Today:  10/22/2017

Review: Universal reaches peak 'Hitchcock' with 'Ultimate Collection'

Posted October 19,2017 - 03:26 PM


There are few filmmakers that have made a bigger impact on American film than Alfred Hitchcock. While he was known as the "master of suspense," Hitchcock was a terrific all-around filmmaker that influenced young movie makers for half of a century and counting.

I was fortunate to review the Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection on Blu-ray and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on his film catalog. The Ultimate Collection contains 15 of Hitchcock's most iconic films and two discs full of television episodes from his various TV appearances.

It is the latest in a long list of Alfred Hitchcock collections that Universal has released in order to maximize their catalog of the director's most prominent films. It seems that each collection is a bit different, so I suppose it just depends...

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Review: 'American Gods' is a timely reminder of greatness

Posted October 17,2017 - 04:10 PM

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When Starz gave the proverbial greenlight to an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods, they had no clue that it would debut in a world that not even the author's unique imagination could predict. And yet, American Gods is precisely the critique that we needed at the moment where our country is standing on a historical precipice.

Much like Mr. Wednesday, it's a battle between the old and new that plays out each day on our TV sets and Twitter feeds. No, Starz could not have asked for a better environment to debut American Gods and we should heed its message.

This review isn't going devolve into a politically-inspired rant on one side or the other, but rather I think both sides would do themselves a bit of good if they put aside their rhetoric and watched this series. My wife...

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Review: A few tricks, no treats for 'Escape Room'

Posted October 17,2017 - 02:43 PM

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I should preface this review by saying that I'm obsessed with escape rooms. I've been to a couple (escaped one, did not escape the other one) and they are one of my favorite entertainment options out there at the moment.

Escape rooms combine natural curiosity and ingenuity with our innate desire to want to be a part of the action. It's like when you watch a game show on TV and play along as though you were an actual contestant. Not everyone can be on "Jeopardy," but everyone can put their fate in their own hands with an escape room.

It certainly didn't take long for the escape room craze to spawn a movie. In fact, several escape-room films are in various stages of development, but Escape Room is the first one to debut on home entertainment. While there are some promising things that...

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Review: Get batty with Disney's 'Vampirina'

Posted October 17,2017 - 12:00 PM


If it wasn't enough for Disney to have the eternal hook to our kids' hearts thanks to their theme parks and numerous classic animated films, they have rapidly developed animated TV properties that resonate with kids of all ages. Whether it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins or Elena of Avalor, Disney has shown a great ability to adapt new and existing properties into entertaining fare for the little ones.

Enter Vampirina.

Based on the books "Vampirina Ballerina" by Anne Marie Pace, the Vampirina show debuted on Disney Junior this past October 1 and it was an instant hit in my household. Before I knew what had happened, we had a trove of Vampirina episodes saved to our DVR.

Needless to say, that when the chance to review this DVD, nay the opportunity to become my daughter's hero...

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Review: 'Demonic' aims high, but falls short

Posted October 10,2017 - 05:36 PM


I'm all for ambitious films, but sometimes overzealous filmmakers can bite off more than they can chew. This seems to be the case with Demonic and relative newcomer Will Canon.

The film is a blend of found footage horror and procedural crime mystery which is compelling on face value, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. It's always hard to pull off a genre-bender, but it's extra difficult when one of the genres is horror. Having a tonal shift away from true horror can be distracting to the audience and this is definitely the case here.

The film does have promise though as the story is one that combines all of the good elements of a haunted house horror film with a detective mystery. It's something that I had never thought about before but makes perfect sense. There are...

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Review: 'Kick-Ass' finally gets its due on 4K

Posted October 10,2017 - 02:57 PM


Thanks to the 2008 film Iron man, every studio suddenly wanted to be in the comic movie business. It's not like Marvel invented the comic book movie (although they should have, don't you think?), but they certainly perfected it. For a while there, it seemed like you could do no wrong with a comic book movie.

Unless you were making Fantastic films. Or R-rated comic book films.

In 2009, the R-rated comic book film Watchmen underwhelmed at the box office, earning just over $100 million. Sure, that's nothing to sneeze at, but in the grand scheme of comic book movies during this time period, it was seen as a failure in some circles. And yet, would you ever want to watch a PG-13 version of Watchmen?

That's the quandary that the filmmakers behind Kick-Ass faced when they made their film...

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New 'Last Jedi' trailer feels familiar

Posted October 10,2017 - 11:20 AM

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If you had a sense of deja vu watching the latest trailer for The Last Jedi, you're not alone. While The Force Awakens was generally well received - especially compared to the prequels - the loudest critique of the film was just how much it resembled the original Star Wars.

Of course, this familiarity was a source of enjoyment and comfort for some. If you fall into the latter camp, then you will love the trailer for The Last Jedi as it immediately brings a certain other sequel to mind. If not, then you'll be screaming that The Last Jedi is just a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back.

And frankly, I'm more than ok with that. If you haven't seen the new trailer yet, then turn in your lightsaber because you are not a true Jedi. Don't worry though we have you covered below. If you have...

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Review: 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' comes alive on 4K

Posted September 29,2017 - 12:29 PM

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At some point, Disney has to retire Captain Jack Sparrow to Davy Jones' locker permanently, right? Well, that won't happen anytime soon as long as they have a game Johnny Depp and the franchise continues to rake in billions of dollars.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales didn't make a billion dollars. In fact, it is the lowest-grossing Pirates film in the franchise, but don't let that fool you. There will most certainly be the sixth installment eventually, of course, whether or not that is a good idea is open to debate.

Full disclosure, I hated On Stranger Tides, the film that immediately preceded this one. I thought then that the franchise had run its course and Johnny Depp was simply phoning it in. But, I have to admit that I enjoyed Dead Men Tell No Tales quite a bit...

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Review: 'Warm Bodies' warms the heart on 4K UHD

Posted September 28,2017 - 05:11 PM

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I remember watching this film when it came out in 2013 and thinking it was going to be the next Zombieland. In fact, I'm sure given that Warm Bodies came out a few years after Zombieland, Summit Entertainment was hoping for the same thing.

They both enjoyed similar box office success (between $66 and $75 million), but audiences seemed to hold Zombieland high with reverence while they barely talk about Warm Bodies. This is a shame. Both films capitalize on the zombie fervor to tap into the inherent black comedy that is often lacking in more serious zombie fare such as The Walking Dead or World War Z and the result is brilliant.

If you haven't seen Warm Bodies and consider yourself a fan of this micro-genre that includes the aforementioned Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and Fido among...

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Review: '47 Meters Down' dumbs down the shark genre

Posted September 26,2017 - 04:26 PM

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First, we have to admit that, indeed, shark movies are a genre all to themselves. Each year, whether it's the latest Sharknado or something more original, the simple fact is that multiple shark films are released each and every year.

Sure, we can trace the origin of this trend back to 1975 and Steven Spielberg's film Jaws, but the proliferation of shark films is shocking, to say the least. Look, I get it. Sharks are scary and the uptick in their real-world attacks over the last decade has provided these films with instant marketing potential, but enough is enough.

Someone needs to draw the line and I'm willing to do it right here and now.

When I popped Meters Down into the Blu-ray player, I had high hopes. I really enjoyed Open Water and this film seemed to take the isolationist...

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