Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
After the original success of “The Blair Witch Project” and then a decade later “Paranormal Activity,” the found footage film has become the new black. Some of these are quite effective (including the two aforementioned films as well as “Quarantine” and its original form as “[REC]”). Other times, it can be tedious (such as the dozens of direct-to-video knock-offs like “Atrocious”).
FINAL DESTINATION 5
“Apollo 18” takes a slightly different approach by also working as a period piece. It’s assembled from clips of a moon mission from the early 70s, after NASA had stopped the public program. In “Apollo 18,” three astronauts are sent to the moon to discover there’s something living on the surface. As they find themselves embroiled in bizarre happenings, things get dangerous, and it appears they might never make it home.
I really appreciated the out-of-the-box thinking for this film, considering it exists in a relatively tired genre. Growing up as a young child in the 70s, it’s got a weird sense of nostalgia for me, and there’s a real authentic look of the film. It’s a slow burn, sure, and if you’ve seen the trailers they can be both misleading and filled with some spoilers. But as a simple thriller to take home on video, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
The biggest problem in this film, which rips apart its authenticity, is the fact that the leads are recognizable faces from television and movies. Similar to how “Paranormal Activity 2” shot itself in the foot by casting a lead who was recently seen in high-profile shows like “24” and “Sons of Anarchy,” “Apollo 18” gives us a hero I’ve seen in “October Road” and currently on the Syfy series “Alphas.”
Still, if you can push past the suspension of disbelief, it’s a pretty eerie ride. It’s not perfect, and it works better on DVD and Blu-ray than it did in the theaters, but I was pleasantly surprised with this low-key thriller.
The Blu-ray comes with a feature commentary by the director and editor. There are also quite a few deleted and alternate scenes on the menu. Finally, there’s a handful of alternate endings, which blow the found footage idea out of the water (as does the actual ending of the film itself, if you think about it), but they’re fun to watch nonetheless.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
There have been four Final Destinations before this one, and the most recent was actually named “The Final Destination,” so the necessity of this sequel seems a little silly. However, when you finally get to the end of the film, it works in the context of the series and definitely tops the previous installment. (However, it’s still not as good as the first three films.)
This iteration of the modern horror classic sees a group of employees from a paper company going on a corporate retreat. While in the middle of a bridge, one of them has a vision that it will collapse and they’ll all die. After convincing several to get off the bus and run away, the bridge does collapse, letting this random group escape death. However, soon death comes back to get them one-by-one in elaborate and grisly events.
“Final Destination 5” was released in 3D, just like the previous film, and for a gimmick movie it was fun. The film does lose a bit of the decadent fun by not being in 3D, particularly in the impressive bridge collapse sequence. Still, for the fans of the modern non-slasher slasher movie, it can be fun.
Like many movies that get released nowadays, “Final Destination 5” didn’t quite live up to its hype of the freshness that the trailers promised. However, upon second viewing on Blu-ray, things improved. If you know all the twists in the film (which are actually spoiled on the Blu-ray cover box, so tread carefully when looking at it), it’s interesting to watch to see where the filmmakers did them justice or betrayed them (because they do both).
But knowing how the deaths play out work better in retrospect because there are just too many red herrings flung at the audience as the weird Rube Goldberg set-pieces fall into place.
Easily the most impressive moment is the bridge collapse, which is cool and chilling to watch. Death mopping up its final victims through the rest of the film is a bit ho-hum at times. And the movie could have used some gratuitous nudity. It is an R-rated horror film, after all.
The Blu-ray comes with the UltraViolet Digital Copy through Flixster, which allows it to be streamed to a portable player. Special features include alternate death scenes, split-screen special effects comparisons of two key scenes and a featurette “Final Destination 5: Circle of Death, Your Final Destination,” which is loaded with spoilers so should only be watched after viewing the film.
by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
I was 13 years old in the summer of 1985 when the original “Fright Night” hit movie theaters. It was one of the first R rated films I saw in the theater, and it was a huge thrill for me. Having grown up with late-night movie hosts in Ohio, this tapped into something very dear to me. Also, as a bit of a nerd myself, I could really relate to the character of Charlie Brewster who discovered a vampire had moved in next door.
When the remake was announced, I was nervous. Remake announcement of beloved films from your past can do that to you. I was originally intrigued by the choice of David Tennant as the new Peter Vincent, but other casting bothered me. Colin Farrell as the vampire Jerry Dandridge was worrisome, and Anton Yelchin as the not-quite-as-nerdy Charlie Brewster also bothered me.
I saw the film in the theaters with trepidation, and through the unnecessary 3D element, it was clear the film was not nearly as good as the original. The setting was changed from Anywhere, California to Las Vegas, and Peter Vincent was changed from a has-been TV host to Cris Angel type of magician.
In short, the film’s nerdiness was abandoned.
“Fright Night” became a victim of its own genre. It seems that nowadays, filmmakers can’t make a teen vampire movie without a trendy soundtrack and ubersexiness. The monster element is neutered, and the characters have to be cool. Even Yelchin’s portrayal of Charlie Brewster was too cool.
Aside from there being no passion behind the acting in this film, the chronology was all messed up. Evil Ed is dispatched in the first act, and it was his character in the original that actually pulled the most emotion out of the film. That’s totally gone for camp in a goofy battle scene.
It’s not that the “Fright Night” remake is that bad. It’s just not that good. It bills itself as a dark comedy, but there’s nothing to even chuckle at with the film. There’s no logic or cohesion in the scenes, and I felt no sympathy for any of the would-be victims.
The Blu-ray comes with an additional DVD with bloopers, a Kid Cudi music video and the uncut “Squid Man” fan video. The Blu-ray disc includes these features as well as five deleted and extended scenes, a mock interview with Peter Vincent and the inaccurately named “How to Make a Funny Vampire Movie” featurette.
Click here to read more DVD reviews!
Click here to read more movie reviews!
Click here to watch films by 7M Pictures!