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Peninsula Blu-ray Review

 

  • Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
  • MPAA rating :  (Not Rated)
  • Director : Yeon Sang-Ho
  • Media Format : Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Run time : 1 hour and 56 minutes
  • Release date : November 24, 2020
  • Actors : Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, John. D Micheals
  • Subtitles: : English
  • Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Korean (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Studio : Well Go Usa


 

          It wasn’t until nearly two decades after Night of the Living Dead that George A. Romero returned to the zombie genre with his first follow-up in the franchise, Dawn of the Dead. As such, the series did not continue with any specific human characters (which would have been difficult anyway, given the bleak lack of survivors), but instead traced the progression of the zombie apocalypse as an allegory for something larger. While the follow-up to hit South Korean zombie film, Train to Busan, follows the same model of continuing the narrative, it lacks the impact of Romero’s shifting social relevance. Instead, Peninsula feels more like the traditional sequel, capitalizing on the success of the last film rather than evolving from it.

 


Hosts DVD Review

 

  • Media Format : NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Run time : 1 hour and 29 minutes
  • Release date : November 10, 2020
  • Actors : Lee Hunter, Neal Ward, Frank Jakeman
  • Studio : Dark Sky Films
  • ASIN : B08FP5V34H
  • Number of discs : 1


 



        Mood and atmosphere can be crucial with lower budget horror filmmaking, especially when making up for shortcomings in other areas. Hosts understands this well, with a few truly horrifying moments that are executed with an understanding of how to make the budget work for you. And for these brief moments, I commend Hosts. Unfortunately, nearly every aspect of the storytelling beyond the atmosphere and moments of violence fail to impress. In fact, while some elements of the film are stellar, others are equally unimpressive.

 


Cut Throat City Blu-ray Review

 

  • Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
  • MPAA rating : R (Restricted)
  • Director : Rza
  • Media Format : Dolby, Widescreen
  • Run time : 2 hours and 3 minutes
  • Release date : October 20, 2020
  • Actors : Shameik Moore, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Denzel Whitaker, Keean Johnson
  • Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Studio : Well Go Usa
  • Number of discs : 2

 

         Social relevance showing up in genre filmmaking is far from new, though it has taken on additional significance in the current cultural climate in America. We have seen this in the increase of female representation in action-oriented genres, including the announcement that the next 007 will be a woman. Similarly, racial representation within Hollywood has taken some clear strides in recent years, which is why she is also black. Because of this, it is equally unsurprising to see RZA integrating these themes into his latest film. Unfortunately, these themes often get lost in a convoluted plot that can’t seem to decide what genre it belongs to or what it wants to say. In terms of representation, Cut Throat City wins, even though it fails at some basic aspects of storytelling.

 

Broil Blu-ray Review

 

  • MPAA rating : (Not Rated)
  • Director : Edward Drake
  • Media Format : Dolby, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Run time : 1 hour and 31 minutes
  • Release date : October 13, 2020
  • Actors : Jonathan Lipnicki, Avery Konrad, Timothy V. Murphy, Lochlyn Munro, Catherine Lough Haggquist
  • Studio : Well Go Usa
  • Number of discs : 1


 

         Family-driven terror has been showing up more frequently in the horror genre in recent years, but not in the expected ways. Rather than having a family invaded or attacked by an outside force, we are now seeing the threat come within the family more regularly. These films show us husband against wife (The Invisible Man), parent against child (Mom and Dad), child against parent (Brightburn), among others. This has been especially true of occult narratives such as Hereditary and Ready or Not, and at first it appears as though Broil would fit into this category as well.

