Shout At The Devil Is Well Deserving Of Its Recent DVD/BD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/MGM/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory re-issued this Spring a movie that is perhaps one of the lesser known wartime period pieces to have been released during the 20th Century. The movie in question is the World War I period piece Shout at the Devil. This 1976 film, starring Roger Moore (For Your Eyes Only, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker) and Lee Marvin (M Squad, The Dirty Dozen, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), is a movie that deserves a second chance and rightfully has gotten one thanks to the people at Shout! Factory. The story’s script is the central reason for it to get that look that it otherwise might not have gotten in its original release. The script’s premise is pretty simple to follow, which leaves plenty of time for action throughout its length. Also worth noting is the acting on the part of both Marvin and Moore. The duo’s on screen presence makes suspension of disbelief quite easy, thus making the movie that much more enjoyable whether one is seeing it for the first time or the first time in a long time. And last but not least is the movie’s special effects department. While the movie is at its heart an action flick, the over-the-top explosions and other special effects that are overly used in today’s movies are nowhere to be found here. It seems like a minor detail. But reality is that it is quite important in the overall scheme of things. Each of the factors noted here are important at their own level. Altogether, they show just why Shout at the Devil is one of the 20th Century’s more underrated action flicks and war-time period pieces.

When asked to name some of the greatest war-time movies ever crafted during the 20th Century, most audiences will likely rattle off movie titles such as The Great Escape, Schindler’s List, Patton, and other big name movies. The likely reason for this is that movies centered on World War I are so few and far between. Next to Shout at the Devil perhaps the only other movie centered on that World War I that most audiences will come up with when asked to name any is All Quiet on the Western Front. Odds are few people will name Shout at the Devil as a matter of fact. Given the chance to watch this movie, word might finally spread now that it has been re-issued in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. And one reason that word might spread is the movie’s script. The script behind this movie is pretty simple. It sees Marvin and Moore as Colonel Flynn O’Flynn and Sebastian Oldsmith respectively. The pair goes toe to toe with German officer Herman Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff) in a game of cat and mouse across Africa. After Fleishcer and his men set fire to the village where O’Flynn and Oldsmith are staying with Oldsmiths’ wife and child things get very personal. That’s because Oldsmith’s newborn is killed in the process. The pair is then given reason to join forces with the British Navy to hunt down Fleischer’s battleship and sink it. It’s as simple as that. So it leaves one wondering why some viewers didn’t like this movie. Perhaps those are the viewers that should give this movie another watch now that it has been re-issued on Blu-ray/DVD box set courtesy of Shout! Factory. Perhaps a second watch will allow those audiences to see it more clearly and in turn appreciate it for that script, if nothing else.

The script penned for Shout at the Devil is central to the overall enjoyment of this period piece. Working in direct connection with the script is the acting on the part of its lead cast. There is obvious chemistry between Moore and Marvin throughout the movie. Their interactions show that. From their first scene to their fight when O’Flynn’s daughter announces that she and Oldsmith are going to get married, to Oldsmith’s reaction to being volunteered for the mission to find Fleischer’s battleship, their interactions with one another pull viewers effortlessly into the movie. Audiences will find themselves laughing quite a bit at the contradiction of personalities between the duo at so many points throughout the story. And even in the story’s few more emotional moments, they both pull off their parts expertly. That ability to interpret each scene and properly emote will easily keep audiences engaged and entertained. In turn, they make the movie’s roughly two-and-a-half hour run time fly by thus proving once more why this little-known movie so rightly deserved its re-issue from Shout! Factory.

The acting on the part of Lee Marvin and Roger Moore in Shout at the Devil and the movie’s script are both important parts of the movie’s enjoyment. There is one more factor to examine in the movie’s overall presentation that makes it a movie worth watching. That final factor is the movie’s special effects. Those that give this movie a chance will note that it is both a drama and an action flick. No action flick is complete without a certain amount of special effects. The problem with Hollywood today is that it relies far too much on special effects to make up for what is an otherwise boring film that lacks any real substance. The case with Shout at the Devil is the exact opposite as today’s movies. Given, studios didn’t have access to the resources in 1976 to which they have access today. Regardless, those behind the movie’s special effects used the resources at their disposal at a minimum. The flight scenes were obviously filmed in front of a blue screen as was the scene early on in which Fleischer’s battleship rams the tiny boat carrying O’Flynn and Oldsmith. But in comparison to other movies released in the late 70s, these special effects were actually respectable. They didn’t look so deliberate that one would end up simply shaking their heads at said scenes. And even the final scene, which will not be revealed here, kept the explosions to a minimum. They weren’t the over-the-top flash-bang-boom trips on which filmmakers such as Michael Bay and James Cameron go in their movies. Simply put, the special effects used in Shout at the Devil were used as part of the story rather than to make up for lack of story. And that balance with the writing and acting serves as part of the whole that once more makes Shout at the Devil a movie that any movie buff and military movie buff should see. This is regardless of whether said individuals will see the movie for the first time or for the first time in a long time.

