To Race: Fast Track
(2013/Anchor Bay Blu-ray)/Firestorm
(2013/Well Go USA Blu-ray)/High
The First 50 Years
(2014/TM Video DVD Set)/The
Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season
(2013 - 2014/Warner Blu-ray)
B-/B-/B-/B/C+/B- & C Sound: B/B/B/B-/C+/B & B-
Extras: C+/C-/C+/D/B-/C Main Programs: C+/C-/C+/B-/B-/C
a new set of fired-up action releases, including a fine new
documentary on a sports car favorite...
Van Warmerdam's Borgman
(2013) wants to be a surreal, even adult fairytale film where an old
man (Jan Bijovet as the title character) is hunted by men connected
to a church, but he just escapes his underground hideout and gets
some fellow friends hiding in similar places to wake up and quickly
run. He finds refuge in a suburban house and becomes interested in
the lady of the house he is let into, but h is soon finding ways to
stay there more permanently than anyone should let him.
there, the script tries for open-ended mysteriousness and slight
surrealism that never quite adds up and I do not think I am missing
anything about Dutch culture (I've seen enough of their films to know
otherwise, et al) so it is instead an exercise to try and be
something it never totally succeeds in being despite a few
interesting moments. The cast tries and the locales are nice, but
Van Warmerdam lands up showing us things only he knows the meaning of
and if it is not pretentious, it is not up to similar work from the
likes of a Luis Bunuel so see it at your own risk.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable & iTunes
capable devices and a 28-page booklet on the film, while the Blu-ray
adds the Original Theatrical Trailer and Deleted Scenes.
Ranarvelo's Born To Race:
Fast Track (2013) is a
wacky mess of clichés, bad acting, bad editing, bad directing, badly
shot sports cars and 98 long minutes that looks more like an ad for
Toyotas and Subarus as a bad Fast
& Furious ripoff than
an actual narrative exercise of any kind. That includes a
bored-looking cast of unknowns, Corben Bernsen and Sharon Lawrence
showing up in vein, very bad digital visual effects and a lack of
energy that makes old Hot Wheels toy ads look like short art films.
Skip this one!
only extra is a Behind The Scenes featurette.
(2013) is a Martial Arts heist thriller with limited thrills and any
time things get good, clichés, silliness, bad digital visual effects
(down to bad digital pigeons!) and other oddball things keep
undermining anything that works here and this has some of the worst
practical CGI that I have seen on any major production like this in a
while. The bad guys keep finding clever ways to hijack armored
trucks, but that tends to make for active breaks in a mixed script
that is not as good as it thinks it is. This had the potential to be
better, but inexperience and constant awkwardness undermine the whole
110 minutes so expect a choppy time.
include a Making Of featurette and an Original Theatrical Trailer.
Arnold's High School
starts by trying to show the dark, shocking side of high school drug
use in its day, starting with the ever-subversive Jerry Lee Lewis
playing piano and singing a song in his usual wild form. Russ
Tamblyn is the new guy on campus talking about partying and new,
forbidden drugs (!!!) while going at it with other tough guy students
who had better look out because he has a knife! Mamie Van Doren
plays his Aunt who is a little more sexually interested in him than
she should be (and she only drinks alcohol ... so far) and future
Addams Family star Jackie Coogan (already a well known character
actor at the time) play a serious, mean drug kingpin!
have to see this one to believe it and it just gets wackier and
wackier, with a conclusion that might not fit, but it makes for a
campy time capsule just the same and the supporting cast (including
Jan Sterling, Michael Landon, Lyle Talbot and an uncredited William
Smith) are a plus. Arnold was known for directing many B-movies, but
he was very good at that and puts most big budget hacks today to
shame. This sometimes howler of a film about the dangers of drugs,
et al, is worth a look.
are sadly no extras.
The First 50 Years (2014)
delivers 2.5 hours of history on one of the most successful models of
any car ever made in automotive history. Starting with Ford Motors'
stuffy image by the 1960s and in the face of the failed Edsel, a
young Lee Iaccoca decides to create a sporty car like those being
made in Europe that was much more affordable, easier to produce and
would appeal to the new, rising youth market. After some false
starts and prototypes that did not work out, the car was launched in
an unprecedented campaign and was a huge hit that saved Ford in the
and archival interviews are mixed with vintage and new film and video
footage to show us the history of the car, some solid Ford history,
all the eras of the car to date, key special editions of the car,
some controversies (the smaller early 1970s models sold, but many
felt they were not true Mustangs and that debate continues today) and
its influence on other manufacturers to make sports cars (GM with the
Camaro, Trans Am, GTO and evolving Corvette that debuted before the
Mustang, Chrysler with the Challenger, Charger & Barracuda, AMC
with the Javelin) shows us the culture and spells out its remarkable
half-century of history so far with no signs of stopping.
part where 8-track tape players included as standard in each
launching car stereo systems is oddly ignored, but the program is
more thorough than one we did a decade ago that claimed to be a 40th
Anniversary program, only to contain one on its 25th
overusing an odd remake of The Troggs' classic hit Wild
Thing. Fans will love
this set, but those interested in a great history should also check
this set out, even if they don't like the car. Maybe they'll find
one (with or without the hand of Carroll Shelby expanding the model)
are not extras per se, but the program has such extensive
subsections, some might count the second DVD as extras and we will to
be fair to the makers.
Vampire Diaries: The Complete Fifth Season
(2013 - 2014) is the first time we have looked at the Kevin
Williamson-produced show since its debut season and most of us are
surprised that the show is still on the air. Guess the actors and
soap opera formula has slowly grown on the fans who did not abandon
the show, plus Williamson very, very slowly added twists and turns
(characters called Travelers) and that is enough for its young
but boring and quickly forgotten after viewing, this is for fans...
big fans only. The actors seem to be having somewhat of a good time,
but I cannot imagine the show lasting too much longer. We'll see.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes
capable devices, while the discs add four Making
Of featurettes, Unaired
Scenes and Second Bite:
have five Blu-rays here, but the
1080p 2.35 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on
is surprisingly the best despite the age of the film and that is by
far the oldest entry on the list. Why, because the print and the
transfer is one of the best we've seen or heard from Olive Films to
date with nice detail and depth shot in real 35mm anamorphic
Panavision. Still, the other Blu-rays are decent including the same
frame on Borgman,
though in color, with only some detail issues, the same color aspect
ratio on Race,
if not as stable, the same frame on Firestorm
in color has its moments albeit interrupted by some bad shots and the
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all episodes of the
Blu-rays, though some of its limits are in styling and not just from
its digital shoot. However, the
anamorphically enhanced DVD versions are really soft and even hard to
watch, so much so that the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on
DVDs look better.
for sound, the four newer Blu-rays with 5.1 mixes all sound good with
consistent soundfields including lossless
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on Race
and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Borgman,
(Cantonese and Mandarin) and the Blu-ray episodes of Vampire,
so they are all sonically solid. Even the
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD episodes of Vampire
sound good for the format. The lossless DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono on School
also sounds really good for its age down to Jerry Lee Lewis' singing
and piano playing, making you wish this was at least in stereo.
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Mustang
DVDs have more than their moments of vintage monophonic sound and a
few moments of location audio that is off, but it is pretty
consistent sound for the most part.