Category Archives: DVD Review

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DVD Review – The Burning Bed

Category : DVD Review

Director: Robert Greenwald

Starring: Farrah Fawcett, Paul Le Mat, Richard Masur

Year: 1984

When your only  claim to fame is Xanadu, you know your career didn’t work out exactly the way you planned it.  At least Olivia Newton-John has Grease to fall back on, although her lack of literally any other movie to hang her hat on is shocking, especially considering how big a deal she was.  Obviously people quickly understood that she could sing, but she most definitely could not act.  I’ve actually seen what is basically Greenwald’s only other film of note other than a ton of documentaries that no one has seen; Breaking Up, a 1997 drama starring an up-and-coming Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek.  But that’s neither here nor there, and The Burning Bed is neither musical nor romance.  It’s a made-for-TV, true life horror story that brought the subject of abuse to American living rooms in a way that can’t be remembered without being applauded.

The Movie

Francine’s family were mountain people, which means they didn’t have much but they didn’t need much, that they valued hard work and personal pride above all things.  As Francine grew, she understood that she was beautiful, but she didn’t want to settle for simply being some handsome man’s wife.  She wanted to go to school, maybe get a job, maybe move to a bigger town, perhaps become someone important in a world that was opening up for women and revealing new opportunities every day.  But some people hold tight to the old beliefs that men are in charge, that they marry who they please, and that wives do what their husbands tell them to do.  Francine found herself in this type of relationship, through bad choices and bad luck, and it wasn’t easy to get out.

Mickey was a determined man, and when he set his sights on Francine he knew that he would talk her into marrying him.  Francine wanted to wait, to see the world first, but no one had ever made such a fuss over her, told her she was attractive, told her they loved her, that they couldn’t live without her.  So Mickey and Francine were married, despite not having jobs or a place to live.  Soon, Mickey’s evil temperament would make itself obvious, and he would beat Francine whenever she displeased him.  At first, she convinced herself she was to blame, later she would leave him, but by that time they had children together, and the well-being of her children was Francine’s top concern.  When she realized that she would never be able to get away from Mickey completely, she did something desperate, something terrible, but perhaps something necessary as well.

This film does open the conversation on abuse up in a way that only a strong story can, because sometimes we need to see it with our own eyes to believe it, as stupid as that sounds, and as ridiculous as it is that a simple film could be what it takes to get an important message across.  And this is a true story don’t forget, a real case of “battered-woman syndrome” in which the abusive situation the murderer was in came into play during their court case.  Because you can debate the ethics of the verdict, but the fact is that someone was killed here, and that victim was constantly trying to destroy the live of another victim.  Judge for yourself what the punishment should be, but this story forces us to give spousal abuse a face, and to think about the extremity of the mental damage inflicted as well.

It was a pretty big deal for sex symbol Farrah Fawcett to try a heavy drama like this, to put her acting talent on display when most people thought she was just a pretty face.  Logan’s Run, Sunburn, Saturn 3, Cannonball Run; she was just a blonde beauty, but this film opened the doors and Farrah pushed through.  Now, to be honest, her film career never really panned out, but she did do a lot of made-for-TV, true-life stuff in the late 80s, which became kind of her thing.  She’s not bad at all in The Burning Bed, a movie that could not have been very comfortable to create, and something that I see as very important, so I applaud her attempt.  Paul Le Mat plays a very convincing Mickey, and the entire film holds the 70s feel it was going for extremely well.  Is it the movie of the decade, of course not, but it has its historical value and its message, which isn’t nothing.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.33:1/1.78:1 (1920x1080p) and shot using Panaflex cameras and lenses by Panavision, the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is as poor as can be expected, but understandably so.  There is an option in the main menu of wide or full screen, but neither are tremendously appealing, as the clarity of the picture quality isn’t something you should expect to dazzle, and may even have been hurt by the transfer.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English, with subtitles in English available to turn on or off.  The audio quality of the disc is the same as the video; bad but not unexpected.  There is some sense that that the music was selected with purpose, but that’s about it.

Extras – The only special features are an interview with director Robert Greenwald and five trailer for other films.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  This might be Farrah Fawcett’s most notable role, and perhaps her strongest as well.  She tells an impacting story, never makes it about her as an actress, always keeps the message clear.  She isn’t aided by much around her except for one good co-star, so give credit where credit is due.  The film as a whole isn’t something extraordinary and won’t be remembered for its artistry.  But it shares with us something meaningful, and I’m appreciative of that.  The video is pretty bad, the audio the same, and there aren’t many extras, so look elsewhere for stellar technical attributes.  If you’ve never seen this film before, it’s worth your time, just don’t expect too much.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Moka

Category : DVD Review

Director: Frederic Mermoud

Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Nathalie Baye, Diane Rouxel

Year: 2016

The understated French drama of the year is Moka, a revenge tale without the revenge.  This is a style that we see every season, the quiet, heavy, high-character, low-action, French film that critics are supposed to eat up and convince audiences that they should like too.  And sometimes it works, sometimes we relate to you that a foreign film of this genre is exactly that, weighty but wonderful.  Moka, I’m afraid, doesn’t fall into that category.  It is dramatic, yes, it is familiar, which isn’t always unwelcome, but it lacks the punch needed to make up for the slow speed of its story.  Basically, this film is an average suspense flick that doesn’t deliver a satisfying kick to the teeth, and so shouldn’t illicit much mention going forward.

The Movie

Diane has lost her son, and the grief of his death will shatter her entire world.  He was struck during a hit-and-run and didn’t survive long, leaving a sudden hollow space in the hearts of his family where the joy of his existence had once been.  His mother cannot move on, his accident even resulting in the separation of her marriage and a stay in a facility.  But time away didn’t heal the wounds nor take away the pain, and all she can think about is what she no longer has, and what she wants to do to the person responsible.  The police are no help, they haven’t found any leads, but a private investigator rounds up a few suspects, and so Diane takes the case upon herself.

