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Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show: Season 2 [Import]
Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show: Season 2 [Import]
DVD ~ Harvey Lembeck
Price: CDN$ 29.74
10 used & new from CDN$ 29.73

1.0 out of 5 stars Get your Bilko on,but with a price that is just too high!, July 2 2015
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I,like many of you, have learned over many years to be suspicious of companies that produce products that are not consistently of good quality.In the DVD media world, Shout Factory is right near the top of the list.Their products have been hit and miss for years,and this, Season Two of the Phil Silvers Show,is one that is a definite miss.
Season one of this series saw CBS and Paramount teaming up to produce the end product.The eps were grainy and had just the bare bones remastering.For the second,it seems Paramount has dropped out of the equation and Shout Factory has come in to fill the void.And the reason I am advising against buying this product may be one of the reasons why.On the first disc,second ep,about 10 minutes in where Bilko is talking to the chaplain,a video line appears and disappears.I had to go back to see if I had somehow mistook what I saw.Unfortunately it was all too true.On top of Shout Factory taking the reigns, something else has changed.Unlike Season One,Season Two,at the end of each ep,shows the Viacom syndication logo.That means instead of newer prints,we are stuck with the old Viacom syndication tapes for a source of the shows.It wouldn't be so bad if any anomalies were corrected in transferring them to DVD.But no.
I was going to contact Shout for comment but I immediately stopped myself.In a Season of McHales Navy the exact same thing occurs during one of those eps.When I contacted them then they explained that they just used what ever they were given.One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what they would say this time.
Well I stopped buying any further sets of McHales Navy because of that and I am going to do the same now with this series.How sad that in this day and age that if source anomalies crop up that need correcting,companies like this don't have the guts to say "No" and to ask for other prints.What has happened to quality control?What has happened to a word called"integrity"?
Shout Factory should be utterly ashamed for releasing a show in this condition.The Phil Silver Shows is one of my fave shows of all time(and obviously for many others)and to see it released with no regard for the buying public is a real kick in the pants.Another black mark to Shout Factory and a BIG thumbs down to CBS for releasing these eps via the old Viacom syndication tapes.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 [DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 [DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Jennifer Lawrence
Price: CDN$ 23.88
9 used & new from CDN$ 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The best one yet!, June 28 2015
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The Hunger Games:Mockingjay Part 1,stars,among others,Jennifer Lawrence,Josh Hutcherson,Liam Hemsworth,Woody Harrelson,Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks,Julianne Moore,Philip Seymour Hoffman,Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland.This is a great and suspenseful sequel as the franchise runs down to what should be a very exciting climax of a film in the next installment.
The story finds Katniss rescued by the leaders of the rebellion.Peeta,her"love"from the televised Hunger games,has been captured by President Snow's troops.The rebels want her to become the cause's symbol,something everyone can rally around, but since Peeta is not around she has no desire to do so,despite numerous requests.After a visit to District 12,,which has been leveled,and after seeing Peeta broadcasting telling the rebels to lay down their arms,she changes her mind.One of the conditions being Peeta is rescued at the earliest opportunity.
During a visit to District 8,when Katniss visits a makeshift hospital there,it is attacked.They manage to bring down two ships but the hospital is all but destroyed.She gives a rousing speech which is filmed and broadcast to all districts.This causes the movement to begin in earnest as more districts now join in.During yet another Peeta broadcast,he suddenly yells out a warning to the rebels that an attack is imminent.As their headquarters prepares for the worst,they also prepare a retaliatory attack.At the last minute however they realize that the Capitol has no idea exactly where the rebels base is,so they stand down.With this they launch a rescue of Peeta in the Capitol,and it succeeds.When Peta is well enough Katniss joins him in the infirmary but he suddenly attacks her,almost killing her.It seems Peeta was mind washed to act as a weapon.
The film ends as the rebels try to bring Peeta back to normal,and it is announced that their next attack will be at the military stronghold/heart of District 2.
The film engages you right from the start and the excitement ebbs and flows with each step the rebels take against the Capitol.It is certainly a worthy successor to the other films and it portends much of what is to come in the final installment of the franchise.Juliann Moore makes a good rebel leader while all the core group is back once again assisting Lawrence through her journey like Harrelson,Hoffman and Banks.Tucci is also on hand in his great role as the games announcer.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.A digital copy is enclosed but no extras are available,but there are no extras.
All in all the franchise just gets better and better, and the tension is definitely building to the finale of the series.This film is the best of the bunch yet and if this is any indication,the last one is going to be a real bombshell.I cannot wait.4 -4 1/2 stars.

Bob Hope: The Tribute Collection Double Feature (College Swing / The Big Broadcast of 1938)
Bob Hope: The Tribute Collection Double Feature (College Swing / The Big Broadcast of 1938)
DVD ~ W.C. Fields
Price: CDN$ 14.88
26 used & new from CDN$ 9.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Two late 30s gems., June 21 2015
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This is a double feature DVD featuring College Swing(released April/38) and The Big Broadcast of 1938(released Feb/38).These films are both gems.Not only are they of their time but they include some super talents:some up and coming and others well established.
