The War On Terror ... in England.
I was quite surprised to see how fast Cleanskin got it's release here in the United States. The British Blu-ray by the UK branch of Warner Bros. made it's release in July 2012 and we got it two months later. This was one where I had honestly thought I would have to import if I wanted to see it. Luckily, this is not the case and after doing some online searching, I scored my copy for $9.75. Cleanskin is about the war on terror in England as it deals with a young man named Ash, played by Abhin Galeya, who becomes a terrorist after being recruited one day while leaving class at the university he was attending. Sean Bean plays Ewan who was guarding a man who had a certain amount of explosives in his possession and gets killed while transporting it. Said explosives ends up in the terrorists hands and Ewan is given orders by his boss, played by the great Charlotte Rampling, to eliminate the threat.
For what it is, I enjoyed it. There is one major flaw that puzzles me. Without trying to spoil it to an extant, Ash witnesses a death and his reaction to it honestly made it seem that he was not going to take the route that he takes in the film. I think Abhin Galeya gives a great performance in this film, especially with the range that he shows in this. Sean Bean does a great job playing the disgruntled hero of the film. I wish he had more screen time; however, I will not disclose if he lives or dies, I think you should give this film a watch in order to find out. Despite the flaws, it's a good action film for a small independent British production. 3.5/5.
Ok, the movie is shot on 35mm film. At one scene in the first twenty minutes or so, there's some excessive print damage going on in a shot. Also, there seems to be something a little off in the video; and upon watching the bonus material, I realized what it was. In the making of, they said that the 35mm was then transferred over to HD tape. HD tape only has a limited range in what it can offer. Certainly not full 1080p, but you can get 1080i out of it. It sounds rather barbaric in a way that they didn't have this transferred over by a datacine to a digital file to edit it on, especially since this film was shot in 2011 and released in 2012. But, if you sit back a distance from it, it does look nice and clean, but up close, something looks off on it. It's not as bad as I make it out to be, but still. Video scores a 3.5/5.
Entertainment One has given us two audio options for Cleanskin; 5.1 Dolby Digital and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. For what it is, the 5.1 DD track is average. Why they decided to put this audio track on the disc, I don't know why. It could have saved them a few hundred MBs in data. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track sounds great. Fight scenes sound exceptional. Sean Bean as Ewan growling his lines in a pub scene sound like you are right there. Audio scores a 5/5.
We only have two main extras included on the disc. We have a trailer and the Making of. If you have seen the British trailer, it's essentially that. But, the logos have been switched out on it as Warner Bros does not have U.S. rights to this film, it was changed to the name of the British production company's name in those few seconds of screen time. But, it is the British none the less. Then we have a 20 minute Making Of; and it's pretty informative on the whole production process. Sean Bean has a lot of input during this and it's great to hear his thoughts on the film. Several of the other actors involved give their take on the film. Other than that, there's a few trailers that play before we get to the menu; off the top of my head we have Iron Sky and Cosmopolis. Extras score a 3/5.
Entertainment One has given us a quality release of the film. They also seem to be picking up some of the obscure Sean Bean stuff like The Lost Future and Age of Heroes. I do look forward to getting the Blu-rays of those titles, however, Lost Future is only out in like France on Blu-ray. So, I'll probably have to import that one. I can recommend Cleanskin if you can get it around $10 to $15; it is a good action flick despite some flaws. 4/5.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Review is only for the 2D Blu-ray Disc.
Piranha 3DD was looked like a promising sequel to the 2010 Alexandre Aja's remake of the Joe Dante film Piranha. The cast, when it was first announced, sounded fantastic. We got David Koechner (Snakes on a Plane and Anchorman); Gary Busey; Danielle Panabaker; and David Hasselhoff. Returning from Piranha 3D, we got Ving Rhames; Paul Scheer; and Christopher Lloyd. Sounds like we got a potentially great sequel lined up, right? Well, Piranha 3DD sounds great in theory, but the execution and, mainly, the writing is sloppy. This time the film is directed by John Gulager and written by the hack duo who did Feast #1 - 3; Saw #4 - 7; and The Collector. Also, co-written by Joel Soisson who happened to run such franchises into the ground like the American version of Pulse; Wes Craven's Dracula; Mimic; Hollow Man; The Prophecy; and last but not least, Hellraiser.
While the film is not that bad as to some of the sequel to other properties that I previously mentioned; the plot is that piranhas are attacking a water park. That sounds great; going into spoilers here; only problem is that the film is 72 minutes. Piranhas attack at the one hour mark. It keeps building up to it and building up to it and then you get less than fifteen minutes of carnage. But, let me back track to the beginning of this film; it is a year after the Lake Victoria incident and everything from the end of Piranha 3D is ignored, especially that big Piranha that was the mommy or daddy that jumped out of the boat and killed Adam Scott's character. Maddy (Panabaker) comes home from college to see her step-father (Koechner) has turned their family water park into a sexed up, drugged up, and booze filled joint called "The Big Wet". We see some of Maddy's friends who are the wreck less; "We're going to have sex because it's wrong but we're going to have fun" get mostly killed off by piranha after their introductions. Except for Katrina Bowden's character who gets a piranha up the vagina. How you don't notice a piranha literally eating your vagina and innards up to shreds is beyond me.
