4K UHD Review - Terror at Tenkiller


Like so many horror movies from the 1980s, "Terror at Tenkiller" was inspired by the success of "Friday the 13th," the genre hit that gave producers everywhere the idea that they could also assemble a cheap picture, fill it with gore, and send it out to an audience hungry for more. The 1986 feature is directed by Ken Meyer, who makes his helming debut with the endeavor, and it really shows, with "Terror at Tenkiller" a glacial offering of suspense, working with thin characters and a limited vision for grisly happenings. There's a woodsy setting, a killer on the loose, and young victims, but even with the basics in slasher cinema, Meyer puts this baby to sleep almost immediately, visibly struggling with even the most basic of scenes. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist


When people talk of the "Evil Dead" franchise, they usually reference the top players in the series, with director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert, and star Bruce Campbell understandably credited for creative successes. 2018's "Invaluable: The True Story of an Epic Artist" seeks to add another name to the list: Tom Sullivan. The man responsible for makeup effects and design work on 1981's "The Evil Dead," Sullivan's imagination helped to define the horror show the production was pursuing, bringing life to grisly imagery and haunting moments. Director Ryan Meade doesn't have much more than an appreciation for Sullivan to help put together this low-budget documentary, but that's enough to charm. "Invaluable" isn't a sharply made picture, but there's a lot of enthusiasm for the subject, and the "Evil Dead" fanbase is treated to a tour of inspiration and location, with Sullivan reflecting on his early achievements, surprising turns of life, and the endurance of the brand name. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever


It’s year three for the animated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies, with Disney looking to bring author Jeff Kinney’s literary world to life in a different way after live-action efforts fizzled out six years ago. It’s a holiday mood this time around, with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever” an adaptation of a 2011 book, only Kinney (who claims screenwriting duties) largely ignores his own source material for the endeavor, which hopes to play to the holiday special crowd with its take on seasonal warmth and family bonding. “Cabin Fever” wisely avoids much of Kinney’s original mischief for a more focused and funnier yuletide adventure, working well with budget animation and direct dramatic goals, finding the writing rethinking certain boyhood behaviors for the small screen. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Merry Little Batman


Batman, Batman, Batman. There’s so much Batman in the world today, it makes it difficult to encounter much freshness when it comes to the iconic character. But here comes “Merry Little Batman,” a holiday-themed adventure that turns the World’s Greatest Detective into the World’s Most Overprotective Dad, with son Damien the star of this animated feature, putting the little man in charge of saving Gotham from its worst, and most determined, enemies. Director Mike Roth presents an inspired take on the D.C. Universe with “Merry Little Batman,” which retains broad cartoon entertainment while still dealing with everything and anything Batman, giving the picture family appeal. It’s a funny, swiftly paced viewing event, doing something a little crazier with the world of the Caped Crusader, but it also reinforces seasonal feelings and care, giving this lively movie some heart. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget


2000’s “Chicken Run” represented the first foray into feature-length filmmaking from Aardman Animation, finding the creators of the “Wallace & Gromit” series looking to expand their creative horizons with the global release. The picture found an audience, launching Aardman into the big leagues of family entertainment, managing to retain their British sense of humor and wonderful animation techniques in the process. The company hopes to revisit such highs with “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget,” which arrives 23 years after the original endeavor, losing a good chunk of the original voice cast but retaining all the stop-motion invention Aardman is known for. “Dawn of the Nugget” isn’t a radical departure from storytelling formula, but it maintains charm and artistry, returning to poultry-in-crisis mode with a plan to delight the fanbase. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Ferrari


Director Michael Mann hasn’t made a film since 2015’s “Blackhat,” a misguided and unexciting feature that represented a late career pull towards mediocrity for the helmer, who also suffered through some creative constipation in 2009’s “Public Enemies.” Going smaller and simpler, Mann returns with “Ferrari,” which isn’t a bio-pic of automobile titan Enzo Ferrari, but a moment in time with the man as he struggles with business and family, finding his renown focus starting to fail him as he begins to feel the weight of the world. There’s plenty of racing in the picture, but Mann and screenwriter Troy Kennedy Martin (who passed away in 2009) hope to find a human experience as Enzo’s mistakes and gambles collide over the course of one important year. “Ferrari” isn’t Mann in epic mode, but he captures excitement on the track and pain in the heart. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Leave the World Behind


An adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel, “Leave the World Behind” explores an apocalyptic event from the perspective of characters who almost want nothing to do with it, caught up in their own dramas as society crumbles around them. While it seems like a disaster movie, the material is more psychological in nature, following the torment of six people stuck in an enigmatic situation involving a global crisis. Writer/director Sam Esmail is tasked with sustaining tension and providing a rich sense of personality to help viewers sink into a nightmare scenario, and he scores a few scenes sequences of horror in the endeavor, bringing a strange situation of submission to life. He’s not as confident with the overall experience of anxiety, keeping “Leave the World Behind” overlong and underwhelming with personal interactions, making for a frustratingly uneven viewing experience. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Origin


“Origin” is a giant swing from writer/director Ava DuVernay, who hasn’t made a big screen offering since the financial and creative failure of “A Wrinkle in Time,” a production meant to bring the helmer to the big leagues of event moviemaking. DuVernay is back with a much smaller film about an expansive topic, adapting the 2020 best-seller, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” which takes a hard look at the source of prejudice as people experience it in several parts of the world and different moments in time. It’s 496 pages of journalism transformed into a 140-minute-long feature, and DuVernay doesn’t always appear to have a game plan for the endeavor. She uses a scattergun approach to “Origin,” which wants to say so much about the state of emergency numerous societies are experiencing, but DuVernay is overwhelmed by the task. It’s obviously an ambitious picture with important ideas to share, but it doesn’t take long to realize that reading “Caste” is likely more rewarding then sitting through this cluttered effort. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - A Disturbance in the Force


It aired only once, on November 17th, 1978, but its legacy has managed to last for 45 years. “The Star Wars Holiday Special” has been called many things, including unwatchable, but the show means something to the fanbase, who’ve managed to extend the life of the endeavor beyond its original intent, transforming an effort “Star Wars” creator George Lucas deemed a complete failure into a cult-ready offering of pure 1970s goofiness, changing those who’ve managed to sit through the entire thing. “A Disturbance in the Force” is a look at the making of the special, with directors Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak questing to understand how something this wild ever made it through the development system. Armed with a community of commentators and a sense of good-natured fun, the helmers strike gold with this documentary, which supplies a necessary overview of creative decisions and hirings that led what was meant to celebrate all things “Star Wars” to the television hall of shame. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Fast Charlie


Director Phillip Noyce has experienced a highly uneven career, managing to oversee some impressive cinematic achievements (“Rabbit-Proof Fence,” “Dead Calm”) during his prime years, while his recent output has been erratic, handling lower-budgeted fare in “The Desperate Hours” and “Above Suspicion,” looking to make textured pictures about distressed people. He returns to action and attitude with “Fast Charlie,” with star Pierce Brosnan portraying a steely man thrust into a situation of survival as organized crime power plays grow violent and personal. The screenplay by Richard Wenk (“The Equalizer,” “The Protégé”) isn’t the most original work, but the writing is more attentive to character than plot, offering viewers some compelling psychology to go with Noyce’s half-speed aggression. “Fast Charlie” doesn’t jump off the screen, but it’s an engaging ride with morally dubious people trying to figure out a future that isn’t guaranteed. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Poor Things


The unthinkable happened to the last film Yorgos Lanthimos directed: it became a hit. The highly eccentric and challenging moviemaker went from years in the indie film trenches to something sellable with 2018’s “The Favourite,” which didn’t dilute his love of mischief and the macabre. He connected with viewers in a new way, giving his career a marketplace and financial boost, and Lanthimos chooses to cash in with “Poor Things,” working with screenwriter Tony McNamara on an adaptation of a 1992 Alasdair Gray novel. Idiosyncrasy and general oddity remains in the picture, which is a mild take on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” only with incredible acts of oversexed behavior and a continued dedication to the strangeness Lanthimos loves to put on the screen. While “Poor Things” is lively at times and gorgeously produced, Lanthimos comes dangerously close to self-parody with the feature, which runs out of demented visuals and overall quirk long before it reaches the end credits. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - A Creature Was Stirring


