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Ghost Canyon

RWBY - Volume 8 [Blu-ray]
(Lindsay Jones, Kara Eberle, Arryn Zech, Barbara Dunkelman, Shannon McCormick, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: In RWBY – Volume 8, our heroes’ worst fears have finally been realized: Salem is here, and the timing couldn’t be worse for the divided Kingdom of Atlas.

Fear has turned the friends into enemies, and doubt threatens to splinter Humanity’s remaining allies.

With both Salem and Ironwood stacking the odds against them, and the fate of Remnant at stake, it’s up to Team RWBY to make their play before it’s too late.

Blu-ray Verdict: Beloved by fans and acclaimed by critics, RWBY imagines a world filled with horrific monsters bent on death and destruction, and humanity’s only hope lies with powerful Huntsmen and Huntresses.

Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long are four such Huntresses-in-training, and their journey takes them far beyond the gates of Beacon Academy as they confront dark forces and work as a team to become the next generation of Remnant’s protectors. Well, after a rather long hiatus, Warner Bros. finally brought out Volume 7 of RWBY last year and now hot-stepping it along comes the brilliant new eighth season.

As quickly devoured this time was it was the other, once again the running theme is that the series tries to cram too much into so little episodes - all whilst expanding its lore in terms of characters, story, and big reveals (so much so you will need paperwork to follow along!)

That said, all the characters we know and love now have complex motivations, all be they (for the most part) well intentioned, but they make some rather imperfect decisions along the way, that is for sure (just like life, to be fair).

With the show’s recurring theme of how trust and love can bring people together, these 14 new episodes most definitely showcase an entire season of uncertainty here; and one that sees the main heroes challenged by self-doubt.

The original appeal of RWBY was the high paced fight scenes, but here in the eighth volume the cast starts struggling in fights more, and it makes it even more rewarding when they win.

Watching this engaging show I have felt all kinds of emotions, from happiness and laughter, sadness and being broken hearted to fear at some point, I mean, actual fear!

Everything in the story is unbelievably well thought through and detailed, from the lyrics of background songs to the symbolism of the pendants of side characters.

The details are so important, even birds in the background and offhand dialogue foreshadows brilliant plot points seasons in advance. The characters’ evolutions are amazingly developed and you are always on the edge of your seat; I may even say literally!

The music is also epic, happy, sad, terrific and terrifying. God, everything is so good. The animation is beautiful too, every scenery and character. Just watch it and see, from the start, of course!

So, all in all, RWBY - Volume 8 feels very heroic in moments, very triumphant at others, whilst at the same time seemingly hopeless; but that gets worked on as the show progresses.

In addition to all 14 of the season’s episodes – including the landmark 100th episode of the series (entitled “Witch”) – and a full gamut of bonus features included in the season compilation, the first 20,000 fans to purchase RWBY – Volume 8 on Blu-ray will also receive a pack of limited edition RWBY/Justice League Art Cards.

Each pack contains 10 collectible cards that feature the cover or variant from the RWBY/Justice League comics released by DC earlier in 2021.

The RWBY cast is led by the core foursome of Lindsay Jones (X-Ray and Vav) as Ruby Rose, Kara Eberle (Rooster Teeth Shorts) as Weiss Schnee, Arryn Zech (Red vs. Blue) as Blake Belladonna and Barbara Dunkelman (Fairy Tail, Blood Fest) as Yang Xiao Long.

Other key voice cast members include Miles Luna (Camp Camp) as Jaune Arc, Neath Oum (RWBY: Grimm Eclipse) as Lie Ren, Samantha Ireland (RWBY Chibi) as Nora Valkyrie and Shannon McCormick (Get Backers, Day 5) and Aaron Dismuke (Fullmetal Alchemist) as Ozma/Ozpin.

Bonus Features:
Script to Screen Breakdown
Talk CRWBY To Me
The Grimm Campaign
Sundance 2021 Panel
Trailers

More than ever before, the allied forces battling Salem must unite in a single, concerted effort to prevail in the eighth thrilling season of Rooster Teeth’s anime-inspired series RWBY.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will distribute RWBY – Volume 8 on Digital and Blu-ray ($24.98 SRP USA, $29.98 SRP Canada) starting November 23rd, 2021.

FYI: Created by the late Monty Oum (Red vs. Blue), RWBY is one of Rooster Teeth’s most beloved, viewed and shared series. As the first western-produced anime series to be distributed in Japan, RWBY episodes have averaged more than 7 million views, and the franchise has accumulated over 271 million views since its inception.

To date, the series has sold nearly 670k units sold on DVD and Blu-ray, and registered consumer products sales in excess of $20 million. RWBY has a fervent fanbase in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.

www.dccomics.com

www.warnerbros.com





My Stepmother is an Alien: Special Edition
(Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger, Jon Lovitz, Alyson Hannigan, et al / Blu-ray / PG-13 / (1988) 2021 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)

Overview: He married a girl from out of town! Way out of town!

Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters), Kim Basinger (The Nice Guys) and Jon Lovitz (Southland Tales) star in a fish-out-of-water comedy with a sci-fi twist that questions whether a romance between two star-crossed lovers who are literally worlds apart can ever work.

When widowed astronomer Steve Mills (Aykroyd) inadvertently causes a gravitational disruption in deep space, a race of hyper-advanced alien lifeforms sends one of their own to investigate, disguised in the alluring human form of Celeste (Basinger).

Tasked with seducing the lovelorn Steve in a bid to gain access to his scientific research, Celeste finds herself falling for the man she’s been sent to swindle.

But they’ve not counted on Steve’s young daughter Jessie (Alyson Hannigan, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who’s none too thrilled by the prospect of a new mother – especially not one from another planet.

Funny and touching in equal measure, My Stepmother is an Alien is an offbeat and at times surprisingly risqué comedy that confirms the adage that what unites us is far greater than what divides us ... even if what divides us happens to be an entire galaxy.

Blu-ray Verdict: The plot is ’80s simple: A low-paid widowed scientist (Dan Aykroyd) makes contact with aliens and they send an agent (Kim Basinger) to meet him.

Oh and she has a one-eyed serpentine counselor in her purse and ends up marrying the physicist, even though the counselor’s intention is to destroy the planet!

Alyson Hannigan plays the winsome daughter while Jon Lovitz is on hand as the researcher’s annoying brother.

My Stepmother Is an Alien is cut from the same cloth as the contemporaneous Earth Girls are Easy and although it’s not as good and has a strange off-kilter vibe, it’s vastly superior to future duds: 2001: A Space Travesty and What Planet Are You From? (both from 2000).

While I’m personally not a fan of Basinger in anything she does, she does do comedy surprisingly well, better than you would expect, in fact!

This was the feature film debut of future stars Alyson Hannigan and Juliette Lewis, as well as being one of Seth Green’s early movies. The roles of the latter two are almost unnoticeable, but what isn’t is that whoever wrote the script loves Jimmy Durante!

There’s a surprising scene involving porn that, while it doesn’t get outrageously out of hand (if you’ll pardon the pun!), it honestly seems out of place for a warm-hearted family flick like this.

Coming in at just under two hours (a tad bit too long, if you ask me), the film is overall funny and might well be Richard Benjamin’s best effort, and, of course, features a terrific cast too.

Ackroyd is wonderful but, then, so is Basinger in her comedic stance (for once, and ok, sure, she most likely never garnered any sensible praise for), and as for Lovitz, he could make a stone laugh and thus is on excellent form!

All of the other cast members, including Hannigan are fine and there is an abundance of terrific sight gags and special effects, which enable the script to be humorous, polished, and offbeat.

As for the costumes, they are impressive also, with Basinger looking like a dream in most everything she wears, in truth. In short, do not be an alien to this film for this one (now remastered and loaded chock full of lovely extras by Arrow Films) actually delivers the laughs that a winning ’80s comedy flick should. Highly recommended. 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 camera negative
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
Original lossless 2.0 stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new audio commentary by critic Bryan Reesman
Cosmetic Encounters: Directing My Stepmother is An Alien, a brand new interview with director Richard Benjamin
Original Trailer
Image Gallery
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Amanda Reyes

www.arrowfilms.com

www.MVDshop.com





Respect (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
(Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Audra McDonald, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / PG-13 / 2021 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable journey of the music icon’s path to find her voice.

Blu-ray Verdict: The Queen has arrived! Respect will have viewers singing and dancing to Ms. Aretha Franklin’s songs as well as appreciate seeing her pathway to become The Queen of Soul. With amazing performances and storytelling, this biopic is epic and is sure to give viewers something to sing about and inspiration to follow their own dreams.

Respect tells the story about how Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson) got her start by singing in her father’s, C. L. Franklin’s (Forest Whitaker) choir and weekend parties, to becoming one of the most iconic voices in music history.

Along the way, we learn about the trials and tribulations Ms. Franklin had to overcome to become Aretha - the woman, artist and icon. Hudson delivers Ms. Franklin’s story in a way that allows you to connect on so many levels to Franklin’s life experiences.

Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson really stays true to her own acting and singing talents in this film and proves just why Ms. Franklin handpicked Hudson to tell her story! I love how Ms. Hudson does not try to overact to portray Aretha Franklin or mimic her voice, which surprisingly really works out well.

My favorite part is when young Aretha and her mother, Barbara Franklin (Audra McDonald), are talking and playing the piano together and actually singing their conversation. It is very touching. Of course, the music in the film is spot on, since most of it is Aretha Franklin’s.

The costumes are incredible and very fashionable. Hudson’s gowns were truly fit for a Queen. The film uses different cinematographic color techniques to represent different time periods, which make you feel as if you are watching actual footage of Aretha Franklin in her time verses Jennifer Hudson playing her in present day.

In closing, the message of this film is you have to own your voice. Don’t let others determine how you follow your dreams, what they should look like or what they should be.

Ms. Franklin spent a lot of time doing what everyone else wanted her to do and it wasn’t until she started listening to herself and demanding respect, that she started making hit records. It was only then that she was able to become The Queen of Soul. Parents should be aware that there are scenes with drinking, violence and suggestive behavior.

In short, Respect is a must-see film filled with inspiration and women empowerment and comes highly recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

BLU-RAYTM & DVD EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES:
The Making of Respect – Explore the unique telling of this Aretha Franklin story, what the project meant to all involved and how music played a pivotal role in crafting this film.
Becoming Aretha – Take a behind the scenes look at Jennifer Hudson’s incredible transformation into the Queen of Soul including her commitment to the character, her connection with the late singer, and why inhabiting the legendary artist felt more like destiny than anything else.
Capturing a Legacy – A celebration of director Liesl Tommy’s artistry and professionalism as the cast and crew express their appreciation and admiration for her and her process.
From Muscle Shoals – Sit-down with the cast, crew and some of the original musicians that recorded with Aretha at Muscle Shoals to learn about this crucial time period in Aretha’s life and how it helped propel her evolution.
Exploring the Design of Respect – Production designer Ina Mayhew and costume designer Clint Ramos discuss the research they conducted in order to create the beautiful sets in the film as well as the various custom-made wardrobes that span three decades of style.

RESPECT will be available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital.
• Blu-ray™ unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
• Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly buy or rent.

Experience the cinematic music event of the year featuring Oscar® and Grammy® Award winner and vocal powerhouse Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) as legendary singer Aretha Franklin in the inspiring true story RESPECT, available to own for the first time on Digital now and on Blu-ray™ and DVD November 9th, 2021 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Hailed by critics as “electrifying” (David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter) and “extraordinary” (Pete Hammond, Deadline), MGM’s musical biopic gives an authentic inside look at the life and legacy of one of the greatest, most influential recording artists of all time.

Official Trailer

Official Website

Official Purchase Link

Official Facebook Page

Official Twitter Page

Official Instagram Page





A Christmas Carol: The Honeymooners Specials
(Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Jane Kean, et al / DVD / NR / 2021 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: In 1977, Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney and Jane Kean reunited for the second of four hour-long specials representing the final performances of their classic Honeymooners characters.

Ralph enlists Alice, Ed and Trixie to perform with him on stage after he agrees to supervise and star in the annual office holiday fund-raiser for a charity chosen by his boss’ wife. Ralph ends up rewriting and reimagining Charles Dickens’ dramatic classic A Christmas Carol with comedic results when Ed serves as the inexperienced director.

DVD Verdict: This 1977 Christmas Special has not been seen on TV since it first aired, let alone on home entertainment media, but now it is here, lovingly remastered for DVD by those good folks over at MPI Home Video.

I actually can recall first seeing it on TV live back 1977 and from what I can now recall, all these years later, can confidently say that I thoroughly enjoyed it! But my opinion would obviously have been tainted by the joy of seeing my favorite TV characters in a new story after a decade of being off-air.

Regardless, the confusion that went on as Norton directed a play put on by Ralph’s boss brought me to the floor laughing then and once again now via this DVD. Everyone seemed to be spot-on with their performances, as if, in fact, the series had never stopped!

Their characters were existing even though we were not able to watch them, if that makes sense. But now some 44 years later I wish I could see this special again on TV live as it once was, just to try and recapture some of that golden day stardust.

That said, to have it here on DVD, to now watch whenever I wish is a right royal blessing, of course. Indeed, I think I am safe in saying that the other three specials were a bit of a letdown (especially when viewed again on DVD all these years later).

I honestly don’t know quite why that is, but as I have been seeing some of the live 1950’s segments on DVD for the first time, these reunion specials no longer held that joy of something new.

