Your time is short. We know this. So in order to expedite your buying and Netflix decision making, we provide you with a list of the cool and not-so-cool titles coming out for movies, television and everything in-between. So put your feet up, grab some popcorn and check out this week’s selections.
ARGO – A host of period dramas have captured the imagination of viewers focusing on moments from history including the Vietnam War, World War II, Cuban Missile Crisis, wars in smaller countries and more. Yet, not a lot has been done regarding the debacle in Iran after the fall of the Shah. Luckily, ARGO not only tackles this subject but does it in a great way with a funny, intense film about the CIA’s rescue of six escaped hostages from the U.S. Embassy. Ben Affleck, who directed ARGO, does a marvelous job as the CIA operative sent in to train these six embassy workers to pretend to be filmmakers in search of a good location for a fictional film. With the help of some Hollywood producers they garner the necessary script and documentation to fool enough Iran military in order to make a daring walk through the main airport.
While the end of the film is never in doubt, Affleck does a great job in building tension and the thought that at any time their cover could be blown and they would be captured as spies. It also harkens back to good old fashioned spy drama and insight into the CIA, an organization that hasn’t had the best history with the people of the U.S. The film looks even better on Blu-ray even though it doesn’t have a lot of high value special effects, it just feels bigger and better. ARGO is definitely worth all of the accolades it has been given since it was released.
MONSTERS INC. – I love that Disney continues to re-issue its library in stunning high definition giving classic titles the treatment that they deserve. MONSTERS INC. has been one of the few Pixar films left that has not been re-released and finally it is here. But as an added bonus, Disney has also released the animated feature in 3-D and plans to release it to theaters as well in 3-D. The Blu-ray version includes five discs. The first is the 3-D version on Blu-ray, the second the regular Blu-ray version, the third is the special features in high def, the fourth is the DVD version and fifth and finally is a digital copy so you can watch the film on an iPhone or iPad. Really a great thing here that Disney is doing. Despite the whole evil empire thing that some people believe, they are sure giving fans of these classic titles a proper treatment in a cool new version. Highly recommended, especially for those with children that will enjoy the great tale for the first time (or again for that matter).
ANNA KARENINA – Here are the positives about ANNA KARENINA: The visuals are simply amazing. The whole film has a decadent looking feel. The costumes and props are extremely well done and the moustaches are fairly amusing to witness. And the romance with Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is believable. However, the storyline becomes confusing as they are pretending to put on a play but in real life but it is really a play, or some crazy sh** like that, obviously I was confused. And anything with Knightley looking hot in a variety of outfits is always a plus.
SKYFALL – Due to unforeseen circumstances, my column last week didn’t run, so I am including the highlights from that here. SKYFALL is, of course, the latest James Bond film and it really breaks the mold from the previous efforts starring Daniel Craig. Instead of a world sweeping, jet setting, highly action packed adventure instead of keeping it inside of the United Kingdom and bringing it closer to home. SKYFALL follows Bond trying to hunt down an ex-MI6 agent that is bound and determine to kill M (Judi Dench). Bond must throw out all of the old tricks that made him who he is and instead go back to the old school stay and fight attitude, which ends up actually being a refreshing take on the Bond franchise. So be prepared for something completely different than the CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE from before, but in a very good way.
THE FACTORY – The horror thriller isn’t dead, it lives on but there are no longer any real surprises or shocks that accompany it. THE FACTORY tries and in fact one twist toward the end is handled in a pretty decent way but it isn’t shocking as we have seen it happen before in other films of this genre. The plot follows a detective pair investigating the disappearances of numerous hookers over the past few years. When John Cusack’s daughter is mistaken for a hooker and taken, he stops at nothing to get her back. But the kidnapper isn’t looking for a simple kill; he instead is producing as many babies as possible. There isn’t a lot of shocks here as I said but it is a decent thriller with some good attempts at keeping it fresh. The best news is that while the horror thriller genre isn’t going away at least what we are getting isn’t just crap either.
THE NEST – The first in a trio of Scream Factory releases this week all harkening back to a time where horror films were much less sophisticated and incredibly campier. THE NEST is the vile tale of a mutant cockroaches that have grown to enjoy the simple pleasures of the flesh – eating it. These manhunting cockroaches go on a terror spree in a small island town and no pesticide will kill them and they are commanded by a nasty queen that steals the heads of its victims and adds them to its own mutant nastiness. It is a pure camp from the crazy scientist thinking they are amazing to the camera on the ground following the creatures as they stalk victims. But that’s the fun in a film like this that could never and will never be made again.
