Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Delicious Little Devil (1919) Kino Classics Blu Ray Review

The Delicious Little Devil (1919) Kino Classics 4/6/2021

Directed By: Robert Leonard 

Starring: Mae Murray, Rudolph Valentino, Richard Cummings 



Disclaimer: Kino Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


   1919's The Delicious Little Devil tells the story of a hat check girl named Mary (Mae Murray) who is fired from her job and ends up as a dancer at a club called the Peach Tree Inn. When a rich man falls in love with her this quickly turns into a farce of duel identities as Mary masques as Gloria de Moine.  Director Robert Z. Leonard is probably best remembered for films like The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and, the early talkie The Divorcee (1930) which won Norma Shearer an Oscar. But the director had been working since 1913 and, 1919's The Delicious Little Devil shows a maturity within the medium even in its early days. The film features sophisticated for the time film narrative devices such as flashbacks and intercutting from different times in the present. 

      Despite the title, this Pre-Code film is rather on the tame side outside of one shot of partial nudity (from the side). The movie is more of an over-the-top farce which, would later morph into the screwball comedy. Indeed, this could be easily seen as a proto-screwball as it involves a love triangle, an absurd identity scheme and some crazy antics. The lead star Mae Murray is doing her best Mary Pickford and I think is great here. Sadly Murray was one of those starlets that burned bright and faded just as fast. Though she lived to the ripe old age of 75 she ended her career shortly after the advent of talkies. It's a shame she made so little films as she clearly has both the looks and talent. Here she shows off her physical comedy as well as charms. This movie may well have sank into total obscurity had it not been for an early film for the silent superstar Rudolph Valentino. Valentino has a thankless role and this would be right before he would reach international fame with films like The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922) and The Eagle (1925). 

    The movie lacks a strong narrative through line, something that a lot of early movies struggled with. Certain characters feel sidelined or altogether wasted. Motives are also a bit sketchy at best.  That is not to suggest however that this is a bad movie, in fact its a lot of fun. As I said this feels very much like a '30s screwball comedy and, its kind of shocking that this was never remade. It would have made a perfect vehicle for Carole Lombard in the Mae Murray role. Where this movie lacks in screenplay polish it makes up for in zany comedy and Murray truly dazzles in the leading role. And, as I said even early in his career Robert Leonard knew how to put together a strong film. His skills at storytelling would only mature throughout the '20s and reaching its peak in the '30s. A worthwhile movie for comedy fans. It a real shame that Murray could not have taken on the mantle of comedies such as Buster Keaton Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd. 



Picture: Little Devil comes to home video by way of a new 4k scan. The movie, which is now over one-hundred years old, looks great. Kino has restored the color tints and the film has retains a great deal of clarity. The movie is not pristine but considering the films age the overall transfer is impressive. 

Sound: Little Devil includes a 2.0 Mono track. Much like the picture transfer the sound is impressively done. True, there is no dialogue but there is very little to no background hiss or noise that I could detect. The score comes through nicely as well. 

Extras: The feature film has a commentary by historian Gaylyn Studlar. This  track that is filled to the brim with great information and should be considered a must-listen to 
This also features News reel footage of Rudolph Valentino's funeral, Orson Welles Remembers Rudolph Valentino, A alternative score by Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum and trailers including Blood and Sand (1922). 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Bloodhound (2020) Arrow Video Blu Ray Review

The Bloodhound (2020) Arrow Video 3/23/2021

Directed By: Patrick Picard 

Starring: Joe Adler, Liam Aiken, Annalise Basso 


Disclaimer: Arrow Video has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 



    The Bloodhound (2020) marks Patrick Picard's feature film debut. A young man named Francois (Liam Aiken) after finding himself without a place to live decides to visit his friend Jean Paul (Joe Adler) in his big house. But, Francois isn't sure which is stranger Jean Paul of the creepy house. Meanwhile, Jean Paul's twin sister Vivian (Annalise Basso) is also living there but she is shut up inside her room. The two try to re-connect but Jean's behavior grows more erratic. 

      The Bloodhound is a movie that is going to split audiences right down the line. Some are going to see this as a creepy slow-burn film whilst others are going to dismiss it as pretentious garbage. The first time I watched this I won't lie think I saw myself in the latter camp. And, indeed the film's dialogue does ring out like a film student with lofty ambitions. But, I have to say on my second watch I come to respect the films dread-filled melancholic, even nihilistic viewpoint. The movie isn't so much about narrative as much as it is a mood-piece. This is something that director David Lynch excels at and, this movie reminds me of a Lynch film. Cinematographer Jake Magee does an excellent job at giving this low-budget film scope and depth. The way Magee uses tracking shots and compositions is masterful and, mark my words this guy is going to win an Oscar someday.  

    In my opinion the most interesting aspect of the film is how we get to see a depiction of male-friendships that is rocky and dis-connected. Any time we see male friends in film or television its typically the light-hearted bromance variety. Here we see two childhood friends struggling to connect with one another even though the one friend (Jean Paul) is in desperate need of it. I also love the fact that this movie is horror but more of the psychological kind. There is a stalking dread in the film but its not from any monster or ghost but rather of isolation and loneliness. 

      I think that in a way the low-budget both helps and hurts Picard's debut film. Having a limited budget for the most part pushes filmmakers to be more creative and here we get a strange, waking dream like quality without a lot of flash or gimmicks. If you gave this filmmaker a bigger budget to someday remake this movie I would love to see it as a period piece in a big gloomy estate. Indeed, I think the modern setting clashes with the films Poe-inspired feel. Joe Adler's sickly Jean Paul seems tailor made for a turn-of-the-century setting. While I think the house in the film is moody I don't think it quite achieves the atmosphere you could get with a big grand house. This is where we start to see the budgetary limitations. 

    Joe Adler is maybe my favorite thing about this movie. His pale, dry-witted and sardonic Jean Paul is both well acted and fully realized as a character. He seems to be relishing his role yet, thankfully he never takes it into the realm of overboard. Liam Aiken in a way has the more challenging role. He is basically the less-flashy straight man and POV character but, is equally important to the story.  Aiken, like Adler never hams it up and gives the character real pathos. Annalise Basso has a very small but memorable role as the largely unseen Vivian. 

