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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Drama > Horror > Murder > Thriller > Psychological > Suspense > Mystery > Martial Arts > T > Beyond The Sky (2018/RLJ Blu-ray)/Blood And Black Lace (1964/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Matrix Trilogy 4K (1999, 2003/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Box)/12 Monkeys (1995/MVD Visual/Universal/Arrow

Beyond The Sky (2018/RLJ Blu-ray)/Blood And Black Lace (1964/VCI Blu-ray w/DVD)/The Matrix Trilogy 4K (1999, 2003/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Box)/12 Monkeys (1995/MVD Visual/Universal/Arrow Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A Picture: B+/B-/B+/B+ Sound: B+/B-/A/B+ Extras: C/B/B/B Films: C/B/A B B-/B+

Now for a new set of high definition sci-fi and horror genre releases....

Beyond The Sky (2018) is a low budget alien film about a documentary filmmaker named Chris Norton (Ryan Carnes) who goes to a UFO convention in an attempt to disprove the phenomenon. A skeptic on the subject, he soon meets a young girl named Emily who gets abducted every seven years. As the day looms closer to her birthday, he discovers the truth behind the phenomenon.

The film also stars Jordan Hinson (Eureka), Martin Sensmeier (The Magnificent Seven), Don Stark (That '70s Show), Peter Stormare (Fargo) and Dee Wallace (The Howling, E.T.).

Presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and an English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which are the standard for the format. The film has a very 'clean' look but shots are nicely composed. The visual effects are a bit lacking but skin tones and contrast levels are nice.

Special Features include...

Interview with Travis Walton, Alien Abductee and Author of Fire in the Sky

Interview with Navajo Artist at the International UFO Congress.

Beyond The Sky has some interesting ideas, but ultimately feels like a SyFy Channel movie. The acting isn't too great and its shot a bit too clean to pass as a documentary in those sections. The inclusion of Storemare and Dee Wallace are nice touches, and overall it's worth checking out if you read a lot into the phenomenon.

Italian maestro Mario Bava's eye poppingly gorgeous film, Blood and Black Lace (1964), is a classic giallo that has seen several releases on home video in recent years. This latest edition from VCI brings out the original technicolor print in a new 2K remaster and restores it for Blu-ray with a transfer that is slightly different than the previously released disc from Arrow Video we hope to catch up with soon. If you don't have that release, however, this edition isn't too bad and has plenty of interesting extras and a different aspect ratio.

The film stars Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, and Dante DiPaolo.

Set in a 'fashion house' where beautiful women, drugs, and crooked deals are the norm, murders start happening. As the masked killer cuts up one beautiful woman after another, the identity of the murderer comes into question. Is the boyfriend of one of the victims, whose known for being a bad guy, be the killer? Or could it be someone else that's setting him up?

The classic film has been remastered in 2K from the original film elements in a full 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and is paired with 2.0 LPCM audio mixes in both the original Italian language track and a dubbed English version.

The Arrow version of the film should make a nice comparison to this one as the aspect ratios are different (Arrow's version is in 1.66:1), and the image is a bit different between the two releases, with this version being a little more saturated. Both versions of the film look pretty good, but it comes down to a matter of preference at the end of the day, we expect, but we'll see more later.

Also included is an anamorphically enhanced standard definition DVD version of the film with similar (but compressed) specs that is a trade off with the DVD as Bu-ray improvements show new flaws in the print.

Special Features include...

2018 Commentary by Kat Ellinger, Editor-in-Chief and author, Diabolique Magazine

2018 Commentary by film historian and David Del Valle & director/writer, C Courtney Joyner

Video Interview with Mary Dawne Arden

Archival video interview with star, Cameron Mitchell, with David Del Valle

Original American Theatrical Trailer, plus Italian, German and French trailers

Bonus Trailers of other Bava films

Extensive Photo Gallery

Alternate original Italian or original US theatrical main titles

Bonus Music Tracks by composer Carlo Rustichelli

Video Comparison: American Version Cuts / Euro Uncut

and a Double-Sided Cover.

