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Robert Badgley (St Thomas,Ontario,Canada)

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Rise of the Zombies [Import]
Rise of the Zombies [Import]
Price: CDN$ 7.93
19 used & new from CDN$ 4.03

2.0 out of 5 stars A wasted decent cast,totally infected from the start, Jan. 21 2015
This review is from: Rise of the Zombies [Import] (DVD)
Rise of the Zombies(released Oct/12)stars,among others, Mariel Hemingway, LeVar Burton and Danny Trejo,the hardest working Latino actor in the business.This is a low budget pic with some good acting talent on board.As with any movie,big budget or small,the writers and director always have a vision of some sort they want to impart to us.Unfortunately because of the massive number of zombie pictures over recent years it is hard for one to rise(no pun intended)above the other.This one is no exception.I can appreciate the effort but it does fall far short.
The story finds a group of folks hold up on Alcatraz island;the only time you might have people wanting to go there instead of the other way around.Burton is a scientist trying unsuccessfully to find a cure to their zombie infested world.Hemingway is also a doctor and she has just viewed a vid(seems the zombies have kept the communication lines up) from a doctor proclaiming he has a cure.He is situated at the Berkeley water treatment plant,a long way away.
After an attack of zombies who swim ashore,the general consensus seems to be to try and make it to Petaluma to an evac center there.Burton volunteers to stay behind to continue his research.As the group paddle towards the mainland they get attacked and they lose a couple of folks.Once on land they split into two groups with Trejo leading one and Hemingway the other.Trejo's group seemingly has the best shot at surviving but they eventually are dwindled down in numbers until only one gets to Petaluma.He finds there is nothing there.He tries to find and hook up with Hemingway's group,who also are constantly either dodging zombies or being attacked at every opportunity.Of course in the process the group is again slowly whittled down until there are about four left.When he finally reaches them their new destination becomes the treatment plant.
Along the way they lose another member,but they do reach the plant.Once they fight their way into it they reach the doctor who indeed has a cure.Before they escape one of the group is bitten on the hand and has his arm amputated to prevent the spread of the disease(they have only 30 seconds in which to do it).Unfortunately the only way to escape alive is by a helicopter up above and the fellow now without his lower arm is the only pilot.Hemingway then becomes his left hand.The group indeed escapes,seeking a laboratory where the doctor hopes to produce multiple batches of his cure.
One can certainly see the low budget"slip" showing throughout.The opening with the speeding group of folks going down a twisty section of San Franciscan road is not convincing at all.When the group first lands on the mainland from Alcatraz and gets attacked there is a brief shot of Hemingway with the water as a background.Unfortunately there are three heads of what appears to be either swimmers or surfers far behind her.On a budget like this it is hard to control your backgrounds.And at the end I couldn't understand why they had to chop the helicopter pilots arm off after he got bitten.Didn't the doctor there have a cure?
Throughout there are a LOT of scenes of blood and gore.The better ones don't over use this, but use them to their advantage and best effect at the appropriate moments.This is not one of the better ones.
Technically speaking the film is in its original w/s a/r of 1 :85:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include a featurette and a gag reel.
All in all it was a nice try.It does have a decent cast but they can only do as best as they can with what they have....which wasn't a lot.As with others of the same quality they start relying,right from the get go in this one,on extreme blood and gore for shock value with no other real purpose other than to do just that.2 - 2 1/2 stars.

Trouble With the Curve [DVD] (Bilingual)
Trouble With the Curve [DVD] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Clint Eastwood
Price: CDN$ 4.88
12 used & new from CDN$ 3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A solid film,by a solid group of actors., Jan. 5 2015
Trouble with the Curve(released Sept/12)stars,among others,Clint Eastwood,Amy Adams,Justin Timberlake,Matthew Lillard and John Goodman.This is a wonderfully acted,well edited and tight little film.Eastwood comes on board as a co-producer but is more than ably backed by a solid cast.
The story finds Eastwood as an aging baseball scout for the Atalanta Braves.He has three major strikes against him:a fellow colleague(younger)that would like to see him gone and put out to pasture,a smart and talented lawyer daughter(Adams) from whom he is on a fragile relationship with, and macular degeneration,hampering his ability to see/scout..
Eastwood is given an assignment to check out a hitting prospect in North Carolina.While there Adams joins him at the bequest of his boss,Goodman.She used to go with her dad when she was younger while scouting, and over time became as savvy about the game as any person around.Unfortunately,her father placed her in her uncle's hands after his wife died and an incident(which she learns about later) in which she was sexually assaulted(but does not recall).Since that time their relationship has been strained because of Eastwood's short sightedness and lack of communication about how Adams feels about the issues that have come between them.