College Swings stars,among others,George Burns,Gracie Allen,Martha Raye,Bob Hope and a young up and coming dancer Betty Grable.To top this is the lead singer of the Hal Kemp band Skinnay Ennis,a young and up and coming John Payne,an older Jackie Coogan(Uncle Fester),comedian Ben Blue,loud mouthed Jerry Colonna,a young Bob Cummings and established screen supporting veteran Edward Everette Horton.The plot is loosely based around Gracie Allen whose direct ancestors have never graduated college by passing the final exam.An old relative states that if one of his offspring can pass an exam within 200 years,they will inherit a fortune.If not,all the money will go to the college.Well Gracie is the last in line and Hope signs a contract with her to be her manager and help her pass.She passes initially and the college becomes hers to run.But eventually they re-test her and all the chicanery comes out.But she gives the college back to the faculty and all is well.This is a great vehicle for Gracie Allen who excels here at her crazy mixed up nut humour that we all adored.Payne and Grable were just up and coming actors at this stage and both would hit it big in no time over at 20th Fox.Grable and Coogan were still married during the shooting of this film.Hope was also a big radio star and he would keep on at Paramount and become one of its biggest stars.Horton ends up "marrying"Gracie in this film.One of the few times,that he ever got the girl! Along with all the musical numbers,and Martha Raye belting out some humdingers in her usual wacky style,this film is a feats for the eyes and ears.An FYI:Boris Morros was the musical director here.He would soon be off to direct the Laurel and Hardy classic The Flying Deuces..4- 4 1/2 stars.
The Big Broadcast of 1938 stars,among others,W.C. Fields,Martha Raye,Dorothy Lamour and Shirley Ross,Bob Hope and Leif Erickson.The plot here is based on a trans-Atlantic ship race between the Collosal and the Gigantic.The owner of the Gigantic sends his bumbling twin brother(Fields in both roles) to sail on the Collosal.He feels his brother will sabotage the ship doing nothing but being himself.However,after a quick 18 holes of golf the brother flies off on a small motorcycle turned aircraft and lands on the Gigantic by mistake.He does indeed sabotage the race but eventually the crew rebounds and they come back to barely take first place right at the finish line.Fields is one hand to bring alot of comic relief to the proceedings in his usual inimitable style.Raye is also there to do her zany loud mouthed schtick.Lamour and Erickson end up being the love interests in this one(you may recall Erickson as the boys father in the 50s Sci Fi classic Invaders from Mars).Lamour was still an ingenue at this point and like Hope,still up and coming in pictures.Of course one cannot talk of this film if one doesn't mention the fact that it produced Bob Hope's theme song"Thanks for the memories",as he sings it with Ross,one of his three ex wives in the film!!(don't ask,just watch!).And speaking of music watch for the then popular Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm big band.
4 solid stars here.
Technically speaking the films are in full screen mode and both are generally crisp and clear.Extras include the trailers,production notes and photo galleries.This is a single one sided DVD.Both films are approximately 90 minutes long,give or take.
All in all two little gems from the late 30s when swing was all the rage and geared for the younger audiences(Yes,Hollywood was thinking demographics even back then!).It is comparable to the 50s rock and roll films to come later.Both are wonderful time capsules with some great established stars and a lot of up and coming ones.I highly recommend both.4-4 1/2 stars.

The Expendables 3 / Les sacrifiés 3 (Bilingual)
The Expendables 3 / Les sacrifiés 3 (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Sylvester Stallone
Price: CDN$ 8.00
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another winner!, June 20 2015
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The Expendables Three(released Aug/14)stars,among others,the core group w/ Stallone at its head along with Antonio Banderas,Kelsey Grammer,Wesley Snipes,Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford.I don't know how long Mr.Stallone is going to be able to continue to get the high calibre of talent he has amassed over three films,but all I know is I LOVE it.Keep it coming.
The story opens as Stallone and the guys are liberating Snipes from a train on the way to a foreign prison.Snipes is "Doc",an old member of Stallone's team.Once rescued they all fly off to Somalia where they must stop a shipment of bombs from falling into rebel hands.However they find another old member of the team, in Gibson, there.He has long since gone rogue and sells anything he can to the highest bidder.They try and take Gibson down but Gibson manages to almost take out Crewes permanently,instead.
Back in the States,we find Ford taking Willis' place as Stallone's boss(there was a much publicized public feud between Stallone and Willis over matters concerning the film-needless to say Willis won't be returning).Harrison dresses Stallone down for not taking out Gibson and for almost getting Crewes killed.He orders the guys to bring Gibson back alive for trials in the Hague.Stallone returns to his posse and formally disbands the group.To get some fresh blood for his mission to retrieve Gibson,he seeks out Grammer, who is in the business of supplying new personnel for wherever and whatever.
With a new team he heads off to Romania and in swift time his new team has captured Gibson and are heading back to the Hague.However Gibson has a GPS on him which no one detected, and in due course their van has been over turned by a missile fired from Gibson's hired thugs in a helicopter.They capture Stallone's team, while he barely escapes by jumping into a river and floating down stream.He is later found by more of Gibson's men but he kills them with his patented pistol, from behind his back.Back home Stallone receives a video from Gibson from Uzmenistan daring him to come and get him and his team.Banderas,unsuccessful in joining Stallone's team during his perusing with Grammer,now manages to weasel his way aboard.As the two start to fly off the plane is stopped by Stallone's old team.They hop aboard and it's off to the rescue.In Uzmenistan Stallone and company find their targets in an abandon building.As the group is cut down Gibson bursts in on a small TV screen to say the place has been rigged with explosives and is set to go off in a minute.One of the young team manages to jam the signal to stop the building from exploding with a wrist device of Lundgren's.But it is only temporary, as it has less than six minutes of juice left.To top this the building becomes a killing ground as wave after wave of Uzmenistani army troops(paid off by Gibson)assault the building, delaying any swift departure.