 

American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules DVD Review

 

  • Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
  • MPAA rating : R (Restricted)
  • Director : Mike Elliott
  • Media Format : NTSC, Subtitled
  • Run time : 1 hour and 36 minutes
  • Release date : October 6, 2020
  • Actors : Madison Pettis, Lizze Broadway, Natasha Behnam, Piper Curda, Darren Barnet
  • Subtitles: : Japanese, Spanish, Thai
  • Producers : Karen Gorodetzky, Abbey Lessanu, Joseph P. Genier, Mike Elliott
  • Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Studio : Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


 

         The entertainment industry has always reflected the ideology of the times, adjusting as society changes their common belief systems. When this occurs sincerely, audiences feel their views being represented equally and accurately, but then there are times that filmmakers and studios are merely capitalizing on the trendy movements. Despite the obvious attempt by the American Pie franchise to become ‘woke’ with the female-led Girls’ Rules, it feels like a blatant attempt at pandering to audiences for a quick profit. It doesn’t feel the least bit sincere, and it is a shaky balancing act continuing a sexually exploitative narrative without offending the female sex. While this is done by shifting a vast majority of the objectification onto the male characters in a vengeful interpretation of modern feminism, even that feels contrived coming from a male director and his two male screenwriters.

 

The Secret: Dare to Dream Blu-ray Review

 

  • MPAA rating : PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Director : Andy Tennant
  • Media Format : Digital_copy, NTSC
  • Release date : September 22, 2020
  • Actors : Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O'Connell, Celia Weston, Katrina Begin
  • Studio : Artisan / Lionsgate
  • ASIN : B08CJV1XQR
  • Number of discs : 1


 

        Any time a film is associated with a philosophy, religion, or self-help book, the filmmakers seem to have an exceedingly difficult time with subtlety. The agenda of selling the audience members on the belief system that the narrative is focused on often becomes more important than the narrative or other filmmaking elements. With The Secret: Dare to Dream, we are immediately assaulted with the source material being referenced in the form of a cumbersome title. But while this film is a far cry from being a memorable romantic comedy, audiences could do a lot worse in these days of bad Netflix teen romances, Lifetime movies, and the yearly bombardment of faith-based films released in the spring.

 

Invincible Dragon Blu-ray Review

 

  • Director : Fruit Chan
  • Disc Format : Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Run time : 99 min
  • Release date : October 6, 2020
  • Actors : Jin Zhang, Anderson Silva, Kevin Cheng, Annie Liu, Stephy Tang
  • Subtitles: : English
  • Language : Cantonese (DTS 5.1)
  • Studio : Well Go USA



 

         I don’t think it comes as any surprise that the main reason audiences tend to watch martial arts films are the action sequences. There is a reason that these films have a tradition of implementing action directors, as well as a primary director of the entire production, and that is not for consideration of plot or character development. Invincible Dragon has two action directors, likely responsible for the film’s greatest asset, but it also has a plot as focused on a mystery as it is kicking ass. If only the screenplay and direction by Fruit Chan (Dumplings) was as consistent as the action choreography, this Chinese martial arts-mystery would have been highly watchable. As it stands, the successful moments of martial arts fighting are enveloped by the tonally inconsistent narrative that surrounds them.

 

The Legend of Tomiris Blu-ray Review

 

  • Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
  • MPAA rating : Not Rated
  • Product Dimensions : 0.7 x 7.5 x 5.4 inches; 8.32 Ounces
  • Director : Akan Satayev
  • Media Format : Subtitled
  • Release date : September 29, 2020
  • Subtitles: : English
  • Language : Russian (DTS 5.1), Russian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Studio : Well Go USA


         After the onslaught of media coverage about the live-action Mulan film released by Disney, from marketing material to the controversy over the film itself, it is not entirely surprising that this female warrior was my first thought upon watching The Legend of Tomiris. While nowhere near as well-covered as the criticisms of Mulan have been, several nations have taken issue with the content in The Legend of Tomiris as well. However, while the issues of Mulan have much more to do with production and the politics of cast members, the issues with The Legend of Tomiris have more to do with the actual content of the narrative. And this would make sense, as this film is based on an actual historical figure, while Hua Mulan has long thought to have been a fictional character.

