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Ex Machina (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

May 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been several years since I watched this film, and still “Ex Machina” still resonates strongly and stays in my mind.  I felt this film was  well-executed, brilliantly-written film that approaches the topic of humanoid robotics and artificial intelligence. Thought provoking and entertaining, Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lions Gate Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ex Machina

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2014

DURATION: 108 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English DTSX Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH and Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Graphic Nudity, Language Sexual References and Some Violence)

RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017


Directed by Alex Garland

Written by Alex Garland

Producer: Andrew McDonald, Allon Reich

Associate Producer: Jason Sack, Joanne Smith

Executive Producer: Eli Bush, Tessa Ross, Scott Rudin

Music by Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury

Cinematography by Rob Hardy

Edited by Mark Day

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Mark Digby

Art Direction by Katrina Mackay, Denis Schnegg

Set Decoration by Michelle Day

Costume Design by Sammy Sheldon


Starring:

Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb

Oscar Isaac as Nathan

Alicia Vikander as Ava

Sonoya Mizuno as Kyoko


After winning a competition to spend a week at the mountain estate of his company’s party hardy CEO, programmer Caleb Smith arrives to discover he has been chosen to take part in a study of artificial intelligence.  Sworn to secrecy and cut off from the outside world, Caleb meets his subject, a beguiling and seductive cyborg named Ava (Alicia Vikander) – and is plunged into an A.I. experiment beyond his wildest imaginings in this epic thriller charged with heart-stopping suspense.


In 2015, the independent sci-fi psychological thriller, “Ex Machina” written and directed by Alex Garland (writer of “28 Days Later…”, “Dredd” and “Sunshine”) was released in theaters.

The concept for the film first emerged when Alex was 11 years old, doing basic coding on his PC and he felt the computer had a mind of its own.  Then later in his life, from a discussion with a friend who had experience in neuroscience and the discussion from his friend that machines could never become sentient.  Wanting to find out for himself if machines could become sentient, Alex started to read books about the possibilities.

It wasn’t until Alex read an article from Murry Shanahan (a professor of Cognitive Robotics at Imperial College London) who researches artificial intelligence, robotics and cognitive science.  This led to Alex Garland writing these ideas down (during the time that “Dredd” was in pre-production) and would come back to it later.

Wanting total freedom, Alex wanted to write and direct the film with the smallest budget as possible.  “Ex Machina” was born and along with Murray Shanahan and British genetecist, author and broadcaster Adam Rutherford serving as consultants, Alex was able to create the film for $15 million and the film would earn over $36.9 million worldwide.

The film stars Domhnall Gleeson (“The Revenant”, “About Time” and both “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” films), Oscar Isaac (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Drive”), Alicia Vikander (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Jason Bourne”, “The Danish Girl”) and Sonya Mizuno (“La La Land”, “Annihilation”, “Beauty and the Beast”).

And the film would go on to win an Academy Award for “Best Visual Effects” in 2015.  And now for the first time, Ex Machina” will be released on 4K Ultra HD courtesy of Lionsgate.

“Ex Machina” begins with programmer Caleb Smith (portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson), an employee for a search engine company, Blue Book, winning a one-week visit to the home of CEO, Nathan Bateman.

When Caleb arrives, he learns quickly that the home is isolated and very secure.  The only person he sees is the Japanese servant, Kyoko (portrayed by Sonya Mizuno), who doesn’t know any English.

When Nathan offers Caleb a chance to become of something important and special and having to sign a non-disclosure agreement to not mention any of this to anyone vocal, electronically or anyway possible, Caleb signs and finds out that Nathan has built a humanoid robot named Ava (portrayed by Alicia Vikander) with artificial intelligence.

Alicia has passed the Turing Test (a test developed in 1950 to test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent or indistinguishable from that of a human) and Nathan wants Caleb to test Ava and find out if she is capable of thought and consciousness.

While Ava is confined to her apartment in a locked room, her facial features look real but around her body, is robotic.  Caleb then has talks with Ava and as Nathan is observing these private talks, Ava manages to drain the power and create temporary power outages that shuts down the surveillance system, Ava gives Caleb a distressing message that he can not trust Nathan.

And as the two become closer in their talks and she expresses romantic interest in Nathan, even flirting, Caleb starts to question Nathan and wants to help out Ava.


VIDEO:

“Ex Machina” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

While the film is considered low budget, the film was shot as ordinary live action and no special effects or green screen was used.  All effects were added in post-production.  Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail of one’s skin to the vibrant outdoors and the lush, green forest area surrounding Nathan’s isolated home.

Black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ex Machina” is presented in English DTS: X Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 DTS Digital Surround Audio.

Dialogue was crystal clear, the power outage sounds when Ava disrupts the surveillance system is crystal clear, as with the music especially when Nathan and Kyoko start dancing.  But for the most part, the film is dialogue and musically-driven.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ex Machina” comes with the following special features on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Through the Looking Glass: Making Ex Machina – (39:57) Interviews with writer/director Alex Garland, the producers and Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac.
  • SXSW Q&A with Cast and Crew – (1:00:58) Q&A with writer/director Alex Garland, actor Oscar Isaac, cinematographer Rob Hardy and music by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury.
  • Behind the Scenes Vignettes – (28:38) Vignettes featuring the visual effects of the film.  From creating Ava making Natha’s world, new consciousness, Alicia becoming Ava, directing the film and casting the film.
  • Trailers – Lionsgate trailers.

EXTRAS:

“Ex Machina” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


There have been numerous stories that went into possibilities of machines having artificial intelligence.

We have seen androids on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, rogue robots in animation such as “Bubblegum Crisis” to robot technology going awry and deadly in the “Terminator” films.

But what Alex Garland was able to write and direct, “Ex Machina”, is a film that is not only smartly written but it is a thought-provoking film that will no doubt stir up discussion and debates courtesy of its shock ending.

What starts out as innocent as programmer Caleb Smith is given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a Q&A with a humanoid robot named Ava with artificial intelligence.

It’s one thing to be in the presence with the intelligent CEO of the search engine, Blue Book, Nathan Bateman but to be in his modern, advanced and very secure home but to see this humanoid robot with advance artificial intelligence thanks to the technology connected to the search engine Blue Book.

But when a power outage that causes the surveillance to go down and Ava taking the opportunity to give Caleb a warning that Nathan can not be trusted, starts to chain reaction that when the film concludes, viewers watching the film will be mind-blown, shocked, while those who let the film linger in their mind and see things scientifically, will know the ending does make sense.

It’s such a unique film and a wondrous first film for writer/director Alex Garland, featuring a wonderful performance from actress Alicia Vikander and also from Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac.

And even surprising is how the film was an independent, low-budget sci-fi film, which visual effects were added post-production and eventually earning the visual effects crew an Academy Award.  Garland set out to create a film, his way, his style, no Hollywood interference and what he is able to create is a sci-fi classic that will no doubt resonate for years, decades to come.

As for the film’s first 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is magnificent.  Details are fantastic during closeups, outdoor scenes are vibrant and lush and the lossless soundtrack is crystal clear.  There are also numerous, lengthy special features included as well.  Plus the inclusion of the Blu-ray and Ultraviolet HD version of the film.

Overall, it has been several years since I watched this film, and still “Ex Machina” still resonates strongly and stays in my mind.  I felt this film was  well-executed, brilliantly-written film that approaches the topic of humanoid robotics and artificial intelligence. Thought provoking and entertaining, Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” is highly recommended!

 

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

May 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I did enjoy “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” for its action, its visual effects and make-up (for its many mutated zombies) and its storyline is a fitting conclusion to the film series featuring the film’s protagonist Alice. But if you are a “Resident Evil” fan of the video games or film, you may feel that the “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” was lacking and could have been better.  While I doubt this may be the end of the film series, considering how much money the film and video game series makes, there is still potential to explore other storylines of characters that are not featured in “The Final Chapter”.  Still an entertaining popcorn action film that fans of the film series will enjoy.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Constantin Film Production. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, English – Audio Description Track, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Castillan and Latin American), Thai, Turkish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Sequences of Violence Throughout)

RELEASE DATE: May 16, 2017


Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Written by Paul W.S. Anderson

Producer: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Samuel Hadida, Robert Kulzer

Associate Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Bernhard Thur

Executive Producer: Victor Hadida, Martin Moszkowicz

Music by Paul Haslinger

Cinematography by Glen MacPherson

Edited by Doobie White

Casting by Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Edward Thomas

Art Direction by Guy Potgieter, Lusa Van Velden

Set Decoration by Anneke Botha

Costume Design by Reza Levy


Starring:

Milla Jovovich as Alice/Alicia Marcus

Iain Glen as Dr. Isaacs

Ali Larter as Claire Redfield

Shawn Roberts as Wesker

Eoin Macken as Doc

Fraser James as Razor

Ruby Rose as Abigail

William Levy as Christian

Rola as Cobalt

Ever Anders as Young Alicia/Red Queen

Mark Simpson as James Marcus

Joon-Gi Lee as Commander Chu


Picking up after Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.


In 2002, the sci-fi action horror film “Resident Evil”, which was inspired from the popular Capcom video game series, was released in theaters.

And since then, more films that revolve around the main character Alice were created.

“Resident Evil: Apocalypse” in 2004, “Resident Evil: Extinction” in 2007, “Resident Evil: Afterlife” in 2010, “Resident Evil: Retribution” in 2012 and “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” in 2016.

The latest film which grossed over $312 million worldwide, was the highest grossing film in the franchise, and with the series in whole, the “Resident Evil” film series is the highest-grossing film series to be based on video games , having grossed over $1.233 billion worldwide.

The film marks the return of director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race”, “AVP: Alien vs. Predator”) and the return of the main protagonist of the series, Alice portrayed by Mila Jovovich (“The Fifth Element”, “Zoolander 2”, “The Three Musketeers”).

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” also stars Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”), Ali Larter (“Heroes”, “Final Destination” films, “Legends”), Shawn Roberts (“Edge of Darkness”, “X-Men”), Eoin Macken (“The Night Shift”, “The Forest”, “Centurion”), Fraser James (“Sometimes in April”, “Shopping”, “Wing Commander”), Ruby Rose (“Orange is the New Black”, “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”, “John Wick: Chapter 2”), William Levy (“Addicted”, “The Single Moms Club”), Japanese model Rola, young actress Ever Anderson and Joon-Gi Lee (“Virgin Snow”, “The King and the Clown”, “Iljimae”).

And now the “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD in May 2017.

The film begins with a narration from Alice (portrayed by Milla Jovovich) and we see how Dr. James Marcus, the original founder of the Umbrella Corporation had a daughter who was dying of premature aging.

Wanting to save her, he discovered the T-virus but unfortunately, the virus had a side effect and that was sudden and uncontrollable mutation.

The first major incident took place in Raccoon City, as a young boy in a cable car with his family started convulsing and dying but then all of a sudden reawakening.  This led to the mutated boy biting his father and then starting the chain reaction.

Dr. James Marcus tries to have the program shut down but his colleague Dr. Alexander Isaacs (portrayed by Iaian Glen) refuses and he has Albert Wesker (portrayed by Shawn Roberts) kill the Dr. Marcus.

The film then shifts to events that took place after “Resident Evil: Retribution” and showing us that the White House has since been destroyed.  Alice searches for survivors but then is contacted by the Red Queen (portrayed by Ever Anderson) who tells he that she must return to Raccoon City within 48 hours and return to the Hive, as Umbrella Corporation has developed an airborne antivirus, which will kill every organism infected by the T-virus.  Fail to get there and humankind will be wiped out.  The Red Queen also tells Alice that she will answer her question of why she is trying to help Alice.

So, Alice leaves to go to Raccoon City and when she arrives, she is attacked by Isaacs (whom she thought she killed, but learns she killed a clone).  While  Isaacs tires her up to the back of his vehicle with hordes of mutated zombies chase after her, she manages to best Isaacs and his team and escape.

While making it into Raccoon City she encounters a group of survivors which includes her friend Claire Redfield (portrayed by Ali Larter), Abigail (portrayed by Ruby Rose), Doc (portrayed by Eoin Macken), Cobalt (portrayed by Rola), Christian (portrayed by William Levy) and Razor (portrayed by Fraser James).

Alice tells them that she needs to get to the hive as an antidote for the T-Virus is out there in the Hive.  Claire feels it could be a trap since the Red Queen was the one that gave her the information but she is also worried since Alice also has the T-Virus in her and that she could be killed by the antidote.  But for Alice, the opportunity to save the world is too great and so, she and the others are willing to put their lives in hopes to assist Claire in her mission.

But coming their way is Isaacs and thousands of mutated zombies.   With the time running out, can Alice get to the antidote in time?  And what awaits her in the Hive?


