July 24, 2017

Blu-Ray News: KICK-ASS on 4K Ultra HD for the First Time October 3

Director and cowriter Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class) flips the superhero genre on its head in Kick-Ass, arriving on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital HD) October 3 from Lionsgate. Adapted from the comic-book franchise of the same name written by Mark Millar, Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Best Supporting Actor, Nocturnal Animals, 2017) brings the colorful teenage hero to life alongside Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (Best Actor, Leaving Las Vegas, 1995) and Chloë Grace Moretz. Revisit the hilarious action comedy in four-times the resolution of Full HD with the Kick-Ass 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack.

VIEW THE NEW TRAILER:
 

July 22, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: THE FINAL MASTER

Starring Liao Fan, Jiang Wenli, Chin Shi-Chief, Song Jia, Song Yang, Huang Jue. Directed by Xu Haofeng. (2015, 110 min).

It's a damn good thing the action and performances in The Final Master are good, because the story is as confounding as any I've seen in recent memory.

Liao Fan is Chen, the last remaining master of the martial art known as Wing Chun. He wants to open a school in the city of Tianjin in order to pass his skills along. But it's not as simple as that. Tradition dictates that he must first challenge and defeat the other 8 schools (which later turns into 19). But it ain't that simple either. Since he's not from Tianjin, he's not allowed to fight himself; he must select and train someone from town. But that's also too simple. He takes a wife, Zhao (Song Jia), and poses as a local peasant to find a suitable apprentice, almost immediately deciding on Geng. Then he spends a few years training the young man to prepare for the challenge.

But, alas, more complications present themselves, mostly from masters of other houses who make it damn near impossible for Chen to achieve his dream. Much of this plot becomes so confusing that I more-or-less gave up trying to keep track of who is screwing over who and why. But in a nutshell, victory for Chen & Geng pretty much becomes a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't scenario.

East Side Story.
The behaviors and actions of most secondary characters are almost maddeningly ambiguous, and even when they explain themselves, it's difficult to understand why everyone is going to all this trouble just to keep another martial arts school from opening. Fortunately, The Final Master has enough fighting and action to compensate for its convoluted tale, enhanced by terrific fight scenes, great editing and what might be the most oddball music score I've ever heard (though it fits perfectly).

As Master Chen, Fan has a lot of interesting and dangerous toys at his disposal, including a staff adorned with several long, machete-like blades. The climax, which has Chen fighting dozens of foes as he makes his way down a narrow alley, is wildly choreographed and very exciting (though the outcome is never really in doubt).

So forget the plot - you probably will anyway - sit back and enjoy the action, all of which looks like it was done without any tethers or wires. The Final Master is visually impressive enough to please martial arts fans.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FEATURETTES: "The Weapons"; Director Interview
TRAILER
DVD COPY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD...LIKE CAT CHOW

Rest in Peace, John Heard

John Heard (1945-2017)

July 21, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: DEVIL'S DOMAIN

Starring Madi Vodane, Linda Bella, Michael Madsen, Kelly Erin Decker, Benna Tucker, The Onyx. Directed by Jared Cohn. (2016, 93 min).

Since there's nothing new under the sun, modern horror directors are challenged to put a creative spin on familiar material to justify their movie's existence. That challenge is even more daunting when strapped with limited financial resources. With Devil's Domain, writer/director Jared Cohn appears up for it, but sometimes falls victim to his own budget and narrative inconsistencies.

The movie is a modern spin on the reliable old deal-with-the-devil tale. Lisa (Madi Vodane) is an insecure, bulimic teenager who becomes a cyber-bullying victim after coming out as a lesbian to her best friend, Rhonda. Another trusted friend, Andrew, shoots hidden video of Lisa purging & masturbating, then posts it on the internet. A complete pariah at school and misunderstood at home, she contemplates suicide before receiving an online message from Destiny (Linda Bella), a sexy incarnation of Satan. Destiny offers to help Lisa get even with everyone who's wronged her in exchange for...well, not to give anything away, but I suspect Cohn is a big fan of Rosemary's Baby.

The whole revenge-through-Satan thing is nothing new, though using it to address - however superficially - the issue of cyber-bullying gives the story a timely twist. However, since Destiny and her minions begin slaughtering Lisa's tormentors before any deal is even made, why is this Satanic pact even necessary?

"Guys...I burnt my marshmallow."
Maybe Cohn wants to get to the sex & death before his audience gets bored with exposition. Fair enough. There's plenty of gonzo gore, with special effects which range from decent to silly. Bella certainly makes a hot-looking Satan worth selling one's soul for, but the demon she sometimes morphs into resembles the work of Face-Off contestants. And despite numerous scenes which tease the viewer into anticipating a few sleazy encounters, aside from Bella's revealing outfits and some titillating spit-swapping, those seeking carnal thrills will probably be disappointed. This is grindhouse without the grind.

