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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94146[/img]

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :5stars:
3D :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
HTS Overall Score:88




[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94162[/img]
Summary
I was one of those people that actually despised the IDEA of the “Harry Potter” books (and films) for far too long. The popularity of “Harry Potter” had begun years ago, and every kid and teenager I knew was OBSESSEDED with the series. I worked at a bookstore back then and would see people lining up around the corner for the release of each of the books like it was the unveiling of the Mona Lisa and as a result got burned out from the series before I even read a page. It got to a point that I loathed even HEARING about Rowling and the words “Harry Potter”. As HD DVD and Blu-ray started taking off some of the first movies to come out were the initial batch of films based upon the books. At this point I was collecting anything and everything on HD media so I got over my fairly ludicrous grudge and found out that I REALLY liked the series. This prompted a binge of my wife’s books and I was hooked.

Now, some years after Harry had defeated Voldemort I hear news of J.K. Rowling coming back to the big screen once again, and was coming up with a brand-new story to tell based off of hints and tidbits in the “Harry Potter” universe. There was once again some reticence from myself and the potter fan base, because lightning rarely strikes twice, but “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” had a great cast, and the pre-movie buzz was that Rowling and director David Yates (who directed the final 4 “Harry Potter Films”) had done it again.

For those of you who aren’t fans of the Harry Potter books and have only watched the movies (or haven’t seen ANY of the Potter films) then I will say that you don’t have to worry about knowing everything that goes on in the backstory. “Fantastic Beasts” is a prequel to the 7 book/film franchise, but also acts as a complete story on its own. I WILL say that if you’re a potterhead then you’re sure to get a LOT more out of the movie than if you went in without any knowledge of the books. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is also the name of an instructional book taught at Hogwarts. Rowling took that idea and expanded it to tell the story of the war BEFORE Voldemort came to power. Back in 1926 a young mage by the name of Newt Scaramander (Eddie Redmayne) has come to New York City in order to set free a magical beast that he’s been caring for. Only thing is, after running into muggle (or no maj as they’re called in the U.S.) named Kowalski (Dan Fogler) his bag of creatures is let loose upon the city and it’s up to Newt, Kowalski and a disgraced ministry of magic agent named Tina (Katherine Waterston) to get them all wrapped up and back into their box.

As with all things relating to the wizarding world, things are not as simple as they seem on the outside. While Newt is running around New York City trying to recapture his beasts, the opening of ANOTHER war is under way. The U.S. version of the Ministry of Magic (known as the MACUSA, ironically pronounced similar to Yakuza) is trying to control the appearance of a new and dangerous beast inside the city. It seems that a powerful creature known as an obscuras is wreaking havoc in the city and the magi community is on the verge of being exposed to the rest of humanity. Something that will certainly bring civil war to the doorsteps of everyone and unleash death and destruction upon us all. While the MACUSA is looking for this beast (which is actually an aberration created from a magic user suppressing their powers until it’s too much to bear), MACUSA headmaster Graves (Colin Farrell) is searching for the USER behind the obscura in hopes of using its powers for his own. Simultaneously the MACUSA are also trying to find and neutralize the one wizard who could rival even Voldemort. The first dark lord of terror himself, Gellert Grindelwald.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94170[/img]
As someone who has read the Harry Potter books quite a few times I can tell you that there will be some name dropping going on in here and some of the “reveals” will not be nearly so sudden or unexpected. Credence Barebone is a name that had me chuckling long before the fateful reveal, and I had a sneaking suspicion about Gellert Grindelwald before the end of the movie. Still, Rowling has an incredibly inventive mind and “Fantastic Beasts” is a blast of a film. The characters not only tease at will come to pass some 70 years in the future, but also creates an array of likeable characters to have adventures with in this and future films (supposedly there are 4 sequels already planned and in pre-production, much to Warner Brothers obvious glee as dollar signs are already tantalizing anyone near the project).

Rowling is incredibly gifted at both imagination AND the ability to balance multiple plot lines within a story simultaneously. Even though “Fantastic Beasts” is its own contained story you can still see her weaving the groundwork for future films and hinting at a conflict that was only touched upon in passing during the books. For those of you not in the know, Gellert Grindelwald is the original dark lord of magic. The only wizard who had just as much evil power as lord Voldemort, and was the reigning terror until Voldemort took that crown from him, so You can tell that the anticipation and buildup for this final conflict is something that Rowling as planned out and thought about for quite some time. The attention to detail and the surprises laid out along the way are proof of that alone (including a little Cameo near the end that was surprisingly kept under wraps until after the movie came out in theaters. Something which doesn’t happen very often).

Besides the writing, David Yates has a great handle on the universe of Harry Potter, so the feeling of familiarity and nostalgia is strong within “Fantastic Beasts”. Characters are new and engaging, but there is this constant feeling of “I’ve been here before” watching the movie, something which makes the experience all the more real to the viewer. Which is a great boon for Yates after the box office bomb that was “The Legend of Tarzan”.

I really like Rowling as an actual writer for the script, but there is always one aspect of her books and movies that rubs me the wrong way. She has a tendency of making anyone in charge (like the MACUSA, or the Ministry of Magic) as being either completely incompetent, or borderline evil like the dark lords they fight. It’s a not so subtle stab at authority in general (something that Rowling has been a giant advocate for) and the result is that you want to punch whoever is in charge of the magi in her series. It’s a portrayal of both the “in charge” good wizards as just being the opposite side of the same coin, and the real heroes being the ones who “rebel” against this authority. This aspect of her storyline has come across as very rough and abrasive, especially when taken in context with her own life and views on things are taken into account.
Eddie Redmayne stands out as being phenomenal as always, and Colin Farrell actually turns in a great performance (Colin has been fairly inactive out of the spotlight for a few years). Fogler is usually someone who overplays his comedic talents in films, but here he is just funny enough to elicit a smile, and somber enough to fit in with the rest of the magical cast. The rest all do a great job due to the stellar writing and directing, but I have to give credit where credit is due and say that Eddie Redmayne has become one of the best actors in Hollywood right now.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence





Video :5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94178[/img]
Shot on Arri cameras and transferred to a 4K digital intermediary, “Fantastic Beasts” looks stunning in 1080p. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, as it is shot by famed French cinematographer Phillippe Rousselot, who shot both of the “Sherlock Holmes” films (Guy Ritchie ones that is), as well as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). In this entry he makes a twofold color grading system that differentiates between the No Maj (muggle) world and the world the wizarding folks. When in “our” reality the colors are a bit sandy and dusty, with a subdued color pallet. When it switches over to the magical realm there is a more golden honey tone to the image and the primary colors literally pop off the screen (even there is hints of that sandy/dusty look even there). Fine detail is jaw dropping, as you can see everything from the shadows and folds of Gravel robe, to light stubbling across chin. The CGI is fantastically done, and so intricately blended with the movie that you can barely see where one ends and the other begins. Black levels are deep and inky, and the ONLY artifact that I could really see was some light banding that occurs on the rooftop where the lights spell out the word “Squire” near the end (you’ll know it when you see it.).





3D :4stars:
The 3D presentation is just about as picture perfect as the 2D and 4K UHD presentations, with just a small minor caveat. 3D always comes at a price, and in this case the price is the fact that there is some slight dimming of the image (very slight) as well as a few flickers of aliasing around 3D objects at some time. With those faults out of the way the rest of the 3D experience is absolutely flawless. Colors are warm and vivid when called upon in the magical world, and dim and subdued just like the 2D disc. Layering is exceptional with certain items standing out in the foreground with shocking depth, making others look like they fade into the background as a result. Also keep an eye out for the movie newspaper at the beginning. As things shift and move around on the paper they look so real and 3 dimensional that you could reach out and touch them. It’s easily one of the highlights of the film. Energy blasts from wants pop off the screen and there is no sense of crosstalk or ghosting to my VERY sensitive eyes (I know I can see ghosting even in the slightest degree, personal pet peeve of mine).





