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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: May 1

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

May 1, 2018: 12 Strong, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell.

12 Strong

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SYNOPSIS: “12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when an elite U.S. Special Forces unit led by their Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. soldiers sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission in response to the attacks. Leaving their families behind, the team is dropped into the remote, rugged landscape of northern Afghanistan, where they must convince General Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers.  Despite forming an uneasy bond and growing respect, the new allies face overwhelming odds: vastly outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.

Despite some borderline jingoistic tone issues 12 Strong provides a strong vehicle for showcasing Chris Hemsworth’s leading man status, outside the superhero world, and is also backed by a strong supporting cast. The film doesn’t break new ground when it comes to war dramas but does cover an intriguing (true) story and features some solid cinematography. In the end, 12 Strong‘s sometimes bombastic and simplistic approach is held together by its earnest intentions and memorable characters.

BLU-RAY/DVD ELEMENTS:
“12 Strong” Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
-12 Strong: The Making of an Impossible Mission
Monumental Effort: Building America’s Response Monument

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

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SYNOPSIS: Mary is an ordinary young girl stuck in the country with her great-aunt Charlotte and seemingly no adventures or friends in sight. She follows a mysterious cat into the nearby forest, where she discovers an old broomstick and the strange fly-by-night flower, a rare plant that blossoms only once every seven years and only in that forest. Together the flower and the broomstick whisk Mary above the clouds, and far away to endor college – a school of magic run by headmistress madam Mumblechook and the brilliant Doctor Dee. But there are terrible things happening at the school, and when Mary tells a lie, she must risk her life to try to set things right. Based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 classic children’s book The Little Broomstick, Mary and The Witch’s Flower is an action-packed film full of jaw-dropping imaginative worlds, ingenious characters, and the and the stirring, heartfelt story of a young girl trying to find a place in the world. Featuring the voices of Ruby Barnhill and Academy Award-winners Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.

While this movie feels a tad derivative (you’ll be reminded of previous greats like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away) when it comes to plot and imagery, it is admittedly gorgeously animated and delivers a rousing adventure that is sure to dazzle fans of the genre. It may not be a classic but Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a beautiful and simple story – with an endearing message – that faithfully honours the roots of Studio Ghibli, where director Hiromasa Yonebayashi got his start.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
-Includes a digital copy of Mary and The Witch’s Flower (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
-NTV Special: Creating Mary and The Witch’s Flower
-A Special Conversation: Sekai No Owari, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, and Yoshiaki Nishimura
-Film Completion Press Conference
-Theatrical Promotional Movie
-Interview with the Filmmakers
-Trailers
-TV Spots

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell

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SYNOPSIS: Burt Gummer (Gross) and his son Travis Welker (Kennedy) find themselves up to their ears in Graboids and Ass-Blasters when they head to Canada to investigate a series of deadly giant worm attacks. Arriving at a remote research facility in the arctic tundra, Burt begins to suspect that Graboids are secretly being weaponized, but before he can prove his theory, he is sidelined by Graboid venom. With just 48 hours to live, the only hope is to create an antidote from fresh venom — but to do that, someone will have to figure out how to milk a Graboid!

Let’s put it this way – if you love the original and recent similar B-movie creature feature offerings, this will be right up your alley. As a fan of the first cult hit (from 1990!) it’s actually amusing to see Michael Gross reprise his role again and he certainly seems to be having fun! It’s chock-full of dumb fun but does have a somewhat decent story, plenty of one-liners, and rather impressive creature designs.

BLU-RAY, DVD AND DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES:
•The Making of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell: Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss why Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is the most bone-blasting Tremors movie yet.
•Anatomy of a Scene: Watch as we break down the various elements that need to come together to film the first underwater Graboid attack.
•Inside Chang’s Market: Chang’s Market is an iconic location in Tremors history. See how it was recreated and updated for this installment of the franchise.
Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell will be available on Blu-rayTM, DVD and Digital.
•Blu-ray unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD, exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
•Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.

 

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Apr. 24

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Apr 25th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

April 24, 2018: The Post, Paddington 2, The Commuter, Maze Runner: The Death Cure.

The Post

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SYNOPSIS: OSCAR ® winners Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks team up for the first time in this thrilling film based on a true story. Determined to uphold the nation’s civil liberties, Katharine Graham (Streep), publisher of The Washinton Post, and hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) join forces to expose a decades-long cover-up. But the two must risk their careers –– and their freedom –– to bring truth to light in this powerful film with a celebrated cast. THE POST home entertainment release features 90 minutes of bonus content, depicting the real life events behind the groundbreaking untold story and the journey to bring it to the big screen.