She spends a few days with her dad being his eyes and scouting the prospect,even though she has a client pitch to make back in Atlanta,for which she may be offered a promotion to partnership if successful.While juggling these two things in comes Timberlake a former pitcher who is now a scout like his old pal Eastwood.The two eventually hit it off but it is a roller coaster of a ride due to the emotional wall she has developed over time.Timberlake breaks through, but not without a major glitch popping up.Eastwood discovers their batting prospect has heretofore unseen problems with special pitches like curves and rejects him as a prospect .He advises Timberlake to reject him also.Back home the Braves management is persuaded against Eastwoods judgement(from a wet behind the ears fellow scout) to take him anyways.The next day Timberlake's future has collapsed, as his bosses think he let a good prospect go to the Braves.Timberlake in turn takes it out on Adams and leaves in a huff.To top this she receives news that her bosses are going to let another associate at her firm take on the client pitch,thereby depriving her of the shot for a partnership she has worked years to obtain.
Eastwood the next morning has gone and taken the bus back home,leaving his car with his daughter.At the motel they have been staying at the owner's son is outside pitching to his younger brother.The guy is a natural talent and she persuades Goodman to give him a try in Atlanta.Next day she and her new found talent arrive at the stadium,and her father,Goodman and other management types are there to witness him pitching against their new batting acquisition.He puts on a demonstration of super raw talent and their new batter cannot hit one ball thrown at him.Out with the battter, and in with the pitcher.Eastwood proclaims his daughter as the pitchers manager and is offered a renewal on that contract of his.Walking out of the stadium his daughter finds out that the associate who made her pitch ran into trouble, and they want her to step in to what should have been hers to begin with.She gives them the same answer Eastwood gave his bosses about his contract renewal:"I'll think about it".Outside Timberlake has been waiting patiently, and Adams and he have a grand make up.The film ends as Eastwood walks off alone, bemoaning the fact that he will have to take the bus.
This is such a well acted and solid film.There are no pretensions here.It is a straightforward story told with some nice twists,and edited and shot beautifully.The film keeps a classy look and tone to it.I wish the makers of a more recent flick called The Judge,with Robert Downey Jr.and Robert Duvall,had taken a lesson from this one.There is a scene in that film in which Downey has a down and dirty and graphic sex scene with a fellow actor.It essentially ruined what was,up to that point,a film along the same lines as this one.Trouble with the Curve,to its credit,did not take the easy and low route like so many films do these days.In a scene in a lake where Adams and Timberlake finally come together,they share a passionate kiss.The camera lingers just long enough, and then there is a cut to the following day.Leaving it to one's imagination is what real film making should be about,but seems to be a lost art in this day and age.Eastwood plays the curmudgeonly baseball scout to a tee.He has plenty of scenes to stretch,acting wise,and makes the most of it.Goodman,Timberlake,Adams are top notch and the rest of the cast also ably supports along the way.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.there is a featurette on the making of the film.
All in a lovely film.A story told in a straightforward manner with enough twists to keep you interested throughout.The cast is super solid and Eastwood really shines in his role.Don't let the baseball angle throw you off.This has something everyone can relate to.4 1/2 stars.

Non-Stop (Bilingual)
Non-Stop (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 10.00
4 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Neeson as intense as ever, Jan. 4 2015
This review is from: Non-Stop (Bilingual) (DVD)
Non-Stop(released Jan14)stars,among others, Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore,Scoot McNairy,Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o.It seems Neeson has almost accidentally stumbled into a genre that the movie going public is,in ever increasing numbers,liking him in.The tough guy,save the day type.It certainly suits him and he plays it well.Non-Stop is no different, as he and his good cast mates deliver the goods from beginning to end.
The story finds Air Marshall Neeson reporting for yet another flight that he doesn't want to be on.Neeson is an ex NYC cop whose daughter passed away at a young age from Leukemia.He has lost his wife,is a professed alcoholic and is barely hanging on personally.Once on board and in the air,Neeson starts receiving text messages from an unknown passenger stating that they want $150 million in an account number(that is given),or else one person will die every 20 minutes.Who is it and why are they doing it?
Neeson notifies the captain of the plane and they start out playing it cautiously,with Neeson buying for time,trying to pinpoint the culprit.With 150 passengers it is a tough slog.Neeson touches base with a fellow air marshall,who it turns out later is involved in the shenanigans.The two wrestle in a bathroom and Neeson ends up breaking the others neck when the other tries to shoot him.
But the texts don't stop!? Obviously he was not working alone.That was the first murder.Next comes the captain of the plane,who is inexplicably poisoned.Then another passenger, a suspect at that moment, is also later poisoned. Neeson accidentally discovers that a small epi-dart was used to kill both the captain(from a hole in the wall behind the pilots cabin) and the then suspect.