TERRORVISION/THE VIDEO DEAD – 1980s horror is thought of as the salad days for many genres – slashers and monsters mostly. Obviously with heavy hitters such as FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, CRITTERS, GREMLINS, and many more, the 1980s was filled with great horror. However, there was a lot of really bad horror that was so bad it actually ended up good and unintentionally hilarious. That’s where the razor-thin budget films TERRORVISION and THE VIDEO DEAD fall under, both being released onto Blu-ray for the first time from the impressive Scream Factory label, that has been cooking with some great titles of late. These two films, largely shown on cable and VHS, may look the best they have ever looked having been remastered using the latest technology.
PRISON – Also from Scream Factory is this release featuring a young Viggo Mortensen as a criminal that must fight his fellow inmates as well as a supernatural force that has come back to the prison after being executed even though a nasty, mean guard knew that knew was innocent. The difference here is that PRISON is not so bad that it is good but just bad. Whereas the other movies actually are cheesy and pull no punches about it, this tries hard to be something more than camp and that’s where it fails.
MIMESIS – This was also released last week but as far as horror flicks go, this isn’t too bad. The premise is extremely interesting in that horror fans attending a convention get rounded up for a new experience – participate in a real life horror film, specifically NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. But the zombies in question are just sick individuals that no longer are just satisfied with watching films but they want to live them and kill. Unfortunately, the overall film isn’t as interesting as the premise but it still is worthwhile watching and I would love to see other similarly themed twists on the genre that has gotten stale.
KILL FOR ME – This is what THE ROOMMATE should have been. Two hot chicks that are put together in an apartment together and devise a plan to eliminate those that have wronged them. On one side is THE ARROW’s Katie Cassidy, tormented by an abusive ex-boyfriend. Luckily, her new friend, REVOLUTION’s Tracy Spiridakos is there to help dispatch him when he comes over and tries to continue the abuse. The resulting bonding between the girls ends with a super hot moment between the two that should have been in THE ROOMMATE. Spiridakos’ character then enlists Cassidy to help dispatch her abusive father but things go wrong when the dad seems like a pretty decent dude. However, not all is as it seems and there is a pretty good twist at the end. KILL FOR ME won’t win any awards for creativity but the hot scene between the hot babes and a decent twist makes it worth checking out.
LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER – The original LAKE PLACID actually was an interesting twist on the monsters on the loose eating people horror genre. Unfortunately, what followed was just a shadow of original and the supposed “final chapter” is the hopeful final nail in the coffin. Originally shown on the SyFy Channel, the DVD version does include a lot of what was not shown there – including some impressive nudity and a handful of harsh language – but even this isn’t enough to save us from atrocious CG alligators and just a terrible script filled with predictable moments and idiotic characters. A rental at best.
BATH SALT ZOMBIES – Capitalizing on the news about the horrors of the latest designer drug bath salts comes this almost fan-made type movie about a new strain of bath salts that turn junkies into raving flesh hungry monsters. The special effects are laughable, the acting is worse than bad and the storyline is basic at best. There are no scares here, the sets look like they were put together using a bunch of plastic sheeting and someone’s dilapidated house. So if this interests you and you are a fan of really bad, no budget films then by all means check it out. But there is much better fare here this week.
New to Blu:
- THE INSIDER – So while not really a film you would think would need the high definition treatment since it is a straight drama, but with everything getting a conversion this is a good film to add to your library with Russell Crowe giving a good performance.
- TOP GUN – The film that helped launch Tom Cruise into superstardom returns for its Blu-ray debut and it looks better than ever with a new remastering from current technology. Relive all the moments with Ice Man and Goose and Maverick not in great high def.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME – After CAPRICA crashed and burned, I feared that the BSG reboot was dead in the water after the main series ended. The attempt to bring it back to television with BLOOD & CHROME may be a good stepping point. Taking place during the first Cylon war, very little is known about the battles that took place or the history of the events, so there is quite a bit of material waiting to be told. BLOOD & CHROME tries to give a starting point with a very young William Adama just beginning his career on board the Battlestar Galactica and immediately thrown into the soup having to fight raiders, uncover a plot against the humans and learn the ropes of being a Viper pilot. Interestingly enough, BLOOD & CHROME doesn’t even take place on Galactica instead focusing on Adama and his co-pilot having to escort a software engineer to a ice planet where she plans to insert a computer virus to cripple the toasters. Of course, not everything goes according to plan. The film is a one-shot but there are hopes it will be turned into a series, however, not sure if this is the best way to go about it. While the history is there and the familiar vehicles are here, it lacks any of the political or social intrigue that made the reboot fantastic. It tries to put some of this in, but given it is in a movie format there just isn’t enough time to build it. It might have been better served as a miniseries. Still, hardcore BSG fans, such as myself, will definitely enjoy it.
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Article: ARGO Highlights this week in Blu-ray and DVD Releases