Ford,who ordered this mission of Stallone's in the first place,has personally flown a helicopter to the scene to assist,accompanied by Li and Schwarzenegger.They land on the roof and everyone but Stallone manages to get aboard.Stallone is busy with Gibson who,fed up with the army's inability to get the job done,has personally intervened.In a knock down,drag out fight,Stallone barely manages to pull a victory out of his hat against his foe.As Lundgren's wrist device's power runs out,the building starts to blow up.Stallone rushes to the roof as Ford is pulling away to avoid being pulled down with the explosion.In a real nail biting sequence,Stallone makes a literal leap of faith in mid air towards the helicopter many feet away.The concerned guys in the helicopter peer over the side and at first see nothing but dust,then Stallone swings into sight at the end of a long rope.
Back in the States,the old and new team celebrate as they become all one unit now,with both having a lot to learn from the other.
Stallone and company follow the same winning formula as the first two films, with the opening heart pounding,action intense sequence.This time around they have added some new blood to the film and it seems this is where the future of the franchise will go,with the old crew stepping aside for the newer folks.As long as they maintain the high quality of action,acting and pace the first three have always exhibited,there is no where to go but up.This time around Ford makes a wonderful(and better)substitute for Willis.Gibson made a surprisingly GOOD bad guy in this film.Grammer makes a nice go-to guy for fresh"bodies".And it was a great pleasure to see Wesley Snipes back in his acting seat after too long an absence.And in Expendables style they reference his real-life cause of imprisonment with his fictional one(tax evasion).
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1.There is some commentary and deleted scenes.
All in all yet another winner in the Expendables franchise.Mr.Stallone is to be commended for the hard work he has put into this series,along with having the creds to attract and get some fabulous talent to wander in front of the camera for all of our benefit.The action doesn't get much better than this.4-4 1/2 stars.

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies
Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies
DVD ~ Charles Chaplin
Price: CDN$ 21.98
11 used & new from CDN$ 10.12

4.0 out of 5 stars And it works wonderfully. Secondly, June 19 2015
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Mary Pickford:Muse of the Movies is a 2008 documentary,released now to home video.It tells the story of the life and career of the most influential star that has ever appeared on film.....period.It is narrated by Michael York with bridging sound clips from Mary herself throughout.
There are two falsehoods being touted by other reviewers(whom I usually ignore),but in this instance felt compelled to rectify.First off it is said Mary is narrating the film herself.No.As I just said the prime narration is by Mr.York.They interject various sound bites from interviews done with Mary over many years to bring a more immediacy to it all.And it works wonderfully.Secondly,it is said that a good portion of the film is religious in nature.Nothing could be further from the truth.Towards the end there are some very short sound bites in which Mary waxes philosophically about the world,God and our place in the grand scheme of things,but nothing major.She was after all Catholic and she did write a religious book,so not to include at least a thought or two on her views would be negligence on the producers part.But,as I say,they are short and take up a miniscule part of the entire documentary.
The only fault I can find was the length.It comes in around 101 minutes and it has a tendency to drag in parts.
There are some extras also which include a photo gallery and an audio dissertation on Mary,among others.
All in all a good documentary on Ms.Pickford and her rise in filmdom.As it says in the DVD,her rise parallels the rise of the movies themselves,so this is important stuff for those novices wanting to learn more about early film and the important movers and shakers of the day.For the more seasoned and informed,this documentary is a feast for the eyes, as it contains some rare clips of Mary from her movies and elsewhere.4-4 1/2 stars.

The Val Lewton Horror Collection with Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton Documentary (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam
The Val Lewton Horror Collection with Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton Documentary (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam
DVD ~ Various
Offered by eplayplay
Price: CDN$ 66.80
13 used & new from CDN$ 60.25

4.0 out of 5 stars Val makes a mountain out of a molehill...in a good way!, May 18 2015
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The Val Lewton Collection features nine of Vals wonderful works for RKO pictures in the 40s.Generally speaking,Val was just a small cog in a very big wheel,but his influence and sophistication on celluloid continue to this day.I cannot say I am a Lewton aficionado in any way.What little I know is that he came from working with Selznick to RKO to helm their newly made "horror"unit to compete with Universal.He was given the task of taking the most mundane and ridiculous script titles(the molehills),with the lowest budgets possible, and making something big out of them(the mountains)to produce some money making hits.RKO was not in good financial straits at this time(early 40s) due to Welles box office debacles of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.
That's the real extent of my knowledge.Now,after having watched all nine of the films(out of order),I can tell you Lewton was definitely someone with a totally different mindset for 1940s Hollywood.He didn't have a bunch of guys dressed up in monster suits running around terrorizing the towns folks.Instead each film became a set piece working on many levels,creating moods and through clever manipulation of sight and sound(or lack thereof),getting the audience to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations,much like the lost art form of the "silent" movies.He created some beautiful psychological melodramas whose influence can be seen in later films on the big and little screen.The Caine Mutiny owes a lot to the captain of Lewton's The Ghost Ship,and many of the later Twilight Zone eps were shot using the Lewton style,The Jungle with John Dehner being a prime example.Now let's look at the films themselves.For this occasion I will dispense with my usual rating of each one,but instead opt for an overall grade.
The first disc has Cat People and The Curse of the Cat people.The Cat People(released Dec/42)stars Simone Simon,Kent Smith and Tom Conway.This has Smith falling for Simon and marrying her.But he soon finds that her fears from her past in a small Serbian town get the better of both of them.When he is forced to divorce her the heat ramps up and in the end Simon commits suicide by opening a panther cage.This is a film that "plays"with the audience.Is the old town "curse"Simon speaks of real or just in her mind? The wonderful use of shadows and well placed sound effects drive this picture and it remains one of his most powerful today.
