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  • Burying the Ex (2014) Blu-ray Review

    Burying the Ex (2014)

    Director: Joe Dante

    Starring: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario & Oliver Cooper

    Released by: RLJ Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From the director of Gremlins, Burying the Ex centers on monster movie aficionado Max (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek) and his beautiful, environmentally devoted girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene, Twilight).  Shortly after moving in together, Max grows weary of Evelyn’s controlling personality but, becomes fearful of calling it quits with her.  By freakish fate, Evelyn is killed in an accident, allowing Max to carry on with his life and fall for likeminded horror movie hottie Olivia (Alexandra Daddario, San Andreas).  Unfortunately, Evelyn returns from the grave to reclaim her boyfriend at all costs.  

    Based on the 2008 short film starring John Francis Daley (Freaks and Geeks), Burying the Ex brings horror and hilarity to the unpleasant practice of breaking up.  Starring Anton Yelchin as monster fanatic Max with the inability to break up with his “go green” obsessed girlfriend Evelyn (Greene), the scooter-rider has fate do his dirty work for him when Evelyn is tragically killed in a freak accident.  Equally distraught and relieved, Max carries on with his life and finds love again with fellow horror fan and ice cream parlor owner Olivia (Daddario).  While juggling his mundane position at a local horror-themed costume shop, Max’s encounter with a satanic genie lamp comes back to haunt him when his dreaded ex returns from the grave to reclaim what is hers.  Attempting to make his new relationship work while, procrastinating to sever ties with his recently deceased former flame, Max finds himself in six foot deep of trouble.  With its trendy references to horror movie history feeling heavy handed at times, Burying the Ex still delivers an offbeat, quirky effort of young love that won’t die.  Nicely cast with Yelchin and Daddario capturing worthwhile chemistry while, Greene entertains as the eco-friendly love interest before comically flying off the rails with jealousy as the rotting remains of her former self.  In addition, Oliver Cooper (Runner Runner) steals scenes as Max’s half-brother Travis with a weakness for women and a hilarious distaste for Evelyn.

    After a five year film hiatus, Director Joe Dante (The Howling, Matinee) returns once again proving his ability to relate to young souls still has a pulse.  With background appearances from Hammer horror classics and B-movie favorites like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Burying the Ex makes Dante’s love for genre pictures apparent as the director’s encyclopedic knowledge seeps into the character’s adoration for Val Lewton and George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  Simple in its execution with several laughs to be had, Burying the Ex refuses to take itself seriously much to the delight of viewers.  With a youthful cast and Dante’s anarchically fun direction on display, Burying the Ex is well worth digging up.

    RLJ Entertainment presents Burying the Ex with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  Digitally produced, Dante’s latest opus appears with natural skin tones and exceptional detail allowing for maximum appreciation of facial details and Greene’s deathly makeup.  In addition, black levels are inky and pleasing with sequences in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery free of any crushing. Meanwhile, colors from Max’s lime green apartment to Daddario’s stunning blue eyes pop off the screen with wonderful clarity.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is perfectly audible while, bone cracking sound effects and embalming fluid spewing make their presence effectively known.  Musical selections offer a healthy boost to the track with the sequence at the goth-themed Club Death injecting a heavy bass groove.  Unfortunately, no special features are included.

    Fun and reminiscent of Dante’s earlier teen-centered efforts, Burying the Ex blends horror and romance for an entertaining love triangle, left better off dead.  While its screenplay may slightly stumble, the entertaining performances and Dante’s love affair with horror and hijinks pick up the slack with ease.  RLJ Entertainment delivers this comical look at the undead with a superb high-definition transfer and top-notch audio merits that will leave viewers more than satisfied.  Resurrected from the grave, Burying the Ex will satisfy fans of Dante’s zany filmography and cartoony sensibilities.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available July 28th exclusively at Best Buy, Burying the Ex can also be purchased on DVD August 4th from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Varsity Blood (2013) DVD Review

    Varsity Blood (2014)

    Director: Jake Helgren

    Starring: Lexi Giovagnoli, Wesley Scott, Natalie Peyton, Elyse Bigler & Debbie Rochon

    Released by: Image Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following the tropes of body count flicks of the 1980s, this high school set tale finds football players and cheerleaders rooting for their own survival following the exploits of a masked murderer.  Harboring a small town secret, this modern day slasher unleashes beautiful females and the use of practical effects, much to the delight of genre fans.  Presented by Image Entertainment, Varsity Blood invites viewers to take to the field and do their best to survive this bloody experience.

