After a rather interesting month of separating each label's titles, I think that will combine all of them into one great segment to properly give everyone their rightful just due. So with that in mind, here we go and the thumbs up was very active for the most part this month.
Let's start with Mill Creek Entertainment's Offerings
"T.J.Hooker: The Complete First & Second Seasons" Starring William Shatner, Heather Locklear, Adrian Zmed and James Darren/5 Discs/1334 Minutes/Full Frame 1:33.1 This fun set originally produced by Sony years ago has been reissued in a value package that keeps the original sets solid picture quality. The show which run four seasons from 1982 to 1986 starred Shatner (who was coming off the blockbuster hit, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" and would later parody this role in the Eddie Murphy/Robert DeNiro comedy "Showtime") as the leader of a group of L.A.P.D. officers fighting crime everyway they could. Featuring a great variety of guest stars such as Nicole Eggert, Jonathan Banks ("Breaking Bad"), former NFL great Jim Brown, Tori Spelling and Sharon Stone amongst many, the show did very well for ABC and CBS before its cancellation in 1986. This is a show that brings back fun memories and Heather Locklear is always a hottie.
Beach Bodies - 6-Movie Set (2 DVD's)/Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1 & 1.85.1 (Each Film) Featuring Hardbodies 1984/R/1 Hour 28 Minutes, Private Resort 1985/R/1 Hour 21 Minutes, Side Out 1989/PG-13/1 Hour 43 Minutes, Calendar Girl 1993/PG-13/1 Hour 30 Minutes, Spring Break 1983/R/1 Hour 38 Minutes and Love Lines 1983/R/1 Hour 28 Minutes. This is a nice little set that features some rather enjoyable films that I'm a huge fan of. Of particular interest should be "Private Resort" that features a post "Nightmare On Elm Street" Johnny Deep and future "Numbers" star Rob Morrow as a pair of pals soaking up some fun in the fun at a hotel resort while trying to foil a diamond heist orchestrated by Hector Elizondo and scoring big with some hot babes. Plenty of nudity is abound in this one and full of slapstick comedy that makes it much more than just a raunchy comedy. "Side Out" is another guilty pleasure starring C.Thomas Howell ("The Outsiders") as a young attorney Monroe Clark from Milwaukee, who gets fired after defending a former pro volleyball player Zack Barnes (Peter Horton, "Thirtysomething") from being wrongfully evicted. He then joins Zack in all our nothing money tournament against the best in the world and with nothing to lose, they soon strive to upset the best. The film isn't that memorable but it is alot of fun for what it is. "Hardbodies" is a goofy, raunchy comedy about a good looking slacker (Grant Cramer) who's evicted from his apartment and with nowhere to go is taken in by a trio of middle aged guys trying to learn how to pick up younger women. When one of them has his sights on his girlfriend, he strives to be them at their own game and also try to make something of himself to prove his worth. It's a nice little comedy, a little insignificant but good. "Calendar Girl" was then red hot 90210 star Jason Priestley's debut film role in a slight but interesting comedy about Priestley and his pals, including Jerry O'Connell heading to Hollywood in a desperate attempt to meet Marilyn Monroe even if they died trying. The film was a bomb when it was released and has been totally forgotten since. Not terrible, but not good either. "Spring Break" was "Friday the 13th" producer/director Sean Cunningham's valiant attempt to break out of the horror mold with this raunchy by the numbers comedy that does work and is enjoyable for what it is. Adam and Nelson are naive college students who have come to Fort Lauderdale to perform these rites of Spring Break. Due to a mix-up, the boys end up in the same room with a pair of experienced guys from New York who coach the boys on the finer points of seduction with mixed results. "Love Lines" is another slight and raunchy comedy involving a girl from Malibu High and a boy from rival from Coldwater Canyon High and her muscle-bound brother is determined to do anything and everything to stop his sweet little sister from getting it on with some jerk from the Valley. This is high value set especially for Depp's film and my recommendation of Side Out as well. Worth the price you pay for it.
