Knockout DVD Review

Knockout
Directed by: Anne Wheeler
Written by: Joseph Nasser
Starring: Steve Austin, Daniel Magder and Jaren Brandt Bartlett

Remember when Superbad came out and there was discussion about whether or not high school kids actually talked with such aggressive swearing? Well, here’s the other side of that debate, a modern high school movie where the best taunt the kids can come up with is, “bird brain.” For the record, kids don’t talk like that either.

Surrounding that tepid dialogue are sub-par performances and an all too familiar narrative, that of the picked on new kid who trains in a sport in order to take on his oppressor. Knockout even makes reference to The Karate Kid, and it should. In fact, Knockout should be bowing down to its all mighty master and inspiration, since aside from boxing, this might as well be the same movie.

Well, that and the Mr. Miyagi character is played by Stone Cold Steve Austin. That’s kinds of a pace changer too.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Dinosaur DVD Review

The Last Dinosaur
Directed by: Alexander Grasshoff, Tsugunobu Kotani
Written by: William Overgard
Starring: Richard Boone, Joan Van Ark and Steven Keats

The Last Dinosaur might be worth watching solely to see a clearly hammered Richard Boone scream at one his shipmates, calling him a, “ding dong.” And yes, Last Dinosaur was meant to be taken seriously.

This is a co-production from longtime cartoon producers Rankin & Bass and Tsubaraya Productions, scheduled for a theatrical release stateside before being pulled for TV instead. The same two companies, or at least the same people, also delivered King Kong Escapes, a live action take on the Rankin & Bass “King Kong” TV series. That one is a blast, given a goofy, comedic tone, skilled miniatures, and one great looking T-Rex named Gorosaurus.

The last dinosaur is no Gorosaurus.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gamera vs. Zigra / Gamera Super Monster DVD Review

Gamera vs. Zigra / Gamera Super Monster
Directed by: Noriaki Yuasa
Written by: Nisan Takahashi
Starring: Kôji Fujiyama, Daigo Inoue and Reiko Kasahara / Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima and Yoko Komatsu

Depending on who you are and what your past Gamera experience is like, Gamera Super Monster could be the single greatest giant monster epic ever. How could it not be? Gamera challenges six foes, goes on his own rampage, and saves the planet from something that looks like, but is certainly not due to legal issues, a Star Destroyer.

The true Gamera fans are groaning though, knowing that nearly every single clip from the film is stock footage from of the previous Gamera outings, and the new footage is so cheaply done, it’s to the point of unwatchable. Fast forwarding past the sheer nonsense that is presented here as narrative, (filled with so many glaring plot holes, logic gaps, and absurdities to the point of ridiculousness), you can catch up on an entire franchise in a mere hour or so.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Netflix Streaming Quandry

Streaming on Netflix is great, isn’t it? You can watch all you want for a low flat fee, no worries about waiting for discs, and all it takes is a push of a button. But it’s not Netflix’s content that you’re watching.

Many people don’t seem to care about the lackluster streaming selection Netflix offers, or they wouldn’t be adding new customers almost every quarter. There’s a reason they don’t have that new release content though, and it’s the studios. Netflix has promised to aggressively pursue Warner Brothers content when that contract comes up, but what if Warner says no?

Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Deal with Teal and Orange?

Look at the above image. That scene, from The Other Guys, takes place in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond Store. Notice anything strange? It’s becoming a really aggravating trend in Hollywood, precisely named for what it is: teal and orange.

I can spare you the details and refer you to an excellent breakdown at Into the Abyss, but the gist of it is that directors are using the digital intermediate, where a film is color corrected to the wishes of the filmmaker, in only one way. You guessed it… tinting the movie teal and orange.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blu-ray Myths: BD-Live is the Future

Sony claims BD-Live can, “enable an exciting state of the next generation possibilities.” That’s not necessarily untrue, but it certainly hasn’t been proven yet either. What is BD-Live? Much like the internet capabilities of HD DVD, BD-Live allows an enabled disc to access an online portal, specific to each studio. There is no central “hub,” meaning you need to register with each studio individually.

But, you still wonder, what can you do with this online access? The answer is straightforward: Not much. Sony has a feature called MovieIQ where newly updated data about the actors in a film can be streamed live during the movie, i.e., if you’re wondering who a certain actor is you can pull up a menu and likely find out. Warner has a live chats with directors, although sparingly.  As for the portals, Sony allows you to download trailers, and Universal (dependent on the disc) allows you to stream movies… once.

Read the rest of this entry »

Many Blu-ray Players Unable to Handle Maximum Bitrate

Midnight Legacy is a small indie studio looking to push some obscure films onto Blu-ray. Dolph Chiarino is co-owner, and their first release was Alien 2: On Earth, a disc that Dolph wanted to be the best it could be. His goal? Max out the video bitrate to the format’s allowance, 40MBPS. However, the post house said it wasn’t possible, “without running the risk of locking up a majority of players.”

To be clear, the difference between a bitrate of 30MBPS and 40MBPS would be imperceptible visually (even lesser bitrates in most cases would look identical in the right hands), not to mention a constant 40 would be rather wasteful. There’s no need to have a black screen running at 40 during an edit or general end credits, but the option should at least be there. For some Blu-ray players, that’s just not an option.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Green Slime DVD Review

The Green Slime
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Written by: William Finger, Ivan Reiner, Tom Rowe, Charles Sinclair
Starring: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel

In the futuristic world of The Green Slime, people travel through space freely, and nuke incoming asteroids by drilling into them a whole lot easier than Bruce Willis and crew did. With all of these gadgets around, blinking lights on sterile-colored walls, the epitome of ’60s sci-fi, one has to question why a woman is clearly seen using a typewriter in the control room’s second floor. Computers can transfer video calls, control all of the equipment aboard space station Gamma 3, but word processing? Forget it.

