Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s Latest Creature Feature Re-Issue Is Another Great Classic Flick

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures’ classic 1950s creature features are among some of the greatest cinematic works in Hollywood’s rich history.  During their original theatrical runs, they were considered scary.  By today’s standards, they are anything but.  That’s okay though.  That is because they are examples of moviemakers doing so much more with so much less.  They are examples of movie making done right, and later this month, Shout! Factory and its horror arm Scream Factory will resurrect yet another of the studio’s classic creature features in the form of the 1995 classic Tarantula.  The latest of the studio’s movies to be re-issued by Shout! Factory, it is set for re-issue on Blu-ray on April 30.  It is another great addition to any true movie’s buff’s collection.  This is proven in part through the movie’s story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s forthcoming re-issue supports that statement even more, and will be addressed a little bit later.  The movie’s average price point proves to be money well-spent considering the re-issue’s combined primary and secondary content.  When it is considered with those noted elements, all three elements make the movie yet another of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1955 creature feature is a must have for any true movie buff.  It is one more of this year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.  That is thanks in part to the movie’s story.  The story at the center of Tarantula actually somewhat defies the movie’s title.  As a close watch will reveal, the real core of the movie was Professor Deemer’s misguided efforts to create a solution that will create super-sized animals and other foods to feed the world’s exploding population.  The result of Deemer’s tests are shown right in the story’s opening scene.  Of course, this is not fully realized until later in the story.  It would be wrong to call Deemer a mad scientist, but he is clearly misguided, as he wants to keep the findings and results of his work secret.  It is because of those efforts to hide what he is doing that the story’s titular character escapes from its enclosure in his home laboratory and wreaks havoc on a nearby town.  The majority of the story is spent with lead character Dr. Matt Hastings (John Agar – The Mole People, The Brain From Planet Arous, Night Breed) investigating a series of deaths around the unnamed town that slowly leads him to the killer spider.  During the course of that investigation, the spider is rarely shown.  When it is shown, it is barely presented.  This is both good and bad.  It is good in that it builds the suspense in the story.  The bad side is that the buildup leads to some noticeable pacing problems.  The pacing problems are not so bad that they make the movie unwatchable, but are problematic enough that they lead one to get the urge to fast forward every now and then.  Luckily, the story does eventually find its footing, and when it does so, finally starts moving forward much more easily.  One can’t help but wonder if this approach played a role in how famed author Peter Benchley approached his book Jaws when he wrote that novel.  Its big screen adaptation followed a similar approach, not really fully introducing the movie’s killer title creature until late in the movie.  Getting back on the subject at hand, once the story finally finds its footing, it does well keeping the action moving, and in turn keeping viewers engaged and entertained. The ending seems a bit abrupt, but still works, regardless.  Keeping this in mind along with the entertainment offered throughout the rest of the story, there is no question that the script, despite some minor bumps, is still an enjoyable work that will gives audiences plenty to appreciate.  The enjoyment created by the movie’s story is enhanced even more by the movie’s bonus feature-length audio commentary.

The commentary, presented once again by film historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter, adds its own share of enjoyment to the movie.  The pair has previously provided commentary for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s Blu-ray re-issues of The Deadly Mantis and The Mole People.  Weaver also previously provided commentary for The Man From Planet X with Dr. Robert J. Kiss, who joins Weaver and Schecter for this outing.  The trio’s commentary offers lots of insight about the movie’s casting, its connection to other sci-fi and horror flicks of the time and trivia directly connected to the movie.  One of the most interesting revelations presented in the audio commentary comes from Schecter as he reveals that famed composer, conductor and musician Henry Mancini played a role in the movie’s soundtrack.  It’s not the first time that Mancini’s role in the movie industry has been noted.  Schecter reveals in the audio commentary for The Deadly Mantis, that Mancini played a key role in that movie’s soundtrack, too.  Weaver, meanwhile reveals late in the commentary, that allegedly Agar was not entirely happy being cast just in the studio’s creature features, while his more well-known counterparts, such as Tony Curtis and others were receiving more high-profile roles.  Weaver reveals in this anecdote, that Agar was so unhappy that he freelanced for other companies, but sadly was typecast because of his work with Universal. Kiss meanwhile, reveals that when Tarantula originally debuted in theaters, it actually ran as part of a double feature in many U.S. theaters alongside the cop action/drama Running Wild.  The movie starred Mamie Van Doren (Teacher’s Pet, Voyage To The Planet of the Prehistoric Women, The Navy Vs. The Night Monsters) in one of its lead roles.  The revelation that the movie did not run by itself in many theaters is important because it shows some theater owners might have thought at the time that it was not strong enough to run solo.  As if everything noted here as to the movie’s commentary is not enough, there are also notes of possible link between Them! and Tarantula, between This Island Earth and Tarantula (the prior of which Shout! Factory/Scream Factory is set to re-issue on June 25 along with Monster on the Campus) and even info on at least one goof and some background on how the tarantulas used in the movie were chosen.  Between all of this and so much more shared throughout the course of the movie’s audio commentary, the breadth and width of material shared throughout the movie is more than enough for audiences to take in.  Given, it once again sounds and feels entirely scripted by all involved, which does detract from the presentation once more.  However, the commentary’s clear scripting is not so bad that it makes the commentary a loss.  It just would be nice to have commentary shared naturally rather than scripted.  Either way, when the commentary couples with the movie’s story, the two elements go a long way toward making the movie enjoyable for all audiences.  Keeping that in mind, the movie’s average price point proves to be money well-spent.

