Mike Pereira writes in all the way from Toronto, Canada with mini reviews for a slew of new Blu-ray releases. Inside you can see what he thought about the new Clash of the Titans, the extended cut of Rambo, Blue Underground’s re-release of The Prowler, as well as MGM’s complete RoboCop series!This week sees the release of a wide range of Blu-ray genre titles which should satisfy just about everyone’s taste.
When stripped down to its very essence, The Prowler is pretty much your standard 80’s slasher flick. The only reason why it’s still a fan favorite is undoubtedly because of Tom Savini’s deliciously gruesome make-up effects. With the heightened detail in Blue Underground’s impressive HD transfer, Savini’s work looks more spectacular than ever. The picture quality improvements are as clear as day. The video is much brighter and colors are bolder. Thankfully, grain is still intact. The special features from the previous edition have been carried over. The breezy commentary with director, Joseph Zito and Tom Savini is the highlight of this collection. If you own the DVD of this nasty little flick, this is a legitimate upgrade.
The Film: 6/10
RAMBO: EXTENDED CUT
Just in time to cash-in on the highly anticipated testosterone epic, The Expendables arrives Rambo: The Extended Cut onto the Blu-Ray format. The explosive A/V presentation seems exactly the same as the first release. The sole extra on this disc, Rambo: To Hell & Back is fascinating stuff. This 84-minute production diary with running commentary by Sly himself, presents the most honest and unglamorous look at filmmaking since Troma’s Apocalypse Soon. According to Stallone during the diary, this is his director’s cut. Why it’s being promoted as The Extended Cut is a mystery to me. The film title card is now John Rambo as it was originally suppose to be. As for the additional eight minutes, it reinforces the intended thematic elements which in the theatrical cut came across has an afterthought. There is also some shuffling of scenes here and there. The violence especially noticeable during the village raid has been toned down a bit. The savagery towards children have either been omitted or toned down. While these disturbing moments still create an undeniable impact, these are the only questionable changes in this cut. In a nutshell, the theatrical cut is a tight ultra-violent action picture, where the extended cut packs more of an emotional punch previously missing. People will undoubtedly be split on which cut is stronger. Both have their merits and are different enough to co-exist. I wouldn’t rid of the previous edition especially for the great collection of special features. Considering how cheap this edition is going for, owning it is a no-brainer for Rambo fans.
The Film: 9/10
CLASH OF THE TITANS
Clash of the Titans is yet another Hollywood remake of a genre classic. While the 1981 original is hardly the masterpiece I thought it was as a child, Ray Harryhausen’s dated effects and beautifully designed creatures still contain more heart and personality than this big budget effort. Considering the source, the plot has somehow been dumbed down more then anyone can possibly imagine. As for the character development… well, it’s non-existent. So what we are left with is a collection of mildly engaging action set-pieces and surprisingly weak performances all across the board (except for the always great, Mads Mikkelsen of Casino Royale fame). Some especially kids will more than likely find enough here to entertain them but the complete lack of anything resembling the basic form of storytelling will leave most bored by the manic and overly busy visuals. As for the Blu-Ray, WB delivers another solid disc. At no fault of the transfer, the video looks overly processed which detracts a bit from the detail. On the other hand, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 kicks some serious ass. Every channel especially the subwoofer gets one hell of a workout. The latest edition of WB’s Maximum Movie Mode lacks the presence of a director guiding the feature like Zack Snyder, Guy Richie, Kevin Smith and even McG did so well on previous incarnations. Still, it’s better than most PiP tracks found on other studios’ titles.
The Film: 5/10
BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD
This latest DC animated offering is easily, the finest to date and that’s no small feat considering such greats like Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker came before it. Loosely based on Judd Winick’s comic book series, Under the Red Hood tells a captivating and character-rich story of a mysterious vigilante similar to Batman…except for the fact he’s willing to do whatever it takes to exact justice. The performances by Bruce Greenwood (Batman), John DiMaggio (Joker), Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing) and Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles (Red Hood) are some of the strongest to ever grace an animated film. Aside from being the darkest entry of the Batman animated films, it’s also the most violent and emotionally complex. Definitely, not recommended for children. The A/V presentation is great especially the explosive DTS-HD sound mix. The special features deliver the goods, as well. There are two informative featurettes detailing the history of both Robins. Also, I really dug the animated Jonah Hex short which features great voice work by the likes of Thomas Jane, Linda Hamilton and Michael Rooker. Batman: Under The Red Hood is up there with the very best of 2010. It is not to be missed!
The Film: 9/10
ROBOCOP: THE COMPLETE SERIES (DVD)
This exclusive 6-disc Canadian import is finally out in North American. Unfortunately, this water-downed, very Canadian (takes one to know one) series hasn’t stood the test of time. Frankly, even for the most diehard Robocop fan (which I definitely am), it’s quite taxing to sit through all 22 episodes featuring Robo teaming up with the likes of a ghost and a computer savvy orphan child. While there is the odd decent episode here and there, it’s weighted down by horribly over-the-top performances, pedestrian direction and embarrassing attempts at the satire which the original film so effortlessly executed. It’s not for a lack of trying but this neutered incarnation of the very hard-R icon, just doesn’t work…like pretty much ever.
The Film: 3/10
Video: 6 /10