Luckily, that cannot be said of this rather wonderful Honeymooners return with this righteous flashback to the good-old-days within the very funny A Christmas Carol. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Footage of Trixie’s Honeymooners Memories featurette with Jane Kean and The Honeymooner’s Women’s Lib skit from 1973.

www.MPIHomeVideo.com





The Concubine
(Cho Yeo-jeong, Kim Dong-wook, Kim Min-Joon, et al / DVD / NR / (2012) 2021 / MPI Home Video)

Overview: Set during the early Joseon Dynasty in Korea, Hwa-yeon, a minister’s daughter and Kwon-yoo, a commoner are deeply in love. Yet, when Hwa-yeon is ordered to the royal palace to become the King’s concubine, she and Kwon-yoo attempt to lee. They are intercepted by Hwa-yeon’s father and his men who threaten to kill Kwon-yoo.

To save her one true love, Hwayeon agrees to go to the palace as instructed. Five years later, Hwa-yeon is the mother of the heir to the throne, but the King is slowly dying. After his death, the King’s step-mother, uses her power to appoint her biological son Sung-won as the successor.

Sung-won has been madly in love with the unobtainable Hwa-yeon for years. Now that he must procreate in order to produce an heir to the throne, he can have any woman he wants except Hwa-yeon … which pushes both of them into a dangerous chess game of lust, sex and power.

DVD Verdict: The 11th most watched Korean film of 2012, and a sequel to the 2010 movie, The Servant, The Concubine is set during the Choson Dynasty and features a young prince by the name of Sungwon (Dong-wook Kim) falling in love with a nobleman’s daughter named Hwa-Yeon (Heo-heong Jo).

Unfortunately, although she knows of Prince Sunwon’s attraction for her, she has fallen in love with another young man by the name of Kwon-Yoo (Min-Joon Kim) instead. So one night, overcome by their devotion to each other, both Hwa-Yeon and Kwon-Yoo make the fateful decision to run away together rather than abide by custom or family tradition.

Unfortunately, after sleeping together that night, they are caught the next morning and in a desperate effort to spare Kwon-Yoo’s life, Hwa-Yeon tells her father that she will now consent to become Prince Sungwon’s concubine.

What she doesn’t know is that, although her father agrees to spare his life, as a penalty for shaming the family Kwon-Yoo is castrated that very night. To make things even worse, when she arrives at the palace the Queen Mother (played by Ji-Young Park) takes an immediate dislike to her and does everything in her power to reduce Hwa-Yeon’s status there from that point on.

Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that I was very impressed at the overall depth of this movie as the plot was extremely intricate and the acting was first-rate as well.

Be advised, however, that there are a couple of very graphic sex scenes which definitely precludes this picture from being seen by a younger audience! Be that as it may, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thus rate it highly. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Special collector’s media book packaging
• Two-disc set
• Original trailer
• 24-page booklet featuring director/actor profiles and photos

www.MPIHomeVideo.com





The Flood
(Alexis Lane, Shaka Cook, Dean Kyrwood, Dalara Williams, Aaron Jeffery, et al / DVD / NR / 2021 / 4Digital Media)

Overview: Set during WWII this is the story of Jarah’s coming-of-age in a brutal and lawless land – growing from a sweet child to a strong, independent and ferocious woman taking on Australia’s corrupt and bigoted system one bad guy at a time.

In the best tradition of the gunslinging outlaw, when the enigmatic Jarah is pushed to the limit she explodes in a fury of retribution. But for a revenge western there is a surprising series of twists and turns that lead us closer to redemption and reconciliation.

DVD Verdict: Simply, but perfectly put, ”The Flood is an action-packed dramatic western-styled adventure that uses our nation’s history as a framework to support an uncompromising, exacting and at times romantic and delicate female driven story that acts as a parable for race relations in our country”.

OK, that wasn’t me saying that, but it was the quite brilliant writer-director Victoria Wharfe McIntyre, making her feature debut with what looks like quite the attention-grabbing pic.

”We take audiences on a roller coaster ride, reimagining history, where women of the era radicalize and push back on expectations. Through living lives of their own choosing they highlight the choices and actions of the brutal society around them,” she adds.

And what a ride is sure is for as what starts out as a simple story known by all Australians - young men leaving home to fight in a foreign war – fairly explodes into a story rarely told but one central to our knowledge of ourselves and their country.

Balancing cruelty, violence and hatred with kindness, compassion and love to create three dimensional characters trapped in a monochrome society, personally, I was spellbound throughout the roller-coaster ride The Flood took me on (not to mention cheering loudly at the story’s climax, of course).

As you would well now imagine given my positivity toward this film, both direction and script are superb and each convey a highly complex subject and story. The music score and sound design are flawless, putting you right in the heart of the action.

Indeed, what makes this film stand head and shoulders above the rest of its ilk down the years is the agency it gives to women of color and First Nations people. These characters come out on top at the end of the film, which is a positive and powerful way to turn the societal narrative around - this needs to happen more in cinema. Thus, if your heart is open to the truth of Australia’s dark past, then get ready for a bumpy ride! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official Trailer

www.4DigitalMedia.com





Reminiscence (BD + Digital)
(Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson).

A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?

Blu-ray Verdict: For all intents and purposes, Reminiscence (which was kindly sent to us via a free sample for review) is a dystopian science-fiction thriller with romantic undertones. This first feature film by Lisa Joy features a very charismatic Hugh Jackman and an intriguingly enigmatic femme fatale played by Rebecca Ferguson.

The story revolves around scientist Nick Bannister who has developed a machine that enables people to relive moments from their past. He is assisted by his faithful colleague Emily Watts Sanders who has strong feelings for her boss who is however completely oblivious to them.

One day, a mysterious woman named Mae comes into his office and Nick Bannister experiences love at first sight. Mae represents everything he has always been looking for. She is smart, cultivated and charming and they start to develop a tender romantic relationship.

From one day to the other however, Mae disappears and leaves Nick broken, confused and worried. He attempts to find out what might have happened to her and soon uncovers a dangerous web of drugs, lies and murder.

This movie convinces on numerous levels. First of all, the acting performances are credible and touching. Hugh Jackman is believable as the tough outsider who goes far and beyond to save the love of his life.

Thandiwe Newton impresses as faithful colleague with some demons of her own who sees through the lies of the mysterious femme fatale. Rebecca Ferguson delivers the goods as enigmatic woman with multiple layers that are uncovered step by step.

Up next, the cinematography of this movie is flawless. The film takes place in a flooded Miami that looks at times depressing but at other moments almost romantic. The machines shown in the film look particularly intriguing. The flashbacks are animated with a nostalgic touch in form of shaded colors and muffled sounds.

The story comes around with a few twists and surprises as it keeps the audience guessing until the very end. The movie meanders from dramatic elements over romantic sections to breathtaking action sequences and offers a balanced genre mixture. The ending is quite unexpected and leaves room for discussions and debates (which, personally, I always love).

Obviously, this movie isn’t perfect. It would have been great to get some background information on the dystopian future. The intriguing locations could have been more present in the film as well.

Furthermore, the entire universe is so fascinating that it would perhaps make for an even greater television series than a potential sequel.

In closing, anyone who likes dystopian science-fiction cinema should certainly watch this movie at the cinema. This film will appeal as much to those who are looking for a gripping drama as to those who might rather be looking for a film noir with occasional action sequences.

Indeed, this timeless movie has the potential to stand the test of time and become a genre classic. Experience it now on lush Blu-ray and Digital as soon as you can to get some welcome escapism into your own lives within these most difficult of times! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

“Reminiscence” 4K UHD combo pack and Blu-ray contain the following special features:
• You’re Going on a Journey
• The Sunken Coast
• Crafting a Memory
• Reminiscence: A Family Reunion
• Save My Love

“Reminiscence” DVD contains the following special feature:
• Crafting a Memory

Navigate the darkly alluring world of lost memories when “Reminiscence” arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on October 1st, 2021. The film is directed by Lisa Joy (TV’s “Westworld”) from her own original screenplay and stars Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (“Les Misérables,” “The Greatest Showman”), Rebecca Ferguson (“Doctor Sleep,” the “Mission: Impossible” films) and Thandiwe Newton, (“Solo: A Star Wars Story”). The film will also be available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD beginning on November 9th, 2021.

Official Facebook Page

www.WarnerBros.com





Batman: Year One (Commemorative Edition) (4K UHD)
(Bryan Cranston, Ben McKensie, Eliza Dushku, Katee Sackhoff, Fred Tatasciore, et al / 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray + Digital / PG-13 / 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Originally released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2011, Batman: Year One is based on the landmark 1987 DC titles from 12-time Eisner Award winner and Eisner Award Hall of Fame member Frank Miller and illustrator David Mazzucchelli.

The film depicts young Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham City in his first attempts to fight injustice as a costumed Super Hero. The playboy billionaire chooses the guise of a giant bat to combat crime, creates an early bond with a young Lieutenant James Gordon (who is already battling corruption from inside the police department), inadvertently plays a role in the birth of Catwoman, and helps to bring down a crooked political system that infests Gotham City.

Blu-ray 4K UHD Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of a Commemorative Edition Batman: Year One in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this November 9th, 2021.

For my money, this upgraded Commemorative Edition combo pack 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 Batman: Year One 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: 1.78:1 and Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHDs, 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 is more is that it is enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the brilliantly comical scene where Lt. James Gordon and his wife Barbara pay a visit to Bruce Wayne, hoping to question the millionaire playboy about his potential relationship to Batman.

Barbara: ”He’s a pig.” Gordon: ”He’s acting like one, anyone who wears a cape might go pretty far to keep his secrets.” Barbara: ”Or he’s really a sleazy womanizing scumbag!” Bravo!!

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 fine detail to the faces within the now infamous Swat Team Fight scene.

Already darkened due to being in a tunnel, shining their lights into the darkness that surrounds them, they shoot their way through the hatch and into a basement. Even the tin-esque sound effects are softened here on this newly remastered and enhanced edition.

As for the audio, well we have a these readily available: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0.

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.

As for the movie itself, well, as we all know by now, Batman: Year One was a direct-to-video animated film adapted from the graphic novel written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli with Richmond Lewis.

Furthermore, this animated version of Batman: Year One is entirely faithful to Frank Miller’s original comic book story to the point that differences are almost negligible. Only two minor scenes are missing and nothing is depicted out of order from the original.

Some scenes are shortened and some are lengthened for the needs of telling a story on film, but everything that happens in the comic happens in the movie. A few minor scenes are also added.

Be aware that this is not really a movie for children – some sexual situations and violence from the original comic book also appear here.

It is not expressed explicitly during the film, but it is likely that this film is set in the 1986/1987 (which was the time when the comic was published). The story follows the first year of Bruce Wayne’s time as Batman. This is pretty much an origins story with the focus very much on the parallel fates of Gordon and Wayne and the roots of their working relationship.

This is a dark, gritty and realistic vision of Batman. There are no costumed villains here (which many will find disappointing). Both Gordon and Batman have to fight against the mob and corrupted police. This is actually more of a Jim Gordon’s story. His moral dilemmas feels real and overall it’s very easy to care for him.

On the other side the movie kinda fails to bring the same emotional connection for Bruce Wayne. I did care for Wayne/Batman, but his emotional pain seems flat compared to the problems that Gordon is having.

This plot gives the film an accessible and realistic feel. Gotham city looks ordinary and there are no super gadgets here. Batman makes mistakes and he can be hurt very easily. There are some bad things here. Some of the important lines of dialogue were cut, the ones which explained main characters motivations.

The final sequence with some supernatural free-running is kinda cheesy, in my humble opinion. However, the biggest problem here is the subplot with Selina Kyle. The movie, just like the original graphic novel, doesn’t really do anything with her.

The subplot of her becoming Catwoman feels rushed and thus she really adds nothing film to advance the plot, sadly.

Bryan Cranston as detective James Gordon is simply great. There is a lot of subtle emotions hidden in the words he says. I admit that I was disappointed with Ben McKenzie’s voice over as Batman/Bruce Wayne. His performance felt wooden and uninspired for me.

That said, the supporting cast is solid , especially Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Katee Sackhoff as Sarah Essen and Fred Tatasciore as the corrupt Flass.

Overall, this is a solid and enjoyable movie that works as a tribute to one of the best graphic novels made. There are a few scenes and ideas that appear in Batman: Year One that also appear in Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman Begins (which was inspired heavily by BYO, of course).

So, in closing, if you liked Nolan’s take on Batman, you will most definitely love this one too, trust me! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Featurette – Reinventing Gordon (New) – An examination of the history of James Gordon through comics, animation, and feature films.

Featurette – Conversations with DC Comics – The Batman creative team at DC discusses the personal influence of Batman: Year One on their careers. Batman producer Michael Uslan leads the chat amongst well-known writers, editors, and artists of Batman lore, focusing on the darker, realistic interpretation of Batman’s origins by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.

Audio Commentary – Featuring co-producer Alan Burnett, co-director Sam Liu, DC creative director Mike Carlin and casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano.

Featurette – Heart of Vengeance: Returning Batman to His Roots – “The Dark Knight Returns” provided the denouement of Batman’s life. Frank Miller’s next seminal work would provide his near-mythic origin in “Batman: Year One.” This documentary spotlights the contemporary genius of Miller and the audience that was poised to appreciate the depths of his work.

DC Showcase – Catwoman (2011 Animated Short) – The felonious feline’s adventure takes her through the seedy streets of Gotham City. Eliza Dushku reprises her Batman: Year One role as the voice of Catwoman. The short is directed by Lauren Montgomery (Batman: Year One) from a script by Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series).

DC Universe Movies Flashback
o Batman: Soul of the Dragon
o Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One
o Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) celebrates the 10th anniversary of the DC Universe Movies release Batman: Year One with a fully-remastered version of the film and a newly-created bonus feature, Reinventing Gordon.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the PG-13 rated film arrives on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (USA $33.99 SRP; Canada $39.99 SRP) and Digital starting November 9th, 2021.

www.WarnerBros.com





Muhammad Ali: A Film by Ken Burns
(Muhammed Ali, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: The new PBS documentary Muhammad Ali brings to life one of the best-known and most indelible figures of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans throughout the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace, and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it.