VIDEO:

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail and makeup and overall CG to show the mass horde of mutated zombies and also huge monsters and flying behemoths were done very well.  If anything, the visual effects were top notch for this film! Black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, English – Audio Description Track, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Castillan and Latin American), Thai, Turkish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

I was so pleased with this soundtrack and just hearing constant immersive audio coming from front channels and also the surround channels for the many action scenes throughout the film. The music soundtrack also is utilized for the surround channels as well. Also, great use of LFE.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ” comes with the following special features on the Blu-ray disc:

  • Retaliation Mode – Only on the Blu-ray, Retaliation Mode delivers scene specific behind the scenes video and commentary with director/writer Paul W.S. Anderson and actress Milla Jovovich.
  • Stunts & Weaponry – (8:55) A featurette about the variety of weaponry and great action stunts in the film.
  • Explore the Hive – (4:15) A featurette about remaking “The Hive” and showing it in a different way with sets and visual imagery.
  • The Bad Ass Trinity & The Women of Resident Evil – (6:32) A featurette about featuring strong women and how women play a big role in the “Resident Evil” film series especially with “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”.
  • Sneak Peek: Resident Evil: Vendetta – (4:22) A featurette showcasing scenes from the upcoming “Resident Evil” CG animated film, “Resident Evil: Vendetta”.

EXTRAS:

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


It has been 15-years since the original “Resident Evil” film was released in theaters.  While the original film was much different from the video game and my feelings towards the original film was a bit of a disappointment because it was too different from the original film, I kept an open mind in seeing how the films would progress in terms of storyline and character.

And I can definitely say that despite not canon with the video game series, the film series has managed to hold its own with certain elements from the video game incorporated and giving the character of Alice and actress Milla Jovovich to shine but also to show that this female action character is strong, smart and can be impressive onscreen and can hold up to other male action stars and literally kick a lot of butt.

There is no doubt that for now, the character of Alice is the only female protagonists to star in an action film for 15-years, for multiple films and her character has remained consistent throughout the years.

And here we are with “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” and I despite the “Final” in the film’s title, there is probably a chance that the character of Alice can return in another film, considering how much was made for this film and the entire film series alone.  The “Resident Evil” films have made over a billion dollars worldwide.  And as the video games continue, I can only imagine the films will as well.

Similar to previous “Resident Evil” films, there is a ton of action and if anything, one can see this film as ultimate popcorn action film.  There is a story, a simple one that revolves around Alice needing to head back to where it all began, Raccoon City and make it down into the Hive to get the antidote to kill the T-Virus.  She’s joined by a familiar face, Claire Redfield and her antagonists are also familiar faces, as Dr. Isaacs and Albert Wesker are back.

But while the film remains consistent in that front, it fails to address other issues that I’m sure fans have been wanting to know what happened. One of the biggest question marks is the character Jill Valentine, not only a major character in the video game series but actress Sienna Guillory’s character was seen being captured by umbrella, brainwashed and programmed to go after Alice.

The film also didn’t bring back Kmart, Ada Wong, Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield which was a little disappointment.  But whether this opens things up for other films remains to be seen.  But  wouldn’t it be great if the survivors were this group that would team up with Alice in the end?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way.  But I’m hoping that we see Leon, Ada and Chris including Jill in another possible “Resident Evil” film?  A side-story/one shot or a new starting point and separate chapter to Alice’s quest.

But “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” does answer a lot of questions and it is a fitting conclusion, if the film proves to be the final live-action “Resident Evil” film.  But as a fan of the video games and also the film series, I see potential in a new RE film but with the other characters.

As for the 4K Ultra HD, this film looks fantastic in 4K HD.  The apocalyptic setting, the monsters and mutated humans to flying behemoths look fantastic.  The lossless soundtrack is equally impressive considering the amount of action throughout the film.  As for special features, you get a few including a sneak peek of “Resident Evil: Vendetta”.  And once you watch the film in 4K Ultra HD, you will want to watch the “Retaliation Mode” on Blu-ray as it reveals moments from the franchise and features director Paul W.S. Anderson and actress Milla Jojovich.

Overall, “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” is straight-up popcorn action from beginning to end.  High adrenaline action that will please fans who have enjoyd the previous films.  While you get answers of how the T-Virus had spread and why?  Supporting characters are like fodder, previous characters aside from Claire Redfield and the antagonists are nowhere to be seen and the storyline is not the best of the film series.

Still, I did enjoy “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” for its action, its visual effects and make-up (for its many mutated zombies) and its storyline is a fitting conclusion to the film series featuring the film’s protagonist Alice. But if you are a “Resident Evil” fan of the video games or film, you may feel that the “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” was lacking and could have been better.  While I doubt this may be the end of the film series, considering how much money the film and video game series makes, there is still potential to explore other storylines of characters that are not featured in “The Final Chapter”.  Still an entertaining popcorn action film that fans of the film series will enjoy.

 

 

Underworld: Blood Wars (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

April 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lakeshore Entertainment Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Underworld: Blood Wars

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 91 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmost (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Bloody Violence and Some Sexuality)

RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017


Based on the Characters by Kevin Grevioux, Len wiseman, Danny McBride

Directed by Anna Foerster

Screenplay by Cory Goodman

Story by Kyle Ward, Cory Goodman

Producer: David Kern, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Len Wiseman, Richard S. Wright

Co-Producer: David Minkowski, Jackie Shenoo, Matthew Stillman

Executive Producer: James McQuaide, Ben Waisbren, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern

Music by Michael Wandmacher

Cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub

Edited by Peter Amundson

Casting by Julie Hutchinson, Maya Kvetny, Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Ondrej Nekvasil

Art Direction by Bryce Tibbey, Martin Vackar

Set Decoration by Beatrice Brentnerova

Costume Design by Bojana Nikitovic


Starring:

Kate Beckinsale as Selene

Theo James as David

Tobias Menzies as Marius

Lara Pulver as Semira

Charles Dance as Thomas

James Faulkner as Cassius

Peter Andersson as Vidar

Clementine Nicholson as Lena

Bradley James as Varga

Daisy Head as Alexia

Oliver Stark as Gregor

Sveta Driga as Amelia


In the next installment of the blockbuster franchise, Vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.


With the success of the “Underworld” films, the fifth film “Underworld: Blood Wars” continues the storyline about the war between the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves).

Directed by Anna Foerster (“Outlander” TV series) and as screenplay by Cory Goodman (“Priest”, “The Last Witch Hunter”), the film is a sequel to the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening” and features the return of Kate Beckinsale as the immortal vampire Selene and Theo James as David.

The film also stars Lara Pulver (“Edge of Tomorrow”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “The Special Relationship”), Tobias Menzies (“Outlander”, “Casino Royale”, “Atonement”), Daisy Head (“The Last Seven”, “Guilt”), Clementine Nicholson, Charles Dance (“Ghostbusters”, “Alien 3”, “Game of thrones”), James Faulkner  (“Downton Abbey”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”, “Game of Thrones”), Bradley James (“Merlin”, “Damien”, “Dis/Connected”) and Oliver Stark (“Into the Badlands”, “Luther”, “MindGamers”).

What is “Underworld” about?

“Underworld” takes place during a time where the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves) are at war.  In the past, the Lycans were used as slaves for centuries by the vampires but rebelled courtesy of their leader Lucian and have been in war since.

In the first film, Selene who has fought and killed Lycans believing that they were responsible for her family’s massacre learned from Kraven that Viktor was responsible for her family’s death.  With Michael near death due to the silver nitrate in his body that was shot by Kraven, Lucian (who was revealed to have started the war because he was in love with Sonja, a vampire and daughter of Viktor and was killed by her father to stop the relationship between a vampire and Lycan) tells Selene that in order to save him, she must bite him.

Selene has bitten Michael and transforming him to half Lycan/half vampire and both killed Viktor.  Meanwhile, the next elder vampire that is in line to be revived is Marcus and because Singe was killed near Marcus’ tomb and his blood has dripped into his tomb, that Marcus will now be revived early.

The first film would with Selene knowing that she has changed the course of the war by converting Michael by making him half vampire/half Lycan and because she aided a Lycan, she will now be hunted.

“Underworld: Evolution” begins with the three vampire elders: Marcus, Viktor and Amelia in the year 1202 A.D.  Viktor and Amelia capture William Corvinus (brother of Marcus who happens to be a powerful Lycan).  As Marcus tries to defend his brother from being harmed, Viktor has William imprisoned in a secret location for eternity.

Fastforward to the present, Selene hides Michael in a safehouse but returns to the vampire coven to confront Kraven.  She knows that Kraven has plans to eliminate Marcus and wants to stop him before he does.  But because Lycan blood is what has dripped into Marcus’ tomb, Marcus has now reawaken as a Vampire-Dominant hybrid.

Selene also learns the true reason why Viktor spared her from death when her family was massacred and why they were massacred.  And because of that reason, Markus is wanting to get to her as well.

Alexander Corvinus has given Selene his blood and thus given immortality.

Since then, both Selene and Michael have been on the run trying to protect each other from both vampire and Lycan who want them dead.

Because creators of the “Underworld” films wanted to explain how the feud between the Death Dealers and the Lycans started.  “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”, a prequel to the first two films, was created and released in theaters back in 2009.

With the fourth film, “Underworld: Awakening”, after the events of “Underworld: Evolution”, the world now knows that vampires and Lycans exist.  And there is a massive cleansing (known as “The Purge”) as humans now try to exterminate vampires and Lycans.  Survivors have now moved underground, while both Selene and Michael have become the hunted.

Split off from each other, both try to come together during a standoff with the authorities but as Michael is shot and falls into the ocean, Selene goes after him and tries to save him.  But in the process, both are separated by a detonator.

Fast forward, 12 years later and during this time, “The Purge” has now been concluded as 95% of the vampires have been annihilated and the Lycans are considered as extinct.

Selene is being kept inside a cryogenic suspension by the medical corporation known as Antigen, which are trying to create an antidote for the virus which creates vampires and Lycans

Known as “subject 1”, someone has broken into the lab facility and have released Selene.  As Selene awakens and puts on her leather costume, she looks for Michael but is not sure where he is kept and thus she escapes Antigen facilities.

eanwhile, murders are occurring in the city and while the normal judgment by police is to think that the vampires had committed the crime (since Lycans are thought to be extinct), Detective Sebastian (played by Michael Ealy), looking at how the body was murdered, doesn’t think so.  And he spots Selene, who quickly disappears.

But also spotting Selene is a young vampire named David (played by Theo James).  He goes to track down Selene, who is trying to find answers of where Michael may be.  When David tracks her down, he tells her the truth that the Lycans have been forced to live underground, no food, diseased and something has riled them up in order for them to go back up to the surface.  And he thinks Selene knows the answer to why the Lycans are back.

But Selene starts to see images, images that usually come from the bond that she has with Michael.  Thinking that Michael is in trouble and is being hunted by the Lycans, she and David fight them off but instead of finding Michael, she finds a young girl named Eve (played by India Eisely).

Why does girl have this power and why is Selene reacting to it?  As the three are pursued by the Lycans, Eve tells Selene that she was Subject 2 at Antigen and was responsible for setting her free.  She also revealed that she was in a chamber next to her mother…which would be Selene.  Needless to say, Selene is shocked because 12 years ago, she was with Michael.  Now when she awakens, instead of finding Michael, she finds out that both had a daughter.

This now leads us to the fifth film in the “Underworld” series, things are not looking good for the vampire covens as they are nearly wiped out by the Lycans.  Both groups are seeking out Death Dealer, Selene (portrayed by Kate Beckinsale) for the deaths of Viktor and Marcus and the Lycans, wanting Selene in order to find her daughter Eve (who has the blood of vampire-werewolf) and want to create an army of vampire-werewolf hybrids.

Because of the threat of either side looking for Eve, Selene’s daughter was taken away from her to an undisclosed location in order to protect Eve.  That even Selene has no idea of her daughter’s whereabouts.

Semira (portrayed by Lara Pulver), a council member of the Eastern Coven wants Selene to be granted clemency, so she can train the Eastern Coven’s neophyte Death Dealers.

And as Selene arrives to the Eastern Coven with her protege, David (portrayed by Theo James), while training the Death Dealers, Semira’s lover Varga (portrayed by Bradley James) betrays Selene and kills all the Death Dealers as planned by Semira.

Semira drains Selene’s blood and will drink it in order to gain her power, but when vampire elder Thomas (portrayed by Charles Dance) and David arrive, a battle begins with Semira and Varga.

And in order to save their lives and buy time for David to rescue Selene, he sacrifices his life in battle.

As David and Selene head to the Nordic Coven, pursuing them are Marius (portrayed by Tobias Menzies) and the Lycans who are intent in finding out where Eve is located.  But also pursuing Selene is Alexia (portrayed by Daisy Head), a death dealer from the Eastern Coven and the lover of Marius, the Lycan leader.


VIDEO:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing detail and the film maintains its cool, dark look with blues, gays and blacks.  Black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English-Audio Desription Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

I was so pleased with this soundtrack and just hearing constant immersive audio coming from front channels and also the surround channels for the many action scenes throughout the film.  The music soundtrack also is utilized for the surround channels as well.  Also, great use of LFE.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with the following special features on the second Blu-ray disc:

  • The Evolution of Selene – (8:09) A featurette about the main protagonist, Selene and interviews with Kate Beckinsale and producers of the film.
  • Old & New Blood – (6:15) Cast and producers discuss the Nordic Coven featured in the film.
  • The Evil Evolved – (6:07) A featurette about the Eastern Coven and the Lycans.
  • Building a Blood War – (12:01) Director Anna Foerster and producers discussing of bringing back the look of the original but creating something fresh and new.
  • Underworld: Blood Wars – The Official Movie Graphic Novel – Darkstorm Comics graphic novel.  Using your remote, you can cycle through each page of the comic book.