Maddy goes to console her friend (Bowden) when piranhas attack and they have a dead one on hand and learn about Goodman (Lloyd) who helped deal with these piranha at Lake Victoria a year prior. Goodman seems more senile this time around rambling on about Youtube views and some foreshadowing. All this is going on while we are still waiting for the piranha to attack the park, which still isn't happening. Then after several events of just padding, we finally hit the one hour mark when the piranhas attack the water park. The build up to the attack on the park has a legless Deputy Fallon who supposedly lived after the fish ate him up halfway through the first film. And there's an ongoing gag where David Hasselhoff has a connection with this ginger child because the child think's he's just a lifeguard. Then at the end when we learn the piranhas can now walk on land, the fish bites the kid's head off.
While the film is pretty bad, I do give it some props in terms of visual effects. Although I wonder how many of those chewed up corpses were reused props from the Alexandre Aja film. The piranhas were mostly rubber toys that were made pretty well; whereas in the Aja film, they're mostly crappy CGI. It just makes me wonder what they could have accomplished if the water park attack happened within the first half hour and we deal with the aftermath for the rest of the film. That could have been a greater horror film right there. Movie scores a 2.5/5
Piranha 3DD presents the film with a great transfer that is almost perfection. However, I guess these where re-shoots or something; there's these shots that look horribly pixelated. These are mostly in the night shots and a few underwater shots that I am guessing is second unit work or is reshoots to help pad this train wreck out to 72 minutes. I wonder if someone who was working the cameras accidentally screwed up and filmed these shots in possibly SD? Video scores a 4.5/5.
We only have 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio for the film, plus a commentary track. The audio is pretty solid. It's amazing how this average film gets almost a full five star treatment from Anchor Bay. A studio that's screwed around and not given a U.S. release of something like Demons; which I don't even care about anymore since I got the British Region B Blu-ray. Enough with the ranting, the audio is pretty sweet in terms of hearing piranhas snapping their jaws and devouring flesh and the crispness of the horrifying screams as people die. 5/5 for the audio.
The film contains a commentary by the director and some of the crew. I didn't really mind it. Deleted scenes revolving around the character Big Dave who is the stoner who kept putting his "manhood" into one of the jet holes. There's a short film about tennis player John McEnroe. Gary Busey outtakes which it's always fun to see Gary. Story behind Piranha DD which is mostly cast and crew interviews. There's two segments, one is on David Koechner and Hasselhof. These extra features left me not really caring at all. 2.5/5.
This sequel had so much promise and did not live up to the hype. Especially with how brutal Alexandre Aja's remake was. That film had me feeling stomach pains from how realistic the practical effects were handled. John Gulager has potential as a director and he needs to do a film sans Dunstan and Marcus writing the script. This Blu-ray release is pretty solid, except for some of the shots that look bloody horrible and the average bonus material. I can recommend this if you can get it dirt cheap, 3.5/5.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Greasy! (Spoilers From the Show)
I essentially gave up on television in 2008 when I left for a year of college. Most of the shows I liked were getting cancelled left and right and I said; "F*** this!" Fast forward to the end of 2010 and I had a Netflix account, I stumbled across the two Trailer Park Boys films and I was instantly hooked on this Canadian film and sought out the series. The show lasted for seven seasons, from 2001 to 2007. While the first six seasons were pretty fun, season seven went down a deep, dark path. Luckily, this loose bridging from the show to the second film is not as dark as the show's finale.
Spoilers to the series finale; Lucy has Baby Randy, which is really Ray's child. And the boys sell off the cigarettes that they have gotten from Sebastian Bach and make it rich. Now we are here to SGTTBG; Julian hides the money for a year while he waits for Ricky and Ray to get out of the American prison system. Little does he know that Lahey is plotting with Randy to get the money and take the boys down once and for all. He enlists Sam Losco and his ex-wife Barb to steal Julian's car on the eve of Ricky coming home. All hell breaks loose and Sam and Barb are busted by the cops and the money is taken. With the gang at odds with each other, Lahey brings the boys together in a trap to hold a dance party.
I felt this was overall enjoyable as we come to the finale and then you jump to the second film. It does have it's flaws from gaping the show to the second film, one of which I honestly favor and spoilers, the vanishing of Baby Randy. I felt that was just dark and sinister as hell when it played out on the show. In terms of how it compares to other episodes of the show, I've seen better. I give the special a 3.5/5.
Alliance has given Trailer Park Boys: SGTTBG a great 1.78:1 transfer. This special and the seventh season were both shot in HD, whereas the previous six seasons were shot in SD. The transfer could have been better in terms of contrast. Some of the footage, especially in the first few minutes of the episode, seemed grayish/washed out a bit. But, the overall feeling is that it's pretty good. Video scores a 4/5.