With a lot of false leads and virtually everyone under suspicion, Neeson is at wits end, when a bomb is suddenly activated.Neeson recalls the suitcase his fellow air marshall brought on board.He retrieves it and enters the bathroom.First he not only discovers it was full of Cocaine, but also a bomb is hidden within it.It is set to detonate within 30 minutes.By now the outside world has been made aware of the problems on board the plane.However the news outlets are calling Neeson the hijacker,thanks to some slanted videos being shot and uploaded by a young passenger.And that money account? It turns out it was Neeson's own!
Neeson continues to communicate with the co pilot in his locked cabin.He asks that he descend to 8,000',where the pressure will equalize and minimize any damage the bomb may make if it goes off.However the British air force is flying alongside and they are adamant the plane will obey their every command.
At this time two more suspects reveal finally reveal themselves.One was a man he already had in custody but let go, and the other was a gent he had talked to earlier and had actually gotten to help locate the suspect via a viral text message,or so he thought.It seems they are two ex army guys who think security against terrorism is a joke,and they want it known throughout the world.Neeson was just a fall guy for their plan.Neeson convinces one to shut off the bomb via his phone,but is shot dead by the other.
It is now time to cut bait and go fish,as the pilot makes an emergency drop to the safe level.With all the commotion/distraction,this gives Neeson the time to finally take the guy out.As they arrive at the safe level,the bomb indeed explodes.Neeson,with the help of passengers has already taken steps to buffer the explosion with luggage and has gotten all passengers to the rear.The plane descends for a landing on an airstrip in Iceland.The landing is of the white-knuckle variety, but in the end most all are safe and sound,thanks to the air marshall.The film ends as Neeson and Moore,a fellow passenger turned friend,talk of their next destinations.
The film has a grittiness to it from the start as we are introduced to Neeson's unkempt character.As the movie progresses we learn alot more about his personal life and why he is who he is.Even the plane taking off shows Neeson's idiosyncratic nature as he is scared of the take offs,making him more human and making us empathize with him just that much more.Once he gets his first text from someone unknown,the tension of the film never abates until the plane is on the ground.There are,as is usually the case is such movies,many,many red herrings.Everyone is a suspect,and not only is there a countdown every 20 minutes,but this leads to an even bigger one later when the bomb is set to go off.All his cast mates support Neeson wonderfully,and his intensity never waivers,which really is the film's big selling point.Without it the film could not have been as good as it was.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:40:1 and is clear and crisp.The only extra is a short featurette on its making.
All in all a top notch high in the sky thriller.Most of it due to Neeson's intensity and the wonderful script and editing which keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out,along with Neeson's character,exactly who is trying to do what and why.There is not a lost moment anywhere.4-4 1/2 stars.

Used Cars (Bilingual)
Used Cars (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kurt Russell
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 16.11
26 used & new from CDN$ 4.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Trust Me!, Dec 30 2014
This review is from: Used Cars (Bilingual) (DVD)
Used Cars(released July/80)stars,among others,Kurt Russell,Jack Warden,Gerrit Graham and Deborah Harmon.Jack Warden plays two parts as bickering twin brothers in this comedy from 1980 that I had not seen since its debut.I have always recalled Russell's catch phrase"Trust Me" and remembered the film had its share of good laughs.What I did not recall was that it was co-executive produced by Spielberg and that Robert(Back to the Future)Zemeckis was the director.
The story finds Russell as a used car salesman on a run down,past its prime car lot.He and his buds will do and say just about anything to get a sale of their product...which are pieces of junk.The film focuses plenty on the salesmen and the dirty tricks they play on their customers.However the main part of the film lies with the owner of the lot,Jack Warden.He is a kindly gent and Russell and he are closerthanthis.Warden has two things against him:A heart condition and his conniving twin brother across the street who competes with him,with his own more honest car lot.
The bad twin across the street has been wanting to get a hold of his brothers lot for years and one day pulls a real nasty trick.He gets a demolition car driver to go across the street and get Warden to go on a test drive with him.The car is a beautiful /57 Chevy which Warden personally re-did.Well the drive was designed to give Warden a heart attack and it does.Once back Warden,in total distress,falls to the floor in his office and dies before Russell and the staff's eyes.Knowing what Warden's brother across the street would do if he saw his brother dead,they decide to act as if nothing is wrong.However,and clandestinely,they decide to place Warden in a late 50s Edsel that has been on a crane hook out front of the lot for years.They bring it down and put it in an abandoned car pit out back and fill it in.