    The Bloodhound does have some pretention behind it but I think it has something to say and the movie is interesting and engaging enough to keep me fully invested. At just a scant seventy one minutes  delivers a palpable, unnerving film with a devastating finale. Patrick Picard is a name to look out for. 

Picture: Bloodhound looks great in 1080p. The movie has a soft, semi-muted color palate and the overall film looks sharp, clear and really showcases Jake Magee's photography. 

Sound: Bloodhound has a really nicely done DTS 5.1 track. The film has some great sound design and this film delivers the goods. Really great stuff. 

Extras: Bloodhound has a nice array of features which includes: A feature length commentary by Picard and editor David Scorca. Also includes On the Trail of the Bloodhound: Behinds of a Modern Chiller (45mins). We also get the four short films that Patrick directed: Bad Dream, The Muffled Hammerfall in Action, The Mosaic Code, Wiggleworm. This also includes a nice booklet with new writings from Anton Bitel and a director statement from Patrick Picard. 



Justice Society WWII New Images and WonderCon Recap!


 "Justice Society: World War II" made a huge splash at WonderCon@Home this past weekend, celebrating the film’s upcoming release with a star-studded virtual panel that featured fascinating conversations, animated clips, still images and some intriguing new information about the all-new film.



In case you missed it, the "Justice Society: World War II" panel is available for viewing on WonderCon’s YouTube page at this link:  https://youtu.be/7Es8ztlK5Bw.

The 45-minute panel began with a chat between the filmmaking team – supervising producer Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Constantine: City of Demons), director Jeff Wamester (Guardians of the Galaxy TV series), and co-screenwriters Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, DC Super Hero Girls) and Jeremy Adams (Supernatural, Batman: Soul Of The Dragon). Then the conversation transitioned to the actors, featuring Stana Katic (the voice of Wonder Woman), Matt Bomer (Barry Allen/The Flash), Elysia Rotaru (Black Canary), Omid Abtahi (Hawkman), Chris Diamantopoulos (Steve Trevor), Armen Taylor (Jay Garrick/The Flash), Liam McIntyre (Aquaman) and Geoff Arend (Charles Halstead/Advisor). Publicist Gary Miereanu moderated the festivities.

Some of the illuminating soundbites included:

Meghan Fitzmartin, co-screenwriter, on creating an ensemble film:
“I grew up following a bunch of super hero teams, like Justice League, and one of the things I always found fascinating was how a big ensemble group means you get to play off these different emotional pieces. If you were doing a film about one particular character, it’s only about their journey and how that one person is affected. Whereas with an ensemble group, while Wonder Woman is our leader and the driving force, you get to see how her decisions are affecting everyone else on the team, and all the emotional spaces that each of these characters are existing in.”

Jeremy Adams, co-screenwriter, also on the tricks to creating an effective ensemble film:
“As a viewer, you always want to have some sort of story arc for all the characters, and a reason for why they’re there. That way they’re not just watching inconsequential automatrons. That grounds the movie, and anchors us in believing in the stakes and believing in the adventure that they’re going on. That’s always the challenge, and thank goodness we have Jeff (Wamester) and Butch (Lukic) that have a grand overview and can keep us all in our lanes.”

Butch Lukic, supervising producer, on which JSA characters made it into the film:
“Wildcat was always one of my favorites, but not every character fit. Green Lantern Alan Scott was one that didn’t necessarily work within this story, and Wildcat’s background is similar to Black Canary’s background. Plus having Barry Allen and Steve Trevor being part of this story kind of outweighed having the other characters. So it really came down to which characters best served this particular story. Hopefully if there are future iterations of the JSA, we can include those other characters.”

Chris Diamantopoulos, voice of Steve Trevor, on the collaborative process of an animated film:
“It’s a testament to the way this whole process is done that we were able to pull off an ensemble performance, and it certainly plays in the movie. The interplay between the characters, the comedy and the drama all plays so beautifully – and what’s especially astounding about that is we all recorded separately. It’s certainly a credit to the writing, because the story and dialogue was woven together so well, but really it’s a testament to Wes (Gleason) and Butch (Lukic), who directed us – they had such a smart way of making sure that each of our lines would weave into the next line. And it does. When you watch this film, it’s like we were all hanging out together for six months, and I wish we were!”

Matt Bomer, on relating to the Barry Allen journey:
“Having been through the past year, certain aspects of Barry’s journey really resonated with me. At the start of the film, he’s so distracted trying to balance a hundred different things. He’s kind of a workaholic - he just can’t let go of it, and over the course of the film, through Diana and Steve’s relationship, and through his experience with the Justice Society, he’s able to really relax enough to learn to enjoy the present moment. I would say if there’s a positive takeaway from the past several months, it’s that we’ve gotten to slow down and be with the people we love, and spend some quality time with them and not be distracted by hundreds of other things.”

Armen Taylor, voice of Jay Garrick, on his personal connection to the film:
“My grandfather loved the Golden Age era of comics, and he was in high school when World War II broke out. So I got him on the phone and he was like ‘Oh yeah, I read all of those,” and started relating his memories of all the characters. Getting to hear from one of the first people to consume these stories, and his impressions of the characters, helped me to understand the expectations of an original Jay Garrick fan – from seven decades ago. And that was cool.”






Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal:Available on Blu-ray & DVD June 1, 2021

 “A piece of elemental storytelling that finds some real emotional depth without either of its protagonists uttering a single word of dialogue.” – IndieWire


Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal:
 The Complete First Season


 
Available on Blu-ray & DVD June 1, 2021
 
BURBANK, CA (March 30, 2021) – Eat, or be eaten! Kill, or be killed! Get into survival mode with Adult Swim’s #1 prehistoric animated series with the release of Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on June 1, 2021. The critically acclaimed series displays a perfect 100% rating by critics & 99% by audience on Rotten Tomatoes, and recently won 3 Juried Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Animation. Travel back in time and binge on all 10 fascinating episodes from the first season and go behind the scenes with interviews from the incredible talent from this wordless series. The edge-of-your-seat thriller is priced to own at $24.98 SRP for the DVD ($30.99 in Canada) and $29.98 SRP for the Blu-ray ($39.99 in Canada), which includes a Digital Copy (U.S. only). Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal: The Complete First also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

Coming off an award-winning final season of “Samurai Jack,” Adult Swim reunites with creator Genndy Tartakovsky on a new animated series. “Primal” features a caveman at the dawn of evolution. A dinosaur on the brink of extinction. Bonded by tragedy, this unlikely friendship becomes the only hope of survival in a violent, primordial world.
 
SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Behind the Scenes Interviews


INCLUDES ALL 10 EPISODES
  1. Spear and Fang
  2. River of Snakes
  3. A Cold Death
  4. Terror Under the Blood Moon
  5. Rage of the Ape-Men
  6. Scent of Prey
  7. Plague of Madness
  8. Coven of the Damned
  9. The Night Feeder
  10. Slave of the Scorpion

DIGITAL
Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal: The Complete First Season is available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download all episodes to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and others. A Digital Copy is also included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs for redemption and cloud storage.

BASICS
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: June 1, 2021
Total Runtime: Approx. 220
Enhanced Content Runtime: Approx. 10 min
1 BD-50 / 2 DVD-9 Blu-ray Audio – English (5.1),
DVD Audio – English Blu-ray Subtitles – English SDH, Dutch
DVD Subtitles – English SDH
Rated: TV-MA
Blu-ray Price: $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada)
DVD Price: $24.98 SRP ($30.99 in Canada)

Western Classics II Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Western Classic II Kino Studio Classics (1953-1957) 4/6/2021

The Redhead from Wyoming, Pillars of the Sky, Gun for a Coward 



Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


The Redhead from Wyoming (1953)

Directed By: Lee Sholem 

Starring: Maureen O'Hara, Alex Nicol, William Bishop, Jack Kelly

    Sheriff Stan Blaine (Alex Nicol) and a fiery redhead named Kate (Maureen O'Hara) find themselves in the middle of a dangerous range war between a scheming cattle baron and new residents. I have to start by saying that I knew virtually nothing but the times central premise revolving around the business of cattle and the in's and out's of branding laws, range wars etc. To the films credit they do a pretty good job from the outset to explain this in the opening. I think the novelty of the premise kept me engaged for the most part but, the narrative always fell back on troupes and clich├ęs. This is pretty much par for the course when you have B-programmers that didn't exactly have the most top-notch writers penning these screenplays. 

   The movie is a fairly standard action western with a romance subplot or rather shoehorned in. I will say to Redhead's credit the pacing is well maintained and, though predictable the movie is never dull. Maureen O'Hara is for me a big part of what kept this movie interesting and the actress brings a lot to what could easily been a very one-note character. Another thing this movie has going for it is the excellent cinematography by Winton C. Hoch a three time Oscar winner. Hoch gives the movie a huge scope and feel on what I assume was a modest budget. Furthermore, the movie has a nice production design and though it may have been a lesser picture it has a big budget look and feel. The Redhead from Wyoming is pretty standard fare but enjoyable enough with a great cast, some outstanding photography and some enjoyable action-set pieces. 


Picture: The Redhead from Wyoming is a color film and this restoration does a fine job at providing a crisp clean and clear visual presentation. The films colors really pop and grain levels are well maintained throughout. There is some slightly blurring and the clarity is probably not as sharp as it could be in places but overall its a great looking film. 

Sound: Redhead from Wyoming has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nice with no background noise or hiss present. 

Extras: Redhead from Wyoming features a commentary by historian Samm Deighan. 


Pillars of the Sky (1956) 

Directed By: George Marshall 

Starring: Jeff Chandler, Dorothy Malone, Willis Bouchey, Ward Bond, Keith Andes, Lee Marvin

    By far the most acclaimed director in this set is George Marshall. With hits like How the West Was Won (1962) and The Blue Dahlia (1946) Marshall could work in any genre but he is well regarded for his westerns. In 1868 Oregon a war breaks out between Native Americans and the Army over a broken treaty. The head strong Stg. Emmett Bell (Jeff Chandler) is trying to lead whilst butting heads with Col. Stedlow (Willis Bouchey). 

    On the surface Pillars of the Sky is a very by-the-numbers Army vs Native Americans story.  Add in a haphazard love triangle because these movies always seem mandated to have a romantic angle. Even though the set-up is pretty basic I will say that Marshall really knew how to put together a lean-action packed film. The pacing is for the most part good but, as I mentioned the film tries to have this awkward love-sub plot that frankly adds nothing to the narrative and only slows things down. 

    Being a film dealing with tribes and Native people there are a lot of Yikes moments. Obviously, this movie does not depict Native Americans in the best light and, films that depict Native Americans (especially in the early days of Hollywood) is always cringe-worthy even at the best of times. The film also has this really uncomfortable message to adhere to religious beliefs or be considered subpar. 

    It's the credit to George Marshall's skill that he could take a B-picture and it a, for the most part enjoyable outing. This movie also features excellent photography by Harold Lipstein and an early performance by Lee Marvin (just six years into his film career). 

Picture: Pillar of the Sky is a very good looking film. The color pops and the clarity is overall good. I will say that this print isn't pristine with some scratches and artifacts (though very minor) and some of the color grading does sway here and there. Grain levels are while maintained but does skew on the heavy side at times. Though its not perfect its still a nice visual presentation and showcases the lush outdoors and costumes and production design.  

Sound: Pillars of the Sky has a nice DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue, music and sound design comes through nicely. 

Extras: Pillars includes a feature length commentary by Toby Ronan. It also features some trailers for this movies and others. 

Gun for a Coward (1957)

Directed By: Abner Biberman 

Starring: Fred MacMurray, Jeffery Hunter, Dean Stockwell, Janice Rule, Chill Wills 

   Probably my favorite of this boxset, Gun for a Coward (1957) tells the story of three brothers youngest Hade (Dean Stockwell), middle son Bless (Jeffery Hunter) and the oldest Will (Fred MacMurray). Bless is branded a coward after his father dies of a snake bit and he fails to save him. When their mother dies the boys set off to run the ranch but trouble is brewing. Will Bless be able to finally stand up for himself and his family? Abner Biberman may not be a household name as a director but as an actor he's been in such classics as His Girl Friday (1940), Winchester '73 (1950) etc. 