    Varsity Blood centers on the cheerleaders and football players of Hogeye High, a sleepy town harboring a dark secret.  Following the big Halloween game, the group of friends host a wild party where an uninvited guest is waiting.  Disguised as their high school mascot with bow and arrow in stock, this masked murderer will stop at nothing until Hogeye High’s finest take permanent half-times.  

    MOVIE:

    Marking the directorial debut of Jake Helgren, Varsity Blood begins promisingly with scantly clad cheerleaders changing until one beauty is left alone.  Stalked by a masked maniac, the cheerleading captain is forced to run for her life bearing only her bra and panties.  Unfortunately, her fate is grim establishing a classic slasher introduction.  New girl, Hannah Wallace (Lexi Giovagnoli), has recently moved to town and has befriended the popular crowd while, being welcomed into the cheerleading squad.  Hannah, along with her controlling mother (Debbie Rochon, Tromeo and Juliet), suffer the pain of losing her father and is strictly against consuming alcohol.  Surrounded by sexy fellow cheerleaders and handsome jocks, Hannah is unaware of the tragic passing of Principal Graves‘ teenage daughter just a year previously.  Following their Halloween football game, the group descend on an abandoned farmhouse for a victory party, unaware that a killer dressed as their high school mascot awaits.  In true slasher fashion, sex, drugs and death quickly follow for the teens of Hogeye High.

    Possessing all the ingredients to deliver a decent slasher sendup, Varsity Blood stumbles early on and never truly recovers.  The small town secret that plants the town’s brutal killings is simple enough, but is unfortunately over compromised by several characters’ own dark pasts.  Overly complicated, the “character development” offers nothing more than throwing the viewer off course more than necessary.  In addition, Varsity Blood is plagued with horrendously tacky dialogue and paint by numbers exposition that takes the audience for fools.  Surprisingly, this underwhelming slasher does offer an incredibly beautiful spread of up and coming talent who aren’t shy to shed skin.  Plus, impressive practical effects in the form of arrow impalements and decapitations will please the most casual gorehound.  Concluding with a left field reveal and a nauseating Scooby-Doo-esque explanation, Varsity Blood had potential to be more but ultimately suffers from a weak story and poor dialogue.  The underused usage of the impressive practical effects are the film’s major highlight, but are hardly enough to remove the film’s bad taste.

    RATING: 2/5

    VIDEO:

    Varsity Blood is presented in a widescreen transfer sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The film relays skin tones nicely while, colors, most noticeably in the cheerleaders‘ uniforms, pop decently.  Unfortunately, instances of pixelation arise occasionally against whiter backgrounds and black levels, especially when the gang arrive at the farmhouse, are dreary and largely unimpressive making it difficult to see portions of action.  Overall, a rather mediocre effort for such a recent offering.

    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, Varsity Blood is an audible yet largely unimpressive track.  Dialogue is relayed with no issues but, moments of horrific action and suspense lack a much needed oomph.  Similar to its video presentation, Varsity Blood sounds fine but could have afforded to be more.

    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:

    None.

    RATING: -/5

    OVERALL:

    A modern day approach to the slasher subgenre, Varsity Blood had the potential to be an enjoyable 90-minute excuse in terror.  Unfortunately, a dull screenplay and an unrestrained tendency to over explain, derails the film immensely.  Attractive actresses and a fine usage of practical effects offer some assistance but ultimately, Varsity Blood is a missed opportunity for slasher enthusiasts.  While, special features are nonexistent, Image Entertainment’s video and audio treatment never reach beyond mediocrity which is more than can be said for the film’s quality.