Everything is going alright until Warden's long lost daughter comes a calling after all these years(10 to be exact).In the beginning Russell lies to her about her father,saying he has gone to Miami Beach.The mean brother across the street comes a calling and starts sniffing around.He has a hunch and finds the roof of the Edsel under the dirt out back of the lot.He returns to his domain,gets his lawyer to get a search warrant and the next day returns with the police.However Kurt has gotten wind of what was going to happen and has dug the car out .At the opportune time at a nearby location,he starts the Edsel up and points it towards a propane tank across the street near the other brother's lot.It of course ends up exploding,which is to be Russell and the gang's easy out as far as his death goes.But the phone call to give Russell the heads up from another employee in the first place,is listened to in toto by Warden's daughter(on an answering machine).She arrives at the lot shortly before the dead Warden's car explodes.She is of course livid but doesn't turn Russell in.Instead she locks them all out and they have no jobs to go to.She decides to run the car lot herself.
Her business suffers as she has had no experience with selling cars before.To speed the inevitable along,mean brother across the street decides to hire someone to fiddle with some video tape of his niece doing a car commercial.Her tape now claims that she has a mile of cars on her lot.This gives him the leverage to sue her and take her to court for false advertising.Russell hears about it and rushes to the court room.When the opposing lawyer(played by Joe Flaherty from SCTV)asks her about her claim of a mile of cars being false,Russell tells her to say it is true!? The court judge(played by Al "Grampa Munster" Lewis) adjourns the court for the next day at the lot to see if it can be proved.
Russell rallies around 250 student drivers and buys about that same amount of used cars from his car source(for the lot) with money he was saving to buy his way into politics with.The cars are miles away from the lot and time is not on their side.After some nail biting moments, the cars finally arrive on the lot ,but they're one short.That one car is being driven by one of the salesmen ,who finds out beneath the paint of the car he has,it is actually red....bad voodoo for him.Russell calls him and with some persuasion finally convinces him to get fast as he can.As the judge declares they are 18' short,in drives the last car.As they measure and declare they are still two inches short,the back license plate drops down as if it was listening,to give them the needed length.Cheers go up and the lot is saved.Russell and Warden's daughter hug and Flaherty announces to them that a new expressway ramp will be going in across the street and that they will become the biggest dealership in town.
There is actually more to this story than what I have said.Mixed in with all this are not only the shenanigans of Russell and his buds competing with Warden's mean brother across the street(like almost-nude disco dancers),but illegally broadcasting signals over regular TV airwaves to insert commercials into for free,his superstitious bud Graham,the black ex army mechanic McRae,Warden's ever so smart Beagle,Russell's bid to get into politics,etc.Its a bag chock full of surprises and with lots of laughs,some played low,but also with lots of drama and thrills thrown in for good measure.
Technically speaking the film is in its original w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is generally clear and crisp.Extras include commentary by Russell and the producer,the trailer,a TV spot,raw outtakes and much more.
All in all this is a pleasing comedy from 1980.It shows its year( Disco music and moves are still on display!) but Russell,et al,do a bang up job in this fast moving comedy with a lot of twists and turns.It still holds its own,which is high praise for a film of this genre and age.3 1/2-4 stars.

Long, Long Trailer, The (Sous-titres franais) (Bilingual)
Long, Long Trailer, The (Sous-titres franais) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Lucille Ball
Price: CDN$ 9.93
2 used & new from CDN$ 9.92

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A film that should have been better, Dec 29 2014
The Long,Long Trailer(released Feb/54)stars,among others Lucille Ball,Desi Arnaz,Marjorie Main,Madge Blake and Keenan Wynn.This was a chance to see TVs reigning couple in glorious colour at the theatres.The b/o receipts were strong,but the film is actually a roughly 1 1/2 hour sitcom,with cute moments throughout,but nothing to distinguish itself.
The story is pretty straight forward.Desi has a job which takes him all over the place and wife to be Lucy comes up
with the idea to buy a trailer.Initially Desi balks but when Lucy digs her heels in it is all over but the payments.Not only does the cost of the trailer soar but poor Desi is stuck buying a new car,and installing a trailer hitch and electric brakes to boot.
The two are soon married and off they go in their traveling home.It takes Desi quite a while to overcome his nervousness about driving with the trailer and after a few faux pauxs on both of their parts, their relationship starts showing the strain.They get stuck on a dirt road which soon becomes a mud bath(with the trailer tilted to one side),they visit some relatives of Lucy's and Desi ends up wreaking havoc trying to back the trailer into their driveway,and the straw which breaks the trailers,er,camels proverbial back,is a trip up and down an 8,000 ft.incline.Lucy cannot bare to part with hundreds of pounds of rocks she has collected as souvenirs,not to mention all the jars of preserves she has amassed.The added weight makes their trip up that mountain a pretty dicey one.