She begins looking for the mocha-colored car, a Mercedes or BMW, that killed her son, knowing that it can’t hide from her for long.  She lives in the resort area around Lake Geneva, a holiday locale in the Alps on the border between France and Switzerland, so the car must be from around the area and probably didn’t go far.  With the help of the detective, she locates multiple suspects and begins to stake them out, finding one likely candidate with a classic car that has recently had work done to its front end.  As she starts to research the possible murderers, she finds herself entering their lives, even feigning a desire to buy the car in question.  The line between her anger and her curiosity is blurred, as is the definition of right and wrong, and Diane gets too close to those she may wish to kill.

I’ve seen both Devos and Baye in other films, and their performances here were on par with what I’ve seen, but I’m not sure that’s a great thing.  Devos was rather boring in Violette, a biopic that I just couldn’t get into.  Baye was uniquely maternal in It’s Only the End of the World, but that film was Xavier Dolan’s weakest feature, and it failed to make an impact.  Both actresses were fine here in Moka, but neither did enough to earn praise, neither stepped up to pick up the slack when the story began to drag, and for that I’m quite disappointed.  Other than perhaps one scene together, and another with only Devos where rather than looking like she’d been crying it appeared that they simply poured water on her face for the same effect, nothing about this film resonated as impactful or worthwhile.

The locale was amazing and I instantly wanted to go there, but that wasn’t the point, obviously, and that shouldn’t be the only thing I take away from this story.  It was supposed to be gripping, vengeful, powerful, but it was only pathetic.  I felt bad for everyone involved, I felt the pain, but that wasn’t enough to get me through 90 minutes.  The film was short and sweet, but that only means there was less time to pack in the raw material, to force audiences to ride in that car alongside the characters, and that never happened.  The genre and the style were respected here, but they were never elevated, and so the film fizzles rather than explodes, piques out curiosities rather than demanding that we rubberneck.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using a Red Epic Dragon camera with Cooke S4 and Angenieux HR lenses, the video quality of the DVD was as unremarkable as the film itself.  The location, as I have mentioned, was beautiful, and I’d like to go stay on Lake Geneva immediately, I just hope it’s not too expensive.  But that’s about it, the setting trumped the cinematography.

Audio – The disc was done in French 5.1 Surround, with an option of 2.0 Stereo.  English subtitles can be turned on or off in this menu.  The audio quality of the film is forgettable at best, without a memorable soundtrack or backing track.  It’s also without noticeable flaws, so that’s to its credit, but barely.

Extras – There are a few special features on the DVD if you want more, but there aren’t many.  A Bonus Short Film entitled Le Creneau can be viewed, starring Devos and running 13 minutes.  There is an Interview With Director Frederic Mermoud, which lasts 20 minutes.  There are six Film Movement Trailers: Amnesia, Glory, After the Storm, If You Don’t I Will, Breathe, My King.  And lastly, About Film Movement is a paragraph of text about the distributor.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  ‘Slow burn’ is a term often used for films such as these, and often that applies, but I wouldn’t agree to use it here.  Some also thought that this film held a Hitchcockian atmosphere, but again, I don’t think so.  Rather, that seems to be what the director was shooting for, but not what he hit, instead failing to produce enough traction to slow audiences down before their eyes flew over the plot and their minds went someplace else.  Moka is good but not great, an interesting revenge story with solid acting that wasn’t pushed to any heights worth our respect.  The video was fine, the audio was OK, and there are a few extras, so the technical aspects of the film reveal themselves to be as lackluster as the rest.  If you already like these actresses or this director, if you happen to already love this genre, then feel free to dive in, I think you’ll enjoy yourself.  Otherwise, there are better options out there.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Queen of the Desert

Category : DVD Review

Director: Werner Herzog

Starring: Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis

Year: 2015

Nicole Kidman paired with Colin Farrell is a winning combination, Nicole Kidman paired with James Franco is not.  I don’t see how this wasn’t obvious before it was screen-tested and then released to a cinema near you, but someone forgot that two mature actors brought together is often a good idea, while an aging Aussie asked to fall in love with a much younger comedian, who, in a recent movie, noted that his post-sexual encounter penis smelled like guacamole, isn’t.  And I like James Franco, I think he’s funny, I enjoy his stuff with Seth Rogen, but the guy is one note, and that note needs to stay far away from Nicole Kidman’s talent and from her genre.  This movie, sappy as it is, could have worked had different choices been made.  They weren’t, it didn’t, moving on.

The Movie

This is the true story of Gertrude Bell, the Queen of the Desert, the woman who would not stay behind but rather put herself in unimaginable danger time after time for the sake of science, adventure, and an unquenchable thirst for all the experiences life outside of safe existence has to offer.  Gertrude was a young, English noblewoman who studied at Oxford, who was far too intelligent to settle down to a conventional life as someone’s wife.  And so, after trying and failing to force her to become something normal, something she most definitely wasn’t, her parents allowed her to travel to Arabia to seek her purpose.  The life she would find there would define her, would captivate her, and would become the passion that consumed her very soul.

Gertrude fell in love with the beauty and the danger of the desert, with the warring Bedouin tribes who were so fierce about their territory, and with one man in particular who made her stay in a foreign land so magical.  His name was Henry Cadogan, he was also in love with Arabia, and was more than willing to show Gertrude all the sites.  Their shared obsession with regional poetry and the pure quality the very land possessed brought them together, forged their relationship, and kept Gertrude far from home for life.  Even after they were parted, she felt married to the desert, and made it her purpose to visit every forbidden locale, to speak to every sheik, to go where no man, let alone a woman, had ever gone before.

First, I quickly looked up some information on Gertrude Bell, and I couldn’t find any information on Henry Cadogan, so that part may just be fictional.  She did have a love affair with an administrator in her 30s, and then a pen-pal relationship with a married men in her 40s, but that’s all that I could find on brief research.  That doesn’t matter exactly, the movie can do what it wishes with her story, but it did feel odd for a variety of reasons.  One is that Kidman isn’t a young woman any more, she’s 50, while Franco is 39, and so she was playing twenty years younger, while he was presumably playing his own age, and the whole thing was strange.  Franco almost seemed creepy, with his devotion to poetry and romantic trinkets, like he was trying to trick her, but I think we can blame that on his acting, which of course wasn’t good in such a role, a character that could not possibly have been written with him in mind.

