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Currently showing posts tagged David Hasselhoff

  • Ted 2 (2015) Unrated Blu-ray Review

    Ted 2 (2015)

    Director: Seth MacFarlane

    Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Barth & Morgan Freeman

    Released by: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    After the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declares the foul-mouthed bear property, Ted 2 centers on Thunder Buddies Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy) and best friend John (Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter) as they fight for Ted’s civil rights.  Teaming up with a beautiful eager attorney (Amanda Seyfried, Mamma Mia!), the pot-loving pals find themselves in even more hilarious misadventures.  Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar), Jessica Barth (The Waterhole) and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) co-star.

    After its predecessor became Universal Studios’ highest-grossing film of 2012, an inevitable sequel involving more man and teddy bear hijinks was immediately fast-tracked.  With an increased budget and previous co-star Mila Kunis (Black Swan) bowing out, Ted 2 finds the pint-sized partier Ted (MacFarlane) taking the plunge into marriage with his Boston bombshell Tami-Lynn (Barth).  Wallowing in his own self-despair following his own failed marriage, John (Wahlberg) looks to help Ted and his new bride as they attempt to have children through alternate means.  Following hilariously sticky situations at quarterback Tom Brady’s house and a fertility clinic, adoption is denied after the powers that be declare Ted property as opposed to a person.  Determined to prove the courts otherwise, Ted and John seek legal assistance from lawyer and fellow pot smoker Samantha Jackson (Seyfried) to fight for Ted’s rights.  In addition to regaining legal control of his life, disturbed stalker Donny (Ribisi) is once again trying to abduct Ted for his own bizarre reasons leading to a fittingly nerdy showdown at New York Comic-Con.

    Accompanied by several notable cameos from Morgan Freeman as a civil rights attorney with an unsurprisingly commanding voice, Liam Neeson (Taken) and David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider), Ted 2 suffers the fate of most comedy sequels with fewer laughs and a weaker story.  Although several sequences deliver including, Ted’s heated confrontation with KITT at Comic-Con and John’s death faking gag in the hospital, Ted 2 ultimately sacrifices its simplicity for a narrative that takes its courtroom proceedings a bit too seriously at times.  In addition, several of Ted and John’s bantering conversations from the first film are recycled to a lesser degree in its followup.  Highly anticipated and hoping for duplicate success, Ted 2 would ultimately underperform at the box-office earning only half of its originator.  Overlong and mediocre at best, Ted 2 lacks the spark of the first film with its plodding narrative being its own worst enemy.

    Universal Studios Home Entertainment presents Ted 2 with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Crystal clear and relaying vivid color, detail is exquisitely rich while, skin tones are excellently presented.  In addition, the fuzzy fabric and texture of Ted stands out allowing viewers to fully appreciate the lifelike appearance of the motion-capture created character.  Finally, black levels are deep and free of noise with no other digital shortcomings spotted in this exceptional-looking transfer.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is perfectly tuned with the film’s effective musical opening title sequence making a dashing impression.  Furthermore, crowd sequences, car explosions and the quieter ambiance of other scenes are expertly handled.  Joined by the film’s theatrical (1:55:34) and unrated (2:05:50) presentations, special features include, an entertaining Audio Commentary with Producer/Director/Co-Writer Seth MacFarlane, Executive Producers/Co-Writers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild and Star Jessica Barth.  Deleted Scenes (4:24), a Gag Reel (2:39), a Thunder Buddies 4 Lyfe (7:28) featurette focusing on the chemistry between the film’s headlining duo plus, a four-part Creating Comic-Con featurette highlighting The Exhibitors (2:56), The Costumes (3:21), The Stunts (4:15) and The Showdown (4:12) is also available.  In addition, Cameo Buddies focuses on the appearances of Morgan Freeman (1:22), Tom Brady (1:12), Liam Neeson (1:07) and David Hasselhoff (3:26) while, A Giant Opening Dance Number (8:48), Roadtripping (8:51), a DVD edition and Digital HD Code round out the supplemental offerings.

    Falling short of Seth MacFarlane’s directorial debut, Ted 2 still offers a handful of good laughs although, its plot of civil rights battles and child-bearing tends to forget what made the original so charmingly simple.  Meanwhile, Universal Studios Home Entertainment delivers a release with five-star technical merits and an entertaining smorgasbord of supplements that fans will enjoy.  While pot and potty-mouth anarchy run wild in this latest teddy bear talking sequel, Ted 2 falls below the standards of its first knee-slapping outing.  