After this trip Lucy takes off with the car and trailer leaving poor Desi stranded. He eventually finds her as she is about to sell the trailer to an older couple.Love works in mysterious ways and in the end the two make up and forget their trailer woes.
Lucy and Desi made a solid team on screen and their chemistry here,like their show,was palpable.The show could have been a 1 1/2 hour I Love Lucy Show,and I dare say THEIR writing team would have produced better results.The two play a good every man and woman but they needed better material than what Warners gave them.There are quite a few draggy spots,and it is a credit to the both of them that the film wasn't worse than it was.Marjorie Main(currently starring in the Ma & Pa Kettle franchise) and Keenan Wynn co star, but have VERY short entrances and exits.
Technically speaking the film its in its original full screen a/r and generally looks quite good.Extras include the trailer,a Droopy cartoon and a Pete Smith Specialty short.
All in all a nice and pleasant 94 minutes roll before our eyes with two of TV's most well known icons,Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.The two make the best of the simple premise and resulting stilted writing.Should have been better,but it is nice to see the pair in their prime together and in colour.

DVD ~ Walter Koenig
Price: CDN$ 24.59
21 used & new from CDN$ 16.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It gets an "E" for effort!(actually a C+!), Dec 28 2014
This review is from: Moontrap (DVD)
Moontrap(released June/89)stars,among others, Walter Koenig,Bruce Campbell and Leigh Lombardi.The film is a well acted film,that moves along well until about 3/4 the way through, then starts bogging down.
The story finds Koenig and Campbell orbiting the earth in a shuttle.They encounter a huge alien craft in their orbit and Koenig does a space walk to investigate.He enters a a large hole in the side and retrieves a football shaped object,and also a humanoid corpse which happens to float by at the same time.They bring back both to earth for study.Back on terra firma they discover the origin of the objects, which was from the Prometheus crater on the moon.Campbell and Koenig convince a visiting government dignitary that they(Koenig and Campbell)must return to the crater to see what is there.However during their discussions the football shaped object retrieved turns out to have active alien technology inside.It takes parts from everything around itself to create a walking mechanical creature,which starts running amok.After a lengthy battle in a corridor Koenig is the one who finally manages to bring the thing down.
A short time later the two astronauts have blasted off and are now on the moon.They have also recruited a fellow astronaut who has their backs orbiting the moon above them,and whom they are in constant contact with.The two on the surface head off to the crater and indeed find an alien base of some sorts.Before they can investigate inside,they are accosted by a mechanical alien which they dispatch with the machine guns they have brought.Inside they find a room in which is littered with skeletons.In the middle is a round shaped object which they open up,only to find a live female human-looking alien,who speaks no English.They take the female with them,who has her own suit stored in a cubbyhole of the round object she came out of.They head back to their lander.However a larger version of the mechanized alien that accosted them earlier has literally taken their ship and put it on a larger alien ship, which is pointed for launch at earth.When they reach the lander site they find,of course,their ship is gone.They hop back on their rover and follow the tracks in the ground as far as they can until the rover's batteries run out.Then it is walking time.They not only discover the large alien ship but two more mechanical aliens accost them.This time,even though they are able to destroy both,Campbell is severely injured and soon dies.
Koenig and the alien female walk back to the dead rover.They are just in time to see their friend in the orbiting spacecraft come plunging into the lunar surface after being attacked.Koenig inflates a portable air-filled hut and both of them spend a time there....enough to make love.Just as they are about to leave another alien comes after them,and this one is made up of some of dead Campbell's parts! Koenig dispatches it.Soon however two more aliens show up and both Koenig and the female are captured and taken aboard the alien ship,which blasts off for earth.On the way the two are manacled and they find they are to be used merely as spare parts.Before an alien can chop up the female,Koenig breaks loose and takes out the alien.The two then escape to a larger,more open area of the ship(with zero gravity) where they not only find their lunar lander,but thousands of those football shaped objects from earlier.Koenig sets the lander to self destruct.Just before the explosion Koenig's use of his fire arm against an alien propels him back into the ship.This gives him the idea to do it again but this time to propel them both clear and out of the ship.As the ship explodes the two float towards another shuttle craft which was sent up to destroy the alien ship,but never could.
Fast forward back on earth,Koenig is now married to the alien who now speaks passable English.She re-iterates her love for him.The closing shot of the film is in a junk yard and one of those football shaped objects is opening up again,surrounded by a lot of items with which to animate itself with.
