Review Round-up is usually films that I review later than their release whether it’s because I didn’t receive them in time or releases changed. This time it’s a mix of this week’s new releases with titles already out. I’ll start with the biggest release of the week, Skyscraper. I grew up on over-the-top action movies of the 1980’s and 1990’s so when I heard action icon Dwayne The Rock Johnson was going to be fighting a building, I was all over it. I wanted the movie to be ridiculous in both action and comedy and I really only got one of those. For a movie where Johnson (arguably the most charismatic man on the planet) has only one leg and must fight bad guys and an inferno in the world’s tallest building, I 100% expected some memorable one liners along with crazy stunts. Unfortunately the jokes were lacking. The action & stunts are crazy, Johnson swings on a crane to get into the building, but he doesn’t get the cheesy one liners I wanted. There isn’t one joke about him having a fake leg. Come on! But other than the lack of comedy, I dug the flick. Johnson can do these movies in his sleep, but it was nice seeing Neve Campbell doing some work and whoever cast the 2 kids in the film did a perfect job. I can see both of them as the offspring of Campbell and Johnson. It’s completely unrealistic, but if you shut your mind off it’s pretty good dumb fun. Even though it is fun, it’s not as funny as it should be. The 4K looks absolutely pristine and the upgrade to 4K for a movie like this is worth it. It also comes with a lot of bonus features like deleted and extended scenes, commentary by the director and tons of featurettes. If you missed it at the theater, it’s a good way to have some fun.
Second we have Making a Killing starring Michael Jai White, Mike Starr and Christopher Lloyd. White plays a deputy (some kind of cop I don’t quite remember) investigating a small town killing. Starr is the town’s mayor and mortician and him and his brother are trying to sell off some old coins that belonged to the man who was killed. Not everything is on the up & up and White faces backlash from the local authorities who want to handle the small town crime by themselves. There are a few twists that I don’t want to hint at because that would ruin it for you. I liked both White and Starr in their roles. It’s not a great movie, but I enjoyed it overall. It’s based on a true story and I’m curious how accurate it is. If you like White, Starr or Christopher Lloyd and small town crime dramas, give it a try.
Third we have Egon Schiele: Death and the Maiden. If you read me often enough you know my knowledge of art and artists is trash so I had no idea who Egon Schiele was. In early 20th century Vienna, he became a famous artist, but he also might have been a pervert. The film shows he went to trial for being with an underage girl. His sister was his original muse, but then he met a model who he would move in with. Another story that I have no idea how accurate it is. The performances are fine and I learned about someone I knew nothing about, but it’s one of those films for me I watch once and never have to see again. If you know the life of Schiele you might enjoy it.
Next is La Madre, El Hijo Y La Abuela which is a movie I’m not exactly sure what I was supposed to get out of. This finds a photographer in a small town crashing with a woman and her dying mother. It says it’s dedicated to the director’s father so I guess it’s more a personal story than actual film narrative. They eat together, he helps take care of the dying grandmother, the mother’s son doesn’t come to visit so the photographer is his replacement. But nothing else really happens. The woman goes out to have time away and I don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from the movie. Oh well.
Last for the new releases we have I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol 4. I was not familiar with this show in the slightest and it’s pretty much an I Love Lucy clone. The wife was the comic relief with the husband being the “straight” man, a judge. I don’t know if it holds up that well nowadays compared to similar shows, but I’m sure there are fans out there. I asked my parents if they were fans and they said they watched the show back in the day, but they didn’t love it. This is 10 episodes from 3 different seasons that aired in the 1950’s. If you are a fan, this is for you.
Now for some movies that are out already. First we have Death Race: Beyond Anarchy which came out last week, but I didn’t get my copy until Friday. This is the fourth film in the remake series which started with Jason Statham and not part of Roger Corman’s Death Race world (Death Race 2000, Death Race 2050). This is a sequel to Statham’s film because the 2nd and 3rd films were prequels if I remember correctly. Zach McGowan plays a Black Ops specialist sent in to try to take down Frankenstein, the legendary Death Race driver. Danny Trejo returns as Goldberg the bookie and this also stars Danny Glover. So what did I think of the movie? The dialogue is horrifically bad, but the action is really good. There are a lot of cliched characters you expect in a post-apocalyptic type environment and lots of swearing and nudity, but the action is good. Even though it’s not connected to Death Race 2050, that was the last one I had watched and this is way better. If you like the remake series, you’ll like this. There’s hot women, fast cars, violence and action. I have no issue with that.
