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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Surrealism > Deformity > Politics > Zombies > Australia > Horror > Supernatural > Cable TV > Detec > Sea Hawk (1940/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

Black Venus (2010/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Cargo (2017/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Castle Rock: The Complete First Season 4K (2018/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray Set)/Jack Irish: Season Two (2018/Acorn Blu-ray Set)/Sea Hawk (1940/Warner Archive Blu-ray)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Cargo Import Region Free Blu-ray is available from our friends atUmbrella Entertainment in Australia and can play on all 4K and Blu-ray players, while The Sea Hawk is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

These are various action thrillers with some mystery across time and mediums to consider...

First off, a bizarre 'freak show' picture, Black Venus (2010) is an interesting film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche (Blue is the Warmest Colour), the winner of several prestigious awards. While a bit huffy and puffy, Black Venus is exactly the kind of film that you would expect to win numerous awards for its study on humanity and relentless political undertones.

Black Venus tells the story of Saartjie Baartman (played fine by Cuban actor Yahima Torres), also known as the 'Hottentot Venus', who was the main attraction at a freak show due mainly to her physique and larger than normal buttocks. She grows more and more popular over the course of the film and becomes a curiosity to scientists and normal folk.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which are of a high standard of the format. The film is eloquently lit and shot and is definitely worth its weight on those merits alone. Money is on the screen in terms of production design. There are tracks in both French (with English subtitles) and English.

Special Features include...

Brand-new appreciation of Black Venus and the cinema of Abdellatif Kechiche by critic Neil Young

Theatrical trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring and original newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Will Higbee, author of Post-Beur Cinema: North African Emigre and Maghrebi-French Filmmaking in France Since 2000.

If you're into artsy period dramas and festival darlings, you might want to check out Black Venus. I found it to be a little predictable and nothing too special aside from its interesting filmmaking style.

The Australian post apocalyptic thriller Cargo (2017) lands on Blu-ray and stars Martin Freeman (The Hobbit Trilogy). The 'drama with a touch of zombie movie' features Freeman as Martin - a man living with his wife and on year daughter, Rosie in Australia during the zombie apocalypse. When his wife gets infected he has to tend to the daughter, knowing that he was bitten (and will turn), he has 48 hours to get his daughter to safety before he becomes the undead.

The film also stars David Guulpilil, Caren Pistorius, and Susie Porter and is directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke. Cargo is directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke.

The film is presented in 1080p high definition with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and a nice sounding 5.1 DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless mix, both of which are of a nice quality for Blu-ray. The film is very nicely shot and cinematic, with some beautiful shots of Australia and its territories.

Special Features include...

Cargo: Shaping a Fragile Future featurette

Cargo: Maternal Combat featurette

Interviews with Cast and Crew

Q&A - May 9 2018, Melbourne GPO

Tropfest 2013 Short

and a Theatrical trailer

It reminded me a little bit of Children of Men in some ways, though not as cinematically impressive, but Martin Freeman's performance is enough reason to give this film a spin!

If you're a fan of Stephen King, then you won't want to miss Castle Rock: The Complete First Season 4K (2018), which lands on the 4K UHD format to stunning avail. Produced by JJ Abrams and featuring quite a few actors that are no stranger to King's cinematic universe, the show centers around the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, where all of the stories and characters of King's literary works exist. First airing on the streaming platform Hulu, the show is incredibly cinematic, twisted, and not to be missed!

The impressive cast includes Andre Holland (American Horror Story), Bill Skarsgård (who played Pennywise in the new film series of IT), Sissy Spacek (the original Carrie actress), Scott Glenn, Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men) as Molly Strand, Jane Levy (Suburgatory, Shameless) as Jackie Torrance and recurring guest star Terry O'Quinn (Lost) as Shawshank's Warden Dale Lacey.

The first season follows Henry Deaver (Holland), a death row attorney who returns to Castle Rock, Maine, his hometown, after he receives an anonymous phone call from the infamous Shawshank State Penitentiary. The call is about an anonymous young man (Skarsgård) who is found locked in an underground cage that's located in a long-abandoned cell block beneath the prison. Upon his discovery, the mysterious young man whispers Henry's name. Curious about how and why someone left this boy imprisoned, Henry is drawn into the case and attempts to help him despite the fact that the boy was described as 'the Devil'... this is just one of many layers to Castle Rock that are better left a mystery to a first time viewer...