Making his screenwriting debut with “A Creature Was Stirring” is Shannon Wells, and while the title suggests a holiday horror experience to come, the actual effort doesn’t head in that general direction. Wells has something else in mind for the story, which examines a mother’s fight to contain something hidden inside her daughter, doing so in the middle of a blizzard while managing the needs of two intruders. There’s a bigger idea in play for the picture, but Wells is attentive to the needs of genre cinema, ordering up monsters and mild mayhem. Director Damien LeVeck is mostly in charge of creating mood, attempting to launch a stylish endeavor on a limited budget, guiding actors through what’s meant to be a rough ride of emotions and revelations. “A Creature Was Stirring” has an interesting take on human frailty, but it’s really the stuff of short films, with LaVeck visibly struggling to stretch the story to a longer run time. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Little Nicky


Little was expected of 1995's "Billy Madison." It represented Adam Sandler's first starring vehicle, making use of his goofball screen presence and love of juvenile absurdity. The "Saturday Night Live" star wasn't exactly the typical big screen comedian, but Sandler found his way to a decent moneymaker in a delightfully weird endeavor, building on that momentum with 1996's "Happy Gilmore." Sandler had a fanbase, but he turned into a bankable star after the releases of "The Wedding Singer," "The Waterboy," and "Big Daddy," amassing a following that delighted in his bizarre sense of humor, forcing Hollywood to notice the actor and his A-list potential. Such incredible success and studio faith was put to the test in 2000's "Little Nicky," where Sandler and his Happy Madison Productions were entrusted with a large budget for the first time, aiming to create a dark comedy with extensive visual effects while still retaining Sandler's love of stupidity. "Little Nicky" was Sandler's first major bomb when it was released, with its extremity too much for audiences at the time, but the film isn't a creative washout. It's noisy, and the screenplay is too permissive with lame Sandler- isms, but the feature holds together as an interesting experiment in overkill, going for a wild take on hellacious happenings with unpleasant characters, occasionally returning to the comfort of weirdness. It's a tonal gamble that doesn't entirely pay off, but there's some enjoyable anarchy and swift pacing to this ridiculous picture. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Undefeatable


1993's "Undefeatable" is a highly bizarre fight film starring Cynthia Rothrock, who brings a special energy to most of her endeavors, capable of handling action choreography and at least a rudimentary offering of dramatic skills, doing well with limited thespian demands. However, she's practically Streep-esque in this feature, which is a remarkably clumsy effort from director Godfrey Ho, a shockingly prolific helmer with limited interest in production refinement. He's breezing through "Undefeatable," putting zero attention on pace and performance, leaving Rothrock to do the heavy lifting while surrounded by astonishingly wooden actors, placing all of his concentration on fight sequences, which often lose intended ferocity, sliding right into campiness. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Blu-ray Review - Ninja in the Claws of the C.I.A.


To understand what's going on in 1981's "Ninja in the Claws of the C.I.A." requires a level of concentration most movies wouldn't dare demand from viewers. It's another offering of confusion and directorial indifference from martial arts star John Liu ("New York Ninja"), who assigns himself a James Bond-esque role in this actioner, which takes viewers around the world as the helmer madly scrambles to assemble something close to comprehensible. "Ninja in the Claws of the C.I.A." tries to approximate the atmosphere of a superspy thriller, blending in plenty of physical fights and betrayals to keep things interesting. However, Liu can only do so much with the picture, which looks like it was stitched together from three different features, keeping up on eye-crossing moves in plot and tone to a point where nothing registers as intentional anymore. It's a big mess, but Liu's enthusiasm for it all is something to see. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

