ZYour 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.
EMPIRE STATE – A decent action flick set in the 80s about a robbery that took place at an armored truck company that gets investigated by a hard nosed cop thinking that it was an inside job. Turns out he was right as Chris (Liam Hemsworth) fails at getting into the police academy and makes the mistake of telling his down-on-their-luck mates that the place has lax security. Of course, they come up with a scheme to steal millions from the company only to get involved in the local crime boss that wants to a piece of the action or he’ll reveal all he knows about the job. With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and a host of other good actors it is a decent flick but that’s about it, you won’t be wowed or think it is the greatest movie but it won’t be boring which is also a good thing.
COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES – Another British zombie comedy involving a group of working class stiffs that decide to rob a bank right as the zombie apocalypse happens. Teamed with a group of tough-as-nails elderly, they fight the zombie horde in extreme hilarity with nothing ever being taken seriously. As it is thoroughly British there are plenty of London-only jokes that go around but the overall comedy is good enough anyone will get it. It also has what has to be the best old guy in a walker outrunning a group of slow moving zombies chase sequence in the history of film. It doesn’t measure up to a SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but really what does, it is still fun and that is the point here. Many times these zombie horror films are just not funny or even fun but this one hits the mark on all chords.
THE ICEMAN – An interesting look at a mob hitman that apparently killed more than 100 people during the course of a few decades for the mafia. Beginning as a simple businessman, Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), falls into the wrong way with the wrong people but his cool demeanor and ice cold ways give him an opportunity to work for these same bad men in eliminating competition and those that get in the way of the mob. Set in the 1960s and through his arrest in 1986, we see how Kuklinski takes care of problems, deals with mafia protocol, gets revenge on those that have wronged him and his unique way of disposing of bodies (which involves a deep freeze leading to his nickname). All the while Kuklinski had a wife and a daughter that didn’t have a clue that he was such a bad man up until his arrest.
THE STRANGER WITHIN – The thriller is a genre that is in low regard these days with so many films being either low budget horror, or a remake, or some big budget film set for summer. THE STRANGER WITHIN harkens back to the days of FATAL ATTRACTION or the HAND THE ROCKS THE CRADLE. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as good as those. Starring Estelle Warren, William Baldwin and Sarah Butler (who starred in the decent remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE) there isn’t a lot of star power here. The plot centers on a movie actress (Warren) that has bad dreams that are enough to send her to the crazy ward. When her husband takes in a troubled young woman to give psychiatric help to, her dream spin out of control and she believes all sorts of weird stuff is happening. Turns out she might be right. Again, not going to win any awards here for originality or acting, but Butler gets naked often which is nice and it’s worth checking out on Netflix.
SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED – I have really enjoyed Starz’s excellent re-imagining of the SPARTACUS myth told in the same way that made 300 so good – loads of blood and over-the-top backdrops all done on a green screen. But there is much more to this show than just a simple unique approach to a television series (granted movies have now adopted this way but not a lot of series), there is political intrigue, there is a class system, the evolution of Roman policies and, of course, the arena where the show originally took place. Now the past two seasons have show Spartacus rising above his masters, uniting the slaves and fighting and killing many legionnaires along the way. And let’s not forget that this show thrives (THRIVES!) on nudity. Hordes of naked women lying around, orgies, hot women getting undressed in baths and lots of simulated sex. So for those keeping score: hot naked chicks, blood, violence, loads of bloody battles, a damn good plot. WAR OF THE DAMNED is the third and final season of the show and ends everything with a bang not a whimper as Spartacus and his army take on all of Rome and face imposing Imperator. Once again, there is plenty of blood, babes and boobs to go around and it is a shame that this series isn’t going to come back for another two seasons (at least).
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON – Given the popularity of vampires it isn’t a surprise that THE VAMPIRE DIARIES was popular from the beginning. However, given that it will now be entering its fifth season this fall is a testament to how strong the storylines have been for the show. At the end of Season 3 a number of questions were left hanging, they get answered right away in the first episode of this season (which is refreshing) and while some people have criticized Season 4 because it provides a load of build up for a final resolution that really doesn’t have much of a payoff, the show is still fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously at times which is a good thing. Sometimes shows that rely on genre tend to go over-the-top with the darkness of everything happening but luckily this isn’t the case here and despite a lack of payoff at the end, it will have most fans clamoring for Season 5 when it comes around.
REVOLUTION: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON – REVOLUTION is one of those series that has so much promise that when it fails to live up to that promise it really sucks. The “Pilot” episode was so well done and really set the stage for a unique post apocalyptic world where all the power has gone out. Not just electricity but every machine, car and craft. Nothing that’s mechanical works at all and those that survive the initial ordeal and riots now live in a place thrown back hundreds of years in terms of technology. But it didn’t stay that way. Instead the show dragged on about a fight between a group of rebels fighting to bring the United States back to its former glory and a militia group that had taken over a good part of the country in order to maintain control with an iron grip. Too many episodes are spent building this aspect instead of focusing on the world around them and the interesting stories that could be told. Toward the end we get some pay off as to why all of this happened and hopefully moving forward the show will take a different more interesting path in the second season coming this fall.
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Article: SPARTACUS: WAR OF THE DAMNED Highlights this week in Blu-ray, DVD and VOD Releases