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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Feb. 13

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Feb 13th, 2018

Click the movie titles for trailer links.

February 13, 2018: Roman J. Israel, Esq., Marshall, The Deuce: The Complete First Season.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.


SYNOPSIS: ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. is a dramatic thriller set in the overburdened Los Angeles criminal court system. Denzel Washington stars as a driven, idealistic defense attorney whose life is suddenly disrupted. When he is recruited to join a firm led by an ambitious lawyer George Pierce (Colin Farrell) – and begins a friendship with a young champion of equal rights (Carmen Ejogo), a turbulent series of events ensue that will put the activism that has defined Roman’s career to the test.

Even though ‘Roman J. Israel, ESQ.’ may get little contrived in the storytelling department it’s still worth seeing for Denzel Washington’s eighth Academy Award-nominated performance. This legal drama also benefits from a solid ensemble cast, highlighted by Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo. In short, the film’s execution is messy at times but it still manages to deliver a powerful, timely message, with a intriguing story, and yet another sensational lead role from the veteran Washington.

•Eight Deleted Scenes
•Three Featurettes
-“Denzel Washington: Becoming Roman”
-“The Making of Roman J. Israel, ESQ.”
-“Colin Farrell: Discovering George”


91kJZvSaacL._SL1500_SYNOPSIS: In the year 1941, the United States teeters on the brink of entering World War II. The country’s largest civil rights organization, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) sends its only lawyer, thirty-two-year-old Thurgood Marshall (Boseman), to defend a black chauffeur (Brown) charged with rape and attempted murder by his socialite employer (Hudson). The trial quickly dominated headlines and became tabloid fodder. Marshall, in need of a win, engages the help of Samuel Friedman (Gad), a young Jewish lawyer with no trial experience. Marshall and Friedman struggle to expose the truth amidst the fear and prejudice, knowing that a young man’s life hangs in the balance. The trial set the groundwork for a career that would make Thurgood Marshall America’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice. MARSHALL is based upon a true story.

This movie contains a fascinating true story at its core but struggles at times with pacing problems. However, with ‘Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman front and centre, along with fine support from Josh Gad, Dan Stevens, Kate Hudson, and Sterling K. Brown, the old-fashioned courtroom drama overcomes most of its narrative issues. ‘Marshall’ occasionally takes a simplistic approach to its rather complex plot and diverse character study but is well-intentioned and earnestly made plus features some fine acting.

The Deuce: The Complete First Season


SYNOPSIS: Boasting a fine ensemble cast and executive produced by David Simon, George Pelecanos, Nina K. Noble and James Franco, The Deuce chronicles the rise of the porn industry that began in New York City in 1971-72, driven by the gradual legalization of porn and a politically motivated effort to “clean up” Times Square. Seizing the chance to cash in on the nascent porn business are a vivid assortment of characters, including: Vincent Martino (James Franco), a bartender with vision and connections; Frankie Martino (Franco again), Vincent’s identical twin, a dangerously freewheeling counterpart to his entrepreneurial brother; Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a self-made, on-the-street sex worker eying a new career in porn filmmaking; pimps C.C. (Gary Carr) and Larry Brown (Gbenga Akinnagbe); young prostitutes Darlene (Dominique Fishback) and Lori (Emily Meade); midtown cop Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.); newspaper reporter Sandra Washington (Natalie Paul); mob capo Rudy Pipilo (Michael Rispoli); disillusioned college student Abby Parker (Margarita Levieva); and others.

HBO knocks it out of the park once again with this sexy, sultry look at the seedy underbelly of New York City in the 1970s. Fans of the network’s previous shows like ‘The Wire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ may have fun spotting some recognizable faces. ‘The Deuce’ boasts one of the finest casts on television and some brilliant writing courtesy of David Simon and frequent collaborator George Pelecanos. The show is ultimately a triumph because it takes a sprawling story but injects it with plenty of intimacy, thanks to great acting, and handles some very delicate subject matter sensitively and tastefully, while still leaving lots of room for trademark grit. ‘The Deuce’ is one of the reasons we stay at home to watch our entertainment and here’s hoping for more success in season two.

•The Deuce in Focus- Delve inside The Deuce with Michelle MacLaren, James Franco and Roxann Dawson as they talk about bringing the show to life.
•The Wild West: New York in the Early ’70s- Head back in time in this featurette that focuses on the frontier of the pornography business–New York City in the early 1970s–with the cast and crew of The Deuce. Creators David Simon and George Pelecanos plus James Franco and his co-stars open up about this unique period in NYC history as porn moved from the street to the mainstream screen.
Blu-ray™ & DVD Exclusive Bonus Features Include:
•Audio Commentaries- Commentaries on Episode 1 and Episode 8 with cast and crew including David Simon (Co-Creator/Executive Producer), George Pelecanos (Co-Creator/Executive Producer), Nina Kostroff Noble (Executive Producer), Michele MacLaren (Director), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Actor/Producer) and James Franco (Actor/Executive Producer).


Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Feb. 6

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Feb 6th, 2018

Click the movie titles for trailer links.

February 6, 2018: Only the Brave, Last Flag Flying.

Only the Brave

only the braveSYNOPSIS: ONLY THE BRAVE, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the heroic story of a team of local firefighters who – through hope, determination and sacrifice – become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the nation. Starring Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Taylor Kitsch, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale and Jennifer Connelly, the firefighters forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus as they fight a fateful fire to protect our lives, our homes and everything we hold dear. Based on the GQ article “No Exit” by Sean Flynn, ONLY THE BRAVE was directed by Joseph Kosinski from a screenplay by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer. The film was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Menchel, Erik Howsam, Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Dawn Ostroff and Jeremy Steckler and executive produced by Ellen H. Schwartz.

