Magic Mike Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Writers: Reid Carolin
  • Producers: Channing Tatum, Nick Wechsler, Gregory Jacobs, Reid Carolin
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Release Date: October 23, 2012
  • Run Time: 110 minutes

  •             Despite being directed by Steven Soderbergh, who has had another one of his diversely successful years, I had little interest in seeing Magic Mike. I assumed it would be something of a cross between The Girlfriend Experience and Showgirls. In some ways this is exactly what Magic Mike feels like, but that ends up being a good thing. There is some of the exploitation, humor and camp of Showgirls within the independent and more restrained style of Soderbergh’s lower budget films.

                The highlight of the film ends up being dancing more than stripping, and a great deal of the credit for that must go to star and co-producer Channing Tatum, whose big break in film came with Step Up. There are plenty of suggestive dance moves and more abs than can be counted, but there is more talent and skill in the performances than one expects to see from a stripper. The production value of the film increases any time the characters are onstage, and these are some entertaining sequences which are featured several times over in the Blu-ray extras as well, but the success of Magic Mike is how compelling the film remains even when the stars put their shirts back on.
                The script by Reid Carolin is the first thing to be commended, creating a cliché world with reinvigorating dialogue and characters. The actual plot is fairly predictable, but a charming cast of likeable characters with well-written dialogue and a seasoned director at the helm it doesn’t matter that we know what is coming. The film is enjoyable even if we can see the ending before it comes.

                The Blu-ray has extended versions of a few major dance numbers, as well as a “Dance Play” option for viewing the film. It does exactly what it says, playing all of the dances while skipping everything in-between in the film. There is also a featurette about the process the stars took to become accustomed to the world of male stripping. The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a DVD and a Ultraviolet copy of the film as well.

    Maximum Conviction Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Steven Seagal, Steve Austin, Michael Pare, Bren Foster
  • Director: Keoni Waxman
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 98 minutes

  •             Steven Seagal has slowed down considerably from his earlier days. He was always more mass than speed. Seagal was famous for breaking bones in the same way Van Damme was known for his agile kicks and Chuck Norris for his moustache. The problem with Seagal is that his mass just keeps increasing, and many of his more recent action films have relied far more on the editing than any abilities from the former action star. Surprisingly, Maximum Conviction does a far better job of hiding this, perhaps somewhat helped by the addition of another action star.

                Steve Austin joins the cast alongside Seagal with a story that feels a great deal like Under Siege 3. Seagal and Austin are former Special Forces commandos turned private security contractor named Steele and Manning. They are on a top secret mission in a secret military prison, guarding a special prisoner when a group of hired mercenaries take control of the facility and begin to hunt down their target. Matters are made even worse when all of the deadly prisoners are released, making it a free for all which Steele and Manning must survive, along with their prisoner.

                The action is sub-par for a theatrical film, but for straight-to-video it comes closer than I expected to the action films of Seagal’s glory days. There is even a compound fracture within one of the fight scenes, which is sure to please fans of the 80s action star. The Blu-ray high definition enhances the action further, though the gunplay is far from impressive in the audio track. The special features include a commentary track with executive producer/director Keoni Waxman and executive producer Binh Dang. There is also a behind-the-scenes featurette, a featurette about the two action stars and interviews with them as well. 

    Touch: The Complete First Season DVD review

                Although the premise seems slightly different, “Touch” has so many similarities “Heroes” that it becomes impossible not to compare the two. There are even locations which seem similar to those in “Heroes,” and it almost feels like the leftovers from a one-hit-wonder. “Heroes” had an ensemble of characters that intermingled throughout the seasons and ultimately the series. “Touch” has a myriad of characters which intermingle and connect throughout each individual episode, with only a few major characters returning week after week.

                “Heroes” was about a select group of mutant human beings with special abilities, whereas “Touch” is about a select group of humans with special abilities that are more mental and less physical. Our narrator is a mute boy with the ability to see connections and patterns that nobody else can see, and he uses this to help people around him and far from him. This becomes complexly reliant on how small changes in our life can have a ripple effect that has massive repercussions.

                Although Jake is the one with the ability, he is only able to achieve his goals with the help of his single father, Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), whose ability to communicate with his son is limited to say the least. With the help of a Child Protective Services employee and a brilliant professor with special knowledge (Danny Glover), Martin and his son are able to work together to change people’s lives.

                This show is often melodramatic and cheesy, and what it does have going for it is remarkably similar to what made “Heroes” work. Sutherland is over-the-top and over-acting as usual, even without trying to save the country from terrorist attacks. With all that is wrong with this show, I still found myself drawn in to each episode. The first season has 11 episodes, all included on three discs with special features. There is an extended pilot episode, some featurettes and a few select deleted scenes.