Next is The Song of Solomon. This came out in August, but I didn’t get it till recently. This has one huge positive and one big negative. The positive is it’s bloody as hell and has some great practical effects. The make-up, blood and effects are fantastic. Heads get chopped off, tongues get sliced, it’s all awesome. But then there’s the acting. My god is it bad. The woman playing the mother shouldn’t be allowed to act again. She’s terrible. The rest aren’t that much better but she’s awful. The film itself is nothing but a clone of The Exorcist, but the practical effects make it worth watching despite the acting. Seriously, I loved the effects. Cutting open a face to remove a tongue, a priest slicing another priest’s head off, yes, give me more. But man is the acting bad. They must have spent all the budget on the effects because other than the lead actress who is possessed, no one else is worth watching.
Next is a Joan Crawford double-header, Strait-Jacket and Berserk. This double feature came out in September from Mill Creek. The first film has Crawford playing an ax wielding murderer who is released from prison after 20 years. She killed her cheating husband and his mistress in front of her daughter. Her grown daughter is living on her uncle’s farm and Crawford’s character goes there to live after release. Crawford is hearing kids saying nursery rhymes about her and her daughter is suspicious of her mother. She wants her boyfriend’s family to accept her but then there’s a big twist I won’t mention. Berserk finds Crawford as an owner of a circus who has a killer among them. A trapeze artist dies mysteriously, her partner does as well. A new trapeze artist wants a job and there are many unhappy performers. I wasn’t familiar with either film and I loved Crawford’s over the top performances.
Sticking with Hollywood legends, next is Hollywood’s Best & Brightest. Featuring 15 female and 15 male performers, you get an inside look at their lives, careers and more. Featuring profiles of Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Wagner, Michael York, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Candice Bergen, Catherine Deneuve, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Lauren Hutton, Angela Lansbury, Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Kathleen Turner and Raquel Welch! Look at those names, you are getting the best of the best. This 4 disc set is an encyclopedia for those interested in celebrity life. With Burt Reynolds recently dying, it was nice catching up with his life.
That was from Mill Creek as is Family Pictures, a 1990’s miniseries starring Anjelica Huston, Sam Neill and Kyra Sedgwick. I don’t remember this series at all and it is based on Sue Miller’s best-selling novel. Huston and Neill play a married couple with a large family. One son is Autistic and Neill has an affair. The Autistic son is a strain on the family staying at home in the 1950’s. The second half of the series is based in the 1980’s and is told through Sedwick’s perspective. I’m not sure what channel it originally aired on, but it feels like a Lifetime series. It’s a very heavy drama, but the acting and production value are really good. It’s a little over 3 hours long so it’s not a real easy binge, but if you remember it from 20 plus years ago, this is for you.
Epic Pictures along with Dread Presents has started releasing “Double Feature” Collector’s Edition Blu-Rays! They released 3 in September and I’m going to talk about 2 of them here (I haven’t finished the third yet).
First is Zombiology and Vidar the Vampire. Zombiology combines zombie comedies with Manga and it’s ridiculous yet entertaining. I’m not a huge Manga guy and don’t understand a lot of it, but I did like the zombie storyline. Two friends want to be heroes and get the chance when a monster from a cartoon starts a virus outbreak. I have no idea if it makes a lick a sense, the ending is a total head scratcher, but I also kinda liked it. The zombie story reminds me of Shaun of the Dead which is a huge plus. The Manga stuff I have no idea about. Vidar the Vampire sees a farmer bitten by a vampire but he believes it’s Jesus and starts traveling with him and living a vampire lifestyle thinking he’s following Jesus. Yeah it’s also ridiculous. It reminded me of What We Do in the Shadows, that dark comedy vampire type humor. The lead actor is really good.
This double feature includes Imitation Girl and Nina Forever. Imitation Girl sees Lauren Ashley Carter in dual roles. She plays a porn actress and an alien that crash lands and takes the form of the porn star after her ooze travels over a dirty magazine. Carter is great in the role and I liked the film overall, but it’s not what I expected. I expected more of a crossover between the alien and actress, but their lives are more separate than I thought. Carter does give a fantastic performance so if you like her, check it out. Nina Forever is kind of weird. A 3some sounds great unless your undead girlfriend is one of the participants. This finds Rob and Holly getting together after Rob’s girlfriend Nina dies, but when things start getting sexual between them, Nina reappears all bloody and gross. I’m not exactly sure the point of the film and I don’t think I liked the ending, but it’s worth watching at least once. It’s odd and super dark, but this double feature makes a lot of sense together.
Each package comes with reversible cover art, each side showcasing each movie, so you decide which film you want to catalog in your collection! Plus each film comes with a ton of bonus features.