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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Murder > Mystery > Comedy > Coming Of Age > Teens > Supernatural > China > Melodrama > Boxing > Comedy > Awake (2019/Cinedigm Blu-ray)/Booksmart (Blu-ray*)/Legend Of The Demon Cat (2017/Well Go Blu-ray)/Resurrecting The Champ (2007/MVD Blu-ray)/Strange But True (2019/CBS/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Stuber 4K (4K

Awake (2019/Cinedigm Blu-ray)/Booksmart (Blu-ray*)/Legend Of The Demon Cat (2017/Well Go Blu-ray)/Resurrecting The Champ (2007/MVD Blu-ray)/Strange But True (2019/CBS/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Stuber 4K (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/*both Fox/2019)

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

A wide variety of new releases, mostly new films, deliver these results...

A man was found in a car accident with a dead girl and he wakes up in the hospital with no ID, who he was or where he came from. The police and the FBI believe this 'John Doe' is a serial killer, however, Diana the hospital nurse believes 'John' is innocent. After breaking out, John and Diana returns to the scenes of the crime to try and find out who he was, but as they uncover the past and the truth is John truly innocent ...or the killer?

In Awake (2019), 'John' wakes up in the hospital with amnesia and an FBI agent thinks he is the perfect suspect for the serial killer they have been after, but IS he the suspect or has he been framed? The only person who believe him is Diana the lonely nurse who saved his life and ends up working together to help solve the murders. To the police and FBI, John is guilty until proven innocent, but John isn't going to wait on their incompetence and escapes. As police and FBI chase after John, they fail to notice that he is revisiting the crime scenes and he is trying solve the murders. However, as John dig deeper all evidence continues to points to himself, but what if all the evidence was planted and he was the perfect patsy? While the police and FBI are too busy chasing John, they fail to realizes the real serial killer was someone within their ranks, but 'John' and his nurse is determined to prove his innocence and find the serial killer who framed him.

This as your typical murder mystery story with it's usually twists and turns. A man with amnesia but is still determined to solve a mystery in which he is still a suspect and all the while being hunted down. The movie sorta reminded me of the movie The Fugitive with Harrison Ford. The audience wonders and decides on if the main character is innocent or guilty, but to the trained eye you can guess/realize early on the main character was really a detective with amnesia because what kind of criminal tries to solve his own murder mystery? Extras include trailers, if you want to count that.

Amy and Molly are the school representative and the class valedictorian who are straight laced and academic overachievers who done nothing but get into their ideal colleges and nothing else. And on graduation night, they realized the missed out on all the fun in high school, so to make up everything they will crash the biggest party of the year and finally do something crazy and out of character in Olivia Wilde's Booksmart (2019).

Amy and Molly are best friends and the school's biggest 'nerds'. Molly is the fat girl who believes life is more than just looks and her grades and smarts will secure her future. Amy is a closet lesbian and has always followed Molly and her best (and only) friend. However, after finding out all the other jocks, beauty queens and other idiots (in their perspectives) are attending the same colleges they have to ask themselves who is the bigger idiots? Their classmates or them for never having fun and always being the teacher's pets. So they want to crash their class graduation party but first have to find out 'where' it is (because no one told them). Molly wants to confess to a boy she secretly has a crush on and Amy wants to come out the closet and lose her virginity with another girl, but after crashing several parties, getting high and trying to get laid, they begin to learn that life is rarely what it seems (as well as their fellow classmates).

This was a coming of age film of two girls trying to go wild on the last day in high school. As they go on a crazy and ridiculous adventure they learn and realize grades don't matter as much enjoying life with friends and classmates. Extras include Booksmart the next "Best High School Comedy", Plies and Jazz Hands: The Dance Fantasy, dressing Booksmart, gallery, audio commentary, deleted scenes and trailers.

The Empire falls into chaos when the Emperor mysteriously dies and people continue to die and rumors of a demon cat are preying on humans. A Japanese monk and the Imperial scribe however believes the is more the murders and mystery. To stop this demon cat they will have to uncover it's secrets, the past and why it killing, is it just random ...or was there a reason?

In Kaige Chen's Legend Of The Demon Cat (2017), a Japanese monk was summoned to exorcise a demon and the Imperial scribe need to write a poem of the Emperor and all his 'wonderful' life, but something has caused this demon cat to start killing, specially since it's last words are that their payment now comes due. Everyone made a 'deal' with the demon cat had a secret and is now dead. The monk and scribe learns that everything goes back to the death of the Empress years earlier, that all the Empire's glory was based on a lies, illusions and deceptions. The Empress was once the most beautiful woman in the land, but was sacrificed in return for the Emperor's reign. Through illusions and lies, the demon cat is now avenging for the past lies and the Empress he loved.

