Odd week for releases. Most of these come from Mill Creek Entertainment and a couple towards the end came out last week but I’ll start with the Asian adventure film I seem to get every week. That film this week is Mojin: The Worm Valley. This is actually a sequel to Mojin: The Lost Legend which not only have I not seen, I had never even heard of. Having not seen the first film I wasn’t 100% lost because it’s easy enough to follow. That’s a bad choice of words because the story is easy enough to understand, it’s an adventure/quest story, but the movie itself is ridiculous. I understand that legendary tomb explorer Hu Bayi is on a mission across an island of monstrous creatures to find the Tomb of Emperor Xian to reverse a legendary curse with his friends and a professor, but it’s a total CGI-fest with over-the-top scenes that remind me of so many other CG Asian films. It’s like the Monkey King series where you sort of understand the plot but have no idea what you’re actually watching. It’s pretty and colorful with odd creatures and water (there’s always a river involved it seems in these movies) and people die and fight over-sized creatures and myths and legends. It’s all CG and these movies are usually good for one viewing for me. It’s nothing I’d want to watch again and I expect another film in this franchise next year.
Second we have a special edition Blu-ray of The Loveless, the debut feature film of director Kathryn Bigelow and the debut credited role in a movie of Willem Dafoe. I had never seen it and I can understand why no one’s really pushed me to check it off the bucket list, it’s not very good. I mean it’s not bad or anything, but it’s very generic and feels like a ton of other movies out there. Dafoe is a biker and trouble ensues when his motorcycle gang stops in a small southern town while heading to the races at Daytona. Dafoe is fine in the role, but there are so many angsty biker/rockabilly movies made. But I’m sure there are some diehard fans out there who will love this release. The film looks good having gone through a 2K restoration and comes with a slew of bonus features including commentary, new video interviews with actors Willem Dafoe, Marin Kanter, Robert Gordon, and others, image gallery, trailer and much more. It may not be for me, but fans will love it. You could tell Dafoe had that it factor immediately on screen.
The following are all Mill Creek Entertainment releases until noted differently. The epic, Emmy-Winning, television mini-series event Lonesome Dove gets a fantastic SteelBook this week. Winner of seven Emmy Awards, and one of the highest rated miniseries in television history, it has an amazing cast featuring Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Angelica Huston, Robert Urich, Steve Buscemi, D.B. Sweeney, Ricky Schroder, and Chris Cooper. As a fan of westerns I loved this. It checkmarks everything I want in a western with long, sweeping shots, action, horses, love, beautiful scenery and backdrops and everything in between. Duvall and Jones are former Texas Rangers who partner together with different personalities and really showcases life at that point. I hadn’t seen it since it first came out so it was great rewatching it. Again as a western fan, this is my kind of mini-series. Plus this SteelBook has great bonus features including Making Of, cast interviews, Interview with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Larry McMurtry whose novel this series is based on and more. Like stated in my previous Mothra SteelBook review, Mill Creek is really stepping up its game with these types of high end releases.
Speaking of high end, Mill Creek has a 4K of Space Station, an IMAX original film narrated by Tom Cruise. This is stunning. Mill Creek has put out a few 4Ks of movies like this already and this is a great addition. Cruise narrates the film that gives viewers an in-depth look at the International Space Station. How in-depth? Well you really get a grasp of what daily life is like there from getting a haircut to staying in shape and eating and drinking. Plus the backdrop is just gorgeous in 4K. Films like this really make a 4K TV worth owning. And honestly, listening to Cruise narrate the film I wish he did more narration. If you’ve enjoyed the previous IMAX 4Ks, you’ll love this.
Sticking with space, next is NASA: A Journey Through Space. This is a 2-disc, 7 piece documentary on the history of NASA and its future. It starts in the beginning with a history of flying and JFK’s push to space then into the Apollo missions to the moon, our shift from rockets to shuttles and where we are at today and in the future. Space has always fascinated me so these two films were a great two day doubleheader for me.
