Lots of genre films being released this week on home video including one of the biggest films of the year, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It’s hard to complain when a film does over $1.3 billion in worldwide box office sales, but that’s actually $300+ million less than Jurassic World which includes $200+ million less here in the United States. So why such a drop? Well this sequel is nowhere near as fun as the previous film. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are both good, but there’s a new character that’s pretty pointless and the story itself feels like all the previous movies we’ve seen. That’s my biggest complaint, the story feels unoriginal and like it’s filler until the next film. This takes place three years after Jurassic World yet it’s still about someone wanting the dinosaurs for their own purposes and not just for entertainment. Here the dinos are auctioned off to be potential weapons after they are removed from the island. Pratt and Howard want to prevent their removal and stop the auction at a rich guy’s mansion. Also similar in this film is yet another hybrid dinosaur is made and the hybrid and regular version fight each other just like how theT-Rex and its hybrid in Jurassic World did. As with the previous films I liked the action and the dinosaurs. Some of them look fake and there’s a laugh out loud scene with Blue the Raptor, but overall they are impressive. This doesn’t seem to have as much action as Jurassic World though. There’s no cool motorcycle/raptor scene. There’s no Jeeps and only one cylinder ball ride thingy scene. There are a lot of trucks and a boat holding the dinosaurs, but I wanted more action. It opens with a cool scene and the dinosaur chaos at the mansion is great, but the middle is slow. It lacks the nostalgic feel the first one did despite a few cameos and throwbacks to the original trilogy. Overall I liked the movie, I just didn’t love it. The new Latina character is a walking agenda piece and the young girl in it serves no point until her twist and too much feels like the other films in the franchise. But for fans, this is a must own especially on 4K which looks and sounds absolutely stunning. It also comes with some great bonus features including behind the scenes and Chris Pratt’s Jurassic Journals which are a lot of fun.
Second we have Gonjiam Haunted Asylum. I’m not a big fan of ghost/supernatural films in general especially ones that look to be “real” or based on true stories. But I honestly didn’t mind this one. This Korean horror flick is overall entertaining and is about a horror web show doing a live broadcast inside the Gonjiam Asylum. It’s been closed for decades and one room is locked and the guys at the show think doing a live broadcast there will get them a million views. They hire a few young women to join them and some don’t know that it’s all planned for the show. But of course once they get there there’s more to the asylum and some of it might be real! I don’t believe in any of it, based on local legend or not, but the characters are entertaining enough and I like that they try to fake some of it as well. It’s not a recent Asian classic like Train to Busan, but for a subgenre of horror I usually hate, it’s good for one viewing.
Sticking with horror, next is The Toybox. This stars Denise Richards and Mischa Barton both of whom I can honestly say weren’t that bad in the film. It’s far from a great movie, but I had super low expectations for it in the first place. Richards plays a wife/mom who goes on an RV trip with her husband, daughter, father and brother who have issues together. They see a broken down car and pick up two people (Barton and her character’s brother). Then weird things start happening and the RV is acting up. Turns out the dad bought the RV of the infamous Toy Box killer. I wasn’t familiar with him, but did a bit of research afterwards. The movie isn’t anything new, but it’s good for one watch especially if you don’t expect to like it because of the two lead actresses. The setting is cool and I learned about a serial killer I didn’t know about. The average movie going crowd will hate it or ignore it completely, but it held my attention which I didn’t think would happen.
Some more horror for you, this time mixed with sci-fi. Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead and Phantasm IV: Oblivion find their way on Blu-ray for the first time, well at least as individual films. I think they might have been in a Blu-ray box set of the franchise before but don’t quote me on that. Phantasm as a franchise is a lot like Hellraiser as a franchise, it’s not as good as you remember. I remember seeing this films when they first came out years back and I do like that these sequels have more Angus Schrimm’s Tall Man and the silver balls compared to the first film. The third film seems to have a lot more violence and gore as Mike, Jody and Reggie try to kill The Tall Man once and for all. The fourth film finds Mike and Reggie time traveling to try to stop The Tall Man and his army. They are far from great films, they are after all horror sequels from the 1990’s, but it’s good to finally have them on Blu-ray for the first time.
Madam Secretary: Season Four finds its way on DVD this week. I don’t watch the Tea Leoni political procedural during the year but like most CBS shows, my parents do. The fourth season starts with climate change causing new passages through the Arctic which gets Russia, China, Canada and the US involved, Leoni’s Secretary of State deals with problems in Syria and Libya, a Russian operative defects and brings smallpox, she deals with a landmine treaty, a Mexican cartel leader, a trade agreement with Sri Lanka, a US kidnapping in South America screws up a planned agreement to end gang violence, terrorists threaten a flood in the Middle East and much more. It’s not a show I look forward to watching, but it’s easy enough to watch.
Peter Fonda’s directorial debut The Hired Hand gets a Blu-ray release. This 1970’s western stars Fonda, Warren Oates and Verna Bloom. Fonda plays a man who leaves his wife and child to explore the country with his friend played by Oates. Years later he returns home and becomes his wife’s hired hand. It’s classic western storytelling and is beautifully shot and has a great score. Fonda’s wife doesn’t want their child to know that he’s the father. The locals talk poorly of his wife and what she’s been up to while he’s been gone and of course he gets into some trouble as well. The setting is great and it has the look of a classic western. I actually hadn’t seen it before and I’m glad it came my way. This new release comes with commentary by Fonda, a documentary, an interview with Martin Scorsese and plenty more. If you are a fan of the movie, this is the version to own.
Television’s Lost Classics Volume One actually came out last week, but I didn’t get it in time. This features two 1 hour episodes: CRIME IN THE STREETS starring Robert Preston and John Cassavetes and NO RIGHT TO KILL starring John Cassavetes, Terry Moore, and Robert H. Harris. My favorite part of this collection were the sponsors. In the first episode you actually get commercials by the sponsor of the show Elgin, a watch company. It was fun actually seeing the prices of the watches and voiceover work. Crime in the Streets sees Cassavetes as a young degenerate that wants to kill a local man. He plans to kill him along with a few friends, but his younger brother might get in the way. It’s all very 1950’s and I can dig it. Cassavetes is great and super method and it looks surprisingly well shot. You can tell they thought all kids would turn into hoodlums with shows like this and it’s a bit cheesy by today’s standards, but I liked it. No Right To Kill is presented by the Chrysler Corporation and has some neat advertising as well. Cassavetes is in this as well and it is based on Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. I liked Crime in the Streets more, but Cassavetes fans will like this collection as a whole.
Last is Blood Child which hit VOD on the 11th, but I didn’t get it until later in the week. I was going to write a full review for it, but the ending royally pissed me off. It’s “based on a true story” and as previously mentioned, I don’t believe any of that. This finds an American couple living in Singapore when the wife has a miscarriage. They move back to the States along with their live-in maid (or whatever they called her). The wife can’t cope with the miscarriage, but eventually her and her husband get pregnant again. Everyone is happy for them, but weird things start happening and the wife along with the maid may have brought a spirit with them, the spirit of a blood child. I don’t know if any of it makes sense, but I was going along with it. But then the ending happens and I won’t ruin it, but man what a cop out. I didn’t think much of the film to begin with, but the ending makes it all meaningless at least that’s how I took it. I’ll give it credit for trying to bring lore from a part of the world we don’t tend to get in the US, but I wish the movie was better. The neighbor friend was annoying. The husband seemed unaware of everything going on despite seeing the statue and hating it. The maid kept creeping everyone out and surprising them yet the wife didn’t care what others were saying. I don’t know, maybe I missed something, but it just didn’t do much for me.