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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Bodybuilding > Adoption > Technology > Formula Racing > Generation Iron (2013/Anchor Bay DVD)/Kids' Rights (2014/Cinema Libre DVD)/Visitors (2014/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)/Weekend Of A Champion (1971/MPI DVD)

Generation Iron (2013/Anchor Bay DVD)/Kids' Rights (2014/Cinema Libre DVD)/Visitors (2014/Cinedigm Blu-ray w/DVD)/Weekend Of A Champion (1971/MPI DVD)

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

Here are some new documentaries, including an upgraded edition of an older one...

Vlad Yudin's Generation Iron (2013) is the latest bodybuilding documentary from the producer of the original Pumping Iron that is an excellent latest look at that world, Mr. Olympia and how times have changed, yet how all the hard work has not. Mickey Rourke does an excellent narration job as we meet the new generation of elite bodybuilders, hear their stories and see how they fight to be at the top where fame, fortune and now, big money awaits.

What could have been the same old tired, run-of-the-mill work is instead engaging, thorough and understand the world, the legacy, the commitment and so much more. Legends of the past are interviewed and nothing is left hidden in what is as much a character study of this world as it is of its competitors. Nice to see this world alive and well.

Extras include Deleted Scenes, Extended Interview with Lou Ferrigno, a Behind The Scenes featurette and feature length audio commentary track with Writer/Producer/Director Yudin and Bodybuilder Phil Heath.

Michael Dudko & Olga Rudnieva co-directed Kids' Rights (2014) in which they try to adopt a child in the face of the long, tough road it can be, including the story of how Elton John & David Furnish tried to do just that and how things fell through. The 94 minutes is very thorough on the subject and really makes one think on the necessity of adoption with the failure of so many biological parents (plus children having children, all becoming a worse and worse situation) at such a critical time. You can see why people go to China and other countries to adopt.

A trailer and brief clips with Elton John & David Furnish and Bill Roedy (former MTV CEO) are the only extras.

Godfrey Reggio's Visitors (2014) is the filmmakers fourth esoteric film after his famous Qatsi Trilogy (issued on Blu-ray by Criterion) looking at the human race as continued victims and passive participants in technology rapidly rising and taking over far beyond our ability to keep up with it. Better than Naqoyqatsi (2002), Reggio and his collaborators are in a quandary of repeating themselves while trying to tell the tale they continue to see unfold. There are no words, no narrative or dialogue, but he is speaking in purely visual cinematic terms again much as Ron Fricke did with Cronos, Baraka and Samsara (all reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site).

This has its points and its moments, but the results only said and did so much for me despite being obviously a painstaking, ambitious work. You should see it for yourself and decide.

Extras include a Making Of featurette, Original Theatrical Trailers, Behind The Scenes featurette and separate interviews with Glass, Reggio, Soderbergh and Associate Director/Editor Jon Kane.

Frank Simon's Weekend Of A Champion (1971) is a film Roman Polanski co-produced and really co-stars in as he joins a good friend of his in formula racing great Jackie Stewart as he takes on a rainy Monaco Grand Prix. Even Princess grace shows up, but Stewart is having mixed feelings as some of his friends in the sport have died in horrible accidents and he is able to explain in a very advanced way how to win one of these races. Will he win this one?

This is a time capsule, an amazing document of the race at the time and this new version adds over 10 minutes of new footage at the end as Stewart and Polanski reunite to discuss the past, who else has died in the sport, how it has changed and reveal more than a few secrets. I really liked this one and highly recommend it.

A re-release trailer is the only extra, but you can enjoy more racing action by checking out these Blu-ray releases:

Grand Prix (1966 in 70mm!)


Le Mans (1971, the same year as this documentary)


Snake & Mongoo$e (2013)


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital 4K-shot black and white High Definition image transfer on Visitors is easily the best-looking performer on the list, shot with RED cameras, then painstakingly converted to look like old monochrome gel plate photography. I think they succeeded more than you might think and though I would not mistake this for film all the way, it is more successful than several such previous attempts like Frank Darabont's The Mist (2007). The anamorphically enhanced DVD version ties with similar color presentations on Iron and Champion for solid standard definition playback performance. However, the 35mm EastmanColor shot Champion has its new footage in simple HD with some motion blur, but the original footage has been nicely restored and the color the best on this list. That leaves Rights well edited, but the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentation has motion blur and aliasing errors throughout and is a little too soft overall.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Visitors is the sonic winner showing off the Philip Glass score to fine effect, but that is the extent of the sound. Its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 DVD counterpart is second best on this list and is one of the better 5.1 mixes in the format we have heard in a while. The remaining DVDs with their lossy Dolby Digital sound (5.1 on Generation, 2.0 Stereo on Rights, 5.1 & 2.0 Mono on Champion) tie for third and last place, but they are documentaries and one can only expect so much from them sonically.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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