Still, there's an earnestness to the proceedings that's sort of charming. Cohn & company display an appreciable amount of creativity with an obviously limited budget, some of which must have gone to secure the services of Michael Madsen, the only recognizable name in the cast. Speaking of which, the performances, while nothing exemplary, are certainly adequate for the material.

While the overall tone is a bit too serious for its own good, and not even remotely scary, Devil's Domain manages to mine a fair bit of fun from an overused premise. It's all been done better - and smarter - but at least it isn't boring.

EXTRA KIBBLES
MAKING-OF FEATURETTE
RED CARPET PREMIERE INTERVIEWS
SLIDE SHOW
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD...LIKE CAT CHOW

July 20, 2017

"CAPTION THIS" CONTEST: Win a Copy of Jim Henson's LABYRINTH

Win a 4K/Blu-Ray Combo Pack copy of Jim Henson's 1986 cult classic, LABYRINTH, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly!

(YOUR CAPTION HERE)
TO ENTER: Come up with your own caption for this screen shot from the movie. Be as weird, goofy, funny or twisted as you wish. Send it to us using the KITTY KONTACT form near the top of our sidebar. We'll reply to the winning caption on July 31. Good luck!

July 19, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: BLACK BUTTERFLY (2017)

Starring Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Piper Perabo, Abel Ferrara, Vincent Riotta. Directed by Brian Goodman. (2017, 93 min).

Black Butterfly is one of those movies that isn't all that entertaining, but you feel somewhat compelled to see how it ends. And unfortunately, the wait is hardly worth it.

Antonio Banderas is Paul Lopez, a cash-strapped, alcoholic author with a severe case of writer's block. After a drifter, Jack (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), intervenes during a potential violent confrontation between Paul and an angry truck driver, Paul invites him to stay at his remote cabin. There's also an elusive serial killer running around who's recently claimed another victim. Jack appears to fit the bill perfectly, especially after becoming increasingly violent and unstable. He eventually holds Paul against his will and forces him to write their ongoing "story." Shoe-horned into the plot is real-estate agent Laura (Piper Perabo), who Paul fleetingly pursues romantically, but primarily exists to be put in peril.

"No, I won't get you Robert Rodriguez's autograph."
The movie takes forever to get going and spends way too much time giving us Paul's sorry life & financial problems before Jack even shows up. Then the plot unfolds like a warmed-over retread of Misery, only not as witty and no villain as dynamic as Annie Wilkes. Additionally, we begin to suspect not everything is what is seems long before the ballyhooed twist ending that's supposed to knock our socks off. Still, we've come this far...might as well see if our suspicions are correct, right?

Unfortunately, the "twist" is not only underwhelming, it requires a gigantic suspension of disbelief. And even that doesn't matter because the subsequent resolution negates everything we just watched with one of the most overused, irritating tropes in film history. Unless Black Butterfly is the first movie you've ever watched, you'll probably feel more cheated than surprised.

EXTRA KIBBLES
MAKING-OF FEATURETTE
AUDIO COMMENTARY - With director Brian Goodman & co-writer Marc Frydman
TRAILERS
DIGITAL COPY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEH...

Blu-Ray News: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY – 4K and Limited Collector's Edition Box Set October 3

Director James Cameron’s iconic sci-fi action classic returns in pristine clarity when Terminator 2: Judgment Day arrives in a Limited Collector’s Edition EndoArm box set including a 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital HD) on October 3 from Lionsgate. Still lauded by critics today as one of the greatest action films of all time, only 6,000 of the Limited Collector’s Edition EndoArm box sets will be released in the U.S., allowing fans to own a life-sized replica of the T-800 EndoArm mounted on a uniquely numbered stand with James Cameron’s signature. Say “hasta la vista, baby” to SD and relive each quintessential moment in four times the resolution with Full HD and High Dynamic Range on the film’s first-ever 4K scan. The Terminator 2: Judgment Day EndoArm Limited Collector’s Edition 4K Combo Pack box set is loaded with bonus content, including an all-new, never-before-seen documentary featuring commentary from the cast and crew (including James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Edward Furlong).

LIMITED EDITION BOX SETS INCLUDES:
  • Life-sized Terminator EndoArm
  • Each limited-edition EndoArm unit includes a uniquely numbered sticker, featuring the signature of writer-director James Cameron
BLU-RAY / DIGITAL HD SPECIAL FEATURES
  • *NEW* “T2: Reprogramming the Terminator” 55 Minute Documentary Including Exclusive Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, Edward Furlong and More
  • 2 Feature Commentaries including 23 members of the cast and crew, including director James Cameron and co-author William Wisher
  • “The Making of T2” 30 Minute Featurette
  • Seamless Branching to View 3 Different Versions of the Movie
  • 2 Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary
  • Trailers 
VIEW THE NEW TRAILER:
 

July 18, 2017

DVD Review: WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY

Directed by Terry Douglas, Nikki Frakes & William Lawrence Hess. (2010, 80 min).