The movie’s average price point, using price listings from Shout! Factory’s own store, Books-A-Million and Target, is $26.22.  The movie’s previous DVD release is listed at Walmart, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers, but not its upcoming Blu-ray re-issue.  Shout! Factory’s listing of $22.99 is the least expensive listing at the time of this review’s posting while the most expensive listing — $27.99 – is at Books-A-Million’s store.  Regardless of which outlet movie buffs use, the prices will not break anyone’s bank, and as already noted, the movie’s upcoming re-issue offers plenty for audiences to enjoy.  When all of this is considered together, it becomes easy to see why this flick’s re-issue is a welcome addition to any purist movie buff’s library and why it is one more of the year’s top new DVD and BD re-issues.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:

 

 

 

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Classic Creature Feature Gets Great Re-Issue Thanks To Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Scream Factory/Universal International

Shout! Factory and its horror arm, Scream Factory are taking sci-fi fans back in time again next month with the release of yet another one of Universal Pictures’ timeless creature features.

The Deadly Mantis is scheduled for release on March 19 on Blu-ray.  The classic low-budget b-flick was lambasted by critics following its theatrical debut on May 26, 1957.  The criticisms focused on items, such as its overt use of stock footage and re-use of sets.  While it hardly received a warm welcome in its debut, The Deadly Mantis has since gone on to become a cult favorite among sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike, but has been difficult to find on DVD and Blu-ray.  That is until now.  This new re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is another welcome addition to the library of any of the noted audiences.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Its bonus content adds even more interest and appeal to its presentation as its story.  The Blu-ray’s average price point rounds out the most important of its elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make The Deadly Mantis’ new Blu-ray re-issue another welcome watch for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.

The upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of Universal International Pictures’ 1957 creature feature The Deadly Mantis is a presentation that will appeal to cinephiles across the board.  That is proven in part through its story.  The story focuses on the introduction of a giant prehistoric praying mantis into the 20th century world and mankind’s efforts to stop the creature before it has any chance to reproduce.  The story was hardly the only one of its kind at the time, having been preceded by Them! in 1954, Tarantula in 1955, and Attack of the Crab Monsters only three months prior to the debut of The Deadly Mantis.  The latter of that trio – one of famed director Roger Corman’s creations – was an Allied Pictures presentation, unlike the other two mentioned here.  This is important to note as it was just one part of what was a much bigger cinematic trend at that point in time.  Considering the bigger trend being presented, what makes this movie stand out is that it did not center on giant mutant creatures that came to be as a result of the military’s nuclear testing.  Rather, the mantis simply existed millions of years ago, and was freed from its cryogenic slumber (of sorts) as the overarching result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in the Earth’s southern hemisphere.  Film historian Tom Weaver addresses this scientific approach during his bonus commentary.  This will be discussed a little later on.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the story at the center of The Deadly Mantis might have seemed silly at the time, but considering the scientific advancements and discoveries that have been made in the current age, it makes the story more believable.  That ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief (even today) due to the story’s setup, ensures even more, viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  Now given, missiles and fire being unable to bring down the giant beast seems a bit of a stretch, considering it is just a giant praying mantis.  That thing must have had an exoskeleton made of titanium, especially considering what ultimately ended its reign of terror.  That aside, the reality that giant beasts did in fact exist at one time in reality, and that scientists even today are in fact, trying to clone other giant beasts (E.g. wooly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers) makes this story that much more believable, and in turn enjoyable.  The ability of audiences to suspend their disbelief with this movie’s story is just one part of what makes the movie such a joy for sci-fi fans and movie buffs alike.  The movie’s bonus content adds even more enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured in this movie includes the previously noted feature-length audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver and fellow film historian David Schecter, and the full-length episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that featured The Deadly Mantis.  Unlike The Mole People, which was re-issued by Shout! Factory/Scream Factory last month, this movie’s re-issue is lacking a bonus “making of” featurette.  The lack of that featurette is disheartening, but not enough to ruin the movie’s presentation.