    RATING: 2.5/5

  • Rage (2014) Blu-ray Review

    Rage (2014)

    Director: Paco Cabezas

    Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Danny Glover & Aubrey Peeples

    Released by: Image Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) stars in this tense crime-drama from Paco Cabezas (Neon Flesh), the director’s first American production.  Fueled by revenge, the darkest of skeletons are revealed as Cage seeks justice for a loved one.  Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, Image Entertainment proudly presents Rage, a thrilling tale of retribution and dark pasts.

    Rage centers on Paul Maguire (Cage), a successful businessman and former mob criminal.  When his teenage daughter, Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples, Sharknado), is kidnapped, Paul rounds up the old gang and reverts back to his old tactics to settle the score.  Consumed by vengeance, Paul’s journey will send him down a road of betrayal and dark secrets from his past.  Rachel Nichols (Star Trek), Danny Glover (The Color Purple), Max Fowler (The Killing) and Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street) co-star.

    MOVIE:

    In recent years, Nicolas Cage has caught flack for his eccentric and dime a dozen choosing of roles.  Many would consider his recent work to be lazy and lack the depth of some of his earlier performances.  Contrarily, Cage is an actor who has perfected his craft without need to prove much else.  After 30 plus years in the business, the Face/Off star has earned arguably more respect for his love of playing in the acting sandbox with little concern for critics or awards ceremonies.  That said, moviegoers tend to forget that for every Stolen, Bangkok Dangerous and Drive Angry, a Matchstick Men, Adaptation. and The Weather Man exists in Cage’s vast filmography.  For better or worse, Rage lies somewhere in the middle of mediocrity for the Academy Award winner.  Former gangster turned legit, Paul Maguire (Cage), falls back on old habits in the aftermath of his daughter’s disappearance.  Turning to his closest allies, Maguire’s violent past returns to haunt him as the group seek revenge.  Early on, Cage feels slightly stiff and reserved before thankfully morphing into a rather inspired performance.  The grim fate of his daughter finds Maguire reigniting a mob war, causing havoc everywhere he goes.  Cage channels a wealth of emotions as seeks the truth and the perpetrators responsible.  Countless shootouts and high-speed car chases ensue while Detective St. John’s (Danny Glover) patience wears thin and Maguire’s wife Vanessa (Nichols) longs for the safety of her husband.  In addition, Rage re-teams, albeit briefly, Cage with Peter Stormare as his former crime boss.  The pair were formerly pitted against each other in 1999’s underappreciated 8MMRage’s biggest issues stem from its slow-building first half, leaving the viewer underwhelmed as Cage searches for his emotions.  Furthermore, in the wake of Taken’s success, this revenge-fueled narrative feels redundant and not a far stretch from Cage’s other recent roles (Drive Angry, Stolen).  Luckily, the final act proves to be more exciting as the mob war intensifies to an action-filled head matched with a surprising twist and justifiably grim ending.

    Ultimately, Rage does little to inject anything fresh to the revenge-thriller genre.  After a bumpy start, Cage does manage to conjure the right emotions to satisfyingly sell an emotionally distressed father.  Surrounded by memorable and competent supporting actors, Rage is entirely Cage’s show with little room to spotlight others.  Violent gun wars and car chases with the Con Air star at the wheel of a Mustang turn the excitement notches up on Rage’s thrill factor.  In addition, the unexpected twist and somber conclusion work to the film’s benefit.  While slightly generic in a post-Taken filmscape, Rage is far from Cage’s best or worst, but still finds the star serving up a decent performance.

    RATING: 3.5/5

    VIDEO:

    Rage is presented in a 1080p widescreen transfer sporting a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Shot digitally on the Red One Camera, Rage is free of any anomalies such as dirt or scratches.  In addition, skin tones are relayed accurately with nice detail picked up in facial features and wardrobe.  Black levels are handled well with no noticeable crushing to report.  Image Entertainment have provided a terrific transfer for this action-packed thrill ride that should satisfy all viewers.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    AUDIO:

    Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Rage handles high-octane shootouts and engine revving car chases with thunderous force.  Laurent Eyquem’s heavy guitar-led score is another audio highlight that will please your speakers.  Dialogue, while audible, felt slightly underwhelming and a pinch on the low side.  Overall, this impressive mix is more than satisfactory with moments of dialogue possibly requiring an increase in volume.

