Category Archives: Film / Blu-Ray / DVD Reviews

Don’t Breathe Blu-Ray

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Don’t Breathe

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – 2016

Directed by Fede Alvarez
Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues

Starring

Jane Levy
Dylan Minnette
Daniel Zovatto
Stephen Lang

Usually films are over-hyped to the max by the movie studio publicity machine and normally don’t measure up to everything said about them.  But that is not the case with Don’t Breathe.  It is just as good as advertised.  I first saw Don’t Breathe when it was released in the theater back in August and absolutely loved it.

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Three young criminals choose to rob the house of disabled veteran, who is permanently blind and who was awarded three-hundred thousand dollars when his daughter was killed in a car accident.

What seems to be a perfect setup for the lawbreakers turns out to be a nightmare instead.

Director Fede Alvarez really takes advantage of maximizing suspense out of every dramatic turn.  He does this with his brilliantly conceived direction, which is carried out with precision.  What’s so smart about the cinematic approach is that it contains set piece after set piece, all designed to put you on the edge of your seat.  I’ve read that Alvarez’s tactic on this film was in reaction to the criticism he received for the considerable graphic onscreen violence in his Evil Dead remake.

The movie is aided by the stark and incredibly lit cinematography from Pedro Luque.  The innovative music score from Rogue Baños is another huge factor in helping creating tense mood and palpable atmosphere.  There’s little doubt that Alvarez and Baños should continue to work together as a cinematic team because their onscreen chemistry as director-composer is two for two.

There’s no black and white characters, but instead on screen people who come in various shades of grey.  Alvarez and Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues aren’t afraid of pulling the rug out from your feet and having characters shift from someone you feel sad for to twisting into someone you despise and vice versa.

I call this daring filmmaking and so much fresher than the stale stereotypes you usually encounter in most films.

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Don’t Breathe is an original take on the home invasion thriller, but if I was to bring up any other films that would best describe it, would be a cross between Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs and a little pinch of Silence of The Lambs.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment delivers some mighty fine supplements.  These include Deleted Scenes with Commentary.  A lively and wonderfully informative Commentary track with Director Fede Alvarez, Co-Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actor Stephen Lang.  There’s also five cool featurettes that go beyond the scenes of the movie’s most important aspects; No Escape – chronicles the setup of the movie and how it was designed for maximum payoff.  Creating the Creepy House – shows and talks about how the filmmakers choose to flip the normal scary house to using the best looking house in the neighborhood as their horror house.  Meet the Cast – focuses in on all the main characters and gives a chance to show us how they worked behind the scenes.  Man in the Dark – gives special attention to Stephen Lang’s dynamic and layered performance as “The Blind Man.”  The Sounds of Horror captures the intricate work from Music Composer Rogue Baños who tapped a homemade music instrument creator to capture most of the sounds heard in the score.

Don’t Breathe is the best movie I saw in 2016.  The Blu-ray should be owned by all those who love suspenseful movies packed with cinematic excellence.  It would make a great Christmas gift and you could get  jump on early, as it will be released on Tuesday November 29th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

www.sonypictures.com

Shin Godzilla Review

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Shin Godzilla
Funimation Films – 2016

 

Directed by Hideaki Anno
Shinji Higuchi

Screenplay by Hideaki Anno

Starring
Hiroki Hasegawa
Yutka Takenouchi
Satomi Ishihara

The 29th Toyo Godzilla film had me very excited because not only was it the first Toyo film to be released in many years, but it was going to be the first Godzilla film I was going to see in the theater.

Before I go any further, let’s go back to the beginning with my association with “The King of The Monsters.”  I have loved Godzilla since I first saw the original as a 4 year old boy.  At that super young age, I will never forget that a Godzilla Poster from the first film was the first thing I ever purchased with my own hard earned pennies (back than it was pennies instead of today’s inflated dollars).

I use to watch all the Godzilla films with my childhood buddies Andrew Krepela, Craig Van Ness, Joe Fitch and the rest of our gang.  We loved the green guy.

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So now I was finally getting the chance to see Zilly in all his big screen glory, I jumped at the chance to see the World Premiere of Shin Godzilla in New York City.  I decided to invite my huge Godzilla-fanatic buddy Hector Sanchez.  After a nice quick dinner, we went to the theater on 42nd Street in Manhattan.  We kind of made a little boo-boo as we stood in line outside, when we later found out later our VIP tickets would have allowed us in right away.  This mistake prevented us from receiving complimentary Shin-Godzilla T-shirts, but it gave us plenty of time to catch up.

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When we got to the 4th Floor Theater, there was a cool little Red Carpet set up where people could get their picture taken with Godzilla.  How cool is that.  We couldn’t resist as you can see in the accompanying photos.

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After a brief introduction from a member of Funimation Films, the movie started.

After a beginning that will remind people of a cross between the original Godzilla and the American remake that came out in 2014, the film settles into a seemingly never ending hopscotch of governmental meetings.  You see tens of well-dressed people in suits ramble on about the policies and procedures they need to go through to try and figure out what is going on in the ocean just outside their city.

As a filmmaker, I’ve got a built in timer that measures when a story should progress and when it doesn’t, a little alarm of goes off signaling storytelling danger.  I’m a big proponent of building character and I can’t stand attention deficit directing.  So I feel I’m patient and willing to wait things out a bit, but when a movie repeats the same scenes for 1 hour and 45 minutes of it’s 2-hour running time, there’s a serious problem.

As the movie went from conference room full of people in suits with computers to hallways where well-dressed people traveled to another conference room, played like a broken record and really tested the boundaries of my movie watching patience.

I’m going to admit that an hour into this scenic loop, I struggled to stay awake at times.  I’ve always felt that when a filmmaker bores the audience, they commit a cinematic sin.  Any filmmaker responsible for such movie making immoral act should be put into filmmaking prison and never granted release.  I’ve always felt very strongly about that because the audiences’ reaction should be the target of the film.

Shin Godzilla is not about Godzilla.  It’s a statement directed towards the Japanese government with commentary of it’s political ineptitude when it comes to disasters.  My friend Hector pointed out to me that it was born of the frustration of Japan’s inability to act out during and after the nuclear meltdown, earthquake and Tsunami disasters that struck that country over the past 10 years.

Though it’s admirable to take a social stance on such a bungling of epic proportions, especially against your own government, it doesn’t make for good entertainment.  I wanted to see Godzilla.  Not a bunch of political buffoons trapped in the maze of their bureaucratic red tape, not smart enough to have the common sense to act out in ways to save their city/country.

The moments Godzilla was in the film was pretty cool.  Special Effects technology in Japan has definitely advanced, but this couldn’t save the ill-conceived concept of this movie.

I’m sure the movie will be very successful in land of the rising sun and all it’s related people.  But after viewing the film I can’t say the same will happen outside of it.

It’s too bad because this was a good time for Godzilla to stomp his way back into the world’s consciousness.

http://www.shin-godzilla.jp/index.html