The feature-length commentary from Weaver and Schecter reveals quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn from the commentary, that principal photography — the main part of a movie’s production involving capturing scenes in which the cast is on camera – took only 13 days, and that the use of stock footage in the movie played a direct role in the movie.  Weaver reveals that approximately 14 minutes (or 1/5) of the movie was composed of stock footage.  Considering that the movie’s run time is listed as just 79 minutes, that 14 minutes is actually a large portion of the movie.  Additionally, viewers learn through the duo’s commentary, that the movie’s original opening scene was actually different from what is in the final cut.  Weaver notes that the final cut was presented, as the movie’s director – Nathan Juran – wanted to ensure the story was believable, right from the opening sequence.  The end  result was that the frozen mantis was freed as the result of a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away.  This is actually believable, considering what we know today about the effects of volcanic eruptions.  Now, could the weather patterns that might have resulted from said eruption been enough to thaw out the mantis?  That is debatable, even today.  However, knowing mankind’s impact on climate change, it actually does not seem overly unbelievable.  Keeping this in mind, the right move was taken to change the opening.  As if all of this is not enough for fans, audiences also learn the identity of the film used for part of the stock footage – S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) – through Weaver’s scripted commentary.  It is revealed that the Eskimos in the noted scenes were reacting to a seaplane circling their community in Greenland, not to a giant praying mantis.

Schecter’s portion of the movie’s commentary will appeal just as much to music lovers as it will to movie lovers.  Schecter notes in his portion of the movie’s commentary, that legendary composer/conductor Henry Mancini played a specific part in the movie’s soundtrack.  The full depth of his involvement in the soundtrack will be left for audiences to learn on their own.  He was just one of the famed musical figures who were connected to the movie, according to Schecter.  Fellow composer Irving Gertz also had a tie to the movie’s soundtrack, as Schecter notes.  He makes note that the soundtrack to The Deadly Mantis and The Monolith Monsters were indirectly connected to each other.  Again, the full discussion will be left for viewers to take in on their own time.

The items listed here are just a portion of what Weaver and Schecter discuss throughout the course of The Deadly Mantis.  Far more is discussed, such as ties that certain members of the crew had to the now infamous “Red Scare” and the various ties that the cast had to other movies of the age. While Schecter’s (and Weaver’s) commentary are quite insightful, the one negative to their insight is that each man’s commentary is once again scripted.  This is made clear through their delivery.  Each man is obviously watching the movie as he shares his insight.  The problem is that each man is watching the movie only for timing purposes with his commentary.  This detracts from the commentary at least a little bit. It is not enough to make the commentary unenjoyable, but cannot be ignored.

Speaking of things that detract from the experience, the movie lacks a “making of” featurette this time out.  It doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, but it would have been nice to see what could have been told through such a feature that maybe was not addressed in the bonus commentary.  In defense of Shout! Factory/Scream Factory, there had to have been a good reason for omitting it this time out.  Luckily, the commentary from Weaver and Schecter does provide enough insight and entertainment to make up for that omission.

While The Deadly Mantis lacked a “making of” featurette, one thing that was thankfully included was the full episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that focused on the classic creature feature.  Shout! Factory/Scream Factory did the same with its recent re-issue of The Mole People, and once again, it is a welcome addition to the movie’s presentation.  This time out, Mike and his robot pals are trying to escape Pearl Forrester once again, and luckily escape her after her ape friends inadvertently activate a thermonuclear device that destroys Earth.  Of course Pearl and company managed to escape the blast.  How they escape and what happens from there will be left for audiences to discover on their own.  In the meantime, plenty of riffing happens as the crew of the Satellite of Love take in The Deadly Mantis.  Early on there is a joke about Minnesota (the state in which the show was based), that audiences will enjoy.  As the movie progresses, there is a joke about one of the unidentified cast members because of a certain shot.  “Shot in bald spot vision,” one of the robots cracks.  There are also pop culture references about Wheaties and Vicks Vapo rub later in the movie, along with a joke about the famed comic opera, the H.M.S. Pinafore and so much more.  Between the constant riffing and the live segments, the laughs that result from this episode of MST3K prove to be nonstop.  When that entertainment is coupled with the insight offered through the movie’s bonus commentaries, the end result is content that truly is a bonus in every sense of the word.  When it is collectively considered along with the story, which itself guarantees just as much engagement and entertainment, the movie proves that much more welcome in any cinephile’s home library.  Keeping all of this in mind, the breadth and depth of the movie’s primary and secondary content makes the movie’s average price point money that is well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Deadly Mantis, using price listings at Shout! Factory’s store and those of Amazon and Books-a-Million, is $25.39.  The movie is not listed at Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the time of this review’s posting.  Research shows that Shout! Factory’s price of $22.99 is the least expensive of the three listings, and is will below that average price point.  Books-A-Million’s listing of $27.99 is the most expensive, while Amazon’s list price of $25.19 is barely below that average.  In other words, at the time of this review’s post, Shout! Factory’s price for the re-issue is the most affordable.  It is money that sci-fi purists and movie buffs alike will agree, is well-spent.  That is because of the already noted content overall.  Add in that right now, the only outlets that audiences have for such a movie are occasionally on Turner Classic Movies and Me-TV’s hit show Svengoolie (both of which are themselves wonderful outlets), it makes that money even more well-spent, as it will allow audiences to watch this timeless classic any time that they want.  Keeping all of this in mind, it can easily be said that the upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one more of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.