    RATING: 4/5

    EXTRAS:

    - The Making of Rage: This short 5-minute EPK is broken down into three sections that showcase the principal cast discussing the film, its themes and being directed by Paco Cabezas.

    - Deleted Scenes: Several omitted sequences are provided including an alternate opening and ending.

    - DVD Copy

    RATING: 2/5

    OVERALL:

    As a dedicated fan of Cage’s work, Rage is a decent entry in the thespians recent output but does little to revolutionize the revenge subgenre. While, cold in the beginning, Cage warms up to the viewer and ultimately delivers a satisfying role filled with emotion and range.  Danny Glover, Rachel Nichols and others provide nice appearances but are hardly on-screen long enough to make a lasting impression.  Director Paco Cabezas’s first foray into American moviemaking is a suitable effort with a focused eye and close attention to action sequences.  Image Entertainment’s video and audio specifications are more than pleasing to the eyes and ears while, special features are unfortunately minimal.  An exciting second half and a respectfully welcome dark ending allows Rage to rise slightly above mediocrity.

    RATING: 3.5/5

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #14: Video Nasties, Ravenous, Rollerball, Devil's Knot & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #14 includes:

    - Ravenous (1999) (0:36)
    Street Date: June 3, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - In the Blood (2014) (10:41)
    Street Date: June 3, 2014
    Anchor Bay: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/Entertainment.aspx

    - Devil's Knot (2013) (17:41)
    Street Date: June 10, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977) (25:46)
    Street Date: June 3, 2014
    Cult Epics: http://cultepics.com/new_releases.html

    - Rollerball (1975) (33:38)
    Street Date: May 13, 2014
    Twilight Time: http://www.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm/category/546/TWILIGHT-TIME/

    - Video Nasties (2010) (42:54)
    Street Date: June 3, 2014
    Severin Films: https://www.severin-films.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (49:24)

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #13: The Bob Newhart Show, Dan Curtis' Dracula, Gang War in Milan & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #13 includes:

    - Dan Curtis' Dracula (1973) (0:36)
    Street Date: May 27, 2014
    MPI: http://www.mpihomevideo.com/

    - House in the Alley (2012) (6:28)
    Street Date: May 27, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series (12:04)
    Street Date: May 27, 2014
    Shout! Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/

    - Gang War in Milan (1973) (20:26)
    Street Date: May 20, 2014
    Raro Video: http://www.rarovideousa.com/

    - Chances Are (1989) (27:10)
    Street Date: April 22, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Death Spa (1989) (31:40)
    Street Date: May 27, 2014
    MPI: http://www.mpihomevideo.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (37:55)

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #9: Grudge Match, Dead Shadows, Nurse 3D & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #9 includes:

    - The Dick Van Dyke Show: Classic Mary Tyler Moore Episodes (0:36)
    Street Date: April 1, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Grudge Match (2013) (4:44)
    Street Date: April 8, 2014
    Warner Bros.: http://www.warnerbros.com/

    - Dead Shadows (2012) (10:38)
    Street Date: April 29, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - Nurse 3D (2013) (17:22)
    Street Date: April 8, 2014
    Lionsgate: http://www.lionsgate.com/

    - Camp Dread (2014) (25:02)
    Street Date: April 15, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (32:55)

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #8: Power Rangers, The Swimmer, August: Osage County, Beneath & More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #8 includes:

    - Power Rangers Seasons 13-17 (0:44)
    Street Date: April 1, 2014
    Shout! Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/

    - The Swimmer (1968) (10:52)
    Street Date: March 25, 2014
    Grindhouse Releasing: http://www.grindhousereleasing.com/

    - No Holds Barred (1989) (18:24)
    Street Date: April 1, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Beneath (2013) (24:23)
    Street Date: March 25, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - August: Osage County (2013) (31:53)
    Street Date: April 8, 2014
    Anchor Bay Entertainment: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/Entertainment.aspx

    - Little House on the Prairie Season One (37:47)
    Street Date: March 25, 2014
    Lionsgate: http://www.lionsgate.com/