Rating on each film: Private Resort (***/Thumbs Up)/ Side Out (***/Thumbs Up)/Hardbodies (** 1/2/Mixed Marginal Thumbs Down)/Spring Break (**/Marginal Thumbs Up)/Calendar Girl (**/Thumbs Down)/Love Lines (**/Thumbs Down)
80s Teen Dramas - 6 Movie Set 2 DVD's/583 Minutes/Aspect Ratio:1:85.1 (Each Film) Featuring The Legend of Billie Jean 1985/PG-13/1 Hour 33 Minutes/Blame It On the Night 1985/PG-13/1 Hour 33 Minutes/Fresh Horses 1988/PG-13/1 Hour 48 Minutes/Fast Forward 1985/PG-13/1 Hour 51 Minutes/Little Nikita 1988/PG/1 Hour 37 Minutes/Immediate Family 1989/PG-13/1 Hour 48 Minutes. This pack of films features some pretty solid films featuring then 80's heartthrobs such as Andrew McCarthy, Kevin Dillon, Christian Slater and the late River Phoenix as well as 80's starlets such as Helen Slater, Molly Ringwald and Mary Stuart Masterson along with future star actor/director Ben Stiller. "The Legend of Billie Jean" stars Slater as a teen named Billie defending her brother (Christian Slater) from a group of rich kids who have won't take responsibility for breaking his bike. Tragic consequences happen soon after making her a teenage outlaw pursued by lawman Peter Coyote. "Blame It On The Night" features Nick Mancuso ("Under Siege") as a rock star reconnecting with a son (Bryon Thames) who he never knew he had. "Fresh Horses" stars Andrew McCarthy as a happily engaged preppie who with his best friend Ben Stiller hang out one night on and McCarthy spots the mysterious Molly Ringwald, the young wife of an abusive husband and soon the two despite nothing in common the love sparks fly which changes McCarthy's safe life forever. "Fast Forward" is a Sidney Poitier directed musical about aspiring dancers trying to make it on a national television show. "Little Nikita" is a strong espionage drama featuring River Phoenix and again Sidney Poitier about a young teen trying to join the U.S. Air Corps only to find out that his parents were former Russian spies who are now being eliminated by a rogue Russian spy in Richard Benjamin's thriller. "Immediate Family" stars James Woods and Glenn Close as a happily married couple unable to have children when a young, teenage couple Kevin Dillon and Mary Stuart Masterson come into their lives as they're willing to give up their unborn child to them. This set features some very nice films and the key treasures here are "The Legend Of Billie Jean", "Fresh Horses" and "Little Nikita" which are very underrated films and often overlooked at times which is unfortunate because they showed these actors at their best and at a different side of their careers which were up and coming. This is a very nicely produced set that is also worth the value you pay for it.
Rating for each film: The Legend of Billie Jean (***/Thumbs Up)/Blame It On the Night (**/Thumbs Down)/Fresh Horses (***/Thumbs Up)/Fast Forward (**/Thumbs Down)/Little Nikita (***/Strong Thumbs Up)/Immediate Family (**1/2/Marginal Thumbs Up)
Lionsgate Titles for the Month
"Blood Ties" Starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saldana, James Caan, Dominick Lombardozzi. Directed By Guillamue Callet. 2013/R/2 Hours 8 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1/English DTS HD-5.1 This tense and at times very solid thriller stars Owen and Crudup as brothers on the opposite sides of the law during the 1970's. Frank (Crudup) is a NYPD detective on the right side of the law and whose brother Chris (Owen) is paroled and looking to go straight after years of being incarcered for a life of crime. He falls and eventually marries Natalie (Mila Kunis) and tries to settle down but keeping his return to life of crime on the down low and having his ex-wife (Marion Cotillard, "Inception"), a working prostitute who he forms a major business with. After a major robbery that may or may not have involved his brother, Frank resigns and starts a life with the ex-girlfriend (Zoe Saldana, "Star Trek") of a hardened criminal which finally comes to bring down Frank and Chris' worlds all at once.
The film is a slickly scripted pot boiler by Callet and Director James Grey that is a little uneven despite being a solid production that would've gotten attention in the 90's and 00's. The film look is great with some very solid performances all around which I liked including James Caan. As a serious film, this one would fall in between what Grey directed with "The Yards" and "We Own The Night", but this one is slightly better than latter. As a on demand rental, it's a solid view as well as a bargin Blu-Ray/DVD as well. Thumbs up for this one! (***)
"The Angriest Man In Brooklyn" Starring Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter Dinkledge and Melissa Leo Directed By Phil Alden Robinson 2014/R/1 Hour 24 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1/English DTS HD 5.1/Special Features: The Angriest Man In Brooklyn Behind The Rage Featurette/Gag Reel This somewhat entertaining misfire of angry fluff stars Williams as Henry Altmann, a greiving and rage filled lawyer who one Friday afternoon sees his doctor (played by uncredited Louis C.K.), his stand in Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) who tells him that he has an incurable brain anuersym and after Henry's angry retorts, she desperately tells him that he only has 90 Minutes to live (and the film is mercifully short of that). So Henry in his short time frame tries to reconnect with his son who doesn't want to be a lawyer like he and his brother Aaron (Peter Dinkledge, Game of Thrones) and his wife (Oscar Winner Melissa Leo, The Fighter) who has been having an affair with their neighbor (Bob Dishy). Henry virtually upsets everyone in his path with his self absorbed hatred while Sharon and Aaron desperately search for him to get him to check back into the hospital for treatment and another chance at life maybe.