EXTRAS:

“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


With the original “Underworld” trilogy, there was a good focus on the storyline between the vampires (Death Dealers) and the Lycans (werewolves) and balancing it out with the action.

While I have always looked at the “Underworld” films as your vampire vs. werewolf popcorn action film series.  With “Underworld: Awakening”, the writers were moving away from the “Twilight” mushy romance (or Romeo & Juliet romance, as I called the first two films).

With “Underworld: Awakening”, the film became more action-heavy and as far as the storyline was concerned, the romantic element was eliminated and became more of a focus on Selene’s daughter having vampire/Lycan blood, making her a target for both sides.

Selene had become the hunted, as both sides want to know where Eve is located and that storyline continues with “Underworld: Blood Wars”.  And once again, you get a popcorn action film with actress Kate Beckinsale once again donning her tight black leather uniform that fans have come to love about the “Underworld” films.

But I’ve felt the film has taken a step into the direction of popcorn action with a forgetful storyline that seems like it would be appropriate more for a video game than a film. But giving the film the benefit of a doubt that writer Cory Goodman is trying to setup a connection for the next film, I can’t help but feel bad for director Anna Foerster.

Having loved what she has done with the “Outlander” series which feature episodes that are character and story-driven, Foerster is left with trying to create a film that revolves around chaotic action.

But despite the forgetful storyline, I did enjoy the film for its connection to the series as I enjoy the “Underworld” storyline.  I just wish there was more of it to enjoy because the characters are important and while it’s new to take adventures to a different coven and focus on the war with the Lycans nearly wiping out the vampires, you just feel that there should be more.  Considering the original trilogy was story-driven, you just want to see a good story go along with that chaotic action and not have the action dominate so much of the film.

So, considering how I enjoyed the original trilogy and knew that the fourth film “Underworld: Awakening” was heading to a different direction than the previous films, “Underworld: Blood Wars” remains consistent with the last film with no engrossing story, just a film with plenty of action and visual effects.  But yet, the final minute gives us a tease of something for fans of the film to look forward to when the sixth film is released in the future.

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is magnificent and the darkness of the film with the use of blues, grays and blacks are still continued with this latest film.  Close-ups show great detail and Lycan transformations look great.  And similar to the last film, the lossless soundtrack is magnificent and immersive.  And considering the amount of action in this film, audiophiles should be quite thrilled to see how immersive the action sequences are and the use of the surround channels and LFE.

And as far as special features go, you are given a good number of special features including the official movie graphic novel and a few featurettes on a second Blu-ray disc.

Overall, while “Underworld: Blood Wars” is not a film that focuses on a deep storyline and fans of the previous film can expect to see a lot of fighting, a lot of deaths, non-stop action and Kate Beckinsale continuing to look awesome and also kicking a lot of arse!

A worthy continuation of the “Underworld” film series that leans very heavy on the action, if you are looking for an all-out action film with vampires vs. werewolves, “Underworld: Blood Wars” will definitely appeal to you!

 

Patriots Day (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 CBS Films Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Patriots Day

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 133 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English DTS:X Audio, DTS Headphone:X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late- Night Listening SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (Violence, Realistically Graphic Injury Images, Language Throughout and Some Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2017


Directed by Peter Berg

Screenplay by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer

Story by Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson

Producer: Dorothy Aufiero, Dylan Clark, Stephen Levinson, Hutch PArker, Michael Radutzky, Scott Stuber, Mark Wahlberg

Associate Producer: Lauren Downey, Daphne Lambrinou, Joseph J. Micucci, Bo Shen, stephen Stapinski, Shixing Zhou

Executive Producer: Louis G. Friedman, Eric Johnson, Nicholas David Nesbitt, John Logan Pierson, Paul Tamasy, Dan Wilson

Music by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

Edited by Gabriel Fleming, Colby Parker Jr.

Casting by Sheila Jaffe, Angela Peri

Production Design by Tom Duffield

Art Direction by Steve Cooper

Set Decoration by Ronald R. Reiss

Costume Design by Virginia Johnson


Starring:

Mark Wahlberg as Tommy Saunders

John Goodman as Commissioner Ed Davis

Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese

Christopher O’Shea as Patrick Downes

Rachel Brosnahan as Jessica Kensky

Michelle Monaghan as Carol Saunders

Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng

Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell

Alex Wolff as Dzohkhar Tsarnaev

Themo Melikidze as Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Martine Assaf as Connie Pugliese

James Colby as Superintendent Billy Evans

Michael Beach as Governor Deval Patrick

Rhett Kidd as Harrold


Mark Wahlberg shines in this all-star action-thriller that chronicles the courage and power of the people of Boston during the real-life manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers.


From filmmaker Peter Berg (“Hancock”, “Friday Night Lights”, “The Kingdom”) comes the American drama-thriller film “Patriots Day” about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the terrorist manhunt that took place.

Featuring a screenplay co-written by Berg, Matt Cook (“The Duel”, “Triple 9”) and Joshua Zetumer (“RoboCop”), the film would receive positive film reviews from critics.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg (“Boogie Nights”, “The Fighter”, “Prisoners”), John Goodman (“The Artist”, “Roseane”, “The Big Lebowski”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”), Kevin Bacon (“Apollo 13”, “Footloose”, “X-Men: First Class”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”, “Spider-Man” films, “The Closer”), Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Due Date”), Themo Melikidze (“Beautiful Something”, “Transit 17”), Alex Wolff (“The Naked Brothers Band”, “Come Through the Rye”, “The Sitter”), Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”, “The Internship”), Melissa Benoist (“Supergirl”, “Whiplash”, “Glee”), Jake Picking (“Dirty Grandpa”, “Goat”), Christopher O’Shea (“Baby Daddy”, “Madam Secretary”), Rachel Brosnahan (“Beautiful Creatures”, “Manhattan”, “The Finest Hours”) and many more.


VIDEO:

“Patriots Day” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:40:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing clarity and day scenes are vibrant.  Many of the scenes are shot at night, but light is well done and for the most part, the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Patriots Day” is presented in English DTX-X Audio, DTS Headphones: X Audio, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio.

While the film features crystal clear audio (dialogue) and music, surround channels are well-utilized for action sequences during explosions, gun exchanges and crowd ambiance.  Great use of the surround channels and LFE!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Patriots Day” comes with the following special features:

  • Boston Strong – (21:34) Featuring interviews with Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, Dun Meng and Sgt. Jeff Pugliese.
  • The Boston Bond: Recounting the Tale – (21:43) The cast and crew talk about filming in Boston and working with the community.
  • The Real Patriots: The Local Heroes’ Stories – (19:41) Filmmaker Peter Berg discusses the various heroes that he met and the real people that inspired the characters for the film.
  • The Cast Remembers – (5:52) The cast discuss how they found about the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Actors Meet Real-Life Counterparts: A 2-Part Series – (10:08) Featuring John Goodman and Ed Davis and Jimmy O. Yang and Dun Meng.
  • Researching the Day – (11:22) Director Peter Berg and crew discuss the research of recreating the 2013 Boston Marathon and the bombing.

EXTRAS:

“Patriots Day” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital HD code.


I remember the Boston Marathon bombings quite clearly.

Watching things unfurl on CNN, immediately I was glued to the TV set, angered that our country was once again being targeted by terrorist attacks and to find out that were many people, including children who were dead or injured.  Then to find out about the two accused of the bombings, finding out a university police officer was killed, followed by a kidnapping of a Chinese man who revealed the brothers are planning to bomb New York and just following the news for the hunt of the Tsarnaev brothers.

It was a story that captivated America where in 9/11, the terrorists killed themselves.  While in this case, these two terrorists were out in public and we wanted them caught and to answer for their crimes.

With Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day”, we get to see how things went for those harrowing days, the people involved in the manhunt for the two terrorists, those who were injured and those who lost their lives.

Peter Berg and fellow writers Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer no doubt made sure to pay their respects to those involved in the capture of one of the terrorists but to also pay respects to law enforcement and those who’s life was changed forever, but keeping the theme of “Boston Strong” central to the film and showing how the support for law enforcement and the victims will remain in the hearts of people who remember that fateful day and have managed to continue, to move on and show true determination but also providing inspiration for those watching the film.

Mark Wahlberg’s character of Tommy Saunders is a fictional character but his role captures the heart of Boston PD who were doing all they can to catch the terrorists.  Police officers who were on duty, with hardly any sleep, determined to keep Boston safe and to catch those who are responsible.

John Goodman also did a great job of portraying Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon as Special Agent Richard DesLauriers of the FBI who worked tirelessly to control information in regards of who was responsible for the bombings but also coordinating their men for the manhunt.

J.K. Simmons as Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese of the Watertown PD who was there to take on one of the terrorists during a shootout.  Jimmy O. Yang as Dun Meng, the man who was carjacked and held by gunpoint by the two terrorists for a long period of time until he made a major risk by bolting from his vehicle when one of the terrorists were preoccupied and managed to run and call police.

Peter Berg tries to show the loving side of both characters, Sgt. Pugliese with his wife and Dun Meng with a woman he met.

But “Patriots Day” also effectively pays tribute to those who lost their lives or those who were caught in the blast.

“Patriots Day” pays respect to MIT Officer Sean Collier (portrayed by Jake Picking) who was ambushed by the two terrorists and was killed.  While he never had a chance to fight back, they tried to steal his weapon unsuccessfully.  The film also tries to show the loving and friendly side of Collier, from going on a date with a student to him hanging out with his friends, singing a song and playing video games.

We also get to see victims such as couple, Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, father Steve Woolfenden taking his young boy on a stroller to watch the Boston Marathon, both were near the first bomb that exploded.  Berg shows the love between Patrick and Jessica and the father and son relationship with the Woolfenden’s.

Possibly a tough role were to play the terrorists and actors Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze no doubt had to pull off these individuals and show the audience of their mindset but also their cowardly, evil actions.  The same with Melissa Benoist who plays the bomber’s wife and showing viewers on what happened when she was interrogated by law enforcement.

The film’s efficacy also helps with the real archived video of the terrorists and video caught from banks and at stores they were at.  It helped remind audience that what people were watching, was the real deal.

I felt that filmmaker Peter Berg and his fellow writers did amazing job in crafting this drama-thriller by sticking to facts, despite the film focusing on a fictional character.

The 4K Ultra HD is wonderfully detailed during closeups and also features an impressive lossless soundtrack especially during the bombings, the gun battle exchanges, the explosions sounds quite amazing through the surround channels and the use of LFE.  And the numerous special features included are also fascinating to watch and thankfully they are of good duration and not too short.

Overall, Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is well-made, well-researched, well-acted and felt that the film was a wonderful tribute to the heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing and not being exploitative.  Highly recommended!

 

Bad Santa 2 Unrated (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

February 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Bad Santa 2” is a black comedy Christmas film that is definitely not for the sensitive, politically correct viewers.  But “Bad Santa 2 Unrated” will appeal to those who enjoyed the first film and enjoy audacious black comedies with a lot of profanity and sex.  And fans of the first film will surely enjoy seeing Willie, Marcus and Thurman together again!

Images courtesy of © 2017 BGP Releasing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Bad Santa 2 Unrated

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 113 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Espanol DTS-HD Mater Audio 5.1, SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Espanol

COMPANY: Broadgreen Pictures/Miramax

RATED: R (Crude Sexual Content and Language Throughout and Some Graphic Nudity)

RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2017


Based on the Creators Created by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Directed by Mark Waters

Written by Johnny Rosenthal, Shauna Cross

Producer: Andrew Gunn, Geyer Kosinski

Co-Producer: Jeffrey Lampert

Executive Producer: Zanne Devine, Doug Ellin, Adam Fields, Daniel Hammon, Gabriel Hammond, David Thwaits, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters

Music by Lyle Workman

Cinematography by Theo van de Sande

Edited by Travis Sittard

Casting by Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman, Andrea Kenyon, Randi Wells

Production Design by Isabelle Guay

Art Direction by Jean-Pierre Paquet

Set Decoration by Marie-Soleil Denomme

Costume Design by Mario Davignon


Starring:

Billy Bob Thornton as Willie Stoke

Kathy Bates as Sunny Soke

Tony Cox as Marcus Skidmore

Christina Hendricks as Diane Hastings

Brett Kelly as Thurman Merman

Ryan Hansen as Regent Hastings

Jenny Zigrino as Gina De Luca

Jeff Skowron as Dorfman

Cristina Rosato as Alice

Mike Starr as Jolly Santa

Octavia Spencer as Opal


Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve. Along for the ride is chubby and cheery Thurman Merman, a 250-pound ray of sunshine who brings out Willie’s sliver of humanity. Mommy issues arise when the pair are joined by Willie’s horror story of a mother, Sunny Soke, who raises the bar for the gang’s ambitions, while somehow lowering the standards of criminal behavior.


