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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > Ancient War > Epic > History > Murder > Melodrama > Teens > Crime > Heist > Spy > Cold War > Espi > Alexander The Great (1956/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Point Break 3D (2015/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray

Alexander The Great (1956/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Point Break 3D (2015/Warner Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D & DVD)/The Red House (1947/Film Detective Blu-ray)/Stealing Cars (2015/Sony DVD)/The Whip Hand (1951/RKO/Warner Archive DVD)

3D Picture: B Picture: B-/B & C+/B & C/B-/C+/C+ Sound: C+/B & C+/B & C+/C/C+/C+ Extras: C+/C+/C-/D/D/D Films: C+/C/C-/C+/C+/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Alexander The Great Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while The Whip Hand is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a new set of dramas all aiming to be event film of their own kind, but not always working out...

Robert Rossen's Alexander The Great (1956) is finally on Blu-ray, even if MGM has taken the United Artists film (which has a following) and allowed Twilight Time to issue it only as a Limited Edition Blu-ray. Here is our coverage of the film on its older DVD edition...


The film keeps aging, but the actors continue to hold up against anything that looks phony or dated, but it is a long film and the booklet included tells us it was originally going to be longer! If that would have worked, I would have been fine with that, but if it still even exists, I'll believe it when I see it. This is still the short 136 minutes version and not the slightly longer 141 minutes or much longer director's cut of the film. Unless you have a really good film print, this is the best way to see the film on home video for now.

Extras include yet another highly underrated, illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a fine Claire Bloom interview on the film, Isolated Music Score and Original Theatrical Trailer.

Francis Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015) comes at the end of the 'youth against police states' fantasy cycle that has been pretty phony and unrealistic to begin with, usually gutting the true politics you might get in the likes of Peter Watkins' Punishment Park (see the review elsewhere on this site), et al. However, the Lionsgate money-machine has not even been as fun as an OzPloitation film, though it has given the great Donald Sutherland a chance to go 'boo hiss' again in a big hit, but it has dragged out the endless end and given us a dud of an ending (albeit rather predictable, no major win against the evil state that it could have had) and just in time as the cycle claims big budget victims in its imitators arriving too late.

Before we move on, all three... I mean four films in the series have now been issued in the new 4K Ultra HD 2160p Blu-ray format and you can catch then all here...


Now to continue...

Needless to say Jennifer Lawrence almost seems to have outgrown her role and the cast including Julianne Moore, Jenna Malone, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright and Stanley Tucci is not weak in the on-screen talent department. Too bad their Music Video director holds them back way too much. Of course, the saddest thing here is one of the final appearances of the great Philip Seymour Hoffman who we can at last say met with much great success and love before we lost him way too soon.

With the lack of energy, this is really for fans only and I find it hard to believe all the fans can actually be happy with how this ended. However, it will always be the first and most important of this cycle and at least it was not budget-lacking for what that's worth.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a feature length audio commentary track with Lawrence and Producer Nina Jacobson, an 8-part Making documentary, three more Behind The Scenes featurettes including Panem On Display, Cinna's Sketchbook and the especially excellent A Photography Journey that is more interesting than any of the films in the series.

Ericson Core's Point Break 3D (2015) is the latest package deal that should not have happened, in part because it was still too soon for the original film was only discovered by audiences much later than its original release as discussed in our Blu-ray coverage of the film a few years ago...


Again, before continuing, the title has since even been issued in the new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format since this coverage, so you can read about that version here...


Though I was not a big fan of the film, it had some good moments and Katherine Bigelow has become a more important filmmaker since. Some were offended this remake was made only a few years since original co-star Patrick Swayze passed away too young, making some feel this was a money grab cash-out and highly disrespectful. Though it actually does not come across as that smug, the bigger problem is that some good talent is brought together only to be wasted here. Director Core made Invincible with Mark Wahlberg, a film I really liked and should have been a much bigger hit and discovered by now as well, but that didn't happen and Core directed smaller projects while still being a good cameraman/cinematographer.

The leads are Edgar Ramirez from Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty among other projects and Luke Bracey, another actor will to jump into a role and both have energy enough to maybe make a breakthrough. However, the slightly decolored digital shooting and especially the script that seems to have been based on a checklist to not do anything as well as the original film and replace it with fluff. In all this, I could actually see a workable remake here, but Delroy Lindo and Ray Winstone cannot give this the street cred it needs, the action is silly and each segment looks like a music video, energy drink commercial, clothes ad and/or spoof of all of the above.

Thus, it died at the box office as quickly as a receding tide, but here it is. Warner has issued this Blu-ray 3D version with a Blu-ray 2D and DVD, though it feels more like the options are here so you'll actually take a look at it. In better producing hands, this could have been a pleasant surprise, but this Point breaks up way too early to work and never recovers. What a wipeout!

