Category Archives: DVD Review

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DVD Review – LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Aquaman – Rage of Atlantis

Category : DVD Review

Director: Matt Peters

Starring: Dee Bradley Baker, Cristina Milizia, Grey Griffin

Year: 2018

Alongside the releases of The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and The Lego Ninjago Movie, Warner Bros. and DC have pumped out a series of Lego DC Comics Super Heroes films, straight-to-video, that play on our kids’ love for all things LEGO, all things superhero, and all things awesome.  This genre will suck you in if you let it; what’s not to love about your favorite characters in brick form on epic adventures?  But that doesn’t mean that the quality lives up to the anticipation of seeing your dreams come true.  These films stay out of theatres for a reason, and ultimately they’re just for your sons and daughters to enjoy, as they taste comic book action for the first time, and in a package that’s much less violent, much more silly, and just plain fun, at least as long as you’re under the age of 10.

The Movie

The Justice League is Earth’s first, last, and constant defense against the evils of aliens and bad guys everywhere.  It is made up of the mightiest heroes in the world, and there is no danger that they will not face for the good of mankind.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Green Lantern; there’s not a better team to be found, and no evildoer better test them.  But their most tentative member, Aquaman, isn’t exactly sure how he fits in, how his water skills translate to battle on land, or just how he can coexist with these legends.  He wants to prove himself by saving the day once in a while, but he makes more mistakes than he does highlights, and so each mission is a toss up.  He knows he can do the job, it’s just a matter of time, and of mistakes along the way.

The newest Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz, stepping in for Hal, is also nervous about how she fits into the group.  She can’t quite get her power ring under control; it does what it wants to, not what she tells it to, and she doesn’t really know how to command it anyway.  She’s not very helpful in a firefight, but she wants to be, and again, perhaps it’s just a matter of time.  But Green and Aqua better get their game faces on, because trouble is coming whether they’re ready or not.  In Atlantis, Aquaman’s stepbrother, Ocean Master, is planning a coup.  Along with his buddy, a Red Lantern named Atrocitus, he plans to take control of the city, the people, and the kingdom.  The Justice League will have to respond quickly and smartly if they want to avert disaster, and they’ll have to work together if they want to win.

There’s something undeniably fun about these Lego movies; it’s like our childhood dreams come to life.  You imagined storylines as you played, but now you can see them on screen, and that’s something special, so thank you WB and DC, for creating something awesome and entertaining and transporting.  Also, kids love these movies.  Obviously the theatrical releases were the big deals, Chris Pratt and Will Arnett and all that, but these silly Lego videos have been a big hit with kids too, because they basically deliver they same content, just at a markedly poorer quality.  Still, I doubt you’ll find a 6-10-year-old who wouldn’t enjoy these stories, especially if they are anything like my son, who loves superheroes but hasn’t seen the darker, more adult versions quite yet.

But the special thing about The Lego Movie and those like it is that they appeal to adults as well; these DC Comics Super Heroes movies really don’t.  They play more like episodes of a Netflix original series than real films, and perhaps that’s as much as should be expected of them; they never claim to be the animated movie of the year.  Aquaman is a throwaway installment, not a stand alone movie, a bit of a disappointment if you’re expecting something strong, a bit of enjoyable fluff if you don’t have very high expectations.  The jokes fall flat, the action is predictable, the story is muddled, the characters are shells; it seems ridiculous to pick it apart too much, because it is what it is, but other films of this style have been successful, so there’s a chance for it to be better, it just isn’t.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (1080 HD 16×9), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is acceptable but not stellar.  It’s a low-budget, straight-to-video production, so no one is expecting Disney/Pixar, and that’s exactly what we don’t get.  It’s a mediocre display of the Lego action we’ve started to enjoy, not on par with its contemporaries, but done well enough to entertain the kids if they’re already into the genre.

Audio – The disc was done in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with an option of Dolby Digital French 5.1 and Dolby Digital Spanish 5.1.  Also, subtitles are available in English SDH, French, and Spanish.  The audio is completely forgettable, without a soundtrack to remember or awesome effects that stick with you after you power down.  The sound simply wasn’t important at all, and no effort was put in to make it so.

Extras – There are no bonus features on the Blu-ray, but you do get a cool limited edition Jessica Cruz mini-figure.

Final Thoughts

Rent It. If your child has ever stumbled upon these movies in the Lego section of your local library, picked one up, and enjoyed it at home, then Aquaman will deliver all that they expect and enjoy.  It’s goofy, it’s bumbly, it’s action-packed, you know all the characters, and at 77 minutes it’s a quick and easy watch for a rainy afternoon.  I just can’t recommend that parents watch along with their kids.  The best animated features can be loved by the whole family; this isn’t that.  This is something for your kids, something disposable, something a little longer than an episode of a dumb show but without the content of a real film.  The video is only OK, the audio isn’t noteworthy, and there aren’t any special features, so don’t expect anything from the technical aspects, but hey, you do  get a mini-figure.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Hope Springs

Category : DVD Review

Director: Mark Herman

Starring: Colin Firth, Heather Graham, Minnie Driver

Year: 2003

Mark Herman went from directing movies in the 90s that no one ever heard of, to writing/directing a star-studded rom/com in Hope Springs, to adapting a mesmerizing drama for the screen in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  Then he simply stopped.  From unknown to embarrassing to award-winning to just done; I guess it’s smart to go out on top, especially when your previous project was an utter disaster and you don’t want to risk that again.  Because that’s what this movie is, a complete disasterpiece, and I don’t mean in the same way as Dante’s Peak.  I don’t know what Herman was thinking when he read this novel, turned it into a film, and cast these actors, but he could not possibly have been in his right mind, since this is a feature not even a mother could love, a dirty smudge on the landscape of cinema that ought simply to be wiped off.

The Movie

Colin is a sad Englishman far from home by choice, looking for an escape from a broken heart and a failed relationship.  The girl who broke his spirit, Vera, also broke off their engagement, and is already engaged to another man.  The wedding invitation is what sent Colin over the edge, and across the pond, as he travels to the States in order to leave the past behind.  Or, perhaps, just to wallow in his own self pity, but that’s understandable.  Looking at a map, he picks a town called Hope as his destination, a lovely little town in New England that he imagines will serve as a springboard for a new life, or at least a temporary escape from his problems.  But, of course, his issues reside in his own head, and no quaint village is going to quiet down the racing doubt and utter despair that follow him on vacation.

