After the jump check out a half dozen reviews:
- The Wrath of God
- Five Man Army
- Snow White & The Huntsman
- The Terminator Anthology
- The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Favorites
Which one do you think I called, "one of my favorite releases this year"?
|Universal / Released August 28th, 2012|
After the first twenty minutes, my hopes actually went up. Good character work from Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård. Liam Neeson, Bar Refaeli and Rhianna all seemed to have something to do.
And then in just a moment, the film came crashing down in a computer generated visual assault that was unrelenting.
Mass destruction, mayhem and almost incomprehensible action sequences make this dull, overwhelmingly anarchic visual effects reel a waste of the cast and director Peter Berg's talent. What's enormously disappointing is that there was potential in making Battleship a big, dumb, fun popcorn movie. Instead, we got a bloated, tedious and unimaginative exercise that all but ignores characterization and humor. The Blu-ray does feature stunning picture and sound and extras include several featurettes, an alternate previsualization ending, All-Acess with director Berg and Second Screen feature. Battleship is frustrating because of it's wasted potential. What could have been a hit, turned out to be a significant miss.
The Wrath of God
|Warner Archive / Released September 11, 2012|
An eclectic cast featuring Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth, John Colicos, Victor Buono and Gregory Sierra headline this unusual dark comedy that doesn't really know what it wants to be.
Set somewhere in Central America in the early 1920s, The Wrath of God features Mitchum as a renegade priest on a mission to free hostages in exchange for their assistance in toppling a military dictator. I hadn't heard of this film previously, and although it is a bit of a curiosity, it's overly complicated plot detracts from the action and well-scripted dialogue. The quality is a bit disappointing, even for the MOD Warner Archive. There's a fair amount of noise and scratches, but most annoyingly a flicker that occurs through the first half or so of the film. Mitchum gives a solid performance as usual and Western fans might find this one to be a worthwhile watch. Mildly recommended.
Five Man Army
|Warner Archive / Released September 11, 2012|
Co-scripted by Italian horror auteur Dario Argento might be reason enough for many people to check out this Spaghetti Western. Peter Graves plays the Dutchmen who assembles a team to pull rob a train containing half a million dollars in gold during the Mexican revolution. Backed by a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone, Five Man Army is a tremendously entertaining film that only becomes more so as the final act reveals twists and tension. The only extra is a trailer. Featuring nothing more than a serviceable cast and direction, Five Man Army is nevertheless, a surprise in it's economical execution and really is a must see for any fan of Spaghetti westerns or fans of Argento. Recommended.
Snow White & The Huntsman
|Universal / Released September 11, 2012|
Visually gorgeous, this reimagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale depicts Snow White as a warrior fighting the armies of the evil queen.
The only problem?
Snow White is horribly miscast. Despite the dark tone, fans of the story will find the film features all of the iconic elements including the poisoned apple, the dwarves, a prince, the huntsman and the evil queen. The Blu-ray is stunning, but Kristen Stewart as the title character is hardly the fairest of them all (especially next to evil queen Charlize Theron. In fact, Stewart's glassy eyed stare and flat delivery makes Snow the least interesting character in the film, and as a result, splints the film around her. Perhaps a stronger actress like Emma Watson or Jennifer Lawrence might have elevated the material.
Director Rupert Sanders does a great job visually, but unfortunately the film's pacing and execution seem disjointed. Theron delivers the best performance in the film, while Chris Hemsworth grunts his way through as the Huntsman. The dwarves ensemble, which includes Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost and Toby Jones, provide some of the much needed comic relief in the film. Extras include an extended edition, commentary, featurettes, and more. Snow White & The Huntsman isn't a bad film by any means. It's ambitious and full of interesting ideas and concepts. It's just a shame that the title character is delivered in a fairly dull performance. Recommended.
The Terminator Anthology
|Warner (Best Buy Exclusive) / Released August 28, 2012|
“The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight…”
So begins The Terminator Saga which is comprised on the four films found in this set (and a television series that took place in an alternate reality).
Directed by James Cameron, Jonathan Mostow and McG, The Terminator Anthology is a must have for every Cinegeek's collection. The best two films are the first two, The Terminator and Terminator II: Judgement Day, which star Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton and were both directed by James Cameron.
In The Terminator, soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) arrives from the future to protect Sarah Connor (Hamilton)'s unborn son, John, from a cybernetic killing machine, the T-800 (Schwarzenegger). Terminator 2: Judgement Day picks up the story with an adolescent John Connor who teams up with a reprogrammed T-800 to battle a new threat, the T-1000. Jonathan Mostow's Terminator 3 features an adult John Connor (Nick Stahl) living on the fringe of society who once again teams with a T-800 against a new threat the Terminatrix. Finally, Terminator: Salvation features a John Connor (Christian Bale) post Judgement Day who encounters a teenaged Kyle Reese for the first time (Anton Yelchin) and the formation of both Skynet and the T-800s.
Although my initial reactions to both Terminator 3 and Terminator: Salvation were that of disappointment, revisiting them I found them both far more entertaining than I had remembered them. Extras on the set include commentaries, featurettes, a director's cut of Terminator: Salvation, and more. Quality is mixed, depending on the film. It's important to also note that this set collects the previously released versions of these films. If you have them, there's nothing new. But, if you don't, it's a pretty nice way to get the entire series in one fell swoop until the inevitable new remastered edition appears at some point. Highly recommended.
The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Favorites
|Time/Life Home Video / Released September 25, 2012|
Pop culture for me is often best connected by the power of nostalgia. There are so many things that I remember from growing up in the Seventies that left an indelible impression on me.
One of those is The Carol Burnett Show and it was truly a wonderful experience watching this set and fleshing out the memories of this wonderful series. The Carol Burnett Show was a television staple in the Seventies; a variety show anchored by talent, charm, and some very silly moments. Like a combination of MAD Magazine, Saturday Night Live and vaudeville.
Airing for eleven seasons and 278 episodes, this amazing DVD set includes 16 uncut episodes chosen by Carol herself. With a regular ensemble that included Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner, these episodes include guest appearances from such personalities as Dinah Shore, Steve Martin, Betty White, Roddy McDowell, The Jackson 5, Maggie Smith, Shirley MacLaine, Ken Berry, Carl Reiner, Joanne Woodward, Joan River, Vincent Price, Pearl Bailey, Rock Hudson, Nancy Walker, Jim Nabors, Jean Stapleton and Phil Silvers.
In addition to sketches (frequently interrupted by laughter), and music, Carol spent a portion of each show interacting with the audience. Her chemistry is astounding and transcends gender, age, race; it's truly remarkable to see. Extras are plentiful and include cast reunions, featurettes, interviews, and Carol's appearance on The Gary Moore Show where Carol did her trademark Tarzan yell on television for the first time. The sound across the entire set is great and the video quality varies, but not enough to dissuade you from picking this up.
The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Favorites is a must have and belongs in the library of anyone who watched the show when it first aired and is unquestionably one of my favorite releases this year. Highest recommendation.