August 13, 2018

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, & DVD on 10/2

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital bonus features include three behind-the-scenes featurettes. Fans of the original Sicario can learn more about why this heart-pounding new chapter needed to be told in “From Film to Franchise: Continuing The Story” and can also take a deeper look into Sollima’s vision for the film, the intense action and real world connections in “An Act of War: Making Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” “The Assassin and the Soldier: The Cast and Characters” has Del Toro and Brolin leading the conversation about how their characters Matt and Alejandro have evolved in this film, and takes a look at the strong supporting cast.

August 12, 2018

TIDELAND: Adventures in Terryland
Starring Jodelle Ferland, Brendan Fletcher, Janet McTeer, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly Dylan Taylor, Wendy Anderson. Directed by Terry Gilliam. (2005/120 min).


Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀

Anyone familiar with Terry Gilliam already knows he doesn't give a damn about you, me or the expectations of any major studio stupid enough to trust him with their millions. Even his most commercial films reflect a considerable amount of self-indulgence, and it's often pretty apparent he's his own biggest fan. That's not meant as criticism. Gilliam's films have a look and tone like no other - including those that were accidental mainstream hits - the work of a director who's wired differently than the rest of us.

But even by Gilliam's standards, Tideland is really out there.

Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is a little girl whose active imagination helps her cope with the world's worst parents. When we first meet her, she's living in squalor, cooking a heroin fix for dad, Noah (Jeff Bridges), a has-been musician. Her mother (Jennifer Tilly) is arguably worse, not only a junkie herself, but verbally abusive. After Mom dies from a methadone overdose, Noah and Jeliza take a bus to his childhood home, an abandoned and dilapidated old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. When Noah also OD's and dies, Jeliza is alone.

She retreats from reality into her own fantasy world with dolls' heads as companions, eventually meeting her eccentric neighbors, Dell (Janet McTeer), who Jeliza first-believes is a ghost or witch, and Dickens (Brendan Fletcher), her mentally impaired son. Meanwhile, Noah's corpse becomes bloated and rotten. For most of the film, we aren't sure if Dell & Dickens are figments of Jeliza's active imagination, especially once Dell uses her taxidermy skills to preserve Noah. And the uneasy relationship between these three is just getting started.

"Look what Santa left us!"
Not only is Tideland Gilliam's strangest film, it's also his bleakest. Despite 'whimsical' sequences of Jeliza and Dickens at-play in her fantasy world, it is unremittingly dark, becoming increasingly disturbing by introducing sexual overtones. Yet at the same time, this is Gilliam at his most rambling and self-indulgent. Despite offering up heaping helpings of his patented weirdness, the narrative often feels episodic and directionless. It's a good bet that anyone not 100% in-sync with Gilliam's sensibilities will run out of patience - and tolerance - long before the end credits roll. It's almost as if he's daring people to actually enjoy it.

Some will, though. Tideland is visually arresting (and looks great on this disc). Gilliam's unique flare for surreal imagery and inventive camera angles is here in abundance. Additionally, considering her age, the requirements of her role and how long she's on-screen all by herself, Jennifer Ferland's performance is nothing short of remarkable.

In an introduction included with this Blu-ray release, Gilliam proudly declares viewers will either love it or hate it. I guess we can add 'master of understatement' to his list of talents, because Tideland is easily the most polarizing movie he's ever made. One can't help but think that was his intention all along (sort-of making this his own Natural Born Killers). Available on Blu-ray for the first time, Tideland comes with a lot of interesting supplemental material. None of it was created specifically for this release, but it's always amusing to listen to Gilliam and see how he works. 

"GETTING GILLIAM" - This is a 45 minute documentary by Vincent Natali (Cube), made during the production of Tideland.
FEATURETTES - "The Making of Tideland"; "Filming Green Screen"
INTERVIEWS - Featuring Terry Gilliam, producer Jeremy Thomas, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Jeff Bridges (parts of these interviews are also featured in Getting Gilliam documentary).
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Gilliam and co-writer Tony Grisoni.

August 10, 2018


Experience the full gag reel along with additional featurettes, commentaries tracks, deleted scenes and more when Avengers: Infinity War releases on Blu-ray this Tuesday, August 14!