First step; find a hotel room, and there’s one that features an owner who also happens to own an odd face, so that’s where Colin heads.  He’s an artist, usually portraits, and he has a mind to draw the people of this lovely town, perhaps create an exhibit of his work to showcase his medium and his melancholy.  And since he’s so depressed, the hotel owner’s wife calls up her friend Mandy, who is a caregiver, to come over and talk to Colin, see if she can help him with his problems.  Mandy is a hands-on type of woman, always positive and always lively, the exact opposite of Colin at the moment.  However, they say opposites attract, and the pair begin to fall for each other at once.  But Vera won’t let her ex get away that easy, she wants him for herself, and she’s traveled many a mile to bring him back home, no matter which blond American wants to keep him for her own.

I don’t often call a film a smudge, but I’m not sure what other term I can use to describe such an ugly outing, something that sullies the movie-going experience just by existing.  Hope Springs is a feature to steal the hope from your heart, to make you unsure about turning on the television ever again, it’s that bad.  Pedantic, pathetic, problematic, and just plain poor; this film is an embarrassment to a genre that is already pretty awful.  This style isn’t utterly impossible, there are a few good rom/coms, but Hope Springs isn’t one of them, it’s instead the exact example of what not to do.  Don’t make your characters despicable, don’t forget to bring something original to the table, and for god’s sake, don’t ever cast Heather Graham in a starring role; you’ll live to regret it.

Graham is one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen on screen, at least when she’s called upon to star; it’s just something she’s not capable of doing.  I’m not talking about Rollergirl, she can be quaint when she wants to be, but her role here even tries to produce something lovable and dim like that and can’t, because she doesn’t have enough ability to pull it off again.  I consider myself an expert on Graham, mainly because I’ve watched the entirety of Gray Matters and survived, which is no small feat.  I hate to pick on her too much, but I don’t even care that she gets semi-naked in this film; nothing is worth her performance.  Incidentally, Minnie Driver also takes her clothes off, which is a perk, but she’s also a great actress, even if she isn’t called upon to do any real acting in this movie.  Even Colin Firth gets in on the skin, but I doubt anyone is rushing to the theatre for that, and his character is so sniveling and sad that you can’t possible enjoy his talent, even if you know it’s there somewhere.  All three fail to make the story captivating, but in their defense, there’s not much to work with; this is perhaps the worst script ever written and a terrible idea from start to finish.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the Blu-ray is fine for the film’s original year and for the transfer, but far from anything you’d want to write home about.  The clarity and the picture are OK, there’s nothing glaringly wrong, it’s just not special, and the cinematography is questionable at best.  The scenes feel more like skits than actual planned out cinematic sequences, which is not what you want.

Audio – The disc was done in English with an option of English subtitles.  That’s it, that’s all she wrote, and I doubt we’d want to hear this dialogue in any other language.  The conversations were so terrible they made you feel as if you should have been hired to write the lines instead; you couldn’t have done a worse job.

Extras – The only special features on this Blu-ray are a Making Of featurette (7 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage) and a group of trailers (6 in total).

Final Thoughts

Skip It. Hope Springs can at least go down as an example of what not to do, and I guess that’s helpful for educational reasons, if not enjoyable for any other.  Whatever can go wrong did go wrong, which isn’t exactly the theory, but close enough; I think we’ve established a new law of science, wherein creating something that’s the opposite of chemistry results in a very bad smell.  The acting, the story, the writing, the music, the setting, the general assumption that audiences are as dumb as they look; there isn’t anything to hang your hat on if you’re anyone in charge of this film, it was an all-around disappointment.  The video and audio are only OK, there aren’t many extras, so don’t look to the technical aspects to save you, you won’t get any help there.  The only thing to do is to stay far, far away, in another galaxy would be fine, as long as you don’t subject yourself to this film.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – On Chesil Beach

Category : DVD Review

Director: Dominic Cooke

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle

Year: 2017

I feel like we’ve watched Saoirse (like inertia) grow up, watched her change and mature and become something truly remarkable.  She’s made herself in an elite actress, this Irish girl with the heavy accent who can quite literally do anything.  From Atonement to Lady Bird, she’s proven that no film is too challenging, and from this point on audiences need to constantly be on the lookout for movies starring this brilliant young star.  On Chesil Beach caught my attention doubly, first for starring Ronan, and second for being based on an Ian McEwan novel by the same name.  McEwan is, of course, the author of Atonement, so there’s another connection, and another reason to watch.

The Movie

The year is 1962, the place is England, and the occasion is a honeymoon.  Newlyweds Edward and Florence have just come to the sea, to Chesil Beach, for their wedding night, which promises to be quite the experience.  Neither young lover has ever been with another before, has ever gone further than kissing with each other, for that matter.  This is still a conservative time, when couples attend teas to meet parents, join family businesses, and wait till they are married to do anything risque.  Edward and Florence are scared out of their minds at the thought of performing sexually when they finally find themselves alone at the end of the evening, a time they both might secretly hope never comes.

They met at a rally at university when Edward randomly walked in off the street; he so tousled and unsophisticated, she so driven and confident.  Edward was in school to study history, having always loved learning and reading and time to himself, often surrounded by nature, naming birds and plants with stunning accuracy.  His father was a principle, his mother an artist, and Edward never imagined he’d win a girl like Florence to his side.  She was of a higher class, going to school for music, and was of remarkable intelligence.  Her quartet was extremely talented, and she always dreamed up becoming a world-renown group someday.  Florence never dreamed of marrying such a unpolished boy, but true love strikes hard.  Now, as they come together to fulfill their marriage vows by worshiping each other with their bodies, old memories float to the surface, accompanied by brutal and relentless fears.

I am reminded of Room, both the novel and the film, for a very specific reason; otherwise this story and that don’t really have that much in common.  The similarity is the length of the book and how it is adapted into a movie.  Room should have been a short story or a novella, the content simply didn’t fill enough space to warrant a full novel.  It could have been half as long and gotten the point across better, there was simply too much that we didn’t need and so much fluff that should have been cut out.  The same applies here; On Chesil Beach the book is ridiculously formatted with giant margins so it can fill its pages, without the meat to make those pages worth their weight.  It could have and should have been shorter, much shorter, which would have made it much better.  And also, in both cases, the movie version is improved by being held to time restraints, by being edited down to what matters.

