The theme of learning from history so as not to repeat it being very prominent in the 1989-93 NBC cult-classic sci-fi action-adventure series "Quantum Leap" makes it aptly significant as to the Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray CS set of this series.
This begins with the MCE release aptly putting right what once went wrong as to the individual DVD sets of "Quantum." As hologram assistant/best friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) to brilliant physicist/hero Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula "Star Trek: Enterprise") would say, the earlier sets are caca. The images of this major-studio release of this modern series is painfully grainy to watch. The images and sound in the Blu-ray set conversely are "mahvelous, simply mahvelous."
The comparable shelf space required of the DVD and the BD sets also favor the latter. MCE, which separately packages each season of "Quantum" in this set, makes it compact while still leaving ample room to take each individual season out of the stylish cardboard box in which they are contained.
The final comment regarding physical media relates to a major annoyance regarding streaming services. The real possibility that any service will pull the plug on any series before you can "catch them all" favors being able to pull a marathon (rather than binge) worthy show off the shelf.
One of many notable elements of "Quantum" is that it learns from history by paying homage to '60s TV scifi god Irwin Allen of "Lost in Space" fame. Allen follows up "Space" with the 1966-67 ABC series "Time Tunnel." That one centers around a secret government time-travel project in the desert going horribly awry in a manner that (mostly) throws the two heroes around in history as their guys (and girls) in the chair try to pull them back home. Their adventures include being on the Titanic and having an unforgettable adventure at the Alamo.
The variation in "Quantum" is that Beckett heads up the titular research project in the desert in the not-to-distant future; an amusing aspect of this is that the "Quantum" team visualizes a '90s that is even more bright, neon-infused, and futuristic than the '80s.
As the voice-over narration that opens every "Quantum" episode explains, Beckett (who is an Indiana farm boy with an August 8, 1953 birth date) theorizes that one can time travel within his or her own lifetime. The glitch this time is an unknown entity (perhaps God) or force hijacks Sam on his inaugural leap.
This abduction establishes the pattern of Sam "leaping" into the body of an innocent or not-so- innocent in order to put right what once went wrong. This may involve preventing a murder, stopping someone from making a decision that greatly negatively impacts his or her life, etc.
A handful of these episodes center around real-life incidents, such as the death of Marilyn Munroe and the assassination of JFK. Related good fun comes ala Sam inadvertently putting ideas in the heads of younger versions of future real-life celebrities. A prime (pun) intended example leads to a classic "Rocky" scene.
The rest of this lore is that the future tech. allows Al to use a research-center imaging chamber in his present to appear as a hologram that "only Dr. Beckett can see or hear." This state also prevents this resource regarding emergencies, medical or otherwise, from physically making contact with anyone or anything.
The typical episode pattern is that a disoriented Sam "leaps" into the body of the current person of interest sometime in the period of the aforementioned lifetime. Al then fairly literally pops in with at least at little information about the owner of the meatsuit that Sam currently occupies. Regarding this, it can be someone of any age or gender and once is a chimp. This exposition includes at least some speculation regarding why the powers-that-be have thrust Sam into that situation.
Much of the relatable fun comes from Al sharing changeable statistics regarding the outcomes in response to action and non-action by Sam. A purely hypothetical example is an 75.8 percent chance that an actor will be cast in the role of a lifetime increasing to 88.1 percent after middle-aged Sam in the guise of a 20-year old studio page sneaks the headshot of the actor into the file of the producer of the film.
Watching most of the fan-favorite episodes of "Quantum" for this post has made this "mission" especially fun. These include the JFK one, which is a two-parter that has Sam "leaping" into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald at several significant times in the life of that historic figure. A bonus this time is the psyche of Oswald repeatedly taking dominance over that of Sam, who almost always remains in the driver's seat while "possessing" someone.
The S3 season premiere is a two-parter that has Sam first "leaping" into his teen-age self just before Thanksgiving. Although his mission is to correct his own mistake and win the big game so that his high-school coach goes onto bigger and better things, Sam is the hijacker this time. The wrongs that he tries to put right include three tragedies that will befall his family in the next few years. This adventure continues when Sam "leaps" in the body of a man who is a member of the band of brothers of the older brother of Sam.
An especially fun one aptly has Brooke Shields play a literal debutante heiress in an episode that is a mash-up of "Blue Lagoon" and "Swept Away." The Shields character is about to enter an essentially arranged marriage when the ship on which she is travelling sinks. This "princess" finds herself being one of two stranded castaways with a Greek greasy dirty sailor who worked in the engine room of the ship and currently has a physicist controlling his life. The rest of this story is that Sam must put the life of the pretty baby in his charge back on track.
The series finale hits the trifecta of including big reveals, bringing back old friends, and providing closure while leaving the door open for more adventures. The conclusion this time does scream for five seasons and a movie. The irony here is that the wrong of "Quantum" missing the milestone of 100 episodes by three never gets righted,
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S4 brings us 3/4 of the way toward completing these releases of the 2018-19 seasons of the CW Arrowverse series ahead of their (mostly) October 2019 season premieres. "Supergirl" S4 follows the (reviewed) sets of "The Flash" S5 and (reviewed) "Arrow" S7. The September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" S4 completes this run.
The reasons for springing for the BD sets extend (except as to "Legends") beyond those versions including the epic three-part "Elseworlds" episode that introduces Batwoman to the Arrowverse ahead of her 2019-20 series. Past lack of buyer's remorse validates that spending a few extra bucks to get the deeper and richer color and sound of BD is well worth it; this is not to mention BD being less prone to the ravages of time and repeated viewings than DVD.
"Supergirl" always has been more closely aligned in lore and tone with "Flash." On-screen, this relates to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) of the latter introducing Superman cousin/reporter/covert government operative Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) to the Arrowverse. Further, both series skew younger in cast and target demographic than "Arrow." Off-screen, Gustin and Benoist (who have sung separately and together in their current series) are former Gleeks,
Further, "Flash" and "Supergirl" both revolve around boys and girls with something extra on both sides of the law. These problems and solutions mostly are aliens on "Supergirl," and mostly Spider-man style meta-humans who accidentally acquire special abilities on "Flash."
Conversely, most of Team Arrow and their foes are more like Batman in that they use advanced tech. in their efforts to put their well-honed skills to good (or bad) use.
The underlying debate on whether aliens, most of whom can easily send us muggles crying home to our mommies, in "Supergirl" S4 parallels the underlying theme in "Flash" S5 regarding how to handle a "cure" that makes a meta like other boys, The options there are to completely suppress the cure, make it mandatory, or give metas the freedom of choice.
As a side note, both "Supergirl" and "Flash" also have an annoyingly cartoonish "Scrappy-Doo" style/outcast character who fails in his mission to provide comic relief, "Flash" compounds the error as to acrebic scientist Harrsion Wells by making the current incarnation of him stereotypically French,
"Supergirl" has a kinder and gentler version of Brainiac, whose voice and misunderstanding of life on that alternate earth are inconsistent with his supposed intelligence, The writers mercifully limit a quirk as to referring to classic films to a few episodes To expand on a reference to the game of three in the "Flash" post, neither Wells nor "Brainy" would fare well regarding that diversion.
A real-world analogy in these series by openly homosexual executive-producer Greg Berlanti is gay rights. One aspect of this real-world non-issue is the "threat" that LGBTQ folks pose to "normal" people. An element of this in the entire Arrowverse and our reality is that most of the "villains" can "pass" for "normal."
Everything regarding this in "Supergirl" S4 ties to the Children of Liberty, lead by Agent Liberty (a.k.a. former US history professor Ben Lockwood) which loosely can be described of as a human-rights organization. The analogy as to this group that aggressively supports a "send her back" policy is to the related issues of immigration and refugees. This encompasses "them" coming to "our" country where they take jobs from "real" Americans and cause extensive physical destruction. We further see how these negative experiences can radicalize folks who previously largely avoid the maddening crowd.
The Children's campaign to repeal the federal Alien Amnesty Act does mirror a theme in "Arrow" S7. The legislative effort there is to outlaw vigilante activities of Team Arrow that supplement formal law-enforcement work.
An early "Supergirl" S4 episode begins to eliminate confusion as to that season seemingly not addressing the S3 cliffhanger. The final scene in the season finale has our heroine landing in what seems to be eastern Europe. The additional S4 exposition is that this individual can be considered a version of a bizarro Supergirl.
More exposition regarding all this comes roughly 3/4 into S4 with the heavily anticipated first appearance of Jon Cryer as "Super" nemesis Lex Luthor, Fanboys will remember Cryer as gonzo Lex Luthor nephew Lenny in "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace."
Aside from this introduction of a major DCU character into the Arrowverse series, the coolest thing about having Lex Luthor join the party is seeing late in the game how he orchestrates so much from the sidelines throughout the season. His "great escape" is another highlight.
All of this leads to season finale that includes an extended thrill-a-minute climax. The cliffhanger hits a high note by (ala "Arrow") bringing back a central "Elseworlds" element and keeping fanboys on the edge of their futons until the October 6, 2019 S5 season premiere.
The bigger picture is that S4 arguably is the best "Supergirl" season. It has streamlined characters, made Kara far less awkward and geeky "Ugly Betty" like, and has stronger story arcs.
The biggest picture is that the latest batch of Arrowverse seasons supports what fanboys have known for decades; comic books are about much more than men (and women) flying around in Spandex.
The plethora of S4 extras include a presentation of highlights from 2018 Comic-Con panels of Arrowverse series, a (Blu-ray exclusive) feature on "Elseworlds," a look at DCU super villains, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. The deleted scenes run from the sublime to the ridiculous, and the gag reel shows which cast member is most prone to cursing.
The true-to-comic-book spirit of "SHAZAM!" makes it by far the best entry in the current round of WB DCU superhero movies. This light-hearted romp is a wonderful diversion from the (often poorly acted and produced) dark live-action and animated fare with beyond gratuitous sex, violence, and profanity that the House that Jack built is churning out these days for far more profit than fun.
The following YouTube clip of a "SHAZAM!" trailer perfectly illustrates to Millennials and Gen Zs that this movie is their daddy's (or grandddaddy's) superhero flick. These kids also learn that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with that.
The simple but brilliant concept of the source material that director David F. Sandberg and writer Henry Gayden expertly adapt to the big screen is that 14 year-old Billy Batson is the chosen one who transforms into he whose "marvelous" name that shall not be spoken and back to his original form by uttering the titular acronym. This largely is the only similarity between this film and the (reviewed) 1974 live-action Saturday-morning series of the same name.
Zachary Levi of the 2007-12 action-comedy series "Chuck" (five seasons! and a movie?) releases his inner-Bartowski in playing this half-man half-boy champion. He proves once again that he is adept at playing a lovable loser nerd who must adapt to a super-powered new normal. This one can be consider Chuck vs. The Seven Deadly Sins.
The most general thought regarding this tale of a boy who goes from being a delinquent foster child to becoming a mighty superhero in a 'verse in which The Justice League really is fighting for truth, justice, and the American way is that is akin to the limited appeal of another boy hero.