    At just under ninety minutes the film is a, for the most part fast paced film that is full of decently crafted film. Whilst the movie is on the predictable side what is so interesting is how this movie examines and almost de-constructs the idea of masculinity. This is made all the more provoctative in the guise of a western, a genre that is of course known for being super-masculine. The movie does a good job at juggling these complex themes and seeing them through in a fairly satisfying way. Still, the movie suffers from some repetitiveness and standard western troupes. A clunky love-triangle is thrown and in my opinion doesn't really add anything but only serves to slow the main thrust of narrative. 

   The cast is fantastic with Fred MacMurray serving as the glue that holds a lot of this movie together. MacMurray is charming, suave yet believable in a rough-western setting. This film showcases an early role for Dean Stockwell and Jeffery Hunter. Hunter seems to be groomed for superstardom but sadly, his career fizzled in the '60s and he died at 41. The legendary Chill Wills has a memorable role as Loving. A flawed but complex and interesting western that put a lens on what it means to be a man.  

Picture: Similar to Pillar of the Sky, Gun for a Coward has a solid look on HD. The color photography has a fairly sharp look with a lot do clarity. Artifacts and some scratches abound and there is some flex in color tempt and blur. Overall though, I think that whilst its not perfect its a very serviceable transfer. 

Sound: Gun for a Coward has a nice DTS 2.0 Dialogue comes through nicely as does sound design. 

Extras: Gun for a Coward features a commentary by historian Lee Gambin. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Perdita Durango (1997) Severin Films UHD Review

Perdita Durango (1997) AKA Dance with the Devil Severin Films 3/30/2021

Directed By: Alex de la Iglesias 

Starring: Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez, Aimee Graham, Harley Cross, Screamin' Jay Hawkins 

Disclaimer: Severin Films has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    Severin Films is re-releasing Alex de la Iglesias The Day of the Beast Review HERE and, his follow up 1997's Perdita Durango AKA Dance with the Devil. Perdita Durango (Rosie Perez) is a streetwise woman who is tough as nails and fighting to survive in a harsh world. She meets Romero (Javier Bardem) a psychopathic criminal who is deeply into Santeria. For kicks the two decide to abduct two Americans Duane (Harley Cross) and Estelle (Aimee Graham) to sacrifice. The ceremony goes sideways however, kicking off a surreal insane journey. Meanwhile the police are hot on their trail. 

    Prior to this release I had not seen Perdita Durango but always wanted to. Thankfully it was well worth the wait to see this in UHD. This marks the directors third feature film and, you can see that in just two years after Beast the director has matured both story wise and from a technical standpoint. Alex has always had a stylistic flare but here it is pushed further with garish neon drenched scenes and top-notch use of framing and camera techniques. Its clear that the director is channeling Robert Rodriguez and Quinten Tarantino but it never feels like a carbon copy. This is because the director adds his own insane touches and grimy that coats this entire film.  

   Future Oscar winner Javier Bardem gives a powerhouse performance as a madman that is both totally unhinged but, surprisingly is complex and thankfully not one-note. And, as much as Bardem shines its Rosie Perez (Birds of Prey) that steals the movie lock-stock-and-barrel. Perez is thrown in with Bardem and other strong actors and she not only holds her own but commands the scenes she's in. The pair are also excellent together as well. Not only do they have tons of chemistry but the two seem to be playing off each other nicely. This movie also features a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfi and a rare cameo by the legendary Screamin' Jay Hawkins (who only did four film cameos in his career).  

   If you are familiar with Alex de la Iglesias you know he does not do subtle and this movie is a carnival of insanity, nasty and uncomfortable set-pieces and enough splatter to please even the most die-hard of gorehounds. And, having said that the movie involves assaults both physical and sexual and implied pedophilia and a truck full of fetuses for good measure. Iglesias loves to push buttons and, thats just what you have to expect when going into one of his insane epics. He also loves to inject social commentaries and vanity, consumerism and American tourism is all sharply and savagely satirized.  

   As much as I enjoy this film it does have some issues. The titular Perdita Durango who does a total 180 character wise in the final yet she doesn't feel like she has an arch that justifies it. Also, as much as I love Alex de la Iglesias dearly he tends to drag his movies out longer than they need to be and Durango could have easily used a twenty minute trim. 

    Take the kill-spree road tripping couple of Natural Born Killers, the bullet ballet of John Woo, the cool of Jim Jarmusch with a heaping helping of fetuses and coke and blend. What you get is 1997's Perdita Durango. 

Picture: Like Day of the Beast, Severin has clearly taken a lot of time into giving Perdita Durango an incredibly slick looking transfer. Right away the colors pop but also retain Alex de la Iglesias trademark warm color palate throughout. Skin tones, costumes, sets and locales all have a nice natural look and thankfully it doesn't look over processed or needlessly messed with color wise. There is an overall level of sharp clarity that further highlights the visual flare of this movie not to mention a top-notch production design. Seriously, this movie is stunning looking especially on a budget. Grain is nowhere in site and of course the movie has been scrubbed clean or any artifacts or scratches. Excellent work and well worth the upgrade in my opinion. 

Sound: Perdita Durango has a well done DTS 5.1 track. This movie has a lot going for it in terms of sound design and is more effects driven thus you really need a great track. Thankfully, just like the visuals the sound delivers a nice big robust experience.  

Extras: All Extras are on the Blu Ray disc and Include: On the Border: Interview with Alex de la Iglesias (28mins)

Writing Perdita Durango: Interview with Barry Gilford (16mins)

Dancing with the Devil: Interview with Rebekah McKendry (12mins) 

Nacosantanicos Perdita Durango and the Matamoros Cult (18mns) 

Canciones de Amor Maldito: The Music of Perdita Durango with Composer Simon Boswell (21mins)

Shooting Perdita Durango with Flavio Labiano (4mins)

And rounding out the extras are trailers. As always Severin packs their releases full of great content. 


