The Hitman’s Bodyguard Blu-ray Review

If The Hitman’s Bodyguard had come out 20 years ago, it might have seemed too generic in an age that was really pushing boundaries for action movies like Face/Off and Speed. Today it’s a refreshing return to old school movies where the strength of the actors’ chemistry and some thrilling stunts were enough to make a movie worthwhile.

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) used to be a AAA rated security guard until his biggest client got assassinated. Now he’s assigned to protect notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to give witness testimony against Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman).

There’s a lotta casual MF from Sam. When was his last freewheeling R-rated movie? The Hateful Eight was pre-MF historically. Reynolds and Salma Hayek get in on the MF too.

The action is over the top in a way we take for granted. They crash cars, fight and shoot at people but the hook is that Bryce and Kincaid are so utterly casual because it’s their job. Even more so than Arnold was. He played up that he could handle anything. These guys act like its entry level stuff.

It’s a ridiculous world of bravado but they treat the characters with respect. Bryce’s regrets for losing a client’s life and his girlfriend’s love is sincere. Kincaid loves his wife (Hayek), who took the fall for him. Even Oldman seems to be really playing the savage brutality of an Eastern European tyrant.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard follows the formula to a tee where Bryce and Kincaid hate each other, then learn to get along, then really hate each other but ultimately come to respect each other. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As long as you can give us a fun ride where they bicker through unique misadventures on the road, keep telling the odd couple story for as long as you want.

The film is a Blu-ray travelogue with bright vibrant London streets, overhead shots including The Eye. Belarus is bright green. The Hague at night peppers the dark sky with city lights. Amsterdam, all around Eastern Europe basically, but mainly Bulgaria where Millennium loves to shoot, all look glorious. Explosions light up the screen, even the blatant CGI ones.

Patrick Hughes gives a great commentary mixing technical information with anecdotes about the actors. It seems he’s a good blend of actor’s director and action director.

Don’t get too excited about deleted, extended and alternate scenes. The funniest stuff is in the movie. Oddly, there is a shot that lingers on a graphic throat slash. That seems rightfully cut for pacing, let alone taste.

Behind the scenes features are pretty standard sound bite packages but everyone sounds sincere. They weren’t doing a deep embedded making of, but when they sat with the camera they were engaged and proud of their work.

Rawhead Rex Blu-ray Review

I didn’t watch the new Rawhead Rex Blu-ray in time for Halloween, but now that it’s Christmas shopping season it’s worth considering for the horror fan in your life. 

The Blu-ry of the 4K restoration looks great even with just 1080p of it. The countryside is bright and you see all the detail as they dig through the dirt. It’s so bright inside the church it gets a little snowy as red laser shoots through stained glass. Post rain, you can almost feel the wet mud and moss on cobblestones. Running through the woods at night holds up too.

Rex isn’t the most expressive mask but you see all the detail there was in the full body costume. They certainly show him on screen a lot, which is not necessarily the most effective monster movie trope. Gore looks bright and gushing too. The optical effects in the climax look great.

21 minutes with Rawhead Rex actor Heinrich Von Schellendorf is in German with subtitles. He tries to explain the mythology but mainly remembers the action and costume, including dragging the naked woman out the window.

The rest of the features are in English including 11 minutes with Ronan Wilmot, 22 minutes with crew members and 20 more minutes with artist Stephen R. Bissette. Bissette gives more context on the influence of the original story and this particular adaptation.

Director George Pavlou gives a commentary and he remembers a lot in detail. Peter Mayhew comes up in both the crew members and commentary. Pavlou discusses showing Rawhead as much as he did and changing his look from Clive Barker’s description.

Kidnap Blu-ray Review: 2 Taken 2 Furious

I wish I had known that Kidnap was exactly the kind of high concept of movie I crave. I’m fine with a Halle Berry Taken vehicle but the marketing did not convey that Kidnap is almost entirely a road movie. This is the sort of simple high concept that hooks me when done well. She’s gotta follow the car that took her son or lose him forever. How do you sustain that? Let’s find out!

Karla Dyson (Berry) witnesses her son get kidnapped at the park. She’s not quite fast enough to pull him from the car, but she gives chase and stays on the kidnappers all day on the road.

Kidnap had me from the very first car chase. Hanging on the car, it’s a stuntwoman in closeups, as it should be, but the character of Karla is tenacious. I don’t need Berry to get pulled by a speeding car for real. I just need to see that Karla is willing to hang on.

