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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Feb. 4

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Feb 4th, 2020

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

February 4, 2020: Last Christmas, Doctor Sleep, The Good Liar, Playing with Fire.

Last Christmas

SYNOPSIS: From director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Emma Thompson (Bridget Jones’s Baby) comes a heartfelt romantic comedy inspired by the unforgettable music of George Michael. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) stars as Kate, who works as an elf at a year-round holiday shop. Kate faces an endless streak of bad luck and poor decision-making until she meets Tom (Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians), a kind-hearted man with a mysterious past who challenges her cynical world view. It seems like nothing can keep this mismatched couple together, but sometimes you gotta listen to your heart… and you gotta have faith.

Bridesmaids and A Simple Favor director Paul Feig returns for this delightfully charming rom-com with a holiday twist. Despite a somewhat formulaic plot, some strong performances, genuine chemistry, snappy writing, and a likeable cast make this romp a worthy addition to your romance collection.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
Alternate Ending
Blooper Reel
Deleted/Alternate/Extended Scenes
Alternate Opening
“Last Christmas” – Full Performance
-Director in Vision
-It’s All So Cold
-Try Not To Laugh
-A Legacy Revealed
-Pure Golding
-Emilia Recording Session
-Love Letter to London
-Santa and Her Elf
-Paul Feig Takes Over the Tram
-12 Days of Production
Feature Commentary with Director Paul Feig
Feature Commentary with Director Paul Feig and Producer/Co-Writer Emma Thompson

Doctor Sleep

SYNOPSIS: Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra (Kyliegh Curran), a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the “shine.” Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality. Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before—at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.

While it could never fully live up to Stanley Kubrick’s original horror classic, The Shining sequel contains plenty of well-earned scares, disturbing themes, a thoroughly engrossing Ewan McGregor performance, and another great role for the ever-versatile Rebecca Ferguson. Be warned though, like most of Stephen King’s adapted material, this one is not for younger viewers. If you feel like some things are missing from the film check out the director’s cut, which contains nearly 30 minutes of extra material.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Return to the Overlook
•The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision
•From Shining to Sleep

The Good Liar

SYNOPSIS: Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions. And Roy means to take it all. From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.

The Good Liar boasts a formidable cast, with two sensational leads, and offers a decent little mystery. While it may be short on overall thrills, this genre flick utilizes its main stars well and provides enough of an intriguing escape.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•A Perfect Match: Inside the Good Liar
•Over 12 minutes of deleted scenes

Playing with Fire

SYNOPSIS: When firefighter Jake Carson (John Cena) and his team (Keegan-Michael Key & John Leguizamo) rescue three siblings in the path of a wildfire, they quickly realize that no amount of training could have prepared them for their most challenging job yet – babysitting. While trying to locate the children’s parents, the firefighters have their lives, jobs and even their fire station turned upside down and learn that kids – much like fires – are wild and full of surprises.

While mostly geared towards the little ones, this family-friendly comedy features a great cast who are truly having fun with the sometimes sentimental material. The story is predictable and the life lessons get heavy-handed but Playing with Fire offers enough charms to entertain the kids and should prove engaging for the adults.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Storytime with John Cena
•Deleted Scenes
•Bloopers
•Lighting Up The Laughs
•The Director’s Diaries: Read By Star Cast
•What It Means To Be A Family
•The Real Smokejumpers: This Is Their Story

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Jan. 28

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Jan 28th, 2020

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

January 28, 2020: Parasite, Pain and Glory, Terminator: Dark Fate, Motherless Brooklyn, Zombieland: Double Tap.

Parasite

SYNOPSIS: In PARASITE, meet the Park family, the picture of aspirational wealth and the Kim family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together and the Kim’s sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo, the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist to the Parks. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and the Parks.

Simply put, this was the finest film of 2019. Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant dark comedy is a masterclass in moviemaking as it balances some tricky tonal shifts while providing razor-sharp wit and insightful social commentary. Throw in some gorgeous lighting, glorious production design, a riveting cast, and you’re left with an instant classic for our modern times that will be remembered for years to come and sets a new benchmark for South Korean films on the world stage.

BONUS FEATURES:
•Q&A with Director Bong Joon Ho

Pain and Glory

SYNOPSIS: PAIN AND GLORY tells of a series of re-encounters experienced by Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a film director in his physical decline. Some of them in the flesh, others remembered: his childhood in the 60s, when he emigrated with his parents to a village in Valencia in search of prosperity, the first desire, his first adult love in the Madrid of the 80s, the pain of the breakup of that love while it was still alive and intense, writing as the only therapy to forget the unforgettable, the early discovery of cinema, and the void, the infinite void that creates the incapacity to keep on making films. PAIN AND GLORY talks about creation, about the difficulty of separating it from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. In recovering his past, Salvador finds the urgent need to recount it, and in that need he also finds his salvation.