Audio :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94186[/img]
Warner has always been exceptionally generous by putting the Atmos track of their Atmos enabled films on ALL versions of the movie, but here is where I'm kind of puzzled. The 3D disc ONLY has the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track and forgoes the Atmos track available on the 2D and 4K UHD discs. Something which surprises me greatly as this is not Warner's MO for this type of thing. Had it been dropped from the 2D disc as well I might assume they were trying to push 4K a bit more (like what Sony and Fox do), but with the 3D the ONLY version missing I have to wonder if it has to do with space as the 2D disc was already crammed to the gills space wise. Either way the only thing I can do is compare the tracks. The core ESSENCE of the Atmos track is still there, and still there in spades. The energy and power that flowed through the Atmos track is still there, it's just ever so slightly muted and constrained in comparison. Some of the directional cues that I was raving about in my original review aren't as prevalent. Such as the wooshing sound of newspapers when they're carried into the air halfway through the film, or the rush of the Obscuras as it shifts overhead and to the sides. This time around you can hear them move to the side speakers but it's not nearly as prominent. The track is still an amazing track, but I just can't give it a 5 star rating due to hear the difference between it and the Atmos





Extras :3stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=94194[/img]

• Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins! - Join J.K. Rowling as she, David Yates and David Heyman return to Leavesden Studios to build a new and exciting corner of the wizarding universe.
• Characters
- The Magizoologist
- The Goldstein Sisters
- The New Salemers
- The No-Maj Baker
- The President and the Auror
• Creatures
- Meet the Fantastic Beasts
- Bowtruckle
- Demiguise
- Erumpent
- Niffler
- Occamy
- Thunderbird
• Design
- Shaping the World of Fantastic Beasts (360°)
- New York City (360°)
- MACUSA (360°)
- Newt’s Magical Case (360°)
- The Shaw Banquet
- The Blind Pig (360°)
• Deleted Scenes (11 scenes)





Overall: :4.5stars:

As I said. You don’t need to have seen any of the “Harry Potter” films to enjoy “Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them”, but having done so (and especially having read the books) greatly enhances the experience. I won’t say that “Fantastic Beasts” is up there with the best of the Potter movies, but it is a highly enjoyable film that completely surprised my cynical nature. The Blu-ray is a stunning achievement and acts as demo material all the way around, and while it’s not as feature packed as some of the multi disc Potter films, there are more than enough special features to go around. Recommended as a good watch.



Additional Information:

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterstone
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: J.K. Rowlin
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese English DD 5.1 (English is DVS)
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 133 Minutes
Own Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on March 28 or Own It Early on Digital HD On March 7!




Buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon



Recommendation: Good Watch




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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97202[/img]

Title: The Last Ship: The Complete Third Season

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:78




[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97210[/img]
Summary
Honestly, I’m a little shocked that “The Last Ship” has been renewed for a 4th and 5th season (shot back to back by all accounts), and not because I don’t enjoy the show. Mostly because it’s a show that has Michael Bay as the executive producer, and is a full-blown action show. A combination that screamed “2 seasons max before TNT cancels the show” like most other action series). I wasn’t expecting much when I reviewed Season One HERE, but I ended up loving the show despite it being a macho man cliché, riding off of a novel by William Brinkley. Sure, I will fully admit that the show isn’t heavy in the depth department, but it is plain FUN, with good leads and decent enough budget to make visceral to the viewers. I never was able to review season 2 for everyone due to a slight mishap in shipping last year, but I have caught up and have to admit that season three is a still a strong contender.

I can’t help but give away a FEW spoilers form previous seasons, but bear with me, I’ll make them as miniscule as possible. As well all know, Season One had the USS Nathan James and her crew coming home from war games in the arctic only to find out that the world had been ravaged by a plague that was almost unstoppable. Commander Tom Chandler (Eric Dane) and his men come out of their “hibernation” only to find nothing but ravaged wasteland and pirates. If they come on land they’ll get infected, and if they stay out at sea they won’t survive long. Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) is the only hope for the world as she tries to synthesize a vaccine. A vaccine which actually WORKS. Heading home the USS Nathan James and her crew find that “home” is not really home anymore. The United States has been shattered and rogue groups have taken over the oval office, sparking a war against their own kind for the better part of season 2.

After the shocking conclusion of season 2, and the death of one of the leads, things have settled down. Tom Chandler has been given a new mission, a mission of ambassadorship to the new republic of China, while his XO, Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin) is given command of the Nathan James. While Chandler is in China, all hell breaks loose as the new president turns on his new American allies and Slattery and some of his crew get ambushed and captured by Japanese pirates over in Vietnam. Now, with both Chandler and the Nathan James in peril, they have to somehow get back together and find out what is going on. A mission that will test them, but not only that, reveal that there are still snakes in the bedchamber back home in a coup that will have the crew of the Nathan James back to doing what they do best. Kicking butt and taking names.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97218[/img]
Season 3 takes on a slightly different tone than the previous ones. The last couple years humanity was fighting against the Red Flu, a disease that was killing the world in record speed. Now it’s much more “typical” with powers and allies creating greedy bargains and vying for strength in a world that is ripe for the taking. Naturally there’s less of the sci-fi “virus scare” that was present earlier, but the show is still in love with military lingo, lots and LOTS of heavy weaponry and navy operators who can match SEALs in everything but name. Short and to the point, this is still a show that shows Michael Bay’s involvement to a T. Things blow up, and people get shot while our heroes get to live to fight another day.

Now the weak spot of the season comes down to the fact that this IS more of your typical stuff. The villains are much more standardize instead of a virus, and the show’s creativity starts to fade in that department. What made “The Last Ship” unique was the premise about the disease. Take that out of the picture (or at least mostly out of the picture) and the show starts to feel more generic as it competes with every other post-apocalyptic show out there. Luckily it’s never too bad and the show is still wildly entertaining if you like to see things go boom and people fighting left and right.




Rating:

Rated TV-14




Video :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97226[/img]
Season 1 of "The Last Ship" came out on 2 BD-50s, but it was only containing 5 episodes per disc and actually looked REALLY good. Season 2 upped it to a full 13 episodes, but spread them out over 3 discs, although WB didn't exactly utilize all of the space that go around. However, Season 3 has followed the new pattern of putting more episodes per disc and has reduced them back to 2 discs again, albeit with an extra episodes. This means that the discs have taken a mil hit to clarity and have added compression issues over the first season (and even a little bit over the 2nd). The show still looks VERY nice for the most part, with bright open areas with natural lighting. clarity is overall impressive, but if you A/B between season 1 and season 3 then you'll notice a little bit of fine detailing is lost due to the compression. Also, in dark scenes the compression brings in some digital noise that gets a little bit annoying. Past those issues, I don't think the show looks bad in any way shape or form. It's a clear digitally shot image and that allows for greater leeway with compression, and apart from some compression artifacts that show up here and there, the show is more than capable of pleasing me.







Audio :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97234[/img]
"The Last Ship" has ALWAYS had a stellar 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track to enjoy for the previous 2 seasons, and season 3 is no different. This is an action show, first and foremost, so be prepared for lots of bass and a wildly kinetic surround experience. There are quite a few moments where the mix goes front heavy, but those moments don't last long and we get to enjoy heavy gunfire, drones roaring overhead, and the sound of the U.S.S. Nathan James tearing it up with artillery fire. The score is intense powerful, adding lots of LFE to the mix and having me just crank up the audio system and let her rip. For a TV show you usually don't go above a 4/5 rating, but "The Last Ship" manages to turn this into a Michael Bay style auditory extravaganza (he IS an executive producer on the show).





Extras :2stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97242[/img]

• Inside the Episodes
• Seasons 1 & 2 Recap
• From America's First Fighting Ship to the Last Ship
• Behind the Curtain









Overall: :4stars:

With two seasons left of the show (I really hope they end the show in season 5 instead of trying to stretch it out adnauseum) “The Last Ship” is still one of the more highly entertaining series that I’m able to watch year after year. There’s not a whole lot of depth to the show, but Kane and Steinberg do a great job of making a big dumb action movie fit into a TV framework and not get cancelled after the first season (a shocker, right?). This season felt a bit more strained than the previous 2 years, but the leads all do a good job with the macho man (and woman I might add) persona’s that they have been given, and I still am having blast with one of the more under rated popcorn shows on right now. The audio is stunning and the video is rather good, but the extras have thinned out since the show started. Solid watch all around and still recommended by me.


Additional Information:

Starring: Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin, Charles Parnell
Created by: Steven Kane, Hank Steinberg
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish, French DD 2.0, Japanese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner
Rated: TV-14
Runtime: 572 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd 2017



Buy The Last Ship: The Complete Third Season On Blu-ray at Amazon



Recommendation: Recommended





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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97154[/img]

Title: Inside Amy Schumer: Season 4

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:69




[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97162[/img]
Summary
With every rise comes a fall (or at least a valley) from the top. Amy Schumer was riding on top of the world for several years, with successful stand up acts, and a multi season TV sketch comedy show that was making her famous. However, the foul-mouthed comedian has had a really bad run of poor luck lately. It seems that everything she puts her hand to is coming back tainted and with poor consumer feedback. A few months back she released a new Comedy Central special that just bombed BADLY with fans (so badly that many people blamed her blatant politicizing of the election as a factor in her demise), and now her last season of “Inside Amy Schumer” is about as flat as a dime on the pavement. Coming from a career long Amy Schumer fan, this was a big surprise as I watched my way through the latest season, only to find that I really couldn’t find anything to laugh at this year.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Comedy is very subjective, and no matter how popular or unpopular a comedian is, there will always be fans and there will always be detractors based upon their personal tastes for humor. Myself personally, I’ve always liked Amy as the bad girl who makes fun of her weight, but she DOES take a bit of acquired taste. So much so that it took me over a season to get into the show. While she has some hit and miss portions of the sketch comedy show (any sketch comedy show has these ups and downs. Even Dave Chappelle, as popular as he was, couldn’t hit EVERY bullseye he fired out), but this season was one giant miss after miss after miss. I found only half a dozen 5-6 minute skits that even brought a smile to my face, instead of the other way around.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97170[/img]

Much of the hoopla around her bad ratings and unfunny jokes this last year seems to stem from Amy’s rabid desire to turn the show into a political statement. The 2nd episode of the disc turns drastically anti-gun as she brings on a spokesperson for Everytown USA and uses some pretty blatant anti 2nd amendment skits to try and get her point across. Then there’s jabs at the election and even more politicizing in a way that just couldn’t even garner a smile (although the “madame president” skit actually got a lone chuckle out of me). HOWEVER, her misfires aren’t just focused around the political side. Even her normal “look at me, I’m a naughty girl” skits just left me scratching my head and wondering “where did all the talented joke writers go”?

