Historical Blu-ray Release Dates

This page lists all available information for new and upcoming releases in the Blu-ray format.
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                            [review_id] => 38628
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                            [review_slug] => absolutelyfabulous
                            [review_release_date] => 1480406400
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                            [review_title] => Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
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                            [manufacturer_name] => 20th Century Fox
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                                    [run_time] => 91
                                    [list_price] => 39.99
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                                            [0] => Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD
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                                            [0] => 1080p/TBA
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                                            [0] => 2.39:1
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                                            [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
                                            [1] => Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
                                            [2] => Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
                                            [3] => French DTS 5.1
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                                            [0] => English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
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                                            [0] => Deleted Scenes
                                            [1] => Outtakes
                                            [2] => On Set with Dame Edna
                                            [3] => 8 Featurettes
                                            [4] => Gallery
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                                            [0] => Comedy
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                                            [0] => Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Celia Imrie
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                                            [0] => Mandie Fletcher
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                                    [preview_plot_synopsis] => 

Edina and Patsy are back in their fabulous and hilarious big-screen debut! Still oozing glitz and glamour while clubbing their way around London, the beloved boozers find themselves in a media firestorm when they’re blamed for accidentally killing Kate Moss at a fashion event. Perfectly accessorized with dozens of celebrity cameos, including Jon Hamm, Kate Moss, Joan Collins and many more, this uproarious, madcap romp is bloody good fun, sweetie darling!

[review_movie] =>

"Every time our life hits a good patch, this miserable piece of flesh has to ruin it!"

It's a curious thing to know and follow a group of characters for nearly 25 years. There are certain aspects of the characters you naturally come to know, love and expect from them every time they enter a room. When you're talking about Jennifer Saunders' hapless trendsetter Edina and her bosom buddy in bad behavior Patsy played by Joanna Lumley, you expect each half hour episode of 'Absolutely Fabulous' to be a parade of pills, booze, and outrageousness. But what are you to do when everything you've come to know and love about these madcap women is taken out of its three wall comfort zone and blown up for the big screen? 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' may feature some fun and friendly faces, but not all of its heart and soul made the cinematic transition. 

Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are still doing what they do best, going to parties, getting blitzed, and somehow managing a PR empire all at the same time. Meanwhile, Eddie's stressed-to-the-max daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Saffy's daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), Mother (June Whitfield) and Eddie's seemingly dimwitted assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks) are left to pick up the pieces each and every morning. After a particularly rough night of carousing and partying that managed to offend nearly everyone in London's fashion scene, Eddie needs to get to the publishers and ink her book deal. With cash on the line, she has only so much time before the deal disappears along with the money Eddie needs to retire on. Things go awry when an accident leaves Eddie accused of killing Kate Moss at a fashion event! With the cops and the paparazzi on their backsides, Eddie and Patsy cook up one last wild plot that will take them to Cannes where they hope to live out their days in luxury. 

My introduction to 'Absolutely Fabulous' kicked in around 2003 when reruns of the show started appearing on Comedy Central's late night lineup. I would finish my last classes of the day, kick out some homework, watch something like South Park, and then cap off the night with an episode of 'AbFab.' I thoroughly enjoyed the intoxicated hijinks Eddie and Patsy wound up in and poor Saffy having to be the adult on the show. Each character was a colorful delight and it's blend of real-life celebrities like Lulu, Twiggy, or Emma Bunton added a layer of subtle hilarity. Obviously, you're supposed to despise the things Eddie and Patsy do as they get older and older, but at the same time you can't help but love the fact that the dynamic duo of mind-altering substances and fashion trends refuse to grow up. Even when there are children and grandchildren involved, they steadfastly refuse to be the adults in the room. 

AbFab the Movie

With 39 episodes spread out over twenty years, the show kept finding great reasons to come back every few years with another batch of hilarious episodes. Everyone would obviously get a little older, maybe a little wiser, well, maybe not everyone. Eddie and Patsy were never going to get old even if their bodies told them otherwise. It's with this prospect that I was actually looking forward to 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.' Unfortunately, some things just don't transfer from half-hour television installments to a 90-minute feature film. While all of the familiar faces are back, the random celebrities drop by for a cameo, and Eddie and Patsy are just as debauch as ever - this film never really feels like 'Absolutely Fabulous.' Instead, it feels more like a group of different people pretending to be 'Absolutely Fabulous.'

This isn't to say that the film isn't funny, there are several moments of gut-busting hilarity - the Jon Hamm cameo being notable, it's just not as good as one would hope. Not helping matters is the fact that this film is the swan song of the show. Unless something changes, 'AbFab' isn't coming back, so this movie is really one for the fans. To that end, the film takes a long time to reintroduce everyone. Granted, any film with a multi-million dollar budget attached needs to make itself accessible to the layman viewer, however, I think the film would have worked better if it just steamrolled right into itself without the need to set itself up. Since it hinges on your past experiences with Eddie and Patsy anyway, why not just go for broke and barrel forward? That's how I was introduced to the show, I caught it somewhere around Series 4, got hooked, and then went backwards to the earlier episodes. In that time I learned who each character was and their relationship to one another through osmosis. Also, I wish they'd kept the 3-wall setup, there's a flavor to that kind of staging and comedy that is quickly lost when the camera can rest at any angle. The close intimacy that the show had is lost when you can actually see Eddie's ridiculously extravagant home when most of the time the family stays in the ludicrously luxurious kitchen that Eddie never cooks in - but features expensive top of the line appliances. 

I wouldn't say that I'm completely disappointed by 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,' but I can't bring myself to fully embrace this cinematic extension of one of my favorite shows. Newcomers to 'AbFab' should probably spend a little time getting to know the show before jumping into this movie. Even if the transition is clunky, it does help to know who Eddie and Patsy are before committing yourself to their latest adventure. If you're a longtime fan, it's certainly worth a watch, but keep expectations in check before entering. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox in a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD set. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD-50 disc and is housed in a 2-disc eco-friendly case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for upcoming 20th Century Fox releases before arriving at an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. 

[review_video_picture_id] => 73455 [review_video] =>

With a digitally sourced 2.39:1 1080p transfer, 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' looks, well, fabulous! The image is richly detailed with bright and beautiful colors that leap off the screen. Even in the cold gray and drab London locations, primaries have a richness to them that appear natural and heightened at the same time. There is a backed in softness to the film in some places that may seem out of place, but when you realize that's part of the joke that everything is supposed to look like a Lexus Christmas commercial it just adds to the fun. When Eddie and Patsy make their way to Cannes, the color pallet brightens up a bit as there is a lot more natural sunlight in play. Black levels are pretty great throughout. Some of the night-time scenes, especially during the inciting incident that gets this whole nutty plot rolling can look a little more grey-brown than black, but that doesn't appear to have impacted the image's sense of depth and dimension. Without any annoying compression issues or artifacts to report, this is one damn beautiful looking Blu-ray release! 

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When you've got a movie about to rowdy and raucous ladies, you naturally need an audio track to match. Thankfully this English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix manages to keep pace with Patsy and Eddie. Dialogue is clean and crisp throughout allowing for their high-pitched screams and whaling to carry over nicely while all of their other partying-related sound effects get their own added little punch. There is plenty of crossing dialogue as various characters talk/shout over one another and you never have a hard time distinguishing voices or what is being said. Party scenes are especially effective providing a nicely immersive experience as the surround channels get a little extra workout. There is plenty of imaging with a nice natural amount of channel movement while background sound effects and scoring help give the track a sense of space and dimension. Like the video, this is a fabulous mix.

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Deleted Scenes: (HD 3:49) Nothing too earth shattering here, you usual extensions that would otherwise kill a joke or some random bits and bobs that didn't add to the film, but are still fun to see. 

Outtakes: (HD 8:03) Normally outtakes are that funny to me because it's pretty tame material or feel staged but these were actually pretty funny bits. 

Promotional Featurettes: (HD 30:41) Spread out over 9 little mini segments, these promotional features are your standard tried and true EPK style extras. You do get some interesting little production factoids here and there, but most of the time it's various cast and crew members answering a version of the same question. 

Gallery: (HD 2:55) Some stills from the film, you can let it play out or manually advance the image yourself.

Theatrical Trailer: (HD 2:31)

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No HD exclusive content. 

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'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' is a bit of a mixed bag. If you're already in line for Eddie and Patsy's wild ways, then you should get some decent belly laughs, but casual fans or newcomers may not take to this iteration of the BBC classic television series. This one kept me in the middle, I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. 20th Century Fox brings the flick to Blu-ray in terrific fashion with an absolutely stellar A/V presentation. Extras are plentiful but don't offer much weight. A Saunders and Lumley commentary would have been a gas to hear but is sadly a missed opportunity. At the end of the day, I'm calling 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' as worth a look. Some may love it, others should probably proceed with caution.

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MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS: Marvel presents MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS, the Super Hero team-up of a lifetime. Iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America assemble for the first time ever in this action-packed Marvel saga, starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself needing a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS is packed with action, adventure and spectacular special effects that'll knock your socks off. MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON: Marvel Studios presents the global phenomenon MARVEL'S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Good intentions wreak havoc when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) unwittingly creates Ultron (James Spader), a terrifying A.I. monster who vows to annihilate humanity. Now, Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- alongside Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) -- must reassemble to defeat Ultron and save mankind... if they can!

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Experience the future all over again with the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy! Join Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and a time traveling DeLorean for the adventure of a lifetime as they travel to the past, present and future, setting off a time-shattering chain reaction that disrupts the space time continuum! From filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, this unforgettable collection features hours of bonus features and is an unrivaled trilogy that stands the test of time.

[review_movie] =>

There are a few films that I'd consider a big part of my youth. Many of my memories growing up in the 80s involve casual scenes sitting in front of a large Zenith console. You know the ones, with the gaudy wood paneling all around and the stereo speakers on either side. On that, I made countless viewings of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' the first two 'Indiana Jones' movies, 'Grease' and 'Back to the Future.' Of those, the adventure of a teen musician traveling through time was the most awesome thing ever! I couldn't get enough of it. I simply cherished the sci-fi comedy as much as any boy could. From the story and characters to the look and special effects, 'Back to the Future' was the best movie ever made. Next to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' of course. And if you asked me to pinpoint the moment I fell in love with movie-magic, this would probably be it.

The concept is deceptively simple, but something most people can easily relate to. Many have probably even imagined it at least once in their lifetime. Producer and co-writer Bob Gale was inspired with the thought after discovering his father's yearbook. What if you could hang out with your parents when they were teenagers and discover they were drastically different from the adults they grew into? He shared the pondering with friend and director Robert Zemeckis. Together, they wrote the screenplay, and with the help of friend Steven Spielberg, 'Back to the Future' was quickly on its way to becoming one of the most beloved movies of the decade. The entire plot revolves around this straightforward, nearly universal idea. And the script is genius in conveying this without making it blatantly obvious, practically perfect in its structure and delivery.

The audience quickly identifies with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) not only because he's the first character we see, but also for his struggles in school and the way he talks about his parents long before we meet them. He's an average teen with dreams of someday becoming a rock star. His audition for the high school dance is hilarious since Huey Lewis is the dorky-looking judge who tells Marty's band they're too loud. While expressing what a downer the adults are, never encouraging him to pursue his goals, Marty sums up the story's theme wonderfully when he thinks his mother must have been a nun. It's difficult to imagine our boring, square, unhip parents as teenagers or that they knew anything about what's cool, fun, and stylish. The kids of the past were never as lively and rebellious as they are in my generation is the typical mindset.

And therein lies the brilliance of 'Back to the Future.' The skeptical teen accidentally travels back in time to when his parents were of similar age. Although the reasoning behind Marty landing in 1955 is simple arithmetic, the period couldn't be any more ideal because the era essentially gave rise to teenagers, and it's the decade that originated rock 'n' roll. It also coincided with a popular trend of the 80s, of looking back to the 1950s with loving nostalgia. In that sense, the movie almost offers a fun and quirky remembrance of that generation, and the filmmakers throw in numerous cultural gags while Marty tries to repair the timeline he's disrupted in his travels. 'Back to the Future' effectively combines fantasy and science fiction with elements of the teen comedy, creating a remarkably charming and memorable centerpiece of 80s pop culture.

Aside from the captivating story and nostalgia, there is also Zemeckis' underrated and expert control of the camera. And no moment in the movie reveals this better than at the start. During the opening credits, the camera slowly pans across a wall covered in a variety of clocks. We don't know this yet, but we're allowed a sneak peek into both Doc Brown's house and personality. As we continue, we see picture frames of famous scientists, an unkempt bed and gadgets aplenty. The man is an inventor and clearly hasn't been home in a while. A TV newscaster informs us of missing plutonium in connection with Libyan terrorists. The homeowner appears to have a close friendship with a local teen because the boy knows the hidden key is under the doormat. As his skateboard rolls beneath the bed, we discover a yellow case with the words plutonium written on it. In those few minutes, Zemeckis discloses everything needed to set the plot in motion, and he maintains this same level of keen direction throughout the rest of the movie.

Another big part of the film's success is without a doubt the excellent and memorable performances of the cast, especially Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. At the time, Lloyd was an unknown to younger audiences, but everyone knew precisely who the uptight, Young Republican Alex P. Keaton was. Playing against type, Fox is believable and comical in the role, and likely a major reason why many teens flooded theaters. We may not have been familiar with Lloyd when the movie premiered, but today, the actor will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Doc Brown. He's charismatic and amusing, keeping viewers glued to the screen, waiting for whatever bizarre phrase he'll say next. Marty's friendship with the wacky scientist feels oddly genuine and realistic, which is essential for making the entire series work. And the two actors succeed without fault in this department, making us want to see more of their madcap adventures.

Originally, Zemeckis and Gale wanted John Lithgow in the role of the wild-hair scientist, but schedule conflicts made it possible for Lloyd to take over. The same issue arose when the creators wanted to cast Fox, but his commitments to the 'Family Ties' series made it impossible when shooting was to begin. Filmmakers, then, asked Eric Stoltz ('Some Kind of Wonderful') to step in after watching his performance in 'Mask.' After a few weeks of filming, it was decided the young promising actor was simply not right in the part, lacking the kind of comic timing required of the character. In interviews, everyone agreed Stoltz was too dramatic as Marty McFly, so they parted ways amicably. Coincidentally, Fox's schedule became more flexible and was able to star after all. Looking back, one can only imagine what type of movie this could have been. (Movie Rating: 5/5)

For the sequel, that close friendship between Lloyd and Fox remains an integral part of the story as Doc shows sincere concern about Marty and his family's future. The two friends seem to grow closer than ever as they work together in trying to stop Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) from changing the course of history. Tagging along for this second journey in time is Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), since it also concerns her according to Doc. The gang travels to 2015, five years from now, where the only thing filmmakers predicated accurately is a nostalgia for the 1980s. While Marty succeeds at preventing the mistakes of his children, both played comically by Fox, old Biff steals the DeLorean to give his younger self a financial advantage with the help of a sports almanac. Crashing into an alternate 1985, Doc and Marty must revisit the events of part one and return the timeline to its proper order.

Unlike its predecessor, which took a simple, straightforward approach with the time-traveling aspects, creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale expand on the story's sci-fi themes and have some fun with the butterfly effect. This time around, the filmmakers throw fans head-first into the paradoxes of the space-time continuum, however somewhat innocently and ingenuously. Doc and Marty gain first-hand experience that altering the events of history, no matter how small, could cause drastic changes to their present. The Biff character and his family lineage also take on a more prominent role as bullies harassing Marty's family in the past, present, and future. In doing this, the follow-up to the already immensely popular 'Back to the Future' can be enjoyed as an homage of sorts to the science fiction genre and a quirky look at the consequences of time traveling.

Granted, Part II doesn't really live up to the original, but it's still an entertaining continuation. I recall watching the VHS of the first movie with the bold letters "To Be Continued" right before the closing credits and imagining where the two friends would travel next. The sequel didn't quite satisfy expectations, but it's still fun envisioning 30 years into the future, plunging into an alternate reality and then forced back to 1955. So as to not mistakenly feel like a cop out in revisiting the first movie, most of the story's charm works as a different point of view to the original. It's offers a delightful and amusing joyride while avoiding a time paradox. Logically, the fact that Marty and the Doc accidentally interact with people of the past should be enough to leave an unpredictable impact on the future. But with endless gags, setups and payoffs to divert us from pondering such conundrums, we simply sit back and enjoy the silliness into Part III. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)

If 'Back to the Future' could be viewed as a nostalgic look at 1950s pop culture and the sequel as homage to the science fiction genre, then the third and final installment to the series is a loving tribute to the western. As a devoted fan of the genre, this last entry in the now-classic film series in my book ranks higher than the second movie. And like the original exploring the decade that introduced rock 'n' roll, this story has fun in the epoch that gave rise to science fiction novels with several mentions of the French author Jules Verne. After watching the previous two, seeing this combination of fantasy meets the American West can seem a bit awkward and rather outrageous. But with that little historical tidbit being alluded to by Doc and his love interest, Clara (Mary Steenburgen), the plot feels right at home with the six-shooters, train robberies, and damsels in distress.

By this point, Marty discovers that no matter where he is in time, history tends to repeat itself, which allows Zemeckis and Gale plenty of room for using the same running gags and setups that create a funny feeling of déjà vu. Marty is once again knocked out and awakened by someone who he assumes is his mother (Lea Thompson), reiterating the same lines almost verbatim. In the first two movies, he ends up at a trendy diner — this time a saloon — where he confronts another in the Tannen line confusing Marty for someone else in the McFly family. By this point, the Tannen men prove to be an irritating thorn in the side of the McFlys. Like Mr. Strickland (James Tolkan) would say, they're all a bunch of slackers. Once Marty joins the Doc, the two set the course for another narrow, "just in the nick of time" escape (while slightly altering history for the better).

The best part for this fanatic of the genre and the comedy series is watching a tongue-in-cheek encounter between the 1950s romanticized view of the west and the more realistic portrayal of outlaws from Italian westerns. This is most apparent in the way Doc dresses Marty in the silly cowboy outfit before traveling to 1885. Once there, he is gawked at as if the circus were in town. Even funnier is Marty thinking the name Clint Eastwood universally epitomizes toughness. One of the more clever parts is having the DeLorean drive directly into the movie screen at the drive-in. For his final journey across time, Marty not only travels into the past, but literally jumps into the movies. Along with a multitude of sight gags referencing the future, like the Frisbee pie tin, 'Back to the Future Part III' is a rowdy good time and an exciting conclusion to one of the coolest and often celebrated trilogies in motion picture history. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

25 years later, the 'Back to the Future' series continues to capture the imagination and deliver the laughter. It's possible some of its enjoyment is partly nostalgic. But it's also likely these really are well-made, entertaining and highly creative films that haven't lost any of their fun. And in this era of remakes and reimaginings flooding theaters, revisiting older movies somehow makes us forget that Hollywood seems to lack any vision and originality right now, that it fails to make us believe in the magic anymore. Nearly 30 years later, the 'Back to the Future' trilogy endures as a better movie-going experience than many, many other movies of late.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings the 'Back to the Future' trilogy to Blu-ray in a 25th Anniversary, six-disc package set. The glossy, cardboard slipcover is kept closed with a Velcro dot, and once opened, owners can read a breakdown on the supplemental material available. Inside, we find a gatefold cardboard box with three, clear-plastic panels. Each one holds two discs — the Blu-ray sits comfortably atop a Digital Copy — and they are a bit tricky to remove. Place your thumb in the middle ring and your index finger on the top edge of the disc. Push down and carefully lift using your index finger. If not for that maneuver, this would be a pretty cool package.

The movies along with relevant bonus materials are contained on three Region Free, BD50s discs. At startup, they each commence with a series of BD-Live related trailers and promos, such as 'Get Him to the Greek,' 'Robin Hood (2010),' and 'Psycho.' Afterwards, viewers find a standard set of menu selections while full-motion clips play in the background, accompanied by the iconic score and the DeLorean racing across the screen.

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One of the most anticipated movie trilogies finally arrives on Blu-ray with a wonderful and impressive 1080p/VC-1 encode (1.85:1), except for Part III, which has been done using the AVC MPEG-4 encode. According to an interview, producer Bob Gale participated in the restoration process, which was done from an interpositive using a 2k resolution scan. And the results are first-rate, as the movies have never looked this good on any other format. Since all three films received the same treatment and appear identical in terms of quality, they are being graded as one complete package.

All three movies display great definition and clarity, whether we're watching Marty narrowly escape the clutches of Biff/Griff in the town square or riding the wild plains of the Wild West. Granted, there is some minor noise reduction applied and some slight digital tampering used to sharpen and clean the picture a bit, but it's nothing so objectionable as to ruin the quality of the film. We've seen much worse done to other favorites, and only the most discerning of viewers are likely to notice. The image still retains a very fine layer of grain and shows several strong moments of dimensionality. Fine object and textural details are exceptional for a catalogue title of this age. They're not always consistent, which is understandable, but it's much better than anyone could have expected. The worst instances are during the optical effects, where matte lines and softness are made more apparent. But again, this is a normal result of the available technology.

Contrast is spot-on and brightness levels are well balanced with deep, accurate blacks and brilliant whites. Facial complexions aren't very revealing, but they appear natural and healthy in all three films. The color palette is vibrant and dramatic, especially during scenes of the 1950s in the first two movies. Primaries are lush to give the transfer some great pop, but it never feels gaudy or artificial. Part III, of course, places more attention on the secondary hues and earth tones, showing a very pleasing range and also providing the video with a cool, gritty impression. Taken as a whole, the classic 80s trilogy looks terrific on Blu-ray.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 16976 [review_audio] =>

The sci-fi comedy also comes well equipped with a highly enjoyable DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As one would expect, much of the presentation is centered around the dialogue, and it's delivered with terrific precision and intelligibility. We can clearly make out the unique, distinctive inflections and utterances in Michael J. Fox's voice and the funny, high-strung tone in Christopher Lloyd's wacky scientist.

The front soundstage feels wide and welcoming with plenty of strong clarity detail and good channel separation. Dynamic range is surprisingly extensive and even far-reaching, never faltering at the higher frequencies. But the original design, of course, shows its age somewhat in this department as the differences between the high and mids only come into play during the time-traveling sequences. Movement and directionality are attractive and persuasive, especially when the DeLorean travels through time, creating a fun and satisfying soundfield. It's during those same moments that the lower frequencies are made known, spending the majority of the runtime pretty much in silence. This is rather surprising because gunshots tend to feel a bit flat, but bass is present to give music some depth. This isn't a matter of complaint, just something worth noting.

Discrete effects in the surrounds have been added to the audio for ambience and to extend the imaging with slightly more activity. There are clear moments where we can hear birds chirping in the first movie, cars flying in the sky in the second, and crickets singing in the open range of Part III. Anyone intimately familiar with the movies will notice them, but they're not distracting and don't feel forced. Alan Silvestri's now-iconic and memorable score receives the biggest upgrade by spreading evenly throughout the entire system and engaging viewers at just the right moments. For fans, listening to the composer's signature brass-style will likely be the highlight of these lossless mixes. In the end, the 'Back to the Future Trilogy' sounds awesome on Blu-ray, and fans couldn't ask for anything better.

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For this anniversary Blu-ray edition of the 'Back to the Future,' Universal Studios releases an extensive package loaded with all the special features from its DVD counterpart. The collection also comes with a few new items as well, which fans are sure to love.

Disc One

    • Audio Commentaries — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton provide the first commentary track without director Robert Zemeckis. Although it consists mostly of Gale doing all the talking with scene-specific observations, which also leads to several moments of silence, the track is highly informative and interesting for the geekiest of fans. The comments, as they relate to specific moments on the screen, are basically tidbits of trivia concerning the production. This will seem somewhat boring unless you like to learn this sort of useless info.

      The second audio track is actually a Q&A session with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale in front of a live audience and moderated by Laurent Bouzerau. For anyone familiar with some of the history behind the making of the movie, the information here is nothing new but revealing nonetheless. It's sort of awkward to watch the movie and listen to an interview at the same time, but that's precisely what's going on here. Some will likely find it irritating while others might not mind too much.

    • Tales from the Future: In the Beginning . . . (HD, 27 min) — This is the first of a six-part retrospective that features all new interviews with cast and crew. Here, Zemeckis and Gale talk about the story's origins and how they developed the screenplay. With a few comments from Spielberg and how he became attached, the piece also discusses the challenges the filmmakers faced to have the movie made. For anyone not familiar with the backstory, this is good stuff.

    • Tales from the Future: Time to Go (HD, 30 min) — This second part to a larger documentary looks at the actual making of the movie and some of the difficulties met by filmmakers. Interviews with crew members, like Dean Cundey, production designers and stunt coordinators, are quite enlightening and revealing. Especially interesting is the changes and details between 1955 Hill Valley versus the 1985 town square shot in the Universal backlot.

    • Tales from the Future: Keeping Time (HD, 6 min) — This third part, which features archival interviews with Alan Silvestri, is focused entirely on the making of the now-iconic musical score. Comments and praises about the making is entertaining for both fans and movie music aficionados.

    • 'Back to the Future' Night (SD, 27 min) — Hidden in the "Archival Featurettes," this is a really fun watch. For the first televised broadcast of the 1985 classic, NBC aired a special presentation that was hosted by Leslie Nielsen, and which I actually remember watching when it originally aired. The half-hour show gave viewers a look at the making of the first movie while also revealing sneak peeks of the sequel that was only a week away from its theatrical premiere.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future' (SD, 15 min) — Typical EPK material which summarizes the plot of the first movie, and discusses some of the challenges for Michael J. Fox filming a TV show and a movie at the same time. Featuring interviews with cast and crew while showing clips, filmmakers talk about building the time machine, the fantastical concept, the 1950s production design, developing the musical score, and about working on the set.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter One (SD, 16 min) — With interviews of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, fans can learn about the plot's origins, creating the time machine, fleshing out the script, and the challenges faced by filmmakers with the idea of Marty's mother developing a crush on him. For anyone already familiar with the movie's background, much of the info here is old news. But for others not really interested in the audio commentaries, this is a quick and easy look at the production.

    • Michael J. Fox Q&A (SD, 10 min)—This is the same interview seen on the DVD as enhanced PiP viewing where Fox talks about how he became involved and his experience working on the first movie. On the Blu-ray, all eight parts are collected separately from the viewing experience and can be watched individually or successively.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 32 min) — When clicking this option, owners of the DVD package will find the remaining featurettes of that previous release. "Original Makeup Tests" is test work done for making the cast look older. "Outtakes" shows the many flubs, mistakes and fun experienced on the set. Especially funny is Fox's imitation of a 1950s cholo. Under "Photo Galleries" (HD), we have the same set of production, promo and storyboard stills originally under "Production Archives." One final part to this section is the "Nuclear Test Site Sequence," which is a storyboard sequence showing an alternate take of the movie's final moments. It also comes with an optional commentary by producer Bob Gale.

    • Deleted Scenes (HD, 11 min) — With optional commentary by Bob Gale, this short collection of eight scenes which never made it to the final cut are interesting and fun to watch.

    • Music Video (SD, 6 min) — Huey Lewis and the News perform their hit single for the movie, "The Power of Love." Boy, this brings back memories. This was originally on the second disc of the DVD trilogy.

    • Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical teaser rounds out the package.

Disc Two

    • Audio Commentary — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton ride solo once again for this commentary track. And just as before, Gale does all the talking with mostly historical anecdotes and scene-specific comments. With several moments of silence spread throughout, the discussion can be rather boring and only interesting for hardcore fans that love this sort of background info.

      Moderated once again by Laurent Bouzerau, this is a recording done at the USC Film School with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. As one would expect, talks concern ideas about the sequel and how the creators originally didn't plan to continue the story. Most interesting is when the discussion turns to the movie's sci-fi aspects and thoughts about time traveling. It's an amusing listen, but nothing wholly exciting or richly entertaining.

    • Tales from the Future: Time Flies (HD, 29 min) — Continuing the six-part documentary retrospect, this segment focuses on Zemeckis and Gale being asked by Universal for a sequel and how the story behind Crispin Glover going MIA. Interviews with cast and crew discuss the plot, special effects and designing the future. Some of the more interesting aspects is different ideas for the follow-up and how filmmakers originally conceived a three-hour epic before deciding to break the films into two longer parts.

    • The Physics of 'Back to the Future' (HD, 8 min) — Featuring an interview with Dr. Michio Kaku, a Theoretical Physicist, this highly entertaining piece is a serious look into the science of 'Back to the Future.' According to the well-known host of shows on the Science Channel and special programs on the Discovery Channel, the film trilogy is his favorite sci-fi series because it's the only which does theoretical time-traveling right.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future Part II' (SD, 7 min) — Another vintage EPK piece that gives a quick overview on the making of the sequel. Interviews with cast and crew discuss reprising roles and recreating sets from the original movie. There are also a few tidbits about envisioning the future of Hill Valley.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two (SD, 16 min) — This is a little more comprehensive look at the movie's making than the previous one. The whole piece along with the interviews is a retrospect where filmmakers talk about their thoughts on the first movie and how the sequel fits in the entire series.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 65 min) — As with the first disc, this section hides the rest of the featurettes from the DVD release. "Outtakes" shows actors messing up their lines and accidents on the set. "Production Design" is a quick look at creating the sets. "Storyboarding" compares scenes with the pre-production notes. "Designing the DeLorean" and "Designing Time Travel" are closer looks at how the idea of using and decorating a DeLorean DMC-12 came about and the different concepts for making it look functional for time travel. "Hoverboard Test" is exactly what it sounds like and reveals how it was done. "Evolution of Visual Effects Shots" is a cool in-depth look at how the visual effects were done with trick photography and very early computer animation. "Photo Galleries" (HD), which was called "Production Archives" on the DVD, is mostly made up of storyboard and production stills.

    • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 min) — With optional commentary by Bob Gale, all six scenes that were removed from the final product are collected here.

    • Trailer (SD)—The original theatrical preview rounds out the package.

Disc Three

    • Audio Commentary — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton, once more, provide this commentary track which is really no different than the previous two. Comments are only as they relate to specific scenes, and Gale reveals some interesting historical anecdotes. But just as in the other tracks, for fans already familiar with this information, much of this is nothing new.

      Laurent Bouzerau again hosts another roundtable discussion with Zemeckis and Gale in front of a live audience. Most of the discussion, of course, surrounds the third and final installment to the series and thoughts are shared about filmmakers developed the idea of traveling back to the American west. There are also a few comments about why a fourth film was never made, issues with the stunt work, and the challenges faced in shooting a western. Like the previous two, this audio track isn't worth much except for the more devoted fanbase.

    • Tales from the Future: Third Time's the Charm (HD, 17 min) — This fifth part to the longer documentary looks at the fun filmmakers had in making a western. Zemeckis and the producers talk a good deal about the characters, especially Doc being given an emotional arc. Actors also offer their thoughts on the characters and working with the rest of the cast. The rest of the piece looks at the set design and costuming.

    • Tales from the Future: The Test of Time (HD, 17 min) — Bringing the comprehensive six-part documentary to a close is with cast and crew talking about how the trilogy has become a staple of the 80s decade and has stood the test of time. For fans, this is an exciting piece that brings back memories of experiencing the movie series for the first time, inspiring a theme park ride, Saturday morning cartoons, and turning to a cultural icon that lives on today.

    • Back to the Future: The Ride (SD, 31 min)—For me, this is probably one of the coolest featurettes I've had the pleasure in viewing. Fans can relive the thrill ride from the Universal Studios theme park, with the video everyone was forced to watch while waiting in line and then the ride itself. Also, this is the first time I've ever wanted D-Box Motion equipment because there is a special motion code just for this featurette.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future Part III' (SD, 8 min) — This third vintage EPK piece is a rundown with a quick synopsis of the final movie in the series. Interviews discuss building the set, shooting in the desert plains, and a story arc that gives Doc a love interest.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three (SD, 16 min) — This short retrospect from a few years ago centers around filmmakers shooting both films back to back. There are several cool anecdotal bits throughout for fans to enjoy, especially the desire to film a western at a time when they just weren't popular anymore.

    • The Secrets of the 'Back to the Future' Trilogy (SD, 21 min) — This is another special presentation which aired on television after the theatrical release of Part III and was hosted by Kirk Cameron. The half-hour show consists of answering questions in fan mail and showing some behind-the-scenes footage that reveals the stunt work performed in the two sequels.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 31 min) — Once again, the studio hides the special features of the DVD in this section. "Outtakes" shows the cast breaking character and having some fun on the set. "Designing the Town of Hill Valley" takes a quick look at the history of Hill Valley as seen in the trilogy. "Designing the Campaign" looks at all the wacky, but still kinda cool, artwork done for the posters. "Photo Galleries" (HD), originally dubbed "Production Archives," is a series of stills from the production, storyboards and poster art.

    • FAQs About the Trilogy (HD, 20 min) — A collection of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the series. For fans, the questions and answers are pretty fun and comical, though not very revealing.

    • Music Video (SD, 4 min) — ZZ Top performs "Doubleback" in another music video that brings back memories.

    • Deleted Scene (HD, 1 min) — One lowly scene which did not make it to the final version of the movie shows Biff Tannen's gang killing Marshal Strickland and comes with optional commentary by Bob Gale.

    • Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview finishes the package.

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As if having the trilogy on Blu-ray were not enough, Universal Studios also throws in new material in celebration of the trilogy's 25th Anniversary.

Disc One

    • U-Control — This interactive feature comes with three separate and pretty cool bonuses for the 'Back to the Future' geeks out there. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory. Seeing as how I can watch this movie over and over again without ever being bored, this U-Control makes a fun addition.

    • Join Team Fox (SD, 6 min) — This is a short promo for Michael J. Fox's foundation that raises money for Parkinson's research.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

Disc Two

    • U-Control — This interactive feature is very similar to the first disc, except the material is only relevant to the sequel. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

Disc Three

    • U-Control — The third disc sees the same collection of featurettes for this interactive viewing option. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 16979 [review_final_thoughts] =>

When creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale first made 'Back to the Future,' they never expected the film to turn into such a beloved Hollywood classic and become an influential icon in the lives of so many fans. Taking a universal fantasy about time travel, the adventures of Doc and Marty live on today as a cultural favorite that younger generations continue to discover. This 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition comes with great picture quality for all three films and a wonderfully engaging audio presentation. The same assortment of supplements are carried over from the DVDs and joined by a new collection of material, making this a must-own package for fans and movie-lovers alike. Hop on your hoverboard and pick this up immediately!

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David (Josh Brener, Silicon Valley) is hard-working, tenacious, and creative but in New York, that s not enough to keep a job. With no income, two impatient roommates, and a long-suffering girlfriend (Alexandra Daddario, SAN ANDREAS), he comes up with a way-out-of-the box-solution: selling marijuana over the internet.
Now he s a top earner, the best in the biz. An explosion of online clients and criss-crossing the boroughs on his bike means working day and night...and developing a habit of his own. But when demand exceeds his supply, and the threat of being caught or killed rises, David realizes he s in over his head.

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One minute the New Yorker advertising expert Jim Ferguson is at a business party -- the next he finds himself way back in 1917 in a plane fight during World War I. Mr. Raymond explains to him that he has a time-twin, to whom he's relocated in space and time whenever one of them is in trouble. So he has to help his twin, biplane pilot Biggles, in his attempt to destroy a German super weapon, that could win their war. Of course it's hard for Jim to explain his sudden disappearances to his fiance, Debbie.

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Madame Lu has created three 'Death Machines', a trio of martial arts experts who have been injected with a special serum, turning them into mindless zombies, capable only of murder, at Lu's command. Tasked with eliminating her enemies, the Death Machines go on a blood soaked rampage, killing anyone in their path. After they massacre an entire dojo, leaving only one survivor, the Death Machines and Madame Lu herself become the targets of his vengeance...

Part kung fu film, part revenge thriller, and part sci-fi/horror, director Paul Kyriazi's debut feature is a head spinning, non-stop thrill ride of gratuitous violence and bizarre plot twists, guaranteed to satisfy the cinematic cravings of even the most discriminating fans of drive-in movies.

Vinegar Syndrome is proud to present this outlandish, action packed, and truly unforgettable piece of mid-70s genre filmmaking, freshly restored in 4k from its original Techniscope camera negative and featuring brand new interviews with its director and stars.

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After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim. He challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their lives and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is the ultimate arbitrator of who wins and who loses, who will go to heaven, and who will go to hell.

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After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim. He challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their lives and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is the ultimate arbitrator of who wins and who loses, who will go to heaven, and who will go to hell.

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Discover the magic and warmth of Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, based on the inspiring story of living legend Dolly Parton's remarkable upbringing in rural Tennessee. Set in 1955, this special follows the Parton family as they struggle to overcome tragedy and discover the healing power of love and faith. 

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Hailed as "the best American horror film in twenty years" (Jim Hemphill, "Filmmaker Magazine") and Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (87%), Don't Breathe debuted at #1 at the box office and remained in the top spot for two weekends in a row. The film follows a group of thieves who break into a blind man's home thinking they'll get away with the perfect crime. When the blind man reveals a dark side, the trio quickly discovers they were dead wrong.

[review_movie] =>

The term "genre-busting" is often tossed around when a film - particularly a science fiction film or a horror flick - comes around that successfully plays off specific conventions and turns them on their head. In most cases, the genre isn't exactly "busted," the filmmakers merely knew what they were doing and knew how to play against audience expectations. This is true for Fede Alvarez's (Evil Dead) latest horror offering 'Don't Breathe' starring Jane Levy and Stephen Lang. Alvarez doesn't exactly re-invent the home invasion thriller, but he takes expectations and plays with them to create an often terrifying little horror flick. 

Detroit is a dying city that no longer offers young people any sense of opportunity or hope. That is why Rocky (Jane Levy), along with her wannabe gangsta boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and the love-lorn Alex (Dylan Minnette) break into rich people's homes and rip them off of their expensive goods. Alex's dad works for a home-security firm making it pretty easy for the trio to access the alarm systems and break-in without much trouble. What started out as a means to cobble together some quick cash for kicks becomes a necessity when Rocky needs to leave with her little sister in order to escape their abusive neglectful mother. The idea of California surfs around Rocky's head, but that would require a lot of loose cash that they wouldn't normally be able to fence. Everything changes when a contact gives Money the biggest tip of their lives. 

It turns out, a Blind Man (Stephen Lang) recently scored a massive cash settlement after his daughter was killed in a car accident. Since the old man doesn't seem to ever go to the bank, the cash has got to be inside the house - and the house just happens to be one Alex's dad has the keys to. Reluctantly, Alex goes along with the plan - if only to show Rocky how much he cares for her. Even with all of their casing steps and precautions, nothing can prepare them for the terror they're about to endure inside the Blind Man's home. 

Don't Breathe

The Home Invasion horror/thriller is a pretty simple plot line. A group of people, usually misguided-youths, break into a home for kicks and few live long enough to regret the error of their ways. It's a simple enough plot, but few flicks ever manage to pull it off well. Or at least, as well as they should. Those expecting the humorless gorefest Fede Alvarez delivered with 2013's 'Evil Dead' reboot will be interested to hear that 'Don't Breathe' is relatively light on gore but stacked with unrelenting tension and terror. By setting up the key characters just enough, Alvarez gives the audience a trio of thieves you sort of like, but also believe that they deserve what's coming to them. Just when the audience thinks they have a sort of hardened anti-hero in Stephen Lang's The Blind Man to root for, Alvarez pulls the rug out and brilliantly works against expectations. 

Suffice to say, there are some very interesting twists and turns to the plot that is unexpected. I won't go into spoilers because I don't like doing that sort of thing, but I'll leave it with the sentiment that I was equally surprised and horrified where the film goes leading into its final act. As I mentioned in the intro for this review, 'Don't Breathe' doesn't exactly bust or explode the home invasion sub-genre, it merely plays with expectations and knows when and where to pull punches and sock the audience in the gut. Aspects of this movie are akin to flicks like 'The People Under The Stairs,' 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' and even to an extent 'Cujo' where The Blind Man is a near-unstoppable force of nature. Our thieves played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto had the misfortune of crossing Stephen Lange by daring to enter his domain. Like I said, it's nothing new exactly, but done effectively and with an energy that doesn't let the audience rest for very long. 

Dont Breathe

Performances are all around excellent here and Alvarez shows how well he can manage a small cast of trapped actors. Jane Levy is excellent as the driven and tenacious Rocky. Daniel Zovatto serves up the film's few flashes of humor as the doofus of the group while Dylan Minnette gets to break out of his family-comedy shtick and show his range. While the youngsters may be main characters, it's Stephen Lang's Blind Man who steals the show. Perhaps the best thing to come out of 'Avatar' is Lang's career resurgence as he delivers yet another fierce and frightening performance. He may not say a whole lot, but he doesn't need to in order for you to fear him. 

When you look at the nuts and bolts of this film, how it was made, and the summer flicks that surrounded its release, the best thing that I can say about 'Don't Breathe' beyond its effective and inventive means to terrify and audience is that it was a relatively cheap film to produce at just under $10,000,000. After a summer loaded with overly-expensive, stale, boring, spectacle movies that failed to recoup their ridiculous production costs let along their egregious marketing budgets, 'Don't Breathe' is a breath of fresh air. It's a smart movie that didn't rely on an expensive cast and chintzy digital effects to get the job done. It was a smart and simple thriller that knew what it was doing and how to entertain a target audience. Much like 'Lights Out,' 'Don't Breathe' didn't pander or dumb itself down, it just did what it was supposed to do and was a box office hit. It doesn't even have to be a horror film, but my hope is that Hollywood takes a step back and looks at the successes of these smaller films and takes into account that you don't need to spend $200,000,000 before marketing costs on a movie to make it successful. For the production budget of 'Warcraft' alone, nearly 16 films the size of 'Don't Breathe' could have been made. What I'm getting to by that little bit of industry soapboxing is that a little bit of talent and creativity goes a lot further than a massive budget, and 'Don't Breathe' is a study in simple and effective storytelling netting big results. It may not be the most original horror film ever made, but what it does, 'Don't Breathe' does really well and makes for a creepy evening with the lights turned off. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Don't Breathe' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony and is pressed onto a Region Free BD50 disc. The disc is housed in a standard sturdy snapper Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for other upcoming Sony releases before arriving at a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. Also included is an Ultraviolet Digital HD voucher slip. 