The Curse of the Cat People(released March/44)stars,Simone Simon,Kent Smith and Jane Randolph.Smith and his wife from the last film are here again.They now have a young daughter who is very introverted and loves to play alone,in fact making up fictional play friends.When her newest friend becomes Smith's ex from the first film(Simon), everyone gets worried.Is she real or just in the imagination of the girl? This film beautifully explores the mind of a young child and her realistic reactions to every day stimuli.
The second disc has I walked with a Zombie and The Body Snatcher.I Walked With a Zombie(released Mar/43)stars,James Ellison,Frances Dee and Tom Conway.This story concerns a young Canadian nurse who gets a job to care for a lady in the Caribbean.The lady in question appears to be in a constant trance.Before long the nurse is involved with local voodoo superstitions,something she was ill prepared to handle.This film is another Lewton set piece and his lighting and music creates a beautiful and deliciously somber mood.
The Body Snatcher(released May/45)stars,Boris Karloff,Bela Lugosi,Henry Daniell and Edith Atwater.Karloff shines as the unwanted thorn in the side of Daniell.Karloff is the man Daniell has relied on for years to get bodies for teaching purposes.But there is more to this sour relationship than meets the eye.When Daniell can take no more the characters spin wildly out of control until the last terrifying moment.This film works on many levels and Karloff does a superb job as the wretched body snatcher
The third disc finds Isle of the Dead and Bedlam.Isle of the Dead(released Sept/45) stars Boris Karloff and Ellen Drew.This is a tale set during the Greek wars of 1912.Karloff is a well known,but not well liked,general in the Greek army.Because of the amount of dead the plague has broken out all around the battle field.While visiting an island where he wife was buried to pay his respects,he finds the grave has been despoiled.He inquires at a nearby house and he and the occupants soon find out that they are now under quarantine for the plague.There is also some evil presence afoot.Will it take their lives before the plague does? And who or what is this evil? The last question is definitely what keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout most of the film.Another Lewton specialty-misdirection.
Bedlam(released May/46)stars Boris Karloff and Anna Lee.Karloff is the keeper of the local insane asylum.He has the favour of a local society man but his consort is not as kind in her thoughts and actions towards him.When the chance comes Karloff has her committed and she must somehow survive amongst the lunacy and degradation around her.The inmates manage to capture Karloff and put him on "trial".When they set him free he is killed,but not by one you expect. Again misdirection rules the day here,as does the superior script and Karloff's presence.
The fourth disc has The Leopard Man and The Ghost Ship.The Leopard Man(released May/43) stars Dennis O'Keefe and Margo.A local talent manager persuades his client to bring a leopard on a leash into a local nightclub as a publicity stunt.The animal escapes and is soon responsible for the death of one young lady.However the deaths don't end there.When they find the body of the leopard outside of town they realize that the leopard has had nothing whatsoever to do with the deaths ,other than the first.Who is it? Will they catch him/her? Again the title has little to do with what you think the plot will consist of.The acting is solid and tension builds beautifully throughout until the climax and the real killer is caught.More of the Lewton touch as the judicious use of sight and sound permeates this film.
Ghost Ship(released Dec/43)stars Richard Dix.Dix welcomes a new third mate onto his ship.Both men have much in common in their background,however Dix's bonhomie and fatherly advice begins to slowly but surely break down over time.When the third mate realizes the captain has a screw loose and men are dying at his hands,he cannot get anyone to help him.Eventually he becomes the captains target.Will he live to tell the tale? This is a Lewton mood piece once again.The title has nothing to do with ghosts of the spiritual kind but of men becoming ghosts within their own skins.The entire cast is running on all eight cylinders.
Disc five contains The 7th Victim and the documentary Shadows in the Dark:The Val Lewton Legacy.The ninth and final film is the 7th Victim(released Aug/43),starring Tom Conway,Jean Brooks,Isabel Jewell and Kim Hunter.This one finds a woman who lives at a boarding school.However her sister who pays the tuition has not done so for the past six months.Something has happened to her sister and she cannot find her.Through a lot of hardship she eventually manages to track her down but it is a sister who has changed and is involved with a devil worshiping society.When the sister wants out of this society they insist she kill herself;the seventh only to do so in the history of the sect.Will her little sister save her in time? Another Lewton mood piece and the clues/red herrings mount up considerably.There is more to every character we come across in this film than meets the eye.
The documentary Shadows in the Dark on this disc is 7l minutes long.I have not watched it yet but look forward to it after I write this.An FYI.This has always been my way,as I do not want documentaries or featurettes to influence my thinking on my reviews whatsoever.
Finally there has been a sixth disc added, and it is the documentary Val Lewton:The Man in the Shadows.This one is about 87 minutes long and is narrated by Martin Scorsese.Again.I look forward to watching it.It seems they have taken the original 2005 release of this set and have just added this disc in on top of it.They have a cream coloured wrap around piece that partly imitates the outside of the original box and holds the extras disc in place.
Technically speaking all films are in full screen mode and are clear and crisp.However many do exhibit periodic defects throughout.Considering their age,this is not unexpected.Each disc is in a separate snap case with two films per disc.