Like normal, the guest stars make up a big portion of the skits and we’ve got a bunch of decently big name stars this year (although not nearly as big as previous years). Bill Hader once again returns, and we have Julia Stiles, David Spade, Amber Rose Amber Tamblyn and Lena Dunham (*shudder). Sadly even they can’t save the jokes as their inclusion is usually very flat and sterile in a show that used to thrive on being edgy and in your face.





Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97178[/img]
Like the last 3 seasons, "Inside Amy Schumer" is shot on Digital video, and looks great on DVD. It may not be in Hi def like the broadcast show is, but the detail and the shiny polished nature of the show almost maxes out the quality that DVD can bring to the table. The little skits are shot well, with hi quality equipment, rendering excellent detail across the board, whether it be from the stand up bits, or the pre-recorded skits. black levels remain strong and full of shadow detail and the disc doesn't show any signs of macroblocking across the 2 DVD-9's. If this sounds familiar to my season 3 and season 1+2 review, that's because season 4 doesn't really differ in how it looks on DVD. It's a solid presentation and one that is fantastic for a 480p encode.









Audio :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97186[/img]
Once again, "Inside Amy Schumer" carries a very basic 2.0 Dolby Digital track that spends a majority of the time dealing with dialog. As a standup and sketch comedy show there's not a whole lot of dimensionality or dept to it, but the vocals are crisp and cleanly replicated at all times. There's a few times where the theme song or audience participation adds a "fuller" feeling to the track, but really this is just a simple dialog driven show that does what it does quite well. The sketches have a few moments of channel separation and some ambient noise floods in from sides in a directional shift, and the LFE gets a few moments to pop and boom in the simple 2.0 track.








[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97194[/img]
Extras :1.5stars:
• Inside Amy Schumer's Writers Room
• Outtakes









Overall: :3.5stars:

Season 4 of "Inside Amy Schumer" is truly bizarre. I have to wonder if Amy can pull herself out of these doldrums that she has gotten herself into, comedically speaking. I usually like a good majority of her stuff as I have a sort of twisted sense of humor, but the jokes just fell flat as a pancake in nearly EVERY single episode. Some of the skits still brought a little chuckle now and again, but the majority of the time I was left wondering where all the funny jokes were. I'm not sure whether it was Amy's desire to ripple politics in throughout the season, or because she's just in a bad slump, but either way, this season was a really big letdown from an already sliding season 3. Fans may still want to check it out, but most people are going to notice that this year was a big let down in the laugh department. Audio and video are excellent for a DVD, but the extras are even slimmer than last season. personally I'd skip this season as there is little humor involved.




Additional Information:

Starring: Amy Schumer
Created by: Amy Schumer
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Comedy Central
Rated: NR
Runtime: 192 Minutes
DVD Release Date: May 9th 2017



Buy Inside Amy Schumer: Season 4 On DVD at Amazon



Recommendation: Skip It




More about Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97250[/img]

Title: The Comedian

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:69







[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97258[/img]
Summary
The world of extreme sports is a fascinating one. As if regular sports weren’t dangerous and thrilling enough, there are whole genres of sports that focus on doing some of the most dangerous and death defying stunts the world has ever seen. I always like to say that Evil Knievel was one of the first highly publicist athletes in the extreme sports world, but the invention of modern day base jumping, motocrossing, and other derivations of dangerous things people do has gained itself an “image”, much like the MMA world has (usually of long, greasy hared guys with goatees and lots of designer sportknow aimed at the “fringe” athletes). Toa Fraser takes a look at this world. The psychology, the desires, the intrinsic rush of adrenaline that fuels the people to do what they do on a daily basis. It’s a fascinating documentary, and one that doesn’t try to grandstand, or make itself out to be something grandiose. It’s a simple look at a few people (mainly focusing in on Olympic Freestyle skier Jossi Wells and his transition from skiing to extreme sports).

Jossi is the main focus here, and Toa Fraser goes back over the young man’s entire athletic life, including him first strapping on skis at 18 months old (they start em young over in New Zealand). Jossi was a bit of an outsider being a homeschooled Christian lad out there, and he was driven to sports as a way of making himself feel more common place. After years and years of skiing professionally and for the Olympics, Jossi was looking for a different sport as so many years of skiing injuries has left his body aching and in constant pain. He looks towards a group of extreme athletes known as “The Flying Frenchies” and looks to them to go into a sport that he has ZERO experience in, except for raw determination and will power.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97266[/img]
Jossi’s story is rather compelling as you watch the traditional athlete jump into completely new waters. I have to give mad props to a man who can go from slacklining between a couple of trees to highlining it up in the mountain top of Chamonix in just a couple of days of training. That takes jaw dropping skill as well as a life time of motor skills that are trained to adapt and change at will. Not to be the ONLY focus of the movie, director Toa Fraser takes an intimate look at the rest of the Flying Frenchies, going into depth with their family life, their desires, their motivations to continue this life of high stress, high danger excitement with gusto. It never feels forced or strained at all, and the way the Frenchies go about their stunts is very laid back. It’s almost like these guys are going around the world and doing all sorts of crazy stunts and saying “hey, we’re just having a little fun on vacation” (only it’s their lives).

The filmography is simply stunning, and while the cameras used are not always the highest quality (I touch on this subject in the video portion of the analysis) the shots and angels that his crew is able to get into make for some amazing sequences. Especially when using following shots as the Frenchies jump off cliffs, or the go pro style shots that are interspliced into the third person footage throughout the movie.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video :3.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97274[/img]
There's no IMDB info for the type of cameras used for "The Free Man", but it looks pretty obvious from eyeballing the picture that a variety of differing cameras were used, ranging from simple go pro style cameras, to handheld ones of differing qualities. Some of the movie looks a bit rough and blurry, with compression artifacts from low resolution hand cams, while others look razor sharp, with the white of the snow covered hills shining clearly in the foreground. This isn't anything to do with Universal's encode of the 84 minute film, but rather baked into the source as the people shooting were using whatever cameras were at the available, as well as the head mounted go pro type cams of the Flying Frenchies during their base jumping and the like. Blacks look solid for the most part, and compression artifacts that are in the disc's domain don't look bad at all besides some minor macroblocking in a couple of fleeting shots. An overall great looking transfer.






Audio :3.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97282[/img]
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is a capable track, but like the video, is not much of a stunner. The film is heavily front loaded, with most of the activity in the mains with the center channel taking on the narration. Vocals from director Toa Fraser and star Jossi Wells come through loud and clear, but with a lot of the vocals from the rest of the crew being captured live on scene, there's varying levels of volume and clarity from the voices that bleed in from the Frenchies. LFE is mild, but sometimes comes out with some heavy power (such as the winds and stormy weather up on the slopes about 45 minutes into the movie). It's a simple track, and one that's not a BAD track, but it's just the nature of a documentary where you're having live footage and capturing vocals on scene.






Extras :2stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97290[/img]

• Who are the Flying Frenchies
• The Story Behind "The Free Man"











Overall: :3.5stars:

"The Free Man" is a fascinating documentary into a man's journey from one sport to the other in search of that adrenaline rush and feeling of "freedom" that comes with risking your life and body for your sport. There is a laid back sense of wonder while watching the doc, and the director's careful narration never feels cheesy or overplayed in the slightest. Most of the focus is on Jossi Wells, but there is a wandering gaze to the direction which leads us through all sorts of other extreme sports done by the Flying Frenchies and back again. The DVD itself looks quite good considering the handicam style of shooting associated with most documentaries, and the minimal extras are well worth checking out. For those who like a good sports doc, "The Free Man" is wonderfully interesting film that grabs hold of you without that gripping sense of need or desire. It just seems to keep you interested without even trying. Good watch.