    - The Jungle Book 2 (2003) (44:38)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Disney: http://disney.com/

    - Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo (2004) (50:19)
    Street Date: March 11, 2014
    Disney: http://disney.com/

    - Dennis the Menace Volume One (55:51)
    Street Date: March 11, 2014
    Mill Creek Entertainment: http://www.millcreekent.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (1:00:44)

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #7: Monsters, Odd Thomas, The Slumber Party Massacre, Buck Wild & MORE!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #7 includes:

    - Monsters: The Complete Series (0:43)
    Street Date: February 25, 2014
    eOne Entertainment: http://entertainmentone.com/home

    - The Slumber Party Massacre (1982) (7:03)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - Return to Nuke'Em High Volume 1 (2013) (12:23)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Anchor Bay Entertainment: http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/Entertainment.aspx

    - Odd Thomas (2013) (18:12)
    Street Date: March 25, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Tom Holland's Twisted Tales (2013) (24:34)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Buck Wild (2013) (30:30)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Millennium Entertainment: http://www.millenniumentertainment.me/

    - The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) (35:09)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Kino Lorber: http://www.kinolorber.com/

    - Frightmare (1974) (41:08)
    Street Date: March 18, 2014
    Kino Lorber: http://www.kinolorber.com/

    - Farewells/Sneak Peeks (48:23)

  • The Invoking (2013) DVD Review

    The Invoking (2013)
    Director: Jeremy Berg
    Starring: Trin Miller, Andi Norris, Brandon Anthony, Josh Truax & D’Angelo Midili
    Released by: Image Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    The dark memories of ones past can only stay buried for so long until they come haunting.  First time Director, Jeremy Berg, explores the sinister past of an adopted woman as she uncovers more than she bargained for in the rural area of Sader Ridge.  Hailed as “chilling” by Fangoria and a “must-see” from FEARnet, The Invoking blends interpersonal drama amongst a group of friends and haunting imagery together to bring a sinister tale to life.  Terror awaits as unspeakable evil plagues a young, up and coming cast in The Invoking...

    The Invoking finds Samantha Harris (Trin Miller) traveling with three friends to her newly inherited house from a family she never knew.  Shortly after arriving, the abandoned house begins plaguing Samantha with horrific visions of evil brutality.  As the forces of darkness become more apparent, Samantha struggles to determine what’s real and fantasy.  Co-starring Andi Norris, Brandon Anthony, Josh Truax & D’Angelo Midili.

    MOVIE:
    A strong story is only as good as its characters and sadly, The Invoking has neither.  Red-headed lead, Trin Miller, stars as Samantha Harris, a woman who was adopted at a young age.  Traveling with a trio of friends to a house she recently inherited from her natural family, the group fail to invoke any sense of natural chemistry and their lack of professional experience is noticeable in their stiff performances.  Andi Norris and Josh Truax co-star as Samantha’s friends that reek of hipster quality and make you cringe with the majority of their delivered lines.  In addition, Brandon Anthony appears as Mark, Samantha’s ex-boyfriend, the token jerk of the group because there always has to be one.  Anthony, for better or worse, plays the most unlikeable role as a jealous buffoon who gets his rocks off giving people an attitude.  Upon arriving at the backwoods house, the group are greeted by Eric (D’Angelo Midili), a local twentysomething that grew up playing with Samantha before she was adopted.  Midili conveys one of the only decent performances of the film as a soft spoken war veteran with skeletons in the closet.  The Invoking spends the better part of an hour establishing the dramatics of the group’s relationships, making the viewer question if this is a horror film they’re watching.  Unfortunately, the attempts at character development are wasted as the cast fail to create any likable personas for the audience to care about.  The more time spent at the house, Samantha begins developing horrific images of her friends acting in evil ways that hardly make sense, often times resulting in unintentional humor.  It becomes clear that Samantha’s natural parents weren’t the finest of folks and the nightmarish imagery being seen are forgotten memories being resurrected.  Eric’s true colors as an unhinged foster child that never moved on from his friendship with Samantha are revealed as he gets closer with her.  Eric plays puppet master over Samantha’s friends as each are killed off leaving Samantha all for himself.  The less than exciting murder sequences are quick and bloodless leaving any horror fan searching for corn syrup disappointed.  The Invoking drags itself to an unsurprisingly anti-climatic ending that will leave you scratching your head at the logic.  