The film has its strong moments and its down right awful ones like Kunis' desperate rantings to Williams as he's about to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and James Earl Jones (I should say the great James Earl Jones) who makes an appearance which he shouldn't have done and who deserves great respect for trying here like most. Leo and Dinkledge are likeable and award winning actors that deserve better to do here than Daniel Taplitz weak and stereotypical script. The best moments is when the film isn't trying too hard to act melodramatic like the film's ending which actually works. Had the film not taken itself so deadly serious, it would've been worthy as a gulity pleasure. As is, this isn't anyone's finest moment and two great scenes do not make a movie. So thumbs down on this one (**)
"Joe" Starring Nicolas Cage, Ty Sheridan Directed By David Gordon Green 2014/R/1 Hour 57 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1/English DTS-HD 5.1 Special Features: Commentary By David Gordon Green, Composer David Wingo and Actor Brian D. Mays/Deleted Scenes/The Making of Joe Featurette/The Long Gravel Drive: The Origins of Joe Featurette This is surprisingly engaging and entertaining film which returns Director David Gordon Green back to the form he broke into Hollywood with before going off to do the hit comedy "Pineapple Express" and the rather limp, "Your Highness" years later. The film stars Oscar Winner Nicolas Cage in one of his finest performances in ages as Joe, the films titular character a former ex-con living life the right way through hard work. Then a young teenager (the scene stealing Ty Sheridan) who's trying to leave his violent and abusive father comes into his life. Serving as a role model for the boy, Joe starts to become the father figure and good example he has been missing and soon Joe has to watch his back at the risk of saving the kid's life.
The film which unfortunately didn't get a real theatrical release is a very solid film that is very revieting and shows Cage at the very best that earned him his Oscar win for Leaving Las Vegas almost 20 years ago. Cage is very compelling and you actually find yourself rooting for this guy till the very end. The film's real discover is easily Sheridan who matches Cage beat for beat and word for word. This kid will be a star and soon and has that potential to be like a future Nicolas Cage with his posture and demeanor. This is a small film, yet a really good one that went through the cracks. A perfect on demand and Blu-Ray purchase much like last year's "Mud" which is brilliant. I highly recommend it. Thumbs way up. (****)
"Under The Skin" Starring Scarlett Johansson Directed By Jonathan Glazer 2014/R/1 Hour 48 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1/English DTS-HD 5.1/Special Features: The Making of Under The Skin Featurette This film directed by Glazer, who made a sensational splash with the thrilling and comedic, "Sexy Beast" which is a virtual masterpiece fueled by the unforgettable performance of Ben Kingsley and which he followed up with the rather thought provoking, but almost virtually uninteresting "Birth" starring Nicole Kidman as a greiving wife who's husband has been reincarnated in her son, stars the lovely and alluering Johansson as an alien who's assumed the body of a dead prostitute prowling around the Scottish highways propositioning men and taking them into rather weird places and absorbing them into another dimension.
This film is just simply mindboggling and not for the good in anyway shape or form. Seeing Johansson half naked at times was all well and good, but for the first time in a long time, this is the first film that had to shut off while watching it. This is pretty much like my version of the Chris Farley/David Spade's wretched "Black Sheep" in which the late Gene Siskel walked out in the middle of while watching it. I love Scarlett Johansson and she is just flat out robotic and wooden in this film that makes me feel that she just took this on as a dare more than anything else. Glazer like I said has done better things, but what is the point of this film. Is she an observer or abductor for some major purpose which is never explained since her dialog is virtually non exsistant throughout. If you're curious to see Scarlett naked then this film is it, but for real die hard film fans, this is a catastrophe of epic proportions. A non exsistant plot, a sexy beauty completely wasted and some what the hell visuals that just bore you. Easily one of the worst films I've seen in a long time and one of the years' worst for me along side "I, Frankenstein". Thumbs way way way all the way down. (1/2 star)
"Enemy" Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurant and Isabella Rossellini Directed By Denis Villenuere 2013/R/1 Hour 30 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1/English DTS-HD 5.1/Special Features: Lucid Dreams "The Making Of Enemy" Featurette This is another mind boggler but not as bad as "Under The Skin" which stars Gyllenhaal as a history professor named Adam, living a rather non-existant and mundane life who one day meets a version of himself named Anthony, an actor he sees on screen. Adam then goes through a series of events that recall repressed memories that involve his wife (Laurant, "Now You See Me" and spiders, lots and lots of spiders.
Unlike the hard edged "Prisoners" which is a vastly superior film starring Gylenhaal and Hugh Jackman which was a tour de force of darkness and revenge, this is a just another exercise also laced in darkness, but a rather pointless and unbaring one. While Villenuere's Prisoners kept you riveted till the very shocking end, this makes you want to end it and end it quickly. This is about as bad as it gets...even "Under the Skin" had Scarlett Johansson and that's saying something. This is a failure. Thumbs way way way down. (*1/2)
There will be more to come review wise next week. So stay tuned for more from Shout!, Paramount and Twilight Time. Till then the Blu-Ray is now turned off.
Check out the official Mill Creek Entertainment website @ http://www.millcreekent.com for their latest films and upcoming future releases from the label.
Also, check out Lionsgate's Official website @ http://www.lionsgate.com for their latest film and upcoming projects from the label as well.