Age Of Heroes (2011/E1 Blu-ray)/Fake
(2011/Millennium DVD)/Leather Jackets
(1991)/A Small Town In Texas (1976/MGM
Limited Edition Collection DVDs)
Picture: B/C/C+/C Sound: B/C+/C+/C+ Extras: C/C-/C-/D Films: C
PLEASE NOTE: Jackets and Small Town
are MGM Limited Edition Collection DVDs available exclusively from Amazon
through the right-hand sidebar of this site.
four films that all had potential and fell short in the drama/thriller
Vitoria’s Age Of Heroes (2011) is A
WWII tale of the formation of the elite 30 Commando unit by the British
Government (established by no less than Ian Fleming, played here by James
D’Arcy) with Sean Bean in an attempt to capitalize on both Bean’s Bond
connection and his impressive success with the Sharpe’s series. With a
decent supporting cast, there are some good moments here, but the film overall
is too much of a gung-ho action film when it should have been more serious
throughout instead of just in later moments.
result is that the tone is off and the screenplay does not give us as many new
and different moments as the film needed, especially now that the return of
WWII as a film subject has been played out so much. Still, there is some money on the screen
here, the period look is authentic enough and the film has a look that helps
make it more watchable, but I was disappointed.
Extras include Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Behind-The-Scenes footage and
an interviews featurette.
W. Friedle’s Fake (2011) also has
potential in this story of a rejected artist (Gabriel Mann) who starts making
money on the side painting amazing duplicates of priceless paintings and
selling them. He has a falling out for
other reasons with his art gallery girlfriend (Jill Flint) and starts to get
involved with shady people, which leads him to having to deal with an old
gangster type (Robert Loggia) who blackmails him into doing more such paintings
and gains the suspicion of a police investigator (Fisher Stevens) who is going
to break the case at any cost.
So we get
a good cast, a good idea and even nice sets and locations to make us believe
all we see, expect that the screenplay is too often flat, has noting new to
offer (we have seen this kind of thing before) and has an ending so dumb that
it shows how Friedle started something he did not know how to finish. Some might find it worth a look, but I was
disappointed, especially when it started out so promisingly. Trailers for this and other Millennium
releases are the only extra.
Drysdale’s Leather Jackets (1991) is
a film I seem to have missed despite having the underrated D.B. Sweeney and
Bridget Fonda as two people from the neighborhood who get together when he
finally gets the courage to be with her.
However, they still have their shady street friends they hang with and
have known all their life and one of them (co-producer Cary Elwes in a more
serious performance) will not let them escape the past as he and his friends
have just ticked off Vietnamese gangster immigrants and they want blood after
one of theirs was killed.
immigrant characters are almost stereotypical, but that is nothing as compared
to a film that also (here we go again) wastes so much talent and does not know
how to end. In addition, there are some
missed opportunities as the script is more concerned with plot points than much-needed
character development and its style is in dated 1980s mode. Christopher Penn, James LeGros, Marshall Bell
and Jon Polito also star and a trailer is the only extra.
we have Jack Starrett’s A Small Town In
Texas (1976), a revenge drama with Timothy Bottoms (The Last Picture Show) as a man getting out of jail after three
years, going back to his girlfriend (Susan George) and finding out she is with
the local Sheriff (Bo Hopkins) who framed him on drug possession in what will
lead to a showdown. Unfortunately, this
was American International cashing in on a film cycle and it is just not that
good despite the potential of the casting.
It could have been worse, but we’ve seen better. There are no extras.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Heroes is easily the best release here being the only Blu-ray, but
its playback is pretty solid throughout with only minor softness at times. Director of Photography Mark Hamilton does a
good enough job of making this look good and though it is not always as big
screen as I would have liked, it has a consistency that seems to be missing
from too many large budget films of its kind.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Jackets gets second place in playback, being soft but not awful,
especially for its age. However, the
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Fake
(with color limits and some motion blur) and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35
X 1 image on Texas are softer than expected and
Texas was shot in less expensive Techniscope format a few years
after Technicolor stopped making dye-transfer, three-strip film prints, which
is evident from this EastmanColor print here that is a bit rough. It and Jackets
have disclaimers that the prints were the best material MGM had available at
this time, but it really applies here.
they were still doing dye-transfer at Technicolor and maybe a better print
could be found from there, but this is not it.
Note that the color format and Techniscope never appear in the credits.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Heroes is also solid with a consistent, clean, warm and
well-recorded soundfield throughout.
Though nothing here is jaw-dropping, it manages to go from dialogue to
full use of multi-channel seamlessly.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 on Fake
is weaker and more towards the front speakers and center channel than I would
have liked, the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Jackets has Pro Logic-like encoding being originally an analog
Ultra-Stereo theatrical release (meaning it has more distortion than even
Dolby’s old A-type noise reduction system) and the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on
Texas sounds about as good as it is going to get in the lossy format.
- Nicholas Sheffo