Wil Wheaton coming up in conversation a few years ago prompted my remarking that I hated his smug young teen genius (with shades of Hamlet) character Wesley Crusher on TNG. I mentioned as well that i considered it absurd that the highly skilled and equally experienced Enterprise crew members gave that arrogant punk a respected seat at the table. The wisdom of my not foolish friend was that young teen boys that watched the series fantasized about being Wesley. A desire for candor requires confessing to shouting "SHAZAM!" and hoping for the best when watching the '74 series as a young boy.
A more obvious comparison is to the 1988 blockbuster comedy "Big" in which Tom Hanks plays a tween who (presumably on a Friday) magically transforms into an adult. "SHAZAM!" makes one blatant homage to the film and another more subtle one. The confession this time is admitting to still saying "I want to be big" every time that I pass a Zoltar fortune-telling machine.
The '80slicioiusness continues with "SHAZAM!" having strong shades of the cult-classic action-comedy TV series "The Greatest American Hero." This early example of the importance of RTFM centers around the Mr. Kotter of the '80s Ralph Hinkley being the chosen one whom "little green guys" give a super suit. The primary idea is that these brothers from another planet being confident that Hinkley realizes that with great power comes great responsibility make him their guy.
Much of the humor in "Hero" relates to the titular Reagan-era Cold War Captain America both discovering the extent of his abilities and learning how to control them. "SHAZAM!" honoring this legacy extends beyond a very "Hero" like montage.
These fanboy homages begin with the opening scenes. The identified year of 1974 works very well for the 2019 theatrical release in which our time is identified as "the present;" however, this will seem more odd as time goes by. it is even odder later in the film to see a single school that apparently goes from grades 1-12 in the same building.
Fourteen year-old Thaddeus "Lex" Sivana is sitting in the backseat of the family sedan as his father (John Glover of "Smallville") is driving the boy and his older brother over the river and through the woods to grandfather's house. Dad (channeling his best Lionel Luthor) and the older sibling are engaging in their usual practice of berating the backseat boy when Thad finds himself transported to a spooky cave.
Ala "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," Thaddeus meets the weakening ancient guardian of the "grail." Unlike Indie, Thaddeus does not choose wisely. He then is thrust back to his reality, where he quickly sets incidents in motion that do nothing to endear himself to his father and his brother.
The copious discussion of the proud history behind "SHAZAM!" precludes going much deeper into the plot of the film. Suffice it to say that Shazam and now-Dr. Sivana ultimately find themselves in an extended clash of the titans. The Team Shazam that our hero assembles to help fight his battle will come as no surprise to folks who are familiar with earlier incarnations of our central figure; this approach also is familiar to fans of Team Bartowski.
The team building, as well as the central plot, reinforces the "anyone can be a hero" theme of a film from a competing 'verse. It additionally reflects the "friends and family" aspect of admission into Mormon heaven and avoiding spooky Mormon Hell.
Those who agree that "Aquaman" stinks worse than three-day-old fish will find glee in a "SHAZAM!" stinger.
Lionsgate boldly goes where no man has gone before regarding separate DVD and Blu-ray April 9, 2019 releases of the recently concluded first season of the History Channel sci-fact docudrama series "Project Blue Book." The accolades for this Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Forest Gump," "Contact") program about the real-life X-Files of Air Force Captain Michael Quinn and astrophysicist college professor Dr. J. Allen Hynek include Forbes magazine naming it one of the 10 most anticipated series of 2019.
The following YouTube clip of a "Project" trailer provides an excellent sense of the theme of this program that revolves around investigating reports of visitors from other planets. It also illustrates the strong production values that leave the laughably badly made recreation specials of the '90s in the dust. This high-quality video and audio call for buying the Blu-ray set, which looks very good when watched on a Sony 4K set and using a 4K player.
The broadest appeal of this series relates to it being a melange of two cult classics. The most obvious comparison is to the still-going-strong '90s Fox series "The X Files" that begins with true-believer FBI agent Fox Mulder teaming up with civilian medical doctor Dana Scully. Their investigations of initially (and sometimes permanently) unexplained occurrences generally parallel those of Quinn and Hynek. Additionally, both sets of odd couple partners come to like and respect each other.
The second cult classic is the Showtime series "Masters of Sex." The comparison regarding that one begins with both it and "Project" being set in the '50s. The similarities continues with the odd couple being based on a true-life team. "Masters" is a docudrama of the professional and the personal relationships of human sexuality researchers Masters and Johnson, and "Project" is based on the actual investigations of Hynek.
Also akin to "Masters," we get both a detailed look at the home life of a lead and a sense of the period. Hynek spouse Mimi is a stay-at-home wife and mother. Her son Joel is a young boy, who is obsessed with Flash Gordon and other sci-fi of the day.
Like Mrs. Masters, Mimi is dealing with the new normal of her husband being away more than he is home and becoming proportionately emotionally distant. On a grander scale, Mimi must contend with the fallout (pun) intended associated with the escalating Cold War. These new aspects of her life converge in ways that include her hands-on approach to building a bomb shelter.
We get a touch of both the beginning of the women's liberation movement and the FX series "The Americans" in the form of modern-woman neighbor Susie Miller. Susie is strong, independent, and ruthless. She also successfully manipulates Mimi in the course of covertly keeping tabs on Allen,
Other nefarious types include Army officers both with a horse in the race and a desire to keep the truth from getting out there. These include a secret missile program and experimentation on Army rangers. Related Soviet activities and a nefarious cigarette-smoking man provide additional intrigue.
If the dynamic between Quinn and Hynek evolves to the sexual element of the relationships between Master and Johnson and Mulder and Scully, one can image that it will be the most highly rated episode of the entire series.
Many of the 10 S1 episodes will seem very familiar to Xphiles., The pilot (no pun intended) revolves around an Air Force top gun who learns of the futility of engaging a U.F.O. in a dogfight. We also get separate incidents in which small-town folks experience seeing lights in the sky over the woods at night and having close encounters with the pilots of those craft. One of these incidents being a literally cruel hoax also reflects "Files." This is not to mention the Foo Fighters showing up.
All of this culminates in sightings over Washington, D.C. of which Hynek receives advance notice, Plausible Soviet denial helps the plot thicken ahead of a 2020 S2 premiere.
Warner Archive greatly fulfills its mission to keep the great films of the past in present consciousness with the March 26, 2019 well-restored DVD release of the highly political 1929 sci-fi silent-talkie hybrid "The Mysterious Island." The melange of intertitles, limited dialogue, and rousing music in this film made two years after "The Jazz Singer" alone makes it a missing link that every cinephile should add to his or her collection.
The strong pedigree of this one begin with "Island" being based on a novel by sci-fi pioneer Jules Vernes. The cred. continues with Hollywood royalty Lionel Barrymore starring as island-owner/dedicated scientist Count Dakkar.
Writer-director Lucien Hubbard (whose credits include the recently reviewed Archive release "The Star Witness") goes beyond doing both his source material and his star proud. The wonderfully surreal story, elaborate sets, and creative effects evoke strong vibes of movie-magician George Melies, who arguably is best known for the camptastic 1902 silent "A Journey to the Moon."
The political commentary in "Island" begins with opening scenes of the very Russian-looking peasants of the kingdom of Hetvia fleeing vicious soldiers riding on their mighty steeds. The action soon shifts to the underground facility on the titular landmass.
Dakkar is giving then-ally Baron Falon (Montagu Love) both a tour and a narrative of the vision of Dakkar. This dream includes using a almost-completed submarine to take a (perhaps 20,000 leagues) voyage to the bottom of the sea. The primary objective of the trip is peaceful first contact with the evolved sea-monkey type creatures that Dakkar theorizes live under the sea. Another way of looking at this is that Dakkar wants to see if it truly is better down where it is wetter.
Conflict commences when Falon shares his aspiration to become the new leader of Hetvia; his desire to make the submarine a primary aspect of his today Hetvia, tomorrow the world plan fully puts him at odds with Dakkar.
More social commentary enters the picture in the form of the guy who kisses the girl. Nicolai Roget (Llyod Hughes) is a project engineer and the love interest of Dakkar sibling Countess Sonia. The problem is that not everyone approves of a romance between a royal and a commoner.
The plot thickens on Falon leading an attack on the workshop and using not-so-friendly persuasion to get his former friend to be his ally. Fully engaging Sonia in this effort and ultimately forcing her to join her in a joy ride proves that he truly is neither noble nor a gentleman.
The fun truly begins when Nicolai and Dakkar take off in pursuit of their foe. This leads to dire straits for all concerned in a truly magical undersea world. Highlights of this extended climax include a baby alligator with wonderfully campy prosthetics. Of course, this could be a croc.
The broad appeal of all this is the aforementioned blend of perfect elements. We get to see the result of people putting their hearts and souls into a dream project long before the advent of CGI.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Brothers Home Entertainment separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2018 first season of the SyFy network series "Krypton" shows that this series clearly is a production by fanboys for fanboys. The even better news is that this show is as highly entertaining to those of us in the middle range of the Kinsey Scale of Superman fandom as to the folks at either more extreme end.
Creators DCU veteran David S. Goyer and "Stargate" veteran Damian Kindler reach well across the aisle in setting this Superman prequel a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, They also reflect the British reasoning that creating a handful of excellent episodes each season is better than offering a larger number of mediocre or bad ones.
This love of the art is clear from the opening shot of the titular planet brightly red aflame ahead of the global destruction that makes the last son of that world the man whom he is today. What we see when the action shifts back a couple of centuries before that apocalypse further demonstrates that this is a true labor of love,
The opening comments in the entertaining and the informative 2017 ComicCon panel on "Krypton" that is a home-video bonus feature aptly gives props to the feature-film quality cinematography. An amusing remark notes that the action occurring in such a foreign setting precludes merely shooting outside the police station down the street.
These elements additionally REQUIRE buying "Krypton" in Blu-ray; playing it in a 4K player and watching it on a 4K Sony set makes you feel as if you are there. As an aside, being a cheap bastard in buying the fourth season of the CW DCU series "The Flash" on DVD after buying the other three on Blu-ray is a deep regret. It does not look nearly as good despite giving it the same 4K treatment as "Krypton."
The final diversion into Blogland before returning to the proud tradition of this site playing it straight relates to enhanced viewing pleasure. Getting the review BD set on that Friday facilitated a marathon (rather than binge) watching session that night. That evoked fond memories of going to the home of friends virtually every Friday night in the early 2000s to eat take-out and watch "Stargate" series or other SyFy series of that era.
The following YouTube clip of a "Krypton" S1 trailer provides a good sense of the lore of the series. It also highlights the talents of dreamy theater-trained star Cameron Cuffe, who plays literal granddaddy of Kal-El Sig-El.
Our story begins 14 cycles (my people call them years) before the present of "Krypton." Kal-El greater-great grandfather scientist Val-El is on trial for heresy in the form of asserting that Kryptonians are not alone in the universe. A young teen Sig-El watches as his grandfather who increasingly evokes thoughts of Obi Wan Kenobi literally must walk the plank.
