional lower-body floor work, mainly many variations of leg lifts and abdominal crunches, followed by a stretch.

Running at just over an hour, it primarily tackles the Abs, Buns and Thighs (as the artwork states, "The #1 problem area for many women and men ... and now there's a solution") within the confines of a Safe, Flexible, Fun and Effective set of routines. These are both Full Screen Presentations (4:3 Standard) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.lightyear.com





'New Wave: Dare To Be Diffferent'
(Various / DVD / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: U2, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Clash, The Cure: Over half a billion records sold but you may never have heard of them if not for a small suburban radio station on Long Island, NY: WLIR.

In August, 1982, a small group of radio visionaries knew they couldn't compete with the mega-stations in New York City. With one brave decision, they changed the sound of radio forever.

DVD Verdict: Chock full of all my favorite bands of the era, let alone still here today, 'New Wave: Dare To Be Different' is a simply wondrous cinematic event to behold for all fans of music.

Program Director Denis McNamara, the 'LIR crew and the biggest artists of the era tell the story of how they battled the FCC, the record labels, mega-radio and all the conventional rules to create a musical movement that brought the New Wave to America.

Watching it, you get that feeling with nearly every artist that you might well have known all their hits, but the stories behind both the bands and the songs' origins was something that passed you by.

Ergo, here we get engaged, once again, with the music, listening as the artists themselves reveal elements of their early work; their inspirations, their troubles, their obstacles, and how the era actually influenced their music and message.

Indeed, the story of the small, rogue, radio station that played this music has it's very own entertaining subplot (which I won't totally spoil here for you now).

Hearing the DJ's remember moments when famous artists hung out at WLIR or when they literally had to go to the airport to pick up record imports gives this documentary a vital authenticity, for want of a better word.

Definitely recommended to anybody who loves '80s music, 'New wave: Dare To Be Different' features a soundtrack that includes more than 50 songs from the era and a new original theme song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!

The Bonus Features include Unseen Interviews with: WLIR Staff - Delphine Blue, Ben Manilla, Jeff 'Beck' Carlson, Unseen interviews with WLIR Staff: Donna Donna, Malibu Sue McCann, Larry 'The Duck' Dunn, along with amazingly still to this day, Unseen interviews with Ed Steinberg, founder of RockAmerica; Grammy-winning producer Steve Thompson; Eddie Lundon and Gary Daly of China Crisis; Curt Smith, founding member of Tears for Fears; Lol Tolhurst, founding member of The Cure; Nick Rhodes founding member of Duran Duran; Billy Idol; WLIR Program Director Denis McNamara; Director Ellen Goldfarb; Jim Murtha and DJ Bird; Cassie Reilly, daughter of Denis McNamara, and Dan McNamara, son of Denis McNamara. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Never-Before-Seen Interviews!

www.MVDvisual.com





'Waterworld: Special Edition' [2-Disc]
(Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1995) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: The most expensive film ever made at the time of its release, 'Waterworld' has thrilled audiences through the years with its awe-inspiring action scenes, gargantuan maritime sets and ground-breaking special effects.

A definitive post-apocalypse blockbuster, 'Waterworld' stars Kevin Costner (The Untouchables) as The Mariner - a mutant trader, adrift in a dystopian future where Earth is submerged under water and humankind struggles to survive on boats and in ramshackle floating cities.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, and I'm still unashamed to say it out loud, 'Waterworld' has been one of my favorite Sci-Fi films since my first viewings of it in 1995.

Most reviews of 'Waterworld' I read are quite favorable, yet it still seems like the movie has a bad rap. It seems some cannot forgive the film for going so ridiculously over budget. I say who cares how much it cost, it is not my money!

Hundreds of years ago the Earth was covered in water when the Polar ice caps melted due to global warming. The Universal studios opening logo is used to illustrate this, to spectacular effect. This is the setup for the film. At the heart of this tale is a search for humanity, and a new world the mythic "dryland".

The fantastic settings are unlike anything I have ever seen on film, and the action sequences are breathtaking. By filming almost exclusively on water the costs were excessive, but the film would have looked far less spectacular if they cut corners.

An example is the Atoll set. Sure they could have built this as a miniature, but it never would have been convincing. Going for broke (quite literally) with the settings is what makes the films look so amazing.

The performances in 'Waterworld' far exceed those of most Sci-Fi films. Kevin Costner as the Mariner is at his best, playing an animal bent on one thing survival.

Slowly he humanizes before our eyes thanks to the characters of Enola and Helen (played by Tina Majorino and Jeanne Tripplehorn). The love that develops between the three characters is believable, only because of the excellent performances.

Dennis Hopper is at his psycho scene stealing best in Waterworld. He brings to the character of The Deacon the humor that is inherent in all of his roles.

When he is on screen as the "religious" head of the motley band of Smokers the film is at its best. The Deacon believes in Manifest destiny and wants to do nothing more than find dry land and knock down trees, and build a golf course in the name of progress.

Scenes between Tina Majorino as Enola and Hopper's Deacon are mind blowing. Hopper plays these like a bad Uncle you would never entrust your child with.

Some things are explained in better detail here on some of the more indepth Special Features included on this magnificent Limited Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray set from Arrow Films (UK), which also manages to restore nearly an hours worth of material from earlier screenings.

That all said, to have a complete understanding of the film and how great the story truly is, this new 2-Disc is the version to start it all off with.

So, if you've scared off of seeing 'Waterworld' due to all the negative press down the years, I can honestly tell you that you are missing one of the BEST films of its time.

Then again, if you have already seen it, well, watch it all over again on this magnificent new Limited Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray set - you won't be sorry (as you already know, of course!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

2-Disc Limited Edition Contents:
New restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, presenting the film in three cuts
Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 stereo audio options
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Six collector s postcards
Double-sided fold-out poster
Limited edition 60-page perfect-bound book featuring new writing on the film by David J. Moore and Daniel Griffith, archival articles and original reviews
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper

Disc One: The Theatrical Cut:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the original theatrical cut
Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld, an all-new, feature-length making-of documentary including extensive cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage
Original archival featurette capturing the film's production
Global Warnings, film critic Glenn Kenny explores the subgenre of ecologically aware Hollywood blockbusters
Production and promotional stills gallery
Visual effects stills gallery
Original trailers and TV spots

Disc Two: The Extended Cuts (Limited Edition Exclusive):
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the extended US TV cut, which runs over 40 minutes longer than the theatrical cut
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the extended European Ulysses cut, which includes censored shots and dialogue

www.ArrowFilms.com





'FRONTLINE: Trump's Showdown'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Trump's fight against the investigation of his campaign and whether he obstructed justice. With the threat of impeachment growing, Trump wages an unprecedented war against the Special Counsel, the FBI, and even his own Attorney General.

DVD Verdict: Directed by Michael Kirk, Produced by Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser, Jim Gilmore, Gabrielle Schonder, and Philip Bennett, and Written by Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser, 'FRONTLINE: Trump's Showdown' is yet another in a quick line of PBS releases that focus on the current Commander In Chief of the USA.

I say current like that, because, and as this 120 minute documentary showcases to the extreme, formal efforts to start the process of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump (who took office in 2017), have already been initiated by Representatives Al Green and Brad Sherman; both Democrats.

Since then, other people and groups have asserted that Trump has engaged in impeachable activity during his presidency and have joined the ever-growing throng of those wanting to see Trump be removed from Office.

As the investigation ensnares powerful members of Trump's inner circle and threatens the President himself, FRONTLINE presents 'Trump's Showdown.'

This two-hour documentary traces the dramatic events that have led the White House and the United States to the brink of what could become a Constitutional crisis.

'Trump's Showdown' methodically reveals how an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has grown to threaten Donald Trump's presidency.

The documentary draws on more than 60 in-depth interviews with former heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump insiders, attorneys, authors and journalists.

Thousands of photographs and hundreds of hours of archival footage help pull together the entire story - from the days just before Trump's inauguration to increasingly chaotic recent events including the President's summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and his furious response to revelations about Oval Office intrigue.

Today, the impeachment of Donald Trump exists on the brink of plausibility. The sine qua non of an impeachment investigation, to say nothing of actual votes to charge and remove the President, is a Democratic takeover of the House in the November elections. Such a change now looks better than possible, maybe even probable. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Breaking Big'
(2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / PBS)

Overview: Why have some of the world's most influential people been able to make it big? Explore how some of today's artists, innovators, athletes and political leaders made their careers.

DVD Verdict: Spread over 2 discs and running at a healthy 320 minutes, 'Breaking Big' explores how some of today's most compelling artists, innovators, athletes and political leaders pushed, prodded and cajoled the major opportunities that would make their careers.

Hosted by Carlos Watson, twelve talented men and women, from country music superstar Jason Aldean and actress Danai Gurira to Oscar-winning director Lee Daniels and chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang, recount the nearly insurmountable obstacles and long odds they faced to reach and reimagine their own potential and, ultimately, to break big.

Their stories are deepened by eminent social scientists, marketing experts, film critics, book editors and many others who assess the risk-taking and bold moves these journeys required.

In truth, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, whose interview kicks off the series, comes across as more of a comedian than anyone serious enough to delve too deeply into his path to behind his desk.

Ditto ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat creator Eddie Huang, who is first-and-foremost a chef and former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson who is first a “change maker.”

But things do spark up when the also-interviewed San Juan, Puerto Rico pugnacious mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tells her tale and we discover that, and despite her well-documented issues with President Donald Trump, “in some ways, stylistically” they “have some things in common.”

Trevor Noah – Host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central
Eddie Huang – Chef and restaurateur, author of Fresh Off the Boat
Danai Gurira – Actress and playwright (Black Panther, Walking Dead)
Jason Aldean – Country music superstar
Ruth Zukerman – Co-founder of SoulCycle and Flywheel
Christian Siriano – Fashion designer
Roxane Gay – Author and cultural critic
Michael Strahan – Host of “Good Morning, America” and former NFL star
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – U.S. Senator, New York
Lee Daniels – Academy Award-winning director, Precious and Fox series “Empire”
Gretchen Carlson – Former Fox News anchor and Miss America
Carmen Yulín Cruz – Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'The Karate Kid III & The Next Karate Kid'
(Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Hilary Swank, Robyn Lively, Thomas Ian Griffith, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1989/1994) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: It's a karate combo as the 3rd and 4th installments of the successfully 'Karate Kid' franchise are paired together in one nostalgic Blu-ray collection!

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'The Karate Kid - Part III' (1989), Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) take up where they left off, returning from Okinawa and hoping for a peaceful life in their bonsai shop.

But their serenity is shattered when Daniel is blackmailed into competing against the vicious "Bad Boy of Karate", Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan).

'The Karate Kid - Part III' is a film that when looked at again today reminds you of how great the '80s were. No CGI, no massive budget, no massive stars, just good old fashioned entertainment where Daniel LaRusso yet again succeeds against all the odds.

OK, sure, this film is not perfect by any means. It has a fairly weak story and some poor dialogue and character motivations are somewhat unbelievable.

Don't the villains have anything better to do with their time than to harass our hero into entering the tournament. does it really mean that much to them to get Daniel to fight. Come on, get a life guys!

As has been stated down the years, the love interest here is pointless because their relationship goes nowhere. They decide to be friends because she has an on/off boyfriend.

In fact, it seems her only purpose here is to hang out with Daniel and eat macaroni cheese with him! Not exactly Romeo and Juliet. Heck, it's not even Bert and Ernie!

However, in my opinion, the positives just about outweigh the negatives. Mr. Miyagi is yet again the strongest link, adding his usual mix of humor and wisdom in equal doses.

As his friendship with Daniel slowly disintegrates, you really feel for him as the sadness washes over his face, that his surrogate son is for the first time against him and not with him.

Mike Barnes is a good foe for Daniel. You can really believe that he is Karate's so-called bad boy as his PR make him out to be. You believe that Mike could and does kick Daniel's ass at almost every opportunity.

He is much more threatening and abusive than previous opponents, that's for damn sure. As for the bounty attached to this fight, well, if Daniel doesn't fight, Mike wins the tournament and Mr. Silver throws out his mustard colored cobra Kai shirts; drawing kids into his dojo's.

In closing, the music in this film is beautiful. Bill Conti, in all three movies has done some of his best work. The music that plays over Daniel's Kata training is tranquil and memorable. The music that plays over Daniel's final bout leaves goosebumps all over your body. Well matched for a really decent film, no matter what you've heard down the years, trust me!

In 'The Next Karate Kid'' (1994), Mr. Miyagi is back and he takes a new pupil under his wing, troubled teenager Julie Pierce (Oscar®-winner Hillary Swank) who learns to control the grief and anger from the loss of her parents with the discipline of karate.

For once a sequel to 'The Karate Kid' without Ralph Macchio! Hilary Swank did an excellent job playing the orphan Julie Pierce. Pat Morita aka Mr. Miyagi is back and working his ways with Julie quite differently from Daniel.

Both Daniel and Julie favored karate. Unlike Daniel, Julie was the most surly person Miyagi ever challenged, but there is tournament to have to compete in here.

In this chapter, Mr. Miyagi (Morita) attends a WWII ceremony in Boston, MA honoring him and his late friend. He visits his friend's widow, Louisa (Towers) and meets her granddaughter, Julie (Swank).

He notices that Julie is angry because her parents are dead and takes her anger out on Louisa. He asks Louisa to spend time in his house in California while he helps Julie.

He takes Julie under his wing teaching her karate to defend herself against bullies in school and regain her self-confidence. Julie also meets Eric (Conrad), a boy in school who's a cadet for the air force and they fall for each other.

Eric and Julie face the same bullies in league with Col. Dugan (Ironside) who's a war nut. This is a pretty good sequel, Morita and Swank are great together and Bill Conti's score is excellent, as usual.

I highly recommend these films, now presented here on this wonderful double feature Blu-ray, out January 8th, 2019 via Mill Creek Entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'The Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Minds Of....'
(Dick Cavett, et al / DVD / NR / 2018 / S'More Entertainment)

Overview: Since 1968, Dick Cavett has been host of his own talk show, in a variety of formats and on a number of television and radio formats.

These releases were taken from episodes that aired between 1968 through 1996 and feature some of the wittiest, edgy comics of the era, including Robin Williams, Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Lewis and Gilbert Gottfried.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the official know, 'The Dick Cavett Show' was an 90 minute mixture of talk and variety that ran for six astounding years on late-night prime time television on the ABC-TV network from the first telecast on May 26,1969 to the final episode of the series on August 16,1975.

This was at the time one of the most versatile performers who eventually gave us some of the biggest entertainment acts in the history of rock,and went toe to toe with the King of Late Night-Johnny Carson and eventually at the time Merv Griffin for the battle of late night supremacy.

However, Dick Cavett was one of the few television personalities ever to star or host major programs in daytime, prime-time, late night, all in quick succession.

And it wasn't about his failure to attract a large audience with any of them, because his late night talk show brought in some of the largest ratings ever for ABC at the time.

Well praised and received by the critics, his late night show was generally acknowledged to be witty, intelligent, and interesting compared to what was scheduled around them.

'The Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Minds Of....' is a wondrous DVD set with just over two hours of lush flashback material. Entitled Volume 1, the episodes come from the PBS series (the two half hour shows with Robin Williams in 1979 being my personal favs) and three from the 1990-92 CNBC series.

And sticking with Williams, he was known for his TV work on “Mork & Mindy” and was just about to bring us the flop 'Popeye,' but here on The Dick Cavett Show, the late comedian was more about using every prop he could find on the set to come up with something creatively funny to showcase or say!

Sure he sits (relatively) quietly for small chunks of time, openly and honestly and seriously discussing his depression issues (sadly, the very same ones that killed him years later), but it's Williams at his most zany that truly draws the attention.

Cavett, who also started off as a stand-up comedian, also brings us in-depth conversations with both Gilbert Gottfried and Bobcat Goldthait. Both are, as you would expect, loud and brash and there to promote their respective new films.

Gottlieb was there for the flop 'Ford Fairlane' - with Andrew Dice Clay (who also gets mentioned a lot) and Goldthwait talks about the 'Police Academy' series.

All fun, chock full of laughs, if you listen carefully, you'll also here information on Donald Trump as a TV star! The other guest is Richard Lewis, who spends time discussing the TV show he starred in with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Add to that his own stories of his personal affliction with anxiety issues – the basis for his comedy act and, yes, another true-to-life thing that took him too early from us - this is perhaps the most sad of clips to behold. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.smoreent.com





'The Dick Cavett Show: And That's The Way It Is'
(Dick Cavett, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / S'More Entertainment)

Overview: Since 1968, Dick Cavett has been host of his own talk show, in a variety of formats and on a number of television and radio formats.

These releases were taken from episodes that aired between 1968 through 1996 and feature some of the best known news reporters of the era including Cronkite, Rather, Brokaw, Walters, Wallace and Sawyer.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the official know, 'The Dick Cavett Show' was an 90 minute mixture of talk and variety that ran for six astounding years on late-night prime time television on the ABC-TV network from the first telecast on May 26,1969 to the final episode of the series on August 16th, 1975.

This was at the time one of the most versatile performers who eventually gave us some of the biggest entertainment acts in the history of rock,and went toe to toe with the King of Late Night-Johnny Carson and eventually at the time Merv Griffin for the battle of late night supremacy.

However, Dick Cavett was one of the few television personalities ever to star or host major programs in daytime, prime-time, late night, all in quick succession.

And it wasn't about his failure to attract a large audience with any of them, because his late night talk show brought in some of the largest ratings ever for ABC at the time.

Well praised and received by the critics, his late night show was generally acknowledged to be witty, intelligent, and interesting compared to what was scheduled around them.

'The Dick Cavett Show: And That's The Way It Is' is a wondrous 2-Disc DVD set with just over four hours of lush flashback material. Stand outs here for me are the ones with Walter Cronkite, with whom he conducted two one-on-one conversations: the first October 16th, 1974, the second on March 11th, 1982.

Another is when Mike Wallace was a participant on a Cavett panel that included Robert Klein, Joan Gans Johnson and Nicholas Johnson on June 30th, 1970. Now this one, amongst the bevy of others, stands out for me as it was yet another quite brilliant showcasing of comedic talent from the great Richard Klein.

And, of course, how could we all forget that infamous broadcast on November 18th, 1985, when Diane Sawyer appeared on a panel with 60 MINUTES producer Don Hewitt, Morley Safer ... and oddly, Teddy Ruxpin and Don Kingsborough (the man who introduced the Teddy Ruxpin toy!). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.smoreent.com





K.D. Lang - Ingénue Redux: Live from The Majestic
(K.D. Lang / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)

Overview: This Landmarks special features an uninterrupted performance of the complete Ingénue album, featuring Lang's GRAMMY®-award winning hit, Constant Craving, complemented by selections from Lang's 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel; as well as other notable favorites.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, this wonderful, truly magnificent new Blu-ray celebrates the 25th Anniversary of her hit album Ingénue and showcases just how still on top of her game she really is.

Ingénue was the second solo album by Canadian singer Lang, released in 1992. In fact, to this day, it is Lang's most successful album on the pop charts, both in her native Canada and internationally, and has more of a cabaret flavor than her earlier more country influenced work.

Here in this beautiful setting, and with her voice as clear cut and as fantastic as ever, under a subtle white spot, she opens with both Save Me and Mind of Love, before giving us one of my favs of hers, Miss Chatelaine.

Released as the second single from the album, you may well recall that the song's music video depicted Lang — who was usually best known for a fairly androgynous appearance — in an exaggeratedly feminine manner; surrounded by bright pastel colors and a profusion of bubbles reminiscent of a performance on the Lawrence Welk show (complete with an accordion in the instrumentation).

Its that memory that makes me shut my eyes here and as she sings it live, reflect back to the gorgeous-filmed video with a smile. As the live show moves forward, it's also great to note that Lang allows all her musicians to display their talents individually.

The camera work is terrific also as you get a sense of Lang's personality via her performance pieces. Which is exactly what this live show seems to be, taken as a whole: a linked set of performances that, as a whole, come together beautifully under the one musical umbrella perfectly.

With herself and her band on top, sparkling form, Lang puts on one of the best shows of her career here on 'K.D. Lang - Ingénue Redux: Live from The Majestic Theatre.'

Track Listing: Save Me; Mind of Love; Miss Chatelaine; Wash Me Clean; So It Shall Be; Still Thrives This Love; Seasons Of Hollow Soul; Outside Myself; Tears Of Love Recall; Constant Craving; Honey And Smoke; I Dream Of Spring; Help Me; Helpless; Hallelujah; Sing It Loud; Sleeping Alone.

www.KDlang.com

www.MVDvisual.com





'Dogs On The Job: 7-Part Documentary Series'
(DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: A dog's purpose can extended beyond a companionship role as man s best friend to a functional one that comes with great purpose and responsibility.

This fascinating 7-part documentary series explores the history, training and duties of working dogs and the integral role they serve to assist mankind.

DVD Verdict: This wondrous, so very lovable series features seven parts - individual stories - that celebrate the deep emotional bonds between people and their beloved four-legged friends” from countries including Syria, Japan, Italy and the United States.

As we learn from speeches made throughout the show, dogs don’t just make us feel loved, dogs make us feel safe. In the world we live in today, no matter how divided we are, we should take care to realize how much dogs mean to all of us, and how our bond with them can help bring us together.

Chapters:
1. Wolves Become Dogs
2. Dogs Move Into the Stage and Stadium
3. Herding and Mushing
4. The Nose Will Get the Job Done
5. Police and Military
6. Dogs Helping People Live Normal Lives
7. Protection and Companion

Running at a lovely - hey, I was a dog owner for 15 years, so yes, it's lovely - 3 hours and 12 minutes, this is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'The Laurel & Hardy Comedy Collection'
(Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy / 2-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Long live the laughable, lovable, legends - the greatest comedy duo ever - LAUREL AND HARDY!

Enjoy 24 hilarious classic shorts, feature-length films, interview and home movies showcasing comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

DVD Verdict: This wondrous, simply divine new 2-Disc DVD collection from Mill Creek Entertainment of two of the funniest men to ever take to the silver screen is one of my favorite releases of 2018!

This collection begins in fine style with a batch of Shorts and Features with 'The Lucky Dog' (1921) being the kick off point. In their first screen appearance together, Stan plays a penniless dog lover and Oliver plays a crook who tries to rob him and his new paramour.

Running at 24 minutes, it should be known, as with much of the others on show here, that Laurel is an up-and-coming vaudeville performer, a veteran of Fred Karno's English music hall troupe and understudy for Charlie Chaplin prior to his film career. He has appeared in relatively few films.

Hardy, conversely, is a seasoned and professional film comedian, having spent most of the previous five or six years in hundreds of films, probably all comedies. Often he played the villain, sometimes another supporting role, and, in his "Pudge and Runt" comedies with Billy Ruge, the star.

The next set is Laurel solo short films, that begins with the excellent 'Mud & Sand' (1922). Rhubarb Vaselino (Laurel) lives in a small village, when he and his friend, Sapo, enter a bullfighting contest.

Sapo dies, but Rhubarb kills three bulls and becomes a local hero earning money. Two years later, he is living in Madrid as a national hero, when he becomes involved with Filet de Sol (Leona Anderson), and his lover finds out, he must fight the most deadliest in Spain, in the last bull fight of the season.

If nothing else, this film is known for Laurel nearly being killed during the making of this movie! In the scene where he is being chased down the street by a bull, it was a real bull chasing Stan, which caught up to him and nearly killed him.

After this incident, the crew decided to scare Stan by telling him that the camera didn't get the picture, and the scene would have to be shot again!

In the third set of features we get some Hardy solo shorts, which begin with the always-fun to watch 'The Hobo' (1917). Starring Billy West as a hobo who hangs around the train station, he creates disruption in the ticket office, at the lunch counter, and in the lives of some of the customers.

As noted, a young Oliver Hardy has a role here and does a good job, though his main task is to eat copious amounts of food, of course! Indeed, the overall package of actors is certainly watchable, and probably about average for the time and genre.

Disc 1:
Laurel & Hardy Shorts and Features
The Lucky Dog (1921)
Yes, Yes, Nanette (1925)
The Stolen Jools (1931)
The Flying Deuces (1939)
The Tree in a Test Tube (1943)
Utopia (1951)

Disc 2:
Stan Laurel Solo Short Films
Mud & Sand (1922)
West of Hot Dog (1924)
Oranges and Lemons (1923)
The Soilers (1923)
White Wings (1923)
Stan Laurel Home Movies

Disc 3:
Oliver Hardy Solo Short Films
The Hobo (1917)
Hop To It, Bellhop (1919)
The Saw Mill (1922)
The Show (1922)
Kid Speed (1924)
The Paperhanger's Helper (AKA Stick Around) (1925)
Should Sailors Marry? (1925)
Along Came Auntie (1926)
Bromo & Juliet (1926)
Crazy Like a Fox (1926)
Enough to Do (AKA Wandering Papas) (1926)
Thundering Fleas (1926)

These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Robin Hood: Origins' [5 Film Collection]
(Louis Hayward, Janet Blair, George Macready, Edgar Buchanan, Jon Hall, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: On 'Robin Hood: Origins' we get five films featuring the famed outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor!

DVD Verdict: We begin with 'The Bandit of Sherwood Forest' (1946) Color, NR @ 1 Hour 26 Minutes. Robert of Nottingham, the son of Robin Hood, goes to the aid of the Queen Mother and the beautiful Lady Catherine, who are fleeing the cruel Regent, William of Pembroke, who has the King imprisoned in the castle.

Robert, Catherine and Friar Tuck enter the guarded castle and free the King, but Robert and Catherine are captured.

As aforementioned, the story deals with the legend of Robin Hood. On this occasion it is the son of Robin Hood, namely Robert, played by Cornel Wilde, who is the hero.

Obviously, since Robin Hood lived in the days of Richard The Lion Heart and King John, one must assume that the young King is King John's son Henry III, who ascended the throne during his minority.

The kingdom during this time was ruled by Regents culminating in Simon de Montfort, when the King achieved his majority.

But historical fact aside, the film is an enjoyable piece of escapist adventure, which is sadly lacking from our screens today.

Next up is 'The Black Arrow' (1948) B&W, NR @ 1 Hour 16 Minutes. Young nobleman Richard Shelton returns from the War of the Roses to find his father murdered, a fugitive family friend blamed, and his uncle occupying his estates.

Starkly made in classic black and white, this medieval adventure is set and in England at the end of the War of the Roses. The main character must cope with the death of his father, apparently at the hand of a once trusted neighbor. Naturally, a love interest is provided for him in the person of the daughter of his father's killer.

'The Black Arrow' is the mysterious missive that keeps flying in, to suggest that things are not what they seem, and to motivate young Shelton to search for truth. Some good sword play, chase sequences, and a classic joust scene for the grand finale. A good film for a late afternoon unwind. Then comes 'The Prince of Thieves' (1948) Color, NR @ 1 Hour 12 Minutes. En route to Nottingham Castle to see his fiancee, Lady Cristabel, Sir Allen Claire and his sister Lady Marian (Patricia Morison) are told by Robin Hood (Jon Hall) that Sir Allen's bride-to-be is being forced into an arranged marriage by her father, Baron Tristram.

Jon Hall gets a break from the exotic Arabian Nights films he was doing during most of the Forties and gets his chance to play the legendary Robin Hood in 'Prince Of Thieves'. He's definitely a bit more of a rogue in this Robin Hood tale than you find in most.

He rescues Maid Marian and her brother Michael Duane a pair of Saxon nobles who were waylaid in Sherwood Forest. It's the brother that's heading for his wedding to Lady Adele Jergens.

However the powers that be who rule England in Richard I's absence have other ideas for some politically convenient marriages of alliance. Of course that's Prince John who is not seen in this film.

As it's only 71 minutes, barely longer than an hour we don't get too much time for character development. Hence, 'The Prince Of Thieves' plays like an episode of the old Richard Greene Robin Hood series. No bad thing though.

Next up is 'Rogues of Sherwood Forest' (1950) Color, NR @ 1 Hour 19 Minutes. When King John imposes oppressive taxes and cruel treatment upon the local population in medieval England, the son of legendary bandit Robin Hood reforms his father's "Merry Men" to once more rise against the king.

Personable John Derek makes a handsome Robin Hood, but he can't overcome a lifeless script and weak direction. What does steal the show are the costumes, scenery and brilliant Technicolor. Otherwise, this is a dull affair full of wooden acting and cardboard characters.

It looks magnificent and the sets are really striking, but the script is the main culprit. Even the villains are given little to do but strike angry poses, making one wish for Sir Guy of Gisbourne to show up in the person of Basil Rathbone.

It's a hodge-podge of Robin Hood elements, with Robin's son rounding up all of the "old guys" who helped his father in the past. Alan Hale is on hand to reprise his Little John role for the fourth and last time. He's a tired looking actor in this one, barely able to summon up enough gusto to get through the role.

Diana Lynn is the pretty spy at court who helps Derek with his fight against the palace stronghold. She's lovely but looks out of place in her period costumes since these kind of roles were never part of her past history as an ingénue.

Lowell Gilmore has almost no flair as the man who wants to marry her and even George Macready lacks the dynamic spirit to play a nasty villain.

Gordon Douglas can't be commended for directing this one. Pace and flair are two of the missing ingredients, along with a lifeless script.

Lastly comes 'Sword of Sherwood Forest' (1960) Color, NR @ 1 Hour 20 Minutes. The sheriff of Nottingham plots to confiscate the estate of the Lord of Bortrey, who has died on Crusade.

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks against this plot, and the sheriff plans to eliminate him. Robin Hood pretends to undertake the assassination of the Archbishop for the plotters; Maid Marion, meeting him thinks him the leader of a gang of murderers, and leads him into a trap.

A real oddity from Hammer Films, 'Sword of Sherwood Forest' is their only film based on a popular UK TV series which actually features the star of the show in the movie.

The rest of the cast has still been replaced, however, and because of the nature of the story, it almost has to be an "alternate universe" continuity as I see no way it could fit into the run of the TV show.

Robin Hood (Richard Green) faces off mostly against the Sheriff of Nottingham (Peter Cushing), which means you've got "Sir Henry Baskerville" fighting "Sherlock Holmes" - although Cushing comes across more like "Baron Frankenstein" in this one.

Oddly enough, the real villain turns out to be "Edward, Earl of Newark", played by Richard Pasco, who I've never seen in anything else, but apparently played baddies in three different episodes of the TV series.

Also in the cast are Derren Nesbitt ('Where Eagles Dare') in one of his rare "good guy" roles, Edwin Richfield ("The Sea Devils") as a minor villain, and Oliver Reed ('The Big Sleep') as a total bastard, who, inexplicably, had his entire performance dubbed by another actor.

That all said, it's still a nice film, but not a great one, as the plot tends to ramble and never quite builds any kind of momentum; resembling more than anything a 30's serial with the cliffhangers removed!

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Trail Of Tears' [36 Documentary Collection]
(Various / 2-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This harrowing and compelling compilation of award-winning documentary programs chronicles the struggles of the Native American culture from the forced relocation known as the Trail of Tears to the current issues faced by America's aboriginal people.

DVD Verdict: In the opening chapter, Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy, we get a two hour documentary that explores one of the great historical tragedies of America's aboriginal people.

In 1830, eager to gain access to lands inhabited by Native Americans, President Andrew Jackson enacted the Indian Removal Act which forced the Cherokee Nation to leave their homeland and relocate into unchartered territory.

Many of these forced settlers suffered from exposure, disease and starvation. Upon arriving in Indian Territory, they arrived with no past and no future.

Endorsed by the Cherokee Nation, we begin with the first of five chapters, Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy. As one can guess, this first documentary focuses on the 1838 Cherokee removal from the southeastern United States, dubbed the "Trail of Tears."

In truth, it is very powerful and rather incredible to watch and learn from. The fact that West Studi talks in the Cherokee language only adds genuine authenticity to the chapters subject matter.

I would definitely recommend anyone purchasing this to dig deeper into the history of the Cherokee as this entire 36 documentary series truly tells the tale of the Cherokee's beginning in the South and their removal to OK, but not everything, of course.

Inclusive of those who escaped to NC to live on the Qualla Boundary Reservation, the next chapter is Native American Healing in the 21st Century and gives us a look at the ancient and healing methods of American aboriginals and uncovers the invaluable contribution that Native Americans made to early frontier living.

Next comes Black Indians: An American Story, narrated by James Earl Jones. A stunning and informative documentary, it explores issues of racial identity between the mixed-descent peoples of both Native American and African American heritage.

Indeed, we soon learn early on that James Earl Jones is himself a Black Indian, which is something I myself never knew. Watching it truly brings to life the words of Black Elk (Oglala Sioux) who said: "With all beings and all things we shall be as relatives."

Then comes Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding School, where the award winning producers of everything that has gone before - Chip Richie and Dan Agent aka Rich-Heape - yet again bring us an in-depth documentary.

Told from the Native American perspective, this documentary uncovers the dark history of the US government policy and will give a voice to the countless Indian children forced through the system.

The last in the collection is entitled Native America: Voices From The Land and showcases a 32 part program that provides a historical overview with discovered photographs, paintings, archival footage, interviews, and reenactments.

Here, throughout these 32 entries, we learn about their struggles, traditions, beauty and art.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Secret Stories of Hitler'
(Various / 3-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Adolf Hitler has left an incomparable mark of evil on the pages of history. A horrifying legacy that still haunts people around the world, today, this captivating documentary collection provides a brutal, honest and untold portrait of the life and events of history's most evil dictator - through 3 poignant documentaries that expose his terrifying truths.

DVD Verdict: Up first, and from Academy Award-Winning Producer David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, The Killing Fields) comes the most controversial documentary (that was BANNED at the Cannes Film Festival) about Hitler ever made, Swastika (1974).

The Nazification of Germany from 1933 to 1945 is told here through a compilation of Nazi footage, newsreels, propaganda films and Eva Braun's home movies.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the starkest documentaries about the Third Reich you will EVER see!

At the age of 19, Franco-Australian film student Philippe Mora made the archive discovery of his life. With the help of a historian he found the Obersalzberg film roles that Eva Braun once stored in her bedroom at the Berghof and that were later seized by US military personnel.

Mora mixed these private recordings with Nazi propaganda material and created a documentary. Only in the second part of the movie he used footage from "the other side".

The movie misses any comment. Mora let the pictures speak for themselves. The documentary caused a scandal back then and was first shown in German cinemas 37 years later.

The contrast between cozy mountain idyll, martial parades and evil propaganda is hard to overcome. The film conveys a sense of how powerful and thrilling the atmosphere was at that time. Starling to watch. Brutal to admit it was a real life happening.

Next up is Hitler: The Untold Story, which is a 6-part series focusing on the years of Adolf Hitler's political career, from its obscure beginnings to the Nazi leader's final days in the bunker.

Also known as either 'Hitler: Anecdotes, Myths and Lies' or 'Adolf Hitler: The Case of the Missing Corpse' the piece tries to fill in the blanks of the question always asked of Hitler: Can we really be sure what became of Hitler?

It recounts the most significant events of his life and follows the Second World War as it unfolds to build a vivid picture of the personality of the Nazi dictator and those surrounding him; using the most revealing anecdotes and exposing the myths created to maintain Hitler in power and the lies spread by his brutal regime.