Still, the film adaptation is far from perfect.  The end insists on showing us old versions of Edward and Florence, terrible makeup and all, which is completely pointless and mood-ruining.  I didn’t mind the flashbacks to when the characters were younger, but I hated the gray hair and the wrinkles that can’t help but look fake, and were absolutely unneeded.  Also, Saoirse was not on her game, which was shocking.  Her accent was weak, her role was limited, and when not in those flashbacks she just wasn’t strong.  Billy Howle was though, he was tremendous, no matter the time period.  For someone I’m not overly familiar with, he’s now forced himself onto my radar, because there is no doubt that his talent shone.  The film has moments, there are times that work, but overall there are more negatives than positives.  Ronan just doesn’t wow, and the source material isn’t great; stick with Atonement for better of both.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (1080p HD Widescreen) and shot using Arricam LT and ST cameras with Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo lenses, the video quality of the Blu-ray is excellent, with vivid color and crisp visuals, a delight to watch.  A lot of yellows and browns, greens and blues were used in creating this movie, which really brightened up what could have been a very heavy story.  The picture clarity is great, and the cinematography is as well, with a good eye toward English living in this period.

Audio – The disc was done in English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, with available Descriptive Video Service.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  Button Sounds can be turned on or off in this menu.  The audio of the film was quite excellent, with a great, classical soundtrack and a nice underlying score.  The sound was balanced nicely as well, with no problems at all, and a very consistent flow of music throughout.

Extras – There are only two special features on the Blu-ray: Deleted Scenes (7 total) and The Story Behind On Chesil Beach (9-minutes of behind the scenes footage).

Final Thoughts

Recommended. This film could have been better, but perhaps the ceiling given it by the novel wouldn’t have ever allowed for much anyway.  The source material is almost incomplete, being both too short and too long at the same time, a very weak story that didn’t work as well as I’m sure it did in the mind of the author.  So the film already had something to fight against, but the time constraint may actually have been a positive, in that situation.  Unfortunately, Ronan did not deliver her best performance, and the movie will be forgotten sooner than its creators would have hoped.  Contrarily, the video and the audio were both excellent, while the special features were less exciting.  There is a real romance here, there are some beautiful moments; the final product just isn’t the spectacular drama we were hoping for.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆- Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Color of Night

Category : DVD Review

Director: Richard Rush

Starring: Bruce Willis, Jane March, Ruben Blades

Year: 1994

That this movie exists is the first surprise; what isn’t surprising is that it’s so awful.  I must have missed its release in 1994, and I would have been too young to see it anyway, although right on the cusp of wanting to.  I can remember a time that seeing skin on USA Network was a big deal, and this film has that sort of feel, a too-shabby-to-be-anywhere-else vibe that’s much more becoming of a TV movie than an actual feature film.  It comes across as a terrible idea gone even more terribly wrong, something you’d expect to see at 2am one summer night, not starring Bruce Willis and being advertised as a legitimate entity.  It’s not, it’s really not, even if you remember this movie fondly from when you were a teenager and simply wanted to see Jane March naked.  You still can, this Blu-ray is a thing you can watch, you may just want to avert your eyes for literally every other scene.

The Movie

Pyschoanalyst Bill Capa has a nice practice going in New York, has good mentors, feels confident in his inherent competition with other therapists, has a full client list, and a large office in a high rise that was built to impress.  But the death of a patient right before his eyes will derail his gilded path and send him down a spiraling tunnel toward rock bottom.  All of a sudden he can’t keep it together, can’t stop seeing that girl laying dead at his feet.  And oddly enough, he can no longer see the color red, the color of blood, it has turned to gray, and a part of his emotional side has gone as dead as his senses.  Because he needs a break from the stress, Bill heads to L.A. for a little vacation to see his college buddy Bob Moore, a fellow psychologist who has also done rather well for himself.

However, instead of helping Bill with his problems, Bob has a situation of his own that he needs help with.  He has a regular Monday night group therapy session, and he thinks that someone in the group has been threatening his life.  It’s up to Bill to find out who it is, all while attempting to recover from the death of his own patient.  And it gets worse.  Before Bill can crack the case, Bob is murdered, probably by someone in the group, each of whom has serious issues that make them untrustworthy at best.  Sondra is a sex addict, Clark is an obsessive compulsive, Buck can’t get over a personal tragedy, Casey has anger problems, and Richie can’t identify his gender.  Bill’s own life will soon be in danger, as a mysterious young woman enters his world and ignites his desires, only to lead him toward self destruction.

This really is the perfect late night, channel-surfing, steamy thriller, except that it’s supposed to be an actual movie, and it wholeheartedly is not.  It’s a joke, a spoof, right?  Except that it isn’t, and that’s what makes it so horrible; thanks Buena Vista.  All the pieces are there for a Red Shoe Diaries or Silk Stockings episode (why are people obsessed with feet?), but Color of Night is supposed to be something more, while clinging to the exact same recipe.  Los Angeles, a wealthy professional, a host of odd characters, a sexy twig, car chases, a wise-cracking cop, sex in a pool; this really is the worst genre ever, when you start to dissect it into parts.  It’s like a hot tub; you can only enjoy it with your clothes off and if you don’t think too much about it.

A lot of people will remember Jane March for this film, because she’s all kinds of naked, which is really the only reason to watch, if you’re still hanging on to a crush you had for her when you were 14 in 1994.  Bruce Willis gets kind of nude too, which is more shocking, considering what a superstar he is these days, but I guess everyone’s gotta start somewhere.  What shocks me more than the skin is how anyone in their right mind could have cast Willis as a psychologist, how they could possibly have thought he would be believable as an intelligent person.  I like him just fine, but this role is ridiculous enough without casting him in it.  And then there’s the rest of the cast, which is just odd: Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, Brad Dourif from Lord of the Rings, Lance Henriksen from Aliens, Kevin J. O’Connor from The Mummy, Eriq Le Salle and Kathleen Wilhoite from ER.  It’s a bizarre who’s who, which only makes the movie more out of place than it already is.  The tropes run rampant, the apartments are outrageous, the California nights drip with sweat, the detectives crack jokes, and we all get a little dumber watching what is basically an anti-filmmaking clinic with its very own theme song.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (1920x1080p) and shot using an Arriflex 535 camera, the video quality of this Blu-ray disc is as poor as you would imagine coming out of the 90s, especially when it really doesn’t seem like much effort was put in to making this film any sort of good.  There are a few moments when they highlight the color red, per Bill’s weird condition, and the death at the beginning looks cool, but other than that everything in this movie is a mess.  I actually wish it had been fuzzier, so I would have witnessed less.

Audio – The disc was done in English, with a choice between 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo.  That’s it as far as the audio in concerned, and the only other thing that needs mentioning is the theme song.  Well, that and a continuing thread of music throughout that wasn’t too terrible.  The theme song, with words, plays at the end, and it’s comedic gold.  Also, it gives the film its title, which I don’t remember being referenced otherwise, so there you go.

Extras – The only bonus features on the Blu-ray are audio commentary by the screenwriter and an animated image gallery.  On the director’s cut, which comes with this disc and is 18 minutes longer (basically sex scenes), you can listen to commentary by the director and access trailers.