All this (and most of out story) occurs in the then-domed (rather than bottled) city of Candor. The rigid hierarchy of that society has the ruling class of ranked families, all of which lead a particular segment of society such as the military and the sciences. The hoi polloi are unranked people who generally live a deprived existence.
14 cycles later, a 23 year-old unranked Sig-El is in the middle of a brawl at the bar at his buddy Kem. One game-changer is a heroic act by the grandfather of a Justice League member gets him reranked into the "noble" house of Vex he also finds himself facing a marriage of apparent convenience to Nyssa-Vex.
A CW element enters the picture in the form of this engagement occurring at a time that Sig-El is getting busy with Lyta-Zod. Even someone unable to solve "Scooby-Doo" mysteries can figure out the rest of the story when Superman nemesis General Zod enters the picture. That development further enhances the Shakespearean vibe of this series that already looks and feels like a story from the mind of The Bard.
Another important element of the season-long story-arc comes in the form of easy earth-boy Adam Strange beaming in with a warning from our time. He delivers an essentially "your children need your help" message to Sig-El. This gist of this news is that a earth-based threat from the future is traveling to the "Krypton" present on that planet to prevent Kal-El from being born.
Meanwhile, DCU villain/collector of planets Brainiac is headed straight for Krypton; Team El is aware both that the scheme of that evil alien is to literally rip Candor from the face of Krypton and that the very reasonable objectives of Sig-El and Strange are mutually exclusive.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of Shakespeare-style drama around the aforementioned three leading families of Krypton. This includes an aptly major and potentially bloody vexing rift between the fiancee of Sig-El and his future father-in-law. This is not to mention an "its complicated" relationship between the three generations of Zods.
As if that is not enough, another Superman villain is a player. That reflects the philosophy of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" that contending with Klingon enemies requires having a Klingon directly fight on your side.
The bigger picture is that the inter-woven threads above and other related aspects of "Krypton" both keep the action non-stop and provides high-quality plots that reflect the awful truth that most solutions rarely are easy. This particularly has an O'Henry element in this cerebral series.
The copious extras in addition to the Comic Con panel include a "making-of" feature, a "Life on Krypton" bonus, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. A cutting-room scene between Nyssa-Vax and Seg-El is particularly note-worthy.
'Rick and Morty' S1-3 DVD & BD: Emmy-Winning 'Back to Future' and 'Futurama' Mash-Up Is Fanboy Fantasy
The Adult Swim/Warner Brothers separate February 12, 2019 DVD and Blu-ray releases of S1-3 of the Swim series "Rick and Morty" provides a chance to ensure that you "get some" on Valentine's Day from the fanboy in your life. Discovering the full-sized collectible poster is even more exciting than finding a toy in a cereal box.
This brainchild from Dan Harmon of "Community" fame and Justin Roiland of the kinder and gentler ready-for-primetime Cartoon Network series "Adventuretime" essentially transports Doc. Brown and Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" to the more subversive and surreal world of once Cartoon Network staple "Futurama." The strong "screw you, Leonard" vibe of "Rick" provides much of the fun.
A weekly mission substitutes for the concept of a delivery on "Futurama." The concept of benign or hostile aliens threats bringing mankind on the brink of destruction remains the same, IMDb describes "Rick" in more general terms by stating that it is about "the exploits of a super scientist [Rick] and his not-so-bright grandson [Morty]." Roiland successfully pulls off a MacFarlane by voicing both leads.
The Ricktastic accolades begin with a 9.3 IMDb rating and a 97-percent Rotten Tomatoes result. IMDb also lists "Rick" as the Number 9 Top-Rated Show; "Seinfeld" and "The Twilight Zone" do not make the Top 10. The 14 official wins include the 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.
The its funny because its true concept of "Rick" is that Rick Sanchez is a brilliant inventor but a barely functional alcoholic and lousy grandfather and father; this is not to mention a largely unrepentant scoundrel who would sell his mother just for the fun of it. His two creations that primarily facilitate the aforementioned escapades with emotional dim-bulb Morty are a flying car that is capable of space flight and a portal gun that creates wormholes to other dimensions.
The rest of the story is that S1 begins a year after Rick moves in with daughter/horse surgeon Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke of "Roseanne" and "Scrubs.") The abandonment issues of Beth are behind condoning her father repeatedly causing destructive chaos in their home and even more frequently putting her son and other family members (including herself) in harm's way.
The dysfunction continues with wimpy unemployed advertising guy Jerry (Chris Parnell) showing that the mushy apple does not fall far from the worm-infested tree. Hilarity often ensues as Rick gleefully emasculates the purported man of the house. We also are regularly reminded that our not-so-happy-couple results from a portal-gun wedding after Jerry knocks up Beth with oldest sibling/typical big sister Summer (Kelsey Grammer daughter Spencer Grammer).
The bigger picture is that "Future" fans will see elements of the McFlys from that franchise in the Smiths. A related cool note is that a comment by Roiland in a two-part "Origins" home-video special-feature notes that he gives Morty at least a semblance of testicles to avoid him entirely being the bitch of his grandfather.
This family dynamic provides the fodder for the best "Rick" episodes. A personal fave has Rick bringing Beth and Jerry to an alien marriage-counseling center. The therapy there includes outfitting each spouse with a device that physically manifests the image that that person has of his or her significant other.
Hilarity ensues with Jerry conjuring a vicious heartless monster version of Beth, and she shows that she views her husband as a slug. Those creations breaking loose and wreaking havoc is not even the end of the story. The Smiths are left to fend for themselves against their own worst enemies. The outcome that reflects that love conquers all is not much kinder or gentler.
A similar episode has Rick paying the price for extreme measures to avoid a family counseling session, Suffice it to say that he finds himself in a constant pickle while proving that he remains a bad ass regardless of what he faces.
We also get Rick and Morty dropping off Dad at a very customized alien daycare center, the family surviving by discovering that any happy memory is false, and an especially hilarious Christmas episode in which Jerry learns that his parents have a new special friend; the fact that his dad primarily is a spectator further reflects the dynamic of our central family.
Another highlight takes the hackneyed concept of a love spell gone wrong to an awesomely extremely perverse level. Rick trying to help Morty "court" dream girl Jessica quickly gets out of bounds to the extent of creating an aforementioned world-threatening sitch. The manner in which Rick resolves this is one of the most dark and cynical in television history; it also reminds us that everyone is disposable.
Roiland and Harmon also especially delver regarding the season-ending cliffhangers. This begins with an S1 season finale that has Rick and Summer gang up against Morty to throw initially separate wild parties while the 'rents are away. Suffice it to say that rowdy teens and quirky aliens have plenty in common.
This leads to Rick using his tech. to provide plenty of time to rebuild the house before Jerry and Beth walk in the door; the rub is that squabbling that skips a generation brings the entire universe on the brink of destruction.
The S1 finale also sets the stage for the epic S2 season-ender. The family attending a wedding with a tie to the aforementioned festivities leads to one of many cases in which it seems that Rick will be held accountable for his crimes against humanity and seemingly every other species in parallel dimensions. This leads to a hilarious battle of wills in which Rick once again shows that lacking much of a conscience while also not hesitating to exploit the vulnerability of an enemy is effective. It also allows this madman with an evil mind to face off against his foes that comprise the Council of Ricks.
The epic S2 season-finale has the president (who clearly is not Trump) call in Rick and Morty to exterminate an alien in the White House. Rick adopting an extreme "Screw you, Leonard" attitude of course makes a bad situation much worse. We simply will need to wait for the S4 premiere sometime in 2109 to see how things fully shake out.
The copious home-video extras extend well beyond the aforementioned "Origins" feature. We get commentary and animatics for every episode, deleted scenes, a look at Parnell rocking it during a recording session, and other treats.
The prominent aspect of time travel in the Virgil Films documentary "Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine" excuses writing about the July 2016 DVD release of this film in February 2019. The starting point (no pun intended) is the Unreal TV post on the FANTABULOUS limited-edition Flux Capacitor Blu-ray set of the "Back to the Future" Trilogy.
The below YouTube clip of a trailer for "Outatime" wonderfully expresses the infectious and/or highly relatable elan of the restoration team. This is especially true regarding those of us adequately ancient to get hooked on the "Future" franchise during the initial releases of the films.
The relevant detour into Blogland begins with being relatively bored when a friend invites me to see "Future" at a second-run theater. The exceeded expectations are indescribable.
The noteworthy memory regarding "II" relates to needing roads where I am going to see it on the premiere date. Said driving surfaces being very snowy and icy to the point of still going despite repeatedly skidding out and getting stuck in snowbanks greatly speaks to the love of the franchise. The strong reaction (complete with a hand gesture) to the cliffhanger at the end also reflects the extent of the obsession with the adventures of the original "Rick and Morty."
This equally entertaining and educational documentary begins with a behind-the-scenes look at the role of the car/time machine in the films; this goes on to the tragic tale of Universal Studios initially leaving the flagship "A" car completely exposed to the elements for years and then not doing much better by merely putting it under a carport. This mistreatment exposes the car to weather-related harm and pilfering by fans. Literally leaving the key in the ignition is a Biff move.
The most interesting talking head from this portion of "Outatime" is the '90s-era studio portrayor of time-machine inventor Doc Brown. This eye witness provides an awesome "you are there" perspective; this is not to mention his perfect impression of the unique voice of that character.
This background information sets the stage for the central story of the film; Project head/compulsive taskmaster Joe Walser and his volunteers have one year to restore what is beyond a s**tbox to perfect working condition. Walser DEMANDING even that screws that no one will see and that aluminum tubing that hugs the car be 100-percent authentic illustrates his virtually impossible standards and the incredible tolerance of his crew. One can be certain that no strawberries are pilfered in the course of this project.
Much of the humor of the film relates to a strong sense that Walser should surrender regarding some battles. This includes having the team strip black paint off a once-silver piece of the car. Using the original paint to restore the "factory" appearance of the part is within the realm of reasonableness; having the unpaid workers with a challenging deadline remove the black paint is one of many instances in which one wonders if Walser constantly washes his hands and regularly worries if he has turned off the lights and unplugged the iron before leaving home.
Fanboys also will rejoice regarding the active involvement of "Future" co-writer and producer Bob Gale; his important contributions include using his star power to persuade fans with "borrowed" parts to donate them to the cause. Though the "owner" of a critically important component of the DeLorean pulls the phallic move of making Team Walser literally bid on that part, a not-so-guilty confession is that the group would have been SOL if your not-so-humble reviewer had anything from the car.
One of the more insightful segments relates to the fan favorite "Mr. Fusion" component. We learn about the legacy of Universal sloppily improvising after the original prop goes missing. The rest of the story is the amusing manner in which the team improvises after the fan who has this piece of film history does not return it.
The suspense throughout "Outatime" extends well beyond whether our band of brothers can recover the original components or perfectly replicate them; we get caught up in them meeting their deadline just as much as we root for Marty McFly to get the DeLorean up to the magic 88 m.p.h. in time, The modern quest being a real story creates a possibility of a lack of a Hollywood ending.