Shout! Factory/Scream Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Deadly Mantis is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story (its primary content), which is actually quite believable considering what science has discovered to this day, and through its bonus content (its secondary content).  The insight and entertainment offered through the bonus content is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the story.  Add in an average price point that once again won’t break viewers’ banks, and the movie proves a completely welcome addition to any cinephile’s movie library.  It will be available March 19.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Mortensen, Ali Are Saving Graces For ‘Green Book’

Courtesy: Universal Pictures/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Universal Pictures’ new human drama Green Book has had made headlines nationwide since its theatrical debut late last year.  From the highs of taking home three Golden Globe ® awards to the controversy over how certain elements of the movie’s story were presented, to the controversy surrounding star Viggo Mortensen’s use of a racial slur soon after the movie’s premier to issues swirling around the movie’s director, Peter Farrelly, and co-writer/producer Nick Vallelonga, over their own past actions, the movie and those involved has gained plenty of positive and negative publicity.  With the movie being nominated for “Best Picture” at this year’s Oscars – which air live tonight on ABC – the movie is still making plenty of headlines, and could make even more if it takes home the Academy of Motion Pictures’ top prize.  Whether the movie takes home the Best Picture statue is up to the Academy voters.  They have plenty to consider, too, not the least of which being the movie’s story.  It will be discussed shortly.  The movie’s pacing poses a bit of a problem, too.  That will be addressed a little later.  The work of the movie’s lead cast couples with the story to make up for the issues raised by the movie’s pacing, making the movie overall worth at least one watch.

Green Book has brought in plenty of gold since making its theatrical debut in November.  The movie about two friends from two completely different backgrounds has also brought in plenty of gold at the awards shows since that time. The question is whether this movie is really that deserving of its awards or even Hollywood’s top prize.  That is due in part to a story, which has been done plenty of times previously in other movies, one of the most notable being the hit 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy.  That movie saw an elderly Jewish woman (played by Jessica Tandy – Fried Green Tomatoes, Cocoon, Batteries Not Included) becoming friends with her African-American chauffer (played by Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Seven, Invictus) as the pair overcame its racial and cultural differences.  Given, the story takes place over the course of years, but the similarity in the theme and setting is such that a comparison between the story and that of Green Book cannot be ignored.  The only major difference in the two settings is that in the case of Green Book, Tony is the driver while Dr. Shirley takes the place of Tandy.  In other words, the roles have been reversed and set against the backdrop of the civil rights era America, as the pair winds its way through the deep south on Dr. Shirley’s tour.  Other than that, the two movies are almost one in the same.  Driving Miss Daisy is not the only movie to which Green Book can be compared.  Radio and Remember The Titans also follow the standard theme of overcoming cultural differences and boundaries.  Not only that, but just like Green Book, they are also based on actual events.  To that end, this story becomes just one more in a bigger sea of similar flicks, and honestly, not the most memorable story.  Given, maybe this story did stay mostly true to the original story of Tony and Dr. Shirley, thanks to a member of Tony’s immediate family taking a direct role in the movie’s creation, but even with that in mind, it still is not the first time that a movie of this ilk has been released.  To that end, one cannot help but wonder why those movies did not receive the accolades that this movie has garnered, again showing the problem with this movie’s story.