DVD Verdict: Born Cassius Clay, Jr., Ali rose from boxing amateur to Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight champion, just as he had promised he would at the age of twelve. He wrote his own rules – in the ring and in his life – infuriating his critics, baffling his opponents, and riveting millions of fans.

He spoke his mind and stood on principle, staying true to his Islamic faith and refusing induction into the U.S. Army, even when it cost him his livelihood. Banished for his beliefs, he returned to boxing an underdog, reclaimed his title twice, and became the most famous man on earth.

So, where did it all start, you might ask, his passion for the sport? Well, at the age of 12, Clay discovered his talent for boxing through an odd twist of fate. After his bike was stolen, Clay told a police officer, Joe Martin, that he wanted to beat up the thief!

”Well, you better learn how to fight before you start challenging people,” Martin reportedly told him at the time. In addition to being a police officer, Martin also trained young boxers at a local gym.

Clay started working with Martin to learn how to spar and soon began his boxing career. In his first amateur bout in 1954, he won the fight by split decision.

Clay went on to win the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. Three years later, he won the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions, as well as the Amateur Athletic Union’s national title for the light heavyweight division.

In 1960, Clay won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and traveled to Rome, Italy, to compete. At six feet, three inches tall, Clay was an imposing figure in the ring, but he also became known for his lightning speed and fancy footwork. After winning his first three bouts, Clay defeated Zbigniew Pietrzkowski of Poland to win the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal.

After his Olympic victory, Clay was heralded as an American hero. He soon turned professional with the backing of the Louisville Sponsoring Group and continued overwhelming all opponents in the ring.

Clay joined the Black Muslim group Nation of Islam in 1964. At first, he called himself Cassius X before settling on the name Muhammad Ali. The boxer eventually converted to orthodox Islam during the 1970s.

Ali started a different kind of fight with his outspoken views against the Vietnam War.

Drafted into the military in April 1967, he refused to serve on the grounds that he was a practicing Muslim minister with religious beliefs that prevented him from fighting. He was arrested for committing a felony and almost immediately stripped of his world title and boxing license.

The U.S. Department of Justice pursued a legal case against Ali, denying his claim for conscientious objector status. He was found guilty of violating Selective Service laws and sentenced to five years in prison in June 1967 but remained free while appealing his conviction.

Unable to compete professionally in the meantime, Ali missed more than three prime years of his athletic career. Ali returned to the ring in 1970 with a win over Jerry Quarry, and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturned the conviction in June 1971.

In conclusion, Ali had a career record of 56 wins, five losses and 37 knockouts before his retirement from boxing in 1981 at the age of 39.

An intimate portrait of a larger-than-life global icon, this four-part, eight-hour documentary tells the story of an exceptional athlete whose influence transcends boxing. ”He was,” the novelist Norman Mailer wrote, ”the very spirit of the 20th Century.”

Round One: The Greatest (1942-1964) - Cassius Clay rises from amateur boxer to 1960 Olympic gold medal winner. He turns professional and moves to Miami, sharpening his boxing skills and honing his genius for self-promotion. Meanwhile, he quietly joins the Nation of Islam and becomes a confidant of Malcolm X. In 1964, he shocks the world by upsetting the heavily favored Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight championship.

Round Two: What’s My Name? (1964-1970) - Cassius Clay joins the Nation of Islam and adopts the name Muhammad Ali. For three years, Ali dominates the heavyweight ranks but in 1967, he refuses induction into the U.S. Army and becomes one of the most reviled men in America. Ali is stripped of his title, convicted of draft evasion and forced into exile. In 1970, he triumphantly returns to the ring, but it’s clear that he has lost a step.

Round Three: The Rivalry (1970-1974) - Muhammad Ali faces Joe Frazier in the ”Fight of the Century.” Though he loses, Ali becomes a hero. The Supreme Court overturns Ali’s conviction, validating his refusal to serve in the war in Vietnam and in 1974, Ali outduels Frazier, his greatest rival, in their highly anticipated rematch. But to complete his comeback, he must face the fearsome George Foreman.

Round Four: The Rent You Pay (1974-2016) - Muhammad Ali shocks the world when he defeats George Foreman in Zaire, winning back the heavyweight title and becoming the most famous man on earth. He faces Joe Frazier in the brutal ”Thrilla in Manila,” and boxes for five more years. He is diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, but continues to travel the world spreading his Islamic faith, and becomes a symbol of peace and hope.

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

www.PBS.org





Masterpiece Mystery! Baptiste: Season Two
(Tchéky Karyo, Fiona Shaw, Anastasia Hille, Miklos Beres, Dorka Gryllus, Rashan Stone, Adrian Rawlins, Ace Bhatti, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: Julien Baptiste delves into Budapest’s corrupt underworld to find a British ambassador’s family who go missing on a skiing holiday in the Hungarian mountains.

Ambassador Emma Chambers is thrust into the crosshairs of Baptiste’s most complex case yet, as the detective navigates an untrustworthy Hungarian police force and international media interest as he hunts for her husband and two sons.

DVD Verdict: It’s fair to say one of the most memorable things to come from the Missing series was the character of Baptiste, Tchéky Karyo was hugely charismatic, so it came as no surprise that he got his own series.

From start to end of both season one and this second riveting season, he/it is captivating, allowing this gripping, hard hitting drama – which faces no lull at any point – to rage at full throttle throughout.

As with the first season, the characters are big, and the performances are excellent, Karyo, Hollander and Raines are all excellent, and Alec Secareanu is just terrific as Constantin, for he is just such a menacing character.

Chock full of some very tense moments, some edge of the seat, dramatic scenes, including a pulse racing car chase, combined with slick production values, the cold and stark location work gives it a very different feel and thus looks terrific throughout.

As I am sure you are all aware by now, this captivating second season is a completely new story, more realistic but still very complex, about the British ambassador in Hungary (Emma Chambers, played by Fiona Shaw), who loses her husband and then her two sons are kidnapped on a skiing holiday in the mountains.

Of course, the retired detective Baptiste offers his help in solving this matter and thus he searches for clues, the pressure immediately on to save Emma’s two sons when a body is found and a terrorist cell enters the story headed by a mystery figure called Gomorrah.

Thus season two is spearheaded by the question of just Who is Gomorrah and What does this terrorist cell have to do with Emma’s missing sons and the death of her daughter and husband?

I won’t give any more of the intriguing plot away, but suffice to say that I myself enjoyed this second season - albeit with a few reservations about how it could dovetail the lead from season one - but nonetheless it proves itself to be a worthy follow-up and thus worth seeing for an amazing performance from Fiona Shaw (who I hope receives a BAFTA and Emmy nomination that she fully deserves).

Episode 1: Julien Baptiste travels to Hungary to help the British Ambassador, Emma Chambers, find her missing family. When a body is found, the pressure is on to save Emma’s two sons.

Episode 2: Julien and Zsofia Track Down the tattooed man but he gives little away. Things escalate when the police receive a hostage video, and Emma takes drastic action for her family.

Episode 3: As Julien and Zsofia investigate Far Right politician Kamilla Agoston, Emma finds a lead on Alex’s computer that takes her and Julien to a shocking and bloody discovery.

Episode 4: With Alex dead, Emma’s only hope is to find her other son Will. And when Julien and Zsofia look to Kamilla and her husband, a new lead is uncovered and a dramatic discovery is made.

Episode 5: With Will safe, Emma and Julien hope to discover the identity of Gomorrah, but instead discover another attack is planned. Now, the pair must race against the clock to prevent it.

Episode 6: Reeling from Will’s escape, Emma and Julien must do everything they can to stop the next attack. If they can follow the clues and find Will, perhaps they can succeed.

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

www.PBS.org





FRONTLINE: America After 9/11
(DVD / NR / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: How 9/11 ushered in an era of fear, mistrust, and division in America. The compromises and consequences for American democracy – from the terror attacks, through four presidencies, wars abroad, and ultimately insurrection at home.

DVD Verdict: From veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker and chronicler of U.S. politics, Michael Kirk and his team, this documentary traces the U.S. response to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and the devastating consequences that unfolded across four presidencies.

Drawing on both new interviews and those from the dozens of documentaries Kirk and his award-winning team made in the years after 9/11, this two-hour special offers an epic re-examination of the decisions that changed the world and transformed America.

In a recent survey, 93% of Americans ages 30 and above said they can remember exactly where they were or what they were doing the moment they learned of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.

During the past six decades, only the Kennedy assassination had such a pervasive and enduring impact. It is hardly surprising, then, that in 2016, more than three-quarters of American adults named 9/11 as a top historical event of their lives, nearly twice as many as for the second most-cited event.

There is no evidence that this sentiment has faded during the past five years. A survey released earlier this month found 64% of Americans—the highest share ever—said that 9/11 has permanently changed the way we live our lives.

Significant minorities are less willing to take flights, go into skyscrapers, attend mass events, or travel overseas than they were before 9/11.

Under George W. Bush’s leadership, the United States responded to the 9/11 attacks by launching a “war on terror,” beginning in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda’s plot was conceived and organized.

While this military venture and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan initially enjoyed strong public backing, support eroded as the wars on the ground went on longer than expected.

After the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, 56% of Americans said they now supported withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan.

As we know now, it took another decade, spanning three presidents, to honor their wishes. No wonder the phrase “endless wars” became commonplace across party lines. And the way the war in Afghanistan finally ended intensified public discontent.

Thus, Americans will never forget the coordinated terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, against the country’s financial center in New York, its global military headquarters at the Pentagon, and its civilian air transportation system.

The images of New York police and firefighters rushing into the burning World Trade Center to rescue those trapped—and the memory of their sacrifices—will not fade from memory.

America, its NATO allies, and the U.N. Security Council responded with swiftness and ingenuity to protect its citizens in the immediate aftermath and deployed measures to protect their citizens, established new government agencies, and undertook numerous military operations overseas intended to eliminate threats and enhance stability.

From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the January 6th insurrection, America After 9/11 exposes the legacy of September 11th - and the ongoing challenge it poses for the president and the country.

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

www.PBS.org





The Dogs of War: Special Edition
(Christopher Walken, Tom Berenger, JoBeth Williams, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1980) 2021 / Ronin Flix – MVD Visual)

Overview: Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) is a brutal mercenary who must fight the ultimate battle - against his own conscience - in this powerful action thriller with a heart-thumping tempo (The Hollywood Reporter).

The Dogs of War is a spectacular adventure that brilliantly captures the glory - and horror - of war.

Jamie Shannon (Walken) is a cynical warrior-for-hire who feels truly alive only in the heat of battle, and now he’s about to take on the most challenging assignment of his career: to invade a corrupt African dictatorship and shift control to the puppet of a powerful British corporation.

To prepare, Shannon masterfully trains and equips a squad of deadly mercenaries with the latest and most destructive tactics and military hardware. But as their explosive assault begins, Shannon finds himself embroiled in an internal conflict of his own: Will this be his greatest triumph, or has he sold his soul along with his battle expertise?

Tom Berenger (Platoon), Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Hugh Millais (Images)), JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist) and Colin Blakely (Equus) co-star in this explosive action film, skillfully directed by John Irvin (Hamburger Hill, Next of Kin, Raw Deal) and beautifully filmed by award-winning D.P. Jack Cardiff (The African Queen, Dark of the Sun, The Awakening).

Blu-ray Verdict: Not a nice book is how Frederick Forsyth once described his third published novel, The Dogs Of War, a stinging depiction of the captains of industry who mistreat the Third World, and the soldiers of fortune who do their bidding.

Thus, credit director John Irvin for getting the tone right in this adaptation of the Forsyth story. It’s not a nice movie!

Christopher Walken stars as Jamie Shannon, whose otherwise empty life sitting in a Manhattan apartment watching John Roland and the Channel 5 news steam on a snowy television screen is relieved only by the occasional assignment to gather up some equally dissolute comrades and blast their way through some far-away trouble spot for a few thousand bucks. The latest job: Overthrow the vicious leader of the African nation of Zangaro. With nothing much to live for, Shannon agrees.

Walken is the central reason to watch Dogs Of War. His intensity in this early period of his career could be off-putting, but it fits Shannon like a glove, his glazed stare and choppy line readings suggesting a person who knows life is cheap and words cheaper still.

Just so we understand each other, you’re dead, is his way of starting one conversation. Give me straight answers and I’ll keep it painless.

As a war movie, Dogs Of War doesn’t exactly play things straight, though. Like the novel, it spends much of its time dealing with the preparations for the Zangaro raid, long sequences of soldering metal barrels and running cargo that drag.

There’s also a visit Shannon pays to his ex-wife, which features some nice acting from Walken and JoBeth Williams but establishes nothing other than the emptiness of Shannon’s life, about which we already know.

Joining action and character is the hallmark of any good war movie, and this Dogs Of War fails to do. Shannon takes a trip to Zangaro to investigate the country, a sequence that proves nothing other than that he’s a lousy spy and the Zangarians play rough.

Colin Blakely overacts badly as a reporter who makes Shannon’s acquaintance and then decides to see what he’s up to, for reasons that seem to have more to do with the character’s drinking than any logical journalistic reason.

The big finale features a good deal of sloppy exposition, particularly a revolving grenade gun Shannon wields that hit pillboxes with pinpoint precision.

It’s smaller moments that connect in Dogs Of War, like Shannon talking to his doctor (the always reliable Shane Rimmer). You’ve taken a lot of years off the back end of your life, the doctor says, to which Shannon can only shrug.

