The Last of the Netflix Streaming Releases for September

Here are the last of September releases but don’t despair because October’s dump of catalog titles is right behind.

Anime: The Devil is a Part-Timer!

Suddenly

Classic: Suddenly

Comedy: Alfie (2004), The Wedding Video, Bad Grandpa (R and Unrated cuts)

Hoop Dreams

Documentary: Free the Mind, Hoop Dreams, Print the Legend, Indy 500: The Inside Line, Lethal Force, Oceana Air Show

A Room with a View

Drama: My Name is Joe, A Room with a View, The Conspirator, Five Dances, Lullaby

Family: A Fine Step

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Foreign: Dragonwolf, On My Way

Horror: The Chair

Television: Make Me Human, China Revealed, Crazy Land, Hillbilly Blood, and new episodes of How I Met Your Mother, The Walking Dead, Parks and Recreation, and Comic Book Men

Thriller: Eternal Revenge, The Girl on the Train, The Double (2013)

Wal-Mart for the Win – Dracula Untold & Kiefer Sutherland

I was at Wal-Mart the other day, perusing the movie section while my wife was shopping elsewhere.

Dracula Untold

 

They had an endcap of old and new Universal horror movies. There were single copies of classics like Dracula and Frankenstein as well as multi-packs of more modern fare such as the Tremors series. Most of them had stickers for $7.50 off a movie ticket for the new Dracula Untold movie.

Off in their new release section, I also found the newly released Universal Frankenstein Legacy Collection and Dracula Collection. Each were $19.99 with Dracula Untold tickets. If you own the old versions of these, you might consider upgrading as The Frankenstein Legacy old version contained: Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Son of Frankenstein, The Ghost of Frankenstein, and House of Frankenstein. The new version contains all of those as well as Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The only difference in title is, instead of The Legacy Collection, it is The Complete Legacy Collection.

Kiefer 24

 

Hilarity ensued when I got to this option. For a mere five dollars, you can have a 24 hour movie binge with Kiefer Sutherland. This is a brilliant repackaging of two of Echo Bridge’s previous action movie collections. Out of the whopping 17 movies in the two collections, I believe only one of them actually stars Kiefer Sutherland. That would be the better forgotten Brotherhood of Justice from 1986 where Kiefer looks like this:

Brotherhood of Justice

I wonder how many people will buy this thinking that they are getting 24 for $5.

Fun Friday – Hulu, Best Buy, Netflix

I was at Best Buy and happened to spot this:

Horror

 

I was lucky enough to dodge the Bieber bullet (lower right). My daughters are too old and my granddaughter too young. Still, I am not sure he belongs in the horror section.

Hulu

 

I spotted this on Hulu the other night. I understand service in the Middle East must be very difficult but, honestly, I would work on defusing (removing the part of an explosive that makes it explode) rather than diffusing (spreading over a large area) bombs. It would seem diffusing is something only the bomber would desire.

Netflix

 

 

I appreciate that Netflix wants to integrate with social media. They keep (visually) pushing me to recommend films to my friends. I understand that and would whole-heartedly recommend The Grand Budapest Hotel if that was what I had watched instead of the latest Asylum atrocity. /sigh

They have also revamped the search engine interface for the computer. Instead of an open search box in the upper right, you now have a search button. I’m not sure why one would add another layer to a commonly used function. Typing text in the box that opens up begins locating movies on the fly. The new search seems to be geared toward watching movies on the computer whereas I use mine to put stuff in the queue for viewing on the TV later.

Their search engine gets better with each iteration. It used to be just titles then titles and actors. Now you can search on titles, actors, directors, and genres. What would be really neat would be full imdb integration.

 

WYSIWYG A Walk Among the Tombstones

WYSIWYG is the design principle of “What You See is What You Get” and applies to this movie as much as The November Man. A Walk Among the Tombstones is currently playing in theaters.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

 

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) – Rated R

Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife

I first have to admit to being one of those people who enjoys that Neeson was well over fifty when he re-invented himself as an action star. He has been in a wide variety of films throughout his acting career and had some great roles before coming into his own as Ducard in Batman Begins and then chilling viewers as a man with a particular set of skills in Taken. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Schindler’s List but lost to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia.

If you want to see Neeson as a modern private investigator then A Walk Among the Tombstones is for you, just don’t expect much more than that. At least it is filmed in New York so the locations are authentic.

I have a bit of a bone to pick with the trailer. There is an important piece of story that isn’t revealed until about two-thirds of the way through the movie. It is just backstory and as such not truly a spoiler but logically is important to reveal at that point. Well the reveal is in every trailer and commercial I have seen for this movie. Not just that but it was unnecessary as concealing would have involved shaving just a few seconds but I digress.