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The digitally sourced 2.40:1 1080p transfer for 'Don't Breathe' may not be the most colorful one you've ever seen, but it's playing with light and shadow and the sense of depth is what earns it some high marks. The front end of the film is absolutely beautiful. From the opening aerial drone shot of an abandoned Detroit suburb right up to the point where our "heroes" break into the home, the film is bright, beautiful, and gorgeous. Detail levels are through the rough allowing the audience to soak in all of the facial features, costuming, and the craggy details of the dilapidated abandoned homes. Once they break into Blind Man's home, everything is bathed in shadows or near-complete darkness. While some distant and midrange details are lost, the transfer still holds closeup details perfectly. Colors also move away from a naturally saturated look to a more dark and drab olive-toned color scheme. It looks during these scenes that there has been a bit of a teal/orange push, but nothing too severe. Black levels are the real star here as there is a constant sense of depth and dimension to the image, most impressively during the "night vision" stalking sequence, where there are brief flashes of color whenever a gun is fired and then returns to black and white. Other than some very slight video noise here and there, this is a near-flawless looking transfer. 

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'Don't Breathe' comes packed with an exhausting, tension-filled English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. On top of the tight writing, pacing, and excellent performances, the film's big star is the audio mix and how well it plays with silence. Often we tend to look at the constant sense of surround activity as an indicator of an immersive experience. The sound design for 'Don't Breathe' should be held up as an example of how near-total silence can provide an equally immersive experience. It's the little creeks in the floor, the quiet little footsteps of our thieves, and how a distant thump can not only cause you to sit on the edge of your seat but suck you into the film. Dialogue is rendered clean and clear which is important when the main film gets going the actors are usually only whispering. The impressive score from Roque Banos provides the mix with plenty of LFE as he plays up the low tones to fill out that dissonant sense of dread. All around this is an absolutely stellar sound mix that works beautifully for this film. 

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Note: If you haven't seen the film yet, avoid watching the bonus features until after you see it, spoilers abound. Ye be warned. 

Audio Commentary: Director Fede Alvarez, Co-writer Rodo Sayagues, and Actor Stephen Lang provide an informative and engaging commentary track explaining the different title iterations, development of the script, shooting in Detroit, Michigan and Budapest, Hungary, building The Blind Man's house. They cover a lot of ground and the commentary is thankfully free of any stalls or long periods of silence. 

8 Deleted Scenes - With Optional Commentary: (HD 15:17) This is a collection of scene extensions as well as a few character motivation moments that are genuinely very good but had they been left in the film where they were originally placed, they would have dragged the momentum to a crawl. Alvarez provides a solid commentary for these moments explaining the goals of the scenes and why they ultimately didn't make it into the final cut. 

No Escape: (HD 2:56) Your standard EPK bonus feature that doesn't really offer a whole lot of info other than the cursory surface details. 

Creating The Creepy House: (HD 3:51) It's brief, but this is a fun look at what went into designing the layout of the house and the "traps" without there being any actual traps. 

Meet The Cast: (HD 4:04) Another EPK brief feature that goes into some more details about the characters and their motivations for doing what they do throughout the film. 

Man in the Dark: (HD 3:17) Stephen Lang gets a few minutes to discus his character and motivations and how he went about playing the character. 

The Sounds of Horror: (HD 1:49) This is an unfortunately entirely too brief interview showcase of composer Roque Banos and the sounds he created for the house and how they worked into the music for the film. Great stuff, but again, short.

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No HD exclusive content. 

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'Don't Breathe' didn't have to reinvent the wheel to deliver an effective and scary horror film. All it needed to do was show a little creativity and some sharp pacing and the results are seen on screen. I wasn't expecting 'Don't Breathe' to live up to the hype but this was a solid and creepy home invasion flick. Sony delivers the film onto Blu-ray in terrific order with a stellar A/V presentation. The commentary track and deleted scenes are solid extra features, but the making of material is a bit too slim for an otherwise near-perfect disc release. Fans should absolutely make the purchase, for the curious I'm calling 'Don't Breathe' highly recommended. 

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Richard Lester (Juggernaut, How I Won the War) directs this no-holds-barred whirlwind comedy fueled by mistaken identities, mayhem and macabre madness. At stake is a stolen fortune hidden in a coffin, aboard a speeding coast-to-coast train. On the case are the delightfully outrageous Louis Gossett Jr. (The Laughing Policeman) as an ace criminal and as is his gorgeous and foul-mouthed protégé. But standing in their way is the thief ready to kill for his $5,000,000 loot, a confused FBI agent who wants to arrest everyone in sight. Full of twists and turns with one bizarre surprise after another, there s a little sex, lots of action, and with a fortune up for grabs, there s only one rule Finders Keepers! The Hilarious and talented cast includes Michael O Keefe (Caddyshack), Beverly D Angelo, National Lampoon s Vacation), Pamela Stephenson (Superman III), Ed Lauter (Breakheart Pass), David Wayne (How to Marry a Millionaire), Brian Dennehy (Gorky Park), Jack Riley (High Anxiety), John Schuck (Thieves Like Us) and the great Jim Carrey (Dumb & Dumber) in one his earliest roles.

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Hiyori’s a sweet, shy girl who’s used to living in the background. Now, the wallflower is ready to bloom and reveal a big secret: she’s totally infatuated with Tomoki! To get closer to the dirty-minded object of her affection, she joins the New World Discovery Club. With Tomoki’s lazy love of peace and quiet, he’s not interested in accommodating any new Club members and tries to scare Hiyori away with his usual perverted antics. Nonetheless, she remains committed to her crush and starts bonding with Ikaros, Nymph, and the gang – until a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. It seems Hiyori has a deeper – and more dangerous – link to the Angeloids than anyone suspected! How is she connected to the Synapse? Why is she trying to kill Tomoki, even after confessing her feelings? Find out in the hilarious, super-sexy Heaven’s Lost Property movie, The Angeloid of Clockwork!

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Ryoko ?kami, the “wolf” of our story, and her BFF Ringo, also known as Little Red Riding Hood, are members of Otogi Bank—a high school club that helps classmates out of grim situations. One day, a meek young man proclaims his love to Ryoko, who does nothing but bite him in return. “You’re much too weak for me,” she huffs. So the boy joins Otogi Bank to prove he has the stuff to protect his beloved—even if it means taking a blow to the head with a lead pipe. He’s no Prince Charming, but will Ryoko allow herself to have her own happily ever after?

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When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up, claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it's up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon.

[review_movie] =>

Disney is knocking out some remakes of their beloved classics recently, and they seem to be enlisting the help of some great indie filmmakers to handle these revamps. The latest being the remake of 'Pete’s Dragon‘, which originally came out in 1977 and mixed live action with animation. It was a big hit for the studio and became universally loved by children of the 70s and 80s. Cut to present day, and we have Disney making a remake of the film with state-of-the-art visual effects and A-List talent in front of the film. Not to mention a great indie filmmaker from the DFW area named David Lowery (Ain’t Them Body Saints), to co-write and direct this remake.

Lowery took a big Disney character and story and grounded it very well, making it look like a great indie film with a giant dragon. There are no buildings or skyscrapers falling to the ground here, which is very refreshing. The story is straight to the point and never goes off on tangents. In fact, the film has about an 80 minute run time, so there is no time for anything else other than the story at hand, which is one of the complaints I have for ‘Pete’s Dragon‘. Here you have the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, and Robert Redford headlining the cast, but all of them have so little screen time that there is zero character development or transitioning.

There is really no reason to care for any of the characters besides Pete (Oakes Fegley) and Elliot the dragon, who forge an unlikely relationship after Pete’s parents perish in a car wreck when he’s little in the forest. It’s very much a story similar to ‘E.T.‘, but without all the emotional tones or fun to it. The dragon himself is very cute and is exactly like your favorite big floppy dog when you were growing up. This dragon has green fur instead of scales and big endearing eyes. He plays fetch and chases its own tale. Soon on though, both Elliot and Pete soon realize they can’t live together forever in the forest, and are split up. There’s nothing new here that you haven’t seen before as far as story or filmmaking, but Lowery really captures the small town life and simplicity of the entire story and characters, perhaps to a bigger degree than it should have been.

I’m not saying the movie is bad at all, but to doesn’t pack the emotional punch that it was trying to get at, even though there was a ton of sequences I very much enjoyed here, including the usual Disney tropes. I know the younger crowd is going to love it for sure and there is a dose of nostalgia for the older audience as well. You can see why Disney has invested in David Lowery as a director too, since he will be in charge of the ‘Peter Pan‘ revamp next.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This release comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD copy from Disney that are Region A Locked. There is an insert for the digital download as well as a promo item for Disney. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.

[review_video_picture_id] => 73015 [review_video] =>

'Pete's Dragon' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. I wouldn't say this is an overly colorful film, but it has some excellent earthy tones of deep greens, browns, and blues. The detail on Elliot The Dragon is phenomenal here. Literally every strand of green hair can be seen easily as it flows through the wind. This was top notch visual effects here, particularly on the dragon.

In well lit scenes, other detail is fantastic, such as dirt, beads of sweat, makeup blemishes, and individual hairs show up nicely on the actor's faces. Wider shots show the depth of the forest, when it's well lit as well with the detailed leaves and wood bark on all of trees. Most of the time, there is also a a light haze to the image, which seems like a style choice in regards to a fantasy like tale, but it does take away from some of the detail. Other times, or shall I say a lot of the time, the film has a fairly dark image, where things are difficult to see.

There are certain moments where the green hair on Elliot sticks out and the blue sky is bright and beautiful, but other than that, there aren't a ton of primary colors that pop off screen. Black levels are rather deep and inky most of the time and skin tones are natural. There was some video noise here and there that spiked, but other than that, no other compression problems.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73016 [review_audio] =>

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix and sounds excellent. This is not an overly aggressive mix, but it stands out when it has to. Ambient noises in the forest of nature and the wind blowing through trees sounds amazing. When Elliot is running through the forest with Pete and all of the branches are breaking and the loud foot stomps are stampeding, the directionality and prioritization are incredible.

The score is moving and sweeping, and always adds to the emotion and tone of the film without drowning out any other sound element. The low end brings the bass consistently with Elliot's roars, heavier action scenes, and some of the other big sound effects. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. Great audio presentation.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 73017 [review_supplements] =>

Audio Commentary - Director David Lowery, Writer Toby Halbrooks, and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence deliver the commentary track here. Everyone was together in the same room and is quite charming and fun with some cute jokes, fun anecdotes from the set, and some technical information. A delightful audio commentary.

Notes To Self: A Director's Diary (HD, 8 Mins.) - David Lowery narrates his personal diary of making the film in very short segments that includes some on set footage and clips from the film.

Making Magic (HD, 2 Mins.) - Cast and crew discuss how they used practical and CG effects to create Elliot with some behind the scene's footage. All too short.

Disappearing Moments (HD, 9 Mins.) - This is a collection of deleted, alternate, and extended scenes, all of which are worth watching with an intro from director David Lowery.

Bloopers (HD, 2 Mins.) - A very short montage of the cast laughing, missing cues, and flubbing lines.

'Nobody Knows' Music Video (HD, 3 Mins.) - The Lumineers perform their song in this music video.

'Something Wild' Music Video (HD, 4 Mins.) - Lindsey Stirling and Andrew McMahon perform their song in the music video.

Welcome to New Zealand (HD, 2 Mins.) - Cast and crew discuss filming in New Zealand with some cool shots of the country.

[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives here.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 73018 [review_bottom_line] => 2 [review_final_thoughts] =>

This is a solid remake that the younger crowd should love. Older audience will relate and feel the nostalgic filmmaking and music from their childhood as well. There were some great performances, even if they were too on the nose with some strong visual effects. The video and audio presentations are both good and the extras are decent, despite being very short. Recommended.

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Atop her robotic RideBack motorcycle, an ex-dancer ignites the fires of rebellion in a nation held captive by its own oppressive government. After an injury forces Rin to trade her stage career for college life, she finds new thrills as a member of the RideBack Club. When she discovers an unusual connection with one machine in particular – Fuego – she is forced into the middle of a revolution. The tyrannical new government rules with an iron fist, and Rin is reluctant to take them on. But as her dearest friends suffer, and the insurgency struggles to topple the increasingly powerful regime, Rin may have no choice but to gun Fuego’s engines and speed directly into the heart of the fight for freedom.

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Cannibal horror directed by Umberto Lenzi. Fleeing from underworld justice, photojournalist John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) takes to the jungle where he goes native and finds love. However, it turns out that this comes with a high price when he finds that he is living with natives who are not only prized for their women but also for their potential as food stock. (Distributed in the United Kingdom as Deep River Savages).

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Sakura Wars the Movie whisks you to a lavish world of 1920s Japan for a supernatural showdown between demonic forces and psychic-powered mechsuit pilots. When something wicked stages chaos, the Imperial Assault Force sends the divas of the Flower Division to drive steel through evil’s spotlight! Sweet Sakura, glamorous Sumire, adorable Iris, tactical Leni, mechanic Kohran, Kana the martial arts master, exotic Orohime, and stoic leader Maria are always ready for action! Just as a fresh face joins the ensemble, other members begin to vanish one after another. When a deviant virtuoso unleashes demons to terrorize Tokyo, it’s up to the maidens of metal to pull their act together and drop the curtain on evil!

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Asuka and her friends may look like any other girls at Hanzo Academy, but they're secretly studying the ancient art of Ninjutsu! While other students do their homework, Asuka and the gang push their beautiful bodies to the breaking point in pursuit of their perfect form. Life is one sexy sparring session after another until a Deviously Demented rival clan of evil ninjas ambushes the Hanzo hotties – and steals their sacred ninja scroll. Faced with their toughest – and most well-rounded – enemies ever, Asuka and her fellow Deadly Divas will have to go further than they've ever gone before to prove they've mastered the art of full frontal combat! Whether you like blondes or brunettes; good or evil; big or EXTRA BIG; this series based on the action packed video game proves once and for all that a ninja beat down is the most exhilarating beat down of all!

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Tanukichi Okuma is the son of an imprisoned ero-terrorist. Rather than following in his father's footsteps, he plans to stay on the track of morality and wholesomeness. Just like his dream girl, Anna Nishikinomiya, he attends Japan's most moral school. But after an encounter with Blue Snow, his virtuous plans are ****** and he finds himself entangled with SOX. Will the pursuit of smut tarnish what hope he has with the pure Anna, or will he *** around, stimulated by the panty wearing deviant and her filthy mouth?

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Tanukichi Okuma is the son of an imprisoned ero-terrorist. Rather than following in his father's footsteps, he plans to stay on the track of morality and wholesomeness. Just like his dream girl, Anna Nishikinomiya, he attends Japan's most moral school. But after an encounter with Blue Snow, his virtuous plans are ****** and he finds himself entangled with SOX. Will the pursuit of smut tarnish what hope he has with the pure Anna, or will he *** around, stimulated by the panty wearing deviant and her filthy mouth?

[review_movie_stars] => N/A [review_video_stars] => N/A [review_audio_stars] => N/A [review_supplements_stars] => N/A [review_bonus_content_stars] => N/A [review_final_thoughts_stars] => N/A ) ) [22] => Array ( [review_id] => 39494 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => soundbreakingstoriesfromthecuttingedgeofrecordedmusic [review_release_date] => 1480406400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music [picture_created] => 1476275463 [picture_name] => High-Def_Digest_www.highdefdigest_.com_Blu-ray_Review_Soundbreaking-_Stories_from_the_Cutting_Edge_of_Recorded_Music_.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Acorn Media [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/10/12/120/High-Def_Digest_www.highdefdigest_.com_Blu-ray_Review_Soundbreaking-_Stories_from_the_Cutting_Edge_of_Recorded_Music_.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/39494/soundbreakingstoriesfromthecuttingedgeofrecordedmusic.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [run_time] => 435 [list_price] => 49.99 [asin] => B01JPN6MT0 [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Music, Documentary ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Eric Clapton, Elton John, Dave Grohl, Tony Bennett, Beck ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Jeff Dupre, Maro Chermayeff ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

Soundbreaking presents more than 150 original interviews with some of the most celebrated recording artists, producers, and music industry pioneers of all time, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Tony Bennett, Dave Grohl, Debbie Harry, Chuck D, BB King, Hans Zimmer, George Martin, Tom Petty, Annie Lennox, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, RZA, St. Vincent, Rick Rubin, Bonnie Raitt, and Questlove. Featuring more than 200 songs, this series charts a century's worth of innovation and experimentation. From the Beatles groundbreaking use of multitrack technology to the synthesized stylings of Stevie Wonder, from disco-era drum machines to the modern art of sampling, Soundbreaking makes us hear the songs we love in a whole new way. 

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Set shortly after the conclusion of Taboo, Taboo II introduces Junior McBride (Kevin James) who, upon discovering that his best friend, Paul (Mike Ranger), had a relationship with his mother (Kay Parker), begins to explore his own curiosity for familial love, with his sister Sherry (Dorothy LeMay). Although initially hesitant, Sherry quickly discovers her desire for her brother, and the siblings soon begin an illicit affair...until their mother (Honey Wilder) catches them in the act... Director Kirdy Stevens and writer/producer Helene Terrie's acclaimed follow-up to their 1980 blockbuster is an engrossing psychological drama that features Honey Wilder's most infamous and celebrated performance.

In Kirdy Stevens and Helene Terrie's third entry in their Taboo franchise, Kay Parker reprises her role of Barbara Scott, whose son Paul has left home due to the stress of their unnatural relationship. With only her younger son (Jerry Butler), who's more concerned with his band and best friend (Blake Palmer) than his mother, to keep her company, Barbara finds a friend in Joyce McBride (Honey Wilder), as the two of them discover their shared illicit pasts and begin to plan the next stages of their lives... Taboo III is a thought provoking story of forbidden desires, featuring some of the biggest stars of the era.

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The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers—Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg—finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.

[review_movie] =>

Imagine yourself alone in the middle of the night. You live in an orphanage at the end of a dark alley behind a London pub. Most of the city's gone to bed, but it's the witching hour, and you can't sleep. You never sleep. You never dream. You spend your lonely nights sneaking through drafty old halls, keeping tabs on the headmistress and reading books by flashlight to pass the hours.

Then one night you break your rules.

You hear a noise outside. You go to the window. You pull back the drapes. And you catch a glimpse of a monstrous giant lurking in the alley. You try to hide, but his titanic hand scoops you up and snatches you away, sprinting away with you into the night, out of the city, and out of this very world...

So begins Sophie's journey to Giant Country. She tries to escape her captor's cave, terrified she will be chopped up into tonight's supper, but ultimately realizes she has not been snatched by a monster, but by the gentle-souled Big Friendly Giant. The BFG, as Sophie calls him, is actually the Runt of the family, which includes eight far more brutish giants who roam the night eating children. Fortunately for Sophie, the BFG is a vegetarian whose life work is harvesting dreams and delivering them to families in the human world.

However, the more Sophie becomes enchanted with the BFG and his dream whispering work, the more the BFG's man-eating brothers are likely to get a whiff of her human bean'ly scent, after which they'll most certainly hunt her down and gobble her up.

Steven Spielberg is, I would humbly argue, the single most gifted visual storyteller in the history of cinema. His influences are many, of course, but there is a lot of Walt Disney in him. Look how Spielberg uses 'Pinnochio' in 'Close Encounters', or how he made an unofficial sequel to 'Peter Pan' in 'Hook'. These two filmmakers share modest upbringings, a knack for popular tastes, and an innate ability to shape worlds with their imaginations or by collaborating with other wondrous imaginations. In a sense, Spielberg has been making Disney movies for years, particularly through his Amblin production company. What a shame, then, that as Spielberg steps into the director's chair for his first official Disney movie, it feels less personal and less emotional than his previous collaboration with screenwriter Melissa Matheson, 'E.T.'

In both stories, we meet lonely children who befriend other-worldly creatures and face serious and dangerous consequences. Along the way, as these friendships are forged, we experience a previously-unknown magic and are all changed by the experience. Yet, while these two productions are thematic distant cousins, they are also (obviously) vastly different. Setting aside the fact that one is about supernatural events in everyday places, while the other transports everyday characters to supernatural places, 'E.T.' is a much more methodically-paced story that clearly and dramatically develops its characters to the point where we are feeling exactly what they are feeling. Elliot and E.T.'s friendship is very much OUR friendship, so as that story soars to a beautiful, heartbreaking, John Williams-fueled conclusion, we're all bawling our eyes out, having grown and learned. 'E.T.' is nothing short of a masterpiece.

It's unfair to watch 'The BFG' in that context -- masterpieces are rare and unquantifiable, even with our best critic hats on -- but for everything I love about 'E.T.', 'The BFG' is ultimately less emotional and thrilling.

Sure, 'The BFG' is magnificently rendered and lyrical at times, particularly in the BFG's cave or during a visit to the Dream Tree, but much of the film's pacing feels off. Rushed. We don't get to settle into Sophie's world before hurtling off to Giant Country, and from there it feels more like the story is driving the characters more than the characters driving the story. I have to admit, the film's climax is exciting and funny, but everything happens quickly and without any sense that it could all go horribly wrong. In other words, the stakes don't feel weighted. These are all just general descriptors, mind you, I don't mean to imply that 'The BFG' must have been more like 'E.T.' or that movies need to follow rules to work; I'm simply trying to describe why I found it hard to connect with this story. The uncanny valley of human-esque characters doesn't help either.

On the other hand, I'm going to leave the door open to watch this one a few more times, and hopefully through much younger eyes. Because there are some wonderful things to enjoy here too. The BFG himself remains quite enchanting after all these years; there is a joy to his jumbled words and phrases that should delight children who are in their own formative linguistic years. I suspect in another year or two my little one will cackle with delight at the BFG's bungled phrases, watch in awe as he delivers dreams, and tuck into my shoulder when the mean Giants nearly catch Sophie. I also surmise she and lots of other children will enjoy the Queen of England's well-trained Corgis and marvel at the spectacle of giggly, propulsive flatulence over high tea. Sophie too, as played by Ruby Barnhill, is also quite good -- I very much admire her strong will, quick wit, toughness under pressure, and honest vulnerability.

So perhaps watching 'The BFG' requires a certain state of mind, or perhaps it's a movie that should have taken more time to earn our relationship with its characters. Perhaps it's a little bit of both. Either way, I'm glad to have finally seen 'The BFG', but at this point remain slightly disconnected on a visceral level, which is an odd experience for me to have with a Steven Spielberg film.

The BFG

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray

'The BFG' stomps onto Blu-ray disc courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment. While there was a 3D theatrical release, the only version currently available in North America is a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack. The Digital HD version works with Disney Movies Anywhere and can be linked to a variety of serves, including VUDU, iTunes, and Amazon. The only pre-menu trailer on the Blu-ray is the teaser for the new live-action 'Beauty and the Beast.'

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'The BFG' absolutely marvels in high definition with a sharp and colorful AVC MPEG-4 encode framed in the film's original 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

I know an HDR presentation could be even more dynamic, but outside of a few instances where black levels are a tad gray and shadow details disappearing into a touch of crush, I love everything about this HD/SDR transfer. Spielberg's iconic use of backlighting paints nighttime sequences with wonderful depth. Fine details are filmmic, with razor sharp focal points rolling off into softer backgrounds. Colors are resplendent and bold, especially any sequences that involve various multi-colored dreams. In terms of encoding error, I didn't see any. Yeah, I'm not always a fan of the CGI characters, but this is a gorgeously rendered presentation -- I'm wrapping up a review of the incredible LG E6 OLED UHD TV and there are times I'd swear 'The BFG' Blu-ray IS in HDR/WCG. It's that good.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73003 [review_audio] =>

'The BFG' ambles onto Blu-ray with a sumptuous English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that builds a wonderfully immersive soundscape.

While the HD video is more traditionally and overtly beautiful, this soundtrack is an audiophile's delight. It is dynamic and whimsical at times, and even quiet moments are filled with subtle nuances in the side and rear channels; it sounds like we're living in a realized world. But even as the more aggressive moments become more complex -- as the track swirls up towards fuller immersion -- you can still pick out the individual effects in all eight channels. John Williams' score, while not as iconic as his earlier Spielberg collaborations, swells and envelopes, filling your listening environment with warm mid-tones. Then there are the giants, which get extra volume and a heaping dosage of LFE power to evoke their natural largess. All in all, this is a highly technical sound mix that will transport you out of your home theatres and into the Giant Country. I loved every minute of it.

Lastly, if you're set up for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, 'The BFG' up-mixes perfectly, adding a convincing layer of overhead immersion that makes it feel like the Giants are about to step on your head. It's so awesome you can't help but cringe at Disney's decision to ignore these next generation sound formats (which they support theatrically).

Other soundtrack options include English 2.0 Descriptive Audio as well as Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English SDH, Spanish, and French.

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Like many Spielberg home entertainment releases before it, there's no audio commentary, but the featurettes are top notch. The overall package is good, but a little light. Here's what you'll find on the DVD and the Blu-ray.

Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG (HD, 0:03:16).  A breakdown of the BFG's linguistical uniqueness.

Melissa Mathison: A Tribute (HD, 0:05:54). A tribute to a wonderful writer who left our world far too soon. We're fortunate enough to see and hear her talk about the project in this piece (and the first featurette listed below), as well as hear from her filmmaking friends and family.

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 73001 [review_bonus_content] =>

Most of 'The BFG' bonus materials are HD Exclusives, but sadly there are only three, and they only add about 35 more minutes of material.

Bringing 'The BFG' to Life (HD, 0:27:09). This behind-the-scenes featurette combines Ruby Barnhill's on-set diary with a more traditional making-of. It's fantastic and I wish it were longer.

The Big Friendly Giant and Me (HD, 0:01:55). A full animated version of the story written by the BFG's previous house guest.

Giants 101 (HD, 0:04:57). A look at the actors who brought The BFG's bigger brothers to life via motion capture.

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While my initial journey to Giant Country wasn't as emotionally rewarding to me as Spielberg's earlier works, 'The BFG' may prove more delightful to children. I found the pacing a little rushed, which undercut the characters and the stakes, but I'm open to revisiting this one a few more times.

As a Blu-ray, the only disappointment comes from what isn't available -- I suspect the 3D or 4K-HDR versions would be pure demo material and the soundtrack begs for object-based audio -- in other words you're getting a gorgeously rendered video and audio presentations that will wow on HD and Ultra HD displays alike. The Bonus Materials are good, but there aren't many of them.

If you're a fan of this film or book already, this Blu-ray comes easily Recommended as its technical aspects are excellent. For everyone else, I'd probably rent it first to see if you enjoy the story more than me. Overall: Worth a Look.

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Embark on a tropical misadventure with a group of quirky animals and their human castaway, Robinson Crusoe. When savage cats invade their paradise, Robinson and the island's animals team up to defend themselves and their home in this fun-filled movie.

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Edina and Patsy are back in their fabulous and hilarious big-screen debut! Still oozing glitz and glamour while clubbing their way around London, the beloved boozers find themselves in a media firestorm when they’re blamed for accidentally killing Kate Moss at a fashion event. Perfectly accessorized with dozens of celebrity cameos, including Jon Hamm, Kate Moss, Joan Collins and many more, this uproarious, madcap romp is bloody good fun, sweetie darling!

[review_movie] =>

"Every time our life hits a good patch, this miserable piece of flesh has to ruin it!"

It's a curious thing to know and follow a group of characters for nearly 25 years. There are certain aspects of the characters you naturally come to know, love and expect from them every time they enter a room. When you're talking about Jennifer Saunders' hapless trendsetter Edina and her bosom buddy in bad behavior Patsy played by Joanna Lumley, you expect each half hour episode of 'Absolutely Fabulous' to be a parade of pills, booze, and outrageousness. But what are you to do when everything you've come to know and love about these madcap women is taken out of its three wall comfort zone and blown up for the big screen? 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' may feature some fun and friendly faces, but not all of its heart and soul made the cinematic transition. 

Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are still doing what they do best, going to parties, getting blitzed, and somehow managing a PR empire all at the same time. Meanwhile, Eddie's stressed-to-the-max daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha), Saffy's daughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), Mother (June Whitfield) and Eddie's seemingly dimwitted assistant Bubble (Jane Horrocks) are left to pick up the pieces each and every morning. After a particularly rough night of carousing and partying that managed to offend nearly everyone in London's fashion scene, Eddie needs to get to the publishers and ink her book deal. With cash on the line, she has only so much time before the deal disappears along with the money Eddie needs to retire on. Things go awry when an accident leaves Eddie accused of killing Kate Moss at a fashion event! With the cops and the paparazzi on their backsides, Eddie and Patsy cook up one last wild plot that will take them to Cannes where they hope to live out their days in luxury. 

My introduction to 'Absolutely Fabulous' kicked in around 2003 when reruns of the show started appearing on Comedy Central's late night lineup. I would finish my last classes of the day, kick out some homework, watch something like South Park, and then cap off the night with an episode of 'AbFab.' I thoroughly enjoyed the intoxicated hijinks Eddie and Patsy wound up in and poor Saffy having to be the adult on the show. Each character was a colorful delight and it's blend of real-life celebrities like Lulu, Twiggy, or Emma Bunton added a layer of subtle hilarity. Obviously, you're supposed to despise the things Eddie and Patsy do as they get older and older, but at the same time you can't help but love the fact that the dynamic duo of mind-altering substances and fashion trends refuse to grow up. Even when there are children and grandchildren involved, they steadfastly refuse to be the adults in the room. 

AbFab the Movie

With 39 episodes spread out over twenty years, the show kept finding great reasons to come back every few years with another batch of hilarious episodes. Everyone would obviously get a little older, maybe a little wiser, well, maybe not everyone. Eddie and Patsy were never going to get old even if their bodies told them otherwise. It's with this prospect that I was actually looking forward to 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.' Unfortunately, some things just don't transfer from half-hour television installments to a 90-minute feature film. While all of the familiar faces are back, the random celebrities drop by for a cameo, and Eddie and Patsy are just as debauch as ever - this film never really feels like 'Absolutely Fabulous.' Instead, it feels more like a group of different people pretending to be 'Absolutely Fabulous.'

This isn't to say that the film isn't funny, there are several moments of gut-busting hilarity - the Jon Hamm cameo being notable, it's just not as good as one would hope. Not helping matters is the fact that this film is the swan song of the show. Unless something changes, 'AbFab' isn't coming back, so this movie is really one for the fans. To that end, the film takes a long time to reintroduce everyone. Granted, any film with a multi-million dollar budget attached needs to make itself accessible to the layman viewer, however, I think the film would have worked better if it just steamrolled right into itself without the need to set itself up. Since it hinges on your past experiences with Eddie and Patsy anyway, why not just go for broke and barrel forward? That's how I was introduced to the show, I caught it somewhere around Series 4, got hooked, and then went backwards to the earlier episodes. In that time I learned who each character was and their relationship to one another through osmosis. Also, I wish they'd kept the 3-wall setup, there's a flavor to that kind of staging and comedy that is quickly lost when the camera can rest at any angle. The close intimacy that the show had is lost when you can actually see Eddie's ridiculously extravagant home when most of the time the family stays in the ludicrously luxurious kitchen that Eddie never cooks in - but features expensive top of the line appliances. 

I wouldn't say that I'm completely disappointed by 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,' but I can't bring myself to fully embrace this cinematic extension of one of my favorite shows. Newcomers to 'AbFab' should probably spend a little time getting to know the show before jumping into this movie. Even if the transition is clunky, it does help to know who Eddie and Patsy are before committing yourself to their latest adventure. If you're a longtime fan, it's certainly worth a watch, but keep expectations in check before entering. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox in a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD set. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD-50 disc and is housed in a 2-disc eco-friendly case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for upcoming 20th Century Fox releases before arriving at an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. 

[review_video_picture_id] => 73455 [review_video] =>

With a digitally sourced 2.39:1 1080p transfer, 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' looks, well, fabulous! The image is richly detailed with bright and beautiful colors that leap off the screen. Even in the cold gray and drab London locations, primaries have a richness to them that appear natural and heightened at the same time. There is a backed in softness to the film in some places that may seem out of place, but when you realize that's part of the joke that everything is supposed to look like a Lexus Christmas commercial it just adds to the fun. When Eddie and Patsy make their way to Cannes, the color pallet brightens up a bit as there is a lot more natural sunlight in play. Black levels are pretty great throughout. Some of the night-time scenes, especially during the inciting incident that gets this whole nutty plot rolling can look a little more grey-brown than black, but that doesn't appear to have impacted the image's sense of depth and dimension. Without any annoying compression issues or artifacts to report, this is one damn beautiful looking Blu-ray release! 

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When you've got a movie about to rowdy and raucous ladies, you naturally need an audio track to match. Thankfully this English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix manages to keep pace with Patsy and Eddie. Dialogue is clean and crisp throughout allowing for their high-pitched screams and whaling to carry over nicely while all of their other partying-related sound effects get their own added little punch. There is plenty of crossing dialogue as various characters talk/shout over one another and you never have a hard time distinguishing voices or what is being said. Party scenes are especially effective providing a nicely immersive experience as the surround channels get a little extra workout. There is plenty of imaging with a nice natural amount of channel movement while background sound effects and scoring help give the track a sense of space and dimension. Like the video, this is a fabulous mix.

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Deleted Scenes: (HD 3:49) Nothing too earth shattering here, you usual extensions that would otherwise kill a joke or some random bits and bobs that didn't add to the film, but are still fun to see. 

Outtakes: (HD 8:03) Normally outtakes are that funny to me because it's pretty tame material or feel staged but these were actually pretty funny bits. 

Promotional Featurettes: (HD 30:41) Spread out over 9 little mini segments, these promotional features are your standard tried and true EPK style extras. You do get some interesting little production factoids here and there, but most of the time it's various cast and crew members answering a version of the same question. 

Gallery: (HD 2:55) Some stills from the film, you can let it play out or manually advance the image yourself.

Theatrical Trailer: (HD 2:31)

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No HD exclusive content. 

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'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' is a bit of a mixed bag. If you're already in line for Eddie and Patsy's wild ways, then you should get some decent belly laughs, but casual fans or newcomers may not take to this iteration of the BBC classic television series. This one kept me in the middle, I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. 20th Century Fox brings the flick to Blu-ray in terrific fashion with an absolutely stellar A/V presentation. Extras are plentiful but don't offer much weight. A Saunders and Lumley commentary would have been a gas to hear but is sadly a missed opportunity. At the end of the day, I'm calling 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' as worth a look. Some may love it, others should probably proceed with caution.

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MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS: Marvel presents MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS, the Super Hero team-up of a lifetime. Iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America assemble for the first time ever in this action-packed Marvel saga, starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself needing a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS is packed with action, adventure and spectacular special effects that'll knock your socks off. MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON: Marvel Studios presents the global phenomenon MARVEL'S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Good intentions wreak havoc when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) unwittingly creates Ultron (James Spader), a terrifying A.I. monster who vows to annihilate humanity. Now, Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- alongside Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) -- must reassemble to defeat Ultron and save mankind... if they can!

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Experience the future all over again with the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Trilogy! Join Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and a time traveling DeLorean for the adventure of a lifetime as they travel to the past, present and future, setting off a time-shattering chain reaction that disrupts the space time continuum! From filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, this unforgettable collection features hours of bonus features and is an unrivaled trilogy that stands the test of time.

[review_movie] =>

There are a few films that I'd consider a big part of my youth. Many of my memories growing up in the 80s involve casual scenes sitting in front of a large Zenith console. You know the ones, with the gaudy wood paneling all around and the stereo speakers on either side. On that, I made countless viewings of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' the first two 'Indiana Jones' movies, 'Grease' and 'Back to the Future.' Of those, the adventure of a teen musician traveling through time was the most awesome thing ever! I couldn't get enough of it. I simply cherished the sci-fi comedy as much as any boy could. From the story and characters to the look and special effects, 'Back to the Future' was the best movie ever made. Next to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' of course. And if you asked me to pinpoint the moment I fell in love with movie-magic, this would probably be it.

The concept is deceptively simple, but something most people can easily relate to. Many have probably even imagined it at least once in their lifetime. Producer and co-writer Bob Gale was inspired with the thought after discovering his father's yearbook. What if you could hang out with your parents when they were teenagers and discover they were drastically different from the adults they grew into? He shared the pondering with friend and director Robert Zemeckis. Together, they wrote the screenplay, and with the help of friend Steven Spielberg, 'Back to the Future' was quickly on its way to becoming one of the most beloved movies of the decade. The entire plot revolves around this straightforward, nearly universal idea. And the script is genius in conveying this without making it blatantly obvious, practically perfect in its structure and delivery.

The audience quickly identifies with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) not only because he's the first character we see, but also for his struggles in school and the way he talks about his parents long before we meet them. He's an average teen with dreams of someday becoming a rock star. His audition for the high school dance is hilarious since Huey Lewis is the dorky-looking judge who tells Marty's band they're too loud. While expressing what a downer the adults are, never encouraging him to pursue his goals, Marty sums up the story's theme wonderfully when he thinks his mother must have been a nun. It's difficult to imagine our boring, square, unhip parents as teenagers or that they knew anything about what's cool, fun, and stylish. The kids of the past were never as lively and rebellious as they are in my generation is the typical mindset.

And therein lies the brilliance of 'Back to the Future.' The skeptical teen accidentally travels back in time to when his parents were of similar age. Although the reasoning behind Marty landing in 1955 is simple arithmetic, the period couldn't be any more ideal because the era essentially gave rise to teenagers, and it's the decade that originated rock 'n' roll. It also coincided with a popular trend of the 80s, of looking back to the 1950s with loving nostalgia. In that sense, the movie almost offers a fun and quirky remembrance of that generation, and the filmmakers throw in numerous cultural gags while Marty tries to repair the timeline he's disrupted in his travels. 'Back to the Future' effectively combines fantasy and science fiction with elements of the teen comedy, creating a remarkably charming and memorable centerpiece of 80s pop culture.

Aside from the captivating story and nostalgia, there is also Zemeckis' underrated and expert control of the camera. And no moment in the movie reveals this better than at the start. During the opening credits, the camera slowly pans across a wall covered in a variety of clocks. We don't know this yet, but we're allowed a sneak peek into both Doc Brown's house and personality. As we continue, we see picture frames of famous scientists, an unkempt bed and gadgets aplenty. The man is an inventor and clearly hasn't been home in a while. A TV newscaster informs us of missing plutonium in connection with Libyan terrorists. The homeowner appears to have a close friendship with a local teen because the boy knows the hidden key is under the doormat. As his skateboard rolls beneath the bed, we discover a yellow case with the words plutonium written on it. In those few minutes, Zemeckis discloses everything needed to set the plot in motion, and he maintains this same level of keen direction throughout the rest of the movie.

Another big part of the film's success is without a doubt the excellent and memorable performances of the cast, especially Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. At the time, Lloyd was an unknown to younger audiences, but everyone knew precisely who the uptight, Young Republican Alex P. Keaton was. Playing against type, Fox is believable and comical in the role, and likely a major reason why many teens flooded theaters. We may not have been familiar with Lloyd when the movie premiered, but today, the actor will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Doc Brown. He's charismatic and amusing, keeping viewers glued to the screen, waiting for whatever bizarre phrase he'll say next. Marty's friendship with the wacky scientist feels oddly genuine and realistic, which is essential for making the entire series work. And the two actors succeed without fault in this department, making us want to see more of their madcap adventures.

Originally, Zemeckis and Gale wanted John Lithgow in the role of the wild-hair scientist, but schedule conflicts made it possible for Lloyd to take over. The same issue arose when the creators wanted to cast Fox, but his commitments to the 'Family Ties' series made it impossible when shooting was to begin. Filmmakers, then, asked Eric Stoltz ('Some Kind of Wonderful') to step in after watching his performance in 'Mask.' After a few weeks of filming, it was decided the young promising actor was simply not right in the part, lacking the kind of comic timing required of the character. In interviews, everyone agreed Stoltz was too dramatic as Marty McFly, so they parted ways amicably. Coincidentally, Fox's schedule became more flexible and was able to star after all. Looking back, one can only imagine what type of movie this could have been. (Movie Rating: 5/5)

For the sequel, that close friendship between Lloyd and Fox remains an integral part of the story as Doc shows sincere concern about Marty and his family's future. The two friends seem to grow closer than ever as they work together in trying to stop Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) from changing the course of history. Tagging along for this second journey in time is Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), since it also concerns her according to Doc. The gang travels to 2015, five years from now, where the only thing filmmakers predicated accurately is a nostalgia for the 1980s. While Marty succeeds at preventing the mistakes of his children, both played comically by Fox, old Biff steals the DeLorean to give his younger self a financial advantage with the help of a sports almanac. Crashing into an alternate 1985, Doc and Marty must revisit the events of part one and return the timeline to its proper order.

Unlike its predecessor, which took a simple, straightforward approach with the time-traveling aspects, creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale expand on the story's sci-fi themes and have some fun with the butterfly effect. This time around, the filmmakers throw fans head-first into the paradoxes of the space-time continuum, however somewhat innocently and ingenuously. Doc and Marty gain first-hand experience that altering the events of history, no matter how small, could cause drastic changes to their present. The Biff character and his family lineage also take on a more prominent role as bullies harassing Marty's family in the past, present, and future. In doing this, the follow-up to the already immensely popular 'Back to the Future' can be enjoyed as an homage of sorts to the science fiction genre and a quirky look at the consequences of time traveling.

