DVD Reviews 

John Wick

by Alan Rapp on February 23, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: John Wick
  • IMDb: link

John WickJohn Wick is the type of old school throwback that makes me think of the early action flicks of Steven Seagal and Arnold Schwarzenegger. With a threadbare plot and the loose message of be careful who you fuck with, Keanu Reeves stars in the title role as a legendary killer brought out of retirement by the son (Alfie Allen) of a local gangster who, only days after the passing of Wick’s wife, kills the man’s dog and steals his vintage sports car. Needless to say the punk didn’t realize who he was messing with.

A typical revenge story, John Wick gives Reeves the opportunity to kill many, many people (including an impressive number of victims shot in the head). The film is populated with amusing small roles such as Willem Dafoe and Adrianne Palicki as other hitmen and Ian McShane as the proprietor of a hotel who caters specifically to those in Wick’s line of business, but what you’re really paying for is the nonstop action and high body count. And that the film delivers.

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  • Title: Once Bitten / Love at First Bite
  • IMDb: link
  • IMDb: link

Once Bitten / Love at First BiteSometimes studio released dual-packs are an odd mixture of movies thrown together. That’s not the case with Scream Factory’s new Double Feature of insane vampire parodies from the late 70s and mid-80s. Once Bitten stars a young Jim Carrey as a sweet high school virgin seduced by a mysterious older woman (Lauren Hutton) who just happens to be a vampire in need of his blood to continue her immortality. Mark’s increasingly odd behavior doesn’t going unnoticed by his equally chaste high school girlfriend (Karen Kopins) who, in true sex comedy fashion, will discover the perfect solution to saving Mark’s soul.

Love at First Bite is arguably even more ridiculous starring the world’s tannest man George Hamilton as Count Dracula who attempts to fit into New York City while stalking a fashion model (Susan Saint James) he belives to be the reincarnation of his great love and being perused by a descendant of the world’s greatest vampire hunter (Dick Shawn).

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Fury

by Alan Rapp on February 16, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Fury
  • IMDb: link

FuryFury is an intense in-your-face war movie set in the final year of WWII with the Allies slowly moving forward through Nazi Germany against a retreating German army. There are certainly more watchable or memorable war movies, but writer/director David Ayer‘s attempt to highlight the crew of one specific Sherman tank produces a solid drama that doesn’t shy away from the cost of war.

The film has several uncomfortable scenes including Sgt. Collier’s (Brad Pitt) brutal attempt to turn his new tank driver (Logan Lerman) into a killer by forcing the private to shoot an unarmed Nazi and the crew (Pitt, Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal) sitting down to dinner with a German woman (Anamaria Marinca) and her teenage daughter (Alicia von Rittberg) after liberating their town. As Ayer will repeatedly remind us over the course of the movie, these men aren’t Hollywood heroes; they’re soldiers who perform heroic actions when called upon but also leave great and terrible destruction in their wake.

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The Replacements

by Alan Rapp on February 8, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Replacements
  • IMDb: link

The ReplacementsDespite being nearly old enough to drive (the film was released in theaters in 2000), The Replacements hadn’t been available on Blu-ray until now. Based very loosely on the 1987 NFL strike, the script by Vince McKewin centered around a ragtag group of replacement players for the Washington Sentinels (a fictional stand-in for the Redskins). Keanu Reeves stars as college star and NFL bust Shane Falco who is given a second chance by Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) who assembles his team from a hodgepodge of unknowns.

Playing on various underdog themes The Replacements isn’t that far removed from a number of sports movies (most notable Necessary Roughness which follows a very similar plot at the college level). Joining Reeves on the football field are Jon Favreau (as the character most likely to kill someone on the field), Orlando Jones (as the bigmouth wide receiver), Faizon Love, Michael Jace, Michael Taliferro, David Denman, and Rhys Ifans.

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The Boxtrolls

by Alan Rapp on January 31, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Boxtrolls
  • IMDb: link

The BoxtrollsBased on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is the latest offbeat stop-motion adventure film from the same production company which gave us both ParaNorman and Coraline. The film centers on an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) raised by an underground group of Boxtrolls hunted by an evil exterminator (Ben Kingsley) vastly exaggerating the creatures monstrous tendencies for his own ends.

As with the studio’s previous two films the animation is impressive while offering a rather straightforward message for children. But it’s nowhere near as entertaining as The LEGO Movie which Boxtrolls beat out for an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film. Although technically impressive the film itself is little more than a mild diversion.

Available on both DVD and Blu-ray, extras include commentary by directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, and ten short featurettes on various aspects of the movie. The Blu-ray also includes early storyboard animatic sequences and a digital copy of the film.

