Thursday, September 22, 2016

Top Ten DVD List for 9-27-16

 
by Kam Williams
 
This Week’s DVD Releases


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Blood Diner

The Shallows

Rod Serling's Patterns

Jim Henson's Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition

A Dangerous Game: Donald Trump Vs. the Environment

The Disappearance

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom

Talent Has Hunger

Jericho: Series One


Honorable Mention

The Catch: The Complete First Season

Power Rangers Dino Charge: Rise

Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich

Central Intelligence

The Neon Demon


Barbarians Rising [4-Part Miniseries]

Edge of Winter

Warcraft

Indian Summers: Season Two

Heart of the World: Colorado's National Parks

Central Intelligence

 
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams




Kevin Hart and The Rock Co-Star in Unlikely-Buddies Comedy


Back in high school, Calvin (Kevin Hart) was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" while his chubby pal Bob (Dwayne Johnson) was being bullied by classmates because of his weight.. But that was a couple of decades ago, and a lot has changed since then. 
 
Today, we find Calvin wondering whether he might have peaked during his glory days at Central High when he and his childhood sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) were voted Homecoming King and Queen. Yes, the two did marry, but the relationship's been so rocky she's currently insisting they enter therapy. Things are even worse for Calvin at his accounting firm, where he's just been passed over for a promotion to partner. 
 
By comparison, Bob's fortunes have improved immeasurably over the intervening years. He's not only shed all that unwanted baby fat but he's re-sculpted himself into a veritable Adonis by pumping iron a half-dozen hours a day. Furthermore, he's flourishing in an enviable career as a crack CIA Agent well-versed in the tools of international espionage. 
 
The pair's paths cross for the first time in years at their 20th high school reunion where Calvin is impressed by both Bob's new physique and his daring line of work. So, it's no surprise that the suave spy is able to enlist the jaded pencil pusher's technical assistance on his latest assignment. He also could use a little help apprehending the assassin who murdered his partner (Aaron Paul). 
 
That's the point of departure of Central Intelligence, an unlikely-buddies comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers). Kevin Hart has proven himself quite the master of the genre, given the success of such box-office hits as The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard and Ride Along 1 and 2, to name a few. Unfortunately, Kevin and co-star Dwayne Johnson fail to generate any chemistry, despite sharing the screen in scene after scene of silly slapstick.

The bulk of the picture's pathetic attempts at humor revolve around contrasting buff Bob's bravery with weak-kneed Calvin's cowardice. But sadly, the laughs are few and far between during this decidedly-underwhelming action-adventure. 
 
Too bad whoever directed the promising trailer probably didn't direct the movie.



Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, nudity, crude humor and brief profanity
Running time: 107 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray Extras: Director's commentary; gag reel; alternate scenes; Line-O-Rama; Couch Scene; and a Dance-Off.



To see a trailer for Central Intelligence, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxEw3elSJ8M


To order a copy of Central Intelligence on Blu-ray, visit:

The Shallows


Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams


Blake Lively Shines as Surfer Stranded in Shark-Infested Waters


Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) was so shaken by her mother's (Janelle Bailey) untimely death that she's dropped out of med school. In order to feel closer to her dearly departed mom, she's decided to vacation at the same exotic Mexican retreat where she was reportedly conceived back in 1991. An avid surfer, she also plans to search for the stretch for her mom's favorite beach. 
 
Upon arriving, Nancy is so impatient to find that idyllic, uncharted spot, that she impulsively heads for the ocean with her surfboard, handbag and smartphone, abandoning her bushed traveling companion at the hotel. Instead, she accepts a ride to the shore from the very obliging Carlos (Oscar Jaenada), an affable local yokel who is more than happy to serve as the bikini-clad hitchhiker's chauffeur and navigator. 
 
He drives away right after depositing her at the secluded cove, yet Nancy has no qualms about being left alone, since she does have cell service. Next thing you know, she's blissfully paddling out to deep water where she's surrounded by a pod of playful dolphins as she starts riding the mammoth waves. 
 
The plot thickens soon after she spots the bobbing carcass of a humpback whale. What Nancy doesn't recognize until it's too late is that she's inadvertently entered the feeding grounds of a still-hungry shark who'd rather dine on human flesh than cetacean. 
 
She subsequently suffers a nasty gash from the initial attack but is somehow able to swim to a tiny, low-lying island nearby. Her medical training comes in handy as she quickly fashions a tourniquet from part of her outfit. 
 
Still, with high tide coming in a matter of hours, she knows that she's got to figure out how to survive once this temporary sanctuary sinks below sea level. The shore is 200 yards away, which is way to far to swim with a determined predator steadily circling as her blood drips into the water. 
 