Additional Information:

Starring: Jossi Wells (himself)
Directed By: Toa Fraser
Written By: Cushla Dillon, Matthew Metcalfe
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: NR
Runtime: 84 Minutes
DVD Release Date: May 2nd, 2017





Buy The Free Man on DVD at Amazon





Recommendation: Good Watch




More about Mike
 

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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93914[/img]

Title: Wishmaster Collection

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:73




WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM ALL THREE FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93922[/img]
Summary
Ahhh genies and Djinn. Those happy little things that grant you three wishes. What better memory of Robin Williams do we have then his stint as the famed Djinn in the lamp? I mean, aren’t they all fun loving and all powerful creatures that just grant wishes? Well, not exactly. The original tale of the Djinn (shortened and twisted to be Genie after a while) were of horrifying monsters that would grant wishes, but only out of necessity due to being enslaved to an object and usually the stories of the Djinn were used to act as terrifying lessons for those who wanted something the easy way. Well 20 years ago this September Lionsgate and Artisan films came together with Wes Craven and Director Robert Kurtzman (who was most well-known for his special effects and makeup work) to create the “Wishmaster”. It was evil, delicious and while not wildly profitable (I believe it was made for about $15 million), “Wishmaster” was a modest success that spawned three sequels and established Andrew Divoff as another cult horror villain. Now, after years and years of languishing in the world of DVD, Lionsgate is bringing forth the entire franchise in the Vestron Video lineup of collector’s editions with a really nice triple disc set for fans.

Wishmaster :3.5stars:
“Wishmaster” was every horror fan’s dream come true. I had everyone who was anyone in the business involved in the production. Wes Craven, Robert Kurtzman, Robert Englund (best known as Freddy Kruegger), Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, Reggie Bannister, Ted Raimi, Peter Atkins in the writing department. It was one of those 90s conglomerations of talent that wouldn’t happen in today’s horror world. I’ve long since waxed eloquent on how I love 80s horror films, but the 90s had their place as well, and “Wishmaster” was one of those passion projects from the horror community that just still lives as a truly awesome bit of nostalgia.

The film opens up with a little tale about the Djinn and their evil past. Monstrous demons who would grant you WHATEVER wish you desired, but in doing so they wouldn’t always make it as “nice” as our mind would think up. The human language is complex and wishing for something can be taken in many different ways. However, the Djinn do have a weakness. They can be trapped in the nether realm if someone binds them to an object, and in this case, a giant ruby. Fast forward thousands of years and this ruby has made its way to the United states. In a drastic “drinking on the job” accident the ruby ends up in the hands of Alexandra Amberson (Tammy Lauren) who accidentally awakens the evil Djinn (Andrew Divoff). Free from his torment, the Djinn begins to grant wishes to those around him, but in doing so those wishes unleash their greatest nightmares.

While this is all fun and games, the real end game is Alexandra. With her being the “waker” the Djinn has to grant her three wishes. Wishes that that once all three are granted will allow the opening of the worlds and free the Djinn and his brethren to walk free upon the earth. So naturally our murderous demon is “hell” bent on making sure Alexandra completes those three wishes. Whether by hook or by crook.

“Wishmaster isn’t exactly a brilliant film, but it takes a fun look at Persian/Middle Eastern mythology and has devilish glee with bringing the monsters to life. Most everyone is having a blast in the flick, with obvious reveling done by Kane Hodder, Robert Englund and Raimi. It’s a veritable who’s who of the horror film genre and they just had FUN with the concept. Andrew Divoff just chews up the scenery with his overacting, but it’s so much hilarious fun that you can’t help but love his portrayal as the Djinn himself. The gravelly voice and modified synthetic twist to it in his demon form made him a horror icon. Sadly not as great as Michael, Freddy, Candyman etc, but an Icon nonetheless.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93930[/img]
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :3stars:
“Wishmaster” was the only one of the franchise that got a theatrical release, but the enthusiasm for the project hadn’t waned much since 1997. Two years later it was given a sequel with “Wishmaster: Evil Never Dies”. Andrew Divoff once again donned the mantle of the prosthetics laden Djinn and is back for another round. The famed ruby gets stolen from the museum during a robbery from a trio of thieves including a woman named Morgana (Holly Fields, who shares a striking resemblance to a young Wynona Ryder). In the process our favorite friend is released once more and is off to try and complete his mission of acquiring a thousand souls necessary to free himself (hmm, even though the concept of the three wishes granting him freedom also comes into play during the film). Now, Morgana is aware of his murderous appetites and, being that she is the waker, is inexorably bound to the demon while he completes his quest.

Like usual there’s not much to the story. The Djinn goes around granting twisted wishes to his victims, torturing them with their own words, and the audience laps it up like a kitty to a saucer of milk. The Djinn still needs three wishes (or a thousand souls) from Morgana and everything he does is in an effort to get that third wish. But, much like the first film, that third wish may end up undoing his entire strategy.

The sequel is basically a retelling of the first movie, just in a different setting. The Djinn is released, he starts tearing apart the world piece by piece in his “is that what you wish for?” method. This time it’s Morgana instead of Alexandra, and he’s after 800 more souls to get out. Interestingly enough the movies end in the same way really. The heroine wishes something undone that actually created the opportunity for the Djinn to get out. In the first movie it was Alexandra wishing that the dock worker who accidentally unearthed the stone wouldn’t have done what he did, and this time it’s that the person Morgana killed would be alive so she could be pure of heart once more (yeah, I know, it’s kind of trite but it works in the context of the film). Another oddity is Andrew Divoff taking the same face as the first movie. The Djinn can magically transform into anyone he likes by cutting off their face and putting it on their own (and the magic does the rest). In the first movie it made sense because he cut off the guard’s face and used it to get around unseen. In the second movie that guy is dead, and he magically can take the SAME face? Weird little inconsistency, but aw well, what did you expect.

As a sequel, “Wishmaster 2” is not half bad. The passion is still there and Andrew gives it a devilish charm that is intoxicating. Plus, it was great to see practical effects in a world that had moved onto special effects and CGI laden slashers once again. “Scream”, “I know what you did last summer” and the like were the dominate form of horror film at the turn of the century, so heavy prosthetic and practical effects use was a dying art form. One that made the film feel all the more authentic. I could tell that the charm was dying with this one, but it still was a fun horror flick that was more than enjoyable.

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :2.5stars:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we knew it would happen sooner or later. This is the point in the franchise where it starts spiraling downhill. We’d already had a good first movie and a worthy successor, but now you have to start mixing things up or you just have endless sequels with the same storyline of the Djinn coming and getting defeated. Well, I do give them props for changing things up a LITTLE bit, but it turns the whole story into a joke and the series morphs more and more into being another “Leprechaun” movie, just without Warwick Davis.

This time we have a cute coed named Diana (A.J. Cook) who unwittingly unleashes the Djinn out of his little crystal once more. However, with Andrew Divoff gone from the production, we don’t have the same charm and “fun” that he gave to the previous two films. Thus the demon (now played by John Novak) has to inhabit the body of one of Diana’s professors in order to blend in with the rest of the world. Like usual, the professor REALLY wants Diana to make those three wishes and he’ll cut through just about anyone in order to get to her.

Diana is a bit of an interesting heroine. She’s suffering from PTSD and depression after her parents were murdered as a child, so a girl talking about an evil Djinn and spiritual things coming to get her seems a bit strange to her boyfriend Greg (Tobias Mehler) and her friends. However, it’s not long before the Djinn starts granting wishes and racking up the body count for at least Greg to get on board. Sadly it’s not as easy as just wishing the inciting incident away this go around. Diana takes a different approach by summoning the spirit of Michael the Archangel to defeat the demon. Something that at least slows him down enough until she can figure out another way to end the monstrosity.

Andrew Divoff’s departure from the franchise really hampered it in my opinion. John Novak as the Djinn is nowhere near as devilish and the prosthetics used feel cheaper and more “chintzy” this go around. I will have to fully admit that while “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies” were a lot of fun, they were mostly made enjoyable by Andrew Divoff and some great practical effects. The acting was abysmal like most other horror flicks. Without Divoff as the lead the poor acting and incredulously stupid actions by the teenagers makes the crummy storytelling all the more obvious.

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :2stars:
There comes a time when even a crummy DTV movie is enough to put the final nail in the coffin. “Wishmaster 3” was a crummy horror flick, but this one was the death knell for the series. The whole franchise was made in the span of 5 years, but “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled” was out in less than a year after the 3rd one hit the scene. Not exactly going for script of the year there when you have writing/directing/shooting/editing all done in under 11 months. Well, it’s not much of a surprise when “Wishmaster 4” turned out to be an utter abomination, even for this series.

Once again a couple of young people, a woman being at the forefront” opens up the little old ruby and voila, Djinn on earth ready to tear everything apart to get to his three wishes. Now it Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn) who is living with her disabled husband trying so desperately to win a damages lawsuit for an accident he had a short while back. Her husband Sam (Jason Thompson) is bitter and angry at life, pushing Lisa away at every turn and right into the arms of her lawyer Steven Verdel (a pre “Battlestar Galactica” Michael Trucco). When Steven gives Lisa a gift of a “ruby” we all know what’s coming. Out pops the Djinn and he’s off to make sure that Lisa requests her three wishes.