The final documentary is U-Boats: Hitler's Sharks in which we learn, and see, that from the very beginning of the World War II, the sea became a vitally important scene of conflict. Great Britain relied on receiving supplies by sea and, therefore, a total blockade of the UK was one of the main objectives of Hitler's Germany.

One of the great (and still) unanswered questions is that would have happened if Hitler had granted his general's requests for more submarines?! A fascinating look at a section of Hitler's reign that I myself had no real clue about, whilst the others have been roundly seen before, this one might well peak your interest the most.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





WWII - The War That Shook The World [6-DVD]
(Various / 6-Disc DVD+Digital / NR / 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'WWII - The War That Shook The World' describes the events of the Second World War in the most detailed and comprehensive way, just as they happened.

From Hitler's invasion of Polish territory to the day in which Emperor Hirohito "had to accept the unacceptable", all is encompassed in this immense documentary collection.

DVD Verdict: Up first IS The Finest Hours of WWII which takes viewers to the front lines of the European, the Pacific and the African theatres of the deadliest conflict in human history.

Masterfully scripted, and full of authentic footage, this comprehensive 21 episode collection is sure to please war and history fans of all ages.

From the hindsight afforded by the passing of 70 years from the events narrated. From a totally independent standpoint and with freedom of thought, The Finest Hours of WWII describes the events in the most detailed and comprehensive way, just as they happened.

From the atrocious moment in which Hitler ordered the invasion of Polish territory to the day in which Emperor Hirohito “had to accept the unacceptable”, all is encompassed in this incredible series.

Next up is Combat Aircrafts which is a compelling documentary series that follows the history of the aerial assault vehicle from the creation of the aero plane to its militarization during World War I and the Russian Revolution.

With remarkable narration and incredible archival footage, including many never-before-seen sequences. This groundbreaking 5-part series is a complete historical overview from 1900 to 1945.

We quickly learn that World War II witnessed tremendous growth in the size of American military aviation, from about 2,500 airplanes to nearly 300,000 by the war’s end.

Indeed, compared to World War 1 (1914-1918), World War II set the standard for aircraft combat by producing evermore powerful bombers, faster fighters and rocket and jet-propelled air frames.

As we also discover, The Flying Fortress embodied the cherished American concept of precision daylight bombardment and was amongst the deadliest of World War II planes.

Finally comes Waves of Freedom which is a rather captivating adventure documentary that recounts a post-war story of U.S. volunteer sailors recruited to break the British naval blockade of Palestine.

It details how upon enlisting, foreign volunteers were used as part of the Zionist attempt to break through the British naval blockade of Palestine in 1945–48.

At the time, Palestine still was under British rule, and the British government continued a pre-war policy that limited Jewish immigration to several hundred persons a month, with the ultimate objective of barring it entirely.

So a rescue operation was mounted by the Palestine Jewish underground, and conducted under clandestine conditions. It was called "illegal immigration."

All told, a fleet of 60 ramshackle ships transported more than 60,000 "illegal immigrants" from European ports between 1946 and 1948.

Among them were 10 American ships, acquired as war surplus from U.S. boneyards and crewed by 250 volunteer sailors and contract officers. The ships carried 30,000 would-be immigrants.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Halloween: 4K Ultra HD'
(Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / 2019 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Master of horror John Carpenter joins forces with director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum (Get Out, Split) for this follow-up to Carpenter's 1978 classic.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Studios Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings next month with the release of the horrific "sequel" 'Halloween' in the 4K home video format on January 15th, 2019.

For my money, this 'Halloween: 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 HDR10 (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Halloween' 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; 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; like when we first get to "meet" Michael Myers, chained up outside on the forecourt.

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 some scenes, much like the scenes where Curtis is shown in close-up terror, every feature of her face cut like mini canyons on old prospector maps!) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: DTS 5.1; and French (Canada): DTS 5.1 (with Subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.)

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR10 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, 'Halloween' returns for it's final chapter, and manages to deliver everything you'd expect from a 'Halloween' sequel; and some things you won't see coming!

The film opens with the documentary crew visiting Michael, a scene that's been covered quite extensively in the trailers. You'd expect things to go bad immediately but the film pulls back (not before the intro played, to Carpenter's wonderful score) to introduce its key players and gives them time to breath, setting up the status quo and making them more relatable.

With three generations of Strodes to choose from, there's certainly something for everyone to be able to relate to. Jamie Lee Curtis's Laurie has spent the last few decades getting ready to take Michael out, isolating herself and destroying all her relationships in the process.

She has two failed marriages behind her and no relationship with her daughter. Only her granddaughter seems to pay any attention to her, as much as she can anyway, as she enters the movie in the throws of teenage romance, with all the angst and supporting characters such a romance requires.

Throw in the Sherrif, Michael's doctor and the documentary crew in the mix, and the movie certainly does a great job of setting up a diverse buffet for Michael to slice and dice his way through. And that, he does.

Boasting some truly memorable kills, 'Halloween' does not hold back on the violence and gore, instead using it to build up dread throughout the movie. In fact, the whole film is an exercise in dread, slowly building up tension throughout its run time and exploding into a glorious, bloody finale.

While the films comes close to going off the rails trying to keep all its moving parts together (there's an odd subplot that pops up halfway through and one that I did not see coming, but never really goes anywhere and is STOMPED out pretty quickly), it manages to hold it all together and deliver a fantastic (hopefully) final entry in franchise; with some fist-pumping moments sure to be memorialized in pop-cult history! Featuring excellent performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer, there is, to me, at the very least, a lot of 'Scream 4' thoughts played out here throughout 'Halloween.' From very self-aware teens to a toughened-up, table-turning protagonist, sure, not necessarily a bad thing, but and ode, nonetheless.

In closing, the team behind this edition even knew when to throw in some great humor along the way which means you get a great mix of everything that we love in the horror movies we grew up with - all with a modern twist.

We even get a glimpse into the psyche of Micheal Myers, but in the end let's not forget Jamie Lee Curtis ... who totally owned it every single scene she was in!

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the 4K Ultra HD's special features, with one of them being Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween. A really fun behind-the-scenes look at how they brought Laurie's old house back to life, and how they got all the young extras to comply to the night schedule, it is bay far an eye-opening look at how a 'Halloween' movie is made.

Another special feature worth checking out is Deleted/Extended Scenes, such as the Shower Mask Visit (1:29) scene and the Jog to a Hanging Dog (0:58) clips. Also, Michael Myers Finds Dana (0:56) will send a tingle down your spine, trust me!

The infamous killer Michael Myers strikes again in 'Halloween', arriving on Digital and via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on December 28th, 2018, as well as on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM, DVD and On Demand on January 15th, 2019.

'Halloween' will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-rayTM version, all in stunning 4K resolution.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the aforementioned Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of Halloween (2018)
Deleted/Extended Scenes
Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween
The Original Scream Queen
The Sound of Fear
Journey of the Mask
The Legacy of Halloween

Official Trailer

All-New Deleted Scene - 'Shower Mask Visit'

Amazon Purchase Link





'Slice'
(Chance the Rapper, Chris Parnell, Paul Scheer, et al / DVD / R / 2019 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: When a pizza delivery driver is murdered on the job, the city searches for someone to blame: ghosts? drug dealers? a disgraced werewolf?

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Slice' is the strange story of Small Town, USA ... which also happens to harbor various monsters in it; such as ghosts, witches and werewolves!

It also runs primarily off of food delivery services, specifically a tiny little pizza place that may very well be the gates to Hell!

Furthermore, 'Slice' is the writing and directorial debut of Austin Vesely, who previously directed music videos, and also the acting debut of Chance The Rapper, who has worked with Vesely before.

In truth, and whilst I wanted to believe this was all simply a concept the two of them dreamed up one strange night, I cannot be totally sure!

That said, what I CAN be totally sure of is how much this film works and doesn't work re: it's complete inconsistencies. Which is truly a shame, because there's plenty of things I really enjoyed here ... and plenty of things that were absolutely dreadful (sorry).

For the most part, 'Slice' fancies itself very much in the same threads of a '80s B-movie run amok. Much of the film is very tongue-in-cheek, the world is played for laughs quite often, and the horror is downplayed, for the most part, to show how ridiculous the story line is advancing.

Borrowing strands of other lore to incorporate and stack the strangeness it means that the screenplay is the one to blame; and the screenplay, in its content, is hardly lacking in quality. So, hopefully now you see my journalistic conundrum.

Plenty of monster movie lore is touched upon and taken from to plant the seeds of an interesting world this film can then take place in and for a long while the tone and world really did mesh; which created a fun little visual world to run around in.

The issue becomes clear about halfway through the film, however when the film's script lands about as often as a shotgun hits a rifle target! That's to say, it is all over the place; scattershot pockets of great material, so to speak.

The cinematography was actually quite good though for the most part, especially when mood lighting is the order of the day. Indeed, it almost achieves its desired effect of a the aforementioned '80s B-movie schlock; something akin to 'The Monster Squad' (if it were made in 2018).

Lastly, the score is nothing to shrug at either as its use of synth actually works really well and totally in its '80s flashback favor. Clearly there was inspiration here and it works the best in the film when chases are on and horrible moments of What If are upon us! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary with Director Austin Vesely, Producer Elijah Alvarado, and Actor Paul Scheer.

www.LGF.com





'Jamestown: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2'
(Stuart Martin, Tony Pitts, Luke Roskell, Sophie Rundle, Niamh Walsh, Naomi Battrick, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NC-17 / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Jamestown 1619. On what feels like the edge of the world sits the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia.

For 12 years, it has been populated only by men, but the settlement is shaken up when the first women, including Alice (Sophie Rundle), Verity (Niamh Walsh), and Jocelyn (Naomi Battrick), land in this breathtaking wilderness.

DVD Verdict: From the producers of Downtown Abbey, 'Jamestown' is not so much a historically accurate recounting of times back in 1619, but moreover a challenging interpretation of what times were like and the things that could have happened therein.

The settlement is on the brink of change summoned by the arrival of a new governor, Yeardley (Jason Flemyng), who brings a charter granting land to the earliest settlers in reward for their loyalty.

These new laws cause power struggles not only within the town, but also with the native inhabitants, the Pamunkey, led by the influential Opechancanough (Raoul Trujillo).

Always measured and respectful, he seeks ways to match the English like for like, while retaining honor for his people and their way of life.

While love triangles, bitter rivalries, and fierce competition cause conflict for the residents, ultimately they are bound together by their resolute will to survive and thrive in their new lives.

I understand how some people care about historical accuracy - but I couldn't care less and I'm sure that's true for many viewers too, and I don't think you could call any of this show's mistakes egregious.

They made some compromises for convenience, some to spice things up, and some probably out of ignorance but if it's spoiling someone's enjoyment of the story then that's on them because there's nothing ridiculous.

For example, and just to show you I'm paying attention also:

1.The original English colonists were all hot to locate gold, because the Spaniards had found a fortune of gold and silver in Mexico.

2. The English colonists just knew if they found native Americans that the Native Americans would lead them straight to the gold deposits.

3. Native Americans in the Virginian's knew of no metals in the region.

4. The English colonists were severely upset at the lack of gold in Virginia. Hence, since there was no gold to be found, despite their extensive searching, they were at each other's throat's and extremely hungry; since they dependent on the supply ship from England or the Native Americans to barter their corn and Venison for food supplies.

5. The English colonials were looking for easy riches and a quick trip home. Not the reality they found.

Overall, I think it's a finely polished show, focused mainly on the relationships between the characters, and particularly the struggles of the new female arrivals to find their place in the settlement and carve out some agency for themselves.

I like all of the main characters a lot, and I don't get to say that very often. Verity and Jocelyn in particular are delightful. I can't wait to see what they are going to do and say next.

Lastly, and again, who cares if it isn't exactly as history says it should be. It's entertaining! Go watch a documentary if you want factual history. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Nature: Dogs In The Land of Lions'
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Follow the unforgettable journey of a family of wild dogs in Zimbabwe and witness rarely seen behavior, from tender moments with newborn pups, to the thrills of hunting wildebeest, to close encounters with their greatest enemy - the lion.

DVD Verdict: In 'Nature: Dogs In The Land of Lions' we follow along this unforgettable journey of an African wild dog family, filmed over two years in Zimbabwe.

When lions kill her mate, a wild dog mom suddenly must raise two generations of pups all on her own without the help of a pack. We watch along as they all grow, all learn, all fall, and all get back up again along their chosen terrain.

Directed by Robyn Keene-Young and Narrated by Tom Harges, this brand new PBS Nature hour is one of their best yet. Given the beforehand knowledge that this African wild dogs are fast eaters, with a pack being able to consume a Thomson's gazelle in 15 minutes, sure we initially fear them and stand off from liking them here.

Indeed, learning furthermore that in the wild, the species' consumption rate is of 1.2–5.9 kg per African wild dog a day, with one pack of 17–43 specimens in East Africa having been recorded to kill three animals per day on average, doesn't help matters much either.

But about halfway though, 'Dogs in the Land of Lions' takes viewers along a different, more intimate path. Now into the heart of an African wild dog family, when lions kill her mate, a wild dog mother called Puzzles suddenly must raise two generations of pups all on her own without the help of a pack.

Out comes, rather immediately, the loyalty and selflessness that sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores in this deeply intimate portrayal of motherhood.

But in this unforgiving Zimbabwe wilderness, it turns out the top dogs are the big cats. Lions are the wild dogs' ultimate enemies. The young dogs provide some lighthearted moments while discovering the world around them, but as they grow up, they must face these eternal enemies on their journey to independence.

I won't give the ending away, for yes, they do come face-to-face with their famous foe, but suffice to say, 'Dogs in the Land of Lions' is a compelling hour to spend in front of the TV. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Nature: A Squirrel's Guide to Success'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: There are almost 300 species of squirrels that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes, and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal.

Uncover the extraordinary abilities of these cheeky nut lovers as a filmmaker puts their problem solving to the test on a specially designed obstacle course.

DVD Verdict: In one of the most cutest entitled DVDs for the longest time that I've come across, 'Nature: A Squirrel's Guide to Success' is a joyous 53 minutes of TV entertainment for all ages, that's for darn sure!

The squirrel family, from tiny chipmunks to big prairie dogs, is one of the most widespread on Earth, so what is the secret to their success?

Most people know that squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, flying squirrels, and prairie dogs amongst other rodents.

Here in this brand new documentary from PBS, we watch along as the extraordinary abilities of these cheeky nut lovers are lovingly revealed.

The filmmakers put their problem solving to the test on a specially designed obstacle course; one that might well tax the average human if they were that size, truth be told!

'Nature: A Squirrel's Guide to Success' showcases some of the world's top squirrel scientists who are making groundbreaking discoveries - from the brainy fox squirrel who can remember the location of 9,000 nuts, to the acrobatic gray squirrel whose tree-top leaps are the basis of new designs in robotics.

Oh, and we also get to witness the world through the eyes of an orphan red squirrel called Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he will need to be released back to the wild. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Nature: Super Cats'
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Stalking in the shadows, prowling almost every continent, cats are one of the world's most diverse and successful predators.

Filmed over 600 days in 14 countries and featuring 31 species of cat, this groundbreaking three-part miniseries uncovers the secret lives of wild cats and introduces behaviors captured on film for the first time, using the latest camera technology and scientific research.

DVD Verdict: Everyone loves big cats, but what do we really know about them?

There is far more to these charismatic and misunderstood animals than just being the world's top predators. Cats have their tender side - they are emotional and intelligent while being social and are devoted parents.

From the solitary bachelor snow leopard in the Himalayas, to the elusive swamp tiger of South Asia, to a remarkably efficient Californian bobcat that is blind in one eye, NATURE brings these animal superstars out of the shadows and reveals how cats survive and thrive in all four corners of the globe.

Delving into one aspect of this show, the solitary snow leopard, we discover that they live across a vast area of northern and central Asia, including the Himalayan Mountains.

Indeed, in the Himalayas, snow leopards live in high alpine areas, mostly above the tree line and up to 18,000 feet in elevation.

The diet of the snow leopard varies across its range and with the time of year, and depends on prey availability. In the Himalayas, it preys mostly on Himalayan blue sheep and Siberian ibex.

Often referred to as the “Ghost of the Mountains,” the snow leopard is an elusive big cat that reigns among the peaks of the Himalayas.

In another portion of this fascinating, and incredibly shot, cinematic wonder piece, we learn more about the swamp tiger of South Asia. This endangered Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

If we were ever planning a trip to Asia, we are quickly informed that the Sundarbans region, a massive wetland that extends into Bangladesh and India, was once avoided by people — in part because it's home to said tiger's, of course.

Lastly, we explore more information about the Californian bobcat, an animal that actually play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystem function by controlling prey populations.

Indeed, Bobcats are a common species that can be found throughout California from the high alpine zones of all local mountain ranges to the valley floor and from thick forests to the arid deserts.

Inclusive of all these facts and so many more, 'Nature: Super Cats' is compulsive viewing at a wondrous 160 minutes and true value for money - as all PBS documentaries are, I think you'll agree. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'A Chef's Life: The Final Harvest'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: After five seasons of 'A CHEF'S LIFE', Vivian hosts THE FINAL HARVEST, a farewell feast of epic proportions.

The show's most beloved personalities share intimate moments, along with a series-worth of memorable flashbacks.

A fitting sign-off to the series, friends new and old take a seat at 'A CHEF'S LIFE' final harvest table, bringing to a close this extended love letter to eastern North Carolina.

DVD Verdict: I love this show! It is a feast for the eyes, the mind and the senses!

Vivian Howard, the chef, has such a lovely, easy going manner about her, while managing a very complicated life. From the very first season, where she and her husband, Ben, are new parents living in a very rural area and running a high end restaurant, they have always been completely focused on showcasing the best of what local farmers have to offer for each season: vegetables, meat, fruit, seafood ... everything.

Indeed, what I love is that we get to go with Vivian to meet the farmers, see where they produce what they are growing, appreciate the gifts that they offer and understand the special magic she sees in what they have produced.

Even better, we've always then been allowed to go inside the restaurant kitchen and witness the additional magic that she applies to what just came out of the field.

Bonus is that every now and then we get a recipe from her and get to watch her make it! Personally, I love that she includes local people in her life and business. They are wonderful and so is her restaurant and TV show. And this final viewing is now different, trust me.

This series finale begins as a tractor pushes through her family's cornfield to carve out the open-air dining room of Vivian's dreams. She gathers summer's last vegetables from Warren Brothers' farm for a batch of chow-chow.

Ms. Lillie hosts a biscuit-making class for the show's favorite characters. Vivian's parents, Mrs. Scarlett and Mr. John, reveal how Vivian's success has changed their family, and most importantly, made them proud.

The show's most beloved personalities share intimate moments, along with a series-worth of memorable flashbacks. Ben reveals an unexpected tenderness when describing the impact of 'A Chef's Life' on his family and community.

A fitting sign-off to the series, friends new and old take a seat at 'A Chef's Life: The Final Harvest' table, bringing to a close this extended love letter to eastern North Carolina. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'The Possessed: Special Edition'
(Peter Baldwin, Salvo Randone, Valentina Cortese, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1965) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A visitor arrives in a small Italian village looking for a woman. Residents tell him that she committed suicide but there's more to the mystery than they're letting on. Meanwhile, a strange woman walks by the lake.

Blu-ray Verdict: Peter Baldwin (The Ghost, The Weekend Murders) stars as Bernard, a depressed novelist who sets off in search of his old flame Tilde (Virna Lisi, La Reine Margot), a beautiful maid who works at a remote lakeside hotel.

Bernard is warmly greeted by the hotel owner Enrico (Salvo Randone, Fellini's Satyricon) and his daughter Irma (Valentina Cortese, Thieves Highway, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire), but Tilde has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

Bernard undertakes an investigation and is soon plunged into a disturbing drama of familial secrets, perversion, madness and murder!

Also known as 'The Lady in the Lake,' it is often seen as a precursor to the Giallo style that would reach it's peak in the early seventies; and I can certainly see why.

However, I would say that the film is closer to a supernatural mystery film than a Giallo and it also shares a lot in common with the popular American film noir style; stemming from it's picture, execution and subject material.

The film is very much of the high quality variety and director Luigi Bazzoni takes time and a lot of care to ensure that the film is haunting and mysterious as possible - which pays dividends as the plot starts to pan out.

The film is directed by Luigi Bazzoni, who go on to make one of the best seventies Giallo's with the excellent The Fifth Cord as well as one of the oddest genre films with Footsteps in 1975.

There's also a writer's credit for Death Laid an Egg writer-director Giulio Questi, so rather unsurprisingly - 'The Possessed' (aka 'The Lady of the Lake') is a rather bizarre film!

It starts off simple enough and the first half of the movie is pretty easy viewing, but then things start to get a bit stranger in the second half and it becomes easy to loose the plot.

It's lucky then that there's more than enough to keep the audience otherwise entertained. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and the black and white picture allows the director to capture a real macabre and moody atmosphere. Highly recommended for fans of this ilk. Highly! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Italian and English soundtracks, titles and credits
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio
Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by writer and critic Tim Lucas
Richard Dyer on The Possessed - a newly filmed video appreciation by the cultural critic and academic
Cat's Eyes, an interview with the film's makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi
Two Days a Week, an interview with the film's award-winning assistant art director Dante Ferretti
The Legacy of the Bazzoni Brothers, an interview with actor/director Francesco Barilli, a close friend of Luigi and Camillo Bazzoni
Original trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Andreas Ehrenreich, Roberto Curti and original reviews

www.ArrowFilms.com





'The Fifth Cord: Special Edition'
(Franco Nero, Silvia Monti, Edmund Purdom, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1971) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: An alcoholic journalist finds himself on the trail of a murderer after the police make him a suspect in their investigation.

Blu-ray Verdict: When a man barely survives a brutal assault en route home from a New Year's party, washed-up, whisky-swilling journalist Andrea Bild (Franco Nero, Django) is assigned to report on the case.

Before long, the maniac strikes again, this time with fatal results. As the body count rises, Andrea falls under suspicion himself, making it even more imperative that he crack the case.

His only clue lies in a series of black gloves found at the location of every attack, each with a finger cut off!

Adapted from a novel by David McDonald Devine, 'The Fifth Cord' boasts a complex, Agatha Christie-esque plot, outstanding cinematography courtesy of future Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and supporting appearances by a raft of genre stalwarts, including Silvia Monti (A Lizard in a Woman s Skin), Edmund Purdom (Nightmare City) and Rossella Falk (Sleepless).

Debuting here in high definition, arguably the most visually stunning giallo ever made now shines like never before.

In my own humble opinion, this is one of the most visually stunning films of all time. Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Conformist) and Luigi Bazzoni (Footprints on the Moon) had a great understanding between them, and it shows on the screen.

The contrasts between light and dark, the way characters are rendered black silhouettes reminds me of my favorite shot from Ingmar Bergman's The Passion of Anna (shot by the great Sven Nykvist).

Regrettably the script isn't quite up to that level, being about as generic as a giallo comes. Bazzoni also lacks the ability of a director like Argento or Bava to build suspense and stage a murder.

Thankfully the astounding visuals and Franco Nero's appealing performance (dubbed by himself, thankfully!) make this stand out from most films of its ilk.

It's just too bad that the ending is so bland - you almost feel like the filmmakers just didn't give a crap. This could have been a minor classic with a better script. Shortly before this I watched Bazzoni's other giallo (most consider it one, but I don't) 'Footprints on the Moon', and while it was far more interesting it didn't seem nearly as well done despite the presence of Vittorio Storaro.

Maybe if they had tried one more time they might have gotten the balance right. That said, watch it, learn from it (all you inspiring cinematographers), and as fans, well, simply sit back, open your minds and enjoy, my friends! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by critic Travis Crawford
Lines and Shadows, a new video essay on the film's use of architecture and space by critic Rachael Nisbet
Whisky Giallore, a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie
Black Day for Nero, a new video interview with actor Franco Nero
The Rhythm Section, a new video interview with film editor Eugenio Alabiso Rare, previously unseen deleted sequence, restored from the original negative
Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kat Ellinger and Peter Jilmstad

www.ArrowFilms.com





'My Name Is Julia Ross: Special Edition'
(Nina Foch, Dame May Whitty, George Macready, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1945) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Julia Ross secures employment, through a rather nosy employment agency, with a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hughes, and goes to live at her house.

Two days later, she awakens - in a different house, in different clothes, and with a new identity. She's told she is the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Hughes, and has suffered a nervous breakdown.

Is Julia really 'Julia', or, is it true, that she's lost all memory of who she is?

Blu-ray Verdict: A briskly paced and brilliantly stylized mystery that grabs its audience from the start, 'My Name Is Julia Ross' immediately cemented Lewis place in the noir pantheon, and anticipated the elaborate identity-based deceptions found in future classic thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock's infamous 'Vertigo' and Brian De Palma's brilliant 'Obsession'.

For those who think of Dame May Witty as the kindly, slightly batty, old lady from Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, this movie requires an adjustment!

Here, she's anything but kindly or batty. Instead, her son, George Macready is the loony one. Just don't give him a knife, otherwise his eyes light up and no furniture cushion in the house is safe.

Now we know what he has in mind for the trapped Nina Foch if he can just get out from under Mother's domineering hand.

Really tight little woman-in-danger film that keeps the suspense on high throughout. The script never strays from Foch's dilemma. She's held prisoner in a big old Gothic house on the edge of an angry sea. They're going to kill her, but why.

OK, sure, her predicament makes no sense, but that says the tension still mounts as she tries one escape ploy after another; but even strangers seem against her.

So, of course, we also begin to feel her helplessness and mounting paranoia as the world turns away from her.

Director Joseph H. Lewis took a big step toward cult status with this film and understandably so. Then too, watch Foch run subtly through a gamut of emotions without once going over the top.

Witty too shines as a really intimidating matriarch who knows what she wants and how to get it if she can just keep her wacko son in line.

My one reservation is the climax which seems too contrived considering the timing of the events. Nonetheless, it's a good, nerve-wracking way to spend a little over an hour, now re-releases on stunning Blu-ray, and as a Special Edition nonetheless via Arrow Films (UK). 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 mono PCM audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Commentary by noir expert Alan K. Rode
Identity Crisis: Joseph H. Lewis at Columbia - The Nitrate Diva (Nora Fiore) provides the background and an analysis of the film
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Adrian Martin

www.ArrowFilms.com





'The Revelation Of Lee 'Scratch' Perry'
(Lee "Scratch" Perry, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / MVD Visual)

Overview: This highly in depth new documentary is set at Lee "Scratch" Perry's mountain top home and studio in Switzerland and features some of the actual sessions for the original studio recording of Revelation.

DVD Verdict: Focusing on Lee's work in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Steve Marshall - in both his engineering and his producer ("John Saxon") roles - it has to be said that this new documentary on Perry is one of the most interesting, vivid, colorful ones that I think I've ever seen.

In what is, at its core, a music documentary of the making of the dub reggae legend's Grammy®-nominated reggae album Revelation, running at nearly two and a half hours, 'The Revelation Of Lee "Scratch" Perry' is a wondrous treasure trove of behind-the-scenes reveals and so much more.

For those not in the know though, Lee "Scratch" Perry is one of the most important figures in the history of reggae music. Not only did he help develop the early reggae sound captured in a number of important recordings, but as an engineer, producer, songwriter, and performer he pioneered a number of innovations, including dub reggae.

Indeed, Revelation is the third of a series of collaborations with UK multi-instrumentalist Steve Marshall, following the controversial Scratch Came, Scratch Saw, Scratch Conquered and Grammy-nominated The End of An American Dream.

Like the duo's previous collaborations, a few special guests have joined the party here (while not appearing in this film). The biggest names this go-round including George Clinton (the king of funk), Keith Richards, plus Duncan and Green, Tim Hill, Dr Sleepy, Alec Hay, elodieO and Abi Browning, and also David Stewart Jones.

So, is Revelation reggae? Dub? Avant-garde madness? Electronic warfare? Yes to all, and therefore no to all; at least not in any definitive way!

Visually, 'The Revelation Of Lee "Scratch" Perry' is an interplay of color and light, ritual and the mystical aspects of Lee Perry's spiritual and worldly spontaneity, and a frank snapshot of his musical genius.

The documentary also includes excerpts of a free-flowing and revealing interview of Lee Perry by Steve Marshall as a delightful Special Feature. Fascinating from start to finish and highly recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MVDvisual.com





'The Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Minds Of...' (2)
(Dick Cavett, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / S'More Entertainment)

Overview: Since 1968, Dick Cavett has been host of his own talk show, in a variety of formats and on a number of television and radio formats.

These Volume 2 episodes were taken from shows that aired between 1990 through 1995 and feature some of the insightful, thought provoking and satirical brilliance of George Carlin, Martin Mull and Steve Martin.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the official know, 'The Dick Cavett Show' was an 90 minute mixture of talk and variety that ran for six astounding years on late-night prime time television on the ABC-TV network from the first telecast on May 26,1969 to the final episode of the series on August 16,1975.

This was at the time one of the most versatile performers who eventually gave us some of the biggest entertainment acts in the history of rock,and went toe to toe with the King of Late Night-Johnny Carson and eventually at the time Merv Griffin for the battle of late night supremacy.

However, Dick Cavett was one of the few television personalities ever to star or host major programs in daytime, prime-time, late night, all in quick succession.

And it wasn't about his failure to attract a large audience with any of them, because his late night talk show brought in some of the largest ratings ever for ABC at the time.

Well praised and received by the critics, his late night show was generally acknowledged to be witty, intelligent, and interesting compared to what was scheduled around them.

'The Dick Cavett Show: Inside The Minds Of....' is a wondrous DVD set with just over two hours of lush flashback material. Entitled Volume 2, the first of the featured comedians appearing is George Carlin (May 12, 1937 - June 22, 2008); one of the most influential and revered comedians of his era.

Lauded by Rolling Stone as second on their 50 best stand-up comics of all time. While Carlin appeared 5 times on The Dick Cavett Show, 3 were as a part of panels and we've chosen to use the two 'one-on-one' shows he did with Cavett on June 5, 1990 and December 1, 1992.

Cavett, who also started off as a stand-up comedian, also brings us in-depth conversations with both Martin Mull and a young Steve Martin (for me personally, the true gem here for a man of my age/era upbringing).

Martin Mull (August 18, 1943) is a multi-talented comedian, actor, singer and artist, but got his start in show business in 1970 after writing 'A Girl Named Johnny Cash' for country star Jane Morgan.

Indeed, if you remember Garth and Barth Gimble, then you remember Mull's first major acting role. He started as Garth Gimble on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (produced by Norman Lear) which led to the spin off, Fernwood Tonight, where he played Garth's identical twin Barth, with sidekick Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard).

Mull sat down with Cavett on June 4, 1995 during the time he was appearing on Roseanne and just before starting work on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Lastly we get the beautifully erratic Steve Martin (August 14, 1945). A multi-talented individual, excelling at comedy, acting, producer, musician (piano and banjo, winning two Grammy's for his prowess on the banjo) and playwright, here he was quieter than we have known him to be.

Perhaps down to being younger, and not a joke teller, per se, Martin's act was more absurdist and off beat (I mean, come on now, who can forget the arrow through the head routine? Or 'Excuse me'?)

Steve Martin appeared just this one time on Cavett on December 17, 1992, after completion of 3 films in 1991 and 2 more in 1992 and so this is, as aforementioned, one of the highlights for me out of them all.

All fun, chock full of laughs, if you weren't aware of certain stories they each told, but somehow have heard of bits and bobs of them through life well, here is where they originated, my friends! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.smoreent.com





'Secrets of Britain's Great Cathedrals'
(3-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Dominating the landscape for centuries, ancient cathedrals and abbeys reflect Britain's turbulent history through their architectural grandeur.

'Secrets of Britain's Great Cathedrals' explores cathedrals and abbeys found throughout England and Wales, featuring interviews with historians and experts and breathtaking footage filming their legendary facades and soaring interior spaces.

DVD Verdict: Featuring interviews with historians and experts, the 8 episodes with bonus content combine on a 1,500-mile journey, traveling from Durham Cathedral in the north, to Canterbury Cathedral in the south, and across the length of Wales.

Plus, of course, the iconic landmarks of the great city of London, St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Taking a deeper look into some of these wondrous landmarks, the one on St Paul's Cathedral is breathtaking. Now, sure, yes, they are all breathtaking with regard how they are captured here for our visual delight, but this one, to me, stands out magnificently.

St Paul's Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London and is a Grade I listed building.

Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding program in the City after the Great Fire of London.

The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years.

At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967. The dome is among the highest in the world. St Paul's is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.

Producer and director Peter Beveridge has done outstanding work here with this series and it is also highlighted within the ariel drone work brought to the incredible fore in Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It forms part of a World Heritage Site.

Indeed, it is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The origins of Canterbury Cathedral go back to 597AD when Augustine, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary. Just watching how the drone showcases the nooks and crannies of this old, bestowed in time work of masonry art is worth the price of the DVD set alone, trust me.

Running at an impressive 432 minutes on 3 discs, with unprecedented access behind the walls of these spectacular buildings, 'Secrets of Britain's Great Cathedrals' gives an incredible insight into the most influential cathedrals, abbeys and bishops' palaces in the country. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Feature of:

Drone Soundscape Clip

www.PBS.org





'The Dark'
(Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, et al / DVD / R / 2019 / Dark Sky Films)

Overview: An undead teenage girl befriends a blind boy that she meets in a forest she haunts and hunts in.

Both have been victims of unimaginable abuse, and each finds solace in the other.

There may be a chance of light at the end of their tunnel, but it will also come with a body count.

DVD Verdict: To be quite frank, this story of horror in the woods, located on the outskirts of a small town, lovingly named named Devil's Den, is rather a good one.

The myth goes that there is this mysterious tract of woods where many have entered but none have ever returned from. Indeed, the local rumor is that the spirit of a young girl who was horrifically murdered there haunts and hunts in this very same dense forest, brutally slaying anyone who dares to step into her terrain.

Why? We don't quite know at the beginning, which is fine, but come the end, well, her anger is, if not totally understood, is kinda sorta both justified and "accepted," that's for darn sure.

When a Priest with a dark past (and something to hide) crosses her path whilst taking the time on his road trip to sleep a night in an old, decrepit, and falling down haunted house (!), a series of events are set in motion that may lead to a peculiar kind of redemption for two tragically tortured souls.

Part Gothic fairy tale and part chilling horror, director Justin P. Lange's debut 'The Dark' defiantly features a wicked orchestrated balance of rich imagery together with a brutal and bloody story of unlikely kindred spirits who must defend themselves against the villainous powers of the normal world.

Lead actress Nadia Alexander (together with her haunted, undead harrowing makeup) is a stand out star here as the terrifying Mina. Someone with an ax to grind, and never one for backing down from her self-obsessed, self-created mission of death, she is all that embodies why woods are scary at night (with or without her in them!).

Part horror, part psychological thriller, 'The Dark' reveals itself using go-to horror conventions as scares along the way, sure, but never seems to over play them. Indeed, it's like the director purposely decided to just borrow their images, choosing instead to remold them and deliver them with his own unique twists each time.

In closing, and not to give anything big away, 'The Dark' never sets out to scare the pants off you. It isn't built that way and anyway, for if it did, the character of Mina would quickly become very annoying.

