Firestorm Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Andy Lau, Ka Tung Lam, Michael Wong, Yao Chen
  • Director: Alan Yuen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • Run Time: 118 minutes



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             Firestorm is what I imagine The Town or Heat would have looked like, had the director been John Woo rather than Ben Affleck and Michael Mann. The storyline is a rather straightforward crime narrative that is built around gun-heavy action sequences. It is cops against criminals, and most of the time this battle is carried out with an old-school appreciation of the bullet-ballet. There are even a few sequences that utilize pigeons, within the battle and the cinematography.

     

    Hannibal: Season Two Blu-ray Review

  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Release Date: September 16, 2014






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            I loved the first season of “Hannibal,” both for the visual excesses and the intelligent utilization of an infamous cinematic villain. While some of the elements remain the same, such as the cast and the stylistic choices in cinematography and art direction, the very fact that the first season allowed the narrative to progress outside of the serial-killer-a-week formula also ensured necessary changed in the second season. While I still enjoy the actors involved, much of the second season of “Hannibal” begins to feel like the writers painted themselves into a corner with season one’s finale.

     

    Arrow: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards
  • Producers: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: September 16, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: September 16, 2017
  • Run Time: 1056 minutes


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            Every network now has their own superhero series, though few have managed the edgier qualities that “Arrow” became known for after the first season. Even “Gotham” feels like it could have used a little bit of this same verve. While the second season falters in the middle a bit, stretching out material until the resolution by the end of the season, it still manages to deliver many of the elements that made the first season a success. New characters are introduced, while others simply reappear with new alter-egos. The strength in the show lies in the decision to have a narrative through-line for each season, and this one develops the villain of Deathstroke.

     

    Macbeth Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw
  • Director: Roman Polanski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • Run Time: 140 minutes



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            William Shakespeare’s plays are known for the words, and how poetically this prose is able to replace action that goes unseen onstage. There is a natural tendency to lean heavily upon Shakespeare’s words when adapting his work to screen, and only the strongest of visual directors have managed to avoid this pitfall. Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of “King Lear,” Ran, is a perfect example of a successful film adaptation. Despite its failures in the box office, Roman Polanski’s Macbeth is a truly visceral film experience that captures the essence of Shakespeare’s play while utilizing the strength in the medium of film.

     

    Very Good Girls Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Dakota Fanning, Elizabeth Olsen, Demi Moore, Peter Sarsgaard
  • Director: Naomi Foner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • Run Time: 93 minutes


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            It would be easy to blame Very Good Girls on the restricting roles offered to female leads in Hollywood, with a cliché love triangle and forced moments of sexual awakening amongst teen girls being the only subjects of interest in the film. However true this may be in most cases, Very Good Girls is the directorial debut of female screenwriter Naomi Foner, proving that predictable female coming-of-age fodder can feel false regardless of who makes it. Although there is plenty of forced melodrama in the derivative love triangle at the center of the story, what is most surprising is how much the male gaze remains alive at the hands of a female filmmaker.

    Neighbors Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
  • Director: Nicholas Stoller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Dubbed: Spanish, French
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016




  •         Neighbors begins with a sex scene between a married couple who have recently had a child and bought their first home. In this opening sequence they are attempting an act of spontaneous pleasure, but are inevitably pulled back into their role as parents. This scene sets up the film perfectly, because the main focus is on the struggle that this couple has transitioning from a recklessly carefree lifestyle to the monotony of parenting and life after college. If only the focus had remained on this, Neighbors would have been a brilliant film. Instead, it gets distracted by useless bromance subplots and over-the-top vulgarity, making it feel a bit directionless and disappointingly average.

     

    Think Like a Man Too Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Dennis Haysbert, Jerry Ferrara, Michael Ealy, Adam Brody
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, Korean
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 
  • Studio: Sony
  • Release Date: September 16, 2014
  • Run Time: 106 minutes


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            Think Like a Man left very little impression on me. On one hand, even had I hated the film, it might have stuck in my memory longer than the generic, mediocre, bland experience I had. In some ways, Think Like a Man Too succeeds as a sequel to that film, because only a few atrocious over-indulgences remain in my memory only days after watching it. It isn’t bad as much as it is offensively uninspired, like a younger and hipper relative to another star-studded Sin City bomb; Last Vegas.