In 2003, the black comedy “Bad Santa” starring Billy Bob Thornton (“Armageddon”, “Sling Blade”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”), Tony Cox (“Oz the Great and Powerful”, “Me, Myself & Irene”) and Brett Kelly (“Unaccompanied Minors”, “Trick ‘r Treat”) would become a box office hit.

The film about professional thieves Willie T. Soke (portrayed by Thornton), who always dresses up as Santa Claus and Marcus (portrayed by Tony Cox) who disguises himself as an elf, so they can rob shopping malls at night.

At the mall, as Santa, Willie is visited by Thurman Merman (portrayed by Brett Kelly) who is naive and gullible and thinks Willie is the real Santa.  Always bullied, Willie tries to help Thurman but also tricking him to steal for him.

And now, 13-years after the last film, the three return in the film “Bad Santa 2”, directed by Mark Waters (“Mean Girls”, “Freaky Friday”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”) and is co-written by Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross (“Whip It”, “If I Stay”, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”).

With the sequel, Willie Soke is depressed about his life.  Things didn’t go well with Sue and now he feels suicidal.  He is often visited by an older Thurman who is now 21-years-old and works at a sandwich shop.

While Willie is trying to hang himself, Thurman comes inside and delivers a package for Willie featuring a lot of money.  When Willie goes to meet the person who sent him the money, it happens to be his former partner Marcus who was just released from jail.

Marcus feels remorse for betraying Willie and tells him that there is an opportunity in Chicago that can earn the both of them millions, but he can’t tell Willie who the contact in Chicago is.

Because it’s big money, Willie agrees to partner with Marcus once again.

When Willie arrives in Chicago, he finds out that the opportunity is conning a charity and the person running it is his estranged mother Sunny.  A woman who has always treated him like crap.  But when she tells him that she is suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, he agrees to help Sunny.  But secretly makes a deal with Marcus that they will cut out Sunny at the right time.

As Willie goes to apply for the charity to don the Santa Claus costume once again and Marcus as an elf, Willie immediately gets the hots for charity co-founder Diane (portrayed by Christina Hendricks) and immediately wants to have sex with her.

As Sunny, Willie and Marcus plan their con out, Willie gets an unexpected visit from Thurman, who has followed Willie to Chicago.

Will Willie still be able to accomplish the con?  And will get lucky with Diane?


VIDEO:

“Bad Santa 2 Unrated” is presented in 2160p High Definition (1:85:1). The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.

Picture quality is fantastic as closeups show amazing clarity, the red on Santa Claus and Mrs. Klaus’ clothing are vibrant and outdoor scenes are colorful and looks great in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bad Santa 2 Unrated” is presented in English and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

While the film features crystal clear audio (dialogue) and music, surround channels are well-utilized for crowd atmosphere, outdoor ambiance. May it be when Willie is outside as Santa and getting in fight to Thurman singing a Christmas song.  Lossless audio is great!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bad Santa 2 Unrated” comes with the following special features:

  • Thurman Then & Now – (2:27) A featurettte about Brett Kelly reprising his role as Thurman and Billy Bob working with Brett again.
  • Just Your Average Red Band Featurette – (2:00) Red Band trailer for “Bad Santa 2”.
  • “That’s My Willie” Original Animated Series – (3:51) Featuring a few animated shorts featuring Thurman talking about his Willie memories.
  • Jingle Balls – (:33) Jingle Bells music along with plenty of profanity.
  • Trailers and Spots – (7:14) Featuring the Red Band Teaser Trailers and spots.
  • Gag Reel – (3:57) Outtakes from “Bad Santa 2”.
  • Alternate Opening – (1:00) Alternate opening scene.
  • Deleted Scenes – (2:41) Deleted scenes from “Bad Santa 2”.
  • Alternate Ending Scene – (2:49) Featuring an alternate ending scene for “Bad Santa 2”.

EXTRAS:

“Bad Santa 2 Unrated” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.


Back in 2003, “Bad Santa 2” came out during at time when audacious comedies were popular.  Moronic comedy and a plethora of profanity was the norm of comedies in the 2000’s and a character such as Willie Soke and Marcus Skidmore talking badly about women they want to have sex with were ok.

Fastforward to 2013, while moronic comedies still exist, America’s tastes have changed, social media and people vocalizing their displeasure and calling out anything that is deemed inappropriate is commonplace.

And the film came out during a time when a Presidential campaign had a candidate receiving notoriety for his words or actions against women, would lead to a movement of women becoming vocal of not taking it.  Vocal when a comedian is accused of raping and sexually harassing dozens of women.  And for the most part, political correctness and today’s culture are more vocal against the negative portrayal of women, especially men’s behavior towards women.

And “Bad Santa 2” was a film that was called out by many critics, who gone on to say that the first film was appropriate 13-years ago, as many comedies were similar. But now, Willie Soke’s comments of wanting to do women and doing it, will no doubt infuriate those who are sensitive of this style of comedy.

While those who watched the original film and loved it, will no doubt enjoy the sequel.

The film has its hilarious moments, especially each time Brett Kelly’s naive character Thurman Merman appears on the big screen.

While the exchanges between Willie and Marcus is expected, I think there are people who will be shocked to see Kathy Bates playing a con and a bad mother trying to reconnect with her estranged son.  As for Christina Hendricks, she plays a co-owner of a charity (that Willie, Marcus and Sunny are trying to con) but not having sex in a decade, she shows her dirty girl side towards Willie.

But while the film is not better than the original film, the heist is overshadowed by Willie’s dysfunctional relationship with Thurman, who in someways as the annoy child that Willie can’t stand but yet, feels that he needs to take care of him, considering that Thurman is the only person in his life that treats him with true appreciation.

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, picture quality is fantastic and vibrant. Colors are much more bolder and close-ups show great detail.  Lossless audio is primarily dialogue and musically driven, but ambiance is well-utilized throughout the film and its surround channels.  And there are a good number of special features included.

As for the differences between the unrated and theatrical versions, it’s only three minutes extra and those three minutes are more extended sex scenes.

Overall, “Bad Santa 2” is a black comedy Christmas film that is definitely not for the sensitive, politically correct viewers.  But “Bad Santa 2 Unrated” will appeal to those who enjoyed the first film and enjoy audacious black comedies with a lot of profanity and sex.  And fans of the first film will surely enjoy seeing Willie, Marcus and Thurman together again!

 

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

February 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” may have not won me over compared to his other films but I did enjoy the artistic freedom of using technology and the highest film FPS and trying something fresh and different compared to other films shot digitally.  Storywise, it may not be a heavy-hitting war film, but “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” does manage to capture brotherhood at arms, American war propaganda and the distorted perception of heroism. A film worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 113 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French, Portuguese, Thai, English and French Audio Description Tracks 5.1 Dolby Digital. SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Classic), Spanish (Castilan and Latin American) and Thai.

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language Throughout, Some War Violence, Sexual Content and Brief Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2017


Based on the Novel by Ben Fountain

Directed by Ang Lee

Written by Jean-Christophe Castelli

Producer: Stephen Cornwell, Ang Lee, Marc Platt, Rhodri Thomas

Executive Producer: Brian Bell, Guo Guangchang, Jeff Robinov, Ben Walsbren

Associate Producer: Alexei Boltho, Simon Cornwell, Ben Fountain, David Kosse, David Lee

Music by Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna

Cinematography by John Toll

Edited by Tim Squyres

Casting by Salah Benchegra, Shay Griffin, Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Mark Friedberg

Art Direction by Gregory S. Hooper, Kim Jennings, Thomas Minton, Aziz Rafiq

Set Decoration by Elizabeth Keenan

Costume Design by Joseph G. Aulisi


Starring:

Joe Alwyn as Billy

Garrett Hedlund as Dime

Arturo Castro as Mango

Mason Lee as Foo

Astro as Lodis

Beau Knapp as Crack

Ismael Cruz Cordova as Holliday

Barney Harris as Sykes

Vin Diesel as Shroom

Steve Martin as Norm

Chris Tucker as Albert

Kristen Stewart as Kathryn

Makenzie Leigh as Faison

Ben Platt as Josh

Bruce McKinnon as Billy’s Father

Deirdre Lovejoy as Billy’s Mother

Laura Lundy Wheale as Patty Lynn

Allen Daniel as Major Mac


Academy Award® winner Ang Lee (2012, Best Director, Life Of Pi ) brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The story is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing battle in Iraq and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through a sequence of flashbacks the truth about what really a happened is revealed – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s distorted perceptions of heroism. Co-starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin.


In 2012, award-winning writer Ben Fountain wrote his debut novel “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”.

Published in 2012, the novel received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the National Book Critics Award for Fiction, the 2012 National Book Award and Fountain would win the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

This would lead to a British-American war film adaptation directed by Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Brokeback mountain”, “The Ice Storm”, “Hulk”) and a screenplay by Jean-Christophe Castelli (“Sense and Sensibility”, “Life of Pi”, “The Ice Storm”).

The film stars Joe Alwyn (“The Sense of an Ending”,”A Higher Education”, “Keepers”), Garrett Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”, “Unbroken”, “Four Brothers”, “Troy”), Arturo Castro (“Bushwick”), Mason Lee (“The Hangover Part II”), Astro (“Earth to Echo”, “A Walk Among the Tombstones”), Beau Knapp (“The Nice Guys”, “Southpaw”, “Super 8”), Ismael Cruz Cordova (“In the Blood”, “Exposed”), Barney Harris (“The Hollow Crown”, “Billionaire’s Boys Club”, “All Roads Lead to Rome”), Vin Diesel (“xXx” films, “Fast & Furious” films), Steve Martin (“The Jerk”, “Bowfinger”, “The Pink Panther” films, “Cheaper by the Dozen” films), Chris Tucker (“Rush Hour” films, “Silver Linings”, “The Fifth Element”), Kristen Stewart (“Twilight” films, “Snow White and the Huntsman”), Makenzie Leigh (“The Slap”, “Gotham”) and Ben Platt (“Pitch Perfect” films, “Ricki and the Flash”).

The film had its world premiere at the 54th New York Film Festival and was released in 3D in theaters courtesy of TriStar Pictures.

The film begins with showing 19-year-old Army specialist Billy Lynn (portrayed by Joe Alwyn) of “Bravo Squad” from Texas dragging his wounded Sergeant Virgil “Shroom” Breem (portrayed by Vin Diesel) to safety during a firefight with enemies in Iraq.

While Shroom did not survive, the act of courage makes Billy an American hero, including his fellow soldiers of Bravo Squad.  And now each of them are on a nationwide tour which will end at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving home game halftime show.

As Billy visits his family at home, his sister Kathryn (potrayed by Kristen Stewart) and we learn through a flashback that the reason that Billy joined the military because he destroyed the car of his sister’s boyfriend, who dumped her after she was in a car accident that required multiple facial reconstruction procedures.  And after destroying the car, he was given a choice to serve time or join the military and Billy chose to join the military.

But Kathryn wants her brother to no longer fight because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and wants him to be honorably discharged, so that he doesn’t have to go back to Iraq.  And she feels guilty that he had to go to war in Iraq because of her.

As film producer Albert Brown (portrayed by Chris Tucker) tries to secure a film deal for the men of Bravo Squad, they meetup with Dallas Cowboys PR representative Josh (portrayed by Ben Platt) to the stadium.

While at the stadium, during the press conference, Billy falls for a cheerleader named Faison (portrayed by Makenzie Leigh), meanwhile meeting the owners of the Cowboys, Norm Oglesby (portrayed by Steve Martin), which Albert is hoping will investing in his film about the incident in Iraq.

How will the day go for Billy and his fellow soldiers of Bravo Squad as they prepare for the big halftime show?


VIDEO:

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is presented in 2160p High Definition (1:85:1).  The film is presented in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D and on normal Blu-ray.

The film received a lot of attention from videophiles as filmmaker Ang Lee made sure the film was shot with a projection frame rate of 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution.  Especially as Lee wanted to make sure the film was “immersive” and “realistic” as possible.  So, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” was the first feature film ever to be shot with a high frame rate (this film was 120fps, the last film to be shot with a high fps was “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” which was shot at 48 fps).

So, because the film was shot with a high fps, another major direction Ang Lee wanted to accomplish is that no make-up was allowed, so the make-up artist Luis Abel found a way to use make-up by using a silicone-based makeup that can see through skin.

Having watched this film in several formats, first let’s discuss the 4K Ultra HD.  Picture quality is fantastic and I can see where Ang Lee wanted to keep things real, as characters are not glammed up.  They are depicted like normal people and for the most part, may it be inside a stadium or outdoors during a major firefight, the film looks great in 4K!  It’s important to note that while the film was shot in 120 fps, it is presented in 4K Ultra HD in 60 fps.

With that being said, I think for some people, without the grain and the usual look of film that may turn a few people off.  It may look too realistic, so it is subjective to the viewing audience.  As many people are used to watching film shot in digital, this film no doubt looks different. And it’s the first film that tries to capture realism.  It’s just whether or not you enjoy it or not.