The copious DVD bonuses include filmmaker Steve Concotelli hosting the world premiere of "Outatime" at a place with a strong connection to the "Future" franchise. We also get deleted scenes and an epilogue to the restoration story.
The Warner Archive leitmotif to which the January 22, 2019 Archive Blu-ray release of the 1959 movie "The Giant Behmoth" belongs is '50s sci-fi. Although very entertaining based on its own merits, the so-bad-they're-good stock footage and special effects greatly add to the enjoyment of watching this one. Further, the Blu-ray remaster of this low-budget cult classic looks and sounds good.
The addition of "Behemoth" to the Archive catalog follows the (reviewed) Blu-ray release of the Howard Hawks mainstream classic "The Thing From Another World." These releases (and similar fare) facilitate recreating the awesome Saturday afternoon marathons at movie theaters. Watching the films back-to-back on the evening of a horrible day was exactly what the cinephile ordered.
The following YouTube clip of a Archive highlight video of "Behemoth" showcases the aforementioned effects that make the production values of the live-action Saturday-morning series "Land of the Lost" seem like something from a Merchant-Ivory film. A related depicted element is the cool way that "Behemoth" recreates the vibe of the WWII-era blitz.
This "Godzilla" begins with Yank Steve Karnes in King Robert's Court to lecture on little-considered fallout from A Bombs; his topic is how the radiation affects sea life but does not specifically address fish developing a third eye. This scene is particularly notable for a clever narrative technique that identifies Karnes.
Karnes is about to leave England for his home turf when a news report of sea monster who is far from lovin' and laughin' his life away prompts this science guy to head to the coastal scene of the crime. One of the coolest scenes from this portion of the film is discovering a radioactive element in a dissected fish.
Finding radiated Nemo allows narrowing the search for the titular sea monster. Rather than using a dory, our team boards a helicopter to search the targeted area of ocean. The arguably best effect ensues in the form of the Biblical beast swimming just below the surface. This scene arguably inspires similar moments in the awesome Brit series "Primeval" and "Primeval New World" that have prehistoric creatures respectively terrorizing England and Vancouver.
The same in-the-know viewers who yell "don't go in there" during horror movies surely predict that the plan to lower the helicopter to get a better look is a fatal mistake. They may as well have had Henry Blake on board.
The behemoth going on land and leaving behind physical evidence of (presumably) his presence leads to bringing in paleontologist Dr. Sampson. Sampson is a somewhat absent-minded professor who steals every scene in which he appears.
The conclusions of Samson being spot-on does not prevent mayhem that arguably is the most hilariously cheesy scene in the film. Our monster attacks a ferry full of passengers with extreme prejudice,
All of this leads to a literal plan-of-attack that finds the proper balance between ridding the U.K. of the terrible lizard and taking a scorched-earth approach. The ensuing action revolves around getting the rampaging beast to take his medicine.
Hilarity and drama ensue in equal measure as the potential saviors strive to complete their mission; consensus regarding this effort avoids any barney.
As indicated above, the silliness of "Behemoth" provides roughly 90-minutes of unreal entertainment. Ambiguity regarding whether this big guy is a teenage mutant sea creature or a long slumbering dino who is awoken provides a good discussion topic.
Seeing truly is believing regarding the pristine Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1951 Howard Hawks sci-fi classic "The Thing From Another World." The legacy of this tale of a broccoli from another planet terrorizing a group ar the actual Santaland includes the equally classic 1982 John Carpenter film "The Thing."
As indicated above, the video of this crystal-clear remaster of this '50s flick is amahzing. The same is true regarding the audio.
Hawks clearly shows his well-known diversity by hitting a home-run with this one that goes beyond sci-fi to also be a military buddy comedy, a romcom, and a morality tale.
Our story begins with jovial Air Force Captain Patrick Hendry (character actor Kenneth Tobey) joking with his crew and with newspaperman Ned Scott (character actor Douglas Scott) at an Anchorage Air Force base. In a manner that is particularly familiar to fans of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Team Hendry soon is called in to investigate a weird occurrence at a North Pole research center; Scott convinces the crew to let him tag along.
The humor continues with the flyboys and what passes for ground control at the North Pole making light of hazardous landing conditions. One spoiler is that the plane and all souls safely land.
The "rom" element soon enters the picture in the form of awesomely named office worker Nikki Nicholson; Nicholson portrayor Margaret Sheridan is known as the equivalent of a Hitchcock blonde in the eyes of Hawks (pun intended).
The onscreen chemistry and bantering between Tobey and Sheridan help elevate "Thing" from merely being kiddee matinee fare. Sheridan receiving top billing over Tobey, Nicholson being the one to hit it and quit it (and leaving a hilarious "Dear John" letter) in the relationship, and the nature of playful light bondage clearly define that dynamic.
The sci-fi element heats up on the newcomers learning that a UFO has crashed landed and is frozen beneath the ice; discovering the titular alien (James Arness of "Gunsmoke") at the Roswell North site compensates for a glitch while recovering the craft.
The sci-fi staple of a fatal mistake this time consists of bringing this outer-space equivalent of Encino Man inside to slowly thaw him. Inadvertently expediting this process allows the accidental tourist to explore his new surroundings sooner than expected. Suffice it to say both that first contact does not go as planned and that the man with that duty may as well have been wearing a red shirt.
The most awesome thing about this new threat is that it FINALLY introduces real conflict in the film; Dr. Arthur Carrington (character actor Robert Cornthwaite) plays the dual roles of "The Professor" who by far is the smartest guy in the room and the dick who regularly clashes with Hendry. The disagreement relates to accepting the reality that you need to crack a few skulls to make a scientifically important omelet.
An early detection system provides our group an advantage in its effort to find and neutralizes this threat with a somewhat plausible basis for lacking any emotion or compassion. However, this proves to be little help regarding the final mano a mango battle.
This confrontation at the North Pole really going south at one point adds good suspense that contributes to the classic status of the film. A mix of humor and potential for peril enters in the form of speculating about a previously unconsidered advantage of the rampaging rutabaga.
The bigger picture is whether mere mortals can defeat a creature that is bigger, stronger, smarter, and lacks any regard for human life. This provides the rest of the human population reason to anticipate fairly literally becoming cattle.
The epilogue to all this is that "Things" hits all the right notes and speaks to everyone.
CBS Home Entertainment continues serving Trekkers and Trekies alike very well regarding separate November 13, 2018 Blu-ray & DVD of "Star Trek: Discovery" S1. This release joins a complete set of CBS releases of every "Trek" series; it also allows those of us who either prefer physical media over streaming and/or do not subscribe to CBS All-Access to check out this neo-modern take on Trek complete with cursing, nudity, and an openly gay couple.
Seeing open hostility among crew members is equally awesomely honest and refreshing. Although "Discovery" definitely is not your daddy's Trek, he will enjoy it.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Discovery" highlights the darker and more atmospheric elements of the series that distinguish it from other Trek series. That is not to say that there are not shiny happy Starfleet personnel and tech.
One of the numerous nice things about "Discovery," which occurs a decade before the original series ("OS") and a century before "The Next Generation" ("TNG,"), is that the confusing and arguably flawed first two episodes lead to a series that a greater percentage of Trek fans can enjoy and embrace.
The pilot is rather difficult to follow. It opens with literally and figuratively dark scenes featuring aliens that do not look familiar to Trek fans. We quickly determine that this species is Klingon. It is not explained why they do not look anything like the Klingons from the "OS" era or those of the "TNG" period.
The action alternates between the activities of the Klingons and the crew of a ship that creates more confusion by not being named "Discovery." This is not to mention the opening credits including the names of everyone's favorite "Rent" boy Anthony Rapp and others even those they do not appear until the third episode.
A HUGE frustration regarding the first episode is that those of use who are not fluent in Klingon must have the subtitles on to understand what members of that species are saying; the problem is that subtitles remain on when the Starfleet personnel speak English; this requires turning the subtitles on-and-off. This flaw is corrected by the second episode,
Then-second-officer Michael Burnham is at the center of the action and remains there throughout S1. She is serving on the U.S.S. Shenzhou, which investigates damage to a Federation satellite on the edge of Federation space. This soon leads to Burnham taking action that escalates The Klingon War that has a prominent role in Trek lore.
The response of the Klingons incorporates an aspect of their culture that also is well-known to Trekkers and Trekkies. This leads to a battle that leads to a real game-changer for Burnham.
Burnham becoming the Tom Paris of "Discovery" on boarding the titular vessel is only the tip of the iceberg regarding her. Aspects of the life of Burnham that make her unique warrant a strong comparison to Spock and a lesser similarity to Worf and Seven of Nine. This relates to the role of Burnham regarding an aspect of Vulcan culture that also pops up in Trek series; this is not to mention an amusing "Dad always liked you best" element in her history.
"Discovery" definitely looking more advanced than the Enterprise that Kirk commands 10 years later alone is puzzling. This ship having tech. that is beyond that of the Enterprise of Picard 100 years later truly is surprising.
On the subject of comparisons, Trek vet and current guiding force Bryan Fuller provides plenty of Easter eggs and other nods to the franchise lore. This includes one well-known character being a regular, a list of prominent captains having familiar names and a lesser-known one, and an OS villain plaguing Discovery captain Gabriel Lorca.
On the subject of Lorca, Fuller further strays from traditional Trek lore by making this space cowboy less heroic and likable than his past-and-future- peers. He is almost perpetually grumpy and even less respectful of Starfleet rules and principles than the other guys on their best days. In fairness to this fearless leader, he is not himself these days.
Lorca gets his Picard moment in the form of extreme torture at the hands of an enemy. Both incidents even involve weaponizing light.
Fuller goes further in populating the crew with folks who are even more quirky than those of other Trek ships. This begins with literal space cadet Sylvia Tilly. Her overall unduly gleeful manner and extreme candid chattiness create an incorrect assumption regarding her referring to her "special needs" in her first scene.
We also get First Officer Saru, who is alien with a prey mentality literally encoded into him. In addition to being physically one of the most odd characters in Trek lore, his version of a spidey sense makes him fascinatingly unique.
Rapp plays Lt. Paul Stamets, who seems to have a mood to match every occasion. His uniqueness extends beyond developing a way-cool ability early in the season to being the first openly gay Trek character. His cute and charming relationship with ship doctor Hugh Culber make them the best-ever Trek couple.
Fuller again sticks to the script by having the Discovery chief security officer meeting a violent end setting the stage for the predecessor of this individual. In this case, it is dashing tall, dark, and handsome Ash Tyler. Tyler just as aptly has something in common with Voyager security chief Torres.
The adventures of this gang are even more serialized than those of a couple of season of the "Enterprise" gang. They simultaneously are contending with open warfare with the Klingons and both trying to properly utilize the unique tech. of their ship and to contend with friendly and not-so-friendly attempts to obtain it.
Highlights include trekking to a parllel universe and contending with evil twins sans goatees. The season finale is just as special by paying homage to "Enterprise."
The numerous bonuses include several "making-of" features, a season recap, and promos.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1956 CinemaScope scifi film "World Without End" once again proves the Archive commitment to releasing DVDs and Blu-rays that fit in awesome leitmotifs. In this case, it is bright and bold CinemaScope scifi B flicks.