Like usual he makes mincemeat of everyone around him and steals their souls in the process, but here he actually GETS his third wish request. Lisa wants to love Steven as he really is, a pardox as love can only be given. It can’t be granted as a wish by the Djinn. And since the Djinn is occupying the body of Steven at the moment that means Lisa has to GRANT her love to him in order the Djinn to grant the request. That means he’s kind of at an impasse here unless he can somehow manipulate Lisa into loving him. With the third wish given, but not granted, Heaven has a contingency plan in mind. A “hunter” (played by a baby faced Victor Webster) has been dispatched to kill the Djinn, and the Djinn’s own brethren are chomping at the bit to get out and cause trouble in the human realm.

The rest of the movie turns out to be a giant “what the blue blazes?” jumble of scenes where the Djinn is half in love with Lisa and figuring out a way to have her love him back. The end result is like an HBO or Skinemax late night erotic thriller where the budget is about on par with my house payment for the month. It’s laughably bad and even as a fan of the previous “Wishmaster” movies I have to bang my head against the wall in horror. Michael Trucco hams it up incredibly well, but his “charm” that he had in “Battlestar Galactica” is not there and John Novak still can’t make a very intimidating Djinn. Victor Webster is only in the movie 10 minutes before getting offed, and director Chris Angel (who directed the 3rd movie as well) can’t seem to do much with the ludicrous plot lines.




Rating:

R for horror violence and gore, and for language.




Video :4stars:

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93938[/img]

Wishmaster :4stars:
The first “Wishmaster” is probably the best looking of the encodes, and that is probably due to the fact that it had the highest budget being the only theatrical release of the lot. I’m guessing there’s been a FAIRLY recent scan, as it looks heaps better than the grungy looking DVD I have lying around from the old Lionsgate set. Colors are fairly warm and there’s a goodly amount of detail on the screen. Grain levels are a bit thicker due to the 90s film stock used, and there’s a few speckles and flecks on the print, but otherwise it looks to be in great shape. Honestly, the nasty little genie movie has never looked this good and I ALMOST hesitate in giving it a 4/5 rating. The thing is hovering on a 4.5/5 but JUST not there all the way. Black levels are good, and there’s very little artifacting besides some obligatory crush in some of the deepest shadows and a glimpse of banding in one scene.


Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :4stars:
There is supposedly a 5.0 track on the second disc, but for some reason it is showing up as a 5.1 track on my receivers (tested on two different systems), although I wouldn’t be surprised if it IS just a glitch in the encoding process as I didn’t hear much activity that would activate the subs. Once again, dialog is a bit muddy, and feels like it’s squashed by the rest of the track. There’s a nice aggressive feel to the mix and Divoff’s deep voice makes for a menacing sensation in the recording. Surrounds get a decent workout with the craziness at the casino, as well as when Morgana and Eric get transported to the Djinn realm, but there is still a distinctly front heavy vibe to the mix.


Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :3.5stars:
“Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies” was the first of the sequels, and also the first of the series that went straight to DVD. Well, “Wishmaster” was never a big budget film so the sequel naturally looks rather good as well. The fine detail actually looks a little bit crisper and more defined on this one, but there’s also some smoothness to the image that comes from the late 90s special effects. Grain is pretty intense in the darker sequences, but in the daylight, it cleans up quite nicely. Blacks are deep and inky and I didn’t notice any crush or banding in this watch. If I had to differentiate I’d say that while I give a 4/5 rating for both “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2”, “Wishmaster 2” is on the lower side of that 4 star rating while “Wishmaster” is on the upper end.


Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :4stars:
Being the newest of the 4 films (although all 4 were shot in a 5 year period so it’s not like there’s a significant age difference here), “Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled” has a rather clean look to it. Colors are well saturated and the image has a cleanness to it that belies the DTV filmography. There’s nothing wildly new or fresh about the look. Darks still play a heavy role, but like the last film the red push is mostly gone expect for the ruby crystal that our nasty friend always come out of. The grading of the film looks a bit neutral for the most part and doesn’t carry a whole lot of pop, but black levels are deep and inky without being overly grainy or crushed, and the artifacting is almost nonexistent.




Audio :3.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93946[/img]

Wishmaster :3.5stars:
The box and press release listed “Wishaster” as coming with a 5.1 mix, but in reality, it is a 2.0 DTS-HD MA track. Of course, we would have loved to have gotten a 5.1 track, but the 2.0 track does the job rather well. The track is fairly aggressive and loud, but I did notice that dialog felt a bit squashed and some of the lower end vocals sounded a bit boomy. Something which makes Andrew Divoff’s gravely Wishmaster voice sound all the more menacing. Low end effects are minimal, but there are a few crashes and booms to keep the track hopping.


Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies :3.5stars:
Unlike the other two films, “Rush Hour 2” is not given a 7.1 DTS-HD MA mix, but rather a more traditional 5.1 mix. Before anyone thinks of this as a DOWNGRADE, remember this. Back when New Line was its own studio they would upmix 5.1 tracks into 7.1 mixes for their Blu-ray releases, and while they’re great sounding mixes they aren’t exactly the theatrical mix. “Rush Hour 2” reverts back to a more traditional 5.1 mix that is quite pleasing to the ears. Vocals are crisp and cleanly replicated at all times and the surrounds get a solid workout with the copious action scenes. LFE is fairly restrained compared to the third movie, but it has some impressive moments for sure (especially the ending explosion at the end). A very nice sounding audio track, it’s finally nice to hear one of my favorite “Rush Hour” films in lossless audio for once.


Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell :3.5stars:
“Wishamaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell” goes back to a 2.0 mix like the first film and really is just an ok track. The spacing in the mix is adequate and the does the job rather well, but without any pomp or fanfare. The dialog is still a bit muddy, but decidedly cleaner and more crisp this go around (although I really do miss Andrew Divoff’s voice for the Djinn Wishmaster). There’s some low end effects here and there and the imaging in the two mains make for a satisfactory listening experience.


Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled :3.5stars:
And like a yo-yo we go back to a multi-channel track for the 4th film, this time a full-fledged 5.1 mix. For a 5.1 mix it’s actually a pretty weak sounding track. Most of the heavy lifting is still done in the front three speakers and LFE is minimal at best. The DTV nature of the low budget horror flick shows the cracks in its armor big time and while there’s nothing horrible about the mix, it just doesn’t differentiate itself that much from the 2.0 and 5.0 tracks that came before it. Imaging in the front two speakers are decent enough, vocals are the MOST impressive of the 4 films but the surrounds really don’t get a whole lot to work with here. Solid, but nothing spectacular.




Extras: :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93954[/img]
Wishmaster
• Audio Commentaries:
- Director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
- Director Robert Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
• Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini
• Featurettes
- “Out of the Bottle” - Interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
- “The Magic Words” – An Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
- “The Djinn and Alexandra” – Interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
- “Captured Visions” – An Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
- “Wish List” – Interviews with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi
• Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster”
• Trailers, Spots, Galleries: Teaser & Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Storyboard & Still Galleries
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
• Audio Commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder
• Trailer
• Still Gallery
Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell
• Audio Commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss
• Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell”
• Trailer
Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled
• Audio Commentaries:
- Director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
- Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak
• Featurette: “Wishmasterpiece Theatre”
• Trailer






Overall: :3.5stars:

The “Wishmaster” series kind of reminds me of the ‘Species” franchise (also a four-film series ironically). The first film is a classic genre film made for the fans, and the sequel even has quite a lot of heart to it. Sadly the last two films are nothing but DTV schlock and are pretty much only for the hardcore fans. Still, this collection hasn’t ever been released before on Blu-ray and the TLC that Lionsgate gave to the series is more than I would have expected. Lots of good extras, healthy doses of commentaries, and some nice packaging. Even the price is outstanding coming from the Vestron Video line that Lionsgate is releasing. Usually the Vestron Video films are about $22-$26 street price for a single film, but all four films in this collection are only about $38 on amazon, making them less than $10 per movie! My only real complaint comes from the fact that the movies don’t look like they’ve gotten a brand new 2K or 4K master in a while, and that the last 2 films are put on one single Dual Layer BD-50 instead of given their own discs (something which really isn’t a big deal, but for collector’s and collector’s editions those little things mean something). A solid collection of tasty gooey horror morsels in one set and while the first two films are the real pull, I definitely think it’s worth nabbing.