Watching the film via 3D Blu-ray, since the film was shot originally in 3D, the depth perception is fantastic!  May it be Billy waiting behind Destiny’s Child or during a firefight and seeing the machine gun bullets flying in the air.  I’m not a huge fan of 3D films on Blu-ray as a lot of it tends to get banal, but I enjoyed watching “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” in 3D.

And of course, the film is also featured on Blu-ray and you also get to an UltraViolet code to watch the film in Digital HD.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI 2.0A Cable.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French, Portuguse, Russian, Thai, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio Description Track.

While the film features crystal clear audio and music, surround channels are well-utilized for crowd atmosphere, especially during the half-time sequence, but also during the war-based action sequences.  This is a lossless soundtrack that really does take advantage of an immersive soundspace.

You can expect bullets whizzing, hitting and flying everywhere through your surround channels, explosions and booms, an awesome music soundtrack coming through the surround channels and LFE. Lossless audio is fantastic!

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian/Bahasa, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish  and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” comes with the following special features:

  • Technology as Art: Changing the Way We View Cinema – (5:26) A 4K Ultra HD exclusive.  Ang Lee and crew discussing shooting the film in 120fps.
  • Deleted Scenes – (1:18) Featuring six deleted scenes.
  • Into Battle and Onto the Field: Stepping Inside Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – (9:19) Ang Lee discusses making a film that examines humanity.  Interviews with the cast and also shooting the film at a high fps in 3D.
  • Assembling a Cast – (11:26) Featuring interviews with the cast of the film and how each of them were cast for the film.
  • Recreating the Half Time Show – (6:25) The process of recreating the half-time show and the many people involved to create the scene.
  • The Brotherhood of Combat – (4:24) How the cast would have to go through boot camp training to prepare for their role for the film.

EXTRAS:

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


Having watched “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” several times while reviewing the film in its different formats, while the film tends to narrow the focus on the protagonist Billy and less on the other soldiers of Bravo Squad in terms of their individual lives, the film focuses on the brotherhood of Bravo Squad.

As Billy is seen as the hometown hero, he is a man who doesn’t feel much of a hero as the person he was trying to save, Bravo Squad leader Shroom didn’t make it, part of the film is told in flashbacks of how Billy was a troublemaker of the squad, but eventually became a brother and respected Shroom who taught him a lot about life.

Billy joined the military as he had to make a choice of being incarcerated or joining the Army, because of damaging the vehicle of his sister’s ex-boyfriend, who dumped her after she got into a near-tragic car accident which damaged her face and has had to go through multiple facial reconstruction procedures.

Billy’s sister feels guilty of the sacrifice that Billy had to endure of going to war and seeing him suffer from PTSD and desperately wants him to file for honorable discharge.  As Billy contemplates it, he and his brothers must go through a media campaign for a victory tour which culminates in their final appearance at the Dallas Cowboys halftime show.

But the film exposes the reality of war and what these men sacrificed and also how they are at home, suffering from PTSD and even loud noises makes them feel they are still in Iraq.  And while they are home temporarily and being looked at as heroes, how the military and the government are using this squad and giving America a distorted perception of heroism.

Watching this film, it reminded me about the story of Jessica Lynch and how her convoy was ambushed by Iraqi forces during the Battle of Nasiriyah and how the government and media made her out as a hero, but then reports would come out years later, Lynch testifying that she never fired her weapon and the reality of what happened was revealed.  She criticized media reports about putting her in the status of a heroine and she did not take credit for something that she didn’t do.

While “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is a fictional story, the story of Billy and his squad is reminiscent of Pentagon propaganda that took place during the early 2000’s.  And in the film, Billy and the Bravo Squad are no doubt being used to further America’s involvement in the Iraq War.

While I enjoyed the film for watching Billy and the Bravo Squad crew reaching the end of their victory tour, the film does focus more on brotherhood, while the more emotional moments are focused on Kristen Stewart’s Kathryn who feels guilty about her brother and wants him to leave the military and come back home.

The other men of Bravo Squad are more background characters that would have been effective to show how each of the men were suffering, but while Billy does suffer from PTSD, only one character in the squad is focused on and showing the difficulty of adjusting away from the war zone.  So, aside from Billy, for the other men in the film, character development was not really all there…and by watching the deleted scenes included on the Blu-ray, you start to realize that showcasing the squad a bit more, was left on the cutting room floor.

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, I was very impressed by the realness of the film and how it looked in 4K.  Director Ang Lee wanted to keep things real and for the most part, he was able to accomplish that with the wonderful detail of the film.  Again, impressive!  But I can see if some people are turned off with the hyper-realism look of the film in 4K Ultra HD.  But I enjoyed watching a film try something new and different technologically and giving audiences a chance to see if they enjoy watching a film that looks realistic.  Some will enjoy it, others will hate it, but it is all subjective to the viewer.

Even the 3D Blu-ray version of the film, I also felt it was enjoyable to watch as the depth perception was amazing and how it really utilized depth for many parts of the film, was quite impressive.  Especially during the half-time and firefight in Iraq.

And this release contains four versions of the film: 4K Ultra HD, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and UltraViolet Digital HD which is great!

Also, you get a good number of special features included (one that is exclusive on 4K Ultra HD and the others are featured on the Blu-ray disc).

Overall, Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” may have not won me over compared to his other films but I did enjoy the artistic freedom of using technology and the highest film FPS and trying something fresh and different compared to other films shot digitally.

Storywise, it may not be a heavy-hitting war film, but “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” does manage to capture brotherhood at arms, American war propaganda and the distorted perception of heroism.  A film worth checking out!

 

Resident Evil: Afterlife (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

January 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you enjoyed this film in theaters and have been a dedicated follower of the “Resident Evil” films and are getting revved up for the upcoming release of the final film “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”, you’ll definitely enjoy this fourth film on 4K Ultra HD as visuals and lossless audio is much better!

mages courtesy of © 2010 Constantin Film International GmbH and Davis Films/Impact Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Resident Evil: Afterlife

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 97 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Czech, French, Hungarian, Polish VO, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (Catilan and Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital. SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Classic), Romanian, Slovak, Spanish (Castilan and Latin American) and Swedish.

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Violence, Gore and Some Language)

RELEASE DATE: December 27, 2016


Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Written by Paul W.S. Anderson

Producer: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody, Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida, Robert Kulzer

Executive Producer: Victor Hadida, Martin Moszkowicz

Associate Producer: Hiroyuki Kobayashi

Music by tomandandy

Cinematography by Glen MacPherson

Edited by Niven Howie

Casting by Robin D. Cook, Suzanne Smith

Production Design by Arvinder Grewal

Art Direction by Brandt Gordon

Set Decoration by Carolyn “Cal” Loucks

Costume Design by Denise Cronenberg, Azalia Snail


Starring:

Milla Jovovich as Alice Abernathy

Ali Larter as Claire Redfield

Kim Coates as Bennett

Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker

Sergio Peris-Mencheta as Angel Ortiz

Spencer Locke as K-Mart

Boris Kodjoe as Luther West

Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield

Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine

Kacey Barnfield as Crystal

Norman Yeung as Kim Yong

Fulvio Cecere as Wendell


After a one-woman assault on the Umbrella Corporation’s fortress, Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) superhuman abilities are neutralized. Now, fleeing the Undead masses created by the T-virus, Alice reunites with Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and her brother, Chris (Wentworth Miller). Together they take refuge with other survivors in an abandoned prison, where a savage zombie mob stands between them and the safety of “Arcadia.” Escaping these bloodthirsty mutants will take an arsenal. But facing off with Albert Wesker and the Umbrella Corporation will take the fight for survival to a new level of danger.


The “Biohazard”/”Resident Evil” video games have been quite popular since 1996 and there seems to be no stopping this juggernaut franchise to end anytime soon.  That goes the same with its live action film series which is loosely-based on the video games.

And no matter how film critics respond, the audience still turn out for the films and with the fourth film titled “Resident Evil: Afterlife” which was shown in theaters in 3D and normally, once again the film continues to show that fans and audiences still love the action-driven series.   And to make sure there is a connection between the films, producer/writer Paul W.S. Anderson (“Death Race” films, AVP: Alien vs. Predator”) returns as director.  Glen MacPherson (“Rambo”, The Final Destination”, “Romeo Must Die”) is director of photography and music is by tomandandy (“Natural Born Killers”, “The Mothman Prophecies”, “The Rules of Attraction”).

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” was budgeted at $60 million and made over $294 million worldwide, it’s largest box office draw thus far.  And now, the fourth film will make its 4K Ultra HD debut in January 2017.

To sum up the story of the live action films, the first “Resident Evil” film revolved around an Umbrella Corporation security officer named Alice (played by Mila Jovovich).  The corporation which operates deep beneath the town of Raccoon City had an accident when a thief drops a blue vial in the lab and immediately, the facility’s AI known as “The Red Queen” detects a possible infection and seals the facility and attempts to kill everyone inside.  In the first film we learn that anyone who comes in contact with the “T-Virus” begins to mutate into a zombie and if they bite into anyone, that person will be infected.

In the first film, Alice and other security officers try to survive the facility while finding out who stole the vials of the T-Virus and hoping to find an antidote.    By the end of the film, Alice wakes up in a medical room obviously been operated or experimented on and when she comes out of the facility, she sees Raccoon City literally in disarray and sees a newspaper article that the virus has made it to the public.

In the second film titled “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, the film continues with Alice leaving the facility and seeing Raccoon City in bad shape.  She has learned that she has been infected with the T-Virus but unlike those who mutate to zombies, she has apparently been given special abilities that enhancer her fighting and intuition as well as healing.

Many people are trying to escape the city but when the T-Virus starts to rapidly infect more and more people, the Umbrella Corporation seals entry out of the city and plans to kill everyone (no matter if they are not infected) in order to prevent the T-Virus from getting out of the city.

Alice joins Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera and L.J. are trying to find their way out of Raccoon City which has been locked down and is planning to be nuked in order to kill those who have been turned into zombies by the T-virus.  By the end of the film, Alice and friends managed to escape but crash into the mountains.  Alice is taken and once again experimented on by Dr. Isaacs who wants to learn why Alice’s blood has bonded with the T-Virus and she has not mutated like others.  She manages to escape and Dr. Isaacs allows her to escape because they now have found a way to turn her on and off but also using computers to track her and see what she is seeing.

This leads to the third film titled “Resident Evil: Extinction”.  The virus has now rapidly taken over many parts of the world as nearly everyone has become infected.  Only a few continue to survive and Carlos and L.J. are part of a group led by Claire Redfield (played by Ali Larter) who travel with other survivors and are constantly on the move trying to find more survivors and visit areas to stock on supplies and gas.

The world has changed and everything has been barren and US cities have literally become a desert.

As for Alice, she has been traveling alone and has separated herself from Carlos and L.J. because she knows Umbrella is tracking her and doesn’t want to expose her friends.

But when Claire’s group becomes attacked by crows (who have been feeding on the flesh of infected humans and have become infected themselves), out of nowhere, Alice comes to save them and apparently has developed supernatural abilities to control fire and other elements.  Alice reunites with Carlos and L.J. and she tells them about frequencies that are telling people to go to Alaska where there the infection has not made it up there and there is plenty of food and supplies.  The group now knows they must go to Alaska but in order to do that, they need to get gas because all of their vehicles are low in gas.

But hidden right below the desert is another Umbrella Corporation headquarters where Dr. Isaacs has been experimenting on the zombies and seeing if he can make them conscious about humans and to have them follow instructions, so an unknown entity can create a massive army of those infected by the virus. We also learn that Dr. Isaacs has created many clones of Alice but each of them have not had the same special abilities as her and thus near the headquarters is a pit of dead Alice clones.

By the end of the film, with many lives lost, Alice manages to give Claire and a few others a helicopter to escape to the safe haven known as “Arcadia” in Alaska while she goes underground to kill Dr. Isaacs (who has mutated himself to become a killing machine).  And at the end, we see Alice releasing all of her clones in order to fight the Umbrella Corporation.

“Resident Evil: Afterlife”, the fourth film continues with Alice and her clones now trying to take down the Umbrella Headquarters in Japan and to kill the chairman of the Umbrella Corporation, Albert Wesker (played by Shawn Roberts).  Similar to Alice, he possesses superhuman abilities and during their fight, he injects a serum that neutralizes Alice’s T-virus and will once again make her human and eliminating her superhuman abilities.  But right before Wesker is about to kill Alice, the two get into an accident and Alice manages to escape.

Six months later, Alice has been eager to find “Arcadia” in Alaska and find Claire and other survivors to find this safe haven.  But she discovers, there is no “Arcadia”.  But she hears noise rustling in the background and she finds Claire who is no longer the same Claire that she had known.  Alice manages to beat her but also finds that there is some metallic spider-like device on her.  She removes it and Claire turns to normal but has lost her memory.