The recently reviewed Archive Blu-ray release of "The Queen of Outer Space" starring Zsa Zsa Gabor is another member of the low-budget sci-fi movies section of the seemingly endless Archive catalog. Of course, these releases make a great double-feature gift for fans of good bad '50s scifi movies. A related note is that the back-cover liner notes for "World" state that it is the first CinemaScope scifi thriller.
Warner does its usual excellent job remastering both "World" and "Queen" for Blu-ray. The flawless images are crystal clear and incredibly vivid; the audio literally would allow hearing a pin drop.
The numerous similarities between "World" and "Queen" are attributable to Edward Bernds directing both; he pulls double duty as writer on "World." A synopsis of the films is that red-blooded American astronauts crash their ship and get tangled up with space babes. This screams for a book on the psyche of Bernds.
One difference is that "World" has more of an Irwin Allen feel than "Queen." This begins with a strong lost in space vibe, continues with stronger camaraderie among the macho men leads, and includes the stronger cheesy creature element.
The four astronauts in "World" are on a data-collecting mission when a freak storm near Mars causes their ship to go wildly out-of-control. They awaken to find their vehicle stuck in the mother of all snow banks.
The formulaic fun begins with the quartet discovering a massive spider web and soon wrangling with the not-so-sweet Charlotte who is its creator. The manner in which the group fends off this comical mutant establishes their approach to defending themselves from every savage foe.
The next adventure is straight out of "Queen." The men in both cases pay the price for lacking the foresight to assign someone to stand watch while the others sleep in their alien environment. The rude awakening in "World" comes courtesy of mutated cavemen.
The ensuing cat-and-mouse game results in the astronauts seeking refuge in a cave; that temporary refuge becomes more permanent on this tactic leading to the group entering the fortified underground world of the civilized inhabitants. This leads to reveals regarding where the space travelers have landed in time and space.
The honeymoon period quickly ends on the guests learning that their very timid hosts are unwilling either to help them repair their ship or use the resources that allow establishing an outpost on the surface. The aforementioned eye candy is some consolation; the new arrivals being far more macho in mind and body than the wimps who rule the place further enhances their status.
Of course, things soon come to a head in a manner that requires that every male man up. This initially leads to a wonderfully campy power struggle. This results in which is a happy ending on the surface (pun intended) but is horribly wrong from a more enlightened 21st-century perspective.
The happy ending for us higher beings is that Archive allows us the treat of a "World" and"Queen" double feature. They truly do not make 'em like that anymore.
The bad news is that the 1956 scifi horror thriller "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" being a prominent topic in film study and political science courses precludes giving the Olive Signature division of Olive Films October 16, 2018 Blu-ray release of this classic due regard. The first good news is that the copious in-depth and insightful bonus features do show "Body" proper regard and give current students a good shot at boosting their grade at least a notch.
Audio commentary by "Body" stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter (and by Gizmo's birth dad Joe Dante) further enhances the Signature release of the film.
The second good news is that the recently beefed-up Olive Films section of Unreal TV 2.0 includes reviews of other cult classics that Signature has shown tremendous love. The first releases are the 1952 classic Western "High Noon" and the more campy 1954 Joan Crawford Western "Johnny Guitar." This collection including the lesbiancentric 1996 neo-noir film "Bound" demonstrates the range of Signature,
"Body" is based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. The aforementioned special features shows how this tale of the fruit of seeds from outer space replacing ordinary townfolks in a '50s Everytown U.S.A. speaks to (hilariously named) producer Walter Wanger. We additionally get the perspective of director Don Siegel.
As the oft-mentioned extras remind us, one aspect of "Body" that makes it notable is being the first in a long series of "pod people" films that still entertain movie goers and provide sitcom writers who are desperate for a Halloween episode script fodder for a dream-sequence. However, this does not prevent Siegel and his team from borrowing from "Citizen Kane" and many other classics.
Just as "Kane" opens with the death of the titular William Randolph Hearst pod person and goes on to portray the key events in the life of the clone, the first scenes in "Body" show a crazed and disheveled Dr. Miles J. Bennell (McCarthy) restrained in a hospital and ranting about the titular offensive. This leads to a psychiatrist agreeing to hear his story in order to calm him down.
"Body" then depicts an equally standard opening scene; we see a train pull into the station at Santa Mira, California. The protagonist (Bennell) disembarks and meets his nurse. The audience learns on the ride to the office both that Bennell has good-natured arrogance and that he is returning from a two-week trip to a medical conference. Bennell learns that chaos in the form of people flooding his office with claims of replicas replacing locals has erupted in his absence,
The mystery deepens when Bennell finds his office empty and all seeming quiet on this western town front. Things get more interesting when Becky Driscoll (Wynter), with whom Bennell has an "its complicated" past, shows up after an extended absence, This reunion leads to a joke about divorce that is shocking for the '50s but very funny in 2018.
The initial investigation by those "meddling kids" Bennell and Driscoll bears little fruit until they experience a major breakthrough. This phase of the investigation ultimately leads to hot pursuit of Bennell and Driscoll that includes era-apt propaganda in the form of coaxing the couple by telling them that they will be much happier if they no longer think or feel.
The bonus regarding this is that falling asleep creates a significant risk of a fate different then death, Seeing Bennell being particularly clever in evading his former friends and neighbors is another aspect of "Body" that distinguishes it from other '50s scifi fare.
The quality continues to the end; the opening scenes establish that Bennell does not lose his humanity. However, suspense remains whether "Abner" believes "Gladys" that "witches" are among us. The outcome demonstrates why "Body" has endured so long.
The final mention of the numerous short documentaries and related material in the Signature release is that the filmmmakers never divulge their intents regarding "Body" being right or left-wing propaganda. That ambiguity adds to the fun of the film and reminds us of a kinder and gentler (although equally paranoid) era,
'Queen of Outer Space' Blu-ray: Zsa Zsa Gabor Dispels Myth Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus Do Not Want Them
Warner Archive belatedly goes to camp in releasing the 1958 CinemaScope film "Queen of Outer Space" on September 25 2018, rather than during the summer. The better news is that this wonderful blend of '50s kiddie matinee serials and "Star Trek" OS (in addition to a strong dose of the Hanna Barbera cartoon "Josie and the Pussycats") is well worth the wait. Further, the literally and figuratively alien landscapes and the bright and bold (pun intended) "Trek" style clothes and interiors look fabulous in Blu-ray.
The lack of references to probing Uranus or other mentions of that planet is the only one of two disappointment regarding "Queen." The second letdown relates to star Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is well known for slapping a police officer in 1989, not slapping any of the men in the movie.
It is hoped that feminists take the amusing chauvinism of the era in context. The literal battle of the sexes and the humor related to the titular monarch and her subjects being voluptuous females are very amusing from the perspective of someone watching the film 60 years after the release.
Knowing that a JOKE that we get a look at a Hillary Clinton administration is sure to cause great offense reflects that our time lacks a sense of humor regarding many topics. Archive deserves tremendous credit for not slapping (no pun intended) the same "reflects the less-enlightened society of the time" disclaimer on "Queen" that are placed on some DVD sets of vintage cartoons.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Queen" includes every element described above. The video being standard-def. and seemingly not remastered highlights the awesome job with the Blu-ray version.
The kiddie-matinee vibe begins when Captain Nel Patterson (Eric Fleming who is born on the Fourth of July), de facto second-in-command Lieutenant Mike Cruze (cartoon voice actor and comic character actor Dave Willock), and hunky womanizing Lieutenant Larry Turner get the grunt duty of providing harmless middle-aged Professor Konrad Uber service to the "Deep Space Nine" space station regarding which he literally and figuratively is a principal architect. This occurs in the far-off future of 1985.
The Saturday afternoon at the movies sense continues with the cheesy effects associated with our quartet approaching the aforementioned space station while that facility is under attack from a ray. That beam hitting its mark destroys the station and makes the ship the next target.
The aim of the weapon of mass destruction ultimately being true disables the ship and has it crash in one of the best comically low-budget special-effects scene in "Queen." The men soon determine that they are on Venus.
A literal rude awakening occurs when a group of women dressed in knockoffs of '60s-era Starfleet uniforms captures the men and takes them to their titular leader. One spoiler is that no red skirt is harmed in the filming of this scene,
The glee of our testosterone-fueled heroes on finding themselves the only males among a group of space babes lessens on learning that the queen has made Venus a true matriarchy and comes to the table with an actual feminazi attitude of extreme prejudice regarding earth in general and men specifically. Her policy is to eliminate the threat of the men and their planet before they can attack.
The literal saving grace of the skipper, the first mate (and the professor) is the character whom Gabor portrays, Talleah is a scientist who is among a group that does not consider men evil per se and does not advocate blowing up a planet as a preventative measure. The potential for offensive humor this time relates to the opening to comment that Talleah and her followers advocate a coup d' tata.
These covert agents aid and abet the enemy noncombatants in a manner that will put the bubble-gum chase music from "Josie" and "Scooby-Doo" in the heads of every child of the '70s. A scene in which the pursued and the pursuing duck in and out of doors in a long hallway is especially awesome in this regard.
This leads to the inevitable Venusian standoff. Our bros and their hos face off against the ruling party. Suffice it to say that that outcome involves very masculine behavior. The epilogue perfectly reflects the time and shows that Kirk is not the only pig in space.
The best of times element regarding the Warner Archive September 18, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1981 Michael Crichton scifi thriller "Looker" is that this chance to see this prime example of late '70s and early '80s lurid noir is a real treat. The worst of times element is Archive making rare gaffes in the presentation of the film.
The first odd choice of Archive is not at least offering the option of watching the network broadcast version of "Looker" that includes an eight-minute deleted segment that is a Blu-ray extra. Archive typically provides an alternative version option in these cases, Additionally, this segment includes the always entertaining villain monologue that ill-advisedly reveals the evil scheme to the hero, who invariably escapees in the next scene.
The other arguably bad choice is not providing the option of watching the modern introduction by Crichton. This spoiler-free statement puts "Looker" in good context.
The most cool thing about "Looker" is that it is a film that both perfectly reflects its time in style and content and is ahead of its time in portraying what evolves from the tech. and the marketing of the dawn of the computer era. This is not to mention the element of weaponizing television.
The underlying concept of seeking absolute perfection for fun and profit is as solid as much of the science that pursues it in the film. Additionally, the collateral damage in the form of the deaths that trigger the central events fall within the range of possibility regarding this type of film. The flawed execution in the form of framing plastic surgeon Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) enhances the entertainment at the expense of credibility.
The underlying '70s wealthy husband-and-wife procedural "Hart to Hart" style premise is that three of four gorgeous television commercial models whom Roberts put under the knife die via a car accident or apparent suicide, The other common element is that these "It" girls consult Roberts at the recommendation of the tech. marketing firm Digital Matrix. The similarities continue with the procedures calling for very minor alterations. Having Roberts explain that he agrees to do the surgeries to avoid the girls resorting to quacks establishes him as a good guy.