The film moves along very well for the most part and all involved do a good job in their respective parts.This movie was definitely of the low budget variety and the S/FX were all for the most part done in camera,with a sprinkling of miniatures.I just recently reviewed a film of Jean Claude Van Damme's called "Derailed",and Moontrap's S/Fx out do that movie which was filmed about 13 years later! The production crew did a great job with what little funds they had.What I found kind of sunk the film a bit was at about the last 1/4 of the film.This would be around the time Koenig is making love to the female alien...who didn't see that one coming? From here on the plot becomes been there,done that...even for 1989.It seemed the producers were trying to think of a good way to end it,and were stumbling around with this old idea and that,which never totally satisfies..
Also,being the low budget film it is,you will see bloopers.One big one is the part where Koenig and Campbell have to abandon their rover and climb a steep crater hill to find the alien base.Next thing you know the two are pulling up in their rover in front of the alien base in the crater! Huh? There are others but I won't spoil your fun looking for them.
Technically speaking the film is clear and crisp and is in its w/s a/r of 1:78:1.Extras include director commentary and two nice recent interviews with Campbell and Koenig(21 and 33 minutes respectively).
All in all a nice re-release of a long forgotten Sci-Fi film of the 80s, starring every one's favourite ensign from Star Trek(TOS),and the best B-movie actor of his generation.It shows its low budget finery but does good things with what little it has,which puts many later,more high budget movies to shame.The plot/editing is quick and fast up until the last quarter,where it starts to lose its traction.It's not a classic by any stretch,but it is far from a stinker.3-3 1/2 stars.

DVD ~ Jean-Claude Van Damme
Offered by Rainbow's End Books and Discs
Price: CDN$ 14.94
6 used & new from CDN$ 5.12

4.0 out of 5 stars A slightly above average JCVD romp, Dec 27 2014
This review is from: Derailed (DVD)
Deariled(released May/02)stars,among others,Jean-Claude Van Damme,Tomas Arana,Laura Harring, and Dennis Cakar.This film,while not one of JCVD's best,is not by any means his worst.The plot and acting are above average but it is other factors which DERAIL this film.
The story finds a government female operative stealing a small package containing highly contagious viles of small pox.She gets into trouble and Van Damme is called to extract her successfully from the country she is in.He gets there and he just barely manages to get her train.However there are other baddies also looking for the vials,and at the train's first stop they all climb aboard.To make the situation more awkward Van Damme's wife and two children surprise him,as she walks in on he and his "client".It is his birthday after all.The wife is now miffed, and with her nose firmly out of joint she and her children retire to another part of the train.
The baddies soon get their act in order and finally take over the train,looking for Van Damme's charge.With a lot of folks killed or being threatened she finally gives up.While being interrogated one of the vials are accidentally broken and soon a good portion of the train comes down with smallpox.
Van Damme never rests and is constantly on the move trying to either regain control of the train and/or fight/kill the bad guys.Slowly but surely the odds come around in Van Damme's favour and eventually he is able to regain control of the remaining vials and manages to save the lives of the trains remaining passengers before it falls into a wide chasm(a bridge was blown by NATO in order to stop it from reaching a large city).In quarantine Van Damme questions his boss,whom he believes set him up to also cash in on the deadly vials.He is arrested by NATO officials.Van Damme and his family walk happily into the to speak.
The plot and film are both fast moving.It is a solid one,I believe.Van Damme has some nice little emotional/acting moments throughout,usually with his family.The fact that the film is set on a train also heightens the tension.The biggest thing to set this film back though is its lack of good production values.Specifically, the poor use of CGI and miniatures really bring it down.It is all too apparent when you are watching it.Van Dammes motorcycling moments and weapons firing,and the trains hitting of another one and its eventual precarious perch on the edge of a blown bridge,for instance.The green screen moments were,at times, amateurish beyond belief.I suppose the Bulgarian"budget" was blown on JCVD,with little left over for the more crucial S/FX.Too bad.
Technically speaking this DVD contains BOTH w/s and f/s versions of the film.The film is grainy in the f/s but alright in the w/s.There is an approximately 15 minute featurette on the films making.
If you are looking for a decent Van Damme film,this would be a good one to watch.It could have been better though if the budget had been bigger, along with the production values.But alas this short coming brings the film down quite a bit,as much as every thesp did a good job in their respective roles.Btw,this was Kris,Van Damme's son's,second film,and he apprises himself quite well.3 1/2 stars.