    A group of friends traveling to an abandoned house seems like the ideal, albeit clichéd, premise for an eventful horror movie.  Sadly, The Invoking tells an unfocused story that never scares and fails to intrigue.  The cast of young thespians are far too unnatural to carry the film with the exception of Midili’s slightly creepy performance and Miller’s girl next door appearance that deserved a better project to shine in.  The Invoking appeared intriguing enough but be warned, it doesn’t get any more hollow than this.
    RATING: 1/5

    VIDEO:
    Image Entertainment presents The Invoking in a widescreen (1.78:1) transfer that is far from perfect.  The desolate, rural setting doesn’t leave much room for robust colors resulting in a washed out appearance.  Black levels are disappointing with pixelation and murkiness running rampant, making exterior nighttime sequences barely visible.  Exterior daytime sequences encounter issues with light slightly overblown casting unnatural contrast on actors‘ faces.  While, it all seems downright awful, the film still walks away sufficient enough for a decent presentation, warts and all.
    RATING: 3/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, The Invoking passes with clear dialogue and background noises of chirping birds that come across fine.  Without experiencing any intrusions in the listening experience, the mix never does much to stand out.
    RATING: 3/5

    EXTRAS:

    - Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jeremy Berg, Producer Matt Medisch and Writer/Producer John Portanova

    - Audio Commentary with Actors Trin Miller, D’Angelo Midili & Andi Norris

    - Behind the Scenes Documentary: This surprisingly lengthy documentary, running nearly 75 minutes, talks to the creative talent about the origins of the project as well as the principal actors.  The documentary is very in-depth although, painful as the talent behind the camera discuss all the components they felt made the film work so well are exactly what the film lacks.  Regardless, this featurette, coupled with the commentaries, makes this a beefy package of special features for such a lackluster flick.

    RATING: 4/5

    OVERALL:
    The Invoking invites viewers to an experience of terror and horror that unfortunately never delivers.  An unfocused story, lame characters and no sense of suspense or thrills leaves The Invoking as a criminal disappointment.  Fortunately, Image Entertainment has provided a reasonable AV presentation plus, an unusually vast and detailed amount of special features that give a firm insight into the making of the film.  Ultimately, The Invoking will leave you more confused than frightened forcing you to keep it buried.
    RATING: 2.5/5

  • The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013) DVD Review

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    The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)
    Director: Jonathan Newman
    Starring: Michael Sheen, Lena Headey, Ioan Gruffudd, Aneurin Barnard & Sam Neill
    Released by: Image Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Weaving the worlds of magic and adventure, a young hero facing unstoppable odds must retrieve his younger brother while, a diabolical villain intends on possessing a relic with supernatural powers.  The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box packs limitless imagination and colorful characters in a Victorian era setting in London.  Available also on Blu-ray, Image Entertainment proudly presents the fantastical film adaptation of the G.P. Taylor best-selling novel.  Let us explore the mystery and excitement of this heroic tale...

    The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box centers on teenage Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard) as his life is turned upside down when his parents vanish and younger brother are kidnapped.  Teaming with trusted agent and family ally, Charity (Michael Sheen), the duo follow clues to the Prince Regent Hotel where the monstrous Otto Luger (Sam Neill) is feverishly searching for an ancient relic.  The lost artifact could bring devastating results to humanity if Mariah and Charity don’t retrieve it.  The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box co-stars Lena Headey (300), Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four) and Keeley Howes (Death at a Funeral).