Final Thoughts

Skip It.  The story and screenplay for this film were written by Billy Ray, who would go on to become a well-known professional after this initial foray.  Again, it’s OK to start at the bottom and work your way up, no shame in that, it’s just weird to look back on the crap people once voluntarily connected themselves with; you wonder if they regret it now or if it was the start they needed.  Either way, this strange mix of smut and sensationalism exists, and I’ve now watched it, for which I am wholly disappointed with myself.  I didn’t need to see Bruce Willis roll a remote controlled tank up Jane March’s naked torso in the bath, nor hear him vocalize the utterly abysmal line “In the what-I-wait-for department, you’re it baby.”  I almost gave up right there, but I finished, which allows me to impart some wisdom to you; don’t watch this movie.  The video is bad, the audio is funny, the special features are few; basically there are no redeeming qualities.  You might have seen Color of Night when you were younger; you don’t want to go back and relive it, trust me.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – 7 Days in Entebbe

Category : DVD Review

Director: Jose Padilha

Starring: Daniel Brühl, Rosamund Pike, Ben Schnetzer, Eddie Marsan

Year: 2018

7 Days in Entebbe is the poor man’s Argo; a 70s hostage crisis overseas that we already know the ending to but are curious to see play out anyway, only this time there’s no Ben Affleck to get people into the theatre.  This copy of that success has its own problems and its own strengths, its own method of delivering the story that we can read about on Wikipedia but choose not to.  I think, because Argo won Best Picture and its cast was star-studded, we hold it up on a pedestal, but 7 Days in Entebbe is almost as good, if not nearly as publicized, with a plot that’s hard not to become sucked into.  This film does choose a quieter, more character-driven and introspective direction, but that’s not to its discredit, and its under-performance since its release in March is not entirely warranted.

The Movie

Since the acknowledgment of the Israeli state around the globe, the people of Palestine have become disenfranchised from their own home, the anger at which has resulted in terrorist organizations forming throughout the world.  Paramilitants and freedom fighters from a variety of ethnic and political backgrounds joined together to help the cause of Palestine, shouting to have their voices heard, killing to get their point across.  Wilfried Bose and Brigitte Kuhlmann are radical German socialists who want to throw a grenade into the greater, capitalist consciousness, to wake people up to injustices across the planet.  If they have to do that with fear, so be it, with violence even; they and their allies have committed to seeing this twisted form of freedom through to the end, no matter what.

The latest plan to get Western attention directed to the battles in the Middle East is to hijack a Paris plane bound for Tel Aviv.  The plane will then be flown to Uganda where Idi Amin has given his blessing to a hostage situation.  If Israel will release its political prisoners, the hijackers will release the Jews they have kidnapped.  If not, they will be killed two at a time, starting with the children.  The German radicals and their friends believe that they will back the Israeli government into a corner from which they cannot escape, while at the same time the Israeli government prepares to hold to its stance of never negotiating with terrorists.  For the prisoners, this will be the longest week of their lives, as they wait out the struggle between a nation and a small force that wants the system that created nations to crumble.

I liked Argo as much as the next guy, but it didn’t blow me away, and I definitely don’t think it was Best Picture caliber; honestly it wasn’t a very strong year, with a lot of “quiet good” but not of ton of “amazing”, at least in the group of films that dominated the conversation.  This is a hard plot to make work flawlessly; it’s dated, it’s already known, it’s inherently melodramatic, and I wouldn’t touch the genre in general if I were a director.  To tackle a similar story like 7 Days in Entebbe, even years after it was done well, is a pretty bold move, because it’s hard enough already even before they start in on you with the comparisons.  But somehow this film worked, or at least I think so, which differs from the opinion of most.  It doesn’t get very high ratings or great reviews, but this real life drama is flying under the radar where it doesn’t belong.

Entebbe isn’t heart-pounding, and that’s its biggest critique.  Those who know the style wanted big escape scenes, edge-of-your-seat close calls, really focused tension when shit is about to hit the fan.  In that way, this movie went the opposite direction, but I somehow still felt myself being drawn in to the tale.  Instead of the intensity of the situation, we get very specific looks at the people involved; I guess you could say that this is a character study.  The action is mostly quiet, the emphasis is on the participants; their backstories, their lives, their fears.  There is some buildup, but mostly we know how it’s going to end, the point of the story becomes learning about why this was done and what it can teach us going forward.  Bruhl and Pike are a good team of villains; just a touch of humanity and sadness, without making terrorists look like heroes.  Schnetzer and Marsan were good on the periphery; adding depth to the tale and an outside perspective.  The direction was clean, and perhaps the element I enjoyed most was the dance.  There was an interpretive dance featured throughout with a minor character as one of the dancers, and it was very moving, flowing nicely with the plot to really make a strong point.  I simply liked Entebbe more than most, for the quality of its acting, the intricacies of its story, and the execution of its moral.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (1080p HD Widescreen), the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is very strong.  It boasts solid visuals but also an authentic feel, with some archival footage and a really strong reenactment overall.  Authenticity was important to the film, and it showed, it was like seeing history; brutal, complicated, not clean, not stunning, sometimes depressing, sometimes hard to watch.

Audio – The disc was done in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, with an option of English Descriptive Video Service.  Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.  Button sounds can be turned on or off.  The audio was serviceable, not spectacular, without memorable moments to hold onto after the credits roll.  There was a nice balance of sound as it weaved through the dialogue, but nothing stellar was ever needed for the action.

Extras – There are three bonus features on the Blu-ray: The Entebbe Team, a 7-minute behind the scenes segment, Inside the Raid, another 7-minute behind the scenes look, and Additional Dance Sequences, 5 minutes of bonus dance footage.

Final Thoughts

Highly Recommended7 Days in Entebbe has been disparagingly called a slow, listless thriller with no speed or surprise, but I think that’s exactly why I liked it.  It took the regular, true life, historic thrill ride recipe and took away the energy, but somehow in a good way.  The story became about the people, not the context, and definitely not about the action.  We saw the crisis through the eyes of the humans who were really there, and that’s a powerful thing.  We also saw how little things have changed in 40 years, but that’s a topic for another time.  That’s another plus about this movie; it opens topics up for conversation, even uncomfortable ones, and that’s never a bad thing.  I think the director and the writer stopped just short of making the terrorists relatable and pushing us to feel empathic for them, for which I’m thankful, because I think that would have been going too far, but at least they were able to sculpt real villains, instead of complete shells.  The video quality is high, the audio quality a touch lower, and the extras falling somehow in middle range, so don’t expect too much from the technical aspects, just appreciate what you can get.  And don’t let this film completely pass you by; it’s worth more than that.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Ismael’s Ghosts

Category : DVD Review

Director: Arnaud Desplechin

Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marion Cotillard

Year: 2017

The films of French director Arnaud Desplechin are tied together in ways I can’t comprehend; there’s a scene in this movie in which a filmmaker who is losing control is seen to have an attic filled with pictures and strings and connections and models, basically the artistic headspace of a mad genius, and I imagine Desplechin working in the same way.  You have to be a little mad to be so talented, it’s like true vision and manic production lie under a contaminated surface that artists must choose to reach through if they want to become famous.  Anyway, Desplechin sees things and plots and metaphors that we don’t, and he captures them on camera; they just don’t always make sense to us.  Such is the case with Ismael’s Ghosts, a movie that I can’t begin to make heads or tails of, and frankly don’t want to take the century to figure out.

