Recently in Blu-ray

Stonehearst Asylum Blu-ray Review: Might Make Poe Proud

It's pretty good right up until it tries too hard.
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Coming this week to a retailer near you is Stonehearst Asylum, a 19th Century thriller of sorts from Brad Anderson, the man behind such films as The Machinist, The Call, Transsiberian, and Session 9. Stonehearst is based on the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" by Edgar Allan Poe. The film begins in Oxford, UK in 1899 with a demonstration of eliciting a psychotic response in a patient for instructional purposes. This scene hints at the barbaric practices of treating the insane that are nowadays considered heinous and foul and "how did we think that was

Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series Blu-ray Review: Perhaps Even the Best

As the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi is off to a roaring start in the brilliant new series.
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With the Blu-ray release of Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series, it is clear that the beloved Doctor is on a historic roll. While there have been highs and lows since the 2005 re-boot of Doctor Who, something very special has been going on in the past couple of years. Part of this has been the excitement over the 50th anniversary, which was in November 2013. But even bigger was the appointment of Steven Moffat as showrunner. With The Sopranos, David Chase turned the story of a New Jersey mafia boss into a parable of turn-of-the-millennium America. With the eighth

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray Review: Peter Jackson Goes Back Again

The director returns to Middle-earth with mixed results.
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Filmmaker Peter Jackson returned to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of an intended trilogy based on the author’s 1937 fantasy novel. Considering a few recent book-to-film franchises had increased their ratios, it wasn’t a surprise when news broke that The Hobbit would be turned into two movies. However, when the announcement came that the material would be expanded into three movies, many fans were puzzled how it would work being stretched so thin. For many, myself included, it didn’t work well, especially when inevitably compared to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) Blu-ray Review: Shades of Gray

The Warner Archive Collection breathes new life into the innovative classic.
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While it certainly wasn't the first motion picture adaptation of the Oscar Wilde classic, MGM's 1945 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray did have the honor of not only being the first feature-length American version of the tale, as well as the first to employ the use of color when black-and-white was the norm (during the war, even). Fortunately, Albert Lewin's masterpiece does so sparingly. Reserving the bulk of his (black-and-white) stock so that cinematographer Harry Stradling may deliver some truly atmospheric noir-like (and Oscar winning) photography, Lewin then dazzles viewers with four very brief - but simplistically powerful

When the Wind Blows (1986) Blu-ray Review: Wild is the Wind

So, anyone for a nuclear holocaust, then?
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Not many people may remember this, but there was a lot of nuclear war going back in the '80s. Big time. All over the place! Tensions between the various powers in the east and the west began to swelter, and James Bond and many other agents from the free(er) parts of the world were rushed into action. Sometimes they succeeded, making the way for artists like Rita Coolidge to gain a hit single out of the deal in the process. Other times, however, things failed with the utmost of (in)efficiency. The world was destroyed, time and time again, inevitably paving

The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei) Blu-ray Review: Ex-Swordsman Blues

Wait, THIS lost to "The Barbarian Invasions"? THIS?!
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It's always interesting to see the similarities between samurai films and the western. Both genres have served to inspire filmmakers from either corner of the world intermittently over the years. Sergio Leone adapted the spaghetti western classic (For) A Fistful of Dollars from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo - a tale that itself borrowed elements from an American film noir, The Glass Key. Likewise, The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven, while Sergio Corbucci's cult classic Django (the real one, kids) and just about every other influential European western eventually wound up receiving an Eastern treatment in Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django.

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears Blu-ray Review: Bizarre, Incomprehensible, and Mesmerizing

A hallucinatory fever dream of a film that is surprising, strange and wonderful.
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After watching The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, you’ll probably have a lengthy discussion with your viewing partner about style versus substance. That is if your partner hasn’t fallen asleep or left the theatre in a rage. It's the sort of film that will likely sharply divide its audiences. It's either a beautifully poetic, deeply intellectual masterpiece or pretentious trash depending on who you ask. The story for what there is (and what there is is very little) concerns a man, Dan (Klaus Tange), who comes home from a business trip to find his apartment door locked from the

Flaming Star Blu-ray Review: Hunka Hunka Burning Death

Elvis Presley's best performance? Well, if such a thing was ever possible, this is most assuredly it.
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It wasn't until earlier this year, when Twilight Time released the happy, family-friendly flick Follow That Dream to Blu-ray, that I finally, willingly [citation needed] sat through an entire Elvis Presley film from beginning to end. Even then, I had to occasionally resist the urge to lift up my couch in order to read the fine print on those labels that tell me not to remove them just so I could keep my spirits up. And that is probably because there is this weird misconception about Elvis movies ingrained into my head (which is a fairly common credence that could