Neil Marshall's The Reckoning (2020) RJLE Blu Ray Review

The Reckoning (2020) RJL Entertainment 4/6/2021

Directed By: Neil Marshall 

Starring: Charlotte Kirk, Sean Pertwee, Steven Waddington, Joe Anderson 

Disclaimer: RJL Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

   Neil Marshall has had a major rise and, as of late a even bigger fall. For those of you not very familiar with Marshall`s output here is a quick recap: The director came out swinging with Dog Soldiers (2002) a modern horror classic that perfectly blended horror and action. His follow up The Descent (2005) further cemented him as a force within the horror community. After that he came out with more action centered films like the wonderfully cheesy fun Doomsday (2008) and Centurion (2010). He at this point stepped back from film and focused on television. He recently gained acclaim for his two-episode direction on Game of Thrones. Things seem to be going great for Marshall that was until Hellboy (2019) released to wide spread hate among fans. This further made fans angry that this was chosen over a third Hellboy film from the Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro. 

     The Reckoning (2020) tells the story of a young newly made widow named Grace (Charlotte Kirk) during the Great Plague in London. She is accused of being a witch after not having sex with the local law enforcer. Witchfinder John Moorcraft (Sean Pertwee) is sent to get a confession out of her. From the outset I started out as a big fan of Neil Marshall's work. I even proudly own a signed Dog Soldiers blu ray. I heard the negative reviews but, I wanted to give this movie a fair shake. The movie I am sad to report is just as bland and boring as critics have said it is. Marshall is clearing trying to give us something like 2015's The Witch.  But, instead of a subtle creepy horror outing we get a woefully cliched parade of genre tropes mixed with a self-important 'message' that whilst important is shallowly delivered with no sincerity. 

    Meanwhile we have unintentional cheese like Grace going through Plague ridden London with perfect hair, teeth and yes, even makeup. Her costume looks like something they rented from a Ren. Faire warehouse. Kirk doing a fairly decent job given the wooden dialogue she is strapped with. Sean Pertwee who has been a longtime collaborator of Neil's (going back since Dog Soldiers and Doomsday) is probably the best thing about this film. Pertwee plays the entire thing like a grand Shakespearian production and I feel gives a performance unworthy of the material. As always I try to say something nice and, Luke Bryant's photography is stunning. His use of natural lighting and atmosphere managed to, at the very least give this film a bigger more polished look. Christopher Drake provides the movie a rich melancholic score that, like the photography lifts the film up greatly. 

    The Reckoning is an overly long vanity project that has an important female empowerment message delivered in the worst kind of lip service way. It never tries to have a real conversation about such timely topics. Rather Marshall throws mindless nastiness and eye rolling predictable horror trappings to distract you from its hollowness. I remain a Neil Marshall fan and hope he can get back to his indie roots. 


Picture: As I said in my review, the one thing I liked about this movie was the atmosphere and stunning photography. This is translated really well on 1080p. Even the darker scenes still maintain a nice sharpness and clarity overall. 

Sound: Like the visuals this movie has a great score and sound design. Here we get a nicely done DTS 5.1 track. Dialogue comes through nicely and the effects and design come through in a big way. 

Extras: Extras include Deleted Scenes. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Rosebud (1975) Kino Studio Classics Blu Ray Review

Rosebud (1975) Kino Studio Classics 3/30/2021

Directed By: Otto Preminger 

Starring: Peter O' Toole, Richard Attenborough, Cliff Gorman, John V. Lindsay  


Disclaimer: Kino Studio Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    Rosebud from 1975 marked the legendary director Otto Preminger's second to last feature film. The film sees five young women from powerful political families kidnapped by a radical extremist group. Larry (Peter O'Toole) is brought in to discover the location of the girls and free them whilst also taking down the head terrorist Edward Sloat (Richard Attenborough). So, I had actually never heard of this film prior to its release from Kino. But, how can you say no to a cast that includes Peter O'Toole, Richard Attenborough and Cliff Gorman. Not to mention from Otto Preminger such a well regarded filmmaker. 

     While Rosebud has an interesting premise and set-up frankly, I found the movie to be somewhat of a slog to get through. Preminger delivers an overly long, bloated film that lacks the kind of lean and engaging storytelling that his contemporaries like Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese were putting out. Its not to say this movie has no merit and there are glimpses of interesting plotting and truly harrowing moments but sadly, this gets lost in the boring parts. The overarching narrative deals with religious extremists and, I felt like this movie alienates the audience members that maybe have little to no knowledge about such matters. A good movie can engross you in this world yet Rosebud made me feel uninterested and disengaged. 

   As I stated above this movie has a fantastic cast and is really one of its saving graves. Peter O' Toole, what can you say besides being amazing in whatever he's in and, in part he helps elevate the material. Richard Attenborough also a legend in the field has a small but very memorable role and like Toole can seriously make anything he's in better. Cliff Gorman who sadly passed away way too young also shines in a supporting role. 

   This movie really feels like the end of an era, not only for Preminger but the rise of younger bolder filmmakers that George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, Francois Ford Coppola. I thought Rosebud was going to be a film similar to The Great Escape which balanced heavy subject matter with a fast-paced popcorn style enjoyment. But, rather this is a slow moving cruise that feels sadly feels like a director that isn't trying to be exciting or innovate. 


Picture: Rosebud opens with some very nice locale shots. Here we can see the film has a nice balance of color and retains a great deal of clarity throughout. There tends to be some blurring and some artifacts in the print but overall nothing that I feel detracts from the overall presentation. Grain is nicely consistent throughout as well and is for the most part not heavy. 

Sound: Rosebud has a DTS 2.0 track. This front heavy track is solid with dialogue coming in clearly. No hiss or unwanted background noise is present. 

Extras: Rosebud includes a feature length commentary by Filmmaker/Historian Daniel Kremer. Though I was still not a big fan of this movie, Kremer did point out a few things that helped me connect to the material. Engaging and as always I find Kremer to be well researched. Rounding out the features is original trailers. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Cecil B. DeMilles Biblical Epic The Ten Commandments Comes to UHD From Paramount Pictures!