The Movie

Ismael is a filmmaker, a relatively famous one at that, but a bit of an unhappy soul, an extreme man who can be wonderfully spontaneous and outgoing or filled with rage and melancholy.  He is dating Sylvia, a woman who is his polar opposite; a scientist, a pragmatist, religious, prudish.  But she opens up to Ismael, he finds happiness in his relationship with her, and the two have a pleasant life together.  Ismael was married at a young age to an unusual girl named Carlotta, the daughter of a visionary director who Ismael respects, Henri Bloom.  The two men still love and talk about Carlotta, who ran away twenty years ago never to appear again, her death made official but the grief over her disappearance as yet undying.  Still, life goes on, people change, and movies are made, regardless of past problems.

Ismael is working on a new film, a story inspired by his brother Ivan who works for the government in embassies overseas.  The character Ivan Dedalus is a spy, or at least people think he is, and he has adventure in his life, something that Ismael lacks a great deal.  But while writing the script at a vacation home, with Sylvia along for company, Ismael will be visited by adventure in a form he thought he’d never see again.  Carlotta comes back, twenty years older but still beautiful, and threatens to tear Ismael’s current life apart.  Sylvia is concerned, obviously, and Ismael is conflicted; he still loves this girl, after all the pain she caused him by leaving, and can’t be sure what to do next, what the smart decision would be.  Ismael will face his past, which destroys his present, and puts the future of his film in jeopardy.

Ismael’s Ghosts is everything you’ve imagined over-dramatic French cinema to be.  Hopefully you’ve pre-judged a foreign film before and been surprised by how much you were wrong, but that won’t be the case here; Desplechin delivers every stereotype and melodramatic moments that you’ve been dreading would appear.  Drinking wine, screaming the lines, a chopped up plot, overlong run time, voracious affairs, female nudity, a story within a story, gunshots, spies, little cars; I don’t know if he was intending to create something so obscenely Franco, but he succeeded.  It’s all the cliches rolled up in one movie, and the result is a very difficult watch.  IMDb has the film’s length at 114 minutes, the DVD is 134, but I’m not sure it matters; any amount of time was too much for this messy of a movie.

I have seen one other Desplechin film, My Golden Days, and I didn’t really enjoy that one either; it was tedious and absurd, much like Ismael’s Ghosts.  Critics seem to like his movies though, and I don’t understand; they are too much work to watch and not enough reward.  I don’t mind artistic-minded features, please don’t get me wrong, and I like French dramas, the weight of their emotion.  But Desplechin just gets it wrong, misses the mark, and I’ll never quite understand him.  The acting in this film is fine, better than fine, very good even, but it fails to matter, because the movie’s story and its presentation become much too loud and distracting and wrong-headed.  Amalric is passionate, Cotillard is troubled, but I’ll never be a fan of Gainsbourg, she’s much too difficult to watch, much too dark to ever convince me that her characters have more than one side.  The timeline jumps all over, the scenes from the film in Ismael’s head are unnecessary, I wanted a simpler drama to witness, and from start to finish nothing pleased me in the way that it was meant to, nothing stood out as something worth my time and emotional effort.  If you want a quality film with two common actors, watch From the Land of the Moon, starring Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel; it’s heavy but in all the right ways, not like Ismael’s Ghosts.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (Widescreen), the video quality of the film is fine, but not the focal point.  I mentioned the run time; apparently this DVD is the “director’s cut”, which is not specified on the case, and I’m sure didn’t help with the flow and feeling of the movie, which would have been hard to dive into anyway, even at a shorter length.  The cinematography is never a noticeable attribute to the film, the visuals fail to capture audiences who are simply being overwhelmed by powerful dialogue or confused by yet another time jump.

Audio – The DVD was done in French 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish.  The audio quality is middle-of-road, with nothing to comment on negatively.  There was a nice thread of music throughout that aided in developing the sadness of the situation, so some credit should go to the team who created the score, because that does stand out, when none of the other audio did.

Extras – The only special feature on the disc is Also From Magnolia, three trailers for other Magnolia films.

Final Thoughts

Rent It. With scattered, unfocused, and overbearing themes, Ismael’s Ghosts is a job, not a pleasure, and shouldn’t be watched flippantly.  Those who already enjoy this director could take a stab at it; they should be familiar with his style and his penchant for melodrama.  I simply don’t enjoy his methods, and I get lost trying to follow his ideas, instead of losing myself in the moment.  His artistry is undeniable, but sometimes you don’t like the art that you can see is strong, it just doesn’t hit you in the place it is supposed to and where others seem to feel it.  The acting is solid, the music is nice, but the film lags behind its own goals, doesn’t resolve, and too often meanders around like a lost old man trying to find where he put his glasses.  The video is fine, the audio is good, there aren’t many extras, so the technical side is a mixed bag, and shouldn’t really be relied upon to impress you.  I would recommend that most people pass on this movie; rent only if you’re confident in what you already like.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Rampage

Category : DVD Review

Director: Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Year: 2018

When your only real and necessary goal is to be better than San Andreas, you’ve succeeded in placing the bar so low that almost anything you produce will be a stunning hit by comparison.  And I’m only knocking San Andreas slightly; it was an entertaining disaster flick, though not even close to a commendable disasterpiece.  Rampage only had to be marginally better, only needed a slightly better script, only had to cast slightly better actors to work alongside the natural charisma that is The Rock, in order for us to stand and applaud.  I’d say it got about halfway over the line it was aiming to cross before falling limply on its side and passing out, which is just another way to say that Brad fixed some problems from he and Dwayne’s other attempts, but not all, not by a long shot.  Rampage is still problem-ridden, and yet still a good time; this genre is frustrating if only because audiences are programmed to enjoy the destruction, we just wish the destroyers would do a better job.

