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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Drama > Battles > Comedy > TV > Thriller > Politics > Murder > Relationships > Doom Patrol: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray*)/The Parallax View (1974/Paramount/Criterion Blu-ray)/San Francisco (1936/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Snowpiercer: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray*

Doom Patrol: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray*)/The Parallax View (1974/Paramount/Criterion Blu-ray)/San Francisco (1936/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Snowpiercer: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray*)/Synchronic (2019/Well Go Blu-ray)/Toys Of Terror (DVD/*all 2020/Warner Bros.)

Picture: B+/B+/B/B+/B+/B- Sound: B+/B-/C+/B+/B+/B- Extras: C+/B/B-/B/C+/C+ Main Programs: B/A-/B-/C+/C+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The San Francisco Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

Up next are a wide variety of action/thriller releases, including a classic and more unexpected twists ahead...

The hit DC Comics series Doom Patrol (which started in 2019 and is reviewed elsewhere on this site) returns for its Complete Second Season (2020) that is considerably shorter than the first, but still full of laughs and imagination. The odd ball gang of misfit superhero characters reminds one a little bit of Guardians of the Galaxy mixed with some themes that are evident in The X-Men franchise about being different and accepted amongst society. There is an R-rated vibe to the program as well, which makes it a bit more enjoyable than the DC programs.

Doom Patrol stars Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black), April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men), and Joivan Wade (Doctor Who), with Matt Bomer (Magic Mike), and Brendan Fraser (the original Mummy trilogy revival), and a special appearance by Timothy Dalton (Licence to Kill).

The premise of the show is that there is a group of characters with superhuman abilities, but the abilities are viewed as destructive or ugly to the general world. One man is brought back from the dead and lives in the shell of a Robot (Fraser), another man is horribly disfigured yet powerful (Bomer), a little girl with a monkey-like face, a woman with multiple personalities (Guerrero), a gorgeous woman who becomes ugly and blobby when nervous (Bowlby), and the recognizable Justice League character Cyborg (Wade) shows up as well. All of these characters stay at a mansion run by The Chief (Dalton) who raised and lived with them for many years, but has left them on their own to solve bizarre mysteries.

The two disc Blu-ray set includes nine one hour episodes: Fun Size Patrol, Tyme Patrol, Pain Patrol, Sex Patrol, Finger Patrol, Space Patrol, Dumb Patrol, Dad Patrol, and Wax Patrol.

Doom Patrol: The Complete Season Season is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2:1 with an English audio mix in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1, both of which are the norm for the Blu-ray format and look fine here. The only other way to see the show is streaming and this presentation offers a clean commercial and watermark free viewing.

Special Features:

The Transformers: Doom Patrol's Make-up FX

Doom Patrol - Come Visit Georgia PSA

Doom Patrol is a pretty fun program and worth checking out if you are a DC fan for sure. I'm surprised there isn't more buzz about this series honestly.

Alan J. Pakula was one of the most respected filmmakers of his time, one who was one of the most amazing journeyman filmmakers of all time, along with other amazing directors who get forgotten too often, creating smart, mature, intelligent and truly adult films with a rare complexity and depth you rarely see today. This included several thrillers like Klute and All The President's Men, but above all, his masterpiece is The Parallax View (1974).

Warren Beatty (in one of the greatest roles of his underrated career) is a reporter who tries to get scoops that are big and bold, yet keeps tripping up on himself, turning off his colleagues, getting a mixed reputation (to be kind about it) and has just found a way to stay sober after a apparently bad bout with alcoholism.

The film opens with him trying to get into a press event for a politician all the way at the top of Seattle's famed landmark Space Needle (which just got a restoration and upgrade in the last few years as we post this, so this is a time capsule now of how it used to look) but fails. He misses the story he hoped to have and one no one expected: the assassination of the politician!

Then we forward to three years later (the year of the film's release) and Joe (Beatty) is still trying to get that big story, even if it drives his editor (Hume Cronyn in great form) but has yet to get it. A reporter who was there three years ago (the always-great Paula Prentiss) visits him, but not through the front door. She comes to his place a back way and does not seem herself. Turns out the events of three years ago are not over and someone is trying to kill her, she believes.

Several of the persons there who might have witnessed more than they realize are all dead under 'normal' circumstances, but she's not so sure. Joe scoffs at it all, but soon, things get quickly darker and something is definitely wrong here.

