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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Science Fiction > War > Teens > Murder > Comedy > Sports > Biopic > Mystery > Heist > Chase > Allegiant: The Divergent Series (2016/Summit/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Eddie The Eagle (2016/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/DVD)/Edgar Wallace Double Feature: Circus Of Fear (1966 aka Psycho-Circus)/Five Go

Allegiant: The Divergent Series (2016/Summit/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Eddie The Eagle (2016/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/DVD)/Edgar Wallace Double Feature: Circus Of Fear (1966 aka Psycho-Circus)/Five Golden Dragons (1967/Blue Underground Blu-ray)/Midnight Special (2016/Warner Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ 1080p Picture: B (Allegiant DVD: C) Sound: B+ & C+/B/B-/B Extras: C/C/B/C Films: C/C+/B- & C+/C+

The following releases were made for wide appeal, but all run into their own unique problems...

Robert Schwentke's Allegiant: The Divergent Series (2016) is the third in the long series of long young adult adventure/semi sci-fi series that wants to be another Hunger Games (from the same studio, et al), but never got there, in part because Hunger Games was highly overrated to begin with. But that will not stop the self-will of Summit Entertainment to cash-in, even when the cash is not coming in. This did not do well critically or commercially, so it was no surprise when an executive admitted (with regret?) that they rushed this one too much to meet a deadline and really, keep fickle fans interested before they grow out of it. Too late.

At least they put out the money for good veteran actors (Jeff Daniels, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Maggie Q) and back the up and coming (Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Theo James, etc.), but what are they given to do? Not much. Even without knowing (or should we say remembering) everything from the from the previous films, all we get are bells, whistles, gadgets & vehicles with little originality or memorability and much ado about nothing as I wonder if we can say the series has peaked. How much longer can the young group fight against evil older people trying to establish absolute power? It is that with zero political conviction or any realism in the real politik sense, so all you get is a mindless romp, worse that I thought. See this trilogy from the beginning, if you must see it at all.

We were hoping to see any of the trilogy in the 4K Blu-ray format, but we'll have to wait and see on those.

Dexter Fleischer's Eddie The Eagle (2016) is the latest in the occasional cycle of underdog/feel-good films that usually do not work. Up and coming Taron Egerton is the title character, a young man who wants to be in the Olympics for the U.K. and against all odds, just barely makes it as a ski-jumper circa 1988. He is good here and helps the film, especially when the script does no one any favors. Hugh Jackman is here in another father-like guidance figure character role which is fine and believable, but adds nothing new to the times he has done this before.

I did not like the look of this film (more on that below) which did not help the sense of dullness throughout its somewhat-long 105 minutes, but we've seen worse. Since the disaster that is Brexit happened, any sudden 'Rule Britannia' moments ring odd, but this was not the case in 1998 or when this hit theaters a few months ago. Maybe this might get a cult following of some kind, but I was disappointed overall despite some serious efforts on those involved. Part of it being a sort of biopic did not help either. See for yourself, but this is at least somewhat child-friendly for the record.

Next up is Blue Underground's Edgar Wallace Double Feature, with two interesting feature films from the U.K. in the 1960s based on the famous mystery writer's work and produced by Harry Allen Townes.

First up is John Moxey's Circus Of Fear (1966), the underrated filmmaker who starts this out as a really good heist film, then suddenly has it twist into a mystery and thriller set at a circus with an interesting set of eccentrics, all who could be connected to the heist... or murder. Klaus Kinski, Leo Genn, Anthony Newlands, a hardly seen Christopher Lee, Margaret Lee, Cecil Parker,. Suzi Kendall, Victor Maddern, Maurice Kaufmann and a solid supporting cast keep things going nicely. Though the film is not perfect, it is pretty good, holds up well, is the best film of the five we are covering here and shows Moxey's skills.

Also included is Jeremy Summers' Five Golden Dragons (1967) with a murdered man discovered with a strange note on his corpse that gets the mystery ball rolling here. Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee appear here too, joined by Bob Cummings as the American jet-setter who lands up in the middle of the bloodletting, joined by Rupert Davies, Maria Rohm, Maria Perschy and the other actors playing the title masked men including Dan Duryea, Brian Donlevy and George Raft. This is fun at times and has its moments, but the capable Summers could only get the material to work so well. Glad it was restored so nicely and was included on the same disc. Both films should be seen at least once.

Finally we have Jeff Nicholas' Midnight Special (2016) with a very familiar tale... a young man with a special vision and powers, dark running around in the night, secret officials investigating, adults giving up their secure positions in the world to help, possible aliens on the way and other secrets. Sounds like a Steven Spielberg film... several of them, and that is exactly what you get in this try-not-to-seem-like-a-compilation film of a compilation takeoff film that still managed to attract talent like Adam Driver, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kristen Dunst and Sam Shepherd. The young superkid is played by Jaeden Lieberher and he holds his own to his credit, but the script never figures out how to bring this all together.

The ending is way over the top, the most unrealistic thing here and Nicholas (who also penned the script) could not figure out how to use all this as a springboard for something more original. Too bad, because with much more concentration and ambition, this could have been a big surprise. Instead, it is instantly forgettable and too by-the-numbers for its own good.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Allegiant has some alignment and stability issues from its visual effects and compositing, but it is decent, though I wondered if the 4K Blu-ray resolved those issues. The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image certainly does not, is very soft and hard to watch, included as a convenience at best.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on the Eddie 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is just barely the best on the list, just passing up the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray. Both have minor problems, but the look of the film is dull, so the 2160p version peels that problem back a bit.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Circus can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film as is the case with the 1080p 2.35 X 1 35mm Techniscope, digital High Definition image on Dragons, both nicely restored by Blue Underground and able to go a few rounds with anything here. Circus was shot on Eastmancolor 35mm and looks amazing, while Dragons has the rare distinction of being shot on 35mm Pathe Color film stocks, then issued at its best in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints. The result is that both have demo shots as good as anything here in restoration work that constantly impresses, as noted.

That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Midnight with more digital work than it needed so you get an uneven presentation at times, but to its credit is shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision on Kodak's amazing Vision 3 film stocks. Nice!

The Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless mixes on Allegiant (also issued in DTS: X 11.1) and the 4K version of Eddie are the best presentations here, but Allegiant has more visual effects and 'otherworldly' spaces, so its going to just best Eddie, whose regular Blu-ray has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix almost as good as the 4K's Atmos, but not totally so.

As surprising is how good the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mixes on the restored Circus and Dragons sound, clean and clear between the fine work done and how the surviving sound elements held up.

That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Midnight more than holding its own, if too Spielbergian for its own good.

Extras on all releases but the Wallace Double Feature include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, with Allegiant adding six Making Of featurettes (3 are Blu-ray exclusives) and Producers Douglas Wick & Lucy Fisher on a feature length audio commentary track, plus our copy included a lenticular slipcase packaging. Eddie adds a Stills Gallery and 3-part Let The Games Begin featurette. Circus adds Original Theatrical Trailers, Poster & Stills Gallery and solid feature length audio commentary track by Director Moxey. Midnight adds two Making Of featurettes.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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