The story at the center of Green Book presents its own share of problems for the movie.  That is because it is hardly the first time that a story of its ilk has been presented to audiences.  It is just one of the problems presented by this movie.  The movie’s pacing presents its own problem.  Green Book’s run time is listed on the back of its box at 2 hours and 10 minutes.  That is about average for movies in Hollywood’s current age.  The problem is that the noted run time feels so much longer than it actually is due to the story’s pacing.  The biggest pacing problem comes as Tony and Dr. Shirley actually hit the road.  The buildup to the trip and the finale movement actually move relatively well, but the trip itself has a tendency to drag.  It feels like Vallelonga, Farrelly and fellow writer Brian Hayes Currie wanted to make a little bit too certain that the story was told as accurately as possible.  While that dedication to staying true to the movie’s source material is to be commended, it clearly caused the movie to feel much longer than it actually was.  The result is that it leaves one checking one’s watch for the time more than once throughout the course of that two-hour-plus run time.  When this is considered alongside the problems caused by the movie’s story, the result is even more doubt as to whether Green Book deserves all of the gold (and green) that it has received.  For all of the problems posed by Green Book, the movie is not a complete loss.  The work of the movie’s lead actors is actually a positive.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali make for an enjoyable watch as they portray the real life Tony Lip and Dr. Don Shirley.  As is noted in the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette that is featured in the movie’s upcoming home release – it is scheduled for release on BD/DVD/Digital combo pack on March 12 – Mortensen worked hard to make sure that he got his portrayal as close to the real Tony Lip as possible.  It shows on screen, too, in every interaction with Ali.  Speaking of Ali, his portrayal is just as certain to keep audiences engaged and entertained as that of Mortensen.  Shirley’s gradual change from an aloof, uptight figure to a friendlier, more open individual is so subtle through Ali’s portrayal.  That change is visible as the two men interact throughout the course of the movie, too.  Tony starts to change and grow, too, through the men’s interactions, making the movie’s story at least somewhat bearable despite (again) that noted problematic pacing and again, its all-too-familiar overall story of race relations during the civil rights era.  In general, it is because of the men’s work that this movie is not just another forgettable addition to an already vast array of civil rights-era movies.  Keeping all of this in mind, one cannot help but wonder how or why Green Book has garnered the green and gold that it has received.  Regardless, it is a movie that is worth at least one watch, if only for the work of Mortensen and Ali.

Universal Pictures’ fish-out-of-water drama Green Book is a movie that is worth at the most, one watch.  That is thanks in large part to the work of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali.  The men’s chemistry on screen and their own performances is really the movie’s only true saving grace.  The movie’s central story is hardly the first of its kind, as it can easily be compared to the likes of Driving Miss Daisy, Radio and Remember The Titans with its civil rights-era backdrop and focus on overcoming cultural diversity.  The story’s pacing also detracts from the story, making the story’s two-hour, 10-minute run time feel closer to three hours.  The bonus material featured in the movie’s upcoming home release does little to help either.  Given, it adds a little bit of insight into the movie’s creation, but honestly little else.  Keeping all of this in mind, Green Book proves to itself not entirely worthy of the Motion Picture Academy’s top gold prize at tonight’s Oscars.  The movie will be available on Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo pack on March 12.  more information on Green Book is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.greenbookfilm.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/GreenBookMovie

 

 

 

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Sci-Fi Purists Will “Dig” Shout! Factory’s BD Re-Issue Of ‘The Mole People’

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Forbidden Planet. Invasion of the Body SnatchersEarth Vs. The Flying Saucers.  Each of these movies is considered to be a timeless sci-fi cinematic work.  Each movie was also released in 1956 – obviously a good year for the sci-fi industry.  That year also saw the release of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, World Without End and the equally beloved The Mole People.  That latter movie, released by Universal International Pictures (also known as Universal Pictures), is scheduled for re-issue on Blu-ray on Feb. 26 via Shout! Factory’s horror division, Scream! Factory.  The movie’s upcoming re-issue is a wonderfully entertaining work for any and every sci-fi purist out there.  That is proven in part through the movie’s very story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material featured with the movie’s forthcoming release does just as much to make this presentation appealing for sci-fi fans.  It will be examined a little later.  The movie’s average price point adds even more to the interest of its upcoming re-issue.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Mole People.  All things considered, they make Shout! Factory’s upcoming re-issue of The Mole People the first of this year’s great new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is the first of this year’s best new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  That statement is supported in part through the movie’s central story.  The story follows a group of archaeologists that is studying an ancient Sumerian site somewhere in Asia.  The somewhere is noted as the story never precisely notes where in Asia.  The men are led to the top of a snow-covered mountain through its investigation, where they discover a hidden Sumerian temple.  That discovery ends up leading the men deep into the mountain and yet another discovery – that of an ancient society whose people are not overly happy to have them there.  The story leads to plenty of action as the explorers investigate the pre-historic people and their ways, including run-ins with a group of giant creatures, and of course some romance.  While on the surface, the movie is just a fun rainy day watch (as is noted in the bonus features, which will be discussed a little later) on the surface, it is also a little bit more than that.  There is a certain allegorical element to the story, too.  Not to give away too much, but that allegorical element comes as the ancient people mistreat their mutant “creatures of the dark.”  The creatures are used as slaves for the much lighter-skinned figures, who interestingly enough are dressed a la Romans of eons ago even though their temple has Egyptian hieroglyphics with Roman architecture.  That crossing of cultures in the costume and set design is so awful that it’s entertaining.  Getting back on track, the matter of the treatment of the “creatures of the dark” by the albino people is certain to create plenty of discussion.  As a matter of fact, it is addressed in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette, which oddly enough is not listed on the back of the movie’s box, despite being included as a bonus.  That discussion and others included in the bonus content will be addressed later.  Getting back on track again, the simple story of the adventurers finding a “lost” civilization and their attempt to escape the slightly homicidal peoples makes for plenty of action and adventure for audiences.  That secondary element of the story’s seeming allegorical nature combine to make this story one that is certain to appeal to plenty of audiences.  To that end, the movie’s central story is key to the movie’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the important elements to examine here.  The bonus content featured with the story adds even more appeal to the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured with The Mole People offers plenty of insight – and entertainment – for audiences.  The previously noted “making of” featurette, which again is oddly not listed on the movie’s packaging, despite being present, is just one of the most important bonuses included in the movie’s presentation.  Audiences learn through this featurette, about topics, such as the cost-cutting measures taken in the movie’s creation, the allegory in the story, which even in its original theatrical run, apparently was not lost on audiences and even the change in the movie’s ending.  That discussion on the movie’s ending is directly related to the topic of the story’s deeper message.  It is certain to create its own share of discussion about censorship, civil rights and other related topics.  On a lighter note, the “making of” featurette also includes discussions on the costumes for the “creatures of the dark” and the connection of the costumes to other movies of the age.

