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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Drama > Crime > Martial Arts > Vikings > Revenge > Vampires > Firestarter (2022 remake/Blu-ray*)/Girl On A Chain Gang (1966/Film Detective Blu-ray**)/Ip Man: The Awakening (2021/Well Go Blu-ray)/The Northman 4K (2022/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/*both Universal

Firestarter (2022 remake/Blu-ray*)/Girl On A Chain Gang (1966/Film Detective Blu-ray**)/Ip Man: The Awakening (2021/Well Go Blu-ray)/The Northman 4K (2022/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray/*both Universal)/A Taste Of Blood (2020/A.K. Tolstoy/Cleopatra Blu-ray w/CD/**both MVD)

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

Here's a wild new mix of genre releases...

Stephen King's Firestarter hits the big screen again, this time with a mediocre 2022 remake. I feel like this concept was pretty new and interesting back when the original 1984 film with Drew Barrymore came out, but nowadays after seeing the X-Men movies and Marvel films of the like, this doesn't hold as much weight as maybe it once did. This little girl that can start fires with her mind and be demonic and creepy could easily be a member of the X-Men or one of the mutants that oppose them, or Hellboy's daughter?

In fact, there are mutants in the X-Men franchise that can do exactly what this little girl can do here. Also, the fire here is so CGI and fake it's really painful at times. And why in gods name did she have to kill a poor cat? That took me out of it right then and there, though this reviewer hates seeing animals die in movies in general. The film stars one teenie bopper king Zack Efron as the girl's dad, which is a little weird at first because he has never played a father figure before and is usually some playing a stereotype in most of his films. Truth be known, he's not a terrible actor all in all, and holds his own here along with Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Michael Greyeyes, and Gloria Reuben.

A little girl named Charlie who seems pretty normal and lives a quiet sheltered life with her overbearing parents. It's soon revealed that her parents have special abilities and passed along some deadly genetics to Charlie, who is just turning eleven years old. Now, whenever she gets angry or scared, she telepathically starts to ignite everything around her in flame. Soon, uncool forces seek her out and the little girl is on the run along with her parents.

The Firestarter remake is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix. The image looks pretty nice in HD and an improvement over the also included standard definition DVD that's also in this combo pack.

Wow - a studio release on Blu-ray with some special features!




Andy Reflects in Mirror

Andy's Lot Six Nightmare: Extended

Wanless Gets a Visitor: Extended

Rainbird Scare/Wildlife Hunt

Charlie Treks to Find Andy

Charlie Counts Down 'Five, Four, Three, Lies'

Andy's Visionary Escape From the Cell


A KINETIC ENERGY: Filmmakers and cast discuss how stars Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong worked closely with director Keith Thomas to bring this new FIRESTARTER to life.

SPARK A FIRE: A look at how the story and themes of FIRESTARTER were adapted from the famous novel.

IGNITING FIRESTARTER: A behind-the-scenes look at how some of FIRESTARTER's most extreme fire effects and stunts were accomplished.

and POWER STRUGGLE: A breakdown of the physical stunts and practical effects that came together to craft the fight scene between Rainbird and Vicky.

The Blu-ray cover to Girl On A Chain Gang (1966) makes the film out to be a lot more vicious than it actually is. This time capsule piece has been remastered by The Film Detective and now presented on Blu-ray disc. The film follows three young hoodlums were are framed, arrested, and thrown in the prison of corrupt cowboy hat wearing Southern Police Force. The acting is pretty bad all around and this was most likely intended to make dollars on the drive-in circuit more than anything whenever it was originally made. That charm is kinda fun though in a nostalgic way and so you can enjoy this film for what it is - a product of its time.

The film stars William Watson, Julie Ange, Ron Charles, and Arlene Farber. Directed by Jerry Gross.

Girl On A Chain Gang is presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a 1.37:1 widescreen aspect ratio, and an audio mix in English, standard DTS 2.0 Mono (the older kind from DVDs and LaserDiscs that have 3:1 compression.) The black and white film looks and sounds fine for the Blu-ray format and considering its an old movie that was produced on a limited budget, it looks and sounds fine.

Special Features include a high-quality illustrated booklet with illustrations and a solid essay by Lisa Petrucci and a faux jury service card, while the disc adds a feature-length audio commentary track and the featurette Its All In The Title: Exploiting Jerry Gross.

A young Ip Man (Miu Tse) visits Hong Kong in his youth, but he can't not get involved when he discovers an underground ring kidnapping Chinese girls for slaves and prostitution. While the rest of the people turn a blind eye, things get personal when a close friend of his gets taken by a ruthless gang and he challenges them to a fight in Li Xi Jie and Zhang Zhu Lin's Ip Man: The Awakening (2021.)

In a time of Westernization and modernization, China was on the verge of change and the youths of China were still hopeful for the future, but what they had no control was the Westerners and no idea the girls were disappearing in the middle of the night, they thought the girls were running away, but they were really being kidnapped by the foreigners. The Chinese officials were too afraid the foreigners to do anything or bribed to look the other way. Ip Man is the only one with the courage to stand up to foreigners and challenges the foreigner's various champions in a fight for the freedom of the girls.