Kidman, on the other hand, is strong enough to pull off a challenge like this, but wasn’t given the best periphery to work with.  She was asked to play young, and then to play her age, to fall in love with Franco, and then with Lewis, to travel around the desert like an explorer, to wash in an outback bath to show off her nipples apparently; her jobs were many and all over the place.  Herzog isn’t a wonderful film director, he doesn’t have the knack, and it showed here.  His star was misused, or at least unsupported, and the result was a film that felt frantic when something was happening and oppressively dull at all other times.  Robert Pattinson made a brief appearance as T.E. Lawrence, and he’s a talent that shouldn’t be overlooked, but he was the bright spot of an otherwise bland background.  Watch Kidman in her more recent films like Strangerland, Secret in Their Eyes, or better yet in her most recent alongside Farrell, The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.  She shines in both of her latest movies, in a way that I’ve never seen from her before, but this is a project that was better left unclaimed.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and using Red Epic, Red Epic Dragon, and Red Scarlet cameras, the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is wonderful, as far as depicting the beauty of the desert and some famous landmarks.  That’s what the video was asked to do, bring this land to life in a wondrous way, and it succeeded.  The picture quality is high, crisp and clear, although the cinematography itself is forgettable.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround, with an option of English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo.  Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.  The audio quality is strong as well, with a nice balance and a well thought out backing track that really sets the romantic mood and delivers the sounds of the region quite well.

Extras – The only special feature on the disc is a trailer for the film.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  Nicole Kidman, who has always played cold so well, is warming up as she ages, and that’s to our benefit.  She’s a talented actress, a beautiful woman, and can very easily be an outstanding lead in a film, as she’s proving more now than she ever has before.  But Queen of the Desert was not a vehicle built to carry one great actress all alone on a bumpy ride.  There were far too many problems to overcome, and even Kidman was not up to the task of saving the movie on her own.  The pacing was poor, the story was boring, the acting around her wasn’t great, the direction was lackluster; basically the film failed to capture the magic it was attempting to harness, the result being a disappointing experience.  The video is pleasing to the eye, the audio is solid, there aren’t many extras, so the technical aspects are perhaps a mixed bag.  The film is more definitive, as I can’t imagine many audiences gushing, I predict that most will find it as much an unpolished and unnecessary product as I did.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Wish Upon

Category : DVD Review

Director: John R. Leonetti

Starring: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee

Year: 2017

I don’t care what you can prove to the contrary, I discovered Joey King.  She completely outshone Selena Gomez in Romona and Beezus, which admittedly must not be hard to do, she was the only bright spot in Family Weekend, a terrible film from top to bottom, and she is usually the highlight of each scene in which she appears.  I called her as someone to watch years ago, and she’s not disappointing her fans.  She doesn’t choose good movies though, not since she grew old enough to know better, and that’s a major problem.  The Conjuring, White House Down, Wish I Was Here, Stonewall, Independence Day: Resurgence; she needs to start making better decisions when it comes to what she appears in, because she’s a legitimate talent who deserves to be seen, not just another actress whose skills are wasted on terrible films.

The Movie

Clare’s mother committed suicide when she was young, leaving her alone and unhappy with a father who just didn’t know what to do next.  They were a joyful family with a nice home, with art and music in their lives, with love for one another, until that tragic event, and no one could properly move on because no one could understand why it happened.  Now Clare is in high school, she’s a bit of an outcast who constantly has run-ins with the popular crowd, and who always has to defend her father, a man who collects metal junk from dumpsters and wherever he can find it.  Clare’s life isn’t wonderful, and there are so many aspects, both past and present, that she wishes she could change.

Her opportunity comes when she least expects it, when her father brings her a present in the form of an odd box he found in front of a creepy gate where he was searching for new treasures.  Apparently, the box grants wishes, because Clare’s rival finds herself in the hospital right after Clare wishes her harm.  After some study, it seems good for seven dreams come true, but each one comes with a price.  Blood must be paid to the ancient Chinese gods whenever a request is spoken to the box, and there are even more rules that make this wonderful chance to change your life not so wonderful after all.  Clare must solve the magic of the box before her wishes destroy the very happiness that she longs for so much.

Joey King is a revelation, but she needs a career coach or something, because it seems like she can’t get out of her own way.  She’s a unique talent, has a unique look, doesn’t shuffle into the standard lineup of young actresses, and is capable of really great dramatic and comedic work.  I noticed her as a cool kid, she’s growing into a strong actress, and she has her entire career before her; she just needs to pick better movies.  Her film choices are suspect as best, and her scripts aren’t written to her benefit at all.  Take Wish Upon, which is one of the most horribly written horror flicks or otherwise that you will come across this year or any other, a ridiculously terrible film that makes you question whether you should ever watch one again.

It’s Final Destination meets Death Note meets The Edge of Seventeen, but basically the poorest parts of each, as if the director was intentionally making the worst movie of the year.  It’s one of those stories and those scripts that appear so incredibly amateur and so stupid that you question your own taste level, you wonder how anyone could make something that is so obviously bad.  Ryan Phillippe is terrible, Barb from Stranger Things makes an unfortunate appearance, all the dialogue is ludicrous (“Hold up, you dig on multiverses?!”), and there are basically no redeeming qualities to make this movie recommendable.  I can only hope that my protegee, Joey King, proves soon what a wunderkind she is before her mistakes pile up so high they block out the gleam.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (1080p HD 16×9), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is probably the strongest part of the film, and the only thing that deserves credit.  Not only is the clarity quite crisp and the color vivid, but this film doesn’t try to hide in darkness to scare you, which I appreciate.  The picture is a high point, but the cinematography doesn’t exactly turn the film into something watchable.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc is done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, with an option of Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1.  Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.  The audio quality is fine, with no major errors to report, but the sound is forgettable overall, with a soundtrack that I already can’t remember and won’t be seeking out.