 

The Trip to Greece Blu-ray Review

 




  • Actors: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
  • Director: Michael Winterbottom
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: IFC Independent Film
  • Release Date: August 25, 2020
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




 

         In a scene near the end of The Trip to Greece, Rob Brydon remarks that it has been ten years since the first trip he took with friend and adversary, Steve Coogan. This is surprising to Coogan, as it may also be to audience members that have been following their journeys to beautiful scenery and expensive meals. The breezy irreverence often seems to main selling point of the series, which sets the dramatic character development behind overlong scenes of competing celebrity impressions and two men never afraid to talk with their mouths full, if it means they get to hog the spotlight. That this is the supposed last installment in the franchise doesn’t bring with it the promise of any grand revelations or resolutions, but simply another serving of the same.

 


How to Build a Girl Blu-ray Review

 





  • Actors: Beanie Feldstein, Alfie Allen
  • Director: Coky Giedroyc
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: IFC Independent Film
  • DVD Release Date: August 11, 2020
  • Run Time: 104 minutes




 

        How to Build a Girl feels like watching an entire TV series in fast-forward. The character arcs and development may make sense in real-time, but as movie, we watch a shy and awkward 16-year-old turn into a completely different person in less time than a montage would take. Perhaps if the film actually took place over a longer period of time, it would only be an issue of poor screenplay adaptation and sloppy editing, but since she remains 16 for the entirety, there is also the unsavory inclusion of her explicit sexual awakening with older men. However progressively feminist the narrative may be, there is nothing particularly enjoyable about watching an underage girl allow herself to be exploited in a misguided pursuit of liberation.

 


A Dog’s Courage Blu-ray Review

 

  • Actors: Doh Kyung-soo, Park So-dam
  • Director: Oh Sung-yoon
  • Format: Subtitled, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), Korean (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: August 18, 2020
  • Run Time: 102 minutes



         There is a universality to animation which has otherwise been lost since the arrival of sound in film. It doesn’t matter what nation made the film when we are watching are constructed images; the common act of amorphization often meaning there are even fewer ways of distinguishing culture, and Disney long ago proved that cultural appropriation can be an effective tool. With a quick redubbing by voice actors in each language, it can be easy for an animated film to be accepted as essentially nationless. A Dog’s Courage (translated as Underdog from the original South Korean title), on the other hand, provides a narrative that is distinct in its representation of a precise place, however universal the overlaying canine storyline may be.

 

House of Hummingbird Blu-ray Review


  • Actors: Jihu Park, Saebyuk Kim, Seungyeon Lee
  • Director: Bora Kim
  • Format: Subtitled, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 4, 2020
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
 


 

         As many great coming-of-age films are, House of Hummingbird draws inspiration from the childhood of its filmmaker. This element of realism adds a layer of melancholy to the proceeding, often feeling as though we are spying on someone’s intimate memories, and not always the ones that we might fill a photo album with. It is a film filled with universal experiences of growing up, but framed within a specific cultural moment in Seoul, South Korea.

 


Gundala Blu-ray Review


  • Actors: Abimana Aryasatya, Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu
  • Director: Joko Anwar
  • Disc Format: Subtitled, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Indonesian (DTS 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: July 28, 2020
  • Run Time: 120 minutes


 

         With the worldwide success of Hollywood’s superhero franchises, not to mention the recent popularity of “cinematic universes,” it was inevitable that the genre would expand beyond the United States. As Indonesian action films have thrived in the past decade, it is unsurprising that they are the next to enter into the world of superhero cinema. Adapting a comic book character from the late 1960s to modern times for the first installment in Indonesia’s cinematic shared universe for superheroes, Gundala is a step in the right direction, even if there are still miles to go before achieving the scope and quality expected from the genre.

 


Samurai Marathon Blu-ray Review


  • Actors: Danny Huston, Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu, Mirai Moriyama
  • Director: Bernard Rose
  • Format: Subtitled, Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: July 21, 2020
  • Run Time: 104 minutes


 

        Samurai Marathon doesn’t resemble some of the samurai films that have been coming out of Japan in recent years, such as the Rurouni Kenshin franchise. These popular movies are jam-packed with action, stylized to the point of almost resembling superhero films (not unlike some wire-fu films in the kung-fu genre), and feature popular young stars in key roles. Because some of the cast from the Rurouni Kenshin films are also in Samurai Marathon, it is not surprising that some fans have noticed the shift in style. Samurai Marathon actually resembles a style from the recent past, most notably the films of Yôji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade), which utilize a slice-of-life realism that is more concerned with character development that flashy action scenes.

