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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Action > Drama > War > Science Fiction > Gangster > Italy > Exploitation > Spy > WWII > Superhero > Ad > Our Kind Of Traitor (2016/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)/X-Men: First Class (2011/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays w/Blu-ray Sets)

Glory Guys (1965/Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Into The Forest (2015/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/La Moglie Piu' Bella (1970/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)/Operation Daybreak (1975/Warner Archive DVD)/Our Kind Of Traitor (2016/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)/X-Men: First Class (2011/Fox 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays w/Blu-ray Sets)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Glory Guys and La Moglie... Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while the Operation Daybreak DVD 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 genre films that either fall flat or are at least ambitious enough to get some things working...

Arnold Laven's The Glory Guys (1965) is from a script by Sam Peckinpah, but is not always sharing the qualities of what we could consider his work all the way in this tale of General Custer (Andrew Duggan) and his eventually ill-fated last battle. This rare tale of the U.S. Calvary in any way was likely a project Peckinpah wanted to helm himself, but the resulting film is a mixed bag, looking good (James Wong Howe shot it!) and with a good supporting cast, but also is an pricier-for-the-time Western that has its ambitions as Fox continued its climb back into larger productions

as they were just starting to recover from Cleopatra.

Tom Tryon, Senta Berger, Michael Anderson Jr., Jeanne Cooper, Peter Breck and Slim Pickens keep things going, even when the film hits predictability, contrivance, conventions, cliches, 'Indians' that have not always dated well and a few dull spots. Needless to say the genre was in its late peak before dying by the later 1970s. The Riz Ortolani score helps keep it from dating and Caan steals almost all of his scenes. If you have never seen the film or not seen it for a long time, this is the version to check out.

Extras include another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a

feature length audio commentary track by film scholars Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons & Nick Redman (who really get into the historical background, including what the film does and does not get correct), Stills Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer, clip The James Wong Howe Story and featurettes Promoting The Glory Guys and Passion & Poetry: Senta & Sam.

Patricia Rozema's Into The Forest (2015) is part of a cycle of sometimes comical (intentionally and unintentionally) end of the world films where people one day learn all their electronics do not work and phone/Internet service is suddenly dead. Ellen Page plays a gal whose family is shocked by all this and even she can't believe her recharged battery is dead, but the script want to switch focus, abandon the cycle and become some kind of character study involving all involved. Evan Rachel Wood is her sister and the film attempts to build a female discourse once it changes.

However, it is never realized, I never bought the crisis to begin with and though the actors are clearly trying, it just never adds up to anything it tries to do. Max Minghella is not bad leading the rest of the supporting cast, but all was pretty forgotten in the end. We awake if you attempt to watch this one.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes and feature length audio commentary track by the Director.

Damiano Damiani's La Moglie Piu' Bella (1970) is part of the Italian Gangster cycle that was semi-exploitative and often bloody, but this film with Ornella Muti as the title gal who becomes the focus of a young new head gangster (Alessio Orano, who was in so many of these films at the time) when all those above him suddenly find themselves going to Italian prison (they are supposed to be in Sicily) in some kind of odd deal. They are up there in years, so our young new lead criminal is getting the mantle early and this was based on an actual set of incidents that included changing a highly sexist/sex crime law (a man could get away with rape if he married his victim!!!).

Unfortunately, even with the Ennio Morricone music score, the film drags often, I not as violent as mist films of its cycle and is too often predictable in that you can imagine most of what is going to happen. The first Godfather had not revived the Gangster genre yet, so this is part of the cycle of most failed films (including more than a few from Hollywood) that tackled the subject with limited success (not counting a few comedies) and it can be a sometimes long 109 minutes. Still, it is worth a look for those interested.

Extras include yet another nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, while the Blu-ray adds a Director Intro, Isolated Music Score and a Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurette.

Lewis Gilbert's Operation Daybreak (1975) tells the 'true story' of how the Allies thought they had better take out sadistic and potential Hitler successor Reinhard Heydrich (Anton Diffring) because he is that dangerous, so two soldiers (Timothy Bottoms & Anthony Andrews) parachute in with some complications before they get barely settled. Can they pull this off? Who will help them?

Gilbert was already known for his many WWI and WWII British films and even directed the huge James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), but this WWII tale is more nuanced and not an outright war film. That makes it one of his most interesting works and there is authentic suspense here. Not a perfect film, the locales, acting and pacing are a plus, as well as a cast that also includes Joss Ackland, Nicole Paget, Ronald Radd, Diana Coupland, George Sewell, Philip Madoc, Nigel Stock, Vernon Dobtcheff and Martin Shaw that is the kind of strong cast we used to expect al the time.

Soon, Gilbert was back at Bond, directing two more blockbusters in the series (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker) and this film got lost in the shuffle. Catch it when you can.

A trailer is sadly the only extra.

