Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goemon (2009)

Movie: 5/5
Video: 5/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

"What a Sight!"

I am a big fan of Kazuaki Kiriya's first feature, "Casshern". Five years after "Casshern", his follow up "Goemon" was released. "Goemon" tells a fictional story of Ishikawa Goemon who is essentially a Japanese Robin Hood. He stole from the emperor and gave to the poor. In the film, Goemon is out for revenge in his supposed final days. It is an all out balls to the wall action fest. And Kazuaki delivers with his same stylized visions that he brought to the table with "Casshern". "Goemon", like "Casshern", is shot on green screen backdrops where the breathtaking scenery is added in post.

What I love about "Goemon" is that Kazuaki gives us these crazy action sequences that out do all of Zack Snyder's works. It's got more action than "300" or "Sucker Punch". The action seriously doesn't let up until the last minute of the film. It is that crazy. The movie gets a 5/5.

I give the video a 5/5, but I have one complaint, you can tell that this was shot on HD and not film like "Casshern". It kinda has that sped up look to it in some scenes, but it's not that bad, as compared to a movie like "Date Night". The colors, oh my God the colors. It's detailed and it's a visual feast for the eyes with all the colorful sceneries that Kazuaki has given us.

I watched the film in Japanese first and the 6.1 track is amazing. The English 5.1 audio sounds almost the same, but the dubbing brings it's tone down a notch. Audio is a freakin' beast along with the video. 5/5. The extra's are a "Making Of" which show some in depth comparisons between the final product and the "Animated Storyboards" that were compiled before filming. There's also some trailers for Goemon as well as coming attractions. I fell that this deserves a 5/5 too because we see how Kazuaki's brings the work to life.

This is a beautiful release and I feel it is DEMO QUALITY. 5/5 for me. The film looks and sounds amazing. I picked this up for $19 and I am happy to say that Goemon, much like my imported German Blu-ray of Casshern will get lots of replays on my end.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mortuary (2005) / Salem Witch Trials (2002) / Salvage (2006)

Movie: 3/5
Video: 2.5/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 2/5
Overall: 4/5

Echo Bridge the Best of the Worst.

Let's break down all three movies that are listed here.


Movie: 3/5. I found this to be an entertaining little low budget horror film. However, the ending brings it down. And I mean at the last possible minute of the film before the credits kick in, it was going pretty good and then it's like; "WHY?"
Video: 3/5. The PQ is not the best, but not the worst as far as I can tell. When we see the Echo Bridge Entertainment logo on the film, I was a little worried it looked like an SD upscale until we see the establishing shot of the little girl in the backseat. I was relieved.
Sound: 5/5. The PCM audio is pretty good. Why Echo Bridge had to throw in all those extra audio tracks in beyond me. The Uncompressed PCM is great.
Extras: 4/5. There's an hour long documentary on the film and it's great to see Tobe Hooper at work. There's also a trailer in the bonus and both of these are SD upscales. And last but not least, audio commentary.

Salem Witch Trials:

Movie: 2.5/5. VERY LONG. This TV movie is about three and a half hours long and for it's time length, it's no Lord of the Rings. The Salem Witch Trials sounds great when you hear the idea of a film based on the witch trials, but this movie is nowhere as great as it seems in theory.
Video: 2.5/5. For a movie that's as longer than Lord of the Rings, it's a shame it's compressed down to a BD25 disc. The compression is visible in some scenes, but you won't notice the majority of it unless you're right in front of the TV.
Audio: 3.5/5. For having a Dolby Digital and PCM, it's pretty weak even with the PCM. When a majority of the scenes are in the church and the preacher is shouting, I'd expect more from it. It feels hushed.
Extras: 0/5. Nothing.

Movie: 3/5. Salvage is an interesting and a very short horror film. The movie clocks in at 79 minutes long. The twist is somewhat interesting but I feel there's potential that wasn't met, at least completely. It does keep you intrigued most of the time, but it will drag in some instances.
Video: 2.5/5. I feel that this presentation is somewhat soft and lacking real definition. I wouldn't say that is a 480 upscale, but maybe a 720 upscale to 1080. It just doesn't look like it's a real 1080 presentation. But, it's not as bad as something like The Howling Trilogy. It is better than the video presentation on Salem Witch Trials.
Audio: 5/5. There's a PCM and Dolby Digital audio track and the PCM sounds great. Probably the best audio presentation out of this triple feature.
Extras: 2.5/5. A trailer and a commentary.