Or Shannon in a customs office with an unnamed agent (Olu Jacobs) who seems to think himself fair for stealing only half of Shannon’s valuables.

Ultimately, it’s Walken you take away from Dogs Of War, his hooded 1,000-yard stare, occasional bits of surprising pre-cowbell humor, and his naked way of projecting both toughness and insecurity. If only he had been given a better script, Dogs Of War might have been an early milestone in his celebrated career. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• High Definition Blu-ray 1080p Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1)
• DTS-HD Master Audio
• New 2020 2K scans of BOTH the US Theatrical and International cuts
• Interviews With Co-Stars Paul Freeman and Maggie Scott, Co-Writer George Malko, First Assistant Director Anthony Waye, Production Designer Peter Mullins and Costume Designer Emma Porteous
• Optional English Subtitles
• Original Theatrical Trailer

www.MVDvisual.com





The Chinese Boxer: Special Edition
(Ping Wang, Lieh Lo, Jimmy Wang Yu, Hsiung Chao, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1970) 2021 / 88 Films – MVD Visual)

Overview: From the golden age of Kung Fu movies, the legendary Shaw Brothers bring you an action-packed tale of revenge, mayhem and flying fists. When his martial arts school is viciously attacked by a rival gang of Japanese thugs, Lei Ming swears to bring them down with violent justice.

Written, starring and directed by Jimmy Wang Yu, The Chinese Boxer (1970) is a fabulously fast-paced feature full of exquisite set-pieces and mind-blowing fight choreography.

A huge influence on the likes of Tarantino’s Kill Bill (2003) and Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury (1972) this entertainingly savage story of resilience, skill and a battle against the odds, is one of the first true modern classics of the genre, focusing as it does on physical prowess and athletic proficiency over the more mythical elements of the wuxia era.

An undoubted cult classic, this is a must for any serious collector of extreme Asian cinema and martial arts madness.

Blu-ray Verdict: The Chinese Boxer (aka The Hammer of God), unsurprisingly bears some similarity to Jimmy Wang Yu’s other popular franchises- The One Armed Swordsman and the One Armed Boxer.

This time Jimmy takes on the baddies with both arms. It’s a simple morality play, he’s good, they’re bad and after inflicting pain upon him, his family and his village, they’re going to have to pay.

What makes it so damn entertaining, is the style, and dare I say it, the passion that has gone into it. Ignore the bad dubbing (the Australian version has an atrocious British accented soundtrack) the awkward panning and scanning of various external scenes (Shaw Scope!), and sit back and enjoy a true classic of HK cinema.

You’ll also enjoy learning traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy in the manner with which it was intended. Take note of the traditional themes of Chinese cinema - Honor, family values, retribution.

Oh and listen out for the quick sample of one of John Barry’s Bond themes in some of the action sequences too!

Also, Lo Lieh plays a brilliant bad guy in this movie. He is one of the few leading men who had real martial arts experience before he started acting. His career began with hero roles but he subsequently turned to villains. So, even now, he is probably better remembered as a villain.

His background was in karate so was a perfect fit for this role. Chan Sing is another villain in this movie. He also has a background in Goju-Ryu karate. He actually fights Jimmy at about half an hour into the movie and, if you are paying attention, most of the fight choreography is actually genuine karate for the first time in this movie!

In conclusion, this movie has my highest recommendation for viewing even today, because it is still very much a landmark film that had social and cultural influence beyond the movie world and thus is mandatory viewing for any fan of this genre. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• High Definition (1080p) Presentation in 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
• 2.0 DTS-HD MA English Soundtrack
• 2.0 DTS-HD MA Mandarin Soundtrack with newly translated English Subtitles
• Audio Commentary by Critic and Author Samm Deighan
• Interview with Wong Ching
• Open Hand Combat - David West on The Chinese Boxer
• US Hammer of God TV Spot

www.MVDvisual.com





Roy Rogers Double Feature [2-Disc BR]
(Roy Rogers, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / NR / 2021 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Verdugo Entertainment proudly presents this 2-Disc Collector’s Set of Hollywood Western Legend Roy Rogers in his first and last films, Under Western Stars (1938) and Mackintosh & T.J. (1975).

Blu-ray Verdict: UNDER WESTERN STARS (1938): In his first feature film, Roy Rogers stars as himself as he gets elected to congress in order to bring water to the ranchers in his district. In Washington Roy learns he needs the backing of a key congressman and gets that man to go west for an inspection trip, but when the Congressman is initially unimpressed, Roy gets the inspection party stranded without water to show the true conditions.

Considering Roy Rogers politics which favored the Christian Right, his debut film as a singing cowboy star is a most unusual one. He’s essentially Billy Jack some thirty years ahead of time.

Roy plays the son of a late Congressman who fought on behalf of the small ranchers who are being starved out because of the dam the water power company has built and the exorbitant rates being charged. Definitely a film of the New Deal times.

After some typical direct cowboy action in dealing with the company Roy decides maybe Washington is the proper venue for dealing with the problem. He runs against flannel-mouth Congressman Dick Elliott who, thanks to some action by sidekick Smiley Burnette, gets dumped in a horse trough during his re-election campaign. A place more of our elected officials should visit unannounced.

Roy’s made wise to ways of Washington by Carol Hughes who is the daughter of the water power company president, but has a hankering for Roy just the same. Then it’s back to the west for some more of the kind of riding and shooting action not usually normal with Congressmen.

Under Western Stars was an interesting film in another way. Very soon such local country & western performers like Jimmie Davis in Louisiana, Wilbert Lee O’Daniel in Texas, and Glen H. Taylor in Idaho would be elected governors and/or senators from their respective states with just the kind of country singing campaign Roy does in this film. Maybe Under Western Stars had more influence than originally thought.

This picture even got an Oscar nomination, for the song Dust for Best Song of 1938. The rather more well known Thanks for the Memory was the winner that year. But Dust is a highly dramatic item, sung by Roy as he’s narrating a newsreel he put together about the dust bowl conditions in the west.

In conclusion, Under Western Stars is a decent enough B western and definitely a worthy item for the King of the Cowboys to step up and claim his crown.

Mackintosh & T.J. (1975): In his triumphant final film role, Roy Rogers (Lights of Old Santa Fe) stars as Mackintosh, a migrant cowboy traveling across the West Texas plains in his rundown pickup truck.

While looking for work breaking horses, Mackintosh befriends T.J. (future ProRodeo Hall of Famer Clay O’Brien), a runaway teen. The two form an unlikely bond and find jobs together at a cattle ranch where Mackintosh impresses the owner with his bronco-taming skills.

Trouble, however, is on the horizon, but Mackintosh proves himself as a man who is not afraid to take a stand.

Here the title roles are played by Roy and young Clay O’Brien respectively. Roy’s an old time working cowboy who’s not settled down and O’Brien is a young kid of 14 on the road. He’s run away because his father has died and he’s not liked his mother’s choice in companions.

The two hit it off and eventually find work at a ranch where Walter Barnes is the foreman and Edith Atwater his wife.

O’Brien did roles in two John Wayne films before this one, The Cowboys and Cahill, US Marshal and the same easy chemistry he had with the Duke he also has with Roy Rogers. Most of the screen time is spent with these two.

It looks very much like they’re going to stay on Barnes’s ranch, but a jealous husband, a battered wife, and a cowboy with some issues all get involved in their business. It ends in tragedy. The three parts are played respectively by Billy Green Bush, Joan Hackett, and Andrew Robinson.

Of the three Hackett is the one to watch. Charlton Heston who worked with Joan Hackett in Will Penny in his memoirs paid tribute to her grace and talent. Without much in the way of dialog she does a marvelous job in portraying a battered spouse.

For those who remember Roy Rogers in those fancy western shirts and fancy designed boots seeing him dressed as just a regular cowboy takes a bit of getting used to. It was over 20 years since he made his last big screen appearance and a little less for when his television western series ended its run.

I wonder what made him decide to do this film? I guess it might have been to see if he could play a character. He sure didn’t need the money. Oh, and Roy is wearing reading glasses at times so you know he’s conceding his age.

When I heard he was doing this film back in the Seventies I wanted to see it, but it never played in New York. Mackintosh & TJ apparently only played in the red state market like so many films that never make it to the east. So when I finally did get to see it, it was a double pleasure in it was good.

Roy only did two more acting roles, on the television series Wonder Woman and The Fall Guy. Mackintosh & TJ is a very nice farewell big screen performance to the most famous of cowboy heroes. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Lone Pine Cast Reunion with Clay O’Brien, Andrew Robinson and Larry Mahan
Interview with Billy Green Bush
Audio Commentary with Clay O’Brien, Andrew Robinson and moderator C. Courtney Joyner
Original On-Set Footage
EXPLORING THE ALABAMA HILLS (Lone Pine Location Documentary)
New Trailer for Under Western Stars
Mackintosh and T.J. original 1978 Theatrical Trailer

www.MVDvisual.com





Highway Hitcher [DVD]
(William Forsythe, James Le Gros, Elizabeth Peña, Jamie Kennedy, Michael McKean et al / DVD / NR / (1998) 2021 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Down on his luck, Charles Duprey (William Forsythe, The Devil’s Rejects) takes to the road to forget his troubles. Little does he know that they’ve only just begun when he offers a ride to broken down motorist, Hunter (James Le Gros, Point Break).

Hunter reveals some dark secrets and when Duprey’s attempts to escape him fail, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues. As Duprey fights for his life he discovers that this was no accidental encounter and he must take drastic action if he’s going to survive in this non-stop thriller in the tradition of classic Film Noir from acclaimed writer / director Kurt Voss (Where The Day Takes You, Baja) with an all-star supporting cast that includes Elizabeth Peña (Rush Hour), Jamie Kennedy (Scream), Michael McKean (Better Call Saul) and Nancy Allen (Robocop).

DVD Verdict: Highway Hitcher (aka The Pass) has commendable acting from everybody involved, of that have no doubt, inclusive of leads such as William Forstyhe, James LeGros, Elizabeth Peña, Jamie Kennedy, Michael McKean and Nancy Allen.

Sadly though, it is Kurt Voss’ writing and direction that makes this a less that stellar cinematic outing, and for that I am genuinely sorry as watching along I was oh-so hoping for it all to be taken up a notch.

Filmed as yet another hitcher-gone-bad type flick destined to thrill you, to mentally kick you here and there with pockets of excitement and trepidation, overall it is just a messy disappointment Because time and again the director/writer thinks he can fool audiences with en mass of unsubtle plot twists (and he simply cannot).

The lead character is made to be a complete loser of whom we don’t care from the get-go because we don’t know exactly the extent of his problems. Charlie (Forsythe) is presented as a lame ass from the off, spending his time gambling on the internet whilst his marriage collapses around him (although no history for such a thing and why is ever brought forth).

He gets it when he a mysterious man (LeGros) who needs a ride from him and the rest is all random murders and random encounters down meandering, and for the most part empty highways.

I won’t give it away, but after a few encounters much like this with the mysterious man, our “hero” suddenly awakens to the realization that perhaps he himself is not such a loser, a giant waste of space as he (and life) has made him out to be and so he finally beings to become a fearless fighter for the cause.

As aforementioned, there are quite a few twists involved in this movie, scattered throughout, but most all fall flat as you can see them coming a mile off.

Inclusive of dream-like sequences, some rough shot editing styles, sure, ok the thrill is still there throughout, with some rather great action sequences thrown in for good measure, but if you need a more frightening and realistic PSA for dealing with hitchers, then the much beloved The Hitcher (1986) is your film. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of an Original Theatrical Trailer.

www.MVDvisual.com





The Outsiders: The Complete Novel (4K Ultra HD)
(Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / PG / (1983) 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Warner Bros., STUDIOCANAL, and American Zoetrope today announce the forthcoming 4K restoration of the 1983 American coming-of-age drama, THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL, from Academy Award®-winning visionary director Francis Ford Coppola.

Created to give fans more of the action that took place in S.E. Hinton’s celebrated book, Coppola’s latest, definitive version includes new music, as well as several scenes cut from the theatrical version which were reconstructed from original camera negatives.

4K Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the beautifully restored, and now expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this November 9th, 2021.

For my money, this The Outsiders [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital] combo pack 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 Injustice 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: 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 UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably seamless. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as most all the Sodapop Curtis scenes. Wow, the clothing, the young faces, the scenery, the fights, they all veritably pop when brought together in this wonderful restoration.

Indeed, for the most part, under cover of dusk, one of the stand out scenes for me has always been the Drive-In scene, especially come the end of it when Dillon gets the drink thrown in his face! For this new restoration has enriched all their expressions (boys and girls) bringing out the aforementioned, and extremely fine facial crevices (which used to lay diminished behind some of the previously yellow-graded material) excellently.

As for the audio, well we have a veritable smorgasbord of choice here: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps).

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.

Man, was I happy when I watched this flick again all these years later after seeing it the theatre and wondering what the H.-E.-double-hockey-sticks happened to much of the novel’s content when it came to Coppola’s film adaptation!

Well, for anyone else who wondered the same thing, or who felt as did I, that the soundtrack was rather wishy-washy and didn’t capture the actual early 50’s feeling and time setting of the story, this brand new release 4K Ultra HD restoration is absolutely fantastic!

With a bow to Francis Ford Coppala’s pops, Carmine, the man who scored the theatrical release of the movie with its intensity, its melodrama and it offering the film that almost Rebel Without A Cause feel, I prefer what Coppala has done for this new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

The new music has everything from Elvis to (I think, though I could be wrong) Link Wray on it, and it sets the mood and the period of the story much more appropriately than the original release’s score.

With 22 minutes of the movie returned to its proper place, the story unfolds in a much more natural way, allowing characters and their relationships to develop in a less contrived, more organic manner.