Extras – There are just a few extras on the disc.  I Wish is a 2-minute behind-the-scenes segment.  Attic Tour with Joey King is a 2-minute look at the set.  Directing Darkness is a 2-minute sit-down with the cast and crew.  Motion Comics features two back stories to add to the plot.

Final Thoughts

Skip ItWish Upon is one of the worst movies of 2017, down there with Dig Two Graves as a horror movie that didn’t need to be made, and wasn’t made very well.  They both borrow from others, but do a terrible job of A) disguising it, and 2) instituting an improvement.  You can’t make a genre film that leans heavily on contemporaries and then do everything worse than they did; I guess no one intends to do that, but that’s exactly what happened here.  This movie is plain awful from top to bottom, with no real redeeming characteristics, a mess from the first scene that basically no one should watch.  The video is pretty good, the audio is unremarkable, the extras are throwaway, so don’t expect much from the technical aspects.  And don’t expect much from much else either, as those involved in this film need to ask themselves why they were and what they expected to happen.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – The Long Riders

Category : DVD Review

Director: Walter Hill

Starring: James Keach, Stacy Keach, David Carradine

Keith CarradineRobert Carradine, Randy Quaid, Dennis Quaid

Christopher Guest, Nicholas Guest

Year: 1980

Never underestimate the power of a cheesy Western, especially one directed by an accomplished man like Walter Hill.  48 Hrs, Brewster’s Millions, Red Heat, Geronimo, Last Man Standing; these are just films he directed, but he also wrote both Aliens and Alien 3, and he’s still producing all the new Alien franchise films, so the beat goes on.  Hill is multi-talented, and it shows here in a movie he had a heavy hand in and guided to be better than it would seem that it has the potential to be.  For a feature from 1980 that hosts a giant list of b-talent, The Long Riders is surprisingly good, and should no longer be ignored.

The Movie

This is the partially true story of the exploits of Jesse James and his gang of wild outlaws.  Growing up in Missouri, the James boys, Jesse and Frank, learned to love the land, its people, and the freedom they enjoyed in that unique wilderness.  After growing up and then living through the Civil War, life changed for the James clan, and for all ex-Rebels who didn’t know what to do with their lives next.  Crime was an easy occupation, robbing banks, stage coaches, and trains, much easier than starting a farm or a ranch, and Jesse was a natural at the bandit way, pulling off each score like taking candy from a baby.

Jesse and Frank were joined in their life of crime by many bands of brothers, family ties being stronger than steel in the Ozarks, a forested land still clinging to the old ways though the new ones crept in from all around.  The Youngers rode with the Jameses, Cole, Jim, and Bob.  There were also the Miller boys, Ed and Clell, as well as, later, the notorious Fords, Charlie and Robert.  These rough riders were sought out by every lawmen in Missouri and neighboring states, but none could catch the gang, not when they were in their prime, not when they stuck together to write the very history of the West with their every deed and adventure.

First thing’s first; the brothers.  This film is unique in the way that it cast actual brothers to play all the fraternal bands, a gimmick that actually produced believable couplings and legitimate bonds.  James and Stacy Keach played the James boys, Stacy becoming much more famous than his brother, although James was the star of the film.  The Youngers were played by the Carradines, David, Keith, and Robert.  That gives up a range from Kung Fu to Revenge of the Nerds; impressive.  The Quaids were the Millers, and we’ve all watched the careers of Randy and Dennis.  Lastly, and perhaps the most entertaining, Christopher and Nicholas Guest played the Fords, which is wonderful considering what Chris would go on to do with his film life, and how Nick became a voice actor, with a timbre that is exactly like his brother’s.

Anyway, that part of the movie is fun to sift through and to pick apart for nuggets, as is the rest of the diverse cast: Harry Carey Jr, Pamela Reed from Kindergarten Cop, James Remar from basically everything.  This film serves an honorable purpose as a time capsule, but it actually holds its own much better than you might imagine as an addition to the wonderful Western genre.  You get exactly what you want from this style; horses, whores, poker, shootouts, a little history, and one of the better posse-shooting-at-you-from-all-directions scenes that you’re likely to come across.  That pivotal moment segues into shots of the outlaws riding through a glade of tall, thin trees, and that 30 seconds will absolutely blow you away if you are into cinematography.  The Long Riders is simply stronger than it ought to be, when you consider its lack of acting talent and the time period.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (1920x1080p), and shot using a Panaflex camera and lenses by Panavision, the video quality of this Blu-ray disc is pretty impressive for something from 1980 transferred into a modern medium.  The color and clarity are quite nice, especially considering the era in which the movie itself was filmed.

Audio – The film’s audio was done in English 5.1, with an option of 2.0.  The film is in English, with an option of English subtitles.  There are some excellent sound choices made during this film, from backing music to songs played as part of the story.  The sound transports audiences to the time period, and always feels well thought out.

Extras – There are many extras on the two discs of this Blu-ray set.  On the main disc, audio commentary can be played along with the feature, with insight from film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell, and Nathaniel Thompson.  There are also five trailers: The Long Riders, Death Rides a Horse, The Mercenary, Valdez is Coming, The Hunting Party.  Additional special features include new interviews with stars Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, Stacy Keach, James Keach, Randy Quaid, and Nicholas Guest, a new interview with director Walter Hill, a new interview with composer Ry Cooder, and a new interview with producer Tim Zinneman.  Outlaw Brothers: The Making of The Long Riders is an hour-long behind-the-scenes segment.  The Northfield Minnesota Raid: Anatomy of a Scene is a 15-minute breakdown.  And Slow Motion: Walter Hill on Sam Peckinpath in a 6-min featurette.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  You’re either a fan of older Westerns or you aren’t, but The Long Riders does a surprisingly solid job of reproducing the effective parts of the genre, while creating their own gimmick that makes the movie even better instead of forcing it to feel cheap.  It’s not often you get this level of b-celebrity together in one place, and even less often that a lack of talent still produces something worth watching.  Give credit to Walter Hill and his cinematography; they combined to create a film worth enjoying, and something that I hope others will give a chance; assuming you like this style, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – The Beguiled