    Holliston: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz, Corri English, Dee Snider
  • Directors: Adam Green, Sean Becker
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Release Date: October 9, 2012
  • Run Time: 223 minutes

  •             The premise for “Holliston” is clever and fairly original, though this does not always mean that it works. There are extra points awarded for the boldness of the concept. Creating a horror sitcom is certainly an achievement on its own, but that does not mean that I care to see any further seasons. These guys should stick to making horror movies instead, but I commend them for trying. If nothing else, horror fans with a sick sense of humor will enjoy the lower budget horror special effects used for the show.

                “Holliston” is a sitcom in the most traditional sense, with a simple apartment set that carries a majority of the action. There are the usual one-liners and laugh tracks, but where this sitcom varies is in the addition to this formula. Starring horror newcomers Adam Green (Hatchet) and Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End), who both play characters with their own first names and a similar love for the horror genre. They essentially seem to be playing themselves, but versions which are not yet successful. They are broke roommates and aspiring filmmakers who spend most of their time dreaming up plans for their big break.

                When they aren’t planning their big chance to make it from Holliston, Massachusetts to Hollywood, Adam and Joe are struggling with women problems. The pilot is overlong and all about Adam’s attempt to hire a hooker to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Adam’s ex-girlfriend Corri (Corri English) is a regular member of the cast, along with Joe’s ditzy girlfriend, Laura (Laura Ortiz). There are also the more than occasional horror icon cameos, and a re-occurring imaginary friend played by Dave Brockie of GWAR and a glam rock boss played by Twisted Sister member Dee Snider.

                This original series is unique and worth checking out for horror fans. All of season one is fit onto Blu-ray disc, with a running time of just under four hours. There are cast commentaries on select episodes, as well as bloopers and deleted scenes. There are also some making of featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage.

    Excision Blu-ray review

  • Actors: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Roger Bart, Malcom McDowell, Ariel Winter
  • Director: Richard Bates Jr.
  • Format: Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • Run Time: 81 minutes

  •             This is not an attractive film. I don’t say that because it is poorly shot, because some of the fantasy sequences are absolutely gorgeous in a way. The images are gloriously vibrant, and they might even be enjoyable to look at if they weren’t filled with gruesome and disgusting images. The main star is made to look purposefully unattractive much of the film. Even when she does look glamorous in her fantasies, her actions are always disturbing enough to counter this. This is a film filled with unattractive images and ideas, making it far from easy to sit through without squirming uncomfortably.

                AnnaLynne McCord gives a bold performance as Pauline, a role which calls for her to be as unattractive as possible for much of the film. Only within fantasy sequences does she look glamorous, and this is countered with gruesome and graphic images of blood and carnage. Pauline is an unpopular high school student who exists within her own demented world of bizarre ideas and a strange secret fetish. Though she is an outcast, Pauline pays little attention to what anybody else says or thinks of her. When she gets an idea in her head, it doesn’t matter what obstacles are in her way.

                In one particularly disturbing sequence, Pauline decides that she is ready to lose her virginity. Though she is unpopular, a blunt proposal to a popular kid proves all that is needed. What is more disturbing is the manner in which Pauline desires to lose her virginity, and even more upsetting are the implications of her determination. Throughout the film Pauline’s ultimate psychosexual fantasies are of graphic surgery, and it becomes clear that she may even be disturbed enough to carry out a fantasy of her own in real life.

                The Blu-ray release has an audio commentary track with director Richard Bates, Jr. and McCord. This is the only special feature, though the fantasies are filmed in a way which is enhanced by the high definition presentation of the Blu-ray. The film is disturbing regardless, but it is the contradiction of beauty and destruction that makes Excision far more sophisticated than and layered than your average horror film.  

    Coma DVD review

  • Actors: Lauren Ambrose, Steve Pasquale, Geena Davis, Ellen Burstyn, James Woods
  • Director: Mikael Salomon
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • Run Time: 160 minutes

  •             This medical conspiracy miniseries is chock-full of celebrity supporting cast and a near-theatrical approach to the adaptation of Robin Cook’s novel, though that simply begs the question of the need for the 160 minute run time. Although I don’t imagine the demand would have been great for another theatrical film for Coma, I also think that a great deal of entertainment value could have been increased had there been somewhat more of a time constraint. The way it stands now, Coma is often a little too slow in revealing the twists in the plot, allowing the audience to figure them out long before the characters do.

                Our investigative protagonist is Dr. Susan Wheeler (Lauren Ambrose of HBO’s “Six Feet Under”), a medical student who risks her career when she finds some discrepancies at the hospital she works at. After discovering that a number of patients all fell into comas after routine operations in the same room, Susan digs deeper to find out what is happening to the patients. The suspenseful investigation only becomes more dangerous the deeper that she digs.
    With the help of a young surgeon (Steven Pasquale of “Rescue Me”), Susan traces the patients to a highly secretive medical facility. With this discovery it is more than just Susan’s career which is at risk, each revelation bringing forth more danger. The cast is full of seasoned actors such as Geena Davis and James Woods, with Ellen Burstyn and Richard Dreyfuss also giving special appearances. The miniseries is all included on one disc, with no special features included or called for.