Stan Lee is one of those public figures who transcends his medium. Like The Beatles, Michael Jordan & Bill Gates, just about everybody knows who he is, even if they aren't particularly interested in what he does. People like that are always fun to learn more about.

As the man behind Marvel Comics - and its evolution into a global entertainment superpower - Stan Lee has an interesting story indeed. With Great Power does a fairly decent job telling that story, though it's often more of an affectionate tribute to the man than an in-depth biography. Ergo, fans who worship at his alter should love it.

Lee himself discusses his life and career, from his early days when he was hired as a gofer working for Timely Comics, his rise as the head of Marvel - co-creating some of the genre's most iconic heroes - to the present, where he's treated as a rock star by both fans and peers. Interspersed throughout are interviews with various former colleagues and family members, as well as producers, actors & directors who've been involved in movies which made Marvel a Hollywood powerhouse.

"Hmmm, let's see...Spiderguy...no, Spiderdude! Wait...how 'bout the Eight Legged Freak! Damn, this is hard."
Everyone has nothing but gushing praise for the man, while Lee himself comes across as congenial and humble, always quick to point out that he didn't do it alone, extensively discussing the late Jack Kirby, the artist Lee co-created most of these characters with. Kirby's probably just as deserving of a tribute doc like this, though casual viewers probably don't even know who he was. As someone who's never really been into comics, I always assumed Lee was the artist and writer.

With Great Power is entertaining, though perhaps not comprehensive. A career almost eight decades long is tough to sum up in 80 minutes, meaning what we mostly get are the highlights (punctuated by a career setback or two). I also imagine hardcore comic buffs & collectors may already know much of Lee's story. Still, the film is pretty fun and I can't imagine his fans not getting a kick out of it.

This film was previously released on DVD in 2012. As far as I've been able to ascertain, this re-release is identical, including the bonus features.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FEATURETTES - Dozens of short segments related to Lee, comics and/or superheroes (public appearances, more interviews, etc). I'd list them all but I'd be up all night.
EXTENDED INTERVIEWS - Additional footage of over 40 actors, directors, colleagues & peers interviewed in the film.
CHARACTER GALLERY - A lengthy list of over 500 characters Stan Lee was involved with creating.
AUDIO COMMENTARY
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD...LIKE CAT CHOW

Blu-Ray News: THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 60th Anniversary 4K Ultra HD

A must-own for film fans and adventure-seekers alike, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment debuts THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI on next-generation 4K Ultra HD for the first time October 3 to commemorate its diamond anniversary. One of the crown jewels in the Columbia Pictures catalog, the release also includes the existing Blu-ray with incisive special features and historical context, making it the perfect holiday gift. Fully restored in 4K resolution and presented with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Dolby Atmos audio, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (David Lean) and Best Actor (Alec Guinness.) William Holden also stars in this epic WWII drama of POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors.

In 1997, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. The American Film Institute included it among the best American films ever and in 1999, the British Film Institute voted it the 11th greatest British film of the 20th Century.

4K Ultra HD is the perfect way for fans to immerse themselves in this iconic classic.  The  4K Ultra HD features four times the resolution of high definition, high dynamic range (HDR)--which produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays--and Dolby Atmos audio, remixed specifically for the home theater environment, delivering captivating sound that places and moves audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

July 17, 2017

Blu-Ray News: Disney's THE LION KING on Digital 8/15 and on Blu-ray 8/29


One of the biggest animated films in history, The Lion King, the coming-of-age masterpiece, filled with humor and heart, breathtaking animation and soul-stirring Academy Award–winning music (1994: Best Original Score and Best Original Song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”), joins the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection. The Lion King roars to Its rightful place in the Walt Disney Signature Collection on Digital Aug. 15th and on Blu-ray Aug. 29th.

Audiences will fall in love all over again with the treasured classic, and a new generation of fans will laugh with Timon and Pumbaa, cry with Simba and Mufasa, burst into song, and find their place in the “Circle of Life.” The Walt Disney Signature Collection release includes over three hours of classic bonus material and exclusive, brand new features inviting viewers to sing along with the film’s award-winning music, observe recording sessions, step inside the story room, witness the evolution of a villain, and join Nathan Lane (voice of Timon) and Matthew Broderick (voice of Adult Simba) for an extended conversation regarding the legacy of “The Lion King.”