The third death literally brings police detective Lieutenant Masters to the door of Roberts, This prompts Roberts to simultaneously begin investigating the crimes and to take former patient Cindy (real-life model Susan Dey) under his wing to help her avoid getting her killed in this year's model from Detroit,
The first not necessarily nefarious plot that Roberts discovers is that legitimate businessman John Reston (James Coburn) and Digital Matrix executive Jennifer Long (Leigh Taylor-Young) are teaming up to create the perfect spokesmodel to appear in commercials. The realized futuristic element is this including CGI.
The really goofy part enters the picture (pun intended) as Roberts learns of the progress of Reston and Long regarding using television to get the EXACT desired response from viewers. The social commentary includes reaching a point of essentially turning sofa spuds into zombies.
Roberts approaching the truth prompts arming muscle with thoroughly goofy tech, and sending that hired gun after our hero. Of course, Cindy literally is in tow until she almost as inevitably handcuffed to a railing. One spoiler is that she does not break a heel during a chase,
The final battle awesomely incorporates every element of "Looker" and includes plenty of dark-humor laced social commentary. The numerous rude awakenings are one of the best aspects of this film.
The additional prophetic element is making television a critical element of presidential elections. This shows that Crichton gets it right regarding how far we come even after the flop sweat of Nixon is a large factor in the 1960 presidential election and Bill Clinton profits from playing the saxophone on "Arsenio Hall" in 1992.
The bigger picture is that this good blending of elements achieves the scifi ideal of good creativity and a morality tale,
The Lionsgate September 25, 2018 S11 V1 DVD release of the History Channel docuseries "Ancient Aliens" amazingly adds more credible evidence to the mountains of proof that "Aliens" uncovers regarding humans (and household pets) not being the only highly sentient beings in our universe and that visitors from other planets (and perhaps Pluto) are among us. The Unreal TV review on the recent MASSIVE S1-10 DVD set discusses the prior seasons of this popular program.
The overall theme of "Aliens" is that there is ample direct and indirect evidence of aliens coming here and helping us at least since King Tut was born in Arizona and moved to Babylonia. This extends well beyond sonogram-quality images of fuzzy glowing objects in the sky. The "Aliens" teams present their findings in a manner that makes anyone whose mind is at least ajar wonder about the existence of brothers from other planets. The bigger picture is the validity of the theory that it is unlikely that earth is the only planet on which a perfect storm makes a developed civilization possible.
The first of six episodes in the S11 V1 set is titled "UFO Conspiracy;" it opens with dramatic POV footage from a fighter jet. The small blurry object is relatively clear, and we hear the excited utterances of the pilot regarding this odd sight. The focus shifts to the history of the federal government funding investigations into UFOs; one can see the humor of the honesty related to using tax dollars to probe Uranus.
We soon getting a smoking gun in the form of a report on a 2017 New York Times article on the federal Advanced Aviation Threat Identification (AATI) program. Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, military brass, and MANY other talking heads discuss AATI,predecessors that go back decades before that program.
The analysis expands in a manner that evokes thoughts of the "Stargate" scifi franchise. That 'verse centers around the titular U.S. Air Force team that explores strange new worlds and that seeks out new life and new civilizations. That group often finds itself allied with or battling a private aerospace firm that helps create space-worthy tech. or utilizes or abuses the tech. of proverbial little green men.
An "Aliens" segment discusses the UFO-oriented work of Bigelow Aerospace. The scope of this coverage includes head honcho Robert Bigelow fully going on the record to assert that UFOS exist.
The second episode speculates about aliens influencing the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. The scope extends beyond the oft-discussed topic of Da Vinci being ahead of his time regarding modern inventions that include the helicopter. We get looks at his paintings from the perspective of an alien influence. This includes one work that speculates about the origin of Christ,
We additionally get a study of the "Last Supper" painting by Da Vinci. Tying this masterpiece into a Spielberg film is great fun.
The self-explanatory title of the third S11 V1 episode is "The Alien Protocols" This one studies the preparedness of the U.S. and the rest of the world for formal first contact. The spoiler is that we are not very prepared.
The other central focus is on close encounters that range from the region of the moon to the side of a rural highway, One of the more compelling tales is that of an Apollo astronaut reporting an odd craft accompanying him on solo lunar orbits.
The titles of the remaining three episodes in this set are almost as self-explanatory as the third. We get "Earth's Black Hole," The Desert Codes," and "Area 52." "Area" most likely expands on the segment on Area 51 in "Protocols."
As mentioned at the beginning of our program, "Aliens" makes a good case for "visitors" interacting with humans. Assuming that the films and other evidence is accurate, the rest of the story is that we simply do not know the truth about aliens and likely will not until a thoroughly independently verified "E.T." goes public.
A not-so-absurd alternate explanation for at least modern encounters is that hush-hush military or private projects literally or figuratively come on the radar or that scientists crack the pesky time-travel problem in the future and come back to check us out. The good news either way is that the tech, and/or help from the stars is a good thing until otherwise proven.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1969 scifi film "The Illustrated Man" aptly is a time capsule of that film genre from that era. It has the distinctive wonderful earth tones and surreal quality that makes classics such as "The Omega Man" so timeless.
"Man" is the film version of the book of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury. This film about body illustrations (do NOT call them tattoos) with minds of their own is based on the novel of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury.
"Man" simultaneously sets the scene by having young Depression-era drifter Willie arrive at a pond to bathe and swim while voice-over narration makes a prophetic statement regarding the nature of knowledge. Titular inked-up middle-aged drifter Carl (Rod Steiger) soon shows up with a bloodlust for the femme fatale who put him in this condition.
The aforementioned tale is one of boy gets horny; boy goes on what he hopes is a booty call; boy meets girl; girl grotesquely inks up boy; girl puts out to persuade boy to let her finish the job; boy endures walk-of-shame marked torso to feet with tramp stamps.
The rest of the story follows the format of the anthology horror series "Night Gallery" in that Carl calling the attention of Willie to a particular living illustration on his body leads to a story that it represents. The theme of these tales either is the encounter of Carl with the woman who done him wrong or a futuristic story.
One of the best tales of the future is the Bradbury story "The Long Rain." This has Steiger playing the leader of a space expedition that gets stranded on a distant planet, Rather than fire, the quest is for the sun domes that promise shelter from the storm and longed-for pleasures.
We also get two "Jetsons" style tales of a nuclear family with a husband (Steiger), a wife, and two children. The first installment has the kids in trouble both for using the tech, in a playroom to transport themselves to the African jungle and then lie about it. The lesson for 21st century teen boys is to ALWAYS clear your browser history and delete any incriminating texts and e-mails right before logging off.
The second installment of the "Jetsons" is a bit darker. It is the end of the world as the clan knows it and Dad does not feel fine.
"Man" has an epic ending on a couple of levels. A gap is filled, and the aforementioned prophecy comes true in a wonderfully graphic manner. One moral of this is heeding the wisdom of pop star Rick Springfield and not talk to strangers.
The extra special bonus feature is the short documentary "Tattooed Steiger" that discusses the making of the film in general and the massive inking of the star in particular,
Including ALL FOUR episodes of the EPIC "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover of the CW Arrowverse series is the most notable of countless highlights regarding the Warner Brothers Home Entertainment (WBHE) September 18, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S3. A former castaway on a tropic island nest tells us that the next crossover will center around Batwoman and Gotham City ahead of Greg Berlanti and his soccer stud spouse Robbie Rogers giving her a series.
Watching ALL 26 episodes this past weekend to prepare for this review proves that "Supergirl" is marathon (rather than binge) worthy. These well produced tales looking vibrant and crystal clear and sounding just as good in Blu-ray (and comparing them with DVD versions of S1 episodes) proves that shelling out the extra $5 to get it in that format is well worth it.
The bigger picture is that buying an S3 set provides a chance to get caught up before the October 14, 2018 S4 premiere of this series starring 2017 Teen Choice TV Actress: Action winner Melissa Benoist ("Glee").
The following statement by a WB suit nicely conveys the "Supergirl" spirit. WBHE Senior Vice-President of Television Marketing Rosemary Markson notes that "the series incorporates diversity, fairness and empowerment, and our fearless female Super Hero is a perfect role model in today's time. Primetime examples of some of these elements in S3 are a kick-ass engaged lesbian couple. an openly gay superhero (and his "reformed" supervillain boyfriend), a black James "Jimmy" Olsen, a black man/brother from another planet director of the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), and two high-powered female executives who clearly show the boys that this is not their first rodeo and that they had better not fuck with them, etc.
Bringing "Carrie" star and '70s TV mom/CONCURRENT 2010s star of stage, screen, and television Betty Buckley on as a tough but loving mother (whose best scene ends up on the cutting room floor) further reflects the strong spirit of empowerment in "Supergirl."
Doing the S3 release justice (pun intended) is beyond the scope of a single online review. The combination of independent lore, connections with the DCU in general and Superman specifically, and the action-packed events is of a grand scale. This article will touch on each point and highly recommends folks whom this overviews entice to learn more by buying the Blu-rays.
S1E1 establishes the girl power aspect of "Supergirl" right from the start. 20-something Kara Danvers (nee Kara Zor-El) explains that her parents spend the final moments before their home world of Krypton goes boom blasting tween Kara off in an earth-bound pod. Her mission is to protect and guide her baby cousin Clark Kent (nee Kal-El) on this planet far from Krypton. Things quickly going awry for Kara literally changes everything and helps set the stage for the primary S1 action.
The beginning of S3 finds Kara nursing a broken heart of her own making. Adopted sister/DEO colleague Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh of "Grey's Anatomy") is doing a little better in the romance department in that she is planning her wedding with fiancee Maggie. The boys also are doing well, Former Catco tech. guy/current Kara close friend/boy with a dark past Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan of "Smash") is a full-fledged DEO agent/lab nerd. Former sidekick/current corporate ladder climber Olsen (Mehcad Brooks of "Desperate Housewives") is a full-fledged superhero in his own right and only starts sleeping with boss Lena Luthor after scoring a corner office.
The S3 season premiere awesomely hearkens back to the pilot. The current threat to National City where Team Kara resides requires that the girl with something extra wrangle a submarine ala her bringing a plummeting jet under control in her first outing as Supergirl. (A later episode reveals potential global annihilation stemming from that first heroic act.) This S3 salvo also prompts a literal awakening that is a blessing and a curse for our heroine.
The "Midvale" episode is a fanboy dream that provides a break from the season-long worldkillers story arc that is central to the aforementioned pending apocalypse at the hands of Pestilence, Purity, and Reign. The title of this offering refers to a heartbreak prompting the Danvers sisters to visit mom Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater of the '84 "Supergirl" film). A alcohol-influenced spar prompts Alex and Kara to go to bed angry, which sets the stage for a tale set in the high school days of those then rival siblings. One spoiler is that this flashback is directly relevant in a future episode,
The fanboy element enters the picture in the form of the CW Superman coming-of-age series "Smallville." The most direct homage is having "Smallville" Lois Lane actress Erica Durance (who also takes over the role of birth mother Alura Zo-El on "Supergirl") makes a cameo appearance. Further, the same building from exterior shots of Smallville High provides the facade for the high school of our girls. Additional goodness comes in the form of Cousin Clark friend Chloe of "The Wall of Weird" fame helping the sisters The true valentine is in the form of following the "no flights, no tights" policy of the earlier series.