This was an amazing beautiful movie with amazing costumes and special effects, however it seemed like what was a supernatural murder mystery turns out to be a tragic revenge story, how a beautiful woman died and then spirit of those who loved her possessed a cat and now this demon cat wants revenge for those who didn't keep their promises. Extras include trailers, if again you count that.

Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night) and Samuel L. Jackson star in Resurrecting the Champ (2007), which is loosely based on a true story. While it tries to be an inspirational Oscar vehicle, it never hits the mark and instead is pretty predictable. If you're a fan of the film, however, then this is a nice Blu-ray edition and a presentation that proves the film hasn't aged much since its initial release.

While I'm a fan of Samuel L. Jackson in many films, I just don't buy his performance here as he plays a drugged out homeless boxing champ whose story gets told thanks to a newspaper reporter (Hartnett). Jackson is hamming it up big time here with a performance that feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch. Because of this, it's kind of hard to root for him or have much interest in his journey, and took me right out of it. He is surrounded by plenty of recognizable faces, though, all of which are trying here.

The film co-stars Alan Alda (What Women Want), Kathryn Morris (Minority Report), Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives), David Paymer (Get Shorty) and Peter Coyote (E.T.).

Special Features include:

Feature Audio Commentary from Director Rod Lurie

Resurrecting the Champ Behind the Scenes Featurette

Interviews with the Cast and Crew of Resurrecting the Champ

and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Rowan Athale's Strange But True (2019) is a mixed attempt to do a thriller going the old-fashioned route as a young woman (Margaret Qualley) claims she is pregnant with the child of a man who died five years ago and is not talking about artificial insemination or other new scientific ways to bring it to life. She's also not into black magic, new age religion or suggesting anything supernatural, necessarily.

Something odder is going on and the survivors of the dead man (Amy Ryan as the mom, Nick Robinson as his brother) want to know what is really going on. Though this gets harder and harder to believe as it gets towards the end, it at least is trying and turns by Greg Kinnear (Auto Focus), Blythe Danner (Futureworld) and Brian Cox (Manhunter) make this more watchable. I just did not buy it all at the end, but the ambition was welcome over all the sloppiness we've suffered through in the genre in recent years, so see it yourself if you are curious and like any of the actors.

Extras include Digital Copy, trailers and a Making Of featurette: Grounded In Reality.

Finally, we have Michael Dowse's Stuber 4K (2019), an off-base attempt to spoof action films using a faint form of the cop/buddy formula to no avail while wasting a bunch of good actors, some good songs and more money than it should have used. The film pairs Kumail Nanjianio from the Beatles-satire Yesterday (reviewed in 4K elsewhere on this site) and rising star Dave Bautista (SPECTRE, the Guardian Of The Galaxy films) where the former is driving people around for a living when he picks up a man (Bautista) who turns out to be a cop looking for a killer.

From there, we are supposed to laugh at al the fighting mistakes, any kind of culture clash (they have different understandings of cell phones?) and that they are both out of their elements by crossing into each others space. The script is a mess, nothing is really funny here, it assumes a one-joke romp aimed at some kind of youngish audience that barely exists. This is rated R but is as silly as a PG-13 throwaway film. After 10 minutes, I lost tracks of all the missed opportunities and was very disappointed. For the very, very curious only.

Extras include Digital Copy, Deleted Scenes, a Gag Reel, Joke-O-Rama, Georgia Film Works piece, Feature Length Audio Commentary by Michael Dowse and Kumail Nanjiani, Stills Gallery, Theatrical Trailer and Sneak Peak.

The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Stuber is a bit of a disappointing HD shoot with some detail and blur at points and just not that inspired overall, especially for trying to spoof action films. That is why some of the other regular Blu-rays here have some edge on this transfer, which has more of the same issues in the 1080p Blu-ray edition also sold separately.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Awake is an HD shoot that is more stable and has a decent style to it, while the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Booksmart is the most naturalistic of the HD shoots and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Cat the most stylized here and very successfully so.

Resurrecting The Champ is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (Original - 2:39:01) and multiple audio mixes include English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) and LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit). The presentation is pretty standard and looks and sounds fine. This is the first release on Blu-ray for it, which obviously is better looking than the DVD. The color overall is mainly natural with some desaturation during some of the flashback moments. The film is finely made and it holds up on Blu-ray here many years later.

That leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Strange having some softness and detail issues at times, but some of this is from the style attempted to be a thriller in HD and just not working out.

In the case of the other films, Stuber in 4K has a Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) and is better than the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on the regular Blu-ray, but this is too dialogue and joke-based to completely take advantage of the extra tracks and only kicks in during action sequences.

Awake, Booksmart and Cat are all offered in only DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but Awake is too quiet and underwhelming for the most part, too often and some audio is better than other spots in the soundmix and soundmaster.

That leaves Strange well mixed and presented in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that understands the thriller genre and may not be bombastic and powerful, but smart and more than holds its own against the other entries here.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Stuber, True), Ricky Chiang and James Lockhart (Champ)



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