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott, Michael Bowen, Kevin Durand, John Beasley, Kristen Wilson. Directed by Kevin Bray. (2004/86 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

While Walking Tall is mostly a distant footnote in Johnson's career, it was nevertheless an important stepping stone to bigger and better things. The film might seem quaint compared to his later FX-driven blockbusters, but remains an amusing blast from his past.

And if you gotta do a remake, it makes a lot more sense to tackle one that's relatively forgotten or wasn't all that great to begin with. The original 1973 film fits the bill on both counts. It was refashioned in 2004 as a vehicle for Dwayne Johnson, back when he was primarily known as a pro wrestler (and still billed as 'The Rock'). In addition to exploiting Johnson's considerable physical attributes, this enjoyably daffy action film also allowed him to display his natural charisma (something Joe Don Baker never had).

What makes Johnson such an endearing action hero is that he's a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be...wisely picking projects which fit his persona and abilities. While this version borrows the initial premise of the original to make a high-concept action flick of its own, it still retains that film's take-no-prisoners spirit.
Johnson Pest Control.
Johnson plays Chris Vaughn, a military veteran returning to his hometown after eight years, only to find it under the control of former childhood friend and casino owner Jay Hamilton (Neil McDonough). When his nephew ends up in the hospital from drugs bought from Hamilton's bodyguards, Vaughn takes the law into his own hands and tears up the casino (along with a few thugs). After being arrested, he represents himself as the trial, promising that, if acquitted, he'll run for sheriff and clean up this town. Sure enough, he's found not guilty. In the very next scene, he's the elected sheriff, even though he's never so much as ridden in a police car. After deputizing his best friend Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville), the two proceed to try and bring Hamilton's operation down, using tactics that realistically land a real cop in prison.
But we're not talking Serpico here. Walking Tall is a film with no pretensions over what it is: a vehicle for Johnson to kick ass. Stallone traveled this road before, of course, as have many other action stars, but Johnson is a naturally likable guy and a pretty decent actor (not-to-mention he's his own special effect). Additionally, the fight scenes - there's a lot of 'em - are a refreshing throwback to the days before special effects allowed actors to leap 20 feet and throw punches which landed the recipient into another time zone.

Released at a time when Dwayne Johnson was just beginning to assert himself as the heir to Arnold's throne, Walking Tall may seem underwhelming compared to the mega-budget blockbusters he's known for today. Still, it's a fun, fast-moving film that plays to his strengths at the time. As part of MVD's new "Marquee Collection," this Blu-ray retains the same bonus features as previous releases, back when Johnson still had hair.

FEATURETTE - "Fight the Good Fight" (behind the scenes of the stunt choreography)
AUDIO COMMENTARIES - One with Dwayne Johnson, the other with director Kevin Bray


August 8, 2018

BLACKMARK: Thinking Big
Starring Kaiwi Lyman, Jeff Hatch, Corey MacIntosh, Timothy Oman, John Henry Richardson, Eliot, Lana Gautier, Brenna Piller. Directed by A.J. Martinson III. (2017/94 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

The official website indicates this film was originally titled Red Fish Blue Fish, which is a far more intriguing title than Blackmark. Slapped with generic box art suggesting a straight-to-DVD shootfest, the film is actually a speculative cold war thriller that takes place primarily in 1963 and ultimately offers an alternate theory about the Kennedy assassination.

Not to say there isn't any action. Much of it involves American spy Timothy Daniels (Kaiwi Lyman, looking more 1993 than 1963), who's ordered to hack into Russia's defense system and launch a nuclear warhead at his own country. He and Soviet military officer Alexi Popolovski (Corey MacIntosh) end up working together, shooting their way out of several confrontations in an effort to save Popolovski's family.

Partying like it's 1993.
But Blackmark is primarily about its title character (Jeff Hatch), an ambitious military industrialist who appears to be trying to prevent a nuclear war while simultaneously eliminating his competition. He could be considered the story's de-facto villain simply because he's the most ruthless, but just about everybody around him appears to have sinister agendas as well. "Appears" is definitely the operative word here. Blackmark is phenomenally complicated, often a challenge to follow because it's seldom clear who's working for who, who wants war & who doesn't.