Kara also is the at the true heart of the aforementioned epic crossover. The stated premise of this television event is that the wedding of Barry "The Flash" Allen and Iris West is bringing Kara and her "plus one," Team Queen from "The Arrow," and some of "The Legends of Tomorrow" to Central City for a joyous event turned Moldavian Massacre. Team Berlanti staging numerous battles in which many of the best DCU residents face off against super-powered alien Nazi doppelgangers gives the fanboys what they want, The interaction among this seeming cast of 1,000s is equally special. A request to the good folks at WBHE is to please offer the aforementioned "Batwoman" crossover as a seamless movie format in the next round of Arrowverse releases.
All of the above provides a sense of the futility of giving "Supergirl" its due. An effort to keep this post to manageable length requires skipping ahead to discussing the S3 season finale. This one successfully juggles a multi-front battle against the worldkillers and wrapping up the season-long story involving The Legion of Super Heroes who travel from the past and the future to help team Kara. It also sets up the premise for the planned "Legion" CW series, makes changes that set the stage for "Supergirl" S4, and provides a cliffhanger that may require outfitting Benoist with a goatee. This is not to mention an awesome nod to the Christopher Reeve '78 "Superman" film.
The special features extend WELL beyond copious deleted scenes that will make fanboys weep regarding their exclusions. We also get a gag reel and a features on the crossover and on the wonderfully conflicted worldkiller Reign.
The bonus highlight is a full hour of clips from 2017 Comic-Con panels for the Arrowverse series. The elan and love of cast and crew alike both validates that all love his or her role and shows how they can make plots such as the aforementioned Super Nazis and a rampaging super landshark seem plausible. PLEASE keep it up Gregbie and company; we need this "unreal" entertainment in these highly toxic times.
The numerous awesome aspects of the Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1979 scifiromdramedy "Time After Time" hinders deciding where to begin, The audio commentary provides a good starting point both because it reflects the exceptional track record of Archive regarding getting principals of a film into the sound booth decades after a theatrical release and because these extras are an important part of film history. Star Malcolm McDowell and writer/director Nicholas Meyer team up this time to provide the "true Hollywood story" of this classic.
The musings in the commentaries are comparable to Hollywood royalty attending the annual TCM Film Festival; both provide a chance to get insights from the lions' mouths before they pass away. Thinking of Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr. being the TCM headliners is enough to strike dread in the hearts of cinephiles, The practiced preaching this time is having attended the 2017 festival.
Another very special aspect of "Time" is that this tale of scifi writer/social activist H.G. Wells (MCDowell) using his 19th-century time-machine to pursue Jack the Ripper (David Warner) from Victorian England to 1979 San Francisco is part of a scifi renaissance of the era. "Time" can arguably thank the "Star Trek" OS films (Meyer is a writer/director or "II") , "Star Wars," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" for being greenlit.
The cred. of "Time" includes winning three Saturn awards and the USA National Board of Review naming it one of the Top 10 Films of 1979.
It is worth noting as well that the amped up audio and video of Blu-ray particularly enhances the bright on-location San Francisco scenes, the 70slicious special effects when the time machine is being used, and the mood-setting soundtrack. One of the most cool moments is watching the machine travel through a subspace-style dimension accompanied by audio from the eras that is is passing.
Our story begins in Victorian England with Jack the Ripper cutting the night of a lady of the evening short. Meanwhile, Wells is entertaining gentlemen callers when Dr. John Leslie Stevenson literally arrives late to the party. The next few minutes allowing anyone with enough grey matter to solve a "Scooby-Doo" mystery both to figure out that Stevenson is the Ripper and how things are destined to play out does not (ala "Columbo") diminish the joy related to seeing how we get there,
Stevenson soon puts the bragging of Wells regarding his new solar-powered ride to good use by jacking the time machine to escape to 1979 San Francisco, which also is the 1986 destination of the Enterprise crew. This is not to mention that The City by the Bay is the ultimate destination of a "Trek" crew and a "Stargate" team that are lost in space trying to return home.
Social commentary enters the picture in the form of Wells considering his atonement for aiding and abetting Stevenson having the upside of seeing his envisioned Utopia of a world in which love is free, war is no more, and everyone is thriving and happy. Even 1979 audiences know that Wells is in for a rude awakening. One cannot imagine him being able to handle our 2018 existence.
An amusing aspect of the restrained wonder of Wells on encountering the tech. of the late '70s is that it looks primitive 39 years later. There are clunky landlines, huge counter-top microwaves, CRT televisions, and very outdated cars in which cassette players likely are considered luxury items.
McDowell particularly shines as Wells simultaneously tries to curb his enthusiasm regarding the plethora of modern marvels, focuses on not letting his mannerisms betray him, and does his best to properly respond to social cues.
The flip side is that Stevenson considers the '70s his Utopia. Making his point only requires flipping the channels when Wells initially tracks him down. Every network is showing war, contact sports, Yosemite Sam taking a dynamite blast to the face, etc. Similarly, Stevenson showing Wells his true colors makes it clear that the latter is bring an etiquette book to a knife fight.
Wells gets a less rude awakening on meeting liberated middle-management bank employee Amy Catherine Robbins. An interesting aspect of this is that Robbins portrayor Mary Steenburgen marries McDowell in 1980.
A slip of the tongue putting Amy at real risk of a slit of the throat makes things that much more personal for Wells. This leads to the inevitable showdown that concludes with the fate of Stevenson that is clear within 15 minutes of the beginning of "Time."
The marketing genius of this is that "Time" has something for everyone without emphasizing one element so much that it offends anyone.
The Indiepix Films July 10, 2018 DVD release of the 2013 scifi existentialist drama "Blue Desert" shows that the spirit of the LSD-influenced cinema of the late '60s and early '70s is not entirely dead. The surreal images and heavily philosophical dialogue make it no surprise that the Yoko One art book Grapefruit inspires Brazilian filmmaker Eder Santos. The rest of the story that the press materials share that "Grapefruit" inspires the John Lennon song "Imagine."
The stunning futuristic images looks so good when put in a 4K player and watched on a 4K set that one can only image the incredibly beauty of a Blu-ray version of this winner of a Golden Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival.
The following YouTube video of the Indiepix trailer for "Desert" provides a strong sense of every aforementioend attribute of the film.
"Desert" completely revolves around 20-something everyman/narrator Ele. The first sense that we are not in Kansas anymore comes on this Millennial discussing earth now having two moons. We quickly learn that the second moon is a gift that Ele compares to the Statue of Liberty.
Much of the rest of the film evokes strong thoughts of the Steven Spielberg film "Ready Player One" in that the populace often wears VR glasses while going about their business in this (mostly blue) heavily neon world. Much of the fun of the film relates to trying to figure out whether something is real or merely virtual. Ele meeting the girl of his dreams relates to the best of both worlds.
The title of the film refers to the activity of a spirit guide of Ele; An insightful observation regarding the nature of reality that this man shares with Ele is one of the most trippy scenes in the film.
The overall theme is Ele frantically seeking enlightenment; this quest involves a great deal of introspection and affirmative efforts to transcend.
The almost equally surreal Terry Gilliam film "Brazil" makes setting desert in that country very apt. It is a very techno-future world in which it seems that not every form of public transportation actually moves you from Point A to Point B.
The takeaways from "Desert" are that the future is not necessarily completely bleak and that the path to enlightenment is paved with good intentions.
The Lionsgate July 31, 2018 separate DVD and enhanced Blu-ray releases of the first season of the Starz original series "Counterpart" provides a good chance to see the best current show that you have never seen. An initial endorsement is planning to subscribe to Starz when S2 episodes premiere in early 2019; an initial note is that the Dolby HD Blu-ray looks spectacular using a 4K player to watch it on a Sony 4K set.
The exceptional special features include a video for each of the 10 S1 episodes in which creator/writer/producer Justin Marks ("The Jungle Book") shares his insider perspective on that offering. His enthusiasm and insight prove his great love and regard for his creation.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Counterpart" S1 trailer introduces the lore of the show and awesomely proves that sadistic Schillinger of the 1997 - 2003 HBO prison drama "Oz" still lives in J.K. Simmons. A different fanbase knows Simmons from numerous roles that include his Oscar-winning performance in "Whiplash."
"Counterpart pulls off the neat trick of combining quality Cold War drama, the 1963-66 sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" in which the eponymous young star plays an everyteen all-American girl and more worldly English cousin, and the 2008-13 Fox scifi drama "Fringe" that shifts the action between our reality and a more totalitarian version of our world.
The "Counterpart" and "Fringe" parallel (pun intended) is especially close. Having equivalents of Walternate and Fauxlivia from the Fox series is the tip of the iceberg.
In both cases, the link to the Bizarro world is the result of a science experiment gone awry. The alternate dimension this time is the product of Cold War research in Berlin that creates a separate but equal reality. Restricted access between what can be considered East and West Berlin is via a heavily guarded subterranean tunnel.
The other primary element of the lore is that the general populace on both sides of the tunnel is completely oblivious to even the existence of the tunnel. The extensive symbolism begins with the lore that only person at a time can walk through the tunnel.
The larger (and more fascinating) theme is that the responses of our counterparts to the same incidents that we experience here shapes the personalities of both persons. An example is the differences between a woman who embraces a highly violent lifestyle and her other who better blends into society.
The rare occasions on which one encounters his or her mirror image are series highlights. They often make both persons wonder what might have been and prompt introspection by viewers.
Our story begins with the balance between action and introductory exposition that marks good series. The idea is that modern ADD audiences want to know what is going on but have little patience for being introduced to the setting.
The aforementioned opening scenes show the police in our reality in hot pursuit of Baldwin, an assassin from the other side. The manner in which this hired gun escapes sets a good (and sustained) precedence for the series.
We then move on to a day in the life of mild-mannered middle-aged UN spy agency desk jockey Howard Silk (Simmons). Boss (and personal fave) Peter Quayle (Harry LLoyd) has just passed him over for a promotion. On finishing his really boring job as an office clerk, Silk follows his evening routine of bringing his comatose wife Emily and the nurses at her hospital flowers and then reading to his spouse.
The proverbial game-changer comes on Silk arriving at work one morning to have Quayle let him in on the secret and introduce him to the titular Silk Prime (Simmons). Of course, the mousy wimp Silk disgusts the tough and stoic Prime. The only disappointment is that "evil" Silk does not have a goatee.
The rest of the story is that Prime is here because the Emily on this side is a target of Baldwin. The bigger picture is that a covert group on the other side is planning a coup.
The related efforts to save Emily and to capture Baldwin are the beginning of collaboration and a beautiful unlikely friendship between Silk and Prime. Seeing this pair interact and Prime slowly but surely mellow while Silk learns to man up provides great entertainment. A poker game between these studs arguably is the best scene in the entire season.