Sinatra: Nothing But The Best
Sinatra: Nothing But The Best
Offered by Cessna Sales CA
Price: CDN$ 32.78
10 used & new from CDN$ 18.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware of what you think you want,and of what you really get!, Nov. 16 2014
This 2008 remastered CD of some of Sinatra's Reprise years(his own label),is a definite one for newbies new to Franks works.However more seasoned Sinatra fans will know that one has to be careful.More than a few of these songs have been recorded previously during his time at Capitol,and one might be thinking one is getting those more well known versions,than what are on here.Fly me to the Moon,The way you look Tonight,Moonlight Serenade,Bewitched,The Best is yet to Come,Fly me to the Moon,and more,all re-recordings.However that is not to say they are deficient,as Frank more than imbues each song with his own 60s mark;it just may not be the version you recall.To be on the safe side I would suggest you purchase his hits from EMI/Capitol,maybe more expensive but probably more familiar and pleasing than this one.I also have a problem with the remastering here.I have not checked out each track thoroughly,but on New York,New York there is supposed to be a drum roll after his famous À number one line as the song goes into its last turn.It is barely audible.I am afraid at what other faux pauxs I will hear,but should not.The sound is good and lush but I cannot give this CD what it deserves if they are now tinkering with the core of songs
The upshot is it is more than a fair look at Franks days as owner of his own label,but geared more for those familiar with the difference of record labels.Also they seem to have cheated us out of the central core of at least one famous tune,and probably others,because as they say where there is smoke there is fire.Pass.

French Connection 1 / French Connection 2
French Connection 1 / French Connection 2
Price: CDN$ 14.83
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Have you ever picked your feet in Poughkeepsie?", Nov. 16 2014
This two disc set by MGM packs both French Connection(released Oct/71) and French Connection Two(released May/75) into one set.MGM has released alot of these two and four pack movies in this same style of holder,without giving us the specs of the movies we're watching(see below).This is just plain sloppy and cheap packaging,and puts off those with even a modicum of savvy from buying them;never a good PR strategy.This set is a good buy considering what you get,though.The first film of course is the one you want to have,with FC2 coming in a sorry second.
The French Connection stars,among others,Gene Hackman,Fernando Rey,Roy Scheider,Tony Lo Bianco and Marcel Bozzuffi.The film,directed by William(the Exorcist)Friedkin,finds Hackman as Popeye Doyle,with Scheider as his sidekick,both New York city detectives.The scenario bounces back and forth between Marseilles,France and New York City.In France a drug lord is preparing to ship a huge amount of heroine to New York.In the big apple,stake outs and take downs have revealed that the criminal element there are preparing to receive the shipment.In particular,a couple with a record who run a luncheonette but have far more expensive tastes,are the two Doyle and his partner lean towards receiving it.The Frenchman arrives in New York with his Lincoln Continental in tow.Doyle and his partner,with the help of other cops,tail the Frenchman,whom he calls Frog#1.In the beginning Doyle and his cohorts manage to keep a safe distance but when Doyle plays musical subways with the Frenchman and loses,he knows,they know about the tails and who the tail-er is.Soon after an assassination attempt is made on Doyle,but fails.Doyle tries to apprehend the shooter and a long chase ensues,with Doyle in a car following the EL the man is in.The chase ends when the EL reaches the end of the line and Doyle shoots the man dead on the stairs of the subway entrance.
After this Doyle and company find the Frenchman's Lincoln parked on a street and stake it out.They catch a car full of people,but it turns out they were just car thieves.They impound the car and tear it apart looking for drugs.They find nothing.Scheider asks the weight of the car when it was first brought in.It seems the car is slightly overweight,even in pieces.So they look again and finally find the drugs in the rocker panels.They put the car back together and the guy who drove it originally,and reported it stolen,comes to retrieve it.He takes the car and drives it to Wards Island where the transaction of drugs takes place.The place is suddenly surrounded and a shoot out occurs.The Frenchman runs into an abandoned building where the film ends,as Doyle enters a room out of camera range and fires a shot,presumably killing the Frenchman.
The film doesn't quite have the same punch as it did back in the early 70s,and in fact has a kind of stop and go feel to it.The tough and politically incorrect language will have some newer viewers blanching.However the big thing here is the famous car chase.Not since Harold Lloyd took the ride of his life on a careening horse drawn street car through New York's streets under the EL tracks,has there been such a nail biting chase.More than once Hackman comes close to piling up his ride,but somehow manages to squeak through and get the bad guy.This film is in its original w/s a/r of 1:85:1.It is clear enough,but it certainly needs a new print struck and/or remastering,as it gets quite grainy in spots.There is commentary by the director and Hackman and the trailer.3 1/2-4 stars.
The French Connection Two stars,among others,Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey.The scene is set in Marseilles,where Hackman has been sent to get the Frenchman.It seems he got away in the first one.Doyle and the police force don't quite see eye to eye and tensions mount between the two.Hackman languishes for the longest time,wanting leads which the police won't give him.At one point Hackman is coincidentally spotted by the Frenchman.Hackman is captured and for several weeks is forced to take heroin.When the Frenchman realizes Hackman has nothing on him he lets him go.Back with the police he is dried out,which again takes much time.Finally back on his feet Hackman returns to the hotel he was taken to and burns it down.Next he and the police make a raid on the Frenmchman's hide out but he gets away.A long foot chase ensues as Hackman tries to catch up to his yacht which he is attempting to escape on.He finally is able to get close enough to get a bead on the Frenchman and shoots him dead.Fade to black.