Category : DVD Review

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Colin Farrell

Year: 2017

Had The Beguiled failed to change my opinion, I was ready to call Sofia Coppola exactly how I saw her; as bad a director as she is an actress.  Her films have always failed to capture me, to pull me to the side of the critics who rave about her work.  The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, A Very Murray Christmas; she has others, but these are the ones that stand out as much less engaging and strong than most would claim.  Also, I don’t understand her obsession with Kirsten Dunst, an actress who is nowhere near the top level, who does have a certain look/vibe/quality, but nothing that moves me to watch.  So I was prepared to completely call Coppola down had her newest movie not struck the right chord; not that my opinion would ruin her holidays, but this film was my personal last straw.  Turns out I need not have worried; The Beguiled is above average in every way.

The Movie

The Civil War, and no American is free from its repercussions.  Especially those living on the front, the boundary between North and South that is constantly changing hands, constantly a place of battle and of fear.  At Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies, Miss Martha keeps the school running even while war rages on, because for these girls home is worse; Atlanta, Charleston, any of the Southern cities that the Yankees have brought under attack.  So life goes on at the school in much the same way it always has; lessons, music, manners, French.  But the slaves have gone, most of the girls have left, and the sound of cannon fire fills the otherwise empty silence of morning, a constant reminder that change is swirling all around.

When one of the younger girls, Amy, searches the woods for mushrooms to eat and wild animals to care for, she stumbles upon a wounded soldier, a Northerner, a Blue Belly, an enemy of the household.  But out of Christian goodness she introduces herself and helps him to the Seminary, where Miss Martha welcomes him in, not cordially, but with an air of duty to a save a man’s life, no matter which side he’s on.  The teacher at the school, Edwina, is immediately intrigued by this man, someone who has been all over the world, a journeyman who has seen adventure.  And the eldest girl, Alicia, is interested too, for far simpler and natural reasons.  This unwanted guest soon becomes a member of the family, but his allegiances, and his manhood, will eventually cause serious problems.

I bite my tongue; The Beguiled is solid, and Sofia Coppola did a tremendous job.  Now, just to be fair, it was a book first, and then it was a 1971 Clint Eastwood/Don Siegel movie, and then she wrote this screenplay based on that screenplay based on that novel.  So you can see that there was a ton of base for her to work with, but that’s not to her discredit, you do what you can with what you’ve got and you don’t make excuses or apologies.  Coppola crafted a great version of this story, a very simple and beautiful and spooky version that should be applauded for what it didn’t do as much as for what it did.  The film refused to lose control; it stayed tightly wound, it was short, it was basic, and yet I found that to be very refreshing.  We didn’t need a ton of metaphor and complications, the plot was strong on its own, and Coppola left it largely alone, adding her style of course, but letting the movie speak for itself.

Perhaps the reason she could allow that is because the actors were all so committed, so perfectly cast in their roles and prepared to stay in their lanes.  No one stole the show, no one shoved another aside for the limelight, everyone came to do their job, and it was a job well done.  Kidman was great as Miss Martha, a little stoic, a little cold, but with waters running deep.  Dunst delivered one of the better performances I’ve seen from her, sexy and smart and subtle.  Farrell is extremely underrated, especially flourishing when he’s actually allowed to be Irish.  And the rest of the cast was much more than filler: Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke.  They all teamed up to bring a fascinating story to life, Coppola brought an artistic style to the plot, and the result was an oddly enjoyable 90 minutes.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (1080p HD Widescreen), and shot using an Arricam LT camera with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses and an Arricam ST camera with Zeiss Master Prime and Angenieux Optimo lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray isn’t as exceptional as you might imagine.  Coppola, I think, intentionally left the images slightly grainy, left the color slightly dark, in an attempt to convey the time period rather than the power of modern media.  And it worked, the film felt very authentic, and there are great visuals throughout shot with an intelligent eye, just don’t expect perfect picture quality.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, with an option of Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, and English Descriptive Video Service.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  Also, button sounds can be turned on or off from the sound menu.  The audio was very nice, with a great balance and an ear for period music, allowing it to naturally occur more often than not, setting the scene with a smart use of instruments and song.

Extras – There are a few special features on the disc, though not a ton.  A Shift in Perspective is a 7-minute behind-the-scenes look.  A Southern Style is a 5-minute featurette about keeping the film period correct while also incorporating artistic vision.  And there are six previews; Nocturnal Animals, Hyde Park on Hudson, Loving, Dallas Buyers Club, The Danish Girl, Suffragette.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended.  Sofia Coppola has changed my opinion, and perhaps even caused me to take a look back at some of her films, on the chance that I missed what she intended and could possibly see it now.  Again, this film was a smart choice, not an entirely original project, but I don’t fault anyone for borrowing, as long as the result is something I can enjoy.  Coppola weaved a cool tale, Kidman, Dunst, and Farrell were all superb, and The Beguiled becomes one of the Top Ten or Twenty of the year.  It isn’t reinventing the wheel, as the expression goes, but it is solid film-making with capable acting; it would be greedy to ask for more.  The video served its purpose, the audio was nice, and there are a few extras, so the technical side won’t dazzle you, but it does its job.  I’d like to go back and watch the original; I’d be interested to see why Coppola cut out the nudity, if she was intending to do this story from a female rather than a male perspective, but the fact that I’m so curious is a sign of a film well done.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Soul on a String

Category : DVD Review

Director: Yang Zhang

Starring: Quni Ciren, Kimba, Siano Dudiom Zahi

Year: 2016

Soul on a String is a Chinese/Tibetan, Western/Adventure, ancient/modern warrior’s tale, and these odd combinations are the reason that the film ultimately succeeds.  This feature is hard to define, it straddles many borders while paying homage to many styles, but it is made just well enough to elicit respect, when it could easily have gone down a baffling and far less appealing route.  Sacred stones, lone wolves, blood oaths, desperate journeys; this movie needed every one of its 140 minutes to tell a complicated story, but the result was surprisingly solid, especially when my expectations were so very low.