For not-so-good political reasons, films like this get written off as 'paranoid thrillers' instead of the 'healthy distrust of authority' films the best films like this actually are, so don't get fooled by such fools or foolishness. Even without the sad, ugly, outrageous and deadly (or deathly) as we post recent events caused by political neglect, the film asks us to question simple solutions, short-cuts in thinking and how to honestly understand the world around us. It is actually a pro-democracy, pro-United States film, but like many of its time, shows us how fragile that can all be.

Yes, the film can be dated a bit by its time period, but some key thinks are not dated by any means and has been ripped off and imitated often since, but mostly in pale, lame, failed ways. Add a great supporting cast that includes William Daniels, Walter McGinn, Richard Bull and Kenneth Mars, plus the fact that the script is by David Giler (who was one of the driving forces of the Alien films) and Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (whose other serious writing work is joined by his genre work penning scripts for the old 1960s Batman series, a James Bond film and the 1980 Flash Gordon; see our 4K review elsewhere on this site) and you get a classic by some of the greatest talents in cinema history. This is a must-see for all serious film fans.

In one of the greatest used of the scope frame in cinema history, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is from a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative and joins Criterion's elite group of new transfers (done at 16-bit color) that is among the best and best-looking Blu-ray releases on the market. Color range and accuracy is often stunning, but it is also a dark film and it handles the Video Black extraordinarily well. Shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision, the film was one of the last scope films to ever be released in real dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints.

Director of Photography Gordon Willis (Annie Hall, The Godfather Trilogy) uses the very widescreen frame to its fullest extent, with its interesting use and even commentary on modernist architecture, but he does so many brilliant things here as he did with Klute (also in an amazing Blu-ray from Criterion elsewhere on this site) that the film never stops being visually engrossing and the visuals heighten an already increasingly intense narrative.

The sound is here in PCM 1.0 Mono (though I wish its were 2.0 Mono) off of the original soundmaster, which thankfully turns out to be a fine magnetic sound source. The result is clarity and fidelity never heard before from this film, from dialogue, to sound effects to the remarkably smart music score by Michael Small. The combination is terrific and will impress the toughest film fans and fans of this classic.

Extras include another high quality booklet offering some nice illustrations, this time with an essay by critic Nathan Heller and a 1974 interview with Pakula, while the disc adds a new introduction by filmmaker Alex Cox, interviews with director Alan J. Pakula from 1974 and 1995, New program on cinematographer Gordon Willis featuring an interview with Willis from 2004 and New interview with Jon Boorstin, assistant to Pakula on The Parallax View.

W.S Van Dyke's San Francisco (1936) might not seem to fit on this list of action thrillers, at first. You have drama, melodrama, some comedy, Clark Gable as a man interested in two women (at least) and one of them is no less than legendary opera-level singer and huge movie star Jeanette MacDonald, so you might expect some backstage musical moments and you get them. You do have gambling, wild parties and more at The Barbary Coast in 1907. So what is left?

Well, like Cameron's Titanic (1997) almost six decades later, an unexpected disaster is about to befall everyone and in the middle of the drama at its peak and it is the great earthquake that totally decimated and destroyed the city!

I give MGM credit for putting as much money out for this as they could and though some of the effects are a little dated, many other things are not and if you do not know what is coming (don't tell your friends if you show them!) then it is all the better. MacDonald was still one of the top female vocalists of the day and her generation, so it is almost too hard to believe she would be stuck there instead of some wild gambling town. Ted Healy, who later helped ot launch The Three Stooges, also shows up playing a stage host.

This remains a very interesting film, was a hit and certainly helped Gable (who broke through that same year in the even bigger Capra hit It Happened One Night while on loan to then-'little sister' studio Columbia) and is often as good a film. Definitely consider giving it a good look.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer only sometimes shows the age of the materials used, from a new restoration off of the original 35mm camera materials, showing off how fine MGM's monochrome labs were. Thus, this is easily superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film in any video format and worthy of the best film prints that reamin somewhere. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix has been cleaned up and restored as much as possible, as warm and clear as it is going to get, but it is an 85-year-old film and still shows its age sonically. Nice work, though.

Extras include an Alternate Ending Sequence, re-issue Trailer, two vintage Technicolor FitzPatrick Traveltalk shorts featuring the title city (Cavalcade Of San Francisco and Night Descends on Treasure Island) and Technicolor MGM animated short Bottles.