The Movie

Davis Okoye is a primatologist in San Diego working with gorillas, some of which he saved directly from the poachers traps.  Animals are his passion, and he finds that he has a difficult time relating to people; how they lie, how they ruin, how afraid they are, how quick to anger.  His best friend is an alpha male named George, who he rescued as a baby, and who he can talk with though a series of signs.  When a corporate experiment in space goes haywire and destroys its station, some of its pieces crash back down to Earth, one of them right in George’s enclosure.  Suddenly, this peaceful creature is now an aggressive monster, one that is growing in size every hour.  Davis and a disgraced scientist, Dr. Kate Caldwell, will have to figure out what changed George and how to halt his growth before he’s too big to stop.

Two more animals were affected by this debris as well: a wolf from the northern Badlands and an alligator from the Everglades, each responding to the experimental formula in a unique and deadly way.  When the owners of the corporation responsible realize what has happened, they call the creatures to them using a high-tech device, intent on harvesting the internal biological technology from the animals and selling it to the highest bidder.  Davis and Kate need to race against time if they want to reach Chicago first before George does, before the ever-growing animals destroy America’s cities in their ever-blossoming rage.  Soldiers are on their way to do what they can with the weapons at their disposal, but their firepower may not be enough, and we all may already be screwed.

I played Rampage as a kid; it was one of my favorite NES games.  My sister and I would rent it from the local store, play for hours, and then we’d have to leave it on all night, because at that time there wasn’t a save function.  When we got back on the system in the morning, it would be red-hot and buzzing badly, but we’d finish the game, take over the U.S., and feel pretty accomplished.  She was always Lizzy, I was George, so this movie speaks to that kid in me, that nostalgic piece that will always remember the good times I had with this game.  The film version does a great job of recalling the destruction and the chaos surrounding the game play; climbing buildings, punching holes in them for no reason, stomping tanks, dodging airplanes, crashing down with the rubble.  I even spotted the arcade version in the office of the villain, so good on the filmmakers for letting me relive a sliver of my childhood.

Now for the movie, which is basically so bad it’s good.  San Andreas was cheesy and unbelievable; Rampage is more fake, which makes it more fun.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a terribly simple and ridiculous plot filled with some of the worst dialogue you’ll ever hear, but it’s also full of goofy moments and pure mayhem that make the experience of watching worth the time.  Some of the worst lines were saved for Malin Akerman, who was the cunning head of the evil corporation.  She and all of her words were so bad you’d think George wrote them; I would swear that someone was sabotaging her career, but I’ve already seen her in enough to know that her talent level has done that itself.  The Rock was cool, as always, he was a good hero, he and George worked together as characters, and, again, the plot was so silly and easy and linear that it kinda worked.  Buildings fall, Chicago is attacked by a crocodile, people are eaten; not a bad way to spend an evening, especially if you are a fan of the original content and are ready to root for a little absurdity.

The Blu-ray

 

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (16×9 1080p HD) and shot using an Arri Alexa 65 camera, an Arri Alexa Mini camera with Panavision Primo, Primo-V, G-Series, T100, T150, AWZ, and ATZ lenses, and an Arri Alexa SXT camera with Panavision Primo, Primo-V, G-Series, T100, T150, AWZ, and ATZ lenses, the video quality of this Blu-ray disc is pretty phenomenal.  The picture was clear and cool in theaters, but it lost nothing in translation to video.  The creatures were animated with stunning detail, they’re better than I could have possibly imagined they would be, all those years ago; this team should be very proud of their entertainingly over-the-top film.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in Dolby Atmos-True HD, with choices of English DTS-HD Master Audio, English Descriptive Audio, and French, Spanish, and Portuguese dubbing.  Subtitles are also available, in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  The audio of the film is strong as well, with a score that smooths the transitions between scenes.  The balance between action and dialogue is nice, and the music really is pretty well-orchestrated, so points for the technical aspects.

Extras – There are a ton of bonus features on this disc.  Not Just A Game Anymore, a 6-minute look at the adaptation of the video game.  Deleted Scenes, a 10-minute bonus footage segment.  Gag Reel, a 2-minute bloopers show.  Rampage: Actors in Action, an 11-minute behind-the-scenes peek.  Trio of Destruction, a 10-minute feature on the creatures.  Attack on Chicago, a 10-minute breakdown of the big action scene.  And Bringing George to Life, a 12-minute motion capture education.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  If you loved the old arcade or NES game, this movie is for you.  Literally, it was made with you in mind, the people who used to play the game, who used to knock San Francisco flat just because they could.  It’s a fun adaptation, they got the spirit just right, and Dwayne Johnson was the perfect choice for the lead role.  His charisma works with b-movies like this, that are trying to be so bad they become good.  He can’t always do it on his own, but his skill is enough here, because the pieces around him are just solid enough as well.  The action works, the animation is cool, and the Rock rocks; what more do you want?  Rampage isn’t spectacular, obviously, but it is a little awesome, if you can find it in yourself to enjoy this type of nonsense.  The video is well done, the audio actually works, and there are a boat-load of extras, so the technical side of the film deserves a high five.  I’ve seen this movie a couple times now, and it improves when given the chance; I recommend that you do just that.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – You Were Never Really Here

Category : DVD Review

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Year: 2017

The first time I saw Drive I didn’t like it; too violent, too sensational, too moody, too muted.  As time went by, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had missed something, that I had let something slide by without looking too closely, that if I had but paid more attention, I would have seen something special.  So I re-watched, and now I think it’s an incredible film, I doubled my rating, from 4/10 to 8/10, so opinions can change, perceptions can alter, second viewings really can make a difference.  I mention that because I have the exact same feeling about You Were Never Really Here.  I liked it just fine the first time, but I have a suspicion that if I watched it again I’d be rewarded with falling in love.  If that’s the filmmaker’s fault or my own is up for debate, but I suppose I can only judge the movie on what I’ve already seen and witnessed and felt, not on what I think I’ll experience the next time I pop in the disc.

The Movie

Joe is a walking skeleton in the closet, an embodiment of horrific secrets that are best faced but stay behind the doors, only because confronting them is absolutely too frightening.  He was the child of an abusive relationship, he witnessed terrible things done at the hands of his father, he saw war firsthand, he watched innocence destroyed, and he knows what evil humans are capable of, especially towards those incapable of protecting themselves from the darkness.  Because of all this, Joe has become a creature of the underworld, a hired gun whose job is to find missing kids and to make those who took them pay.  He’s good at what he does, too good, often leaving his humanity behind when he lifts a hammer in his hand, but that only makes him more powerful, more in control, the past lack of which has left him scarred in a place that can’t be seen.