Judgment at Nuremberg Blu-ray Review: Picking Up the Pieces

Stanley Kramer's powerhouse post-World War II courtroom drama gets another chance to shock and delight via Twilight Time.
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We've all heard the saying "War is Hell" a million times over. Hell, there are probably over a million films that have been manufactured from all corners of the world throughout the last millennia or so that have done their very best to convey this message unto viewers. Sometimes, these stories serve as clever warning devices to remind mankind of its own mortality (and immaturity, despite its age). Other times, you just wind up with a great big mess of a cheap exploitation flick on your hands. And then there are those rare, infrequently-made movies that look past the conflicts

UHF Blu-ray Review: Constant Parodying, Semi-Constant Laughter

"Weird Al" packs a comic sensibility not at all conducive to feature films into a ramshackle movie.
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"Weird Al" seems to be perpetually "coming back". It's surprising to see, in a world where all careers have peaks and valleys, and some valleys never rise into a peak again, that a "novelty act" has stayed fresh, interesting, fun and popular while basically just doing the same thing for 30-plus years. With a combination of pop-culture references, absurdist humor, and not-too biting parody (which only, as Al explains himself on the Comic Con panel available on the Blu-ray features, occasionally ventures into satire when it directly comments on the work) "Weird Al" seeks, above all, to amuse. Not so

Adventure Time: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review: Make Time For It

Looking for adventure? Head out and buy this.
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The fourth season of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time ran from April 2, 2012 to October 22, 2012. Some of the episodes have previously been released to home video, but this release presents the Complete Fourth Season for the first time. "Princess Cookie", "The Hard Easy", "Lady & Peebles", and "Goliad" were all nominated for Annie Awards. "Card Wars" won a Golden Reel Award and was entertainingly imaginative as Finn and Jake played a version of Magic the Gathering. Guest voices this season include Bobcat Goldthwait, Susie Essman, Erik Estrada, and Lou Ferrigno. For those not in the know, Adventure Time

Darkman Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review: Delivers the Fun Quotient

Sam Raimi's ultracool, post Evil Dead B-movie.
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As we all know, Sam Raimi is one of our favorite directors, cult films (The Evil Dead series), and blockbusters (the Spiderman series, Drag Me to Hell). Not to place criticism, but he does have a tendency to make certain films that have failed to live up the hyper-kinetic gruesome horror of his early classics, such as the ill-fated Crimewave (1985), The Quick and the Dead (1995), and most recently his prequel follow-up to the classic 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, entitled Oz: The Great and Powerful. But he has made some really remarkable films, such as A Simple

Bunny Lake is Missing Blu-ray Review: Required Viewing is Found

The only film to ever have employed a couple of Zombies as a Greek chorus hits High-Def courtesy Twilight Time.
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As soon as the opening credits of Bunny Lake is Missing fade in following the perfunctory Columbia lady logo, it's obvious that this is an Otto (Anatomy of a Murder) Preminger film. A hand reaches up onto the completely black screen, ripping pieces of the darkness away to show us just enough for the incredible iconic work of Saul Bass to reveal the men and women responsible for this magnificent work of cinematic art. Likewise, director Preminger only shows us fractions of the light throughout this psychological thriller revolving around a missing child in London during the revolutionary mid '60s

It Happened One Night Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: The Original Runaway Bride

Frank Capra's romantic comedy classic shines in new Criterion release.
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It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time in cinematic history when romantic comedies were extremely rare. That all started to change, for better or worse, with the 1934 release of this Frank Capra gem. The film went on to sweep the five major Oscar categories, netting statues for stars Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, director Capra, and screenwriter Robert Riskin, cementing its status as a Hollywood classic. That classic is now 80 years old and was showing its age, so its recent meticulous restoration and new release on Blu-ray offers a completely refreshed take on the film. Colbert

James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D Blu-ray Review: What Goes Down Goes Waaay Down

Dive into a wet and wild ride to the bottom of the world's oceans.
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I watched Deepsea Challenge 3D a few nights ago (though decidedly in 2D as I lack the necessary equipment for that elusive third dimension), but it wasn't until last night that I really developed an appreciation for what James Cameron endured to make this piece of work. He crammed himself into a steel sphere only a few feet in diameter and plummeted to the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean for the sake of curiosity and scientific discovery. What could I have possibly done to compare to this task? I crammed myself into the tiny space under my

Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) Blu-ray Review: Uneven Musical Gangster Noir (in Color)

The Warner Archive presents the second of three strikes for Jack Webb's failed franchise.
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Way back during those far-off days of the very early 1990s (he said in jest), I found myself - along with my peers - choosing an assignment for English from a number of eclectic books our teacher had on-hand. And while my report of The Communist Manifesto, wherein I commented Karl Marx was of no relation to Groucho, Harpo, Chico or Zeppo, was a deliberately dumb affair, it could not compare to the smirking delight that set over my face when the morons on the other side of the room - the "cool, popular" kids, if you will - decided

Birdman of Alcatraz Blu-ray Review: The Cinematic System's Sympathetic Psychopath

Twilight Time brings us a much-needed High-Def release of the Burt Lancaster/John Frankenheimer classic.
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November 2014 could truly be one of the most auspiciously underestimated months in the history of home video releases. One of two significantly incredible reasons for my assessment owes to a recent Warner release that many of us never, ever thought we would see, Batman: The Complete Television Series - which not only made it to video in a form other than our terrible VHS recordings from TV, but on Blu-ray even. The second reason this month deserves an asterisk in the annals of history is warranted by the High-Def home video debut of another fellow named after a small

Genesis: Three Sides Live Blu-ray Review: ...And Then They Were Live...

Turn it on (again) and play it loud.
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Available for the first time as a stand-alone DVD and on Blu-ray, Genesis: Three Sides Live was initially released on Betamax and VHS in 1982 as a companion piece to the live album of the same name. The film shows the band (vocals/drums Phil Collins, keyboards Tony Banks, guitar/bass Mike Rutherford with support from touring members guitar/bass Daryl Stuermer and drums Chester Thompson) on their 1981 North American tour promoting their eleventh album, Abacab. The concert performances are taken from two New York shows, primarily from Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, on November 29, 1981 with two ("Me & Sarah Jane"

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions Blu-ray Review: An Excellent Ending to A Strong Series

The final season for the animated Clone Wars series makes its way to Blu-ray.
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When the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was cancelled after its fifth season, fans wondered what was to become of the episodes already in the can for season six. Thirteen episodes of the originally intended 22 were produced and were eventually made available on the German TV Network, Super RTL, and, later, Netflix in America and Canada. Now those episodes are available with bonus content on Blu-ray as Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions. The season leads off with “The Unknown” and finds Republic forces batting a battle droid army aboard a planet-circling space station. A

Possessed (1947) Blu-ray Review: At Last, Gender Equality in Film Noir!

Joan Crawford takes the wheel in a classic thriller that has received a startling new HD release from the Warner Archive.
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It's always the same. One minute, you're wandering aimlessly down the surprisingly empty streets of Los Angeles, searching for a man, mistaking every other stranger you meet for said individual, startling hard-working American folks by meandering into coffee shops and acting strange. The next minute, they're hauling your ass into the psychiatric ward. Well, maybe that's not a common occurrence for you, but I'm sure I have come closer to being in the exact same predicament Joan Crawford finds herself in at the beginning of her 1947 starring role Possessed than most other people who have would freely admit to.

Yankee Doodle Dandy Blu-ray Review: You're a Grand Old Film

James Cagney gets born of the fourth of July for the Warner Archive's dynamic HD release of the already exceptional George M. Cohan biopic.
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Generally, as I have pointed out in a previous article, biographical motion pictures are something of specialty items - usually commissioned, produced and released in order to cash-in on the death of a celebrity. But in the instance of 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy, we have a biopic that is a whole different affair altogether. Although the subject of the picture itself, the iconic patriotic American Broadway composer/playwright/performer George M. Cohan - conceived and brought to the attention of studio executives by the man himself (!) - was still alive at the time the film was made, he did not fall

The Italian Exploitation Invasion: Sex and Death, 1969-2012

From lite BDSM affairs of the late '60s to bloody splatter flicks of the mid '80s, here's a little bit of everything from one of cinema's most inimitably imitative industries.
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The bulk of Italian cinema is generally recognized by the average American viewer as little more than a number of classic neorealism features. Maybe a mafia movie made by a US filmmaker of Italian descent. And the occasional film by that guy who paved the way for a classic Tom Cruise interview by going berserk and climbing over (and atop) seats at the Oscars that one time. But for the cult/trash film enthusiast, Italy is perhaps the best known supplier of gory guilty pleasures, sinfully sultry sleazefests, and some of the most rockin' (or at least completely funky and groovy)

Planes: Fire and Rescue Blu-ray Combo Review: Geared Toward Younger Kids

Planes: Fire & Rescue may be a spin-off from Cars but it lacks the Pixar magic.
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Planes: Fire & Rescue is the second of three movies planned for the Planes trilogy which is a spin-off from Pixar's Cars. After becoming a success on the racing circuit, Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is getting ready for his biggest race to date. During a flight, his gear box gives out and he is told that it cannot be replaced. Not understanding his own limits, Dusty ends up causing damage to a local business and gets pushed in the world of Aerial Firefighting where he learns that being a real hero means checking your ego at the door.

