Here at The Nerds Templar, we get a lot of movies sent our way to watch. Some are new, some are older. We get Blu-rays, DVDs, online screeners and everything in between. Sometimes we just don’t have time to write a 1000 words about every movie. Sometimes the movie doesn’t deserve a 1000 words. We do like to discuss the movie though and in those situations we do articles like this, Review Round-up.
First we have Phantasm. This is a newly remastered Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the horror/sci-fi classic. It’s been probably 20 years since I’ve seen the original Phantasm. I know I’ve seen its sequels since then, but it’s been a long time since I watched the first film. I have to admit I’ve confused the original film with some ideas/scenes from other movies. You automatically think of The Tall Man and the silver balls, but in this film you really only see the balls twice maybe three times. And yes The Tall Man is the bad guy, but there’s so much else going on, rewatching it after so long, it kind of felt like watching it for the first time. It does introduce us to Reggie, Mike and Jody, but to be honest, does anyone really know what happens in this film? There’s there little creatures that look like Jawas from Star Wars. There’s the silver balls and the funeral home, but does it actually make sense without putting the other films in context? The film looks great remastered and it’s a must own for your sci-fi or horror collection though.
Next we have Phantasm: Ravager. This is the fifth movie in the series and I liked that it had a little recap in the beginning so if you hadn’t seen the sequels in a while you could follow along. It starts with Reggie in the desert coming back from a trip through time. He ends up in a mental hospital with Mike, but also travels to the future or maybe in dreams. It’s kind of hard to tell to be honest. I like that it continues the Phantasm story and has the characters in it we like, Reggie, Mike, Jody, The Tall Man, but it looks very fake. It’s your standard looking HD movie of today with post production muzzle flashes and fake looking action and kills. If you are a fan of the series you should check it out because it does go nicely in the timeline of the films. I liked it, didn’t love it and I’m curious to see if there’s more because I heard this was the last film, but it leaves the door open for a sequel.
Third we have Ray Donovan Season Four. This comes out today and is one of my parents’ favorite shows. This season starts with Ray struggling to get work while still dealing with the Russian mob. There’s still drama with Abby and Bridget. Mickey still gets into trouble and Bunchy is having marital issues. Conor gets caught with a gun. The end of the season finds the FBI getting heavily involved. I always liked the show and will continue watching it. Liev Schreiber is fantastic in the lead role and it’s just a quality show. If you’ve seen the previous three seasons, pick up season four today.
Next we have Morphine: Journey of Dreams. This is a documentary on the Boston-based band Morphine. I come from Boston and I’m familiar with the band, but wouldn’t necessarily call myself a fan. The film is very in-depth with a great mix of new and old interviews with band members, girlfriends, other famous musicians (Henry Rollins, Joe Strummer, etc.). There’s great old footage of the band doing what they did best, performing live. I can admit I totally forgot what happened to the band and I won’t ruin it for those that don’t know, but man was it pretty shocking. If you aren’t familiar with the band, but like rock docs, watch it without looking them up and spoiling what happens. Very well made documentary.
Also out today is Snowden. I will keep personal politics out of it, but I quite liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as Edward Snowden. Director Oliver Stone tells the story of former NSA/CIA whistle-blower Ed Snowden who leaked government information on intelligence gathering and email/cell phone records to the world. I did like that Stone didn’t necessarily paint Snowden as a 100% hero. He shows him in a good light, but does highlight some of the events happening that shifted Snowden’s stance in life. Plus he did make Snowden look a little suspicious and anxious about everything. As much as I liked JGL in the film, Shailene Woodley didn’t do much for me. I don’t know if it was the character or what, but Woodley’s portrayal of Snowden’s girlfriend seemed unnecessary and completely secondary to the story. I also liked that Stone wasn’t shy about how President Obama’s presidency didn’t make things better, but actually worse for illegal intelligence gathering. There were all kinds of drone strikes and cell phone violations during Obama’s tenure as there were under Bush, if not more. The film is well made and JGL is good. It didn’t change my opinion on Edward Snowden, but I don’t think it was trying to either.
The Search for Weng Weng is next. This documentary follows its filmmaker and crew to the Philippines to find out what happened to Weng Weng, a little person actor from decades ago. He was in cult films where he played a James Bond type spy or a cowboy or other characters. The films look like something I have to watch. The documentary highlights some of Weng Weng’s films overseas, his effect on the culture there, being a celebrity under the Marcos’ regime and him being poor because of the producers not paying him. Pretty fascinating documentary on an actor and films I was not familiar with.
Also out today is Stevie-D. I actually was a bit a surprised about this one. Overall I liked it and didn’t expect much. The son of a mobster accidentally kills the son of another mobster so they hire an actor who looks exactly like him while they hide the real Stevie-D. They expect trouble and think the actor will get whacked and they can go on from there. Of course it doesn’t go that way and the actor story is your classic “fish-out-of-water” story. But it does have some laughs and it’s pretty charming. It’s about 20 minutes too long, but again overall, I liked it. It doesn’t try to be anything it’s not and doesn’t break any new ground, but the actors are good and the story is easy to follow. Not too bad actually.
Last we have Never Open the Door. This is a short, black & white “horror” film with some terrible acting. I know one name in it and the others should never be allowed to act. A Thanksgiving dinner goes bad when a stranger shows up and dies. Weird things start happening and there’s no real explanation about any of it. Was it a cult? Aliens? Creatures? What? I like the look, but that’s it. The writing and dialogue are clichéd and the acting like I said is bad. I’m just glad it wasn’t too long because I didn’t understand any of it. It just didn’t work for me.