Movie: 3 + 2.5 + 3 = 8.5/3 = 2.83. I'll round up to a 3.
Video: 3 + 2.5 + 2.5 = 8/3 = 2.67. I'll round down to a 2.5.
Audio: 5 + 3.5 + 5 = 13.5/3 = 4.5.
Extras: 4 + 2.5 = 6.5/3 = 2.17. Round down to 2.
Overall: 3 + 2.5 + 4.5 + 2 = 12 / 3 = 4.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Highlander 2 (1991)

Movie: 3.5/5
Video: 2.5/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

What Has Horrible Video Yet Still Manages to Score a 4/5 Overall?

The answer is Highlander 2!

I'm addressing the video quality because after I saw it on the shelf at work and the sale price of $7.99 was getting to me. I managed to score a $5 a gift card with some groceries I had purchased. I put that gift card to use by paying for Highlander 2 that way and paid $3 for it after that. I got home and popped it in while I cooked dinner and watched the opening menu and was amazed how great the scenes looked at the menu screen. The movie plays and several minutes in, I notice that the shots cut back and forth from high to low quality and it jumbles. Some of the shots even look like they're missing frames and somewhat stuttering a bit like a PAL speed up. I seriously cannot fathom how anyone at Lionsgate would approve of this Blu-ray. How could anyone say; "This is it, put it out there!"

The only reason why I don't give the video a lower score is because how nice and crisp a lot of the scenes look. It baffles me to why it can look great in one shot and then cut to the next shot and see a blurred image. I would think Lionsgate would take pride in the Highlander films they own the rights too since a remake is coming out. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a new remastered version comes out in the next few years when this remake comes out. Video scores a 2.5/5.

Now, let's back track to the movie; Connor Macleod is now an old man choosing to die of old age. After another Highlander played by Michael Ironside challenges Connor and ruins his plan of dying old. Connor's youth returns and now must destroy Ironside's character and destroy a machine he created called The Shield which protects the Earth from UV rays because the ozone was destroyed. The film is all over place, but it is still somewhat entertaining to see Christopher Lambert on the screen and kicking ass. Also, John C. McGinley of pre-Scrubs fame is incredible as the supporting antagonist who owns the company behind Connor's invention the Shield. Also, Ironside portrays a great villain like always. Despite the story being all over the place, the cast and the characters they play is what I like about the film. 3.5/5.

We have Lionsgate's usual 7.1 DTS-HD track present and it sounds great. The audio is a 5/5 to me. And the extras score a 5/5 with it's great 50 minute documentary on the film and other various bonus features. As I have stated previously, it's surprising that Lionsgate would approve of the video transfer. I think if they had remastered the video and left everything else as it, this could have been a really great reference disc with all the special effects that were used in this film. It's a shame, but even with everything averaged together, this comes to an overall 4/5.

Alien 2: On Earth (1980)

Movie: 3.5/5
Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Oh, the Horror is Sulla Terra!

Alien 2: On Earth or Alien 2: Sulla Terra as it's called in Italy is one of Italy's infamous rip off sequels to a Hollywood production, in this case, Ridley Scott's Alien. The film takes place in a cave after a shuttle from space returns to Earth. The film is entertaining in some aspects, it definitely doesn't work as a sequel to Alien to me. I give the film a 3.5/5. I was joyed to see Michele Soavi in the film as Burt. Soavi played Jerry the man with the mask on his face in Lamberto Bava's Demons and directed the film Dellamorte Dellamore.

The video is amazing for a film that's over thirty years old. The first shots of the film appear really blurry because it's stock footage, but after it cuts to to the real footage shot by "Sam Cromwell", it looks amazing. I have nothing but praises for the video transfer. The only thing that keeps this from being a complete 5/5 is the opening and the ending. As stated, the opening is bit blurry due to stock footage and the ending looks rough, but it's amazing. 4.5/5.

There's only one audio track, English DTS-HD MA 2.0. It sounds fantastic. I wish there could have been more audio tracks, but this takes the cake. 4.5/5. The extras consists of a Dutch VHS trailer and B-Roll. The VHS trailer is ok quality and the B-Roll is taken from the actual film source. My biggest complaint with the B-Roll is that there's no sound at all. They could have thrown the cool theme song on the video to make it more entertaining. Extras get a 3.5/5.

Overall, this is a solid 4/5 Blu-ray. It's amazing that a studio like Midnight Legacy can bring their "A" game to film that's over thirty and compare it to another studio like Timeless Media Group who does a piss poor job on their Howling Trilogy release. Alien 2: On Earth is an amazing release and one I'd never imagine I'd see on the Blu-ray format. I look forward to all the future releases by Midnight Legacy.