The Movie

Tabei has walked a crooked road, outpacing his demons for years, but they will finally catch up to him when he can flee no longer.  He owes many debts, has angered many men, and is being hunted by a pair of brothers who must settle a family feud.  The list of his enemies is long, and even in the Tibetan wilderness, every man runs out of hiding places eventually.  He will have to face his past transgressions before he can become a soul at peace, but his natural desire to escape always keeps him moving away from settling his debts, from confronting his mistakes head on.

When Tabei is struck by lighting after finding a beautiful stone inside the mouth of a deer, the hunter begins his journey to hell, a place he undoubtedly belongs.  But sacred priests revive him, draw him back from the underworld, and give him a mystical task; to take the precious stone to the holy land in the north, to drop his evil ways along the wayside of his path.  Tabei begins his adventure, but his old enemies are drawing closer, the stone attracts those who would profit from it, the vengeful brothers won’t give up their duty, and those he meets along the way will change his life in ways he never imagined.

Soul on a String works when perhaps it shouldn’t by combining multiple genres, melting multiple storylines, and cleverly manipulating time in such a way that audiences are left fascinated rather than bored.  It’s a Tibetan Western, but with broadswords as well as cowboys, landscapes devoid of any habitation as well as transistor radios.  Director Yang Zhang is able to weave stories throughout that compliment each other and make each other more important, to tell a timeless tale that feels so ancient, centered around a culture that has stayed constant for so many years, yet with modernity hovering around the periphery like a wild dog keeping out of the light of a fire.

It’s this skill that makes this film something more than a throwaway foreign flick, that keeps it grounded and gives it more life than it would appear to have at first glance.  There’s some real wit used to producing this story this way, with some twists thrown in for your enjoyment and to keep you on your toes.  A little humor is even scattered about to lighten the heavy load, to take us out of our heads for a moment, and to give us a taste of ridiculous reality.  It’s difficult to judge the acting, so much of the film is focused on the heavy mood and the slowly-plodding plot, but I would say all involved were solid in their performances.  And I can’t forget to mention the cinematography, the landscapes, wow, you might find yourself booking a flight to Tibet as soon as you can.  This is a real winner of a film without being something that you’ll remember for long, a cool piece of cinema that has surprises, but also never had a very high ceiling.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (Widescreen), the video quality of the DVD is excellent, with a real eye for landscape and detail that truly brings the story to life.  The costumes, the sets, the countryside; it’s a beautiful film to see, and the picture is clear throughout, a nice treat for those looking for strong cinematography and fine visuals.

Audio – The disc was done in 5.1 Surround, with an option of 2.0 Stereo.  The language is Tibetan, with an option of English subtitles.  The audio quality is high as well, with rich, natural music that fits the country perfectly.  The sound of the film is well-balanced and smooth.

Extras – The only special feature on the DVD is a short film, The Rifle, The Jackal, the Wolf, and the Boy, an 18-minute movie from Lebanon about a pair of brothers who use their father’s gun and the lesson learned from the experience.

Final Thoughts

RecommendedSoul on a String is a unique artwork that deserves appreciation, but I would stop short of calling it one of its year’s best.  What it does well it does very well, but it still falls short of pleasing American audiences at least, perhaps being designed for a different group, a different expectation.  It does surprise with its quality though, and does deliver a number of strong elements, from the visuals to the magnitude of its scope.  The video is admirable, the audio is fine, there aren’t many extras, so the technical side is a mixed bag.  Watch for something a little unusual, a little magical, and mostly mood-driven, a film that might not blow Hollywood out of the water, but that still boasts a powerful punch.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Spirited Away

Category : DVD Review

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden

Year: 2001

With the presence of Studio Ghibli, and with the emergence of Laika Entertainment, there exists real competition with Disney/Pixar for the animation market.  Disney will always be a hit with kids, delivering epic fantasies and stunning princesses.  Laika has taken a darker road, using stop-motion to tell us spooky tales.  And Ghibli, which has been producing in Japan for 30 years, gives audiences a unique perspective that the more artistic will appreciate while children will delight.  Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, The Wind Rises, When Marnie Was There; these are some of the most widely known and successful animated movies across the globe, and Ghibli’s contributions to even American entertainment can’t be denied.

The Movie

Young Chihiro must follow her parents to a new home, new town, new school, leaving her friends and her past behind.  She’s a timid girl, scared of everything, and not near up to the task of starting life anew in a strange place.  Her parents try to convince her that this is all an adventure, that wonderful new experiences await her around the corner, but she can’t see that, the pain of leaving is still too raw.  Chihiro can’t accept her changed life, but she will soon be forced to look around in a way she has never done before.  Taking a shortcut, her father drives the family up a forest road, which dead ends at an ancient-seeming building that is actually not as old as it seems.  As the family enters to explore, they cross the line between fantasy and reality.

An abandoned amusement park lies on the other side of the gateway, Chihiro demanding to leave immediately, her parents anxious to discover.  They trek through empty fields, a man-made river that was never filled, a fake town where people used to come for entertainment and festive food.  Actually, someone is cooking something, and Chihiro’s parents follow their noses until they find an unparalleled feast, gorging themselves on delights until they begin to resembled pigs rather than humans.  Chihiro finds herself in a world inhabited by spirits, a world in which her parents are fattened up for the slaughter, a world in which little makes sense and danger lurks around every corner.  She’ll make new friends who will help her on her mission to rescue her parents and to leave this magical world, but in the end she will have to find the courage to save herself.

