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!

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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!

Disney’s Moana – Blu-ray Review

Disney has done it again! Moana is fun, exciting, mesmerizing, and energy-filled family fun! I truly enjoyed every moment of this tale about a young girl and her quest to save her people and the island they inhabit. The adventure is at full sail as Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) teams with demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) on a mission that takes her to new and exciting places she once only dreamed of seeing.

Disney is a master at pulling together humor, heart, music, and story into a feast for all the senses; and Moana is no exception. In fact, it’s one of their best yet! I loved the setting, the time period, the characters, and the ancient lore that drives Moana to seek out Maui’s assistance on her quest. Every aspect of the film is solid, and I laughed as much as I cried throughout the films many ups and downs.

Did I mentioned I loved this movie!?

Along with Moana, the blu-ray includes lots of special features:

Maui Mini-Movie: Gone Fishing

This was very short, but also very fun!

Short Film: Inner Workings

With a brief intro by its creators, Inner Workings is another solid short from the creative minds at Disney.

Deleted Song: “Warrior Face”

Voice of the Islands

Things You Didn’t Know About…

Find out interesting trivia about the cast.

Island Fashion

They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana

Music Video – “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Alessia Cara

Deleted Scenes

Fishing for Easter Eggs

If you enjoyed Tangled, Frozen, or any past Disney animated classic, I know you’ll LOVE Disney’s Moana! It’s grade-A entertainment!

Disney’s Moana is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download!

What’s your favorite Moana moment? Leave a comment and let us know!

Cohen Media Group: Come What May – Blu-ray Review

When it comes to stories about war and conflicts around the world, too often we forget about the citizens that are many times permanently affected by the violence that has come to their front door. Too often the story is about the militaries and their strategies rather than they men, women, and children whose lives are disrupted and destroyed without their consent or even knowledge.

Come What May explores humanity among the chaos as Germany invades France during the early days of World War II. Hans is a dedicated father who lives in Germany with his young son, Max. While they may be German, Hans is against the Nazi regime and the evil it stands for. Fleeing to Germany, he’s eventually arrested and thrown in jail for lying about his nationality to French officials, leaving his son under the care of the locals of the town they had fled to.

As the Nazis begin their invasion, Hans and the other prisoners are released and his mission becomes to do whatever it takes to get back to his son. Teamed up with a Scottish soldier, Hans follows clues left by his son to find him and the other villagers who have left their small town behind out of fear for their lives. As Hans dodges the threat of Nazis as he travels toward where he hopes his son and the villagers have gone, it becomes less of a quest for a reunion and more a quest of survival.

What I found most intriguing about the film was its intermixing of the German, French, and English languages throughout the narrative. As people from myriad countries merge together, you can see how it was imperative that knowing at least one other language could mean the difference between life and death, especially in the throes of war.

Come What May is a beautifully shot, expertly acted film that respects its subject and explores part of the German invasion that I haven’t seen covered that often in film form. The Blu-ray includes a variety of special features, which include:

Making of Come What May

Behind-the-Scenes with Ennio Morricone

Audio Commentary with Director Christian Carrion

Interview with Director Christian Carion and Richard Pena, former program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center

I highly recommend Come What May. It’s an impactful film that resonates with you long after it’s ended.

Come What May is available now on Blu-ray.

American Pastoral – Blu-ray Review

The United States of America has gone through its share of evolutionary changes over its history. Some good. Some not so good. And through it all we have persevered as a nation; taking each challenge and overcoming it as a united people. Even when things looked bleak, when mores and values were questioned, and when the status quo was challenged, America survived and trudged onward to witness another day.

American Pastoral embodies this conceit: a country at a crossroads between seeming idealism and rampant anarchy. The elders content to live in a state of denial about the travesties that befall their fellow man, while the younger generation is ready to rise up and tear down the structures that have oppressed minorities, women, and other for generations.

Set against the backdrop of the 1960s, American Pastoral revolves around the relationship between a father a daughter and the generational tensions that arise between them. Seymour “Swede” Levov (Ewan McGregor) is a proud husband and father living life as the manager of glove-making factory. His past is filled with successes as is his wife Dawn’s (Jennifer Connelly) past, but they are concerned about the present and future of their daughter, Merry.

As Merry goes from being a young girl to a teen (played by Dakota Fanning), it soon becomes clear -despite their denials – that something is up with their daughter. Merry has embraced the rebellious counterculture of the decade speaking out against racism, corporate America, and Vietnam. This leaves her out of step with her more traditional parents who do their best to cope with here behavior, but the task is often too much to bear.

After Seymour suggests that Merry work to bring her message to the rural town they live in, a tragic event throws the entire area into disarray. Was Merry responsible for the atrocity? With her in the wind, Seymour takes it upon himself to solve the mystery of his daughter’s disappearance and bring her home by any means necessary.

American Pastoral is a timely and still-relevant tale given the recent political upheaval and rebellion taking place in our nation today. It asks the questions, How far is too far when fighting for a cause? and What are you willing to sacrifice to have a societal impact? For better or worse, this film speaks to these questions and also explores a myriad themes that can be seen anytime you scroll through your newsfeed on your phone.

Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut was quite impressive, especially given that he had to act and direct himself on his first outing as director. Everyone in the film does a superb job.

The Blu-ray includes two excellent documentaries about the making of the film: American Pastoral: Adapting an American Classic and Making the American Dream, along with Audio Commentary by Ewan McGregor.

I highly recommend American Pastoral. It is a well-made and timely film.

American Pastoral is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download.

Tyler Perry’s Madea on the Run: The Play – Blu-ray Review

Hilarious. Powerful. Fun. These, and many more adjectives, describe the events that transpire over the course of Tyler Perry’s latest Madea outing, Madea on the Run: The Play. I really, really enjoyed this production. It is laugh-out-loud funny, has some amazing singing performances, and is a real treat from start to finish. Perry once again delivers a solid narrative with both a message and his own unique comedic tone with Madea at the center of familial chaos.

On the run from the law, Madea ducks into the home of her best friend and neighbor Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) who lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and grand-daughter. It’s a home filled with tension and an undercurrent of discord that elevates to the nth degree as secrets are revealed, truths are exposed, and lives are ripped apart.

And while all that’s going on, Madea delivers her patented advice, wisdom, and plenty of physical comedy. Throw in her fourth-wall-breaking antics (it is a play with an audience, after all), and you’ve got a solid mix of entertainment that’s as engaging as it is funny!

Needless to say, I really enjoyed Madea on the Run. It made me want to check out all the other Madea-based plays that Tyler Perry has written over the years along with the seven Madea movies that have been produced.

Tyler Perry’s Madea on the Run: The Play is available January 31, 2017 on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digitial Download.

What’s your favorite Tyler Perry creation? Leave a comment and let us know!