A weird week of releases that came our way. First is Uncaged, an animal attack movie from overseas. This is about a lion on the loose eating people. That either excites you or it doesn’t and whatever your response is, that will be your response to the movie. I tend to like movies like this as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously. They don’t have to be Sharknado ridiculous, but Anaconda level works. And overall this works for me. It relies heavily on CGI because you can’t have an actual lion eating people and I’m fine with that in this case. The movie is dubbed in English, but I can’t stand watching mouth movements not match voices so I switched it to its native language and read the subtitles. It has some good action with the lion and the characters are believable enough. It’s a movie you could see on SyFy with that level of acting and special effects. Having a guy in a wheelchair was funny and the film could easily see sequels. If you like CGI animal attack movies you’ll enjoy this one for sure.
Sticking with heavy CGI flicks, next is Abigail. Another film from overseas as well, you’ll probably only recognize one name, Eddie Marsan. They call it a steampunk fantasy adventure and I’d also call it a Young Adult film a few too many years removed from the Young Adult movie boom. It reminded me a lot of Mortal Engines in its style and adventure. Marsan plays the father of Abigail and along with her mother, live in a town closed off because of a disease. Those deemed infected get taken away and Marsan’s character is removed and assumed dead. Abigail grows up and realizes she has some powers and wants to find her dad. She meets others with powers and realize there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the town and those running it. Think of the characters like the characters from The Magicians, but with a steampunk backdrop. There are blimps and mechanical devices and magic and maybe the girl and the guy will fall for each other. It’s not great and I’m clearly not the target audience, but maybe those still into YA might like it.
What I can clearly tell you is I didn’t like While You Live, Shine. It’s a documentary on Grammy Award-Winning Musicologist Chris King. Never heard of him? Neither had I and I wish I still hadn’t. The documentary should be interesting and educational. You should learn about this music from an area near Greece and southern Albania. Unfortunately I immediately hated this guy. Pretty much damn near instantly I didn’t like him. He comes across as super pretentious talking about how all music has sucked since the 1940s and how one of his beard hairs got embedded into a vinyl album and now he’s part of that album. Honestly, if you got rid of this guy and just went to this area to hear this ethnic music I might have liked or at least found it interesting. By the time the film travels to this land I already didn’t care because of him. The scene where he’s talking to the bartender is just painful and when he’s talking about music at his house, I almost turned it off. I found him completely unbearable.
Next is a slew of releases from Mill Creek Entertainment including two Andy Sidaris Blu-rays and more Ultraman. The Sidaris films are Hard Hunted and Fit to Kill. If you read me often enough you know I have a soft spot for Sidaris films. They are never great films, but they aren’t supposed to be. You expect action, hot babes, over-the-top scenes, a plot straight from the 1980’s or 1990’s and everything in between. In Hard Hunted, R.J. Moore (the son of James Bond Roger Moore) plays a gunrunner who gets a nuclear trigger from China and wants to sell it to the Middle East. A female federal agent goes undercover to steal it and ends up being murdered. Three hot agents, Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez and Cynthia Brimhall have to stop it now. In Fit to Kill, Dona Speir and Roberta Vasquez are back this time protecting a wealthy Asian businessman and his rare diamond from a jewel thief. Of course there are double crosses and switcheroos and it’s all beautiful in Hawaii. Are they good? Of course not, but they are highly entertaining and have a huge cult following. I have fun watching them and they look good on Blu-ray. If you are a fan of Sidaris, you have to be eating up these releases.
The Ultraman releases this week are Ultraman Geed Movie Connect the Wishes! and Ultraman Orb The Movie Let Me Borrow the Power of Bonds. I definitely prefer the old school Ultraman stuff I grew up on (and reviewed previously), but I can see people who like Power Rangers getting into this. Ultraman Geed The Movie Connect the Wishes! sees Gillvalis and the Galactron Army wanting to wipe out life in the universe and is on the way to Earth. The Army attacks Okinawa looking for the “Red Steel” and Ultraman Geed, Orb, and Zero must get to Earth to defend it. In Ultraman Orb The Movie The Power of Bonds!, a mysterious item is delivered and is the X Devizer that housed Ultraman X both during and after his merging with Xio agent Daichi Oozora. Gai Kurenai returns to Earth while Murnau, a space witch teams with Jugglus Juggler to use the Dark Ring she now possesses. Mill Creek has released most of the previous Ultraman stories so if you’ve been buying them already, these two new releases are for you. I don’t love them, preferring the campiness of the old TV shows to these new over stylized ones, but there are still many fans of Ultraman and these new stories.