No, what it does is entwine you deeply, step by step, further into its woody story line, allowing you to view everything you perceive to be the truth around you ... until, and beautifully out of nowhere, the dark, quite literally, has gotten under your skin and turning around, you see no way out! Watch it today ... just NOT alone! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.DarkSkyFilms.com

'The Dark' - Official Trailer





'First Man: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-Ray + Digital'
(Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight.

A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong's perspective, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this January with the release of this wondrous cinematic, and one can only assume, award-grabbing success, 'First Man - 4K Ultra HD' on January 22nd, 2019.

For my money, this 'First Man - 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 'First Man' 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: Dolby Vision + HDR10; 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; like in those gloriously captured moments of orbiting "close" to the sun.

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 scenes where Gosling is physically on the moon, the Earth shining back at his, lighting up his visor rather spectacularly) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1; and French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.

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, 'First Man' is, and without a shadow of a doubt, one of those films you just know is going to sweep the upcoming awards season take home trophies!

Where do I begin? Well, the opening scene will take your breath away! I don't think a single cell in my body flinched for a solid five minutes as I watched Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) fight to keep his craft from floating away into space.

The scene is spectacular visually and in every sense of filmmaking execution. It's also a bit misleading.

The rest of the movie, aside from the moon landing, is remarkably tame. It's quiet. There are virtually no loud outbursts or emotional speeches. This story is about people doing their jobs, completing their missions. Gosling understands this and plays to Armstrong's stoicism perfectly.

He is often an understated actor, choosing to let his subtle facial movements and glints of the eyes do as much talking as what actually comes out of his mouth. Neil is much the same except even less outwardly expressive.

He clearly comes from a generation that did not display emotion. They suffered in silence, which no doubt frustrated many family members, especially spouses.

Armstrong's wife Janet (Claire Foy) is a classic case of a spouse desperate to glimpse beyond his emotional shield. She restrains for the most part, but her building frustration is apparent throughout. When she finally does unleash her emotions, it's startling.

Her outbursts stand out in such stark contrast to the silence that we see from the other characters. Foy is smart and measured with every choice she makes, and she never comes across as unhinged or overly supportive to a point of unbelievability.

She's strong as a quiet devoted partner and strong when she senses the need to speak up. Look for her to add another award nomination to her resume come that time of year.

For as great as Gosling and Foy are, Damien Chazelle is the star of this movie, just like he has been the star of every one of his movies. I don't mean this as a bad thing. They guy is simply so skilled at what he does that his impact stands out among all the other standouts in his movies.

He doesn't take the conventional approach to a space movie, which is to hammer viewers with showy visuals and action sequences. He's careful not to overdo it those areas, instead focusing on Armstrong's psyche and life outside the space shuttle.

Chazelle crafts a personal, intimate film and shoots it in a creative way that uses a variety of framing choices so the closeups never feel stale.

In closing, this is a giant story told on a deliberately small scale. The choice to focus on Armstrong's objectively less captivating home life rather than the moon mission is risky.

Only the most talented of filmmakers, which Chazelle is, could pull it off. "First Man" is another showcase of Chazelle's mastery.

He's one of the best directors currently working. The fact that this film may eventually be considered Chazelle's 6th or 7th best and is still this excellent, is a tribute to his talent.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. Firstly, for me, all the Deleted Scenes all blur into one, and none seem any more prone to having been chosen to be included, or not, as the case turned out to be.

But, amongst the plethora of short featurettes, the three that stand out for me are: Putting You in the Seat, Recreating the Moon Landing, and Astronaut Training.

The former is a right royal ride where you get to view, at first hand, all that Gosling, and Armstrong, of course, sat in the midst of on that journey into history. The second one, Recreating the Moon Landing is interesting two-fold, as it not only shows you how they shot it, but will also have the conspiracy theorists all pointing at their screens with gleeful, all-knowing looks emblazoned!

The latter is what those brace men had to go through, let along Gosling (to a point, of course) in order to embody that seat headed upward. Nothing I myself could ever have imagined, it is very revealing and showcases perfectly how determined ALL astronauts are to be in that exclusive seating. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of 'First Man'
Deleted Scenes
Shooting for the Moon
Preparing to Launch
Giant Leap in One Small Step
Mission Gone Wrong
Putting You in the Seat
Recreating the Moon Landing
Shooting at NASA
Astronaut Training
Feature Commentary with Director Damien Chazelle, Screenwriter Josh Singer and Editor Tom Cross

Official Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link

www.UniversalStudiosHomeEntertainment.com





'Nature Cat: Nature Cat + Mr. Hide'
(DVD / TV-Y / 2019 / PBS Kids)

Overview: It's Nature Cat and his friends vs. Ronald in four exciting adventures!

DVD Verdict: For those not yet in the know, Nature Cat is an American-Canadian educational animated children's television series which premiered on November 25th, 2015 on PBS.

The series is aimed at children aged 3 to 8 years old, following the adventures of four main characters: Nature Cat, Hal the Dog, Daisy the Bunny and Squeeks the Mouse.

Rightly so, the show has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program" with the series debut in November achieved nearly 3.7 million viewers (and by March it had achieved 69 million video streams across online platforms).

Here in 'Nature Cat: Nature Cat + Mr. Hide,' Nature Cat hopes to finally beat Ronald at the neighborhood Hide 'N' Seek Championship Of The World (Cat Edition!), but to dethrone the champion he has to learn how to master the art of camouflage from wild animals to stay hidden in plain sight!

Also, Nature Cat faces off again against Ronald in the Glow Games! Can Nature Cat and his pals learn about bio-luminescence and win the competition?

The, we join Nature Cat and his friends as they square off against Ronald in The Animal Beach Volleyball Championship Of The World! Finally, we get to watch as Nature Cat sends Ronald on a nature quest to become a Knight of Nature!

These are all fun-filled, and colorful outdoor adventures that, whether you're already fans of Nature Cat or not, you simply do not want to miss:

'Nature Cat and Mr. Hide'
'The Glow Games'
'The Shell Game'
'Enter the Dragonfly'

Nature Cat can't wait to get outside for a day of backyard nature excursions and bravery! With the help of his friends, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures full of investigation and discovery, all while encouraging children to go outdoors and explore the world around them.

I have twin 4 year-old boys who absolutely love this new PBS Kids show. They actually get up and act out all the moves that Nature Cat himself makes.

Each episode has fun, appropriate humor that keeps kids engaged and is even funny to adults and older kids - at least those with a good sense of humor!

Oh, and in addition, it has great messages and information about nature. I mean, this one eve includes a short given to bio-luminescence! So, what more could you want for your kids to fall in love with this well designed TV show? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBSkids.org





'Speed Kills' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(John Travolta, Katheryn Winnick, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Weston, James Remar, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / R / 2019 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Speedboat racing champion and multimillionaire, Ben Aronoff (John Travolta), leads a double life that lands him in trouble with the law and drug lords.

Blu-ray Verdict: Released in a select band of distribution areas in late 2018 and actually named after its fifth production company (Speed Kills Production, naturally), 'Speed Kills' seems like a fitting title.

Fitting for its star John Travolta, that is. John's waxy, self-tan character loves his fast boats, loves his fast woman, loves his fast cash, and well, you know the rest.

Indeed, believe it or not, 'Speed Kills' is actually inspired by a true story, but sorta feels spoofed and hard pressed to do any justice to that underlying fact, sadly.

Saddled with a running time of 102 minutes that could've been stretched out to two-plus hours (gee I never thought I'd say that), 'Speed Kills' has a murky storytelling arc, a seemingly low budget, stark production values, and pivotal scenes that are cut rather too quickly, in my humble opinion.

With a timeline spanning about 25 years, the film is like a condensed motorboat version of 'Goodfellas' and 'Blow'! The presence of actor Jordi Molla only enhances that standpoint!

Directed by first-timer Jodi Scurfield, 'Speed Kills' also contains random freeze-frames (never liked that aspect of cheap filmmaking) and even a bizarre cameo by Tom Sizemore (that shows he's aged about 9,000 years since we last saw him on screen!).

Chronicling one Ben Aronoff (played by John "I just came from the set of Gotti" Travolta), Aronoff is a speedboat racing champion who has made millions not only racing boats but building them as well.

Mysteriously, and without much explanation, Ben is also a bad husband and a credulous drug trafficker that's unwillingly connected to the Mob.

In retrospect, 'Speed Kills' has a bunch of known troupers that fade in and out (Jennifer Esposito, Matthew Modine as George Bush, Kellan Lutz, and James Remar), who all add, in their small parts, the overall story, sure, but needlessly, for the most part.

It's like, well, they do what they can with sparingly undeveloped parts. As for Travolta, well he's not bad here despite almost devoting his caked, makeup presence to self-parody.

In closing, 'Speed Kills' is entertaining, novel, and absorbing in spots. It uses its Mafia violence effectively (when needed) and contains a happy-go-lucky, '60s pop soundtrack rather neatly.

'Speed Kills' arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD and Digital January 15th, 2019 from Lionsgate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'Horror Express: Special Edition' (Blu-ray}
(Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto De Mendoza, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1972) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Horror Express' starts in Provincia de Szechuan, China during 1906 as a British expedition lead by anthropologist Professor Alexander Saxon (Christopher Lee) discover the frozen fossilized corpse of a two million year old Ape man.

Together with his unique specimen Professor Saxon boards the a train to Russia in Pekin, also boarding the train is Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) a rival scientist.

As the train speeds through the icy wastelands the Ape man comes to life possessed by an alien energy creature capable of jumping from body to body and sucking the thoughts, ideas and knowledge from it's victims minds.

So, of course, a massive manhunt is mounted to discover which passenger is possessed with the evil alien.

This Spanish/British co-production was directed by Eugenio Martin and is an entertainingly absurd sci-fi period horror flick that is hard not to like.

The script by Arnaud d'Usseau and Julian Zimet takes the basic premise from 'The Thing from Another World' (1951) with it's story of a frozen alien found by unsuspecting explorers and adds a little bit of 'The Hidden' (1987) in as well.

Add to that a body-jumping alien and we also get a form of homage to 'The Night of the Living Dead' (1968) for good measure re: it's horde of zombies come the climax.

One could also say 'Horror Express' takes both it's setting and it's title from the action/adventure 'Shangai Express' (1932). The one thing that shines through about 'Horror Express' is that it's very entertaining in it's silliness.

We get a two million year old fossil coming to life, the sucking of people's minds dry, the idea that it's all down to a millions year old alien and the scientifically unsound notion that images are somehow stored in eyeball fluid!

That said, it all works really well to create a unique horror film with a good story that continues to develop throughout it's duration. The characters are good and there's the expected religious reasoning as well; which is disproved in favor of more scientific explanations, of course.

Director Eugenio Martín does a good job for there is indeed a sense that we are traveling on a train at the turn of the century. The period Hammer horror style production design and costumes are truly excellent.

Indeed, as we learn during the brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, the train interior sets along with the model train used for the exterior shots were the same that the producer/director had used for their previous film, 'Pancho Villa' (1972).

The makers certainly get a lot of use out of the train model since every two minutes they cut to a shot of it speeding along the track. I mean, seriously, if you were to edit out all the train model shots then I think 'Horror Express' would be a good twenty odd minutes shorter!

There's not much gore. There's some blood. There's a dissected eyeball and a surprisingly graphic autopsy scene re: when Cushing saws the top of a corpses head off to expose the brain!

Technically, the film is well made with that '70s period Hammer horror atmosphere which makes everything so wonderful to view. The way it's shot and the way the sets are so detailed really help make 'Horror Express' look higher budget than it was.

Sure, the aforementioned model train shots look a little fake at times, the "monster" wisely kept in the shadows most of the time, and the cheesy red eye effect often feels out of place, but for the most part, this is a solid film for its day.

There's a GREAT cast here with English horror stalwarts Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and the bald master himself, the lolly pop sucking (although not here, of course) Telly Savalas. A small cameo as a Russian Cossack allows him to ham it up superbly.

In closing, 'Horror Express' is a highly enjoyable and likable sci-fi horror film in the best tradition of Hammer horror with a good cast and an adventurous story line for us all to sit back and enjoy (especially as it's now out on a wondrous Special Edition Blu-ray via Arrow Films UK). This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander
Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express an interview with director Eugenio Martin
Notes from the Blacklist Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era
Telly and Me an interview with composer John Cacavas
Original Theatrical Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector's booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Ready Jet Go! Space Rocks!'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Asteroids, meteorites, comets, and more! Join Jet along with his friends Sydney, Sean, and Mindy as they take off on exciting outer space explorations.

DVD Verdict: In 'Ready Jet Go! Space Rocks!' we can all watch along as Jet's mom zooms the kids to space in their flying saucer!

Add to that the kids conduct a series of tests to determine if a unique rock is indeed a meteorite and you'll quickly realize just how new and kid-friendly, kid-worthy and different-to-the-usual kids animation this new PBS Kids DVD truly is!

Oh, and if any more was required of this great show, come the end and the who neighborhood hosts a star gazing party!

The four (4) stories included are:

Asteroids, Meteors and Meteorites
Mindy's Meteorite Stand
Comet Fever
Asteroid Patrol

This fun and educational DVD will instantly be loved by your children. If not for the sometimes-silly characters, fun music and ​all the space-orientated adventures, but for the fact it truly explores space ... and rightfully encourage​s​ children to go out​ and do the same. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBSkids.org





'NOVA: Operation Bridge Rescue'
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Follow the race to rebuild the Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State, an icon of 19th century American engineering, destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

DVD Verdict: For nearly 160 years, the historic Blenheim Bridge, spanning the Schoharie Creek, stood proudly as the world's longest covered bridge. People came from miles around to view and photograph, this incredible engineering achievement.

At 210 feet in length, it withstood floods, hard-bitten winters and even a few horse and buggy accidents to remain one of Schoharie County's everlasting landmarks. It opened in 1855 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

On August 28th, 2011, however, the sturdy old bridge was no match for Tropical Storm Irene. The storm wreaked havoc throughout Upstate New York, bringing record flood levels and leaving death and destruction in its wake.

On that very same night, and with the raging Schoharie Creek roaring along underneath the bridge at a historic level, the old covered bridge succumbed to Mother Nature's fury.

The bridge collapsed into the torrent below and pieces of it were scattered in the fields, farmlands and woods for more than 30 miles down river.

The little hamlet of Blenheim, population of about 200 people, rallied to get their bridge back. After several years of wrangling and consulting with state and federal agencies, the rebirth of the Blenheim Bridge began early in 2017.

When completed, the new bridge was built 15 feet higher than the original one. Some pieces of the old bridge that were discovered along the river bank were also used in construction of the new bridge.

In 'NOVA: Operation Bridge Rescue,' we watch a team of craftsmen reproduce the massive, intricate wooden structure under grueling time pressure as flooding threatens their work site.

We also discover how Chinese artisans ensure the survival of these stunning ancient structures, which in and unto itself was rather fascinating, if truth be told. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'All the Devil's Men' [Blu-ray+Digital]
(Milo Gibson, William Fichtner, Sylvia Hoeks, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Elliot Cowan, et al / Blu-ray+Digital / R / 2019 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: A battle-scarred War on Terror bounty hunter is forced to go to London on a manhunt for a disavowed CIA operative, which leads him into a deadly running battle with a former military comrade and his private army.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'All the Devil's Men' is the story of a jaded, battle-scarred bounty hunter who is forced to go to London on a manhunt for a disavowed CIA operative.

Of course, this leads him into a deadly running battle with a former military comrade and his private army, but then again, if it didn't, well, the movie would be over in 12 minutes flat!

To be frank, and lovingly, refreshingly honest even, 'All the Devil's Men' does have its fair share of issues, but overall it's still a solid action thriller.

The storyline is compelling and the characters are pretty close to what CIA black ops would hire (or so I'm led to believe!). Emotionally damaged. Sure. Possibly even psychotic. Sure. Verging on being total sociopaths. Sure. Which means once you invest in this movie, given those facts, you'll quickly discover that it is not always the case.

Starring Milo Gibson (yes, he IS the son of Mel), Sylvia Hoeks and William Fichtner, they all do great jobs in their chosen characters and, for me, I loved seeing Gibson get the lead role. He is a way better actor than he's thus far been given credit for and with the right movie he has now shown he can command the small/big screen too.

Funnily enough, the gun battles reminded me another great UK gangster flick, the brilliant 'Den of Thieves.' Total realism throughout them both, which is rare in the lesser-budgeted movies these days.

Experience intense action and a crime-totting thrill ride when 'All the Devil's Men' arrives on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital), DVD and Digital February 5th from Lionsgate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

'All the Devil's Men': Working In The Shadows

Official Trailer

www.LGF.com





'NOVA: Thai Cave Rescue'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Follow the harrowing operation to rescue 12 boys stranded in a flooded cave in Thailand, and discover the scientific ingenuity that made the rescue possible.

DVD Verdict: In June/July 2018, an international team of cave divers endeavored to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded in a flooded cave in Thailand.

As we all know by now, this widely publicized cave rescue managed to successfully (although not easily and not without a death) extricate members of a junior football team trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.

Twelve members of the team, aged eleven to seventeen, and their 25-year-old assistant coach entered the cave on the 23rd of June after football practice.

Shortly afterwards, heavy rains partially flooded the cave, trapping the group inside.

Efforts to locate the group were hampered by rising water levels and strong currents, and no contact was made for more than a week. The rescue effort expanded into a massive operation amid intense worldwide public interest.

On the 2nd of July, after advancing through narrow passages and muddy waters, British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton found the group alive on an elevated rock about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the cave mouth.

Rescue organizers discussed various options for extracting the group, including whether to teach them basic diving skills to enable their early rescue, wait until a new entrance was found or drilled, or wait for the floodwaters to subside at the end of the monsoon season months later.

After days of pumping water from the cave system and a respite from rain, the rescue teams hastened to get everyone out before the next monsoon rain, which was expected to bring a potential 52 mm (2.0 in) of additional rainfall and was predicted to start around the 11th of July.

Between the 8th and 10th of July, all of the boys and their coach were rescued from the cave by an international team. The rescue effort involved more than 10,000 people, including over 100 divers, many rescue workers, representatives from about 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers and 2,000 soldiers, and required ten police helicopters, seven police ambulances, more than 700 diving cylinders, and the pumping of more than a billion liters of water out of the caves!

Sadly, there was one fatality. Saman Kunan, a 37-year-old former Thai Navy SEAL who died of asphyxiation on the 6th of July while returning to a staging base in the cave after delivering supplies of air.

In 'Nova: Thai Cave Rescue,' we follow the harrowing operation and discover the scientific ingenuity that made the rescue possible. We also get to hear how rescuers explored every option - from pumping out water, to drilling a new exit - to ultimately cave-diving with the children. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, must-see-TV! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'NOVA: Last B-24'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Dive to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea in search of the Tulsamerican, a B-24 bomber that crashed off the coast of Croatia during World War II.

DVD Verdict: Just so you know what you're getting into here, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California.

It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing. The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load.

Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low speed performance; it also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

While aircrews tended to prefer the B-17, General Staff favored the B-24, and procured it in huge numbers for a wide variety of roles.

At approximately 18,500 units – including over 4,600 manufactured by Ford Motor Company – it holds records as the world's most produced bomber, heavy bomber, multi-engine aircraft, and American military aircraft in history.

The B-24 was used extensively in World War II. It served in every branch of the American armed forces, as well as several Allied air forces and navies, and saw use in every theater of operations.

Along with the B-17, the B-24 was the mainstay of the U.S. strategic bombing campaign in the Western European theater.

Due to its range, it proved useful in bombing operations in the Pacific, including the bombing of Japan. Long range anti-submarine Liberators played an instrumental role in closing the Mid-Atlantic gap in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The C-87 transport derivative served as a longer range, higher capacity counterpart to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain.

By the end of World War II, the technological breakthroughs of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and other modern types had surpassed the bombers that served from the start of the war.

The B-24 was rapidly phased out of U.S. service, although the PB4Y-2 Privateer maritime patrol derivative carried on in service with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War.

In 1944 a smoking, battle-scarred B-24 Liberator bomber known as the Tulsamerican crashed into the choppy seas off the coast of Croatia, entombing three of its occupants under 135 feet of water.

For years they were lost to the world - and their families. But in 2010, nearly seventy years after the crash, the Department of Defense located the plane.

And in 2017, aided by the Croatian Navy and some of the world's leading underwater archaeologists, they set to work to investigate the wreckage.

Were the B-24s truly as dangerous as the nickname "the Flying Coffin" suggested? And what does that mean for the recovery of the fallen airmen?

In 'Nova: Last B-24,' we watch and learn as the Croatian Navy and some of the world's leading underwater archaeologists work to investigate the wreckage.

Following along with their highly trained team of archaeologists and forensics experts, we observe them search for the crew and identify their remains; one by one. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Saban's Power Rangers: Super Ninja Steel'
(Brody Romero, Calvin Maxwell, Hayley Foster, Preston Tien, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Madame Odius is still alive and more determined than ever to steal the Ninja Nexus Prism for her nefarious purposes! Now it’s up to the Rangers, with some unexpected help from new friends, to use the power of teamwork to defeat Odius and save the world!

DVD Verdict: So, let's get straight to the plot, shall we. It's basically a series about the son of a ninja kidnapped by the champion of the intergalactic game show who killed his father and then manages to escape the ship they were on.

Then, after 10 years of captivity, he escapes with his alien friend and humanoid robot, becoming a super-powered ninja with the help of a magician, mechanic and his devoted girlfriend.

Sure, ok, it all sounds rather too crazy to actually work, and given the fact it only lasted one season might back you up on that thought, but the show doesn't go too OTT, in truth.

Throughout we get a mix of ninjas, game shows, and space, which is fun in and unto itself, in truth. However, 'Ninja Steel' also combines those ideas with high school filler plots and comic relief. Which means, overall, the depth of the actual plot that we've been investing in kinda disappears for half the season - in favor of not telling the story it promised to.

The Red Ranger, Brody Romero (William Shewfelt) has a sad and tragic backstory, being kidnapped on an alien spaceship for years before finally escaping. But a few episodes after he returns to Earth, he does nothing except shouting "EPIC" and has no focus episodes until the latter half of the series.

The Yellow and White Rangers, Calvin Maxwell (Nico Greetham) and Hayley Foster (Zoe Robbins) are the first rangers who are dating. That opens a stormy of possibilities, and their relationship is noticeable, with the delivery of the actors having strong chemistry.

The Pink Ranger, Sarah Thompson (Chrysti Ane) delivers her lines and character with enthusiasm and character. There are three flaws to Sarah: her benefits to the story are used to attack her character for the sake of forced drama, she can be too perfect at times, and her characters.

The side characters are a mixed bag. Mick Kanic (Kelson Henderson), the mentor is a good character and without getting into spoilers, fans of the series and newcomers will enjoy him although his messages are questionable. Redbot on the other hand has no purpose in the show, sorry!

The villains are ultimately one-note. The main villain and host, Galvanax is one note with a generic gravelly villain voice despite starting the plot and being the host for a game show, and his relationship with Brody is hardly explored, with his death just serving as anti-climatic.

In conclusion, and reaching for the morals embedded within, some kids shows either spread these very same morals to kids, or teach them ideals about life, to help them grow, etc. - all whilst still telling a story.

'Ninja Steel,' for some reason, adds this and it hurts the show. Outside of not being subtle, a lot of these morals exist for a character to act stupid and then learn a lesson PBS Kids style - except not as well done.

Celebrate the 25-year-old global pop-culture phenomenon and morph into action with 'Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel: The Complete Season', arriving on DVD and Digital and On Demand February 5th from Lionsgate. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with all 22 Episodes (including the Halloween and Christmas Specials).

www.LGF.com





'The Grinch: 4K Ultra UD'
(Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely, Angela Lansbury, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG / 2019 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Illumination and Universal Pictures present The Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss' beloved classic.

'The Grinch' tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous spirit.

Funny, heartwarming and visually stunning, 'The Grinch' is fun for the whole family!

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of this quite wondrous 'The Grinch' in the new 4K home video format on February 5th, 2019.

For my money, this 'The Grinch: 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 'The Grinch' 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: Dolby Vision + HDR10; 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; like the stunning alive, and brightly burning flames engulfing the skyscraper in question along with the markings that cover the face of our hero as the movie progresses!

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 some scenes where the fire is spreading from level to level, nurturing its spacial awareness for a fuller impact) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.

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 those not in the know (!), 'The Grinch' is a grumpy greeny-meany who plots to ruin Christmas for the residents of his neighboring village of Whoville.

In truth, I was one of those who grew up with the 1966 original. I never liked it. I liked the story, but it lacked something. And the 2000 story left me bored and uninterested.

Leave it to Illumination to make me fall in love with The Grinch! The bright colors, the sounds of carols (kudos for the use of religious music!!!) and interesting enough, I could feel the warmth of Whoville and the cold of the Grinch's cave on Mount Crumpit.

In fact, I could swear I could actually smell the Christmas cookies and taste the red velvet Christmas cake. It was a feast for the senses, both on and off the screen, me thinks!

Ergo, 'The Grinch' is good, clean, wholesome, honest, family fun. We watched it on our sofa - three generations ie: grandparents, parents, and grandchild - and everyone enjoyed this reimagined and expanded classic!

Indeed. this version of 'The Grinch' far out shadows the Jim Carrey version. Benedict Cumberbatch brings a sour, grinchy, but somehow loveable Mr. Grinch to this adaptation of the classic Seuss story.

Keeping fairly close to the source material, but still taking some fun creative license, this movie encapsulates Dr. Seuss's original meaning behind the tale.

Sure, bits of this felt a bit more stretched out than needed be. But overall I found it cute, lighthearted entertainment that managed to capture the spirit of the original.

The voice acting and animation were solid. The songs, while not as good in my 43 year-old eyes as the original tunes, were still serviceable and very catchy.

Plus, Illumination went all out with the visuals for this. Whoville is a Christmas wonderland. Mount Crumpit is appropriately bleak (but still with a touch of Seuss-like whimsy), and characters look like 3-D versions of Seuss' creations; while also working as modern CGI creations.

In conclusion, 'The Grinch' has plenty of laughs, touching moments, and content true to the original movie. Definitely a great way to get you into the holiday spirit, and remember the true meaning of the Holidays.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. One of the best, for my money, is From Green to Screen (6:19). Here was watch as they build the film from the Seuss source.

The featurette also features interviews with the voice cast and production crew, a discussion of the Grinch's backstory, talk of casting and the qualities the actors brought to the characters, and story resolution.

All be it too short, My Earliest Grinch Memories (3:10) has the cast and crew discuss how the character and story impacted their lives. And Illuminating The Grinch (4:55) is a fascinating featurette where e get to explore the challenges of maintaining the original Dr. Seuss visual stylings and bringing them into a complex digitally animated feature.

Cindy-Lou's Yule Log (8:02) is simply a delightful fireplace scene inspired by the film set to music and dialogue; where The Grinch systematically removes the Christmas decorations from the fireplace area!

And Production Babies (1:16) is a quick look at a first-name list of the babies who were born to the crew during the film's production!

Lastly, I would direct you to the outrageously fun Mini-Movie: Yellow Is the New Black (4:17) where the Minions escape from prison ... with a little help, of course!

'Dr. Seuss' The Grinch' will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital and on 3D Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand this February 5th, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of 'Illumination Presents: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch'
Features Dolby Vision and HDR10 for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color
Mini-Movie: Yellow is the New Black
Mini-Movie: The Dog Days of Winter
Mini-Movie: Santa's Little Helpers
The Making of the Mini-Movies
From Green to Screen
Illuminating the Grinch
Who's Who in Who-ville (Interactive Map)
My Earliest Grinch Memories
Grinchy Gadgets
"You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" Lyric Video
"I Am the Grinch" Lyric Video
Songs From His Little Heart
Any Who Can Draw
X-mas Around the World
Cindy-Lou's Yule Log
Production Babies

Official Trailer

Any Who Can Draw - Featurette

Cindy-Lou Crashes Into The MailMan - Featurette

Fred & Max Jump Into Bed with The Grinch - Featurette

www.UPHE.com





'Audition: Special Edition'
(Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1999) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.

Blu-ray Verdict: One of the most shocking J-horror films ever made, 'Audition' exploded onto the festival circuit at the turn of the century to a chorus of awards and praise.

The film would catapult Miike to the international scene and pave the way for such other genre delights as Ichii the Killer and The Happiness of the Katakuris.

Utterly disturbed, weird and at times very shocking, 'Audition' (if you haven't ever seen it before) is one of those under the radar flicks that has to be seen at least once by fans of the genre.

To say outright that it's a horror film in the traditional sense wouldn't be entirely accurate, even if it has a hand in some previous films about men involved with women who aren't 'quite right' like Play Misty For Me or Fatal Attraction.

In the last half hour, of course, it really digs deep into such a surreal, cringe-worthy set of moments that are meant to push buttons and they do because of Miike's relentlessness with his style.

He, along with Ichi cinematographer and editor Hideo Yamamoto and Yasushi Shimamura, define such a mood as to go beyond what would normally be in an exploitation picture.

In the climax it's less about what torture is being done (though it is graphic to be sure) as how it's done, what thought process is behind it.

This represents what has already built up as a sad story that (arguably) earns the right to suddenly go into the experimental, the strange, and the horrific.

This is also assisted greatly by the performances. Ryo Ishibashi is very convincing at the start as a widowed man with a son who is fairly ordinary and running his business without much trouble.

When he begins an audition with his business partner (Kill Bill's Jun Kunimara), he finds immediately a woman who intrigues him by what she (Eihi Shiina, the kind of actress with the right look and stark attitude the character absolutely requires) writes in her resume.

Instead of an audition, it's a relationship that unfolds between him and her, and it leads to him almost proposing marriage to her.

But after a night of tenderness between them where she says "only you to love" (which is amazingly lit in a beautiful blue hue), she's gone, and his search for her winds up in finding some things he shouldn't, and finally to the climax.

But before that happens, what could be called a mind-f***er occurs through Miike going through what could be either a dream, a hallucination, or both, which leads up to that scene in Aoyama's house.

In truth, sure, at the end, I also sort of shook my head, almost wondering what I had seen. A lot of the film speaks clearly to Miike being a truly gifted storyteller and controller of mood, though at the same time the sort of exceptional whiplash sort of surprised me.

In the end I almost thought Miike would pull a twister ala The Usual Suspects, but then got pulled back into it again.

It's in turns romantic and somber, gripping and deep, and it puts films like Misty and Attraction almost to shame in a way.

And, of course, it IS a Miike movie, though a different bird than Ichi is achieving its goals. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoriation of original vault elements
Original 5.1 Dolby Surround Audio
Optional English subtitles
Audio commentary with director Takashi Miike and screenwriter Daisuke Tengan
Brand new commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes examining the film and its source novel
Introduction by Miike
Ties that Bind A brand new interview with Takashi Miike
Interviews with stars Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi and Ren Osugi
Damaged Romance: An appreciation by Japanese cinema historian Tony Rayns
Trailers
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel

www.ArrowFilms.com





'So Dark The Night: Special Edition'
(Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel, Eugene Borden, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1946) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Inspector Cassin, a renowned Paris detective, departs to the country for a much-needed break. There he falls in love with the innkeeper's daughter, Nanette, who is already betrothed to a local farmer.

On the evening of their engagement party, Nanette and the farmer both disappear. Cassin takes up the case immediately to discover what happened to them and who is responsible.

Blu-ray Verdict: Like his contemporaries Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder, Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy) dabbled in many genres, but excelled in the film noir tradition.

A Hitchcockian tale of mystery and intrigue, 'So Dark the Night' was one of his finest pictures.

Although 'So Dark the Night' is presented as a border line "noir" flick, for my money, it is really a complex little murder mystery with a few surprises thrown in.

Filmed on a modest budget on studio bound sets in good old black and white, it runs a scant 71 minutes, but holds your attention throughout.

Director Joseph H. Lewis had assembled a cast of largely unknown actors, which of course also adds to the mystery elements of the film. Steven Geary plays Parisian detective Henri Cassin, a burn out who is ordered to take a vacation by his boss, Commissioner Grande (Gregory Gaye).

Cassin goes to a country inn and there meets the proprietor's young daughter Nannette Michaud (Micheline Chierel); whereupon a May-December romance begins.

Nanette hopes to escape her small village to the lights and glamour of Paris. The girl's father, Pierre Michaud opposes the relationship because Nanette is already betrothed to local farmer Antoine (Frank Arnold) and he feels that the age difference between Cassin and Nanette is too great.

Antoine is also opposed to the union and promises to continue to pursue Nanette even after her planned marriage to the detective. Oh, and Mama Michaud (Ann Codee) is pushing Nanette into the relationship to help her to a better life!

Nanette and her fiancé are found murdered causing Cassin's vacation to be cut short. He soon begins to investigate the murders with surprising results. The suspects include Nanette's parents, a others such as a sinister looking widow (Helen Freeman) and a hunchback named Brother Theodore.

Cassin's resolution of the murders comes after he gives a description of the murderer from the clues he has gathered to the police artist back in Paris. The murderer then turns out to be ..... ha, you'll have to wait and see for yourself now, won't you! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Audio Commentary by critics Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme
So Dark... Joseph H. Lewis at Columbia - Critic Imogen Sara Smith provides the background and an analysis of the film
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tonci Zonjic
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Double Dragon: Special Collector's Edition'
(Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, Robert Patrick, Mark Dacascos, Julia Nickson, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / PG-13 / (1994) 2019 / MVD Rewind Collection)

Overview: From producers Don Murphy (Transformers franchise), Jane Hamsher (Natural Born Killers), Alan Schechter (Showdown), writers Michael Davis (Shoot 'Em Up) and Emmy® Award Winner* Peter Gould (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad) comes the cult classic movie based on the video game smash!

Blu-ray Verdict: Following the "success" of the film 'Super Mario Brothers,' someone decided it would be a good idea to make a computer version of fighting games.

There was Van Damme's awful and woeful attempt at making a Streetfighter film and then there was this pile of rubbish!

Most of you older readers will remember an old arcade game called Double Dragon and although it was not the first scroll-along and beat-em-up game, it did start a trend in the arcades and on consoles for beat-em-ups; such as Dragon Ninja, Final Fight, and so on.

Anyway, and back to this film, this cinematic version is nothing compared to the game, trust me! It has virtually no martial arts (it's all comic book stuff watered down to please the kids), and all the CGI-enhanced elements make it pretty tacky to watch too.

That said, if you sit back, relax, and turn your brains off you WILL enjoy it, you have my word on that! Do not think, as these two brothers battle their way through the remains of Los Angeles to save the world from the Evil Whatsisface (his name escapes me now, sorry), that none of it seems based in reality - because it's not!

Oh, yes, Kogo Shuko aka Guisman! Interesting that he has a seemingly Asian name, while his appearance is entirely Caucasian. Come to think of it, those two boys don't look like brothers either!

Heck, they don't even look like they're of the same race. Must be half-brothers or something. Pardon my rambling. Let's continue, shall we.

The film's plot is the two brothers fighting through a bunch of gang members to rescue the girlfriend of one of them who has a connection to some strange mystic medallion.

Sure, that's where things become needlessly and overly complicated, which sends the script down the pan for a while, but the occasional chuckle does still give it life.

The trick to understanding the plot is simple. If you look for a plot you won't find one. If you expect NO plot it will reveal itself. Worse yet, if you truly don't expect it to make a lick of sense it kind of will; especially if you're willing to take plot holes big enough to swim in in stride!