Granted, Part II doesn't really live up to the original, but it's still an entertaining continuation. I recall watching the VHS of the first movie with the bold letters "To Be Continued" right before the closing credits and imagining where the two friends would travel next. The sequel didn't quite satisfy expectations, but it's still fun envisioning 30 years into the future, plunging into an alternate reality and then forced back to 1955. So as to not mistakenly feel like a cop out in revisiting the first movie, most of the story's charm works as a different point of view to the original. It's offers a delightful and amusing joyride while avoiding a time paradox. Logically, the fact that Marty and the Doc accidentally interact with people of the past should be enough to leave an unpredictable impact on the future. But with endless gags, setups and payoffs to divert us from pondering such conundrums, we simply sit back and enjoy the silliness into Part III. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)

If 'Back to the Future' could be viewed as a nostalgic look at 1950s pop culture and the sequel as homage to the science fiction genre, then the third and final installment to the series is a loving tribute to the western. As a devoted fan of the genre, this last entry in the now-classic film series in my book ranks higher than the second movie. And like the original exploring the decade that introduced rock 'n' roll, this story has fun in the epoch that gave rise to science fiction novels with several mentions of the French author Jules Verne. After watching the previous two, seeing this combination of fantasy meets the American West can seem a bit awkward and rather outrageous. But with that little historical tidbit being alluded to by Doc and his love interest, Clara (Mary Steenburgen), the plot feels right at home with the six-shooters, train robberies, and damsels in distress.

By this point, Marty discovers that no matter where he is in time, history tends to repeat itself, which allows Zemeckis and Gale plenty of room for using the same running gags and setups that create a funny feeling of déjà vu. Marty is once again knocked out and awakened by someone who he assumes is his mother (Lea Thompson), reiterating the same lines almost verbatim. In the first two movies, he ends up at a trendy diner — this time a saloon — where he confronts another in the Tannen line confusing Marty for someone else in the McFly family. By this point, the Tannen men prove to be an irritating thorn in the side of the McFlys. Like Mr. Strickland (James Tolkan) would say, they're all a bunch of slackers. Once Marty joins the Doc, the two set the course for another narrow, "just in the nick of time" escape (while slightly altering history for the better).

The best part for this fanatic of the genre and the comedy series is watching a tongue-in-cheek encounter between the 1950s romanticized view of the west and the more realistic portrayal of outlaws from Italian westerns. This is most apparent in the way Doc dresses Marty in the silly cowboy outfit before traveling to 1885. Once there, he is gawked at as if the circus were in town. Even funnier is Marty thinking the name Clint Eastwood universally epitomizes toughness. One of the more clever parts is having the DeLorean drive directly into the movie screen at the drive-in. For his final journey across time, Marty not only travels into the past, but literally jumps into the movies. Along with a multitude of sight gags referencing the future, like the Frisbee pie tin, 'Back to the Future Part III' is a rowdy good time and an exciting conclusion to one of the coolest and often celebrated trilogies in motion picture history. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

25 years later, the 'Back to the Future' series continues to capture the imagination and deliver the laughter. It's possible some of its enjoyment is partly nostalgic. But it's also likely these really are well-made, entertaining and highly creative films that haven't lost any of their fun. And in this era of remakes and reimaginings flooding theaters, revisiting older movies somehow makes us forget that Hollywood seems to lack any vision and originality right now, that it fails to make us believe in the magic anymore. Nearly 30 years later, the 'Back to the Future' trilogy endures as a better movie-going experience than many, many other movies of late.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings the 'Back to the Future' trilogy to Blu-ray in a 25th Anniversary, six-disc package set. The glossy, cardboard slipcover is kept closed with a Velcro dot, and once opened, owners can read a breakdown on the supplemental material available. Inside, we find a gatefold cardboard box with three, clear-plastic panels. Each one holds two discs — the Blu-ray sits comfortably atop a Digital Copy — and they are a bit tricky to remove. Place your thumb in the middle ring and your index finger on the top edge of the disc. Push down and carefully lift using your index finger. If not for that maneuver, this would be a pretty cool package.

The movies along with relevant bonus materials are contained on three Region Free, BD50s discs. At startup, they each commence with a series of BD-Live related trailers and promos, such as 'Get Him to the Greek,' 'Robin Hood (2010),' and 'Psycho.' Afterwards, viewers find a standard set of menu selections while full-motion clips play in the background, accompanied by the iconic score and the DeLorean racing across the screen.

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One of the most anticipated movie trilogies finally arrives on Blu-ray with a wonderful and impressive 1080p/VC-1 encode (1.85:1), except for Part III, which has been done using the AVC MPEG-4 encode. According to an interview, producer Bob Gale participated in the restoration process, which was done from an interpositive using a 2k resolution scan. And the results are first-rate, as the movies have never looked this good on any other format. Since all three films received the same treatment and appear identical in terms of quality, they are being graded as one complete package.

All three movies display great definition and clarity, whether we're watching Marty narrowly escape the clutches of Biff/Griff in the town square or riding the wild plains of the Wild West. Granted, there is some minor noise reduction applied and some slight digital tampering used to sharpen and clean the picture a bit, but it's nothing so objectionable as to ruin the quality of the film. We've seen much worse done to other favorites, and only the most discerning of viewers are likely to notice. The image still retains a very fine layer of grain and shows several strong moments of dimensionality. Fine object and textural details are exceptional for a catalogue title of this age. They're not always consistent, which is understandable, but it's much better than anyone could have expected. The worst instances are during the optical effects, where matte lines and softness are made more apparent. But again, this is a normal result of the available technology.

Contrast is spot-on and brightness levels are well balanced with deep, accurate blacks and brilliant whites. Facial complexions aren't very revealing, but they appear natural and healthy in all three films. The color palette is vibrant and dramatic, especially during scenes of the 1950s in the first two movies. Primaries are lush to give the transfer some great pop, but it never feels gaudy or artificial. Part III, of course, places more attention on the secondary hues and earth tones, showing a very pleasing range and also providing the video with a cool, gritty impression. Taken as a whole, the classic 80s trilogy looks terrific on Blu-ray.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 16976 [review_audio] =>

The sci-fi comedy also comes well equipped with a highly enjoyable DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As one would expect, much of the presentation is centered around the dialogue, and it's delivered with terrific precision and intelligibility. We can clearly make out the unique, distinctive inflections and utterances in Michael J. Fox's voice and the funny, high-strung tone in Christopher Lloyd's wacky scientist.

The front soundstage feels wide and welcoming with plenty of strong clarity detail and good channel separation. Dynamic range is surprisingly extensive and even far-reaching, never faltering at the higher frequencies. But the original design, of course, shows its age somewhat in this department as the differences between the high and mids only come into play during the time-traveling sequences. Movement and directionality are attractive and persuasive, especially when the DeLorean travels through time, creating a fun and satisfying soundfield. It's during those same moments that the lower frequencies are made known, spending the majority of the runtime pretty much in silence. This is rather surprising because gunshots tend to feel a bit flat, but bass is present to give music some depth. This isn't a matter of complaint, just something worth noting.

Discrete effects in the surrounds have been added to the audio for ambience and to extend the imaging with slightly more activity. There are clear moments where we can hear birds chirping in the first movie, cars flying in the sky in the second, and crickets singing in the open range of Part III. Anyone intimately familiar with the movies will notice them, but they're not distracting and don't feel forced. Alan Silvestri's now-iconic and memorable score receives the biggest upgrade by spreading evenly throughout the entire system and engaging viewers at just the right moments. For fans, listening to the composer's signature brass-style will likely be the highlight of these lossless mixes. In the end, the 'Back to the Future Trilogy' sounds awesome on Blu-ray, and fans couldn't ask for anything better.

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For this anniversary Blu-ray edition of the 'Back to the Future,' Universal Studios releases an extensive package loaded with all the special features from its DVD counterpart. The collection also comes with a few new items as well, which fans are sure to love.

Disc One

    • Audio Commentaries — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton provide the first commentary track without director Robert Zemeckis. Although it consists mostly of Gale doing all the talking with scene-specific observations, which also leads to several moments of silence, the track is highly informative and interesting for the geekiest of fans. The comments, as they relate to specific moments on the screen, are basically tidbits of trivia concerning the production. This will seem somewhat boring unless you like to learn this sort of useless info.

      The second audio track is actually a Q&A session with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale in front of a live audience and moderated by Laurent Bouzerau. For anyone familiar with some of the history behind the making of the movie, the information here is nothing new but revealing nonetheless. It's sort of awkward to watch the movie and listen to an interview at the same time, but that's precisely what's going on here. Some will likely find it irritating while others might not mind too much.

    • Tales from the Future: In the Beginning . . . (HD, 27 min) — This is the first of a six-part retrospective that features all new interviews with cast and crew. Here, Zemeckis and Gale talk about the story's origins and how they developed the screenplay. With a few comments from Spielberg and how he became attached, the piece also discusses the challenges the filmmakers faced to have the movie made. For anyone not familiar with the backstory, this is good stuff.

    • Tales from the Future: Time to Go (HD, 30 min) — This second part to a larger documentary looks at the actual making of the movie and some of the difficulties met by filmmakers. Interviews with crew members, like Dean Cundey, production designers and stunt coordinators, are quite enlightening and revealing. Especially interesting is the changes and details between 1955 Hill Valley versus the 1985 town square shot in the Universal backlot.

    • Tales from the Future: Keeping Time (HD, 6 min) — This third part, which features archival interviews with Alan Silvestri, is focused entirely on the making of the now-iconic musical score. Comments and praises about the making is entertaining for both fans and movie music aficionados.

    • 'Back to the Future' Night (SD, 27 min) — Hidden in the "Archival Featurettes," this is a really fun watch. For the first televised broadcast of the 1985 classic, NBC aired a special presentation that was hosted by Leslie Nielsen, and which I actually remember watching when it originally aired. The half-hour show gave viewers a look at the making of the first movie while also revealing sneak peeks of the sequel that was only a week away from its theatrical premiere.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future' (SD, 15 min) — Typical EPK material which summarizes the plot of the first movie, and discusses some of the challenges for Michael J. Fox filming a TV show and a movie at the same time. Featuring interviews with cast and crew while showing clips, filmmakers talk about building the time machine, the fantastical concept, the 1950s production design, developing the musical score, and about working on the set.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter One (SD, 16 min) — With interviews of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, fans can learn about the plot's origins, creating the time machine, fleshing out the script, and the challenges faced by filmmakers with the idea of Marty's mother developing a crush on him. For anyone already familiar with the movie's background, much of the info here is old news. But for others not really interested in the audio commentaries, this is a quick and easy look at the production.

    • Michael J. Fox Q&A (SD, 10 min)—This is the same interview seen on the DVD as enhanced PiP viewing where Fox talks about how he became involved and his experience working on the first movie. On the Blu-ray, all eight parts are collected separately from the viewing experience and can be watched individually or successively.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 32 min) — When clicking this option, owners of the DVD package will find the remaining featurettes of that previous release. "Original Makeup Tests" is test work done for making the cast look older. "Outtakes" shows the many flubs, mistakes and fun experienced on the set. Especially funny is Fox's imitation of a 1950s cholo. Under "Photo Galleries" (HD), we have the same set of production, promo and storyboard stills originally under "Production Archives." One final part to this section is the "Nuclear Test Site Sequence," which is a storyboard sequence showing an alternate take of the movie's final moments. It also comes with an optional commentary by producer Bob Gale.

    • Deleted Scenes (HD, 11 min) — With optional commentary by Bob Gale, this short collection of eight scenes which never made it to the final cut are interesting and fun to watch.

    • Music Video (SD, 6 min) — Huey Lewis and the News perform their hit single for the movie, "The Power of Love." Boy, this brings back memories. This was originally on the second disc of the DVD trilogy.

    • Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical teaser rounds out the package.

Disc Two

    • Audio Commentary — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton ride solo once again for this commentary track. And just as before, Gale does all the talking with mostly historical anecdotes and scene-specific comments. With several moments of silence spread throughout, the discussion can be rather boring and only interesting for hardcore fans that love this sort of background info.

      Moderated once again by Laurent Bouzerau, this is a recording done at the USC Film School with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. As one would expect, talks concern ideas about the sequel and how the creators originally didn't plan to continue the story. Most interesting is when the discussion turns to the movie's sci-fi aspects and thoughts about time traveling. It's an amusing listen, but nothing wholly exciting or richly entertaining.

    • Tales from the Future: Time Flies (HD, 29 min) — Continuing the six-part documentary retrospect, this segment focuses on Zemeckis and Gale being asked by Universal for a sequel and how the story behind Crispin Glover going MIA. Interviews with cast and crew discuss the plot, special effects and designing the future. Some of the more interesting aspects is different ideas for the follow-up and how filmmakers originally conceived a three-hour epic before deciding to break the films into two longer parts.

    • The Physics of 'Back to the Future' (HD, 8 min) — Featuring an interview with Dr. Michio Kaku, a Theoretical Physicist, this highly entertaining piece is a serious look into the science of 'Back to the Future.' According to the well-known host of shows on the Science Channel and special programs on the Discovery Channel, the film trilogy is his favorite sci-fi series because it's the only which does theoretical time-traveling right.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future Part II' (SD, 7 min) — Another vintage EPK piece that gives a quick overview on the making of the sequel. Interviews with cast and crew discuss reprising roles and recreating sets from the original movie. There are also a few tidbits about envisioning the future of Hill Valley.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Two (SD, 16 min) — This is a little more comprehensive look at the movie's making than the previous one. The whole piece along with the interviews is a retrospect where filmmakers talk about their thoughts on the first movie and how the sequel fits in the entire series.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 65 min) — As with the first disc, this section hides the rest of the featurettes from the DVD release. "Outtakes" shows actors messing up their lines and accidents on the set. "Production Design" is a quick look at creating the sets. "Storyboarding" compares scenes with the pre-production notes. "Designing the DeLorean" and "Designing Time Travel" are closer looks at how the idea of using and decorating a DeLorean DMC-12 came about and the different concepts for making it look functional for time travel. "Hoverboard Test" is exactly what it sounds like and reveals how it was done. "Evolution of Visual Effects Shots" is a cool in-depth look at how the visual effects were done with trick photography and very early computer animation. "Photo Galleries" (HD), which was called "Production Archives" on the DVD, is mostly made up of storyboard and production stills.

    • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 min) — With optional commentary by Bob Gale, all six scenes that were removed from the final product are collected here.

    • Trailer (SD)—The original theatrical preview rounds out the package.

Disc Three

    • Audio Commentary — Producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton, once more, provide this commentary track which is really no different than the previous two. Comments are only as they relate to specific scenes, and Gale reveals some interesting historical anecdotes. But just as in the other tracks, for fans already familiar with this information, much of this is nothing new.

      Laurent Bouzerau again hosts another roundtable discussion with Zemeckis and Gale in front of a live audience. Most of the discussion, of course, surrounds the third and final installment to the series and thoughts are shared about filmmakers developed the idea of traveling back to the American west. There are also a few comments about why a fourth film was never made, issues with the stunt work, and the challenges faced in shooting a western. Like the previous two, this audio track isn't worth much except for the more devoted fanbase.

    • Tales from the Future: Third Time's the Charm (HD, 17 min) — This fifth part to the longer documentary looks at the fun filmmakers had in making a western. Zemeckis and the producers talk a good deal about the characters, especially Doc being given an emotional arc. Actors also offer their thoughts on the characters and working with the rest of the cast. The rest of the piece looks at the set design and costuming.

    • Tales from the Future: The Test of Time (HD, 17 min) — Bringing the comprehensive six-part documentary to a close is with cast and crew talking about how the trilogy has become a staple of the 80s decade and has stood the test of time. For fans, this is an exciting piece that brings back memories of experiencing the movie series for the first time, inspiring a theme park ride, Saturday morning cartoons, and turning to a cultural icon that lives on today.

    • Back to the Future: The Ride (SD, 31 min)—For me, this is probably one of the coolest featurettes I've had the pleasure in viewing. Fans can relive the thrill ride from the Universal Studios theme park, with the video everyone was forced to watch while waiting in line and then the ride itself. Also, this is the first time I've ever wanted D-Box Motion equipment because there is a special motion code just for this featurette.

    • The Making of 'Back to the Future Part III' (SD, 8 min) — This third vintage EPK piece is a rundown with a quick synopsis of the final movie in the series. Interviews discuss building the set, shooting in the desert plains, and a story arc that gives Doc a love interest.

    • Making the Trilogy: Chapter Three (SD, 16 min) — This short retrospect from a few years ago centers around filmmakers shooting both films back to back. There are several cool anecdotal bits throughout for fans to enjoy, especially the desire to film a western at a time when they just weren't popular anymore.

    • The Secrets of the 'Back to the Future' Trilogy (SD, 21 min) — This is another special presentation which aired on television after the theatrical release of Part III and was hosted by Kirk Cameron. The half-hour show consists of answering questions in fan mail and showing some behind-the-scenes footage that reveals the stunt work performed in the two sequels.

    • Behind-the-Scenes (SD, 31 min) — Once again, the studio hides the special features of the DVD in this section. "Outtakes" shows the cast breaking character and having some fun on the set. "Designing the Town of Hill Valley" takes a quick look at the history of Hill Valley as seen in the trilogy. "Designing the Campaign" looks at all the wacky, but still kinda cool, artwork done for the posters. "Photo Galleries" (HD), originally dubbed "Production Archives," is a series of stills from the production, storyboards and poster art.

    • FAQs About the Trilogy (HD, 20 min) — A collection of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the series. For fans, the questions and answers are pretty fun and comical, though not very revealing.

    • Music Video (SD, 4 min) — ZZ Top performs "Doubleback" in another music video that brings back memories.

    • Deleted Scene (HD, 1 min) — One lowly scene which did not make it to the final version of the movie shows Biff Tannen's gang killing Marshal Strickland and comes with optional commentary by Bob Gale.

    • Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview finishes the package.

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As if having the trilogy on Blu-ray were not enough, Universal Studios also throws in new material in celebration of the trilogy's 25th Anniversary.

Disc One

    • U-Control — This interactive feature comes with three separate and pretty cool bonuses for the 'Back to the Future' geeks out there. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory. Seeing as how I can watch this movie over and over again without ever being bored, this U-Control makes a fun addition.

    • Join Team Fox (SD, 6 min) — This is a short promo for Michael J. Fox's foundation that raises money for Parkinson's research.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

Disc Two

    • U-Control — This interactive feature is very similar to the first disc, except the material is only relevant to the sequel. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

Disc Three

    • U-Control — The third disc sees the same collection of featurettes for this interactive viewing option. First up is "Setups & Payoffs," which is a series of textual notes that pop-up when something on the screen is meant to foreshadow a later event in the movie. The "Trivia Track" is the same seen on the DVD with anecdotes about the production and background. The last featurette is a PiP storyboard comparison, which is rather self-explanatory.

    • BD-Live — A BD-Live link takes you to Universal's online portal, where you can view various trailers, as well as other content like "My Scene" community sharing, "My Chat" for viewers to text while watching the movie, and "My Movie Commentary" where fans can create their own video commentary. The feature also comes with apps called pocket BLU and social BLU.

    • My Scenes — Another standard in many of Universal's Blu-ray releases, this interactive feature is a function that allows viewers to bookmark their favorite scenes.

    • News Ticker — The feature associated with BD-Live sits on the top right corner of the main menu and provides up-to-date information from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

    • D-Box Motion Enabled — This feature is for folks who have D-Box Integrated Motion Systems.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 16979 [review_final_thoughts] =>

When creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale first made 'Back to the Future,' they never expected the film to turn into such a beloved Hollywood classic and become an influential icon in the lives of so many fans. Taking a universal fantasy about time travel, the adventures of Doc and Marty live on today as a cultural favorite that younger generations continue to discover. This 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition comes with great picture quality for all three films and a wonderfully engaging audio presentation. The same assortment of supplements are carried over from the DVDs and joined by a new collection of material, making this a must-own package for fans and movie-lovers alike. Hop on your hoverboard and pick this up immediately!

[review_movie_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_stars] => 5 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4.5 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 110032 ) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 38954 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => bakedinbrooklyn [review_release_date] => 1480406400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Baked in Brooklyn [picture_created] => 1475155488 [picture_name] => High-Def_Digest_www.highdefdigest_.com_Blu-ray_Review_Baked_in_Brooklyn_.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Well Go USA [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/09/29/120/High-Def_Digest_www.highdefdigest_.com_Blu-ray_Review_Baked_in_Brooklyn_.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/38954/bakedinbrooklyn.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B01KWKBW0O [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy, Romance ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Alexandra Daddario, Josh Brener, Al Sapienza ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Rory Rooney ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

David (Josh Brener, Silicon Valley) is hard-working, tenacious, and creative but in New York, that s not enough to keep a job. With no income, two impatient roommates, and a long-suffering girlfriend (Alexandra Daddario, SAN ANDREAS), he comes up with a way-out-of-the box-solution: selling marijuana over the internet.
Now he s a top earner, the best in the biz. An explosion of online clients and criss-crossing the boroughs on his bike means working day and night...and developing a habit of his own. But when demand exceeds his supply, and the threat of being caught or killed rises, David realizes he s in over his head.

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One minute the New Yorker advertising expert Jim Ferguson is at a business party -- the next he finds himself way back in 1917 in a plane fight during World War I. Mr. Raymond explains to him that he has a time-twin, to whom he's relocated in space and time whenever one of them is in trouble. So he has to help his twin, biplane pilot Biggles, in his attempt to destroy a German super weapon, that could win their war. Of course it's hard for Jim to explain his sudden disappearances to his fiance, Debbie.

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Madame Lu has created three 'Death Machines', a trio of martial arts experts who have been injected with a special serum, turning them into mindless zombies, capable only of murder, at Lu's command. Tasked with eliminating her enemies, the Death Machines go on a blood soaked rampage, killing anyone in their path. After they massacre an entire dojo, leaving only one survivor, the Death Machines and Madame Lu herself become the targets of his vengeance...

Part kung fu film, part revenge thriller, and part sci-fi/horror, director Paul Kyriazi's debut feature is a head spinning, non-stop thrill ride of gratuitous violence and bizarre plot twists, guaranteed to satisfy the cinematic cravings of even the most discriminating fans of drive-in movies.

Vinegar Syndrome is proud to present this outlandish, action packed, and truly unforgettable piece of mid-70s genre filmmaking, freshly restored in 4k from its original Techniscope camera negative and featuring brand new interviews with its director and stars.

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After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim. He challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their lives and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is the ultimate arbitrator of who wins and who loses, who will go to heaven, and who will go to hell.

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After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim. He challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their lives and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is the ultimate arbitrator of who wins and who loses, who will go to heaven, and who will go to hell.

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Discover the magic and warmth of Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, based on the inspiring story of living legend Dolly Parton's remarkable upbringing in rural Tennessee. Set in 1955, this special follows the Parton family as they struggle to overcome tragedy and discover the healing power of love and faith. 

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Hailed as "the best American horror film in twenty years" (Jim Hemphill, "Filmmaker Magazine") and Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (87%), Don't Breathe debuted at #1 at the box office and remained in the top spot for two weekends in a row. The film follows a group of thieves who break into a blind man's home thinking they'll get away with the perfect crime. When the blind man reveals a dark side, the trio quickly discovers they were dead wrong.

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The term "genre-busting" is often tossed around when a film - particularly a science fiction film or a horror flick - comes around that successfully plays off specific conventions and turns them on their head. In most cases, the genre isn't exactly "busted," the filmmakers merely knew what they were doing and knew how to play against audience expectations. This is true for Fede Alvarez's (Evil Dead) latest horror offering 'Don't Breathe' starring Jane Levy and Stephen Lang. Alvarez doesn't exactly re-invent the home invasion thriller, but he takes expectations and plays with them to create an often terrifying little horror flick. 

Detroit is a dying city that no longer offers young people any sense of opportunity or hope. That is why Rocky (Jane Levy), along with her wannabe gangsta boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and the love-lorn Alex (Dylan Minnette) break into rich people's homes and rip them off of their expensive goods. Alex's dad works for a home-security firm making it pretty easy for the trio to access the alarm systems and break-in without much trouble. What started out as a means to cobble together some quick cash for kicks becomes a necessity when Rocky needs to leave with her little sister in order to escape their abusive neglectful mother. The idea of California surfs around Rocky's head, but that would require a lot of loose cash that they wouldn't normally be able to fence. Everything changes when a contact gives Money the biggest tip of their lives. 

It turns out, a Blind Man (Stephen Lang) recently scored a massive cash settlement after his daughter was killed in a car accident. Since the old man doesn't seem to ever go to the bank, the cash has got to be inside the house - and the house just happens to be one Alex's dad has the keys to. Reluctantly, Alex goes along with the plan - if only to show Rocky how much he cares for her. Even with all of their casing steps and precautions, nothing can prepare them for the terror they're about to endure inside the Blind Man's home. 

Don't Breathe

The Home Invasion horror/thriller is a pretty simple plot line. A group of people, usually misguided-youths, break into a home for kicks and few live long enough to regret the error of their ways. It's a simple enough plot, but few flicks ever manage to pull it off well. Or at least, as well as they should. Those expecting the humorless gorefest Fede Alvarez delivered with 2013's 'Evil Dead' reboot will be interested to hear that 'Don't Breathe' is relatively light on gore but stacked with unrelenting tension and terror. By setting up the key characters just enough, Alvarez gives the audience a trio of thieves you sort of like, but also believe that they deserve what's coming to them. Just when the audience thinks they have a sort of hardened anti-hero in Stephen Lang's The Blind Man to root for, Alvarez pulls the rug out and brilliantly works against expectations. 

Suffice to say, there are some very interesting twists and turns to the plot that is unexpected. I won't go into spoilers because I don't like doing that sort of thing, but I'll leave it with the sentiment that I was equally surprised and horrified where the film goes leading into its final act. As I mentioned in the intro for this review, 'Don't Breathe' doesn't exactly bust or explode the home invasion sub-genre, it merely plays with expectations and knows when and where to pull punches and sock the audience in the gut. Aspects of this movie are akin to flicks like 'The People Under The Stairs,' 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' and even to an extent 'Cujo' where The Blind Man is a near-unstoppable force of nature. Our thieves played by Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto had the misfortune of crossing Stephen Lange by daring to enter his domain. Like I said, it's nothing new exactly, but done effectively and with an energy that doesn't let the audience rest for very long. 

Dont Breathe

Performances are all around excellent here and Alvarez shows how well he can manage a small cast of trapped actors. Jane Levy is excellent as the driven and tenacious Rocky. Daniel Zovatto serves up the film's few flashes of humor as the doofus of the group while Dylan Minnette gets to break out of his family-comedy shtick and show his range. While the youngsters may be main characters, it's Stephen Lang's Blind Man who steals the show. Perhaps the best thing to come out of 'Avatar' is Lang's career resurgence as he delivers yet another fierce and frightening performance. He may not say a whole lot, but he doesn't need to in order for you to fear him. 

When you look at the nuts and bolts of this film, how it was made, and the summer flicks that surrounded its release, the best thing that I can say about 'Don't Breathe' beyond its effective and inventive means to terrify and audience is that it was a relatively cheap film to produce at just under $10,000,000. After a summer loaded with overly-expensive, stale, boring, spectacle movies that failed to recoup their ridiculous production costs let along their egregious marketing budgets, 'Don't Breathe' is a breath of fresh air. It's a smart movie that didn't rely on an expensive cast and chintzy digital effects to get the job done. It was a smart and simple thriller that knew what it was doing and how to entertain a target audience. Much like 'Lights Out,' 'Don't Breathe' didn't pander or dumb itself down, it just did what it was supposed to do and was a box office hit. It doesn't even have to be a horror film, but my hope is that Hollywood takes a step back and looks at the successes of these smaller films and takes into account that you don't need to spend $200,000,000 before marketing costs on a movie to make it successful. For the production budget of 'Warcraft' alone, nearly 16 films the size of 'Don't Breathe' could have been made. What I'm getting to by that little bit of industry soapboxing is that a little bit of talent and creativity goes a lot further than a massive budget, and 'Don't Breathe' is a study in simple and effective storytelling netting big results. It may not be the most original horror film ever made, but what it does, 'Don't Breathe' does really well and makes for a creepy evening with the lights turned off. 

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Don't Breathe' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony and is pressed onto a Region Free BD50 disc. The disc is housed in a standard sturdy snapper Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for other upcoming Sony releases before arriving at a static image main menu with traditional navigation options. Also included is an Ultraviolet Digital HD voucher slip. 

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The digitally sourced 2.40:1 1080p transfer for 'Don't Breathe' may not be the most colorful one you've ever seen, but it's playing with light and shadow and the sense of depth is what earns it some high marks. The front end of the film is absolutely beautiful. From the opening aerial drone shot of an abandoned Detroit suburb right up to the point where our "heroes" break into the home, the film is bright, beautiful, and gorgeous. Detail levels are through the rough allowing the audience to soak in all of the facial features, costuming, and the craggy details of the dilapidated abandoned homes. Once they break into Blind Man's home, everything is bathed in shadows or near-complete darkness. While some distant and midrange details are lost, the transfer still holds closeup details perfectly. Colors also move away from a naturally saturated look to a more dark and drab olive-toned color scheme. It looks during these scenes that there has been a bit of a teal/orange push, but nothing too severe. Black levels are the real star here as there is a constant sense of depth and dimension to the image, most impressively during the "night vision" stalking sequence, where there are brief flashes of color whenever a gun is fired and then returns to black and white. Other than some very slight video noise here and there, this is a near-flawless looking transfer. 

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'Don't Breathe' comes packed with an exhausting, tension-filled English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. On top of the tight writing, pacing, and excellent performances, the film's big star is the audio mix and how well it plays with silence. Often we tend to look at the constant sense of surround activity as an indicator of an immersive experience. The sound design for 'Don't Breathe' should be held up as an example of how near-total silence can provide an equally immersive experience. It's the little creeks in the floor, the quiet little footsteps of our thieves, and how a distant thump can not only cause you to sit on the edge of your seat but suck you into the film. Dialogue is rendered clean and clear which is important when the main film gets going the actors are usually only whispering. The impressive score from Roque Banos provides the mix with plenty of LFE as he plays up the low tones to fill out that dissonant sense of dread. All around this is an absolutely stellar sound mix that works beautifully for this film. 

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Note: If you haven't seen the film yet, avoid watching the bonus features until after you see it, spoilers abound. Ye be warned. 

Audio Commentary: Director Fede Alvarez, Co-writer Rodo Sayagues, and Actor Stephen Lang provide an informative and engaging commentary track explaining the different title iterations, development of the script, shooting in Detroit, Michigan and Budapest, Hungary, building The Blind Man's house. They cover a lot of ground and the commentary is thankfully free of any stalls or long periods of silence. 

8 Deleted Scenes - With Optional Commentary: (HD 15:17) This is a collection of scene extensions as well as a few character motivation moments that are genuinely very good but had they been left in the film where they were originally placed, they would have dragged the momentum to a crawl. Alvarez provides a solid commentary for these moments explaining the goals of the scenes and why they ultimately didn't make it into the final cut. 

No Escape: (HD 2:56) Your standard EPK bonus feature that doesn't really offer a whole lot of info other than the cursory surface details. 

Creating The Creepy House: (HD 3:51) It's brief, but this is a fun look at what went into designing the layout of the house and the "traps" without there being any actual traps. 

Meet The Cast: (HD 4:04) Another EPK brief feature that goes into some more details about the characters and their motivations for doing what they do throughout the film. 

Man in the Dark: (HD 3:17) Stephen Lang gets a few minutes to discus his character and motivations and how he went about playing the character. 

The Sounds of Horror: (HD 1:49) This is an unfortunately entirely too brief interview showcase of composer Roque Banos and the sounds he created for the house and how they worked into the music for the film. Great stuff, but again, short.

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No HD exclusive content. 

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'Don't Breathe' didn't have to reinvent the wheel to deliver an effective and scary horror film. All it needed to do was show a little creativity and some sharp pacing and the results are seen on screen. I wasn't expecting 'Don't Breathe' to live up to the hype but this was a solid and creepy home invasion flick. Sony delivers the film onto Blu-ray in terrific order with a stellar A/V presentation. The commentary track and deleted scenes are solid extra features, but the making of material is a bit too slim for an otherwise near-perfect disc release. Fans should absolutely make the purchase, for the curious I'm calling 'Don't Breathe' highly recommended. 

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Richard Lester (Juggernaut, How I Won the War) directs this no-holds-barred whirlwind comedy fueled by mistaken identities, mayhem and macabre madness. At stake is a stolen fortune hidden in a coffin, aboard a speeding coast-to-coast train. On the case are the delightfully outrageous Louis Gossett Jr. (The Laughing Policeman) as an ace criminal and as is his gorgeous and foul-mouthed protégé. But standing in their way is the thief ready to kill for his $5,000,000 loot, a confused FBI agent who wants to arrest everyone in sight. Full of twists and turns with one bizarre surprise after another, there s a little sex, lots of action, and with a fortune up for grabs, there s only one rule Finders Keepers! The Hilarious and talented cast includes Michael O Keefe (Caddyshack), Beverly D Angelo, National Lampoon s Vacation), Pamela Stephenson (Superman III), Ed Lauter (Breakheart Pass), David Wayne (How to Marry a Millionaire), Brian Dennehy (Gorky Park), Jack Riley (High Anxiety), John Schuck (Thieves Like Us) and the great Jim Carrey (Dumb & Dumber) in one his earliest roles.

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Hiyori’s a sweet, shy girl who’s used to living in the background. Now, the wallflower is ready to bloom and reveal a big secret: she’s totally infatuated with Tomoki! To get closer to the dirty-minded object of her affection, she joins the New World Discovery Club. With Tomoki’s lazy love of peace and quiet, he’s not interested in accommodating any new Club members and tries to scare Hiyori away with his usual perverted antics. Nonetheless, she remains committed to her crush and starts bonding with Ikaros, Nymph, and the gang – until a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. It seems Hiyori has a deeper – and more dangerous – link to the Angeloids than anyone suspected! How is she connected to the Synapse? Why is she trying to kill Tomoki, even after confessing her feelings? Find out in the hilarious, super-sexy Heaven’s Lost Property movie, The Angeloid of Clockwork!

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Ryoko ?kami, the “wolf” of our story, and her BFF Ringo, also known as Little Red Riding Hood, are members of Otogi Bank—a high school club that helps classmates out of grim situations. One day, a meek young man proclaims his love to Ryoko, who does nothing but bite him in return. “You’re much too weak for me,” she huffs. So the boy joins Otogi Bank to prove he has the stuff to protect his beloved—even if it means taking a blow to the head with a lead pipe. He’s no Prince Charming, but will Ryoko allow herself to have her own happily ever after?

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When a mysterious 10-year-old boy, Pete, turns up, claiming to live in the woods with a giant green dragon, it's up to a forest ranger, Grace, and young Natalie to learn where the boy came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this magical dragon.

[review_movie] =>

Disney is knocking out some remakes of their beloved classics recently, and they seem to be enlisting the help of some great indie filmmakers to handle these revamps. The latest being the remake of 'Pete’s Dragon‘, which originally came out in 1977 and mixed live action with animation. It was a big hit for the studio and became universally loved by children of the 70s and 80s. Cut to present day, and we have Disney making a remake of the film with state-of-the-art visual effects and A-List talent in front of the film. Not to mention a great indie filmmaker from the DFW area named David Lowery (Ain’t Them Body Saints), to co-write and direct this remake.

Lowery took a big Disney character and story and grounded it very well, making it look like a great indie film with a giant dragon. There are no buildings or skyscrapers falling to the ground here, which is very refreshing. The story is straight to the point and never goes off on tangents. In fact, the film has about an 80 minute run time, so there is no time for anything else other than the story at hand, which is one of the complaints I have for ‘Pete’s Dragon‘. Here you have the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, and Robert Redford headlining the cast, but all of them have so little screen time that there is zero character development or transitioning.

There is really no reason to care for any of the characters besides Pete (Oakes Fegley) and Elliot the dragon, who forge an unlikely relationship after Pete’s parents perish in a car wreck when he’s little in the forest. It’s very much a story similar to ‘E.T.‘, but without all the emotional tones or fun to it. The dragon himself is very cute and is exactly like your favorite big floppy dog when you were growing up. This dragon has green fur instead of scales and big endearing eyes. He plays fetch and chases its own tale. Soon on though, both Elliot and Pete soon realize they can’t live together forever in the forest, and are split up. There’s nothing new here that you haven’t seen before as far as story or filmmaking, but Lowery really captures the small town life and simplicity of the entire story and characters, perhaps to a bigger degree than it should have been.

I’m not saying the movie is bad at all, but to doesn’t pack the emotional punch that it was trying to get at, even though there was a ton of sequences I very much enjoyed here, including the usual Disney tropes. I know the younger crowd is going to love it for sure and there is a dose of nostalgia for the older audience as well. You can see why Disney has invested in David Lowery as a director too, since he will be in charge of the ‘Peter Pan‘ revamp next.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This release comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD copy from Disney that are Region A Locked. There is an insert for the digital download as well as a promo item for Disney. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.

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'Pete's Dragon' comes with a very good 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. I wouldn't say this is an overly colorful film, but it has some excellent earthy tones of deep greens, browns, and blues. The detail on Elliot The Dragon is phenomenal here. Literally every strand of green hair can be seen easily as it flows through the wind. This was top notch visual effects here, particularly on the dragon.

In well lit scenes, other detail is fantastic, such as dirt, beads of sweat, makeup blemishes, and individual hairs show up nicely on the actor's faces. Wider shots show the depth of the forest, when it's well lit as well with the detailed leaves and wood bark on all of trees. Most of the time, there is also a a light haze to the image, which seems like a style choice in regards to a fantasy like tale, but it does take away from some of the detail. Other times, or shall I say a lot of the time, the film has a fairly dark image, where things are difficult to see.

There are certain moments where the green hair on Elliot sticks out and the blue sky is bright and beautiful, but other than that, there aren't a ton of primary colors that pop off screen. Black levels are rather deep and inky most of the time and skin tones are natural. There was some video noise here and there that spiked, but other than that, no other compression problems.

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This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix and sounds excellent. This is not an overly aggressive mix, but it stands out when it has to. Ambient noises in the forest of nature and the wind blowing through trees sounds amazing. When Elliot is running through the forest with Pete and all of the branches are breaking and the loud foot stomps are stampeding, the directionality and prioritization are incredible.

The score is moving and sweeping, and always adds to the emotion and tone of the film without drowning out any other sound element. The low end brings the bass consistently with Elliot's roars, heavier action scenes, and some of the other big sound effects. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. Great audio presentation.

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Audio Commentary - Director David Lowery, Writer Toby Halbrooks, and actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence deliver the commentary track here. Everyone was together in the same room and is quite charming and fun with some cute jokes, fun anecdotes from the set, and some technical information. A delightful audio commentary.

Notes To Self: A Director's Diary (HD, 8 Mins.) - David Lowery narrates his personal diary of making the film in very short segments that includes some on set footage and clips from the film.

Making Magic (HD, 2 Mins.) - Cast and crew discuss how they used practical and CG effects to create Elliot with some behind the scene's footage. All too short.

Disappearing Moments (HD, 9 Mins.) - This is a collection of deleted, alternate, and extended scenes, all of which are worth watching with an intro from director David Lowery.

Bloopers (HD, 2 Mins.) - A very short montage of the cast laughing, missing cues, and flubbing lines.

'Nobody Knows' Music Video (HD, 3 Mins.) - The Lumineers perform their song in this music video.

'Something Wild' Music Video (HD, 4 Mins.) - Lindsey Stirling and Andrew McMahon perform their song in the music video.

Welcome to New Zealand (HD, 2 Mins.) - Cast and crew discuss filming in New Zealand with some cool shots of the country.

[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives here.

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This is a solid remake that the younger crowd should love. Older audience will relate and feel the nostalgic filmmaking and music from their childhood as well. There were some great performances, even if they were too on the nose with some strong visual effects. The video and audio presentations are both good and the extras are decent, despite being very short. Recommended.

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Atop her robotic RideBack motorcycle, an ex-dancer ignites the fires of rebellion in a nation held captive by its own oppressive government. After an injury forces Rin to trade her stage career for college life, she finds new thrills as a member of the RideBack Club. When she discovers an unusual connection with one machine in particular – Fuego – she is forced into the middle of a revolution. The tyrannical new government rules with an iron fist, and Rin is reluctant to take them on. But as her dearest friends suffer, and the insurgency struggles to topple the increasingly powerful regime, Rin may have no choice but to gun Fuego’s engines and speed directly into the heart of the fight for freedom.

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Cannibal horror directed by Umberto Lenzi. Fleeing from underworld justice, photojournalist John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) takes to the jungle where he goes native and finds love. However, it turns out that this comes with a high price when he finds that he is living with natives who are not only prized for their women but also for their potential as food stock. (Distributed in the United Kingdom as Deep River Savages).

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Sakura Wars the Movie whisks you to a lavish world of 1920s Japan for a supernatural showdown between demonic forces and psychic-powered mechsuit pilots. When something wicked stages chaos, the Imperial Assault Force sends the divas of the Flower Division to drive steel through evil’s spotlight! Sweet Sakura, glamorous Sumire, adorable Iris, tactical Leni, mechanic Kohran, Kana the martial arts master, exotic Orohime, and stoic leader Maria are always ready for action! Just as a fresh face joins the ensemble, other members begin to vanish one after another. When a deviant virtuoso unleashes demons to terrorize Tokyo, it’s up to the maidens of metal to pull their act together and drop the curtain on evil!

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Asuka and her friends may look like any other girls at Hanzo Academy, but they're secretly studying the ancient art of Ninjutsu! While other students do their homework, Asuka and the gang push their beautiful bodies to the breaking point in pursuit of their perfect form. Life is one sexy sparring session after another until a Deviously Demented rival clan of evil ninjas ambushes the Hanzo hotties – and steals their sacred ninja scroll. Faced with their toughest – and most well-rounded – enemies ever, Asuka and her fellow Deadly Divas will have to go further than they've ever gone before to prove they've mastered the art of full frontal combat! Whether you like blondes or brunettes; good or evil; big or EXTRA BIG; this series based on the action packed video game proves once and for all that a ninja beat down is the most exhilarating beat down of all!