This was a prequel to the Ip Man series, a youthful version the grand master and main character sort of looks like a young version of Donnie Yen. The character uses lines and techniques from the previous series and the prequel was a homage to original series. It many be the slowest fo the films and some might be Ip Maned out, but I still liked it very much.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer looks very good and could potentially work in 4K, so expect great image performance, but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless Mandarin and lesser English mixes are not as impressive with the Mandarin being fine if off at times, but nothing as bad as the often out-of-sync English dub, which is one of the worst we have encountered in a long time. Trailers are the only extras.

Robert Eggers' The Northman 4K (2022) is another tale if The Vikings and with a hit series of that title (that we have almost totally reviewed elsewhere on this site) still a popular hit, what could this new film do better? I think both are well done, but I can only watch so much of this kind of material because it is not my kind of viewing, but at least all take their audience seriously like they are mature, intelligent adults, so I give them credit there.

In this case, a young viking prince (aka the title character, played very well by Alexander Skarsgard, who very impressively goes all out and then some for the role) is determined to avenge the murder of his father and the script leaves no stone unturned. Because it is a big screen film and only has 2.25 hours to tell its tale, it is never boring, but very graphic and blunt as well as consistent. This is not as easy to do as it looks. This was a hard film to make.

The supporting cast including Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and even singer/artist Bjork work very well together and work with the rest of the cast in a convincing way, though Academy Award Winner Kidman is almost too Hollywood for this, she still pulls off her character well.

This could have just been a shallow revenge western with a different setting, but it has nuance and some surreal sequences never come across as silly or childish, which is not easy to pull off in the post-Lord Of The Rings world we live in. With all that said, this is not for children, a good thing, but only for those really interested. Still, this worked much better than expected, if again, it is not my kind of movie.

The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image looks really good with its sometimes monochromatic look, offering detail, depth, sometimes color and also fine Gray Scale in what is a color film, but a dark one. Only this version can offer the film as intended, since like Dune 4K, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on this regular Blu-ray just cannot capture all that picture quality and information.

Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) can be quiet at times, but can also kick in and take full advantage of all 12 tracks and the surround/location audio in smart ways that advance the narrative. That soundtrack is on both versions and is well mixed, recorded and thought out.

Extras are many, well done and (per the press release) include DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES

  • AN AGELESS EPIC: An in-depth look at how filmmakers, cast, and crew immersed themselves in Norse history and mythology in an effort to make THE NORTHMAN the most accurate Viking epic ever filmed.

  • THE FACES OF VIKINGS: The cast of THE NORTHMAN, alongside director Robert Eggers, discuss the depth of the characters and their experiences working together.

  • FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR ROBERT EGGERSAMLETH'S JOURNEY TO MANHOOD: Aurvandil's initiation of Amleth into manhood is one of the most pivotal points on his journey. Take a deeper look at how filmmakers and cast crafted this mysterious ritual, SHOOTING THE RAID: Go behind-the-scenes of the raid and learn how different departments worked together to pull off this intricate sequence.

  • KNATTLEIKR GAME: Learn all about this little-known game, how the scene was filmed, and why it's an essential moment for Amleth.

  • and A NORSE LANDSCAPE: We explore the spectacular shooting locations of THE NORTHMAN and discuss how filmmakers were able to overcome the unique challenges of shooting the film in Northern Ireland.

Finally, making an original vampire film is pretty tough now that there have been so many classics and reiterations done over the years. While many of the best vampire films take place in the past, this Spanish-language vampire film, A.K. Tolstoy's A Taste of Blood (2020), is based on Russian poet A.K. Tolstoy's 1839 short story The Family Of The Vourdalak and delivers a slow burn vampire tale.

The story centers on a father who is a Vampire Hunter that comes home from hunting a vampire one day a little different, however the mystique around him remains unclear to his loved ones as to whether he himself is now one of these undead creatures he hunts or if he is normal. It doesn't take long, however, until those pointy fangs start to pop out and it's soon a game of life or death. If you're looking for a 30 Days of Night-style fast moving zombie romp then this is definitely not the film for you. This film is quite slow to start, and ends up being not terrible, but not particularly super memorable either.

The film is directed by Santiago Fernandez Calvete and stars German Palacios, Naiara Awada, and Alfonsina Carrocio.

A.K. Tolstoy's A Taste of Blood is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.20:1, and a lossless, English-dubbed Spanish DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The film is shot decently, but maybe not as great in some night scenes that appear to be pretty dark. Overall, not the worst shot film ever. The presentation on disc is fine.

Special Features:

CD Soundtrack featuring Rosetta Stone, Christian Death, Jyrki 69, Leather Strip, Corpus Delicti, and others.

The Blu-ray adds an Original Theatrical Trailer and a Slideshow.

- Nicholas Sheffo (4K,) Ricky Chiang (Ip) and James Lockhart



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