One thing is for certain though if you go in expecting a great movie with wondrous special effects you'll quickly wonder why you ever purchased this brilliant new Blu-ray+DVD Special Collector's Edition set.

But, if you, like aforementioned, sit back with a beer and some popcorn on a nothing-better-to-do Sunday afternoon, you will love it for all its worth. Again, you have my word on that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the main feature
Audio: English 5.1 Stereo, English 2.0 Stereo, German 2.0 Stereo
English, French and Spanish Subtitles
NEW! "The Making of Double Dragon" (full length documentary featuring interviews with stars Scott Wolf and Marc Dacascos, writers Peter Gould & Michael Davis and producer Don Murphy)
NEW! "Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer" featurette
Archival "Making of" Featurette
Behind the Scenes Featurette
1993 Double Dragon Animated Series Pilot Episode #101: "The Shadow Falls" Storyboard Gallery
Press Photos, Marketing and Behind The Scenes Photo Galleries
TV Spots
VHS Home Video Trailer
Original Theatrical Trailer
Collectible Mini-Poster
Reversible Sleeve Featuring Alternate Artwork

www.MVDvisual.com





'Band vs Brand'
(Dave Ellefson, Jack Russell, Nik Turner, Dave Lombardo, Nicky Garrett, Frank Dimino, Marc Ferrari, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Cleopatra Entertainment - MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Band vs Brand' is a documentary film focusing on the current state of the music business and on how 'the brand' of a rock group, in many cases, has more power than the band members themselves.

DVD Verdict: Featuring interviews from David Ellefson of the Grammy Award-winning band Megadeth, Jack Russell from Jack Russell's Great White, Nik Turner from Hawkwind, Dave Lombardo from Slayer, Marc Ferrari from Keel, et al, the knowledge contained within 'Band vs Brand' isn't anything new, to be honest; but it is fascinating to hear the thoughts of those affected by it from behind the velvet rope.

Directed by Bob Nalbanian ('Inside Metal') and running a healthy 92 minutes, 'Band vs Brand' contains so many artists siding with the Brand that you'd think it would have made this documentary irrelevant. But, there's enough of the "other side" of the conversation to be heard here to create a nice balance of conversation; even if the final outcome is that, as one rocker himself puts it, "I think the argument can be made that the brand is more important than the band".

Another rocker in true belief of the fact is Jean Beauvoir (Plasmatics, Little Steven) who full admits that "The brand did more powerful than I am", albeit with a big smile on this face.

The documentary actually brings up a good point when it goes into its section of When does a band become a Brand, with one answer coming back of " ... when you sell it out a little too much", adding with a slight, yet deft shake of the head, "it's just not real any more."

For, as you would expect when you do away with the labels over time you do away with the quality control that was your safety net to the brands sneaking in and slowly becoming the band's "subtle" right arm.

In that way it actually works for a lot of bands that might have seen their better days and are currently sinking in the market they once ruled.

For once they get branded and their name is back up on the marquee, well, they can quickly go from washed up has-beens to living legends virtually overnight.

Informing us that all the things we learn throughout 'Band vs Brand' have to be there for the complete band package to successfully come together - as, shit, we all know ALL musicians want to do it play - artists and music executives and journalists and band managers have their say here; like Vinnie Paul (Pantera) says, "So be different! Bring it!" This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.Cleopatra-Entertainment.com





'Father Brown - Season Six'
(Mark Williams, Sorcha Cusack, Emer Kenny, Jack Deam, Nancy Carroll, Alex price, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Father Brown returns to solve more mysteries in the sleepy Cotswold village of Kembleford in this charming series based on the short stories by G K Chesterton.

DVD Verdict: In truth, I've loved this "new" series since day one, but I'm also well aware that there was an earlier incarnation of it back in the '70s too.

That series starred Kenneth More as Father Brown and lasted just the one season and 13 episodes. However, and having seen both, my favorite is still this one starring the brilliant Mark Williams as the titular Father Brown.

This sixth series sees Father Brown investigate a suspicious death at a residential home, a body in a trunk at a railway station, the death of a young lady from the local Girls School, a local bowls match that quickly rolls out of control when it becomes a murder scene, and the finale episode centers around Father Brown's nemesis, Hercule Flambeau’s (supposedly) untimely death in Italy.

Back when I was living in the UK, I used to love an afternoon after lunch watching Father Brown. I mean, sure, it's complete and utter nonsense, granted, but it's very easy to watch; always amusing and sometimes rather engaging too.

Having now watched all 10 episodes of this wonderful sixth season, all I can say is that they are as good as they ever were. Sure they go by wildly too quickly, more so if you binge watch a handful of them, but Mark Williams is wonderfully cast in the lead.

He is such a naturally funny man who knows when to be serious and when to inject a touch of humor. Again, sure, it's a wee bit heavy handed in lot points sometimes, but it's also very rarely overplayed.

Sorcha Cusack is excellent as Mrs McCarthy, so often a gossip and prickly in nature, and yet somehow she makes her likable. Always well acted throughout is the highly desirable Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll) and the new acquisition to the fold, Bunty (Emer Kenny).

Another favorite guest performance has been John Light's Flambeau, who returns, one way or another, to Father Brown's home turf in aid of his detecting skills. Light always adds something to an episode and in this final one of the sixth series, he manages to trump his own previous on-screen efforts (in my humble opinion).

The only continual let down for me is Jack Deam as the local plod aka Inspector Mallory. With a character straight out of a '30s/'40s Ealing comedy, his vocal tone, his continual annoyance with the crime solving Father is just nails down a chalk board, sorry.

Regardless, and over all, Father Brown perfectly encompasses the gardens of Rosemary & Thyme, the quaint village settings of Grantchester, the clue dropping, albeit much slower pace of Death in Paradise, and the ridiculously high murder rate of Midsomer Murders!

Episode 1 – The Tree of Truth
It’s December and Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty are visited by an old friend as they make mince pies and decorate the presbytery. Sid, has returned for Christmas, bearing gifts from Lady Felicia. Meanwhile as locals walk through the woods, a dog uncovers a partially skeletonized hand in the cold ground.

Episode 2 – The Jackdaw’s Revenge
On the day of her execution, Katherine Corven is unexpectedly exonerated and released, much to Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty’s dismay. Waiting outside Sonning Prison, Robin and Eddie from the Kembleford Gazette, push their way through the crowd of reporters to hear Katherine say that those who wronged her will answer to God!

Episode 3 – The Kembleford Dragon
Julia Webb boasts about her award winning hanging baskets to Mrs McCarthy as Ben Webb shows the station inspector, Deepak around the train station. Pandora, the new cleaner at St Mary’s, gets off the train and immediately frustrates Mrs McCarthy. Deepak leaves a poster for Ben and as Julia pins it on the noticeboard, Ben collapses from a heart attack, reading: ‘Notice of Closure’.

Episode 4 – The Angel of Mercy
At Powderham House residential home, Mrs McCarthy visits a friend, Freda, who appears to be at the end of her tether with her painful illness. Death hanging over Kembleford, the gang attends the local handyman’s funeral, along with a new addition to St Mary’s, Caitlin, who was thrown out of a convent.

Episode 5 – The Face of the Enemy
In Northern Rhodesia Lady Felicia lies in bed with Benedict Lewis. His return to England imminent, Lady Felicia finally decides to join Benedict and tell Monty that she’s leaving him. Along with Sid they surprise a delighted Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty at the Presbytery. Later Lady Felicia is intercepted at the train station by her old adversary Daniel Whittaker, who explains that Benedict is a soviet spy and important blueprints have been stolen from the Ministry of Defence.

Episode 6 – The Devil You Know
In an attempt to show involvement in the community, Inspector Mallory joins the Kembleford Bowls Club. Christina Worcester, the Club Secretary, introduces Mallory to the local players, Roger, Shirley and Christina’s husband Eric. Alec Frobisher strolls onto the green, where Shirley, much to Roger’s disappointment, takes an immediate shine to his charming brother.

Episode 7 – The Dance of Death
Oliver interrupts Alexander and Lucy’s dance practise, telling Alexander that if he wins the ballroom dance competition, he’ll tell him who took his sight. Lady Rose Dalton the owner of the house hosting the competition, shows Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Bunty around. Noticing Alexander across the hall, Bunty approaches him to take her for a spin. Merryn, Oliver’s dance partner, unpacks her things with the help of Lucy, who shows off her new necklace.

Episode 8 – The Cat of Mastigatus
Sefton Scott welcomes parents, students and teachers to Kemble Martyrs Boys School fete. Bunty eyes an egg and spoon race and Mrs McCarthy agrees to compete with her. Heading towards the cake table, Father Brown meets a pupil from the Girls’ School next door, May Lewis who swipes the last three macaroons. Even though he’s meant to be the best, Sefton’s grandson Daniel Gates gives a poor cricket demonstration, but Mrs McCarthy thrives in the egg and spoon race and takes home the rosette.

Episode 9 – The Flower of the Fairway
Meeting with Raylan Reeve at his new golf course, Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy discover ‘Go Home – or die’ burnt into the grass. Inspector Mallory pays a visit to Hermione, who has a clear motive for vandalism after her garden has been compromised for Raylan’s extensive golf course, but finds nothing to pin the crime on her. The next day at the golf tournament, the women’s cup sees Bunty competing, in disguise as ‘Miss Desiree Lecoq’, being careful in case her father finds out about this pastime.

Episode 10 – The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau
When Father Brown reads about Hercule Flambeau’s untimely death in Italy, he revisits a cryptic letter and key recently sent to him by Flambeau. Meanwhile, The Iron Crown of Lombardy, a crown holding a nail that was used in the crucifixion of Christ, arrives at Gloucester Cathedral. After Mass, Father Brown is greeted by Lisandra, who reveals herself to be Flambeau’s new wife. She recounts the day that he died and reveals that she knows about the letter and the key.

You can argue they are very loosely based on Chesterton's novels, but that shouldn't sway you away from enjoying them nonetheless. For me, the series just keeps getting better and better as it goes on, although the stand out series for me thus far was the quite brilliant third season. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'Hold the Sunset - Series One'
(John Cleese, Alison Steadman, Jason Watkins, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Edith and Phil are two neighbors who are keen to start a relationship and a new life abroad. Those plans are disrupted when Edith's immature, fifty-something son Roger moves back home after leaving his wife and children.

DVD Verdict: I feel it only right and just that I first point out that about halfway through the first episode I was very, very saddened that the great Python himself, John Cleese had come out of his comedy retirement to play this kind of character in such a lame sitcom!

But then, something wondrous happened … I rewatched it a couple of nights later and suddenly I was chuckling to myself! So, as there are only six (6) episodes here (unlike the American sitcoms and their 22-24 run per season), I binge watched the entire first season!

They were hilarious, in their slow, black comedy stylings and with the additional of external characters coming into play, really started to feel like I had welcomed a new family into my TV-viewing life.

Now, sure, the whole A couple in retirement, pensioners at that, get ready to sail off into the sunset when one (or more) of their all-grown kids boomerang's back home and into their old bedroom(s) comedic plot line before, but the problems and laughs it brings here do grow on you, trust me!

EPISODE 1 - BUBBLY
Edith's dreams of retirement to the sun with her long-term suitor Phil are shattered when her 50-yearold son Roger arrives home, seeking to recapture the happiness of his boyhood.

EPISODE 2 - BIRTHDAY
Edith is about to celebrate her 70th birthday, and Phil and Roger are determined to outshine each other with their gifts. However, Edith is far from impressed with her son's present - tracking down the family's former cleaner. Meanwhile, Roger tries to disrupt his mother's new romance by bringing up Phil's past.

EPISODE 3 - THE MARRIAGE COUNSELLOR
Mrs Gale gives herself the task of being an unofficial marriage guidance counsellor to Roger and Wendy, whom she advises to practice being nice. Edith and Phil seize the chance to get away for the weekend, but they soon receive an alarming phone call from their cleaner, who has hijacked their house as a venue for a party.

EPISODE 4 - THE BURGLARY
As tensions grow between Roger and Wendy, a midnight break-in brings Edith face to face with a ghost from her past. How can she explain the raffish Bob to Phil?

EPISODE 5 - ROGER THE CARER
Bob gives Roger the idea of applying to be a paid carer for Edith. The trouble is, Edith is perfectly well, so who can Roger persuade to stand in for her?

EPISODE 6 - OLD FLAMES
Phil is worried that Edith's old flame Bob may be gaining ground, and that his own one-time floozy Desiree may put in an unwelcome appearance.

The first couple of episodes do make you wonder if you've got the will power to get through the rest, but things spark up when the family's previous cleaner, Mrs Gale (Anne Reid) shows up. Bringing color and chaos to the house in seconds flat, she soon becomes a staple of the family dynamic (as shown to her full character extent in the third episode).

In the fourth episode, we get the comedic black comedy timing of Cleese up against the burglar of the title, Bob (the one-armed thief, played at his scruffy bearded best by James Cosmo). Someone who I thought would be done in the one episode, he pops up again in the final two; not always welcomed though, of course!).

For it is he who tries to "help" and convince Roger (Watkins) that what he needs to do is "care" for his old mum; whilst getting paid by the government for doing so! Then, come the final episode, Phil's one-time floozy Desiree (a rather seductive and sexy Shobna Gulati) is welcomed into the fold by his current love, Edith!

In what seems like an end of series episode, given the fact it's way more about a missing lottery ticket and a coming together of minds between Phil's two ladies from his life, I was blown away (happily) to discover that there is a second season of Hold the Sunset that has been commissioned by the BBC.

Oh, and on a final note, and for those loving this show, there was also a special Christmas episode screened by the BBC this past Holiday season! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of a Bloopers reel.

www.BBC.com





'Shakespeare & Hathaway - Season One'
(Mark Benton, Jo Joyner, Patrick Walshe McBride, Amber Aga, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: An oddball couple of private detectives named Luella Shakespeare and Frank Hathaway investigate crime in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

DVD Verdict: I have to say right out the gate that prior to this 2-Disc DVD set arriving here for review, and being myself being British, I had never heard of this great little gem of a crime solving TV show before today!

Another of those quaint British shows produced by the BBC for afternoon broadcast in the UK - much like, and the same production team as Doctors, Land Girls, Father Brown, The Coroner, WPC 56, et al - Shakespeare & Hathaway is a rather delightful 10 episode, mild-mannered Whodunit of a TV show.

EPISODE 1 - A BRAVE NEW WORLD
Things aren’t looking good for ex-cop Frank Hathaway: his detective agency is in dire financial straits and cases are thin on the ground. So when a sobbing Lu Shakespeare appears in his office, he sees a solution to his cash flow worries.

EPISODE 2 - THE CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
When ominous noises on the roof startle Dora Bentley in the middle of the night she panics and calls out for help. Brusque care home owner Penelope Pincott dismisses her concerns - it was only a bad dream and she’s far more concerned with the mysterious power cuts and inexplicable cockroach infestations.

EPISODE 3 - THIS PROMISED END
Undertaker Peter Quintus leads a quiet and unassuming life with his loving wife Anne. So when he’s visited one morning by two mysterious hitmen who inform him he has just 24 hours to live because of an undisclosed misdemeanour he goes into a tailspin.

EPISODE 4 - THIS ROUGH MAGIC
Old school magician, Lawrence Pross, is in the midst of his grand finale when tragedy strikes and his unlucky volunteer is fatally trapped in his medieval iron maiden. Accused of involuntary manslaughter, Lawrence is reduced to performing cheap tricks to passing tourists.

EPISODE 5 - TOIL AND TROUBLE
When the Mayor of Arden is discovered murdered in his isolated cottage suspicion falls on local criminal, Billy the Brick Porters, but he’s nowhere to be found. DI Marlowe is straight on to Frank’s case: she knows Frank and Billy have history – where would he go to hide out?

EPISODE 6 - EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR
It’s a slow day in the office for Frank and Lu until a hysterical Sally Balthasar flies into the office in a whirlwind of tears – they have to help her, someone’s threatening her and she simply cannot perform under these conditions.

EPISODE 7 - THE FAIREST SHOW MEANS MOST DECEIT
At the detective agency, Frank is ambushed by larger than life American, Martin, who claims to be Frank’s long lost uncle, but Frank chucks him out the office – he knows a conman when he sees one! It’s another day, another workplace injury compensation claim for Frank and Lu.

EPISODE 8 - THE CHAMELEON'S DISH
Awkward teen, Hamish, is plagued with a recurring dream in which he sees the body of a murdered woman but always wakes up before he can learn anything more. He can’t quite work it out, but he’s pretty sure it’s a premonition – he’s terrified he’s going to do something awful, and he needs Frank and Lu to tail him over the weekend and keep him out of trouble.

EPISODE 9 - THE RASCAL COOK
When a dead rat makes an unwelcome appearance on Hiverna restaurant’s menu on their most important evening, head chef Len Tekler is beyond furious – someone is trying to stop him winning Arden Restaurant of the Year and he wants to know who.

EPISODE 10 - ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT
An almighty crash in the middle of the night alarms Lady Tania. On investigation she discovers her rebellious daughter, Mia, is missing along with a precious necklace. Frustrated with her wayward daughter and distraught at the loss of her beloved necklace Lady Bede summons Frank and Lu to her stately home.

Chock full of wonderful actors and beautiful locations combined with humorous script and twisty plots, let alone the fact that both the leads here (Mark Benton and Jo Joyner) are spot on perfect foils for one another, Shakespeare & Hathaway is a real gem of enjoyment from start to finish.

With cute Shakespearean references sprinkled throughout, the show gives the feeling of comfort one bizarrely finds in murder mysteries of this ilk.

Sure they are a wee bit tempered down for daytime/afternoon UK viewing, so there's nothing really that gruesome to unearth, but the way they go about their job is inspiring to us (amateur sleuths) all!

Rounded out with a few middle-class oddballs, a tremendous RADA sidekick and murder scenarios right out of the '60s, what the creators of Shakespeare & Hathaway have lovingly managed to encapsulate here is that feel of the good ol' Enid Blyton days of teen-adventure.

With Season Two having been commissioned and filming begun in September 2018, it seems the next series will be on our screens sometime soon, me thinks. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'The Doctor Blake Msyteries - Season Five'
(Craig McLachlan, Nadine Garner, Charlie Cousins, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Dr Lucien Blake left Ballarat as a young man. But now he finds himself returning, to take over not only his dead father's medical practice, but also his on-call role as the town's police surgeon.

DVD Verdict: Well I never! In all these years, I never knew that Dr Blake was played by one of the best characters to ever come out of the grand old dame of Australian soaps, Neighbors, Craig McLachlan!

Not having seen more than a handful from this series down through the years, I never clocked on that it was he. But now I've watched this entire fifth season of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, I have to say that I am very taken with his character portrayal.

The show was both set and filmed in the city of Ballarat, which was founded as a gold rush-era boomtown in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia.

And, sadly, yes, I say "was" as (and not to dwell on it) the new producers of the show in latter years announced production would be suspended pending the outcome of a police investigation into sexual assault allegations levelled at star, Craig McLachlan.

Indeed, the charges won't be heard until late this year in Melbourne, but what the Seven Network announced instead were a series of sequel telemovies: including much of the present cast, save for, of course, McLachlan himself.

Anyway, moving on, and as aforementioned, set in Ballarat, Australia in the '50s, The Doctor Blake Mysteries is a fascinating police and medical mystery show filled with intriguing characters, great writing and wonderful acting throughout.

Indeed, with each of these eight (8) final season (at least with McLachlan in the lead role) episodes bring riveting story lines that are both interesting and believable in equal measure.

Furthermore, the characters are well drawn and well acted, and the historical setting adds great context for the stories. Let alone the cinematic brilliance of the cinematography that captures and embodies Australia in the '50s, of course.

Episode One– A Lethal Combination
A boxing match turns sour when a fighter is seemingly beaten to death by his younger, far less-experienced opponent … Charlie’s brother, Ray.

Episode Two– Sorrow Songs
When Blake investigates the murder of an exotic young gypsy woman on the edge of Ballarat, troubling secrets bubble to the surface.

Episode Three– The Call Of The Void
When a body is found in the kitchen of Ballarat’s new French restaurant, a member of the Police Department soon finds himself shaping up as the prime suspect.

Episode Four– All She Leaves Behind
When a controversial writer is found dead, seemingly part of a murder-suicide pact, Blake must determine whether her latest work has anything to with her death.

Episode Five– Measure Twice
Blake is called to investigate the murder of a retired carpenter, where his only suspect is discovered praying over the body and covered in blood.

Episode Six– First Dance
Despite being housebound as he recovers from being stabbed, Blake investigates the death of a teenage girl at her Debutante Ball.

Episode Seven– A Good Drop
As Blake investigates the murder of a farmer and a mysterious case of arson, an unlikely party suddenly throws his future with Jean into chaos.

Episode Eight – A Time For Every Purpose
The death of a policeman coincides with the reappearance of an old enemy, as the past and the present begin to finally catch up with Blake.

So, that's right ladies and gentleman, once again Doctor Lucien Blake and his long-suffering housekeeper and confidant Jean Beazley now face not only a new future together, but a life that hasn't done surprising them either!

Indeed, they’re confronted by murder and mystery at every turn, as one would expect from the series title, if nothing else! From the boxing ring to a new French bistro, from an exotic camp of travelling Romani gypsies to the local Debutante Ball, Dr Blake and his "trusty sidekick Jean Beazley are about to go knee deep in eight more luscious outback mysteries.

Oh, and on this DVD set we also get the feature-length made-for-TV movie, Family Portrait. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'Legendary Beasts'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Mythical creatures spring to life when expert investigators and filmmakers combine eyewitness accounts, scientific fact and computer graphic imaging on journeys to the frontiers of knowledge.

DVD Verdict: Well, if you like (nay LOVE) Game of Thrones and all that CGI that goes with it to create the dragons and mythical monsters, you will LOVE this quite stunning Legendary Beasts DVD from the BBC.

Mythical creatures spring to life when expert investigators and filmmakers combine eyewitness accounts, scientific fact and computer graphic imaging on journeys to the frontiers of knowledge.

Kraken
The Beast Seekers investigate the sailor’s legend of the Kraken, a terrifying multi-tentacled sea monster that snatches men from ships’ decks and crushes entire vessels, sending them to the ocean bottom.

Mega Jaws
The Beast Seekers travel to Fiji to learn about Dakuwaqa, an all-seeing, all-knowing Shark God – a huge beast that can change shape at will.

Bird Monster
In the ancestral Navajo lands of New Mexico, the Beast Seekers investigate the legend of a giant bird predator the size of a small airplane.

First up we get to meet the Kraken, a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster in Scandinavian folklore of giant size. Indeed, and according to the Norse sagas, the kraken dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors.

As we discover, "allegedly" a kraken attacked a ship off the coast of Angola in the 17th century, but as with most creatures of this ilk, stories may be actually based on a real creature, the giant squid. That said, if it were a real beast, probably no legendary sea monster was as horrifying as the Kraken!

Next up is Mega Jaws. Here we travel to Fiji to learn about Dakuwaqa, an all-seeing, all-knowing Shark God. A huge beast that can change shape at will it is actually revered and feared (in equal measure) by the people of Fiji!

An incredible beast that most often takes the form of a shark - protecting and policing the waters of Fiji - known as Dakuwaqa, in its shark form, it is described as being more than just a shark.

As we're informed via the "legend," it (or as it's termed on this DVD, "he") is many times the size of a Great White Shark and has incredible speed and intelligence. "He" has super senses and the strength to crush a 100-foot fishing vessel with one bite!

Lastly we have Bird Monster. The most grounded of the myths, according to the Navajo Creation Myth, in the process of emerging from the underworlds and settling on their land, the People (Diné) faced many dangers from the natural environment and its harsh conditions; as well as from spiritual beings.

These threats figure in the legends as monsters that take the shape of humans, birds, animals, and rocks. The heroic figures of the twin warrior brothers, Born of Water (Tobadzîschíni) and Monster Slayer (Nayé̆nĕzganĭ), were engaged in a series of battles with the various monsters, and, as the legends tell it, destroyed them one by one.

The Bird Monster, also known as the Great Bird or Monster Eagle (Tsé Nináhálééh), was one of those menacing beings. Most accounts tell of a giant bird who lived in Ship Rock (Tsé Bitʼaʼí), a landmark monolith in the Navajo homeland, located in northwestern New Mexico.

The bird was very powerful and could lift people up in the air and throw them against the rocks in order to kill and then eat them!

Furthermore, the geologic formation of Ship Rock itself is also believed to be the body of the great monster laid out on the ground, with the two ridgelines extending away from the peak marking the beast's outstretched wings. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'Ghost Hunter'
(Rafe Spall, Cara Theobold, Richie Campbell, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: 'Ghost Hunter' is a TV-movie about Britain's real-life ghost hunter and skeptic Harry Price, who investigated tales of the paranormal and supernatural.

DVD Verdict: OK, to be quite honest here, and as much as they would like you to believe that this TV-movie is based solely on Harry Price and his ghost hunting / busting abilities, the real life Price was only actually not a scientist; but someone who sold paper bags as a full time job!

That said, Ghost Hunter (otherwise known by it's full title Harry Price: Ghost Hunter is still a rather fun, and entertaining two spent in its detecting and revealing company.

On the surface a fun look at ghostly myth busting whilst containing an underbelly of also being a rather thought-provoking period piece with contemporary and feminist undertones, Ghost Hunter is a period piece that should encourage many to watch it.

The tale is thus: Following World War I (aka The Great War), most British families had lost close family members and so as a result there was extensive interest in the afterlife; the spirit world.

Due to these families wanting to reach out to their loved ones for comfort and knowledge of safe passage to the afterlife, subsequently the fad produced so-called "Supernaturalists"; deceitful men and women keen to cash in on grieving relatives.

Into this environment comes Harry Price "Ghost Hunter," a modern scientist aghast at witnessing these parasites prey on grieving families and seeks to expose both them and their methods.

However, Harry, played brilliantly by Rafe Spall, succumbs to evoking the spirits on behalf of a grieving soldier, but the well-meaning deceit goes dreadfully wrong and his victim commits suicide; leaving Harry bereft.

Months later, we find Harry morose and drifting and yet into his life walks a senior opposition politician with an urgent need for Harry's particular skill set.

It seems a promising politician's wife is being troubled by the dead and only the "Ghost Hunter" can help. Along his journey to unmask the perpetrators and confront the dead, Harry is ably assisted by Downton Abbey's very own Cara Theobold as Sara Green; who, it has to be said, puts in a rather marvelous performance as the hard put-upon maid of the haunted household.

In closing, I found 'Harry Price: Ghost Hunter' to be a really enjoyable story and resolution. Good characters, plot and acting I just wish it had been turned into a series. For it definitely deserved one based on these couple of hours. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'Top Of The Lake: China Girl'
(Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie, David Denick, Ewan Leslie, Alice Englert, Holly Hunter, Nicole Kidman, et al / 2-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Five years after the shocking events that rocked her hometown in New Zealand, Detective Robin Griffin has returned to Sydney and is trying to rebuild her life. When the unidentified body of an Asian girl washes up on Bondi Beach, there appears little hope of finding the killer, until Robin realizes ‘China Girl’ didn’t die alone.

DVD Verdict: As much as the first one of these shrilling beyond all belief, I never dreamt that a follow up would ever exists - and one that would blow the original series out of the water (no pun intended!)

But that's exactly what Top Of The Lake: China Girl does, for my money. As aforementioned in the Overview, five years after the shocking events that rocked her hometown in New Zealand, Detective Robin Griffin has returned to Sydney and is trying to rebuild her life.

But, and rather quickly thereafter, an unidentified body of an young Asian girl washes up on Bondi Beach and with little evidence to go on, let alone a name or a home address, it suddenly all falls on Detective Robin Griffin's shoulders to get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, haunted by disturbing dreams of the baby girl she gave up years ago, Robin reaches out to the family of her now teenage daughter. Like her birth mother, Mary is just as stubborn and just as passionate about life.

Meanwhile, like all the best side kicks you can think of, Officer Miranda Hilmarson (played by the awesome, if not lurching at times, screen giant herself, Gwendoline Christie - looking strangely more albino than I've ever seen here before on screen before!), is herself having major issues (she's knee deep in the throes of a romantic attachment to a dangerously charismatic older man), but is more than willing to help Griffin whenever possible (even if it means losing her job).

But, sadly, and with all that is going on it her life, Griffin, herself overwhelmed by a mother’s love, quickly discovers the anguish of trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped (both within her family and the list of potential suspects unwilling to be of any help whatsoever.

The case of the China Girl takes her into the city’s criminal underbelly, and closer than she could have imagined to the secrets of her own heart. But it's what she discovers at the end of this journey that becomes the single most shocking finale to a TV series that I've come across in many, many a year.

Inclusive of star turns by both Nicole Kidman and Holly Hunter, Top Of The Lake: China Girl is, without a shadow of a doubt, a show full of vulgarity, profanity and crude violence. Which is why so many people in our culture today like it, I guess. But here, cinematically, it just all seems to fit the tale being told rather damn perfectly. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Making The Series
Shooting Sydney
Finale On Bondi Beach
Robin To Elisabeth Moss
Introducing Miranda
Meet The Directors

www.BBC.com





'Silent Witness - The Complete Season Ten'
(Emilia Fox, William Gaminara, Tom Ward, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Silent Witness are crimes seen through the eyes of a team of forensic pathologists and forensic scientists.

DVD Verdict: Four bodies from the River Thames point to a sickening racket. Dr. Harry Cunningham's murdered ex-girlfriend never wanted him to learn her deepest secret. The bride who died at her bachelorette party hid a fatal fact from her groom. And the old woman who looked beaten to death has one last surprise for her son.

Furthermore, will Nikki and Harry's tentative relationship survive the cruel and random deaths they deal with every day? That's what lies ahead of us, the avid fans and long time viewers of this wondrous, breathtakingly "real" forensic adventure series known as Silent Witness.

These eight episodes, culled as usual into four two-parters once again being the world we know nothing about to vivid life.

From the beginning, Amanda Burton's Professor Sam Ryan showed us a clever, highly-intelligent and sometimes intimidating coroner and professor at London University. Her professional qualifications set her apart from other coroners in the area, but here in Season Ten, Nikki Alexander has learnt to not only step up professionally to the plate, but to deal with life's b/s rather admirably also.

I always enjoy this show because it gives a wonderful insight, if sometimes overly simplified, into the world of forensic pathology; an area in which I find rather fascinating when it comes to crime shows.

Each new case is original, well constructed and thoughtfully presented. They remain topical, without the feeling of an after-school special relating to current affairs.

These new tales from the morgue once again allow our trio of top pathologists to uncover more grizzly misdemeanors. Professor Leo Dalton, Dr Harry Cunnigham and Nikki Alexander are all on their A-Game from the off, when a boat carrying illegal immigrants is found wrecked on the Thames. The team joins an investigation into the people trafficking operation and soon what they assumed to be a small time effort soon spirals into something much bigger.

1. Cargo (Parts 1+2)
When a boat carrying illegal immigrants is found wrecked on the Thames, the team joins an investigation into the people trafficking operation. When four bodies are found in the Thames after a boat packed with illegal immigrants crashes, the team realizes that it is dealing with a people-trafficking operation gone wrong.

2. Terminus (Parts 1+2)
The team investigates a hit-and-run incident, an arson attack and why a woman collapsed on her hen night. It’s an 'ordinary' week at the office for the pathologists, with no major murder cases but a typical series of the mundane and cruel deaths that strike every day in the city.

3. Body Of Work (Parts 1+2)
Harry and Nikki's tentative relationship is rocked by the discovery of the body of Harry's ex-lover. Leo starts work on the elaborately staged apparent suicide of a conceptual artist. Harry and Nikki share a kiss, but their tentative new relationship is jeopardized when Harry's ex-girlfriend, Penny Harris (Deborah Cornelius), turns up on the slab. Nikki takes on the case, which initially looks like suicide, while Detective Chief Inspector Ambrose (Jim Findley) learns that Penny may have been having an affair.

4. Supernova (Parts 1+2)
The team deals with the cases of a 14-year-old apparent suicide whose body is found by her classmates, an elderly lady who died at home, and a man whose body is found dumped near his car. Memories of his own daughter's death are stirred up when Leo is called in to investigate the apparent suicide of a 14-year-old Alison Garland (Lilly Driscoll).

With the help of child psychologist Dr Caroline Anscombe (Ingeborga Dapkunaite), he realises that Alison was in fact murdered – but they are stumped when the killing is linked to Harry's case, in which a car salesman has been stabbed to death apparently with the same knife.

This brilliant TV show may well be on season 22 in the UK (I kid you not!), but rewatching these earlier seasons of the award-winning crime drama has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside for the way the British handle their "deadly crime" shows.

Indeed, it's their scientific expertise and unquenchable thirst for the truth to unravel the clues in more mysterious and suspicious deaths that lead me to s that I think that this tenth season of Silent Witness was also one it's best. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.BBC.com





'Doctor Who - The Complete Eleventh Series'
(Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: The brand new series of Doctor Who marks the arrival of Jodie Whittaker, the 13th Doctor – a super-smart force of nature – alongside a new team of friends.

Already highly anticipated, the new-look series heralds a brand-new era for Doctor Who with a world-class team at the helm led by showrunner Chris Chibnall.

DVD Verdict: Chock full of action and adventure, humor and thrills, and various unmissable adventures across all of space and time, this highly-anticipated Eleventh Series is one that succeeds and even excels on many occasions throughout.

And with regard the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, I quickly found her to be wonderful, refreshing and appropriate. I have always had trouble accepting the actor when a new Doctor "appears," but Jodie's was simply as smooth a transition as I've seen/felt for many years.

Indeed, I found myself liking her more quickly than any other Doctor I have watched going all the way back to the best of the best, the brilliant Tom Baker.

Ergo, the dazzling Thirteenth Doctor (Whittaker - Broadchurch, Wired) falls out of the sky just in time to thwart an alien huntsman who is stalking human prey.

With little time to spare and the population of Sheffield (and Earth!) at risk, the Doctor recruits three new friends – gentle Ryan, no-nonsense Yasmin and Ryan’s step-grandfather, Graham – who soon feel more like family than companions.

The special effects are mind blowing, but admittedly (and this has nothing to do with Whittaker) the storylines have dropped considerably. While I loved a few episodes, I hate the fact that there is now so much "PC" shoved down our throats.

It takes away the adventure that we're all so used to. Less with the "PC", and more with amazing storylines and writing, please. Thank you.

OK, off my soap box now and the things that came out amongst my friends whilst binge watching this entire Eleventh Series were: Lengthen Jodie's slacks by a good three inches. Please! Stop blabbing that you shouldn't interfere with the timeline and then proceed to do just that in ten seconds!

And, Explain how your wand (sorry, sonic screwdriver) can give readings. Or, at least, catch up and put a decent LED long and thin screen on the side where you can actually read findings! For goodness sake, add something to at least make it makes sense!