A couple of potential rescuers (Jose Manuel Trujillo Salas and Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo) show up, but hope fades fast when the dopey duo simply starts swimming without noticing the damsel-in-distress. The next beachgoer (Diego Espejel) does see that Nancy's in need, but he seizes the opportunity to steal her phone and other personal effects left on the sand.

This means spunky Nancy must survive by her wits, a daunting challenge given her dire straits. Thus unfolds The Shallows, an engaging, edge-of-the-seat thriller expertly directed by Jaume Collett-Serra (Non-Stop) to ratchet up the tension. 
 
The movie borrows elements from Jaws (headstrong, maniacal shark), Castaway (this stranded heroine bonds with a seagull instead of a volleyball), Blue Crush (oodles of gratuitous titillation) and MacGyver (a brilliant tinkerer exhibits endless ingenuity). The good news is that it all has been sewn together quite seamlessly yielding a thoroughly enjoyable screamfest reminding us that it's still not safe to swim in the ocean.




Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for bloody images, intense scenes of peril and brief profanity
Running time: 86 minutes

Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Deleted scenes; Shooting in the Shallows; How to Build a Shark; When Sharks Attack; and Finding the Perfect Beach: Lord Howe Island.

To see a trailer for The Shallows, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgdxIlSuB70

To order a copy of The Shallows on Blu-ray, visit:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kam's Kapsules for Movies Opening 9-30-16

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
by Kam Williams


OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

Deepwater Horizon (PG-13 for intense action sequences, disturbing images and brief profanity) Disaster flick recreating the real-life events surrounding the 2010 explosion of the offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico which claimed the lives of 11 crewmen and led to the worst crude oil spill in U.S. history. Co-starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich.

Masterminds (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, violence and crude humor) Crime caper, inspired by actual events, revolving around an armored car driver (Zach Galifianakis) duped by a flirtatious co-worker (Kristen Wiig) into participating in one of the biggest bank heists in American history. With Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Owen Wilson.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (PG-13 for instense violence, peril and action sequences) Tim Burton directed this adapatation of Ransom Riggs' best-selling children's novel about a 16 year-old orphan (Asa Butterfield) who uncovers a terrifying reality when he travels to a Welsh orphanage located on a mysterious island. Cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Green, Chris O'Dowd, Dame Judi Dench, Allison Janney and Terence Stamp.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

American Honey (R for graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, pervasive profanity and teen drug and alcohol abuse) Raunchy road saga revolving around a troubled runaway (Sasha Lane) who joins a team of door-to-door salesmen who party when not hawking magazine subscriptions while driving across the American Midwest. With Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough and Arielle Holmes.

Among the Believers (Unrated) War on Terror expose' chronicling the efforts of Pakistan's infamous Red Mosque schools to raise a generation of Western-hating radical jihadists. (In English and Urdu with subtitles)

Clinton, Inc. (PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes) Adaptation of Daniel Halper's best seller of the same name offering a behind-the-scenes account of Bill and Hillary Clinton's maneuverings returning them to prominence after leaving the White House. Featuring commentary by Dick Morris, Rich Lowry and Ron Kessler.

Denial (PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity) Courtroom drama recounting Deborah Lipstadt's (Rachel Weisz) epic legal battle with notorious Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) over whether or not Hitler and his minions really murdered millions in the gas chambers during World War II. With Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott and Jack Lowden.

Do Not Resist (Unrated) Domestic tranquility documentary examining the prolifieration of militarized of policing across the United States.

Girl Asleep (Unrated) Coming-of-age dramedy about an ostracized social zero (Bethany Whitmore) whose fortunes change dramatically after being thrown a 15th birthday party by her concerned parents (Amber McMahon and Matthew Whittet). With Harrison Feldman, Imogen Archer and Eamon Farren.

Milton's Secret (PG for mature themes, adolescent issues and brief epithets) Family drama revolving around an 11 year-old (William Ainscough) who becomes the victim of a neighborhood bully (Percy Hynes White). Cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Donald Sutherland, David Sutcliffe and Mia Kirshner.

Passage to Mars (Unrated) True tale reenacting the real-life, 2,000-mile trek undertaken across the Arctic's frozen tundra by a half-dozen wannabe astronauts in anticipation of NASA's first manned flight to Mars. Co-starring Zachary Quinto, Charlotte Rampling and Buzz Aldrin.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Jahking Guillory

The “Kicks” Interview
with Kam Williams


Jahking and I!

An undeniable young talent on the rise, actor and rapper Jahking Guillory is already a veteran in the entertainment business at the age of 14. Born and raised in Long Beach California, ‘King’ started pursuing his dream at 9 years-old, landing jobs in national commercials, music videos and national print campaigns.