For those unaware, the film was based on an award-winning novel written by S.E. Hinton, based on youth overcoming adolescence. In the plot, trouble continuously arises between the two primary groups of social classes known as Greasers or Socials (Socs).

The Greasers are the Outsiders. Their reputation is lower-class individuals that are looked down upon in society. The Socials are upper-class, wealthy people that enjoy picking on the misfortune of the Greasers.

In the movie, the conflicts are portrayed in numerous combinations of fights and disputes between the two.

Featuring C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, and Rob Lowe, all are really, really great, but as noted above, watch out for Dillon and Lane in the Drive-In cinema scene!

Overall, the movie is now what it was intended to be in my humble opinion. It is a very emotional movie about a bunch of tough kids just trying to belong who get caught up in circumstances - sometimes not of their own making.

I loved the way the movie showed the relationship between Ponyboy and his brothers. It was intense! It was just so very well acted and was very realistic to the time the movie took place - including the rumbles (you gotta think about the 50’s!)

Said Coppola, ‘“The Outsiders The Complete Novel’ came about after meeting students over the years who repeatedly asked me why certain scenes from S.E. Hinton’s wonderful book were missing from the theatrical version. These questions reminded about my inspiration for the film—in 1980, a contingent of 12- to 14-year-old students wrote and asked me to make it. I listened to those young fans back then, and I continue to listen to young people now and believe in their opinions, so this complete film version of the novel is for them.”

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

• NEW Restoration Interview with Cinematographer Stephen Burum, Zoetrope Head of Archives and Restorations James Mockoski and Colourist Gregg Garvin
• NEW Deleted Scenes
• NEW Francis Ford Coppola Introduction
• NEW Francis Ford Coppola Anatomy of a Scene
• NEW Old House New Home featurette
• Audio Commentary with Francis Ford Coppola
• Audio Commentary with Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze.
• Staying Gold: A look Back at The Outsiders
• S.E. Hinton on Location in Tulsa
• The Casting of The Outsiders
• NBC’s News Today from 1983 The Outsiders Started by School Petition
• Deleted and Extended Scenes

Warner Bros. will release THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL theatrically in the US and Canada beginning on September 26th with tickets going on sale this week. Details are available at Fandango.com. Warner Bros. will also make both it and the original version available in a 4K UHD Collector’s Edition and on digital platforms starting November 9th. Additionally, THE OUTSIDERS THE COMPLETE NOVEL will be available on HBO Max beginning on November 16th and will also air this fall on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

www.WarnerBros.com





Never Back Down: Revolt (Blu-ray + Digital)
(Olivia Popica, Michael Bisping, Brooke Johnston, James Faulkner, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2021 / Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Overview: When an amateur fighter is unwilling to throw a fight, his sister Anya (Olivia Popica) must travel to Rome and fight for an elite audience to help pay back her brother’s debt to crime boss, Julian (James Faulkner).

When she arrives, she’s taken by the merciless Janek (Michael Bisping) and quickly realizes she is among many women who have been abducted and forced to fight for a deadly trafficking syndicate.

Anya’s only options are to surrender to Janek’s demands or band together with the other women and take down their captors.

Blu-ray Verdict: Not exactly something that was asked for, or even seemed likely to happen (give that it has been some five years after the last entry in the franchise and a whopping 13 years since the original, we are now presented with Never Back Down: Revolt.

It is the storyline that sees Anya (Olivia Popica, The Devil Complex, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), the nursing student sister of MMA fighter Aslan (Tommy Bastow), being forced to compete in elite underground fights after Aslan refuses to throw his latest illegal bout for promoter Julian (James Faulkner, Underworld: Blood Wars, Atomic Blonde).

Now working to pay off the debt Aslan owes for NOT losing, Anya takes a trip to Rome to partake in a special fighting event (that she’s promised will clear her brothers debt) in front of a high-paying elite crowd, where she’s held captive by UFC Hall of Fame Michael Bisping’s evil fight promoter.

In what is a notable departure from the previous two outings, Revolt is set in London (England) this time and also features scenes shot (supposedly) in Italy, which admittedly do raise the cinematic levels here.

Written and this time around directed by women, Audrey Arkins, who wrote the 2020 Anthony Hopkins film Elyse, provided the script and Kellie Madison directed this (which is actually her full-length sophomore attempt, on the back The Tank from 2017), and they are admirably aided by Tim Man (Accident Man, Boyka: Undisputed) as the films fight coordinator (which makes for some great hand-to-hand combat action, trust me!)

In conclusion, there is oh-so much to look at here on screen at any given moment, most all of it flying legs, feet, hands, arms and notably fists from the ladies and gentlemen in question, but there is obviously only so much you can do with the cast and the plot combined.

That said, the fights (in and out of the ring) are very well directed, well shot, well lit, and the character acting is as good as it gets for such a blood sport-imbibed film. Perhaps the film leans too much toward how these ladies look more than, per say, their actual real life fighting skills.

But come the end, I can honestly say Never Back Down: Revolt is true to its originally created mantra of bringing full contact, bloody sport to the cinematic mases, and that’s truly all that matters, is it not? This is a 1080p High Definition (2.00:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.SPHE.com

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) - Official Facebook Page





Middle Earth [6-Film Ultimate Collector’s Edition]
(Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellan, Dominic Monaghan, James Nesbitt, Viggo Mortenson, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood, et al / 31-Disc 4K Ultra HD + Blu-Rays + Digital / PG-13 / 2021 / Studio Distribution Services)

Overview: Celebrate 20 years of adventure and friendship as Warner Bros. releases the Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition, timed to the 20th anniversary of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

The 31-disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth saga contains new special features along with the theatrical and extended versions of all six films in 4K Ultra HD and on Blu-ray discs remastered from the 4K master. The Ultimate Collector’s Edition will be released on November 16th, 2021.

Blu-ray Verdict: This simply INCREDIBLE, 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition includes the theatrical and extended versions of the six films from New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures in 4K UHD with HDR - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes in unique “Puzzle Box” collectible packaging and includes a 64-page booklet featuring costumes, photography and production notes from the film, and art cards featuring travel posters and images from iconic locations throughout Middle-earth including The Shire, Lake-Town, Erebor, Anduin, Rohan, Minas Trith, and Rivendell.

Also included are the original Cannes Film Festival presentation reel, and footage from the recent Alamo Drafthouse cast reunion featuring director Peter Jackson along with cast members Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellan, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortenson, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood.

As for the six (6) films themselves, I think we all know what they are about and what they represent for the series, let alone this MAGNIFICENT box-set, but here’s a quick little synopsis on all of them for you anyway:

The Hobbit Trilogy opens on An Unexpected Journey (2012), when Bilbo Baggins is swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug!

Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever ... Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of guile and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s precious ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities ... a simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know!

Director Peter Jackson has few equals when it comes to special effects, especially the digital kind. This adapted prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, is rampant with the effects as Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and a motley crew of thirteen dwarfs (not as cute by far as Snow White’s), under the leadership of Thorin (Richard Armitrage), go searching for the lost dwarf kingdom of Eredor to reclaim it from the dragon Smaug.

It’s an arguably long opening sequence, where Gandalf tries to enlist the happy Bilbo to become a burglar to win back the Lonely Mountain, to bring the dwarfs home. In this regard Tolkien and Jackson embrace the theme common to many kiddie lit tomes: There’s no place like home. The set pieces are almost always about fighting, be it stone monsters as large as mountains or wolves the size of elephants!

It’s all of one piece, cliff hanging heroes saved by the wit and magic of Gandalf or the heart of Bagins. The appearance of Gollum (Andy Serkis) with the ring that changes things forever merits attention as he and Bilbo match wits over riddles.

But then again, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), the visionary elf queen, provides needed visual relief from the ugly trolls and dwarfs.

Next up is The Desolation of Smaug (2013) where after successfully crossing over (and under) the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest - without their Wizard.

If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug.

And, where has Gandalf got off to? And what is his secret business to the south?

Peter Jackson’s Love for the The Lord of The Rings is evident yet again with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This one’s a dazzling sequel to an equally heavy prequel.

The Script is solid, offering heart-pounding moments in the goings-on, along-with magnificent direction by Jackson himself. Indeed, Jackson handles this magnum-opus like a pro, with each sequence looking like a painting to reckon with.

The graphics are extraordinary and the use of 3D effects has never been better along with top notch cinematography being truly outstanding also. The editing and art design are perfect too with a well deserved nod to costume design being really note worthy – and lest we forget the soaring music by Howard Shore, of course!

Performance wise, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins continues to charm one and all, Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, despite limited screen time, is powerful, Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield delivers heroically, Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug (vocal performance and motion capture) is OMG legendary, Orlando Bloom as Legolas is a delight and amongst others, Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel is highly efficient.

The third, and final film of The Hobbit trilogy is The Battle of The Five Armies (2014), where after the Dragon leaves the Lonely Mountain, the people of Lake-town see a threat coming.

Orcs, dwarves, elves and people prepare for war. Bilbo sees Thorin going mad and tries to help. Meanwhile, Gandalf is rescued from the Necromancer’s prison and his rescuers realize who the Necromancer is.

A solid conclusion of the trilogy, after the events portrayed in The Desolation of Smaug, the dwarfs, under Thorin Oakenshield, have taken control of the mine under the Lonely Mountain and searching for the Arkenstone, not knowing that Bilbo Baggins has already found it.

Meanwhile the dragon Smaug has attacked and destroyed Lake Town before being slain by Bard the Bowman. After this Bard becomes the leader of the survivors as they head to the Lonely Mountain expecting the dwarfs to help them. Thorin, affected by Dragon sickness, refuses and barricades the entrance.

Soon a force of Elves turns up hoping to retrieve their own treasure from the mountain; they ally with the human forces and prepare to attack. Just as they are about to strike a large army of dwarfs arrives to help those in the mountain.

That is the least of their worries; Orcish forces are also attacking and soon men, dwarfs and elves are fighting side by side.

The Lord of The Rings Trilogy of movies opens on The Fellowship of The Ring (2001) and unveils a story of an ancient Ring thought lost for centuries that has been found, and through a strange twist of fate has been given to a small Hobbit named Frodo.

When Gandalf discovers the Ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo must make an epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it. However, he does not go alone. He is joined by Gandalf, Legolas the elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn, Boromir, and his three Hobbit friends Merry, Pippin, and Samwise.

Through mountains, snow, darkness, forests, rivers and plains, facing evil and danger at every corner the Fellowship of the Ring must go. Their quest to destroy the One Ring is the only hope for the end of the Dark Lords reign.

The Fellowship of the Ring is perhaps the most laborious of the three films, what with the setting up of the plot, the introduction of a multitude of characters, and several talky scenes eating into the 171 minutes running time, but thankfully the film’s impressive fantasy fighting action, breath-taking scenery, and amazing performances more than make up for the duller moments.

Peter Jackson not only attempted the most ambitious film project in modern cinema history, he pulled it off with a breathtaking mixture of nerve and verve also!

Visually striking, thematically poignant, and morally weighty, the first film of Lord of the Rings is superb for it manages to thrill and enthrall, all despite its aforementioned length and repetition.

Up next is The Two Towers (2002) where we join the continuing quest of Frodo and the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring. Frodo and Sam discover they are being followed by the mysterious Gollum. Aragorn, the Elf archer Legolas, and Gimli the Dwarf encounter the besieged Rohan kingdom, whose once great King Theoden has fallen under Saruman’s deadly spell.

Also known as “The one in which nothing happens,” ironically it’s for that exact reason the second installment is my favorite. Since nothing happens, there are no awful violent scenes to worry about, and no one who gets killed when you didn’t want them to.

I still miss Sean Bean. But the rest of the cast, from Elijah Wood to Cate Blanchett to Christopher Lee, still continues the journey. Treasure this movie; in the third movie, all bets are off for the remaining cast!

And finally we are presented The Return of The King (2003) where we witness the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil fighting for control of the future of Middle-earth.

Frodo and Sam reach Mordor in their quest to destroy the One Ring, while Aragorn leads the forces of good against Sauron’s evil army at the stone city of Minas Tirith.

Now THIS alone is a totally spectacular movie. It has some of the most amazing battle scenes in movie history, in my humble opinion and actually the spectacular isn’t even good enough to describe it – for it is simply breathtaking!

I mean, who didn’t wanted to pick up a sword and shield and charge with Aragorn towards a large number of Orcs for honor and glory?

Even though the special effects are far from the best ever, Peter Jackson is a master in mixing the special effect with real life action. The use of it never feels overdone and the result is spectacular as well as believable.

4K Ultra HD** showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, and more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

The 4K remastering process was overseen by Peter Jackson.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will feature Dolby VisionTM HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will also feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar. Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

Middle-Earth Ultimate Collector’s Edition contains the following special features:
• Cannes Film Festival Presentation Reel
• Alamo Drafthouse Cast Reunion
• “The Fellowship of the Ring” - RT: 39:38 (with Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Sean Astin and Elijah Wood)
• “The Two Towers” - RT: 32:24 (with Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortenson)
• "The Return of the King” - RT: 29:48 (with Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis, and Peter Jackson)

www.WarnerBros.com





Masterpiece Mystery! Granchester – Sixth Season
(Robson Green, Tom Brittney, Al Weaver, Tessa Peake-Jones, Kacey Ainsworth, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: 1958: Rev. Will Davenport is at odds with his own ideals when Leonard Finch is caught up in a scandal. It will take all of Will’s skill and empathy to navigate the choppy waters and help the ones he loves.

DVD Verdict: It’s 1958 and trouble is brewing in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester. Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) relishes his role as a firebrand vicar, willing to rock the boat and challenge conventions to help people, but the very role he loves puts him at odds with his own ideals when his kind-hearted curate, Leonard Finch (Al Weaver) is caught up in a scandal.