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Tanukichi Okuma is the son of an imprisoned ero-terrorist. Rather than following in his father's footsteps, he plans to stay on the track of morality and wholesomeness. Just like his dream girl, Anna Nishikinomiya, he attends Japan's most moral school. But after an encounter with Blue Snow, his virtuous plans are ****** and he finds himself entangled with SOX. Will the pursuit of smut tarnish what hope he has with the pure Anna, or will he *** around, stimulated by the panty wearing deviant and her filthy mouth?

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Tanukichi Okuma is the son of an imprisoned ero-terrorist. Rather than following in his father's footsteps, he plans to stay on the track of morality and wholesomeness. Just like his dream girl, Anna Nishikinomiya, he attends Japan's most moral school. But after an encounter with Blue Snow, his virtuous plans are ****** and he finds himself entangled with SOX. Will the pursuit of smut tarnish what hope he has with the pure Anna, or will he *** around, stimulated by the panty wearing deviant and her filthy mouth?

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Soundbreaking presents more than 150 original interviews with some of the most celebrated recording artists, producers, and music industry pioneers of all time, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Tony Bennett, Dave Grohl, Debbie Harry, Chuck D, BB King, Hans Zimmer, George Martin, Tom Petty, Annie Lennox, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, RZA, St. Vincent, Rick Rubin, Bonnie Raitt, and Questlove. Featuring more than 200 songs, this series charts a century's worth of innovation and experimentation. From the Beatles groundbreaking use of multitrack technology to the synthesized stylings of Stevie Wonder, from disco-era drum machines to the modern art of sampling, Soundbreaking makes us hear the songs we love in a whole new way. 

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Set shortly after the conclusion of Taboo, Taboo II introduces Junior McBride (Kevin James) who, upon discovering that his best friend, Paul (Mike Ranger), had a relationship with his mother (Kay Parker), begins to explore his own curiosity for familial love, with his sister Sherry (Dorothy LeMay). Although initially hesitant, Sherry quickly discovers her desire for her brother, and the siblings soon begin an illicit affair...until their mother (Honey Wilder) catches them in the act... Director Kirdy Stevens and writer/producer Helene Terrie's acclaimed follow-up to their 1980 blockbuster is an engrossing psychological drama that features Honey Wilder's most infamous and celebrated performance.

In Kirdy Stevens and Helene Terrie's third entry in their Taboo franchise, Kay Parker reprises her role of Barbara Scott, whose son Paul has left home due to the stress of their unnatural relationship. With only her younger son (Jerry Butler), who's more concerned with his band and best friend (Blake Palmer) than his mother, to keep her company, Barbara finds a friend in Joyce McBride (Honey Wilder), as the two of them discover their shared illicit pasts and begin to plan the next stages of their lives... Taboo III is a thought provoking story of forbidden desires, featuring some of the biggest stars of the era.

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The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers—Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg—finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country.

[review_movie] =>

Imagine yourself alone in the middle of the night. You live in an orphanage at the end of a dark alley behind a London pub. Most of the city's gone to bed, but it's the witching hour, and you can't sleep. You never sleep. You never dream. You spend your lonely nights sneaking through drafty old halls, keeping tabs on the headmistress and reading books by flashlight to pass the hours.

Then one night you break your rules.

You hear a noise outside. You go to the window. You pull back the drapes. And you catch a glimpse of a monstrous giant lurking in the alley. You try to hide, but his titanic hand scoops you up and snatches you away, sprinting away with you into the night, out of the city, and out of this very world...

So begins Sophie's journey to Giant Country. She tries to escape her captor's cave, terrified she will be chopped up into tonight's supper, but ultimately realizes she has not been snatched by a monster, but by the gentle-souled Big Friendly Giant. The BFG, as Sophie calls him, is actually the Runt of the family, which includes eight far more brutish giants who roam the night eating children. Fortunately for Sophie, the BFG is a vegetarian whose life work is harvesting dreams and delivering them to families in the human world.

However, the more Sophie becomes enchanted with the BFG and his dream whispering work, the more the BFG's man-eating brothers are likely to get a whiff of her human bean'ly scent, after which they'll most certainly hunt her down and gobble her up.

Steven Spielberg is, I would humbly argue, the single most gifted visual storyteller in the history of cinema. His influences are many, of course, but there is a lot of Walt Disney in him. Look how Spielberg uses 'Pinnochio' in 'Close Encounters', or how he made an unofficial sequel to 'Peter Pan' in 'Hook'. These two filmmakers share modest upbringings, a knack for popular tastes, and an innate ability to shape worlds with their imaginations or by collaborating with other wondrous imaginations. In a sense, Spielberg has been making Disney movies for years, particularly through his Amblin production company. What a shame, then, that as Spielberg steps into the director's chair for his first official Disney movie, it feels less personal and less emotional than his previous collaboration with screenwriter Melissa Matheson, 'E.T.'

In both stories, we meet lonely children who befriend other-worldly creatures and face serious and dangerous consequences. Along the way, as these friendships are forged, we experience a previously-unknown magic and are all changed by the experience. Yet, while these two productions are thematic distant cousins, they are also (obviously) vastly different. Setting aside the fact that one is about supernatural events in everyday places, while the other transports everyday characters to supernatural places, 'E.T.' is a much more methodically-paced story that clearly and dramatically develops its characters to the point where we are feeling exactly what they are feeling. Elliot and E.T.'s friendship is very much OUR friendship, so as that story soars to a beautiful, heartbreaking, John Williams-fueled conclusion, we're all bawling our eyes out, having grown and learned. 'E.T.' is nothing short of a masterpiece.

It's unfair to watch 'The BFG' in that context -- masterpieces are rare and unquantifiable, even with our best critic hats on -- but for everything I love about 'E.T.', 'The BFG' is ultimately less emotional and thrilling.

Sure, 'The BFG' is magnificently rendered and lyrical at times, particularly in the BFG's cave or during a visit to the Dream Tree, but much of the film's pacing feels off. Rushed. We don't get to settle into Sophie's world before hurtling off to Giant Country, and from there it feels more like the story is driving the characters more than the characters driving the story. I have to admit, the film's climax is exciting and funny, but everything happens quickly and without any sense that it could all go horribly wrong. In other words, the stakes don't feel weighted. These are all just general descriptors, mind you, I don't mean to imply that 'The BFG' must have been more like 'E.T.' or that movies need to follow rules to work; I'm simply trying to describe why I found it hard to connect with this story. The uncanny valley of human-esque characters doesn't help either.

On the other hand, I'm going to leave the door open to watch this one a few more times, and hopefully through much younger eyes. Because there are some wonderful things to enjoy here too. The BFG himself remains quite enchanting after all these years; there is a joy to his jumbled words and phrases that should delight children who are in their own formative linguistic years. I suspect in another year or two my little one will cackle with delight at the BFG's bungled phrases, watch in awe as he delivers dreams, and tuck into my shoulder when the mean Giants nearly catch Sophie. I also surmise she and lots of other children will enjoy the Queen of England's well-trained Corgis and marvel at the spectacle of giggly, propulsive flatulence over high tea. Sophie too, as played by Ruby Barnhill, is also quite good -- I very much admire her strong will, quick wit, toughness under pressure, and honest vulnerability.

So perhaps watching 'The BFG' requires a certain state of mind, or perhaps it's a movie that should have taken more time to earn our relationship with its characters. Perhaps it's a little bit of both. Either way, I'm glad to have finally seen 'The BFG', but at this point remain slightly disconnected on a visceral level, which is an odd experience for me to have with a Steven Spielberg film.

The BFG

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray

'The BFG' stomps onto Blu-ray disc courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment. While there was a 3D theatrical release, the only version currently available in North America is a two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack. The Digital HD version works with Disney Movies Anywhere and can be linked to a variety of serves, including VUDU, iTunes, and Amazon. The only pre-menu trailer on the Blu-ray is the teaser for the new live-action 'Beauty and the Beast.'

[review_video_picture_id] => 73004 [review_video] =>

'The BFG' absolutely marvels in high definition with a sharp and colorful AVC MPEG-4 encode framed in the film's original 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

I know an HDR presentation could be even more dynamic, but outside of a few instances where black levels are a tad gray and shadow details disappearing into a touch of crush, I love everything about this HD/SDR transfer. Spielberg's iconic use of backlighting paints nighttime sequences with wonderful depth. Fine details are filmmic, with razor sharp focal points rolling off into softer backgrounds. Colors are resplendent and bold, especially any sequences that involve various multi-colored dreams. In terms of encoding error, I didn't see any. Yeah, I'm not always a fan of the CGI characters, but this is a gorgeously rendered presentation -- I'm wrapping up a review of the incredible LG E6 OLED UHD TV and there are times I'd swear 'The BFG' Blu-ray IS in HDR/WCG. It's that good.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73003 [review_audio] =>

'The BFG' ambles onto Blu-ray with a sumptuous English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that builds a wonderfully immersive soundscape.

While the HD video is more traditionally and overtly beautiful, this soundtrack is an audiophile's delight. It is dynamic and whimsical at times, and even quiet moments are filled with subtle nuances in the side and rear channels; it sounds like we're living in a realized world. But even as the more aggressive moments become more complex -- as the track swirls up towards fuller immersion -- you can still pick out the individual effects in all eight channels. John Williams' score, while not as iconic as his earlier Spielberg collaborations, swells and envelopes, filling your listening environment with warm mid-tones. Then there are the giants, which get extra volume and a heaping dosage of LFE power to evoke their natural largess. All in all, this is a highly technical sound mix that will transport you out of your home theatres and into the Giant Country. I loved every minute of it.

Lastly, if you're set up for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, 'The BFG' up-mixes perfectly, adding a convincing layer of overhead immersion that makes it feel like the Giants are about to step on your head. It's so awesome you can't help but cringe at Disney's decision to ignore these next generation sound formats (which they support theatrically).

Other soundtrack options include English 2.0 Descriptive Audio as well as Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English SDH, Spanish, and French.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 73002 [review_supplements] =>

Like many Spielberg home entertainment releases before it, there's no audio commentary, but the featurettes are top notch. The overall package is good, but a little light. Here's what you'll find on the DVD and the Blu-ray.

Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG (HD, 0:03:16).  A breakdown of the BFG's linguistical uniqueness.

Melissa Mathison: A Tribute (HD, 0:05:54). A tribute to a wonderful writer who left our world far too soon. We're fortunate enough to see and hear her talk about the project in this piece (and the first featurette listed below), as well as hear from her filmmaking friends and family.

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 73001 [review_bonus_content] =>

Most of 'The BFG' bonus materials are HD Exclusives, but sadly there are only three, and they only add about 35 more minutes of material.

Bringing 'The BFG' to Life (HD, 0:27:09). This behind-the-scenes featurette combines Ruby Barnhill's on-set diary with a more traditional making-of. It's fantastic and I wish it were longer.

The Big Friendly Giant and Me (HD, 0:01:55). A full animated version of the story written by the BFG's previous house guest.

Giants 101 (HD, 0:04:57). A look at the actors who brought The BFG's bigger brothers to life via motion capture.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 73000 [review_bottom_line] => 3 [review_final_thoughts] =>

While my initial journey to Giant Country wasn't as emotionally rewarding to me as Spielberg's earlier works, 'The BFG' may prove more delightful to children. I found the pacing a little rushed, which undercut the characters and the stakes, but I'm open to revisiting this one a few more times.

As a Blu-ray, the only disappointment comes from what isn't available -- I suspect the 3D or 4K-HDR versions would be pure demo material and the soundtrack begs for object-based audio -- in other words you're getting a gorgeously rendered video and audio presentations that will wow on HD and Ultra HD displays alike. The Bonus Materials are good, but there aren't many of them.

If you're a fan of this film or book already, this Blu-ray comes easily Recommended as its technical aspects are excellent. For everyone else, I'd probably rent it first to see if you enjoy the story more than me. Overall: Worth a Look.

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Embark on a tropical misadventure with a group of quirky animals and their human castaway, Robinson Crusoe. When savage cats invade their paradise, Robinson and the island's animals team up to defend themselves and their home in this fun-filled movie.

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When an American policeman named Lyedecker comes to Mexico to arrest Yaqui Joe for robbery, he finds himself detained by both an Indian revolution against the Mexican government... and the luscious figure of Joe's sidekick, Sarita! As the government steps up its plan for the Indians — total extermination — Joe's stolen money buys weapons for the battle, and Lyedecker joins the fray. But will it be enough to defeat the sadistic General Verdugo and his army?

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Aquarion is back with a brand-new series featuring a whole new cast of wild characters on a one-of-a-kind adventure! Long ago, the human voice defined the true nature of everything. That is, until “text” came along and opened up the “Logos World,” a futuristic battlefield where monsters loom. These monsters, known as M.J.B.K., are spawned from texts injected with the magical syringe of Master Sougon, the mysterious gatekeeper of all written word. When these texts are injected, their concept on Earth is erased, and an M.J.B.K. is born in the Logos World. Lucky for humanity, there are a group of young-gun heroes known as the Verbalism Club who counter the text monsters with their Aquarion vectors and the art of voice. It’s up to self-proclaimed savior Akira Kaibuki and the rest of the Verbalism Club to protect the world from being erased—as long as their silly antics don’t get in the way.

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"Beyond Clueless" is a dizzying journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie as observed through over 200 modern coming-of-age classics. Examining such movies as "The Craft" and "Mean Girls," filmmaker Charlie Lyne reflects on adolescent angst, friendship and sexuality in a decade of teen movies.

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Kevin, Steve, and Katie are an inseparable trio of friends doing some extracurricular snooping in the school science lab when, among the test tubes and beakers, they discover a corpse! But before they can say “Abra Cadaver,” the body disappears, rolling down Route 51 strapped to a gurney. The kids need a spare stiff, and fast. What they find is “Bud the Chud,” a half-dead decomposing humanoid, the result of a military experiment gone haywire. When Bud sets out on a killing spree, the kids, the Army, the police, and the FBI are hot on his trail, trying to save the entire town from becoming “Chudified!”

[review_movie] =>

As we well know, sequels are made all the time. Some movies get sequels that justify their existence, improve on the concept, and even outdo the original film. Some movies get sequels that fail to live up to their predecessors but are at the very least, watchable little story extensions. Then you have movies like 1989's 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD.' A movie that is related to its predecessor in name only and completely fails to expand on a terrific concept involving irradiated Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Instead, this misguided sequel plays more like a remake of 'Return of the Living Dead Part 2' than an actual C.H.U.D. sequel - simply because the titular monsters are nowhere to be found. 

When amiable dope Steve (Brian Robbins) accidentally loses the dead body his anatomy teacher was saving for class, he forces his best pal Kevin (Bill Calvert) to help him find it. When the pals locate a dead guy in an alley, they're sure they have their man. After all, how many dead guys could be laying around in a sleepy suburban town? It turns out there are a lot of dead bodies! The one Steve and Kevin managed to find actually belonged to a super secret government military experiment headed by the nefarious Colonel Masters (the late great Robert Vaughn in a thankless role). When the friends accidentally bring "Bud" (Gerrit Graham) back to life in their bathtub and he runs away, they enlist their friend Katie (Tricia Leigh Fisher) to help track him down. When Bud's insatiable hunger accidentally creates an army of fellow C.H.U.D. zombies, Steve, Kevin, and Katie are going to have bigger things than the military to worry about.

Woof. 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD' is a tough horror comedy to swallow. From the outset, it has the unfortunate problem of being completely unrelated to the first film. The action moves from gritty and urban New York City to the bright and plucky suburbs of California. The titular 'Bud the CHUD' is hardly a bud nor is he much of a C.H.U.D., he actually looks more like Thom Mathews or James Karen did in the first two 'Return of the Living Dead' films. He's not a goopy, slimy, yellow-eyed irradiated hell spawn of the sewer, he's just a sharp-toothed zombie that has a penchant for physical comedy. So on that level, 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD' is a bit of a bust. 

CHUD II Bud The CHUD

As much as this film does get on my sequel bad side, I can't completely knock it out entirely. It's stupid. I can not deny that, however, there is something about its energy and presence that is so 100% 1980s that I can't help but enjoy the ride. It's never a horror film and plays itself as a comedy with gory elements. On top of that, the stupid teen protagonists and how they're constantly running around town trying to find Bud and missing the obviously growing numbers of his zombified brethren makes the flick feel akin to flicks like 'Meatballs Part II.' Like a stale bag of Cheetos, you love to hate this sort of movie, but it's the sort of guilty pleasure trash you can't stop consuming. 

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' was another movie in a long list of horror films that I grew up with. Much like it's predecessor, it was on my local TV channel a lot and that's how I grew into enjoying it. There's that rule of comedy where if you do something enough times long enough that it eventually becomes funny; it's true for 'Bud The CHUD' I won't ever say that it's a particularly good movie, especially when compared to the original, but I will say that I have fun watching it. It's so bad it's fun. Over the years I've successfully compartmentalized this sequel from the original film that it doesn't impact my enjoyment of the original. It can exist on its own as a crappy 80s sequel. Kind of like how 'A Nightmare on Elm St: Part II' is a really crappy sequel that is still sort of enjoyable. I don't recommend this for people expecting an honest effort. It's best viewed as a curiosity and as a specimen of its era.'    

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate and their fancy new Vestron Video Collector's Series imprint. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD50 disc and comes housed in an eco-friendly Blu-ray case with identical slip cover artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. 

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'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' arrives with a solid 1.85:1 1080p transfer. Right away it's clear to tell you're not going to get the same experience here as you did with the original 'C.H.U.D.' This film is in full lighting throughout the entire film as there are very few dark locations or night scenes to give the film much in the way of shadow or flavor. Black levels are even throughout approaching a nice inky consistency, but even then there is a flatness to the image in some places. Film grain is present, but at times I suspects some mild smoothing may have been employed as fine facial features and certain detail levels don't quite come through as one would naturally expect. That isn't to say this image has been scrubbed to the point of being waxy and lifeless, there are still plenty of fine details to absorb throughout, just certain scenes look a little off. Colors are bright and bold, but perhaps a bit too bright as it can look as though contrast was pumped up a notch or two. Primaries can look a little too pale in some places and flesh tones don't quite have that healthy pinkish color to them. Overall, this is still a very good presentation for a late 80s film. It's honestly better than I would have expected for this title. 

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'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' comes packed with a solid English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, but at times the mix tends to favor the more comedic elements. The "Bud the CHUD" song for example or the more comedically toned sound effects tend to take center stage as the film constantly is trying to force a laugh out of its audience. Imaging is good throughout as there is plenty of left-right channel movement. Background and atmospherics are a bit subdued here but some sequences do have a nice sense of dimensionality and space to them. Scoring by Nicholas Pike keeps the mix lively and plays up the obvious comedy elements while working to fill the track so the mix is never stagnated. Much like the video transfer, this is a better audio track than a film like this deserves.

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Audio Commentary: Director David Irving with moderator Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures provide a fun and engaging commentary track. Irving offers up a lot of relevant production information, stories about punching in little cameos appearances, and Felsher does a great job at keeping the commentary moving without letting it drift into dull or trite conversation. 

Bud Speaks! With Gerrit Graham: (HD 16:18) Graham talks about his time on the film, how he was frequently cast in horror films even though he wasn't a fan of the genre. It sounds like they had a great time making the movie.

Katie's Kalamity with Actress Tricia Leigh Fisher: (HD 12:45) Fisher offers up some great bits about making the movie and working on the project. It sounds like most people associated with the making of this movie didn't see the original so they just went into it making a fun comedy horror picture.

This C.H.U.D.'s For You! with Allan Apone: (HD 14:44) Make-up effects designer Allan Apone provides a pretty great interview on what it's like creating monster effects and make-up for horror films without much of a budget to work with. 

Video Trailer: (SD 1:47) 

Still Gallery: (HD 6:20)

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No HD exclusive content. 

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It's hard to imagine that 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' even exists at all. For all intents and purposes, it's not a very good movie as it fails to live up to the original film in concept or in execution. If you're a fan of 80s kitsch horror like 'Return of the Living Dead Part 2' or 'Troll 2,' 'Bud The CHUD' is at least entertaining - for better or worse. Lionsgate does right by this sequel giving the film the full Vestron Video Collector's Edition treatment. The video transfer is in great shape and the audio works well for this sort of film. Add in some solid bonus features and you have the makings of a pretty great Blu-ray release. That said, this is a tough movie to love, making this release one for the fans. Newcomers should tread lightly. 

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Photographed over an eight-year period by Russia s top filmmakers, Cinerama's Russian Adventure brings together some of the most exquisite, jaw-dropping, and beautiful sequences from over six Soviet Kinopanorama productions (the Russian equivalent of three-panel Cinerama). The film s locations stretch from one end of Russia to the other, from the snow-covered countryside to the majestic subways of Moscow, from the deck of a whaling ship to the front seats of the Bolshoi Theater. Bing Crosby narrates the journey, offering both a grand and intimate view of a country and culture so often cited and yet so seldom seen.

In classic Cinerama style, your first glimpse of Russia is from behind the reigns of a troika, a traditional three-horse sled, speeding through the snow. Next, you ll land in Moscow for spectacular shots of the Kremlin, the Volga River, the bustling street life, and a spring carnival complete with singing, dancing, and clowns on stilts. From there, you ll marvel at the dazzling Moscow Circus, take a raft ride down the Tisza River, join in a wild antelope roundup on the Barsa-Kelmes, and witness a show-stopping performance of the famous Moiseyev Dancers. The most visceral sequences, though, take place not on land, but on water: the spare-no-details whale hunt aboard a factory ship in the Antarctic and the alien voyage of an octopus as it glides beneath the sea.

Flicker Alley, Cinerama Inc., and the family of Hal Dennis / Hal Dennis Productions are proud to present Cinerama's Russian Adventure in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered, and beautifully so, allowing audiences to experience - in the words of Bing Crosby what I believe will be our most exciting journey...

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Contains Dementia 13, A Bucket of Blood, and The Terror

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You can't keep a good Gatchaman down, especially when a new organization called VAPE (short for Violent Ape) starts hijacking CROWDS technology. The ensuing wave of "Red CROWDS" incidents targeting high profile targets like the Prime Minister make it clear that the good team needs to start recruiting; fast. Fortunately, help arrives quickly, and with a rather... loud entrance. The alien Gelsadra's ship crashes in a rice paddy in Nijima!

Besides being generally peaceful, Gelsadra has a unique power involving comic-book-like speech bubbles that display a person's inner feelings, rather like an emoji. There's also the fireworks enthusiast, Tsubasa, whose life becomes the focus of millions of viewers when she's chosen as the newest Gatchaman - on nationwide live television! As if that wasn't enough pressure for a teenage girl to handle, she's also assigned Hajime as her mentor! Will she survive? Will the world survive? Things are about to get really wild and crazy.

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Hands of Stone follows the life of Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), the Panamanian fighter who made his professional debut in 1968 as a 16 year old and retired in 2002 at the age of 50. In June 1980, he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) to capture the WBC welterweight title, but shocked the boxing world by returning to his corner in their November rematch, famously saying the words 'no mas' (‘no more.’)

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Dutch immigrant Harry deLeyer journeyed to the United States after World War II and developed a transformative relationship with a broken down Amish plow horse he rescued off a slaughter truck bound for the glue factory. Harry paid eighty dollars for the horse and named him Snowman. In less than two years, Harry & Snowman went on to win the triple crown of show jumping, beating the nation's top pedigree horses and wealthiest socialites. They became famous and traveled around the world together. Their chance meeting at a Pennsylvania horse auction saved them both and crafted a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Eighty-six year old Harry tells their Cinderella love story firsthand, as he continues to train on today's show jumping circuit.

[review_movie_stars] => N/A [review_video_stars] => N/A [review_audio_stars] => N/A [review_supplements_stars] => N/A [review_bonus_content_stars] => N/A [review_final_thoughts_stars] => N/A ) ) [11] => Array ( [review_id] => 39217 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => hellorhighwater [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 1 [review_title] => Hell or High Water [picture_created] => 1475685202 [picture_name] => Cover_Art.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/10/05/120/Cover_Art.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/39217/hellorhighwater.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [run_time] => 102 [list_price] => 39.99 [asin] => B01KP7LB3M [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 [1] => English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Optimized for Late Night Viewing) [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 [3] => English Descriptive Audio ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => "Enemies Forever: The Characters of Hell or High Water" Featurette [1] => "Visualizing the Heart of America" Featurette [2] => "Damaged Heroes: The Performances of Hell or High Water" Featurette [3] => Red Carpet Premiere [4] => Filmmaker Q&A ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Drama, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => David Mackenzie ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

When a desperate father (Chris Pine) learns that the bank is going to take his family's land, he and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) are left with no choice. They decide to rob the bank's branches, putting themselves in the crosshairs of an aging Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) in a riveting story of crime, punishment, and brotherly love.

[review_movie] =>

'Hell or High Water' is far from the first movie about bank robbers and the law enforcement officers who try to track them down. Nor is it the first one where the filmmakers make the bank robbers sympathetic in both their goals and their characterizations. Yet, thanks to a brilliant script by Taylor Sheridan (the same guy who penned Sicario), and great performances across the board, 'Hell or High Water' isn't just one of the best movies of its type, it may very well be the best movie of 2016.

If you've seen the trailer for this movie, it's no spoiler to reveal that the story is about a pair of West Texas brothers (played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who start robbing from various branches of Texas Midlands Bank in order to raise enough money to stop the bank from foreclosing on their family's ranch. Like most movies of this type, I assumed the first half hour to 45 minutes would be all set-up, showing how the brothers got into this financial trouble to begin with. But in a very smart move, the movie starts right smack in the middle of the robberies (not even their first one), filling in all the background exposition that the audience needs to know through dialogue as the film progresses. In other words, this movie – unlike about 90 percent of other titles – doesn't make the audience wait for all the "fun" to begin. "Hell or High Water" hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the credits roll.

The movie is also well thought-out. When I found out the premise of the film – including the fact that Jeff Bridges plays Marcus Hamilton, a days-from-retirement Texas Ranger who sees capturing the bank robbers as one last "hurrah" before he's put out to pasture – my first question was why the F.B.I. wouldn't be involved in the case, since bank robberies are considered a federal crime. That issue is handled in Bridges' very first scene in the movie, when his half-Comanche/half-Mexican partner, Alberto Parker (wonderfully played by Gil Birmingham), tells Marcus the F.B.I. doesn't want to bother, as the amounts the robbers are stealing are relatively small (a few thousand at each branch). Then there's a scene where the brothers go to a casino. My first thought was, "oh, now we get to see them gamble their winnings away so their forced to rob even more"...but, no, they're actually using the casino to launder the cash...cashing in for chips, then cashing those same chips out later in the evening to get different bills in return. Again, this movie's screenplay is as intelligent as one could hope for.

There are a couple additional factors that set 'Hell and High Water' apart from similar films in its genre. First is the screenplay's dialogue, which is filled with so many "quotable" lines and exchanges between the characters, the movie holds up to multiple viewings. But perhaps the best thing about the film is the fact that virtually every character in the movie – be they on screen for the length of the story or just a few minutes – is so well-rounded and nicely acted, that there should be some kind of special award given to 'Hell and High Water's casting directors (the team of Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks, to give credit where credit is due).

Speaking of awards, it's hard to imagine (although given the Academy, I wouldn't put it past them) that this movie isn't going to get a nice handful of Oscar nominations. Bridges almost certainly deserves one for his performance here – one of the best of his career – as does Sheridan for his remarkable screenplay. One can only hope that Director David Mackenzie, Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, and stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham get their share of industry kudos as well.

'Hell or High Water' is one of those movies that come along only once every few years – a release where everything...from acting, to direction, to screenplay...comes together perfectly and creates a film that could very much be considered a classic in the years to come. As I've said of other films I've fallen in love with, this is the type of film movie buffs like myself hope to see every time they sit down in a darkened cinema or place a disc into their home theater players, and 'Hell or High Water' doesn't disappoint. It's a great piece of entertainment.

The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Hell or High Water' arrives on home video in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The 50GB Blu-ray and dual-layer DVD come housed inside an eco-friendly Elite keepcase along with an insert containing a code for one's choice of either an UltraViolet or iTunes digital copy of the movie. A slipcover matching the artwork of the keepcase slides overtop. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are front-loaded with trailers for Blood Father, The Duel, Mechanic: Resurrection, and Sicario. The main menu contains a montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections across the bottom of the screen.

Note: The back of the box cover (as well as the slipcover) incorrectly lists the running time of the film as 122 minutes. The actual run time is 102 minutes.

The Blu-ray in this release is Region A locked.

[review_video_picture_id] => 72760 [review_video] =>

'Hell or High Water' was shot digitally using the Arri Alexa XT and is presented on home video at the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I might be talking about the near reference-quality aspects of this home video transfer if it were not for a nasty bit of aliasing that rears its ugly head in the opening moments of the movie. As the two brothers make their way around town in their vehicle, the background is full of some obvious aliasing and shimmering that does not get things off to a good start. Thankfully, this is the only serious bit of aliasing in the movie, although there are a number of more minor occurrences elsewhere, almost all of them happening in the background during camera pans.

With those issues aside, the majority of the image here is a joy to view – full of sharp images and considerable depth, well-defined facial features, and some wonderful colors throughout – despite the earth-tone look of much of the movie. Noise is never an issue, either, even in many of the movie's darker sequences, where black levels prove to be pretty solid. So overall, this is a very nice transfer apart from those aliasing issues, which are honestly not too bothersome aside from the opening shots of the movie.

[review_audio] =>

The featured audio here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is pretty solid, if unspectacular – although a lot of that has to do with the fact that the movie itself isn't full of big action sequences. As one might imagine, the track is most aggressive during shootouts or car chases that take place in the movie, most notable during the film's final act.

Dialogue is exclusively up-front and center, but is also very clear and distinct throughout, with not a hint of muddiness. The rears in this 5.1 track are primarily used for ambient sounds and background noises, as well as to enhance the musical score, which also includes a number of songs. I detected no noticeable issues or glitches with this well-rendered audio presentation.

In addition to the 5.1 lossless track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which is optimized for "Late Night Viewing" is also available, as is a 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital track and an English Descriptive Audio track. Subtitles are an option in English SDH, English, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72761 [review_supplements] =>
  • Enemies Forever: The Characters of 'Hell or High Water' (HD, 13 ½ min.) – The cast and crew discuss the film and all the various characters that make up the movie. Spoiler warning: You won't want to watch any of the bonus materials before seeing the film, but particularly this one as it both talks about and shows scenes from the movie's final act.
  • Visualizing the Heart of America (HD, 9 ½ min.) – Director David Mackenzie and Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens talk about the look of 'Hell or High Water', including the attempt to make the movie "feel" hot, as well as the use of mostly earth tones and making the land/location itself a character in the film.
  • Damaged Heroes: The Performance of 'Hell or High Water' (HD, 12 ½ min.) – Another look at the incredible acting in the movie, including Director David Mackenzie's willingness to take advice from all his actors and allow them to try different ideas on camera.
  • Red Carpet Premiere (HD, 2 min.) – A brief look at premiere of the movie, which took place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, in July of 2016.
  • Filmmaker Q&A (HD, 30 min.) – Time magazine's Sam Lansky moderates this post-viewing Q&A featuring Director David Mackenzie and stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California.
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no bonus materials exclusive to this Blu-ray release.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 72762 [review_bottom_line] => 1 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Come 'Hell or High Water', this is a title you want to check out. It's not only one of 2016's best movies, it's got the kind of snappy, witty dialogue that should make it one of those films that you'll be quoting for years. While the overall plotline here may not be new, the movie is presented in such a fresh, well-acted way that it comes across as something completely original. This one is highly recommended.

[review_movie_stars] => 5 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_stars] => 1.5 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 146769 ) ) [12] => Array ( [review_id] => 38876 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => idrinkyourblood [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => I Drink Your Blood [picture_created] => 1474985061 [picture_name] => Cover_Art.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Grindhouse Releasing [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/09/27/120/Cover_Art.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/38876/idrinkyourblood.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1970 [list_price] => 25.99 [asin] => B01M10I6DZ [alt_commerce_link] => https://www.diabolikdvd.com/category/Grindhouse-Releasing/I-Drink-Your-Blood-(LE-3000-Horror-Hypo-Edition-[sl]Grindhouse-Releasing)-(Blu~Ray-All-Region).html [alt_commerce_text] => Order Here! [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Spectacular new HD restoration of the original UNCENSORED DIRECTOR'S CUT [1] => BONUS - I DRINK YOUR BLOOD HORROR HYPO - Inject your friends with rabies! - limited to the first 3000 copies! ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => 4 controversial deleted scenes including the original blood-drenched ending deemed too disturbing for '70s audiences! [1] => Newly recorded audio commentary by stars Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney [2] => Provocative audio commentary by director David Durston and star Bhaskar [3] => Revealing on-camera interviews with stars Lynn Lowry, Tyde Kierney and Jack Damon [4] => New in-depth interview with director David Durston [5] => The original theatrical trailer and radio spots [6] => Extensive gallery of stills and poster art [7] => Rare and shocking film of Bhaskar performing THE EVIL KING COBRA DANCE [8] => TWO BONUS CO-FEATURES - I EAT YOUR SKIN (1964) - presented for the very first time in HD + exclusive interview with 2nd unit director William Grefe & BLUE SEXTET (1969) - David Durston's long-lost X-rated psychedelic shocker - presented for the very first time on home video! [9] => Liner notes by David Szulkin (WES CRAVEN'S LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT: THE MAKING OF A CULT CLASSIC) [10] => Beautiful embossed slipcover [11] => PLUS OTHER SURPRISES! ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Cult, Horror ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Bhaskar, Jack Damon and Tyde Kierney ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => David Durston ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

A band of satanist hippies roll into a town and begin terrorizing the local folk. They rape a local girl and her grandpa goes after them. He fails and is given LSD. This bothers his grandson and he gets back at the hippies by feeding them meat pies infected with blood from a rabid dog. They turn into crazed lunatics and begin killing and/or infecting everything in their path.

[review_movie_stars] => N/A [review_video_stars] => N/A [review_audio_stars] => N/A [review_supplements_stars] => N/A [review_bonus_content_stars] => N/A [review_final_thoughts_stars] => N/A ) ) [13] => Array ( [review_id] => 37207 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => it [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => I.T. [picture_created] => 1477328624 [picture_name] => Cover2.jpg [manufacturer_name] => RLJ Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/10/24/120/Cover2.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/37207/it.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [run_time] => 95 [list_price] => 29.97 [asin] => B01JMN0RCQ [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Behind the Scenes [1] => Photo Gallery ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Pierce Brosnan, James Frecheville, Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => John Moore ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

In I.T., Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) is a successful, self-made man who has it all: a gorgeous wife, a beautiful teenage daughter and a sleek, state-of-the-art "smart home." But he soon finds himself in a deadly, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse when his I.T. consultant, Ed (James Frecheville), starts using his skills to stalk Mike's daughter and endanger his family, his business, and his life. In a world where there is no privacy, and personal secrets can go viral by the click of a mouse, Mike needs to rely on his old connections to defeat a new kind of nemesis.

[review_movie] =>

There's something to be said about sticking to genre formula. All a good movie or even one that is decently entertaining needs to do is hit a certain set of plot benchmarks, maybe put a unique spin on things and then it's home sailing. The final product may not be the most original flick to come down the pipeline, but it would provide a diverting 90 - 120 minutes of fun. That said, when a film - in the case a stalker thriller like 'I.T.' - fails to even hit the basic benchmarks and falls back on cliche, the final result is a long trite slog. With a star like Piece Brosnan and a writer like William Wisher attached, one would expect a spark of originality and a decent film, unfortunately, expectations aren't met by the time the final credits roll. 

Billionaire entrepreneur Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) has life made in the shade. He's got a beautiful wife, a teenage daughter, and he's about to launch an app that will revolutionize air travel - or at last how the super-rich know it. However, things aren't completely under Mike's control. During the investor presentation of his new app, some glitches pop up requiring the expertise of I.T. wunderkind Ed Porter (James Frecheville). When Ed is able to get the presentation up and running in no time, he earns the friendly eye of Mike. When Mike needs Ed's help debugging his smart home's internal systems and wi-fi, he figures Ed is a good sort of chap for the job. What Mike doesn't know is that he's invited a cyber stalker into his home and introduced this creep to his young daughter. When Ed starts obsessively injecting himself into Mike's life, the man who once was an ally quickly becomes a nightmare. 

At its surface. 'I.T.' has the makings of a traditional family stalker thriller the likes of 'Cape Fear,' 'Fear' or 'Unlawful Entry' with a dash of technological voyeurism on the level of 'Sliver.' In theory, this idea that our connected lives via internet and our obsession with social media and app-enabled smartphones would normally provide fertile grounds for a solid thriller. The problems facing 'I.T.' and why it fails on virtually every level of storytelling for this particular genre are numerous, but for starters, Director John Moore (A Good Day To Die Hard) just doesn't know how to manage the basic elements of plot and character development to make this thriller even begin to work. Much like that previously disastrous 'Die Hard' sequel, Moore pushes characters around like they're cardboard cutouts. They're never really people. The actors in question say their lines because that's what they're supposed to do, they never feel like they embody the persona they're playing. 

IT

It doesn't take too long to see that Mike Regan - no matter how suave and likable Pierce Brosnan may be - is a pretty stupid billionaire. His trust of outsiders who haven't worked long in his company with his own private material and home safety is pretty laughable. Home security system? Easily hackable. Twitchy wi-fi? Doesn't call the service provider but instead brings in a total stranger with a shady past to "debug" the system. Secondary to that is James Frecheville as Ed Porter. While James does what he can with the material, his character is pretty boring by-the-numbers creepy obsessive; the sort of stereotype you picture living in their parent's basement who wastes their life trolling female celebrities on Twitter. Because Mike and Ed are such poor characters, they're easily upstaged when Michael Nyqvist's Henrik character enters the show to hunt down Ed. Had the movie been about the Henrik character from the get go, we might actually have had something worth watching. 

After the character development failures, there are the film's numerous tech cliches. I wouldn't exactly call myself the most savvy individual in that regard, but I know BS when I hear it and there is plenty of bull going on inside 'I.T.' When it comes down to it, the film's understanding of internet tracking, apps, and so on sounds like someone bought a stack of Wired magazines for the headlines, but didn't bother to read the articles to get the details right. Now between the two credited screenwriters Dan Kay and William Wisher, I'm not sure where to lay the blame because it's a failing on both their parts. It's natural when writing a script that you make up a workaround when reality stops your story dead, but this screenplay's treatment of technology doesn't even attempt to create a believable sense of reality. As a result of the character failures and the technological mumbo-jumbo is a thriller that is never very thrilling or exciting.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'I.T.' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Image Entertainment pressed onto a Region A BD25 disc. The disc is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for other upcoming Image/RJL Entertainment releases before arriving at a static-image main menu with traditional navigation options. 

[review_video_picture_id] => 72934 [review_video] =>

'I.T.' arrives on Blu-ray with a rock solid 2.35:1 1080p transfer. This is never really a presentation that "sparkles" - largely due to the drab and cloudy Ireland filming locations. This digitally sourced presentation still manages to provide plenty of rich detail levels allowing the viewer to bathe in the smart production design work, Ed's cyber-stalker home base, in particular, looks pretty damn amazing. Black levels are also pretty decent without any crush issues to report, but at the same time, the image lacks a lot of depth in a number of scenes. Colors are on the muted scale of things though much of the film. There are a few flourishes of natural-looking colors here and there, but everything tends to dip into that steely-grey/green spectrum. As a result flesh tones tend to skew towards the sickly pale side of things, but that is an issue of intent versus this transfer. 

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72933 [review_audio] =>

'I.T.' enjoys a robust English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. This is a relatively quiet film for the first half of things allowing for plenty of spacious silence to fill the mix and allow some typing of keyboards or any number of electronic beeps and bops take over the scene. As the film progresses the mix becomes more action-heavy and front loaded but several sequences provide a strong and present sense of immersion and imaging as object move about the screen. Dialogue is never an issue and is clean and clear throughout. All around for a pretty tame and tepid thriller this mix gets the job done nicely. 

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72932 [review_supplements] =>

Behind the Scenes of 'I.T.': (HD 8:06) This is your tried and true EPK interview material, really nothing substantive beyond the cursory "this is what attracted me to the film" or the "my characters is yada-yada-yada" material.

Photogallery: (HD)

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 72930 [review_bonus_content] =>

No HD exclusive content. 

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 72929 [review_bottom_line] => 5 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Given the talent involved with 'I.T.,' I was a bit excited to see what this techno-thriller could do. Unfortunately, it's a one trick pony and that single trick has been done better by countless other films of the same genre. Even a solid performance from Pierce Brosnan can't elevate this film out of the depths of sad cliche. RJL/Image Entertainment brings 'I.T.' to Blu-ray with a solid A/V presentation but the bonus features are sadly lacking. There just isn't much worth recommending here so unless you're pretty hard up for entertainment, I've got to suggest you skip it. The movie on its own just isn't worth the time. 

[review_movie_stars] => 1 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 146847 ) ) [14] => Array ( [review_id] => 36870 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => intruder [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Intruder [picture_created] => 1470669939 [picture_name] => Cover4.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Shout Factory [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/08/08/120/Cover4.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/36870/intruder.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [list_price] => 29.99 [asin] => B01JQXEMKU [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

During one of Oregon's most violent storms, a young cellist seeks solitude and comfort in the safety of her large apartment, but soon realizes she might not be home alone. With the modern and simple tone of Paranormal Activity paired with the cinematic elegance of Hitchcock's Rope, INTRUDER is a disturbing psychological thriller that will make you think twice about being home alone.

