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  • Who? (1975) Blu-ray Review

    Who? (1975)

    Director: Jack Gold

    Starring: Elliot Gould, Trevor Howard, Joseph Bova, Edward Grover & James Noble

    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Following the disappearance of a noted American scientist after a near fatal wreck in the Soviet Union, Who? finds the survivor reappearing unrecognizable as a robotic-hybrid of his former self.  Tasked with determining the true identity of this metallic being, FBI agent Sean Rogers (Elliot Gould, The Long Goodbye) remains cautiously unsure whether who stands before him is the wounded scientist or an elaborate rouse by Russian forces.  Trevor Howard (Meteor), Joseph Bova (Serpico), Edward Grover (Death Wish) and James Noble (Benson) costar.

    Based on the sci-fi novel by Algis Budrys, Who? stages a tediously dull thriller of uncertain identities and international espionage, brought to life by performances as yawningly robotic as the film’s scientist in metal clothing.  After American scientist and leader of the confidential Neptune Project, Lucas Martino (Bova), vanishes following a deadly car crash along the Soviet border, the thought to be dead professor emerges with his brain and right arm intact whereas the remainder of his body is of robotic material.  Escorted back to the custody of domestic agencies, FBI agent Sean Rogers is all but certain Martino is not who he says he is.  Part paranoid and inclined to trust his instincts, Rogers, through countless interrogations and investigations into the roboman’s past, must determine the truth including the likelihood of Russian intelligence attempting to obtain more information on the Neptune Project.  Juxtaposing between the FBI and the Soviet’s time with the robot assumed to be Martino, Who? is a slow-burn that stumbles to remain interesting or exciting with the exception of a far too short airport runway car chase.  Unintentionally silly in its roboman design and doused in somber tones leaving the film cold to the touch, Who? sounds far more intriguing than it is entertaining resulting in an otherwise forgettable curiosity piece.

    KL Studio Classics presents Who? with a 1080p transfer, preserving its 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Containing numerous instances of scratches, speckles and cigarette burns to varying degrees, picture quality falls generally softer with black levels, evident in the film’s opening border exchange of Martino, leaving more to be desired.  In addition, skin tones are handled decently while, detail is not of the sharpest caliber with colors occasionally failing to remain consistent.  Although its elements appear to not be the most well maintained, the high-definition transfer remains of average grade.  Accompanied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 that neither gravely disappoints or overwhelming satisfies, dialogue is efficiently exchanged with cracks and pops present mostly during reel changes.  Meanwhile, special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Jack Gold, moderated by Film Historian Anthony Sloman.  Finally, a Trailer Gallery consisting of The Long Goodbye (2:31), Busting (2:45), The Offence (1:51) and The Naked Face (2:10) conclude the disc’s supplemental package.

    An intriguing premise that lacks style, Who? short-circuits quickly turning a quality cast into a siege of wooden performances, chalking this Cold War thriller into a battle badly lost.  Marking its Blu-ray debut, KL Studio Classics brings the peculiar spy feature to hi-def with passable grades that bare their fair share of battle wounds yet, get the job done all the same.

    RATING: 2.5/5

    Available now from KL Studio Classics, Who? can be purchased via KinoLorber.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.  

  • Morgan (2016) Blu-ray Review

    Morgan (2016)

    Director: Luke Scott

    Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh & Paul Giamatti

    Released by: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Concocted in a secret laboratory, Morgan finds the groundbreaking development of a genetically engineered human (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch) crashing down when a shocking series of events unfolds.  Professionally and emotionally conflicted, her scientific creators must determine whether their advancements outweigh their own livelihoods.  Kate Mara (The Martian), Toby Jones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones), Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) and Paul Giamatti (Billions) star.

    Marking the feature-length directorial debut of Luke Scott and produced by father Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), Morgan scratches the very real surface of genetic evolution and the equally troubling questions of playing maker to artificial life.  Following a violent attack on a fellow scientist, risk-assessment specialist Lee Weathers (Mara) is summoned by superiors to the remote location of the incident.  Developed and studied for several years by a core group of researchers, the human hybrid creation known as Morgan is closely monitored following her unexpected outburst as Weathers evaluates the teenage-looking subject and the operation at large.  As the staff find themselves blindsided by their own emotional connection to the experiment they view as kin, Weathers’s judgement remains reserved until a psychological analysis on Morgan finds a provoking doctor brutally killed.  Convinced Morgan and the entire project should be terminated, Weathers finds herself at odds with a disagreeable staff and an unpredictable Morgan, now on the run and exacting revenge on those who stand in her way.  Featuring strong performances from the ensemble cast and a thoroughly thrilling tone, Morgan may not be revolutionary in its narrative yet, keeps viewers invested in its proceedings that deliver with well-done combat choreography and respectably violent bloodshed.  Performing abysmally to box-office expectations, Morgan, possessing noticeable hints of the Scott touch and featuring a pleasing, if not seen before twist of a finale, may not have found its audience theatrically but, suffices as an efficient first stab at science-fiction for the younger Scott.