Will’s best friend, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), finds his principles shaken, housekeeper Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) is distraught, and Geordie’s wife Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth) is defiant.

With eight new crimes around every corner, and morality and legality at loggerheads, for my money, the lovely, peaceful Grantchester started off as a typical English countryside mystery series. Not great, not bad, but always suffering from the miscasting of the pleasant but flat Morven Christie, who somehow is supposed to be the object of every man’s affection!

But as the show developed, it became more and more about James Norton, whose star rose quickly (and who was also once in contention for the role of the new James Bond, I’ll have you know).

But as he progressed through the series, sadly the show weakened, the mysteries waned, and instead we saw Norton taking his shirt off, constantly; chopping wood bare chested, for no reason; getting into fist fights, ridiculously get drunk off his ass for no good reason each and every night!

However, once Norton left for better roles, the show improved, turning into more of a psychological drama about the leading characters; they become more and more real and the mysteries less and less important.

Now we have Tom Brittney as Will Davenport and as much as he seemed weak as water in the opening introduction to us (via one of Norton’s last episodes), he subsequently became not just Norton’s able-bodied replacement, but made the Vicar a much more interesting character with a much better written back story.

I mean sure, they have him taking his shirt off here and there, having sex all over the shop (even with a Nun!), and drinking much like Norton, but there’s something more grounded here with this Vicar, in my humble opinion.

In conclusion, the eight new episodes (which bring us up nicely to date on what has been aired) are tight one, fun ones, thought-provoking ones and even tag in actual events that were happening back in the day.

A few red herrings thrown into the mix for good measure, and a little home front trouble for Geordie all means that come the final episode you will all be begging for the new series to start!

Oh, and as for those inquiring, all in all, there is a pay-off in the stories of Leonard, Mrs. Chapman, Geordie, and even Cathy, so hang on in there! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





The Gestapo’s Last Orgy: Limited Edition
(Marc Loud, Daniela Levy, Maristella Greco, Fulvio Ricciardi, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1977) 2021 / 88 Films – MVD Visual)

Overview: In the tradition of The Night Porter and Salon Kitty comes perhaps the most notorious ’Nazisploitation’ epic of them all! Daniela Levy (aka Italian TV presenter and future UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Daniela Poggi) stars as a beautiful young death camp prisoner forced into a nightmare of brutality, torment and degradation.

But will a Commandant’s vilest urge trigger her ultimate vengeance? Marc Loud (aka Adriano Micantoni of Tomb Of Torture) co-stars in this fetid slice of filth-strudel also known as Last Orgy Of The Third Reich And Caligula Reincarnated As Hitler now presented on Blu-ray for the very first time and restored in 2K From the original negatives.

Blu-ray Verdict: Unlike the extremely camp exercise in bad taste that is Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS , Gestapo’s Last Orgy is a more unflinching look at the atrocities committed in a Nazi concentration camp, shot in a quasi-serious style.

With its harrowing scenes of sexual abuse and violent death and torture, it is easy to understand why this movie might be considered more shocking than other similarly themed flicks from the same era; but is delivering a rawer and nastier (but still very exploitative) movie any more distasteful or disrespectful than making light of the subject matter?

In my opinion, all Nazisploitation movies are treading on dodgy ground and if you’re going to use such a touchy subject to make a film that is designed to titillate and disgust, then you might as well go the whole hog.

Director Cesare Canevari certainly thinks so; with Gestapo’s Last Orgy, he delivers an often sickening piece of no holds barred cinema that should satisfy most fans of extreme movie-making.

Daniela Poggi plays Lise Cohen, a beautiful young Jewish woman being held in a Nazi love camp. Believing that she is responsible for the death of her family, she has lost the will to live and offers no resistance when tortured by evil Commandant Conrad von Starker (Adriano Micantoni).

Frustrated by the lack of emotion shown by the woman, Conrad makes Lise his special project and tells her that she will learn to love life once she has experienced real fear.

When a friendly doctor discovers that Lise was not actually to blame for the death of her loved ones, he tells her, thus restoring her will to live and, in turn, her fear of death. In order to survive, she must now pretend that von Starker has succeeded in breaking her, and become his lover.

With scenes of mass extermination, violent rape, and general lack of respect for human life, Canevari’s sick flick is certainly disturbing; although not packed with the wall-to-wall gore that one might expect, the sheer nastiness of some moments make this one hard to stomach at times.

When the head honchos at the camp tuck into a meal made from unborn Jew, or douse a woman in Cognac and set her on fire, it’s not necessarily the visuals that will make you gag, but the idea being portrayed.

Occasionally the pace of the movie lulls and sometimes Canevari sees fit to get rather pretentious with his direction, but, on the whole, the film is a decent enough watch for those seeking some sleaze.

And although I imagine the makers never intended to provide any laughs, I defy anyone to not giggle at the moment when Lise is suspended above flesh-eating rats (actually rather disinterested gerbils) or the sex scene between Lise and the doctor, which consists of several minutes of them rolling around together naked, but never actually seeming to bother with any serious boning!

In conclusion, this now Limited Edition Blu-ray from 88 Films via MVD Visual is quite the perfect example of depraved 70’s Italian exploitation cinema and thus should still be viewed as such here today in 2021. 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 Camera Negatives
• Restored English and Italian LPCM Soundtracks
• Newly Translated English Subtitles
• Complete and Uncut
• Audio Commentary by Critic And Author Samm Deighan
• Audio Commentary by Italian Movie Specialists Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thomson

www.MVDshop.com





Mackintosh And T.J. [4K Restoration]
(Roy Rogers, James Hampton, Joan Hackett, Billy Green Bush, Andrew Robinson, et al / 4K DVD / PG / (1975) 2021 / MVD Visual)

Overview: In his triumphant final film role, Roy Rogers (Lights of Old Santa Fe) stars as Mackintosh, a migrant cowboy traveling across the West Texas plains in his rundown pickup truck.

While looking for work breaking horses, Mackintosh befriends T.J. (future ProRodeo Hall of Famer Clay O’Brien), a runaway teen. The two form an unlikely bond and find jobs together at a cattle ranch where Mackintosh impresses the owner with his bronco-taming skills.

Trouble, however, is on the horizon, but Mackintosh proves himself as a man who is not afraid to take a stand. DVD Verdict: In his triumphant final film role, Roy Rogers (Lights of Old Santa Fe) stars as Mackintosh, a migrant cowboy traveling across the West Texas plains in his rundown pickup truck.

While looking for work breaking horses, Mackintosh befriends T.J. (O’Brien), a runaway teen. The two form an unlikely bond and find jobs together at a cattle ranch where Mackintosh impresses the owner with his bronco-taming skills.

Trouble, however, is on the horizon, but Mackintosh proves himself as a man who is not afraid to take a stand.

Here the title roles are played by Roy and young Clay O’Brien respectively. Roy’s an old time working cowboy who’s not settled down and O’Brien is a young kid of 14 on the road.

He’s run away because his father has died and he’s not liked his mother’s choice in companions.

The two hit it off and eventually find work at a ranch where Walter Barnes is the foreman and Edith Atwater his wife.

O’Brien did roles in two John Wayne films before this one, The Cowboys and Cahill, US Marshal and the same easy chemistry he had with the Duke he also has with Roy Rogers. Most of the screen time is spent with these two.

It looks very much like they’re going to stay on Barnes’s ranch, but a jealous husband, a battered wife, and a cowboy with some issues all get involved in their business. It ends in tragedy. The three parts are played respectively by Billy Green Bush, Joan Hackett, and Andrew Robinson.

Of the three Hackett is the one to watch. Charlton Heston who worked with Joan Hackett in Will Penny in his memoirs paid tribute to her grace and talent. Without much in the way of dialog she does a marvelous job in portraying a battered spouse.

For those who remember Roy Rogers in those fancy western shirts and fancy designed boots seeing him dressed as just a regular cowboy takes a bit of getting used to. It was over 20 years since he made his last big screen appearance and a little less for when his television western series ended its run.

I wonder what made him decide to do this film? I guess it might have been to see if he could play a character. He sure didn’t need the money. Oh, and Roy is wearing reading glasses at times so you know he’s conceding his age.

When I heard he was doing this film back in the Seventies I wanted to see it, but it never played in New York. Mackintosh & TJ apparently only played in the red state market like so many films that never make it to the east. So when I finally did get to see it, it was a double pleasure in it was good.

Roy only did two more acting roles, on the television series Wonder Woman and The Fall Guy. Mackintosh & TJ is a very nice farewell big screen performance to the most famous of cowboy heroes. This is a Full Screen Presentation 1.78:1 transfer approximating its original 1.85:1 theatrical version. Essentially four-walled (self-distributed), the film now gets a wondrous 4K restoration which has made it a most beautiful theatrical thing of beauty, trust me! The LPCM 2.0 mono is also tuned right in perfectly and English Subtitles are provided, and it also comes with the Special Features of:

Interview with Billy Green Bush
Theatrical Trailers

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The Django Collection [Digitally Remastered]
(Anthony Steffen, Jeff Cameron, Guy Madison, Franco Nero, George Hilton, et al / DVD / NR / 2021 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)

Overview: This action-packed collection contains the following six Django westerns: A Man Called Django (Viva! Django), Django the Runner, Hanging for Django, Django: A Bullet for You, Return of Django and A Pistol for Django which makes this definitive, and now digitally remastered Spaghetti Western collection a must-have for fans of the genre!

DVD Verdict: First up is A Man Called Django (Viva! Django) (1971) starring Anthony Steffen and tells the tale of how Django is on the trail of some renegade outlaws who raped and killed his wife.

En route, he rescues a horse thief from an impromptu hanging. He discovers the man knows who committed the murder. The men team up and head west for revenge.

Although it steals ideas from about half a dozen other spaghetti westerns, this fake Django sequel is certainly fast-paced enough, with adequate production values and enough action to fill up it’s running time.

Next up is Django the Runner (Massacre Time) (1966) featuring Franco Nero and tells the story of a prospector and his drunkard half-brother who must fight a rancher and his sadistic son after they seize control of his farm.

It’s a fast-paced genre-highlight, with a delightful shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality as well as a handful of ingenious twists in the plot.

Then we get Hanging for Django (No Room To Die) (1969) starring Anthony Steffen, where Django and Santana are bounty hunters taking out bandits in a small Western town.

An evil landowner smuggling illegal immigrants and the men that work for him have mighty fine prices on their heads. So it only makes sense that Django and Santana would come-a-callin’ before long.

It’s what I would call a safe Spaghetti Western, a chance to make a telling political point is wasted, but there’s a lot of style around to ensure that the pic is never once dull.

Up next is Django: A Bullet for You (A Few Dollars for Django) (1966) starring Anthony Steffan who is sent to Montana to hunt down bank robbers, but where also a bounty hunter takes the star off a replacement sheriff who didn’t reach his destination and steps into a range war between farmers and cattlemen.

Fans of Anthony Steffen and his hard-edged performances probably won’t be disappointed, although this one is not a real Django entry as Steffen plays a gunfighter named Reagan here!

It’s a typical Italian western of the sixties with all the touches that gives a special and cult atmosphere for this genre nowadays.

Then we get Return of Django (1967) starring Guy Madison and which tells the story of the son of Django who is searching for the murderer of his father and is thereby involved in a war between two factions headed by former acquaintances of his famous parent.

Although this is about the son of Django, the plot bears a little more of a resemblance to A Fistful Of Dollars. Top-billed Guy Madison has the most interesting role, albeit only a supporting one, as a priest and friend of Django who has to pick up his gun again to help Tinti, a role he reprised in other films.

Lastly comes A Pistol for Django (Sartana’s Here... Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin) (1971) starring George Hilton, and which tells the story of Sartana contending with various parties - including a dapper rival gunfighter, an alluring saloon owner and a Mexican bandit - who are intent on acquiring a mining director’s gold.

Well, in this one, and this should explain the plot perfectly, you’ve got Sartana after gold, the bandits after gold, some shady businessmen after gold, the gold miners after their own gold (how dare they!), and a bar owning chick ... after gold.

Oh, and another gunslinger called Sabbath after gold. He carries a white parasol, reads Shakespeare’s sonnets, and constantly refers to his mother! These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.FilmRise.com

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Maniac Cop 2: 4K Ultra HD (Special Edition)
(Clarence Williams Iii, Robert Davi, Charles Napier, Leo Rossi, Robert Z’Dar, et al / 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray / R / (1990) 2021 / Blue Underground – MVD Visual)

Overview: The Maniac Cop is back from the dead and stalking the streets of New York once more. Officer Matt Cordell was once a hero, but after being framed by corrupt superiors and brutally assaulted in prison, he sets out on a macabre mission of vengeance, teaming up with a vicious serial killer to track down those that wronged him and make them pay ... with their lives!

4K Blu-ray Verdict: Robert Z’Dar returns as the super cop, turned maniac cop; Matt Cordell in this surprisingly good sequel to the surprisingly good 1988 horror-thriller, Maniac Cop.

This time, however, he’s not alone in his fight against the police force as he’s found an accomplice; the local serial killer!

This movie is probably the quintessential late-night video rental in the late 80’s to early 90’s - not only is it pure B-grade schlock, but it’s a sequel to and original pure B-grade schlock; and you don’t get much more B-movie than that! (except maybe a second sequel, of course!).

The directing and writing/producing team of William Lustig and Larry Cohen return to helm this movie, and do a good job as they did in the first. The acting in this film isn’t good, in fact, certain scenes are downright embarrassing, but you don’t go into a sequel to an 80’s schlock fest expecting great acting, so it’s totally forgivable.

