The Girl with All the Gifts – Blu-ray Review

Zombies. The concept of the flesh-eating undead hunting down and eating the living seems to be everywhere you look. From film to TV, comics to commercials, zombies have taken hold of the public interest and created a pop culture wave much like vampires and zombies did in years past. With every new iteration, these stories range from familiar to quite unique. The Girl with All the Gifts fits the latter category.

While there is plenty of blood, guts, and gore to go around, The Girl with All the Gifts spins a fresh narrative out of old cloth. Here, we have a female-driven zombie flick, with three strong female leads played excellently by Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, and Glenn Close. Nanua steals the show as Melanie, a young girl who possibly hold the cure for the current zombie apocalypse that has befallen the world. She and her classmates all have the potential to save the world from what are described as “hungries” by those around them.

With each passing day, the hungries become more determined, and their desire for flesh grows more rabid. It is Melanie who may hold the key to the cure within her, but is she willing to make the ultimate sacrifice before it’s too late?

The film is engaging for many reasons but primarily due to the way the story is presented and how we experience the world through Melanie’s eyes. It is her story that drives the film, and as she discovers new things about the world and the dangers it involves, we as an audience feel her fear, her curiosity, and her pain. Sennia Nanua delivers a wonderfully depth-filled performance that has her going toe-to-toe with acting heavyweight Glenn Close and keeping up scene after scene.

The Blu-ray includes a great featurette, Unwrap the Secret World of The Girl with All the Gifts, which is gives further insight into the genesis of the film and how it went from short story, to script, to screen.

I really enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts. I highly recommend it!

The Girl with All the Gifts is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download.

What’s your favorite zombie movie or TV show? Leave a comment and let us know!

Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season – Blu-ray Review

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Family. Loyalty. Distrust. Chaos. These are just some of the themes that permeate that world of Animal Kingdom. From the very first moments of the pilot to the final minutes of the season finale, you get a true sense that this working-class crime family is a lot like every other family.

Sure, we don’t all prosper from organized crime schemes, robberies, or physical altercations for the sake of monetary or personal gain, but we all have a circle of people whom we are loyal to. A group of people – whether they are family or close friends – with whom we confide, we commiserate, and we oftentimes collide. But no matter the inner turmoil within the circle, when an outside begins to cause problems, the interpersonal issues fade away; and animal instincts take over.

The first season of Animal Kingdom introduces us to the Cody family, led by matriarch Janine (Ellen Barkin) who doesn’t take crap from anyone – including her sons. She’s a tough-as-nails, strong-willed, yet compassionate heroine who can be your best friend one minute and your worst enemy the next. It is through her motherly manipulation that she’s able to control the criminal enterprise she has built with the help of her sons; a group of men with their own sets of issues and behavioral problems.

We initially see the series through “J” (Finn Cole) who is Janine’s grandson. After his mother passes away, he comes to live with the Codys and boy is he in for a surprise! What he thought would be a refuge from the drug-addled and impoverished world he left behind soon becomes a chaotic circus of criminal antics, wild parties, sex-filled debauchery, and gun, explosions, fist fights, and much more. It’s a lot for a 17-year-old to take in, and taking the journey with him is as much exhilarating as it is exhausting.

As for Janine’s four sons, there’s enough personality to go around with some to spare as the Cody boys ramp up the crimes, the violence, and the paranoia as events go from good, to bad, to worse as the family grapples with the potential of getting busted by the cops, impending arrests, and the fear that their empire could be shut down for good.

Animal Kingdom is great TV. It’s dark, edgy, exciting, amusing, and fast-paced. The blu-ray comes with a number of great special features, which include:

Inside Animal Kingdom

Producers and cast provide an inside look.

Animal Kingdom: Stunts

Exciting sports action from surfing to skydiving.

Meet the Codys

Reach into the heart of the diabolical family.

Getting Into Character

Creating the criminally cool characters.

Setting The Stage

Production designer Nina Ruscio and the team reveal the secrets of Smurf’s domain.

Family Comes First

Cast and producers explore Season One’s family dynamics.

Deleted Scenes

If you’re looking for a new series to begin, I highly recommend Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season! It truly is the Golden Age of Television Drama!

Animal Kingdom is available now on Blu-ray and DVD!

Lion – Blu-ray Review

So, let’s talk about how awesome Sunny Pawar is who plays Young Saroo in Lion. From his first moments on screen, Pawar owns each scene he’s in; delivering a solid, realistic, and very touching performance that is mesmerizing and captivating to watch. Just from the first ten minutes of the film it’s easy to see why Lion was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Lion is a powerful and moving film that – as I made clear above – draws you into its world in the first few moments thanks to the great performance of Sunny Pawar as Young Saroo. It is Saroo’s strength of will and his determination as a young child that makes him more than just a run-of-the-mill movie kid. It’s this strong set-up that leads us to Dev Patel’s portrayal of Saroo as an adult, which would not be as impactful if not for the framework created by the acting skill of Sunny Pawar. Pawar is indeed the foundation on which Lion is firmly planted. And this film is very lucky to have him on board.