All in all we have a wonderful collection of the major films of a little known producer/writer at RKO.His influence continues to extend to writers ,directors and producers to this day.Lewton made sophisticated and smart "horror" films on a shoe string budget.He elevated the most mundane material to a level that had never been done before,or since.And he appears to have put a cadre of talented people around him;directors,writers,actors,etc,to accomplish just that.He used many of this same staff on most of his pictures he did and they worked wonderfully together.There are very few folks in the industry that could be said to have had such an impact as Lewton,with such little recognition.This set will hopefully change that.4-4 1/2 stars.

Taken 3 (Bilingual)
Taken 3 (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Liam Neeson
Price: CDN$ 14.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A franchise shaken up with satisfying results., April 25 2015
This review is from: Taken 3 (Bilingual) (DVD)
Taken 3(released Dec/14)stars,among others, Liam Neeson,Forest Whittaker,Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace.This film is a definite improvement from the derivative and poor one that #2 was.In fact it could be considered the best of the bunch.
The story starts with a group of Russian thugs kidnapping a man and taking him to an office tower.They force him to open a big safe to obtain money that is owed them,but there is nothing inside.They phone the man who owes them the money and shoot the man they kidnapped,leaving him in the safe.
Breaking to another scene, Neeson is taking a giant stuffed panda over to his daughter's flat.Doing something "unpredictable".He doesn't quite get the reception he thought he would as,unbeknownst to him,she has just discovered she is pregnant by her live-in boyfriend.He leaves and meets up briefly with his ex Lenore.He invites her to his place for supper but she declines.He goes home and is preparing his feast when in she walks;the front door was left open.They talk about their daughter,then about her marriage which she has been unhappy in for sometime.Neeson tells her he is going away with his old team for about a month and gives her his apartment key,to use if she needs time alone.
Next day he gets a text message from Lenore saying to meet him at his place and bring some bagels.He does this but discovers her lifeless body in his bed when he arrives.Soon after the police show up to arrest him.It is an obvious set up,but by whom?He escapes from the cops who give chase through yards and home.He manages to elude them and he heads for his team safe house.Retracing his wife's steps leads him to a remote gas station where,posing as a cop,he views the security tapes.He discovers his wife was kidnapped by men in a van.Again the police arrive but this time he gives himself up.Along the way to the station he gets loose and commandeers the police car.Before ditching the car he is able to download precious intel from the police computers onto a small drive.
Lenore's funeral goes ahead as scheduled and Neeson is there in spirit at least ,as his buddies attend with a small camera attached to one of their lapels.His daughter is made wise to the set up, as the police are there in a surveillance van.Next day he manages to meet his daughter at her school in the womens washroom.It's a tearful reunion but short as the police,who are tailing his daughter,arrive on cue.She manages to tell him she's pregnant,and that her step father is acting strangely,hiring bodyguards.Neeson barely eludes the cop cordon that is made and sets his sights on his daughter's step father.
He follows him by car but is pounced on by a group of Russians who manage to push his car over a steep incline.Shaken but unscathed,Neeson follows the Russians to a liquor store,kills most of them ,but manages to interrogate one before he is forced to kill him also.He heads straight to the step dad who confesses that he owed money to the Russians and that they killed his wife in revenge.Neeson cooks up a plan to storm the pad of the Russian mobster with the help of his teammates and using the step dad as bait.This they do, and Neeson and the head mobster finally meet and fight face to face.Neeson has him down and the mobster confess,just before he dies,that it looks as if the step dad played them both.It seems he got Neeson to take him(the Russian)out for him,and that the kidnapping/killing of Lenore was all a scheme on the step dad's part to collect $12 million in insurance money,framing Neeson in the process.
The step dad is back at the team's hideout and he soon overpowers one of Neeson's team and takes Neeson's daughter along as insurance.He flees to the Santa Monica airport and is fleeing in a private jet,when Neeson,driving the Russian mobsters Prosche,slams into the planes wheels sending it back onto the runway.Neeson gets to the step dad who confesses all.Just as Neeson is about to kill him his daughter persuades him not to.Neeson tells him that he will probably get a good lawyer and be out in a few years,but that he will be waiting for him when he does.
The film ends as the Neeson,his daughter and her boyfriend sit in the Malibu Pier restaurant telling Neeson that if the baby is a girl,it will be named Lenore,in her mothers memory.Neeson approves.
The producers/writers did,but really HAD,to shake this franchise up to get it moving again.After the disaster that was #2,it was swim or sink,as they say.And thankfully this time they swam,and what a swim.The film is action packed and rarely stops to catch its' breath.Between the police on Neeson's case constantly,the Russians and the step dad intrigue, Neeson's daughter getting caught in the middle of it all and Lenore's death(gasp!...I didn't see that one coming),it's a winner all the way.All the characters are true to the series core, which helps keep everything on an even keel in looks and feel.Neeson really plays his his role of the former operative,now retired,but now becoming a crisis driven individual,to a tee.All the actors play it solidly,along with an understated performance by Forest Whittaker.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.There are no extras,continuing with the industry trend of putting those mostly on the Blu Ray editions.Just like they did when converting us all from VHS to DVD,remember? You gotta love their tactics don't you? They're so...er....subtle.
All in all a thankful and welcome step up from #2.This is an action packed film which moves from beginning to end.They have shaken the franchise up....they HAD to,and the results are excellent.Kudos go to the entire cast.4-4 1/2 stars.