[Universal Studios, DVD $29.98 / Blu-ray $34.98 / 3D Blu-ray $49.98]

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The Maze Runner

by Alan Rapp on January 18, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Maze Runner
  • IMDb: link

The Maze RunnerA thinly-veiled sci-fi version of Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner (based on the novel by James Dashner) casts Dylan O’Brien as the newest member of a group of children abducted and forced to live in a small wooded clearing in the middle of a vast and deadly maze. Despite the rules against him entering the maze, Thomas (O’Brien) is drawn to it as his actions will have sever repercussions for both himself and the entire community.

By far, the most interesting character of the movie is the maze itself, and the scenes outside the gigantic moving and changing monstrosity suffer as they lose what little magic the film has to work with. The more Thomas remembers about his life and the maze itself the more the film struggles as the answers provided by the movie’s plot are far less interesting than the mystery itself. Pulling back in what is meant to be an epic Dark City style reveal, The Maze Runner flounders at its climatic moment foreshadowing what will be its inevitable sequel.

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The November Man

by Alan Rapp on January 14, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The November Man
  • IMDb: link

The November ManFive years after retiring, ex-CIA specialist Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is reactivated by his old boss (Bill Smitrovich) and put on a plane to Russia to retrieve the love of his life (Mediha Musliovic) who has been working undercover in the Russian Government for more than a decade. Things go terribly wrong pitting Devereaux against his old agency and his protege (Luke Bracey) in a conspiracy that reaches into both the U.S. and Russian Governments involving the Presidential hopes of a genocidal Russian general (Lazar Ristovski).

Based on Bill Granger‘s novel, The November Man isn’t a bad B-movie action flick but it is a tad too convoluted for its own good. The reasoning behind putting Devereaux in the field is sketchy at best, particularly after the villain is revealed. Brosnan can play the aging spy in his sleep and Olga Kurylenko makes the most out of the over-complicated Alice who holds the key to the entire sordid affair.

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  • Title: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
  • IMDb: link

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire ChroniclesOver his career Tom Cruise has supplied audiences with his share of good, bad, and indifferent feature films. Released in 1994, and adapted from the works of Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles gave audiences Brad Pitt as a present-day vampire describing his history to a reporter (Christian Slater). Directed by Neil Jordan the film also stars Cruise as the vampire Lestat turned by Louie (Pitt) and a young Kirsten Dunst as a child turned into a vampire who will never age.

The movie, and Cruise’s character, still feels too whiny as Lestat bemoans his immortality eventually turning on other vampires and walking the Earth alone. It’s certainly an interesting looking film (earning an Oscar nomination for Art Design) and even a whiny Cruise is occasionally compelling in the role of Lestat, Pitt is effectively creepy, and Dunst offers glimpses of the actress she would become. The film suffers a bit after Pitt exits stage left to be replaced by a vampire coven including Thandie Newton and Antonio Banderas.

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Life is not a malfunction

by Alan Rapp on January 4, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Short Circuit
  • IMDb: link

“Number 5 is alive!”

Short CircuitRecently re-released on Blu-ray and DVD, 1986’s Short Circuit starred Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg as a scientist whose robotic invention became sentient after being struck by lightning. After wandering off the military base Number 5 (Tim Blaney) would eventually find his way to Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) who befriends the machine and begins feeding its insatiable appetite about life and information.

I’ll admit to loving the movie as a kid and still having a soft spot for it (but not its sequel) years later. More likely to appeal to kids than parents, Short Circuit is memorable for a number of reasons including the robot itself (obviously the template years later for Wall-e), some very quotable lines (“Malfunction. Need input.”, “Nun soup?”), and the bizarre (and kinda racist) choice to have Fisher Stevens play an Indian scientist. It’s not a great film by any means, but it’s held up pretty well over the years and continues to offer fun family entertainment that does discuss the nature of life and debate whether or not a machine such as Number 5 could ever truly be alive.

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Quantum Leap – The Complete Series

by Alan Rapp on January 3, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Quantum Leap
  • wiki: link

Quantum Leap - The Complete SeriesTo prove his experiment worked quantum physicist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) “stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and vanished.” Premiering back in 1989, Quantum Leap ran for five seasons placing Bakula at different time periods as he would “leap” into someone whose timeline needed a quick fix. Although audiences saw only Sam (except in an occasional reflection) those around him continued to see the individual into whose body Sam leapt into that week (who occasionally would turn out to be a woman). Stuck with a swiss-cheesed memory as a side-effect of the experiment, Sam would rely on the help of Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) who, from the future, would lock onto Sam’s latest leap and, appearing as a hologram only Sam could see and hear, provide him with the information needed that week.

Collecting all 97 episodes on 27 discs, the Complete Collection offers fans of the show the entire five-year run in a single set. Sadly you won’t find any added extra features as the set only includes the previously released season sets packaged together for the first time.

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