The well-respected feature film Snowpiercer has now become a series starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs and is a high concept show with high production value. Obviously longer and more involved than the 2013 film directed by Oscar-Winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite). This is a reboot of the film's continuity and doesn't feature Chris Evans' character from the original film.

Snowpiercer: The Complete First Season also stars Sean Bean, Mickey Sumner, Alison Wright, Iddo Goldberg, Susan Park, and Katie McGuinness amongst others.

The premise is that the world has frozen over and become inhabitable. A huge train barrels through the wasteland and carries with it the last remains of humanity. However, each section of the train carries a different set of passengers and some of them are more violent than others. While I love the premise and the spectacle of the piece, I feel like that it's somewhat hollow and lacks fun. Everyone is so serious throughout and there's a lack of levity. Aside from that, the performances and filmmaking being the serious is top notch.

All ten one-hour episodes include First, the Weather Changed, Prepare to Brace, Access is Power, Without Their Maker, Justice Never Boarded, Trouble Comes Sideways, The Universe is Indifferent, These Are His Revolutions, The Train Demanded Blood, and 994 Cars Long.

Snowpiercer is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an audio mix in lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. Presented commercial and watermark free, this is the best way to view the show on disc so far.

Special Features:


Class Warfare

Jennifer & Daveed - Behind The Scenes Interview

The Train

and a Behind the Curtain: Art of the Frozen World featurette

Snowpiercer isn't too bad and is intelligent in its filmmaking execution, but it's too darn serious for its own good. It's a shame that Bong Joon-ho isn't involved in the series in any way too. Still, if you liked the original film this is worth checking out.

Synchronic (2019) is a sci-fi indie with strong leads in Anthony Mackie (The Avengers films) and Jamie Doran (50 Shades of Grey) and an interesting premise inspired by something you might see in a Christopher Nolan or Gasper Noe.

Two New Orleans paramedics get called in to assist with some grisly murders at the hand of a designer drug. When Doran's daughter goes missing, a search for her begins that reveals there is more to this drug than thought.

The film also stars Katie Aselton, Ally Ioannides, and Bill Oberst Jr.

Synchronic is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and English audio mixes in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. The overall presentation of the film is very professional and solid for the format. The film has interesting cinematography and high production design for being a lower budgeted feature.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with Directors and Producer

Making of - Featurette

Previsualization - Featurette

VFX Breakdown - Featurette

Deleted Scene

Alternate Ending

and Trailers

Synchronic is an interesting psychedelic mind trip and has a strong cast and is worth checking out if you're a sci-fi fan.

Finally, killer toys run amok in Toys of Terror (2020), a spooky film with a few creepy fun moments that also dabbles in the haunted house and demonic possession genres. R-rated and about as creepy as a Blumhouse film, Toys of Terror lands on disc courtesy of Warner Bros. If killer red-eyed monkey dolls frighten you then you may want to think twice before watching!

The film stars Kyana Teresa, Verity Marks, Muriel Hogue, and Georgia Waters.

Two couples and their children go to a creepy mansion for a holiday getaway and find that it is possessed by the former residents. The ghosts use creepy toys and possession to scare up the grown ups as the kids grow under the influence of the presence. There's some fun moments particularly from the children's perspective where the dolls appear wholesome and hide their true agenda. Some other moments of logic will have you scratching your head. Still, the film is better than one may think.

Toys of Terror is presented in anamorphically enhanced, standard definition on DVD with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. The film is nicely photographed with some neat lighting and production values. Compression issues are evident with the format and of the norm. Overall, the presentation looks as fine as to be expected on DVD.

Special Features:

Toys Come To Life Featurette

A Terrifying Weekend: Making of Toys of Terror

While it may not be completely original, Toys of Terror is better than you may think and worth a watch if you like films of the like.

Extras in this great slipcase packaging include a DigiPak with a nicely illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and yet another excellent, underrated essay by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, feature length audio commentary track (s), Behind The Scenes, Making Of, Isolated Music Score with select Sound Effects, Photo Gallery, Poster Gallery, Stills Gallery, Teasers, Original Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots, Radio Spots, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Scenes, Extended Scenes, Director's Cut, Gag Reel, Documentary, Bloopers, bonus DVD version and miniature reproductions of the lobby cards, Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds BD Live interactive functions, a Making Of featurette

To order the Warner Archive San Francisco Blu-rays, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo (Parallax, Francisco) and James Lockhart



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