Shout at the Devil is available now in stores and online in a double-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo pack courtesy of Shout! Factory. It can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/shout-devil. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory and Timeless Media is available online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.shoutfactory.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364, and http://www.timelessvideo.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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Inescapable A Nice Escape For Action Movie Fans

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group

There is nothing more powerful in the world than the love of a parent for his or her child.  This common theme has been used time and again throughout the history of motion pictures.  A quick glance through the annals of movie history will show no fewer than at least a dozen films whose plots are based on this theme.  One of the most recent films to use this theme comes from mpi media group.  The movie in question is the action/thriller Inescapable.  While it isn’t the first movie of its kind, it does have quite a bit going for it.  The story itself offers viewers a different take on the classic theme that sets it aside from the likes of Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise.  It also has going for it an all-star cast led by Alexander Siddig (Da Vinci’s Demons, Primeval, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  Most people are more apt to know the names of Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.  And most of all, it has some very interesting commentary courtesy of writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier.  These three factors offer so much more than can even be discussed within these confines; so much so that one would be best served to watch the movie by one’s self or with friends to really take in everything that the movie has to offer.  Regardless of alone or with friends, it is a work that is worth at least one watch.

 
Inescapable offers viewers first and foremost a take unlike that of other movies within this vein.  Something interesting to learn (as viewers will learn in watching this movie with additional commentary) is that writer/director Ruba Nadda in fact wrote this movie in 2005, three years before Taken premiered.  This makes the comparisons to that franchise in question understandable.  Sadly, this type of thing happens far more often than audiences realize both within the confines of the movie industry and the music industry.  Understanding that this movie came years before the Taken franchise took off, it makes it easier to take in its differences from the franchise in question.  This story does have its share of action.  But the character development (again as noted in the commentary) of Siddig’s Adib is a big part of what makes the story progress.  The story becomes just as much about learning about Adib’s past as it is about his journey to find his daughter.
 
Adib’s quest to find his daughter is the most obvious comparison that critics and audiences have made in discussing the story of Inescapable.  His search for his daughter is entirely unlike that of Taken.  The latter of the two films centered on human traffickers kidnapping a man’s daughter. Inescapable, on the other hand, centers on a group of figures that kidnapped a man’s daughter to use her as a political pawn of sorts.  Why they kidnap her is typical movie fare.  But the revelation of why they kidnapped her is revealed.  And it is just enough of a twist to leave viewers guessing and cheering for Adib especially in the eventual happy ending.  Yes, it does have a happy ending.  That much will be revealed.  Though, that is the extent of what will be revealed. 
The script behind Inescapable should visibly unlike that of either of the movies in the Taken franchise by now.  So from here, it would serve viewers best to move on and focus on the movie’s cast.  Veteran actress Maris Tomei (Parental Guidance, Crazy Stupid Love, The Wrestler) and actor Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek, Fringe) are billed as major stars of the story.  But the reality of the story is that much as in the case of Johnny Depp in Chocolat for example, Jackson and Tomei are really just lures to get viewers’ eyes.  They are in fact just supporting cast.  Alexander Siddig is the real star of this movie.  And considering his personal background, he could not have been a better choice.  For those that don’t know, Siddig was born in the Sudan in North Africa.  Keeping that in mind, and adding in his professional resume, his was a natural choice.  He looks and sounds every part the role of a Middle Eastern man.  His experience with some of the U.K.’s most well-known acting schools and on the large and small screen made him even more the natural choice for the movie’s lead role.  He had a real ability to take his character and bring such depth out of him.  It makes Adid that much more of a believable character for viewers.  That, along with the understanding of the story helps to make the movie even more worth the watch.
 
Audiences should see by now that despite early preconceptions about it, Inescapable has far more to offer viewers than they might have thought without seeing the movie.  If what has been noted already is not enough, then perhaps the additional commentary by writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier will change viewers’ minds.  Their discussions range from politics of the Middle East and their effect on shooting, to shooting on location in Damascus, to so many other topics.  It adds so much more depth to the story in a second watch.  That second watch will hopefully prove to viewers that have yet to see this action/thriller just how underrated it is.  Hopefully it will serve as one more example of the fact that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable and interesting as the big screen pieces to which they are so quickly and close-mindedly compared far too often.  Inescapable is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from mpi media group and IFC Films. 
 
