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DVD Talk reviews for Monday, January 21st, 2019

Old 01-22-19, 03:00 AM
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DVD Talk reviews for Monday, January 21st, 2019

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The Magnificent Ambersons (Blu-ray)
by Stuart Galbraith IV

Subtler, more mature, and less aggressively innovative than Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles's adaptation of Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), is no less dazzling, and in some respects exhibits even more assured direction. Its exquisiteness, alas, is forever accompanied by a pesky asterisk: "Yeah, but it was butchered by the small minds at RKO, who cut 40-plus minutes from Welles's original version, reshooting some scenes and tacking on that outrageously phony happy ending."

True enough, but it is to Welles's credit that even with all that hacksawing, the only known surviving cut of the film still dazzles. Its first half especially, trimmed but essentially and entirely Welles's film at this point, is as close to perfection as cinema gets.

As with most 40s RKO titles, the original nitrate camera negative apparently no longer exists, so Criterion has utilized a ve...Read the entire review »

Candyman (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray)
by William Harrison


It had been years since I watched Bernard Rose's Candyman. What I likely did not appreciate much in my teens is that Candyman is not only a good horror movie, it is a good movie period. With excellent performances by Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen, this is an entertaining, well-produced film with an interesting story to tell. Based on "The Forbidden" by British author and film director Clive Barker, Candyman sees a Chicago-area graduate student researching urban legends and their basis. She stumbles upon the legend of the Candyman, who is said to appear behind a person looking in a mirror who repeats his name five times. The man was the son of slaves and an artist who integrated into high society but was murdered after impregnating the daughter of a wealthy white man. The townspeople cut off the man's arm, then smeared him with honey before rel...Read the entire review »


Highly Recommended
Mission: Impossible - Fallout (Blu-ray)
by Thomas Spurlin

The Film:

It was in 1996 that Tom Cruise dangled on a wire above bright white pressure plates in the "original" Mission: Impossible, the quasi-remake directed by Brian De Palma. Many of its storytelling facets may not hold up well against the test of time, but the derring-do involved with that sequence -- as well as the consistent energy of the action throughout -- has kept the rebooted version of the franchise embedded in popular culture. Almost as if a competition, Cruise and his team of producers and directors seem compelled to one-up the nature of the action in each one, ever pursuing the next bold scene that might overtake the one from the 90s that brought it into the spotlight. Since, Cruise himself has dangled off planes, crawled up t...Read the entire review »


Maniac (Three-Disc Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
by William Harrison


Shot on a shoestring budget guerilla style, William Lustig's Maniac is an unpleasant, violent film that once was banned in Britain under the United Kingdom's Obscene Publications Act. As is often the case, the film feels a lot less controversial in 2019 than it likely did in 1980. An interesting time capsule of gritty, pre-Giuliani New York City, Maniac did not live up to expectations for me. Neither the nihilistic classic nor the exploitation shocker I expected, Maniac unspooled as a fairly standard, early 1980s thriller. Joe Spinell, who has small parts in Rocky and Taxi Driver, is a compelling lead, and his multifaceted portrayal of serial killer Frank Zito brings some humanity to an ...Read the entire review »

Nemesis (Blu-ray)
by Ian Jane

The Movie:

Albert Pyun's 1992 film Nemesis takes place in the future of 2027. Here it's common for criminals and cops alike to upgrade' themselves using cybernetic bits and pieces in an effort to make themselves more than human. In this world lives Alex Raine (Olivier Gruner), a bounty hunter in the employ of the Los Angeles Police Department. Alex, who is enhanced himself, barely escapes an assault from The Red Army Hammerhead, a gang of cyborg terrorists. When their leader, Rosaria (Jennifer Gatti), confronts him about his genetic makeup, he reminds her that he's still 86.5% human. Alex winds up taking a long time to recover, but recover he eventually does at which point he makes a point of tracking down Rosario and putting an end to her illustrious career, permanently.

After this, a series of circumstances lead to Alex being tasked by Commissioner Farnsworth (Tim Thomer...Read the entire review »

Halloween (Blu-ray)
by Oktay Ege Kozak

The Movie:

The 2018 edition of Halloween (Should be called as such, since there are also 1978 and 2007 editions, and don't even get me started on the confusion on Halloween II titles) is the best Michael Myers-centered Halloween sequel by a long shot. Considering the Halloween "franchise" is one of the rare ones (Jaws is the only other one that comes to mind) where the original film is a genre-defining masterpiece, only to be followed by a series of bad-to-terrible sequels, that isn't a huge achievement, but it should be championed nevertheless.

The first good choice that the 2018 version makes is to completely ignore every single sequel, including Halloween II, which picks up right where the first film ends. The Halloween franchise is like a choose your own adventure book at this point anyway. 4,5, and 6 follow their own continuity, while H20 and Re...Read the entire review »

Screamers (Blu-ray)
by DVD Savant

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Because I was hooked on the mind-stretching science fiction books of the visionary Philip K. Dick, I was ready for 1995's Screamers to be a special sci-fi experience: Dick stories set on off-world planets were some of his best. The fact that it stars RoboCop's Peter Weller didn't hurt either.

Author Dick's source story "Second Variety" hails from 1953. Its setting is a post-apocalyptic battlefield, not another planet. The basic idea extrapolates the function of a military land mine, those nasty mechanical-explosive traps that wait to blow up under unsuspecting troops. Properly called 'Autonomous Mobile Swords' (in the story, 'Claws'), Screamers are small robotic anti-personnel devices with spinning blades that make piercing sounds. Unlike land mines, they...Read the entire review »


Rent It
The Predator (Blu-ray)
by William Harrison


When I heard Shane Black was directing a Predator sequel I was excited. I hoped he could shoot a killer follow-up that mixed action and his trademark, quippy dialogue and character interaction. The Predator as it made it to theaters is disappointingly just OK, thanks in large part to some curious writing decisions and what I assume was plenty of studio interference. The first half of the film promises greatness, but when Black and company move toward the climax, editing coherence, world building and franchise reverence go out the window. The Predator is an entertaining, messy disappointment that had all the makings of a classic. Genre fans will appreciate the return of the Predators to Earth, but Black's film falls perilously closer to Read the entire review »


Skip It
The Mangler (Blu-ray)
by William Harrison


What in the hell did I just watch? I somehow escaped the clutches of The Mangler for over two decades, but my love of Shout! Factory had me blindly selecting the title from the screener pool for review. I assumed the movie was about a serial killer, but I was wrong - sort of. As I blindly screened the film, I discovered this is an adaptation of a Stephen King short story about a possessed laundry-folding machine. Yes, you read that right. A possessed laundry-folding machine. The movie is all kinds of awful, and features tremendously dreadful performances by Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Tedd Levine (The Silence of the Lambs). The movie is alm...Read the entire review »

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