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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Giallo > Mystery > Science Fiction > Italy > Superhero > Fantasy > Action > Western > Seria > 2067 (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)

Death Laid An Egg (1968/Cult Epics Blu-ray)/New Mutants 4K (2020/Marvel/Fox/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Riders Of Death Valley (1941/VCI Blu-ray*)/Silent Running (1972/Arrow Blu-ray/*both Universal/MVD)/2067 (2020/RLJ Blu-ray)



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



Here's a mix of genre releases that show the thin line between B-movies and multi-million dollar commercial productions...



Of the five titles we are covering here, three are releases we reviewed in older versions, starting with Giulio Questi's Death Laid An Egg (1968) with Gina Lollobrigida, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ewa Aulin and Jean Sobieski.  Cult Epics issued the film on Blu-ray a few years ago with two versions (one included a CD) and have reissued it in new 2K scans of two different cuts here.  The original release was reviewed at this link:





The film is considered an early Italian Giallo horror film, yet it has other things going on, other things it tries to add and juggle maybe a little more than it should have, but that makes it an interesting early entry in the cycle.  It is more successful than not as a film, with its look, unusual editing and solid cast being a plus.  Lollobrigida was still a major star and Trintignant more popular than some might remember.  Subplots alongside the murders (including one that is so science fiction, it may take away from the realism of the storyline) do not necessarily gel, but it is ambitious.


The new 2K scans make it all the more watchable and despite having a few good extras in the previous edition, there is a whole new set here as follows (per the press release):


2K HD Transfer (from original 35mm negative) of Director's Cut version in English and Italian language (105 minutes).

Director's Cut Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth (Author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films Vol. 1, 2, 3) and Nathaniel Thompson (Author of DVD Delirium and founder of Mondo Digital).

2K HD Transfer (from original 35mm negative) of alternate International giallo 'Plucked' version in English and Italian language (91 minutes).

Review by Italian critic Antonio Bruschini in HD.

Giulio Questi: The Outsider - the last interview HD 2010 (13 minutes).

Doctor Schizo and Mister Phrenic (2002) - Short film by Giulio Questi (15 minutes).

English & Italian language Trailers in HD.

Optional English subtitles for Italian language versions and trailer.

Reversible sleeve with original Italian poster.

and Slipcase limited to the first 2000 copies printed with fluorescent inks.



Next, unlike the hit Marvel Cinematic Universe which has a cohesive cast, narrative, and fan base, the X-Men movie franchise is in a weird place at this moment in time.  Producer/Director Bryan Singer has proved to be one of the creepiest humans in existence, Hugh Jackman hung up his claws as Wolverine, and Dark Phoenix was pretty much a total disaster for all parties involved.  So what happens now until the inevitable Disney/Marvel Studios reimagining of the X-Men?  That's where things get a bit complicated.


During the making of this film Fox was bought out by Disney and the film doesn't really make any attempt to tie together to anything before it aside from the vague mentioning of the X-Men in one scene.  Had they went with more well known characters or maybe a cameo or SOME kind of connection, fans maybe have been a bit more pumped.  Alas, The New Mutants is a mix of horror fantasy that is more akin to the FX series Legion than it is to the films made by Singer.


For now, here in the year 2020 as we battle the Covid pandemic, our newest X-Men universe set film is the much maligned The New Mutants, which was actually one of the first films to be released in theaters promptly when they reopened in August after a few moments of complete shutdown.  This didn't exactly help business or make fans brave the theatre as the project had gotten nothing but bad press from day one with rumored clashes behind the scenes within the crumbling Fox studios, and SEVERAL release date pushbacks over the years.  Now that we have the film on 4K UHD and can watch it at any time, the final result is a teen genre picture with a few demented moments and a mixed bag of mediocre CGI and muddy storytelling.


The cast of The New Mutants isn't terrible at all with rising star Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), Henry Zaga, and Blu Hunt.  The film is directed by Josh Boone (The Fault Is In Our Stars).


The film follows five teen mutants who are stuck in a mental ward / prison where they are being monitored by one sole Doctor.  As each of the teens struggle with their newfound powers, they end up bonding despite their differences, and soon find out that things aren't exactly as they seem.


The strongest character in the film is no doubt Anya Taylor-Joy's Magik, who has a cool magic sword thingy that transforms off her arm, glowing eyes, and the ability to transport her enemies to a kind of limbo world, but overall the powers to all of the characters are a bit silly and more mental than physical.


Maisie Williams plays a lesbian character named Rahne Sinclair that is never really given much to do other than sneak around places and be observant.  Both of the teen guys have powers that are pretty silly and standard (Sunspot who gets 'too hot' and Sam kills unintentionally.)  However, the film is told through the eyes of Danielle played by Blu Hunt, whose powers are a bit more dangerous than all of them, and MAYBE should have been one of the sub characters rather than the main character.  Then there's Alice Braga (Predators) who is the Mad Doctor in charge of them (kind of silly that she is the only authority figure in the film and manning these powerful children ALONE in a huge facility), but possibly she may be a mutant herself.  Yes, there's tons of plot holes and groaner moments, but on occasion the film is watchable as it attempts to be a dark teen horror film more than straight superhero faire and even dares a few LGBTQ moments that don't seem too out of place.