[review_movie_stars] => N/A [review_video_stars] => N/A [review_audio_stars] => N/A [review_supplements_stars] => N/A [review_bonus_content_stars] => N/A [review_final_thoughts_stars] => N/A ) ) [15] => Array ( [review_id] => 40131 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => itsalwaysfairweather [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => It's Always Fair Weather [picture_created] => 1477424781 [picture_name] => Cover5.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Archive [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/10/25/120/Cover5.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/40131/itsalwaysfairweather.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1955 [run_time] => 101 [list_price] => 21.99 [asin] => B01LTHWWTO [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.55:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Featurette: 'It's Always Fair Weather': Going Out on a High Note [1] => 3 Outtake Musical Numbers: 'The Binge,' 'Jack and the Space Giants,' 'Love Is Nothing But a Racket' [2] => 2 Segments from 'The MGM Parade' featuring Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly [3] => 2 Classic Cartoons: 'Deputy Droopy' and 'Good Will to Men' [4] => Audio-Only Bonus: 'I Thought They'd Never Leave' Outtake [5] => Theatrical Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, Romance, Musical, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Michael Kidd, Dolores Gray, David Burns ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

When Gene Kelly teams with Arthur Freed, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the result is pure movie-musical alchemy: On the Town, Singin' in the Rain and It's Always Fair Weather.

Sparkling with wit and exuberant numbers, It's Always Fair Weather centers on the three World War II buddies (Kelly, Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd) who vow to reunite for old time's sake in 10 years. They do. And find their friendship has fizzled - until a day of tangling with romance, the fight game, the ad biz and a new medium called TV restores their bond. Highlights include the buddies' high-spirited romp that uses trash-can lids as dancing shoes, elegant Cyd Charisse's k.o. of a routine with broken-nosed pugilists, and Kelly's joyful, astonishing tap dance on roller skates. Wow!

[review_movie] =>

When Dore Schary took over the reins at MGM in 1951, he began to systematically change the studio's focus. The musicals and heartwarming family pictures that so beguiled his predecessor, Louis B. Mayer, didn't interest the serious-minded Schary, who sought to mount more realistic and socially conscious dramas under the Metro flag. Schary was wise enough not to shun musicals altogether—after all, they were MGM's bread-and-butter for years—but he did severely curtail their production in favor of such "message" films as 'The Red Badge of Courage,' 'Bad Day at Black Rock,' and 'The Blackboard Jungle.'

Few, if any, musicals were weighty enough to satisfy Schary, but he must have been pleased with 'It's Always Fair Weather.' Substantive, cynical, and even slightly depressing, this Betty Comden-Adolph Green original enjoys many fine moments, but can't come close to recapturing the magic of the team's most famous efforts — 'On the Town,' 'Singin' in the Rain,' and 'The Band Wagon.' Exuberance and joy define those films, but such moments come at a premium in 'It's Always Fair Weather,' thanks to its darker, more sarcastic tone. And get this: Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse star in the movie, but astoundingly never dance together on screen! Kelly tears it up with cohorts Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd, but doesn't even give Charisse a half-hearted twirl. That's not only inconceivable, it's unforgivable.

Time and television are the villains of the piece, and they seek to sabotage the relationship of three Army buddies who served together in World War II. After the jubilation of VE Day, the tight-knit trio agrees to meet again a decade later in the same neighborhood dive they frequented before the war. Ten years can be an eternity, and when Ted Riley (Kelly), Doug Hallerton (Dailey), and Angie Valentine (Kidd) reunite, they find they no longer have anything in common...and can't even bear to be around each other. Savvy TV exec Jackie Leighton (Charisse) gets wind of their situation and decides to exploit it on the weekly show of temperamental diva Madeline Bradville (Dolores Gray), an Oprah Winfrey-Kathie Lee Gifford hybrid whose 'Midnight With Madeline' specializes in weepy, inspirational reality TV (in between self-indulgent musical numbers). Patching up the friendship of three estranged servicemen is right up the show's alley, yet in television's best underhanded, cold-hearted tradition, it's all engineered as a surprise. To properly pull it off, a beleaguered Jackie must go to extreme lengths to keep the guys together and oblivious until air time. Of course, the deception becomes doubly dicey when she finds herself falling in love with Ted.

The reality TV angle fits snugly into today's culture, keeping 'It's Always Fair Weather' fresh and topical, but it can't salvage the movie's plodding story. Comden and Green are masters of satire, and they're at their best incisively skewering the plastic personalities and manipulative content that pervaded 1950s television, but they have trouble maintaining narrative flow. Although Dailey and Kidd are energetic and engaging, we don't develop an affinity with their characters, and the tepid romance between Kelly and Charisse seems mechanical. None of their sexual fireworks from 'Singin' in the Rain' or passionate longing from 'Brigadoon' find their way into this film, which strangely leaves us emotionally bereft.

Of course, the atmosphere perks up during the musical numbers, but hardly any of the catchy tunes relate to the plot. Three, however, are bona fide showstoppers, so we forgive them for bringing the sputtering story to a halt. 'The Binge Dance' begins as a bit of inebriated fun, but soon evolves into a rigorous display of athletic terpsichore that reaches its peak when Kelly, Dailey, and Kidd dance with metal trash can lids attached to their feet. 'I Like Myself,' the film's signature number, is an exhilarating showcase for Kelly, who croons the lilting André Previn melody on roller skates while gliding, tapping, spinning, and leaping along the sidewalks of New York. That tour de force is followed in short order by the dazzlingly inventive 'Thanks a Lot, but No Thanks,' in which an alluring Gray efficiently jettisons a band of dancing suitors with gunfire, dynamite, and trap doors. Blessed with a rich, powerful set of pipes, Gray (in an auspicious film debut) makes a big impression, but appeared in only three more pictures before abandoning Hollywood for the nightclub and Broadway stage.

The public's increasing indifference toward original film musicals undoubtedly hastened Gray's departure, and 'It's Always Fair Weather,' despite a valiant effort, did nothing to reverse the genre's downward trend. Still, from such an illustrious cast and crew, one expects more than the film delivers. 'It's Always Fair Weather' is often pleasant and occasionally inspired, but remains too stilted and self-conscious to be thoroughly captivating. And while I appreciate the effort and intentions of those involved, my feelings regarding the movie echo the lyrics sung by Gray: Thanks a lot, but no thanks.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'It's Always Fair Weather' arrives on Blu-ray packaged in a standard case. Video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 and audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu with music immediately pops up; no previews or promos precede it.

[review_video_picture_id] => 73308 [review_video] =>

By 1955, three-strip Technicolor was a thing of the past, so 'It's Always Fair Weather' lacks the intense hues and crisp delineation of older MGM musicals, but Warner Archive has done a fine job restoring the film so it looks as vibrant and lush as possible. Any way you slice it, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is a big step up from the 2006 DVD. The image is brighter and bolder, grain is slightly reduced, and all the errant speckles that dotted the previous print are gone. Some issues, however, still remain. The horrific muddiness that overwhelms the picture during a couple of long-zoom effects shots looks as bad as ever, and the edge-of-frame distortion that plagued many early CinemaScope films is tough to ignore, too. The very wide 2.55:1 aspect ratio works for and against the film, on the one hand providing directors Kelly and Donen with more real estate to indulge in gimmicky process shots, but compromising background detail and depth levels on the other. Marvelous clarity and rich blacks invigorate the image, as do colorful accents like Charisse's emerald green outfit and Gray's red dress. Flesh tones remain stable and natural, and close-ups nicely render facial details. 'It's Always Fair Weather' will always be a problematic movie, but Warner's presentation masks the deficiencies well. If you're a fan of the film, an upgrade is definitely in order.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73309 [review_audio] =>

Warner Home Video remastered the film's original soundtrack to Dolby Digital 5.1 for it's 2006 DVD release, and that same track is given a lossless boost to DTS-HD Master Audio here. Enhanced fidelity and tonal depth are the most noticeable improvements, especially during the musical numbers. André Previn's lush and bouncy orchestrations burst with vitality (his score received the film's sole Oscar nomination) and Dolores Gray's mellifluous alto sounds gloriously rich and full. A wide dynamic scale handles all the blaring brass and weighty percussion without a hint of distortion, and solid mixing always puts the vocals front and center. Though surround activity is reserved for the songs, palpable stereo separation nicely complements the CinemaScope visuals, widening the soundscape and providing a more immersive experience. Sonic accents like the clatter of Kelly's roller skates and the clash of trash can lids are clear and distinct, and all the dialogue and lyrics are easy to comprehend. Best of all, no age-related imperfections like hiss, pops, or crackles intrude. This full-bodied track really punches up this somewhat anemic musical, and is a definite improvement over the previous DVD.

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All the extras from the 2006 DVD have been ported over to this Blu-ray release, and musicals aficionados will appreciate all the rare and vintage material.

  • Featurette: "'It's Always Fair Weather': Going Out on a High Note" (SD, 16 minutes) - This top-flight featurette provides an in-depth chronicle of the film's turbulent production history. Though the atmosphere looks sunny on the film's surface, backstage storm clouds threatened to sabotage the musical. Co-directors Kelly and Donen openly clashed on the set (leading Donen to term the experience "a 100-percent nightmare"), and the acrimony — fueled by Kelly's megalomania — reached such an intense degree, their relationship never recovered. We also learn 'It's Always Fair Weather' was originally envisioned as a sequel to 'On the Town,' and that despite favorable reviews, the film did only lukewarm business. Archival interviews with Charisse, Kidd, and writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green (who discuss the film's "darker tone" and how it examined the "corrosive effect of time on friendship"), as well as perspective and anecdotes from contemporary historians enhance this slick and entertaining piece.
  • Vintage TV Clips: 'The MGM Parade' (SD, 10 minutes) - Two segments from 'The MGM Parade,' a weekly 1950s TV show that promoted the studio's upcoming releases and saluted its older classics, are included. The first features host George Murphy chatting up the film with Charisse outside her dressing room, which leads into a clip of the 'Baby, You Knock Me Out' number. In the second segment, Murphy makes an "impromptu" visit to the set, where Kelly, Charisse, and company are rehearsing. That scripted banter precedes a portion of Kelly's 'I Like Myself' roller skate dance.
  • Vintage Animated Shorts (HD, 15 minutes) - Two classic cartoons, the Tex Avery 'Deputy Droopy' and Hanna-Barbera's Christmas-themed 'Good Will to Men' (a remake of the 1930s cartoon 'Peace on Earth,' but replacing the chipmunks with mice), are both in superior condition.
  • Outtakes (HD, 20 minutes) - It's always a treat to see outtakes from classic musicals, even if they're not really up to snuff, and the deleted material from 'It's Always Fair Weather' was well left on the cutting room floor. 'Jack and the Space Giants' lets Michael Kidd do a choreographed Iron Chef impersonation, as he frantically navigates the kitchen to prepare a feast for his three kids, while 'Love Is Nothing But a Racket' gives us the Kelly-Charisse pairing we missed in the film. The latter number affords the duo a chance to clown around, and though the lowbrow tenor of the piece suits Kelly, it makes Charisse — who built a career epitomizing style and grace — often look like a clod as she tries to hoof and mug in a variety of guises. Still, it's fun to see the pair share the stage, even if most of the time they bafflingly dance alone. 'The Binge' offers a couple of brief deleted segments from a number already included in the film, and the audio-only outtake, 'I Thought They'd Never Leave,' showcases the mellifluous voice of Dolores Gray. Despite the lack of visuals, the song eclipses the other deleted segments, thanks to Gray's smooth, seductive delivery.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 minutes) - The film's original preview, which tries to hoodwink the audience into believing 'It's Always Fair Weather' is an uplifting, good-natured romp, completes the extras package.
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

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Though its title promises sunny skies, 'It's Always Fair Weather' is, at times, pretty gloomy. A sober, cynical story dims this musical's bright outlook, despite a handful of memorable numbers and some biting satire from Comden and Green. Warner Archive provides a stellar widescreen transfer and remastered audio, along with plenty of interesting supplements, but only the musical faithful will be inclined to purchase this promising but disappointing film.

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From the acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (Coraline) comes an epic original action adventure like you have never seen before! Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) mesmerizes the people of a local fishing village, with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo is forced to go on a quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father and his mystical weaponry, as well as discover his own magical powers. Featuring the voices of Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is a magical event that will mesmerize children and adults alike.

[review_movie] =>

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, stop-motion animation studio Laika's newest movie 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a masterpiece. From its staggeringly gorgeous animation to its imagination-fueled dream story this film holds nothing back. It's a brazen journey into a magical world of love, friendship, family, and sacrifice.

Much like Hayao Miyazaki's films, 'Kubo' challenges younger viewers by confronting them with authentic emotions and heartfelt storytelling. It's not a simple, breezy story about a kid on an adventure. No, this is a movie that treats its younger audience with respect. That allows them the room to feel and grow with its title character. It provides a framework for them to contemplate weighty issues like death, acceptance, fear, and faith without getting too dour in the process.

Young Kubo (Art Parkinson) exists in a magical world. Taking a page from the Miyazaki playbook, the Laika team (helmed by director Travis Knight) never feel the need to explain the magic or its rules, or why magic exists, or why people aren't all that surprised to see magic in the first place. Thank goodness for this. It means that the film never has to find itself bogged down in tedious exposition, and can instead focus on its compelling fairytale story and arresting visuals.

There's just something about stop-motion animation that provides a surrealism that straight CG animation lacks. There's a life to it. A living substance to the characters, their expressions, the backdrops, the intricately created sets, everything. It's tactile.

Kubo is a one-eyed musician who spends his time in a local town telling stories with origami. That's how the movie begins. With Kubo strumming his guitar as his origami paper enchantingly folds itself in mid-air. A samurai pops into existence and as Kubo plays the paper warrior dispatches a myriad of paper enemies: dragons, giant spiders, and angry chickens just to name a few.

The beauty of this scene is astounding. The way it dives right into its own universe without apology or explanation is a sublime exercise in complete immersion of an audience. We don't understand the logistics of Kubo's world, we're just glad we get to visit this once.

There's a story about how Kubo's grandfather, the evil Moon King, stole his eye. His mother is the Moon King's daughter and is trying to protect Kubo from becoming like her father. There's a quest Kubo must embark on if he wants to be able to defeat his grandfather once and for all. And yet, all of this is secondary.

It isn't about why Kubo has to do anything. It's about the journey it takes for him to get there. It's about the spectacular visuals and the trueness of the message. It's about a young boy truly understanding himself, discovering what he's capable of, and proving it to the universe.

Laika's films have all focused on young protagonists. They're all strong, layered characters who, again, resemble the young heroes and heroines of Miyazaki's famous anime. The reverence paid to childhood has become a Laika trademark.

As a family film, 'Kubo' excels. Not just because it's fun to look at (oh, boy it really is!), but because it doesn't dumb itself down for kids. It gives them some mental meat to chew on. It presents them with issues to problem solve. It treats them respectfully like the young, developing human beings they are.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is a two-disc release. It comes with a 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD copy. There's also a Digital Copy code included inside a standard keepcase and slipcover.

[review_video_picture_id] => 72569 [review_video] =>

As you might expect, Universal's 1080p transfer of 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is demo-worthy in every aspect. It is full of detail, color, and life. The presentation captures the intricate details of the extraordinary puppets used for the movie.

The first thing you may notice about this presentation is how cinematic it looks. While the detail is crisp and exact, the film still has a very filmic look to it. Everything down to the smallest detail is visible here. The detail here is exquisite. This is an important aspect of the presentation. If it was blurry or soft at all then the immense amount of work that went into each of these puppets and the hand-made landscapes would be utterly lost. Thankfully, that's not the case.

Color is bold and vibrant. The wide range of color present is just a wonder to behold. Black areas are perfectly defined. No banding exists anywhere. What's even more amazing is that there isn't any aliasing either. There are a couple scenes where fields of what appears to be wheat are waving in the background. These scenes, with so many skinny plants gently waving could be a hotbed for aliasing. Not here though. Lines are clean, never blending; clarity never wavering. This is certainly a release that you'll want to use to show off your high-def setup.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72570 [review_audio] =>

'Kubo' features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that produces a varied amount of depth and ambient sound for the presentation. I must say, however, that I was expecting to be blown away by this mix. It's strong and capable, but lacks the oomph to put it into the 5-star echelon.

Up front dialogue is presented neatly. Not an ounce of spoken word is lost. There are also some great transitional effects up front too. Like when Kubo's magical origami birds flutter from one side of the frame to the other, the sound moves seamlessly with them.

Surround sound is where the film lacks punch. The rear channels provide some good ambient sound, but it never feels totally immersive. It sounds a little too light. As for the low-end frequencies they're adequate, but not overtly impressive. When Kubo and company fight the huge skeleton one might expect house-rumbling bass. Here the bass is present, but it doesn't feel like it's trying for a demo-worthy experience.

Now don't get me wrong. This isn't a bad mix by any means. It's full of richness and clarity. It's just that it might not be a disc you use to show off your sound system.

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Audio Commentary – A commentary is provided by Director Travis Knight. Knight's commentary feels like it's scripted, because he's able to intricately explain details about the what you're seeing. He discusses the animation process, anecdotes behind decisions of details included in the film, and so on. It's a very interesting, detailed commentary, but it does get a little dry simply because it is scripted (or feels that way).

Kubo's Journey (HD, 29 min.) – This is a collection of featurettes with a Play All option. There are six featurettes in all. "Introduction by Director/Producer Traivs Knight" is just that, a very brief explanation of the movie and mentioning the enormous undertaking it was to make. "Japenese Inspiration" is a brief featurette about the movie's Japanese influences and its samuari roots. "Mythological Monsters" is a great look at the different puppeterring and engineering techniques that went into making the three main monsters in the movie. Watching them create and puppet the giant skeleton is awesome. "Braving the Elements" talks about the challenges in making realistic water in stop-motion and how they achieved it. Watching them blend practical effects with CGI is quite amazing. "The Redemptive and Healing Power of Music" shows how the score of the film was created. "Epilogue" again presents Knight as he discusses that Laika loves to challenge themselves with stop-motion animation.

Corners of the Earth (HD, 3 min.) – A short featurette that covers most of the same ground that is shown in "Kubo's Journey." More of a promotional look at the challenges of making an epic movie like this and all the sets they had to physically create.

The Myth of Kubo (HD, 2 min.) – Another promotional trailer-type look at making the movie. Some interviews are reused here that we already heard in "Kubo's Journey."

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There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided here.

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'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a special movie. One of my favorite of 2016. Its animation is incredible. Its story infinitely relatable. The video presentation here is perfection. The audio is a little underwhelming, but nevertheless very capable. This release comes highly recommended.

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From the acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (Coraline) comes an epic original action adventure like you have never seen before! Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) mesmerizes the people of a local fishing village, with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo is forced to go on a quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father and his mystical weaponry, as well as discover his own magical powers. Featuring the voices of Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is a magical event that will mesmerize children and adults alike.

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Years ago, humanity abandoned the ruined Blue World. Generations later, with the planet again capable of sustaining life, mankind returned. In the skies above the reborn world, rebellious young Fam and her best friend Giselle make their living as Sky Pirates. Atop sleek Vespa Vanships, the girls dart fearlessly through the clouds, capturing and selling airborne battleships for profit. It’s a life of care-free swashbuckling – until the Ades Federation attacks. The only nation to remain on Blue World during humanity’s exile, The Ades Federation wages war against those who returned only after the planet’s darkest days had passed. When Fam and Giselle rescue a princess from the clutches of the rampaging Ades armada, they join the young royal’s battle to save her Kingdom from destruction – and undertake the impossible mission of uniting humanity in peace.

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 Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) returns as the Mechanic in the sequel to the 2011 action-thriller. When the deceitful actions of a cunning but beautiful woman (Jessica Alba) force him to return to the life he left behind, Bishop's life is once again in danger as he has to complete an impossible list of assassinations of the most dangerous men in the world.

[review_editors_notes] =>

Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

[review_movie] =>

At this point in his career, if you've seen a Jason Statham movie, you've seen them all. They're virtually identical to one another, the same formulaic drivel, layered with the sort of nuance and sophistication as a pie in the face. If the British-born actor is among the cast members, audiences can always expect an abundance of broken bones, random explosions, and anything in the vicinity being utterly destroyed. Stratham's latest modestly-budgeted actioner, 'Mechanic: Resurrection,' is ultimately no different, if not exactly the same as every movie he has starred in. The sequel to 2011's surprise remake — and this one also turned out to be another surprise sleeper hit — is another routine, check-your-brain at the door vehicle.

Mr. Stratham is pretty much sleepwalking in his return as grumpy orphan boy turned professional assassin Arthur Bishop, offering little to the imagination or the opportunity to reveal emotional range. After cleverly escaping certain death in the last movie — or roll-your-eyes, perfectly orchestrated, depending on who you ask — the brooding, grouchy-looking killer enjoys retirement on a boat in Brazil, yet he still feels the need to use explosives as his home security system. (You know, because that won't come up in the next few minutes or so.) But don't fret, however. Because in spite of his looks and chipper disposition, he's actually a big ole teddy bear deep down inside. It's really, really deep down requiring some strenuous digging, but rest a sure, it's there. Just look at the way he handles and cares for a vinyl record while enjoying a cup of coffee and the paper. As we all know, a person who appreciates the sound of vinyl on a crazy expensive Pro-Ject turntable is always a good indicator of their altruistic personality.

And with that footnote established and understood — as it will come up again when the damsel in distress makes her sudden appearance in an ever so subtle punch to the gut — baddies interrupt our anti-hero's relaxing morning routine. Cue the crushing sounds of bones popping and the pounding of faces into tables as dizzying, rapid-fire editing turns the fight choreography into a single, woozy blur, culminating into an impossibly daring escape and, of course, an explosion. The man responsible for the chaotic morning call is the not-so-mysterious, fellow orphan playmate Crain (Sam Hazeldine), who simply wants to hire our protagonist for a three-kill mission. And what's his compensation? He won't have his army of henchmen, who are about as effective at their jobs as the Minions, bump off Bishop's new love interest Gina (Jessica Alba), the aforementioned damsel. Man, being a professional assassin with the talent for making a murder look accidental sure is a tough racket, especially if one is really in high demand.

The rest of 'Mechanic: Resurrection' is a paint-by-numbers actioner and ironically mechanical, which is disappointing from German director Dennis Gansel, who left quite the impression a few years ago with 'The Wave' and 'We Are the Night.' Action sequences are visually interesting, in part thanks to the camerawork of Daniel Gottschalk, but none of it feels original or the least bit thrilling. If Ethan Hunt didn't already surround himself with competent spies or ever felt like taking day off from performing his own stunts, then Bishop would be well suited for the task of completing impossible missions. He scales high-rises to do some minor plumbing work and penetrates the impenetrable fortresses of Bulgaria owned by Tommy Lee Jones as arms dealer — and part-time Las Vegas lounge singer — Max Adams. The tediousness and boredom ultimately comes down to a predictable script that never presents Bishop with a real challenge or genuine threat to him or his girl. He's designed, from the opening moments, to win and be smarter than anyone else, so what's the point. Which is to say, don't even bother with this.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Summit and Lionsgate Home Entertainment bring 'Mechanic: Ressurection' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is joined by a DVD-9 copy of the movie inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a shiny slipcover. After several skippable trailers, viewers are taken to a menu screen with full-motion clips and music.

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Bishop is raised from the dead thanks to an exemplary, highly-detailed AVC-encoded transfer, offering several demo-worthy moments that should wow viewers.

The best and most impressive scenes are those taking place at Mae's beach house in Thailand, although the other Asian and Australia locations look just as good. The ocean water is bright blue while the tops of every ripple and wave are distinct, and viewers can plainly make out every grain of sand shimmering in the sun. The edges of palm branches, the points of the dried palm-leaf roofs of houses and the dry, aged wood grain is consistently razor-sharp. The faces of the cast and extras appear natural and appropriate to the climate with excellent complexions, revealing every blemish, negligible scar and wrinkle. When the action suddenly moves to Europe, on the other hand, the scenery is not quite as defined, most notably when our hero assassin chases an arms dealer in an underground bunker in Bulgaria.

Shot on a pair of Red camera systems, the rest of the 1080p picture comes with outstanding contrast and clean, crisp whites. The photography of Daniel Gottschalk displays a gorgeous and varied array of colors throughout. Showing animated, luxurious primaries and accurate, warm secondary hues, those sequences mentioned above are simply marvelous to gawk at — and I'm not just referring to Jessica Alba in a two-piece. Unfortunately, the cinematography makes a sudden left turn when landing in Bulgaria where things become dour, gray and gloomy, but that appears intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Thankfully, black levels remain consistent and inky rich without sacrificing any of the finer details in the shadows, providing the 2.40:1 image with an attractive cinematic quality. 

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72918 [review_audio] =>

The sassy, ironic mechanic bursts forth unto the screen with a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that'll put viewers right in the middle of the action on various occasions.

In truth, it doesn't compare to some of the best object-based tracks we've heard in other movies, but when it does, it is highly amusing. When the action erupts, debris flies overhead and to the sides, creating some very satisfying moments of immersion. Ambient effects occasionally bleed into the ceiling speakers with discrete effectiveness and excellent directionality, particularly the scene when Bishop first meets with Crain. The sound of wind blowing and exotic birds singing are heard everywhere to create an amazing dome-like aural experience. Helicopters also pan from the back of the room, overhead and to the front and back again with stunning realism while the noise of their blades resonate all around and above when inside the cockpit.

The front soundstage is definitely the movie's most impressive aspect, delivering an incredibly expansive and broad soundscape with noteworthy channel balance. Whether it's cars or bullets, the action moves from one side to the other with fluid precision and fidelity while littered with a variety of convincing off-screen activity that bleeds into the front heights. The lossless mix remains distinct and dynamic with room-penetrating clarity, exhibiting outstanding detailing between the mids and highs even during the loudest segments. Dialogue and character interaction does not falter amid the mayhem. A powerful and often authoritative low-end delivers a palpable, resonating presence, making it a great complement to the visuals.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72919 [review_supplements] =>
  • Engineering the Sequel (HD, 10 min) — Standard EPK-like piece made up of cast & crew interviews with BTS footage pratting on about the plot, characters and production.
  • Scoring the Action Film (HD, 9 min) — Precisely as it sounds, the featurette is a sit-down with musician and composer on his approach to the material and creative decisions.
  • The Malaysian Prison (HD, 1 min) — At brief look at the building serving as the backdrop to one of Bishop's kills and daring escape.
  • Michelle Yeoh, Secret Ally (HD, 1 min) — A focused conversation on the actress.
  • Statham on Stunts (HD, 1 min) — Does this need an explanation?
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

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'Mechanic: Resurrection' is the sequel to 2011's sleeper hit with some visually interesting camerawork but is ultimately a boring, paint-by-numbers actioner. Thanks to a predictable script that never presents its anti-hero with any credible challenges or threats, the movie barely worth checking out for anyone who enjoyed the first movie. The Blu-ray arrives with a fantastic audio and video presentation with several demo-worthy moments, but the supplements package is pretty disappointing, making this another case of good disc, bad flick.

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With high speed camerawork and breakthrough new science, we enter the fast-paced world of hummingbirds as never before. Speed is their middle name. Their lives are moving faster than the eye can see.

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Directed by noted music documentarian Robert Mugge (Last of the Mississippi Jukes, Blues Divas), New Orleans Music In Exile is an intimate and eye-opening meditation on the resiliency of the artists and the magnitude of the loss. The film showcases musicians such as The Iguanas, Irma Thomas, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Stephen Assaf, ReBirth Brass Band and many more, and explores several well-known New Orleans music venues such as The Spotted Cat, Maple Leaf, Snug Harbor, and Palm Tavern.

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A western like no other, One-Eyed Jacks combines the mythological scope of that most American of film genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Marlon Brando, all suffused with Freudian overtones and male anxiety. In his only directing stint, Brando captures the rugged landscapes of California’s Central Coast and Mexico’s Sonoran Desert in gorgeous widescreen, Technicolor images, and elicits from his fellow actors (including Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer) nuanced improvisational depictions of conflicted characters. Though overwhelmed by its director’s perfectionism and plagued by production setbacks and studio re-editing, One-Eyed Jacksstands as one of Brando’s great achievements, thanks above all to his tortured turn as Rio, a bank robber bent on revenge against his one-time partner in crime, the aptly named Dad Longworth (Malden). Brooding and romantic, Rio marks the last, and perhaps the most tender, of the iconic outsiders Brando imbued with such remarkable intensity throughout his career.

[review_movie] =>

Marlon Brando's reputation preceeds him. As a perfectionist and a die-hard practitioner of Stanislavski's "method" system of acting, in addition to being known as one of the best actors of all-time, he was also known for being extremely difficult to work with. The story of his only directorial effort, the very troubled production 'One-Eyed Jacks,' may be the best example of how difficult he was, but how great the rewards were that come of it.

Originally written by Sam Peckinpah for Stanley Kubrick to direct, as pre-production lagged on, the project was then passed over to Brando, who previously only planned to produce the film alongside his father. Featuring re-write after re-write and a delayed production that ran months too long and millions of dollars over budget, the film was originally slated for a September 1958 release, but didn't open until March 1961 – and even then, it was only after major reshoots and the studio taking the movie away from Brando during the editing process because of how long he was taking. We hear of troubled productions and studio interference frequently in modern times ('Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' and 'Suicide Squad' are two of the most notable comtemporary releases). In most cases, the final products of such films lack style, coherence and/or creativity, but in the case of 'One-Eyed Jacks,' the final cut is fantastic.

Until now, the only thing that I knew about 'One-Eyed Jacks' was that dozens of copies can be found in any given Walmart's discount DVD bin – that and the DVD's artwork is terrible. Fortunately, Criterion has done a wonderful job of repackaging and delivering this brand new remaster of the film, which quickly entered my Top 5 All-Time Westerns list right after seeing it.

Marlon Brando plays the film's anti-hero lead, Rio, an outlaw who never meant to do harm to anyone, but certainly didn't have any problems knocking off banks for his own personal gain. The film kicks off with a drawn-out sequence that takes its times building up to the movie's main story. Rio and two friends hold up a bank in Mexico, after which a group of Federales track them down. One of the criming trio goes down in a blaze of glory, while Rio and his mentor – nicknamed "Dad" (Karl Malden) – get away from the village and into the desert hills. When the two finally look like they put some distance between them, a Federale bullet takes out Rio's horse, forcing the him to hop on Dad's as they make their way up a steep ridge and hold their ground. With only one horse, they decide to send Dad to a nearby ranch so he can steal and/or buy a horse for Rio, but when Dad gets to safety, his survival instincts kick in. Choosing flight over fight, Dad keeps riding and abandons Rio, who is eventually arrested and imprisoned.

Five years later, when Rio escapes from the Sonoran prison, with rage boiling his blood, he heads out to find Dad and get revenge. It's in Monterey, California where he finds him living a clean and crime-free life. Dad settled down, married a beautiful and kind Mexican woman, and took on the roles of step-father and town sheriff. Without revealing his revenge card, Rio comes to Dad and plays ignorant to knowing about the betrayal. He formulates a perfect plan to kill Dad, but hits a brick wall when her starts falling for Dad's stepdaughter, Louisa (Pina Pellicer).

'One-Eyed Jacks' is ambitious. It's more than a simple tale of revenge; it's a deep character study that takes its time. Each action and every line is perfectly tailored to serve a very specific purpose. Despite the troubled production, the final product is a masterpiece. All of the delays and expenses were worth it. Although it may have been a financial and critical flop at the time of its release, it's now praised and viewed with fondness - hence Criterion adopting it into the prestigious Collection. If you've never seen Brando's classic western, coming from someone who also just barely discovered it, you've got to. 'One-Eyed Jacks' is a must-see.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'One-Eyed Jacks' has received an upgrade that's much better than most, although Criterion didn't technically perform the remaster. The video and audio restoration was overseen by The Film Foundation and celluloid purists Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg in preparation for a 2016 Cannes Film Festival screening. In partnership with Universal, Criterion received distribution rights for this version, for which they also compiled a new set of special features. The film and all extras are contained on a Region A BD-50 disc in a standard clear Criterion keepcase with #844 on the spine. Included is a booklet with release notes and an essay by Howard Hampton. Nothing plays before the main menu.

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With a new 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer, 'One-Eyed Jacks' looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Having the best video quality of any transfer of a film of its age, the only disappointment with it is that Criterion hasn't made it available on UHD although it was remastered in 4K.

There isn't a lick of damage in this film. Not one scratch. Not a single verticle run. No specks. No jutter. Nothing. Aside from a natural dusting of celluloid grain, the visual presentation is 100% clean and clear. Each frame is gorgeous.

Colors are vibrant and visually appealing. Blue skies and red clothing pop on-screen. Even the color of the opening title cards shine. Through all the many locations, sets and lighting, contrast is consistent. Details are strongly abundant in the majority of the scenes. Clothing and skin textures are apparent. The only waivering aspect of the detail are some shots that were obviously recorded slightly out of focus. Those shots have a very slight haze and glow that wipes out details and definition. Fortunately, they are few and far between.

While several scenes reveal very slight noise in the skies, there are no instances of banding, aliasing or artifacts.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73812 [review_audio] =>

In the same way that the video quality of 'One-Eyed Jacks' doesn't show its age, the audio quality also doesn't feature any aging flaws. Unfortunately, being a mono track, it doesn't have the opportunity to wow as much as the video does.

The uncompressed LPCM monoaural track is free of distortion, warping, warbling, inconsistency or shakiness. It's never blown-out or uneven. The different elements are mixed harmoniously with one another so there's always a dominant layer that never step on the others' toes. The best element of all is the fantastic original score, which is oft allowed to play loudly. Being a grand and sweeping score, its very impressive.

The only improvement that this mix could have used would be a multi-channel mix, but it's just fine as-is.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 73813 [review_supplements] =>
    • Introduction by Martin Scorsese (HD, 2:55) – For the Cannes premiere of the 4K remaster, Scorsese recorded a new introduction of the film on behalf of the The Film Foundation. In it, he briefly explains the backstory of the production and Marlon Brando's heavy involvement in all aspects of the shoot.

    • Marlon Brando (HD, 33:38) – If you've seen the documentary 'Listen to Me Marlon,' then you know that Brando made hours and hours of personal audio recordings for himself. This feature combines 33 minutes of his audio regarding 'One-Eyed Jacks.' You'll hear about previous drafts of the script that included story elements that were altered. Beware that what you'll hear is uncensored and features strong language.

    • 'A Million Feet of Film' (HD, 23:09) – Thanks to YouTube and Vimeo, video essays are all the rage right now. This one included, many video essays are absolutely fantastic. This one comes from '50s western blogger Toby Roan. In it, he walks us through every aspect of the film's production.

    • 'I Ain't Hung Yet' (HD, 24:02) – This second video essays comes to us from filmmaker and critic David Cairns. Instead of rehashing the content from the previous feature, Cairns' describes how 'One-Eyed Jacks' impacted the western tradition. He also breaks down and analyzes the story, shots, styles and dynamics.

    • Trailer (HD, 4:44)

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 73814 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD bonus features.

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Upon discovering the greatness of the western genre for myself, I blew through all of the classics and made my own favorites list. Along the way, I somehow missed 'One-Eyed Jacks,' but having now discovered it, it's easily in my Top 5. Structurally and character-wise, 'Jacks' functions unlike any other western I've seen. It takes the blockbuster genre and makes it work like a multi-faceted film. Just as interesting and entertaining as the film itself is the history of its very troubled production. Criterion slapped on several special features that tell the story behind the film, each of which give a knownledge that only makes the film better. The Film Foundation is responsible for the top-notch video and audio transfers that collectively make this one of Criterion's very best Blu-ray releases. I highly recommend adding 'One-Eyed Jacks' to your collection. It's worth the blind-buy.

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Hachimitsu Academy, a prestigious, historically all-girls school, has finally become co-ed. Average teen, Kiyoshi, is one of five boys to enroll. What he doesn’t know is that the school is clandestinely ruled by an Underground Student Council of ruthless, cruel, totally hot female students! And when the boys get caught peeping, they’re sent to the school’s prison, which is run by the brutally seductive warden, who also happens to be the VP of the Underground Student Council. After the boys are forced endure manual labor, whips, and chains, they’ll be left wishing they were locked up with actual criminals!

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With Rabid, acclaimed director David Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch) delivers a high-tension thriller filled with "zombified sluts and shock moments… an irresistible combination that Cronenberg handles well" (Almar Haflidason, BBC)!

 After undergoing radical emergency surgery, Rose (former adult film star Marilyn Chambers in her first leading role in a mainstream film) develops an insatiable desire for blood. She searches out victims to satisfy her incurable craving, infecting them with an unknown disease which in turn swiftly drives them insane… and makes them equally bloodthirsty.

 Follow the lovely but deadly Rose through her terrifying ordeal as victim by victim, the spreading circle of casualties grows... until no one can escape their grisly fate of becoming... Rabid.

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In Return of the Living Dead: Part II, the chemical Trioxin turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Now, the government is trying to control these unstoppable cannibalistic killers in Return of the Living Dead 3. When a young man uses the chemical to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident, she is driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her...human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves!

[review_movie] =>

Sometimes, I enjoy reading the anonymous comments and revisions made to a movie's Wikipedia page because they can occasionally offer a different and unique insight to a person's perception of said movie, which ironically can often be the reason for never trusting such websites in the first place. For the page dedicated to 'Return of the Living Dead 3,' the movie is described as a "romantic horror film," which paradoxically is funnier than anything seen in this production. Part of what makes that description funny is that there is nothing romantic in a plot that doesn't differ all that much from its previous two predecessors, except that filmmakers abandoned the comedic tone set by those two for a more serious take. If this second sequel to the intentionally silly zombie series is considered romantic, then first and second installments should be relabeled "romantic comedies." Military action! Toxic chemicals which reanimate the dead! Oozing icky gore and pandemonium! It's the perfect date night flick.

Adding to the humor of associating any aspect of this production to romance is director Brian Yuzna's attempt for a straightforward horror feature inadvertently resulting in a silly comedy. It's the sort of guilty pleasure — and it is, given that I still get a kick out of it — many tend to justify as so bad it's good. And I must admit, I understanding exactly what that person was thinking when typing the word "romantic" on the movie's page. Yuzna, who's arguably better known for serving as producer to 'Re-Animator,' 'From Beyond' and 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,' makes the star-crossed romance of Curt (J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie (Melinda Clarke) as the central plot. After dying from a motorcycle accident, a grieving Curt breaks into the military base where his father (Kent McCord) has been experimenting with the Trioxin gas to revive the grunge corpse of Julie. As the two deal with her addictive desire to munch on some tasty brains, the pair explore the kinkier side of their relationship while ignoring the elephant in the room: Does making-out with a conscious but still very much dead Julie make Curt a necrophiliac?

Perhaps, the movie would be less (unintentionally) goofy and viewed a more credible romance if not for the story's wackier, more histrionic areas meant as deadly serious drama. Clarke does reasonably well portraying Julie's hunger for flesh as an addiction or suffering withdrawal pains, which she tries to remedy by masochistically cutting herself and extensive self-inflicted body modification. Although at times gruesome and gory, the idea is interesting and worthwhile in the hands of better filmmakers. But the possibilities are undermined by the boyfriend's hysterics and delusional fantasies of a happy conclusion to the violent mayhem he created. Plummeting the premise even further into complete daffy hysteria is a quartet of gang members chasing after our doomed couple because Julie had a hankering for some spicy Mexican food. And honestly, these hardened street thugs provide little consequence to the overall movie or Julie's plight, serving as generic fodder and a source of urgency to move along the plot, which doesn't work.

However, if there's any legitimate reason for watching — or coming close to recommending — 'Return of the Living Dead 3,' it's in the hilarious notion of seeing zombie cholos (slang for Latino gang members). I can't think of any other horror flick that features tough gangsters as the walking dead, one of which walks around with his spine exposed! (Cholos, however, are already equipped and read for the zombie apocalypse!) It's total absurdity and could never be taken serious. But that doesn't stop Yuzna and company from trying. The movie's highlight comes with Julie transforming — or better yet, disfiguring — herself into a more ruthless killing machine. A rock tied to one hand for smashing heads, a knife protruding from the palm of the other for stabbing, sharp wires bulging from under her fingernails for tearing apart the flesh. As if unable to figure out a more satisfying ending, the story does a complete 360°, finishing back where it all started. And so, the moral of the story, assuming there is one, is that young love triumphs and conquers all, even in the reanimated dead?

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings 'Return of the Living Dead 3' to Blu-ray as a Collector's Series under the distributor's Vestron Video line. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is housed inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static menu screen with a photo of the cover art and music playing in the background.

[review_video_picture_id] => 74545 [review_video] =>

The dead return to life on Blu-ray with a strong AVC MPEG-4 encode that only offers a marginal improvement over its standard def counterpart. Much of this is likely due to the condition of the source, looking softer than other titles from the same period with a couple noticeably blurry sequences.

However, fine lines and objects are pretty distinct and visible in the background with sharp detailing in the clothing, the bodies of the walking dead and the walls of the army facility and the sewer hideout. Primaries are fairly bright and cleanly rendered, but secondary hues are somewhat lackluster. Although facial complexions can be revealing during close-ups, faces appear pale and sometimes sickly, making the living look almost dead in a few areas. The 1080p video displays good contrast levels, but much of the picture is nonetheless a little faded and flat. Likewise, blacks are deep and true in several spots, but they also tend to be slightly dull and murky while average shadow delineation. Overall, with a thin layer of natural grain, the 1.85:1 image makes a decent upgrade for the most loyal of fans. 

[review_audio_picture_id] => 74546 [review_audio] =>

Much like the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio stereo soundtrack is good, but not really a massive jump from previous home releases.

Compared to the DVD, the lossless mix is noticeably cleaner with slightly better clarity of background activity and appreciable balance. The mid-range also exhibits better detailing with distinct, precise dialogue reproduction. Low bass offers a bit more oomph to the music and action, but it's not by much, making much of the design seem pretty lacking. As for the rest of the track, various Foley effects, and occasionally even voices, tend to echo in the oddest areas and placement is distractingly misplaced. The overall design is, frankly, weak and somewhat limited, generating a mostly uniform soundstage that feels like a flat line across the screen. There are many instances of hissing, some popping in the background and very mild distortion in the loudest segments. 