On the road, Karla is screaming, “Oh God” the whole time.” That’s both a real person’s reaction to intense action and a mother’s reaction to any threat to her child.

That first car chase uses all the stuff that rankles us on the road: freeway ramps, missing the exit, stuff falling from people’s trunks… Director Luis Prieto and writer Knate Lee just made an epic action scene out of it.

They also made the cars easily identifiable, the blue kidnapper sedan with black hinged rearview and her red SUV, so we can track the players.

They solve the cell phone issue in the initial panic. Of course she drops her purse ad she can’t go back for it. Not that having a phone in her car would necessarily have helped. When she finally finds ways to call for help, law enforcement can’t keep up with the evolving chase.

Kidnap even answers the “out of gas” issue that Speed sort of copped out of. The bus drained gas at the airport, but they never had to face the issue of dropping below 50 because the tank was empty. Karla has to face a blinking E.

Was Kidnap the fastest most furious movie of the year? Well, we did have Baby Driver. But Kidnap was probably the fastest most furious movie of 2014 when it was made.

The Blu-ray looks great with action on lush Louisiana roadways and bridges. The cars take a beating and show all the detail. Director Luis Prieto captures the distance of cars traveling into the horizon and those shots look incredible in HD.

Being lost in the Relativity shuffle, there aren’t many extras for Kidnap. Just three minutes with Halle Berry and Luis Prieto promoting the movie, and three sound bites from the second unit director. But that’s ok. Kidnap is a tight 82 minute thriller that sells itself.

The CW’s Crisis On Earth-X Part Two: What happened?

You made me cry CW! One member of the Earth-One team dies, and it’s emotional, heartbreaking, and a game changer. As you recall, a group of our heroes were kidnapped and taken to Earth-X, which is a world ruled by the Nazis. While Cisco and another group of heroes were locked up in the Star Labs pipeline. And Supergirl is about to become an unwilling organ donor. The only two people still free and viable are Felicity and Iris. What are they going to to do?

On Earth-X; Barry, Oliver, and the rest of the gang are about to get mowed down by a firing squad, but are saved in the nick of time by Captain Cold and The Ray. They are the heroes of Earth-X, and a couple. This Captain Cold is a lot kinder and gentler than the criminal version we’re used to, but he still gets the job done. And his better half, The Ray, is basically a flying flashlight times one hundred. And with their help, our team on Earth-X are able to battle the Nazis and fight their way back to good ole Earth-One, but there’s a casualty. Professor Stein is shot.

On Earth-One; Iris and Felicity are able to climb through the corridor-sized air ducts and cut the power to Star Labs before the Reverse Flash can cut out Kara’s heart. Evil Kara needs a transplant before she dies, and or explodes. But before Iris and Felicity can get Kara to safety, Metallo shows up to stop them, looking like the Terminator skeleton with a hunk of Kryptonite for a heart. And despite the fact that he looks like a bad special effect, he’s a badass. But that’s when the rest of the Legends show up to help save the day, lead by Ray Palmer, the Atom.

The two teams reunite on the Waverider, and that’s when the tears started flowing. Because Professor Stein is dying, and saying his last goodbyes to Jefferson Jax, the other half of Firestorm. Jax and Stein are like father and son, which makes the moment touching. But Stein is also leaving behind his loving wife, his newly discovered daughter, and his newborn grandson.   And without Stein, Jax can no longer be Firestorm. That’s the game changer I was talking about. So is Firestorm dead too, or will they find a way for Jax to flame-on solo. We’ll have to watch Legends to find out.

In the big final battle there is cool action galore, along with some glaringly obvious CGI moments. The battle between the Supergirls looks a bit cartoonish, but it’s still good. They don’t have feature film money after all. And as expected, the bad guys lose and the good guys win. And there is a great Superman II Easter Egg: The good Supergirl flies up to the bad Supergirl’s ship and asks her to step outside.   The same way that Superman called out General Zod in Superman II.

Everyone attends Professor Stein’s funeral, then go back home. Leaving Iris, Barry, Oliver and Felicity alone to contemplate. Then Barry and Iris decide to just get married right then and there, without a big ceremony. So The Flash races to Star City and scoops up John Diggle to officiate the nuptials, since he is ordained. Then Barry and Iris give their touching vows, but before they can say their I do’s, Felicity and Oliver decide they went in on that. So Diggle marries both couples. Now Barry and Iris are married, as are Oliver and Felicity. That was kind of a twist, and a game changer for Arrow.     So they all kiss and live happily ever after, or at least until they get back to their own shows next week.   STAY TUNED!!!