The Ten Commandments (1956) Paramount Pictures 3/30/2021

Directed By: Cecil B. DeMille 

Starring: Charles Heston, Yul Brenner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo 

Disclaimer: Paramount Pictures has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    When someone brings up the subject of big ultra-lavish spectacle film a few movies come to mind. 1963's massively huge Cleopatra and, of course Cecil B. DeMille's biblical epic which has a runtime of nearly four-hours. At the start of the film DeMille comes out and does an introduction to his own movie.  We then hear the roaring score by Elmer Bernstein and up comes the title card The Ten Commandments and with it ushered in a truly one-of-a-kind film. The story tells of Moses (Charlton Heston) a Egyptian Prince who releases his divine destiny to lead the Hebrews out of bondage from Rameses (Yul Brynner). 

    So, I must admit that I've never actually seen this entire movie. This is odd seeing how I am obsessed with these mega-budget 'epics' of a bygone era. By the end I think I was totally blown away by, simply put a staggering cinematic achievement. The film though very long is never dull and every scene is a spectacle for the eyes and ears. The amount of time, money, artistry and man hour on display is mind boggling and, it takes a master take DeMille to pull it altogether. The director, who was in his 70s at the time manages to construct a movie on a scale that was rarely seen at the time of its release. Yeah, the movie is woefully old fashioned and, even in the late '50s probably seemed out of touch, especially seeing how a decade later these movies would be replaced by counter-culture fare. 

    The film was a huge hit making 100 million from its 12 million dollar budget. It no doubt inspired Warner Bros Ben-Hur (1959), also starring Charlton Heston. . Whilst on the subject Heston the larger than life character is at his best. Whatever you think about his politics and stance on guns, you cannot deny his suave leading man charms and skill at acting. Any time he's on the screen Heston dominates the viewers attention. In supporting roles is Yule Brenner giving a career high as Ramses and Ann Baxter as Nefertiti. It also includes memorable smaller roles from  Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price and Yvonne De Carlo. 

Cecil B. DeMilles final film was The Ten Commandments (a movie he made in the early '20s) and I couldn't think of a better movie to be a directors swan-song. 

Picture: Just in time for Easter, Paramount has dusted off this classic '50s epic and scrubbed it for a UHD release. So, maybe a lot of you are not aware that even standard HD releases has to have a high standard for original material and this of course goes double for UHD titles. The Ten Commandments which is over sixty-years old looks simply incredible. The lavish big color film literally pops in this UHD medium. The overall image retains a high level of detail and truly showcases the Oscar nominated cinematography by Loyal Griggs (Shane). The color also has a nice uptick and thankfully, it does not look overly bright or over processed. There is no artifacts or scratches to be found what so ever. Expectations are high for such a visually stunning movie on UHD and I can say that Paramount has knocked this one out of the park. 

Sound: Some may be disappointed that this does not include a Dolby Atmos track but re-uses their 5.1 track instead. Thankfully though, this track is extremely well done. The robust score and sound design comes through nicely, especially given a film from the late '50s. This track in my opinion a layered complex offering that sounds nice on a surround sound system. 

Extras:  Audio Commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of "Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille's Epic The Ten Commandments", Newsreel footage of the film's New York premiere, Theatrical trailers, including at 10-minute "making of" trailer, An introduction by DeMille, an intermission, an overture/exit music card, and an entr'acte card, along with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. 

Extras are on both the UHD and HD discs. The entire film is included on the UHD disc and the HD version of the movie is split up into two discs. 


Warner Brothers Justice Society: World War II (2021) New Images/WonderCon Info!

 Justice Society: World War II (2021) New Images! 


All New Images for the Upcoming Justice Society! 

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021. 

WonderCon@Home this Saturday, March 27 at 11:00am PT with an entertaining panel packed with stars, clips, images and new information.






Thursday, March 25, 2021

Nosferatu in Venice (1988) Severin Films Blu Ray Review

Nosferatu in Venice (1988) AKA Vampire in Venice Severin Films 3/30/2021

Directed By: Augusto Caminito 

Starring: Klaus Kinski, Barbara De Rossi, Christopher Plumber, Yorgo Voyagis, Anne Knecht, Donald Pleasence 


Disclaimer: Severin Films has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


   To say German actor Klaus Kinski was a difficult is probably one of the biggest understatements of all time. Stories of his temper towards his directors and actors have reached the realm of legendary. This was no expectation for the spiritual sequel to Werner Herzog's masterpiece 1979's Nosferatu The Vampire. Kinski this time around refused to don his iconic makeup (which reports say took up to four hours) or even to cut his hair. He also reportedly had the original director fired. Despite this chaos the film has gained a cult-following. Professor Catalano (Christopher Plumber) investigates the whereabouts of the undead creature known as Nosferatu. 

   So, let me first say that I think Herzog's Nosferatu not only does justice to the classic '22 silent film but adds depth and and horrors that sadly was not afforded to filmmakers of the era. It's a seminal classic and amongst my favorite '70s horror. I had often heard about the 'sequel' made almost a decade after the original but sadly it was a hard film to see in any legit manner. That is until the amazing folks at Severin pulled off the seemingly impossible with their HD release. After finally filling my demented eyeballs with Nosferatu in Venice I can honestly say that the wait was worth it. 

   Now, before I go any further I want to temper expectations. This is nowhere near the brilliant Herzog film but honestly I was not expecting it to be. The story is interesting but is a bit on the disjointed side with some elements that I felt lacked polish or a strong narrative through line. Also, I think that this movie leans mean-spirited with some pretty disturbing scenes of sexual assault committed by the titular undead character. Kinski reportedly (and as alleged in her autobiography)  actually had sex with his daughter Pola Kinski at a young age and, knowing this made these scenes all the more stomach turning. 

    On the bright side this movie is engaging and engrossing enough to make for an enjoyable watch. It is brimming with a surreal, fever-dream like quality and it relishes in its own absurdness. The photography is stunning and the locales and practical locals help give this film a bigger scope and overall feel. It also behooves me to mention the incredible music by Vangelis (Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire) and Lugi Ceccarelli. Even without the makeup Kinski is undeniably unsettling and creepy in the title role. What more can I say about Kinski, he was a strange guy that played equally strange characters. The supporting cast has such amazing talents like Christopher Plumber (Knives Out) and Donald Pleasence (Halloween) giving great performances. Specifically, Pleasence enjoys hamming it up while Plumber plays it like he's performing Shakespeare. While it is far from perfect I was damn entertained and, the movie is never dull. 