Speaking of double headers, we have another two pack of Andy Sidaris films, Picasso Trigger & Savage Beach. I have a soft spot for 80’s films like these. Are they good? Of course not, but they are so much fun. They are over-the-top and sexy and filled with action and sex and violence and sex and filled with beautiful people, hot cars and more violence and sex. They have plots I guess, but you don’t watch them for the plot. Picasso Trigger is about a spy and a bad guy and secret agents and that’s all you need to know. It’s by the books storytelling, but you aren’t watching it for the story. Savage Beach is about two female undercover agents crashing on an island and taken by commandos trying to find an old treasure and there are terrorists. Again, nobody cares about the story. You watch for the hot babes, the big explosions, the action and everything a great B-movie can be. And that’s what these are, great B-movies. I hope Mill Creek keeps putting out Sidaris films on Blu-ray because I’ve enjoyed all that have come my way.
Next is It Hits the Fan! – 4 Apocalyptic Disaster Movies. Unlike the previous reviewed shark collection, this one wasn’t quite as fun. Sure they are ridiculous, but not quite the so-bad-they-are-great. Tornado Warning involves aliens and tornadoes, a teen boy and a meteorologist. Judgement Day is a Deep Impact ripoff with a rogue anomaly headed to Earth and a small Louisiana town maybe being the key to survival. Chrome Angels might be the most fun with Stacey Dash leading a crew of female bikers heading to Mexico running into androids in a small town. Last is Ghouls involving a college student returning with her father to his home country only to discover her family holds a dark secret that involves her. It’s probably the second best film of the bunch.
The Stranger Beside Me – The Ted Bundy Story is out this week with Billy Campbell playing the infamous serial killer and Barbara Hershey as Ann Rule, the writer who worked with Bundy at a Seattle based suicide hotline. In real life Rule wrote a bestseller about it. I think this was a made-for TV film and I think I watched it back when it came out. Bundy is hot right now with true crime being a popular podcast topic and the Netlix movie so this is good timing on Mill Creek’s part. Campbell and Hershey are good but it definitely has the budget of a made-for TV film. If you aren’t familiar with this part of the Bundy story (Rule knowing him in the 70’s) then it’s good for a watch.
Forever Knight was an early to mid 1990’s TV series long before vampires were big business. This is a complete series box set and I sort of remember it but can’t remember really watching it until now. This came out long before Twilight, True Blood and even Buffy and was about an 800 year old vampire in current day Toronto trying to atone for his past sins as a detective. It seemed to be ahead of its time with a normally immoral creature trying to be good (think Angel or Lucifer). I can see why it’s a cult favorite and not super popular among mainstream audiences. I’m not sure if it’s been available as a complete series before but if you were a fan, this a great pick up to rewatch.
Last from Mill Creek is Run which actually came out last week, but I didn’t get it in time. This is a faith-based film about human trafficking and isn’t quite for me. I’m not much of a faith-based person and when the biggest name in the movie is Stephen Baldwin, well you have some issues. I can understand what it’s trying to do, but the acting isn’t great and the dialogue is really cliched. This sees a recently married couple shaken when the wife is kidnapped during the honeymoon. The new husband is upset he has to wait 48 hours for a missing person and sets out to get answers himself. Of course the wife is a journalist who was reporting on this very crime! Again really cliched but I do give it some credit for trying.
Last we have Styx. This isn’t from Mill Creek and came out last week as well. I got the date wrong when I went to watch it. It’s also a movie I’m not really sure what I was supposed to get out of. A woman goes out on a sail boat and picks up a young refugee boy floating in the ocean. She tries to take care of him, he fights back (for some reason). She runs into more refugees in a boat and I guess it’s a feel good movie we’re supposed to cheer for at the end. I honestly got nothing out of it and was disappointed it’s not a biopic about the the band of the same name. It’s shot like a documentary, but it is fictional. Just didn’t work for me.