Spirited Away is one of the most stunning films you will ever watch, with visuals that will burn themselves into your mind and will stay with you forever.  I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen still images like this, the screenshots from this film becoming a gallery of brilliant paintings with vast imagination as their origin, imagination that I can’t even fathom.  I hope these pictures do the movie justice, or simply do a search and see your yourself’; every scene is beautiful and original, every character worth turning into a statuette and placing on a shelf to view for years to come.  The visuals are by far the best part of this film, the artwork and the time put in to creating it are both vastly impressive.

The story, unfortunately, doesn’t hold its own.  I know that this film is highly regarded, and I don’t mean to suggest that it shouldn’t be.  I just couldn’t immerse myself in the story the way I wanted to, the way I though that I would be able to, not like I have with other Ghibli features at least.  Ponyo and Arrietty had plots that I just adored, whereas Mononoke and Spirited Away were more scattered, more chaotic, and probably a little more anime.  That’s not my genre, I won’t claim to know a ton about it, I just assume that I like my Ghibli slightly more American, and I’ll tale the blame for being conditioned by Hollywood animation into becoming so ethnocentric.  But I won’t insult myself completely; I love Ghibli, I love what they do, I guess I just enjoy some more than others.  This film is still spectacular, in a very literal sense, with music and mood and moments that will blow you away.  You just may need to discover which Ghibli style suits you best so you can enjoy their amazing movies to the maximum.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (1080p HD Widescreen), the video quality of this Blu-ray version of Spirited Away is among the best you will ever watch.  Its visuals are mind-blowing, and a reason alone to watch the film.  The color and the clarity are brilliant, as are the choices behind every scene and image.  The Blu-ray disc is exactly the media on which to watch this movie, but the film itself brings the beauty to the screen.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English 5.1 DTS HD, with an option of Japanese 5.1 DTS HD or French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, English, or French.  The film is dubbed from its original Japanese, but it loses nothing in translation.  The dialogue is simple and sometimes stilted, but that can be forgiven, and the soundtrack that backs the film is very strong.

Extras – The special features on this disc are few, and also self-explanatory.  Feature-Length Storyboards, Behind the Microphone, Original Theatrical Trailers, and TV Spots.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  I might be in the minority in claiming that Spirited Away is not amazing, but perhaps I need to clarify exactly what I mean.  Because the film did amaze me, how anyone could create such a world and then put in on my screen, that is purely unbelievable.  The images will stay with me, the music was delightful, the characters so diverse and special.  But I just couldn’t accept the story, couldn’t find the entertainment that so many others have found, and so I wasn’t mesmerized by the film as an entire entity.  I hope that how much I appreciated this movie shines through, and I also assume that you will understand your own taste level and expectations, that personal knowledge leading you to the right Ghibli film.  The video is outstanding, the audio is great, and there are a few special features to enjoy, so the technical aspects won’t disappoint.  Watch with confidence, enjoy something brilliant, and feast your eyes.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Ponyo

Category : DVD Review

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Frankie Jonas, Noah Lindsey Cyrus

Year: 2008

My first experience with Studio Ghibli was watching Princess Mononoke.  I had never seen Japanese animation before and was unprepared for the style, the action, and the dubbing.  It was an art form that I wouldn’t appreciate until years later, even though the studio was becoming famous worldwide.  Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Arrietty, The Wind Rises, When Marnie Was There; these are some of the most widely-known and successful animated movies of all-time, though Americans continue to prefer Disney, Pixar, and other local animation studies.  But the power of Ghibli can’t be denied, as their films are an artistic medium all on their own and continue to amaze us with wonderful stories brought to life with dazzling talent.

The Movie

Loosely based on The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Ponyo is a tale of love breaking all boundaries.  Sosuke is a young boy who lives near the sea with his mother & father.  His mother works at a nearby retirement home, his father is a sailor.  Sosuke happily relies upon his own independence and imagination, but when he happens to find a goldfish along the shoreline, he’s overjoyed to finally have a companion.  The trouble is, the fish he names Ponyo isn’t a fish at all, but the daughter of a powerful sorcerer and the Sea herself.  They need her to return to the ocean, to keep the balance between life on land and life under the sea, but Ponyo’s love for Sosuke is too powerful a thing to be set aside for the survival of the world as we know it.

Ponyo’s magic delights her new friend, but it also releases the forces of nature in ways that she cannot control.  Ponyo’s transformation into a human girl throws off the balance of the Earth, and causes the Moon’s misalignment, resulting in a storm the likes of which Sosuke’s tiny shipping village has never seen before.  Her mother and father are desperate to take her back to her home before total destruction ensues, but they also know that they cannot rip apart her love for this special little boy, or for a human world that is so full of delights.  Ponyo and Sosuke will have to work together to prove that their love for each other is stronger than the gravity that wishes to pull them apart, and that they are willing to fight for what they know feels right.

Studio Ghibli makes another masterpiece; what else is new.  Ponyo is just another beautiful depiction of a classic tale, a reimagining of a story we thought we knew so well.  It’s very, very different from Disney’s Little Mermaid, holding tight to the original content in some ways, and creating something completely new in others.  It’s as if that tale happened in modern Japan with children as the protagonists, the result becoming something better than you might predict.  The color, the brilliant artwork, the stunning visuals; breathtaking all.  And the cast was pretty impressive, apart from the two youngsters, who we’ll root for to make names of themselves as well.  Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Cloris Leachman, Betty White, Lily Tomlin; top that if you can.

