“PAST LIFE” the Aftermath of Hell

Intriguing and Compelling the movie Past Life adds another true event story to the long list of films on the Holocaust. This one is based one of the survivors of the never to forget heinous act of genocide during World War II by Nazi Germany. The drama has a different twist that involves a family caught up in the aftermath leading to a confrontation in modern day. The acting is very good and direction commendable giving Past Life a high rating. Read more

Dirty Dancing 2017…a bit out of step with the Original

If you’ve never seen the original, you’ll like Dirty Dancing the redo. If you were smitten by the heartwarming 1987 release, you may want to dig it out of your DVD pile and watch it. While the redo follows all the beats of the classic coming of age drama, there are some things that just may grate on the nerves of purists.

Colt Prattes, Bruce Greenwood, Abigail Breslin, Debra Messing, Sarah Hyland

Diving right in, the casting is just a bit off; Abigail Breslin’s Baby probably should have gone to Sarah Hyland (who plays Baby’s sister). And Colt Prattes is simply too much Lords of Flatbush for the Johnny Castle role, lacking the vulnerability this tender love story calls for. He comes across as self absorbed and a bit arrogant. His Johnny is also damaged goods with an extensive criminal past, as opposed to the original Johnny who eked out an honest living as a painter/plasterer. So Baby saying that Johnny is a lot like her father just rings false.

Next comes the key scene: Baby’s baptism into dirty dancing at the staff dance party. Sadly this too falls flat without the energetic rendition of Do You Love Me by the Contours. Instead we have one of the staff singing Otis Redding’s Love Man. A great classic, but Do You Love Me fits this intro scene to a T.

Colt Prattes & Katey Sagal

Later, showing Johnny bedding Katy Sagal’s cougar Vivian (as opposed to simply implying it with dialog) underscores what we don’t like about Johnny. And while his sultry rendition of Fever with Sagal is entertaining, it’s just another reminder of Johnny’s “watch me sing and dance” self-absorbed lothario persona. In the original film, Johnny didn’t appear to enjoy dancing with Vivian, which is why he and Baby dovetailed so nicely; but here, the Vivian-Johnny chemistry is where the real heat emanates.

Showing Lisa and Robbie (Shane Harper) making out at the lakeshore and her flirting with black piano man (Christopher Long) gets us needlessly involved in Lisa’s story, which oddly seems to compete with Baby’s. The same holds true for the mini-B story of the Houseman’s rekindling their romance, a segue that nearly takes on a life of its own. Nicole Scherzinger’s Penny faithfully reproduces her role as dance mentor in trouble, rescued by Baby and her father. Incidentally, Trevor Einhorn is a watered down Neil, without the over-the-top arrogance and geeky persona that made audiences laugh. In some ways, the new Neil is almost suitable for Baby.

Abigail Breslin & Trevor Einhorn

The magic of Eric Carmen’s Hungry Eyes as Johnny helps Baby through her routine is one of those “movie must haves.” Regrettably, the song is replaced by a milquetoast imitation that accompanies the Johnny-Baby dance as it sinks to room temperature. The heat and sultry moves are simply not there in these studio practice routines.

Nicole Scherzinger & Colt Prattes

And while it’s fun to watch Penny sing and dance as she helps Baby master the art of letting the man lead, it again robs us of the Baby-Johnny heat so eloquently portrayed in the original. The film comes closest to generating the kind of incendiary passion we saw in the original during their Love Is Strange tease dance.

The dance finale is also a bit disappointing. Having the two leads sing Bill Medley’s classic, The Time of My Life is a near miss. We want to see how Baby has improved her dancing not listen to her sing. The film’s ending, while emotional, denies us the imaginative conclusion each of us had conjured up in our own minds about the ultimate fate of Baby and Johnny.

All told, we have to give the cast and everyone involved kudos for the courage and work it took to remake this iconic classic.

Dirty Dancing 2017 will be available on DVD June 27th.

 

“The Mummy” a Reboot with a Femme Fatal

In ancient Egypt there is a princess, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who will inherit the entire kingdom when her father dies. She has remarkable fighting skills, amazing beauty, and has the ability to lead the people. But, her father remarries and soon after his first born son is born changing her legacy. What soon follows will seal Ahmanet’s fate that’s worse than death. Read more

“A United Kingdom” the Challenges of Equality

There have been several true stories coming out of Africa, but not one as compelling as A United Kingdom. With amazing performances and a plot ripe for a “Hollywood” picking, director Amma Asante takes you into the sanctum of a country on the edge of losing its existence because of a forbidden love. Told from the perspective of the couple who lived it and screen written from the pages of Susan Williams’ book “Color Bar”. The film has been released to home video in Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Read more