All valid points, in truth, but nothing that deters the avid Whovian away from thoroughly enjoying this still-brilliant TV show, that's for sure. So come one, one and all and join the new foursome in ten fresh and enormously thrilling roller-coaster adventures across time and the universe. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary
Closer Looks
Cast Video Diaries
Becoming the Doctor
Regenerating Doctor Who
Directing Doctor Who
Friends of the Doctor
Everything You Need to Know about the TARDIS
Making the Theme tune
Best of Social

www.BBC.com





'Interactive Introverts: Dan & Phil 2018 Tour'
(Dan Howell, Phil Lester / DVD + Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Dan and Phil present their new stage show - Interactive Introverts. Two internet dwelling, insecure nerds standing under the spotlight to give the people what they want: an epic interactive experience of rants, roasts, battles, stories and surprises that will make you laugh, cry, cringe and puts the audience in control unlike anything before!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, much like myself, Daniel Howell and Phil Lester are YouTube personalities, best known as AmazingPhil and (formerly) danisnotonfire.

Furthermore, Dan and Phil collectively have more than five YouTube accounts, including but not limited to: Daniel Howell, AmazingPhil, DanAndPhilCrafts, DanAndPhilGames and TheSuperAmazingProject.

Having watched this live show twice now, it's quite stunningly obvious that Interactive Introverts is a program that should only be viewed by fans of the two guys in question.

A live recording of Dan and Phil's stage show, if you don't get their humor from the very off you won't like this program. It's really as simple as that, I'm afraid.

Personally, I have never watched them nor have I ever been witness to any of their YouTube ventures, but all that said, I did actually find their humor funny.

Dan and Phil have a fantastic dynamic that truly shines in this show. They hold their audience captive for the entire duration, and as a new fan, I laughed many times here during Interactive Introverts.

Chock full of interactive challenges to make the audience feel involved, inside jokes, magic, and even a fun musical number, it even manages to unwind its way to a lovely, positive message.

Suitable for teens and up, this program gives the message that Dan and Phil value their fans as real people rather than as fans, and that all of us are important and are loved.

I mean, come on now, when has a show ever given you that kind of warm, fuzzy feeling after viewing? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scene
Dan & Phil Commentary
Interactive Simulation Game

www.BBC.com





'Bohemian Rhapsody' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, et al / Blu ray + DVD + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is an enthralling celebration of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and convention to become one of history’s most beloved entertainers.

Blu-ray Verdict: Whether you love Queen, or have absolutely no taste in music, Bohemian Rhapsody is a wonderfully well-written, produced, directed, and acted look at Freddie Mercury and the band; from their start in the 1970's through their performance at the Live Aid benefit concert at Wembley Stadium in 1985.

Directed by Bryan Singer, who is now going through his own disassociation with the film and the actors involved (due to certain allegations), the film beautifully captures the brilliance of the band's music as well as providing insight into the story of band that gave us Bohemian Rhapsody.

I actually went, as a young teen, on a crowded coach from Watford to Paris back around the time of their Works tour and saw them play live. I was blown away by the entire set, music and actual physical stage set up both.

Ergo, it was an event that has stayed with me now for some 30+ years and anyone who also saw Freddie and Queen play live have obviously also experienced first hand the master at work.

In truth, I'm usually disappointed watching a film (biopic) about a band I love, however from the very beginning, before the actual film begins and you suddenly realize the 20th Century Fox Studio Bumper's backing music (a film studio's opening logo intro) has either been played by Brian May or has been channeled through a Brian May filter ie: it sounds like him playing the music on his signature Hamer guitar, you know you're in for something very special.

Rami Malek does an incredibly-outstanding job of bringing Freddie Mercury back to life, if only for a mesmerizing 134 minutes. Not only in his uncanny physical appearance, but invoking his mannerisms, and reincarnating his essence. He became Freddie Mercury for this film.

The other three actors playing his bandmates were equally amazing. The fact that all of the music in the film is by Queen, and being produced by Jim Beach (former Queen Manager) and Graham King, with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor as musical consultants, injects the same genius that gave us Queen, the band, into Bohemian Rhapsody, the film.

In short, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is the best film about a rock band I've ever seen. The quality of the screenplay, acting, camerawork, sets, research are all superb. It is a masterpiece of a musical biography that captures the essence of Freddie Mercury while enlightening the audience about the actual story of Queen.

All those taking part were totally credible and of course, the music is brilliant. None of which comes across as "covers" and despite all the lip syncing, obviously, it doesn't deter from the finished article, trust me.

As for the special features, well, both the quite brilliant The Complete Live Aid Movie Performance (1080p; 21:55) and stunning Recreating Live Aid (1080p; 19:55) are wondrous looks into how they recreated one of the most iconic live performances ever performed.

Offering up the film's full recreation of the iconic concert by Queen, the idea to let the actors run through the five song Live Aid set was genius. Much like some of the other supplements included on this disc, the second feature of this ilk offers interviews with the real life May and Taylor who reminisce about the concert.

Along with other interviews and behind the scenes footage, they explain that everyone was set to just film two of the songs from that set, but then the heads came together and suggested that as everyone was there, why not do the entire five song set (for the Blu-ray extras).

In what has turned out to be one of the best executive decisions I think that has ever been made, they did - and it's simply glorious to behold. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

The Complete LIVE AID Movie Performance
Rami Malek: Becoming Freddie
The Look and Sound of Queen
Recreating Live Aid

Official Trailer

Official Website

www.FoxMovies.com





'Widows' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, et al / Blu ray + DVD + Digital / R / 2019 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Blu-ray Verdict: Having just watched 'Widows' with some friends last night I can tell that this movie should have beenincluded as an Oscar choice this year!

After a group of criminals die in a heist gone wrong, their widows, Veronica, Alice and Linda, are forced to collect the money to repay their husband's debt.

From there the women have to find their individual strength to survive especially when most of the men in their world are either cut-throat criminals or corrupt politicians.

However, that's just the gloss of the surface story presented here to us, but be warned, be aware that this story has far more to tell when you look at it under the surface.

'Widows' is, thematically, about how people move on and rebuild themselves in a broken society. The core group of women have had their lives be defined by their husbands' actions for better or for worse.

From sexism, race relations, entitled privileges, politics to infidelity, director Steve McQueen is exploring so many of these subjects in his heist thriller.

In less capable hands, so many of these themes and messages could feel force-fed and overbearing but McQueen makes them engaging in every single scene he shoots.

Scenes cut from calm, quiet moments to establish the nature of the widow's late marriages to sudden bursts of violence, action and tension to get your heart racing.

Along with shots filled with dark and cool, light color palettes, McQueen shows on screen how divided the world is between those who feel they deserve wealth and power and those are mistreated by it.

And although this also divided perception here on my sofa last night, the women on screen begin to take ownership of their lives and reassess what their marriages were really built on.

While 'Widows' is a thematically dark and serious story, Gone Girl author-turned-screenwriter Gillian Flynn gives the characters a lot of subtle humor and sharp witted dialogue that actually makes the film surprisingly fun to watch.

And to its credit that Flynn, along with McQueen as the co-writer, gives so many of these characters, especially the star women, unique layers that makes no one feel like a blank slate.

While it is an ensemble piece, Viola Davis is definitely the most awards-worthy to watch. As the lead widow Veronica, Davis brings so much to her character without even having to say a word.

Indeed, Davis displays this feeling that Veronica has to build a wall to block the emotional pain she is suppressing in order to keep the other widows in line for the upcoming heist.

But once in moments when she is alone, you see Davis unleash that emotions very suddenly and then very quickly go back into being a commanding presence.

Michelle Rodriguez gets a break from the usual action films to show dramatic range in her character Linda. While I wouldn't call it a break-out, it establishes that Rodriguez can play more then just the usual action heroine.

Collin Farrell also does great bringing complexity to the corrupt politician Jack Mulligan who is seeking to escape his cruel father's legacy.

But 'Widows' is also filled with a lot of surprising stand-outs in terms of acting performances. Elizabeth Debicki does a lot with her character Alice that could have been one-note.

Debicki shows Alice go on a transformation from a young, frail socially-dependent housewife to a character that is done being mistreated and seen as vulnerable.

While Cynthia Erivo doesn't show up until late in the film, she makes a very strong impression once she joins the crew. And Brian Tyler Henry and Daniel Kaluuya bring a lot to their villain roles.

Henry is calm, confident but also intimidating as the kingpin-turning-politician Jamal Manning, particularly in a scene with Davis. However it is Kaluuya as Jamal's brother Jatemme, who is just absolutely terrifying.

With just a stare, Kaluuya's character makes you feel small and scared knowing what horrible things he will do next. The one thing I will criticize is that I felt both Jon Bernthal and Carrie Coon were both underutilized in their roles.

In closing, 'Widows' has a lot going on in its two-hour runtime and there some plot twists that make it feel a little incoherent but does very little to impact the film's near perfect quality.

Ergo, 'Widows' is a film that is one of the most thrilling of this year and still has a very compelling and ambitious story that McQueen and Flynn have put on screen. [G.A.P.] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story
- Plotting the Heist: The Story
- Assembling the Crew: Production (Blu-ray Only)
- The Scene of the Crime: Locations (Blu-ray Only)
Gallery

Official Trailer

Official Website

www.FoxMovies.com





'Mary Queen of Scots' [Blu-ray+Digital)
(Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, et al / Blu ray + Digital / R / 2019 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: 'Mary Queen of Scots' explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan). Queen of France at 16, widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry and instead returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, if you like costume dramas but abhor their sometime surface charms, watch 'Mary Queen of Scots' - a down and dirty and brilliant costumer about 16th-century's Queen Mary Stuart's (Saoirse Ronan) rise and fall.

Cousin to Queen Elizabeth, the two have an uneasy alliance against men who want to depose them and the times that wish to marginalize them but can't.

If for only helping to clarify the succession, from Henry VIII to James, the first king of England and Scotland, this docudrama is worth seeing.

Of course, history is not the main reason to spend 2 hours mucking around gloomy castles. It's the people! Besides the superb portrayals of the two queens by Ronan and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, a barrage of authentic looking and acting Earls and Knights gossip and plot enough to challenge the audience about allegiances. In other words, the audience is immersed in the workings of English and Scottish monarchies and religion to a degree rarely seen on the screen.

Because of this authenticity, the audience cares about the players while it gets a first-rate history lesson. When Mary gets her head chopped off, she keeps her dignity and the audience, mindful of Marie Antoinette's end, is saddened, but accepting of monarchs' cruel fates, then and now.

"In my end is my beginning," she embroidered on her estate cloth, perhaps sensing well that her son, James, would one day rule. Tough lady. Great mother. Exemplary acting.

"How much better everything would be, if the two queens were indeed friends! For I see now that the world is not that that we do make of it, nor yet are they most happy that continue longest in it." (Mary to Randolph after death of two Guise relatives).

As for those things that many (oh so many, sadly) others have nitpicked and pulled apart, for me, the major events were pretty accurate - according to history and the events that people are complaining about were rumored to have happened.

Like most parts of private lives of historical figures, there's always some grey area. It just depends on if the story is crafted based on official history or based on rumor at the time. This movie draws from both and so, ultimately, shouldn't offend the masses as much as it seemingly already has! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

An Epic Confrontation
Tudor Feminism
Something About Marys
Feature Commentary with Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter

Official Trailer

Official Website

www.UPHE.com





'Mary Queen of Scots: 4K Ultra HD'
(Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / 2019 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: 'Mary Queen of Scots' explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan). Queen of France at 16, widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry and instead returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this February with the release of this quite beautifully filmed and cinematically captured, 'Mary Queen of Scots' in the new 4K home video format on February 26th, 2019.

For my money, this 'Mary Queen of Scots: 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 'Mary Queen of Scots' 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: 4K (2160p); HDR: Dolby Vision + 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; like the delicious hues and nuances of he outdoor scenes involving the two Mary's, the countryside rolling up to meet the blue skies so magnificently.

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 some scenes where the governmental talks are being held in the chambers) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French: Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 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. In truth, if you like costume dramas but abhor their sometime surface charms, watch 'Mary Queen of Scots' - a down and dirty and brilliant costumer about 16th-century's Queen Mary Stuart's (Saoirse Ronan) rise and fall.

Cousin to Queen Elizabeth, the two have an uneasy alliance against men who want to depose them and the times that wish to marginalize them but can't.

If for only helping to clarify the succession, from Henry VIII to James, the first king of England and Scotland, this docudrama is worth seeing.

Of course, history is not the main reason to spend 2 hours mucking around gloomy castles. It's the people! Besides the superb portrayals of the two queens by Ronan and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, a barrage of authentic looking and acting Earls and Knights gossip and plot enough to challenge the audience about allegiances. In other words, the audience is immersed in the workings of English and Scottish monarchies and religion to a degree rarely seen on the screen.

Because of this authenticity, the audience cares about the players while it gets a first-rate history lesson. When Mary gets her head chopped off, she keeps her dignity and the audience, mindful of Marie Antoinette's end, is saddened, but accepting of monarchs' cruel fates, then and now.

"In my end is my beginning," she embroidered on her estate cloth, perhaps sensing well that her son, James, would one day rule. Tough lady. Great mother. Exemplary acting.

"How much better everything would be, if the two queens were indeed friends! For I see now that the world is not that that we do make of it, nor yet are they most happy that continue longest in it." (Mary to Randolph after death of two Guise relatives).

As for those things that many (oh so many, sadly) others have nitpicked and pulled apart, for me, the major events were pretty accurate - according to history and the events that people are complaining about were rumored to have happened.

Like most parts of private lives of historical figures, there's always some grey area. It just depends on if the story is crafted based on official history or based on rumor at the time. This movie draws from both and so, ultimately, shouldn't offend the masses as much as it seemingly already has!

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. One of the most eye-opening is the historically fascinating Something About Marys, that brings both of their histories to the fore in a way that, personally I had not seen before.

The Feature Commentary with Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter is also a doozy, albeit a slowly methodical vocal roll. Neither gets overly excited about anything on screen, Rourke explaining the moment when certain things had to be recalculated due to weather and such.

Richter, a quite brilliant composer in his own right, chips occasionally on where his work, to his mind (and rightly so, as it turned out, of course), enhanced the cinematic event on screen - and why he chose to do certain orchestral works over others, etc. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

An Epic Confrontation
Tudor Feminism
Something About Marys
Feature Commentary with Director Josie Rourke and Composer Max Richter

Official Trailer

Official Website

www.UPHE.com





'Oceans: Our Blue Planet: 4K Ultra HD'
(Kate Winslet / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray / NR / 2019 / BBC Earth)

Overview: Narrated by Kate Winslet 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet' takes us on a global odyssey to discover the largest and least explored habitat on earth.

New ocean technology has allowed us to delve further into the unknown than ever before. From the coastal shallows to deeper, more mysterious worlds, we reveal the spectacular stories of life beneath the waves.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: BBC Earth continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this January with the release of this quite beautifully filmed and cinematically captured, 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet' in the new 4K home video format on January 22nd, 2019.

For my money, this 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet - 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray' 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 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Native 4K (2160p) and HDR: HDR10.

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; like the stunning coral beds found deep under the oceans.

Quite stunning and always colorful, the fish and other sea creatures that inhabit this coral are as beautiful, as colorful, as breathtaking as the landscape itself.

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 film itself. Captured with some simply stunning visuals, 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet' provides insight and sights into what goes on under the blue liquid we inhabit the world with; and reveals sights, sounds and moments that without this incredible film, 99% of us would never have witnessed.

Chock full of great narration from the always-lovely, smooth toned Kate Winslet, there are many fine bouts of educational value on hand also, as one would expect, of course.

Indeed, what I liked the best, and somewhat unexpected, is the glorious lack of any endless, droning on fluff footage of endless "swims" under the oceans. Nothing more than pretty filler in most documentaries and films of this ilk, they are (thankfully) not to be found here.

Furthermore, 'Oceans: Our Blue Planet' contains 40 minutes (yes, I know that's not a lot, but allow it to flow over you and you'll watch it again regardless, and willingly, you have my word) that can be watched; and importantly understood by all ages.

Visually impressive from start to finish, we are educated to the fact that these wondrous oceans are actually of some rather vital importance to the planet we live on.

For they make up 70% of our blue planet and their health is vital to all life on Earth - from acting as a food source to providing over half the oxygen that we breathe!

In culmination, we are urged to take more care of our oceans and having watched this film three times now in 24 hours, I have to say it has definitely changed the way how I look, and how I feel our beautiful planet. I hope it does for you also.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. One of the most eye-opening is the job recruitment promo (basically) entitled How do you become a marine biologist.

Another is the beautiful, and breathtakingly fascinating The Secret Sounds of Fish, which reveals their "speech" to one another quite like I've never known or seen ever before! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

How do you become a marine biologist
The Secret Sounds of Fish
Surfing for Science
The Turtle Saved by 3D Printing

Official Trailer

Official Website

www.BBCearth.com





'PJ Masks - Butterfly Brigade'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / eOne - 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Join our trio of heroes: Catboy, Owlette & Gekko, on their nighttime adventures as they work together to stop the baddies, and save the day!

DVD Verdict: From the off, you should know that I am happy to say I am a fan of the super-hero cartoon and when my son and daughter (aged 2 and 4 years respectively) starting watching the PJ Masks, I was rather moved, it has to be said.

They LOVE Cat-Boy and Gekko and at the beginning once told me that I could be their Owelette (although that changed over time, as you'll read below).

PJ Masks is a really cute crime fighting trio that deals with everyday challenges of working together with others.

This show encourages teamwork and teaches sportsmanship. PJ Masks also display that children get caught up in there own interests, but when teamwork is required to fight crime they come together.

Here in 'PJ Masks: Butterfly Brigade' (and other adventures), we join the aforementioned Catboy, Owlette and Geko on Zoo Day!

Once at the zoo and Connor cannot wait to see the lions and tigers. However, Amaya and Greg are planning to see the butterflies first, feeding them flowers during their visit.

Of course, Connor is not interested, because he claims that all butterflies do is just flap and fly around, while lions and tigers are much more interesting with their physical features and amazing actions.

Amaya and Greg do not budge at this and continue to walk over to the butterfly gardens, declaring that they will see the lions and tigers later once they finish looking at the butterflies.

Which, to be honest sounds very fair to me. Anyway, and reluctantly, Connor decides to follow them, but once the three kids get to the butterfly gardens all of the other visitors are leaving.

Connor believes that this must be because butterflies are not interesting, but the real reason why everyone is leaving is that the butterflies are missing!

All that is left is a moth flying around, which means that Luna Girl must have taken them. Therefore, the PJ Masks decide to get them back!

The other episodes included alongside 'Catboy and the Butterfly Brigade' on this wondrous new DVD are: 'Clumsy Catboy,' 'Gekko's Stay-at-Home Sneezes,' 'Owlette and the Battling Headquarters,' 'Owlette of a Kind,' and 'Gekko and the Mayhem at the Museum.'

In closing, my husband and I are really grateful for the creators of this show as it values children's innocence. We quote the show often, and my son now says his little sister is Owlette, not me!

But, that's all good as they are bonding over PJ Masks quite like no other show! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'PJ Masks: Butterfly Brigade' DVD Purchase Link





'Pinkalicious & Peterrific: Pinkatastic Pets!'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS Kids)

Overview: Join Pinkalicious and her brother Peter for five pinkatastic adventures in Pinkville!

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, 'Pinkalicious & Peterrific' is an American half-hour children's television program based on the Pinkalicious books by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann.

The program premiered on PBS Kids on February 19th, 2018 and the animated series is designed to encourage preschool-age children to explore the arts and develop their creativity.

The show's story follows Pinkalicious and her brother Peter as they imagine how the world looks through her artful eye. Each episode will include two 11 minute stories and live action. Indeed, WGBH is working with Sixteen South to produce 38 episodes in 2019.

Ok, so, let's get this straight from the start - for all the people I've encountered complaining about the pink laden throughout the show, come on now ... the title of the show should have clued you into what to expect!

Sure it can be a bit much, especially if young boys are watching, but at least you know full well that the girls in your family will love it, trust me.

That said, Peter also likes the color pink which is important in showing that colors are just colors and there’s no need to bring gender into it.

Due to the DVD release prior to this one ('Pinkalicious & Peterrific: Pinkamagine It!'), my young daughter knows all of her letters, numbers (up to 10), many animals and shapes and plenty of other things far ahead of schedule. Equally important, she knows how to share and use problem solving skills.

Now we have this new PBS Kids release, 'Pinkalicious & Peterrific: Pinkatastic Pets!' and she might as well have assumed it was Christmas Day! Seriously, she almost bit my hand off to get it out of its factory-seal and into the DVD player!

Now that's just how much kids these days love Pinkalicious series!

Here on this new DVD we get five (5) Pinkalicious adventures:

Pinkasaurus
Monkey Dance
Missing Squeakykins
The Duck Stops Here
The Flutterbugs

While enjoying a day at the beach, Rafael's dog Rusty digs up a pink bone. Can Pinkalicious and the gang use their imaginations to figure out which creature it belongs to?

Then, watch what happens when an adorable pink duckling follows Peter around, and see as unexpected guests buzz over to a pinkerrific tea party!

Plus, find out what Mommy says when she finds the kids monkeying around in their treehouse, and join Pinkalicious and Peter as they build a giant maze for their new class pet Squeakykins! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

DVD Purchase Link

www.PBSkids.org





'Hostel / Hostel Part II' (Double Feature)
(Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Jordan Ladd, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Double the Shock, Double the Horror! Presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & 2) and directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), 'Hostel' is a shocking and relentless film in the tradition of Saw about two American backpackers (Jay Hernandez, Friday Night Lights and Derek Richardson, Dumb and Dumberer) in Europe who find themselves lured in as victims of a murder-for-profit business.

Once again presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vols. 1 & 2) and written and directed by Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), 'Hostel Part II' is the shocking and gruesome sequel about the underground torture ring where rich businessmen pay to torture and murder their victims.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'Hostel (Director's Cut)' (2005), three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.

"Sick, twisted, disgusting and absolutely brilliant" read the review blurb on the back of my original copy of 'Hostel' on DVD! While it may sound sensational, particularly for horror flick with a budget under $5 million, every word rings true.

'Hostel' begins by introducing us to three pals, Paxton, Josh and Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson respectively), on a backpacking journey through Europe of sex, drugs and partying.

Horny as can be, they take a newfound friend's advice to check out a Slovakian city that promises to fulfill all their desires for intimate, no-strings attached relations.

But once they get settled in, Oli inexplicably disappears, soon followed by Josh. That leaves Paxton to unravel the brutal truth behind this mystery.

'Hostel' is impossible to sufficiently describe to someone who hasn't seen it. It's not because it's so good (though it is pretty good), but because it's such a creative, unusual film experience.

Indeed nothing quite like this has ever been done before, at least not this superbly. The film is heavy on the blood and guts, but the blood and guts are entertaining and actually contribute to the film in a this-will-gross-you-out sort of way.

Indeed, 'Hostel' is many things, but it's not guilty of gore for the sake of gore.

The direction and acting represent another high point of 'Hostel'. The picture is oozing with fresh talent from most every orifice (a fitting way to put it).

The young-at-the-time director Eli Roth keeps things running at an efficient pace and gets the most out of what is a fairly basic storyline. It's fair to say he is unrelenting and seems intent in asking the audience how much they can take, but this approach works amazingly well in the film's favor.

As for the performers, they are all no-names, but they rank as one of the most talented no-name horror casts in memory. Hernandez is worth singling out, as he has the believability, subtlety and charm needed to carry the film.

Unfortunately, many have dismissed 'Hostel' as another mindless gorefest. That's really too bad, because beneath the decapitated heads and leaking eye sockets lurks a truly original, entertaining piece of work. This one was always destined for culthood.

In 'Hostel Part II (Unrated Director's Cut)' (2007), three American college students studying abroad are lured to a Slovakian hostel, and discover the grim reality behind it.

As detailed above, the first 'Hostel' took me by surprise and I found it to be more compelling than I had anticipated. This second installment is equally enthralling and grabbed me by the balls!

Although bloody and sadistically violent it is also darkly funny and populated with some of the strangest; menacing and unusual looking characters to grace the silver screen in quite some time.

I felt I was in Argento territory here during some of the sequences and this is most certainly not a bad thing at all.

The design of the film was great and contains some rather excellent cinematography and evocative music that all melded together to create an exciting and tense movie sequel experience.

Not for the faint of heart — but, then again, it wasn't made for pu**ies! Yes, this movie is violent. Yes there are buckets of the red stuff spurting about. And yes sometimes the scenes playing are disturbing, but 'Hostel Part II' still pays off BIG time (for all its fans). This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with an Alternate Director's Cut Ending.

www.millcreekent.com





'You Got Served/Stomp the Yard' (Double Feature)
(Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Jordan Ladd, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Double the Dance, Double the Drama! 'You Got Served' - At Mr. Rad's Warehouse, the best hip-hop crews in L.A. compete for money and respect. But when a suburban crew crashes the party, stealing their dancers-and their moves-two friends have to pull together to represent the street.

'Stomp The Yard' - DJ, an underground street dancer, does not get along with the wealthier students on campus. After he decides to join an official step group he must learn to stop dancing as an individual, and start stepping as part of a team.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 'You Got Served' (2004), in order to achieve their dream of opening a recording studio, two friends (Omarion, Houston) must first win their city's dance contest - a fierce competition that pits them against a group of tough street dancers.

Many people over the years have compared this movie to 'Breakin', which back in it's day was the freshest new thing to come around. It helped to start a trend around the U.S.

But as far as plot line goes, well, not so much, sorry. The dancing is good, the characters worthy of their screen time, but the plot is totally predictable.

For me, the same goes for 'Flashdance' though. Although people still have a connection with that movie they are constantly doing the Where are they now segments for that movie!

But the dancing in that movie was something no one had seen before and inspired a dance troop who toured throughout the U.S. just to dance to the music.

Ergo, I see 'You Got Served' in much the same light. Yes, the plot was formula, but the dancing was incredible.

In 'Stomp The Yard' (2007), after the death of his brother, an expert street dancer goes to Georgia to attend Truth University. But his efforts to get an education and woo the girl he likes are sidelined when he joins in his fraternity's effort to win a step dancing competition.

In truth, 'Stomp the Yard' was a lot of fun, exciting and breathtaking. The dancing was incomparable and I never felt like there wasn't enough of it, (which is often the case in dance movies).

I loved the way it was shot and cut because it added to the intensity and difficulty of the dancing. For those not in the know, the phrase "stomp the yard" refers to a style of dance originating in the African community and used almost ritualistically in black fraternities and sororities around the country.

The combination of stepping mixed with hip hop moves was a treat. Dancers are like technology, evolving ever more quickly, as the dancing wasn't quite this good just three years ago in 2004's above-reviewed 'You Got Served'.

Indeed, anyone who has ever tried to step, krump or breakdance can appreciate the amount of work it takes to do these acrobatic moves. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.millcreekent.com





'Roadhouse 2: Last Call' [Blu-ray]
(Jonathon Schaech, Ellen Hollman, Jake Busey, Will Patton, Louis Herthum, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2006) 2019 / MVD Marquee Collection)

Overview: Shane Tanner (Johnathon Schaech, That Thing You Do!), son of the legendary "Cooler" Dalton, is an undercover DEA agent with all the right moves. He's put away his share of dealers, but hasn't made a big-time bust.

When a deadly drug runner begins terrorizing his uncle Nate's (Will Patton, Armageddon) bar in Louisiana, Shane leaves New York and heads south, determined to settle the score.

Blu-ray Verdict: OK, well, to be fair, following up a cult classic like the original 'Road House' is no easy task. Now subtract Swayze from the equation and you get a monumental task!

So with Patrick not on board whose bonehead idea was it to proceed anyway and make this piece of garbage? Personally, I cannot even blame the poor director (Scott Ziehl) as he was just doing what he was paid to do.

Watching this Blu-ray last night with friends, and having never seen it (or even bloody heard of it) before, I was actually very shocked they got Will Patton (Armageddon) to jump on board!

Johnathon Schaech did an OK job with the lead, but the writing was atrocious. Turning down his partner brunette bombshell (Crystal Mantecon) in the film's first five minutes made me want to punch it out of the player right then and there!

But I stuck with the film hoping to catch a glimpse of that great cheesy humor that worked so well with the Double Deuce. No such luck though, sorry.

Weirdly, the original cover art of the 2006 DVD once showed these two stacked blondes who make one 10 second appearance in the film! The rebooted art work now only wisely features Schaech, arms still crossed.

Co-star Ellen Hollman actually puts in a decent performance, but again the effort is futile in a piece of garbage and disgrace such as this!

I mean, seriously, has Jake Busey ever been cast in a decent film? Could they not pull at least a few actors in from the first film for some kind of nostalgia treatment?

In closing, and since the director is best known for 'Cruel Intentions 3', it should have come as no surprise to me that Road House 2' was as plainly bad as it turned out to be.

But, come on now, we all LOVED the original ("Pain don't hurt. Give me the biggest guy in the world; you smash his knee and he'll drop like stone", Dalton from the original - of which there are no such crushingly observant and brilliant lines to be found anywhere here in the "sequel"), so that's why I went into this with my hopes elevated. Bad move, dude. Bad move! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the "Special Feature" of an Original Trailer

www.millcreekent.com





'We'll Meet Again - Season 2'
(Ann Curry / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Join Ann Curry for the second season in a series featuring dramatic reunions of people whose lives crossed at pivotal moments. View history through their eyes and hear stories of heroism, hope and the forging of unbreakable bonds.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Ann Curry is an American television personality, journalist, and photojournalist. Curry has been a reporter for more than 30 years, focused on human suffering in war zones and natural disasters.

Directed by Luc Tremoulet, Ashok Prasad, Adam Perkins, Holly Moy, Rachel Tracy, produced by Page Shepherd, and hosted by Ann Curry, 'We'll Meet Again' continues on from its wondrous, and highly praised first season that features dramatic reunions of people whose lives crossed at pivotal moments.

Saved In Vietnam: Meet two Vietnam veterans searching for the heroes who saves them five decades before.

Surviving The Holocaust: Join Ann as two Holocaust survivors search for those who gave them hope in their darkest days.

Great Alaskan Earthquake: Two Alaskans try to track down childhood friends who also survived the catastrophe 1964 earthquake.

Korean War Brothers in Arms: Ann meets two Korean War veterans looking for fellow servicemen from nearly 70 years ago.

Escape From Cuba: Follow two men as they search for the people who helped them arrive and settle in the U.S. when they fled Castro's Cuba.

The Fight For Women's Rights: Join two women as they search for friends and colleagues who forged a path for equal rights.

In my humble opinion, everything that they pull together for these groups of people are always done in good taste. Indeed, and without giving too much away, there were several stories combined in the series and the transition from each story to the next was handled very well.

However, stand outs for me personally are the opening duo of Saved In Vietnam and Surviving The Holocaust. My goodness, aside from the historical anguish that goes along hand in hand with what these titles conjure up as images, the fact that out of them we have people still today searching for the bright lights they discovered within them AMAZES me.

So, grab the tissue boxes, hunker down into your pockets for your hankies, as 'We'll Meet Again - Season 2' will, once again, assuredly make your tears flow! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Letters from Baghdad'
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: This story is told in the words of Gertrude Bell - sometimes called the female Lawrence of Arabia.

Bell was an explorer, spy, archaeologist and diplomat who helped shape the Middle East after World War I.

Advisor to Winston Churchill and critic of colonial policies in Iraq, Bell was considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.

DVD Verdict: Voiced by Academy award-winner Tilda Swinton, directed by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenb'hl, and produced by both Zeva Oelbaum and Rob Quaintance, 'Letters from Baghdad' is one of the most compelling 90 minutes I've spent in front of the TV in many a year.

Even if you don't know the story of Gertrude Bell, you will find yourself quickly engrossed in Swinton's storytelling narration of both her life and her now infamous, and remarkable exploits.

Watching along, we learn that Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, CBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making (due to her knowledge and contacts, built up through extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia).

Along with T. E. Lawrence, Bell helped support the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan as well as in Iraq. Furthermore, she played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, utilizing her unique perspective from her travels and relations with tribal leaders throughout the Middle East.

During her lifetime she was highly esteemed and trusted by British officials and exerted an immense amount of power. She has been described as "one of the few representatives of His Majesty's Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection".

All this, and so much more brings to life a person, a woman who has - to my mind - slipped under the radar of political history.

Hence, 'Letters from Baghdad' is one very personal and rather beautiful love letter (all pun intended) to a woman who at the outbreak of World War I, found her initial request for a Middle East posting denied … so instead volunteered with the Red Cross in France! Watch this and learn, my friends. Watch and learn. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Metropolis & Memories - Anime Double Feature'
(Yuka Imoto, Kei Kobayashi, Koki Okada, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Anime at it's Finest! Based on the classic comic created by revered manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), written by anime legend Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and directed by Rintaro (Galaxy Express 999), 'Metropolis' is a spectacular film featuring stunning imagery and unforgettable characters.

Created by celebrated anime master Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Roujin Z), 'Memories' consists of three dazzling stories, each delivered with its own astonishing style. Magnetic Rose, directed by Koji Morimoto (Animatrix) based on a manga short by Otomo, concerns two space travelers following a distress signal drawn into a magnificent world created by one woman's memories.

DVD Verdict: Despite sharing it's name with the 1927 Fritz Lang film, 'Metropolis' is a whole different animal. It's about a boy who runs across a girl named Tima while investigating a factory with his uncle, and tries to find out who she really is while evading an assassin named Rock and looking for his uncle.

Apparently, the director got the idea for this after seeing a poster for the 1927 film, and wrote a manga series about it which eventually turned into a movie.

So, where to begin? Let's go with the animation. It's incredibly smooth and stylish, given its age, of course, and reminded me simultaneously of 'Mega Man' and 'Ponyo'.

Every scene is drawn with such attention to detail that there are almost no holes to pick at, and it actually tops most of the Hiyao Miyazaki films in that respect. Besides the traditional animation, there is also a large amount of CGI work.

I generally hate it when CGI is used in an otherwise 2D film (especially in 'Lilo and Stitch,' as a random example), but it combines with the hand-drawn stuff so well that it compliments it rather than clashing with it.

Beyond looks though, 'Metropolis' also has very solid writing. There are no corny lines, embarrassing moments, or slow scenes. Everything is there for a reason, and none of it feels like it could have been done better.

The voice work is wonderfully done as well. Even though all of it is in Japanese, I could tell that it was acted very competently, and succeeds in making it feel like we're hearing the characters talking rather than actors at a microphone.

In the end, 'Metropolis' is simply one of the finest pieces of work I've ever seen and it still holds up today as great as ever. It has amazing animation, charging music, convincing voice work, and the most important thing of all: heart.

A collection of three stories, 'Memories' brings not only variety, but enjoyment to each. "Magnetic Rose" is the first and longest of the three, followed by "Stink Bomb" and "Cannon Fodder".

The animation of each episode differs, depending on how one views it. While all three episodes are very well done, the style of "Cannon Fodder" is vastly different from "Magnetic Rose" and "Stink Bomb".

Katsuhiro Otomo's 'Memories' combines the vision of Otomo's usual "God's revenge for the human race believing too much in science" with two first-time, although far from inexperienced directors.

The first of the three films, "Magnetic Rose" is by far the least Otomo-esquire of the three pieces, although based on one of his short mangas. The film centering mainly on the sci-fi side of anime.

Space freighters respond to a distress call in a bad sector of space, and become lost in the haunting memories of an intergalactic opera singer.

The second piece, "Stink Bomb" shows, if possible, a humorous side to biological warfare, as an unsuspecting pharmaceutical tech accidentally ingests a biological weapon and becomes a walking disaster.