Alice and Claire then take off to Los Angeles in hopes to find other survivors but they find legions of zombies trying to get into a prison facility and they manage to spot some survivors which include Luther West (played by Boris Kodjoe), a former professional basketball player; Bennett (played by Kim Coates), a producer that everyone dislikes; Crystal (played by Kacey Barnfield), an aspiring actress; Kim Yong (played by Norman Yeung), an intern for Bennet and Angel Ortiz (played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta) as a former military operations officer and a few other survivors. The survivors are hoping that they can get to Arcadia and when Alice tells him that there is no survivors in Alaska, Luther tells her that the Arcadia they are looking for is not in Alaska, it’s a boat that is in the ocean.

Also inside the prison is a man locked up in a special holding cell named Chris Redfield (played by Wentworth Miller), no one knows if he is a safe individual but he tells Alice that he knows the way out of the prison.  Chris also happens to be the brother of Claire, but with her memory gone, she doesn’t recognize or trust him.

Meanwhile, as Alice and the others try to plan their escape, a hulking tall man with a huge axe and wearing bag over his face known as the Executioner (same character from the “Resident Evil 5” video game) is trying to break through the gates of the prison and also, zombies have also been trying to dig underground to get inside the facility.

With thousands and thousands of zombies trying to bust into the prison facility, Alice and her new friends must find a way to escape and make it to Arcadia.


VIDEO:

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:35:1). The film utilizes James Cameron’s Fusion Camera System (Sony F35 3D cameras).  The film features awesome contrast, remarkable detail and makes the blacks more blacker.

For visual effects and presentation, “Resident Evil: Afterlife” looks much better than its previous counterparts.  But there are some special effects, from the Matrix effect to other effects that some people may feel are a bit too overly used in the film but it’s all subjective.  Personally, I found the visual aspect of the film and its creepy to non-creepy segments and overall visual effects pretty awesome and definitely shows the direness of how f’d up the world has been with the T-virus and to be truthful, I’m surprised the managed to keep the film despite all its visual effects under $60 million.

The scene featuring Anna and Claire taking on the Executioner was pretty awesome.  In many ways, by watching this fourth film, it appears that Paul W.S. Anderson may have wanted to include a lot of the video game elements, especially the horrific characters to this film.  In fact, the Umbrella Japanese soldiers looked as if they were inspired by the anime series “Jin-Roh”.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the overall look of the film especially how they improved the look of the horrific characters and the detail they put into those characters.  From the things coming out of the zombie’s mouth or the splitting of the rottweilers, everything looked wonderful in 4K Ultra HD.

Back in 2010, when I reviewed this film, there was a lot of focus on the 3D aspect of the film but this time around, watching it in 4K, it’s just awesome to see the details of the environment and the characters almost look like its right there.  It’s really amazing of how awesome this film looks in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

When it comes to the “Resident Evil” series, I felt that “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” was awesome on how it utilized sound especially during the surround channels.

Presented in  English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English – Audio Description Track, Catalan, Czech, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish VO, Portuguse, Russian, Spanish (Castilan and Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital.

All I can say is that if you enjoyed the action-paced style of “Apocalypse”, you’re going to enjoy “Afterlife” as this film is full of action-sequences that just keeps going and going and literally, this is a lossless soundtrack that really does take advantage of an immersive soundspace.

You can expect bullets whizzing, hitting and flying everywhere through your surround channels, explosions and booms, sword cutting and a nice touch of LFE and it’s continuous.  There is so much action in this film that it’s literally designed for the audiophile in mind.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Classic), Romanian, Slovak, Spanish (Castilan and Latin American) and Swedish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” comes with the following special features:

  • Undead Vision: Picture-in-Picture – While watching the film, a picture-in-picture box shows us the making of the film with interviews with the director and cast of the film plus pre-rendered CG and schematics and concept art for the film.
  • Filmmaker Commentary – Audio commentary with writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson, producer Jeremy Bolt and Robert Kulzer.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – Featuring a total of eight deleted and extended scenes.
  • Outtakes – (4:29) Featuring bloopers and outtakes from the film.
  • Back Under the Umbrella: Directing Afterlife – (6:43) Director Paul W.S. Anderson talks about directing “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and how he was a big fan of the video games and incorporating his love for the video games to the live action adaptation of the film.
  • Band of Survivors: Casting Afterlife – (6:39) Director Paul W.S. Anderson talks about the casting of the fim and the cast talk about why they enjoy making the film.
  • Undead Dimension: Resident Evil in 3D – (7:37) Director Paul W.S. Anderon talks about making the film in 3D and utilizing James Cameron’s Fusion Camera System (Sony F35 3D cameras) that were used in “Avatar”.
  • Fighting Back: The Action of Afterlife – (5:30) Mila Jovovich, Ali Larter and others cast members talk about the action utilized for this film and how it is unlike the previous films in look and what it took to make the action sequences look awesome.
  • Vision of the Apocalypse: The Design of Afterlife – (7:28) A featurette on the look and feel of “Resident Evil: Afterlife”.  From production design to capturing the various production landscapes (Alaska, Los Angeles and Umbrella Corporation) and giving these locations their own look.
  • New Blood: The Undead of Afterlife – (7:31) How the undead zombies in this latest “Resident Evil” are much faster and more dangerous than before.  And the make up and prosthetics used for the film.
  • Pwning the Undead: Gamers of the Afterlife – (6:10) Director Paul W.S. Anderson talks about capturing the feel from the videogames and incorporating it into the film.
  • Sneak Peek of Resident Evil Domination – (1:10) A sneak peek for the CG “Resident Evil” film.

EXTRAS:

“Resident Evil: Afterlife” will come with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


When it comes to “Resident Evil”, I’m a hardcore fan of the video game series.  Owning nearly ever game that has been released since 1996 but when it came to the first film, I wasn’t digging it at all. I disliked how much of a departure the film was to the video games.  Granted, things always have to change between video game and movie adaptations but the problem was its screenplay.

But then came “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and I really enjoyed the film and how it had elements of “Resident Evil 2” (video game) incorporated to the film.  But for some reason, “Resident Evil: Extinction” felt like it was a step back.  Now here we are with “Resident Evil: Afterlife” and it’s sort of a mix bag.

First, let’s talk about what I enjoyed.  I enjoyed how the film incorporated the Japanese tie-in with “Biohazard”, the utilization of Wesker and the “Resident Evil 5″ Executioner and other horrific RE monster-like beings into this latest film.  It was action-packed, the visual effects were very cool and for a popcorn action-flick, the action didn’t stop.  It kept going and going and really never ceased.

And I have to admit, on 4K Ultra HD…”Resident Evil: Afterlife” is the definitive version to own after watching it in 2160p Ultra High Definition and hearing the lossless audio with its English Dolby Atmos soundtrack.  Definitely enjoyed the utilization of Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) even more and also finally we get Chris Redfield.

Now, what didn’t I like about the film?  I didn’t like how the screenplay would have these certain deviation from the overall plot.  In the beginning, we see Alice given a shot of a serum that neutralizes her special abilities, but yet she still manages to fight have tremendous stamina and fighting skills that seemed more beyond her security officer status.

The other thing is what happened to the other Claire’s?  Granted, we see a few blow up in Japan but as we saw at the end of “Resident Evil: Extinction”, there are plenty of Claire’s still around.   Also, how did Alice choose to go from Alaska to Los Angeles, especially when the third film talked about how there wasn’t much fuel in the planet.  Let alone an older plane that would get to Alaska and then to Los Angeles.  Granted, I know I was over-analyzing but still there were a lot of loose ends.

We are still unaware of what those metallic spiders and what they were used for.  We are unaware if there are Wesker clones.  Also, I wish there was a little bit more character development between the Redfields.  Granted, the focus was to go more action like the second film where character development plays a smaller part than the action sequences (which people, including myself, enjoyed about the second film), so I just felt that we are left out of the loop on various parts of the film.

And as for those wonder where the appearance was for Jill Valentine’s return?  If you didn’t stay until the end of the credits, you may have missed her appearance and the whole entire sequence at the end of the film (which I’m sure many moviegoers missed) that takes place a minute or two after the credits start showing.  Let’s just say that “Resident Evil 5” video game fans will know what happens to Jill’s character.

But still, “Resident Evil: Afterlife” is one of those films that one doesn’t watch for relationships or character development-driven scenes.  I’m more driven to films that do flesh out the various characters but I suppose, for others..it’s all about the action.  Similar to the videogame, due you watch the long cut scenes or skip them to continue with the gameplay?  I’m for the former but I do know many who are of the latter.

I do wonder if the fifth film will continue the odd (character driven storylines) versus the even numbered (action-driven) films?  Will we get more explanations of what the heck is going on for the fifth film?  I guess we will find out and a fifth film is most definitely going to be in the works considering “Afterlife” performed quite well in the box office.

Overall, I did enjoy “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, not as much as “Armageddon” but much more than the first and third films.  The visual effects of this latest film definitely was the highlight of this latest “Resident Evil” film and it definitely makes for an awesome looking and sounding film on 4K Ultra HD.  It’s important to note that the Blu-ray disc included with this 4K Ultra HD release is not the 3D version but the regular Blu-ray version.

If you enjoyed this film in theaters and have been a dedicated follower of the “Resident Evil” films and are getting revved up for the upcoming release of the final film “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”, you’ll definitely enjoy this fourth film on 4K Ultra HD as visuals and lossless audio is much better!

 

Underworld (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

January 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you love vampires and werewolves and love popcorn action films, “Underworld: Unrated” is definitely recommended!  Featuring a Blu-ray release with fantastic PQ, amazing AQ and plenty of special features… overall, if you are a fan of the film, “Underworld” is a 4K Ultra HD release worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2003 Subterranean Productions LLC. All Rights Reserved..


TITLE: Underworld

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2003

DURATION: 121 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Italian and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA. SUBTITLES: English SDH, French and Italian

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Violence, Gore and Some Language)

RELEASE DATE: December 27, 2016


Directed by Len Wiseman

Story by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride

Screenplay by Danny McBride

Produced by Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Richard S. Wright

Executive Producer: Robert Bernacchi, Terry McKay, James McQuade, Skip Williamson, Henry Winterstern

Associate Producer: Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride

Music by Paul Haslinger

Cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts

Edited by Martin Hunter

Production Design by Bruton Jones

Art Direction by Kevin Phipps, Csaba Stork

Set Decoration by Malcolm Stone

Costume Design by Wendy Partridge


Starring:

Kate Beckinsale as Selene

Scott Speedman as Michael Corvin

Michael Sheen as Lucian

Shane Brolly as Kraven

Bill Nighy as Viktor

Erwin Leder as Singe

Sophia Myles as Erika

Robbie Gee as Kahn

Wentworth Miller as Dr. Adam Lockwood

Kevin Grevioux as Raze

Zita Gorog as Amelia


In the Underworld, Vampires are a secret clan of modern aristocratic sophisticates whose mortal enemies are the Lycans (werewolves), a shrewd gang of street thugs who prowl the city’s underbelly. No one knows the origin of their bitter blood feud, but the balance of power between them turns even bloodier when a beautiful young Vampire warrior and a newly-turned Lycan with a mysterious past fall in love. Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman star in this modern-day, action-packed tale of ruthless intrigue and forbidden passion ­ all set against the dazzling backdrop of a timeless, Gothic metropolis.


In 2003, the action/horror film “Underworld” was released in theaters.

Directed by Len Wiseman (“Live Free and Die Hard”, “Underworld: Evolution”) and written by Danny McBride, the first film would receive mixed reviews from critics but would make over $95 million in the box office.

The film would star actress Kate Beckinsale (“Aviator”, “Pearl Harbor”), Scott Speedman (“Felicity”, “The Strangers”), Shane Brolly (“Spread”, “Devils Highway”), Michael Sheen (“Kingdom of Heaven”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Frost/Nixon”) and Billy Nighy (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1”, “Love Actually”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”).

And now “Underworld” makes its way to 4K Ultra HD.  It’s important to note that this is the regular version of the film and not the “Unrated” extended version of the film.

“Underworld” takes place during a time where the vampires and the Lycans (werewolves) are at war.  In the past, the Lycans were used as slaves for centuries by the vampires but rebelled courtesy of their leader Lucian and have been in war since.

For vampire/Death Dealer, Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale), her job is to hunt down the Lycans.  When she was young, her family was massacred by the Lycans and thus she was taken in by vampire leader Victor (played by Bill Nighy) and given immortal life by being transformed into a vampire.  So, she despises the Lycans and assassinates them.  It is said that the Lycans were defeated many centuries ago when their leader Lucian (played by Michael Sheen) was killed and the Lycans that are remaining are survivors that must be eliminated.

But one day, as the vampires were hunting down the Lycans at a subway station, the Lycans fight back and the vampire/Death Dealer Rigel is killed.  She tracks them down to their den and another vampire is killed by a Lycan named Raze.  When Selene goes to investigate, she finds out that the Lycans have developed a new type of bullet to kill vampires.

When she arrives back to the vampire coven’s mansion, she goes to tell current vampire regent Kraven (played by Shane Brolly) what she discovered but is told to drop it.  Selene doesn’t understand why they would drop such important developments and when she goes to do more research, she realizes that the Lycans are following a human named Michael Corvin (played by Scott Speedman).