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available December 15th from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Ted 2 can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Ghosthouse (1988) / Witchery (1988) Blu-ray Review

    Ghosthouse (1988) / Witchery (1988)

    Director(s): Umberto Lenzi / Fabrizio Laurenti

    Starring: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Ron Houck & Martin Jay / David Hasselhoff, Linda Blair, Catherine Hickland, Annie Ross & Hildegard Knef 

    Released by: Scream Factory

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Released in their home country of Italy as part of the La Casa series, Scream Factory, the horror/cult offshoot of Shout! Factory, invites viewers to a ghostly pairing of terror.  First up, Ghosthouse centers on a group of visitors exploring a deserted house with a dark past.  Before long, the unsuspecting friends find themselves at the mercy of a disturbing little girl and her possessed clown doll.  Next up, Witchery finds an assortment of people stranded on an island resort during a dangerous storm.  With no contact to the mainland, an evil witch begins weaving her dark practices on the unwanted visitors.  David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Catherine Hickland (One Life to Live), Annie Ross (Pump Up the Volume) and Hildegard Knef (Fedora) star.  

    From Director Umberto Lenzi (Spasmo, Cannibal Ferox) (using the pseudonym Humphrey Humbert), Ghosthouse opens on the deadly tragedy of a couple at the hands of their young daughter.  20 years later, Paul (Greg Scott) and his girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel, Tenebre) receive a disturbing radio frequency that is traced back to the location of the murders, prompting the couple to investigate.  Upon their arrival, Paul and Martha  meet a group of vacationers who have made the abandoned house their temporary residence.  As supernatural evidence becomes more apparent, the friends are haunted by the ghostly apparition of the murderous little girl and her demonic clown doll.  Predominately consisting of first and only time performers, Ghosthouse suffers from laughable performances and eye-rolling dialogue that overshadows any intended sense of fear.  In addition, while the group is confronted by a series of frightening elements including, a homicidal caretaker, a ferocious Doberman and a severed head in a washing machine, the film fails to use them to its narrative advantage.  As the hauntings begin claiming victims, Paul and Martha rush to uncover the true history behind the house leading to an absurdly nonsensical ending.  While its premise and intriguing poster art fail to live up to their full potential, Ghosthouse still retains a splash of fun rooted in its charmingly awful characters and bizarrely funky score that will viewers bopping their head instead of covering their eyes.

    Utilizing its alternate Witchcraft (Evil Encounters) title, Witchery finds Leslie (Leslie Cumming), along with photographer boyfriend Gary (David Hasselhoff), investigating an abandoned island resort for her upcoming book on witchcraft.  Shortly after, a family of prospective buyers for the property, including the pregnant Jane (Linda Blair), board the island just as the tide grows dangerous.  Stranded, the two groups are forced to remain at the eerie location just as nightmarish visions and the arrival of an evil witch take hold.  While the film tends to overcomplicate its simple plot in favor of more sinister sequences, Witchery excels with its murder set pieces including, a mouth being sewn shut, a neck puncture via stuffed swordfish and a grizzly crucification.  Headlined by notable faces, Hasselhoff and Blair feel nearly wasted as the Knight Rider star spends the bulk of the runtime failing at devirginizing his girlfriend while, Blair is left to endlessly faint before a cash-in possession scene during the film’s fleeting moments.  As the witch’s complicated process of being reincarnated comes full circle, Witchery’s attempts at plot development are too little, too late with its nightmarish imagery serving as the film’s true saving grace.

    Scream Factory presents both Ghosthouse and Witchery with 1080p transfers, sporting 1.66:1 aspect ratios.  Appearing slightly soft with occasional instances of waxy complexions, both films arrive free of any discernible scratches or scuffs making way for  a remarkably clean picture.  In addition, colors are pleasing while black levels are well-handled and visible in more dimly lit scenes.  Equipped with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes, both films project dialogue clearly with their respective scores and sound effects decently relayed but never overly impressive.  Finally, special features include, a Ghosthouse Trailer (2:53) and a Witchery Trailer (3:01).

    Continuing their pairing of appropriately themed fright flicks, Scream Factory treats fans to a generous helping of Italian horror with help from possessed clowns, witchcraft and a sexually frustrated Hoff.  While Ghosthouse is a hilarious mess that can be appreciated for its unintentionally funny performances and lack of logic, Witchery ranks as the preferred feature with its death sequences outshining its more prominent cast members.  Meanwhile, Scream Factory delivers both films with appreciable bumps in quality that surpass previous home video releases.  Different strokes for different folks, Ghosthouse / Witchery may not be perfect but, both have their merits worth discovering.

    RATING: 3/5

    Available June 30th from Scream Factory, Ghosthouse / Witchery can be purchased via ShoutFactory.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Anaconda (1997) Blu-ray Review

    Anaconda (1997)
    Director: Luis Llosa
    Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson & Jon Voight
    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Headlined by an eclectic cast of newcomers, familiar faces and an Academy Award winner, Anaconda pits a team of Amazonian journeymen against the world’s largest and deadliest snake.  Earnest in its delivery, this slithering, suspense thriller grabs hold and will take your breath away.  Returning to Blu-ray, Mill Creek Entertainment invites you to dive into the depths with this creature feature.