The majority of the cast from the first film met grisly ends, but the two survivors - B-movie god, Bruce Campbell, and Laurene Landon - reprise their roles. Unfortunately, however, their roles in the movie are little more than cameo appearances; Bruce Campbell in particular is not at his charismatic best.

In The Evil Dead films, and a lot of his small cameos in bigger films, Bruce approaches his roles with great heart and gusto and you can really tell that he’s enjoying himself, but here, I was getting the impression that he couldn’t be bothered.

I got this impression somewhat with Bruce’s performance the first film too. Of course, his role in the Maniac Cop films is nothing like the Ash that we all know and love, but B-movie fans have come to expect a certain kind of performance from Bruce and that wasn’t what he gave in the first movie.

Naturally, his mere presence is enough to make a film a must see, though. Laurene Landon enjoys herself a bit more, and gets to use the greatest melee weapon in the history of movies, the chainsaw! The chainsaw is such a brilliant weapon, it almost takes on a life of it’s own.

I mean, come on, any movie that utilizes the chainsaw commands your respect, even if it only gets a brief appearance as it does in this movie. The only other thing that returns from the first is the incredible tagline: You have the right to remain silent...forever!, which is quite simply, one of the best taglines ever written!

The rest of the cast is new to the series. Robert Davi, who is a very good actor, takes over Bruce Campbell as the new leading man. Davi portrays his character, a hard-bitten New York with a gruff voice and no messing persona brilliantly, and very much looks the part

Also new is Claudia Christian, who pretty much does what Laurene Landon did in the first film, and Leo Rossi enters the fold as Matt Cordell’s newfound friend, who also happens to enjoy strangling strippers. Also, watch out for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos from Danny Trejo and Sam Raimi.

Just like in the first film, a foreboding New York atmosphere is created, which lends the film a creepy and distinct atmosphere, particularly in the nighttime scenes. Also like the first film, the sequel features several instances of lovely black humor, portrayed best by Maniac Cop saving a man from a parking ticket, and then taking the traffic officer away ... literally, on the back of his crane truck!

The film also doesn’t let up for a second. It stays entertaining for the duration and the action comes thick and fast, which ensures that the film stays entertaining. There is also a theme of justice, and it’s pitfalls, which is heavily referred to at several points in the movie.

Of course, this point is lost somewhat under the violent gun battles, but the fact that the movie is actually trying to convey a point is admirable from a film that you wouldn’t expect any kind of meaning from.

Overall, Maniac Cop 2 is a quite lovely piece of B-grade cinema. As a technical project, it’s got a lot of faults, sure, but it’s very entertaining and fans of this sort of film will find lots to like about it. As a fan of the original, and now presented here as an excellent 4K UHD presentation, this sequel satisfied me (even more, visually now) and therefore I recommend this to anyone that is also a fan of the original. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Stunning restoration NOW IN TRUE 4K ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION with DOLBY VISION HDR and a new DOLBY ATMOS audio mix
• Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) and HD Blu-ray (1080p) Widescreen 1.85:1 Feature Presentation
• Audio: English: Dolby Atmos; English: 2.0 DTS-HD
• Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Italiano, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Dansk, Nederlands, Suomi, Norsk, Svenska
• Audio Commentary with Director William Lustig and Filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn
• Back On The Beat - The Making Of MANIAC COP 2
• Cinefamily Q&A with Director William Lustig
• Deleted Scene
• Theatrical Trailers
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Isolated Music Track
• Limited Edition embossed slipcover (First Pressing Only)

Blue Underground Purchase Link

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Maniac Cop 3: 4K Ultra HD (Special Edition)
(Robert Forster, Robert Z’Dar, Doug Savant, Julius Harris, Jackie Earle Haley, Caitlin Dulany, et al / 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray / R / (1992) 2021 / Blue Underground – MVD Visual)

Overview: When Officer Kate Sullivan storms a hostage situation, the whole incident is captured on tape by an unscrupulous media crew who edit the footage to show Kate killing a helpless victim.

Now in a coma, Kate’s only hope is Detective Sean McKinney, who desperately tries to clear her name. But unbeknownst to him, Maniac Cop Matt Cordell takes it upon himself to exact revenge upon those responsible for smearing her name.

4K Blu-ray Verdict: The first Maniac Cop film is one of the supreme trash classics from the eighties; and its sequel, the (un) imaginatively titled Maniac Cop 2 is about as good as a sequel could have been.

However, in true sequel fashion; this third outing is extremely disappointing. The film is subtitled Badge of Silence, but perhaps Bride of Maniac Cop would be more appropriate, since that’s the road that the second sequel has chosen to go down.

Once again, we have William Lustig directing a script written by Larry Cohen; this team worked so well on the first two films, but something hasn’t clicked this time around. The entire movie feels like it just cannot really be bothered, with the plot serving only in dishing up the relevant elements for Matt Cordell; the so-named Maniac Cop to go on another killing spree.

We see a voodoo priest resurrect the mental copper shortly before witnessing police officer Kate Sullivan gets killed during an armed robbery. For some, largely unexplained reason, Matt Cordell decides that he wants to make Kate his bride. It’s not long before Sean McKinney (the hard-bitten detective from Maniac Cop 2) begins to suspect that Cordell may be back on the scene.

One of the main problems with this film is the scenes with the maniac cop. There aren’t enough of them for a start, and the ones there are merely show him powering his way through people, and this fails to capture the creepiness of the original.

Robert Z’Dar is still imposing in the only role that his name is associated with, but his presence was much better handled in the previous two films. I quite like Robert Davi for he’s no Bruce Campbell or Tom Atkins, but he looks the part as the experienced policeman, and definitely fits this sort of film well.

The atmosphere is well created again, with a foreboding New York feel accompanying most of the street scenes, which is a shame since most of the film takes place in a hospital! The police force itself isn’t portrayed very well, and there isn’t a single scene that is really convincing there either sorry.

The film has a very direct to video feel throughout also and no attempt is ever made to mask the fact that you’re watching a series withering on the vine. The violence is fairly heavy, although there isn’t a lot of blood, and the final car chase goes on far too long, and even manages to drain the last bit of energy from an already frail film.

That all said, if you loved the first two, which I think by now you know I personally did, you will still be able to find a love for this third venture. But, well, then again, you might not, I guess. But, and as the aforementioned fan of the original pairing, and now with this third outing presented here as an excellent 4K UHD presentation, this second sequel satisfactorily satisfied me just enough (given all the years that have passed since its release) and therefore I recommend this to anyone that is also a fan of the original two. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• Killer restoration NOW IN TRUE 4K ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION with DOLBY VISION HDR and a new DOLBY ATMOS audio mix
• Ultra HD Blu-ray (2160p) and HD Blu-ray (1080p) Widescreen 2.35:1 Feature Presentation
• Audio: English: Dolby Atmos; English: 2.0 DTS-HD
• Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Italiano, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Russian
• NEW! Audio Commentary with Director Alan Smithee
• Wrong Arm Of The Law - The Making Of MANIAC COP 3
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Original Synopsis
• Limited Edition embossed slipcover (First Pressing Only)

Blue Underground Purchase Link

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The Mad Max Anthology: 4K Ultra HD
(Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Leays-Byrne, Bruce Spence, Tina Turner, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, et al / 4K UHD Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Warner Bros. is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of this simply incredible quartet of all the Mad Max films, all reformatted to come alive even more now via 4K Ultra HD video format this November 16th, 2021.

For my money, this Mad Max Anthology [4K Ultra HD + Digital] set’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 Injustice presented to us as a four-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: 2.40:1, 2.34:1 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 UHDs, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisp with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what is more is that it is enjoyably seamless.

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 throughout now, along with truly enriched colorization overall, which all bring to the fore extremely fine facial crevices and expressions that previously lay diminished behind some of the cinematically-filmed yellow-graded material.

Up first is the classic itself, of course, Mad Max (1979) which was directed by Miller from a screenplay by Miller & James McCausland and a story by Miller and Byron Kennedy. The film was produced by Kennedy and stars Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky, Joanne Samuel as Jesse Rockatansky, and Hugh Leays-Byrne as the Toecutter.

Taking place in a dystopian Australia in the near future, Mad Max tells the story of a highway patrolman cruising the squalid back roads that have become the breeding ground of criminals foraging for gasoline and scraps.

After some grisly events at the hands of a motorcycle gang, Max sets out across the barren wastelands in search of revenge.

When evaluating this film, I feel it really needs to be put into perspective just how brilliant a job director George Miller did with next to no cash to work with, in fact Miller edited the film in his own bedroom just to emphasize the low-fi nature of the beast.

The costumes are excellent, the cast are terrific, with Mel Gibson as Max particularly impressive, and here we have villains to truly fit the word villainous, but it’s the stunts and chase sequences that makes this film a rich rewarding experience.

The opening ten minutes alone are pure adrenalin pumping genius, but the film as a whole delivers a crash bang wallop punch that has often been imitated since its release, but rarely bettered, and although the heart of the film is a simple revenge story, it grabs your attention and delivers right to the corking finale!

Then we get Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981) which was again, of course, directed by Miller and written by Miller, Terry Hayes & Brian Hannant. It was produced by Kennedy and stars Gibson as Max, Bruce Spence as the Gyro Captain, Mike Preston as Pappagallo, Max Phipps as Toadie, Vernon Wells as Wez, Emil Minty as the Feral Kid, and Kjell Nilsson as The Hummungus.

Wandering the deserted highways of an energy-starved dystopian Australia after eradicating the Night Rider’s followers in Mad Max (1979), the former patrolman, Max Rockatansky, finds himself roaming the endless wasteland scavenging for food and precious petrol.

Suddenly, in the scorched wilderness, the hungry for fuel Max chances upon a small oil refinery; however, the place is under siege by Lord Humungus’ barbarian horde of biker warlords, hell-bent on destruction and mayhem.

Now, to get his hands on as much gas as he can carry, Mad Max will have to provide the defenseless community with a powerful truck to transport the gasoline to safety; nevertheless, this is easier said than done. Is Max, the battle-scarred Road Warrior, up to the task?

Max’s latest responsibility is to defend a group of settlers, who are trying to protect a compound which houses dozens of vehicles and a substantial amount of fuel, despite marauders attempting to overrun it, at one point succeeding and killing all but one settler.

While Mad Max felt like it was laying the groundwork for the series to operate on, etching in some social commentary in addition to illustrating its vast, barren setting, Mad Max 2 begins to pick up and actually have some fun with its premise.

It’s by no means reliant on momentarily substantive action, but it finds the charm in your average car chase, where the excitement is usually buried between two tons of clanking metal, fire, and murky camera shots.

Miller’s groundwork pays off for Mad Max 2, as we now know the setting we’re working with and have more time to enjoy our outing with this particular effort. The film is almost entirely focused on Max and his dog, whether they be rescuing the settlers or engaged in a hot pursuit chase.

The first film found itself more concerned with creating a dichotomous focus between Max and the motorcycle gang. Here, our focus is made more intimate, personal, and exhilarating thanks to it being limited in such a large world.

Up next is the spectacular Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) which was, oh yeah, you know, co-directed by Miller and George Ogilvie and written by Miller and Terry Hayes. It was produced by Miller and stars Gibson as Max, Tina Turner as Auntie Entity, Bruce Spence as Jedediah, and Angelo Rossitto as Master.

Left for dead in the unforgiving deserts of post-nuclear Australia, after defeating Lord Humungus’ barbarian horde of bikers in Mad Max 2, the former officer of the tough Main Force Patrol, Max Rockatansky, happens upon Bartertown: the remote market-town outpost in the middle of the dry Wasteland, and the realm of the autocratic Queen Aunty Entity.

There, a lethal challenge awaits Max, who, in return for his freedom and provisions, must engage in a bloody match to the death with the grotesque symbiotic being, the Master/Blaster.

However, an unforeseen complication after the brutal fight in the stronghold’s combat arena, The Thunderdome, will banish, once more, Max into the vast wilderness, only to discover the peaceful haven of The Lost Tribe: a community of marooned children who survive on their own, waiting for the arrival of the legendary Captain Walker.

Is Mad Max, indeed, their savior? Can he overthrow Bartertown’s ruthless tyrant?

A bit of contextualization, the film is set at a time where oil has become more than a luxury and in every part of the Australian wasteland, micro-societies are being built to ensure minimal chances of living. There’s no money, not much oil and people trade for food and water and insurance for survival.

In this definite setting, we meet Max, with longer and greyer hair in a remote city named Bartertown, a sort of advanced society in that post-Apocalyptic Australia where a sort of equilibrium reigns under the firm authority of Auntie Entity (Tina Turner) and where the energy is supplied by the Master Blaster - a composite of two persons, a little man for the brain (Angelo Rossitto, he was the loving cup dwarf in Freaks) and the muscle is Blaster, a giant who terrorizes the workers.

Those workers handle the main supply of energy, which is the waste coming from pigs and turned into methane. When a whole ecosystem depends on pig feces, you know humanity reached quite a low!

The now-infamous dome scene is just halfway through the movie and there’s more to come when Max is exiled in the desert that would have made Lawrence of Arabia go back to his native England, a desert where the sun and the quicksand leaves no chance to anyone crossing it and makes Bartertown a real-life Valhalla in comparison.

But Max is rescued by a group of kids who formed a new society, as if Bartertown wasn’t spectacular enough. The survivors of the crash formed a sort of Nevrland group waiting for their prophet Walker to make their plane fly again, they see Max as Walker the one who’ll fly them back to Tomorrow-morrow, another promised land.

Yeah, ok, obviously, the plot borrows some elements from Road Warrior but we still get many surprises including another heart-pounding chase scene between cars and a train (which is carrying a load of methane and headed, in one way or another, toward a little house), that is incredibly effective and thrilling from start to finish.