Lion is first and foremost about a journey of discovery, and Saroo’s journey is one that many who have been adopted have taken. While Saroo knows his family and was torn away from them by accident when his was five, as an adult he yearns to reconnect with them despite being adopted by a loving Australian couple played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. His desire to join his family in India once again is a strong and powerful force that once unleashed becomes a unstoppable goal of determination and tenacity. Will he succeed in his efforts to find the family he never meant to leave behind?

I won’t lie to you: this is a very emotional film – yes, I’ll admit I cried several times – and it’s thanks to the amazing performance of Sunny Pawar who captivates from the very beginning. Just stop reading this review now and go and watch it!

The special features include: Deleted Scenes; a Behind the Scenes Gallery; and the “Never Give Up” Performed by Sia – Official Lyric Video.

Rent it. Buy it. Watch it. Love it. Lion is a fantastic film that is an emotional journey from start to finish. I highly, highly recommend it!

Lion is available now of Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Blu-ray Review

Many people have a love-hate relationship with the Star Wars film series. Many love the original trilogy that kickstarted it all in 1977. The initial film was a worldwide phenomenon that created a new generation of sci-fi fans and some of the most dynamic merchandising ever for a film. Since A New Hope, the Star Wars brand has spawned seven additional films including three sequels and four prequels.

While Episodes One, Two, and Three are generally reviled by hardcore Star Wars fans, there was a sense of redemption with 2015’s The Force Awakens. And now with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it’s clear that the series has righted itself with both stalwart fans and newcomers alike.

Did you ever watch A New Hope and wonder how the rebels actually stole the plans to the Death Star? Well, wonder no more. In Rogue One we see exactly how this courageous mission was executed, and how a small group of heroes was able to steal and eventually save a universe from a malicious Empire. But it’s not what they are doing or why they are doing it – if you’ve seen Star Wars you know all that by now – it’s how they pull it off that makes it so fun and entertaining.

Rogue One is filled with great action and amazing effects that have become a staple in all Star Wars films, but here it’s especially engaging since this particular film has to blend the technology seen in 1977’s A New Hope “modern technology” with the more modern effects of 2017. And it works beautifully and seamlessly creating a world that seems familiar but unique in its scope and style.

There are plenty of so-called Easter Eggs to be sought after over the course of the film, and tiny cameos from characters from future Star Wars movies help ground the movie in the universe that has been a staple in cinemas for 40 years.

With its eclectic and energetic cast of characters, Rogue One delivers a solid story driven by Jyn (Felicity Jones), a fugitive who quickly finds herself and her past at the forefront of one of the biggest intergalactic conflicts known to humankind (no pressure there!). With her scrappy band of rebels by her side, Jyn is tasked with stealing the plans for the ominously named Death Star in order for the Rebels to find its weakness and destroy it before it destroys all who defy the Empire and its primary leader: Darth Vader (yep, he’s in this, too!).

Rogue One is fun, action-packed, and has a tone that differs from the other Star Wars films, which makes it – as I said before – unique but familiar.

There are so many Special Features that they had to be given their own Blu-ray disc. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s included:

A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept – and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.

Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.

Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseverance and passion.

K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.

Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.

Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.

The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary…and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time.

Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.

The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of Star Wars: A New Hope – as well as one of her most memorable foes– – back to the screen.

Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.

Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect Rogue One to the Star Wars universe.

I really, really enjoyed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I highly recommend it!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available April 4, 2017 on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, and Combo Packs!

What’s your favorite Star Wars movie? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wishmaster Collection – Blu-ray Review

When you think of the concept of a Genie, many things may come to mind. The hilarious Genie from Aladdin voiced by Robin Williams (1992). The gorgeous Jeannie played by Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970). Maybe it’s Shaq in the kid-friendly Kazaam (1996). Or even Jeannie and Babu from the short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Jeannie (1973). But what if genies weren’t well-intentioned, kindly, and oftentimes comical manifestations that appear from a lamp to grant their so-called “master” three wishes? What if there was something malicious in store for the one who summoned them?

Welcome to the world of Wishmaster. A world where the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” has never been more apt, and in this four film series, what a person wishes for can have very deadly consequences. In fact, deadly, disgusting, and demoralizing are all perfectly accurate words to describe what the evil Djinn has in store for those who seek his services.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Wishmaster is a horror franchise that started in 1997 and spawned three sequels: Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999), Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001); and Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled (2002). Only the original Wishmaster made it to the big screen and was produced by horror master Wes Craven.