This one may have passed you by in theatres but it was actually one of the most powerfully moving films of 2017. Although on the surface Only the Brave looks like just another flag-waving piece of propaganda it’s really a stirring drama, with an emphasis on character, that meticulously details the fascinating world of a group of uniquely brave first responders. Thanks to gorgeous cinematography, keen direction from Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion), and stellar performances – particularly from Josh Brolin and Miles Teller – Only the Brave is a rather remarkable hidden gem and an earnest tribute to some real life heroes.

-Deleted Scenes
-Feature Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Kosinski and Josh Brolin
-“Honoring the Heroes: The True Stories”
-“Behind the Brotherhood: The Characters”
-“Boot Camp: Becoming a Hotshot”
-Dierks Bentley featuring S. Carey’s “Hold The Light” Music Video & Featurette

Last Flag Flying

last flagSYNOPSIS: In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with Former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. Doc decides to forgo burial at Arlington Cemetery and, with the help of his old buddies, takes the casket on a bittersweet trip up the East Coast to his home in suburban New Hampshire. Along the way, Doc, Sal and Mueller reminisce and come to terms with shared memories of the war that continues to shape their lives.

Master filmmaker Richard Linklater (Boyhood) examines the nature of family grief in this poignant drama. The trio of leads really help carry the material and the script makes enough room for levity that the subject matter never gets too grim. The pacing may require some patience at times but Last Flag Flying offers a sombre account of those affected by war and uses patriotism as a unifying narrative device rather than a divisive one.

Special features (available on Blu-Ray/Digital HD) for LAST FLAG FLYING include:
-“Veterans Day Special” featurette
-Behind the Scenes
-Deleted Scenes

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Jan. 23

Thor Diakow | posted Monday, Jan 22nd, 2018

Click the movie titles for trailer links.

January 23, 2018: The Foreigner, Geostorm, Brad’s Status, Thank You for Your Service, Goodbye Christopher Robin.

The Foreigner


SYNOPSIS: This taut thriller stars world-renowned action star Jackie Chan as a humble restaurant owner in London’s Chinatown. On a mission to track down the rogue Irish radicals responsible for his beloved daughter’s death, he’s forced to push his moral and physical boundaries beyond limits to overcome the mysterious foreign power (Pierce Brosnan) standing between him and the truth.

The Foreigner works best as a throwback procedural crime drama, with a healthy dose of action, that is reminiscent of the Tom Clancy flicks with Harrison Ford from the 90s. It contains a surprisingly well-crafted mystery, features some solid acting from Pierce Brosnan, and showcases veteran Jackie Chan’s action skills commendably. In short, this is a decent thriller and it’s refreshing to see Chan enter some more dramatic territory.



SYNOPIS: After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world’s leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe.  But now, something has gone wrong—the system built to protect the Earth is attacking it, and it’s a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything…and everyone along with it.

It’s big, loud, and rather dumb BUT this disaster spectacle boasts an impressive cast and enough wacky B-movie quality charm that it might just rank up there with a guilty pleasure.


-Wreaking Havoc: Cutting edge visual effects, research and technology create the world of Geostorm.
-Search for Answers: Inspired by his daughter’s question of why can’t global warming be stopped, Director Dean Devlin retraces the creative journey that led to Geostorm.
-An International Event: A global cast opens up about the secrets behind Geostorm.

Brad’s Status


SYNOPSIS: Brad has a satisfying career and a comfortable life in suburban Sacramento where he lives with his sweetnatured wife, Melanie (Jenna Fischer), and their musical prodigy son, Troy (Austin Abrams), but it’s not quite what he imagined during his college glory days. Showing Troy around Boston, where Brad went to university, he can’t help comparing his life with those of his four best college friends: a Hollywood bigshot (White), a hedge-fund founder (Luke Wilson), a tech entrepreneur (Jemaine Clement), and a political pundit and bestselling author (Michael Sheen). As he imagines their wealthy, glamorous lives, he wonders if cozy middle-class domesticity is the best he will ever achieve. But when circumstances force him to reconnect with his former friends, Brad begins to question whether he has really failed or if, in some essential ways, their lives are more flawed than they appear.

This is a delightfully quirky charmer that benefits from an excellent cast and plenty of snappy dialogue courtesy of writer-director Mike White. The plot may be somewhat formulaic but Brad’s Status keenly examines familial relations, grapples with the notion of hindsight, plus it’s legitimately funny and genuinely heartfelt.

Thank You for Your Service


SYNOPSIS: For Sergeant Adam Schumann (Miles Teller)—and many soldiers like him—the process of leaving combat back in Iraq was as seemingly simple as getting on that plane. But standing on the tarmac again in the arms of loved ones would turn out to be merely a first step in the long and exacting journey of actually returning home. Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield.

Although this movie may not break new ground when it comes to post-war dramas it does contain strong acting and examines some serious issues earnestly. Led by a commanding performance from Miles Teller, Thank You for Your Service takes a candid look at the effects of war on modern-day soldiers and how they adjust to civilian life once their fighting days are over. The film may have some narrative issues (and plenty of flag-waving) but there is no denying its powerful, timely message.


-Staging a War – A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Thank You for Your Service
-The Battle at Home – A look at the “after-war”, a battle fought at home by veterans of all ages, abilities, and rank

Goodbye Christopher Robin


SYNOPSIS: A behind-the-scenes look at the life of author A.A. Milne and the creation of the Winnie the Pooh stories inspired by his son C.R. Milne.

This underrated historical biopic suffers from tonal imbalance at times but is overall a rather handsome production with the aid of a fine cast. Goodbye Christopher Robin may feel generic in execution occasionally yet it’s a strikingly poignant tale that casts an interesting shadow on the origin of a beloved children’s character.

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