The discussions featured in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette offer lots of insight into the movie, and in turn, making the movie’s presentation that much more appealing.  It is just one of the bonuses that should be noted in examining the movie’s presentation.  The dual feature-length audio commentary from Tom Weaver and David Schecter offers its own share of insight for audiences.  Audiences learn from Weaver, about the use of the Sierra Canyon set’s use not only in this movie, but in a variety of other movies from the time.  He also offers his own commentary about the use of the stock footage from the documentary Conquest of Everest (1953) for the movie, going into a bit more depth along the way than was offered in the movie’s bonus “making of” featurette.  Schecter takes his time addressing items, such as the seeming discussion on race relation presented within the story, as well as the movie’s production and cast.  Each man offers plenty of insight in his own right.  The only real downside to the discussions is that each is clearly scripted.  They are not natural at all.  This honestly detracts from the experience of hearing them discuss the movie.  It makes one feel as if discussing the movie was a chore for each figure.  In their defense, maybe it wasn’t a chore, but the delivery just feels so flat and lifeless.  To that end, their commentary is a toss-up.  It is enlightening, but at the same time, it is also not natural.  When the commentaries are considered with the information shared through the “making of” featurette, that overall breadth of information creates even more appeal for the movie and strengthens the movie’s presentation even more.

The discussions on The Mole People’s aesthetic elements featured in the movie’s bonus content goes a long way toward making the movie’s upcoming re-issue a positive presentation.  Those discussions are just part of what makes the movie’s companion bonus content so noteworthy.  The inclusion of the full-length 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which Mike and his robot pals riff the classic flick adds yet another level of enjoyment to the movie’s presentation.  This episode’s full-length presentation is a win for audiences and for Shout! Factory.  The full presentation gives audiences a glimpse into what made the classic series so great (and important).  In turn, that understanding can lead audiences to want to start adding the full volumes of MST3K that have been released, to their own home libraries.  When this episode – with its nonstop entertainment – is considered along with the movie’s bonus commentaries and “making of” featurette, the whole of the noted items shows clearly why the bonus content included in this movie’s presentation is so important to its presentation.  When they are collectively considered along with the movie’s entertaining story, the whole of these elements more than makes The Mole People worth the watch.  Keeping all of this in mind, the average price point for the movie’s upcoming re-issue proves to be money well-spent.

The average price point for Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is $25.34.  That price point is reached by averaging the movie’s listed price at Amazon, Walmart, Books-A-Million and Shout! Factory’s own store.  It is not listed at Target, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Walmart and Amazon’s price of $25.19 is just below that average, while Shout! Factory’s price point of $22.99 is well below that average.  Books-A-Million’s price of $27.99 is the most expensive of the listings.  In other words, at this point, Shout! Factory is the most economical choice for those choosing to purchase the Blu-ray, which again is a great addition to any sci-fi purist’s movie library.  It is especially well worth the money considering everything that has been discussed here.  When the movie’s primary and secondary content is considered along with this price point information, the whole proves to be a welcome re-issue.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming Blu-ray re-issue of The Mole People is a welcome new addition to the home library of any sci-fi purist out there.  That is proven in part through its story.  The concept in the story is actually believable, as it can be compared – to a point – to famed author Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Suspension of disbelief is actually quite possible because of that ability to compare the story to Verne’s classic literary work.  This is even despite the issues of the costumes and sets not exactly matching up.  The bonus content included with the movie’s upcoming re-issue adds plenty of entertainment and insight for audiences, in turn giving audiences even more to appreciate here.  The movie’s average price point is affordable, and is money well-spent, considering the breadth and depth of the bonus content featured in this presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of The Mole People.  All things considered, they make The Mole People a welcome addition to the home library of any sci-fi purists and the first of this year’s best DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  It can be pre-ordered via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