I felt that the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that Alliance has given us is adequate. There's not much action in this episode except for the shootout with Sam and then the chase in the first few minutes. Other than that, hearing the constant bickering and struggle with the boys, the Dolby Digital track works. 4/5.
We have a group of alternate/deleted scenes and a behind the scenes footage. The behind the scenes footage shows us how they'd choreograph a stunt revolving around J-Roc and Randy. Hearing Jonathan Torrens talk normally and then going into his J-Roc voice is bizarre, yet informal as he talks about how it takes him a few seconds in his head to break it down. Also, I don't know if all of the Blu-rays have this, but my copy had a mini-poster with it of Bubbles as seen on the cover. However, these posters must have been with the DVD as the poster says; "Now Available on DVD For the First Time Ever." Even though this is the Blu-ray. Extras score a 5/5.
If you love Trailer Park Boys, then this is a must. We get to see the boys one last time before the Countdown to Liquor Day! And that was my favorite of the two movies. This Blu-ray is pretty much all around recommended for fans. If you haven't seen the show, do not start with this, go all the way to the beginning of the series. I award this Blu-ray a 4/5.
Restauriert & Neu Gemastert? Falsch!
Night of the Living Dead, the original 1968 classic by George Romero which sparked numerous zombie films through out the years. We all know the story, there's no need to go into it. It's a solid 5/5 film to me as it's the definitive classic zombie horror. The film is in the public domain, so, anyone can release it unless it's been new master created by another person that's been copyrighted. I'm slowly dipping my toes into the public domain and have been trying to secure a print for my own studio to use. We've seen numerous Blu-rays that are hit and miss. This release is a miss; one of the biggest misfires you have ever seen.
The video presented on this Blu-ray is upscaled 1080/50i. It's pretty bad. I watched it and the first time I saw it, I thought it was decent for an upscale, but upon really going in depth on the quality of the video, I was horrified over the image in general. This is not restored and remastered as stated in German. When I got the disc last October, I popped it in my external Blu-ray drive and the movie was just about 8GB. It's the size of a Dual Layer DVD. And the picture quality is worse than what Echo Bridge could deliver with the interlacing and jagged-ness of the upscaled image. Video scores a .5/5.
The English audio is under average at best on this copy of the film. However, the German dubbing has new techno-ish score that kicks off right as the film starts. It is kinda out of place, especially for the time frame from which this film was made. Especially at one point in the German dubbing, they must of had some scenes missing from their master and it flips over to English with German subtitles. This happens for about two minutes in length. These German subtitles are automatically on even if the audio is set to English. I was scratching my head the first time I watched it as these subs popped up. Audio scores a 2/5.
The extras would be phenomenal, if they weren't all upscaled to 1080/50i! The cover advertises at the top that his have the "Include 75 min Bonus Film 'Fright Night' (Francis Ford Coppola)"; this is not the vampire film Fright Night, but Francis Ford Coppola's 1963 film Dementia 13. I've seen Blu-ray covers in Germany giving the impression that it is the vampire flick instead of the serial killer on the family's estate film. Sadly, the quality of this transfer is a 4:3 non-anamorphic HD blow up, meaning that you got black bars on the top, bottom. left and right sides of the screen. And the film is dubbed in German with no English audio. This has to have been sourced from a VHS copy of the film. Nothing about it seems digital really. Run time on it; 1:14:34.
Then we have the One for the Fire documentary and once you press play on it and it has the somewhat remake B&W title opening to the original film, you see how horribly upscaled this is. It had to have been blown up from a non-16:9 source, so, 640x360 to 1920x1080. Seeing how blocky as hell everything is just horrifies me to no end. The documentary is fun to watch if you can stomach through the horrible image; run time on it is 1:23:53.
American theatrical trailer; 1:49. August 26, 2007 Interview with George A Romeo in Canada that is 15:48. December 13th, 1987 audio interview with Duane Jones which was done about seven months before the actor had passed away; 16:47. Oddly, none of these bonus materials have German subs.
Finally, a photo gallery of upscalled image. And two commentary tracks. First commentary is with George A. Romeo, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, and John A. Russo. Second audio commentary is with Russell Streiner, Vince Survinski, Judith O'Dea, Bill Hinzman, Kyra Schon, and Keith Wayne. I'm sure the die hard NOTLD fans will enjoy it. It was just average to me. The bonus would have scored much higher if it had been all HD instead of this blown up, interlaced bull. Extras score a 3/5.
This Blu-ray is region free, but it will not work in North American unless you have a Blu-ray player and a HDTV that is compatible with 50hrz content. My main player, Insignia NS-WBRDVD2, plays it fine. My PS3 on the other hand just gives me a black screen. Some of the other Blu-rays I own from Germany and the UK are 1080/50i; Casshern, The Crow, Meet Bill, and Transmorphers off the top of my head. But, that doesn't matter; those that I listed above have much better transfers than this release of Night of the Living Dead. If you are a collector of Night of the Living Dead releases, this is the only way I can recommend this release of the film. 2.5/5, avoid.