Additional Information:

Starring: Tammy Lauren, Andrew Divoff, Robert Englund, Holly Fields, Chris Weber, A.J. Cook, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Michael Trucco
Directed by: Robert Kurtzman : Jack Sholder : Chris Angel : Chris Angel
Written by: Peter Atkins : Peter Atkins, Jack Sholder : Peter Atkins, Alex Wright : John Benjamin Martin, Peter Atkins
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Wishmaster 4), English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (3 and 4), English DTS-HD MA 5.0 (Wishmaster 2)
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R (all 4)
Runtime: 90 minutes : 96 minutes : 92 minutes 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 28th, 2017


Buy Wishmaster Collection Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended



More about Mike
 

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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96898[/img]

Title: Serial Mom

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:75



[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96906[/img]
Summary
John Waters has a sort of well-deserved reputation in the film industry. The creepy little pencil mustached man has a delight for making off the wall, bizarre films that are repulsive and over the top at every turn. Films like “Pink Flamingo” and other off the wall short films (usually with over the top gore and nudity) garnered him the reputation of a real life Ed Woods, except with a bit more of a creeper vibe. He grew up in Baltimore with his counter culture friends, making 8mm and 16mm short films that soon got him on the way to a sort of strange cult stardom. “Serial Mom” is actually one of his most “mainstream” movies to date (behind the original “Hairspray”), even though it is about as crazy as you can seem. “Serial Mom” underperformed at the box office in 1994, but it gained a rapid cult following among 1990’s teens, and was pretty much on cable TV every time you looked around. After the 90’s petered out the film seemed to drop into obscurity, even though it got a DVD release back in 2008. I honestly thought we’d never see the movie ever hit high definition, but Scream Factory (the horror subdivision of Shout Factory) has taken it upon themselves to create a nice little package for us nutsoid horror fans.

Beverly (Kathleen Turner) is the epitome of your “Leave it to Beaver” 1950s house mom, with that exuberant smile, a perfectly ironed dress and dinner on the table every night. The only thing is, she’s absolutely insane. That happy smile can be turned upside down when she sees something that is not “perfect”. A neighbor refusing to recycle, a teacher who chews gum, and someone wearing white shoes after Labor Day (*gasp, the unimaginable horror!). On the outside, everything thinks that she is the perfect mom to her children Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (a VERY young Matthew Lillard) and a devoted wife to her husband (Sam Waterston), but underneath the surface she’s a twisted freak who’s just waiting to be let out. Beverly has a tendency to harass her next-door neighbor with obscene phone calls, and when her daughter Misty gets stood up by her boyfriend Carl (who dumped her for a baby-faced Traci Lords) she does the only thing a good mother would do. Stab him to death in the men’s bathroom.

As the people who tick mommy dearest off start to add up, so does the body count, with Beverly starting a rampaging reign of terror where NO ONE is safe from the perfection driven mom (I’m sure you’ll remember to rewind those VHS tapes after watching this one). You can only kill for so long though, and sooner or later Beverly is BOUND to get caught, and get caught she does. Let me remind you that I said that Bev was certifiably crazy, but sadly she’s crazy like a fox. With her recent murders the suburban house wife has garnered almost a celebrity like status amongst the local townsfolk (those she hasn’t killed) and the jury is looking like she MIGHT get acquitted. A scenario that very well may not bode well for her family.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96914[/img]
While I said that “Serial Mom” is one of John Water’s most mainstream films, that does not in any way make it “normal” by any stretch of the imagination. Neither it your standard horror comedy either. Waters plays the movie off like a looney toons adventure, also incorporating his trademark elements of celebrities, crime, exploitation and of course, interior design faux pas. There’s almost a 1960s “Batman” vibe to the movie where we’re privy to goofy lines, over the top blood and gore, and you’d almost expect someone to say “Holy Toledo Batman!” at some point. There is a gleeful tongue in cheek style to the movie that just crazier and crazier, so at the end of the film you’re up to the top of your “what in blazes?” meter and you just smile and accept the sheer lunacy of the final act.

One of the biggest underlying aspects of “Serial Mom” has to do with John Water’s constant fascination with celebrities and how they get away with everything. The end act pretty much exemplifies his disgust as a VERY obviously guilty Beverly acts as her own lawyer and defends herself in the most over the top and blatantly cheating way, and EVERYONE falls for it (even turning her into some sort of media icon). There’s a scene with Suzanne Somers (playing herself) comes into the courtroom and breaks up the proceedings while everyone fawns over her, right in the middle of the prosecution gutting Beverly on the stand.




Rating:

Rated R for satirical presentation of strong violence, vulgar language, and sexual episodes




Video :3.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96922[/img]
Scream Factory brings Water’s film to Blu-ray with a nice looking 1.85:1 AVC encoded image. The natural film stock of the 90s looks beautifully grainy, while not being so overly grainy as to look obtrusive. Colors are bright and cheery, with that slightly overexposed look of the 1990s. fine detail can look exquisite, with shots of roast chick and an beef on the bone looking deliciously real, while other times the film can look a little bit processed and smoothed out. Softness is usually fairly minor, and the red lipstick or the bright red gooey guts of Carol all show up incredibly well. Black levels are solid, showing off plenty of shadow detail and only minor flecks of crush to keep it from looking pristine. I have a hard time giving it a 3.5/5, but the image is JUST a little too smooth to give it a 4/5… if I had the ability to do a 3.75/5 I would, but this is the tools at our disposal.








Audio :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96930[/img]
Like usual, Scream Factory has given us a choice of TWO sound tracks today. The first being the original 2.0 track in lossless DTS-HD MA, and the second being a 5.1 mix in the same lossless format. Honestly both sound great, and while the 5.1 mix is better in many ways, it’s not THAT much better than its 2.0 counterpart. Dialog and special effects show up cleanly and clearly in the front 3 speakers (or front 2 if you’re listening to the 2.0 track), but some effects do bleed into the surrounds as well. Imaging is well replicated in the front and you can hear a few directional shifts (such as with Beverly’s car) that create a solidly dynamic sound stage. LFE is pretty mild, but there are some outbursts of more explosive energy, especially when the band L7 is playing on stage near the beginning of the third act.





Extras :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96938[/img]

• An exclusive conversation with Director John Waters, actress Kathleen Turner and actress Mink Stole.
• Serial Mom: Surreal Moments – featuring interviews with Waters, Stole, Actress Patricia Hearst, actress Ricki Lake, actor Matthew Lillard, casting director Pat Moran, production designer Vincent Pirano & more!
• Feature commentary with Waters and Turner
• Feature commentary with Waters
• The Making Of Serial Mom – original promotional
• The Kings Of Gore: Herschel Gordon Lewis and David Friedman featurette
• Original theatrical trailer






Overall: :3.5stars:

It’s ridiculous, it’s nuts, and it’s classic John Waters. Serial mom sadly was never as popular outside of the cult horror genre, but the Blu-ray is a well-deserved upgrade from the DVD release some 9 odd years ago. The audio and video look very good for a 90’s cheapo film, and the extras on the disc are up to typical Shout/Scream Factory standards (there’s a new interview with Waters, Tuner and Mink Stole that’s quite a doozy). The film itself is an acquired taste, but it is a blast to watch if you’re not into taking your horror TOO seriously (it almost reminds me of Vestron Video’s “Parents” in some respects). Definitely worth checking out.



Additional Information:

Starring: Sam Waterston, Kathleen Turner, Ricki Lake
Directed by: John Waters
Written by: John Waters
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 9th, 2017




Buy Serial Mom On Blu-ray at Amazon





Recommendation: Check It Out




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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96946[/img]

Title: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :halfstar:

HTS Overall Score:75



[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96954[/img]
Summary
There are very few times that I’m truly bowled over by a modern horror movie. Part of me is still living in the past with golden “80s goggles” on and the modern horror genre has left me feeling very very cold in comparison. Sure, there’s a modern classic like “It Follows” or “The Babadook”, but most films aren’t ever going to ring my bell like those classic 80s flicks. Not to mention the fact that after you’ve seen so many horror films you can start to predict them rather easily and the scare factor is near zero. It’s just part of being “shocked” so many times that there really is very little new in the industry. I literally wrote “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” off the minute I heard about it, until the constant positive word of mouth made get curious. I will tell you that I was STILL rather cynically expecting a mediocre experience when I sat down and started spinning the disc, but it didn’t take 15 minutes before I started eating a serious plate of crow. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” ended up being one of the better horror films of the last 10 years, and despite running into the age-old problem of explaining a little bit too much by the end of the flick, I haven’t had this good of a time watching a new horror film since “It Follows” a couple years back.