Reviews of previous releases of this film can be found below:

Blood and Black Lace - Un-slashed Collector's Edition:


A previous release of the film from VCI, only on the DVD format..


And an older release on DVD as well...


A few months ago, I was blown away by Warner Bros.' new 4K UHD presentation of the first Matrix film (1999), which also happens to be one of my favorite films of all time. Having seen the film hundreds of times on every format known to man, I actually caught some things I never saw before in this new ultra high def presentation. Thankfully, Warner Bros has went ahead and done the same treatment to both of the sequels, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) and tiny (but noteworthy) improvements can be seen in them as well.

My review of the first Matrix on 4K UHD can be found here...


And our best previous coverage of the infamous trilogy is in the way of Ultimate Matrix Collection Blu-ray set here...


The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix stars Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, Carrie Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, and others with direction by The Wachowskis (V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending).

Computer Hacker Neo (Reeves) ends up stumbling down the rabbit hole and finds himself in the company of Morpheus (Fishburne) a mysterious man who challenges Neo's concept of reality. After he's unplugged, Neo finds himself in the real world and realizes the truth... that we are living in a computer generated dream world and humanity is being used as its energy source. Pursued by Agents within this world, especially the dastardly Agent Smith (Weaving), Neo and the band of rebels attempt to survive in this surreal and war torn future.

Infamously, Warner Bros decided to challenge The Wachowskis into filming both Matrix films back to back ala Back to the Future, and release them both in the same year.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The flawed but fun follow-up to the original Matrix film brings back much of the original cast members, and ups the ante in terms of visual effects. Groundbreaking visually at the time of its release, the film brings back Neo and friends who now find that Agent Smith is not only still alive within The Matrix, but has found a way to replicate himself.

Faced with becoming The One and terrible visions that he is having of Trinity's future death, Neo (Reeves) must face Smith once again whilst trying to protect Trinity and Morpheus, who are still struggling to save themselves and others in the crumbling computer generated world…

Some of the lesser points of the film deal within Zion itself, which is a little silly in retrospect and too many long philosophical ramblings that went over its target audience's head. There's no doubt that this trilogy is intelligently written, however, they could have went a darker route with the sequel instead of the way they went. Highlights including the shapeshifting Twins, The intense freeway car chase sequence, and a scene where Neo has to fight hundreds of Smiths at one time.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Revolutions definitely has the 'third movie' syndrome, and has a lackluster ending that definitely could have been stronger. From a production standpoint, the film is just as sharp as the others with more incredible eye candy and highly detailed environments. You can see now in retrospective how many sci-fi films (like James Cameron's Avatar) have been influenced by it since (although they would unlikely admit it).

The battle of Zion is pretty epic and still looks fantastic, even in this remastered version and the final showdown between Smith and Neo remains highly innovative. Revolutions has some fantastic sequences and ideas behind it, but ultimately is a lackluster entry in the dialogue and story department that divided fans and critics. Some characters die just to die, and there are many scenes that linger around a bit too long and could have been trimmed or cut entirely. It throws back to the first film more than once, but ultimately it feels a little more rushed than Reloaded does.

In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo is in a coma and Trinity has to go back into The Matrix in order to save him. The computer generated dream world has been hacked by Agent Smith, and nobody (even the Oracle herself) is safe. Sinister forces rally together in order to stop the band of rebels in the real world as Neo fulfills the prophecy of 'The One', and finalizes the war against man and machine.

All three films are presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (and a 4K transfer supervised by Director of Photography Bill Pope) and a newly remixed Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless sound mix (upgraded from its celebrated 5.1 sound master), the trilogy has never looked or sounded better.