    MOVIE:
    Shot on the relatively low-budget of $25 million, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box looks and feels far more in tune with other Hollywood blockbusters.  Invoking the youthful charisma of Young Sherlock Holmes and the adventurous tone of the Indiana Jones franchise, the film dares to fill the void of the recently deceased Harry Potter series.  Surprisingly, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box succeeds in delivering a compelling story and a charming sense of excitement that most films of this stature often miss.  While, not boasting a cast of A-list names, the performers play their roles admirably and offer a sense of gravity to each part.  Michael Sheen’s eccentric Charity is a humorous and intelligent agent who retrieves lost antiques from falling into the wrong hands.  With shades of Robert Downey Jr.‘s Sherlock Holmes, Sheen plays the role with a true sense enthusiasm.  In addition, Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) plays the villainous role of Otto Luger with a dry wit that serves his performance well.  Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) appears as Neill’s second in command and plays the part with a devilish charm while Ioan Gruffudd (Horrible Bosses) makes a brief turn as the young lead’s father.  Aneurin Barnard portrays the heroic protagonist, Marich Mundi, with all the necessary chops and emotion to give the audience a hero worth rooting for. 

    The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box does a remarkable job in creating a world of Victorian era beauty and ancient wonder.  The film also offers a sensational amount of action set pieces, considering the limited budget.  A fun, albeit short, final sword battle between Sheen and Neill taking place aboard a moving steampunk inspired drill while, Barnard hangs from a chain feels not far removed from Pirates of the Caribbean.  The unnoticeable uses of CGI to create certain set pieces are a true testament of how best to use the overly dependent technology. 

    The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is an effectively told, magical adventure tale shot on a wildly modest budget.  While, looking and feeling like other similarly themed projects, the film dons its own personality and rewards the viewer with charming performances and wonderfully orchestrated actions sequences.  Hinting at future adventures in an early end credit scene, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box has all the potential to expand its world as long as later installments contain the same delightful sense of mystery and excitement.
    RATING: 4.5/5

    VIDEO:
    Image Entertainment presents The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box in a vibrant 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Flesh tones are accurately presented with detail looking sharp especially in wardrobe and the majestic Prince Regent Hotel.  Black levels are reasonably decent while moments in darkened caves leave more to be desired.  Presumably, the Blu-ray edition will only enhance the pros and improve the very minor cons.
    RATING: 4/5

    AUDIO:
    Equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box never disappoints in relaying dialogue but action-filled moments could have benefitted from a louder push.  Overall, the mix is a serviceable one.
    RATING: 3.5/5

    EXTRAS:

    - The Making of The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box: What appears as a typical promotional fluff piece, turns out to be a rather interesting featurette.  The cast, crew and author all share their input on the film as well as admitting that filling the void of Harry Potter films was intended.  Fly on the wall footage is captured of the crew battling treacherous weather conditions and the cast rehearsing stunt pieces.  A far more informative behind the scenes look than expected.

    RATING: 3/5

    OVERALL:
    The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is an entertaining, imaginative tale suited for the entire family.  With shades of National Treasure, Young Sherlock Holmes and the Indiana Jones films, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box maintains its own unique spirit and is conveyed by a marvelous cast.  With its heart in the proper place, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box has all the potential to follow in the tradition of Harry Potter by delivering future installments that exceed the original.  Image Entertainment’s DVD release is equipped with more than decent AV quality that will surely be eclipsed by its Blu-ray counterpart.  In addition, the behind the scenes featurette provided informative insight to the film’s creation.  The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box pleasantly surprised with its old school approach to magical storytelling that sadly, seems to be fading from today’s cinema landscape.
    RATING: 4/5 

  • Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-Up #3: Night of the Demons, Witchboard, Man in the Dark 3D and More!

    This week's installment of the Blu-ray/DVD Weekly Wrap-up #3 includes:

    - Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
    Street Date: January 21, 2014
    Image Entertainment: http://www.watchimage.com/

    - Witchboard (1986)
    Street Date: February 4, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - Night of the Demons (1988) Collector's Edition
    Street Date: February 4, 2014
    Scream Factory: http://www.shoutfactory.com/screamfactory

    - Captain Phillips (2013)
    Street Date: January 21, 2014
    Sony Pictures: http://www.sonypictures.com/

    - Man in the Dark 3-D (1953)
    Street Date: January 21, 2014
    Twilight Time: http://www1.screenarchives.com/index.cfm

    - Vic (2006)
    Street Date: December 10, 2013
    Grindhouse Releasing: http://www.grindhousereleasing.com/