Up first this week is Section 8, a lower budgeted action flick that’s overall pretty solid. It’s nothing overly original, but it works for what it is. Ryan Kwanten plays a former soldier whose family is killed and he is out for revenge. He gets arrested, but a government agency, Section 8, wants to use him on missions that his training and skills are good for. He can get out of prison if he helps them do random jobs. Sure it sounds like The Suicide Squad and it kind of is. Kwanten is decent, but the scenes with Scott Adkins are fantastic. There is one sequence in a casino that’s worth the watch alone. I actually wish Adkins was the lead because he’s arguably the best action actor going today. Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke and Dermot Mulroney also star. If you grew up on the made-for-video action movies of the 1990s or made-for-streaming action movies of the 2000s then this is right up your alley.
Second we have Both Sides of the Blade starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent London and Gregoire Colin. This one was a bit of a head scratcher. There is nothing exactly wrong with it, but I kept waiting for something more to happen. Binoche is in a relationship with a man who is recently out of jail. Her ex hires him as a sporting scout. Seeing him stirs up some old feelings for Binoche and I guess I expected a giant lover’s quarrel or even murder. There is some arguing, but I kept waiting for the proverbial shoe to fall and I don’t think it really does. At least not for me. The acting is fine, but it’s not something I’d watch again.
Third we have Hansan: Rising Dragon out of South Korea. It’s a period historical drama about a story I know nothing about. My biggest issue with it is how fake it looks. It involves huge water battles, but the boats and action are all CGI and I can’t stand that style. The costuming is cool and the story itself is pretty interesting, but the overall look doesn’t work for me. It looks like it’s all computer animated instead of realistic. These boats were rowed yet zoomed across the water with ease. I understand you aren’t going to build dozens if not hundreds of real boats from 500 years ago, but it has to look more authentic and realistic than what it does. Asian films use this CGI look a lot and it’s one of the things I don’t like about them. It’s a shame because the story should have made for a good historical drama.
Next we have Allegoria from Spider One. The lead singer of Powerman 5000 and brother of Rob Zombie dives into horror (like his brother) with this interconnected anthology. Like all anthology films there are some stories that are better than others. This one connects them all with character interactions that you might not realize are connected at first. I thought the make-up and monster effects were good, but the film itself isn’t great. It’s a fast watch, only 70 minutes, which helps get the movie going and moves quickly, but maybe more time should have been spent developing characters and the story. I’m pretty surprised it’s a Shudder film and not one from smaller distributors known for lesser horror releases. Rob Zombie’s worst is still better than this unfortunately.
I quite liked Queen of Glory about a student whose mother dies and who wants to sell her mother’s house and book store she inherits and move to Ohio with her boyfriend. She clashes with her Ghanaian relatives especially her estranged father who wants her to stick with traditions. She also learns her mother had an employee at the book store and isn’t sure how to tell him she wants to sell. The lead actress is good and it’s easy to follow along even if you know nothing about the culture (I certainly don’t). It’s just a nice little movie I had never heard of and I can see the lead actress making a name for herself.
Sticking with nice little movies, Adieu Godard is a funny little film out of India. When a man from a little Indian village gets a copy of a Godard film instead of his normal pornography he becomes obsessed with the French filmmaker. Despite not understanding the dialogue in the movies he wants to put on a film festival of nothing, but Godard films. The locals have no idea what to make of the films and hilarity ensues. There’s a side story with his daughter who is sort of the narrator of the film that just doesn’t feel necessary, but I liked it overall. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it worked for me.
Amazing Grace: Country Stars Sing Songs of Faith and Hope is a 10-disc collection of country stars singing faith-based songs. It features 153 live performances from artists like Alan Jackson, Alabama, Vince Gill, Randy Travis, George Jones, Reba McEntire, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton and more. I’m not the biggest country music fan, but shockingly knew a lot of these songs thanks to my grandmother. It also comes with interviews, a booklet and more. The Opry Gospel Classics bonus discs with performances by Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and others is pretty cool too. With the holidays approaching it makes for a great gift.
Halo: Season One gets a beautiful 4K release this week. I’m not the biggest gamer so I can’t compare the series to the game. I’m sure people have their complaints, but I don’t know any better. The story in this series is separate from the games and thus pisses some people off because character traits aren’t the same. There is a scene in one episode that has been highly controversial and even as a non-gamer I was familiar with the controversy. I do think the series is beautiful especially in 4K and the sound is equally as impresive. The writing seems pretty standard for sci-fi storytelling and I do think some of the characters were either underdeveloped or somewhat stereotypical of the genre. If you don’t play the game and are looking for a sci-fi fix it fits the bill, but if you love the games, you probably aren’t watching this out of spite. If you do pick it up, I can’t express how stunning the 4K is.
Mill Creek Entertainment‘s latest Ultraman release is Ultraman Nexus: The Complete Series + Ultraman The Next Movie. Kazuki Komon is saved by Ultraman, but in this series Ultraman isn’t immediately seen as a hero. Komon works for the Night Raiders who fight Space Beasts and despite Ultraman there to save others, he is seen as a threat. This series ran for 37 episodes and follows the Ultraman The Next movie in the timeline. The movie is about a pilot named Shunichi Maki who crashes into a UFO. Another pilot had crashed similarly and becomes the bad guy in the film. Maki becomes Ultraman The Next and does battle with The One. The series and film seems like a sort of retcon to get a new generation (2008-09) into Ultraman.
Last we have Dig starring Thomas Jane and Emile Hirsch. This actually came out last week, but I got it a few days late. Jane gets into a bit of a road rage situation and his wife is killed and his daughter (Jane’s real life daughter) becomes deaf. Hirsch hires Jane to tear apart some property, but turns out he’s double crossing him to do a bad deed. It’s nothing overly original and Jane & Hirsch have much better on their resume, but it’s an easy enough watch. It’s pretty forgettable beyond the daughter being deaf and it being somewhat of an advantage being able to communicate with her father without talking. The characters are all a bit stereotypical and it’s understandable why none of you have probably ever heard of it.