“Megan Leavey” Saving a Dog of War

Review by Gino Sassani

Armies have been using dogs in battle for thousands of years. The Romans would turn the dogs on their enemy as a signal of the approaching legions, hence the expression “Let loose the dogs of war”. But in recent decades dogs have found a new, perhaps more noble calling during wartime. Dogs have been used to search for lost soldiers. They have been trained to assist wounded soldiers. Read more

“Beauty and the Beast” a Blu-ray for All Ages

Can Beauty tame the Beast once more? This beautiful fairy tale of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has now been turned into a live action motion picture that delivers a more detailed story. What once was animation that provided the story of romance and power, becomes reality with this release on Blu-ray combo pack that includes a DVD + Digital HD. It’s now the actors that have to reach out to home viewers and make them believe. And they nail it! Read more

“Bambi” Turns 75 with Special Blu-ray + Digital HD

By now everyone probably knows the story of Bambi, especially mothers who have either read it to their child, showed the video to them on a number of media including VHS, DVD and Blu-ray and may have even saw the film on the big screen when they were a child. It’s a ladies favorite, giving them a chance to bring back memories, but especially for clearing out their tear ducts through at least 50% of the 70 minute movie. Heartwarming, heartbreaking and uplifting all rolled into one, it’s truly Disney’s best story now on a 75th Anniversary Blu-ray, DVD and for the first time Digital HD box set. Read more

“A Cure for Wellness” a Cunning Mystery on Blu-ray

The movie A Cure for Wellness delves into the psyche of a man who tries to make contact with the boss of his company. The mystery thriller takes a few twists and turns on its way to providing closure while leading the viewer through a suspense filled labyrinth of deception. The two hour and a half movie has been released on Blu-ray/DVD plus Digital HD and includes some interesting bonus features. Read more

“The Young Pope” an Imaginative View of a World Leader

Very imaginative and thought provoking the HBO series “The Young Pope” comes to DVD/Blu-ray and Digital HD. Not a true story by any means, the drama with a tad of witticism gives its own interpretation of what may take place at the Vatican if a young American took over the reins of Holy Pontiff. Nicely filmed, acted, produced and directed, it has some edge that makes it tantalizing. Read more

“Prisoner X” Tracking a Terrorist Plot

It’s always good to find a gem or at least a hint of one like Prisoner X that has just been released on DVD and VOD. Much like the cat and mouse game films The Ipcress File and Tinker Taylor Soldier, this psychological thriller contains mystery and misperception within its tantalizing script. The movie has very dark overtones like today’s news that deals with terrorism and punctuates the reasons for the interrogation process. While the film has been made with a low budget, you would never know it from the clever use of sets and borrowed current event film footage. Read more

“Aaron’s Blood” a Twist on a Vampire Story

Now here’s a scriptwriter that came up with a pretty cool idea and he ran with it directing his own movie. Aaron’s Blood actually has a plot that I’ve not seen and he handles the subject pretty well. Although you can tell it’s an indie with a small budget, I’m guessing under $500 thousand, it has some very good camera work and the acting’s not half bad. If there isn’t a horror flick available on the big screen, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to check this one out. Read more

“Wonder Woman” a Battle Between Good and Evil

Ladies get ready for your superhero and you’ll find her at the movie theater Wonder Woman. She’s been around for a long time entering the world of DC Comics back in 1941, yet has appeared only once in a live action film on the big screen according to my research. That first appearance was a little over a year ago in Batman vs. Superman and she surprised everyone with a lot of critical accolades. Smart, Warner Bros. had already been working on a film for the spunky and courageous lady for this release. Was it worth the challenge? You bet as this film is a ‘wonder’ in story and motion picture making. Read more

Video Releases For June, July, August 2017

Upcoming in the next few months are a very good selection of films on video.  Genre’s include romance, children’s/family animation, horror, drama, comedy and action films on DVD/Blu-ray/VOD/Digital HD and 4K.  The releases are of titles that were released in theaters and TV series as well as direct to video.  The most notable are Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, 75th Anniversary of Disney’s Bambi, HBO’s The Young Pope, The Last Word, John Wick 2, and Fox’s animated comedy Baby Boss releasing in  June through August. We will be updating the column so please frequent our Video Release page. The films may also be available on VOD or just Digital HD so check with your favorite download site or look for the download information inside the video release box.

We will be reviewing select titles so check back to get opinions from our writing staff.  You might also discover a gem that you didn’t know existed or a hilarious comedy to brighten your day. Whether you’re on the lookout for horror, action-adventure, drama, comedy, thriller, romance, crime, foreign, children’s or lifestyles— the list below has a lot to offer. Read more