     

    Korengal DVD Review

         Director: Sebastian Junger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Virgil Films and Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes


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            In 2010, the Academy Award nominated war documentary, Restrepo, provided audiences with a visceral look at the war in Afghanistan by following a platoon in one of the deadliest valleys. Named after a fallen soldier who would also inspire the name of a high-ground outpost in the Korengal Valley, Restrepo focused a great deal on the grief felt by the platoon at this loss. The follow-up feature developed with the help of Kickstarter by filmmaker Sebastian Junger is conversely more interested in the appeal and monotony of the actual lifestyle developed in war.

     

    New Blu-ray Additions to The Toho Godzilla Collection


     

    Godzilla 2000
     
     
     


            The Toho Godzilla films were meant to take a break back in 1998, when the first American installment was attempted. When Roland Emmerich’s film was a massive failure and insult to the franchise, Toho responded with Godzilla 2000, confusingly released in 1999. It was released theatrically in both Japan and in the United States, with a slightly altered edit. Both versions are available on the new Blu-ray release, along with a filmmaker and crew commentary track, a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

     

    God’s Pocket DVD Review

         Actors: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks
  • Director: John Slattery
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 89 minutes



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            It is easy to imagine how this adaptation of Pete Dexter’s novel might have been made into a dark comedy under the guidance of more experienced filmmakers, such as the Coen brothers, but actor turned first-time director John Slattery (“Mad Men”) presents the story in a way that hits the same bleak notes from start to finish. Regardless of how captivating the veteran cast may be, it becomes difficult to imagine the reasons for forcing the characters to endure such hardship, or the meaning that the audience is meant to take away from the experience. As enjoyable as individual sequences may be, the overall result of God’s Pocket feels more trouble than its worth.

    Borgman Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval
  • Director: Alex van Warmerdam
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: NEW VIDEO GROUP
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 113 minutes



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            Dutch Filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam is no stranger to dark fables, having made his own bizarre twist on “Hansel & Gretel” with 2003’s Grimm. From the opening sequence which has a priest arming himself with a shotgun and large spear to hunt a group of men dwelling in underground structures, it is clear that Warmerdam’s Borgman exists in a similarly fantastical world. It is more horror film than fable, but the whimsical presentation inspires terror and dread more than providing scares or gore.

             

    Friend 2: The Legacy DVD Review

         Actors: Oh-Seong Yu, Jang Young-nam, Joo Jin-mo, Kim Woo-bin
  • Director: Kwak Gyeong-taek
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Korean
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: CJ Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014
  • Run Time: 121 minutes


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            Despite only a few of the characters remaining from the previous installment in this gangster-drama franchise, Friend II: The Legacy manages to maintain the atmosphere from the original. It is with the narrative that this sequel gets a bit tripped up, attempting to do too much in a result that feels more convoluted than a sequel should. Rather than simply worrying about the progression of the characters in the story following the first film’s events, Friend II simultaneously adds unnecessary prequel segments from one of the film’s minor characters. Despite action which exceeds the first film in excitement, this follow-up feature is missing strength in characters and relationships which made the original one the most successful films in South Korean history.

     

    Victim Blu-ray Review

        Actors: Jason Maza, Ashley Madekwe, Frank Harper, Ashley Chin, Adam Deacon
  • Director: Alex Pillai
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 86 minutes




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            Although the acting and directing are adequate enough, Victim quickly becomes absolutely rubbish due to a screenplay that feels written by a fifteen-year-old thug with a false sense of righteous indignation and a penchant for unbelievable melodrama. It isn’t enough for the narrative to suggest that crime is the only option for some, but it actually attempts to make the claim that criminals are just as much victims as the people they brutalize and steal from. While the victims of these attacks are rarely completely innocent, that hardly justifies the theft and abuse carried out so that the film’s protagonists can get drunk and high in style.

