September 26, 2014

Disaster L.A.: The Last Zombie Apocalypse Begins Here Blu-ray Review


A group of friends desperately trying to escape the toxic smoke that is the deadly result of a meteor shower strike in the middle of Los Angeles. In its wake, neither friends nor strangers are safe from each other. The only hope for survival is to try to reach the coast before it's too late.


For those looking to get their fix of zombie action before the return of The Walking Dead you could worse than checking out Disaster L.A.. The cast is nothing special and are only there to provide fresh meat for the hungry undead. The visual effects are decent, but there are a couple impressive shots of the city's destruction. The film runs a brisk 83 minutes and holds your attention enough but won;t stand up against classic films of the genre such as Dawn of the Dead. 6.5/10


Disaster L.A. arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 - The image is surprisingly good for being a direct-to-video release. Colors are mostly desaturated but there are flashes of more bold primaries when the blood spills. Black levels were good if not overly deep. There is an artificial grain to make the movie look more gritty. 7.5/10


Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. - Dialogue is placed front and center, consistently clear. The LFE channel kicks in when all hell breaks loose and provides some deep rumbles. Surrounds are used primarily for environmental and directional effects. The track is a solid performer overall, just don't expect demo material. 8.5/10

September 25, 2014

Sleepy Hollow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review


Created by the writers of Star Trek (2009) and Transformers (2007) comes this suspenseful and witty series inspired by Washington Irving’s supernatural classic. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a British expatriate who dies in the American Revolution, is revived in upstate New York during the time of the cell phone – as is the evil Headless Horseman, who plans to annihilate mankind! Teaming with a feisty police lieutenant (Nicole Beharie), Crane races to vanquish the newly unearthed dark forces – or face the impending apocalypse. Own “Sleepy Hollow” Season One, and bring home a musketful of special features including commentaries, deleted scenes and more!


Sleepy Hollow sounded like a fun idea that probably wouldn't turn into much of a good series after and episode or two. Thankfully I was wrong and found the first season of Sleepy Hollow to be one of my favorite new shows, and looking forward to see where it can go in future seasons. The cast lead by Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane and Nicole Beharie as Lt. Abbie Mills, is likeable and have great chemistry. It's a lot of fun to see Ichabod struggle with living in the 21st century after being buried for a very long time for a purpose I won't spoil here. Watch for the superb John Noble playing a complex character who figures heavily into the show's mythology. The series is absolutely bonkers with some of the creatures and story lines it approaches, but it is done so well that the mythology, monsters and twists work. If I have one complaint there are a few scenes that take place in the police dept. that feels a little too generic and bland, but the show doesn't linger there too long to affect the overall wild ride. 9/10


Sleepy Hollow: The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the original aspect ratio 1.78:1 - The show is stylized and features some scenes that have an intentional blurry, dreamy look. That being said the image is sharp and fine details such as facial hair, monster makeup effects, and clothing textures or stitching look great. Colors vary from earthy hues to a more desaturated palette for flashbacks. Black levels were solid and allowed for good shadow delineation, which is vital to a dark and spooky show like this. No signs of compression artifacts. 8.5/10


Audio is provided by a DTS -HD Master Audio 5.1 track. - Dialogue was crystal clear and even heavier accents are easily heard. Surrounds feature some pleasantly smooth pans and startlingly realistic environmental effects. LFE performance adds a powerful punch to gunfire and explosions. The score and music cues sound great and don't overpower rest of the mix. 9/10


* Audio Commentary - Includes commentary for the following episodes. “Pilot” featuring Executive Producers Heather Kadin, Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci and Len Wiseman. “The Indispensable Man” / “Bad Blood” featuring Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman and Mark Goffman and stars Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie.

* Welcome to Sleepy Hollow (HD, 20min43sec) – A good look at the entire first season with insight from cast and crew. Don't watch until completing all the episodes first.

* Mysteries and Mythology (HD, 19min18sec) – This is an informative look at the overall mythology of show.

* The Corbin Case Files (HD, 2min33sec) – A look inside the files of Sheriff August Corbin and the mysteries of Sleepy Hollow

* Welcome to the 21st Century, Mr. Crane (HD, 2min20sec) – A fun clip reel featuring Ichabod's various moments of dealing with 21st century tech, food and cultural differences.

* The Horseman (HD, 3min) – The horses used in the show are featured along with the talented horse trainer.

* The Horseman's Head (HD, 2min) – A good, but brief featurette on the creation of the Headless Horseman's skull.