 

 

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Universal’s Latest ‘Johnny English’ Entry Is Another Fun Entry To The Series

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Spy flicks are big business for Hollywood.  Ever since the very first introduction of James Bond way back in 1962 in Dr. No, the spy genre has proven to be a cash cow for every one of Hollywood’s major studios.  From the mainstream Bond flicks to their multitude of spoofs (and even the absolutely horrible rip-offs from the small-time studios), it seems that there is no end in sight to the spy world.  Late last month, Universal Pictures added yet another title to that ever-growing world of spy flicks with the home release of Johnny English Strikes Again.  The third entry in the studio’s franchise, this latest offering has proven to be quite divisive among audiences and critics alike.  There has been little, if any middle ground in the responses to the movie.  This critic is one of the audiences who appreciates the movie, and sees its value.  The movie’s value starts with its story, which will be discussed shortly.  Atkinson’s work on camera is another positive that is to be noted in examining this movie.  The bonus material included in the movie’s home release rounds out its positives.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of Johnny English Strikes Again.  All things considered, they make Johnny English Strikes Again a movie that while maybe not memorable, is still a fun flick that is worth the occasional watch.

Universal Pictures’ latest entry in its Johnny English franchise is not the best spy flick to ever be presented to audiences, since the genre first became popular back in the 1960s.  At the same time though, it is also not the genre’s worst offering.  In fact, it is actually a fun flick that is well worth the occasional watch.  This is proven in part through the movie’s central story.  The movie’s central story follows Johnny English once again as he is called out of retirement following a cyber attack.  The identity of the culprit will not be revealed here, though it doesn’t take too long to figure out who is behind the attack.  The bigger story of English being a fish out of water with his reluctance to accept the digital age, and its companion commentary about the dangers of mankind’s reliance on technology adds even more to the movie’s ability to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  Add in the spoofs of MGM’s James Bond flicks, the continued stylistic similarity to Paramount’s Naked Gun and Airplane franchises within the story, and audiences have even more motivation to watch this movie.  If all of that is not enough, the very fact that audiences do not have to have seen this franchise’s previous pair of movies in order to enjoy this story puts the finishing touch to the argument as to why the movie’s story is so integral to its overall presentation.  It actually does a lot more for the movie’s presentation than the movie’s detractors realize.  It is just one of the movie’s most important elements.  Lead star Rowan Atkinson’s work in front of the lens adds even more reason for audiences to take in the movie.

Atkinson’s work on camera is so important to discuss in examining Johnny English Strikes Again because, as with the movie’s story, it is another of the items that so many critics have derided.  The movie’s detractors have chided his work, saying that the physical comedy, the sight gags, etc. have been done in both of this movie’s predecessors.  Maybe that is the case.  However, the instant rebuttal is another reference to the fact that one need not have seen said movies prior to this work in order to appreciate it — and Atkinson’s work.  Once again, Atkinson has taken elements of his work as Mr. Bean and crossed with it so much familiar physical comedy made equally popular by the likes of Leslie Nielsen, Steve Martin and other similar comedians.  As a matter of fact, Atkinson’s work is compared to that of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton by his co-star Emma Thompson (who plays England’s prime minister this time out) in the movie’s bonus content.  This will be discussed later when the bonus content is discussed at more length.  Atkinson’s timing from scene to scene and emoting make for a presence that makes for its own share of entertainment.  He never goes over the top in any one scene, but rather maintains that familiar dry approach for which he has come to be known in every scene.  Again, his approach is similar to that used in the previous Johnny English movies, but still is adapted just enough here to keep his work entertaining.  Even with that in mind, audiences again do not have to have seen those movies to appreciate this work.  This makes his comic work here stand on its own rights just as much as the movie itself, going back to that previous discussion on the movie’s story.  Considering the importance of both elements displayed here, the arguments made by detractors of Johnny English Strikes Again hold even less water.  While they are undeniably crucial to the movie’s presentation – both by themselves and collectively – they are not its only key elements.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s home release rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material featured in the movie’s home release includes discussions on items, such as Atkinson’s approach to his acting, the gadgets used throughout the movie and the shooting locations.  The discussion on the gadgets and their connection to the bigger story of English’s disconnect from the digital age gives even more appreciation for not just the gadgets, but for the gadgets used in MGM’s old James Bond movies.  For those, such as this critic, who are also holdouts against all things digital, it has even interest as it reminds said audiences that they are not the only ones who refuse to become one of the masses that just give in to all things tech.  The discussion on Atkinson’s approach to his acting, which features not only comments from Atkinson, but also from his cast mates, proves that while his brand of comedy might be familiar, it still has a place in today’s cinematic world.  That is especially the case considering how much dumbed-down, sophomoric comedy exists right now en mass.  The discussion on the location shooting offers even more insight and appreciation for the movie, as it is revealed in this discussion that much of the shooting was done on location, and the impact that it had on reducing the movie’s budget.  That understanding and appreciation makes for more appreciation among audiences, as they will see that while it might not have been a big budget blockbuster, it still presents the look and feel of such a movie, and holds its own easily against said flicks in the long run.  As if all of this is not enough for audiences, the feature-length commentary from the movie’s director, David Kerr (who also shared his thoughts in the movie’s other bonus content) adds its own share of insight and entertainment to the movie.  Keeping all of this in mind, the bonus content featured in the home release of Johnny English Strikes Again creates its own positive for audiences’ viewing experience.  Between that positive and those presented by the movie’s story and Atkinson’s on-screen work, audiences get a whole here that while again might not be the best spy flick ever made, is hardly the terrible work that so many would have audiences believe it to be.  It is a fun watch that is worth the occasional watch by any family, being rated PG (another key element  to note – it is largely a family friendly flick in terms of its overall content).