Special Features:


Origins & Influences featurette

Meet the New Mutants featurette

and Deleted Scenes


The New Mutants is better than Dark Phoenix and has some interesting moments propelled by Anya Taylor-Joy in particular.  After reportedly being cut severely in the editing room, this is likely not the film that Director Josh Boone intended to make, but it's not a complete disaster either as many suspect it to be.  More or less, it's a film that got lost in the shuffle and that will likely be more well liked over time.  The 4K UHD presentation is strong and the disc has fine supplemental content.



Another upgrade is the big Universal Saturday Morning Movie Serial Western The Riders Of Death Valley (1941) that we reviewed many years ago on DVD at this link:




Definitely hyped up on its star power and claims of expenditure, it sure has some energy and fun to it, but the cliffhangers still are disappointing, yet since we covered it, a cycle of bad Westerns have popped up.  That makes this serial seem all the more fun and authentic, no pretention or dull formula here, per se.  Fans should be happy and it was a long overdue upgrade.


Extras are improved over the old DVD edition and include audio commentary tracks on the first two chapters by film scholar Toby Roan, Photo & Poster Gallery and Original Serial Trailers.



Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running (1972) is one of the first films we ever reviewed for this site and still one of the best and most underrated.  Several editions have surfaced over the years including this then-decent DVD we reviewed way back in the day:




The film has aged very well, is more relevant than ever and sadly, its warnings and downsides are horrifically more possible than ever, making it a sci-fi space movie still way ahead of its time and its warnings as urgent as they could ever be.  Bruce Dern gives what is still one of his greatest performances and the effects hold up far better than you might expect.  I cannot recommend this film strongly enough, especially now that it has been restored and upgraded.


Extras from the U.S. DVD repeated here include the Original Theatrical Trailer, the nearly-hour long ''Making Of Silent Running' vintage featurette, too-short five-minutes-long on-camera reflection by Trumbull, a ten-minutes-long one by Dern, an outstanding alternate audio commentary by Trumbull and Dern and a longer program on Trumbull's work and life.  Arrow has added another well-illustrated booklets on the film including informative text and two essays on the film, then further added to the disc a new feature length audio commentary track by Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw, older Trumbull/Dern commentary track from an edition we missed, Isolated Music Score, No Turning Back featurette on the music score by film and film music scholar Jeff Bond, visual essay First Run by Jon Spira on the screenplay formation, reversible sleeve and an extensive, impressive Behind The Scenes Gallery of stills and images.



Finally, we have Sean Larney's new science fiction film 2067 (2020) about a future world that is polluted and lacks oxygen, so people are being controlled and tormented by the lack of it, including a young worker (Kodi Smit-McPhee of Game Of Thrones) who does what he can to get by.  His is ruining the lives and health of everyone around him, but it turns out his scientist father (now deceased) was developing a time machine and he is recruited to try to change the situation.


This starts out smart and realistic, but turns too early into a StarGate/12 Monkeys hybrid, only distinguished by a set of good actors and that it is an Australian production.  I liked the things we have not seen before and the different things the film offers, but it is not enough, even with a strong supporting actor showing of Ryan Kwanten (District 9) and the ambition of the production overall.  It is not a total failure by any means, but a mix of more hot than miss that is worth a look if you are interested,


Extras include a director's feature length audio commentary track and multi-part Behind The Scenes featurette.



Now for playback performance.  The New Mutants is presented in 2160p Ultra High Definition HEVC/H.265 codec with HDR (high dynamic range), a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and audio mixes in lossless English Dolby Atmos (English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 48kHz, 24-bit mixdown for older systems).  The clarity of the image often times makes it easier to spot some of the dodgy digital effects, but helps overall in terms of color range.  There's noticeably more texture and detail overall than the also included 1080p Blu-ray addition which has similar audio and video tracks.  Overall, the 4K presentation is pretty good and is up to par with Disney's other high profile releases on the format.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Egg is improved in both versions and more than enough to justify this reissue, but color is as much improved as anything involving detail and depth here, shot on Eastmancolor 35mm negative film.  The Italian and English Dub soundtracks have post-production work typical of post-WWII Italian films and they both sound a little aged and sometimes rough, all in PCM 2.0 Mono here.  Diehard fans will still want the older edition for extras and especially if they can get that CD.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfers on Riders can show the age of the materials used, but this is a nice improvement over the older DVD set we covered years ago from VCI and that goes for the PCM 2.0 Mono sound, which is a little clearer and even warmer.  Fans will be happy.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Silent Running is a fine improvement over the transfer used on the DVD editions we covered years ago with improved color, fullness, depth and detail I have only seen in film copies before.  Considering this was a film that had a 70mm blow-up release, I was surprised that we get a little more grain than expected.  Otherwise, this is the best I have ever seen the film from an accurate 2K scan (maybe they should try 4K down the line) and the PCM 1.0 Mono sound is as good as it has ever sounded, though that 70mm version had 6-track sound, but the soundmaster seems to have been misplaced.  Otherwise, this is another top-notch restoration from Universal and Arrow.


And the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on 2067 is a surprising good HD shoot with some good color, atmosphere and character we do not see in enough films made today, especially in the science fiction genre.  I give the Australians (and New Zealand for that matter) credit for being more than competitive when it comes to filmmaking, understanding genre better than many in Hollywood.  Even a little more impressive is the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix has a more active and impressive soundfield and mix than expected and better than many a Hollywood genre film we have encountered of late.  I bet it could even compete with New Mutants at times.  The combination will impress and challenge the best home theater systems.



-   Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Mutants 4K)



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