* Deleted Scenes (HD, 12min)

* Gag Reel (HD, 2min36sec)

The 100: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review


Ninety-seven years after nuclear Armageddon destroyed our planet, humanity’s sole survivors live on the Ark, an aging space station experiencing overpopulation and inadequate resources. When faced with difficult choices, the Ark leaders—chief medical officer Abby, Chancellor Jaha and the mysterious Kane—decide to send 100 juvenile prisoners back to Earth to test its living conditions. Among them are Clarke, Abby’s bright daughter; Wells, Jaha’s son; the daredevil Finn; and siblings Bellamy and Octavia. With the survival of all in their inexperienced hands, The 100 young people must learn to rise above their differences and forge a new path on a wild and dangerous landscape that teems with radioactive waste, turbulent weather and unimaginable predators…or face the ultimate extinction of the human race!


With the Worldwide popularity of the Hunger Games it was only a matter of time before network tv jumped into the arena with a show that plays on the elements young men and women placed into a brutal world where death is inevitable and sometimes welcome. The 100 starts off with a solid enough pilot and the first season overall is filled with 12 varying episodes of quality that contain some interesting ideas, and gives hope they can build upon this base for the next season. The cast continues the usual run of CW beautiful but bland young actors and actresses. So in closing I would say I'm not the target audience for this series but it did hold my attention for most of the time. 7.5/10


The 100: The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 - Colors are beautifully balanced from lush green forests to the steely blues of the Ark. Skintones have a natural appearance. Black levels were deep and rich. The image is sharp and fine details in clothing textures, plants and trees, and closeups are crisp and well defined. There is some slight banding but nothing to mar the overall score too much. 9/10


Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. - Dialogue was consistently crisp and clear. Surrounds feature silky smooth pans and some aurally pleasing directional effects. LFE performance is impressive with deep and aggressive bass that remains tight and precise. The music score is blended perfectly in the mix. No pops or other anomalies were heard. 9/10


* Audio Commentary - Commentary is provided for the episode "We Are Grounders Part 2". There are moments of dead air and nothing super insightful is heard. Best for super fans only.

* 2013 Comic Con Panel (HD,14min) - It's nice for fans to have this to see cast and crew discuss the show before it's premiere.

* Creating the World of The 100 (HD, 28min) - Included are a total of four behind-the-scenes featurettes. They include "In The Beginning", "A New Earth", "The Ark", and "Grounders, Reapers and Mountain Men".

* Deleted Scenes (HD, 2min)

September 24, 2014

Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection on Blu-ray December 2nd

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has officially announced they will release a new box set that features the films of legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick with the Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection. The deluxe set will be released on December 2, 2014. Below are the official details:

10 Discs, 8 Films, 2 New Documentaries, New Hardcover Photo Book

Also Includes 3 Previously Released Documentaries

Burbank, Calif., September 23, 2014 - The late director Stanley Kubrick had a special relationship with Warner Bros. Because of this relationship, Christiane Kubrick invited and provided the studio full access to Kubrick’s home, film props, personal cameras, film equipment, production facilities and personal insight to this great director.

To mark this momentous occasion, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) will release Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection on December 2. The 10-disc Blu-ray™ set ($199.99 SRP) includes eight Kubrick classics as well as the newly-produced documentary: Kubrick Remembered which captures intimate moments in Stanley Kubrick’s very personal life, two new-to-Blu-ray documentaries: Stanley Kubrick In Focus and Once Upon a Time…’A Clockwork Orange’ plus three additional documentaries: Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, and O’ Lucky Malcolm! Also included will be a new 78-page hardcover photo book using film archive photographs.

Films in the collection will be Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Kubrick Remembered offers a new look into the Kubrick archives, with special appearances by the director’s wife, Christiane Kubrick, as well as never-seen footage of Stanley’s works, his house and his film production facilities. Stanley Kubrick In Focus presents such directors as Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone, William Friedkin and Martin Scorsese relating how Kubrick’s directorial style influenced them.