    Anaconda centers on a documentary film crew traveling the Amazon in search of a mysterious ancient tribe.  Led by Anthropologist Steve Cale (Eric Stoltz) and Director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez), the team encounter Paul Sarone (Jon Voight), a snake hunter who is saved from his sinking boat.  After an accident leaves Cale helpless, Sarone commandeers the expedition in search of a deadly anaconda snake, leading the film crew into a world of danger.  Ice Cube (Friday), Jonathan Hyde (Jumanji), Owen Wilson (Cars), Kari Wuhrer (Thinner) and Vincent Castellanos (Mulholland Drive) co-star.  

    MOVIE:
    Predating 1999’s Lake Placid and the barrage of “animals gone wild” films from SyFy, Anaconda chooses to favor suspense and scares over broad humor.  A box-office smash and childhood favorite, Anaconda relies on the Jaws formula pitting a group of civilians against a force of nature on his territory.  While, not quite the masterpiece Steven Spielberg’s 1975 opus was, Anaconda is still an entertaining romp best enjoyed for its sheer popcorn value.  Kicking off with a brief appearance by genre vet Danny Trejo (Machete), POV shots of the man-eating snake stalk its prey giving the film a slasher-esque vibe that runs throughout the film.  In order to avoid being eaten alive, Trejo offs himself segueing into a documentary crew embarking on an Amazonian journey in search of a tribe.  The cast of performers are all competent enough with Jennifer Lopez (Selena) appearing in arguably, her most tolerable role while, Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) and Ice Cube’s (Boyz n the Hood) chemistry is the root of most of the comic relief.  Academy Award winner Jon Voight (Midnight Cowboy) serves as an odd casting choice for the Paraguayan snake hunter with a devious agenda.  Voight’s accent and groovy ponytail may be hokey, but adds a charm of cheese as the film’s antagonist.  Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris) appears in an early role as a sound man who meets a deadly fate after sucking face with the anaconda while, Eric Stoltz (Some Kind of Wonderful) is criminally underused following a wasp accident that benches him the majority of the runtime.

    Anaconda serves as a great reminder of how to effectively blend CG and practical effects.  Paling in comparison to today’s technology, the CG still holds up decently for such an early effort in computer effects of this size.  Far from perfect, Anaconda suffers from pacing issues making the viewer wait half the runtime before seeing the beast in all its glory.  The first act can be occasionally boring and a stretch to endure as our characters develop and Sarone’s motives are made clear.  As the snakes appearance becomes more frequent, the fun and suspense build leading to a finale at an abandoned outpost where after killing the deadly snake, another, even larger anaconda tries to make lunch of the remaining crew.  The inclusion of another snake so late in the game feels a bit contrived but well worth it just to see Voight swallowed whole then regurgitated.  Nostalgia aside, Anaconda has aged well and still manages to entertain regardless of its pacing miscalculations.  Boasting one of the most diverse casts to appear in a creature feature, Anaconda is worth curling up to if not taken too seriously.  
    RATING: 4/5

    VIDEO:
    Presented with a 1080p transfer sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Anaconda bears the same appearance as its original 2009 Blu-ray debut.  The film looks slightly soft with an occasional haze, most likely attributed to the fog found in many scenes.  Colors appear accurate, most noticeably in skin tones, but never really pop.  The lush greenery of the Amazon jungle never reaches its full potential while, black levels look a tad fuzzy at times.  Luckily, the transfer is blemish free with no noticeable scratches or other anomalies.  Overall, Anaconda sports a mediocre transfer that could have looked better but will suffice.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, Anaconda has a pleasant audio presentation with dialogue sounding clear and jungle noises relaying nice ambiance.  Composer Randy Edelman’s (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) score is a highlight with its usage of flutes enhancing the exotic landscape of the film.  More climatic sequences offer decent bass but feel somewhat restrained and could have benefitted from an additional boost.
    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    None.

    RATING: -/5

    OVERALL:
    Critically panned and a rousing box-office success, Anaconda was a childhood staple that made you cringe at the sight of the massively long reptile.  Nearly 20 years after its release, Anaconda still retains its charm thanks in part to its divergent cast, lush shooting locations and intent to surprise and thrill.  The ashes of this Jennifer Lopez thrill ride would be collected and morphed into a franchise with cheaper budgets and David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider) in the driver’s seat.  The 1997 original still remains a worthwhile entry in the “animals attack” subgenre worth revisiting, warts and all.
    RATING: 3.5/5