Bad Ass 3
Bad Ass 3
DVD ~ Danny Trejo
Price: CDN$ 10.00
4 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The Bad Asses franchise continues rolling along!, April 25 2015
This review is from: Bad Ass 3 (DVD)
Bad Asses 3(released Mar/15)stars,among others,Danny Trejo(the hardest working Latino actor today!),Danny Glover,John Amos and Loni Love.The Bad Asses franchise just keeps steam rolling along and it doesn't show signs of slowing down anytime soon.This is in great part due to Trejo's presence,along with his( now) side kick Danny Glover.With that great chemistry and an interesting storyline,#3 is a sure fire success.
The story this time around finds the two invited to the wedding of a lady who they watched over while she was staying in L.A.The guys get an all expense paid trip to Baton Rouge,La.The two are chauffeured from the airport to a beautiful plantation owned by the lady's father Amos.Along the way,at a bathroom stop for Glover,they stepped in to rescue a woman's purse from some local boys who wanted to take it for their own.All in a days work.
Once at the plantation the two meet and greet wealthy Amos and his family,reuniting with the bride.That night at a reception they meet the groom who is a former vet who is now wheel chair bound.After plenty of partying including lots of downed shots,the two stretch out on a couch for some shut eye.During the night the bride gets abducted.Trejo awakens and tries to prevent it going down, but he is outgunned and is knocked out.When he comes to Glover is standing over him telling him what he already knows.The police arrive and start grilling the guests,including the two guys.The police chief,a rather contrary sort,tells the two not to involve themselves in the investigation in any way or there would be consequences.That has never stopped the two before.
Snooping leads them to a local bar where they have to "persuade"some customers as to the whereabouts of a certain individual.As their man starts fleeing Glover puts a shot into his leg and he drops.From here they attend an apartment where a feisty girlfriend of the new man they seek gives them both a run for their money,physically speaking.From here it's off to a restaurant kitchen where they confront the man who was behind holding the bride captive.After Trejo's remakes one side of his face in a deep fryer,the man tells them she is being held in an abandoned factory outside of town.Off they go.
Meanwhile the investigation on the police side is going nowhere fast.The crooks have contacted the family by phone and set up a rendezvous where they must hand over $5 million to get their daughter back.Amos attends the police station and waits for the police chief who never comes.
Back on the trail Trejo and Glover are lost trying to find the factory but the police arrive to help.Unfortunately this isn't the kind of help they need.They are soon handcuffed and put aboard a transport plane by none other than the Police Chief himself, who is in on the kidnapping scheme.It seems he wants the two dropped into the bayou,from way on high.They are guarded during the flight by two cops.The only other person on board is the pilot.The bad asses manage to over power the guards and the pilot.Trejo takes over the planes controls and brings the big plane in for a belly landing.When the plane finally comes to a halt after a long skid and break up, the two discover a motorcycle with a sidecar in one broken section.Its Glover at the controls this time and Trejo is the passenger.Off they shoot and they eventually find the factory this time.However they soon are discovered and just as the guard is about to shoot them, Amos shows up and bonks the guard into a deep sleep.The three then storm the factory,taking no prisoners and kicking butt.They get the bride but who should show up to break the party up but none other than the groom,who is now miraculously walking.It seems he the police chief concocted this kidnapping scam together to get the money.The three are tied to posts and the room and factory both are set alight.Just as it looks like the three are just firewood for the burning,in comes Amos' son in a truck to rescue them(he was hiding in his dad's trunk).
With the clock ticking on the rendezvous, the four race across town to get to Amos' wife who is waiting with the $5 million to hand over to the kidnappers.The groom and his men beat the four to the rendezvous.Just as she is being forced to hand over the moolah,the four arrive and send the groom flying to the ground.They get out of the car and take care of his henchmen just as the police arrive;two cops and the Police Chief.The Chief says he must kill all of them and is about to begin with Trejo, when on a nearby hill appears a large group of younger folks with guns,led by a clean cop.The Chief uses Amos' wife as a shield but it is to no avail in the end,as he is taken down by Trejo.
The film ends as Trejo and Glover have over stayed their welcome and want to head back home.Before they leave Amos pulls them aside in his office and asks if they wouldn't allow him to fund their project to clean up and take back the crime ridden urban environments.On top of that they would be put on a permanent salary.The two,gobsmacked,accept his generous offer.
I found this film to be a winner all the way.There are many more elements going on throughout that I didn't mention(for brevity's sake),such as the side story of Amos' son who is bullied constantly but in the end saves the day,Amos change from diplomacy to butt kicking, the bride's attempt to escape from the factory and getting a message out to the cops,the connection of the guys who they thwart taking a purse to the kidnapping scheme ,and others.It has a lot of things going on constantly to keep your interest and there are a few comedic moments between Glover and Trejo which makes it even better.Thank goodness the producers/writers of this film have not warped the two main characters to have them doing things their characters wouldn't normally do.Trejo's character has been true to itself from the first film,as has Glover's from the second.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.There is a nice featurette included.
All in all another fine film in the Bad Asses franchise.There's good solid acting all around.If they keep true to the core theme as they go along,there is no telling how far they will be able to take this.I for one will anxiously be following it as it does.These are good films which are getting little to no write ups in the trade papers.They are virtually flying under the critics and viewers collective radars.There's nothing quite like being in on sleepers like these from the beginning.4-4 1/2 stars.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure / La grande aventure de Pee-Wee (Bilingual)
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure / La grande aventure de Pee-Wee (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Tony Bill
Price: CDN$ 9.93
2 used & new from CDN$ 9.93

3.0 out of 5 stars A film for fans only., April 19 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pee Wee's Big Adventure(released Aug/85)stars,among others,Pee-wee Herman,Elizabeth Daily and Mark Holton.Herman,already well known,extrapolated his TV character into a full length film.I remember taking my(then)12 year old daughter to see it in its original release.This version on DVD is NOT the original theatrical version.The original was much slower and ponderous due to scenes that went on far too long.Scenes like Pee Wee meeting the con and driving off the cliff;it seemed like the car would never land.Then there was his journey to Texas and meeting the waitress and returning back home.It dragged terribly.This newer released version has(thankfully)trimmed down those weak spots,and others,and as a result the film moves along much better.....but.... .