Almodóvar is back with perhaps his most personal film to date. Lush visuals, a strong script, and a career-best performance from Antonio Banderas make this an unmissable addition to the director’s already storied list of accomplishments. Pain and Glory features a sensational and tender story – with real-world parallels – and represents a filmmaker working in top form and in clear command of his craft.

BONUS MATERIALS:
•Q&A with Director Pedro Almodóvar & Antonio Banderas – Antonio Banderas, Director Pedro Almodóvar, Composer Alberto Iglesias, and Producer Agustín Almodóvar discuss the creative process and genesis of PAIN AND GLORY.
•Pedro Almodóvar: In His Own Words – Pedro Almodóvar on La Movida Madrileña, his visual style, early inspirations, and his lengthy collaborations with Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz.
•CAST AND CREW

Terminator: Dark Fate

SYNOPSIS: Decades after Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) prevented Judgment Day, a lethal new Terminator is sent to eliminate the future leader of the resistance. In a fight to save mankind, battle-hardened Sarah teams up with an unexpected ally (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and an enhanced super soldier to stop the deadliest Terminator yet. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance in this action-packed thrill ride from Tim Miller, the director of Deadpool, and producer James Cameron.

The reunion many Terminator fans have been waiting for is finally here! While Dark Fate‘s plot becomes convoluted at times, it’s still full of satisfying action and it’s admittedly fun to watch Arnie back in the franchise. It’s the ladies who steal the show in this one though; Linda Hamilton is sensational and she’s backed by an ass-kicking Mackenzie Davis and ‘star in the making’ Natalia Reyes. Just try to overlook the unfortunate John Connor prologue.

BONUS FEATURES:
•Deleted and Extended Scenes
•A Legend Reforged
•World Builders
•Dam Busters: The Final Showdown
•VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly

Motherless Brooklyn

SYNOPSIS: Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Armed only with a few clues and the engine of his obsessive mind, Lionel unravels closely guarded secrets that hold the fate of New York in the balance. In a mystery that carries him from gin-soaked jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York’s power brokers, Lionel contends with thugs, corruption and the most dangerous man in the city to honour his friend and save the woman who might be his own salvation.

A dense and sprawling crime saga, Motherless Brooklyn requires some patience from viewers but is ultimately engaging. Norton tackles double duty (triple if you count his producing credit) as director and star and is backed by a solid ensemble cast, including a surprisingly effective Bruce Willis. The film gets occasionally bogged down by familiar tropes but is a worthy addition to the neo-noir detective mystery genre and represents the kind of intelligent moviemaking seldom seen from major studios these days.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Making-Of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process
•Commentary with Director Edward Norton
•Deleted Scenes
•Making-Of: Edward Norton’s Methodical Process

Zombieland: Double Tap

SYNOPSIS: Set one decade after the events of the first film, ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP finds Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and Wichita (Emma Stone) working together as a well-oiled, zombie-killing machine with a new home in the now-vacant White House. These four slayers must face off against the many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.

While not as original as…the original, Double Tap is still tons of fun and features plenty of great zombie kills along with lots of laughs. The committed cast seems to be having a blast, the simple plot and tight pacing ensure things don’t get tedious, and a scene-stealing Zoey Deutch is a comedic marvel to behold!

BONUS MATERIALS:
•Extended Bloopers & Outtakes
•Alternate & Extended Scenes
•“The Doppelgangers”: From stunts to special effects, this in-depth piece breaks down doppelgangers Flagstaff and Albuquerque and comes complete with interviews, demonstrations, and multiple cameras to snag all the action in their wild scenes.
•“The Rides of Zombieland”: From the Beast to Big Fat Death (and a hated Pontiac Trans Sport in between) this short focuses on the rides that get our main characters around Z-land.
•“Rules of Making a Zombie Film”: It takes a lot of rules and a lot of people to make a zombie film!
•“Making Babylon”: Explore the climactic third act location in the film known in Zombieland as Babylon.  Part fortress, part freshman dormitory, Babylon is the safe-place for a generation of misguided peace-loving retro-hippies.
•“New Blood”: Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, and Avan Jogia join our zombie-slaying cast.
•“Single Take Doppelganger Fight”: Ruben Fleischer shares the camera monitor during the Doppelganger fight sequence.
•Commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer
•“Zombieland Ad Council”

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