THE LAST WORD: I think the crossover was a success. It was fun to watch and there were some actual consequences this time around. I already miss Professor Stein and wonder how they’ll replace him. I heard Constantine would be stopping by Legends for a visit. I wonder if he’ll stick around a while. And I hope they find a way to power-up Jax, because powerless Jax is just boring… And Earth-X Captain Cold didn’t go back to Earth-X with his boyfriend, The Ray. That makes mwonder about his future. What’s his plan? I guess we have to keep watching to find out.


THE FLASH/SUPERGIRL: Exec Fired For Sexual Harassment

After sexual harassment claims were received from multiple women, Andrew Kreisberg has been fired.  Andrew Kreisberg   produced; The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow…

Warner Bros. TV Group’s statement:  After a thorough investigation, Warner Bros. Television Group has terminated Andrew Kreisberg’s employment, effective immediately. Greg Berlanti will assume additional responsibilities on both “The Flash,” where he will work closely with executive producer/co-showrunner Todd Helbing, and “Supergirl,” where he will work closely with executive producers/co-showrunners Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller. We remain committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions.

The CW’s Crisis On Earth-X Part One: What happened?

During Barry and Iris’ Wedding, Nazi versions of our heroes attack, attempting to take over our world. We get dark versions of Kara, Oliver, and Tommy Merlin, along with Harrison Wells as Eobard Thawne.   Tommy Merlin was Oliver’s best friend, who died at the end of Season one of Arrow. He’s the son of the evil Malcolm Merlin, and Thea’s half-brother. But he’s only around for shock value, because he downs a poison pill when he’s captured. So poor Tommy’s dead yet again.

The two-hour episode was good. There was just enough fighting and heroic daring do, mixed in with character stuff. Alex and Sara get drunk and have a one-night stand, which Alex freaks out about. Oliver asks Felicity to marry him, and she says ‘no’. Kara is still upset that Mon-el, the man she loves, recently returned to her Earth married to someone else. And Professor Stein wants to stop being Firestorm, but Jax is having Daddy issues. That’s a lot to deal with at one wedding, even without a Nazi invasion.

And who was invited to this wedding? The absences bothered me. The church was half empty, but some key people seemed to pass on the nuptials, if they were invited at all. Where was Ralph Dibney, Team Flash’s new Elongated colleague? Team Arrow’s John Diggle and Lyla were also notably absent, without explanation. And Legends’ Ray Palmer was also inexplicably missing, along with the rest of the time traveling cronies. But anti-social Mick made the cut. What up with that?

My other complaint was that characters were poorly used. Wally West was in the melee for a quick minute, but Barry and Company sent him away to babysit Joe and Cecile. The Flash sure could have used Kid Flash when fighting Reverse Flash. And while Killer Frost made her heroic debut, they made her a lot weaker than she used to be. And dark Oliver easily dispatched Frost. Cisco also got knocked out early on, and so Vibe was down for the count most of the episode. Lets just hope these heroes get a second chance to shine in part two.

But invasion isn’t the only reason our Earth-X heroes are here. Dark Kara needs a heart transplant, and her husband, Dark Oliver, thinks Supergirl is the perfect donor. So they capture our heroes and take them back to Earth-X.   That’s a bummer. Flash, Arrow, Firestorm, White Canary, and Alex are in a concentration camp of sorts.   They have glowing blue collars on, that I assume negates any super powers. And Supergirl is nowhere to be found, as she’s possibly being prepped for surgery. STAY TUNED!!!!!!!

LAST WORDS: Though Star Labs is overrun with Nazi troops; Felicity and Iris are still free, so there’s hope. But most of our heroes are in pretty bad situations, so what are two non-powered women supposed to do? I guess we’ll find out in Part two…..

GOTHAM Review: ‘Let Them Eat Pie’

The Gotham elite, which includes The Penguin, show up for Lady Falcone’s charity dinner, but don’t like what’s on the menu.   Professor Pyg takes over the event, serving up special meat pies. But the secret ingredient isn’t love, it’s homeless people. Talk about your cannibal cuisine! But why in the world would the Gotham elite even show up to a party thrown by Lady Falcone, the daughter of the former crime lord, and The Penguin, the current crime lord? I know it’s a benefit for an orphanage, but such parties always go badly in Gotham. I would have learned my lesson several lethal parties ago and just sent a check.