Joe’s latest mission is to find the young daughter of a local politician, a girl who has been unstable since her mother’s death, and who might be in serious trouble somewhere in the belly of the city.  With whatever means necessary, Joe must find her, rescue her, and punish those responsible, bringing her safely home to her father while not raising any compromising alarm.  But this job is more complicated than is usual, has more secrets behind it than is safe, and won’t go as smoothly as Joe hopes.  He’s in way over his head, and the people he must kill won’t go down without a fight.  But they don’t know Joe, don’t know what he’s been through, don’t know how brutal he can be, can’t fathom the depths into which he dives before he faces his enemies and relieves them of their souls.

The more I write about and think about this film, the more I am convinced that I need to give it another chance to impress me, because while I think it’s solid, it never took me beyond that, and I think it might the second time around.  I just have this feeling that there’s more to be discovered, that I need to look more closely, and so I will remind myself of that as I critique the feature, a good one that I think has the potential to be great.  The story is classically simple; a troubled man in a grim town, getting by as best he can, doing the dirty work because it needs done, staying in the shadows because that’s where he feels the most comfortable.  And Phoenix plays that part perfectly, I never doubted that he could or would, he’s a consummate professional, and his skills are on display here.

But let me touch on what I didn’t love the first time around, even if I think some of my opinions might change when I sit down with the film again.  First, Ramsay has been around the block before, although this Scottish director has only released a few feature films.  Morvern Callar was weird, We Need to Talk About Kevin was weird with a point, and You Were Never Really Here is no different, a very strange and deliberate look at violence and trauma, a movie that won’t be for everyone.  It’s a very specific mix between Oldboy (the original is so much better than the remake) and Good Time, both of which are superior films.  Ramsay borrows heavily, which is fine, but without enough of her own ideas to really make a shocking impression.  Even the music seems recycled, fine but not new, and that feeling prevails over the whole picture.  Perhaps when I watch again I’ll stick to my first impression, that the film is imperfect due to its resemblance to many others, but I hope that I’m wrong; I hope the next time I’m blown away.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 (16×9 Widescreen 1080p HD) and shot using an Arri Alexa XT camera with Panavision Primo Anamorphic, C-Series, G30, MAP55, MAP200, ATZ, and AWZ2.3 lenses, the video quality of You Were Never Really Here is definitely a highlight of the film, a real key to the mood aimed at by the director.  The cinematography is exceptional, with a gifted use of color and of atmosphere that’s a credit to the movie.

Audio – The Blu-ray disc was done in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with subtitles available in English SDH and in Spanish.  The sound is a driving force of the action and of the ambiance, it was obvious a ton of work was put in to making the audio mean something.  The score itself was a bit done, I’ve heard others that are very similar, it didn’t seem fresh, but it also was never poor or poorly orchestrated.

Extras – The only bonus features on the disc are a few trailers and some bookmarks for the Blu-ray.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  While I imagine that another viewing could be quite impacting, I have to go with my first experience, and I also think that some of the film’s flaws will never go away.  I simply want to watch it again so that I can see if the mood and the metaphors will float to the surface a bit more and if the problems will start to sink.  I think there’s a good chance that happens, and I really hope it does, because this is a film I could love given the right moment and understanding.  As is stands now, the details seem a bit recycled and the direction isn’t immaculate, leading to my middling rating.  Joaquin Phoenix isn’t middle of the road though, he’s a standout wherever he appears, and this film is no exception.  The girl was a bit underdeveloped, or perhaps underutilized, the violence could have been capitalized on a touch more, and the whole thing needed an element to set it apart from others of the genre; Joe’s trauma storyline just wasn’t enough.  The video is excellent, the audio strong, but there aren’t many extras, so the technical side is mostly positive but not perfect.  The same could be said for the movie itself, but I hope that shifts after a re-watch; the potential is there for something extraordinary, I just don’t know if it can be tapped.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Swung

Category : DVD Review

Director: Colin Kennedy

Starring: Elena Anaya, Owen McDonnell, Elizabeth McGovern

Year: 2015

For Colin Kennedy’s first attempt at directing a feature, Swung is a solid double, which could be a baseball or a swingers reference, take you pick.  It’s a better, Scottish, much more serious version of Swinging with the Finkels, which wasn’t a good movie at all, so there was really only one way to go from there.  As far as I know, there haven’t been a ton of swing-curious movies produced, and least more mainstream, non-pornographic ones, as it’s a weird and touchy subject, something that isn’t exactly comfortable to sit down in from of and watch with your mate.  Still, Swung works as an audacious hack the ball, one where you don’t get the most beautiful hit, but at least you made contact.

The Movie

Alice and David are in couples counseling, mostly on account of David’s impotence and anxiety around all things sexual.  It’s a new problem, the young couple were happy before, but recently he just can’t get it up, and if Alice makes any sort of move to fulfill her own desires it results in a row that is centered on David’s shame and embarrassment.  Alice is a journalist, David is a failed designer, which doesn’t help his confidence level, and he’s also dealing with an ex-wife who doesn’t want him to spend much time with his daughter, with official divorce papers hovering over his head as well.  It’s not really the best time in his life, and the fact that he freaks out every Alice puts on the moves isn’t helping matters much.

Her newest story is an expose on the swinging community, an idea brought on by David’s casual joining of a swingers website.  It was a joke at first, but couples actually responded, and David actually got turned on, so Alice is beginning to think that she might be able to kill two birds with one stone.  She can experience what it’s like to share a partner first hand, and she can also potentially please a boyfriend who doesn’t seem able to be pleased.  But first you have to get started, have to meet other swingers, and that’s the awkward part.  And even if you can get past your own inhibitions, there’s still the actually going through with it, with no knowledge of whether or not sex with complete strangers will fix things or break them irrevocably.

For a rather amateur attempt, Swung could have been much, much worse.  It’s a tough subject, it’s very adult and progressive, and some people simply won’t want to watch a film about swinging.  Because it’s not simply a rom/com that involves slight experimentation, this is a serious drama about a failing relationship, one that can’t escape its connection to and dependence on sex.  There is a good amount of nudity, some barriers will be broken, your comfort zone might be stretched, so go in prepared to expand, and don’t watch with your parents.  I’m not sure how couples would respond to watching this film together, whether it would be a turn on or a conversation piece, an eye-opener or simply a dramatic movie.  It’s a bit of all those things, while also being a story about a romance that has lost almost all of its own.

