Wide array of releases to talk about this week. First we have Only the Brave. The last 20 minutes or so of the movie are some of the most gut punching, heart wrenching scenes of film you’ll see of late. It’s a shame it took close to 2 hours to get to that point. The film is the latest based on true story adaptation that you aren’t sure what is real and what was Hollywood-ized. What happens at the end is true, but the stories beforehand, who knows? It’s based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a firefighter unit that, well, do yourself a favor and know as little as possible going into the film. You’ll have expectations because obviously something happens or else there wouldn’t be a movie made, but trust me, it’s more brutal than any expectations you can have. The movie itself is way too long. It’s over 2 hours and feels even longer. There are a number of scenes that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. They are filler and don’t really push the story forward. There are characters and substories thrown around that make you unsure who the story is really about. But that ending is worth seeing. GUT PUNCH. Man, just brutal. If you aren’t familiar with the story it will devastate you at the end. It has a great cast including Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connolly and more and the ending is worth the price of admission, I just wish it was more focused and didn’t take so long to get to where you want it to be.
Next is 24 Hours to Live starring Ethan Hawke. I don’t usually think action when I think Ethan Hawke, but he’s pretty solid in this. He won’t replace Keanu Reeves in a John Wick film but he could play the leader of the bad guys! Hawke plays a retired mercenary hired to do one last job. He is killed in action, but is brought back to life with new technology and given 24 hours to live. For a movie I’ve never heard of, it’s pretty decent. There are some great action sequences that include gun work, car chases and hand to hand combat. The last shootout is pretty good too. It’s a cross between John Wick, Source Code and In Time. I’m not sure why Hawke is stepping out of his indie film darling persona, but I’m surprised at how well he does here. I honestly expect to see him in more action films now.
Speaking of action, Extraordinary Mission is next. From the director of the genius Infernal Affairs, this Asian crime/action flick is good as well. The synopsis describes the film as: a police officer Lin Kai is assigned to go undercover with a notoriously ruthless drug cartel, he unwillingly becomes an addict to their incredibly potent supply. As he works to dismantle the network from the inside, his discovery of an elaborate revenge plot against his police supervisor puts his loyalties to the test. It sounds like a mix of Infernal Affairs/The Departed and Rush (the cop drug movie) and that’s a good way to describe the film. But it’s also filled with awesome action. The finale is amazing. It is absolutely bananas with guns, explosions, knives, cars, everything. Honestly, like Only the Brave, the ending is worth the price alone although I thought this was a better overall movie. If you liked Infernal Affairs, but wanted action scenes you’d expect in a Donnie Yen film, then this is for you. I’d definitely watch it again and I loved the twist in it that brought all the characters into the same plot. I definitely recommend this one to Asian crime/action movie fans.
Sticking with Asian films, Reset is next. It’s a solid science fiction/time travel film that I can see Hollywood remaking. It also reminded me of Source Code in that the lead actress goes back to reset things and save her son and the company from being blown up. It’s like Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day in that way as well. The lead actress is really good and the science is pretty good as well. I’m always a stickler for time travel in films but they explain enough without breaking their own rules too many times. I liked this quite a bit as well and it’s something I can see myself rewatching later on. If you like time travel/sci-fi, I definitely recommend it.
I’ll jump into some TV now. The Guardian The Complete Series is out. This early 2000s courtroom drama made a star out of Simon Baker. It was one of my mom’s favorite shows at the time. Baker played a hot-shot attorney who had to do community service after being busted for drugs. Baker was nominated for a Golden Globe at one point for his performance in the show. It’s a pretty good show too. It’s your classic Fish-Out-of-Water storyline, but it works well. It had a ton of guest stars from Farrah Fawcett to Josh Peck to Scout Taylor-Compton to Viola Davis and much more. I’m not sure if it’s been out in a complete collection before, but this collection features all 67 episodes from all 3 seasons. I liked the show and it holds up pretty well today. If you were a fan, pick up the complete series.
Sticking with complete box sets, Duckman The Complete Series is also out. I remember this show from the 90s with Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander the voice of a private investigating duck. He had a sidekick pig which was pretty much his Dr. Watson. I remember liking the show back then and it holds up in a rewatch. It was actually nominated for Emmys and the later episodes had musical numbers. It’s crude and definitely not for kids. It’s on the same level as say The Critic or Dr. Katz. It was a nice trip down memory lane and this collection features all 70 episodes of the four seasons. If you were a fan, definitely pick this up as well.
Also from TV in the 1990s is Sudden Fury: A Family Torn Apart. This is a based on a true story made for Lifetime movie starring very young Neil Patrick Harris and Johnny Galecki who play two adopted brothers. Galecki is sent away for being a bad kid and their parents are found dead. Their third brother IDs Galecki but there is a lot more to the story. The wholesome family isn’t what it appears to be. It is a prime example of made for TV filmmaking. The acting isn’t bad but the story is by the book and you know what will happen, but you’re watching it to see Galecki and NPH from 1993. My sister doesn’t remember it, but she wants to borrow my DVD to see it. I’m sure others out there do remember it so if you do or just want to see two young stars, pick it up.