   Erotic, unnerving and overflowing with Gothic atmosphere, Nosferatu in Venice is art-house with a Pollock like splattering of blood. 


Picture: Nosferatu in Venice is making its HD US debut and I am here to happily announce it looks great! The film itself has a very muted, moody color palate which is extremely well balanced here and retains a lot of detail in locales, sets and clothing. You can really tell that darkly lit scenes truly benefit from this uptick in constant.  I was also impressed how the film is never overly grainy but also doesn't look overly processed. Honestly, I think that fans that are awaiting this title will be very pleased with the end result. 

Sound: Like the picture Nosferatu in Venice packs a punch with its DTS 2.0 track. Dialogue comes through nicely as does the music and sound design. I was also happy to see that there is indeed an optional Italian Audio track (w/optional English subs). 

Extras: Severin always delivers when it comes to extras but fans are truly in for a treat with what they have in store for them in Nosferatu in Venice. Creation Is Violent: A New Feature Length Documentary on Kinski's Final Years (81mins). Featuring new interviews and rare behind the scenes footage and archival clips this enlightening and engrossing documentary is a must-watch for any genre fan. 

Final Thoughts: Regular readers will know that I rarely ever do Final Thoughts for a single edition/Non UHD release. BUT Nosferatu in Venice is a special case. Not only am I thrilled to see this movie in a more widely available format but the label knocks it out of the park in terms of picture and sound. But what really pushes this release over the edge into epic is the 81 minute documentary that I enjoyed and I think most genre-lovers will as well. It just goes to show you how Severin goes above and beyond with their releases. If you like myself love love grimy Euro-trashy horror with arthouse pretensions, this movie will satisfy. I know it's early but this makes my shortlist for favorite Horror release of 2021. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Isle of the Dead (1945) Warner Archive Blu Ray Review

Isle of the Dead (1945) Warner Archive 3/30/2021

Directed By: Mark Robson 

Starring: Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer, Alan Napier, Ernst Deutsch 


Disclaimer: Warner Archive has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 

    I've been a big fan of producer Val Lewton's films ever since Warner Brothers released The Val Lewton Collection in 2005.  Isle of the Dead is, in my humble opinion one of producer Val Lewton's most sorely underrated film and, sadly, it always seems to be left out of the conversation of truly great '40s era horror. It stands right up there alongside Cat People (1942) in terms of quality and haunting atmosphere. Set during the First Balkan War Isle of the Dead introduces us to a General named Nikolaos Pherides also known as 'The Watchdog'. Gen Pherides has a reputation for being at heart a good person but has a strong sense of duty and an extreme sense of discipline. When the General and a reporter goes to a small island to visit his wife's grave they stay at a small inn for the night. This will prove a fatal mistake as during the evening one of the Inn guests falls dead of the plague. Now madness and sickness unfold in this tense thriller. 

     Few '40s era horror movies for me hold up as well as Isle of the Dead and this is a truly chilling film despite a rather cheesy looking cover art. Like a lot of Lewton films Isle is steeped in what I call Gothic-Noir which is a moody Gothic style with overtures of German-Expressionistic lighting. For Robson and Lewton the true horror in Isle of the Dead comes from a near-fever pitch level of religious terror and paranoia. Things go from bad to worse when the level headed General starts losing his grip on reality. The characters are complex and the movie never veers off into camp. And, unlike other horror of the '30s and '40s, there is no clumsy comic-relief to break up the horror. For eighty minutes Robson and Lewton grip you icy terror and never lets up. 

   Jack MacKenzie who by the time he died had over two-hundred credits to his name does an amazing job at bringing out the films claustrophobic and paranoiac qualities. He does this brilliant thing where he will linger on empty dark spaces whilst Robson builds tension leaving the audience to painfully wait until something will emerges. There is a scene towards the end of the movie that still makes me jump even after multiple viewings. (Obviously keeping it vague). 

At just a scant seventy minutes Mark Robson and producer Val Lewton crafts a chilling isolated horror film that feels eerily relevant in to today's climate. A Masterpiece of Horror! 

Picture: Seeing one of my favorite films, especially one that is so visually provoctative truly makes my heart sing. As a lover of film it was so satisfying to see  Isle of the Dead get a 4k overhaul. Virtually all artifacts and scratches have been removed and the end result is a transfer befitting this film. The black-and-white contrast is well balanced with deep blacks and the overall image retaining a great deal of clarity and detail. 


Sound: Like visuals Isle of the Dead features a top-notch soundtrack. The films dialogue and sound design comes through nicely and there is no unwanted background noise or hiss that I could detect. 

Extras: Isle of the Dead is given the A-Treatment here. We get a Brand-New commentary by Steve Haberman. This engaging and well researched track will sure to please any fan and should be considered a must listen! Keep in mind this is not on the OOP DVD release. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

SIX-TIME ACADEMY AWARD-NOMINATED Judas and the Black Messiah COMES HOME FROM WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT

 “An electrifying powerhouse drama with real heart.”

– David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

 

SIX-TIME ACADEMY AWARD-NOMINATED

Judas and the Black Messiah

COMES HOME FROM

WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT

 

PVOD debuts on April 2

Own it on Digital on April 27

Blu-ray and DVD debut on May 4



  

Burbank, CA, March 23 – Academy Award-nominated dramatic thriller “Judas and the Black Messiah” arrives on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. The film is directed by Shaka King, marking his studio feature film directorial debut, and stars Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton and Oscar nominee LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal. The film also stars Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Ashton Sanders and Martin Sheen.  “Judas and the Black Messiah” features the Academy Award-nominated song “Fight For You”, sung by H.E.R.

 

Judas and the Black Messiah” made history this year by being the first film with an all-black producing team nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category. “Judas and the Black Messiah” is nominated for six Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield), Cinematography (Sean Bobbitt), Original Song (“Fight For You,” music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emilie II, lyrics by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas), and Original Screenplay (screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas).  Kaluuya also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture.

 

  • Judas and the Black Messiah” will be available for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP beginning on Friday, April 2nd. The title will be available on participating digital platforms where you rent movies.