Lolita (1962)

Humbert (James Mason), a divorced British professor of French literature, travels to small-town America for a teaching position. He allows himself to be swept into a relationship with Charlotte Haze, his widowed and sexually famished landlady, whom he marries in order that he might pursue the woman's 14-year-old flirtatious daughter, Lolita, with whom he has fallen hopelessly in love, but whose affections shall be thwarted by a devious trickster named Clare Quilty.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Released by Columbia Pictures, the cold war satire is a chilling dark comedy about a psychotic Air Force General unleashing an ingenious, foolproof and irrevocable scheme sending bombers to attack Russia, as the U.S. President works with the Soviet premier in a desperate effort to save the world. The film stars Peter Sellers, in multiple roles, as well as George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Kubrick’s dazzling Academy Award®-winning achievement (Special Visual Effects) is an allegorical puzzle on the evolution of man and a compelling drama of man vs. machine. Featuring a stunning meld of music and motion, the film was also Oscar®-nominated for Best Director, Art Direction and Writing. The director (who co-wrote the screenplay with Arthur C. Clarke) first visits the prehistoric age-ancestry past, then leaps millennia (via one of the most mind-blowing jump cuts ever) into colonized space, and ultimately whisks astronaut Bowman (Keir Dullea) into uncharted space, perhaps even into immortality.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Causing major controversy when first released, the film garnered four Academy Award® nominations – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Screenplay. The film also introduced into popular culture the concept of “ultra-violence,” as singing, tap-dancing, derby-topped hooligan Alex (Malcolm McDowell) has a “good time” – at the tragic expense of others. His journey from amoral punk to brainwashed proper citizen and back again forms the dynamic arc of Kubrick’s future-shock vision of Anthony Burgess’ novel.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) is a young, roguish Irishman who's determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army and fighting in Europe’s Seven Years War, Barry deserts, then joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the rank of a spy, and becomes a pupil to a Chevalier and con artist/gambler. Barry then lies, dupes, duels and seduces his way up the social ladder, entering into a lustful but loveless marriage to a wealthy countess named Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He takes the name of Barry Lyndon, settles in England with wealth and power beyond his wildest dreams, before eventually falling into ruin.

The Shining (1980)

From a script he co-adapted from the Stephen King novel, Kubrick melds vivid performances, menacing settings, dreamlike tracking shots and shock after shock into a milestone of the macabre. The Shining is the director’s epic tale of a man in a snowbound hotel descending into murderous delusions. In a signature role, Jack Nicholson (“Heeeere’s Johnny!”) stars as Jack Torrance, who’s come to the elegant, isolated Overlook Hotel as off-season caretaker with his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd).

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

A superb ensemble falls in for Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant saga about the Vietnam War and the dehumanizing process that turns people into trained killers. The scathing indictment of a film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. ‘Joker’ (Matthew Modine), ‘Animal Mother’ (Adam Baldwin), ‘Gomer’ (Vincent D’Onofrio), ‘Eightball’ (Dorian Harewood) and ‘Cowboy’ (Arliss Howard) are some of the Marine recruits experiencing boot-camp hell under the punishing command of the foul-mouthed Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermy). The action is savage, the story unsparing, and the dialogue is spiked with scathing humor.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Kubrick’s daring and controversial last film is a bracing psychosexual journey through a haunting dreamscape, a riveting suspense tale and a career milestone for stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Cruise plays a doctor who plunges into an erotic foray that threatens his marriage – and may ensnare him in a murder mystery – after his wife’s (Kidman) admission of sexual longings. As the story sweeps from doubt and fear to self-discovery and reconciliation, Kubrick orchestrates it with masterful flourishes. His graceful tracking shots, rich colors and startling images are some of the bravura traits that show Kubrick as a filmmaker for the ages.


* Kubrick Remembered (NEW) - A new look into the Kubrick archives, with special appearances by Christiane Kubrick. Featuring never-seen footage of Stanley’s works, his house and his film production facilities.

* Stanley Kubrick In Focus (NEW to Blu-ray) - Spielberg, Soderbergh, Stone, Friedkin, Scorsese and others tell how Kubrick’s directorial style influenced them and how his unique style was developed

* Once Upon a Time…A Clockwork Orange (NEW to the U.S.) - Co-written by critic Michel Ciment and featuring interviews with a psychologist and a sociologist, Once Upon a Time…‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a wonderfully unusual cine-documentary that focuses more on the titular movie’s historical context and philosophy than on its production and reception. The documentary benefits from archival audio commentary by the late Stanley Kubrick, who offers his rationale for making the controversial, devilishly prescient proto-punk cult classic: “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”

* Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures - Kubrick’s career comes into sharp focus in this compelling documentary narrated by Tom Cruise. Fascinating footage glimpses Kubrick in his early years, at work on film sets and at home, augmented by candid commentary from collaborators, colleagues and family. Produced and directed by Jan Harlan, the brother of Christiane Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick's widow.

* O’Lucky Malcolm! - A documentary about the life and career of actor Malcolm McDowell, produced and directed by Jan Harlan and edited by Katia de Vidas.