And Alfred finally tries to be Bruce Wayne’s guardian, instead of his servant. But it’s way too late for that now. After four years of letting Bruce get away with murder, literally, and allowing himself to be treated like the hired help. Alfred, as an authority figure, is laughable. And Bruce, being the entitled jerk that he’s become, is quick to point that out. Bruce ditches Alfred in the woods like an unwanted animal, so he can have a house party with his new rich friends. And when Alfred finally walks all the way back to Wayne Manor, and tries to shut the party down, Bruce lets him know that he’s only the Butler. YIKES! Bruce’s parents are probably spinning in their graves, wishing they had left someone else in charge.

Captain Jim Gordon is in charge of the GCPD now, vowing to the press that we’ll remedy the city’s Pyg problem. And of course he does, because he’s the infallible Jim Gordon. He captures the Pyg, but not before everyone’s eaten a few bites of their people pie. Penguin also kills a dinner guest who maligns his new orphan friend Martine, before Jim can save the day. But nobody’s perfect. And oops, little Martine sees Jim kiss Lady Falcone, and he tells Penguin. So now Penguin knows that Lady Falcone got Jim his new Captain’s job, and is only pretending to be his friend. Which is bad news for her. Come on Jim, can’t you holster those lips while you’re on duty?

And poor Harvey feels betrayed, because he was pretty much stabbed in the back by his best friend. Jim slept with Lady Falcone and she got Harvey fired and Jim hired. Harvey was a friend when Jim was a cop, a killer, a prisoner, a mental case, a private dick, and Penguin’s co-conspirator. You’d think he’d show a little more loyalty to the one man who always had his back. But nope! Sorry Harvey you’re dead to me, at least until I’m in trouble and need your help again. Gee Jim Gordon, you’re kind of a tool.

LAST WORDS: There’s no one I liked this entire episode. Everyone’s taken a turn for the worse, and it’s a bit disturbing. We even have dark Lee now.  I just hope that the show pulls out of it’s downward spiral soon, giving us someone to care about again. I used to enjoy the show, but now I just find it interesting, on a good day.

THE FLASH Review: ‘Therefore I Am’

I am going to do a review this go-round instead of a recap, mainly because not much happens this episode. There’s no heroic action to speak of this week, as the episode gives us DeVoe’s backstory. And while the episode is slow, it’s good.

DeVoe is a meta-human who got his powers when the particle accelerator went KABLOOEY four years ago, as seen through flashbacks. But DeVoe wasn’t a total victim here. He and his genious wife,Marlize, designed a ‘thinking cap’ that could possibly increase brainpower. And they planned on using the accelerator to power the cap. But the explosion happened, channeling too much power to the cap, being worn by DeVoe, and that’s how a super villain is born.  Another side-effect of the explosion is that DeVoe is dying, so whatever the couple is planning, they have to do it fast.

Barry spends the entire episode obsessively trying to find out what we, the audience, already know, that DeVoe is The Thinker. While the rest of Team Flash is pretty passive, taking a let-whatever-comes attitude. Barry stalks DeVoe and breaks into his house in search of clues. Which gets him in trouble at work when DeVoe complains to Captain Singh. You know, because those things are illegal, and doubly so when a cop does them. So Singh suspends Barry for two weeks and issues a restraining order, which Barry promptly violates. Then DeVoe, done with playing ‘Cat & Mouse’ with the speedster, reveals the truth to Barry, and also lets him know that he’s aware that Barry Allen is the Flash. The End!

For an episode of The Flash, this one moved pretty slow, but I was okay with that. It took some getting used to, but eventually I began enjoying seeing Barry unravel as he tries to figure everything out.   DeVoe was the cunning cat in the episode and Barry was the confused little mouse.   And seeing Singh come down on Barry, with good reason, once again reminds us that Barry Allen is a cop. A fact that is often overlooked due to his superhero shenanigans. And while Flash, the vigilante, plays by his own rules, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Barry, the cop, has to obey the laws of the land, even when he doesn’t want to. So STAY TUNED!

LAST WORDS: Here’s a creepy fun fact; DeVoe stays alive by removing the top of his skull and plugging his brain directly into that weird floating chair-thing. EEP!

Monday November 27th is the first night of the Crisis On Earth-X multi-verse crossover. So don’t forget to tune in for all the action and fun. It’s always great to see our heroes interact and hopefully work together. Wally West showed up at the end of this episode of The Flash, which means we’ll see some Kid Flash action too. So be sure to tune in.