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is best watched instead of explained, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. There has been a home massacre in a small town in Virginia and the Police Chief has uncovered the naked body of a recently deceased young woman buried under the basement of the home. This young woman is taken to the father/son funeral home and morgue in the town run by Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his adult son Austin (Emile Hirsch), where she becomes our “Jane Doe” of the movie. There’s some family back story and drama hinted at throughout the film, with Tommy being an apparent recent widower, and Austin is just about to spring the information on his dad that he’s going to leave their small-town life with his girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond). This is all about to change when Sheriff Burke brings in this mysterious woman and asks for a cause of death by the morning so he can get this massacre solved asap.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96962[/img]
What seems like a standard autopsy turns into something completely terrifying as the Tommy and Austin start to peel back the seemingly pristine flesh and start to realize that there is something “different” about this Jane Doe. Needless to say, this is not your typical autopsy. I’m going to zip my lips and keep what happens next a secret, but director Andre Ovredal (who’s most famous work so far has been the Norwegian fauxumentary “Trollhunter”) creates a magnificent buildup for what’s to come. The first half of the film is completely benign, and mostly clinical as the duo digs into the body with curiosity, but the sense of suspense and progression had me on the edge of my seat. I say this with all due respect, but there are few horror movies where I can’t predict what is coming next. Andre made it so that I was HONESTLY curious about the next find that the pair was going to unearth and was completely shocked when it happened.

Nothing really HAPPENS that would constitute as horror (unless you count the ooey gooey bits that come from dissecting a body for autopsy) until about the half way point of the film. Then it changes from intense horror/thriller to full on supernatural and the crazy stuff comes out. This is also the part where some predictability comes back into the film, mainly due to the writers over explaining a few too many things. I won’t say exactly what so as not to spoil the surprise, but there is a whole monologue from Brian Cox when they figure out WHO this Jane Doe is and, more importantly, WHAT she is that kind of stalls the movie a bit and brings back some of the much hated “familiar territory”. The good this is that it’s not TOOOOOO much predictability. There’s some twists and turns in the supernatural half of the film to have me thoroughly enjoying the end result despite an ending that doesn’t feel as awe inspiring as the first half of the film.




Rating:

Rated R for bloody horror violence, unsettling grisly images, graphic nudity, and language




Video :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96970[/img]
I could find no other information on the film besides that it was digitally shot, but the 1080p Blu-ray looks phenomenal, even with the obvious shoe string budget (digital fire being the only thing that made the movie look really cheap). 99.9% of the movie takes place in a couple of rooms in the underground portion of the Tilden mortuary, so there’s not a whole lot to break up the scenery. That means lots of dark portions with only sterile, artificial light to brighten up the cool blues of the darkness. Still, clarity is razor sharp and you can see every line and crease on the actor’s faces (even though there has been some obvious blurring of the body to make it look less sexual with a naked body lying there 99% of the time). Black levels are inky deep and full of lots of revealing shadow textures, and banding is kept to a bare minimum (usually only when a smoke-filled background comes into play, or when the dim lighting would show up against a totally black background).








Audio :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96978[/img]
It’s pretty much common knowledge by now, but I’ve come to expect the same two audio tracks for each and every Shout/Scream Factory release. A 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track, and the accompanying 2.0 DTS-HD MA for night listening (or being the original track depending on the age of the film and how it was recorded). The 5.1 mix is simply fantastic, with lots of depth and clarity to it. LFE is deep and throbbing, adding a fantastic low end to the ominous sounding score that just permeates the entire track. Vocals are crisp and clean, well placed in the center channel and free of any distortions. Surrounds are active with the humming/buzzing of underground lights, or the scraping of a metal door on the back wall. The film is pretty much MADE of these little nuanced sounds that come from all different directions at once seemingly. A well done horror track for certain.





Extras :halfstar:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96986[/img]

• Trailers for Other Films
• TV Spots
• Theatrical Trailer









Overall: :4stars:

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” certainly took me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting such a (mostly) novel film from such a stale genre. Emile Hirsh and Brian Cox work well together and Ovredal makes a refreshingly interesting flick from a well-worn material, which is much to his credit. The 2nd half of the film DOES have a few missteps in the predictability department, but there are enough great character moments throughout (there’s a fantastic scene with an axe that actually was really disturbing) that it doesn’t overshadow the overall quality of the rest of the movie. Scream Factory’s encode is well done and looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. My only complaint is that the extras are pretty much nonexistent except for a couple of trailers. Still VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.



Additional Information:

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
Directed by: André Øvredal
Written by: Ian B. Goldberg, Richard Naing
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 2nd, 2017




Buy The Autopsy of Jane Doe On Blu-ray at Amazon





Recommendation: Highly Recommended




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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97050[/img]

Title: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:78





[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97066[/img]
Summary
I’m going to borrow a line from my review of the last “Resident Evil” film. Think of the “Resident Evil” series as being a loaf of bread. With the first one or two slices, it’s nice, fresh and new. Everyone loves it. As time goes on those next few slices start to show their age, wilted corners and it gets a little tougher to swallow. By the time the 5th comes along, there’s some mold and it definitely leaves a stale taste in your mouth. That still holds true today considering that we’re wrapping up the 6-film franchise some 15 years after the first film came out. Honestly, I still really like the first three “Resident Evil” films (even the 2nd one), but that was where the really good films ended. “Afterlife” is a surprisingly DECENT film, even though it acts as filler to get us to “Retribution”, which is where the series fall off a steep cliff. “The Final Chapter” was SUPPOSED to have come out a year ago, but just days before heading off to film the movie, director Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich found out that she was pregnant, thus delaying the film another year. While I’m glad they have such dedication to finishing the franchise, the lack of steam and creativity that came from this entry (as well as “Retribution”) makes it a bit of a bittersweet experience.

You remember how we left off in “Retribution”? Alice (Milla Jovovich), Jill Valentine, Claire (Ali Larter), Wesker (Shawn Roberts), Ada Wong, and the rest staring out over a nearly destroyed Washington DC with Wesker offering them the opportunity to team up with him to wipe out the zombies? Yeah, well that whole scenario go scrapped and we’re left with nothing but a short monologue by Alice telling us that Wesker betrayed them, everything went south, and he only PRETENDED to give Alice her T-virus powers back. Now Alice is running, like usual, and is running out of options. Her salvation (and maybe doom) comes in the form of a message from the Red Queen (who’s actually Milla’s eldest daughter) who informs her that there has always been an antidote to the virus back at the HIVE in Raccoon City. If she can get there in the next 48 hours, Alice can unleash the antivirus and save the remaining humans before the Umbrella Corporation forces wipe out the last bastions of humanity.

Well, even if the Red Queen DID try to kill her last time, this antivirus is the ONLY chance humanity has, so what choice does Alice have but to buckle up and put on her big girl undies. Once arriving in Raccoon City, the beleaguered soldier finds out that there are still remnants of humanity struggling to survive in the nearly devastated ruins. There she finds a reluctant ally with Doc (Eoin Macken) and an old friend, Claire. Rounding up a team, Alice and her new allies head down into the HIVE once more to face a ravenous Dr. Isaacs (yes yes, clones and all that means bad guys never stay dead) and whatever forces the impenetrable HIVE have in store for them, bringing Alice’s journey back full circle.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97074[/img]
“The Final Chapter” actually has a pretty cool concept here. Alice finally has to go back to the beginning where her journey started 10 years ago (10 years in the films, 15 years in OUR timeline since the first “Resident Evil” was released back in 2002) and face the creators of the T-virus and the truth about their horrible plan to end all of humanity. The only problem is that the series had steadily been dropping downhill and the budget was obviously shrinking. They wanted to bring back Claire, Jill, Ada and the rest for that giant battel to save humanity, but the project was scrapped when the powers that be realized they couldn’t get everyone back together, especially with the budget that they had at their disposal. So now what we get is the framework of the original story mixed in with a new plot with the Red Queen and the results are decidedly “made for TV”. Everything feels cramped and constrained, like a made for TV movie that knows it can’t have more than a handful of set pieces otherwise they’ll blow the budget.

With that being said, the action is pretty intense and nonstop. Alice is a one woman wrecking crew and Paul Anderson did a great job using the budget to bring out some cool battles (such as the flaming gasoline that decimates Isaac’s army of zombies). The only thing is you can’t SEE any of it! For some reason, Anderson decided to edit the movie as if he was watching the film through a constantly changing kaleidoscope. There are a THOUSAND quick cuts per 10th of a second and the shifting was so fast, and so overbearing that I actually got a bit of a headache and some nausea wondering if I was watching a movie or a bad dream.





Rating:

Rated R for sequences of violence throughout




Video :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97082[/img]
As I said in the Blu-ray review, “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” was shot using a 5K sourced digital camera system and finalized with a 4K master. That being said, the way the film was shot doesn’t lend itself to leaps and bounds better video than the 1080p version. There IS a significant bump from the Blu-ray, but the desaturated colors and the bleak surroundings don’t give the HDR as much room to play. The outside world is mildly soft and the lack of primaries really isn’t that much better. It’s when the team moves underground into the hive when the yellow color grading loosens up and a more natural color scheme takes over. Primary reds, blues and a few shades of gold dominate down there, and the HDR is allowed to give us some richly colored scenes that really stand out. Not to mention the shadow detail that is superior to what we’ve seen before. Artifacting is at a near minimum and overall the 4K image roundly impresses. It’s not one of the best of the best, and goes to prove that being mastered in 4K doesn’t automatically give you a pass for demo worthy picture quality, even though it does eclipse the Blu-ray quite satisfactorily.