Mill Creek also has some older films being released in either combo packs or cheaper versions than previously released. First is The Nines starring Ryan Reynolds. Before Deadpool made him the megastar he is, Reynolds was known for comedies and rom-coms. But what people don’t know is he did some offbeat and odd movies like Chaos Theory and this film. This came out in 2007 and sees Reynolds playing multiple characters with overlapping storielines and isn’t quite as smart as it thinks it is. It’s a movie that dumb people might think is really smart but it really isn’t. I always remember it as the movie that Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy are together. It’s not as bad as I remember and it’s been probably a decade since I first saw it so I didn’t remember a lot of it which is good when watching something again. If you only think of Reynolds as Deadpool, this isn’t for you.
A Wesley Snipes Double Feature of The Contractor and The Fan is out this week. I’ve always kind of liked The Fan which sees Robert DeNiro as an obsessive fan of Snipes, a star baseball player struggling that season. If you liked Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, you’ll like DeNiro in this. In The Contractor, Snipes plays a former CIA Black Ops agent given a job by a former boss. He’s to take out a terrorist, but soon realizes he’s been double crossed. I wasn’t familiar with this one and I’m assuming it was a Straight-to-Video film from the early 2000s. We’ve seen a lot of similar movies before and after and Mark Wahlberg’s Shooter comes to mind, but this double feature is for Snipes fans so they probably like this one. The Fan is the better of the two films.
There is also a Benji 4 Movie Collection out this week. The films are: Benji The Original Classic, For The Love Of Benji, Benji Off the Leash and Benji’s Very Own Christmas Story. Most of these have been available from Mill Creek before, but I think this is the first time the Christmas film has been available with the other 3. I’m not an animal person nor do I have kids, but if your family loves dogs they will like this collection. Benji has been around for decades and there’s a reason for his staying power, it’s wholesome fun. It’s Dove Family Approved and times like now, having something families can sit down and watch together is a good thing even if it isn’t my sort of thing.
Also not my sort of thing, In the Beginning and Noah’s Ark Double Feature is available. I’m not a religious person but I understand why films like this get made. No, it’s not propaganda, it’s just good old fashioned storytelling. Martin Landau stars as Abraham in In the Beginning which is a miniseries retelling stories from the Old Testament. Jacqueline Bisset, Billy Campbell and Christopher Lee costar in this miniseries from 2000. Noah’s Ark sees Jon Voight as Noah in this 1999 miniseries. Mary Steenburgen, F. Murray Abraham, Carol Kane also star in this retelling of Noah building his Ark and the result of God flooding the Earth. For 20+ year old series, I thought the production value was pretty good with good costuming and set design. The effects are what they were back then though.
These last two releases came out already but I didn’t get my copies until late last week. First is American Zombieland which I was really looking forward to based on the cover art, but ended up majorly disappointed in it. It’s a low budget indie meta zombie film. What that means is, it’s about a indie filmmaker whose movies are always shot down and he lies about one of his zombie films being accepted into a film festival. As the lie spreads, an actual zombie outbreak occurs thanks to tainted snack cakes. He decides to start filming while him and friends try to survive thinking that the ultimate zombie film would have real zombies in it. So much of that sounds really great and I do genuinely love the concept and isn’t something we’ve seen in an over crowded genre, but there’s a reason this wasn’t a hit. It’s not very good. The acting is really bad and I understand low budget films can’t hire top-notch talent but a lot of these people seem like this is their first movie. The editing is even worse with scene transitions super jumpy which make you feel like you missed something. At one point they are at a bar looking for guns, when they are told the guns don’t work, they go to a store for guns and supplies. Well there is no transition there, it just happens. There are times the wording on the white van is there and isn’t. I know I shouldn’t really nitpick an indie film, but this could have been a cult classic if better.
Last we have Woman on the Edge. Rumer Willis plays twin sisters, one a junkie who kills herself and the other a journalist looking into her death. At first she thinks a boyfriend was involved when other women with ties to him have issues as well. But as she investigates more, she sees there’s a more deviant person involved. It’s not good. It stars Rumer Willis for a reason. If it played on Lifetime I would understand why. Rumer will never be mistaken for either of her more famous parents. Jeffery Patterson seemed very one dimensional in this as well.