Lastly we get the latest entry in the Mad Max saga, Mad Max Fury Road (2015) which was directed by (yup, you guessed it) Miller and written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris.

It was produced by Miller, Doug Mitchell and PJ Voeten. The film stars Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky, Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Nicholas Hoult as Nux, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe, Rose Huntington-Whitely as The Splendid Angharad, Riley Keough as Capable, Zoe Kravitz as Toast the Knowing, and Abbey Lee as The Dag.

An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life.

Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos.

And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

Simply put, and although not my own personal favorite of the quartet, Fury Road is a nitro fuel-injected, high octane, smash your face and kick ass bold action movie of the highest level!

Not a sequel or even reboot (not even a retread), Max is back for another post-apocalyptic life threatening trip in the Wasteland. Max Rockatansky (now Tom Hardy) is captured by desert raiders called War Boys and shuffled back to an outpost where his uninfected blood can be harvested as fuel for the captors. These savages are under the rule of a masked ruler named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Max will reluctantly befriend a relentless driver Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who has accomplished a getaway for herself and five of Joe’s wives, including Capable(Riley Keough) and The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).

Max will help Furiosa fight off Joe’s minions and other marauders on the way across the Wasteland to an oasis called the Green Place.

Elaborate vehicle chases and crashes now occur randomly, but frequently as all hell breaks loose! Perilous and adrenaline-pumping rushes back and forth along the Fury Road come jam-packed with oodles of bloody mayhem, aggressive carnage, and at times, blatant and grisly death scenes (that I feel have never been done quite the same ever before!) This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and The Mad Max Anthology Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously-released Special Features:

Mad Max: The Road Warrior:
• Introduction by Leonard Maltin
• Commentary by Director George Miller and Cinematographer Dean Semler
• Road War: The Making of Road Warrior

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that The Mad Max Anthology, featuring 1979’s acclaimed post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max, 1981’s Mad Max: The Road Warrior, 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and 2015’s Mad Max Fury Road will be released together on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD on November 2nd, 2021.

Created by George Miller and Byron Kennedy, Miller directed or co-directed all four films. Mel Gibson starred as Max Rockatansky in the first three films and Tom Hardy took over the lead role in the fourth film.

Additionally Mad Max: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome will also be available individually in 4K, joining Mad Max and Mad Max Fury Road which are already available in 4K.

The Mad Max Anthology 4K UHD release, along with the 4K UHD releases of Mad Max: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, are from scans of the original camera negatives. The 4K UHD remasters were supervised by the mastering team at Motion Picture Imaging (MPI).

4K Ultra HD** showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, and more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of the Mad Max: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max Fury Road will feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar. Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

The Mad Max Anthology will be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack for $89.99 SRP and features Ultra HD Blu-ray discs with the 4 feature films in 4K with HDR and remastered Blu-ray discs of Mad Max, Mad Max: The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max Fury Road.

Mad Max: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome be available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack for $33.99 SP each and feature an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature films in 4K with HDR and remastered Blu-ray disc of the films.

Fans can also own the Mad Max Anthology, Mad Max: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on November 2nd, 2021.

www.WarnerBros.com





Chicago – Double Feature [Blu-ray]
(Terry Kath, James Pankow, Joe Mantegna, Robin Thicke, Peter Cetera, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2021 / Film Rise – MVD Visual)

Overview: Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago brings us the history of legendary rock band Chicago, chronicled from their inception in 1967 all the way to the present. Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience is a journey into the mind of one of the most underrated guitarists in rock history.

Follow Terry’s daughter as she discovers the truth around the life and death of a father she never knew.

Blu-ray Verdict: First shown on CNN, Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago takes a look at the band from when they began in 1967 all the way through their current lineup. It’s hard to believe they’ve been around that long but they have and are still going strong today. The documentary looks at how they came together, how they met and how they came up with a sound that is all their own.

Many won’t recall that when they began Chicago was more inclined to use political lyrics as well as pop tunes. That eventually changed to softer tunes and more ballads as time passed. The group is the most successful of all time in singles charts kept by Billboard magazine. They’ve sold over 100 million records and were the first rock band to sell out Carnegie Hall for a solid week.

All of that is the stats that the band has racked up but the men behind the music, those that came together to create this unique sound, is what this documentary is about. It doesn’t hold back on anything, discussing the ups and downs the band suffered.

The two most notable issues were the death of lead guitarist Terry Kath and the dismissal of long time drummer Danny Seraphine. Both shook fans to the core and both are discussed here and not glossed over. Through it all, the losses and the redirection towards ballads and then back to more aggressive rock as well as experimental music, the band has stayed together. That the core of the group, Robert Lamm, James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider have stuck together for more than 50 years now says something as well.

Each has brought something different to the band and the end result is music that is as memorable now as when it was first released.

The documentary also takes time to look at the different incarnations of the band as well. When Peter Cetera left the band to go solo he was replaced by Jason Scheff who handled the job easily and brought a new sound to the band.

It looks at the different replacements for Kath after his tragic accident. Each guitarists brought in were great but it wasn’t until the addition of Keith Howland that any lasted. Other have come along as well and the sound has remained the same but gathered something new as well.

Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience more than does justice to Terry Kath, an artist whose voice and guitar jumped out at me on the early Chicago albums. I knew how good he truly was when I heard the band’s work after Kath’s death, and clearly part of the soul and vibe of the band had left as well.

Indeed, Jimi Hendrix once said that Kath was a better guitarist than he was which obviously speaks volumes, but as with so many great rockers, talent came with recklessness and Kath wore it on his face like Jim Morrison. Considering Chicago’s decades of popularity, I am surprised at how underrated this man still is.

Thus Michelle Kath Sinclair did an excellent job of sharing the story of her father through the 8mm films her Dad recorded during his short life. Sinclair also assembled a wide range of his family and friends to interview for this short yet informative biography.

I enjoyed how she let those who knew him well speak so candidly without interrupting them with nonsense questions. None of the interviews appeared to be edited; the jaw dropping stories are captivating.

In closing, this loving portrait by a daughter who never knew him is well deserved and well represented here in this fantastic double feature Blu-ray from Film Rise/MVD Visual. These are both Widescreen Presentations (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.FilmRise.com

www.MVDshop.com





Disciples of Shaolin: Special Edition
(Kuan-Chun Chi, Ming Li Chen, Ti Lu, Sheng Fu, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1975) 2021 / 88 Films – MVD Visual)

Overview: Another Kung Fu vehicle from the infamous Shaw Brothers Studio, Disciples of Shaolin AKA Hong quan xiao zi, delivers a typically power-packed Hong Kong tale of enemy gangs and super cool fight scenes.

When shaolin disciple Kuan Fung Yi (Sheng Fu) takes a job at a textile factory he soon becomes embroiled in a bitter and violent clash with the rival Manchu clan who run a neighboring mill.

As well delivering some impressive martial arts set pieces, Disciples of Shaolin also provides a political punch, underlining the abuse of workers and the corruption of cruel bosses.

Fast, fierce and thought provoking, this is a must for collectors of extreme Asian cinema.

Blu-ray Verdict: Despite the title and its inclusion in Chang Cheh’s Shaolin series, THE INVINCIBLE ONE (aka DISCIPLES OF SHAOLIN, 1975) has little to do with Shaolin Temple, nor do the main actors, Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan-Chun, play the roles they normally played in the Shaolin films (Fong Si Yu and Hu Wei Chien, respectively).

Instead, the film focuses on a poor, wandering kung fu fighter who gets a job in a textile factory and works his way up to become the boss’s right hand man, although he alienates his longtime friend (and secret kung fu teacher) who got him the job in the first place.

Director Chang Cheh liked rise-and-fall stories (see also BOXER FROM SHANTUNG and CHINATOWN KID) and this one enables him to give a strong, multi-faceted part to his regular star Alexander Fu Sheng in the role of a poverty-stricken villager who, more than anything else, values a good pair of shoes.

There are not as many major fights in the film as fans would like, although there are brief skirmishes sprinkled throughout. Fu Sheng really doesn’t let loose until the two big fights at the end.

The villains are played by Chiang Tao and Fung Hak On, two capable and reliable players, although Fu Sheng deserved a more formidable class of opponent, like the ones he faced in SHAO LIN MARTIAL ARTS, FIVE MASTERS OF DEATH, and SHAOLIN AVENGERS.

To my mind, the big flaw in this film is the absence of co-star Chi Kuan-Chun from any of the fights until the very end, because his level of authenticity was what always made these films pop.

This is a minor entry in the Shaolin series, although it does have an interesting story and gives the superb Fu Sheng a chance to shine as an actor.

It was shot in Taiwan and given it was the mid70s also offers a badly patched-together soundtrack of cues ripped off from Italian film scores.

That said, as for the film’s superbly staged fight scenes, yes, of course Fu Sheng is excellent in these scenes as it is truly on par with the best of his work.

Any whilst there are notably long stretches without any action, there are certainly enough fight scenes to satisfy fans of the actor. The fights were all choreographed by Liu Chia Liang (aka Lau Kar Leung), who would later direct Fu Sheng in three films himself, including 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (1984), the film Fu Sheng was making when he died in 1983. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

High Definition (1080p) Presentation in 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
2.0 DTS-HD MA English Soundtrack
2.0 DTS-HD MA Mandarin Soundtrack with newly translated English Subtitles
Audio Commentary by Critic and Author Samm Deighan
Audio Commentary by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
Interview with Shaw Bros Actor and Acclaimed Director Jamie Luk
Theatrical Trailer
Includes First Run Slipcase, Booklet and Poster

88 Films Purchase Link

www.MVDshop.com





Malignant (Blu-ray + Digital)
(Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michole Briana White, et al / Blu-ray + Digital / R / 2021 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Director James Wan returns to his roots with this new original horror thriller. A woman is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

Blu-ray Verdict: Returning to the horror roots that jumpstarted his career all the way back in 2004 with the genre-defining Saw, Australian export James Wan returns to his genre of choice for the first time since 2016’s The Conjuring 2 (and a nice little foray into the comic-book realm with the billion dollar hit Aquaman), with the wildly crazy and blood-splattered B-movie masquerading as a Hollywood offering Malignant.

Defying explanation (for the less you know about Malignant the better) while Wan’s film follows many staples he has mastered over his near two decades in the industry - such as creepy houses, jump scares (of which there aren’t many in this effort which is more focused around shock value) and a moody score by regular collaborator Joseph Bishara - Malignant is a different kind of beast than what we’ve come to expect from Wan.

Using his fairly decent sized budget here to go all out creating something that at times is incredibly frustrating and disjointed and at other times gripping enough to take ahold of you that you simply feel like you cannot look away (let alone move), the film succeeds - but not wholly.

Without delving into outright spoiler territory, many viewers will be left wondering early on if there’s any reason to stick around. As it really is a slow burner at the start, with the viewers discovering the meaning behind Annabelle Wallis’s poor old Madison Mitchell’s grotesque visions.

This Wan is felt struggling somewhat around this time to get things going early on and while there’s a lot that doesn’t fire on all cylinders in the early and mid-sections of Malignant, come the final third (and especially as we head to the wickedly awesome finale) you can’t help but be shocked and oddly impressed by what Wan has managed to get away within the Hollywood system.

Always a very visually inventive director and one that can create mood and atmosphere with only the bare minimum of opportunities, the latter stages of Malignant allow Wan to go all out in some of the craziest scenes and scenarios you’re likely to catch in a feature film this year.

Furthermore, they combine to make Malignant a film worth your time, especially as we learn more about the mysterious Gabriel’s origins and what exactly is driving the monstrous creation to go about his business in the unsuspecting city of Seattle.

It’s a shame the rest of the film doesn’t have as much fun as its final act, Malignant feeling as if in some ways Wan had too many ideas and possibilities to focus on leading up to his end game.

In closing, for me, and whilst overall this film is one of his weaker directional efforts, there’s enough freshness and new ideas bought forth here to make this horror affair one aficionados need to make time for.

So yeah, not everything works in James Wan’s return to the horror marketplace, but Malignant’s insane and eye-popping latter stages do a good job of making up for what’s come before it, proving once more that Wan is one of the best in the business when it comes to chills and spills! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

• Malignant: James Wan’s Visions – Groundbreaking filmmaker James Wan takes us behind the scenes for a look at his latest film, Malignant, a genre-bending thriller.

Discover terrifying realities when Malignant arrives for Premium Digital Ownership at home on October 22nd, 2021. Director James Wan (“The Conjuring,” “Aquaman,” “Furious 7”) returns to his roots with this original horror thriller.

The film is also from a screenplay by Akela Cooper (“M3GAN,” TV’s “Luke Cage”), story by Wan, Ingrid Bisu and Cooper, and stars Annabelle Wallis (“Annabelle,” “The Mummy”), Maddie Hasson (TV’s “Impulse,” TV’s “Mr. Mercedes”) and George Young (TV’s “Containment”). The film will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning on November 30th, 2021.

The film was produced by Wan and Michael Clear, with Eric McLeod, Judson Scott, Bisu, Peter Luo, Cheng Yang, Mandy Yu and Lei Han executive producing. The film also stars Michole Briana White (TV’s “Black Mafia Family,” “Dead to Me”), Jacqueline McKenzie (“Palm Beach,” TV’s “Reckoning”), Jake Abel (TV’s “Supernatural,” the “Percy Jackson” films) and Ingrid Bisu (“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “The Nun”).

On October 22nd, 2021, Malignant will be available for early Premium Digital Ownership at home for $24.99 and for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies.

On November 30th, 2021, Malignant will be available on Blu-ray and DVD. “Malignant” will also continue to be available to own in high definition and standard definition from participating digital retailers.

Malignant will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

Official Trailer

www.WarnerBros.com





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