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.
There are a few new releases in this article so I’ll start with those. First is Swung, a movie about a couple investigating the swinging lifestyle. The man is having issues in the bedroom. The woman is writing an article about swinging and open relationships and asks her man to meet people for the article. He has a child with a previous woman that is a side story but ultimately really means nothing to the overall story. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before either. You know eventually her work will cause issues. You know he’ll get jealous and still have problems with his, um, member. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t pretty sexy and easy to get into. For a movie I knew nothing about going into, it’s an easy enough watch. I don’t know if I’d watch it again, but it’s worth at least a one time view.
Next is The Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster. This is a pretty funny parody of early Hollywood shorts/comedy duos. Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria star as Biffle and Shooster, a comedy team like Abbott & Costello or The Three Stooges. It’s a throwback to a simpler time of backhands, pratfalls and whodunits. These guys clearly have a soft spot for old school Hollywood storytelling and jokes. They capture the era perfectly with authentic looking wardrobe including great hats, jackets and dresses, simple direction, era appropriate music and words and phrases we haven’t heard in almost a hundred years. There are guest stars you’ll recognize and I love that some of them are in black & white. It’s something completely different and I respect the hell out of that.
Third we have Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season Volumes 1 & 2. Until recently Gunsmoke was the longest running, scripted series of all time. Here we get season 13 of the legendary western. To this day my parents still watch reruns of the show on TV and that should tell you something. Fans still love the show decades later. James Arness is iconic as Marshal Matt Dillon and for a generation, he defined western law man. Even though I was born long after the show stopped airing, I enjoy the show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire series, but with collections like these, I get a taste of what the show was. Even 13 seasons in, the show was still very watchable and features everything I want in a western: a dame, shoot outs, murders, robberies and much more. If you are a fan, these are must own.
Next is The Jackie Gleason Show in Color Unreleased Episodes. Another show that I wasn’t around for when it aired, these DVD releases show me just how much showmanship was in Jackie Gleason. I know him more for The Honeymooners, but man was he talented. This 3 disc set actually has 7 unreleased Honeymooners sketches in it, but also a ton more. This has 12 never-before-released episodes and has some of the biggest names of the day in it besides Gleason. The show has been beautifully remastered and you can’t beat the chemistry between Gleason and Art Carney. If you are a fan, this is another must own.
The documentary Arming America: The Untold History of U.S. Gun Culture is next. I really liked this. Coming from New England and loving US history, this documentary hits home the impact New England had in the making of and advancement of guns and technology. It focuses on early gun making and how we moved from muskets and flint locks to the fully automatic military weaponry we have today. It goes into details how men like Samuel Colt, Oliver Winchester, Eliphalet Remington, Horace Smith, Daniel Wesson and later on John Browning from Utah would change the face of war, help the North win the Civil War and take single shot rifles into the 20th century. I really did find this fascinating, but in today’s climate, some people might have issues with an NRA sponsored film, but screw them. To go from powdered balls to Browning’s designed Colt M1911 is amazing.
Sticking with history, I’ll get into some recent military based releases. World War II Through the Battles is 3 documentaries that run over 20 hours. War in the Pacific focuses on the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor to the US counterattacks in the Pacific and the fall of Japan. D-Day The Invasion features rare and never-before-seen archival video footage of D-Day and the battles between the Allies and Germany. The Fight For Freedom is a 10 part documentary with footage from the Pacific, Europe and Africa. As a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.
American Patriots Documentary Collection is over 15 hours of 3 documentaries. For Love of Liberty is hosted by Halle Berry and showcases the impact African-Americans have made in US military battles from the early days on. It features authentic letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records of African-American soldiers. Unsung Heroes is produced by Ron Howard and focuses on the female side of the military. The Medal of Honor is all about the highest honor you can get, the Medal of Honor. From the Civil War to present day, you see the acts that earned men and women the Medal of Honor.
Next is Big Box of Kids Favorites Bundle. This is 3 series, one of which I had never heard of. That one is Johnny Test, a show about a boy, a super dog and his special twin sisters. Paddington Bear was a favorite of mine as a kid and this was a nice trip down memory lane. Hey Vern, It’s Ernest is Jim Varney doing a Pee-Wee type show. I sort of remember this one, but remember the movies more. It seems like an odd trifecta to me with 2 older shows and one newer one, but it’s a cheap set and all very family friendly.
The Fastest Guns of the West – 8 William Castle Westerns is a collection of westerns from William Castle. I know Castle more for his horror films so it’s cool seeing something different especially in a genre I like. The films are: KLONDIKE KATE (1943), CONQUEST OF COCHISE (1953), MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954), BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER (1954), THE GUN THAT WON THE WEST (1955), DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI (1955) URANIUM BOOM (1956). None of them are classics, but still are pretty good.
Next are 2 John Travolta Collections which feature some of the same films. The 6 Degrees Collection – John Travolta has Basic, Lonely Hearts, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Look Who’s talking Now, Perfect and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. 4-in-1 Drama Collection – John Travolta – Blu-ray is those minus Look Who’s Talking Now! and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble which are probably the 2 best films. Perfect (with Jamie Lee Curtis) is probably the next best film although it’s pretty cheesy today. If you are a Travolta fan, these are nice and cheap to add to your collection.
Almost done, I promise, next is Charles Bronson Collection – 4 Movie Set – Blu-ray. This is a few lesser known Charles Bronson films, but I liked this group. The Valachi Papers is based on a true story and finds Bronson in prison working for the mob. The Stone Killer is about the police and a gangster organizing a massacre. Breakout is about a Texas pilot hired to break out a prisoner in Mexico. Hard Times features Bronson as a street fighter and also stars James Coburn. If you like Bronson, these are some are his smaller films, but still worth the purchase price.
Scared to Death – 21 Horror Movie Collection is a collection of some good and not so good horror films. Films include: I Know What You Did Last Summer, When A Stranger Calls, The Cave, Vacancy, Wind Chill, Devour, Insanitarium, The Plague, Vinyan, The Corpse Vanishes, Night Fright, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Tales of Frankenstein, Lights Out: The Passage Beyond, Killers from Space and more. Vacancy is the best to me and is a very underrated flick. I Know What You Did Last Summer is probably the biggest name and has always been a lesser version of Scream to me, but still pretty good. When A Stranger Calls is classic horror storytelling updated for today. Not all 21 films are worth watching, but as a group, there are some good ones worth buying.
80s Overdrive – 6 Film Collection is a collection of movies released before, but there are a few good ones. The Legend of Billie Jean is a cult classic with a young Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson). I remember seeing it many times as a kid back in the day. Little Nikita stars the late River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier. Hardbodies stars Grant Cramer, Teal Roberts, Gary Wood. Spring Break stars David Knell, Perry Lang, Paul Land. Perfect (again) stars John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marilu Henner. And finally Private Resort with a very young Johnny Depp and Rob Morrow. That one is also sort of a cult classic.
Last, hooray!, is 9 Pulse Pounding Features – Action Movie Collection. This has Freedomland with Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore. No Good Deed with Samuel L. Jackson and Milla Jovovich. In My Country with Samuel L. Jackson again. BAADASSSSS! with Mario Van Peebles as his dad showing his dad’s struggle as a black director. The Last Days of Malcolm X with Morgan Freeman is part documentary, part re-enactment. The River Niger with James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr. Out with Peter Coyote and Danny Glover. Mario Van Peebles returns with South Bronx Heroes and finally The Mark of the Hawk – with Sidney Poitier. Some seem to fit, others don’t but it’s a good collection for cheap money.