    20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents Morgan with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.  Featuring color grades that range from dim and sterile as seen in the film’s many laboratory scenes and earthy observed throughout the exteriors shot in Northern Ireland, the film impresses with its handling of inky black levels and handsome skin tones that observes Morgan’s powdered complexion very well.  While not an eye-popping but rather effectively subdued presentation, Morgan offers a strong high-definition picture true to its visual aesthetic.  Equipped with a well-constructed DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, dialogue is crystal throughout while, nature ambiance, echoing gunshots in the wilderness and high-speed vehicles all make sturdy statements on this exceptional track.  Special features include, an Audio Commentary with Director Luke Scott, Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan (19:40) which hosts scientific experts in the field of genetics as well as cast and crew discussing the film’s approach, Deleted Scenes (6:03) with optional audio commentary from Director Luke Scott and Loom (20:27), Scott’s short film that also comes with an optional audio commentary from its maker.  In addition, a Still Gallery (45 in total), Trailers (4:07) and Sneak Peeks (11:08) at a Discover Digital HD Promo, Assassin’s Creed, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Martian and Deadpool round out the on-disc offerings.  Lastly, a DVD edition and Digital HD Code are also included.

    A respectably well-paced thriller, Morgan may not be the next great chapter in science-fiction masterpieces in lieu of a concept audiences have seen all too recently yet, its box-office failure is also no indication of its otherwise admirable execution.  With expectations calculated accordingly, Morgan is a dangerous experiment worthy of exploration.  Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ushers the film to high-definition with exacting technical merits and a decent spread of bonus features including Scott’s first short film.  

    RATING: 3.5/5

    Available now from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Morgan can be purchased via FoxConnect.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • Tomorrowland (2015) Blu-ray Review

    Tomorrowland (2015)

    Director: Brad Bird

    Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson & Raffey Cassidy

    Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    From the director of The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Tomorrowland brings former boy-genius Frank Walker (George Clooney, Up in the Air) and curious teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson, The Longest Ride) together for a mission to uncover a mysterious utopian realm that can salvage their own world’s future.  Hugh Laurie (House M.D.), Raffey Cassidy (Dark Shadows), Kathryn Hahn (Bad Words), Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele) and Tim McGraw (The Blind Side) co-star.

    Inspired by the limitless possibilities of a better tomorrow and Walt Disney’s own conceptual views for an innovative utopia, Tomorrowland brings viewers back to a simpler, more optimistic time where a young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson, Harvey Beaks) brings his intelligent enthusiasm to the 1964 New York World’s Fair.  Although dismissed for his inventions impractical functionalities, Frank is charmed by Athena (Cassidy) who bestows upon him a mysterious pin leading him to a futuristic world unlike anything seen before.  With hope and promise within reach, present day optimist Casey Newton (Robertson) refuses to accept the declining climate of her world littered with global warming, wars and starvation while, searching for the answers to correct it.  Also granted with a similarly mysterious pin, Casey is given a glimpse into the euphoric world of tomorrow only to be pursued by crazed robots intent on eliminating her.  Joining forces with the eternally youthful-looking Athena and an elder Frank (Clooney), the trio travel to Tomorrowland to learn of an impending apocalyptic disaster claiming their world and must devise a way to change their futures.

    Cloaked in mystery and coyly promoted with a less is more approach, Tomorrowland is a refreshingly original concept that confronts today’s overly cynical audiences with a much needed dose of adventurous buoyancy.  A visual delight of futuristic landscapes and technological advancements, Director Brad Bird’s sci-fi opus delivers strong performances from the always dependable Clooney and his talented young co-stars Robertson and Cassidy.  In addition, Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the cold-hearted Nix is accomplished with glee and well-executed dry humor.  Co-scripted by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus), structural issues unfortunately plague Tomorrowland’s action-packed pace with an abrupt halt that nearly severs its momentum.  Critically divided and failing to impress at the box-office, Tomorrowland remains a wondrous achievement that dares to be unique and generally succeeds.  While it may not be immune to imperfections, Tomorrowland will enchant audiences with repeated viewings and most assuredly grow in appreciation as the future nears.

    Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Tomorrowland with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.20:1 aspect ratio.  Presenting a wide canvas of natural skin tones, space age vistas and flawless detail in costumes and exceptionally crisp black levels, Tomorrowland is a sight of perfection that deserves the moniker of high-definition reference material.  Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, dialogue is excellently prioritized while the effective sound design and Composer Michael Giacchino’s (Super 8, Jurassic World) rousing score, which ranks as one of the year’s best, pushes the mix to exciting bounds.  Special features include, a Plus Ultra Short (3:18) to be played optionally before the feature, Remembering the Future: A Personal Journey Through Tomorrowland with Brad Bird (7:09), Casting Tomorrowland (7:27), A Great Big Beautiful Scoring Session (6:03), The World of Tomorrow Science Hour - Hosted by Futurologist David Nix (5:08) and an Animated Short: The Origins of Plus Ultra (3:36) which serves as a slightly extended version of its counterpart.  In addition, Brad Bird Production Diaries (4:34), a Blast from the Past Commercial (0:41), Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions (23:28) and Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), Disney Parks (0:32), K.C. Undercover (0:32), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (1:52) and Inside Out are also included.  Furthermore, a DVD edition and Digital HD Code round out the release’s supplemental offerings.

    Escorted to a great big beautiful adventure, Tomorrowland impresses upon viewers the magical possibilities of a brighter future while bearing in mind the harsh conditions affecting our world today.  Bursting with originality and imagination, Director Brad Bird’s live-action sophomore effort is not without its faults but, ultimately triumphs.  Blasting to home video, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment awards Tomorrowland with reference worthy technical merits creating an out of this world viewing experience.  Transported to a world of unparalleled wonder, Tomorrowland will leave lasting impressions on those considered dreamers.

    RATING: 4/5

    Available October 13th from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Tomorrowland can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.