Writer/director A.J. Martinson definitely deserves kudos for ambition. If nothing else, we often forget we're watching a film with a relatively limited budget. Despite taking place on just a few small sets with a cast of unknowns, Blackmark thinks big, unfolding with the urgency and narrative scope of a large-scale thriller. However, the intricate story eventually becomes exhausting, not helped by an underwhelming and surprisingly simplistic resolution.

But as long as the viewer is ready to give it 100% of their attention - hit the pause button before hitting the bathroom, kids - Blackmark remains pretty watchable. It won't make anyone forget Fail-Safe, but its aspirations are admirable.


August 7, 2018

Breaking the ALIEN CODE

Starring Kyle Gallner, Azura Skye, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Aaron Behr, Graham Hamilton. Directed by Michael G. Cooney. (2017/97 min).


Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

Alien Code doesn't deserve its title. Not only does it totally spoil one of the film's more intriguing surprises, it sounds like some sort of History Channel mockumentary. The movie is better than that. Smarter, too.

Kyle Gallner (if there's ever a Metallica biopic, he's a shoe-in to play Lars Ulrich) is Alex, a cash-strapped computer cryptologist who comes home to discover a corpse on the floor...his own. It's the first part of a labyrinthine puzzle which the movie dishes out one piece at a time.

The nutshell plot has Alex recruited by a shady organization to decipher a complex code embedded in a retrieved satellite, which they think is from the future. Alex discovers, however, that it is alien in origin. Not only that, the code consists of partial blueprints for some sort of apocalyptic weapon. The agency dismisses Alex before he can complete the entire code. He also develops a fatal brain tumor that allows him to see these aliens...faceless, suited men who exist in a different temporal dimension (or something like that). With time running out - not-to-mention becoming increasingly warped - Alex tries to stop the weapon from being used, with help from Beth (Azura Skye), the previous cryptologist who worked on the code (and who also has a brain tumor).

Lars Ulrich in the studio.
The overall narrative is far more complex than that, with a strange new twist thrown in every few minutes or so. Part of the fun is watching how these plot points are linked and eventually converge. The film doesn't sustain its unique premise all the way to the finish and sometimes threatens to collapse under the weight of its own lofty ideas (often at the expense of any real character development). But for the most part, it's enjoyably perplexing, coming to a logical - if inevitable - conclusion.

Despite a deceptively stupid title, Alien Code is a decent example of intelligent science-fiction on a limited budget. Free of any flash or spectacle, the film is driven entirely by its ideas, which are certainly interesting enough to warrant checking-out a time or two.


DEADPOOL 2 on Digital

 Available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD August 21.

THE FIRST PURGE on Digital 9/18 & Blu-ray 10/2
The origin story to the worldwide phenomenon that redefined horror, THE FIRST PURGE, the fourth chapter in the thrilling franchise, arrives on Digital and the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on September 18, 2018 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand on October 2, 2018 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. When the New Founding Fathers of America look to push the crime rate below one percent for the rest of the year, a radical sociological theory that vents aggression is tested among an isolated community. But once the violence of oppressors clashes with the rage of the marginalized, the contagion of the experiment explodes and rapidly spreads, leading to a revolution. THE FIRST PURGE takes audiences back to where the nightmare all began in this timely and relevant horror-thriller, including gripping bonus features appealing to fans of the franchise. 

The Purge 4-Movie Collection will also be available on Digital September 18, 2018 and Blu-Ray and DVD on October 2, 2018. New and longtime fans can be welcomed to an America where all crimes are legal for one night a year in one must-own set including The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, The Purge: Election Year, and the prequel The First Purge, an explosive series of pulse-pounding thrillers where anyone can get away with murder!

August 6, 2018

Starring Michael Rooker, Leslie Hope, Andrew Jackson, Shawn Thompson, Kevin Zegers, Tony Todd. Directed by Jamie Dixon. (1998/101 min).


Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

In Shadowbuilder's first scene, cult hero Michael Rooker discovers naked sacrificial bodies in a cellar. In the room above, several robed zealots, led by an evil bishop, are conducting some sort of demon-resurrecting ritual. Just as all hell breaks loose - no pun intended - Rooker's character bursts in, guns blazing, and blows everybody away. As he's standing among the carnage, he dons a clergy collar.