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 74547 [review_supplements] =>

The Blu-ray edition arrives with a new set of supplements along with others from the DVD.

  • Audio Commentary — Both commentary tracks are ported over from the previous DVD release. Director Brian Yuzna kicks things off with a decently informative chat that's focused more on the history of the production and his involvement while giving his thoughts about specific aspects of the movie. The second track features Melinda Clarke talking with the late special effects artist Tom Rainone, who sadly passed away shortly after the Blu-ray release. They swap a variety of anecdotes and memories about the makeup and practical effects, especially as it relates to Clarke's character.
  • Ashes to Ashes (HD, 27 min) — The longest and meatiest of the new supplements is an enlightening conversation between Yuzna and screenwriter John Penney, mixed with lots of BTS footage.
  • Living Dead Girl (HD, 19 min) — Clarke talks extensively about her career, landing this role at a young age and her experience as a budding actress on her first film set.
  • The Resurrected Dead (HD, 19 min) — Special effects artists Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson talk in detail about the makeup effects while showing some vintage BTS footage.
  • Romeo is Bleeding (HD, 17 min) — Actor J. Trevor Edmond is also given a few minutes to share his memories and stories from the set.
  • Trimark and Trioxin (HD, 14 min) — An amusing chat with production manager David Tripet and editor Chris Roth about working on this production and a brief history on the home video market.
  • Still Galleries (HD)
  • Trailer (HD)
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

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As the third installment to the silly zombie franchise, 'Return of the Living Dead 3' does away with the comedic tone of its predecessors in favor of a more straightforward horror flick with a good deal of gore. The result is an unintentionally hilarious tale of star-crossed lovers literally running to stay alive while one struggles with her addiction for human brains. The Blu-ray from Vestron Video arrives with a noticeable but still small improvement over its DVD counterpart. But with a new assortment of supplements made for this collector's edition, the overall package is quite tempting for fans and cult enthusiasts.

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Launched in 1982 by three friends in a Houston diner, Compaq Computer set out to build a portable PC to take on IBM, the world's most powerful tech company. Many had tried cloning the industry leader's code, only to be trounced by IBM and its high-priced lawyers. "Silicon Cowboys" explores the remarkable David vs. Goliath rise, and eventual demise, of Compaq, an unlikely upstart who altered the future of computing and helped shape the world as we know it today. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Jason Cohen, the film offers a fresh look at the explosive rise of the 1980's PC industry and is a refreshing alternative to the familiar narratives of Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg.

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Be careful of what you touch. A large meteor is heading quickly toward Earth. A space defense launches a missile and seems to destroy the meteor. But a small piece of the meteor lands in a remote part of Europe. An up and coming American rock band is touring through Europe when their van breaks down... near the meteor. The area is eerily quiet and the band finds clues of people living in the area but no one is found. Gradually, they begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together but the meteor is having a deadly effect on them. Bonus Features Include: Interviews, music videos and More!!!

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Join an all star cast including Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), and Ashlee Simpson on an out of-this-world adventure. Pushok, a brave pup astronaut is on a mission to find his father who is trapped on the moon! Defying all odds Pushok blasts off on a rocket to rescue his family but quickly finds he's not alone as he crosses paths with a macho monkey and tiny green aliens. Can Pushok save his family? Will this be mission impawssible?

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The Best of Cinerama is comprised of all the greatest thrills of Cinerama, from the breathtaking roller coaster ride to the visit to La Scala, Milan, for Aida; from the hurtling bobsled run, to the stirring dances of the African Watusis. Made up of over 20 such exciting highlights, the film is not only an historic compilation, but also a stand-alone thrill-a-minute experience.

The adventure begins with the Sabre jet precision flying team from Search For Paradise, and then whirls back to the iconic roller coaster sequence from This is Cinerama! newly restored for this release. From there, the three-panel journey goes global, showcasing some of the rich and exotic locales of Cinerama Holiday, South Seas Adventure and Seven Wonders of the World. There s the Marian Year Celebration at St. Peter s Square in Rome, featuring the first commercial motion-picture footage of Pope Pius XII. There s the boat trip down the Ganges River at Benares. There are visits to Paris, Vienna, Athens, India, Brazil, Japan, Africa, Israel, and New Orleans, all in one spectacular Cinerama presentation.

Flicker Alley and Cinerama Inc. are proud to present The Best of Cinerama in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered from original camera negatives, and includes an all-new restoration of scenes from This is Cinerama! This edition celebrates a decade of Cinerama filmmaking, and over five years of bringing those treasures back to life on Blu-ray and DVD for future Cinerama audiences to enjoy!

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Set includes 'The Inspector', 'Roland and Rattfink,' 'The Ant and the Aardvark,' and 'Tijuana Toads.'

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With excruciating honesty, The Squid and the Whale chronicles the experiences of two young brothers growing up in 1980s Park Slope, Brooklyn, as they navigate the jagged contours of the divorce of their parents, both writers. The acclaimed third feature by Noah Baumbach marked a critical development for the filmmaker as he turned toward an increasingly personal style—a move that garnered him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Shot in Super 16 mm and featuring a quartet of nuanced, understated performances from Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, and Owen Kline, this comic and poignant drama, peppered with autobiographical elements, deftly captures the heartache and confusion of a fracturing family.

[review_movie] =>

How much of us goes into our children? We all want to believe we make our own decisions, and refuse to believe the sins of our parents determine the lives we lead. And yet, you can't argue the importance of a solid foundation and upbringing. Many films have tackled this complex subject, but only a handful have reached the heights of the modest but impactful “The Squid and The Whale.”

Director Noah Baumbach has always been compared to his friend, the much more successful Wes Anderson. After all, Baumbach used to write for Anderson. They both make movies that feature endlessly quirky “hipster” characters that have dry plucky humor and wit. But I feel Baumbach separates himself by his dry humor, which acts as a way for us to get to know these characters. From the beginning, we know instantly the kind of person, father, and husband Bernard Bergman (Jeff Daniels) is from his snarky demeanor. Bernard is absolutely delusional about almost every aspect of his life.  How he is a “writer” who has never had a chance to reach his full potential.  How full of wisdom he is.  And most importantly, his place in his marriage at this particular point in time. His wife Joan (Laura Linney) is actually the breadwinner of the household because she also is a writer.  Her star is on the rise while Bernard only teaches literature at a local school, and he can't handle it. All of this is conveyed in an incredibly short amount of time through the plucky dialogue between Daniels and Linney, and they are both at the top of their game.  Joan is more down to earth, the lesser of the two evils,  but she still has her problems. There is no way to get around it: these two are very flawed characters, and because of this, they are going through an ugly divorce.  Joan will get the house, and Bernard will be moving into a seedier part of Manhattan, that he so eloquently describes as “the fillet of the neighborhood.”     

Bernard and Joan have two children, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), and Frank (Owen Kline), who have already taken sides in their parents’ antagonistic relationship. Walt clearly looks up to his father and is on his way to being just as delusional as him. He has enrolled in a talent competition, claiming that he wrote “Hey You,” which we all know was written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. But this is ok to Walt because his father dotes on him to such a degree that he thinks he can do no wrong. It especially becomes concerning when Walt has genuine insecurities about his relationship with his girlfriend Sophie (Halley Feiffer). The way Walt deals with his insecurities is to lie and project a false image of himself that absolutely mirrors Bernard's false projections of himself. Frank takes his mother’s side, and as a result, is dealing with the divorce in his own ways. He is in his early teens, and experimenting in weird ways that are directly tied to his parents’ divorce. Both of these teenage children are severely affected by their parents’ disagreements, and if they continue on the path that they are on, they are bound for a similar life as their parents themselves.

All of these depressing themes don't necessarily lead to a depressing movie. As I stated above, there is quite a bit of dry humor that acts as levity to lighten the subject matter. Bernard has been putting on his act for so long, he truly believes his own lies, and it is hilarious to see how he justifies himself through the movie. The movie also finds humor in how Walt and Frank take after their parents in peculiar ways. Walt actually thinks that even though he didn't write “Hey You,” he believes he could have if Roger Waters didn't. Since Bernard wants to live vicariously through his son in the worst way, he feels inclined to agree with him. All of this adds up to a thought provoking portrait of a broken home featuring just enough levity to lighten the mood, to make a seemingly perfect blend of drama and dark comedy.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Status

Criterion brings ‘The Squid and The Whale’ to Blu-ray with its usual white hardcover case that always feels just a bit more weighty and substantial. Inside is a single layer BD-50 Blu-ray on the right with a picture of Eisenberg performing “Hey You” at the talent show on it. To the left is a very interesting booklet with a short story about the film, written by Kent Jones. Jones then goes on to do a written interview Baumbach, which is included as well. There are no trailers on any Criterion release that I have seen and there aren't any here. Just a still frame main menu that lets you navigate from there.

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‘The Squid and The Whale’ brings us back to my favorite decade with this 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that is all about setting a mood and a sense of time. Yes people, we are brought back to the early 80s here, and that is this transfer’s biggest asset. Framed at its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and shot in 16mm, we really get the sense that this movie could have been filmed in the late 70s early 80s with all the grime, grit, and brownish orange tinge. Which is a compliment because this movie was actually released in 2005. It is hard to recreate a time that has long since passed like this, but cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman has done an outstanding job at recreating a Brooklyn, NY that feels authentic and lived in.

This movie wouldn't be my first choice for a 4K master, but that is the new “it” thing to do, and Criterion likes to do this at least once a month. Now, that doesn't mean you should be setting your expectations too high, however there is a significant bump up in clarity and grain levels from any other version you can pick up for this movie. We don't get unbelievable clarity and detail here, but certain scenes do have good detail, especially with Daniel's beard which makes him look like a member of The Bee Gee’s. A certain amount of grain comes with the territory in order to make this film feel authentic, but it is actually nicely done here, with just the right level between amateurish and authentic. All in all, this is a subtle but effective transfer that didn’t blow me away (not every transfer needs to), while setting a mood that the rest of the movie has heavily relied on.

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Criterion advertises its DTS-HD MA 5.1 track as being supervised by its composer Dean Wareham, and that shows where their focus was when mixing this track more than you might guess from first impressions. Everything special about this mix is its soundtrack, and the rest is a subtle affair. You hear a small amount of the Brooklyn street noise in your surrounds during exterior scenes, but that is all too far and few between. The majority of the movie is very somber and front heavy. There is nothing wrong with that in this case. Not every surround track needs to smack us in the face with how bombastic it is.  

When the “hipster-esq” score comes into play, something different happens. Your whole field of sound comes to life! The LED light on my subwoofer turns from red to blue and it brings that warm feeling to my heart.  From ‘The Swimming Song’ by Loudon Wainwright III, to ‘Street Hassle’ by Lou Reed, all the way to ‘Courting Blues’ by Bert Jansch, all of these songs are recreated expertly in 5.1 surround. This track adds a sense of place and time with its wonderfully eccentric soundtrack, proving you can be minimalist and still be effective.

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Noah Baumbach (27:40 HD) – ‘The Squid and The Whale’ is obviously a very personal story for Baumbach, and this feature is all about the journey of making the movie, and what it means to him. At one point, he proves how long it took until this film came to fruition: Baumbach finished his script wile Anderson was finishing the script for the ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001) and the movie didn't get greenlit until after he helped Anderson write ‘Life Aquatic’ (2004).

Revisiting The Squid and The Whale (20:14 HD) – A collection of interviews with Linney, Eisenberg, and Kline reflecting on their experience that is really interesting.  You definitely see it in the film, but it is interesting how Eisenberg picked up on Daniels’ character to reflect how much the two characters were alike.

Jeff Daniels (7:57 HD) – A solo interview with Daniels where he talks about how he fought to steal the role from an “A list” actor. The reason he was chosen was because he was the only one to get that beyond the subject matter; it was actually funny. 

Auditions:  Walt and Frank (3:10 SD) – Auditions for the two actors rehearsing the scene where they talk about the books in Bernard's new house.

                   “Do You Like Frank Kafka?” (3:17 SD) Eisenberg and Feiffer rehearse the scene where they talk about Kafka.

                  “Not an Intellectual” (3:59 SD) – Eisenberg and Feiffer rehearse the scene where Walt asks Sophie about her previous relationships.

                  “Don't Be Difficult” (2:42 SD) – Another audition between Eisenberg and Feiffer where they rehearse their fight on the street.

                  “I Know It’s Over” (7:31 SD) – The last audition between Eisenberg and Feiffer where they run through their breakup scene.

Dean Wareham And Britta Phillips (13:49 HD) A look back at the professional relationship between Baumbach and the two composers, reminiscing about previous films together and the choices on the soundtrack for ‘The Squid and The Whale’. 

Behind ‘The Squid and The Whale’ (9:57 SD) – The actors talk about their roles and where they drew their characters from. 

Trailers (4:07 HD)

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In the Special Features, Baumbach talks about how hard it was to grow up with artistic parents who were very concerned with themselves and their careers. I see that this movie was an immensely personal story for Baumbach (he is Walt in the movie), and that is always a great recipe for a good movie. The way that Daniels finds the humor behind the heavy material makes him a stand out, and a this becomes a career changing role for him along with every actor in the movie. This movie would be a joyless affair without actors who understand its dry ironic humor. When I was in college, I had an apartment down the street from a small independent movie theater that I have fond memories of.  ‘The Squid and The Whale’ was the absolute first film I saw at that theater and an experience I cherish the most. Right after seeing the movie, I remember jumping in my car to go to my local music store and buying the soundtrack. Now, even though my taste in movies and music has changed, my love for this movie and its soundtrack has not, and this Criterion release recreates that theatrical experience with great skill and craft. Highly recommended.

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When Helga Hammond (Heather Angel) hears about a legend whereby a male member of her family is about to be sacrificed every few years, she discounts the legend as nonsense. But when Helga's brother Oliver (John Howard) is attacked by a horrific beast that is part man and part wolf, it appears that the legend is true. When a Scotland Yard inspector (James Ellison) investigates the link between the werewolf and the family, he discovers an even more shocking truth!

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The Void is a multi volume anthology series featuring some of the best award winning short films from the Horror, Suspense, Thriller, Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, Including: Dystopia St., Dextrocardia, A Dark Night at the Wrong House, Carrier Crow, Status Change, 300,000 Kilometers Per Second, A Birds Nest and Fairy Knowledge.

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When a notorious, highly sophisticated counterfeiter murders his partner, Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William Petersen) launches a furious vendetta to capture the man responsible. But master counterfeiter Rick Masters (Willem Dafoe) is always just one step ahead of Chance in William Friedkin's thrilling, suspenseful crime drama. With violent shoot-outs and a turbulent chase scene reminiscent of Friedkin's own The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A. broke with tradition by making the ostensible hero as morally reprehensible as the villain he pursues. Clashing with bureaucratic obstacles, Chance is forced to break the rules in order to procure cash for a sting operation, but the risks he takes snowball into an avalanche of violence and moral repercussions, leading to a morally ambiguous cul-de-sac from which there may be no return.

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Portions of this article first appeared in our review of the MGM Blu-ray edition of 'To Live and Die in L.A.' released in 2010.

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After the huge success and acclaim of his back-to-back duo of 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist', William Friedkin's career took a turn for the worse in the mid 1970s. His ambitious, big budget 'Sorcerer' (a remake of French classic 'The Wages of Fear') was drubbed by critics and ignored by audiences at the time. (The film later experienced a critical re-evaluation, however.) That was followed by a string of commercial disappointments such as 'The Brink's Job' and 'Deal of the Century'. By 1985, the director was in desperate need of a hit. Inspired by the pop culture phenomenon that 'Miami Vice' had stirred on television, Friedkin decided to cash in on some of his 'French Connection' cred with a new high octane crime thriller, 'To Live and Die in L.A.'. Although reviews were mixed, the film was a box office hit and has aged very well over the years.

Between this movie and 'Manhunter', William Petersen really seemed on the verge of becoming a big star in the 1980s. For whatever reason, that didn't pan out until his run on 'CSI' starting in 2000. In 'To Live and Die in L.A.', Petersen stars as Richard Chance, a Secret Service agent on the trail of nefarious counterfeiter Eric Masters (a very young Willem Dafoe). Chance is a hothead and an adrenaline junkie, driven to obsession after Masters has his partner killed. When he and new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow, later Cousin Ira in 'Mad About You') can't requisition suitable funds for a sting operation, Chance formulates a new, ethically dubious plan to raise the money. It doesn't exactly work out as well as he hoped. Events soon spiral wildly out of control as a result.

Some of its less kind critics accused 'To Live and Die in L.A.' of being little more than a big screen 'Miami Vice' knockoff with the sex and violence cranked up to R-rated levels. There's some truth in that. But, frankly, that's very much part of its appeal. The film is a slick, flashy thriller with a dynamic visual style cued directly from 'Vice' and from MTV (back when it was still culturally relevant). As he did in 'The French Connection', Friedkin plows through the plot with propulsive, kinetic energy. The theme song and score by New Wave band Wang Chung may be overused and repetitive, but I'll be damned if those tracks aren't still effective and exciting all these years later. The movie has nudity and gory violence, and plenty of top-notch action.

Yet the picture is more than just an exercise in empty stylistics. It actually has a very strong, tightly-plotted script rich with moral complexity. The characters are all well-realized, and the performances are excellent. In addition to Petersen, Pankow and Dafoe, the cast features very good supporting turns from John Turturro and Dean Stockwell. Friedkin even breaks the rules of the genre with some shocking plot twists that are still quite ballsy and uncompromising.

To Live and Die in L.A. - William Petersen

Some younger viewers may watch a movie like 'To Live and Die in L.A.' and call it "dated" because the fashions, music and filmmaking style are so rooted in the 1980s. That complaint doesn't hold much water for me. This is a movie set in a very specific time and place. Its style is appropriate to that setting. The film has endured as a crackerjack thriller with some terrific action, an excellent screenplay, and a legendary car chase veering the wrong way down the L.A. freeway at top speeds. With that frankly insane action sequence, Friedkin even tops his own famous work in 'The French Connection'. It's amazing.

Unfortunately, William Friedkin's career comeback was short-lived. Although 'To Live and Die in L.A.' was a success, the director went on to make some truly terrible movies like 'The Guardian' (the one about the evil tree, not the Coast Guard picture with Kevin Costner, which isn't so great either) and 'Jade'. Later, he lost his marbles a bit and wasted time desecrating his old films by tinting them goofy colors. Arguments can be made that some of his late-career pictures like 'Rules of Engagement' or 'Bug' are halfway decent, and his most recent film, 2011's 'Killer Joe', was fairly acclaimed if little seen. Regardless, 'To Live and Die in L.A.' still feels like the last significant hurrah of a major filmmaking talent just before his regrettable burnout.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'To Live and Die in L.A.' was first released on Blu-ray in 2010 by MGM Home Entertainment. At the time, that disc had a respectable video transfer, though the Blu-ray itself was not authored with any bonus features beyond a trailer. (The other supplements were all found on a DVD that dated back to 2003.) This year, Shout! Factory has licensed the title in order to reissue it under the Shout Select line.

The new Collector's Edition contains just a single Blu-ray disc (no DVD included) that comes packaged in a standard keepcase with a slipcover and reversible cover art. Unlike many recent Shout! Factory and Scream Factory releases, the new artwork (a watercolor impression of Los Angeles that's duplicated on the slipcover and the front side of the case insert) is actually pretty attractive and suits the content of the film well. Nonetheless, if you don't care for it, the flipside of the insert has the movie's traditional poster art.

Once you load the disc, the main menu screen plays only a brief segment of the film's theme song before cutting it short and restarting in a quick repeat loop, which is a little annoying.

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For an MGM catalog title dumped on the market with no particular fanfare (and especially for a William Friedkin film released in the immediate aftermath of his 'French Connection' recoloring debacle), the 2010 Blu-ray edition of 'To Live and Die in L.A.' looked surprisingly decent and is still pretty watchable today. Nonetheless, Shout! Factory has put in the effort to remaster the movie from a new 4k scan of the film negative, supervised by the director. Thankfully, Friedkin eventually got over his "pastel" madness and has not imposed any wacky color changes to this movie. I can't be certain that all of the colors are really accurate to the film's 1985 theatrical prints, but most of them look appropriate. Even those I find a little questionable don't do any great harm. There are no glowing purple faces here.

I wouldn't necessarily call the new remaster a night-and-day difference from the last Blu-ray, but its best scenes have a small yet appreciable improvement in clarity and visible detail. Presented in the movie's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with tiny letterbox bars, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode offers a very pleasing, film-like image with excellent contrast and black levels, and often striking use of vivid colors.

To Live and Die in L.A. - Willem Dafoe Shout! Factory

To Live and Die in L.A. - Willem Dafoe MGM

On the other hand, the movie's photography is frequently very grainy, to emphasize the gritty subject matter. As a result, many scenes are limited in how crisp or detailed they can appear. The grain is mostly resolved well, but it comes across as excessively noisy in some scenes.

Color saturation also seems boosted a bit. In my estimation, this works to the movie's benefit during most of its running time. (The '80s were a famously garish time.) However, they may appear oversaturated on occasion, which can lead to some overly orange skin tones. In these instances, the MGM transfer may be more accurate, if duller. Despite this, I still give the Shout! Factory disc a slight edge overall.

To Live and Die in L.A. - John Turturro Shout! Factory

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The movie's soundtrack is provided in a choice of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0 options. In 1985, the film played theatrically in Dolby Stereo format. Arguably, the 2.0 track is intended to replicate that, while the 5.1 version has been sweetened for home theater. The disc defaults to 5.1 and that's my recommendation as well. The remixing is tastefully done and opens up the soundstage without imposing any distracting gimmicky effects.

The Wang Chung musical score has broad stereo separation and benefits the most from bleeding into the surround channels, though the 5.1 track also makes really effective use of ambience and atmospherics. The surround speakers don't call too much attention to themselves, but the famous car chase puts squealing tires and revving engines around the room in a convincing manner.

The soundtrack is not a modern dynamic range powerhouse. Gunshots and other sound effects are crisp, but rarely have much bass kick. The explosion at the start of the film is loud but doesn't dig very deep. Even the music is light on bass. It still sounds very good for a movie of this vintage, though.

The 2.0 track is encoded at a lower volume, so you'll need to compensate for that before trying to compare the two. From the scenes I tested, the music and sound effects seemed to have more presence and impact in the 5.1 mix. In comparison, I favor that. However, the 2.0 option sounds good enough that it's a viable alternative for viewers who consider themselves purists.

To Live and Die in L.A. - John Pankow

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Shout! Factory licensed and has carried over almost all of the bonus features from the 2003 Special Edition DVD.

  • Audio Commentary – William Friedkin starts his talk by saying that it's really an audio essay about his "impressions, thoughts and feelings" on the project rather than a scene specific commentary. Among other things, he discusses what drew him to the material and his use of "consultants" (i.e. actual counterfeiters) to lend the picture authenticity.
  • Deleted Scene and Alternate Ending (SD, 13 min.) – Along with some featurette footage to put them in context, we're given an additional but ultimately unnecessary extra scene for the Vukovich character and an alternate, happier ending that the studio forced Freidkin to shoot. About the latter, the director claims that he intentionally made the scene terrible because he never had any intention of using it. Judging by the laughable results, I can believe it.
  • Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. (SD, 30 min.) – This retrospective featurette is a big love fest for William Friedkin. Cast and crew reminisce about what a wonderful director he was to work with. That's pretty irritating, and many of the stories are repeated from the commentary. However, the piece also has some good behind-the-scenes footage. The part about continuity (or lack thereof) during the car chase is rather eye-opening.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The film's trailer is slick, exciting and altogether awesome. I could watch it over and over again.
  • Still Gallery – A collection of publicity and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as poster art from around the world. There are a number of great shots in here.


To Live and Die in L.A. - Funny Money

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For the Collector's Edition, Shout! Factory has commissioned several new interview featurettes. Although they're all pleasant enough to watch, none of them offers any particularly revelatory information about the movie or its production. The fact that one of the interviews spends nine minutes of screen time talking to an actor who had a 30-second bit part in the movie suggests that the disc producers really stretched to find people connected with the film who were willing and available to talk about it now.

A common refrain in these interviews is that all the participants claim director Friedkin treated them well and was very respectful to them, which was not at all his reputation at the time.

  • Taking a Chance (HD, 21 min.) – Star William Petersen reveals that his friend Gary Sinise also auditioned for the part. He tells a few stories about the fast-moving production and what a learning experience it was that his first major movie role saw him working for a master filmmaker like Friedkin.
  • Wrong Way: The Stunts of To Live and Die in L.A. (HD, 35 min.) – Stunt Coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker discusses his career, the difference between practical stunts and modern CGI, and working with Friedkin. For obvious reasons, he focuses most of his conversation on the freeway chase scene, for which he still has an elaborate paper diagram showing how it was choreographed. He takes obvious pride in the scene, especially the fact that no one was injured during the shoot.
  • So in Phase: Scoring To Live and Die in L.A. (HD, 13 min.) – Jack Hues and Nick Feldman (the musicians of Wang Chung) explain how they were hired to score the movie, the very specific ideas that Friedkin had for the music, and the impact this job had on their career. They say that the director initially told them he didn't want a theme song, but they wrote one anyway and he liked it so much that he recut the opening of the movie to work it in.
  • Doctor for a Day (HD, 9 min.) – Actor Dwier Brown only appears in the film briefly, but he tells an amusing anecdote about auditioning for Friedkin again a few years later and embarrassing the director for not remembering him. (Friedkin ultimately gave him one of the leads in his horror flick 'The Guardian'.)
  • Renaissance Woman in L.A. (HD, 15 min.) – Actress Debra Feuer talks about her chemistry with Willem Dafoe, both on-screen and off. She says that Friedkin had some unconventional techniques for directing, which included letting her wear her own clothes in the movie because he liked her style.
  • Radio Spot (1 min.) – This audio-only advertisement insists that, "The City of Angels is about to explode!" and plugs the "hot new score."

The Cutting Room Floor: What Didn't Make the Blu-ray?

The only thing missing from the 2003 DVD is a teaser trailer, which was rather lame and conventional anyway.

To Live and Die in L.A. - Willem Dafoe & Debra Feuer

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William Friedkin's 'To Live and Die in L.A.' is a hugely entertaining blast of '80s style that still holds up as a damn good crime thriller. The new Shout! Factory Collector's Edition offers a strong A/V presentation and a decent selection of bonus features.

The disc is also a solid upgrade from the 2010 Blu-ray release of the film. I'm not sure that it's a dramatic enough improvement to necessitate a double-dip for those who already own the old disc, but true fans will be pleased, and anyone who doesn't have the movie yet should definitely look toward this copy.

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Based on a true story, "War Dogs" follows two friends in their early 20s (Jonah Hill and Miles Teller) living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military—a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.

[review_movie] =>

‘War Dogs‘ looks good on paper, and the trailer sells the movie’s comedy and fun moments. It seemed like the perfect project for director Todd Phillips (‘The Hangover’ trilogy, ‘Road Trip’, ‘Old School’) as he reunites with Bradley Cooper and adds Jonah Hill and Miles Teller to this story, based on true events about two school friends who love to smoke up and run guns for the government – some of which might be illegal. This is a very different film for Phillips from what we’re used to, and unlike the trailer, the film isn’t all that funny. Sure, there are some moments of small laughter here and there, due to Jonah Hill’s character, but the rest is Phillips’ wink to a mix of gangster movies, including ‘Scarface’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Casino’, and even a bit of ‘Drive’.

Like I said, that sounds good on paper, but the end result was lackluster with the 115 minute movie seeming like a three hour endeavor. The pacing is off, and one scene just seems to be a repetition of the one before it. ‘War Dogs‘ tells the true story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, who were high school friends, who eventually got a government contract to supply weapons to the U.S. Army in Afghanistan with no prior experience and being in their early 20s. This film of course has a bunch of fictionalized elements, which is good, but never has anything original or fresh.

Perhaps the best scene of the film is in the trailer, where Diveroli (Jonah Hill) and Packouz (Miles Teller) are riding in the truck in the Iraq desert, being chased by people with guns. That scene was funny, action-packed, and highly entertaining. Unfortunately the rest of the film is fairly drab, with some flashes of funny Jonah Hill moments. Phillips sure packed the film with winks and nods to the gangster movies I mentioned above with the same music, shots, and narration style that you see in Scorsese films. Plus, there are ‘Scarface’ posters everywhere in the film, along with references to the actual movie by name. It just got tiresome very fast.

It’s an interesting enough story to tell, but the characters aren’t that redeeming nor are they that likable throughout, particularly Jonah Hill’s character, who he plays the part perfectly. Teller is also great, but isn’t given much to work with. Bradley Cooper shows up for a few seconds here and there, but again, isn’t given much time to really explore his character, who turns out to be the most interesting part of the movie. ‘War Dogs‘ looks good from a technical and visual standpoint, but there really isn’t anything underneath that veil.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'War Dogs' comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Warner Bros. that is Region A Locked. There is an insert for the digital download code. The disc is housed in an eco-friendly, hard, plastic blue case. There is no cardboard sleeve. Trailers for other Warner Bros. titles play upon disc insertion.

[review_video_picture_id] => 72834 [review_video] =>

'War Dogs' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. There are tons of different locations and lighting setups in this film and Warner Bros. has done an amazing job in keeping the colors and detail well-balanced and looking crisp. Closeups reveal individual hairs on the actor's faces along with the funny film of spray-on tan on Jonah Hill's face. Makeup blemishes, scars, and beads of sweat show up nicely here too.

The grime, rust, and dents on all of the bullets, tanks, and other wooden crates look incredible in the many different lighting situations, wither it be in a cold dark gray warehouse, or the well-lit paradise of Miami. Wider shots look detailed and never goes soft as well, showing the palm trees of Miami very well and the sand dunes and shoddy housing in the desert, even though it was mostly CG. Colors are well saturated throughout with the scenes in Miami popping right off screen with rich primary colors and neon lighting.

When in the desert, there is an orange and yellow tint to everything, and while on the other side of the world, there is a cool looking silver and gray tone. Black levels are deep and inky throughout and the skin tones are always natural. There were no major instances of any aliasing, banding, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72835 [review_audio] =>

This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 mix and sounds very good. I wouldn't say this is an action-packed audio track that will give your speaker system a full workout, but it has some good moments. Most of the film is dialogue driven and front heavy and well prioritized. Ambient noises of people talking in the background, people working on wooden crates, and other nature or city noises are clear, crisp and full.

Sound effects are full and robust when they happen, particularly a scene in the desert where there is a truck chase, gun fire, and a helicopter flying overhead. That's about as crazy as it gets here, with the exception of a few gun rounds going off. The excellent soundtrack is always full and shines at every moment and fully engulfs the soundscape. The low end packs some good bass that never crosses into rocky territory. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills, leaving this audio presentation with good marks.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72836 [review_supplements] =>

General Phillips: Boots on the Ground (HD, 9 Mins.) - Here we have a short EPK piece with cast and crew interviews, on set footage, and B-Roll. It covers how the movie was made and where the story came from.

'War Dogs': Access Granted (HD, 10 Mins.) - This extra is more or less the same extra as the one above, but it focuses on one of the actual real guys the movie is based on, where he discusses the real story and working on the film.

Pentagon Pie (HD, 3 Mins.) - Is an animated video depicting two rats, who are supposed to be the two characters in the film who instruct you how to make money from the government by running guns.

[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives. 

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 72837 [review_bottom_line] => 3 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'War Dogs' isn't a perfect film, but it has some very fun moments. There are some pacing problems and some irredeemable characters, but that being said, the movie is entertaining. The performances by Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, and Bradley Cooper are all excellent, and filmmaker Todd Phillips has shown he has grown as a director and has made his homage to 'Scarface' with 'War Dogs'. The video and audio presentations are both very good, but the small amount of extras don't add anything of real value here. Worth a look.

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15-year-olds Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) are on their smartphones constantly, sing in a small band, and take yoga classes. The girls will do just about anything to receive an invitation to a senior party. But when they discover the leader of a Nazi splinter group has been raising an army of monsters beneath the store where they work, the teens team up with a legendary man-hunter (Johnny Depp) to stop the world-threatening uprising.

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When an American policeman named Lyedecker comes to Mexico to arrest Yaqui Joe for robbery, he finds himself detained by both an Indian revolution against the Mexican government... and the luscious figure of Joe's sidekick, Sarita! As the government steps up its plan for the Indians — total extermination — Joe's stolen money buys weapons for the battle, and Lyedecker joins the fray. But will it be enough to defeat the sadistic General Verdugo and his army?

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Aquarion is back with a brand-new series featuring a whole new cast of wild characters on a one-of-a-kind adventure! Long ago, the human voice defined the true nature of everything. That is, until “text” came along and opened up the “Logos World,” a futuristic battlefield where monsters loom. These monsters, known as M.J.B.K., are spawned from texts injected with the magical syringe of Master Sougon, the mysterious gatekeeper of all written word. When these texts are injected, their concept on Earth is erased, and an M.J.B.K. is born in the Logos World. Lucky for humanity, there are a group of young-gun heroes known as the Verbalism Club who counter the text monsters with their Aquarion vectors and the art of voice. It’s up to self-proclaimed savior Akira Kaibuki and the rest of the Verbalism Club to protect the world from being erased—as long as their silly antics don’t get in the way.

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"Beyond Clueless" is a dizzying journey into the mind, body and soul of the teen movie as observed through over 200 modern coming-of-age classics. Examining such movies as "The Craft" and "Mean Girls," filmmaker Charlie Lyne reflects on adolescent angst, friendship and sexuality in a decade of teen movies.

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Kevin, Steve, and Katie are an inseparable trio of friends doing some extracurricular snooping in the school science lab when, among the test tubes and beakers, they discover a corpse! But before they can say “Abra Cadaver,” the body disappears, rolling down Route 51 strapped to a gurney. The kids need a spare stiff, and fast. What they find is “Bud the Chud,” a half-dead decomposing humanoid, the result of a military experiment gone haywire. When Bud sets out on a killing spree, the kids, the Army, the police, and the FBI are hot on his trail, trying to save the entire town from becoming “Chudified!”

[review_movie] =>

As we well know, sequels are made all the time. Some movies get sequels that justify their existence, improve on the concept, and even outdo the original film. Some movies get sequels that fail to live up to their predecessors but are at the very least, watchable little story extensions. Then you have movies like 1989's 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD.' A movie that is related to its predecessor in name only and completely fails to expand on a terrific concept involving irradiated Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Instead, this misguided sequel plays more like a remake of 'Return of the Living Dead Part 2' than an actual C.H.U.D. sequel - simply because the titular monsters are nowhere to be found. 

When amiable dope Steve (Brian Robbins) accidentally loses the dead body his anatomy teacher was saving for class, he forces his best pal Kevin (Bill Calvert) to help him find it. When the pals locate a dead guy in an alley, they're sure they have their man. After all, how many dead guys could be laying around in a sleepy suburban town? It turns out there are a lot of dead bodies! The one Steve and Kevin managed to find actually belonged to a super secret government military experiment headed by the nefarious Colonel Masters (the late great Robert Vaughn in a thankless role). When the friends accidentally bring "Bud" (Gerrit Graham) back to life in their bathtub and he runs away, they enlist their friend Katie (Tricia Leigh Fisher) to help track him down. When Bud's insatiable hunger accidentally creates an army of fellow C.H.U.D. zombies, Steve, Kevin, and Katie are going to have bigger things than the military to worry about.

Woof. 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD' is a tough horror comedy to swallow. From the outset, it has the unfortunate problem of being completely unrelated to the first film. The action moves from gritty and urban New York City to the bright and plucky suburbs of California. The titular 'Bud the CHUD' is hardly a bud nor is he much of a C.H.U.D., he actually looks more like Thom Mathews or James Karen did in the first two 'Return of the Living Dead' films. He's not a goopy, slimy, yellow-eyed irradiated hell spawn of the sewer, he's just a sharp-toothed zombie that has a penchant for physical comedy. So on that level, 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud The CHUD' is a bit of a bust. 

CHUD II Bud The CHUD

As much as this film does get on my sequel bad side, I can't completely knock it out entirely. It's stupid. I can not deny that, however, there is something about its energy and presence that is so 100% 1980s that I can't help but enjoy the ride. It's never a horror film and plays itself as a comedy with gory elements. On top of that, the stupid teen protagonists and how they're constantly running around town trying to find Bud and missing the obviously growing numbers of his zombified brethren makes the flick feel akin to flicks like 'Meatballs Part II.' Like a stale bag of Cheetos, you love to hate this sort of movie, but it's the sort of guilty pleasure trash you can't stop consuming. 

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' was another movie in a long list of horror films that I grew up with. Much like it's predecessor, it was on my local TV channel a lot and that's how I grew into enjoying it. There's that rule of comedy where if you do something enough times long enough that it eventually becomes funny; it's true for 'Bud The CHUD' I won't ever say that it's a particularly good movie, especially when compared to the original, but I will say that I have fun watching it. It's so bad it's fun. Over the years I've successfully compartmentalized this sequel from the original film that it doesn't impact my enjoyment of the original. It can exist on its own as a crappy 80s sequel. Kind of like how 'A Nightmare on Elm St: Part II' is a really crappy sequel that is still sort of enjoyable. I don't recommend this for people expecting an honest effort. It's best viewed as a curiosity and as a specimen of its era.'    

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate and their fancy new Vestron Video Collector's Series imprint. The film is pressed onto a Region A BD50 disc and comes housed in an eco-friendly Blu-ray case with identical slip cover artwork. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. 

[review_video_picture_id] => 72712 [review_video] =>

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' arrives with a solid 1.85:1 1080p transfer. Right away it's clear to tell you're not going to get the same experience here as you did with the original 'C.H.U.D.' This film is in full lighting throughout the entire film as there are very few dark locations or night scenes to give the film much in the way of shadow or flavor. Black levels are even throughout approaching a nice inky consistency, but even then there is a flatness to the image in some places. Film grain is present, but at times I suspects some mild smoothing may have been employed as fine facial features and certain detail levels don't quite come through as one would naturally expect. That isn't to say this image has been scrubbed to the point of being waxy and lifeless, there are still plenty of fine details to absorb throughout, just certain scenes look a little off. Colors are bright and bold, but perhaps a bit too bright as it can look as though contrast was pumped up a notch or two. Primaries can look a little too pale in some places and flesh tones don't quite have that healthy pinkish color to them. Overall, this is still a very good presentation for a late 80s film. It's honestly better than I would have expected for this title. 

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72709 [review_audio] =>

'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' comes packed with a solid English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, but at times the mix tends to favor the more comedic elements. The "Bud the CHUD" song for example or the more comedically toned sound effects tend to take center stage as the film constantly is trying to force a laugh out of its audience. Imaging is good throughout as there is plenty of left-right channel movement. Background and atmospherics are a bit subdued here but some sequences do have a nice sense of dimensionality and space to them. Scoring by Nicholas Pike keeps the mix lively and plays up the obvious comedy elements while working to fill the track so the mix is never stagnated. Much like the video transfer, this is a better audio track than a film like this deserves.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72707 [review_supplements] =>

Audio Commentary: Director David Irving with moderator Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures provide a fun and engaging commentary track. Irving offers up a lot of relevant production information, stories about punching in little cameos appearances, and Felsher does a great job at keeping the commentary moving without letting it drift into dull or trite conversation. 

Bud Speaks! With Gerrit Graham: (HD 16:18) Graham talks about his time on the film, how he was frequently cast in horror films even though he wasn't a fan of the genre. It sounds like they had a great time making the movie.

Katie's Kalamity with Actress Tricia Leigh Fisher: (HD 12:45) Fisher offers up some great bits about making the movie and working on the project. It sounds like most people associated with the making of this movie didn't see the original so they just went into it making a fun comedy horror picture.

This C.H.U.D.'s For You! with Allan Apone: (HD 14:44) Make-up effects designer Allan Apone provides a pretty great interview on what it's like creating monster effects and make-up for horror films without much of a budget to work with. 

Video Trailer: (SD 1:47) 

Still Gallery: (HD 6:20)

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 72710 [review_bonus_content] =>

No HD exclusive content. 

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It's hard to imagine that 'C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD' even exists at all. For all intents and purposes, it's not a very good movie as it fails to live up to the original film in concept or in execution. If you're a fan of 80s kitsch horror like 'Return of the Living Dead Part 2' or 'Troll 2,' 'Bud The CHUD' is at least entertaining - for better or worse. Lionsgate does right by this sequel giving the film the full Vestron Video Collector's Edition treatment. The video transfer is in great shape and the audio works well for this sort of film. Add in some solid bonus features and you have the makings of a pretty great Blu-ray release. That said, this is a tough movie to love, making this release one for the fans. Newcomers should tread lightly. 

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Photographed over an eight-year period by Russia s top filmmakers, Cinerama's Russian Adventure brings together some of the most exquisite, jaw-dropping, and beautiful sequences from over six Soviet Kinopanorama productions (the Russian equivalent of three-panel Cinerama). The film s locations stretch from one end of Russia to the other, from the snow-covered countryside to the majestic subways of Moscow, from the deck of a whaling ship to the front seats of the Bolshoi Theater. Bing Crosby narrates the journey, offering both a grand and intimate view of a country and culture so often cited and yet so seldom seen.

In classic Cinerama style, your first glimpse of Russia is from behind the reigns of a troika, a traditional three-horse sled, speeding through the snow. Next, you ll land in Moscow for spectacular shots of the Kremlin, the Volga River, the bustling street life, and a spring carnival complete with singing, dancing, and clowns on stilts. From there, you ll marvel at the dazzling Moscow Circus, take a raft ride down the Tisza River, join in a wild antelope roundup on the Barsa-Kelmes, and witness a show-stopping performance of the famous Moiseyev Dancers. The most visceral sequences, though, take place not on land, but on water: the spare-no-details whale hunt aboard a factory ship in the Antarctic and the alien voyage of an octopus as it glides beneath the sea.