It’s one of those ludicrous details that makes this obscure Japanese/American/Italian production such a blast, a kooky space saga involving miniatures from Godzilla effects artist Akira Watanabe, English-speaking actors who still seem to be dubbed over, and a bunch of creatures that defy even movie logic.

Maybe Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck did have it right, blowing up the asteroid without any risk of introducing an energy-seeking alien species on Earth. The crew of Gamma 3 are not quite that careful. The appropriate title describes the birthing form of these creatures, slowly evolving into one-eyed, tentacled critters that feed on electricity. With their brightly exaggerated red eye, bumpy skin, and obvious human form inside a bulky suit, the Green Slime are as kitschy as they come.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gamera vs Guiron/Gamera vs Jiger DVD Review

Gamera does gymanstics in Gamera vs. Guiron. It’s hard to put that into words, and it’s even harder to process upon viewing, a massive turtle swinging from some small bridge between two buildings. Oh, and he actually dismounts with a perfect landing. That’s the end for this franchise in most viewer’s minds.

By 1969, Daiei Studios financial woes are apparent on screen. The rear projection screen has an awful obvious tear near the top, not to mention streaks of dirt and wear. The suit for Guiron, goofy as it is, falls apart as the movie heads towards its climax, his (her?) red stripes peeling away and his back covering bowing and bending while he moves. It’s a truly outlandish monster, not that Viras wasn’t in the previous movie. What evolutionary by product states that a creature needs to shoot giant throwing stars at objects? Better yet, evolution seems to love playing tricks on its creatures, sticking Guiron with a massive head that is nothing more than a knife. How the suit actor was able to support that girth is a mystery.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gamera vs Gyaos/Gamera vs Viras DVD Review

Gamera

There is some sensibility left in Gamera vs. Gyaos. This is the transition film for the original series, after a kid-friendly first-entry and adult-oriented second, Gyaos splits the audience base right down the middle.

No child is going to care for the story of a small village looking to capitalize on a construction company willing to buy their land. Sure, the human story is peppered with comedic characters, but the tale of overwhelming greed in the face of adversity is not going to resonate with younger children. Neither will the surprisingly glorified violence, rather graphic even if the blood is bright pink. Gamera rips Gyoas’ toes clean off, forcing the monster to regrow the lost part in what seems like an awfully painful sequence.

However, the younger set will appreciate the toned down Gamera suit, the larger eyes and softer face certainly friendlier, and nicely in contrast with the angular face of his new opponent. Gyaos himself continues the string of goofy monsters from this series, this time a reptile/bird hybrid that shoots supersonic lasers from his mouth which splits things clear in half, spreads a fire-dousing power from his belly, and flies like a jet without flapping his wings. It’s a stiff, immobile suit, although explained away in part by the inevitable scientist character who states his two throats prevent Gyaos from moving his head.

Read the rest of this entry »

Turtles Forever DVD Review

Turtles Forever
Directed by: Roy Burdine and Lloyd Goldfine
Written by: Robert David, Matthew Drdek, Lloyd Goldfine
Starring: Michael Sinterniklaas, Wayne Grayson, Sam Riegel, Gregory Abbey, Darren Dunstan, Marc Thompson, Veronica Taylor

The times they are a changin’. Nowadays, even Michaelangelo is irritated by the grinning, pun-happy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of old. Sure, it may be a slap in the face to fans of the older series they grew up with, but Turtles Forever is just fan service topped with fan service with a side order of fan service.

The concept is nothing short of brilliant, having multiple generations of the Ninja Turtles meet in their own dimensions via portals. The movie features three groups of Turtles: the recent ’03 series, the original ’90s cartoon, and the comic book source material. It’s how these three intertwine that makes this work. What used to make total sense back in 1990, say Raphael breaking the fourth wall by talking into the camera, makes no sense to anyone in the ’03 universe. Why the ’90s Turtles are so happy, upbeat, and pun-happy is sort of baffling to everyone else. They’re also carefree. The ’03 Turtles make sure to remain secretive. As the ’90s series moved on, that set of Turtles cared less and less, and casually walk through the ’03 dimension without a care.

Read the rest of this entry »

Piranha 3D Review

Piranha 3D
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O’Connell, Jessica Szohr, Riley Steele, Adam Scott, Steven R. McQueen, Dina Meyer

The Final Destination, the most recent and hopefully “final” film in that franchise, had a kid sucked into (and out of) the suction drain of a public pool. Who knew a death like that in 3D could not only be topped, but conquered so mightily that even the great gore hounds of cinema would cringe?

That’s the fate of poor Jerry O’Connell in Piranha 3D, and that’s no spoiler. He’s the sleazy porn-producing jerk, snorting cocaine on the bow of his ship and being as sexist as possible. The movie only has 90-minutes to ensure the audience hates him after all. He is the recipient of what may be the most vile, sadistic death in filmmaking history, existing purely because 3D cinema has come to the point where digitally rendered male, uh, “parts” can be swallowed whole by prehistoric piranha.

Yeah, Piranha 3D is awesome.

Read the rest of this entry »