At the Lycan headquarters, we learn that their scientist Singe is testing blood on kidnapped descendants of the ancient Corvinus family to find a pure source of their ancient and powerful bloodline.  Selene wonders why they are pursuing the human and she decides to help him, but in the process, he is bitten by Lucian.

Selene brings the injured Michael back to the vampire’s coven, against Kraven’s wishes.  When one of the vampires goes to check on him, she finds a bite by a Lycan and realizes that the human will turn into a Lycan during a full moon.  Shocked by the encounter, Michael runs away from the Vampire’s coven.

When Selene continues her research about Lucian, she realizes that only one vampire has witnessed his death and it was Kraven.  What if there is a conspiracy and that Lucian is definitely alive, that means Kraven can not be trusted.

Selene manages to help Michael once again but this time, locking him up at a vampire lab area.  She explains to him about why she has hatred towards the Lycans and what they did to her family but also learns more about Michael’s history and tells what will happen to him during a full moon.

So, she decides to break vampire tradition by waking up the powerful elder vampire Viktor (who is not supposed to be awaken for another century).  As Selene tries to tell Viktor of what has happened, Viktor is more upset that Selene has broken a tradition that has been in place for many centuries and that Markus is to be the next elder vampire awakened, not him.    And also, she has no proof that Lucian is alive.

And because she has broken a major rule, Kraven and the guards put Selene under house arrest to await punishment.

But for Selene, she knows there is a conspiracy and she must escape and save Michael before the Lycans and the vampires get to him.


VIDEO:

“Underworld” is presented in 2160p High Definition (2:35:1).   The film looks quite amazing despite the film primarily being shot with a lot of black and blues.  The film was intentionally desaturated but during closeup scenes, you can see the skin pores on the talents face, the blue of the vampires eyes and for the most part, a good amount of detail can be seen from the leather clothing to the textures of objects and exteriors.  Even the creature design of the werewolves were well-detailed.

If anything, “Underworld” looks absolutely fantastic in 4K Ultra HD!

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Underworld” is presented in English Dolby Atmost (Dolby TrueHD) 7.1 and Italian and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA.

The lossless soundtrack for this film is fantastic!   The surrounds and rear surrounds were being utilized throughout the film.  From the sounds of lightning, raindrops, glass shattering, bullets ricocheting, you name it… this is one heck of an immersive soundtrack.

Dialogue is crystal clear but it’s the action scenes that come alive with this lossless soundtrack.  There are so many intensive action sequences involving machine gun fire that I was very impressed of seeing how immersive those sequences are!  Audiophiles will love this soundtrack!  I definitely did!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French and Italian.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Underworld” comes with the following special features (Note: These are the same special features from the original Blu-ray release):

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring a hilarious and insightful commentary by director Len Wiseman, actress Kate Beckinsale and actor Scott Speedman.
  • Outtakes – (3:43) Featuring outtakes from “Underworld”.
  • Fang vs. Fiction – (47:18) A documentary about vampires and werewolves and those who think they are vampire and werewolves living today.
  • The Making of Underworld – (13:00) Featuring interviews with director Len Wiseman and the cast of “Underworld” plus behind-the-scenes making of the film.
  • The Visual Effects of Underworld – (8:58) Featuring the VFX supervisors of the film discussing the making of the visual effects for the film.
  • Creature Effects – (12:30) Creative designer Patrick Tatopulous talks about building the creatures for the film.
  • Designing Underworld – (10:48) Bruton Jones (Production Designer and Conceptual Artist) talks about designing “Underworld”.
  • The Look of Underworld – (19:12) Director Len Wiseman discusses the look he wanted for “Underworld” and how he didn’t want it to seem like a normal city but something much darker.
  • Sights and Sounds – (9:07) A featurette on the various sights (weapons) and sound effects for the film.
  • Music Video – (2:48) Featuring the music video for “Worms of the Earth” by Finch.
  • Storyboard Comparisons (6:42) Actual footage and storyboard comparisons.

EXTRAS:

“Underworld” will come with both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code. Also, a slipcover.


“Underworld” is your vampire vs. werewolf popcorn action film.  Where there is a story that features why the Lycans and vampires are at war, it also plays out somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet story in a monstrous kind of way.  What happens if a vampire and a Lycan were to merge?  The first film of the trilogy goes into answering that question of why these two are at war but also what would result if they were to combine?

To be truthful, before watching this film, based on the trailer alone, I pretty much realized this was more of an action film rather than horror.  Granted, you’re going to see werewolves mauling on vampires and vampires attacking the Lycans but there is more reliance in these films towards weapon usage.  I understand the mythology of silver bullets to kill a vampire but would a bullet really be needed to kill vampires?  I suppose that it goes against the banality of the typical film using garlic, crosses and stakes but I found it rather intriguing to see these vampires utilizing powerful weaponry.

But what “Underworld” does have going for it is its action.  It’s strictly a popcorn action film and with actress Kate Beckinsale wearing a tight leather uniform, kicking major ass and with the film demonstrating a stylish, cool presentation, especially with its use of blues and blacks and saturated colors.

I also felt that the makeup and creature design were fantastic for this film as with the visual effects.

There are a few things about this 4K Ultra HD release that I do need to point out.  For one, this is not the “unrated” extended version.  And when the “unrated” version on Blu-ray was released back in 2007, I absolutely loved it!  But this is the regular version at 121 minutes, the unrated extended version was 134 minutes and I did enjoy the “unrated” version a lot more than the original version.

So, I know it’s subjective, but I wish the “unrated” extended version was released in 4K Ultra HD.

As for the 4K Ultra HD release, the picture quality is fantastic and the lossless soundtrack was absolutely amazing!  And to top things off, there are a good number of special features included especially a wild and crazy audio commentary and the “Fang vs. Fiction” documentary.  All these special features are from the Blu-ray release, so there is really nothing new added with this 4K Ultra HD release in terms of special features.

So, is it worth upgrading to 4K Ultra HD?  If you love the film, then you will definitely want to upgrade to better picture quality and lossless audio.  4K Ultra HD is primarily for the videophiles and audiophiles who want the best quality and have the hardware to support it.

Overall, while “Underworld” is not a film that focuses on a deep storyline, I found it rather intriguing and action-packed, especially the utilization of the film’s characters and how things were setup for the sequel.

If you love vampires and werewolves and love popcorn action films, “Underworld” is definitely recommended!

 

Sausage Party (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

November 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Sausage Party” probably will be known as the most wildest, sexually pervasive R-rated animated film to be showcased on the big screen.  And there is no doubt that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have once again raised the bar of craziness to be displayed in an animated film.  “Sausage Party” gives new meaning to the words “Food Porn” and will no doubt entertain audiences familiar with Rogen/Goldberg films.

Images courtesy of © 2016 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Sausage Party

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2016

DURATION: 89 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English – Audio Description Track, French, Hungarian, Polish VO, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital. SUBTITLES: English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croation, Czech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Strong Sexual Content, Pervasive Language and Drug Use)

RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2016


Directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Screenplay by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg

Story by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill

Produced by Megan Ellison, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Conrad Vernon

Executive Producer: David Distenfeld, Jonah Hill, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, James Weaver

Co-Producer: Pilar Flynn, Jillian Longnecker, Alex McAtee

Music by Christopher Lennertz, Alan Menken

Edited by Kevin Pavlovic

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by Kyle McQueen

Art Direction by Kyle McQueen


Featuring the Voices of:

Michael Cera as Barry

James Franco as Druggie

Bill Hader as Firewater/Tequila/El Guaco

Salma Hayek as Teresa

Jonah Hill as Carl

Anders Holm as Troy

Nick Kroll as Douche

David Krumholtz as Lavash

Danny McBride as Honey Mustard

Lauren Miller as Camille Toh, Tampon

Edward Norton as Sammy

Nicole Oliver as Sally Bun

Craig Robinson as Grits

Seth Rogen as Frank/Sergeant Pepper

Paul Rudd as Darren

Kristen Wiig as Brenda


In this CG-animated movie, one sausage leads a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store. The film features the vocal talents of some of today’s best comedy stars – Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek.


When you get Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (both created “Superbad”, “Pineapple Express”, “This is the End” and “The Interview”) together, you know that the two are going to raise the bar of the wildest and audacious comedy that can appear on the big screen.

While the comedy can be looked as moronic and obscene, there is no doubt an audience that enjoys there style of comedy and when the two began working on their first animated film and news that it was a audacious and obscene animated film titled “Sausage Party”, the first initial Red Band trailers were enough to let viewers know that this was an animation film for adults and not for children.

And the animated film which had a budget of $19 million, would make over $138.4 million worldwide.

And now, “Sausage Party” will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The animated film is set in a supermarket called Shopwell’s and the food and grocery items just want to be taken to the “Great Beyond” by human shoppers.

Meanwhile, a group of sausages, especially Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) and his girlfriend, a bun named Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig), can’t wait to be taken to the Great Beyond and consummate their relationship.

For now, the two discuss that they can only do tips.

Meanwhile, other sausages such as Barry (voiced by Michael Cera), Carl (voiced by Jonah Hill) and Troy (voiced by Anders Holm), also look forward to consummating with the other buns in the Great Beyond.

As the pack of sausages and buns are selected and the group celebrate, a returned jar of Honey Mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) tries to tell everyone the horrors of the Great Beyond and that what they think is untrue.  The human shoppers, which they have known as their gods, will eat them.

As no one is willing to listen to Honey Mustard, Honey Mustard tries to commit suicide and Frank and Brenda try to save him.  Honey Mustard tells Frank that he must find a bottle of liquor named Firewater (voiced by Bill Hader) and learn the truth about the Great Beyond.

Unfortunately, Honey Mustard’s suicide leads to an accident inside the store and Frank, Brenda, a lavash named Kareem (voiced by David Krumholtz) and a bagel named Sammy (voiced by Edward Norton), along with an evil douche named Douche (voiced by Nick Kroll) have fallen out of the shopping cart.  While everyone manages to be unhurt, unfortunately, Douche is badly damaged and discarded and he now hates Frank and blames him for being damaged.

As the group tries to find their way back, Frank heeds Honey Mustard’s warning and goes to the liquor aisle in order to find Firewater to learn the truth.

But he is unaware that douche is planning to take revenge against him.

Meanwhile, the others try to find a way back and run into a lesbian taco named Teresa (voiced by Salma Hayek) who falls for Brenda.

But will these food items discover the absolute truth of what is in the Great Beyond and what happens to food items?


VIDEO:

“Sausage Party” on 4K Ultra HD is presented in 2160p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio) features a vibrant, colorful pallette as each character is bursting with color, with characters showcasing great detail and reflections.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sausage Party” on 4K Ultra HD is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), Czech, English – Audio Description Track, French, Hungarian, Polish VO and Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital.

“Sausage Party” is a film that features crystal clear dialogue, music and sound effects.  There are moments with action sequences that are well-utilized through the surround channels.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sausage Party” comes with the following special features (only on Blu-ray portion only):

  • Good Food Gag Reel – (7:29) “Sausage Party” gag reel.
  • Shock and Awe: How Did This Get Made? – (5:08) “Sausage Party” creators discuss the challenge of getting the film made and the edits that had to be made in order for the film to be created.
  • The Booth – (9:28) The original table read for “Sausage Party” and then behind-the-scenes of the recording of the voice talent for the film.
  • Line-O-Rama – (4:57) Behind-the-scenes of the improvisation used by the voice actors for the film.
  • The Great Beyond – (4:01) The composers discuss the music for the film.
  • The Pitch – (2:33) Interview with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on how they pitched the film to the film studios.
  • Seth Rogen’s Animation Imaginatorium – (1:05) A parody of the Walt Disney’s old classic introductions, but featuring Seth Rogen promoting “Sausage Party”.

EXTRAS:

“Sausage Party” will come with both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code. Also, a slipcover.


When it comes to films involving Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the approach I have is similar to how I have approached Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow films.

You know what you are going to get, but you wonder how far they can push the envelope.

For years now, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, have created films that try to push the envelope in moronic comedy and attracting an audience who wants more and more of it.

What makes “Sausage Party” so different is what if you can create the most audacious, filthy animated film involving food products, who are characters.

Needless to say, I can understand why studios had passed on the film because making something so explicit and sexually pervasive is not what you can expect from an animated film.

Sure, back when I was young, we had “Heavy Metal” and then we had the profanity-laden “South Park” and moreso recently with the series “Robot Chicken” involving toy action figures getting it on.

But Rogen and Goldberg managed to up the level of craziness, sexual references and even a hardcore food orgy with “Sausage Party” and giving new meaning to the word, “Food Porn”.

But while there is a story that exists in “Sausage Party” as food products (yes, they are each a character) hope to be selected by human customers and be taken to the Great Beyond where they can exist in true harmony and consummate with other food products.  And for sausage wiener, Frank and bun, Brenda…these two can’t wait to get it on.

Unfortunately, Frank learns the truth of what the “Great Beyond” truly means and what happens to food products and tries to warn his fellow food products that they will die if they are taken by humans.