The movie is based on Lawrence Block’s novel of the same name. Block has written a number of novels featuring Matthew Scudder. 8 Million Ways to Die was filmed in 1986 with a young Jeff Bridges as Scudder. A Walk Among the Tombstones is wisely left in its setting (1999) as much of the plot would have to be reworked in this age of cellphones and a computer-phobic PI would be laughed at.

It is important to note that while this is being sold (somewhat) as a Liam Neeson action film, it is not. It is a mystery film with Scudder (Neeson) trying to figure out what happened in a kidnapping gone wrong. Director Scott Frank also adapted Block’s novel. The movie definitely proceeds along a literary pace with just a handful of action setpieces to showcase Neeson’s physicality.

It should also be noted that Tombstone’s R-rating is more than justified by the subject matter. The MPAA lists it as strong violence, disturbing images, language, and brief nudity. Many of the disturbing images are sexual assault related. I think that Frank did a good job of capturing the horror of the situation with the images instead of outright showing the assault, though honestly I don’t care for either in my films.

While I enjoyed Neeson and Dan Stevens as Kenny, the client who hires Scudder, no one else really stood out. Being primarily a mystery, the villains aren’t caught up with until late in the game and really don’t stand out as characters. Frank should definitely have hired some bigger guns for at least part of the movie.

As with yesterday’s Brosnan picture, A Walk Among the Tombstones is really only recommended if you have a particular affinity for the star. It is certainly a better film than The November Man but the setting comes across as dated instead of nostalgic. That said, I would welcome seeing Neeson as Scudder in further adaptations.

WYSIWYG The November Man

WYSIWYG is a design principle where “What You See is What You Get”. The November Man is currently playing in theaters.

The November Man

 

The November Man (2014) – Rated R

An ex-CIA operative is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil in a deadly game involving high level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.”

Know what we used to call you Peter? The November Man. Cause after you passed through, nothing lived. You were one bleak mother$%^& my friend.

Obviously it’s a good idea to cast Pierce Brosnan as an aging, retired superspy. There are plenty of people who have missed him as Bond, though Daniel Craig is a fine successor. I am old enough to be a Connery fan but I like Brosnan and he has aged well.

Unfortunately, this is pretty much all you get with The November Man. It is a by-the-numbers spy thriller with Devereaux coaxed out of retirement because a loved one is in danger. A hotshot protege is after him, the agency head wants him dead, and there is an agency contact in the middle. The main problem is that these roles play out exactly as we’ve seen them in many other genre books and films.

Another problem is that the Russian President-elect is basically a cipher here, practically a MacGuffin. I suspect that the screenplay rearranged things around Brosnan and downplayed other parts of the novel, “There are No Spies”, by Bill Granger. Michael Finch (Predators) and Karl Gajdusek (Oblivion) wrote the screenplay.

The cast is a mix of Hollywood types and apparently whoever was available in Serbia. I understand that it is very cheap to film in Eastern Europe but it almost always looks cheap as well (see the fifth Die Hard – or better yet avoid it) and The November Man is not an exception. Will Patton is always a welcome presence but does not have much to do.

Director Roger Donaldson is a competent, if unspectacular, director. He has worked with Brosnan before on Dante’s Peak and showcases him here to good effect. Devereaux’s return after his initial escape is a standout sequence but the rest of the film is fairly routine. The subject matter is unpleasant enough to earn an ‘R’ rating but sanitized enough for viewing audiences. The November Man is rated R for strong violence, including a sexual assault, language, sexuality, nudity, and brief drug use.

This is an easy recommendation if you are a Brosnan fan, otherwise meh.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 9/23/14

 

Hatari

Action/Adventure: Hatari!

Comedy: The Talent Given Us, The Woman Chaser

Documentary: Hot House, Reporter, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

Drama: Beyond the Ocean, Ragamuffin, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear

Family: Bratz: Family is Always in Style, The Little Ghost

Foreign: The Suspect

Blood Lake

Horror: Blood Lake, Dead Within

Television: Dream School and new episodes of Call the Midwife and Revolution

The Firm

Thriller: The Firm

Battle of the Damned Sharknado 2 – you lose!

Battle of the Damned and Sharknado 2 are not on Netflix but I watched them last week while I was ill.

Battle of the Damned

 

Battle of the Damned (2013) – Rated R

Following a deadly viral outbreak, private military soldier Max Gatling leads a handful of survivors and a ragtag band of robots against an army of the infected.”

Battle of the Damned is a severely schizophrenic film. Writer/director/producer Christopher Hatton crafts a pretty standard zombie scenario here. A mercenary team led by Max Gatling (Dolph Lundgren) goes into a city quarantined because of a virus outbreak that naturally turns the inhabitants into zombies. Having watched it, I am unsure how the city could possibly have been quarantined – particularly when the outbreak spreads quite rapidly but I digress.