The story itself opens as Pee Wee wakes up for yet another day.Pee Wee of course playing his man/child role.We are introduced to his home in its entirety and his prized possession out back in a hidden room....his bicycle.Everything is totally 50s/60s kitsch.That bike would have been every boys dream back in that era.As he roles out we are then introduced to his"enemy" Francis.It is Francis's birthday and he covets Pee Wees ride.The two have a typical kid-like verbal interaction,which Pee sloughs off and then rides away from.
While shopping, Pee Wees bike is stolen.He reports it to the police but they can do nothing.He then recalls his earlier interaction with Francis and confronts him in his own home,in his huge "bath tub".Francis denies any involvement and Francis' father forces the two to make up,before Pee Wee leaves empty handed.That night Pee Wee round's up all his friends to create a search party,but his growing impatience gets the better of him and the meeting breaks up before it really gets going.Pee,despondent,wanders the streets in a rain storm,and ends up at a fortune tellers.An obvious fake,she tells him his bike is in the basement of the Alamo in San Antonio,Texas.Pee hits the road.
His first pick up is with an escaping con in a convertible.While driving at night Pee Wee drives over a cliff, but they end up floating gently to a road below due to the wind billowing in the retractable top.The con leaves Pee Wee at the roadside in the dark.A truck soon pulls up driven by one Large Marge.She drops him at a diner and he tells the waitress that Marge sent him.The room goes silent.It seems Marge was a former driver that was killed exactly 10 years before! A waitress takes a shine to Pee Wee and after Pee Wee spends a shift washing dishes(the fortune teller took his wallet),she and Pee Wee watch the sun come up inside the mouth of a life sized dinosaur in front of the truck stop.They part quickly when her boyfriend puts the chase on Pee Wee.He hops on to a train and ends up in San Antonio.He gets to the Alamo but is forced to endure a rather long tour of it with a group of others.At the end he finally gets to ask his question about the basement,but he is met with laughter from everyone as he finds out there is no basement.
Pee Wee goes to the bus depot and runs into the waitress who is off to Paris to pursue her dream there.However he also runs into the waitresses' boyfriend who gives chase.They end up at a rodeo where Pee Wee,in disguise,is forced to ride a bull.He is thrown off and is conked out.When he awakens he is asked what he remembers and he says "the alamo",to the shouts of all the Texans in the immediate vicinity.Next he winds up walking into a bikers bar and using the phone.The place is noisy and when he tries to hush the patrons they turn on him and throw him out.When he accidentally knocks over a neatly lined row of bikes they go crazy.They pull him into the bar and threaten his life.Pee Wee comes up with a "last request".He borrows a Mexican Americans big heeled white shoes and does his Pee Wee dance to the song "Tequila".After this they all become fast friends and allow him to drive away on one of their bikes.No sooner is he up and running when he careens through a huge sign and wipes out.He is taken to the hospital and upon awakening sees his bike on TV presented to a child star in Hollywood.Off he goes.
He sneaks onto the lot and disguises himself to become an extra in a scene in which his bike is involved.At the opportune moment he steals the bike and he suddenly finds the entire studio security is after him.After a long chase he finally escapes.Outside he rides by a pet shop which is on fire.Animal lover that he is,Pee Wee MUST stop and rescue them.As he runs in and out with each pet, he continually passes,and passes up,the snake terrarium.Finally,when all others are out,Pee Wee finally has to grab the snakes.Outside he faints and falls to the ground.The police and firefighters show up.The firemen think he is a hero, but the cops arrest him and take him to the Warner's studio head.They realize now that Pee Wee is the owner and think his "adventure" would make a great movie,which he agrees to.
The film ends as Pee Wee has all the friends he has met along the way to finding his bike,out for the premiere of his film,at a drive-in(we get to see snippets of the newly made picture which has James Brolin as Pee Wee and Morgan Fairchild as his girlfriend). It all ends with Francis getting ejected off Pee Wees bike seat in front of the attending press, and he and his girlfriend Dottie riding off together.
The film,as originally seen,would have gotten barely a 3 star rating,as slow as it was.This one has been improved flow-wise,but it cannot gloss over everything.The film is really for die hard fans of the Herman-meister.There are no real laugh-out- loud,knee slapping scenes in this film.You also have to be able to accept his character;the man/boy child,living a in a 50s/60s kitsch filled home and with the conversational and reactional range of an 8-10 year old.Being a fan of Reubens I accepted it,as well as many,many others.And he made it work wonderfully in his successful TV show of the late 80s.That's where he and his character really shone.But I thought then,and I still do now,that stretching that concept to a movie length feature was pushing it far beyond its possibilities.The only thing that held this film together was his character.Without him in ANY scene,it wouldn't work one iota.The only saving grace,as we can now look back on,was that Reubens,thankfully,kept true to his character.The boy/man child thing had to be sexless.He had to act that under-age/pre puberty line in order for it to work.His rejection of his girlfriend Dottie was right on and typical of where his character was age and thinking wise.Unfortunately, Reubens seemed afterwards to suddenly have a memory malfunction.He then created another but total disaster of a film in his next Big Top.He crossed that uncrossable line and the film fell totally flat.It was just plain creepy and unwatchable to see a sexually driven Pee Wee.Especially when juxtaposing it with his concurrently running Playhouse show with children.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.It has many extras including commentary by the director and Ruebens, and deleted scenes.