One of 2017’s most masterful films finally comes home. In addition to an impeccably crafted movie, from veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg, you can also delve into all the behind-the-scenes goodness with some impressive special features, including several engaging documentaries chronicling the real story behind the saga. The Post brilliantly combines top-notch acting, a strong story/script, rousing score, and vintage direction from Spielberg. It would also make one hell of a double feature paired with All the President’s Men.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
Take in these fascinating documentaries about this riveting, important film and the incredible real-life story it’s based on, featuring director Steven Spielberg, stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, reporters and others. Included are insightful interviews, documents from the Pentagon Papers era, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.
•Layout: Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee & The Washington Post––**Blu-rayTM only
-Get to know the brave real-life characters at the heart of this story, Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, who risked everything to tell the truth.
-Editorial: The Cast and Characters of The Post––**Blu-rayTM only
-Learn how, once Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks agreed to make this important film, other world-class actors also signed on!
-The Style Section: Re-Creating an Era
-Visit the 1970s and the Washington Post newsroom in this engaging exploration of how the style of The Pentagon Papers era was created.
-Stop the Presses: Filming The Post
-You’re invited onto the set with Steven Spielberg, his collaborators and his cast as they meticulously craft each cinematic moment.
-Arts and Entertainment: Music for The Post
-Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams celebrate their 44-year partnership in this moving tribute to collaboration and friendship.

Paddington 2

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SYNOPSIS: While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday, Paddington sees a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. Hilarity and adventure ensue when the book is stolen and Paddington and the Browns must unmask the thief.

AMAZING! Seriously, this is basically a flawless family film that’s sure to land on many top 10 lists for 2018. It’s just got so much damn heart, you’ll need the tissues in the first 10 minutes. Paddington 2 is one of the rare sequels that enhances what the first film laid down to become an instant classic. The performances are delightful, the visual effects are stunning, and (perhaps most importantly) the plot is a perfect exercise in effective storytelling. In short, this one is an incredible balance of humour and heart.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Paddington: The Bear Truth
•How to Make A Marmalade Sandwich
•Music Video with Phoenix Buchanan
•The Magical Mystery of Paddington’s Pop-Up Book
•The Browns and Paddington: The Special Bond
•Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade
•The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan
•Audio Commentary by Director/Co-Writer Paul King
“Paddington 2” Standard Definition DVD contains the following special feature:
•Paddington: The Bear Truth

The Commuter

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SYNOPSIS: In the midst of his daily commute, insurance salesman Michael Woolrich is contacted by a mysterious stranger who forces him to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop.

Liam Neeson collaborates with director Jaume Collet-Serra for a fourth time in this nifty thriller. The dialogue may not be anything to write home about but it doesn’t really matter when Neeson is kicking ass all over the place. The Commuter is cheesy fun that works thanks to an eclectic cast, some thrilling chase sequences, decent (albeit frantic at times) action, and another commendably committed performance from its lead star.

SPECIAL FEATURES (available on 4K, Blu-Ray, Digital HD)
•“End of the Line” featurette
•“Off the Rails” featurette

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

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SYNOPSIS: In the epic conclusion to the MAZE RUNNER saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final mission. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all! Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.

While The Death Cure does boast A LOT of action, some of which is particularly well-staged, it winds up being a rather muted or limp conclusion to a trilogy that started out with so much promise. The acting is solid, highlighted by Dylan O’Brien’s impressive portrayal of the lead character, and the set design is consistently eye-catching. However, the finale’s story falls apart by the end as it gets bogged down by a series of generic chases and clichés which lack a truly satisfying finish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Deleted and Extended Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin, and Joe Hartwick Jr. (BD and Digital Only)
•4 Featurettes: The Final Run” , “Dystopia”, “Allies Reunited”, “A Look Back”, “Going Out on Top” (BD and Digital only)
•Gag Reel (BD and Digital only)
•Visual Effects with Optional Commentary (BD and Digital only)
•Audio Commentary by Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin and Joe Hartwick Jr. (on DVD, BD, UHD, and digital, but will not be available for boxed clients)
•Gallery (over 300 images; BD and digital)

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Apr. 10

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Apr 10th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

April 10, 2018: Phantom Thread, All the Money in the World, The Greatest Showman, Proud Mary, Vice Principals: The Complete Series.

Phantom Thread

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SYNOPSIS: Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock [Daniel Day-Lewis] and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the centre of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.

Sublime, surreal, and exquisite – Phantom Thread marks another cinematic triumph from the brilliant mind of P.T. Anderson. Sumptuous visuals, mixed with a haunting score by Jonny Greenwood, a brilliant script, and sensational yet somehow understated performances (led masterfully by Day-Lewis, Krieps, and Manville) help make this one of 2017’s finest films. You’ll never think of omelettes the same way again!