The One I Love Blu-ray Review: Seeing is Believing

What we project onto our relationships can become a reality.
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Films about couples on the brink of losing their relationship are nothing new. We go to the theater to see if they will make it out alive and stay together because we hope in turn our own relationships will make it out alive. But if you are looking for a film to reinvigorate your relationship with your signifigant other, The One I Love is not that film. The One I Love starts as a film about Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss), a couple trying to save what is left of their marriage after Ethan has an affair. Their

Earth to Echo Blu-ray Review: Steven Spielberg's Lawyers Ought to Be Happy

A nostalgic family film that wants to remind you of classic '80s adventure movies, but instead made me chuck things at my TV.
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I recently wrote about how I’ve become obsessed with the idea of watching all the old movies I loved as a kid with my own child. There is something really wonderful about the sharing of films that meant a great deal to yourself as you grew up with your own offspring as they grow older. Along with this, I’ve began to wonder what new films my daughter will love. What films will she take with her to college and get all nostalgia-eyed with her suite mates and girlfriends? What will be her Karate Kid? Her Gremlins? At three, she’s really

Good People Blu-ray Review: Good People, So-So Movie

Not as good as its cast might imply.
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Good People treads the rather well worn theme of greed making good people turn bad, greed specifically in this case being money. The story starts out with a drug deal double-cross gone bad, and the double-crosser turns up dead of an overdose a couple days later in his London flat. When the landlords Tom (James Franco) and Anna (Kate Hudson) venture into their tenant's apartment to ask him to turn down his blaring television, they find the corpse as well as about 300,000 pounds in cash. Unlike the tiresome Come Morning, Good People is slightly more deserving of being compared

Snowpiercer Blu-ray Review: Off to See the Wizard

Intelligent, thought-provoking sci-fi drama with winning performances and production design.
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Chris Evans struck box-office gold with his latest Captain America film this year, but his other recent comic book film is equally entertaining. Based on an obscure French graphic novel, Snowpiercer imagines a post-apocalyptic world that has frozen over, trapping all human survivors on a huge train on a perpetual voyage around the world. Much like Speed, if their transport drops below a certain speed, they’ll all die, but in this case it’s due to the extreme cold outside rather than any explosives. The train has a rigid class system, with the poor huddled masses in the rear and the

My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks Blu-ray Review: Entertainment for the Entire Family

Equestria Girls proves that friendship and music really is magic.
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In fall of 2013, the world was introduced to My Little Pony Equestria Girls, an alternate reality in which the four-legged friends from Canterlot were re-imagined as teenage girls. At first glance, it seemed like little more than a cash grab - a way for the popular characters to horn in turf previously occupied by the likes of Barbie and Monster High. And maybe it was; after all, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is little more than a series of 22-minute commercials for a toy line, right? Except that it isn't. Any parent who watches the show with their
Hollywood has been remaking movies for nearly as long as its been making them. It does seem that the last few years, going back as far as maybe a decade, that the movie machine has been churning out remakes at a faster and faster speed. As subset of the remakes are prequels and reimaginings, which I seem to be seeing more and more as the days roll on. More recently we’ve got the post-Wicked retellings of old stories from the villains point of view. This has been popular in fiction for awhile coming on fast ever since Wicked, Gregory Maguire’s

Begin Again DVD Review: Sorry, Once Was Enough

Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley trapped in a sappy, predictable music industry backstager from the maker of Once.
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When a movie is as cliché-ridden and predictable as Begin Again, it’s often difficult to identify which is more to blame, the screenplay or the direction. In this case, John Carney, who also performed similar chores for the 2006 movie musical Once, has made it easy; he’s again responsible for both. This 2013 tale of middle-aged redemption, artistic striving and music industry backstage story stars two talented, likeable actors, Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. He’s Dan, a down-and-out former record label exec, nearly broke, divorced and estranged from his teenage daughter Violet (Hailee Steinfeld). She’s Gretta, a talented but unheralded

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