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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > WWII > Thriller > Art > Fraud > Gangster > Murder > Revenge > 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)

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.

 

 

Now for four films that all had potential and fell short in the drama/thriller department.

 

Adrian 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.

 

The 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.

 

Gregory 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.

 

Lee 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.

 

Those 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.

 

Finally 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.

 

 

The 1080p 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 disappoint.

 

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.  In Britain, 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.

 

The 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


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