I might have liked Arrietty just a touch more than Ponyo, appreciating its slow pace, deep moments, and phenomenal music.  But Ponyo held its own, will delight children, and impressed me as a singularly unique film in a world of recycled time-wasters.  It’s very different from Ghibli’s more mystical features, like Mononoke or Spirited Away, and always feels directed at children, with their interests at heart.  But I don’t see that as a bad thing; an animation studio, no matter how deep and adult their themes, should always remember the passion with which children appreciate animation, which is perhaps why adults can continue to love it no matter how old they get.  This is a powerful art form, Ghibli wielding its tools with fine and magical precision.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (1080p HD Widescreen), the video quality of this Blu-ray version of Ponyo is among the best you will ever watch.  Animated or not, this film is a spectacle to see, a marvel to sit down in front of.  The color, the imagination, the backdrops, the characters; it’s perfection all-around.  One of the most beautifully draw features you will ever see, Ponyo‘s visuals will blow you away.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in English 5.1 DTS HD, with an option of Japanese 5.1 DTS HD or French 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, English, or French.  The film is dubbed from its original Japanese, but it loses nothing in translation.  The dialogue is simple but clever, the voice-overs work in every way, the stars that got on board should be commended, and the music will delight you for years to come.

Extras – The special features on this disc are among the most numerous I have ever come across.  There are so very many, but thankfully they are also self-explanatory.  Feature-Length Storyboards, The Five Geniuses Who Created Ponyo, The Locations of Ponyo, Press Conference: Theme Song Announcement, Theme Song Music Video, Interview with Hayao Miyazaki, Interview with Toshio Suzuki, Opening Event at Hibiya Scala-Za Theater, Hayao Miyazaki Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan, Behind the Microphone, Creating Ponyo, Ponyo & Fujimoto, The Nursery, Producer’s Perspective: Telling the Story, Scoring Miyazaki, Original Theatrical Trailer, and TV Spots.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended. If there’s a more delightful modern animated flick out there, I’d like to see it, because Ponyo is currently the claimant to the crown.  It’s so magically delicious, and it broadcasts that joy to audiences of all ages.  It’s not the animation that Americans are most used to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be open-minded, and that doesn’t mean that some other form can’t be just as great as what comes out of the studios that we’re used to.  The music is something that stands out as well, a common theme woven through a soundtrack that will live in your brain for days, but you won’t want it to leave.  The video is amazing, the audio spectacular, and the extras more than numerous, so the technical aspects live up to the content.  For my money, this is one of Ghibli’s best, something for every age group, and a film that will simply brighten your day.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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DVD Review – Killing Hasselhoff

Category : DVD Review

Director: Darren Grant

Starring: Ken Jeong, David Hasselhoff, Jon Lovitz

Year: 2017

Ken Jeong has been steadily climbing the comedy ladder over the last fifteen years, but I have to wonder if he recently fell off the other side.  He started on TV with bit parts, received small roles in a few silly films, got his break with The Hangover, seemed to be picking up steam in Community, but since then everything he touches tanks.  Dr. Ken is the worst television show I’ve ever had the misfortune to accidentally watch, and Killing Hasselhoff is not much better; a weird, cameo-driven pseudo-thriller that doesn’t have an original bone in its lifeless, laughless body.  I think we might need to face it; Jeong isn’t actually funny.

The Movie

Chris is part of a very strange betting pool, in which each member forks up five hundred bucks each year, the pot growing to an astounding 500k.  What are they betting on?  Which celebrity will die first.  Chris has David Hasselhoff, who he is also hosting an event for at the night club that he owns, so it’s a wacky situation, helping a famous guy who you also hope will kick the bucket.  But it’s all in fun, no one means anyone any harm, and Chris is happy with his life.  He has a beautiful girlfriend, great buds, he loves his job, and things are looking up in the City of Angels.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, Chris also owes a lot of money to a dangerous loan shark, and when a misunderstanding at the club leads to a scandal, Chris loses his money, his friends, and his girl.  The shark wants to collect, his friends have lost their minds, his girlfriend leaves him, and Chris’ options have suddenly vanished.  How can he get a whole lot of money very quickly, enough to smooth over all the life-altering problems that just popped up at the same time?  Why, by killing David Hasselhoff, of course.  Hasselhoff is cool, sure, but his death is worth half a million, so Chris will have to grow a pair and off the ageless wonder that is the Hoff.

I just watched Baywatch, so it was fun to see Hasselhoff yet again, when I hadn’t really expected to see him any more for the rest of my (or his) life.  But he keeps appearing, which I’m actually glad of; the guy does have a special quality that is still likeable after all these years.  He doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is quite refreshing, and his enjoyment of his own career makes us enjoy it too.  He’s the highlight of this film, along with an extremely funny kiwi, Rhys Darby, who steals the show in his few scenes.  Will Sasso also makes an appearance, and I’ll never forget his MADtv performances, so he was also a welcome sight.

You know who wasn’t?  Ken Yeong.  I don’t think it’s even arguable, the guy just isn’t funny.  It’s like he’s not even trying to be funny anymore, like he’s decided to be a straight man with comedians around him.  Problem is, he can’t act, either, so I really have no idea what he’s doing here and who’s paying him to be on camera.  Jim Jeffries was equally terrible, and those two were lucky that the cameos saved their bacon, at least to some extent.  WWE Studios made this movie, which is weird, but it actually suited it, because you can’t take either seriously, and both are a waste of your time.  If the Hoff hadn’t saved the day, Killing Hasselhoff would have been a complete and utter failure.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, the video quality of this DVD is mediocre at best.  Absolutely no attention was paid to the quality of the picture or the integrity of the visuals; it’s an average DVD, filmed in an average manner, with nothing special about it.

Audio – The disc was done in English Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitle choices in English SDH, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, and Thai.  That’s it for the audio, and it’s about as nondescript as the video.  The sound is passable, the soundtrack is forgettable, and no cares were given.

Extras – The only special feature is an 8-minute collection of deleted scenes.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  This film needed a different lead, and then probably a different writer and director.  The concept was humorous, the Hoff was badass, there were a few funny scenes, but ultimately there wasn’t enough done right to make this a watchable movie.  Ken Yeong may have already peaked and may be on his way down, which is too bad, because he seemed to have some potential.  Maybe he needs to switch to writing, but I’m not sure that would help.  The video here is not outstanding, the audio is only OK, and the extras fail to impress, so look elsewhere for technical marvels.  Actually, look elsewhere for comedy too, unless you are ready, willing, and able to be in a very forgiving mood.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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