Indie flick audiences and fans can keep up with all of the latest from IFC Films and mpi media group online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial, http://www.IFCFilms.com and http://www.mpimedia.com. 
 
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. 
 

Action Flick Fans Will Be “Taken” With Taken 2 On Blu-Ray, DVD

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Taken 2 is one of those movies for which there is no grey area.  It’s a fast moving, flash-boom-bang shoot-’em-up action flick that is very much in the vein of Lionsgate’s recently released The Expendables 2.  The only difference between that over the top sequel and this one is that more than likely 20th Century Fox will let this franchise end with the end of this movie.  Is it the best sequel ever made?  No.  But it is a great turn off your brain flick for anyone looking to escape from the constant barrage of negative news and every day stresses thrown at audiences every day on television and in the work-a-day world.  Right from the movie’s opening moments, it grabs viewers by the collar, making no bones about what to expect.  Once it takes off, there is no stopping the story’s action.  From gunfights to car chases and everything in between, this latest (and likely last) movie in the Taken franchise accomplishes the very goal which it set out to achieve in its short ninety-two minutes.  That goal is to entertain audiences and let them enter another world, if only for a short time.  For that, 20th Century Fox and all involved with this movie are to be commended.  That’s especially the case in a time when audiences need an escape more than ever.

As one can hopefully already tell, Taken 2 offers exactly what action movie buffs want out of said genre.  But there’s more to the movie than just the action that makes it worth at least one watch.  Much like The Expendables 2 and so many other action movies, this story offers audiences a hero for whom they can cheer in Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills.  All Mills wants is to finish the job that he started in the franchise’s first movie.  But the thing is so do the men who took his daughter.  And both sides will go to whatever lengths necessary to accomplish their goal.  Being that Bryan Mills is a clearly defined archetypal hero, rooting for him is that much easier.  So many of today’s movies have fewer heroes and more anti-hero figures.  It’s nice to see that Bryan doesn’t fit into the latter mold.  It’s one more positive to a movie that any action movie lover will appreciate.

Audiences will appreciate this movie even more now that it is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  The Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo pack offers audiences the most in-depth experience.  It offers audiences both the theatrical and unrated version of the movie along with an interesting bonus “pop-up” feature in the unrated version called “Black Ops Field Manual.”  It offers extra little bits of information about plot elements of the movie.  It’s sort of a director’ commentary without the commentary.  There’s also a character profile of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills courtesy of FX network.  There is no bonus commentary included here.  But that’s not necessarily a loss as there’s nothing extra needed to understand.  This is an action movie with an easy to understand plot, period.

The movie’s bonus features add their own element of enjoyment to this fast paced action flick.  In an even deeper level, there’s one more factor that makes the movie even more interesting.  That factor is that while this movie is a sequel, it could just as easily succeed as a stand-alone movie.  Audiences don’t necessarily need to have seen the franchise’s first movie to enjoy this one.  All audiences need to know is the most basic elements of the first of the pair of movies to understand the plot for this one.  Keeping this in mind, and adding in the bonus features of the Blu-ray/DVD/combo pack, Taken 2 actually turns out to be one of those rare sequels that actually turn out to be as good as the original.  In the grand scheme of things, it turns out to be a sequel that’s worth at least one watch.

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Batman Finale One Of 2012’s Best Movies, Home Releases

 

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Thank you David S. Goyer.  Thank you Christopher Nolan.  And thank you Jonathan Nolan.  Thanks to this trio, action film fans have gotten what is one of not only the best actions films of 2012, but one of the best films of 2012, hands down.  And while it is an impressive movie, one can’t help but wonder if perhaps it would have been better served to have been split at least into one final movie instead of trying to cram the entire thing into a near three hour time span.  That, perhaps, is the only true fault of this franchise closer……or is it the closer.  For those who have yet to see The Dark Knight Rises, Goyer and the Nolanâ(TM)s leave the door somewhat ajar for the possibility of another movie, even if it isn’t helmed by either of the Nolans.  What that means will not be given away, for the sake of those who have yet to experience this thrill ride of a story.

The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting title for this third and final(?) movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise.  What audiences see in this installment is Bruce wayne having had everything taken away.  He even loses his fortune through a series of twists and turns written into the primary plot.  That is one of the problems with the story’s writing.  How he loses his money exactly won’t be given away, either, here.  But the manner in which it is tied into the larger storyline is somewhat roundabout.  But being that said instance happens, combined with another downfall of sorts (there’s a little hint there), it makes the movie’s title that much more of a fit.  Audiences see Bruce Wayne AND Batman rise.  There’s even homage to the comic storyline in which Bane broke Batman’s back.  Of course, in that storyline, another character named Azrael had to take on the Batman mantle.  That doesn’t happen here.