The ending is the real killer here.After all of what we witnessed,the film suddenly cuts to black as the Frenchman unceremoniously falls over dead on his yacht.Another detriment to this film is Hackman's capture and nightmare time on heroin.It is a long and grueling watch and gets quite movie did well at the box office but not near as well as the first one,running on the first one's coat tails.And of course we had a different director at the helm this time around.The film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and this one looks much better than the first.Extras include commentary and trailer.2 1/2-3 stars.
All in all The French Connection is the one you want to see,while the second is a cheap runner up and at times arduous in its pace and watch-ability.

Dave Clark Five & Beyond: Glad All Over [Import]
Dave Clark Five & Beyond: Glad All Over [Import]
Offered by Mega Media CA
Price: CDN$ 26.61
25 used & new from CDN$ 22.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Mr.Clark shoots for a braoder audience to set the record straight, Nov. 16 2014
It has been long over due,but I am glad(all over) that this DVD has finally appeared.History and especially musical history, tends to morph,twist and get re-written in the most fascinating of ways.The British Invasion,and specifically The DC5's place in it,has been so marginalized, they have been almost(and in some quarters) completely forgotten.
Mr.Clark has finally produced this wonderful two disc set and tries to set the record straight.On the first disc we have an approximately two hour documentary,originally shown on PBS in the States,laying out exactly what the group accomplished,highlighted with some wonderful footage from vintage TV shows of the 60s,showing what the group did best....playing.The screams of the fans and the sheer numbers show just what a drawing card this group was in their heyday.While taking us step by step from the beginning of their career through to their eventual break up(strictly voluntary),it is augmented with interviews by the likes of Paul McCartney,Elton John,Sharon Osbourne,Gene Simmons(in full Kiss makeup),Bruce Springsteen and many,many more.We learn,among other things, that Mr.Clark not only personally steered the group (he was very image conscious) but produced them,managed them and obtained a personal plane for them to travel the world in.He also owned their publishing rights and asked for four times the going rate for their music in the beginning,got it and in three years the song masters came back to him.It is amusing to hear folks like McCartney and John say they regret not having done what Dave did,because it would have saved them alot of money in lawsuits,which didn't always yield them satisfactory results.
While some of the material covered might be old hat to the average fan,there are alot of new things that Mr.Clark sheds light on that I was not even aware of.And the videos that you see alone are worth watching it for.They sure brought alot of memories back to me.But as my title says I believe Mr.Clark is trying to cater not only to the old fans,but find a new audience who may not have heard of the group before,or know very little.What better way to get tremendous exposure and reach a new audience,than to have your documentary seen on PBS? Mr.Clark's business savvy comes to the fore once more folks!
The second disc on this set contains many impressive extras,which includes,outtakes,alternate DC5 performances,interviews with participants of the Hold On special,footage from that,the Hits in Action short,their Royal Performance set(singing 19 Days and Georgia-they could REALLY play live and fantastically well!),and a special section on Mr Clarks smash London play success TIME,with interviews with many of the artists involved in the recording of its soundtrack such as Dionne Warwick,Cliff Richards,Stevie Wonder,Julian Lennon,Freddie Mercury,etc,its premier night and an interview with Sir Lawrence Olivier(it played to over a million folks and sold over 12 million records!).
I hope three things come out of this DVD release A)Musical history is rewritten to reflect the way it really was and the DC5s proper place restored B)We get a new CD release.Not a another greatest hits,but either a release of ALL the groups material,or at least a CD with songs that have not been released up until this point in time.As you listen to the documentary you hear some of the groups instrumental-only songs playing in the background.I thought gosh,I'd settle for just an instrumental album.And C)A book.This DVD proves that there is SO much unwritten and not said/known about the group.A well written book about the group is something that is long overdue and this DVD just screams that point.
In conclusion,this two DVD set is as welcome as pay day.The DC5 have always represented the best of what 60s music had to offer.They were a clean cut,drug free, straight ahead group with a different sound than anyone else's.It is probably what got them sidelined in the history books(they didn't fit the sex,drugs,and rock and roll profile),but it is what got them into my heart(and countless others) where they have stayed ever since.Mr.Clark I salute you and the guys for the countless hours of pure joy and excitement you gave(and still give) this old fan of yours.You are gone but not forgotten by any stretch.Let's hope you can gain some NEW fans with this DVD set.

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