Criterion Collection Review: Jackie Chan's Police Story Duology

Before Tom Cruise was breaking his ankle doing his own stunt, and other A-list actors were given high-fives for doing “some of their own” as well, international martial arts star Jackie Chan was pulling off body-shattering, slack-jawing stunts nobody will touch today, back in the 80s. Thrown off buildings, through glass, escaping exploding buildings — he pushed his limits as far as humanly possible with well choreographed fight scenes — albeit with the notion of, “let’s hope this works” practical thinking (often the stunt didn’t, which you can always see in his outtakes during the end-credits). Chan is unmatched when it comes to death-defying stunts.

Read More

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE Review: Dragged Across Two Hours and Forty Minutes of Nothing

In 2015, S. Craig Zahler first wowed audiences with his ultra-violent feature debut, the excellent western horror BONE TOMAHAWK. This movie pulses Sam Peckinpah. Then in 2017, he again blew his now fanbase away with a modern grindhouse movie with a beefed up Vince Vaughn called BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99. Both films follow a similar method — slowburn with a hyperviolent payoff worth your time. So it’s excepted that he would do it once again with his latest, DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, which only has a cool title going for it.

Read More

Creed II 4K Blu Review: A Knockout 4K Release

Creed II is a good sequel, and that’s all it needs to be. It doesn’t try to be better than the first film because director Steven Caple Jr. – an odd choice to follow the great Ryan Coogler, but this rookie held his own – as well as Sylvester Stallone (who co-wrote the screenplay), knew that trying to top a masterpiece – Creed – would be next to impossible. Creed is the second best in the Rocky Balboa franchise, and I will fight anyone who disagrees (note: must be shorter than 5’5’’ and weight less than 100 pounds)

Read More

A STAR IS BORN 4K Blu-ray Review: A Star is Reborn

A STAR IS BORN has been remade three times, and I think there is a reason for this: this is a movie that every generation can relate to — love, loss, tragedy, successful and the pitfalls that come with it — dealing with all of these at once in today’s fast-paced society.

A STAR IS BORN looks great in 4K — there’s not many films that don’t. A STAR IS BORN gives you the option to watch in Dolby Vision or HDR10, and my recommendation is HDR10. More contrast and brighter colors. (I hate Dolby Vision — it’s dim and makes everything look washed out.)

Read More

JUDGMENT NIGHT Blu-ray Review: EMILIOOOOOO!

93457_front.jpg

Back in the 90s, acclaimed actor-turned-multihyphenate Emilio Estevez was everywhere: YOUNG GUNS II (a personal favorite), MEN AT WORK (another personal favorite), FREEJACK, LOADED WEAPON 1 (I love this films and will fight you if you do not), the beloved THE MIGHTY DUCKS, and now it brings us to the 1993 classic, JUDGMENT NIGHT, starring Estevez, a young Stephen Dorff (BLADE), Cuba Gooding, Jr., that guy from House of Pain, and actor-turned-vicious-villain, Denis Leary. (Oh, and Jeremy Piven is in this, too, with a decaying hairline, 90s-style pants nobody would be caught dead in, and his same ole cocky attitude.) The film was directed by Stephen Hopkins who directed PREDATOR 2 and BLOWN AWAY, so this film has "irresistible 90s movie" written all over it.

Let me get this out of the way — I’m one of Emilio’s biggest fans. Like many, I grew up watching his films: BREAKFAST CLUB, REPO MAN, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, STAKEOUT (and its subsequent sequel), YOUNG GUNS, and those mentioned above in the previous paragraph. I remember the first time I watched JUDGEMENT NIGHT — it was at my dad’s, very late at night, I was 10, and it felt like I was in the movie. The atmosphere of the movie’s dark, brooding night sucked me in. I still get that feeling when I watch it.

JUDGEMENT NIGHT has never been on Blu-ray before, so if you have a giant TV like me, the DVD version wasn’t so great. Thanks to the great folks over at Warner Archive, you can now watch this film in glorious 1080p.

If you are an Emilio enthusiast like me, don’t move, don’t whisper, don’t even breathe — but the movie now right here.

HALLOWEEN Review: The New HALLOWEEN is Thrilling, Chilling, Savage, and the Most Fierce Entry in the Franchise Since the Original

“Are you afraid of the Boogeyman? You should be.” — Laurie Strode, sole Michael Myers survivor

If you’re reading this, you know who the Boogeyman is: Michael Myers. (If you don’t, stop reading, call your parents, and berate them for not giving you a good childhood.)