American audiences won’t really recognize these actors; one is Spanish, the other Irish, and neither are huge stars.  Elena Anaya has done a few known films though; she was the evil doctor in Wonder Woman and the sexy brunette in Room in Rome.  She’s fairly strong in Swung, though not remarkable, and I think the same could be said for Owen McDonnell, who is fine but not spectacular.  Elizabeth McGovern makes an appearance, and she’s solid, but her part is rather small.  Taken as a whole, this film is a daring and devilish look into the world of swingers, how it is made up of very normal people with very normal problems, but also how it might not be the healthiest way to deal.  At the same time, the individual elements won’t hold up when set on  their own, but that might simply be a product of inexperience.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using an Arri Alexa camera, the video quality of the DVD is adequate, but not grand.  Much of the theme of the film is darkness, the bedroom, sexy situations, so you won’t see a ton of color and brightness, and Alice even remarks on how dismal Scotland is, so don’t expect to be blown away by the visuals.  Look for soft and somber moments that stand out; there are a few.

Audio – The disc is done in English Dolby Digital audio, with a choice between 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo.  Subtitles are available in English.  That’s it for the sound, and while the music isn’t memorable, I do think that the dialogue was nicely done and well-balanced.  The sound was never choppy, it was always evenly distributed, and I never felt like the audio got away from the director, which is something.

Extras – There are no bonus features on this DVD.

Final Thoughts

Recommended.  I appreciated Swung more than I perhaps thought that I would, and not only for the sex.  The acting was commendable, the story was laid bare, the characters were honest, and I thought the directing was rather nice.  And there was enough sex, it was never a tease, you got what you came for, but it never went overboard to an unbelievable place.  There’s a conversation to be had surrounding this film, and while it isn’t the perfect picture, it can at least say that it pushed audiences a bit further than typical Hollywood fare.  The video is fine, the audio good, you won’t be blown away by those attributes, but neither will you be disappointed, but there aren’t any special features on the disc, so don’t put too much faith in the technical aspects.  I guess this amounts to a middle-of-the-road movie as far as quality is concerned, but the content can’t be denied, and it’s worth something on its own.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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DVD Review – Body of Deceit

Category : DVD Review

Director: Alessandro Capone

Starring: Kristanna Loken, Sarai Givaty, Antonio Cupo

Year: 2015

What’s shocking about Body of Deceit is not that it’s bad; lots of movies are bad, tons of movies actually, thousands of movies, and sometimes you have to slog through them in order to understand what good movies really look like.  Without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet, right?  That applies to films as much as to anything else, how else are you supposed to develop your taste if all you ever taste is the best?  So awful cinema has its niche, it can even be fun, and not every project can be tops.  But sometimes you can still be surprised by just how awful a final product can be, after multiple teams of people sat down and decided that, yes, this movie ought to be released, audiences ought to see it.  Body of Deceit doesn’t deserve to be seen; it deserves to be incinerated.

The Movie

In Malta on vacation, a beautiful woman named Alice was in a terrible accident, resulting in a coma and memory loss.  She can no longer remember the house, the vacation, the accident, or what happened there, it’s all gone in a flash.  Back at home, Alice struggles to continue her job as a ghostwriter for a famous author.  She knows his work in and out, has written as him for years, but can’t get past the block that is stopping up her creativity.  She has frequent nightmares of what happened in Malta, but can never quite form hazy events into one coherent memory.  Before she can ever write again, she’s got to face her past and her fears.

So her husband Max schedules a trip for the pair back to Malta, back to the house, back to the place where it all went down, with the hope that Alice can finally get over whatever happened there, that she will be able to write once more with the talent she once possessed.  But not everything is as it appears to be, and someone is hiding a few very sinister secrets.  The sexy housemaid Sara seems to know more than she lets on, and her constant flirting with Alice is steaming up the glass that Alice is trying to peer through.  She’ll have to shatter it instead, revealing all the hidden truths and her own deeply buried desires.

It’s not that Body of Deceit is bad, it’s that it’s so bad you begin to lose faith in cinema and wonder if you’ll ever enjoy moving pictures ever again.  If this was ever someone’s first experience with film, I’m sure they would never watch another movie, there’s no way this wouldn’t ruin them for life.  I’m even fairly armored against terrible cinema, have learned to enjoy it as much as it can be enjoyed, and this film still almost got me rethinking my profession and my believe in sunshine and chocolate and puppies; how can nice things exist while this movie does?

Of course I’m being dramatic for fun and to make a point, but not completely; it’s actually almost that awful.  The story is so dumb you can barely imagine a human writing it; it would make me feel better if it had been shot out of a computer that had been fed a strict diet of USA Network originals from the 90s.  And it’s insulting to that channel to even mention it in the same breath as this movie, because even those executives would have shot down this script.  It’s embarrassingly bad, as are the actors, who lacked the ability to help out in any way.  You might recognize Kristanna Loken from T3, she was the T-X, but there’s a reason you haven’t heard from her since.  What’s even more sad is that they tried to make this movie sexy, but it’s not even good enough to be called soft core, or even steamy, or even smutty; it’s simply a wasted effort at whatever in God’s name the original effort was for.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of who knows and shot with a who cares, the video quality of Body of Deceit is the least of its problems, but also somehow another of its flaws.  The cinematography is terrible, regardless of the specs or cameras, and it’s not surprising that more details aren’t available, because who would possibly have taken the time to advertise or dissect this film any more than was absolutely necessary?  The picture is bad, dark and weird at times, and can simply be listed as another piece of evidence in the case to have this film expunged from the record books.

Audio – The audio is the same; not worth mentioning.  The DVD is in English, with an option of 5.1 Surround or 2.0 Stereo.  Subtitles are available in English for the deaf and hearing impaired.  That’s is, and that shows the effort they put into the audio of the film, which is none whatsoever.  There aren’t glaring mistakes, but the music and the dialogue aren’t well-done either, with a cheap feel that won’t shock you.

Extras – There are no bonus features on the disc, thank God.

Final Thoughts

Skip It.  This film truly is among the worst I have ever seen.  It’s a low quality skin flick, which isn’t damning, we’ve all seen enough of those on late at night and there’s nothing evil or inherently wrong with that, it’s just bad cinema done for a cheap thrill.  But this movie couldn’t even do that right.  There are a few boobs, but it feels uncomfortable and strange, not in any way sexy.  The mystery is stupid beyond description, and I’m still not sure what happened, nor do I want to find out.  What I want is to forget that I ever set eyes on this project, that I ever sullied my DVD player with such a pointless disc, and that people ever signed up to be in a movie such as this.  The video, audio, and extras are equally and insanely bad, so don’t go looking for any redeeming characteristics.  Just use me as your guinea pig and stay as far away from this disaster as you possibly can.

☆ – Content

☆ – Video

☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay