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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Western > Battles > Crusades > Supernatural > Magic > Fantasy > WWI > Sexploitati > Oblivion (1994/Shout! Factory DVD)/Season Of The Witch (2010/Fox Blu-ray)/Sucker Punch: Extended Cut (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Turbulent Skies (2009/Anchor Bay DVD)

Oblivion (1994/Shout! Factory DVD)/Season Of The Witch (2010/Fox Blu-ray)/Sucker Punch: Extended Cut (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Turbulent Skies (2009/Anchor Bay DVD)


Picture: C/B-/C+ & C-/C     Sound: C/B/B & B-/B-     Extras: D/D/D/C-     Films: D/D/D/C-



When genre filmmaking is abused and is a wreck on arrival, it can be very ugly.  Here are four examples of four theatrical films that show how bad it can get…



Sam Irvin’s Oblivion (1994) is a bizarre mix of outer space aliens, Westerns and some Science Fiction that is silly, makes no sense and is being issued as Cowboys & Aliens heads for movie theaters.  This B-movie (intended as some kind of series) Co-stars Andrew Divoff, Michael Genovese, Julie Newmar, Richard Joseph Paul, Meg Foster and George Takei is a tired turf war Western formula with bad costumes and silly acting that is either bad or makes no sense.  Whatever the intent, this is a goofy mess that should have stayed in the vault.


Of course, Westerns and Sci-Fi hardly ever mix and the few that do (Hyams’ Outland, Cameron’s Aliens and the Firefly/Serenity franchise) are far outnumbered by the bad ones (Gil Gerard Buck Rogers, original Battlestar Galactica, even the comedy Galaxina) that are clueless about either genre and it always badly shows.  This is being released as a curio and is not worth your time.



Dominic Sena tries to do a film about The Crusades and creates another awful feature film with Season Of The Witch (2010), the Music Video director’s fifth awful feature film and fifth awful release in a row.  His idea of The Crusades is just fodder for bad digital effects and bad action scenes, wasting Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and hundreds of extras (it would have been thousands before digital visual effects, that this is soaked in for the worst) and is never believable for one second.  Cage seems bored, Perlman steals every scene he is in and the story of witches wanting revenge for being hunted is older than The Crusades, with only the clichés in abundance here being older.  Dialogue is stupid (think of this as Kingdom of Heaven for airheads) and even its Alternate Ending is idiotic.


Sena gave us the highly overrated Kalifornia, then followed them with Gone In Sixty Seconds (which only had a one minutes’ worth of nice cars), Swordfish (one of the worst action thrillers ever made) and Whiteout (which was less exciting than watching typewriter correction fluid dry) all proving Sena could not understand a narrative if it arrived as a singing telegram at the level of Schoolhouse Rock, a series of shorts with more story substance than any of his feature films.  Cage will get dumped on for this dud, but Sena is the real culprit here.  Listen to the hit record of the same title by Donovan instead.


Zack “The Hack” Snyder, on the eve of his Superman film, delivers his worst film of many to date with the amazingly inane Sucker Punch (2011), with its mix of sex, rape, video games, torture, action, idiocy, other violence, dated Music Video tricks and bad writing as his most incoherent mix of nothing yet.  Trivializing everything of importance in its way from genocide to mental health to murder to genocide, the story is a supposed “fantasy” about a young lady who is framed for murder and (set to a really lame cover of the Eurythmics classic Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) and is then sent to the Lennon Mental Hospital (I am NOT making this up; Annie Lennox was the original lead singer on the song) where the young lady is set to have a lobotomy so the real older male killer (the supposed guardian of her and her now dead sister) can get the family fortune.  Suddenly, she is transported to another world from the hospital (which includes its own surreal moments light years from making any sense and wasting Carla Gugino) to battling WWI army men for no apparent reason (wasting Scott Glenn all around) complete (and completely repeating everything we’ve seen in all his previous films) with no point whatsoever.


I guess the title refers to people stupid enough to pay for another one of his films and expecting him to learn how to direct, but this was a bomb in theaters and is not doing well on home video.  The martial arts look phony, Snyder is a poser as an action filmmaker and the film also wastes Jon Hamm (who Snyder did not hire for Superman, showing his lack of loyalty), Vanessa Hudgens (not helping her career one bit), Abby Cornish, Emily Browning and Jena Malone.


This is easily one of the worst films of 2011, which says something considering how bad a year this has been at the halfway point.



Finally we have the trashy Fred Olen Ray disaster Turbulent Skies (2009) which at least does not try to be more than the wreck it is and on many levels.  Casper Van Dien is reunited with his Starship Troopers co-star Patrick Muldoon way too late as a HAL 9000-type computer is mindlessly installed to replace human pilots, but back fires and takes on a mind of its own, so inventor Dien (no jokes please) has to stop it.  Can you stop laughing?


Wow, is this bad, but it is not absolutely horrid, which is how bottom of the barrel this round of releases is.  Nicole Eggert and Brad Dourif also star.



The 1.33 X 1 image on Oblivion is awfully softy and though this was shot in 35mm film, this is an older analog transfer and is lame throughout.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 36 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Witch has plenty of digital work degrading anything here that might remotely look like a good shot, but is the best-looking disc here by default, which is not saying much.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Punch was shot in 35mm film, but you would never know it for all the digital work here that is actually more excessive than Witch!

So why shoot in film? So Snyder can film his tired, stupid, slowed scenes of sex and violence in Music Video-caliber slow-motion as if that gave them meaning when it just makes them even more tired and embarrassing than almost anything you’ll see this or any other year.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD is one of the weakest trade-downs I have seen to date and is pretty unwatchable.  That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Skies which has much motion blur and some bad digital work of its own looking poorer than a new production should be.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Oblivion is barely so, distorted and compressed from the original analog Ultra Stereo theatrical mix that sounds more dated than the film itself.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both Blu-rays are good with good soundfields, yet are far from the best sonic mixes you will hear today.  The Punch DVD is weaker, but retains the soundfield somewhat.  That leaves the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Skies having moiré of a soundfield than expected, but that cannot save it.


Extras are absent on Oblivion, but both Blu-rays have two versions of the same failed films, BD Live interactive features and Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices.  Witch adds Deleted Scenes and two Making Of Featurettes, while Punch adds Original Animated Shorts (ugh!), Behind The Soundtrack featurette to show how Snyder abuses music and is clueless on the artform and Blu-ray exclusive Maximum Movie Mode where Snyder shows up and tries to explain this mess, making it the worst use of this function in Blu-ray history to date.  Skies adds a trailer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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