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New Blu-ray & DVD releases for the week include science fiction, Jackie Chan, horror and some TV.

First is Life, a science fiction film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson. To say the movie was a disappointment at the box office is being nice. I’m not sure why it didn’t do that well. Reynolds was coming off the monster hit that was Deadpool, Gyllenhaal is a well-known name and Ferguson made a name for herself off the last Mission: Impossible flick. The film is about a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station that discover a small life form which grows and starts terrorizing and killing those aboard. The movie isn’t great, but after watching it I’m surprised it lost money in the US. Gravity won Oscars and I was bored to tears with that film. I found this more suspenseful and I’d rewatch this again way before the Sandra Bullock film. It’s a pretty by-the-books science fiction film, but most are. I wasn’t expecting 2001 or anything because of the negativity towards the film, but I’m not quite sure why so many people hated the movie. It’s far from groundbreaking and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but there are far worse sci-fi films out there. The Blu-ray looks really good and sounds really loud. It has some solid bonus features as well. Maybe my expectations being low helped me get through the movie easier than others. Again, it’s far from great, but it’s at least watchable which I wasn’t expecting.

Next is Railroad Tigers. Now this one was disappointing. We here at The Nerds Templar are big Jackie Chan fans and we know he’s getting up there in age, but we still expect some awesomeness in a Jackie Chan film. The only part of the film that felt like a Jackie Chan film was the end credits with the bloopers and outtakes you always get in a Chan film. From the official synopsis, a railroad worker (Chan) and his ragtag group of freedom fighters find themselves on the wrong side of the tracks when they decide to ambush a heavily armed military train filled with desperately needed provisions. Unarmed and outnumbered, they must fight back against an entire army using only their wits, in a series of dazzling set pieces and action scenes rivaling anything seen on the big screen. I don’t remember if this is based on a true story or not, but either way, I was disappointed in it. I wanted more action from Chan especially with the cover art showing a huge explosion. There’s some action and Chan is great (as usual) with it, but I expect so much more at this point. It’s over 2 hours long and you get more talking and planning than action sequences. The final train sequence is pretty good (although it relies heavily on CGI), but by the time it rolled around (pun intended) I was pretty checked out of the movie. I sat there waiting for the bloopers to roll which I always love. If you are a diehard Chan fan, you should still check it out though.

Third is Wichita. This hits DVD/Digital HD from Candy Factory Films. When Jeb (Trevor Peterson) leads a writing retreat to Aspen with a team of young writers intending to save his failing kids’ TV show, it becomes a new opportunity for his hidden cameras – and hidden rage. I was actually expecting a found footage or shaky cam crapfest, but surprisingly didn’t get it. It actually uses hidden cameras properly as part of the plot and not just some standard, new age, cheap, horror style of filmmaking. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the film, but what stands out is the performance of Peterson. He plays the host of a kids program and man is he pretty creepy in this. He’s awkward, unsociable at times, doesn’t know how to handle his boss and looks Pedo-Bear approved (like a pedophile). His performance makes the film watchable and separates itself from just another horror-ish film. Once he goes off the rails it gets pretty interesting. It’s also under 90 minutes so that helps the movie from wandering. It’s not great or anything, but it’s better than expected.

Last we have The Borgias The Complete Series. Ok this came out last week, but I didn’t get it in time to review it then. I believe the full series has been out before, but this is a nice little set. I had never seen the show before receiving this, but it is one my parents binged in the past few years. I knew the always great Jeremy Irons was in it, but had no idea Holliday Grainger was. I really like her. The show is not nearly as violent or dramatic as Game of Thrones. It’s closer to The Tudors. With shows like this I expect two things, good acting and great set design. I got both. Irons is fantastic, but I also liked François Arnaud. Then there’s the set design and costuming. It’s pretty amazing. The backdrops, the buildings, the coloring of the costumes are all spot on. I see why it was nominated and won some Emmys in these categories. If you like period dramas, realistic ones not fantasy world types, and haven’t seen the show, this set is worth picking up.

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