And while the bar of Rated R animation has been pushed to the highest level by Rogen and Goldberg, I can’t help but be surprised of how this film was actually made and given the greenlight by a studio.  And truth be told, the only thing that really stays in my mind right now is the food orgy for the film’s final climax.  Which is somewhat fitting but makes me think of the parents who let their kids watch the movie with them in, in thinking they were getting something like a “South Park” but instead got something much more different than anticipated.

Needless to say, it’s moronic humor with sexual pervasiveness and if you are not cool with that, then “Sausage Party” is not for you.

But if you want something that you usually never see and are open to crazy scenes involving food products, then you’ll no doubt find “Sausage Party” to be wild and crazy ride.

As for the 4K Ultra HD, picture quality is fantastic as colors are vibrant as the film is quite colorful and while not Pixar animation quality, the film’s characters all seem to work very well.  From reflections seen on characters, to food type textures that are very detailed for each character.  Animation is well done.  As for the lossless audio, there is a good number of sound effects and action sequences but for the most part, this is a dialogue and music-driven film.  But lossless audio for the most part is crystal clear.

As for special features, you get a good number of special features included on the Blu-ray disc.  But it would have been great to have an audio commentary by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, crew and actors/actresses involved in the voice over for the film.

Overall, “Sausage Party” probably will be known as the most wildest, sexually pervasive R-rated animated film to be showcased on the big screen.  And there is no doubt that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have once again raised the bar of craziness to be displayed in an animated film.  “Sausage Party” gives new meaning to the words “Food Porn” and will no doubt entertain audiences familiar with Rogen/Goldberg films.

 

Angels & Demons (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

October 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Angels & Demons” is an entertaining film, it’s an ambitious and beautiful looking film that looks and sounds fantastic on 4K Ultra HD. But the film does have its shortcomings and some scenes are a bit farfetched, but yet in the end, I did enjoy the film, just not as much as “The Da Vinci Code”. An entertaining sequel, watching this film again has me really anticipating the release of the third film “Inferno”. “Angels & Demons” is a film worth recommending on 4K Ultra HD!

Images courtesy of © 2009 Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Angels & Demons

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 138 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p Ultra High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio), English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), English – Audio Description Track, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish (castillan), Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital. SUBTITLES: English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch,  Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai and Turkish.

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Sequences of Violence, Disturbing Images and Thematic Material)

RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016


Based on a novel by Dan Brown

Directed by Ron Howard

Written by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman

Executive Producer: Dan Brown, Todd Hallowell, Marco Valerio Pugini

Produced by John Calley, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard

Associate Producer: William M. Connor, Kathleen McGill, Louisa Velis

Music by Hans Zimmer

Cinematography by Salvatore Totino

Edited by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill

Casting by Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins and Michelle Lewitt

Production Design by Allan Cameron

Set Decoration by Robert Gould, Richard Roberts

Costume Design by Daniel Orlandi


Starring:

Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon

Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna

Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra

Stellan Skarsgard as Commander Richter

Pierfrencesco Favino as Inspector Olivetti

Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Assassin

Armin Mueller-Stahl as Cardinal Strauss

Thure Lindhardt as Chartrand

David Pasquesi as Claudio Vincenzi

Cosimo Fusco as Father Simeon


In Ron Howard’s thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) pursues ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by a deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals’ lives on the line, and the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) desperate for help, Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secret vault on Earth!


Dan Brown’s controversial novel “The Da Vinci Code” was a best seller and the film adaptation of the film was box office gold as the film grossed over $758 million worldwide.  Needless to say, controversy helped catapult this film and the novel and it was no surprise when it was announced that Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Cinderella Man”, “Apollo 13”) would return as director and Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump”, “Castaway”, “Big”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Saving Private Ryan”)  as the main character Robert Langdon in an adaptation of Dan Brown’s 2000 mystery-thriller novel “Angels & Demons”.

The film would feature a screenplay by David Koepp (“Hack”, “War of the Worlds”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Ghost Town”) and Akiva Goldsman (“I Am Legend”, “I Robot”, “Cinderella Man”).  Music for the film is by Hans Zimmer (“Frost/Nixon”, “The Dark Knight”, “Kung Fu Panda”, “Pirates of the Carribean” films) and cinematography by Salvatore Totino (“Cinderella Man”, “Changing Lanes”, “Frost/Nixon”).  The film The film opened in May 2009 and like “That Da Vinci Code”, received a lot of controversy and did well in the box office as “Angels & Demons” made over $485 million.

“Angels & Demon” stars Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Green Mile”), Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars” films, “Trainspotting”, “Big Fish”), Ayelet Zurer (“Man of Steel”, “Munich”, “Vantage Point”), Stellan Skarsgard (“Good Will Hunting”, “The Avengers”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Thor”), Pierfrancesco Favino (“Rush”, “World War Z”, “Night at the Museum”), Nikolaj Lie Kaas (“The Green Butchers”, “The Keeper of Lost Causes”, “The Absent One”), Thure Lindhardt (“Into the Wild”, “Flame and Citron”, “Fast & Furious 6”) and Armin Mueller-Stahl (“The Game”, “The Thirteenth Floor”, “The International”).

Now “Angels & Demons” makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD to coincide with the 10th Anniversary of “The Da Vinci Code” and the theatrical release of the third Robert Langdon film, “Inferno”.

The film kicks off with Father Silvano Bentigovlio and Dr. Vittoria Vetra (portrayed by  Ayalet Zurer) at the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN) in which the laboratory is trying to initiate a Large Handron Collider and collect the antimatter.  All goes well and when Dr. Vetra goes to visit and congratulate him, she sees an eye socket ripped out and the father laying on the ground dead.  Also, the antimatter has been stolen.

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church mourns the death of Pope Pius XI and as the Vatican and people wait for a vote on who will be the next Pope, a group known as the Illuminati kidnap the “preferiti” (the four people nominated to become Pope) and a threat goes out that someone is in possession of the anti-matter and is threatening to kill each of the four and will destroy the Vatican. Meanwhile, while the leaders are working on their votes for the next pope, Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (portrayed by Ewan McGregor) has temporary control.

Because of the symbols of the Illuminati are being used ala Ambigram (Ampi = two, gram=words), the Vatican contacts symbiologist Robert Langdon (portrayed by Tom Hanks) who is working at Harvard University for his help and also CERN scientist Dr. Vittoria Vetra to go to Rome and help assist the Swiss Police and the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State in stopping the person/people involved before they kill any of the four preferiti and to get back the anti-matter.

In a story about mystery, corruption and secrets, both Langdon and Vetra must find a way to stop the next killing before the Vatican is destroyed.


VIDEO:

“Angels & Demons” on 4K Ultra HD is presented ala 2160p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio) features a beautiful location shots.

The film looks absolutely stunning on 4K Ultra HD.   Salvatore Totino and Ron Howard make a great filmmaking couple as the Director has trusted Totino to capture the setting in Rome and its people with clarity, amazing detail of the various architecture and the surrounds outside the Vatican.  And of course, the skin pores and detail on the characters face.  It’s all captured quite well and to add to that, a nice fine layer of grain.  Overall, picture quality is fantastic.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Angels & Demons” on 4K Ultra HD is presented in English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish (Castillan), Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital and an English – Audio Description Track.

Unlike “The Da Vinci Code”, “Angels & Demons” is a film that features a lot of action scenes (which either is going to make you feel its going a bit too farfetched or will make you feel that it’s wonderful).  From the gunshots from the assassin, the helicopter overhead, the cars racing and of course the anti-matter scenes, there is a good use of audio because of those action sequences.  But what about the ambiance of a crowded area of the Vatican.  Yes, you can hear the crowds with clarity and you can hear the people in the Vatican chit chatting, it’s a wonderful use of the soundscape.  But the main thing that you will notice right off the bat is Hans Zimmer’s music.

The music plays a big part of the “Angels & Demons” in creating that feel of action, sadness or the key dramatic moments.  Overall, this is another lossless soundtrack that really utilizes audio completely well.  It’s not a full-on action-based film but it’s a film that does sound remarkably well.

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai and Turkish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Angels & Demons” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1 (on 4K Ultra HD):

  • Legacy of Langdon with First Look at Inferno – (4:10) Tom Hanks, director Ron Howard, author Dan Brown and producer Brian Glazer discuss the third Robert Langdom film, “Inferno”.
  • Extended Scenes – (9:20) Eleven extended scenes for “Angels & Demons”.
  • A First Look at Inferno – (2:37) A first look at the third Robert Langdon film, “Inferno”.
  • Rome Was Not Built in a Day – (17:29) Interview with cast and crew of how to bring Dan Brown’s book to life.  About the production design, the visual effects, editing and music of the film.
  • Writing Angels & Demons – (10:07) Director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer talks about the adaptation of Dan Brown’s books to film and working with the character for “Angels & Demons”.
  • Characters in Search of the True Story – (17:10) Director Ron Howard talks about the importance of the characters in the film.  Cast talk about their characters and Ron Howard and author Dan Brown talks about the talent bringing the character to life.
  • Cern: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge – (14:49) Director Ron Howard talking about working with the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN) laboratory and featuring the Director of Research  and staff of CERN (the top laboratory for particle physics) talking about the lab and what they do at the lab and their mission.  Director Ron Howard talks about how CERN is trying to recreate the “Big Bang” and the cast talk about the involvement of science in the film.
  • Handling Props – (11:34) Director Ron Howard talks about the art department and the many set pieces used in the film.  Interview with the prop master and she explains her and her staff’s duties during the film.
  • Angels & Demons: The Full Story – (9:46) Director Ron Howard,  Dan Brown and Tom Hanks talk about filming in Rome and the logistics of filming in the area.  Also, the building and recreating the sets in Los Angeles and more.
  • This is Ambigram – (4:44)  Dan Brown talks about Ambigrams and how difficult it is to create.  John Langon talks about his book “Wordplay” and the concept of ambigram and incorporating it for “Angels & Demons”.
  • The Path of Illumination – Follow Robert Langdon’s journey through Rome and unlock hidden secrets of the Illuminati.  Select from five marked locations on a map.  And you can unearth in-depth historical facts, film clips and behind-the-scenes footage.  Choose from the Piazza Del Popolo, St. Peter’s Square, Santa Maria Della Vittoria, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. For example, if you click on Piazza Del Popolo, you get “Church” and “Obelisk”.  Choose church and you will see footage of the church and commentary by Ron Howard explaining the history of that location or structures.  Also, read information and detail of other subjects as well.

EXTRAS:

“Angels & Demons” will come with both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray plus an UltraViolet Digital HD code. Also, a slipcover.


“Angels & Demons” is one of those films that you either love or hate, as the same situation with “The Da Vinci Code”.

I found the film to be quite entertaining and the cinematography and music to really enhance the film because the biggest problem that I found was the overuse of CG.  I know the goal was to show how religion and science can work together but I tend to have a disdain towards films that try to be real but overuse CG in ways that are a bit farfetched.

Also, there was a problem with character development.  In “The Da Vinci Code”, there were characters that you actually cared about.  With “Angels & Demons”, I could hardly care for the Dr. Vetra because she’s hardly around Robert for most of the film.  That’s what I enjoyed about the last film, the characters of Audrey Tautou’s Agent Sophie Neveu and Dr. Robert Langdon were developed quite well over the course of the film, while in “Angels & Demons”…somehow the symbiologist ends up becoming an action-hero, escaping major predicaments, one after the other and it was one thing to see it happen but seeing him do it over and over again, was a bit too farfetched for my taste.  I wanted to see more of that intelligence and knowledge in symbiology and history to play a big part of the film.

But the saving grace for this film was my appreciation of “Angels & Demons” cinematography and music.  Similar to how Jacques Tati made the city come alive in a film like “Playtime”, Rome was captured as is.   No matter how many people were loitering near the set, director Ron Howard wanted to capture the city and its beauty and they succeeded.

This is definitely a beautiful film and the 4K Ultra HD release definitely brings out the film’s detail and clarity.   I was quite impressed with the picture quality, although the CG was just a bit too out-of-place it seemed.  But the overall locations of where the film was shot and the creating of the sets to make the film come alive and make a set in Los Angeles look like Rome, a job well done by the production department.

And the lossless soundtrack is solid as well.  Special features wise, “The Da Vinci Code” was packed with bonus features but “Angels & Demons” had about seven major features and no commentary track by Ron Howard either.  But I did enjoy the use of “The Path of the Illumination” featuring the various areas around Rome.

For those who owned the extended edition of “Angels & Demons”, the version presented in 4K Ultra HD is the theatrical version.  While scenes featured in the extended version are now presented as extended scenes in the special features, similar to “The Da Vinci Code: 10th Anniversary” 4K Ultra HD release.

Overall, “Angels & Demons” is an entertaining film, it’s an ambitious and beautiful looking film that looks and sounds fantastic on 4K Ultra HD.  But the film does have its shortcomings and some scenes are a bit farfetched, but yet in the end, I did enjoy the film, just not as much as “The Da Vinci Code”.  An entertaining sequel, watching this film again has me really anticipating the release of the third film “Inferno”.

“Angels & Demons” is a film worth recommending on 4K Ultra HD!

 

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