4K UHD Review - Nightbreed


Released in 1990 to low box office and critical disinterest, Clive Barker's "Nightbreed" (an adaptation of his novel "Cabal") went on to achieve a modest cult following, tempting those used to the helmer's passions for violent imagery and fantastical storytelling. However, Barker was outspoken in his distaste for the theatrical cut of the movie, which underwent editorial butchery and extensive reshoots to turn a sophisticated monster mythology into a run-of-the-mill slasher film, though one that retained a great deal of Barker's personality due to intricate creature design and gothic overtones. The Theatrical Cut of the picture was the public's first taste of "Nightbreed," but in 2014, creative forces pulled together a "Director's Cut," building on the success of the "Cabal Cut," which was a crude but effective organization of a 1989 VHS workprint, finally exposing Barker's original intent for the endeavor. However, for its debut on UHD, "Nightbreed" only offers a 4K version of the Theatrical Cut, which is not the optimal way to experience this epic effort. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Candy Cane Lane


Eddie Murphy catches the holiday spirit in “Candy Cane Lane,” a PG-rated production that reunites the actor with his “Boomerang” director, Reginald Hudlin. Scripted by Kelly Younger (“Muppets Haunted Mansion”), the picture tries to make sense of a somewhat convoluted plot that deals with magical mayhem involving a villainous elf, community antagonisms concerning a holiday decoration competition, and family issues where each character is assigned their own little life hurdle to manage. There’s a lot to “Candy Cane Lane,” and the feature feels heavy because of it, ignoring the possibilities of a straightforward comedy about the strange ways of pride to delve into visual effects and screenwriting formula, with Hudlin showing little tenacity when it comes to delivering a tighter, funnier film. It’s not a lump of coal, but there’s certainly a better movie to be made with these working parts. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Godzilla Minus One


For his 70th birthday, Godzilla receives a new cinematic experience with “Godzilla Minus One,” with studio Toho looking to return the giant monster to the basics of postwar Japan fears and anguished characters dealing with a mighty problem. There’s never been a shortage of Godzilla in media, with Legendary Pictures currently working on their own franchise featuring the behemoth (a new film is set for release next year), but “Godzilla Minus One” is a different viewing event. There’s little slickness and fantasy action, with writer/director Takashi Yamazaki aiming to keep things serious with the feature, which focuses on the horror of violence and the agony of dishonor. It’s a strong endeavor with a genuine feel for Godzilla-based horrors, and the effort connects on a dramatic level, getting into the minds of rattled characters tasked with dealing with a most unusual threat to an already decimated Japan. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Eileen


In 2016, director William Oldroyd made a strong impression with “Lady Macbeth,” transforming a Russian novella into a riveting sit, and one that offered an amazing lead turn from Florence Pugh, helping to launch her visibility. After a seven-year break, Oldroyd is back with “Eileen,” which presents another adaptation challenge, bringing Ottessa Moshfegh’s 2015 book to the screen, with the author co-scripting with Luke Goebel. The filmmakers have quite a story to share with viewers, cutting into the fantasies and brutal realities of the eponymous character – a young woman facing a stagnant life of casual abuse, with her essence enlivened by the arrival of a psychologist looking for friendship, or maybe something more. “Eileen” takes its time to set mood and deal with the ways of the complex characters, and Oldroyd delivers compelling atmosphere to support the journey, also handling potent performances from stars Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com

Film Review - Family Switch


“Family Switch” claims it’s an adaptation of “Bedtime for Mommy,” a 2010 children's book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In this story, a little girl playfully swaps roles with her mother for their bedtime ritual, putting the kid in charge of bath and book reading before moving on to her father. It’s a cute tale, but it isn’t the story used for “Family Switch,” which pulls inspiration from Mary Rodgers’s 1972 book, “Freaky Friday,” which has been adapted for screens big and small multiple times, and ripped off even more. Perhaps there’s a legal issue standing in the way of true credit, but role-swapping turns into body-switching in the new film, with director McG offering a hyperactive understanding of comedic possibilities involving parents and kids in awkward situations, creating an unexpectedly aggressive viewing experience that immediately suffocates all emotion it offers, while its overall sense of humor is dispiriting. The production would’ve been better off actually turning “Bedtime for Mommy” into a movie. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com