The green tones of the matrix itself shine though in more detail as does the heavily blue shaded colors of the real world. Skin textures and backgrounds are more pronounced and the Don Davis score is more iconic than ever. A few digital effects here and there have shown some minor age, but that doesn't detract from the high quality presentation here. The film was shot on 35mm Kodak Vision film with some action sequences in large-frame VistaVision, so that's a huge plus here. Even if you own the older Blu-ray editions, if you have the technology at home then this 4K set is definitely worth grabbing up. I will say that it seems that the most attention has been paid to the first film, but both sequels look pretty darn good as well and it seems that subtle improvements have been made to enhance some of the special effects and some scenes have a little more color than before.

Special Features for this deluxe set include...

The Matrix - (same extras as the initial Blu-ray release)

Written Introduction by The Wachowskis

"Philosopher" Commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilbur

"Critics" Commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson

"Cast & Crew" Commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg and John Gaeta

"Composer" Commentary by Don Davis with Music Only Track

The Matrix Revisited

Follow the White Rabbit

Take the Red Pill

Marilyn Manson "Rock is Dead" Music Video

Teaser Trailer

Theatrical Trailer

TV Spots

The Matrix Reloaded - (also same extras as the initial Blu-ray release)

In-Movie Experience - Cast and creative team guide you through a unique infiltration of the filmmaking

Written Introduction by The Wachowskis

"Philosopher" Commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilbur

"Critics" Commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson

Behind The Matrix

Car Chase

Teahouse Fight


I'll Handle Them

The Exiles

Enter The Matrix: The Game

Enter The Matrix

P.O.D Sleeping Awake Music Video

Theatrical Trailer

TV Spots

The Matrix Revolutions - (also same extras as the initial Blu-ray release)

In-Movie Experience - Cast and creators navigate you through the Trilogy's thunderous conclusion - all as you watch the movie

Written Introduction by The Wachowskis

"Philosopher" Commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilbur

"Critics" Commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson

Behind The Matrix



New Blue World



Theatrical Trailer

TV Spots

Nice packaging including new cover-art for the first Matrix film and a nice box.

It is worth noticing that in order to get all of the in depth extras for the sequels and The Animatrix, you'll still want to keep (or try and track down) The Ultimate Matrix Collection.

We can only hope that The Matrix series will someday return in a reboot or continuation of some sort as it's truly a unique sci-fi film series. The concept and rules of its fictional world are pretty broad, and so it wouldn't even necessarily have to involve all of the key cast members from this series... the Animatrix proves this.

Seeing how many box office flops (and just plain bad films) The Wachowskis have made in recent years, it seems like they aren't too interested in returning to the franchise that made them famous. From a retrospective perspective, The Matrix Trilogy still holds up visually, and has some groundbreaking and imaginative moments that nobody can deny.

This new 4K UHD set is by far the best that these films have looked yet, and it's nice to see that Warner took the time to remaster and clean them up a bit for this release. Too bad all of the extras from the ultimate collection didn't get carted over here to make a more definitive edition, but I'm happy overall with this release.

Finally, we have Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, 12 Monkeys (1995), looking better than ever in this new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video. A daring and twisted look at the future, different but not entirely from his other masterpiece Brazil (1985, reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site; also see our Zero Theorem coverage), the film stars Bruce Willis as a convict named James Cole who is sent back in time to stop a dark future devastated by a deadly disease that's responsible for wiping out the lot of humanity.

The film stars Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer to name a few. It's also worth noting if you're a Terry Gilliam fan to check out his film Tideland (2005), which we reviewed recently that was also put out by Arrow.

12 Monkeys is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with both 2.0 stereo and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless tracks. The original 35mm camera negative has been scanned in 4K resolution and has new color grading, which is an improvement over previous releases of the film on both DVD and the previous Universal Blu-ray. For a film as rich in production design as this one, it's refreshing to see some of the more subtle details come to surface in this release.

Special Features include...

Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven

The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)

The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival

Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam

The Twelve Monkeys Archives

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials.

This is a cult classic and is definitely improved in this release.

- James Lockhart



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