 

  • On April 27th, Judas and the Black Messiah” will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others.

 

  • On May 4th, “Judas and the Black Messiah” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD. 

 

Judas and the Black Messiah” will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

 

The Judas and the Black Messiah impact campaign, designed by Participant, is educating audiences with a more comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party, connecting its legacy to today’s movement for Black lives and empowering audiences to join local organizations advocating for Black communities. To learn more, visit www.LiveForThePeople.com.

 

 

SYNOPSIS

 

FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback). Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) commands?

 

BLU-RAY & DVD ELEMENTS

 

“Judas and the Black Messiah” Blu-ray contain the following special features: 

  • “Fred Hampton for the People” – The filmmakers and cast discuss why telling Chairman Fred Hampton’s story is more important now than ever before.
  • “Unexpected Betrayal” – The filmmakers and cast discuss William O’Neil’s complexities and his eventual betrayal of Hampton.

 

“Judas and the Black Messiah” DVD contains the following special features: 

  • “Fred Hampton for the People”

 

The Kaiser of California (1936) Kino Classics Blu Ray Review

The Kaiser of California AKA The Emperor of California (1936) Kino Studio Classics 3/23/2021

Directed By: Luis Trenker 

Starring: Luis Trenker, Viktoria von Ballasko, Werner Kunig, Karli Zwingmann 



Disclaimer: Kino Classics has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 


    The 1936 film The Kaiser of California also known as The Emperor of California remains an interesting and curious footnote in German cinema as it was the first and only Nazi era film with scenes shot in America. The story tells of John Sutter a man fled his country and made his way to America where he made his fortune from the Gold Rush.  As you can probably tell, The Kaiser of California is a typical telling of America's Gold Rush and how John and others found both highs and lows. However this is not to suggest that this is a typical movie. Clearly made on a large budget, Kaiser tells the story of Sutter in a very grounded and interesting way. Sure, the movie takes a lot of liberties and, as would expect amps up John's German  roots. Given the films resources the filmmakers can tell the story with a bigger scope and scale. Set pieces and sequences are extremely well crafted and the movie has a nearly breathless pacing at times. 

    The photography and the way the western landscapes are still awe-inspiring decades later and, I have no doubt in my mind this movie was an influence on the likes of John Ford. Here we also get great techniques  like dissolves, tracking shots etc. I think what also helps this film a lot of its star Luis Trenker who does double-duty as both director and star. Trenker has a great deal of charm and leading man good looks. It's strange to think that Trenker never tried to make it in Hollywood as I think he could have been both an excellent director and or leading man. 

Whilst I doubt this movie that is on your radar I think should be because its an extremely well crafted film which I found very engaging. Every film buff should make The Kaiser of California a must-watch. 

Picture: Kaiser sports a new 2k scan by the Fredrich Wilhelm Stiftung, The film looks stunning for being near one-hundred years old. The image has a nice level of clarity and sharp contrast with the black-and-white footage. Grain is consistent and heavy at times but it never gets distracting. As sharp as most of the scenes are it does have its flaws with some flickering (very minor though) and artifacts and scratches. Again, this movie is incredibly old and I think that you have to take in consideration the the condition of the material. The overall image is great and you can tell that this movie probably never looked as good and, I highly doubt it will look better.  

Sound: Kaiser has a very nice 2.0 track. The films dialogue and sound design comes through nicely with very little in the way of background hiss. 

Extras: The Kaiser of California has a feature length commentary by historian Eddy Von Muller. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

2014's Godzilla Stomps Onto UHD From Warner Bros. Entertainment! My Review!

Godzilla (2014) Warner Bros. Entertainment 3/23/2021 

Directed By: Gareth Edwards 

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, CJ Adams, Brian Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanbe 


Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Entertainment has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections. 



    Later this year Godzilla will finally be fighting King Kong in a epic-smack down fans have been waiting to see. But, until that time Warner Bros. has re-released 2014's Godzilla on UHD. The atomic monster Godzilla is awoken and wrecks havoc as the military try and scientists try to stop him.  

   2014's Godzilla had a lot riding on its lizard back. It not only had to serve as a key piece to WB's Monsterverse but it also had to erase the stink of the '90's Godzilla. Not to mention make back its beefy budget, please fans and set up other sequels and crossovers. The movie made 500 million over double its budget and received mixed to positive reviews. I think that Godzilla has always been a tricky IP for Western filmmakers, especially big budget studios to pull off. They never seem to get to balance of humans/monster right and, I think that the biggest complaint with this film was the titular Godzilla gets very little screen time. Furthermore, the human characters are a bit bland and and this movie under-uses Bryan Cranston who gives the movie the emotional weight in the first half of the film. 

    And, while you cannot blame the movie for not wanting to inject any camp for fear of being compared to the '98 version (which for the most part also took the material very seriously) this movie for me is missing the dumb-fun/serious balance. I will say I did like bringing the nuclear origins of Godzilla and the bomb in '45 back to the mythos. Also, when we do see the big-badass monster you cannot help but be in total awe. 

    Godzilla is a big scale film that goes back to its atomic roots but sadly drags with basic characters and stock disaster movie fodder. 

Picture: I want to start off by saying that 2014's Godzilla has a dark color palate. This was never meant to be a big dazzling colorful outing. This has lead to some scenes in the old HD version to be overly dark almost to the point of making it hard to see what was going on in certain scenes. The UHD is certainly an improvement lending to a slight uptick in color and clarity. Images overall have a nice sharp look and retains a lot of details in costumes, sets and locales. While its not a mind blowing difference I will say that this new edition is worth the upgrade if you only have the HD edition especially with darker lit scenes. 

Sound: Godzilla's DTS 7.1 soundtrack roars with a lot power that you would want and expect from a movie of this scale. It goes without saying that this sound experience offers a huge complex sound and is an improvement on the HD version. 

Extras: All the extras are on the Blu Ray and includes

Monarch: Declassified (three in-universe shorts pretraining to Monarch) 

Behind the Scenes featurettes: 
Godzilla: Force of Nature (19mins) 
A Whole New Level of Destruction (8mins) 
Into the Void: The H.A.L.O Jump (5mins)
Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.Os (6mins)