The original Halloween made its debut in 1978, cementing itself as one of the greatest horror films of all time. It opened the floodgates to countless slasher knockoffs and blessed us with horror icons such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. It also spawned now 11 sequels, reboots, and reimaginings, with only a few being worth a watch, either for nostalgia or because they’re so bad they’re fun. (Rob Zombie’s “reimagining” diptych can burn in hell.) After countless duds, David Gordon Green’s Halloween is finally a worthy sequel that John Carpenter’s slasher needed. It’s scary as hell and gives the Laurie-Michael feud a finale that fans deserve.

Read More

Review: MANDY (Or, HOW NICOLAS CAGE SET FIRE TO THE WORLD)

Chances are, you've read enough about MANDY that can't already be said. It's weird, wild, feverish, and features Nicolas fucking Cage at his best. No hyperbole here, folks -- he's a tornado and shreds the screen in this here film. 

Sure, at first look, MANDY may look like an easy paycheck for Cage -- he hasn't done a film he didn't dial in since 2010's KICK-ASS -- but he literally slays it here. He's all in for MANDY, and you'll believe it. This is the most fun I've seen him have in a movie in years.

Read More

Capsule Review: DAMSEL

The Zellner Bros.' DAMSEL is worth the price of admission for Robert Forster's opening monologue alone. Forster is a cinematic treasure, and if you've seen Quentin Tarantino's JACKIE BROWN, Haskell Wexler's MEDIUM COOL, or 1980's ALLIGATOR (where he fights a giant Alligator -- the title is no secret), then you will agree. 

So you've already got your money's worth for this scene, and the rest of the movie is such good fun, so you don't have anything to lose here.

Read More

Capsule Review: SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

I don't have a lot to say about the exhausting SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO.

If you're like me (or are me) and loved SICARIO, the first thing you're going to say when talking about SOLDADO is, "SICARIO didn't need a sequel." It tied up the story and character arcs for the two principal characters: Kate (Emily Blunt) and Alejandro (Benicio del Toro); the story doesn’t need to carry on, but this is Hollywood, baby.

Read More

Fear and Loving in David Gordon Green's HALLOWEEN Trailer

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 10.05.07 AM.png

Anyone who knows me, knows how loud my heart beats for John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978). It's the best slasher film ever made, and if you don't agree, let's fight. (Must be under five feet tall and weigh less than 100 pounds).

There have been several reboots, all have sucked (looking at you, Rob Zombie), and we finally may have the Michael Myers conclusion fans like me deserve. HALLOWEEN (2018) is under great care -- Jason Blum (producer for the great GET OUT, Paranormal Activity, and other great horrors movies), and is directed by my king, David Gordon Green (GEORGE WASHINGTON, JOE, PRINCE AVALANCHE).. DGG has never made a horror film before, but I will always trust this man.

Another fun tidbit: Danny McBride (Yes, Kenny Powers) co-wrote the film, but don't let that turn you off, he's a terrific writer and like DGG, he's taking this film very seriously. 

I trust DGG and McBride with this franchise -- they got Carpenter to return and do original music, as well as executive produce, Jamie's back, Nick Castle (who played Michael Myers / The Shape in the original Halloween) returned as Mikey, and you can tell just from what we've scene, DGG and McBride have paid close attention to detail. (If you look close, you can see Meyers left eye is poked out from when Laurie poked it with a hangover in Halloween (1978). So stoked. 

Poster.jpg

I try to avoid trailers if I can, but there's no way I was going to miss this one. I also hate when people judge a movie based on the trailer, but I cannot help but not when it comes to Michael Myers. I have been eagerly waiting to see footage of the film since HALLOWEEN's production started. The trailer does get me amped, but I do have some reservations (please God, let there be a damn good reason for Meyers for going after Laurie now they we know they are not brother-sister -- pure coincidence and a 40-year grudge will make her less significant and special). I will save those for the review, once I've seen the film. I just hope this is the Myers-Strode showdown us Halloween nerds deserve. 

I will say, I love the homages to previous Halloween incarnations throughout the trailer. Very cool of DGG to pay tribute to all the filmmakers who took a stab at the Myers franchise. 

October 19th is the theatrical release date; until then, check out the trailer and let me know what you think. 