Extras in a lenticular slipcase packaging include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds three Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes, Original Theatrical Trailers and Deleted Scenes. You can also see our coverage pf the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version elsewhere on this site.

Delmer Daves' The Red House (1947) has now been issued for the second time on Blu-ray, this time by Film Detective, but we covered the older Film Chest Blu-ray/DVD set at this link....


Though not perfect, it remains a film worth seeing once and that is much easier with this better visual transfer, though expect some age on the presentation as this remains an orphan films of sorts and who knows where the original camera materials are, if they still exist.

There are no extras as there were on the previous Blu-ray edition.

Speaking of Wahlberg, he co-produced Bradley Jay Kaplan's Stealing Cars (2015), a tale based on a true story (could have fooled me) about a young man (a showy performance by Emory Cohen that is underwritten and almost a spoof of itself) who keeps getting into trouble with the law, takes nothing seriously and thus, is running away from something(s). When he lands up in a youth prison, he cannot conform and instead of serious character development, we get endless 1970s cinema references, some flashbacks that almost help and too many cliches that I they outdo the movie references.

Felicity Huffman shows up as his upset mother, plus we also get Mike Epps and John Leguizamo to add street cred (results mixed) and William H. Macy, so another good cast is here and unknowns we might see again get mixed in. I wanted to like this one, but it just stayed flat and never delivered, plus more than a few moments killed anything realistic about it. You could do worse though.

There are unfortunately no extras.

William Cameron Menzies' The Whip Hand (1951) happens to be the best for last, a Cold War/Red Scare thriller with Elliott Reid as a reporter who happens to land up in a small town that seems somewhat friendly, but is actually hiding something big and is up to no good. The few people there would like him gone before he finds out, but he has no idea anything is even happening at first, so they put up with him. However, his desire for fishing and some odd attitudes keep him there, then he finds he cannot leave when his car suddenly will not run correctly.

Turns out the Soviet Union has a crazy viral war plot in the works and the whole town of secret pro-communists USSR-style are going to make sure the worse happens... but that naïve, pesky reporter (who falls for one of the locals, played by Carla Balenda) is going to get that big story... as soon as he figures out what it is, unless they kill him.

Menzies, the legendary production designer, was also an amazing director, creating tension and suspense with a great support cast that includes Raymond Burr, Lurene Tuttle and Otto Waldis makes this one of the truly good films RKO made when Howard Hughes ran the studio. I had not seen it for years and it holds up well, has aged very well and best of all, is darker and more realistic than many films like it since. It has even held up long after the Cold War ended and is highly recommended!

There are sadly no extras.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 CinemaScope digital High Definition image transfer on Alexander can show the age of the materials used, but this is an improvement over the DVD we covered years ago and superior enough transfer to that film that you can enjoy it more. You can also get a better idea of how good the fresh 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints of the film must have looked.

The digital HD shoots in 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Point and Hunger look a little better and are the best performers here, but that is often by default as there are very few really good or memorable shots in either release to be impressed with and the anamorphically enhanced DVDs are much softer; especially Point. In the case of the 1080p 2.35 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Point, it is no real improvement and some shots have zero benefits from the format. Unless the upcoming 4K blu-ray is supposed to be better than either presentation here, this is a generic dud all around.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on House is enough of an improvement over the previous Blu-ray version that I cannot even look at the older one anymore, but this print can still show the age of the materials used. Until a better print turns up and gets transferred correctly, this is the best you can do without finding an actual 16mm or 35mm print of your own.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Cars has some good shots, but is still softer than any of the Blu-rays and on par with the just about the rest of the DVDs. The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Whip looks really good for its age with a print at least as good as House, with even more menacing shots. Wow, could this one use a Blu-ray edition.

As for sound, Point and Hunger are the sonic winners, but only so impressive as the Dolby Atmos 11.1 mix (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) on Hunger should really fly, but this thing is sooo talky and slow that surrounds are uneven and the mixdown is not that much different than the original soundmaster. Point was almost an 11.1 release, but Warner settles for a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is barely better than the original film (a DTS-MA lossless 5.1 mix), which actually has some more character to it. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on their respective DVDs are weaker still and hard to enjoy.

Alexander is presented in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless Stereo is not bad, but just keeps pace with the DVDs on the list, while House is here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 lossless Mono that is the poorest performer on the list, overly cleaned and compressed from the limited soundtrack the company had to work with. How sad.

The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Cars DVD can be good, but is not always great, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Whip sounds really good for its age and maybe a lossless version would yield better fidelity.

To order the Alexander The Great limited edition Blu-ray, buy it and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




and to order The Whip Hand Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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