Michael Rooker as a bad-ass, gun-toting, leather-jacketed priest?


Of course, Father Vassey (Rooker) is too late to stop the title creature, which escapes and heads to the small town of Grand River, seeking out a young boy, Chris (Kevin Zegers), whose soul will apparently make it invincible. Along the way, the Shadowbuilder gains strength by turning other victims into physical shadows who tend to explode when exposed to light. Vassey teams with the sheriff (Shawn Thompson), the kid's aunt (leslie Hope) and the town's local loony (Tony Todd) to try and save Chris. Meanwhile, everyone else in town becomes possessed, prompting one to question why the Shadowbuilder actually needs this kid. Any demon capable to making an entire population do its bidding seems powerful enough already.

"Dammit, I don't do weddings!"
But never mind. We don't watch scrappy little horror films like Shadowbuilder expecting another Exorcist. Nor do we expect anything resembling the Bram Stoker story it's supposedly based on (his name is included in the full title for brand name recognition, but you knew that already). What we expect are a few gruesome deaths, some good scares and a story that doesn't insult our intelligence. In that respect, Shadowbuilder is hit-or-miss.

Rooker is awesome, of course, going all-in with as much intensity as he can muster. The other horror icon in the cast, Tony Todd, is also a lot of fun, providing a majority of the film's comic relief. Elsewhere, the performances are merely serviceable and we don't really care about their characters. Shadowbuilder features a few nifty sequences, though it seldom rises above mildly creepy and is occasionally undone by inconsistent special effects, mostly involving the murky-looking title creature. Speaking of which, I think giving it a voice was a creative mistake. At no point does it say anything vital to the narrative, and hearing it speak tends to deflate some of the dread the film tries to build.

Billy Idol at 80.
But for the most part, Shadowbuilder is fast-paced and well made for its budget. Far from the most original thing ever thrown together, it's entertaining in the moment. And it goes without saying that fans of Rooker and Todd should really enjoy this, since they're easily the best part of the movie.

One major issue with this Blu-ray transfer: There are numerous scenes where the picture quality is absolutely terrible - I mean distractingly grainy - which is surprising. Most films in the MVD Rewind Collection have great transfers. However, this discs packs in the usual generous batch of bonus features.

"MAKING OF SHADOWBUILDER" - A 30-minute retrospective documentary, featuring interviews with the director, writer and actors Tony Todd & Andrew Jackson (who plays the title character, though none-to-happy about someone else providing the voice).
FEATURETTES - "Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects"; "Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers" (profile of the child actor, who went on to bigger things...too bad Zeger himself isn't interviewed).
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Director Jamie Dixon.

August 4, 2018

A Tour of THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER!/The-Coolest-Guy-Movie-Ever/p/108860543
Narrated by Lawrence Montaigne. Directed by Chris Espenan. (2018/57 min)


Review by Mr. Paws😺

Is The Great Escape truly the "coolest guy movie ever"? That's debatable, of course (Personally, I'd throw-in with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). It's certainly one of the greatest war films ever made, though. Oddly enough, this documentary doesn't actually argue the claim of its title, and was obviously made for those who already agree.

A Coolest Guy Movie Ever isn't really a making-of documentary, either, though we do get some production details from surviving cast & crew members. The majority of the film is a tour of the various German locations where The Great Escape was made. Some of the structures (such as the set of the POW camp) are gone, but a surprising number of them are still standing, looking very much like they did during filming.

Steve McQueen applies for a job at Taco Bell.
Many of the locals are interviewed, some who interacted with the likes of Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. Speaking of the cast, the film includes vintage interviews with a few of its late stars - such as James Garner and James Coburn - as well as some that are still with us, all of whom share anecdotes about shooting in these locations. The whole thing is narrated by actor Lawrence Montaigne, who squared-off on-screen with Coburn to distract the prison guards (sadly, Montaigne also passed away last year).

Late for his first day at Taco Bell, Steve takes a short cut.
At only 58 minutes, The Coolest Guy Movie Ever might have made a better bonus feature on some future Blu-ray re-release of The Great Escape itself. But as it is, the film is an obvious labor of love by everyone involved. Those who agree with the title should really enjoy it, particularly if you can't afford to hop a plane to Germany to visit these locations.