Graduating to larger roles in film and TV, 'King has already shown how versatile an actor he is, playing the ultra-cool kid with swagger, to the computer geek, to the teenage drug dealer. In addition to acting, 'King is a talented rapper and works on his craft every day. He writes lyrics about his life and makes beats with his friends to every song he records.

Jahking is also a championship athlete. He played running back for superstar rapper Snoop Dogg’s Junior football team, winning five championships. He is a track star, too -- winning the 800 and 1500 meter dashes in the Junior Olympics.

Here, he talks about his starring role as Brandon in Kicks, a coming-of-age adventure set in the Bay Area.


Kam Williams: Hi Jahking, thanks for the interview.
Jahking Guillory: Thank you.

KW: What interested you in Kicks?
JG: The story. It’s real. People are getting killed for materialistic things everyday and it has to stop.

KW: How would you describe your character?
JG: Brandon is shy and not confident. This changes for him drastically in the film.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
JG: My mother.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
JG: I like to help my mom cook Jambalaya.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
JG: Play Ding Dong Ditch. It was crazy!

KW: Craig Robinson asks: What was your last dream?
JG: I was sitting on the beach with my great-grandma.

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
JG: A cheetah.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?
JG: Mike from Monsters, Inc.
KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
JG: My ID and some condoms. [LOL]

KW: Thanks again for the time, Jahking, and best of luck with Kicks.
JG: Thanks, Kam.

To see a trailer for Kicks, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWV2hK4HVEk

 

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Denzel Reunites with Fuqua in Worthy Overhaul of Kurosawa Classic

Directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa in 1954, Seven Samurai was a groundbreaking film which had a profound influence on the evolution of cinema for generations to come. Superficially, that seminal work merely reads like a martial arts epic set in 16th Century Japan. Yet, over the years, it has spawned a cottage industry of knockoffs trading in the picture's novel narrative revolving around a rag-tag team of selfless heroes recruited in service of some lofty goal. 
 
In 1960, Seven Samurai was remade as The Magnificent Seven, a sprawling Western co-starring Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn. Today, that classic has been refreshed by Antoine Fuqua in an outing reuniting the director with Denzel Washington following successful collaborations on The Equalizer (2014) and Training Day (2001) for which the latter won an Academy Award. 
 
This incarnation of The Magnificent Seven does feature a few variations on the theme. For example, the picture's dastardly bad guy is now an avaricious white man intent on seizing a mining town's gold instead of a Mexican bandito simply staging a series of border raids. And the good guys enlisted to engage the greedy gringo are a politically-correct, rainbow coalition reflecting every ethnicity. 
 
Otherwise, the essence of the original plot remains intact. As the film unfolds, we find the folks in the frontier settlement of Rose Creek living in fear of Bartholomew Bogue and his gang of marauders. Bogue is your stereotypical, bloodthirsty villain, straight out of central casting, played to perfection by Peter Sarsgaard. 
 
It is established early on just how low the diabolical Bogue will stoop to achieve his evil ends, between murdering an innocent woman and burning the church to the ground. That makes the arrival of bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) all the more welcome by the time the exasperated and intimidated local yokels are at their collective wit's end. 
 
They also have no idea that Chisolm isn't merely motivated by altruism but has his own revenge-fueled reason to tangle with Bogue. Regardless, once deputized, the gunslinger proceeds to assemble a motley crew composed of a Civil War vet suffering from shell shock (Ethan Hawke), a hard-drinking bombmaker (Chris Pratt), a gruff mountain man (Vincent D'Onofrio), a Chicano outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a crack Comanche archer (Martin Sensmeier) and a knife-throwing, Asian assassin (Byung-hun Lee). 
 
Don't expect any deeply-developed characters and you won't be disappointed. It's all about the inexorable march to the big showdown during which the heroes will obviously even the score, and then some. The Wild, Wild West revisited as an ethnically-diverse fantasy land Hollywood has never imagined before!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence, smoking, profanity and suggestive material
Running time: 132 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures


To see a trailer for The Magnificent Seven, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-RBA0xoaWU

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Top Ten DVD List for 9-20-16

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases

Empire: The Complete Second Season

Colliding Dreams

Wedding Doll

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition

Pretty Dead: 10 Horror Films

Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection

The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story

Midsomer Murders: Series 18

Free State of Jones

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising


Honorable Mention

Dangerous Attractions: 10 Killer Thrillers

Mitt

Enter the Faun

Barbie: Star Light Adventure

Elephant Kingdom

Mai-Chan's Daily Life

Thomas & Friends: The Great Race - The Movie

Labyrinth: 30th Anniversary Edition

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War

Frontline: Policing the Police

Coach: Seasons One & Two

Kate and Mim-Mim: The Mimiloo Zoo

Back on Board: Greg Louganis

Friday Night Lights: The First Season

Friday Night Lights: The Second Season