The final film, actually directed by Otomo, called "Cannon Fodder" was by far my favorite, and the most disturbing of the three films. The basic story centers around a family living in a town whose citizens devote their entire lives to bombing an unseen enemy in the sky.

This story is very politically motivated, very dark, and not at all a "happy little story". The animation is unlike anything I've ever seen from Otomo, and full of sweeping single-cut shots that give you chills.

Overall, I highly recommend this new 2-Disc movie collection from Mill Creek Entertainment for any anime fan. It most definitely incorporates the vision of three brilliant directors. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.millcreekent.com





'The Betty White Collection' [4-Disc]
(Betty White / 4-DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: When it comes to comedy, Betty White is queen...a legend, an icon and forever regarded as a pioneer among women throughout the pages of television history.

This talented and versatile actress first achieved success in the groundbreaking situation comedy, Life With Elizabeth of which White starred, co-produced and won her first Best Actress Emmy®-award.

Another prominent series in her early career was the prime-time series Date With the Angels, which launched Betty into the public eye as one of America's sweetest and most beloved comedians.

DVD Verdict: Betty Marion White Ludden (born January 17, 1922) is an American actress and comedian, with the longest television career of any female entertainer, spanning 80 years. Regarded as a pioneer of television, she is one of the first women to have control both in front of and behind the camera and is recognized as the first woman to produce a sitcom (Life with Elizabeth), which contributed to her receiving the honorary title Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.

She is known for her award-winning roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1973–77) and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (1985–92) – the Writers Guild of America has included both sitcoms in its list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time – and Elka Ostrovsky on Hot in Cleveland (2010–15).

A staple guest of many American game shows such as Password, Match Game, and The $25,000 Pyramid, White has been dubbed the 'First Lady of Game Shows' and became the first woman to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host in 1983 for the show Just Men!

She is also known for her appearances on Boston Legal, Mama's Family, and Saturday Night Live.

In a career that has spanned 80 years, she has received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is a Television Hall of Fame inductee (class of 1995), and a Disney Legend (class of 2009).

On this incredible (no other word sums it up more perfectly) new 4-Disc Box-Set from Mill Creek Entertainment, we first get a look at Betty in the much revered Life With Elizabeth.

The show was the day to day events in the lives of a newly married couple where each episode consisted of three short, unrelated sketches in which characters often break the imaginary fourth wall.

For my money, this is a classic sitcom. The characters are limited in number, and the plot is always simple, but the acting and writing are very good. Most of the episodes revolve around Elizabeth's sense of humor. Her husband is the straight man usually. It is worth watching, unlike many shows today.

My two favorite episodes here are when Alvin is out practicing his golf swing in his front yard and he accidentally hits it through a neighbor's car windshield! And when Elizabeth makes the local gopher … her pet!

The gimmicks with the announcer ("Hi Elizabeth, what are ya knitting there?") are funny, and Betty is a reassuring presence throughout, as I'm sure you all know by now.

In the late '50s Betty then undertook Date With The Angels, where new bride Vickie and her insurance salesman husband Gus involve their friends and neighbors in a variety of comic episodes.

The situations are funny, and it is obvious that the writers were striving to make the show a little bit different from the plethora of family sitcoms around at the time.

Several shows are set in places other than the home to give the show some scope. There is a wonderful segment set entirely on a boardwalk amusement park with a rich list of character actors along for the ride!

Also, Betty sings in several of these shows on this DVD and so my only question is why didn't she sing more on her other series? She has a beautiful singing voice that is one of the pleasant surprises of this fine series.

Finally, after all that black and white goodness we get an Exclusive Documentary Featurette that, for the most part recounts the history of Betty White.

Never filling in too many blanks we didn't already know, as fans, it is, however, a warm, enthralling, and just look at one of Hollywood's greatest actors. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.millcreekent.com





'Astro Boy - The Complete Series' [4-DVD]
(Roland Angelo Crisolo, Tabitha St. Germain, Olivia Hack, et al / 4-DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Blast off with 'Astro Boy', a state-of-the-art update of Osamu's Tezuka classic series that started the anime explosion.

Filled with exciting action, humor and drama, ASTRO BOY tells the story of a young robot boy modeled after the son of a research scientist.

This atomic-powered robot becomes a reluctant superhero who fights for justice and peace - for humans and robots alike!

DVD Verdict: Out of all three of the versions, I'd have to say this one is by far the best version of the 'Astro Boy' cartoons.

It's structured, its well animated, its got a great storyline with some well developed characters and it's generally a fun watch for adults and children alike.

That said, sure, there are some gripes and some changes between the Japanese and American dubs, mainly being the lack of an episode here and there as well as the removal of many scenes which link back to Astro's past as Tobio, the son of Tenma.

Because American Children's TV is more censored than Japanese Children's TV, a large number of scenes involving the death of the real Tobio and the creation of Astro are removed so as not to seem disturbing.

However, these scenes do appear in the Japanese Original Version, so if it's story you're looking for, you'll find it there.

It also attempts to try and appeal to the more modern audience with catchphrases such as 'Let's Rocket' and other things that make it more like a Pokemon Cartoon, dampening down the more serious story.

Thankfully, these unnecessary pieces of silliness are reduced to only two or three episodes which have little to no impact on the overall story.

This series also has probably the best version of Dr Tenma. In the 1963 version he was a loud mouth and obnoxiously silly character which wasn't fun to watch, he just seemed really insane.

As for the 1980 version he wasn't as mad, but he was still quite a stroppy and unenjoyable character. This version, he is subtle, calculative, manipulative and generally just down right evil.

The character behind Tenma is much more developed, as is seen in the final few episodes of the series where Astro's past is revealed.

Instead of getting rid of Astro because he was clumsy or couldn't grow or something stupid like that! Instead he removes Astro because Astro starts to develop the same defiance as the original Tobio did; sort of a Totalitarian type father who doesn't take questioning of his authority well.

Although quite by-the-book with the dark gloomy castle and the organ playing, he truly is a fantastic villain. There are also some more light hearted tones with Astro's silly sister Zoran and his friends who keep getting into mischief.

Overall, 'Astro Boy' (2003) is a really fun series and definitely worth a watch. This brand new 4-Disc Box-Set from Mill Creek Entertainment features all 50 episodes and runs at a wondrous 16 hours and 51 minutes in bright, beautifully remastered color. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.millcreekent.com





'Canine Soldiers'
(DVD / NR / (2016) 2019 / MVD Visual)

Overview: 'Canine Soldiers: The Militarization of Love' explores the experience of war from the perspective of Military Working Dogs and their handlers who must find improvised explosive devices (IEDS) before they injure, maim, or kill troops.

DVD Verdict: Dogs have been used for many different purposes. Different breeds were used for different things, but always met the demands of the handlers.

Many roles for dogs in war are obsolete and no longer practiced, but the concept of the war dog still remains alive and well in modern warfare.

Military Working Dog teams have become the most effective agents in detecting explosives and chemical weapons at home and abroad.

In short, their mission is to save lives, not kill.

From rigorous training to deployment, this quite poignant, and often times revealing sad film follows soldier handlers to learn what it takes to become a successful MWD team.

Learn how the dogs are bred, how their relationships with their handlers develop, and what it's like for these handler teams to live in interdependence on the war front.

Deployed soldiers eat, sleep, shower and patrol with their dog by their side. This special bond is critical in forming a relationship of trust where each understands and reads each other's cues.

As director of the Defense Department's Military Working Dog Program based here in the US, David Rolfe and his staff are responsible for the health and welfare of some of the most unheralded members of the fighting force: its estimated 2,300 working dogs.

These dogs, along with their handlers from every military service, are deployed worldwide to support the war on terror, helping to safeguard military bases and activities and to detect bombs and other explosives before they inflict harm.

With an acute sense of smell five to 10 times stronger than a human's, working dogs can detect minute traces of explosives or drugs and alert their handlers of their presence, Rolfe explains.

One trainer remarks that these soldiers don't have battle buddies to the right and left of them like a regular line soldier. Their only battle buddy really is that dog.

They literally place their lives in the nose of that dog.

'Canine Soldiers' is the first war documentary told from the point of view of a soldier/dog team, molding together their poignant stories with reflections from notable animal scholars who think outside the box about the significance of co-species evolution.

Relying on dogs to keep us safe in war is only the continuation of a long history of co-evolution with canines. Even in this age of advanced technology, we are again relying on a primitive animal's superior sense of smell to survive.

Does being dependent on another species to keep us safe during war open our hearts to new truths about ourselves, our connection to nature and ultimately to what it means to be human?

Ergo, this brutally intense and yet wholly addictive viewing of a film also raises the ethical question: Is coopting a sentient being in conflicts that involve violence ever justifiable? This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MVDvisual.com





'To the Edge of The Sky'
(DVD / NR / (2017) 2019 / MVD Visual)

Overview: How far would a mother go to save her child?

'To the Edge of the Sky' is about four moms whose sons are diagnosed with the degenerative Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease that's the No. 1 genetic killer of boys, as they fight the FDA to gain access to a potentially life-saving drug.

DVD Verdict: Todd Wider and Jedd Wider are the producers of Oscar and Emmy-winning films and this rather poignant, often times brutally, and perhaps, too honest, 'To the Edge of the Sky.'

As noted above, it's a riveting documentary about parents fighting to stop Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy before it kills their sons. New drugs are on the horizon to treat this deadly disease, but they are stalled at the FDA.

With access to the families, legislators, and FDA, the brothers present the daily strategizing required to get the government and public to pay attention to Duchenne.

They depict the tireless battles that parents fight to protect their kids. As we watch along, we note that these parents will do anything to save their sons. They’ll go to the ends of the earth, to the edge of the sky, so to speak.

To the families affected by Duchenne, the fight against this disease seems like an endless battle. These kids and their families have desperately been seeking a cure for Duchenne for years - forever.

When will a cure be available? Today? Tomorrow? Ten years from now? Will it be too late? Many families would give up in the face of such adversity but these parents and their supporters do not and will not.

They refuse to accept that their boys cannot be cured. Ergo, 'To the Edge of the Sky' hopes to shine a light on and amplify their voices, giving these families much-needed allies to rally alongside them.

And so, and as aforementioned, with a promising drug on the horizon, we witness the transformation of the mothers of four boys into "the rogue moms" as they become political activists and heroes during their righteous battle against time and the FDA. Riveting. Desperate. Searching. Amazing. Watch it tonight. Think about it for the rest of the week, if not longer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MVDvisual.com





'Sgt. Will Gardner'
(Max Martini, Omari Hardwick, Lily Rabe, Dermot Mulroney, Robert Patrick, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Cinedigm)

Overview: A forgotten Iraq war veteran with severe PTSD is trying to pick up the pieces of his life.

After a series of set backs he decides to steal a motorcycle and embarks on a cross-country road trip to reunite with his wife and son.

Along his journey, he tries to pick up the pieces of a life he s lost since returning from combat and experiences frequent flashbacks to the Iraq War and frequently has conversations with his best friend and war buddy.

DVD Verdict: Simply put, 'Sgt. Will Gardner' is the movie that needed to be made about this war.

It is powerful, highly realistic, raw, emotional, very relevant, and creatively done for maximum impact. This movie is going to affect you like never before. And does something very significant that no movie has ever attempted to do before.

A must see for conscientious Americans about the plight of an entire subset of our society who have sacrificed. And it goes far beyond what any of the others can, as it was designed in every aspect with the input and knowledge real combat veterans who have suffered the effects of war.

Its writer, director, co-producer and lead actor Max Martini has expertly crafted a story that tells what needs to be told. A story of a combat soldier who returns home from the war, and the suffering, loss, challenges, and tragedy that he faces.

There are a multitude of features of highlights of this movie that serve to tell the story and get some very important points across. The plot and storyline are clever in how they give the viewer an inside look to what all combat troops can face, what they think about, and what hundreds of thousands of our veterans, even millions, are facing now.

So much of this as well as the nuances and experiences of troops in combat and then the effects and dilemmas that can follow that were perfectly inserted into the dialogue and woven into a storyline, laced throughout with emotion, love, patriotism, brotherhood, sacrifice, humor, romance, and honor.

Yet, it is more than a movie, as this "movie" is playing out for real as we speak all over America.

Featuring varying degrees of screen time roles undertaken by such known actors as Lily Rabe (AHS), Omari Hardwick (Power), Robert Patrick (T2), Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friends Wedding), and amongst a bevy of others, my friend Elisabeth Röhm (The Last Ship), it also (and importantly) features Gary Sinise.

Longtime famous for his military roles and contributions as the top philanthropist for veterans, he also brings to bear his extensive firsthand experience dealing with the needs of combat veterans; especially wounded warriors.

'Sgt. Will Gardner' is significant not just because of what it is as a movie, but because of what it does. And can do. It was written and produced with the intent of public awareness as well as to raise money for military charities that seek to help veterans out of the situations depicted in the movie.

Three very relevant charities are designated to receive 30% of the profits of this movie: Warriors Heart Foundation, Higher Path, and the Gary Sinise Foundation. That has never been done before.

Its realism and intense emotional impart will have a long term positive impact if we can get as many people as possible to go and buy this DVD or Blu-ray or even purchase it online. Then act upon it, of course, for as always, that is the hardest, and usually most forgotten of the emotions sought out thereafter such an experience.

In closing, and putting it in plain speak, 'Sgt. Will Gardner' will rightfully earn its place as an American military classic. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.cinedigm.com





'Ralph Breaks The Internet' [Blu-ray+DVD]
(John C, Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Walt Disney Studios)

Overview: From Walt Disney animation Studios comes the hilarious adventure 'Ralph Breaks The Internet'.

Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope risk it all by traveling to the Internet in search of a part to save her game.

When Vanellope embraces this thrilling new world, Ralph realizes he may lose the only friend he's ever had.

Blu-ray Verdict: Walt Disney Studios brings forth yet another diamond gem from their current catalogue in the form of the hysterically funny 'Ralph Breaks The Internet,' our February 26th, 2019.

So, what we have is 'Ralph Breaks The Internet' 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: MPEG-4 AVC; Resolution: 1080p; and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

There's also something crisper with the overall clarity here on the most colorful of scenes, themselves receiving an obvious boost for the Blu-ray edition.

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; like in the whole Meet the Princesses scene where they are all wearing different colored items.

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 end credit scenes which are all over the shop, sure, but oh-so colorful and amazing.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong visual creation for the Blu-ray from the Walt Disney Animation team, that's for sure.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is considered by many to be a letdown of the previous film, but in my opinion, I actually like this movie better.

Now, I still really like the first film, but THIS one just played the enjoyability to a whole new level (no pun intended). It's absolutely hilarious and entertaining in so many different ways, and I think that it's truly one of the best Disney sequels out there (excluding Pixar sequels).

What's the story? Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope's video game, "Sugar Rush."

In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet - the netizens - to help navigate their way, including an entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site BuzzzTube.

What is it about this movie that makes it better than the original? Well, the best thing that this movie has to be, hands down, the Internet itself. Unlike a specific animated movie (cough, cough, The Emoji Movie) that shoved down every single product placement down your throat, this movie manages to save those big products as a little cameo.

The products that DO get the main focus, on the other hand, are the fictional ones like Slaughter Race, BuzzzTube, KnowsMore, among others.

Also, there are tons and tons of little references scattered throughout the entire film, and I think they are just absolutely hilarious, ESPECIALLY that scene with the Disney Princesses.

It's not one of those movies that puts all the exciting stuff in the trailers, but it leaves you with a whole lot of surprises. Also, the animation is unbelievable, and the entire environment that the movie is set in looks colorful and innovative.

Also, the friendship message isn't really hammered down with Ralph and Vaniellope splitting ways in the middle of the film, it's actually done in a very subtle manner, and it can even spark up some key emotional set pieces into the film.

One more thing that I'd like to mention about this film is that there are two post-credit scenes, and they're both great. Not gonna go into detail or anything, I mean, after all, this IS a non-spoiler review, but they're enjoyable and fun. So stick around after the end credits to get a look at them!

In conclusion, 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is one of those sequels that not only improves on its predecessor, but makes it feel bigger as well.

The characters are very likable, the story is engaging, the animation is terrific, and the entire world around the characters is just extremely fascinating.

This is a recommendation to anyone who loved the first 'Wreck-It Ralph' and for those who love the Internet. You'll enjoy every frame of it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Deleted Scenes
How We Broke The Internet Featurette
Easter Eggs
And More!

Official Disney Purchase Link

www.Disney.com

Calling all Sugar Rush fans … now is your chance to race home with a signed, limited edition replica of the “Sugar Rush” steering wheel featured in the film!

If you remember the steering wheel is at the very core of Walt Disney Animation Studio's 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' as Ralph and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush.

Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet - the Netizens - to help navigate their way to eBay to find a replacement steering wheel.

Timed to the in-home release of the film, this IRL replica of the steering wheel has been donated by Walt Disney Animation Studios so that 100% of the proceeds from this auction item can be donated to Make-A-Wish® to help grant life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses.

Disney and Make-A-Wish® have a long-standing history together. Since 1980, Disney has helped Make-A-Wish grant more than 130,000 wishes — experiences that not only brighten lives for a special moment, but also help wish kids and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Currently, more than 10,000 Disney wishes are granted every year, a number that continues to grow.

The steering wheel itself has been autographed by Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot and Jane Lynch. Winning bidder will also receive a limited-edition autographed poster by cast and filmmakers including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Phil Johnston, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer as well as a Blu-ray copy of the movie!

Official Auction Link

Auction Dates: February 26th @ 6am (PST) – March 5th @ 6am (PST).





'Strip Nude For Your Killer: Special Edition'
(Edwige Fenech, Nino Castelnuovo, Femi Benussi, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1975) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A spate of highly sexualized murders is rocking a prestigious Milanese fashion house. Ambitious photographer Magda (Edwige Fenech, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) and her on-off boyfriend, love rat Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo, The English Patient), team up to crack the case.

But, with the motorcycle helmet-wearing killer clearing bearing a grudge against the agency's employees, it's surely only a matter of time before they too end up feeling the force of his wrath.

Blu-ray Verdict: When a model unexpectedly dies during an abortion procedure, the doctor carrying the operation out phones for help and sets it up to look like the girl died of natural causes.

Shortly after this, the doctor is brutally murdered outside of his home. And so begins a string of brutal killings, all connected by a modelling agency named Albatross.

One of the main suspects is Carlo (Nino Castelnuovo - who had previously starred in The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg and Rocco And His Brothers), and slightly sleezy and ambitious young photographer who we first meet hiring a model and then trying to sleep with her in a steam room.

He begins to date photographer Magda (Edwige Fenech), but can he protect her from the vicious killer who seems to be bringing down Albatross single handedly?

For all the perverts out there, this is possibly the greatest film ever made. For an apparently up-market modelling agency, the models seem to get their private parts out a hell of a lot.

Well I suppose they had to get the audiences in somehow, as the film has very little else going for it. Even for a giallo, the dubbing is atrociously bad!

The best they could come with for the killer is to dress him/her up in a motorcycle costume and helmet. And for all the usual style of the giallo genre, the scenes of violence and gore are disappointingly tame and bloodless (and when there is blood, it's clearly just paint!).

No suspense is built by the quite boring set-pieces, and the director seems to think the longer the set-piece, the more tense it will be. He was wrong, trust me!

Oh and there is also, unfortunately, extended shots of a big fat hairy guy in what is tighty-whities, but what looks more like a stolen Sumo diaper! Definitely for completists only, I'm afraid to say. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
High definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by HORRORPEDIA.com's Adrian J. Smith and David Flint Sex and Death with a Smile, a new video essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger on giallo and sex comedy icon Edwige Fenech
A Good Man for the Murders, a newly edited video interview with actor Nino Castelnuovo
The Blonde Salamander, a new video interview with actress Erna Schurer
The Art of Helping, a new video interview with assistant director Daniele Sangiorgi
Jack of All Trades, a new video interview with actor and production manager Tino Polenghi
Two versions of the opening scene: tinted and untinted viewing options
Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
Image gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Rachael Nisbet

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Phantom Lady: Special Edition'
(Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1944) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: After a fight with his wife, Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis, High Sierra) heads to a bar to drown his sorrows. There he strikes up a conversation with a mysterious, despondent lady who agrees to accompany him to a show uptown but withholds her name. Arriving home, Scott is met by grimly countenanced cops - his wife has been strangled with one of his neckties and he is the prime suspect. He has a solid alibi but his theatre companion is nowhere to be found and no one remembers seeing them together.

When Scott is charged with murdering his wife, it falls to his devoted secretary Kansas (Ella Raines, Brute Force) to find the phantom lady and save Scott from the electric chair.)

Blu-ray Verdict: Seldom have my expectations been as often derailed as in 'Phantom Lady'. The plot - while a bit farfetched - is never boring or predictable. Although it's a smaller film than say, The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep, it is immensely satisfying.

Ella Raines is the real stand-out here. Not only is she great to look at (think half-way between Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall) she also acts circles around the two leading men.

Luminous, expressive yet subtle, she is perhaps a better actress than those two icons, if slightly less perfect-looking than Lake and a bit less magnetic than Bacall.

Thomas Gomez turns in a surprisingly complex and interesting performance, but don't expect too much from Franchot Tone. Although his acting abilities need no defense, he didn't do much with this role.

Sure, there are plot holes, a couple of contrived turns, and at least two ridiculous performances (Elisha Cook and Aurora Miranda) but all B Noir has its faults, and this one wins by dint of its unpredictability and pacing, and some great cinematography.

In closing, and whilst the cast comprised some of the names familiar to buffs of forties movies - Andrew Tombes, Thomas Gomez, Elisha Cooke, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis and top-billed Franchot Tone - they most all cast against type, in my mind.

Certainly watchable and a reasonable addition to the noir gallery the conclusion is satisfying and everything makes sense (which is amazing considering the unlikely plot line!). This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM audio soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Dark and Deadly: 50 Years of Film Noir, an insightful archival documentary featuring contributions from Robert Wise, Edward Dmytryk, Dennis Hopper and more
Rare, hour-long 1944 radio dramatization of Phantom Lady by the Lux Radio Theatre, starring Alan Curtis and Ella Raines
Gallery of original stills and promotional materials
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alan K. Rode

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Kolobos: Special Edition'
(Amy Weber, Donny Terranova, Nichole Pelerine, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1999) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: A group of youngsters arrive at a snow-covered house under the guise of participating in a ground-breaking new experimental film.

With the entire property fitted out with cameras, their every move will be recorded. But when the house locks down, trapping the youngsters within, it soon becomes clear that something sinister is afoot.

Scream - you're on camera!

Blu-ray Verdict: 'Kolobos' is a totally fun, unknown slasher film from the late '90s that somehow slipped by most people's (inclusive of my own, and I LOVE this genre!) radar.

Made on what is obviously a shoestring budget, the film builds up great scares, tons of gore, and a cool plot that keeps you going from beginning to end.

A group of strangers are holed up in a nice suburban home, all believing they are going to appear on a new reality TV show. Little do they know, the house is booby-trapped to make mincemeat of them when the time is right!

Added into the mix is a deformed maniac, a supernatural snuff film, and wild, wacky LSD visions! Good stuff! This film should even impress those who has seen every slasher film out there as it's a mighty fine sight better than most of the horror of the past decade!

The one this that had me concerned though was that 'Kolobos' is clearly a movie that was built around its soundtrack. In fact, to my ear, the compositions are clearly lifted (via homage, of course) from tbhe cult classic 'Suspiria,' as they both share the same tonal beats.

Anyhoo, with shades of Argento (the aforementioned OST and some crazy lighting galore!) and tons of gore (yippie!) you can do a whole Hell of a lot worse than to sit down with this little late '90s gem one rainy, cold, dark evening! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
Original Stereo and 5.1 audio options
Audio commentary with co-writers and co-directors Daniel Liatowitsch and David Todd Ocvirk
Real World Massacre: The Making of Kolobos - brand new featurette on the making-of Kolobos including interviews with Daniel Liatowitsch, David Todd Ocvirk and co-writer/producer Nne Ebong
Face to Faceless - a brand new Interview with Faceless actor Ilia Volok
Slice & Dice: The Music of Kolobos - a brand new interview with composer William Kidd
Behind-the-Scenes Image Gallery
Super 8 short film by Daniel Liatowitsch with commentary
Original Trailer
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector's booklet with new writing on the film by Phillip Esc

www.ArrowFilms.com





'The Prisoner: Special Edition'
(Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Wilfrid Lawson, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1955) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: In an unnamed Eastern European capital, an iron-willed Cardinal (Academy Award®-winner Alec Guinness, The Ladykillers) is arrested by state police on charges of treason.

Tasked with securing a confession from him by any means necessary is a former comrade-in-arms from the anti-Nazi resistance (Jack Hawkins, The Bridge on the River Kwai).

Knowing the Cardinal will never fold under physical torture, the Interrogator instead sets out to destroy him mentally, breaking his spirit rather than his body.

Blu-ray Verdict: 'The Prisoner' is a rather lovely black and white gem of a film and is taken from the play by the same name. Widely based on the life of Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary it addresses the topic of religious freedom and therefore, also authentic human rights.

Alec Guinness in the role of a Catholic cardinal and Jack Hawkins as his interrogator who represents an atheist, totalitarian state (i.e. a state under communism) are brilliant are simply divine in their portrays; as are, in truth, the supporting actors too.

While these two lead actors were obviously in the same film, seldom have they shared scenes acting off each other like in this one, of that you have my word.

As for those supporting actors, Wilfred Lawson plays the somewhat likeable jailer, Kenneth Griffith is Hawkins ambitious secretary, Jeanette Stark and Ronald Lewis play a young couple trying to make sense of it all, and Raymond Huntley is the General.

The film is tense. It addresses man's inhumanity to man (Jack Hawkins) and the frailty of the human spirit when it is subjected to physical, emotional and mental torture (Alec Guinness).

It is the story of one man's battle to preserve his interior freedom and every man's battle with himself and it shows how a good man's courage and even his frailty unwittingly change the lives of his interrogator, his jailer and a guard.

The film's one weakness was that the cardinal's appearance did not adequately reflect the horrific torture to which he was subjected: though tortured for months on end, he is always clean-shaven and there is no gradual deterioration to give credence to his utter physical and mental exhaustion.

That said, I loved the film and found it very moving, particularly the scene close to the end when the cardinal looks into the guard's eyes and humbly says, "Try not to judge the Priesthood by the Priest." This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-rayTM (1080p) presentation
Original lossless mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Interrogating Guinness, a new video appreciation of the film by author and academic Neil Sinyard
Select scene commentary by author and critic Philip Kemp
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mark Cunliffe

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Green Book: 4K Ultra HD'
(Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen and two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali star in 'Green Book', a film inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class, and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line.

When Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.

Confronted with racism, danger as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of this quite wondrous 'Green Book' in the new 4K home video format on March 12th, 2019.

Winner of three (3) Academy Awards a few days ago - inclusive of Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Best Original Screenplay - for my money, this 'Green Book: 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 'Green Book' 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; and Original aspect ratio: 2.00:1.

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; like their diner scene where Dr. Don Shirley asks Tony Lip about his soup (to which he replies "Salty".

One minute it's a drab diner, the next, as they discuss Tony's possible career as a food critic, you watch as their quiet conversation unfolds and the diners behind and around them (wearing their subtle colors) suddenly stat to come into focus.

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 scene where Dr. Don Shirley is reading aloud Tony Lip's letter to his wife; for that's where both actors are swathed in yellow outfits) nurtures its spacial awareness for a fuller impact; giving the scene a stunningly beautiful honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); and French (Canada): DTS 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, one of my favorite cinematic experiences is when a film comes absolutely out of nowhere and ends up being incredible.

For me, that is pretty much the story of 'Green Book', a movie that came into the 2018 holiday season with little hype but, when all is said and done, should have been the frontrunner for Film of The Year!

For a basic plot summary, 'Green Book' tells the real-life 1962 story of Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a renowned piano player embarking on a tour of the Deep South.

His race - African American - might pose some issues, so he hires cocky tough-guy Tony Lipp (Viggo Mortensen) from the Bronx to be his driver. As the two set out on their journey, it at first seems like an Odd Couple type of relationship.

But as they experience more of each other's company - as well as the racial injustices of the territory - they come to both rely on and perhaps learn something from the other.

This is a movie that really "sneaks up on you", so to speak. It starts off relatively straightforward and one could be forgiven for thinking it's maybe even a little slow.

But that character development pays off in an enormous way, as by the end you'll be holding back tears (or failing to) after witnessing the bond these men form out on the road and in face of adversity.

For a movie like 'Green Book' to work, the acting has to be spot-on, and it surely is here. You'd never guess this was the same Mortensen that was once the sword-wielding Aragorn in the 'Lord of the Rings' franchise.

He went all-in for this role, shaping both his voice and body to fit the part. Ali has slowly built up a fantastic career for himself, and there's nothing to stop that process here.

Indeed, the arc of his character provides most of the emotion of the film, and his scenes range from heartbreaking to hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, also consider that this film was directed by Peter Farrelly! Yes, he of 'Dumb & Dumber' fame! While seemingly an odd choice to helm such an emotional project, it proves to be EXACTLY the right decision, as the humor in the film goes a long way towards establishing rapport between the two leads.

As deep as the emotional stuff goes (and it goes deep, to be sure), the comedy is easily just as well-done.

I haven't even mentioned the soundtrack yet, which is another integral role in the film. Whether it be Shirley himself or just the on the road type tunes, the 'Green Book' soundtrack is one of the best I've experienced in quite some time. A great mix of jazz, piano, and orchestral sections.

As you can see, I think that perhaps the biggest reason why 'Green Book' gets the full 10-star treatment from me here in this review is because it does a little bit of everything, and somewhat remarkably nails all those little areas to produce a masterpiece.

The final compliment? The overall message of the film is a great one: that sometimes all it takes for two people to better understand each other (in this case it is black and white, but really it could be anything) is proximity.

Had not fate drawn Dr. Shirley and Tony together, they would have spent the rest of their days likely stuck in their own little boxes. As it turned out, however, it took a road trip to cross those bridges and each man to learn a little from the other.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the special features included. Well, sadly there's not many, but the stand out would be, for me, 'An Unforgettable Friendship.' It's a featurette that showcases the two real-life men their background so perfectly that it blends seamlessly into the film adaptation.

Featuring some rather lovely behind-the-scenes moments along with some pivotal scenes from the film - noticeably the moment when Dr. Don Shirley is getting beaten up in a bar and Tony Lip comes in to "save" him - the five minute featurette is a massive insight into not only the real men, but the way the actors both got into character also.

'Green Book' will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital and on 3D Blu-ray, regular Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand this March 12th, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.00:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of Green Book
Features High Dynamic Range (HDR10) for Brighter, Deeper, More Lifelike Color
Virtuoso Performances
An Unforgettable Friendship
Going Beyond the Green Book

Official Trailer

www.UPHE.com





'Sister Street Fighter Collection'
(Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shiomi, Asao Uchida, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: Genre entertainment of the highest order, the 'Sister Street Fighter' films are a wild ride through some of the best exploitation cinema Japan produced in the 1970s.

Funky and over-the-top, filled with wall-to-wall action, and featuring some of the craziest villains ever depicted onscreen, the series embodies female power in a male-dominated genre and is a magnificent showcase for the physical presence and martial arts skills of its lead star.

Blu-ray Verdict: In 1974's 'Sister Street Fighter', Shihomi is the half-Chinese, half-Japanese Li Koryu, who travels to Yokohama to investigate the disappearance of her brother, an undercover cop.

Li discovers a smuggling ring run by a drug lord with his own personal army of deadly fighters, and must penetrate his evil lair with the help of a fellow karate master (played by Chiba).

Another colorful hypnotic Japanese film full of outrageous dialogue, tons of karate action, and a whole slew of various ancient martial arts weapons are shown in full force throughout; and all for good and glorious reasons.

The choreography is excellent, packed with off beat camera angles, good staging, and a wealth of interesting and exciting locations. The action never lets up, fusing together the successful combinations of sex (a parade of topless starlets) and violence (gratuitous bone-breaking) to provide a satisfying whole.

That same year came 'Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread' (1974). This time Koryu heads to Yokohama in search of a woman named Birei, kidnapped by diamond smugglers who move their hot rocks by surgically implanting them into the nubile buttocks of Chinese prostitutes.

Koryu's older sister, working as a jewelry designer, is secretly if unhappily involved with the gangsters.

Well, if you thought you've seen it all, think again! This time without Sonny Chiba, the Sister Street Fighter is out to protect a young child who's mother is involved with a gold smuggler/ drug enforcer.

The uncle was a detective who was tending the niece, and is killed by doing it. The Sister Street Fighter leaves Hing Kong with the niece meets up with her friend from class and kick some serious butt at a dock in Japan.

Trust me when I say those two ladies make a great team and even though the reunion of mother and daughter was short-lived, the fight for avenging loved ones goes on non-stop!

In 'Return of the Sister Street Fighter' (1975), when the crime boss has to pick one of his thugs for a fight he takes his knife, throws it to the roof and kills a butterfly with it, then the knife falls to one guy's shoulder and that's the man he's chosen for the job.

Come on now, that's some damn serious inventiveness right there. Am I right! And who's the guys he's gonna fight? That's Yasuaki Kurata of course!

Chock full of lots of action, female nudity, more fighting, some ridiculous Japanese character in black-face, fighting on the rooftops, drugs, burning houses, more nudity, more fights; it just goes on and on!

The last film in this wondrous new Blu-ray collection is 'Sister Street Fighter: Fifth Level Fist' (1976). Although not an official sequel (Shihomi plays a different character), the film is often referred to as a sequel to the series.

Kiku Nakakawa, the only daughter of an old kimono shop owner in Kyoto, is enthusiastic about karate. In order to help her friend Michi avenge her brother, she sneaks into a movie studio in Kyoto where a drug dealing syndicate is based.

So, to my mind, this fourth and final movie of the 'Sister Street Fighter' series makes good use of its comedy elements. From the crazy film crew to Kiku's father who secretly helps her, but would be happier if she was living more traditionally (he is a kimono salesman), each character here has a nice, fully rounded back story which means you care for them more than you expect to. These are all Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition digital transfers of all four films
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations
Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio
Original English dubbed audio for Sister Street Fighter
New optional English subtitle translation for all four films
English SDH subtitles for the English dub for Sister Street Fighter
New video interviews with actor Shinichi Sonny Chiba, director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, and screenwriter Masahiro Kakefuda
Original Japanese theatrical trailers for all four films
Original U.S. theatrical trailer for Sister Street Fighter, plus original English opening titles to the film
Original German theatrical trailer for Sister Street Fighter, plus original German opening titles to the film
Stills and poster gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Kungfubob O'Brien
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated booklet featuring writing on the series by Patrick Macias and a new essay on the U.S. release of Toei's karate films by Chris Poggiali

www.ArrowFilms.com





'London Fields'
(Amber Heard, Gemma Chan, Billy Bob Thornton, Theo James, et al / DVD / R / 2019)

Overview: Clairvoyant femme fatale Nicola Six (Amber Heard) has been living with a dark premonition of her impending death by murder.

She begins a tangled love affair with three uniquely different men: one of whom she knows will be her murderer.

DVD Verdict: OK, whilst this is not an Oscar-worthy film, it really is incredibly fun and entertaining to watch. I sat down with friends to watch it and we all agreed that it was well worthy of our time.