Next is 100 Years of Horror hosted by the iconic Christopher Lee. This 3 disc almost 11 hour set chronicles the history of horror films from their early days to legendary monsters and much more. We here at The Nerds Templar love Christopher Lee so this was a lot of fun. It’s a very cool look at old horror and its origins with people like Bela Lugosi, Roger Corman and even Hugh Hefner. We also love the old movie monsters so anytime we can learn about them and the movies we are there for it! Really fun collection worth checking out.
Sticking with horror we have Shadow Stalkers, 10 Terrifying Features. Like most collections like this, there are some decent films and some not so decent ones. The films are: Out of the Dark, Happy Birthday to Me, Eyes of Laura Mars, Don’t Answer the Phone, Nightmare in Wax, Bloody Pit of Horror, Silent Night Bloody Night, Funeral Home, Don’t Open Till Christmas, The Driller Killer. The last one is a pretty big cult classic that I reviewed last year. Eyes of Laura Mars has Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Dourif in it. Silent Night, Bloody Night might be one of the biggest names in it. I’m sure some people will pick up the collection for The Driller Killer because that does have a pretty big following and that’s maybe why you’ll pick it up. I’ve seen better collections, but it’s not bad for the Mill Creek price.
The miniseries The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb is out now. It stars Casper Van Dien and Malcolm McDowell. I didn’t realize it was almost 3 hours till I popped it in. It is far from great but I like Van Dien. This came out around 2006 and somehow already looks a bit aged. If you ignore the bad acting and the look, it’s sort of fun. Ok it’s bad, but I’ve seen far worse. It has some adventure and some suspect effects but it’s not unwatchable. I don’t remember it in the slightest and don’t even know what channel it aired on, but I’m sure others out there remember it. There are some really bad errors in it too, but you kinda expect that in a production like this.
Next is The Jackie Gleason Show: In Color. This has 3 unreleased sketches and features some fantastic guest stars. First of all, George Carlin. I don’t think of Carlin when I think of something with Jackie Gleason so that was a surprise to me. Milton Berle and Mrs. Brady (Florence Henderson) make a lot more sense. Gleason is one of the timeless acts. You watch today and still laugh. This originally aired long before I was even born yet I still find it relevant and funny. Gleason is a master and you watch others struggle not to crack around him. Plus you see Gleason with Art Carney doing their legendary The Honeymooners bits. This is the first release of The Jackie Gleason Show: In Color and if it’s anything like the other Time/Life releases, I expect more in the pipeline. Fans will eat this up for sure.
Even though I’m not overly familiar with Henri-Georges Clouzot, I thought Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno was quite fascinating. Inferno was a film that never saw the light of day. It went way over budget, had complications while being shot and so much more. In this Blu-ray release, footage from the film is cut between interviews and reenactments to sort of cut together a final product. People talk about the movie, the director and all its problems and you get some of the movie footage. Actors of today read dialogue and so on. I’ll be honest, I thought it was pretty cool. If you are familiar with the work you will absolutely love this. If you are like me and aren’t that familiar but have an appreciation for film and the inner workings, you should like it as well. I can see myself going back and rewatching it and learning more. Pretty cool stuff.
Next we have The Gruesome Twosome. I didn’t love this 1967 film but it does have some great gore. A woman runs a wig shop but also rents out a room to locals. Young female co-eds from the college come by to inquire about the room and the woman tricks them downstairs where her mentally ill son scalps them for their hair. The acting is far from great but that’s to be expected. The gore for that era surprised me. It pretty much opens with a girl being scalped and her hairline being removed. The film doesn’t look great on Blu-ray but it probably didn’t look great in the first place. It’s most likely a cult favorite to a lot of people even if I found the acting pretty bad. All the co-eds seemed the same and no one really questioned anything for a while. But if you like the film, this is THE version to buy. It has all kinds of bonus features that showcases HG Lewis and more. Plus it comes with another movie, A Taste of Blood so fans will like that as well.
Finally one last time travel time film. Inoperable stars Danielle Harris and it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Even when they try to explain that a hurricane somehow puts a hospital in some weird Groundhog Day type loop, the ending then makes all of that null and void. I won’t ruin the ending in case someone wants to watch it, but the ending is a total joke that makes the entire movie irrelevant. Harris gets into an accident or something like that and finds herself in a loop she can’t seem to escape at the hospital. Doctors and nurses are trying to capture her and kill her and then it resets and she starts back in her car. There are a few characters like her who try to work together to figure out how to escape. Harris is fine I guess, but the rest are pretty bad. There is one actress who plays a nurse that shouldn’t be allowed to act again. Her line delivery was terrible and she was very wooden. I didn’t love Happy Death Day but it’s Casablanca compared to this. And when did it get made? Harris uses a flip phone throughout the movie. I know there are time jumps and one guy mentions 4 years but I’m thinking this movie was made years ago. Then the ending just implodes everything. Unless you’re a diehard Harris fan, ignore this completely.