Special Features:
-Includes a digital copy of Phantom Thread (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
-Camera Tests
-For the Hungry Boy
-House of Woodcock Fashion Show
-Behind the Scenes Photographs

All the Money in the World

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SYNOPSIS: ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money. ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD was written by David Scarpa (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Last Castle) and is based on the book by John Pearson. It was produced by Dan Friedkin (The Square), Bradley Thomas (The Square), Quentin Curtis (Legend), Chris Clark (Legend), Ridley Scott, Mark Huffam (The Martian) and Kevin J. Walsh (Manchester by the Sea). Inspired by historical events. Certain scenes, characters and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes.

Vintage Ridley Scott direction coupled with an excellent performance from veteran actor Christopher Plummer give All the Money in the World a great sense of dramatic thrust. The film is anchored by a compelling true story (albeit embellished for Hollywood purposes) and may be a tad overshadowed by the behind-the-scenes saga involving original star Kevin Spacey but still makes for an effective watch.

Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Bonus Features:
•8 Deleted Scenes
•“Ridley Scott: Crafting a Historical Thriller” – Director Ridley Scott and the cast and crew discuss the fast-paced and exciting way he filmed this epic movie.
•“Hostages to Fortune: The Cast” – A look into the award-winning actors and their connections to their real-world characters.
•“Recast, Reshot, Reclaimed” – This piece follows the unprecedented recasting of the character J. Paul Getty a little over a month before the film’s theatrical release.

The Greatest Showman

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SYNOPSIS: An original musical screenplay brings to life the story of P.T. Barnum and his creation of “the greatest show on earth”. Rising from nothing, P.T. sets out to make a better life for his family. His creativity and drive take him on an fantastic journey beyond what he or anyone else could have imagined. In the end he creates a magical experience that will be enjoyed and celebrated by generations to come.

It may be cheesy and occasionally silly, plus features an overly sentimental script, but The Greatest Showman also showcases Hugh Jackman’s (and a talented supporting cast) talents extremely well. Don’t miss this one if you’re a sucker for lavish movie musicals and love inspiring stories that celebrate human diversity.

Special Features:
-Sing-along version
-Two hours of behind-the-scenes footage
-Music machine jukebox features.

Proud Mary

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SYNOPSIS: Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses during a professional hit. Billy Brown (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (The Upside), Danny Glover (Shooter, Lethal Weapon) and Neal McDonough (“Legends of Tomorrow”) also star in the film.

Taraji P. Henson deserves better. The actress delivers a commanding performance here, and gets to showcase some action skills, but Proud Mary succumbs to clichéd writing, typical genre tropes, and stilted pacing. If you love Taraji my advice is to stick with Empire.

Digital, Blu-ray & DVD Bonus Materials:
• Three Featurettes:
-“Mary’s World”
-“The Beginning of The End”
-“If Looks Could Kill”
The digital, Blu-ray and DVD releases of PROUD MARY include three behind-the-scene featurettes. “Mary’s World” unlocks some of the mystery behind all things “Mary,” with the cast and filmmakers weighing in on Taraji P. Henson’s kick-ass turn as the assassin nobody sees coming and shows some of the tools of her trade that let everyone know this is one woman you don’t want to accidentally cross. “The Beginning of The End” dives deep into the film’s final set piece with interviews on Mary’s signature battle to sever her ties from her former life once and for all. Lastly, not only is Mary about the best there is in the world of hit people … she looks good doing it. “If Looks Could Kill” explores Mary’s signature look and killer style, from her Maserati to the clothes and wigs that become her metaphorical armor.

Vice Principals: The Complete Series

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SYNOPSIS: Becoming the principal isn’t as easy as it looks! Witness the tumultuous high school years of North Jackson as Danny McBride and Walton Goggins star in the “profanely hilarious” (TV Guide) HBO comedy Vice Principals: The Complete Series, available on DVD April 10th. Boasting a strong viewership throughout both seasons, Vice Principals also stars Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Georgia King, Busy Phillips, Shea Whigham and Sheaun McKinney. Created by McBride and Jody Hill (co-creators of HBO’s Eastbound & Down), this “Grade A” (US Weekly) comedy tells the story of a southern suburban high school and the two people who conspire to run it, the vice principals. McBride and Goggins star as Neal Gamby and Lee Russell, a pair of ambitious administrators wagged in an epic power struggle to become school principal. After the long-time principal steps down to tend to his ailing wife, these bitter antagonists are forced to put their mutual disdain aside to form an unholy alliance in order to sabotage the new appointed principal Dr. Belinda Brown (Gregory). As the school year continues and new semesters brings changes, Gamby and Russell learn that the only thing harder than gaining power is holding on to it.

If you’re a fan of Danny McBride (or Walton Goggins for that matter) you might want to check out this show that may have passed you by. The humour is sometimes borderline mean-spirited and the writing doesn’t always hit the mark. However, the short-lived Vice Principals boasts an awesome cast, plenty of moments of hilarity, and even some unexpected poignancy.

Special Features:
-Audio commentaries with cast and crew
-Deleted scenes
-Blooper reels

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