Susanna White's Our Kind Of Traitor (2016) is the latest adaptation of a John Le Carre novel this time with a couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Harris) being slowly dragged into the plight of a Russian Gangster (Stellan Skarsgard) who seems to be living on top of the world, but wants to get his family to the West (it takes place in 2016) to make their lives better and safer. Our couple is trying to fix their relationship when he gets invited to the dinner table of the main gangster and friends, then to several of their parties. I never bought that, the characters are not written with any common sense and it (along with several recent adaptations) has turned Le Carre's work into cliche and formula.

Damian Lewis and Mark Gatiss are good here leading the rest of the cast in what can be a good-looking production, but I was more disappointed than expected and thought this was a real dud.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds Cast Interviews, 3 Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes and Deleted Scenes.

We conclude in what is now the last two films in the current X-Men series. Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class (2011) is the better of the two, an origins story that touches on the Holocaust briefly (good thing since trivializing it in this bit of revisionist history is a problem) as it goes back to the Mutants dealing with oppression and worse decades before. Made in part as the original cast (especially after the third film with Brett Ratner was so bad) had wrapped their tun up, but the new cast is very impressive, including James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbinder as the soon-to-be Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, plus Zoe Kravitz, Jason Flemyng, Jennifer Jones, Lucas Till and Caleb Landry Jones among those debuting new key characters.

This works best when it does not try so hard and Kevin Bacon plays the main villain, but the digital visual effects can go overboard, some scenes don't work and the characters are not always as smart as they ought to be. Still, there's enough here to give it a good look, though my fellow writer liked this one more...


Too bad I cannot say the same about Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Made two years after X-Men: Days Of Future Past, a Singer entry that played like a Star Trek time travel film, the series has run out of gas after six films (eight if you count both Wolverine films, but we're getting one more of them) with this deadly dull tale of an ancient, giant early mutant (the great Oscar Isaac doing what he can here) from centuries ago who will bring the end of the world unless the team can find a way to stop him.

McAvoy, Fassbinder, Lawrence, Hoult, Till, Evan Peters as Quicksilver and Rose Byrne as Dr. Moria MacTaggart are back, joined by Issac, Tye Sheridan debuting as a younger Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee debuting as a younger Nightcrawler. Those guys do a great job taking those roles over, but even that is not enough to save this run-on, muddy dud. Singer's directing is flat, making this the nadir of his otherwise impressive career and at 144 LONG minutes, what were the behind-the-scenes people thinking.

Thus, the main series is dead, killed by this overproduced and overly-digital romp, now to go on and become a TV series. If you must see this one, be ready to to have immense patience. Sad to see this all end this way, but when even most of the fans stay away, time ti quit!

Extras on both X-Men releases include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-rays add Deleted & Extended Scenes (Singer offers comments on his work), First Class adds the interactive X Marks the Spot Viewing Mode which stops the films for clips (which some may find annoying), the Composer's Isolated Score (though sadly is only in a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix) and the Cerebro: Mutant Tracker and 7-part Children Of The Atom featurettes. Apocalypse adds the multi-part Unearthed featurette, a Gag Reel, feature length audio commentary track by Singer & Simon Kinberg, Theatrical Trailers, Art Gallery and Wrap Party Video. Some of this seems strained.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition 4K image on X-Men: First Class is slightly better (shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision) than that of X-Men: Apocalypse (a high-cost HD mish-mash shoot), but both easily outdo their regular Blu-ray 1080p counterparts. However, it is just clarification for 1080p X-Men: Apocalypse, my least-favorite looking release in the series, including the first two Wolverine films and that third Brett Ratner film in the series, Last Stand.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Glory (DeLuxe color & also shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision with some nice shots throughout), the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer & digitally-shot Forest, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Moglie (which can show the age of the materials used, but the Techniscope-shot, dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor more than holds its own) and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the digitally-shot Traitor all look as god as they could in the format and as good as either X-Men film, so the Blu-rays all perform here nicely as they should.

That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.77 X 1 image on Operation, looking good for its format with 35mm materials so nice, it looks Blu-ray ready. Technicolor did the lab work and at least in the U.K., dye-transfer, three-strip prints were likely issued.

Now the sound. X-Men: Apocalypse has a Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless mix on the 4K version that is the best sound mix here, but its superiority to the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on the regular Blu-ray version, yet is still the preferred way to hear the film and it needs all the help it can get. Both versions offer D-BOX motion bass enhancements, but X-Men: First Class is not credited as such, offering DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes in both versions. I actually like the overall mix of the earlier film as being more articulate, interesting and comparatively naturalistic.

The Glory and Moglie Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes that allow the films to sound as good as they can, but Glory shows its age, while the Italian on Moglie only sounds better because it is newer and was post-dubbed. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Forest and Traitor are well mixed and presented enough to sound like proper, current multi-channel recordings with nothing special sonically, but they are professional and competent.

The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Operation is weaker than expected, so be careful of volume switching and high playback levels. I could hear most things just well enough, but the sound deserves better.

To order the Glory Guys and La Moglie... limited edition Blu-rays, buy them and other great exclusives while supplies last at these links:




and to order the Operation Daybreak Warner Archive DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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