Naturally, his team doesn’t make it far but Gatling meets up with some other survivors and decides to high-tail it out of quarantine land. Again pretty standard zombie fare. The picture is low budget but filmed well. Zombie action isn’t bad but nothing impressive either. That’s when the picture takes a left turn into crazy town. Gatling and crew encounter a team of life-saving robots.

This gonzo move held my attention for the rest of the movie. No, Battle of the Damned is not particularly good but it is a darn sight better than any of Asylum’s offerings.

Speaking of Asylum…

Sharknado 2

 

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – Rated TV-14

A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.”

I want to reiterate that Asylum’s Sharknado (and by extension almost any other Asylum production) was really just a bad film with a funny concept and name. It did not take proper advantage of the premise in spite of a few minorly amusing scenes.

Sharknado 2 embraces its stupidity, even in the title. Asylum finally found out how to do a bad B-movie (more than half a century after Corman and others learned how). Most of Asylum’s offerings are advertised in such a way that you will think they are so bad that they are funny. Only after sitting through them do you discover that they were just plain bad.

Sharknado 2 is the film that is so dumb, it becomes funny. The movie is filled with cameos done with a wink and a nod. Robert Hays plays a pilot. Judd Hirsch plays a taxi driver. Subway’s Jared is shown eating a sub in the subway. Wil Wheaton, after joking about it on The Big Bang Theory, appears here as do a slew of other guest stars.

The writers here had a lot of fun. Characters are named after ones in Jaws. They filmed the movie in the winter so they just threw a second storm, a vicious cold front, into the story. There are riffs here on Jaws, Happy Days, Airplane, Taxi Driver, and more. The silliness is ridiculously over the top as our hero can apparently do every job known to man, including that of airline pilot.

Finally an Asylum movie you can watch, laugh at, and enjoy!

BOGO Movie Tickets – The Giver & When The Game Stands Tall

In a last ditch effort to grab some dollars in a very sagging movie market, several chains are offering Buy One, Get One FREE deals.

The Giver

 

Regal, Epic, AMC, and other chains are offering Buy One, Get One FREE tickets to The Giver for the next week.

When the Game Stands Tall

 

AMC, Epic and other chains are also offering Buy One, Get One FREE tickets this week for When the Game Stands Tall.

The BoxTrolls

 

Sun-Maid is giving away 5,000 pairs of tickets to see The BoxTrolls. The random giveaway is here.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Middle of September

Lots of new mid-month releases. My pick is certainly Silver Linings Playbook.

The Colony

Action & Adventure: Defiance, The Trail, The Colony, 3 Days to Kill

Comedy: The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, Trailer Park Boys: Christmas Special, Black Coffee, The Formula

Documentary: Next Year Jersalem, Evergreen, Manakamana, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, Season of a Lifetime, When I Walk, Music for Mandela

Silver Linings Playbook

Drama: Beginners, One Day, Silver Linings Playbook, The Duchess, Just a Sigh, Four of Hearts, Frat Brothers, Grigris, In God’s Hands, The Music Never Stopped, Raising Izzie

Family: Puppy Party

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Star Trek IV: The Long Voyage Home, Age of Tomorrow

Television: The Slap, Teletubbies, Wolfblood, Unsealed: Alien Files, and new episodes of New Girl, The Fosters, and Bones

The Sacrament

Thriller: The Sacrament, Torment

 

13 Sins

Ugh! Sick this week so just a brief post. 13 Sins is currently available on instant Netflix

13 Sins

 

13 Sins (2014) – Rated R

A man agrees to appear on a game show with a $6 million prize. But as the challenges become more extreme, he realizes he’s made a grave mistake.

There are some good ideas here and a nice hook but the screenplay definitely needed more work. As with most ‘original’ ideas, several similar films arrived at about the same time. Cheap Thrills and Would You Rather? come to mind. I have not seen them (just their trailers) and I would have to suggest trying one of them or perhaps the Thai original, 13: Game of Death.

13 Sins is amusing but you will be rolling your eyes throughout much of it. They don’t play up the dark humor enough for it to be a comedy but between funny moments and eye-rolling ones, most suspense is killed.

Performances are fine for this level of film. It is nice to see Rutina Wesley in something besides True Blood (especially now that that series has finally received a stake to the heart). Mark Webber carries the film but doesn’t transform it. The creepy Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity, True Blood) puts in an appearance as does genre stalwart Ron Perlman though neither add much to the picture.

13 Sins isn’t bad, it is a passable waste of an hour and a half. I just suspect that one of the other films covering this subject is bound to be better.