As subtle as it was there was another factor that made The Dark Knight Rises an interesting movie.  In the first fight scene between Batman and Bane, there is no music to heighten the mood of the moment.  Typically, with any action movie, said music would be standard.  But in this case, that fight scene in question as just as powerful without the music.  That’s because audiences see just how tough Bane is.  There’s no need for music to emphasize that he was one tough villain.  The music is actually discussed in the bonus features in the new home release of The Dark Knight Rises.  It’s just one of many bonus features that make the movie even better now that it is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  Whether one is a trained movie production professional or simply has an appreciation for the work that goes into bringing such an epic movie to life, the extensive bonus features included in this release make for much more appreciation for the dedication to the Batman franchise.  The only irony of the new home release of The Dark Knight Rises is the lack of commentary on the main disc with the movie.  That isn’t entirely a loss though.  Considering the extensive bonus features included in the set, the lack of commentary is a minor issue.  Add in impressive quality footage in the Blu-ray presentation and audiences get a work that is not just one of the best movies of 2012 but also one of the best home releases of 2012.

As previously noted, The Dark Knight Rises clocks in at nearly three hours in length.  Goyer and the Nolans should be commended for making such an effort to bring everything from the first two movies and bring the whole franchise full circle.  Even Dr. Crane (A.K.A. The Scarecrow) is back again.  But because the trio made such an effort, it felt like too much was crammed into too little space.  While most critics might have panned the men for doing it, since the Harry Potter franchise did the same thing,The Dark Knight Rises might have been even more of a joy had it been spread out into another movie.  It would have left both the most seasoned Batman fans and the more casual ones feeling fulfilled while still wanting more.  Instead, it obviously left some audiences feeling winded after such a wild ride.  Regardless, what David S. Goyer and the Nolans have done for audiences with not just given this generation its definitive Batman, but it has clearly left the door open for Nolan or anyone else to continue the franchise in his or her own vision.  Should that happen, here is to the hopes that whoever should take the reins next will bring audiences a Batman franchise as impressive as Nolan’s, AND Burton’s.

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Before And After A Solid Crime Drama

Courtesy: Hollywood Pictures/Caravan Pictures/Mill Creek Entertainment

Before and After is not as terrible a story as some critics would have audiences believe.  Anyone that watches television newsmagazines such as Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, and the ilk will see that the story behind this movie is not as outrageous as it seems.  Nor are the reactions of the community surrounding Carolyn and Ben Ryan when it’s announced that their son Jacob (Edward Furlong) is a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Martha.  While this nation’s justice system says that a person is innocent until proven guilty, the townspeople in the Ryans’ community show the same reaction that people in the real world instantly show concerning any crime case that’s spread across the various news agencies.

While Liam Neeson has rarely had very good acting roles, this is one time when he is actually at least somewhat convincing.  And as always, veteran Meryl Streep impresses as the distraught mother trying to come to terms with and make sense of everything when her family’s world is turned upside down.  Alfred Molina shines, too, in the role of shyster lawyer Panos Demeris.  Audiences will love to hate him when he tells Carolyn that Jacob is his client.  And he will defend Jacob, even if it means throwing Carolyn under the bus.

The reaction of the townspeople around the Ryans’ is entirely believable.  One look at the news each night shows just how fast people are to judge, rather than sit and wait for the facts to come out about a case.  They instantly take it on themselves to be judge, jury and executioner, when they don’t have the full story.  And their reactions to Jacob’s family are just as believable.  Despite doing what he did, it makes Ben that much more of a sympathetic character to audiences.  He wasn’t thinking in doing what he did.  He wanted only to protect his son. 

That relationship between Ben and Jacob was the true heart of this movie.  While the main story was a crime drama, audiences learn that a fight between the two is what led up to the alleged murder.  Ultimately, the father-son relationship leads to an ending that is bittersweet at best.  But considering everything that Jacob and his family endured thanks to Martha’s death, it’s understandable that the story would end how it did.  That ending won’t be given away.  But it will leave any true movie lover moved as the last scene fades to credits.

Before and After is not a terrible movie by any means.  Is it the most memorable movie ever made in the crime drama genre?  No.  But it is still a movie that’s worth at least one watch.  Odds are that it was unappreciated by so many critics was that it was based so much in reality, rather than being just another over sensationalistic oversexed crime drama/thriller.  It’s a movie that any fan of more realistic crime dramas will enjoy.

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