Flicker Alley, Cinerama Inc., and the family of Hal Dennis / Hal Dennis Productions are proud to present Cinerama's Russian Adventure in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered, and beautifully so, allowing audiences to experience - in the words of Bing Crosby what I believe will be our most exciting journey...

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Contains Dementia 13, A Bucket of Blood, and The Terror

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You can't keep a good Gatchaman down, especially when a new organization called VAPE (short for Violent Ape) starts hijacking CROWDS technology. The ensuing wave of "Red CROWDS" incidents targeting high profile targets like the Prime Minister make it clear that the good team needs to start recruiting; fast. Fortunately, help arrives quickly, and with a rather... loud entrance. The alien Gelsadra's ship crashes in a rice paddy in Nijima!

Besides being generally peaceful, Gelsadra has a unique power involving comic-book-like speech bubbles that display a person's inner feelings, rather like an emoji. There's also the fireworks enthusiast, Tsubasa, whose life becomes the focus of millions of viewers when she's chosen as the newest Gatchaman - on nationwide live television! As if that wasn't enough pressure for a teenage girl to handle, she's also assigned Hajime as her mentor! Will she survive? Will the world survive? Things are about to get really wild and crazy.

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Hands of Stone follows the life of Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), the Panamanian fighter who made his professional debut in 1968 as a 16 year old and retired in 2002 at the age of 50. In June 1980, he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) to capture the WBC welterweight title, but shocked the boxing world by returning to his corner in their November rematch, famously saying the words 'no mas' (‘no more.’)

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Dutch immigrant Harry deLeyer journeyed to the United States after World War II and developed a transformative relationship with a broken down Amish plow horse he rescued off a slaughter truck bound for the glue factory. Harry paid eighty dollars for the horse and named him Snowman. In less than two years, Harry & Snowman went on to win the triple crown of show jumping, beating the nation's top pedigree horses and wealthiest socialites. They became famous and traveled around the world together. Their chance meeting at a Pennsylvania horse auction saved them both and crafted a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Eighty-six year old Harry tells their Cinderella love story firsthand, as he continues to train on today's show jumping circuit.

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When a desperate father (Chris Pine) learns that the bank is going to take his family's land, he and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) are left with no choice. They decide to rob the bank's branches, putting themselves in the crosshairs of an aging Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) in a riveting story of crime, punishment, and brotherly love.

[review_movie] =>

'Hell or High Water' is far from the first movie about bank robbers and the law enforcement officers who try to track them down. Nor is it the first one where the filmmakers make the bank robbers sympathetic in both their goals and their characterizations. Yet, thanks to a brilliant script by Taylor Sheridan (the same guy who penned Sicario), and great performances across the board, 'Hell or High Water' isn't just one of the best movies of its type, it may very well be the best movie of 2016.

If you've seen the trailer for this movie, it's no spoiler to reveal that the story is about a pair of West Texas brothers (played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster) who start robbing from various branches of Texas Midlands Bank in order to raise enough money to stop the bank from foreclosing on their family's ranch. Like most movies of this type, I assumed the first half hour to 45 minutes would be all set-up, showing how the brothers got into this financial trouble to begin with. But in a very smart move, the movie starts right smack in the middle of the robberies (not even their first one), filling in all the background exposition that the audience needs to know through dialogue as the film progresses. In other words, this movie – unlike about 90 percent of other titles – doesn't make the audience wait for all the "fun" to begin. "Hell or High Water" hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the credits roll.

The movie is also well thought-out. When I found out the premise of the film – including the fact that Jeff Bridges plays Marcus Hamilton, a days-from-retirement Texas Ranger who sees capturing the bank robbers as one last "hurrah" before he's put out to pasture – my first question was why the F.B.I. wouldn't be involved in the case, since bank robberies are considered a federal crime. That issue is handled in Bridges' very first scene in the movie, when his half-Comanche/half-Mexican partner, Alberto Parker (wonderfully played by Gil Birmingham), tells Marcus the F.B.I. doesn't want to bother, as the amounts the robbers are stealing are relatively small (a few thousand at each branch). Then there's a scene where the brothers go to a casino. My first thought was, "oh, now we get to see them gamble their winnings away so their forced to rob even more"...but, no, they're actually using the casino to launder the cash...cashing in for chips, then cashing those same chips out later in the evening to get different bills in return. Again, this movie's screenplay is as intelligent as one could hope for.

There are a couple additional factors that set 'Hell and High Water' apart from similar films in its genre. First is the screenplay's dialogue, which is filled with so many "quotable" lines and exchanges between the characters, the movie holds up to multiple viewings. But perhaps the best thing about the film is the fact that virtually every character in the movie – be they on screen for the length of the story or just a few minutes – is so well-rounded and nicely acted, that there should be some kind of special award given to 'Hell and High Water's casting directors (the team of Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks, to give credit where credit is due).

Speaking of awards, it's hard to imagine (although given the Academy, I wouldn't put it past them) that this movie isn't going to get a nice handful of Oscar nominations. Bridges almost certainly deserves one for his performance here – one of the best of his career – as does Sheridan for his remarkable screenplay. One can only hope that Director David Mackenzie, Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, and stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham get their share of industry kudos as well.

'Hell or High Water' is one of those movies that come along only once every few years – a release where everything...from acting, to direction, to screenplay...comes together perfectly and creates a film that could very much be considered a classic in the years to come. As I've said of other films I've fallen in love with, this is the type of film movie buffs like myself hope to see every time they sit down in a darkened cinema or place a disc into their home theater players, and 'Hell or High Water' doesn't disappoint. It's a great piece of entertainment.

The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Hell or High Water' arrives on home video in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The 50GB Blu-ray and dual-layer DVD come housed inside an eco-friendly Elite keepcase along with an insert containing a code for one's choice of either an UltraViolet or iTunes digital copy of the movie. A slipcover matching the artwork of the keepcase slides overtop. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are front-loaded with trailers for Blood Father, The Duel, Mechanic: Resurrection, and Sicario. The main menu contains a montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections across the bottom of the screen.

Note: The back of the box cover (as well as the slipcover) incorrectly lists the running time of the film as 122 minutes. The actual run time is 102 minutes.

The Blu-ray in this release is Region A locked.

[review_video_picture_id] => 72760 [review_video] =>

'Hell or High Water' was shot digitally using the Arri Alexa XT and is presented on home video at the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I might be talking about the near reference-quality aspects of this home video transfer if it were not for a nasty bit of aliasing that rears its ugly head in the opening moments of the movie. As the two brothers make their way around town in their vehicle, the background is full of some obvious aliasing and shimmering that does not get things off to a good start. Thankfully, this is the only serious bit of aliasing in the movie, although there are a number of more minor occurrences elsewhere, almost all of them happening in the background during camera pans.

With those issues aside, the majority of the image here is a joy to view – full of sharp images and considerable depth, well-defined facial features, and some wonderful colors throughout – despite the earth-tone look of much of the movie. Noise is never an issue, either, even in many of the movie's darker sequences, where black levels prove to be pretty solid. So overall, this is a very nice transfer apart from those aliasing issues, which are honestly not too bothersome aside from the opening shots of the movie.

[review_audio] =>

The featured audio here is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is pretty solid, if unspectacular – although a lot of that has to do with the fact that the movie itself isn't full of big action sequences. As one might imagine, the track is most aggressive during shootouts or car chases that take place in the movie, most notable during the film's final act.

Dialogue is exclusively up-front and center, but is also very clear and distinct throughout, with not a hint of muddiness. The rears in this 5.1 track are primarily used for ambient sounds and background noises, as well as to enhance the musical score, which also includes a number of songs. I detected no noticeable issues or glitches with this well-rendered audio presentation.

In addition to the 5.1 lossless track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which is optimized for "Late Night Viewing" is also available, as is a 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital track and an English Descriptive Audio track. Subtitles are an option in English SDH, English, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72761 [review_supplements] =>
  • Enemies Forever: The Characters of 'Hell or High Water' (HD, 13 ½ min.) – The cast and crew discuss the film and all the various characters that make up the movie. Spoiler warning: You won't want to watch any of the bonus materials before seeing the film, but particularly this one as it both talks about and shows scenes from the movie's final act.
  • Visualizing the Heart of America (HD, 9 ½ min.) – Director David Mackenzie and Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens talk about the look of 'Hell or High Water', including the attempt to make the movie "feel" hot, as well as the use of mostly earth tones and making the land/location itself a character in the film.
  • Damaged Heroes: The Performance of 'Hell or High Water' (HD, 12 ½ min.) – Another look at the incredible acting in the movie, including Director David Mackenzie's willingness to take advice from all his actors and allow them to try different ideas on camera.
  • Red Carpet Premiere (HD, 2 min.) – A brief look at premiere of the movie, which took place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, in July of 2016.
  • Filmmaker Q&A (HD, 30 min.) – Time magazine's Sam Lansky moderates this post-viewing Q&A featuring Director David Mackenzie and stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Gil Birmingham at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California.
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no bonus materials exclusive to this Blu-ray release.

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Come 'Hell or High Water', this is a title you want to check out. It's not only one of 2016's best movies, it's got the kind of snappy, witty dialogue that should make it one of those films that you'll be quoting for years. While the overall plotline here may not be new, the movie is presented in such a fresh, well-acted way that it comes across as something completely original. This one is highly recommended.

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A band of satanist hippies roll into a town and begin terrorizing the local folk. They rape a local girl and her grandpa goes after them. He fails and is given LSD. This bothers his grandson and he gets back at the hippies by feeding them meat pies infected with blood from a rabid dog. They turn into crazed lunatics and begin killing and/or infecting everything in their path.

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In I.T., Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) is a successful, self-made man who has it all: a gorgeous wife, a beautiful teenage daughter and a sleek, state-of-the-art "smart home." But he soon finds himself in a deadly, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse when his I.T. consultant, Ed (James Frecheville), starts using his skills to stalk Mike's daughter and endanger his family, his business, and his life. In a world where there is no privacy, and personal secrets can go viral by the click of a mouse, Mike needs to rely on his old connections to defeat a new kind of nemesis.

[review_movie] =>

There's something to be said about sticking to genre formula. All a good movie or even one that is decently entertaining needs to do is hit a certain set of plot benchmarks, maybe put a unique spin on things and then it's home sailing. The final product may not be the most original flick to come down the pipeline, but it would provide a diverting 90 - 120 minutes of fun. That said, when a film - in the case a stalker thriller like 'I.T.' - fails to even hit the basic benchmarks and falls back on cliche, the final result is a long trite slog. With a star like Piece Brosnan and a writer like William Wisher attached, one would expect a spark of originality and a decent film, unfortunately, expectations aren't met by the time the final credits roll. 

Billionaire entrepreneur Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) has life made in the shade. He's got a beautiful wife, a teenage daughter, and he's about to launch an app that will revolutionize air travel - or at last how the super-rich know it. However, things aren't completely under Mike's control. During the investor presentation of his new app, some glitches pop up requiring the expertise of I.T. wunderkind Ed Porter (James Frecheville). When Ed is able to get the presentation up and running in no time, he earns the friendly eye of Mike. When Mike needs Ed's help debugging his smart home's internal systems and wi-fi, he figures Ed is a good sort of chap for the job. What Mike doesn't know is that he's invited a cyber stalker into his home and introduced this creep to his young daughter. When Ed starts obsessively injecting himself into Mike's life, the man who once was an ally quickly becomes a nightmare. 

At its surface. 'I.T.' has the makings of a traditional family stalker thriller the likes of 'Cape Fear,' 'Fear' or 'Unlawful Entry' with a dash of technological voyeurism on the level of 'Sliver.' In theory, this idea that our connected lives via internet and our obsession with social media and app-enabled smartphones would normally provide fertile grounds for a solid thriller. The problems facing 'I.T.' and why it fails on virtually every level of storytelling for this particular genre are numerous, but for starters, Director John Moore (A Good Day To Die Hard) just doesn't know how to manage the basic elements of plot and character development to make this thriller even begin to work. Much like that previously disastrous 'Die Hard' sequel, Moore pushes characters around like they're cardboard cutouts. They're never really people. The actors in question say their lines because that's what they're supposed to do, they never feel like they embody the persona they're playing. 

IT

It doesn't take too long to see that Mike Regan - no matter how suave and likable Pierce Brosnan may be - is a pretty stupid billionaire. His trust of outsiders who haven't worked long in his company with his own private material and home safety is pretty laughable. Home security system? Easily hackable. Twitchy wi-fi? Doesn't call the service provider but instead brings in a total stranger with a shady past to "debug" the system. Secondary to that is James Frecheville as Ed Porter. While James does what he can with the material, his character is pretty boring by-the-numbers creepy obsessive; the sort of stereotype you picture living in their parent's basement who wastes their life trolling female celebrities on Twitter. Because Mike and Ed are such poor characters, they're easily upstaged when Michael Nyqvist's Henrik character enters the show to hunt down Ed. Had the movie been about the Henrik character from the get go, we might actually have had something worth watching. 

After the character development failures, there are the film's numerous tech cliches. I wouldn't exactly call myself the most savvy individual in that regard, but I know BS when I hear it and there is plenty of bull going on inside 'I.T.' When it comes down to it, the film's understanding of internet tracking, apps, and so on sounds like someone bought a stack of Wired magazines for the headlines, but didn't bother to read the articles to get the details right. Now between the two credited screenwriters Dan Kay and William Wisher, I'm not sure where to lay the blame because it's a failing on both their parts. It's natural when writing a script that you make up a workaround when reality stops your story dead, but this screenplay's treatment of technology doesn't even attempt to create a believable sense of reality. As a result of the character failures and the technological mumbo-jumbo is a thriller that is never very thrilling or exciting.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'I.T.' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Image Entertainment pressed onto a Region A BD25 disc. The disc is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case with identical slipcover artwork. The disc loads to trailers for other upcoming Image/RJL Entertainment releases before arriving at a static-image main menu with traditional navigation options. 

[review_video_picture_id] => 72934 [review_video] =>

'I.T.' arrives on Blu-ray with a rock solid 2.35:1 1080p transfer. This is never really a presentation that "sparkles" - largely due to the drab and cloudy Ireland filming locations. This digitally sourced presentation still manages to provide plenty of rich detail levels allowing the viewer to bathe in the smart production design work, Ed's cyber-stalker home base, in particular, looks pretty damn amazing. Black levels are also pretty decent without any crush issues to report, but at the same time, the image lacks a lot of depth in a number of scenes. Colors are on the muted scale of things though much of the film. There are a few flourishes of natural-looking colors here and there, but everything tends to dip into that steely-grey/green spectrum. As a result flesh tones tend to skew towards the sickly pale side of things, but that is an issue of intent versus this transfer. 

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72933 [review_audio] =>

'I.T.' enjoys a robust English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix. This is a relatively quiet film for the first half of things allowing for plenty of spacious silence to fill the mix and allow some typing of keyboards or any number of electronic beeps and bops take over the scene. As the film progresses the mix becomes more action-heavy and front loaded but several sequences provide a strong and present sense of immersion and imaging as object move about the screen. Dialogue is never an issue and is clean and clear throughout. All around for a pretty tame and tepid thriller this mix gets the job done nicely. 

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 72932 [review_supplements] =>

Behind the Scenes of 'I.T.': (HD 8:06) This is your tried and true EPK interview material, really nothing substantive beyond the cursory "this is what attracted me to the film" or the "my characters is yada-yada-yada" material.

Photogallery: (HD)

[review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 72930 [review_bonus_content] =>

No HD exclusive content. 

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 72929 [review_bottom_line] => 5 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Given the talent involved with 'I.T.,' I was a bit excited to see what this techno-thriller could do. Unfortunately, it's a one trick pony and that single trick has been done better by countless other films of the same genre. Even a solid performance from Pierce Brosnan can't elevate this film out of the depths of sad cliche. RJL/Image Entertainment brings 'I.T.' to Blu-ray with a solid A/V presentation but the bonus features are sadly lacking. There just isn't much worth recommending here so unless you're pretty hard up for entertainment, I've got to suggest you skip it. The movie on its own just isn't worth the time. 

[review_movie_stars] => 1 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 146847 ) ) [9] => Array ( [review_id] => 36870 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => intruder [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Intruder [picture_created] => 1470669939 [picture_name] => Cover4.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Shout Factory [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/08/08/120/Cover4.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/36870/intruder.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [list_price] => 29.99 [asin] => B01JQXEMKU [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

During one of Oregon's most violent storms, a young cellist seeks solitude and comfort in the safety of her large apartment, but soon realizes she might not be home alone. With the modern and simple tone of Paranormal Activity paired with the cinematic elegance of Hitchcock's Rope, INTRUDER is a disturbing psychological thriller that will make you think twice about being home alone.

[review_movie_stars] => N/A [review_video_stars] => N/A [review_audio_stars] => N/A [review_supplements_stars] => N/A [review_bonus_content_stars] => N/A [review_final_thoughts_stars] => N/A ) ) [10] => Array ( [review_id] => 40131 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => itsalwaysfairweather [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => It's Always Fair Weather [picture_created] => 1477424781 [picture_name] => Cover5.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Archive [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/10/25/120/Cover5.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/40131/itsalwaysfairweather.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1955 [run_time] => 101 [list_price] => 21.99 [asin] => B01LTHWWTO [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.55:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Featurette: 'It's Always Fair Weather': Going Out on a High Note [1] => 3 Outtake Musical Numbers: 'The Binge,' 'Jack and the Space Giants,' 'Love Is Nothing But a Racket' [2] => 2 Segments from 'The MGM Parade' featuring Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly [3] => 2 Classic Cartoons: 'Deputy Droopy' and 'Good Will to Men' [4] => Audio-Only Bonus: 'I Thought They'd Never Leave' Outtake [5] => Theatrical Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, Romance, Musical, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Michael Kidd, Dolores Gray, David Burns ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

When Gene Kelly teams with Arthur Freed, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the result is pure movie-musical alchemy: On the Town, Singin' in the Rain and It's Always Fair Weather.

Sparkling with wit and exuberant numbers, It's Always Fair Weather centers on the three World War II buddies (Kelly, Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd) who vow to reunite for old time's sake in 10 years. They do. And find their friendship has fizzled - until a day of tangling with romance, the fight game, the ad biz and a new medium called TV restores their bond. Highlights include the buddies' high-spirited romp that uses trash-can lids as dancing shoes, elegant Cyd Charisse's k.o. of a routine with broken-nosed pugilists, and Kelly's joyful, astonishing tap dance on roller skates. Wow!

[review_movie] =>

When Dore Schary took over the reins at MGM in 1951, he began to systematically change the studio's focus. The musicals and heartwarming family pictures that so beguiled his predecessor, Louis B. Mayer, didn't interest the serious-minded Schary, who sought to mount more realistic and socially conscious dramas under the Metro flag. Schary was wise enough not to shun musicals altogether—after all, they were MGM's bread-and-butter for years—but he did severely curtail their production in favor of such "message" films as 'The Red Badge of Courage,' 'Bad Day at Black Rock,' and 'The Blackboard Jungle.'

Few, if any, musicals were weighty enough to satisfy Schary, but he must have been pleased with 'It's Always Fair Weather.' Substantive, cynical, and even slightly depressing, this Betty Comden-Adolph Green original enjoys many fine moments, but can't come close to recapturing the magic of the team's most famous efforts — 'On the Town,' 'Singin' in the Rain,' and 'The Band Wagon.' Exuberance and joy define those films, but such moments come at a premium in 'It's Always Fair Weather,' thanks to its darker, more sarcastic tone. And get this: Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse star in the movie, but astoundingly never dance together on screen! Kelly tears it up with cohorts Dan Dailey and Michael Kidd, but doesn't even give Charisse a half-hearted twirl. That's not only inconceivable, it's unforgivable.

Time and television are the villains of the piece, and they seek to sabotage the relationship of three Army buddies who served together in World War II. After the jubilation of VE Day, the tight-knit trio agrees to meet again a decade later in the same neighborhood dive they frequented before the war. Ten years can be an eternity, and when Ted Riley (Kelly), Doug Hallerton (Dailey), and Angie Valentine (Kidd) reunite, they find they no longer have anything in common...and can't even bear to be around each other. Savvy TV exec Jackie Leighton (Charisse) gets wind of their situation and decides to exploit it on the weekly show of temperamental diva Madeline Bradville (Dolores Gray), an Oprah Winfrey-Kathie Lee Gifford hybrid whose 'Midnight With Madeline' specializes in weepy, inspirational reality TV (in between self-indulgent musical numbers). Patching up the friendship of three estranged servicemen is right up the show's alley, yet in television's best underhanded, cold-hearted tradition, it's all engineered as a surprise. To properly pull it off, a beleaguered Jackie must go to extreme lengths to keep the guys together and oblivious until air time. Of course, the deception becomes doubly dicey when she finds herself falling in love with Ted.

The reality TV angle fits snugly into today's culture, keeping 'It's Always Fair Weather' fresh and topical, but it can't salvage the movie's plodding story. Comden and Green are masters of satire, and they're at their best incisively skewering the plastic personalities and manipulative content that pervaded 1950s television, but they have trouble maintaining narrative flow. Although Dailey and Kidd are energetic and engaging, we don't develop an affinity with their characters, and the tepid romance between Kelly and Charisse seems mechanical. None of their sexual fireworks from 'Singin' in the Rain' or passionate longing from 'Brigadoon' find their way into this film, which strangely leaves us emotionally bereft.

Of course, the atmosphere perks up during the musical numbers, but hardly any of the catchy tunes relate to the plot. Three, however, are bona fide showstoppers, so we forgive them for bringing the sputtering story to a halt. 'The Binge Dance' begins as a bit of inebriated fun, but soon evolves into a rigorous display of athletic terpsichore that reaches its peak when Kelly, Dailey, and Kidd dance with metal trash can lids attached to their feet. 'I Like Myself,' the film's signature number, is an exhilarating showcase for Kelly, who croons the lilting André Previn melody on roller skates while gliding, tapping, spinning, and leaping along the sidewalks of New York. That tour de force is followed in short order by the dazzlingly inventive 'Thanks a Lot, but No Thanks,' in which an alluring Gray efficiently jettisons a band of dancing suitors with gunfire, dynamite, and trap doors. Blessed with a rich, powerful set of pipes, Gray (in an auspicious film debut) makes a big impression, but appeared in only three more pictures before abandoning Hollywood for the nightclub and Broadway stage.

The public's increasing indifference toward original film musicals undoubtedly hastened Gray's departure, and 'It's Always Fair Weather,' despite a valiant effort, did nothing to reverse the genre's downward trend. Still, from such an illustrious cast and crew, one expects more than the film delivers. 'It's Always Fair Weather' is often pleasant and occasionally inspired, but remains too stilted and self-conscious to be thoroughly captivating. And while I appreciate the effort and intentions of those involved, my feelings regarding the movie echo the lyrics sung by Gray: Thanks a lot, but no thanks.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'It's Always Fair Weather' arrives on Blu-ray packaged in a standard case. Video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 and audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu with music immediately pops up; no previews or promos precede it.

[review_video_picture_id] => 73308 [review_video] =>

By 1955, three-strip Technicolor was a thing of the past, so 'It's Always Fair Weather' lacks the intense hues and crisp delineation of older MGM musicals, but Warner Archive has done a fine job restoring the film so it looks as vibrant and lush as possible. Any way you slice it, this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is a big step up from the 2006 DVD. The image is brighter and bolder, grain is slightly reduced, and all the errant speckles that dotted the previous print are gone. Some issues, however, still remain. The horrific muddiness that overwhelms the picture during a couple of long-zoom effects shots looks as bad as ever, and the edge-of-frame distortion that plagued many early CinemaScope films is tough to ignore, too. The very wide 2.55:1 aspect ratio works for and against the film, on the one hand providing directors Kelly and Donen with more real estate to indulge in gimmicky process shots, but compromising background detail and depth levels on the other. Marvelous clarity and rich blacks invigorate the image, as do colorful accents like Charisse's emerald green outfit and Gray's red dress. Flesh tones remain stable and natural, and close-ups nicely render facial details. 'It's Always Fair Weather' will always be a problematic movie, but Warner's presentation masks the deficiencies well. If you're a fan of the film, an upgrade is definitely in order.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73309 [review_audio] =>

Warner Home Video remastered the film's original soundtrack to Dolby Digital 5.1 for it's 2006 DVD release, and that same track is given a lossless boost to DTS-HD Master Audio here. Enhanced fidelity and tonal depth are the most noticeable improvements, especially during the musical numbers. André Previn's lush and bouncy orchestrations burst with vitality (his score received the film's sole Oscar nomination) and Dolores Gray's mellifluous alto sounds gloriously rich and full. A wide dynamic scale handles all the blaring brass and weighty percussion without a hint of distortion, and solid mixing always puts the vocals front and center. Though surround activity is reserved for the songs, palpable stereo separation nicely complements the CinemaScope visuals, widening the soundscape and providing a more immersive experience. Sonic accents like the clatter of Kelly's roller skates and the clash of trash can lids are clear and distinct, and all the dialogue and lyrics are easy to comprehend. Best of all, no age-related imperfections like hiss, pops, or crackles intrude. This full-bodied track really punches up this somewhat anemic musical, and is a definite improvement over the previous DVD.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 73310 [review_supplements] =>

All the extras from the 2006 DVD have been ported over to this Blu-ray release, and musicals aficionados will appreciate all the rare and vintage material.

  • Featurette: "'It's Always Fair Weather': Going Out on a High Note" (SD, 16 minutes) - This top-flight featurette provides an in-depth chronicle of the film's turbulent production history. Though the atmosphere looks sunny on the film's surface, backstage storm clouds threatened to sabotage the musical. Co-directors Kelly and Donen openly clashed on the set (leading Donen to term the experience "a 100-percent nightmare"), and the acrimony — fueled by Kelly's megalomania — reached such an intense degree, their relationship never recovered. We also learn 'It's Always Fair Weather' was originally envisioned as a sequel to 'On the Town,' and that despite favorable reviews, the film did only lukewarm business. Archival interviews with Charisse, Kidd, and writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green (who discuss the film's "darker tone" and how it examined the "corrosive effect of time on friendship"), as well as perspective and anecdotes from contemporary historians enhance this slick and entertaining piece.
  • Vintage TV Clips: 'The MGM Parade' (SD, 10 minutes) - Two segments from 'The MGM Parade,' a weekly 1950s TV show that promoted the studio's upcoming releases and saluted its older classics, are included. The first features host George Murphy chatting up the film with Charisse outside her dressing room, which leads into a clip of the 'Baby, You Knock Me Out' number. In the second segment, Murphy makes an "impromptu" visit to the set, where Kelly, Charisse, and company are rehearsing. That scripted banter precedes a portion of Kelly's 'I Like Myself' roller skate dance.
  • Vintage Animated Shorts (HD, 15 minutes) - Two classic cartoons, the Tex Avery 'Deputy Droopy' and Hanna-Barbera's Christmas-themed 'Good Will to Men' (a remake of the 1930s cartoon 'Peace on Earth,' but replacing the chipmunks with mice), are both in superior condition.
  • Outtakes (HD, 20 minutes) - It's always a treat to see outtakes from classic musicals, even if they're not really up to snuff, and the deleted material from 'It's Always Fair Weather' was well left on the cutting room floor. 'Jack and the Space Giants' lets Michael Kidd do a choreographed Iron Chef impersonation, as he frantically navigates the kitchen to prepare a feast for his three kids, while 'Love Is Nothing But a Racket' gives us the Kelly-Charisse pairing we missed in the film. The latter number affords the duo a chance to clown around, and though the lowbrow tenor of the piece suits Kelly, it makes Charisse — who built a career epitomizing style and grace — often look like a clod as she tries to hoof and mug in a variety of guises. Still, it's fun to see the pair share the stage, even if most of the time they bafflingly dance alone. 'The Binge' offers a couple of brief deleted segments from a number already included in the film, and the audio-only outtake, 'I Thought They'd Never Leave,' showcases the mellifluous voice of Dolores Gray. Despite the lack of visuals, the song eclipses the other deleted segments, thanks to Gray's smooth, seductive delivery.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 minutes) - The film's original preview, which tries to hoodwink the audience into believing 'It's Always Fair Weather' is an uplifting, good-natured romp, completes the extras package.
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 73311 [review_bottom_line] => 6 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Though its title promises sunny skies, 'It's Always Fair Weather' is, at times, pretty gloomy. A sober, cynical story dims this musical's bright outlook, despite a handful of memorable numbers and some biting satire from Comden and Green. Warner Archive provides a stellar widescreen transfer and remastered audio, along with plenty of interesting supplements, but only the musical faithful will be inclined to purchase this promising but disappointing film.

[review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 146952 ) ) [11] => Array ( [review_id] => 37422 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => kuboandthetwostrings [review_release_date] => 1479801600 [review_hot] => 1 [review_title] => Kubo and the Two Strings [picture_created] => 1471879392 [picture_name] => Cover_Art.jpg [manufacturer_name] => Universal [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2016/08/22/120/Cover_Art.jpg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/37422/kuboandthetwostrings.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2016 [run_time] => 101 [list_price] => 34.98 [asin] => B01KMKM4TW [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 [1] => Spanish: DTS Digital Surround 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish, French ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Feature Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Travis Knight [1] => Kubo's Journey [2] => Corners of the Earth [3] => The Myth of Kubo ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Animation, Adventure, Fantasy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Travis Knight ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

From the acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (Coraline) comes an epic original action adventure like you have never seen before! Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) mesmerizes the people of a local fishing village, with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo is forced to go on a quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father and his mystical weaponry, as well as discover his own magical powers. Featuring the voices of Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is a magical event that will mesmerize children and adults alike.

[review_movie] =>

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, stop-motion animation studio Laika's newest movie 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a masterpiece. From its staggeringly gorgeous animation to its imagination-fueled dream story this film holds nothing back. It's a brazen journey into a magical world of love, friendship, family, and sacrifice.

Much like Hayao Miyazaki's films, 'Kubo' challenges younger viewers by confronting them with authentic emotions and heartfelt storytelling. It's not a simple, breezy story about a kid on an adventure. No, this is a movie that treats its younger audience with respect. That allows them the room to feel and grow with its title character. It provides a framework for them to contemplate weighty issues like death, acceptance, fear, and faith without getting too dour in the process.

Young Kubo (Art Parkinson) exists in a magical world. Taking a page from the Miyazaki playbook, the Laika team (helmed by director Travis Knight) never feel the need to explain the magic or its rules, or why magic exists, or why people aren't all that surprised to see magic in the first place. Thank goodness for this. It means that the film never has to find itself bogged down in tedious exposition, and can instead focus on its compelling fairytale story and arresting visuals.

There's just something about stop-motion animation that provides a surrealism that straight CG animation lacks. There's a life to it. A living substance to the characters, their expressions, the backdrops, the intricately created sets, everything. It's tactile.

Kubo is a one-eyed musician who spends his time in a local town telling stories with origami. That's how the movie begins. With Kubo strumming his guitar as his origami paper enchantingly folds itself in mid-air. A samurai pops into existence and as Kubo plays the paper warrior dispatches a myriad of paper enemies: dragons, giant spiders, and angry chickens just to name a few.

The beauty of this scene is astounding. The way it dives right into its own universe without apology or explanation is a sublime exercise in complete immersion of an audience. We don't understand the logistics of Kubo's world, we're just glad we get to visit this once.

There's a story about how Kubo's grandfather, the evil Moon King, stole his eye. His mother is the Moon King's daughter and is trying to protect Kubo from becoming like her father. There's a quest Kubo must embark on if he wants to be able to defeat his grandfather once and for all. And yet, all of this is secondary.

It isn't about why Kubo has to do anything. It's about the journey it takes for him to get there. It's about the spectacular visuals and the trueness of the message. It's about a young boy truly understanding himself, discovering what he's capable of, and proving it to the universe.

Laika's films have all focused on young protagonists. They're all strong, layered characters who, again, resemble the young heroes and heroines of Miyazaki's famous anime. The reverence paid to childhood has become a Laika trademark.

As a family film, 'Kubo' excels. Not just because it's fun to look at (oh, boy it really is!), but because it doesn't dumb itself down for kids. It gives them some mental meat to chew on. It presents them with issues to problem solve. It treats them respectfully like the young, developing human beings they are.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is a two-disc release. It comes with a 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD copy. There's also a Digital Copy code included inside a standard keepcase and slipcover.

[review_video_picture_id] => 72569 [review_video] =>

As you might expect, Universal's 1080p transfer of 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is demo-worthy in every aspect. It is full of detail, color, and life. The presentation captures the intricate details of the extraordinary puppets used for the movie.

The first thing you may notice about this presentation is how cinematic it looks. While the detail is crisp and exact, the film still has a very filmic look to it. Everything down to the smallest detail is visible here. The detail here is exquisite. This is an important aspect of the presentation. If it was blurry or soft at all then the immense amount of work that went into each of these puppets and the hand-made landscapes would be utterly lost. Thankfully, that's not the case.

Color is bold and vibrant. The wide range of color present is just a wonder to behold. Black areas are perfectly defined. No banding exists anywhere. What's even more amazing is that there isn't any aliasing either. There are a couple scenes where fields of what appears to be wheat are waving in the background. These scenes, with so many skinny plants gently waving could be a hotbed for aliasing. Not here though. Lines are clean, never blending; clarity never wavering. This is certainly a release that you'll want to use to show off your high-def setup.

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'Kubo' features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that produces a varied amount of depth and ambient sound for the presentation. I must say, however, that I was expecting to be blown away by this mix. It's strong and capable, but lacks the oomph to put it into the 5-star echelon.

Up front dialogue is presented neatly. Not an ounce of spoken word is lost. There are also some great transitional effects up front too. Like when Kubo's magical origami birds flutter from one side of the frame to the other, the sound moves seamlessly with them.

Surround sound is where the film lacks punch. The rear channels provide some good ambient sound, but it never feels totally immersive. It sounds a little too light. As for the low-end frequencies they're adequate, but not overtly impressive. When Kubo and company fight the huge skeleton one might expect house-rumbling bass. Here the bass is present, but it doesn't feel like it's trying for a demo-worthy experience.

Now don't get me wrong. This isn't a bad mix by any means. It's full of richness and clarity. It's just that it might not be a disc you use to show off your sound system.

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Audio Commentary – A commentary is provided by Director Travis Knight. Knight's commentary feels like it's scripted, because he's able to intricately explain details about the what you're seeing. He discusses the animation process, anecdotes behind decisions of details included in the film, and so on. It's a very interesting, detailed commentary, but it does get a little dry simply because it is scripted (or feels that way).

Kubo's Journey (HD, 29 min.) – This is a collection of featurettes with a Play All option. There are six featurettes in all. "Introduction by Director/Producer Traivs Knight" is just that, a very brief explanation of the movie and mentioning the enormous undertaking it was to make. "Japenese Inspiration" is a brief featurette about the movie's Japanese influences and its samuari roots. "Mythological Monsters" is a great look at the different puppeterring and engineering techniques that went into making the three main monsters in the movie. Watching them create and puppet the giant skeleton is awesome. "Braving the Elements" talks about the challenges in making realistic water in stop-motion and how they achieved it. Watching them blend practical effects with CGI is quite amazing. "The Redemptive and Healing Power of Music" shows how the score of the film was created. "Epilogue" again presents Knight as he discusses that Laika loves to challenge themselves with stop-motion animation.

Corners of the Earth (HD, 3 min.) – A short featurette that covers most of the same ground that is shown in "Kubo's Journey." More of a promotional look at the challenges of making an epic movie like this and all the sets they had to physically create.

The Myth of Kubo (HD, 2 min.) – Another promotional trailer-type look at making the movie. Some interviews are reused here that we already heard in "Kubo's Journey."

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There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided here.

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'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a special movie. One of my favorite of 2016. Its animation is incredible. Its story infinitely relatable. The video presentation here is perfection. The audio is a little underwhelming, but nevertheless very capable. This release comes highly recommended.

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From the acclaimed animation studio LAIKA (Coraline) comes an epic original action adventure like you have never seen before! Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson, TV’s “Game of Thrones”) mesmerizes the people of a local fishing village, with his magical gift for spinning wild tales with origami. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo is forced to go on a quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father and his mystical weaponry, as well as discover his own magical powers. Featuring the voices of Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is a magical event that will mesmerize children and adults alike.

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Years ago, humanity abandoned the ruined Blue World. Generations later, with the planet again capable of sustaining life, mankind returned. In the skies above the reborn world, rebellious young Fam and her best friend Giselle make their living as Sky Pirates. Atop sleek Vespa Vanships, the girls dart fearlessly through the clouds, capturing and selling airborne battleships for profit. It’s a life of care-free swashbuckling – until the Ades Federation attacks. The only nation to remain on Blue World during humanity’s exile, The Ades Federation wages war against those who returned only after the planet’s darkest days had passed. When Fam and Giselle rescue a princess from the clutches of the rampaging Ades armada, they join the young royal’s battle to save her Kingdom from destruction – and undertake the impossible mission of uniting humanity in peace.

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 Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) returns as the Mechanic in the sequel to the 2011 action-thriller. When the deceitful actions of a cunning but beautiful woman (Jessica Alba) force him to return to the life he left behind, Bishop's life is once again in danger as he has to complete an impossible list of assassinations of the most dangerous men in the world.

[review_editors_notes] =>

Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the Ultra HD Blu-ray release.

[review_movie] =>

At this point in his career, if you've seen a Jason Statham movie, you've seen them all. They're virtually identical to one another, the same formulaic drivel, layered with the sort of nuance and sophistication as a pie in the face. If the British-born actor is among the cast members, audiences can always expect an abundance of broken bones, random explosions, and anything in the vicinity being utterly destroyed. Stratham's latest modestly-budgeted actioner, 'Mechanic: Resurrection,' is ultimately no different, if not exactly the same as every movie he has starred in. The sequel to 2011's surprise remake — and this one also turned out to be another surprise sleeper hit — is another routine, check-your-brain at the door vehicle.

Mr. Stratham is pretty much sleepwalking in his return as grumpy orphan boy turned professional assassin Arthur Bishop, offering little to the imagination or the opportunity to reveal emotional range. After cleverly escaping certain death in the last movie — or roll-your-eyes, perfectly orchestrated, depending on who you ask — the brooding, grouchy-looking killer enjoys retirement on a boat in Brazil, yet he still feels the need to use explosives as his home security system. (You know, because that won't come up in the next few minutes or so.) But don't fret, however. Because in spite of his looks and chipper disposition, he's actually a big ole teddy bear deep down inside. It's really, really deep down requiring some strenuous digging, but rest a sure, it's there. Just look at the way he handles and cares for a vinyl record while enjoying a cup of coffee and the paper. As we all know, a person who appreciates the sound of vinyl on a crazy expensive Pro-Ject turntable is always a good indicator of their altruistic personality.

And with that footnote established and understood — as it will come up again when the damsel in distress makes her sudden appearance in an ever so subtle punch to the gut — baddies interrupt our anti-hero's relaxing morning routine. Cue the crushing sounds of bones popping and the pounding of faces into tables as dizzying, rapid-fire editing turns the fight choreography into a single, woozy blur, culminating into an impossibly daring escape and, of course, an explosion. The man responsible for the chaotic morning call is the not-so-mysterious, fellow orphan playmate Crain (Sam Hazeldine), who simply wants to hire our protagonist for a three-kill mission. And what's his compensation? He won't have his army of henchmen, who are about as effective at their jobs as the Minions, bump off Bishop's new love interest Gina (Jessica Alba), the aforementioned damsel. Man, being a professional assassin with the talent for making a murder look accidental sure is a tough racket, especially if one is really in high demand.

The rest of 'Mechanic: Resurrection' is a paint-by-numbers actioner and ironically mechanical, which is disappointing from German director Dennis Gansel, who left quite the impression a few years ago with 'The Wave' and 'We Are the Night.' Action sequences are visually interesting, in part thanks to the camerawork of Daniel Gottschalk, but none of it feels original or the least bit thrilling. If Ethan Hunt didn't already surround himself with competent spies or ever felt like taking day off from performing his own stunts, then Bishop would be well suited for the task of completing impossible missions. He scales high-rises to do some minor plumbing work and penetrates the impenetrable fortresses of Bulgaria owned by Tommy Lee Jones as arms dealer — and part-time Las Vegas lounge singer — Max Adams. The tediousness and boredom ultimately comes down to a predictable script that never presents Bishop with a real challenge or genuine threat to him or his girl. He's designed, from the opening moments, to win and be smarter than anyone else, so what's the point. Which is to say, don't even bother with this.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Summit and Lionsgate Home Entertainment bring 'Mechanic: Ressurection' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is joined by a DVD-9 copy of the movie inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a shiny slipcover. After several skippable trailers, viewers are taken to a menu screen with full-motion clips and music.

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Bishop is raised from the dead thanks to an exemplary, highly-detailed AVC-encoded transfer, offering several demo-worthy moments that should wow viewers.

The best and most impressive scenes are those taking place at Mae's beach house in Thailand, although the other Asian and Australia locations look just as good. The ocean water is bright blue while the tops of every ripple and wave are distinct, and viewers can plainly make out every grain of sand shimmering in the sun. The edges of palm branches, the points of the dried palm-leaf roofs of houses and the dry, aged wood grain is consistently razor-sharp. The faces of the cast and extras appear natural and appropriate to the climate with excellent complexions, revealing every blemish, negligible scar and wrinkle. When the action suddenly moves to Europe, on the other hand, the scenery is not quite as defined, most notably when our hero assassin chases an arms dealer in an underground bunker in Bulgaria.

Shot on a pair of Red camera systems, the rest of the 1080p picture comes with outstanding contrast and clean, crisp whites. The photography of Daniel Gottschalk displays a gorgeous and varied array of colors throughout. Showing animated, luxurious primaries and accurate, warm secondary hues, those sequences mentioned above are simply marvelous to gawk at — and I'm not just referring to Jessica Alba in a two-piece. Unfortunately, the cinematography makes a sudden left turn when landing in Bulgaria where things become dour, gray and gloomy, but that appears intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Thankfully, black levels remain consistent and inky rich without sacrificing any of the finer details in the shadows, providing the 2.40:1 image with an attractive cinematic quality. 