All in all while much better than the original theatrical version,the film is still a curiosity at best.And being a Herman fan I will give it 3-3 1/2 stars thsi time around.But even it's now more streamlined appearance doesn't make its entire concept any better than it was in the beginning.This is a 30 minute TV show stretched to just over three times what it should be.For fans only.Btw,they need to release this in the original theatrical version AND this version.

Wild Card (Bilingual)
Wild Card (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Jason Statham
Price: CDN$ 19.88
5 used & new from CDN$ 13.95

1.0 out of 5 stars A creampuff,with no cream!, April 10 2015
This review is from: Wild Card (Bilingual) (DVD)
Wild Card(released Jan/15)stars,among others,Jason Statham and Stanley Tucci.This is one heck of a wafer thin movie,plot and substance wise.It bounces back and forth between Statham's personal demons to defending himself against threats,all the while dreaming of a better life(that because of his demons)he can never achieve on his own.
The story finds Statham working in Vegas as a kind of gun for hire.He has a murky past and a lot of personal demons to contend with.One night a former girlfriend of his is roughed up considerably by a gangster and his two bodyguards in a suite at the Golden Nugget.She is unceremoniously dumped at the Emerg at the local hospital.Next day she contacts Statham and asks for revenge on the scum bags who humiliated her mentally and physically.Reluctant at first,Statham is soon on the case and finds out the exact room and who it is.He accompanies her to the suite.While she waits outside he takes out all three and ties up the two bodyguards.When ready he lets her in and she comes thisclose to taking off the head man's private parts with some garden sheers.They walk out with $50,000 and revenge completed.Outside he hands half the money over to her and she leaves town.
Statham heads back to a lawyers office where he works from.In walks a gentleman who wants to hire Statham to chaperone him around Vegas.Statham is less than enthused but takes him to the Golden Nugget,his favourite haunt.It turns out this guy is a multi millionaire who wants Statham to teach him to not be afraid in life and to show him some adventure.Instead Statham thinks a better time would be spent gambling(one of his many demons) at the blackjack table.By luck he manages to parlay his $25,000 into $500,000 ! Just as he is about to cash in his chips he suddenly thinks that he needs at least $1 million and heads back to the tables.His previous luck vanishes and he loses all of it.Next morning after a good drunk he wakes up in the suite of the millionaire, who hasn't left him.Leaving his suite,still not interested in what the millionaire has to offer,he is confronted by the gangster's men who want to take him to their PO'd boss.Statham makes quick work of the several who come after him, but soon the casino security put a stop to the proceedings.They take Statham to the Nugget's boss,Tucci.It seems the gangster has said Statham murdered his two bodyguards and stole his money.Tucci,ever the mild mannered gent,wants to get to the truth and eventually it does comes out.Statham's statement that there should be a cut on the gangsters penis(from the shears) outs him when the gangster refuses to undress.Statham leaves,as does the gangster in humiliation.
At a local diner Statham meets up with the millionaire again who gives him a present;a place ticket to Corsica and $500,000.He says Statham taught him that everyone is afraid and that it made him grow up.Outside Statham is confronted by the gangster and a posse of men.He takes them all out,including killing the gangster.Statham and the millionaire part company friends,with handshakes.Statham barrels out of Vegas,never to return.Fade to black.
One can't help but wonder if Statham is really just heading back to the Nugget with all the money,considering how he blew that same amount the night before.Can a leopard change its spots?
While the movie moves along at lightning speed there is a wispiness to the whole thing.It's all smoke,no substance.All pastry,no filling.
Statham's background is completely baffling.He has this gambling addiction and is known all around Vegas by seemingly every casino and restaurant employee going.He works sometimes out of a lawyers office.In fact a letter comes addressed to him asking if he knows how one would hypothetically get away with murder(?).The lawyer says he shouldn't respond.It's as if he has an advice column or something.He has a rep of some kind that alot of folks know about,that is for sure,but what it is is never spelled out.
The ex girlfriend(and thats all we know of her) who gets him to get her access to the gangster for some revenge, splits out of town after the deed.But she knows the gangster will come looking for him,but leaves him to take the heat anyways.Some "friend".
Then there is that millionaire.All we know of him is that he admitted to making $70 million before he was 19 with computer software.Here we have some one who has come a long way to see Statham and knows everything about him.Unfortunately he never shares anything of substance about him on screen for us to clue in to.
Lastly we have the "gangster".What he's a gangster of/boss of,we have no idea either.He and his guys are just a menacing presence.Just some"bad guys" written in for the movie.Mostly meaningless.
By now you see where I'm going with this.There is no one of any character substance at all in this film.Their backgrounds are kept deliberately vague throughout.I've seen comic books with more raison d'etre than this film.As a result, we have no interest in them at all.They fly before our eyes as dust in the wind.There's lots of talk but no thought behind the words.Blah,blah,blah-blah-blah.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.There are no extras.
All in all a film as Graham cracker thin as this one deserves about that many stars.Sure there are the Statham-kicks-butt moments,of which the fans always want to see,but in the end.....what did I actually watch?It's like I just ate some Chinese food,and 90 minutes later I'm still hungry.

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