The first, like many franchises, is the best of the series with plenty of great practical horror effects, a game cast that includes Tammy Lauren (The Young and the Restless, Martial Law), Robert Englund (the original A Nightmare on Elm Street series), and Andrew Divoff (Lost, Air Force One), and an intriguing storyline with plenty of jumps and scares for horror fans. While it’s also has the shortest runtime of the four, it’s also the best in terms of narrative setup and execution without being too excessive.

Following the law of diminishing returns – as most horror franchises often do – the three movies that follow are not nearly as intriguing, but the basic premise remains the same throughout. I also felt that the films lost the magic and fun that the original had. After Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies, the Djinn is recast with John Novak who does a decent job in the role, but Divoff’s presence is definitely missed.

Now, I can’t place all the blame of the filmmakers. After all, some premises are hard to stretch and prolong for a series of films. Heck, some films can’t even stretch their premise across just one storyline, let alone many. But like the Saw and Final Destination franchises, the characters are less important than the creative manner in which each victim is killed. And if it’s kills you want, this franchise is chock full of ‘em in every manner and method possible. And isn’t that essentially why we watch films like this? It’s not for the acting or the story, it’s for the inevitable blood and gore.

The Wishmaster Collection is a very impressive box set with four films on three Blu-ray discs. There are many, many special features, the bulk of which are for the original film. The full rundown for each film is as follows:

WISHMASTER SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentaries:
· Director Robert Kurtzman and screenwriter Peter Atkins
· Director Robert Kurtzman and stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
o Isolated Score Selections/Audio Interview with composer Harry Manfredini
o Featurettes
o “Out of the Bottle” – Interviews with director Robert Kurtzman and co-producer David Tripet
o “The Magic Words” – An Interview with screenwriter Peter Atkins
o “The Djinn and Alexandra” – Interviews with stars Andrew Divoff and Tammy Lauren
o “Captured Visions” – An Interview with director of photography Jacques Haitkin
o “Wish List” – Interviews with actors Kane Hodder and Ted Raimi
o Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster
· Trailers, Spots, Galleries: Teaser & Theatrical Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Storyboard & Still Galleries
· Behind-the-Scenes Footage Compilation

WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentary with writer/director Jack Sholder
o Trailer
o Still Gallery

WISHMASTER 3: BEYOND THE GATES OF HELL SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentary with director Chris Angel and cast members John Novak, Jason Connery, and Louisette Geiss
o Vintage Featurette: “Making of Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell
o Trailer

WISHMASTER 4: THE PROPHECY FULFILLED SPECIAL FEATURES
o Audio Commentaries:
· Director Chris Angel and cast members Michael Trucco and Jason Thompson
· Director Chris Angel and actor John Novak
o Featurette: “Wishmasterpiece Theatre”
o Trailer

Horror movies are meant to scare and entertain, and sometimes we can learn a lesson or two from those nefarious evildoers who wish to cause the characters harm. Perhaps Wishmaster is a morality play about the dangers of greed and excess in the modern age. Perhaps the Djinn has come to tell the world that even free wishes come at a price; and that price is your soul!

I enjoyed the series, and while the first one was by far the best, the rest were Saturday afternoon escapist fare that was still enjoyable. I recommend the Wishmaster Collection!

The Wishmaster Collection is available now on Blu-ray!

What is your favorite Wishmaster scene or film? Leave a comment and let us know!

SIX: Season One – Blu-ray Review

The United States military is one of the reasons our country has endured and survived since its founding over 200 years ago. The strength and bravery of the men and women who dedicate their lives and sometimes sacrifice themselves to protect the people of this nation makes the heroic above and beyond any Marvel or DC Comics creation.

There are millions of stories that can be told about these strong men and women and several are explored in the latest History Channel series, Six. More importantly: Navy SEAL Team Six. You may know the name; they are the elite group of SEALs that took out Osama bin Laden in 2011. Here, a variety of their missions are brought to life and the personal lives are also shown. After all, they aren’t just warriors, they’re also human.

Six is a celebration of America’s elite fighting forces. We get an insiders look at what goes into planning and executing some of the most daring and dangerous military missions of the 21st century. These men are more than a military unit, more than friends; they are a family. One that must work together to not only achieve the goals of their mission, but also to never leave a man behind no matter what it takes to get them back alive.

With a superb cast, realistic action sequences, and its hear rooted in true stories, Six delivers plenty of military-based action, suspense, and intensity. If you enjoy war stories, war films, or anything having to do with our great American military, Six is a definite must see!

Six: Season One is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD.

What your favorite military-based series, film, or documentary? Leave a comment and let us know!