 

Enter the Fat Dragon Blu-ray Review





  • Actors: Donnie Yen, Niki Chow, Teresa Mo, Jing Wong
  • Director: Kenji Tanigaki
  • Format: Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Cantonese, English
  • Region: Region A/1 
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go Usa
  • Release Date: July 14, 2020
  • Run Time: 97 minutes

         When people are at the top of their game, that is usually when they have the urge to expand their range. This is clear in all fields, explaining Michael Jordan’s decision to play baseball, any number of actors who have transitioned into the world of music, musicians transitioning into the world of acting, or Kanye West’s apparent plans to try his hand at politics. It also explains why comedic actors inevitably try dramatic work at one point or another. While Enter the Dragon is a martial arts film like many others that Donnie Yen has made, the addition of slapstick comedy makes it the type of film one might expect to see Jackie Chan starring in. And though Yen is capable of the added element, this doesn’t save the film from being a bit derivative and tonally uneven.

 


Sniper: Assassin’s End Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Chad Collins, Sayaka Akimoto, Ryan Robbins, Lochlyn Munro, Emily Tennant
  • Director: Kaare Andrews
  • Producers: Vicki Sotheran, Greg Malcolm
  • Disc Format: Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Dutch, Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovene, Thai, Romanian, Arabic, Finnish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Danish, German, Italian, Korean, Swedish, Latvian, Estonian, English, Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanian, French, Greek, Spanish, Slovak
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     
     Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: June 16, 2020
  • Run Time: 95 minutes



        As the eighth film in the Sniper franchise is released on home video, it is becoming apparent that we will likely see this series stay in the family for as long as they can come up with clever titles and Tom Berenger is available for a brief appearance. And even when the original star is no longer available or willing, the series can continue with the next generation of Thomas Beckett in his son, Brandon (Chad Michael Collins). The cast is consistent from film to film, as is the unimaginative plotting.

Olympic Dreams DVD Review

  • Actors: Nick Kroll, Alexi Pappas
  • Director: Jeremy Teicher
  • Disc Format: NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     PG-13 
     Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: IFC Independent Film
  • DVD Release Date: May 19, 2020
  • Run Time: 82 minutes









         If I were to describe an independent film starring an actor known for his comedic roles who encounters and engages in a flirtatious friendship with a much younger woman while on a job in a foreign country, it would be easy to mistake my description for the 2003 hit, Lost in Translation. This just goes to prove that independent films, for all of their claims of creative originality, can also be guilty of formulaic plotting and derivative content, because the exact same description works for 2019’s Olympic Dreams. While it is a likable enough film, the only original element of this newer independent dramedy about two lonely souls meeting in an unfamiliar city is the setting. And while being the first film to be shot inside of the actual Olympic Village is a certain claim of originality, the filmmakers seem far more preoccupied with this element of the storytelling than the character development or dialogue.

Tea with the Dames Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith
  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: 
     NR 
     Not Rated
  • Studio: IFC Independent Film
  • Release Date: May 5, 2020
  • Run Time: 84 minutes




         Four legendary British actresses from stage and screen, all of which have been given an honorary Dame status, have been friends for over 50 years. Apparently Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright all keep in touch by spending weekends together reminiscing in a country getaway one of them owns, and allowed a film crew to intrude on one of these sessions for the documentary, Tea with the Dames. The title was originally Nothing Like a Dame, which can still be seen several times in the film itself, as the production becomes a part of the film. The change wasn’t made because the beverage they drink (they have champagne, but no tea), but because of the direction of the conversation, which contains some gossip from their classic days of stage and screen.