In the vein of a sexy film-noir classic, please don't listen to the en masse of negative reviews out there as they really only pertain to the behind-the-scenes disruptions and bs going on with Amber Heard at the time (the movie was actually filmed and in the can many years ago!).

Anyway aside from all that malarkey, Amber Heard (who wasn't first choice as the lead, that was actually co-star Gemma Chan) is seductive and innocent, and on the brink of proving she's a good actress here.

Also featuring a rather super performance by Jim Sturgess, the man is quite easily the King of every single scene he is present in! Billy Bob Thornton and Theo James are both rather solid in their respective suitor roles also and, oh yeah, watch out for a cameo from Heard's then-boyfriend, Johnny Depp!

Enhanced here with music choices that make sense to each scene and cinematic color that bleeds and blends seamlessly, the differences in how the characters are introduced and how we are made to care for them has been superbly crafted.

Their stories unfolds smoothly, never rushed, the Who-Will-Do-It scenario never overplayed nor misjudged when it comes to the big reveal.

Indeed, if you ever get the chance to watch the Director's Cut please do so as it is so much more layered and well crafted. You can feel the attention, care and skill involved in this fuller version, that's all.

In closing, the locations, attention to detail, choices of images and where to push makes 'London Fields' more than a movie; it's an excellent piece of art for its time. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.FoxMovies.com





'Barb Wire' [Blu-ray]
(Pamela Anderson, Xander Berkeley, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1996) 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: During the Second American Civil War in 2017, Barb Wire owns a nightclub called the Hammerhead.

Things become complicated when her ex-lover Axel Hood, who is married to the fugitive Corrina Devonshire, re-enters her life.

Blu-ray Verdict: In truth, not many actors stumble on a role that seems designed just for them. However, and contrary to public thought, 'Barb Wire' actually wasn't as it was based on a comic book series.

Yet Pamela Anderson was perfect for the role. I've never liked her in those ditzy roles as while she may not be the brightest girl on Earth, she just can't pull them off.

For my money she is far better in a serious (well, ok, possibly pretend serious) role.

No one else could have fit the role so perfectly and she really did a great job. Sure people will mock her for being who she is, but if you are open before seeing the movie, she will surprise you here.

This isn't all about showing off Pam's body (who's fake boobs are not anywhere near as nice as they were before she had them done), but is a decent comic book made into a dynamite film.

Pam needed more roles like this and should have steered clear of the ditzy roles she seems to prefer playing. Again, to my mind she's made for this kind of cinematic thrill ride.

And what about the actual story line, I hear you ask? Well, it's a trashy, campy, sleazy, grotesque and incredibly flamboyant Sci-Fi story set in 2017; in a society spoiled by the Second Civil War and a city dominated by mayhem, corruption and resistance.

Barb Wire owns the successful bar, but makes even more money with her side jobs as rough bounty hunter and hired assassin. She leads a good life until her former resistance-lover shows up with a fugitive scientist who needs a special pair of contact lenses in order to flee to Canada.

Barb always remained neutral in political matters (always following her chosen example of Rick from 'Casablanca'), but it looks as if she'll have to get involved now!

An instant hit for anyone who likes the style of slightly corny comic book adaptations, 'Barb Wire' has just been re-released on a stunning new Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'The Rundown' [Blu-ray+DVD]
(Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (2003) 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Beck (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a bounty hunter sent into the treacherous jungles of the Amazon to bring the rebellious Travis (Seann William Scott) back to the States.

When Beck and Travis reluctantly join forces to hunt down a priceless treasure, this unlikely team embarks on a pulse-pounding, non-stop thrill ride.

Blu-ray Verdict: After striking gold with his witty directorial debut (in the form of 1998's 'Very Bad Things'), director Peter Berg went on to do this seemingly forgettable action-piece ... which is one of my very personal favorites in its genre!

Trust me when I say that 2003's 'The Rundown' is a thrilling action fest with all the ingredients required from an Amazon jungle adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones, and to a lesser extent Romancing the Stone.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a tough guy who finds himself at odds with a local mobster, which sends him to the jungle in search of his long lost son as a payment for his debts.

The renegade son, portrayed by Sean William Scott, isn't thrilled by the idea to say the least. Scott's character is actually doing some very interesting treasure hunting and doesn't look like he's planning to return to the States until he's found what he's looking for!

Enter into the fray the feisty no nonsense female lead Rosario Dawson in the shape of a kick-ass local mercenary! Oh, and watch out for a crusty and brilliant one line comeback spitting Christopher Walken as a capitalist bad guy!

Adding to this rather awesome Amazon adventure is also a brief cameo by the then-Governor himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger who adds his own little rumble to the jungle!

That said, some very fine cinematic photography and scenic locales are all overshadowed (kinda sorta) by the youthful Seann William Scott; who steals this film from the "real" star, Dwayne Johnson!

The story is naturally silly (I mean, there's not even baboons to be found in the Amazon - it's not their natural habitat!), but it's chock full of lazy Sunday afternoon humor all combined with some effective action sequences. These are both (Blu-ray+DVD) Widescreen Presentation's (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'No Tell Motel - 8 Movie Collection' [2-Disc]
(John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Erika Blanc, Judy Geeson, Amanda Peet, Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Arthur Space, John Carradine, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: In this brand new 8-Movie Collection 'No Tell Motel,' you can check-in, but you can't check-out!

DVD Verdict: 'Vacancy' (2007) - When a couple's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to spend the night at the only motel around, with only the TV to entertain them - until they discover that the low-budget slasher videos they find in their room were all filmed in the very room in which they're sitting.

With hidden cameras now aimed at them - trapping them in rooms, crawlspaces, underground tunnels - and filming their every move, the couple must struggle to get out alive before they end up the next victims on tape.

Our lead performers are Beckinsale and Wilson, both of whom turn in some great performances. Wilson plays the "husband hero" and Beckinsale is the "damsel in distress-gone fighting machine", and both capture this effectively.

Their acting is believable, and I think that the writing has something to do with it as well, because their characters are written really well.

They're not your typical genre morons who drop to the floor when the killer approaches, they are much more real. They make good decisions and the right moves, which makes them much more credible and realistic, winning over the audiences sympathy rather easily.

'Identity' (2003) - Ten strangers with secrets are brought together in a savage rainstorm at a desolate motel. Relief in finding shelter is quickly replaced with fear as the ten travelers begin to die, one by one.

They soon realize that, if they are to survive, they'll have to uncover the secret that has brought them all together.

The set-up is neat (if predictable) and there's a great opening showing how the actions of one of them (Amanda Peet) inadvertently causes some serious damage for the others.

There also is some great acting by Peet, John C. McGinley and Ray Liotta (who REALLY chews the scenery). There are also some moments that will make you jump and there are two neat twists at the end.

The only bad things about this movie is some clumsy exposition (John Cusack tells his whole life story while photographing a corpse), some truly bad lines and a surprisingly lousy performance by Cusack himself!

'Hostel' (2005) - Presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & 2) and directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), Hostel is a shocking and relentless film in the tradition of Saw about two American backpackers (Jay Hernandez, Friday Night Lights and Derek Richardson, Dumb and Dumberer) in Europe who find themselves lured in as victims of a murder-for-profit business.

'Hostel' begins by introducing us to three pals, Paxton, Josh and Oli (Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjonsson respectively), on a backpacking journey through Europe of sex, drugs and partying.

Horny as can be, they take a newfound friend's advice to check out a Slovakian city that promises to fulfill all their desires for intimate, no-strings attached relations.

But once they get settled in, Oli inexplicably disappears, soon followed by Josh. That leaves Paxton to unravel the brutal truth behind this mystery.

'Hostel' is impossible to sufficiently describe to someone who hasn't seen it. It's not because it's so good (though it is pretty good), but because it's such a creative, unusual film experience.

'Hostel Part II' (2007) - Presented by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vols. 1 & 2) and written and directed by Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), Hostel Part II is the shocking and gruesome sequel about the underground torture ring where rich businessmen pay to torture and murder their victims.

As detailed above, the first 'Hostel' took me by surprise and I found it to be more compelling than I had anticipated. This second installment is equally enthralling and grabbed me by the balls!

Although bloody and sadistically violent it is also darkly funny and populated with some of the strangest; menacing and unusual looking characters to grace the silver screen in quite some time.

I felt I was in Argento territory here during some of the sequences and this is most certainly not a bad thing at all.

The design of the film was great and contains some rather excellent cinematography and evocative music that all melded together to create an exciting and tense movie sequel experience.

'Terror at Red Wolf Inn' (1972) - A college student returns to her dorm room after class and discovers she is the winner of an all-expense paid vacation to the Red Wolf Inn.

Before she can share her good fortune with her parents, she and two other girls are whisked away to begin their vacation of a lifetime.

When one of the guests suddenly disappears, the young woman doesn't believe the explanation the old couple who run the inn gives her concerning the strange goings on at the Red Wolf.

This is an off-beat horror film produced by Michael Macready(he produced the two Count Yorga films) and directed by Bud Townsend.

It stars Linda Gillen as a young college girl going off for a free vacation to an old-fashioned resort on the beach.

However, it turns out to be not much of a resort with only two other attractive female guests(Pamela and Edwina), Baby John, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Evelyn.

The owners, it seems, like to butcher the young girls for their food and prepare them in fantastic culinary dishes.

Prior to each girl's departure(their supposed last night at the resort), Aunt Evie and Uncle Henry throw a party and a gourmet meal. Regina(Gillen) catches on and the film moves into some chase scenes and bizarre humor.

'It Happened at Nightmare Inn' (1973) - Two spinster sisters run a small inn that caters towards young foreign female tourists. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to the sisters that rises up to punish the young women they deem immoral.

Many a traveler comes to stay but never end up leaving the inn. When the sister of one patron comes in search of her missing sibling, it threatens to expose the truth behind the inn and its owners.

Though obviously inspired by Psycho, this truly deranged Spanish shocker features several gruesome sequences which makes the film way ahead of its time.

In truth, the atmosphere is quite sinister and very threatening throughout. Judy Geeson (of To Sir, With Love fame) does well in her role as the pretty blonde heroine, and Aurora Batista and Esperanza Roy are indeed the most menacing inn-keepers since Norman Bates!

'The Devil's Nightmare' (1971) - A busload of tourists is forced to take refuge at a castle due to a blocked road and inclement weather.

The Baron and staff of the castle welcome the visitors but do not reveal to them the curse over the household.

It seems that Satan has control over the estate and demands the new visitors be sacrificed to him in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Erica Blanc is superb in this role and her transformation from sexy seductress to ghastly succubus is a highlight. Another highlight is Daniel Emilfork as the Devil.

His performance is a real stand out when compared to the rather wooden performances delivered by some of the other cast members.

Director Jean Brismee also deserves kudos for several delightfully imaginative flourishes during the death scenes.

Indeed, this is an above average example of the type of metaphysical horror film that seemed to proliferate in Europe in the 1970's.

It's simply the story of the Devil, his minion (the succubus) and seven tourists (each representing one of the seven deadly sins) who are forced to spend the night in a sinister castle.

The first hour is rather plodding due to an over abundance of exposition and very little action. Viewer patience is rewarded however during the final half hour when Ilse (the succubus) starts doing what she does best!

'Legacy of Blood' (1978) - An aged millionaire passes on and leaves his four children his large fortune. According to his will, the four heirs must spend one week at his estate in order to split up the fortune.

If any of the heirs leave or die before the week is out, the remaining children will receive the money and if all the heirs are gone, the servants will gain the inheritance.

Once everyone has arrived at the estate and settled in, strange things begin to happen and the heirs begin to turn up dead.

Who is killing them and can the remaining heirs find out before it's too late?

Andy Milligan has something of a twisted reputation among bad film buffs as producing inept low-budget gore. This flick is a slightly more competent remake of an earlier film Milligan conceived called 'The Ghastly Ones'.

As aforementioned, the plots both films share is this: A trio of sisters, along with their husbands, travel to the family mansion for the reading of the late father's will.

The sisters stand to inherit a substantial fortune, but someone plans to kill them before they can stay the prescribed weekend in the house, and various gory murders ensue.

Milligan tried both with period settings, 1905 for the first and circa 1920 for the latter, and the remake fares better in terms of accurate period detail. These are all Widescreen Presentation's (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and 'Terror At Red Wolf Inn,' 'It Happened At Nightmare Inn,' 'The Devil's Nightmare' and 'Legacy Of Blood' all include digital access on movieSPREE!

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Blood Hunger: The Films Of José Larraz'
(Karl Lanchbury, Vivian Neves, Pia Andersson, et al / 3-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / Arrow Films UK)

Overview: One of the most underrated and oft-neglected genre filmmakers of his generation, Spanish-born director José Ramón Larraz (Symptoms) finally receives his due with this collection of his work; the first of its kind, bringing together a fascinating cross-section of films from the first half of his lengthy cinematic career.

Blu-ray Verdict: In Larraz's debut feature, the hitherto ultra-rare 'Whirlpool' (1970), Vivian Neves stars as Tulia, a young model invited to a photographer's secluded country home for what purports to be a quiet weekend retreat - but soon transpires to be anything but.

The film itself is amazingly sleazy considering its both British (though registered in Denmark) and from the '60s, before films like 'Expose' and 'Frightmare' became the norm.

Indeed, the film has many similarities to other Larraz films of the period, such as being set in rural England during the fall and featuring a severely warped family relationship.

Funnily enough, the British censors cut lesbian sex scenes between Tulia and her aunt, a woodland rape, and a bedtime threesome out completely for its UK run.

Along with the creeping atmosphere in his directing, Larraz and Lomberg give their screenplay a strong swipe of crawling sleaze with both gradually taking their time to fully place Tulia in Sara and Theo's games.

Of course, come the finale this leads to the writers delivering an excellently ruthless ending, as Tulia starts to fear that she will never be able to get out of this deadly whirlpool.

Oh, and the score is by Stelvio Cipriani, who also did the score for Larraz's brilliant 'Deviation' - which itself was very similar to his score for Mario Bava's 'Twitch of The Death Nerve' (aka 'Bay of Blood.') 1974's 'Vampyres' - perhaps the best known and most widely-released of all José Larraz's films - sees a duo of blood hungry female vampires prowling the British countryside; from where they lure unsuspecting male motorists back to their imposing, dilapidated mansion for draining ... in more ways than one!

As I'm sure you are all well aware by now, 'Vampyres' is yet another erotic vampire exploitation film from the '70s (in truth, in much the same style as some Jess Franco films) and highly recommended for all fans of Eurotrash films!

The lesbian vampires are the sexy and gorgeous Anulka Dziubinska, who is the Playboy´s Playmate of the Month in May of 1973, and Marianne Morris, and they spend great part of the film naked!

The couple, John and Harriet are silly from the start ie: they choose to camp in a melancholic area with a cemetery close by! Add to that, once they get curious, Harriet starts annoying and then following the vampires and snooping around their house and you quickly see why the viewer is like They get what they deserve!

The film also contains some of the most incredibly erotic sex scenes in any horror film! Add a Gothic mansion, plenty of lush autumnal scenery, and poetic shots of the vamps running through a graveyard at dawn, and you get a thoroughly beautiful motion picture that you won't soon forget!

Meanwhile, in 1978's 'The Coming of Sin' (La Visita del Vicio, in its native Spanish), a young gypsy girl experiences a violent sexual awakening as her dreams of a naked young man on horseback become reality.

By now you'll understand and freely acknowledge that Larraz is one of those directors who succeeds in making a picture with virtually no money.

Indeed, by using some unorthodox images like a naked man on a horse, and by doing some smart editing, he manages to give this film a creepy feeling that shows you don't need millions to make a decent picture.

This does not mean this is a good movie. Although it had some strong scenes, including the infamous horse-with-woman-inside scene, it has a weak ending, a couple of standard middle-of-the-road sex scenes and the acting is (as always in Eurotrash cinema) rather amateurish.

That said, the story is stylishly told. Creative cameras show the countryside and the house and the high grasses surrounding it. The dream sequences, the wind moving the clothes on the clothes line, the river, the small animals hopping around are so beautifully captured also.

And to crown it all are some wonderful (perfectly punctuating the sex scenes) soundtrack moments brought forth by some magnificent, dulcet Spanish guitars. These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Three films from José Ramón Larraz, all newly-restored in 2K from original film elements
Newly-produced, extensive bonus features and unseen archival content
English subtitles for all features
Newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
80-page perfect bound book featuring new writing by Jo Botting, Tim Greaves and Vanity Celis

WHIRLPOOL:
Original US Theatrical Cut
Brand new audio commentary by Tim Lucas
Obsessive Recurrence: The Early Films of José Larraz - author and critic Kim Newman reflects on the recurring themes and underlying obsessions linking together the early productions of José Larraz
A Curious Casting - actor Larry Dann on the strange story behind his casting in Whirlpool
Deviations of Whirlpool - featurette comparing the differences between the US Theatrical Cut and a previously circulated, alternate cut of the film
Extract from an archival interview with José Larraz
Image Gallery
Original US Theatrical Trailer

VAMPYRES:
Brand new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger
Brand new interviews with producer Brian Smedley-Aston, actors Marianne Morris, Anulka Dziubinska, Brian Deacon, Sally Faulkner, makeup artist Colin Arthur and composer James Kenelm Clarke
Reimagining Vampyres - a brand new interview with Larraz's friend and collaborator Victor Matellano, director of the 2015 Vampyres remake
Extract from an archival interview with José Larraz
Jose Larraz and Marianne Morris Q&A at 1997 Eurofest
Image Gallery
Trailers

THE COMING OF SIN:
Spanish and English language versions of the feature
Brand new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger
Variations of Vice: The Alternate Versions of The Coming of Sin
Exploitation expert Marc Morris on the strange and scandalous release history of José Larraz's most censored film
Remembering Larraz author and filmmaker Simon Birrell shares his fond and extensive memories of his long-time friend and collaborator José Larraz
His Last Request (2005, 27 mins) - short film by Simon Birrell made under the guidance of José Larraz and starring Spanish horror legend Jack Taylor
Extract from an archival interview with José Larraz
Image Gallery
Original Spanish Trailer

www.ArrowFilms.com





'Showdown: Special Collector's Edition'
(Billy Blanks, Christine Taylor, Kenn Scott, Brion James, James Lew, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1990) 2019 / MVD Rewind)

Overview: Ken Marks (Kenn Scott, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze) finds a dangerous enemy on his first day at his new school; an enemy who makes his living as the champion of an illegal fighting operation.

School janitor and ex-cop Billy Grant (Billy Blanks, The Last Boy Scout) trains Ken to defend himself. What Billy doesn't know is that the man behind it all is the one man from his past who wants him dead.

Blu-ray Verdict: With a combination of Billy Blanks, an engrossing storyline, Billy Blanks, 80's synthesizer music and Billy Blanks, 'Showdown' has easily emerged as the best movie of all time.

Did I mention Billy Blanks was in it? Well he is, and he chews up the screen time by beating the hell out of anyone and everyone. He's a bad mother!

With those awful Flock of Seagulls hairdos and worse yet a wardrobe chock full of denim as far as the eye can see, this early '90s film (that so badly wanted to be an '80s gem look wise) might have gotten people thinking it was simply a 'Karate Kid' knockoff, but was far, far from it.

In fact, it's actually two movies. One is about Billy Blanks' character (a janitor) who is rather good at kicking butts and the other is about a high school doofus who likes Christine Taylor (Ben Stiller's wife in real life) and who is willing to use his lame karate skills to win her over.

That doofus is played by John Mallory Asher (Mike) and he might well remain that way throughout, but he does add some wondrous funny and sarcastic moments of one-line joy too! Lee (played by Patrick Kilpatrick) should have had more lines or better ones.

In my eyes, he is a good actor and was great in 'Death Warrant' as the psycho. Yeah I know both guys needed their own respective nemesis, but he was as unbelievable as half of the ones who played Tom's friends, Rob (Michael Cavalieri) and Gina (Seidy Lopez); but I guess it's different strokes for different folks! This is a brand new High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 1.78:1 aspect ratio
Audio: English 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English
NEW! "The Making of Showdown" (new feature length documentary with director Robert Radler, writer Stuart Gibbs and stars Billy Blanks, Kenn Scott, John Asher, Patrick Kilpatrick and Michael Genovese) (HD, 98 mins)
NEW! Robert Radler: Portrait of a Director featurette (HD, 12 mins)
NEW! Billy Blanks: Martial Arts Legend featurette (HD, 15 mins)
NEW! The Fights of 'Showdown' featurette (HD, 47 mins)
NEW! 'Showdown': Anatomy of a Scene featurette (HD, 7 mins)
Photo Gallery
Original Theatrical Trailer (SD)
Collectible Mini-Poster

www.MVDvisual.com





'Dark River' [Blu-ray]
(Ruth Wilson, Mark Stanley, Sean Bean, Dean Andrews, Mike Noble, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2017) 2019 / FilmRise)

Overview: Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her home village for the first time in 15 years, to claim the tenancy to the family farm she believes is rightfully hers.

Blu-ray Verdict: SPOILERS AHEAD! - Starring one of my most favorite British actors, the delicious and mysteriously alluring Ruth Wilson ('Luther'), 'Dark River' tells the story of a Yorkshire farm family living out a curse as harsh and ineluctable as any known Greek tragedy.

The life here is elemental. There are threats of fire and purges in rain. The living quarters are primitive, dark, basic. The men are rough-hewn and violent. The sex is brief, impersonal and urgent.

Indeed, the only modern device is the buzzing shearer for the sheep. When the guard dog breaks its tether it straightaway mauls a sheep; the one thing it was meant to protect.

Ergo, this is no Wonderland that Alice (Wilson) ploughs through, stolid and capable. We see her shear and dip sheep efficiently as any man. For dinner she skins and guts a rabbit, but is drawn from her bout of domestic cooking by her brother Joe's drunken aberrancy. Furthermore, she has to then fight off his attempt to burn her Range Rover.

As Alice, Ruth Wilson is most expressive in her harrowing silences. The primeval sin is the father's habitual violation of the young Alice. He is all the more sinister for his gentle, tender mien.

He didn't need Joe's violence. In shame and anger, Alice spent 15 years working sheep farms wherever she could find them, before her father's death enabled her return.

As Joe notes, she is still frightened anew every time she enters a room. Her father haunts her still. And yet she now has to return to the land.

Drawing on her father's promise to leave it to her, however poisoned it is by her experience she applies for its tenancy - and then has to confront (and fight) Joe in an attempt to bring her new savvy to the operation.

Ultimately she loses when he wins the tenancy on the promise to sell out to a developer. The Joe we now see is a drunken incompetent lout with his father's male authority. He is violent but has no true guile for he is as scarred by his father's sin as Alice is.

He doesn't realize that until she spells it out: "Why didn't you stop him?" His rage and self-destruction are based in that guilt. That said, Joe gets his redemption at the end when he assumes the guilt for the murder Alice accidentally committed.

So he finally protects her and both are strengthened by this cleansing; the confrontation of their curse. The film closes on an idyllic shot of the two siblings, as teenagers, walking out of the shadowed barn down into their realm of shining fields.

It's probably not a memory, per say, but a metaphor for the relationship they have now snatched away from their father's shadow. The title has no literal representation in the film but is more antithetic to the waterfall in which Alice twice goes to cleanse herself.

Another generation of teens repair there too, possibly without her curse adhered to themselves though. Indeed, the dark river is the family's secret guilt that has rushed through their lives ever since. But no longer. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.filmrise.com





'Life In The Doghouse: Special Edition' [BR]
(Ron Danta, Danny Robertshaw, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / FilmRise)

Overview: 'Life In The Doghouse' tells the inspiring life stories of Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta and the remarkable work they do at Danny & Ron's Rescue.

Blu-ray Verdict: In what reveals itself to be a rather wonderful, if not at times heart wrenching new documentary about these two men whose compassion and determination in rescuing over 11,000 unwanted dogs, 'Life In The Doghouse' has, quite easily, become one of my most beloved go-to's for its genuine feelgood vibe.

A much-needed reminder of how wonderful people can be, and what a human's love can do, and be, for a dog (any animal, in truth), in the decade both Danny and Ron have been doing this, their unique approach to life and dog rescue should capture hearts and inspire millions to make the right choices when it comes to man's best friend.

They freely admit that they know of no other rescue business that allows their dogs to walk and run freely around their homes and business like they do, and watching these dogs do just that is just so freeing to the soul (ours and theirs, of course).

At the time of filming, they had an incredible 71 dogs running freely throughout the house and when asked what the "people space" footage would amount to, Ron replies (albeit, one assumes, slightly sarcastically) "How many square feet would a king size bed be?"

So, and for all intents and purposes, they (Danny and Ron) live in the dog's house where they are the guests! Throughout the wonderful near 90 minute documentary, you just know that the dogs that are all part of Danny and Ron's rescue will never end up in a shelter ever again or want for anything and will always be loved.

The world needs more people like Danny and Ron who throughout this new documentary showcase a wonderful story of love, commitment and dedication to dogs on a scale so immense it's actually hard to put into words.

Please watch it for yourself and fall in love with your pets all over again.

This Blu-ray includes 5.1 surround sound, stereo and English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired and comes with the Bonus Features of: Photo Gallery, Deleted Scenes, and a Theatrical Trailer.

www.lifeinthedoghousemovie.com

Danny & Ron's Rescue @ Facebook

www.filmrise.com





'Mortal Engines: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital'
(Hugo Weaving, Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Jihae, Ronan Raftery, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: Visionary filmmaker Peter Jackson presents a startling new adventure unlike any you've seen before.

Hundreds of years after our civilization was destroyed, a new world has emerged. A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw leads a band of outcasts in the fight to stop London – now a giant predator city on wheels – from devouring everything in its path.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Universal Studios Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this March with the release of this wondrous near-future gem, 'Mortal Engines' in the new 4K home video format on March 12th, 2019.

For my money, this 'Mortal Engines: 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 'Mortal Engines' 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: Native 4K (2160p), HDR: Dolby Vision + 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; like in the many moments when our heroine witnesses and has to deal with the mighty rolling city of London. They truly do seem to pop here now.

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 some scenes where Hilmar, bandana on to cover her mouth, wrestles with some of the great predator cities at dawn's break) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, and English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

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, 'Mortal Engines' has been high on my movies-yet-to-see (in 4K) ever since it finished its run at the theaters.

So, from the off, let's put the things in perspective. This is an Outback production not a Hollywood one. However the level of digital imagery is the greatest and more realistic ever seen; even when what we are seeing is impossible.

It is true that the story is not a match with the visuals. It is pretty standard; but keep moving very fast and allow an spectacular scene after the other.

It seems the director took YA novel and reduced it to the basis in order to have two hours of pure entertainment and letting go an unconcealed critic to the British government and society.

The predator city is called London, and basically "ingest" less powerful cities in order to survive. Inhabitants are assimilated, but as a lower class while the upper class living and differentiate from the rest.

People cheer when another city is attacked as a Roman circus London is at war with everybody else; specially those other powerful cities that decides to be static and united.

Compared with other PG-13 movies this is violent, sometimes bloody and brutal. Combining spectacular decadence with something of the Mad Max world (what do you expect coming from Down Under).

While the script is simple entertaining sadly the acting of the main characters is barely acceptable. The exception, of course, is Hugo Weaving who creates a bad guy that can change from loving friend and father to selfish and merciless killer in the blink of an eye.

Indeed, the film throws out terminology and characters like it is an established franchise in which audiences already understood what and who they are. The result was a film that hardly connected to its audience which I found to be the worst kind of let down.

I did, however, find interest in one particular character, Shrike, a cyborg killer machine who was the most empathetic and garnered the most interest.

Then again, perhaps it had something to do with the focus they gave to the character's background and build therein.

That all said, 'Mortal Engines' has stylish and retro-futuristic elements similar to Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max (the new one), Elysium and The Great Wall, but a way better story than any of those, in my humble opinion.

It's a steampunk smorgasbord. The storyline is fairly simple and straight forward with a few gentle twists and surprises and none of that getting lost in it's own cleverness.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on some of the Bonus Features included. Indeed, the major one is a 5-Part Behind-The-Scenes wonderful featurette that brings to life (or moreover, dissects) how the movie created the predator worlds, etc.

Entitled Welcome To London, it reveals the great city in more finer detail, primarily focusing on constructing the city (and the world around it) for the film.

It includes: Building the Beast (5:08), Levels of London (5:19), The Smallest Details (4:20), London Museum (5:19), and Medusa and St. Paul's (6:11).

The supplement is hosted by actor Robert Sheehan, who portrays Tom Natsworthy in the film.

From the others, two of them that stood out for me here were End of the Ancients (3:13) where we latch on to a museum tour that fills in a little post-apocalyptic history.

The other is In the Air (4:52) which is a closer look at the airborne cities and the role of flying vehicles in the film; with emphasis on design and utilization in the film.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Bonus Features of:

Includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a digital copy of 'Mortal Engines'
Welcome to London: 5-Part Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
End of the Ancients
Character Series
In the Air
Film New Zealand
Feature Commentary with Director Christian Rivers

'Mortal Engines' Official Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link

www.USHE.com





'Dynasties: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray'
(David Attenborough / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: Enter a world of dynastic power struggles and family treachery. This intimate landmark series narrated by David Attenborough immerses us in the lives of five of the most celebrated and endangered animal families.

Witness their incredible determination to protect their family line in the face of challenges to their leadership or from the often harsh environment around them.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: BBC Home Entertainment continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this February with the release of this incredible nature gem, 'Dynasties' in the new 4K home video format on February 26th, 2019.

For my money, this 'Dynasties: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray' 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 'Dynasties' presented to us as a four-disc combo pack housed in a glorious and shiny slip cover. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Native 4K (2160p), and HDR: HDR10.

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 BBC Nature series 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; like when the herd of painted wolves are running, almost in unison, their cast shadows making look like they are ten feet tall in the dawning sun.

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 (such as when the sun is rising and equally so when it is setting on the plains) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, and English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).

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 series itself, as alluded to already, 'Dynasties' follows the true stories of five of the world's most celebrated, yet endangered animals; penguins, chimpanzees, lions, painted wolves and tigers.

Each in a heroic struggle against rivals and against the forces of nature, these families fight for their own survival and for the future of their dynasties.

I mean, wow! Just wow! The scenery takes the breath away, especially in "Tiger", but it is more than just beautiful scenery. For example in "Emperor" one is reminded of how cruel the Antarctic can be.

The scenery is complemented by photography of quite cinematic quality, not just a feast for the eyes, but it is also expansive and intimate in equal measure; enhancing the impact of the emotional and tense scenes of which in Dynasties there are many.

A fine example being the wild action in "Lion". The music has both grandeur and atmosphere, not intrusive at all and adds a lot more than once.

As one can expect, the narration is very thought-provoking and never rambling or speculative. Although the animals themselves (here chimpanzees, emperor penguins, lions, painted wolves and tigers) and the habitats are familiar, the approach that they are explored in feels fresh and sees the animals in a new light, or so that's how it felt.

Ergo, 'Dynasties' did not feel like five episodes to me. Moreover, it felt like five individual stories with animals portrayed as relatable characters (without being too humanized, even when given names like David the Chimpanzee) and a wide range of emotions.

To my mind, this series is a true, unadulterated masterpiece of television. The soundtrack, cinematography, and editing are all phenomenal!

Honestly, I would rate this above Planet Earth 2 for the stories of each species, of each dynasty enthralled me from the start. The most amazing thing is that the stories are true and the BBC have expertly captured the true brutality and fragility of nature within seemingly perfectly.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the two Bonus Features included. The first is the highly engrossing The Making of Dynasties Featurette that runs the gauntlet over how long it took them to garner the footage (spoiler, it was 4 years!) and how close they found themselves getting to the subjects, etc.

The other one is A Behind The Scenes Look at The Making Of Each Episode of Dynasties, which pretty much showcases exactly what it says on the box! So you can either plum for the specific episode of your choice, your favorite so to speak, or sit back, hit play and let them all reveal themselves to you (I suggest the latter option!)

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Bonus Features of:

The Making of 'Dynasties'
A Behind The Scenes Look at The Making Of Each Episode of 'Dynasties'

'Dynasties' First Look Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link

www.BBC.com





'Foreigner - Live at the Rainbow '78'
(Foreigner / DVD / NR / 2019 / Eagle Vision)

Overview: On April 27th, 1978, after their self-titled debut album had spent a year in the US Top 20, rock's conquering heroes played a sold-out show at London's legendary music venue, the Rainbow Theatre.

Opening with 'Long, Long Way From Home', the band's legion of fans were treated to a magnificent display of musicianship and performance, including local hit singles, 'Feels Like The First Time' and 'Cold As Ice', as well as an exclusive preview of two tracks from the upcoming Double Vision album.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, Foreigner is an English-American rock band, originally formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musician and ex-Spooky Tooth member Mick Jones, and fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm.

Indeed, Jones came up with the band's name as he, McDonald and Dennis Elliott were British, while Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi were American.

One of the world's best-selling bands of all time with worldwide sales of more than 80 million records, including 37.5 million records in the US, their biggest hit single, 'I Want to Know What Love Is', topped the United Kingdom and United States charts among others.

Coming to DVD, Blu-ray, and digital video on March 15th, 2019 is the long-unreleased concert film, Foreigner – Live At The Rainbow ’78.

Caught live on April 27th, 1978 at London’s Rainbow Theatre, the new collections spotlights Foreigner’s classic early line-up featuring Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Ian McDonald, Al Greenwood, Ed Gagliardi, and Dennis Elliott.

Over 40 years after the Foreigner’s historic Rainbow gig, the show has been restored from the original film reels, remixed and remastered for this 2019 release from the well-renowned Eagle Vision.

DVD Edition Track Listing:
1. 'Long, Long Way From Home'
2. 'I Need You'
3. 'Woman Oh Woman'
4. 'Hot Blooded'
5. 'The Damage Is Done'
6. 'Cold As Ice'
7. 'Starrider'
8. 'Double Vision'
9. 'Feels Like The First Time'
10. 'Fool For You Anyway'
11. 'At War With The World'
12. 'Headknocker'

Kicking things off with the energetic opener 'Long, Long Way From Home' after a couple of album tracks (for this was the tour that followed the release of their self-titled debut in 1977) they launch into the almost fire-breathing brilliance of future-album-hit 'Hot Blooded' and back that up with the underrated rock gem 'The Damage Is Done.'

Having been a band I have loved growing up since around this very same time, both Mick (obviously younger, but with floppy hair to-boot) and Lou (ageless, as always) control the reins of this live show to perfection.

A sterling 'Cold As Ice' (which Gramm intro's as one of the bands favorites) is up next and is backed by an epic, trailblazing twelve minute long 'Starrider.' Along with the aforementioned 'Hot Blooded', the band then bring us one of the stand out highlights of the show, another cut from their soon-to-be-smash album, the title track itself, 'Double Vision.'

Showcasing the powerful underlying vocals of Jones to their best, unlike the physical recording of the track, his vocals are nearly running neck and neck alongside those of Gramm.

A feisty, fist-pumpin' 'Feels Like The First Time' is next and then come a trio of debut album tracks to round the live show out.

Wearing a Warehouse, New Orleans baseball-styled tshirt together with white pant, Gramm is the ultimate showman here. Twisting, turning, waving, strutting even, his lead singer role is taken very seriously.

Jones is also on his best fashion mark playing guitar and keyboards whilst wearing a dark shirt and pants ensemble with a white scarf around his neck!