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The sassy, ironic mechanic bursts forth unto the screen with a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that'll put viewers right in the middle of the action on various occasions.

In truth, it doesn't compare to some of the best object-based tracks we've heard in other movies, but when it does, it is highly amusing. When the action erupts, debris flies overhead and to the sides, creating some very satisfying moments of immersion. Ambient effects occasionally bleed into the ceiling speakers with discrete effectiveness and excellent directionality, particularly the scene when Bishop first meets with Crain. The sound of wind blowing and exotic birds singing are heard everywhere to create an amazing dome-like aural experience. Helicopters also pan from the back of the room, overhead and to the front and back again with stunning realism while the noise of their blades resonate all around and above when inside the cockpit.

The front soundstage is definitely the movie's most impressive aspect, delivering an incredibly expansive and broad soundscape with noteworthy channel balance. Whether it's cars or bullets, the action moves from one side to the other with fluid precision and fidelity while littered with a variety of convincing off-screen activity that bleeds into the front heights. The lossless mix remains distinct and dynamic with room-penetrating clarity, exhibiting outstanding detailing between the mids and highs even during the loudest segments. Dialogue and character interaction does not falter amid the mayhem. A powerful and often authoritative low-end delivers a palpable, resonating presence, making it a great complement to the visuals.

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  • Engineering the Sequel (HD, 10 min) — Standard EPK-like piece made up of cast & crew interviews with BTS footage pratting on about the plot, characters and production.
  • Scoring the Action Film (HD, 9 min) — Precisely as it sounds, the featurette is a sit-down with musician and composer on his approach to the material and creative decisions.
  • The Malaysian Prison (HD, 1 min) — At brief look at the building serving as the backdrop to one of Bishop's kills and daring escape.
  • Michelle Yeoh, Secret Ally (HD, 1 min) — A focused conversation on the actress.
  • Statham on Stunts (HD, 1 min) — Does this need an explanation?
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 72920 [review_bottom_line] => 4 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Mechanic: Resurrection' is the sequel to 2011's sleeper hit with some visually interesting camerawork but is ultimately a boring, paint-by-numbers actioner. Thanks to a predictable script that never presents its anti-hero with any credible challenges or threats, the movie barely worth checking out for anyone who enjoyed the first movie. The Blu-ray arrives with a fantastic audio and video presentation with several demo-worthy moments, but the supplements package is pretty disappointing, making this another case of good disc, bad flick.

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With high speed camerawork and breakthrough new science, we enter the fast-paced world of hummingbirds as never before. Speed is their middle name. Their lives are moving faster than the eye can see.

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Directed by noted music documentarian Robert Mugge (Last of the Mississippi Jukes, Blues Divas), New Orleans Music In Exile is an intimate and eye-opening meditation on the resiliency of the artists and the magnitude of the loss. The film showcases musicians such as The Iguanas, Irma Thomas, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Stephen Assaf, ReBirth Brass Band and many more, and explores several well-known New Orleans music venues such as The Spotted Cat, Maple Leaf, Snug Harbor, and Palm Tavern.

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A western like no other, One-Eyed Jacks combines the mythological scope of that most American of film genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Marlon Brando, all suffused with Freudian overtones and male anxiety. In his only directing stint, Brando captures the rugged landscapes of California’s Central Coast and Mexico’s Sonoran Desert in gorgeous widescreen, Technicolor images, and elicits from his fellow actors (including Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer) nuanced improvisational depictions of conflicted characters. Though overwhelmed by its director’s perfectionism and plagued by production setbacks and studio re-editing, One-Eyed Jacksstands as one of Brando’s great achievements, thanks above all to his tortured turn as Rio, a bank robber bent on revenge against his one-time partner in crime, the aptly named Dad Longworth (Malden). Brooding and romantic, Rio marks the last, and perhaps the most tender, of the iconic outsiders Brando imbued with such remarkable intensity throughout his career.

[review_movie] =>

Marlon Brando's reputation preceeds him. As a perfectionist and a die-hard practitioner of Stanislavski's "method" system of acting, in addition to being known as one of the best actors of all-time, he was also known for being extremely difficult to work with. The story of his only directorial effort, the very troubled production 'One-Eyed Jacks,' may be the best example of how difficult he was, but how great the rewards were that come of it.

Originally written by Sam Peckinpah for Stanley Kubrick to direct, as pre-production lagged on, the project was then passed over to Brando, who previously only planned to produce the film alongside his father. Featuring re-write after re-write and a delayed production that ran months too long and millions of dollars over budget, the film was originally slated for a September 1958 release, but didn't open until March 1961 – and even then, it was only after major reshoots and the studio taking the movie away from Brando during the editing process because of how long he was taking. We hear of troubled productions and studio interference frequently in modern times ('Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' and 'Suicide Squad' are two of the most notable comtemporary releases). In most cases, the final products of such films lack style, coherence and/or creativity, but in the case of 'One-Eyed Jacks,' the final cut is fantastic.

Until now, the only thing that I knew about 'One-Eyed Jacks' was that dozens of copies can be found in any given Walmart's discount DVD bin – that and the DVD's artwork is terrible. Fortunately, Criterion has done a wonderful job of repackaging and delivering this brand new remaster of the film, which quickly entered my Top 5 All-Time Westerns list right after seeing it.

Marlon Brando plays the film's anti-hero lead, Rio, an outlaw who never meant to do harm to anyone, but certainly didn't have any problems knocking off banks for his own personal gain. The film kicks off with a drawn-out sequence that takes its times building up to the movie's main story. Rio and two friends hold up a bank in Mexico, after which a group of Federales track them down. One of the criming trio goes down in a blaze of glory, while Rio and his mentor – nicknamed "Dad" (Karl Malden) – get away from the village and into the desert hills. When the two finally look like they put some distance between them, a Federale bullet takes out Rio's horse, forcing the him to hop on Dad's as they make their way up a steep ridge and hold their ground. With only one horse, they decide to send Dad to a nearby ranch so he can steal and/or buy a horse for Rio, but when Dad gets to safety, his survival instincts kick in. Choosing flight over fight, Dad keeps riding and abandons Rio, who is eventually arrested and imprisoned.

Five years later, when Rio escapes from the Sonoran prison, with rage boiling his blood, he heads out to find Dad and get revenge. It's in Monterey, California where he finds him living a clean and crime-free life. Dad settled down, married a beautiful and kind Mexican woman, and took on the roles of step-father and town sheriff. Without revealing his revenge card, Rio comes to Dad and plays ignorant to knowing about the betrayal. He formulates a perfect plan to kill Dad, but hits a brick wall when her starts falling for Dad's stepdaughter, Louisa (Pina Pellicer).

'One-Eyed Jacks' is ambitious. It's more than a simple tale of revenge; it's a deep character study that takes its time. Each action and every line is perfectly tailored to serve a very specific purpose. Despite the troubled production, the final product is a masterpiece. All of the delays and expenses were worth it. Although it may have been a financial and critical flop at the time of its release, it's now praised and viewed with fondness - hence Criterion adopting it into the prestigious Collection. If you've never seen Brando's classic western, coming from someone who also just barely discovered it, you've got to. 'One-Eyed Jacks' is a must-see.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'One-Eyed Jacks' has received an upgrade that's much better than most, although Criterion didn't technically perform the remaster. The video and audio restoration was overseen by The Film Foundation and celluloid purists Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg in preparation for a 2016 Cannes Film Festival screening. In partnership with Universal, Criterion received distribution rights for this version, for which they also compiled a new set of special features. The film and all extras are contained on a Region A BD-50 disc in a standard clear Criterion keepcase with #844 on the spine. Included is a booklet with release notes and an essay by Howard Hampton. Nothing plays before the main menu.

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With a new 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer, 'One-Eyed Jacks' looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Having the best video quality of any transfer of a film of its age, the only disappointment with it is that Criterion hasn't made it available on UHD although it was remastered in 4K.

There isn't a lick of damage in this film. Not one scratch. Not a single verticle run. No specks. No jutter. Nothing. Aside from a natural dusting of celluloid grain, the visual presentation is 100% clean and clear. Each frame is gorgeous.

Colors are vibrant and visually appealing. Blue skies and red clothing pop on-screen. Even the color of the opening title cards shine. Through all the many locations, sets and lighting, contrast is consistent. Details are strongly abundant in the majority of the scenes. Clothing and skin textures are apparent. The only waivering aspect of the detail are some shots that were obviously recorded slightly out of focus. Those shots have a very slight haze and glow that wipes out details and definition. Fortunately, they are few and far between.

While several scenes reveal very slight noise in the skies, there are no instances of banding, aliasing or artifacts.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 73812 [review_audio] =>

In the same way that the video quality of 'One-Eyed Jacks' doesn't show its age, the audio quality also doesn't feature any aging flaws. Unfortunately, being a mono track, it doesn't have the opportunity to wow as much as the video does.

The uncompressed LPCM monoaural track is free of distortion, warping, warbling, inconsistency or shakiness. It's never blown-out or uneven. The different elements are mixed harmoniously with one another so there's always a dominant layer that never step on the others' toes. The best element of all is the fantastic original score, which is oft allowed to play loudly. Being a grand and sweeping score, its very impressive.

The only improvement that this mix could have used would be a multi-channel mix, but it's just fine as-is.

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    • Introduction by Martin Scorsese (HD, 2:55) – For the Cannes premiere of the 4K remaster, Scorsese recorded a new introduction of the film on behalf of the The Film Foundation. In it, he briefly explains the backstory of the production and Marlon Brando's heavy involvement in all aspects of the shoot.

    • Marlon Brando (HD, 33:38) – If you've seen the documentary 'Listen to Me Marlon,' then you know that Brando made hours and hours of personal audio recordings for himself. This feature combines 33 minutes of his audio regarding 'One-Eyed Jacks.' You'll hear about previous drafts of the script that included story elements that were altered. Beware that what you'll hear is uncensored and features strong language.

    • 'A Million Feet of Film' (HD, 23:09) – Thanks to YouTube and Vimeo, video essays are all the rage right now. This one included, many video essays are absolutely fantastic. This one comes from '50s western blogger Toby Roan. In it, he walks us through every aspect of the film's production.

    • 'I Ain't Hung Yet' (HD, 24:02) – This second video essays comes to us from filmmaker and critic David Cairns. Instead of rehashing the content from the previous feature, Cairns' describes how 'One-Eyed Jacks' impacted the western tradition. He also breaks down and analyzes the story, shots, styles and dynamics.

    • Trailer (HD, 4:44)

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There are no HD bonus features.

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Upon discovering the greatness of the western genre for myself, I blew through all of the classics and made my own favorites list. Along the way, I somehow missed 'One-Eyed Jacks,' but having now discovered it, it's easily in my Top 5. Structurally and character-wise, 'Jacks' functions unlike any other western I've seen. It takes the blockbuster genre and makes it work like a multi-faceted film. Just as interesting and entertaining as the film itself is the history of its very troubled production. Criterion slapped on several special features that tell the story behind the film, each of which give a knownledge that only makes the film better. The Film Foundation is responsible for the top-notch video and audio transfers that collectively make this one of Criterion's very best Blu-ray releases. I highly recommend adding 'One-Eyed Jacks' to your collection. It's worth the blind-buy.

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Hachimitsu Academy, a prestigious, historically all-girls school, has finally become co-ed. Average teen, Kiyoshi, is one of five boys to enroll. What he doesn’t know is that the school is clandestinely ruled by an Underground Student Council of ruthless, cruel, totally hot female students! And when the boys get caught peeping, they’re sent to the school’s prison, which is run by the brutally seductive warden, who also happens to be the VP of the Underground Student Council. After the boys are forced endure manual labor, whips, and chains, they’ll be left wishing they were locked up with actual criminals!

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Hachimitsu Academy, a prestigious, historically all-girls school, has finally become co-ed. Average teen, Kiyoshi, is one of five boys to enroll. What he doesn’t know is that the school is clandestinely ruled by an Underground Student Council of ruthless, cruel, totally hot female students! And when the boys get caught peeping, they’re sent to the school’s prison, which is run by the brutally seductive warden, who also happens to be the VP of the Underground Student Council. After the boys are forced endure manual labor, whips, and chains, they’ll be left wishing they were locked up with actual criminals!

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With Rabid, acclaimed director David Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch) delivers a high-tension thriller filled with "zombified sluts and shock moments… an irresistible combination that Cronenberg handles well" (Almar Haflidason, BBC)!

 After undergoing radical emergency surgery, Rose (former adult film star Marilyn Chambers in her first leading role in a mainstream film) develops an insatiable desire for blood. She searches out victims to satisfy her incurable craving, infecting them with an unknown disease which in turn swiftly drives them insane… and makes them equally bloodthirsty.

 Follow the lovely but deadly Rose through her terrifying ordeal as victim by victim, the spreading circle of casualties grows... until no one can escape their grisly fate of becoming... Rabid.

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In Return of the Living Dead: Part II, the chemical Trioxin turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Now, the government is trying to control these unstoppable cannibalistic killers in Return of the Living Dead 3. When a young man uses the chemical to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident, she is driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her...human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves!

[review_movie] =>

Sometimes, I enjoy reading the anonymous comments and revisions made to a movie's Wikipedia page because they can occasionally offer a different and unique insight to a person's perception of said movie, which ironically can often be the reason for never trusting such websites in the first place. For the page dedicated to 'Return of the Living Dead 3,' the movie is described as a "romantic horror film," which paradoxically is funnier than anything seen in this production. Part of what makes that description funny is that there is nothing romantic in a plot that doesn't differ all that much from its previous two predecessors, except that filmmakers abandoned the comedic tone set by those two for a more serious take. If this second sequel to the intentionally silly zombie series is considered romantic, then first and second installments should be relabeled "romantic comedies." Military action! Toxic chemicals which reanimate the dead! Oozing icky gore and pandemonium! It's the perfect date night flick.

Adding to the humor of associating any aspect of this production to romance is director Brian Yuzna's attempt for a straightforward horror feature inadvertently resulting in a silly comedy. It's the sort of guilty pleasure — and it is, given that I still get a kick out of it — many tend to justify as so bad it's good. And I must admit, I understanding exactly what that person was thinking when typing the word "romantic" on the movie's page. Yuzna, who's arguably better known for serving as producer to 'Re-Animator,' 'From Beyond' and 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,' makes the star-crossed romance of Curt (J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie (Melinda Clarke) as the central plot. After dying from a motorcycle accident, a grieving Curt breaks into the military base where his father (Kent McCord) has been experimenting with the Trioxin gas to revive the grunge corpse of Julie. As the two deal with her addictive desire to munch on some tasty brains, the pair explore the kinkier side of their relationship while ignoring the elephant in the room: Does making-out with a conscious but still very much dead Julie make Curt a necrophiliac?

Perhaps, the movie would be less (unintentionally) goofy and viewed a more credible romance if not for the story's wackier, more histrionic areas meant as deadly serious drama. Clarke does reasonably well portraying Julie's hunger for flesh as an addiction or suffering withdrawal pains, which she tries to remedy by masochistically cutting herself and extensive self-inflicted body modification. Although at times gruesome and gory, the idea is interesting and worthwhile in the hands of better filmmakers. But the possibilities are undermined by the boyfriend's hysterics and delusional fantasies of a happy conclusion to the violent mayhem he created. Plummeting the premise even further into complete daffy hysteria is a quartet of gang members chasing after our doomed couple because Julie had a hankering for some spicy Mexican food. And honestly, these hardened street thugs provide little consequence to the overall movie or Julie's plight, serving as generic fodder and a source of urgency to move along the plot, which doesn't work.

However, if there's any legitimate reason for watching — or coming close to recommending — 'Return of the Living Dead 3,' it's in the hilarious notion of seeing zombie cholos (slang for Latino gang members). I can't think of any other horror flick that features tough gangsters as the walking dead, one of which walks around with his spine exposed! (Cholos, however, are already equipped and read for the zombie apocalypse!) It's total absurdity and could never be taken serious. But that doesn't stop Yuzna and company from trying. The movie's highlight comes with Julie transforming — or better yet, disfiguring — herself into a more ruthless killing machine. A rock tied to one hand for smashing heads, a knife protruding from the palm of the other for stabbing, sharp wires bulging from under her fingernails for tearing apart the flesh. As if unable to figure out a more satisfying ending, the story does a complete 360°, finishing back where it all started. And so, the moral of the story, assuming there is one, is that young love triumphs and conquers all, even in the reanimated dead?

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings 'Return of the Living Dead 3' to Blu-ray as a Collector's Series under the distributor's Vestron Video line. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is housed inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static menu screen with a photo of the cover art and music playing in the background.

[review_video_picture_id] => 74545 [review_video] =>

The dead return to life on Blu-ray with a strong AVC MPEG-4 encode that only offers a marginal improvement over its standard def counterpart. Much of this is likely due to the condition of the source, looking softer than other titles from the same period with a couple noticeably blurry sequences.

However, fine lines and objects are pretty distinct and visible in the background with sharp detailing in the clothing, the bodies of the walking dead and the walls of the army facility and the sewer hideout. Primaries are fairly bright and cleanly rendered, but secondary hues are somewhat lackluster. Although facial complexions can be revealing during close-ups, faces appear pale and sometimes sickly, making the living look almost dead in a few areas. The 1080p video displays good contrast levels, but much of the picture is nonetheless a little faded and flat. Likewise, blacks are deep and true in several spots, but they also tend to be slightly dull and murky while average shadow delineation. Overall, with a thin layer of natural grain, the 1.85:1 image makes a decent upgrade for the most loyal of fans. 

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Much like the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio stereo soundtrack is good, but not really a massive jump from previous home releases.

Compared to the DVD, the lossless mix is noticeably cleaner with slightly better clarity of background activity and appreciable balance. The mid-range also exhibits better detailing with distinct, precise dialogue reproduction. Low bass offers a bit more oomph to the music and action, but it's not by much, making much of the design seem pretty lacking. As for the rest of the track, various Foley effects, and occasionally even voices, tend to echo in the oddest areas and placement is distractingly misplaced. The overall design is, frankly, weak and somewhat limited, generating a mostly uniform soundstage that feels like a flat line across the screen. There are many instances of hissing, some popping in the background and very mild distortion in the loudest segments. 

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The Blu-ray edition arrives with a new set of supplements along with others from the DVD.

  • Audio Commentary — Both commentary tracks are ported over from the previous DVD release. Director Brian Yuzna kicks things off with a decently informative chat that's focused more on the history of the production and his involvement while giving his thoughts about specific aspects of the movie. The second track features Melinda Clarke talking with the late special effects artist Tom Rainone, who sadly passed away shortly after the Blu-ray release. They swap a variety of anecdotes and memories about the makeup and practical effects, especially as it relates to Clarke's character.
  • Ashes to Ashes (HD, 27 min) — The longest and meatiest of the new supplements is an enlightening conversation between Yuzna and screenwriter John Penney, mixed with lots of BTS footage.
  • Living Dead Girl (HD, 19 min) — Clarke talks extensively about her career, landing this role at a young age and her experience as a budding actress on her first film set.
  • The Resurrected Dead (HD, 19 min) — Special effects artists Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson talk in detail about the makeup effects while showing some vintage BTS footage.
  • Romeo is Bleeding (HD, 17 min) — Actor J. Trevor Edmond is also given a few minutes to share his memories and stories from the set.
  • Trimark and Trioxin (HD, 14 min) — An amusing chat with production manager David Tripet and editor Chris Roth about working on this production and a brief history on the home video market.
  • Still Galleries (HD)
  • Trailer (HD)
[review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

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As the third installment to the silly zombie franchise, 'Return of the Living Dead 3' does away with the comedic tone of its predecessors in favor of a more straightforward horror flick with a good deal of gore. The result is an unintentionally hilarious tale of star-crossed lovers literally running to stay alive while one struggles with her addiction for human brains. The Blu-ray from Vestron Video arrives with a noticeable but still small improvement over its DVD counterpart. But with a new assortment of supplements made for this collector's edition, the overall package is quite tempting for fans and cult enthusiasts.

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Launched in 1982 by three friends in a Houston diner, Compaq Computer set out to build a portable PC to take on IBM, the world's most powerful tech company. Many had tried cloning the industry leader's code, only to be trounced by IBM and its high-priced lawyers. "Silicon Cowboys" explores the remarkable David vs. Goliath rise, and eventual demise, of Compaq, an unlikely upstart who altered the future of computing and helped shape the world as we know it today. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Jason Cohen, the film offers a fresh look at the explosive rise of the 1980's PC industry and is a refreshing alternative to the familiar narratives of Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg.

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Be careful of what you touch. A large meteor is heading quickly toward Earth. A space defense launches a missile and seems to destroy the meteor. But a small piece of the meteor lands in a remote part of Europe. An up and coming American rock band is touring through Europe when their van breaks down... near the meteor. The area is eerily quiet and the band finds clues of people living in the area but no one is found. Gradually, they begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together but the meteor is having a deadly effect on them. Bonus Features Include: Interviews, music videos and More!!!

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Join an all star cast including Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), and Ashlee Simpson on an out of-this-world adventure. Pushok, a brave pup astronaut is on a mission to find his father who is trapped on the moon! Defying all odds Pushok blasts off on a rocket to rescue his family but quickly finds he's not alone as he crosses paths with a macho monkey and tiny green aliens. Can Pushok save his family? Will this be mission impawssible?

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The Best of Cinerama is comprised of all the greatest thrills of Cinerama, from the breathtaking roller coaster ride to the visit to La Scala, Milan, for Aida; from the hurtling bobsled run, to the stirring dances of the African Watusis. Made up of over 20 such exciting highlights, the film is not only an historic compilation, but also a stand-alone thrill-a-minute experience.

The adventure begins with the Sabre jet precision flying team from Search For Paradise, and then whirls back to the iconic roller coaster sequence from This is Cinerama! newly restored for this release. From there, the three-panel journey goes global, showcasing some of the rich and exotic locales of Cinerama Holiday, South Seas Adventure and Seven Wonders of the World. There s the Marian Year Celebration at St. Peter s Square in Rome, featuring the first commercial motion-picture footage of Pope Pius XII. There s the boat trip down the Ganges River at Benares. There are visits to Paris, Vienna, Athens, India, Brazil, Japan, Africa, Israel, and New Orleans, all in one spectacular Cinerama presentation.

Flicker Alley and Cinerama Inc. are proud to present The Best of Cinerama in the Smilebox® Curved Screen Simulation. The film has been digitally remastered from original camera negatives, and includes an all-new restoration of scenes from This is Cinerama! This edition celebrates a decade of Cinerama filmmaking, and over five years of bringing those treasures back to life on Blu-ray and DVD for future Cinerama audiences to enjoy!

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Set includes 'The Inspector', 'Roland and Rattfink,' 'The Ant and the Aardvark,' and 'Tijuana Toads.'

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With excruciating honesty, The Squid and the Whale chronicles the experiences of two young brothers growing up in 1980s Park Slope, Brooklyn, as they navigate the jagged contours of the divorce of their parents, both writers. The acclaimed third feature by Noah Baumbach marked a critical development for the filmmaker as he turned toward an increasingly personal style—a move that garnered him an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. Shot in Super 16 mm and featuring a quartet of nuanced, understated performances from Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, and Owen Kline, this comic and poignant drama, peppered with autobiographical elements, deftly captures the heartache and confusion of a fracturing family.

[review_movie] =>

How much of us goes into our children? We all want to believe we make our own decisions, and refuse to believe the sins of our parents determine the lives we lead. And yet, you can't argue the importance of a solid foundation and upbringing. Many films have tackled this complex subject, but only a handful have reached the heights of the modest but impactful “The Squid and The Whale.”

Director Noah Baumbach has always been compared to his friend, the much more successful Wes Anderson. After all, Baumbach used to write for Anderson. They both make movies that feature endlessly quirky “hipster” characters that have dry plucky humor and wit. But I feel Baumbach separates himself by his dry humor, which acts as a way for us to get to know these characters. From the beginning, we know instantly the kind of person, father, and husband Bernard Bergman (Jeff Daniels) is from his snarky demeanor. Bernard is absolutely delusional about almost every aspect of his life.  How he is a “writer” who has never had a chance to reach his full potential.  How full of wisdom he is.  And most importantly, his place in his marriage at this particular point in time. His wife Joan (Laura Linney) is actually the breadwinner of the household because she also is a writer.  Her star is on the rise while Bernard only teaches literature at a local school, and he can't handle it. All of this is conveyed in an incredibly short amount of time through the plucky dialogue between Daniels and Linney, and they are both at the top of their game.  Joan is more down to earth, the lesser of the two evils,  but she still has her problems. There is no way to get around it: these two are very flawed characters, and because of this, they are going through an ugly divorce.  Joan will get the house, and Bernard will be moving into a seedier part of Manhattan, that he so eloquently describes as “the fillet of the neighborhood.”     

Bernard and Joan have two children, Walt (Jesse Eisenberg), and Frank (Owen Kline), who have already taken sides in their parents’ antagonistic relationship. Walt clearly looks up to his father and is on his way to being just as delusional as him. He has enrolled in a talent competition, claiming that he wrote “Hey You,” which we all know was written by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. But this is ok to Walt because his father dotes on him to such a degree that he thinks he can do no wrong. It especially becomes concerning when Walt has genuine insecurities about his relationship with his girlfriend Sophie (Halley Feiffer). The way Walt deals with his insecurities is to lie and project a false image of himself that absolutely mirrors Bernard's false projections of himself. Frank takes his mother’s side, and as a result, is dealing with the divorce in his own ways. He is in his early teens, and experimenting in weird ways that are directly tied to his parents’ divorce. Both of these teenage children are severely affected by their parents’ disagreements, and if they continue on the path that they are on, they are bound for a similar life as their parents themselves.

All of these depressing themes don't necessarily lead to a depressing movie. As I stated above, there is quite a bit of dry humor that acts as levity to lighten the subject matter. Bernard has been putting on his act for so long, he truly believes his own lies, and it is hilarious to see how he justifies himself through the movie. The movie also finds humor in how Walt and Frank take after their parents in peculiar ways. Walt actually thinks that even though he didn't write “Hey You,” he believes he could have if Roger Waters didn't. Since Bernard wants to live vicariously through his son in the worst way, he feels inclined to agree with him. All of this adds up to a thought provoking portrait of a broken home featuring just enough levity to lighten the mood, to make a seemingly perfect blend of drama and dark comedy.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Status

Criterion brings ‘The Squid and The Whale’ to Blu-ray with its usual white hardcover case that always feels just a bit more weighty and substantial. Inside is a single layer BD-50 Blu-ray on the right with a picture of Eisenberg performing “Hey You” at the talent show on it. To the left is a very interesting booklet with a short story about the film, written by Kent Jones. Jones then goes on to do a written interview Baumbach, which is included as well. There are no trailers on any Criterion release that I have seen and there aren't any here. Just a still frame main menu that lets you navigate from there.

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‘The Squid and The Whale’ brings us back to my favorite decade with this 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that is all about setting a mood and a sense of time. Yes people, we are brought back to the early 80s here, and that is this transfer’s biggest asset. Framed at its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and shot in 16mm, we really get the sense that this movie could have been filmed in the late 70s early 80s with all the grime, grit, and brownish orange tinge. Which is a compliment because this movie was actually released in 2005. It is hard to recreate a time that has long since passed like this, but cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman has done an outstanding job at recreating a Brooklyn, NY that feels authentic and lived in.

This movie wouldn't be my first choice for a 4K master, but that is the new “it” thing to do, and Criterion likes to do this at least once a month. Now, that doesn't mean you should be setting your expectations too high, however there is a significant bump up in clarity and grain levels from any other version you can pick up for this movie. We don't get unbelievable clarity and detail here, but certain scenes do have good detail, especially with Daniel's beard which makes him look like a member of The Bee Gee’s. A certain amount of grain comes with the territory in order to make this film feel authentic, but it is actually nicely done here, with just the right level between amateurish and authentic. All in all, this is a subtle but effective transfer that didn’t blow me away (not every transfer needs to), while setting a mood that the rest of the movie has heavily relied on.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 72778 [review_audio] =>

Criterion advertises its DTS-HD MA 5.1 track as being supervised by its composer Dean Wareham, and that shows where their focus was when mixing this track more than you might guess from first impressions. Everything special about this mix is its soundtrack, and the rest is a subtle affair. You hear a small amount of the Brooklyn street noise in your surrounds during exterior scenes, but that is all too far and few between. The majority of the movie is very somber and front heavy. There is nothing wrong with that in this case. Not every surround track needs to smack us in the face with how bombastic it is.  

When the “hipster-esq” score comes into play, something different happens. Your whole field of sound comes to life! The LED light on my subwoofer turns from red to blue and it brings that warm feeling to my heart.  From ‘The Swimming Song’ by Loudon Wainwright III, to ‘Street Hassle’ by Lou Reed, all the way to ‘Courting Blues’ by Bert Jansch, all of these songs are recreated expertly in 5.1 surround. This track adds a sense of place and time with its wonderfully eccentric soundtrack, proving you can be minimalist and still be effective.

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Noah Baumbach (27:40 HD) – ‘The Squid and The Whale’ is obviously a very personal story for Baumbach, and this feature is all about the journey of making the movie, and what it means to him. At one point, he proves how long it took until this film came to fruition: Baumbach finished his script wile Anderson was finishing the script for the ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ (2001) and the movie didn't get greenlit until after he helped Anderson write ‘Life Aquatic’ (2004).

Revisiting The Squid and The Whale (20:14 HD) – A collection of interviews with Linney, Eisenberg, and Kline reflecting on their experience that is really interesting.  You definitely see it in the film, but it is interesting how Eisenberg picked up on Daniels’ character to reflect how much the two characters were alike.

Jeff Daniels (7:57 HD) – A solo interview with Daniels where he talks about how he fought to steal the role from an “A list” actor. The reason he was chosen was because he was the only one to get that beyond the subject matter; it was actually funny. 

Auditions:  Walt and Frank (3:10 SD) – Auditions for the two actors rehearsing the scene where they talk about the books in Bernard's new house.

                   “Do You Like Frank Kafka?” (3:17 SD) Eisenberg and Feiffer rehearse the scene where they talk about Kafka.

                  “Not an Intellectual” (3:59 SD) – Eisenberg and Feiffer rehearse the scene where Walt asks Sophie about her previous relationships.

                  “Don't Be Difficult” (2:42 SD) – Another audition between Eisenberg and Feiffer where they rehearse their fight on the street.

                  “I Know It’s Over” (7:31 SD) – The last audition between Eisenberg and Feiffer where they run through their breakup scene.

Dean Wareham And Britta Phillips (13:49 HD) A look back at the professional relationship between Baumbach and the two composers, reminiscing about previous films together and the choices on the soundtrack for ‘The Squid and The Whale’. 

Behind ‘The Squid and The Whale’ (9:57 SD) – The actors talk about their roles and where they drew their characters from. 

Trailers (4:07 HD)

[review_bonus_content] =>

None

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In the Special Features, Baumbach talks about how hard it was to grow up with artistic parents who were very concerned with themselves and their careers. I see that this movie was an immensely personal story for Baumbach (he is Walt in the movie), and that is always a great recipe for a good movie. The way that Daniels finds the humor behind the heavy material makes him a stand out, and a this becomes a career changing role for him along with every actor in the movie. This movie would be a joyless affair without actors who understand its dry ironic humor. When I was in college, I had an apartment down the street from a small independent movie theater that I have fond memories of.  ‘The Squid and The Whale’ was the absolute first film I saw at that theater and an experience I cherish the most. Right after seeing the movie, I remember jumping in my car to go to my local music store and buying the soundtrack. Now, even though my taste in movies and music has changed, my love for this movie and its soundtrack has not, and this Criterion release recreates that theatrical experience with great skill and craft. Highly recommended.

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When Helga Hammond (Heather Angel) hears about a legend whereby a male member of her family is about to be sacrificed every few years, she discounts the legend as nonsense. But when Helga's brother Oliver (John Howard) is attacked by a horrific beast that is part man and part wolf, it appears that the legend is true. When a Scotland Yard inspector (James Ellison) investigates the link between the werewolf and the family, he discovers an even more shocking truth!

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The Void is a multi volume anthology series featuring some of the best award winning short films from the Horror, Suspense, Thriller, Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, Including: Dystopia St., Dextrocardia, A Dark Night at the Wrong House, Carrier Crow, Status Change, 300,000 Kilometers Per Second, A Birds Nest and Fairy Knowledge.

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When a notorious, highly sophisticated counterfeiter murders his partner, Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William Petersen) launches a furious vendetta to capture the man responsible. But master counterfeiter Rick Masters (Willem Dafoe) is always just one step ahead of Chance in William Friedkin's thrilling, suspenseful crime drama. With violent shoot-outs and a turbulent chase scene reminiscent of Friedkin's own The French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A. broke with tradition by making the ostensible hero as morally reprehensible as the villain he pursues. Clashing with bureaucratic obstacles, Chance is forced to break the rules in order to procure cash for a sting operation, but the risks he takes snowball into an avalanche of violence and moral repercussions, leading to a morally ambiguous cul-de-sac from which there may be no return.

[review_editors_notes] =>

Portions of this article first appeared in our review of the MGM Blu-ray edition of 'To Live and Die in L.A.' released in 2010.

[review_movie] =>

After the huge success and acclaim of his back-to-back duo of 'The French Connection' and 'The Exorcist', William Friedkin's career took a turn for the worse in the mid 1970s. His ambitious, big budget 'Sorcerer' (a remake of French classic 'The Wages of Fear') was drubbed by critics and ignored by audiences at the time. (The film later experienced a critical re-evaluation, however.) That was followed by a string of commercial disappointments such as 'The Brink's Job' and 'Deal of the Century'. By 1985, the director was in desperate need of a hit. Inspired by the pop culture phenomenon that 'Miami Vice' had stirred on television, Friedkin decided to cash in on some of his 'French Connection' cred with a new high octane crime thriller, 'To Live and Die in L.A.'. Although reviews were mixed, the film was a box office hit and has aged very well over the years.

Between this movie and 'Manhunter', William Petersen really seemed on the verge of becoming a big star in the 1980s. For whatever reason, that didn't pan out until his run on 'CSI' starting in 2000. In 'To Live and Die in L.A.', Petersen stars as Richard Chance, a Secret Service agent on the trail of nefarious counterfeiter Eric Masters (a very young Willem Dafoe). Chance is a hothead and an adrenaline junkie, driven to obsession after Masters has his partner killed. When he and new partner John Vukovich (John Pankow, later Cousin Ira in 'Mad About You') can't requisition suitable funds for a sting operation, Chance formulates a new, ethically dubious plan to raise the money. It doesn't exactly work out as well as he hoped. Events soon spiral wildly out of control as a result.

Some of its less kind critics accused 'To Live and Die in L.A.' of being little more than a big screen 'Miami Vice' knockoff with the sex and violence cranked up to R-rated levels. There's some truth in that. But, frankly, that's very much part of its appeal. The film is a slick, flashy thriller with a dynamic visual style cued directly from 'Vice' and from MTV (back when it was still culturally relevant). As he did in 'The French Connection', Friedkin plows through the plot with propulsive, kinetic energy. The theme song and score by New Wave band Wang Chung may be overused and repetitive, but I'll be damned if those tracks aren't still effective and exciting all these years later. The movie has nudity and gory violence, and plenty of top-notch action.

Yet the picture is more than just an exercise in empty stylistics. It actually has a very strong, tightly-plotted script rich with moral complexity. The characters are all well-realized, and the performances are excellent. In addition to Petersen, Pankow and Dafoe, the cast features very good supporting turns from John Turturro and Dean Stockwell. Friedkin even breaks the rules of the genre with some shocking plot twists that are still quite ballsy and uncompromising.

To Live and Die in L.A. - William Petersen

Some younger viewers may watch a movie like 'To Live and Die in L.A.' and call it "dated" because the fashions, music and filmmaking style are so rooted in the 1980s. That complaint doesn't hold much water for me. This is a movie set in a very specific time and place. Its style is appropriate to that setting. The film has endured as a crackerjack thriller with some terrific action, an excellent screenplay, and a legendary car chase veering the wrong way down the L.A. freeway at top speeds. With that frankly insane action sequence, Friedkin even tops his own famous work in 'The French Connection'. It's amazing.

Unfortunately, William Friedkin's career comeback was short-lived. Although 'To Live and Die in L.A.' was a success, the director went on to make some truly terrible movies like 'The Guardian' (the one about the evil tree, not the Coast Guard picture with Kevin Costner, which isn't so great either) and 'Jade'. Later, he lost his marbles a bit and wasted time desecrating his old films by tinting them goofy colors. Arguments can be made that some of his late-career pictures like 'Rules of Engagement' or 'Bug' are halfway decent, and his most recent film, 2011's 'Killer Joe', was fairly acclaimed if little seen. Regardless, 'To Live and Die in L.A.' still feels like the last significant hurrah of a major filmmaking talent just before his regrettable burnout.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'To Live and Die in L.A.' was first released on Blu-ray in 2010 by MGM Home Entertainment. At the time, that disc had a respectable video transfer, though the Blu-ray itself was not authored with any bonus features beyond a trailer. (The other supplements were all found on a DVD that dated back to 2003.) This year, Shout! Factory has licensed the title in order to reissue it under the Shout Select line.

The new Collector's Edition contains just a single Blu-ray disc (no DVD included) that comes packaged in a standard keepcase with a slipcover and reversible cover art. Unlike many recent Shout! Factory and Scream Factory releases, the new artwork (a watercolor impression of Los Angeles that's duplicated on the slipcover and the front side of the case insert) is actually pretty attractive and suits the content of the film well. Nonetheless, if you don't care for it, the flipside of the insert has the movie's traditional poster art.

Once you load the disc, the main menu screen plays only a brief segment of the film's theme song before cutting it short and restarting in a quick repeat loop, which is a little annoying.

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For an MGM catalog title dumped on the market with no particular fanfare (and especially for a William Friedkin film released in the immediate aftermath of his 'French Connection' recoloring debacle), the 2010 Blu-ray edition of 'To Live and Die in L.A.' looked surprisingly decent and is still pretty watchable today. Nonetheless, Shout! Factory has put in the effort to remaster the movie from a new 4k scan of the film negative, supervised by the director. Thankfully, Friedkin eventually got over his "pastel" madness and has not imposed any wacky color changes to this movie. I can't be certain that all of the colors are really accurate to the film's 1985 theatrical prints, but most of them look appropriate. Even those I find a little questionable don't do any great harm. There are no glowing purple faces here.

I wouldn't necessarily call the new remaster a night-and-day difference from the last Blu-ray, but its best scenes have a small yet appreciable improvement in clarity and visible detail. Presented in the movie's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with tiny letterbox bars, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode offers a very pleasing, film-like image with excellent contrast and black levels, and often striking use of vivid colors.

To Live and Die in L.A. - Willem Dafoe Shout! Factory

To Live and Die in L.A. - Willem Dafoe MGM

On the other hand, the movie's photography is frequently very grainy, to emphasize the gritty subject matter. As a result, many scenes are limited in how crisp or detailed they can appear. The grain is mostly resolved well, but it comes across as excessively noisy in some scenes.

Color saturation also seems boosted a bit. In my estimation, this works to the movie's benefit during most of its running time. (The '80s were a famously garish time.) However, they may appear oversaturated on occasion, which can lead to some overly orange skin tones. In these instances, the MGM transfer may be more accurate, if duller. Despite this, I still give the Shout! Factory disc a slight edge overall.

To Live and Die in L.A. - John Turturro Shout! Factory

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The movie's soundtrack is provided in a choice of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0 options. In 1985, the film played theatrically in Dolby Stereo format. Arguably, the 2.0 track is intended to replicate that, while the 5.1 version has been sweetened for home theater. The disc defaults to 5.1 and that's my recommendation as well. The remixing is tastefully done and opens up the soundstage without imposing any distracting gimmicky effects.

The Wang Chung musical score has broad stereo separation and benefits the most from bleeding into the surround channels, though the 5.1 track also makes really effective use of ambience and atmospherics. The surround speakers don't call too much attention to themselves, but the famous car chase puts squealing tires and revving engines around the room in a convincing manner.

The soundtrack is not a modern dynamic range powerhouse. Gunshots and other sound effects are crisp, but rarely have much bass kick. The explosion at the start of the film is loud but doesn't dig very deep. Even the music is light on bass. It still sounds very good for a movie of this vintage, though.

The 2.0 track is encoded at a lower volume, so you'll need to compensate for that before trying to compare the two. From the scenes I tested, the music and sound effects seemed to have more presence and impact in the 5.1 mix. In comparison, I favor that. However, the 2.0 option sounds good enough that it's a viable alternative for viewers who consider themselves purists.

To Live and Die in L.A. - John Pankow

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Shout! Factory licensed and has carried over almost all of the bonus features from the 2003 Special Edition DVD.

  • Audio Commentary – William Friedkin starts his talk by saying that it's really an audio essay about his "impressions, thoughts and feelings" on the project rather than a scene specific commentary. Among other things, he discusses what drew him to the material and his use of "consultants" (i.e. actual counterfeiters) to lend the picture authenticity.
  • Deleted Scene and Alternate Ending (SD, 13 min.) – Along with some featurette footage to put them in context, we're given an additional but ultimately unnecessary extra scene for the Vukovich character and an alternate, happier ending that the studio forced Freidkin to shoot. About the latter, the director claims that he intentionally made the scene terrible because he never had any intention of using it. Judging by the laughable results, I can believe it.
  • Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. (SD, 30 min.) – This retrospective featurette is a big love fest for William Friedkin. Cast and crew reminisce about what a wonderful director he was to work with. That's pretty irritating, and many of the stories are repeated from the commentary. However, the piece also has some good behind-the-scenes footage. The part about continuity (or lack thereof) during the car chase is rather eye-opening.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The film's trailer is slick, exciting and altogether awesome. I could watch it over and over again.
  • Still Gallery – A collection of publicity and behind-the-scenes photos, as well as poster art from around the world. Th