Capsule Reviews: HEREDITARY, HOTEL ARTEMIS

A good horror film doesn't rely on big budgets, special effects, and giant monsters (unless that monster is your average human). A good horror film is atmospheric, grounded, and shakes you to the core long after leaving the theater. HEREDITARY nails all three of these. I'm still processing this movie, but I haven't been impacted by movie like HEREDITARY in quite some time. This movie scared the hell out of me.

Read More

Review: DEADPOOL 2

When DEADPOOL (2016) released, not many thought it was going to well. It was a February release, which is normally when studios dump their low tier movies they don't feel have a shot at awards season. (It's quite disheartening so many studios out there have the Oscar Bait mentality when making their films. Sure it's nice to win awards, but movies are made to entertain the audience first and foremost )

Read More

New on Blu: TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL

175515_front.jpg

Once upon a time, the TREMORS franchise was fun to watch. When practical effects and real scares were in, as well as a solid plot, and Michael Gross wasn't hurting for money. (It also didn't hurt that TREMORS (1990) starred Gross, along with Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Reba McEntire, and Victor Wong.)

In the sixth installment of the very tired franchise, TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL stars Michael Gross (the guy from the other TREMORS movies you probably know as Dad from FAMILY TIES) and Jamie Kennedy -- a once-beloved actor who stole the show in a little movie called SCREAM -- as the father-son duo who head to Canada to take on more Graboids and Ass-Blasters. If the latter sounds like a scat porn title, we are on the same page and need to get our heads out of the gutter. 

I really wanted to enjoy TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL, but it's, well, boring. This is never a good sign when it comes to a monster movie about creatures who chew through the earth to make you their lunch. A COLD DAY IN HELL wants to be funny and scary at the same time, but the execution is really, really bad. There's a scene that comes to mind when a smart character is about to be pulled under with a Graboid -- she has the option to survive if she takes off her pants. She refuses because she's "not wearing any underwear." What was director Don Michael Paul intention here? Comedy? Unconventional practicality? I don't want Jamie Kennedy seeing my bits and pieces as much as the next person, but there's no way I'm risking my life for a pair of jeans because I'm not wearing underoos. 

It'll be a cold day in hell before I watch this movie again. Thank God we will always have TREMORS (1990), a satire that brilliantly paid homage to JAWS and didn't take itself too seriously but managed to still scare the hell out of audiences everywhere. 

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Review

https_%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fscottmendelson%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F03%2Favengers-infinity-war-wakanda-standoff-1200x799.jpg

The Avengers are at war, and this time it's not civil. (Sorry, I have been waiting to use that sentence since the announcement of this film. It's quite lame and I'm OK with this.)

This is going to be a capsule review of THE AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR because there's a lot of layers and superheroes (about nine million, if I counted correctly), and so much going on, and well, I don't want to spoil anything for you. 

I don't think I need to dive much into the plot -- the big, bad guy we've been waiting on to come take on the Avengers -- Thanos (voiced by DEADPOOL 2's Josh Brolin) -- is here. He's arrived to get all the infinity stones and wipe out the galaxy. If he gets all of those stones, he's got the chance. 

INFINITY WAR is stuffed like a fat turkey with all your favorite MCU superheroes, and the action is mind-blowing. Moreover, the CGI is better than any superhero film I've ever seen -- there is one character I thought was real but was, in fact, complete CGI. (It's hilarious we are in 2018 and Marvel tricked me with their immaculate CGI, yet DC can't digitally erase a fucking mustache properly.) 

INFINITY WAR's running time is over 2 1/2 hours but it's so nail-biting intense it zooms by and is a rush the entire time. Marvel is unstoppable and DC needs to take notes. (Note: I love MAN OF STEEL and will defend it to the death. Come at me.) 

Co-directors The Russo Bothers did a fantastic job balancing the tone of each character and franchise that joined while keeping the film dark when it needs to be dark, and funny when it needs to be funny.

THE AVENGERS will always be the best in the franchise because Joss made a seemingly impossible job so incredible, but INFINITY WAR will no doubt be the most memorable.

 Being a more of a DC fan (well, OK, just Superman and Batman, and now Wonder Woman), I am very much looking forward to AVENGERS 4. 

Fun trivia: Marvel has a thing for giving Josh Brolin's left hand a key element to his character -- the glove in INFINITY WAR and his metal arm in DEADPOOL 2. Man, I am a dork but I love this stuff.