Complete Series (2012/Warner
Blu-rays)/Coma (2012/Sony DVD/TV
DVD)/Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet
B-/C+/C/C Sound: B-/C+/C+/C+ Extras: C-/D/C-/C+ Main Programs: C-/C+/C+/C+
some Mini-Series and limited series TV dramas, plus a British theatrical drama
in the same narrative mode that fits nicely with these releases.
with the oddest first, Alcatraz: The
Complete Series (2012) is part of a cycle of bad fiction that is so
hell-bent on revisionist history that the premise is outright ridiculous to
start with. This one has us believe that
prisoners from the famous and now defunct island prison somehow slipped through
time (circa 1963) as active prisoners and have turned up in New York City today. As hard as this wants to be the next X-Files or the like, it is just lame
and convincing to begin with, then only becomes more convoluted and just gets
more and more goofy until you cannot believe it got made.
tries to lead the not-bad cast in this J.J. Abrams-produced fiasco and it just
gets more and more boring as it get more preposterous. I cannot even see it having a cult following,
plus the real Alcatraz is more interesting and the island has had its legend
used to much better effect recently (Sean Connery in The Rock) so this was a bad idea all around that no talent in the
world was going to be able to salvage.
include Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel and a behind the scenes featurette.
have a remake. Coma (2012) is a TV Mini-Series remake and attempted update (like
it needed it) of the 1978 hit film of Robin Cook’s hit novel then directed by
Michael Crichton. The new one is helmed
by Mikael Salomon and has newcomers Lauren Ambrose and Steven Pasquale in the
lead roles originally held by Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas, now with
cyber technology and we guess an attempt to get more out of the book.
Wheeler (Ambrose) is a student doctor who starts to become suspicious that too
many comas are happening at her hospital and when weird, odd things start to
happen, she only gets more suspicious.
In addition, her grandfather used to work at the same hospital, but she
becomes intrigued by a place called Jefferson
that for some reason keeps getting the coma patients.
I was not
a big fan of the first film, but thought it was good, though it has dated. The new technology and tech designs here have
not improved the story any and despite a nice strong supporting cast that
includes James Woods, Geena Davis, Ellen Burstyn and Richard Dreyfuss, the
teleplay tries out some new ideas (including bad digital visual effects) that
ruin this ambitious attempt to update the source material. This also results in script troubles that
eventually ruin an ambitious remake that Warner and Sony made this with Ridley
Scott and in one of his last works of any kind, the late Tony Scott.
all had shown some more restraint and the ending is especially dumb, but what
does work here is not awful and if you are interested, you might want to take a
look. There are no extras, but you can
read more about the original Coma at
this link for its Limited Edition CD soundtrack:
D’Arcy is a British military veteran who returns from the Middle
East to take a job as a guard at a tough prison in Reg Traviss’ Screwed (2010), but finds corruption throughout
the system and that there may be more than a few secret activities going on
that is ruining order and other things.
The supporting cast is decent, the writing solid and this is more
realistic than you might get on British TV, but some clichés and some things we
have seen before (despite the realism being decent) stop this from being a
great motion picture, yet it is not some lame TV movie on the subject either
and there have been plenty.
can more than carry the lead and tends to be very underrated, which this is yet
more evidence of. Besides the obvious
meaning of the title, a guard in a British prison is known as a “screw” since
they holds the place together. Based on
the book by Ronnie Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay, it is intelligently
done and worth going out of your way for if you are interested in seeing
it. A trailer is the only extra.
we have Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet
(2010), based on what is considered a key book from Down Under, though I have
barely heard of it. The book might be
great, but the mini-series at 6 hour-long shows runs on a good bit, is very,
very melodramatic and sadly, is also very predictable as we get one of those
soap opera set-ups where just about every single clichéd bad thing that could
happen to the characters does. The two
families, The Lambs and The Pickles, are the focus of the story taking place
from 1943 to 1963 and I did find some of the moments well acted and well
done. There just were not enough of
covered tales of Australian locales before like The Killing Of Angel Street or the popular megahit soap opera Number 96 here on the site, but this
stab at “quality television” seems more determined to compete with the latter
and not have enough of the edge of the former (or the likes of Wake In Fright)
so it simply did not play as well or as honestly as I had expected. Now you can see for yourself.
include a 41-minutes behind-the-scenes featurette, character clips with actors
explaining their roles and five additional featurette clips.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Alcatraz is the best performer on the list by default being a
Blu-ray, but it still has styling to make it look like some dark thriller show
and we also get motion blurt and some other flaws. Still, a few good shots can be found here and
there. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78
X 1 image on Coma is on the soft
side and on Cloudstreet is a little
softer than I would have liked, even when you factor styling for different periods,
plus we get noise in a few more shots than expected in both cases and color is
sometimes limited by accident or on purpose, so expect unusual playback quality
leaves Coma the best of the DVDs, as
the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Screwed is also a bit softer than I expected, despite it being a
somewhat stylized HD shoot itself. It
was clean and consistent, but a Blu-ray would likely work better in all three
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Alcatraz is once again the
best of the four releases here being the only lossless option, yet sound is
towards the front speakers resulting in inconsistent soundfields on all the
episodes. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on
Coma and Screwed has some surround moments, but are underwhelming and Screwed purposely has its silent
moments. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo on Cloudstreet has some vague
Pro Logic surrounds, but it plays like regular standard stereo otherwise and is
well-recorded for the most part.
- Nicholas Sheffo