For his part, Quayle is the son-in-law of the big boss but is not a model husband. The rude awakening of this spy-master-in-training wonderfully reflects the themes of "Counterpart." Suffice it to say that Lloyd plays his role particularly well.
Additional entertainment comes as we learn more about the specific basis for the other side resenting us; this relates to a wonderfully complex conspiracy in which virtually everyone becomes a suspect. The manner in which people with whom a character has a close bond often does not hesitate to throw that person under a bus is awesome vicarious fun.
The Cold War elements also include prisoner exchange negotiations, such swaps going horribly wrong, the luxury on our side seducing tunnel commuters, the other side brainwashing children and preparing them to serve the cause, moles, etc.
All of this culminates in a season finale that wraps up the S1 drama and sets the stage for S2. The tightening of the noose prompts drastic action by infiltrators, friends getting trapped in hostile territory, and diplomacy failing. In other words, just like the real Cold War era Berlin.
Lionsgate also gives us the bonus feature "Season Outlook" in which cast and crew discuss the series and favorite moments.
[July 4, 2018 Update: Revisiting this post showed that the planned trilogy of posts ended with the one below.]
Not getting my pre-ordered copy of "Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures" 30th Anniversary Flux Capacitor Blu-Ray (BD) set on the October 20, 2015 release date after a painful two-month wait was agony. Ripping the box open Wolverine style a week ago made the wait worthwhile and eliminated any doubt regarding whether the roughly $88 price is valid.
As an aside, folks with concern regarding unwarranted reports that physical elements of the "Capacitor" set will not pass the test of time (no pun intended) should remember that this (and any other deluxe) DVD or BD set is not intended for children. Adults who use reasonable care will not scratch the discs taking them out of their sleeves or rip pages out of the well-bound 64-page collectible book. You merely need to restrict any Wolverine tactics to opening the box in which the set is delivered.
In the spirit of "Future," this review is separated into three parts that will be spread out over several months. This series starts with discussing the importance of "Future" and the features of the Capacitor set. Part Two focuses on the animated series, and Part Three addresses the BD versions of the film trilogy.
At the heart of the matter. "Future" is the "Wizard of Oz" (complete with a quest by the young hero to return home from a strange land) to the children and the children at heart of the '80s It is the one on which this generation grew up and thoroughly enjoys each time that it is watched. As a recent review on the "Future" documentary "Back in Time" shares, your reviewer first saw "Future" at a second-run theater primarily out of boredom and friendship but immediately was hooked. The other notable "Future" story involves driving through a blizzard to see "Back to the Future III" on its opening night.
The personal legacy of home-video ownership begins with the DVD set of the "Future" trilogy being one of the first additions to a now-library of almost literally countless film and television sets. The "Future" purchase being from a Circuit City provides a sense of the "ancient" nature of that acquisition.
The Capacitor packing itself nicely distinguishes this set from other 30th Anniversary versions. The aforementioned device allows the altered DeLorean that the franchise features to time travel. The image of said capacitor adorns the front of sturdy packaging and wonderfully lights up at the push of a button. One technological enhancement regarding this bonus is that, unlike "talking" DVD sets of roughly a decade ago, the batteries that allow the lights to go on are replaceable.
The all-new bonus disc in the set alone almost warrants the cost. It is the ONLY such disc regarding which yours truly has watched (and LOVED) every feature.
The bonus disc begins with a short inspirational message from trilogy star Christopher Lloyd in his Doc Brown character. Brown also host the roughly 10-minute 2015 bonus film "Doc Brown Saves the World," which explains why our version of 2015 lacks self-lacing sneakers and other 2015 tech. from "Future II."
The "Looking Back to the Future" documentary on the bonus disc greatly improves on "Back," which earns a grade of 88. Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and most of the other heavy hitters who participate in "Back" also provide interviews for "Looking." The pace is simply a bit faster and includes far more cool footage of the filming of the movie. Scenes of Fox rocking out and enthusiastically joking around while filming are particularly special.
The separate bonus disc documentary on restoring the aforementioned luxury automobile compensates for the scope of"Back," but not "Looking," including that topic.
The bonus disc moves on to offer the pilot episode of the aforementioned animated series and the premiere episode of the second season of that show. The four-disc set of the complete animated series also includes these episodes.
This gem of a special features disc wraps up with an all-new fall-on-the-floor faux trailer for the "Jaws 19" film that plays a role in "Future" 2 and a separate highly amusing commercial for the skateboard-like hoverboard that is an integral part of "Future" lore.The "Jaws" trailer wonderfully mocks every film franchise cliche, include the element of "this time its personal."
The aptly titled aforementioned 64-page booklet "Back to the Future: A Visual History" includes a great introduction by "Future" writer Bob Gale. Gales pounds the nail on the head in writing that "that love (for "Future") is the reason that you have this booklet in your hands." The plethora of essays, alternative posters, photos, and diagrams that make up the remainder of the booklet simply are too numerous to adequately discuss in this post. Suffice it to say, veteran and new fans will not be disappointed.
Anyone with any questions or comments regarding the "Future" franchise or the 30th Anniversary sets is encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
The Warner Archive October 3, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1978 epic "Superman the Movie: Extended Cut" follows the Archive tradition of treating fanboys right. This release comes on the heels of the Archive "one-to-watch" and a second to "one-to-keep-in-mint-condition" worthy (Unreal TV reviewed) Blu-ray release of "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm."
The good folks at Archive also include the "Superman" special edition that the back cover describes as the "definitive vision" of the film of director Richard Donner. The following review is of the extended cut.
It should be undisputed that "Superman" (and its sequels) is the Genesis of the big-budget superhero franchises that are going strong nearly 40 years later. The extended cut is an augmented-for-TV version that adds 40 minutes to this film that includes an origin story, a coming-of-age-tale, AND a heroic effort to save the world.
"Superman" opens with an almost certainly added cold opening about central newspaper The Daily Planet and then goes into the classic opening credits with the equally timeless John Williams score; it is interesting to note that both Donner and Williams learn their craft working on "unreal" classic '60s television series.
The credits lead into the scene on Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent home world/future space debris Krypton in which General Zod and two other lawbreakers get trapped in a mirror and hurled into space; one can only hope that Archive gives the further adventures of this trio the same treatment that "Superman" receives in this release.
The clarity and depth of the opening credits and the theater-quality sound of the Williams score provide the first sense that this Blu-ray looks spectacular on a 4K Ultra HD set; the literally glowing white uniforms of Kal-El dad/Kryptonian leader Jor-el (Marlon Brando) almost being blinding confirms that Archive knows its stuff.
Taking out the trash allows the leaders of Krypton to focus on the rejected assertion of malcontent Jor-El that Krypton literally is coming apart at the seams. This leads to that scampy scientist keeping his word that HE will not leave Krypton but putting infant Kal-El in a small space ship for a three-year journey to the primitive planet Earth. Like any good dad, Jor-El provides his son plenty of educational material for this extended journey.
This brother from another planet is very fortunate to crash land in a Kansas corn field just as childless couple Martha and Jonathan Kent (Glenn Ford) drive by. Soon learning that this lad is the boy with something extra does not deter this American Gothic couple from bringing him home and raising him.
This leads to the teen years of Clark, who becomes a rebel with fulfilling his destiny as a cause. A scene in which he outruns a train is doubly awesome because it illustrates his power of being "faster than a speeding locomotive" and because Donner shooting one segment in which the train is headed for the camera is an homage to the birth of cinema in which a similar angle causes early audiences to scramble out of fear of the train crashing through the screen into the theater.
The real fun begins when our hero (Christopher Reeve) begins working at the Planet with hardened career gal Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). An early scene in which Kent must play the coward and cover up grabbing a bullet during a mugging highlights the comic abilities of Reeve.
Reeve further shows great humor in an early montage in which Superman handily apprehends petty criminals; it additionally is nice that Donner allows the action to speak for itself, rather than bury it under a '70s rock anthem. This is akin to purists who do not add laugh tracks to sitcoms.
This portion of the film also establishes villain Lex Luthor (an awesomely cartoonish Academy Award winner Gene Hackman) as a gleefully sadistic foe. The threat that Superman poses regarding a scheme of Luthor to literally alter the American landscape prompts the latter to lure the former into his lair.
This encounter triggers the events that lead to the legendary climatic scenes that even casual fanboys know by heart. A praiseworthy aspect of all this is that it is more clever and thrilling than the standard battle royale between hero and henchmen of a villain leading to the final showdown between the two protagonists.
The cleverness in "Superman" extends even further to includes foreshadowing that goes beyond Jor-El repeatedly warning Kel-Al to not interfere with human history. Suffice it to say that Superman prevents Luthor from anteing in.
Every aspect of "Superman" discussed above reflects the underlying awesome feature of it; the film stays true to the spirit of the Superman comics and serials that inspire it. Reeve and the behind-the-scenes folks show that telling a good superhero yarn does not require that the sex and the violence exceed family-friendly levels.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the three-hour extended cut flies by and leaves you wanting more.
The super-sized collection of bonus features include audio commentary by Donner, several documentaries of the film history of Superman, screen tests, and deleted scenes.
The Olive Films September 13, 2016 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets of all thrill-packed 12 episodes in "Commando Cody"from the '50s makes this Saturday review of that kiddie matinee feature very apt. One spoiler is that that the titular Sky Marshal of the Universe gets his name from his daring wartime exploits, not from a habit of opting out of wearing underwear.
Although much of the initial excitement surrounding these full 30-minutes of awesome low-budget '50s scifi goodness relates to the late '80s-early '90s basic cable show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" often featuring the show, watching the expertly crafted Blu-ray set shows that the episodes are even better when you get to watch the whole story in one sitting and (albeit hilarious) sarcastic comments do not drown out the dialog.
The overall theme and feel of the series is that of the "Flash Gordon" serials. The jet-pack that Cody straps to his back and the bullet-shaped helmet and leather jacket that he wears while doing so are well-represented in the 1991 Disney live-action film "The Rocketeer."
Great cost-cutting elements include the pilot seats in the rocket ship of Cody being undisguised desk chairs of the day with seat belts, an alien compound clearly being a model, and a robot looking like the Halloween costume of a 12 year-old.
"Cody" begins with a three-episode arc in which our hero and his team first learn of the existence of the alien villain The Ruler. The first nefarious attempt of this bad guy involves a fairly straightforward effort to conquer earth and enslave mankind. This also is the first time that The Ruler attempts to penetrate the cosmic dust barrier that is the creation of Cody designed to protect earth from alien threats. This Star Wars style defense and the attempts to penetrate it remain an element through the run of "Cody."
The modern-day elements of "Cody" extend well beyond having a defense shield that is intended to neutralize missiles and other harmful projectiles. The heavy eco elements include separate plots by The Ruler to create massive storms to cause catastrophic storms and to increase global warming to a degree (no pun intended) that the entire earth literally bakes.
Further, The Ruler with his Eastern European accent, spies on earth, and fondness for stealing secret plans and breaking the communication system of Cody add a wonderful Cold War feel to the episodes.
This all amounts to a chance to watch a vintage "one more" worthy Saturday afternoon matinee series without a theater full of screaming kids.