Universal Pictures’ latest addition to its Johnny English franchise is a fun family flick that with or without its predecessors, is still well worth the occasional watch.  It is a family friendly movie (rated PG) whose story lacks the violence and sexuality of the movies, which it spoofs.  It also presents an easy to follow story that does not require having seen the franchise’s previous entries in order to be enjoyed.  This applies both to the story and the work of lead star Rowan Atkinson.  The bonus material featured in the movie’s home release adds its own positive to the whole.  Each item is important in itself to the whole of the movie.  All things considered, they make Johnny English Strikes Again a movie that while not the best spy flick ever made, is hardly the terrible work which so many critics would have people believe it to be.  It is a fun family flick that is well worth the occasional watch.  More information on this and other titles from Universal Pictures is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.universalpictures.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/universalstudiosentertainment

Twitter: http://twitter.com/universalpics

 

 

 

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‘Green Book’ Release Dates, Specs Announced

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Golden Globe-winning movie Green Book is coming home next month.

The movie is scheduled for release on digital on Feb. 19, and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on March 5. The movie, which took home Golden Globes on Sunday for “Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy,” Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Screenplay.  Lead actor Viggo Mortensen was nominated for “Best Performance By An Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy” for his role in the movie.

Inspired by a true story, the movie follows friends Tony Lip (Mortensen), who is a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx and his unlikely friend Dr. Don Shay (Mahershala Ali), a world-class pianist who happens to be African-American as the pair embark on a concert tour from New York into the deep south in the early 1960s. As the pair’s journey makes its way south, the men have to rely on “the green book” to find performance venues that were then safe for African-Americans.

The duo’s journey forces the men to set aside their differences in order to complete the journey safely.  The movie’s home release features a variety of bonus features, such as behind-the-scenes featurettes and cast and crew discussions.  The movie’s full list of bonus content is noted below.

4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAYTM, DVD & DIGITAL BONUS FEATURES:

  • Virtuoso Performances – Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them.
  • An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
  • Going Beyond the Green Book  Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.

Green Book will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-rayTM version, all in stunning 4K resolution.

More information on Green Book is available online now at:

 

Website: http://uni.pictures/GreenBook

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreenBookMovie

Twitter: http://twitter.com/greenbookfilm

 

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Shout! Factory’ Adds ‘The Jerk’ To Its Shout! Select Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is re-issuing Steve Martin’s classic comedy, The Jerk.

The movie is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray Tuesday as part of the company’s ongoing Shout! Select series.  Originally released Dec. 14, 1979 via Universal Pictures, the movie is considered by many to be Martin’s breakout movie.

The story stars Martin as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor, black sharecropping family in Mississippi.  Johnson heads out into the world on his own to find his “special purpose,” which leads to meetings with a would-be assassin, work with the circus and gas stations, an encounter with a service dog, a romance and a financial windfall.  Navi’s new-found fame and fortune leads to plenty of its own problems for the hapless man.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of the classic comedy features a handful of bonuses, including, but not limited to two new interviews with Martin and Reiner, and with the writing team of Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb.  The full list of the movie’s bonus material is noted below.

Bonus Features:
·        NEW Remastered from a Brand-New 2K Transfer
·        NEW A Conversation with Steve Martin and Carl Reiner
·        NEW A Conversation with Writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb
·        Learn How to Play “Tonight You Belong To Me”
·        The Lost Film Strips of Father Carols Las Vegas De Cordova
·        Trailers & Radio Spots

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

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