Ten episodes make up season one and include Severance, Habeas Corpus, Local Color, The Box, Harvest, Filter, The Queen, Past Perfect, Henry Deaver, and Romans. The show spans two 4K UHD discs or two 1080p Blu-ray discs, both of which are included in this set.

Castle Rock is presented in 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K UHD disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and great sounding DTS-X 11.1 lossless (DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 mixdown (48kHz, 24-bit) for older systems). This is an obvious improvement over the show's original streaming in 1080p and has impressive textures that are more apparent when using HDR (High Dynamic Range). The score by Paul Newman is center channel and considerably haunting, adding even more cinematic depth to the feature.

Also included is a 1080p Blu-ray version of the film with the same widescreen and audio specs, though some compression issues evident when placing it side by side to the 4K UHD. Also included is a standard digital copy.

Special Features include...

Blood on the Page (New Featurette)

A Clockwork of Horror: Merging the styles of Stephen King & J.J. Abrams (New Featurette)

Inside the Episode: Severance

Inside the Episode: Habeas Corpus

Inside the Episode Local Color

Inside the Episode: The Box

Inside the Episode: Harvest

Inside the Episode: Filter

Inside the Episode: The Queen

Inside the Episode: Past Perfect

Inside the Episode: Henry Dever

and Inside the Episode: Romans.

Guy Pearce (Memento, Iron Man 3) stars as Jack Irish in Season 2 (2018) of the hit Australian television drama. Adapted from the novels by Peter Temper, the murder mystery follows Jack Irish through his many misadventures as a detective turned criminal lawyer turned debt collector and troubleshooter. His partner Linda (Marta Dusseldrop) helps Jack on his many investigations and the two have a complicated relationship. In this season, he follows an apparent suicide of a student and other deaths that follow under similar bizarre causes, leading him eventually to Mumbai to uncover the truth.

The show also features Aaron Pedersen, Roy Billing, Shane Jacobson, and Damien Richardson.

Season 2 is comprised of six episodes that span two 1080p Blu-ray discs at three episodes per disc. Each episode has a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio that's paired with a standard DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix, both of which are an obvious improvement over its original television broadcast. Watermark and commercial free, the show is nicely shot and highly cinematic for a TV miniseries.

Special Features include...

Season 1 Recap

Cast Interviews

Tweet Recordings

and a Behind the Scenes Featurette

I've always been a fan of Guy Pearce and this was the first I've seen of him in this role, which he plays very well.

Last but not least is Michael Curtiz's The Sea Hawk (1940), Warner's big budget pirate and sea-ship epic made in black and white when you could still do epic films in it, but who need full color when you have Errol Flynn battling Claude Rains and dodging world geopolitics in this genre classic that still has plenty on the likes of Cutthroat Island and those Pirates Of The Caribbean films. Often imitated and spoofed, some of it may have not aged as well as other parts, but the studio went all-out and that shows bigtime.

England and Spain are battling for essentially world supremacy at the time and guess who gets his for profit ship and crew in the middle of it all? If not, we wouldn't have a movie, but then we get huge sets, great costumes, an Erich Wolfgang Korngold score that is considered among his best and fighting sequences (including the swords) that are among the best of its era and hold up well today.

Then there's the great supporting cast including Flora Robson pitch perfect as Queen Elizabeth, Donald Crisp, Brenda Marshall, Alan Hale and a cast of extras that are more than fired-up to the task of bringing this all to life. This has been considered a big film for many years, even decades, so I was a little surprised this is a Warner Archive exclusive, but its arrival on Blu-ray is most welcome and you might even recognize some of it if you've never seen it before as several Bugs Bunny cartoons sent it up. Add all the other imitations and it is a must-see for all serious film fans.

You can add picture playback to that list, because despite the age of the film showing up at time in some of the footage, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film on home video and the majority of it looks like it is fresh off a well-preserved 35mm camera negative. You can even expect demo shots higher than my final rating.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is as well mixed and presented as a film this old can be, but it still shows its age and this was at a time when they were just starting to experiment with stereo (Disney's Fantasia arrived the same year), so it is as good as this is going to get.

Extras aren't bad and include the featurette The Sea Hawk: Flynn In Action, Original Theatrical Trailers including one for this film, a Leonard Maltin intro, Newsreel of the time, live-action Alice In Movieland short and the classic black and white Porky Pig cartoon Porky;s poor Fish, also looking great!

To order the Cargo Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard-to-find releases at:


...and to order The Sea Hawk Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Sea Hawk) and James Lockhart



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