     

    Willow Creek Blu-ray Review

       Actors: Bryce Johnson, Alexie Gilmore
  • Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Dark Sky Films
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 80 minutes



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            Willow Creek is a step back for found-footage horror films, choosing realism in characters, plot and dialogue over spectacle. While recently released found-footage horror movies utilize the medium to display impressive special effects through the grounded camera work of home footage, Willow Creek doesn’t even feel the need to show the horror at the center of the film’s narrative. In this way, among many other similarities, Willow Creek feels like a direct descendant to the original found-footage horror film; The Blair Witch Project. While this simplicity/subtlety is often more effective in terms of the film’s eerie build up, the climax simply feels disappointing without a reveal. Even The Jungle at least gave us a glimpse of the creature in question.

     

    The Goldbergs: The Complete First Season DVD Review

         Actors: George Segal, Jeff Garlin, Troy Gentile, Sean Giambrone
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 495 minutes

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            Although one of television’s earliest sitcoms was also named “The Goldbergs,” this new series feels far more like a remake (or re-imagining) of “The Wonder Years.” The series is actually based on the childhood of creator Adam Goldberg, though elements were clearly changed in ways that make it more similar to “The Wonder Years,” including the replacement of the older brother character with an older sister instead. It is more than that, however. When I was a child in the late 1980s, I watched a show about a family living in the 1960s. Twenty-some years later I am watching a series about a family in the 1980s, and can finally relate to what “The Wonder Years” must have felt like to my parents.

     

    Giveaway Contest: The Guest prize pack


    Win a prize pack for Adam Wingard's latest thriller, The Guest! Prize includes a branded shot glass and a branded condom. To enter the contest, email Ryan Izay your favorite home invasion horror film.

    Supernatural: The Complete Ninth Season Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins
  • Producers: Jeremy Carver, Robert Singer, Phil Sgriccia, McG McG, Adam Glass
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Box set, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: September 9, 2017
  • Run Time: 1012 minutes



  •         Horror movies have developed an unhealthy habit of creating bland characters in order to lazily ensure that the audience doesn’t turn against the film when those characters are brutally killed. What has resulted is a genre riddled with bad acting and one-dimensional characters, and often we don’t complain because we were entertained enough by the scares. The same doesn’t hold true of “Supernatural,” a television horror show. Because we are forced to remain with the same main characters each episode, it hurts that the weakest link in the show is their development. As much as the show tries to quickly jam in motives and feelings into script, the only time that the show feels truthful is when the scares begin. While most shows develop more complex characters as the seasons go by, “Supernatural” simply puts these characters through such an exorbitant amount of melodrama that nothing feels grounded in reality.

     

    The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Steven R. McQueen, Kat Graham
  • Producers: Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein, Caroline Dries
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Box set, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: September 9, 2017
  • Run Time: 968 minutes


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    The Twilight franchise was comprised of five films for four books, because that is simply how desperate they were to bleed the fan base dry. At least that franchise managed to find a way to cease the endlessly obnoxious love triangle at the center of the narrative by the fourth film. “The Vampire Diaries” is based on its own transparently familiar book series by L.J. Smith, and the format of television allows for even more opportunities to drag out the story than the Twilight franchise. The fifth season is now available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, available for fans to see even more of the back-and-forth teen vampire melodrama before season six airs on television.

     

    The Originals: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt, Phoebe Tonkin, Charles Michael Davis
  • Producers: Julie Plec, Leslie Morgenstein, Gina Girolamo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Box set, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: September 2, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: September 2, 2017 )
  • Run Time: 929 minutes



  •         Season four of “The Vampire Diaries” utilized the characters known as the ‘original’ vampires so much that they have spun off into their own narrative and television show with season one of “The Originals.” This first season still interacts with the timeline of “The Vampire Diaries” in season five, with supporting characters able to bounce between the two shows as needed. Aside from the removal of a majority of teenage melodrama from the narrative (except for the inevitable romantic entanglements), “The Originals” shares a great deal with the show it spawned from.

     

    Regular Show: Rigby Pack DVD Review

  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Cartoon Network
  • Release Date: September 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 176 minutes





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            “Regular Show” is one of those odd Cartoon Network series which walks the line between entertainment for children and for adults, mostly due to the irreverence in the show’s sense of humor. It is intentionally odd, with a type of logic that adheres only to the mind of a child or pot-head, which seems to be the target audience. This isn’t likely to be a universal hit, but the fans tend to be loyally dedicated to the series. Having a release for a show with fans is a double-edged sword, however, because they may be more likely to make a purchase but also tend to have higher expectations.