Audio :5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97090[/img]
Once again, the Atmos track is relegated to the 4K release and it IS a joy to listen to. The 4.5/5 rating for the 7.1 DTS-HD mix on the Blu-ray was simply because the Atmos track here edges it out ever so slightly. They are more similar than not, but the added use of the overheads brings in some incredible sonic experiences when Alice and the rest are fighting the zombie hordes. Or the directionality that improves when little droplets of water fall from above in the hive. LFE is still stunningly powerful (but not overcooked like previous releases) and the dialog is well replicated and crisp ad can be. The special atmosphere and general “feel” of that track is that it’s more spacious and enveloping, giving the listener a sense of immersion that is viscerally palpable. The bullets bounce around from corner to corner of the room, and the screaming and growling of the undead in the background make for an eerie sense of dimensionalilty in the track. Simply put, superb action audio.








Extras :2.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97098[/img]

• Two Featurettes:
- "Explore the Hive"
- "The Trinity & The Women of Resident Evil"
• Retaliation Mode
• Sneak Peek: Resident Evil: Vendetta
• "Stunts & Weaponry" Featurette






Overall: :4stars:

Was “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” fun? Kind of. It had its problems, but I’ve enjoyed the entire series to a certain extent and while it’s the very weakest of the 6 films (even weaker than “Apocalypse” and “Retribution”), it’s still a fun enough popcorn movie if you check your brain at the door and just watch Alice kill bioweapons (well, if you can handle the bumpy ride of the quick cut editing). Sadly, the 4K and the Blu-ray don’t have the 3D version of the film that was seen in theaters (“Underworld: Blood Wars” had the same thing happen to the home video release), but the tech specs are amazing as usual. Worth a solid rental if you’ve enjoyed the series so far, and we KNOW fans will want to finish up the series. The 4K release a solid improvement over the 1080 disc, offering more language options, better video and the joys of Dolby Atmos for those with the equipment. Definitely the better of the two releases.



Additional Information:

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glain
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Czech, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish DD 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: R
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 16th, 2017




Buy Resident Evil: The Final Chapter On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Resident Evil: The Final Chapter On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon







Recommendation: Rental




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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97106[/img]

Title: Heat: Director's Definitive Edition

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:87





[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97114[/img]
Summary
Michael Mann is one of the undisputed kings in the crime thriller genre. Over the years, he has made some fantastic flicks that revolve around scumbags and the desire to get rich quick or die trying. Sure, he’s made some bombs like “Blackhat” and “Public Enemies” (which isn’t THAT bad), but he has provided way more hits than misses. “Last of the Mohicans”, “Collateral”, “Thief”, “The Insider”, all fantastic flicks that have given us a very in depth and detailed look at crime (well, besides “Last of the Mohicans”, that’s just a great film) and the criminals who perpetrate it. At the top of Mann’s cinematic achievements is “Heat”, the gritty thriller that was made up of pretty much anyone who WAS anyone back in the 90s. It’s a complex look at several men and their escapades in L.A., based off of an actual criminal and cop from a few decades prior.

Al Pacino is Lt. Vincent Hanna, a well-known homicide/robbery detective who is hot on the trailer of master thief, Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro), who is on a string of high end robberies netting millions and millions of dollars. Lt. Hanna is at a crossroads, wondering if he can catch the guy until a robbery goes completely sideways, ending up with a dead security guard and clue as to the identity of one of McCauley’s gang. McCauley is also at a bit of a crossroads. This armored car job was supposed to be easy, but a new hire to the close-knit crew goes off the rails and murders the security guard for no reason, jeopardizing their whole operation. Intending to kills the bumbling low life (played by Kevin Gage), McCauley and his men get interrupted and allowing their soon to be victim time to escape. A move that soon turns deadly when the escapee goes on a murdering rampage amongst the ladies of the night, attracting the attention of Lt. Hanna on not only his operation, but the one loose end that can sink them for the armored car job.

[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97122[/img]
“Heat” is a wildly complex and nuanced movie. Clocking in at just a few minutes shy of 3 hours, Michal Mann deals with multiple subplots simultaneously, ranging from McCauley trying to fence the bearer bonds they stole back to the original owner (a bank guru played by William Fichtner), trying to find the escaped killer Waingro before he gets caught by the cops, Hanna dealing with his own insecurities and relationship with single mother Justine (Diana Venora) and her teenage daughter Laura (a very young Natalie Portman) and McCauley’s budding relationship with a young graphic design artist. Not to mention the loose cannons that are McCauley’s crew who want to go through with a giant bank robbery with the fuzz sniffing at their heels.

The performances by all are simply top notch, with a young Val Kilmer as McCauley’s second in command and a baby faced Danny Trejo and Tom Sizemore filling out the gang. There’s a ton, and I mean a TON, of supporting characters ranging from Tone-Loc (yes, the funky cold medina), Dennis Haysbert, Tom Noonan, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Hank Azaria, Ted Levine, Wes Studi, Henry Rollins and each one flows seamlessly into the complex weaving of multiple storylines. Still, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro are the main focus of the film and really take the spotlight. Both actors are at the highlight of their careers, and the intensity that they bring is electrifying. After watching the last few abominations that Robert DeNiro has let himself get talked into, it’s nice to actually see him as he WAS. An incredibly intense actor who seemingly could do no wrong. Pacino eats up the scenery like he always does and has some wonderfully hilarious 90s moments (when he’s talking about big butts to Hank Azaria has been fuel for many an online meme for many years now). He’s a madman with a badge, and can explode at a moment’s notice, but he’s also extremely brilliant and single focused, almost to a fault. He’s the showy one here, with DeNiro playing the much tighter controlled and suave character of the criminal mastermind. He almost never loses his cool, unlike his law enforcement counterpart, but has just as much a singular focus. A detriment and blessing that leads up to the incredible ending that Mann has planned from the beginning.




Rating:

Rated R for violence and language




Video :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97130[/img]
According to the information from Fox Michael Mann himself oversaw the video restoration for “Heat” and let me tell you, the results are very nice. The movie itself is clean film with minimal grain, but it has a very stylized look with not a lot of eye catching colors. The colors are clear and well saturated, but the filtering keeps the image looking ever so slightly flat and focuses in on bleached blues and light greys. Black levels are healthy enough and the grain really doesn’t spike in the darkness that much. I liked the original WB transfer of “Heat”, but this new restoration shows more fine detail and the mild smoothness that was present on the old disc is completely gone here. The film itself lends itself to softness here and there, but the overall clarity is spot on perfect to how Michael Mann envisioned it.







Audio :4stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97138[/img]
The original Warner Brothers Blu-ray came with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track and comparing the 5.1 DTS-HD MA that the Fox disc comes with I’m leaning towards thinking it’s the same mix, just a different codec used. The dialog is clean and mostly clear (there’s a little bit of background noise on really quiet scenes with minimal dialog), but the dynamic range is wide and free range. The surrounds are filled with activity when the action gets kicking, and the little background nuances of a restaurant or city street keep it from being too front heavy. LFE is never earthshaking or punishing in nature, but is used quite consistently with the action sequences and adding some weight to cars and the score. Michael Mann has a specifically focused way of mixing his tracks, and “Heat” carries that signature subtlety contrasting with moments of sharp violence and a quick uptick in the ferocity, only to settle back down again to a mild, dialog driven, experience.







Extras :4.5stars:
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=97146[/img]

• Academy Panel reuniting Mann, Pacino and De Niro and moderated by Christopher Nolan
• Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Mann
• Audio Commentary by Michael Mann
- The Making of Heat
- True Crime
- Crime Stories
• Into the Fire
• Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation
• Return to the Scene of the Crime
• Additional Footage - Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailers






Overall: :4.5stars:

“Heat” is probably one of the best heist movies ever created, and filled with a cast of everyone who was a somebody in the mid 90s. Clocking in at almost 3 hours long the movie flies by like 90 minute action movie with Mann delicately guiding the viewer along. The film is rough, it’s brutal, and it’s bleak in both portraying the bad guys AND the good guys, but it is nothing short of incredible with the viewer staring at the screen in rapt attention. No matter how many times I’ve seen it I still get goosebumps, and 20th Century Fox’s new restoration with Michael Mann makes for the best the film has ever looked (and the old WB edition was no slouch either). There are several new extras available on the set and the included legacy extras are still well worth it. HIGHLY Recommended.




Additional Information:

Starring: Val Kilmer, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro
Directed by: Michael Mann
Written by: Michael Mann
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, German DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Fox
Rated: R
Runtime: 170 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 9th, 2017




Buy Heat: Director's Definitive Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon







Recommendation: Highly Recommended




More about Mike
 

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I vote that we start calling this dude Mike "the machine" Edwards. You crank out more material then Steve King! Incredible... :clap:
 
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