And the rest of the band play their parts also, of course, especially on the incredible harmonies they come together with on 'Double Vision'. This is a Full Screen Presentation (Video 4:3 / NTSC) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and has a running time of 75 minutes.

www.ForeignerOnline.com

www.Eagle-Rock.com





'Colors Of Love Tour - Live in Las Vegas'
(Brian Culbertson / Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / BCM Entertainment)

Overview: The electric entertainer captured his hit-filled Colors of Love Tour in Las Vegas for his first live concert video that dropped Valentine's Day as a stunning Blu-ray and double CD.

Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, Brian Culbertson is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer known for his distinct brand of genre-crossing contemporary jazz, R&B and funk.

Mining the urban sounds of musically-rich Chicago, he began his musical studies on piano at age eight and quickly picked up several other instruments by the time he was twelve, including drums, trombone, bass and euphonium.

Inspired by the iconic R&B-jazz-pop artists of the 1970s like Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, Chicago, David Sanborn and others, Culbertson started composing original music for his seventh grade piano recital and hasn’t stopped since.

Amassing 30 Billboard No. 1 singles (and counting!) and a deep catalogue of 18 albums, most of which have topped the Billboard contemporary jazz charts, Culbertson always brings his very best in all of his broad-ranging musical and creative endeavors.

Culbertson's first ever live concert video, 'Colors Of Love Tour - Live in Las Vegas' is out now on both Blu-ray and as a 2CD audio set.

Filmed in Las Vegas during the Colors of Love Tour, May 2018, alongside Culbertson can be found such notables as: Marqueal Jordan, Eddie Miller, Tyrone Chase, Joewaun Scott, and Chris Miskel.

Act 1:
1. 'Love Transcended'
2. 'It's On Tonight'
3. 'Another Love'
4. 'I Want You'
5. 'Wear It Out'
6. 'You're My Music' (feat. Noel Gourdin)
7. 'I Could Get Used To This'
8. 'All About You'
9. 'Hookin' Up'
10. 'Somethin' Bout Love'
11. 'Through The Years'
12. 'Colors of Love'

Sinbad "Kinda Pimpish" (Clip)

Act 2:
13. 'Feelin' It'
14. 'Funkin' Like My Father'
15. 'Always Remember'
16. 'Been Around The World'
17. 'Damn, I'm Hungry'
18. 'Mile Sauce'
19. 'Got To Give It Up'
20. 'Hollywood Swinging'
21. 'Play That Funky Music'

Sinbad "I'm Black Dangit, 100%"

Act 3:
22. 'Secret Garden'
23. 'Michelle's Theme'
24. 'On My Mind'
25. 'Colors of Love' (Reprise)
26. 'Our Love'

After the cold opening of Culbertson walking the Vegas strip filmed overhead by a drone, the live show is quickly upon us thereafter.

Taking the stage to, what has to be said, some rather politely gentle applause, the precision piano work of the ebbing and soaring opener 'Love Transcended' suddenly stands perfectly as a prime example that there truly isn't the faintest lapse in musical judgement here throughout the entire three act live performance.

That said, when Culbertson is up there, center stage playing his music, moving and grooving in his own world, the fact his eyes are always scanning the audience is, admittedly, a little creepy to say the least.

Not that it detracts from the overall showcasing of what an incredible talent he honestly is, but his eyes do tend to be very wild, that's all.

Regardless, and together with his blonde spikey hair and mirrorball jacket, he commands that stage quite like no other might have done before him.

And to prove that point, one of the stand out highlights, for me, through the entire three acts is the performing at the end of Act One of the title track, 'Colors Of Love.'

Introduced by Culbertson to his gathered and highly attentive fans as "... a feelgood song meant to bring people together", it's the kind of frenetic breeze of keyboard playing that you associate with him, yet somehow here it's elevated due to its live surroundings.

The other is the ridiculously funkadelic R&B and rap deluge of sounds found within the seamlessly quilted duo of 'Feelin' It' and 'Funkin' Like My Father.'

My goodness, trust me when I say that once you've finished watching this near eight minute long mash, you'll be as exhausted as the guys on stage!

Although Culbertson knew early on that he wanted to film the production, what he didn't know initially was the how and where.

After financial backing arrived upon sharing his creative vision for the project, he looked at the itinerary and circled the two-night stand in Las Vegas.

"I earmarked the Vegas dates because I knew the venue has great in-house lighting that would look amazing on camera," he says. "We recorded the audio from both nights to have as a backup, but the film crew shot only the one show, so we had to nail it in one take," he adds, with a beaming smile emblazoned.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

"BC Medley" from the Funk! Tour Live in Las Vegas which includes the songs:
'Back In The Day,' 'Hookin' Up,' 'Let's Get Started,' 'Do You Really Love Me?,' 'So Good,' and 'Get It On.'
• "Mile Sauce" Cartoon in it's entirety
• 'Through The Years' - In studio performance
• 'All My Heart' - live from the Sirius/XM Studios in Washington D.C.
• BC & Chris Miskel Commentary Track (over full 2-hour concert)

www.BrianCulbertson.com





'Second Act' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens, Treat Williams, Milo Ventimiglia, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

Overview: Maya is a 40-year-old woman (Jennifer Lopez) struggling with frustrations of not having achieved more in life. As an experienced, quick-witted, perceptive employee, she is passed over for a promotion solely because she doesn't have a college degree.

Until, that is, she gets the chance to prove that street smarts are as valuable as book smarts, and that it is never too late for a Second Act.

Blu-ray Verdict: Jennifer Lopez climbs the corporate ladder in a fun workplace comedy that also stars Vanessa Hudgens, Milo Ventimiglia and Leah Remini.

Life, as a certain Yasujiro Ozu heroine once observed, is disappointing and that's certainly the case for the luckless lead character of this new film.

Jennifer Lopez plays Maya, a middle-aged big-box store employee passed over for a promotion because she never finished high school. She lives with a doting boyfriend, Trey (Milo Ventimiglia), who wants to start a family despite her reluctance, which puts their relationship under strain.

Maya can't bear to tell him the real reason for her doubts: She gave up a baby daughter for adoption many years ago. Remember that plot point - it's important!

First thing's first. At a surprise celebration hosted by her wisecracking best friend Joan (Leah Remini), Maya makes a birthday wish for her innate "street smarts" to be more valued.

Jenny from the Block asks, Jenny from the Block receives. Joan's tech-savvy stepson Dilly (Dalton Harrod) secretly reworks Maya's social media presence and résumé.

Suddenly, she's an Ivy League graduate and Peace Corps alumna whose faux-vita catches the eye of Anderson Clarke (Treat Williams), CEO of a cosmetics corporation attempting to rebrand.

Anderson's adopted daughter (note that I said adopted daughter) Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens) also works at the firm and becomes Maya's main competition in the creation of a new organically sourced beauty product line.

Again, she's adopted. I'm sure that's not a particularly significant detail … or is it?

Well, what is very significant, however, is the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945! It seems there was a certain kind of tree that survived the fiery mushroom cloud, and Maya just happens to have an offshoot of that particular flora; from which her new sun-resistant product can be sourced.

Yes, this is an actual never-used-before plot point in the screenplay by Justin Zackham (The Bucket List) and veteran producer and Lopez collaborator Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

What else can I tell you without giving too much else away? Well, there's a musical number set to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" (which I can't say is really good, but the actors do get to strut their weird stuff for a hot second!).

That all said, J.Lo looks movie-star fabulous in her many form-fitting dresses, but for me it's still the comedy scenes that make this film what it is.

Like the scene involving a box full of doves set loose in Central Park. Sure, OK, it's not hilarious given the subject matter, but with the birds exploding on impact after they crash into a passing semi it does still allow some fun slapstick to thrive.

That's hardly up to director Peter Segal's usual high standards though, I'll give you that, his apex being the poop missile-discharging giant hamster in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps!

Weirdly though, no one scene flows smoothly into the next and almost every dramatic crisis is resolved via a pop music-scored montage. At one point, Charlyne Yi, playing Maya's vertigo-suffering assistant Ariana, confesses her love of "kinky" sex. Naughty!

Oh, and Hudgens' character turns out to have a secret talent for photography that would shame Richard Avedon.

In closing, the chemistry between J-Lo and her real life best friend Leah Remini was fantastic and there are truly many laugh out loud moments from a lot of the characters here to admire. I for one really enjoyed this movie and I would like to think that everyone who loves J-Lo will too. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Connecting with Milo Ventimiglia
The Empowering Women of Second Act
Friendship On and Off Screen
Working with the Ones You Love
Second Act Trailer

www.USHE.com





'NOVA: Pluto And Beyond'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: The New Horizons spacecraft, 4 billion miles from Earth, attempts to fly by a mysterious object known as Ultima Thule and achieve the most distant flyby in NASA's history.

NOVA is embedded with the New Horizons mission team, following the action in real time as they uncover the secrets of what lies beyond Pluto.

DVD Verdict: On July 14th, 2015, at 11:49 UTC, the New Horizons spacecraft flew 12,500 km (7,800 mi) above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet.

On October 25th, 2016, at 21:48 UTC, the last of the recorded data from the Pluto flyby was received from New Horizons. Having completed its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons then maneuvered for a flyby of Kuiper belt object (486958) 2014 MU69 "Ultima Thule", which occurred on January 1st, 2019, when it was 43.4 AU from the Sun.

In August 2018, NASA cited results by Alice on New Horizons to confirm the existence of a "hydrogen wall" at the outer edges of the Solar System. This "wall" was first detected in 1992 by the two Voyager spacecraft.

When the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed by Pluto in 2015, we Earthlings were dazzled by the breathtaking images it beamed home.

They revealed a never-before-seen alien landscape - a world of mountains made of ice mixed with plains of frozen-solid methane and nitrogen.

After over two years of poring over the data, NASA has made remarkable new discoveries about everyone's favorite dwarf planet. But New Horizons didn't stop there.

On New Year's Day 2019, the probe attempts to fly by an object known now as Ultima Thule, believed to be a primordial building block of the solar system.

This will be the most distant flyby in NASA's history - 4 billion miles from Earth. If successful, it will shed light on one of the least understood regions of our solar system: the Kuiper Belt.

NOVA will again be embedded with the New Horizons mission team to follow the action as they uncover in real time the secrets of what lies beyond Pluto.

New Horizons is the first mission in NASA's New Frontiers mission category, larger and more expensive than the Discovery missions but smaller than the Flagship Program.

The cost of the mission (including spacecraft and instrument development, launch vehicle, mission operations, data analysis, and education/public outreach) is approximately $700 million over 15 years (2001–2016).

The spacecraft was built primarily by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'NOVA: Apollo's Daring Mission'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Apollo astronauts and engineers tell the inside story of how the first mission to the moon, Apollo 8, pioneered groundbreaking technologies that would pave the way to land a man on the moon and win the space race.

DVD Verdict: Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission flown in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21st, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return.

The three-astronaut crew—Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders—were the first humans to witness and photograph an Earthrise and to escape the gravity of a celestial body. Originally planned as the second crewed Apollo Lunar Module and command module test, to be flown in an elliptical medium Earth orbit in early 1969, the mission profile was changed in August 1968 to a more ambitious command-module-only lunar orbital flight to be flown in December; as the lunar module was not yet ready to make its first flight.

Astronaut Jim McDivitt's crew, who were training to fly the first lunar module flight in low Earth orbit, became the crew for the Apollo 9 mission, and Borman's crew were moved to the Apollo 8 mission.

This left Borman's crew with two to three months' less training and preparation time than originally planned, and replaced the planned lunar module training with translunar navigation training.

Apollo 8 took 68 hours (almost three days) to travel the distance to the Moon. The crew orbited the Moon ten times over the course of twenty hours, during which they made a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis. The crew members were named Time magazine's "Men of the Year" for 1968 upon their return.

This fascinating recanting of the true story through the eyes and ears of Apollo astronauts and engineers is most definitely one of the most enthralling and heartwarming to come from NOVA in many a year, in my humble opinion. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'NATURE: Equus - Story of the Horse'
(DVD / PG / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: From the moment humans mounted horses 6,000 years ago, these magnificent animals helped shape our world by allowing mankind to explore, conquer, and flourish on horseback.

Join anthropologist Niobe Thompson on a global journey to examine the evolution of horsepower, discover the mysterious origins of our incredible partnership, and witness our enduring love of 400 breeds of horses today.

DVD Verdict: Taking it from the top, Equus is a genus of mammals in the family Equidae, which includes horses, donkeys, and zebras.

Within Equidae, Equus is the only recognized extant genus, comprising seven living species. Indeed, the term equine refers to any member of this genus, including horses.

Like Equidae more broadly, Equus has numerous extinct species known only from fossils. The genus most likely originated in North America and spread quickly to the Old World.

Equines are odd-toed ungulates with slender legs, long heads, relatively long necks, manes (erect in most subspecies), and long tails. All species are herbivorous, and mostly grazers, with simpler digestive systems than ruminants, but able to subsist on lower-quality vegetation.

While the domestic horse and donkey (along with their feral descendants) exist worldwide, wild equine populations are limited to Africa and Asia.

Wild equine social systems are in two forms; a harem system with tight-knit groups consisting of one adult male or stallion, several females or mares, and their young or foals; and a territorial system where males establish territories with resources that attract females, which associate very fluidly.

In both systems, females take care of their offspring, but males may play a role, as well. Equines communicate with each other both visually and vocally. Human activities have threatened wild equine populations.

'NATURE: Equus - Story of the Horse' focuses on anthropologist Niobe Thompson on a two-part adventure around the world and a journey back in time to discover the origins of the horse.

In a stunning 3D reconstruction, we see the earliest member of the horse family rise from a fossil bed and begin a remarkable transformation into the magnificent animal we know today.

We discover why horses have 360-degree vision and gallop on a single toe and at the same time explore the science of speed with renowned racehorse trainers.

We watch as they uncover the emotional intelligence of horses and their deep connection with humans. We also encounter extraordinary horse breeds from Saudi Arabia to Kentucky to Siberia, and meet the horses of Sable Island that are truly returning to the wild ways of their ancestors.

In closing, after watching this incredible documentary, you will never ever look at a horse the same way you did before. An amazing, intelligent creature that can be a friend and bring joy to anyone's life. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Victoria & Albert: The Wedding'
(DVD / G / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Lucy Worsley re-stages the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, including the most important elements of the ceremony and the celebrations, scouring archival materials and Queen Victoria's diaries for the details.

Lucy also tells the story of Victoria and Albert's courtship and engagement as she reveals how this one extraordinary event helped to invent modern marriage.

DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later Prince Consort) took place on 10th February 1840 at Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, in London.

Though queen, as an unmarried young woman Victoria was required by social convention to live with her mother, despite their differences over the Kensington System and her mother's continued reliance on Sir John Conroy.

Her mother was consigned to a remote apartment in Buckingham Palace, and Victoria often refused to meet her. When Victoria complained to Melbourne that her mother's close proximity promised "torment for many years", Melbourne sympathized but said it could be avoided by marriage, which Victoria called a "schocking [sic] alternative".

She showed interest in Albert's education for the future role he would have to play as her husband, but she resisted attempts to rush her into wedlock.

Victoria continued to praise Albert following his second visit in October 1839. Albert and Victoria felt mutual affection and the Queen proposed to him on 15 October 1839, just five days after he had arrived at Windsor.

They were married on 10th February 1840, in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace, London. Victoria was besotted. She spent the evening after their wedding lying down with a headache, but wrote ecstatically in her diary: "I NEVER, NEVER spent such an evening!!! MY DEAREST DEAREST DEAR Albert ... his excessive love & affection gave me feelings of heavenly love & happiness I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, & we kissed each other again & again!"

"His beauty, his sweetness & gentleness—really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! ... to be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before—was bliss beyond belief! Oh! This was the happiest day of my life!"

Albert became an important political adviser as well as the Queen's companion, replacing Lord Melbourne as the dominant, influential figure in the first half of her life.

Once again I very much enjoyed Lucy Worsley's take on British social history here in 'Victoria & Albert: The Wedding'. This is an informative piece of work that filled the gaps in my understanding of the Victorian era.

Victoria's vivacity as a young queen was well brought out by an impishly beautiful Abbie Garland and the choices of George Merrick-Cunningham as Prince Albert and Mike Nettleship as Victoria's devoted Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne were good.

The analysis by historical experts, curators and archivists set details into context in a most engaging manner. A rewarding evening of TV in two parts. Worth watching! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





'Unbridled'
(Eric Roberts, T.C. Stallings, Téa Mckay, Jenn Gotzon Chandler, Dey Young, et al / DVD + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Based on true to life stories at Equine Assisted Therapy centers including Corral Riding Center in North Carolina, 'Unbridled' tells a tremendous story of redemption and triumph, with a message of unconditional love; with teenage girls overcoming formidable obstacles and living a fulfilling life in spite of adverse circumstances.

DVD Verdict: Sarah is a 16-year-old girl who is abused, emotionally abandoned and written off as just another hopeless causality of this world.

Her mother's boyfriend, Roger, secretly involves Sarah in a sex traffic ring, and her mother, Karen, unsure of what to do, is afraid to stand up for her.

Sarah thinks she is beyond redemption and unworthy of love and is sent away from the house that defined her horrors to a place where she is not the only victim, or the only one fighting to get her life back, a ranch called Unbridled.

At Unbridled, Sarah meets Dreamer, a horse who has also suffered abuse, a horse who no longer trusts humans. That is, until he meets his girl, Sarah.

Together, Sarah and Dreamer walk a difficult road and learn that family doesn't just happen, it's made with hard work.

They face many hardships and overcome terrifying obstacles, but in the end, Sarah experiences redemption and learns that love is the most powerful thing on Earth.

Together, they all learn to live Unbridled.

Based largely on the real life ministry of Corral Riding Academy that admits about 20 challenged teens per year and has about 500 volunteers and staff mentoring the 'herd' girls for restoration and redemption, 'Unbridled' is one of those glorious, yet ultimately sappy movies that will, without a shadow of a doubt, have your heart strings pulled.

Word has it that in the first week of the filming of 'Unbridled' in Raleigh, North Carolina, there was an ice storm that rendered a normal 10-minute drive into a 2-hour drive for some of the cast and crew!

And in the middle of the filming at the Edelweiss Farm in North Raleigh, North Carolina, there was a tornado headed toward the 'Unbridled' set!

So, if all the cast and crew and horses made it through on time and in perfect health, watching this should be a doddle for us mere viewers! And it is, although, as mentioned, you'll need hankies placed close by for some of the latter scenes! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Guard Dog'
(Oscar Limon-Zarzosa, Cat Johnston, Rory Johnston, Trina Colon, Rick Ginn, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Nine year-old Chance Watson is lying, cheating, stealing, and flunking out of school.

Then one night, a wonderful, magical sheepdog appears and promises to make his dreams come true, if he can follow "The Rules"!

DVD Verdict: And so, with that promise made by his new talking (and sometimes invisible!) "buddy," soon Chance has changed his life and the lives of many of the students at his school.

But there are those who are out to stop him and prove his furry friend is not real, but only a figment his imagination! In those scenes you get the usual slapstick moments of But he IS real and such, but they work here, given the young acting range portrayed on screen by Oscar Limon-Zarzosa.

Also starring Cat Johnston, Rory Johnston, Trina Colon, and Rick Ginn, it seems that sooner rather than later and given all the continual comments, even Chance then begins to wonder: Is he crazy?

Overall, I quite liked this morally right movie chock full of positive messages that it gives to the children (both involved in the movie and those watching).

That said, the casting of the main character Chance could have been handled better as a character as he is obviously Hispanic, but neither of his parents (or grandparents) look Hispanic. I think that could have been addressed better, that's all. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'If You're Gone'
(Masey McLain, Desiree Ross, Ben Davies, Burgess Jenkins, Oscar Mansky, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: When high school senior Brad Lee disappears the night of his graduation ceremony, his girlfriend is forced to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship, as well as her own faith, in hopes of finding him.

DVD Verdict: I have to first say that I absolutely LOVED the book and was so excited to hear it was being made into a film! And now that it is here for review, on DVD, well, my evening last night was complete.

For those worrying, 'If You’re Gone' is a nice clean movie, appropriate for adults and teens alike.

Within the story told, there are many questions surrounding the disappearance of Brad Lee. I appreciated the way the viewer was slowly allowed to learn bits and pieces about Brad and what he might have been involved in as a younger teen.

Indeed, there are plenty of twists in this movie and I definitely did not see the ending coming!

The faith elements are just right and any viewers not interested in the Christian aspect won't feel beat over the head with the messages, lease know that up front.

Sure, there are moments it feels a bit slow, but when it was done I felt myself wanting to watch it again (and therein I learnt some new things that I didn't pick up on the first time around).

In closing, as a mother, I appreciate movies that are safe for the whole family to watch together and thus I am very happy to report that 'If You're Gone' was just that. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'The Last Appeal'
(John Eric Bentley, Jason Sims-Prewitt, Kimberly Arland, Robert Wu, Marcus LaVoi, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Based on the 1999 play Uncommon Pardon by Lorianne Taylor in which women on death row experience life changing stress and the joy of salvation.

DVD Verdict: 'The Last Appeal' is a powerful faith based drama set in the world of death row where prisoners face insurmountable legal battles, family struggles and mortality.

Titus Freeman enters this daunting world determined to work the legal system to escape his sentence but discovers a new life beyond the grave. Outside of this world is Titus' victim's wife Trisha who works the legal system to enforce his execution.

Her ambition covers a darker secret that only her late husband knew about. It is not until this life altering secret is exposed that Trisha can escape a prison of her own.

In truth, I really enjoyed and get invested in this Made-For-TV movie straight from the off. The actors take their character roles seriously, the sets are sturdy, believable, and the court room plays out much like an episode of Law & Order.

A movie very much about forgiveness, 'The Last Appeal' is a powerful tale about the power of God’s forgiveness, is taken seriously at all times, and is, for my money, and a nice addition to the world of faith-based films. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'To Be A Soldier'
(Jacob Dufour, T.L. Bridger, Wayne E. Brown, Julie Streble, Christian Thesken, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: A British insurance agent enlists the help of an ex-Army ranger to rescue his sister, who has become entangled with ISIS.

DVD Verdict: Taking place in 2014, 'To Be a Soldier' is notably a very gritty and realistic movie about war.

Again, have no doubt that what you will see portrayed on screen are many drawn out scenes of violence, all realistically and graphically portrayed … and yet, being that it is sculptured to be so, the continual message of the Christian faith is spread for all to see throughout.

A "based on true events" movie made around the lifestyle of love and sacrifice, Jacob Dufour stars as British salesman Gregory Kirk. His sister Sophie (Julie Streble) has gone missing in the Middle East and might well be a victim of ISIS soldiers.

So, posing as a journalist, Gregory hires a former Army ranger named Bryce Daniels (T.L. Bridger) to help him get through various war-torn areas in the hope of finding his sister.

Although, the fact he tells Bryce they are actually going in search of a group of imprisoned Americans (in order for Bryce to get onboard) does reveal itself to be a major stumbling block before the end, of course.

In closing, and once again (as it does, I fear, need repeating) 'To Be A Soldier' does feature a most violent war in motion, and realistically so.

There is a lot of blood and many people are killed - both good and bad - but the outcome is, as expected, heart lifting and ultimately you will have installed within you a new appreciation for all the soldiers that defend the freedom of this great nation. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Miracles - The Power of Faith'
(DVD + Digital / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: It has been both an ancient and spiritual question, and today a question of science: What are these miraculous events?

Where do they come from? What do they mean?

If miracles are real, are they divine intervention and what is the role of spirituality, religion and prayer?

DVD Verdict: This 4-part series explores and investigates the many answers to these questions through interviews with theologians, historians, experts, actual witnesses and visits to the locations where it is believed some of the most beautiful and profound miracles occurred.

This is a nice documentary/discussion on angels, healing and exploring different religious beliefs about prayer and contains the Episodes: Religion, Miracles and Prayer - Angels, Spirit Guides and Signs - Miracle Healings and Spirit Bodies, and Synchronicity, Science and Astral Travel.

We are all unique and have a purpose here on this earth and I used to have a notion, at least up until recently, that a divine purpose would be a grand, fulfilling happening; where metaphorically the heavens would open and I'd hear the angels sing (because my life and experience would make so much sense).

That said, what I have recently come to terms with is my life purpose is to navigate through the plan that I made for myself before I came to this earth.

That means that even though I didn't want to accept what seems so trivial of an answer is that we are here to work through our everyday problems with an eye toward growth and gained experience.

Some of the "problems" I have today are through mostly of my own creation either conjured by fear or an unwillingness to see a bigger picture NOT as punishment for bad deeds (for there is a greater purpose then that, of course).

These problems serve to assist me with growing my soul and learning how to cope with letting go, forgiving myself, others, love, compassion that ultimately will bridge the gap with healing.

This is my purpose right now yet none of these things are so simple or easy. See as a person transverses these difficulties they are living their divine purpose even though it can seem like anything but.

Deep in the thralls of tragedy divine purpose is swimming to the other side the best way we can with the tools and knowledge we have.

Watching this new DVD release from Mill Creek Entertainment, I realized quickly that it's actually ok to take one step forward and 10 steps back as long as you keep going and be kind to yourself.

Sure not everything is "revealed" in this 4-Part series, but at its core, it clearly states that we are all stuck in patterns, both good and bad and that there is no exception to this rule.

The fact that we choose to believe in Miracles when good things happen to us is our protection from the rigors of life with death as a given.

'Miracles - The Power of Faith' is an incredible series and its teachings, its pondering were/are such a comfort to someone like me - and therefore, I hope to you all too. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MillCreekEnt.com





'Outlaws & Con Men - 4 Movie Collection'
(Jack Palance, Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, Gina Lollabrigida, Lionel Stander, et al / DVD + Digital / NR+PG / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: 'Outlaws & Con Men - 4 Movie Collection' is four Spaghetti Western masterpieces all brought together in the one DVD package!

DVD Verdict: 'Django Shoots First' (1966, aka 'He Who Shoots First') stars: Glenn Saxon, Fernando Sancho, and Evelyn Stewart.

Django (Saxson) recovers his father's dead body from a bounty hunter, whom he has dispatched, and instead of burying him, decides to collect the reward himself.

On his arrival in town, however, he learns that his father wasn't a criminal, but a businessman, framed by his former partner, compelling him to stay and avenge his father and try to claim his rightful inheritance.

'Django Shoots First' is another colorful, fast-paced spaghetti western. There isn't much new here, but it's a pleasantly entertaining way to spend an hour and a half, with an adequate amount of action, plot-twists, and gun-wielding heavies.

There's also a good score by Ennio Morricone's frequent collaborator Bruno Nicolai and a neat early cameo in the film's final scene, by Italian genre favorite George Eastman, who's minus his distinctive facial hair.

'Django's Cut Price Corpses' (1971, aka 'A Pistol for Django') stars: Jeff Cameron, John Desmont, and Esmeralda Barros.

The Cortez brothers rob a bank and flee beyond the Mexican border. On their trail are various people, each for a different reason: Sheriff Fulton is sent by the robbed bank to recuperate the money; Django, a head-hunter, is after them for the reward money; Pickwick is after a saddle stolen from him by the Cortez brothers; Pedro and Dolores, saloon owners, also would like to have the loot.

This is really not a bad little western. It may make you scratch your head a little in a couple of parts, but even some of the great spaghetti westerns do that sometimes. The overall story is easy to follow if you just sit back and enjoy it for what it is- mindless escapist fun.

The music is generically suitable for a spaghetti western. The acting is bad, but after a while it just seems like part of the personality of the characters. The main bad guy has a couple of unintentionally funny lines that made me chuckle.

'Bad Man's River' (1971, aka 'El hombre de Río Malo') stars: Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, and Gina Lollobrigida.

A Mexican revolutionary offers four marauding outlaws a million bucks to destroy an arsenal owned by the Mexican army.

The arsenal gets blasted, but the million bucks doesn't get delivered in this "outsmart the outsmarters" and "double-cross the double-crossers" western saga.

This eccentric Euro-Western has more in common with the revisionist, light-hearted approach of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid than with any of the sadistic Italian fare shot around the same time and on the same locations.

A great, if not eclectic cast (Lee Van Cleef, James Mason, Gina Lollobrigida, Sergio Fantoni, Jess Hahn, Simon Andreu, Eduardo Fajardo, Gianni Garko, Diana Lorys) finds itself somewhat stranded - and in the case of Mason, evidently embarrassed - in the face of the film's bizarre changes of mood!

'Sting Of The West' (1972 aka 'Tedeum') stars: Jack Palance, Giancarlo Prete, and Lionel Stander.

Jack Palance and Giancarlo Prete play a pair of frontier sharpsters who are trying to sell a supposedly worthless gold mine.

When the mine turns out to be real, our two misfits, along with their inept entourage, must try and recover the deed to the mine in this slapstick SW.

Director Enzo G. Castellari, who co-wrote the cheerfully inane and eventful script with Tito Carpi and Jose Gutierrez Maesso, relates the nutty story at a constant zippy pace and maintains an amiably silly tongue-in-cheek tone throughout.

Moreover, the lively cast play their broadly caricatured parts with tremendous lip-smacking enthusiasm! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'Ancient Secrets of the Bible - Complete Series'
(William Devane, David Priest, Richard Hess, et al / 3-DVD + Digital / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: God works in mysterious ways, but some of those mysteries are becoming clearer! Delve into the wonderful workings of providence and creation with 'Ancient Secrets of the Bible'.

This extraordinary 39 episode series will appeal equally to curious hearts and minds, putting the power of scientific and historical inquiry at the fingertips of the faithful.

DVD Verdict: Is every Biblical story and prophecy literally true? Did Adam and Eve actually exist - and where was their Garden of Eden?

Is the Ark of the Covenant still hidden somewhere in Israel or Ethiopia?

The answers are all here! 'Ancient Secrets of the Bible' features dramatic re-creations, expert testimony, biblical evidence, scientific experiments, and great entertainment value for the entire family.

Shot on location in five countries and in over 80 U.S. cities, this series was honored with 19 national prestigious family film awards for excellence; and rightfully so.

Having now made my way lovingly through this 3-Disc DVD box-set I can say, with personal clarity that this religious group production of 'Ancient Secrets of the Bible' is both unbiased and openly philosophical about the facts contained within.

All the content contained is good and at times recanted as if we were all Sunday School program at attendees, I guess. That said, I also believe what Albert Einstein had to say about Universal Creation and that he wasn't a believer in God; so much as that there must be a divinity which had to start things going.

Using that as a base starting point, as I'm sure most of us will do, when you have a genius like Einstein scratching his head knowing nothing can't create something, that there must be something or someone to have started the ball rolling, somehow makes us all a little more enthralled to learn more about the "facts" from the Bible.

Ergo, 'Ancient Secrets of the Bible - Complete Series' is an entertaining and educational program which encompasses history, science, and archeology all rolled into one.

Nothing smarmy, nothing shocking, just good clean informative fun which is most definitely great for both young and old to become transfixed within. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

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'The Roy Rogers Happy Trails Collection'
(Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Trigger, et al / 4-DVD + Digital / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans take you on a trip down memory lane, as they host King of the Cowboys, an exclusive collection of the best Roy Roger's movies, authorized by the Roy Rogers Estate.

DVD Verdict: Each movie is introduced by Roy and Dale in a special feature, Happy Trails Theater, and are joined by a host of your favorite western stars, including: Gene Autry, Iron Eyes Cody, Pat Brady, Ruth Terry, Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., Pat Butram and more!

So saddle up with Roy, Dale, Trigger, Bullet and the rest of the gang for hours of wholesome, western family entertainment!

Now, I obviously cannot ramble on here and review/comment on all 20 of the feature films (all of which have been Digitally Remastered for the best in Audio and Digital quality; and all compiled with the assistance of Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr. and Jeffrey Kramer) included in this wondrous new package from Mill Creek Entertainment, but I will highlight a few of my own persona favorites from the set.

First up is 'Sons of the Pioneers' (1942). Night raiders are burning down the ranchers' barns and poisoning their cattle. Sheriff Gabby, unable to cope, goes east to get help from Roy, descendant of two famous sheriffs.

Roy is a young entomologist who would rather study bugs than strap on guns. He finally gives in to Gabby's wishes and ends the terror.

As usual in these movies, a lot of care is taken for some lovely cinematography, although there are some obvious day-for-night shot given away by the shadows.

Also, the Sons of the Pioneers, as you might expect, show up to sing a few songs, and this high-class B-Western is sure to please fans of the genre.

Next up is 'Don't Fence Me In' (1945). Wildcat Kelly has been dead and buried for years. Or has he? Dale is a reporter for an Eastern magazine who comes West to find out the true story of Kelly, of whom Gabby seems to have mysterious knowledge.

Move over Betty Grable and Joan Blondell because Dale Evans really gets to show her musical and acting chops in this oater. It's a Dale you don't ordinarily see once she settled into Roy's loyal sidekick.

Here she shows the kind of spark that would have gotten her a succession of '30's B-musicals ten years earlier.

Another is 'Trail of Robin Hood' (1950). Retired actor Jack Holt is raising Christmas trees for sale at a cost which permits every family to have one.

A commercial tree company tries to drive Holt out of business. Roy saves the day, of course.

Like so many Roy Rogers films, this one's title has absolutely nothing to do with the title. So, if you are looking for any sort of Robin Hood angle, you'll be disappointed!

It's Roy Rogers' Christmas movie for 1950 and it's a bit of an extravaganza! William Witney directs with his usual facile hand, John MacBurnie lights the interiors like a series of Rockwell paintings, but sadly, Dale Evans is strangely absent.

Next would be 'Bells of Coronado' (1950). Roy is an insurance investigator looking into the theft of uranium ore. He must prevent the thieves from taking off in a plane with the stolen ore.

The Cold War and the quest for uranium ore comes into the plot of this Roy Rogers western, The Bells Of Coronado. Roy plays an insurance investigator who is assigned by John Hamilton to investigate the theft of unrefined uranium ore and incidentally the death of the owner of a mine from where it was stolen.

Dale Evans co-stars and it would surprise many to learn that Dale was only the leading lady in about a quarter of Roy's films. The films that she did co-star with Roy are elevated an extra notch because of the obvious chemistry between the two.

Lastly, my go-to suggestion would be 'Susanna Pass' (1949). The bad guys dynamite a fish hatchery. They're trying to put the hatchery out of business so they can get possession of oil underneath the lake. Roy is a game warden investigating the dynamiting.

Roy Rogers is a fish and game warden for the state of California and he weighs in with his good offices in a fight between two brothers, Robert Emmett Keane and Lucien Littlefield, one bad and one good.

Bad brother is newspaper editor Keane who's a rich guy looking to get richer. And that would be at the expense of good brother Lucien Littlefield who's got a piece of land on which he's created an artificial lake and uses it as a fish hatchery.

He's assisted in this worthy endeavor by Dale Evans who is, and get this for a word, an ichthyologist!

Which leads neatly to the fact that the filmmakers' seriousness about such issues is shown by the extended sequence in which Doc explains the hatchery's operations to Roy.

This portrays her, not as some kind of oddity, but as an informed, highly educated woman in an instructive, not subordinate, relationship with Roy. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of:

A special look at Roy's "Sidekicks"
Roy Rogers Biography
A Tour of the Roy Rogers Museum hosted by Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr.

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