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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts > Hong Kong > Weapons > Horror > Supernatural > Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Season One (2022/CBS/Paramount DVD Set)

Code Of The Assassins (2022/Well Go Blu-ray)/Ghosts Of Monday (2022/Cleopatra Blu-ray*)/Grand Tour (1991 aka Timescape/Blu-ray*)/M3gan (2023 aka Megan/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Phenomena 4K (1985/Synapse 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/*all MVD)/Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Season One (2022/CBS/Paramount DVD Set)

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

Now for our latest genre offerings, including a true classic...

Daniel Lee's Code Of The Assassins (2022) is set in the past, but feels like it is sometimes from our time by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink (they were not yet invented, but even the Superhero genre gets referenced?!?) has an assassin on assignment being betrayed and going on the run. Revenge and trying to find out why he was stabbed in the back (almost literally) becomes the plot that is somewhat predictable, but is meant to have something to hang all the action on.

Though that action can be good and the stunts well done, we get too many gimmicks we've seen before, sometimes defy believability and are just all over the place, especially since this takes place a few centuries ago. Sure, this is supposed to be fun and have some sense of humor, but with so much such competition from all over and at two hours, it disappoints. If you are still interested, just have lower expectations and you might like it.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is a bit softer and more digital than expected, possibly because they were really pushing it with the scope framing and should have gone for 1.85 X 1. Color is on the muted side, which does not always work either, but I wonder if this would look better in 4K, at least clarifying nay issued here. Otherwise, this disappoints a bit and the CGI visual effects are mixed.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 Mandarin lossless mix is the same soundmaster used for theaters, so no DTS: X, Dolby Atmos or Auro 3D missing here. It has a good, consistent soundfield and is the default highlight of this release. Nothing in particular stood out sonically, however.

The only extras are a trailer for this film and three other Well Go USA releases.

Francesco Cinqueman's The Ghosts of Monday (2022) is out on Blu-ray from Cleopatra, and is now unintentionally a bit more notable since it features one of the last performances by acclaimed actor Julian Sands (Naked Lunch).

The film starts out strong, but gets a bit lazy and too silly for its own good unfortunately, with a lousy third act that ruins the mystique it went out of its way to create in its first act. The film attempts to replicate a kind of supernatural giallo, but it doesn't really work despite having an amazing location. Still, I feel the film is an honest effort and not without some cool moments along the way.

The film stars Julian Sands, Anthony Skordi, Joanna Fylidou, Elva Trill, Mark Huberman, and Flavia Watson.

Some US filmmakers travel to Cyprus to film a ghostly documentary about a tragedy that happened at a hotel where a hundred guests died of poisoning and the innkeepers committed suicide. The director of the film crew is a bit off the rails and isn't open to any feedback from anyone on the project they are shooting, which is featured in a few silly scenes that really makes one not care for this character right off the bat.

Julian Sands is great and does what he can as a producer / host who doesn't mind flirting with all the young girls in the group who is also related to the director's girlfriend who has a past trauma with this location as her family was part of this tragedy. The film then adds a silly supernatural character that doesn't really make sense and ghosts that look like normal people. The first act and the setup of the location is well done, but once they try to cram in all this backstory with the one character and then add a cult and a slasher killer to the mix, there's just too many things going on by the time it's over that it becomes muddled.

The Ghosts of Monday is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and an English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16bit) mix. The color on the film is a little strange at times with a scenes where flesh tones appear a little too yellowish. Other than that, the film looks and sounds fine on disc.

Special Features: a Trailer and Image Gallery.

The Ghosts of Monday is an honest effort, but falls a bit short.

David Twohy's The Grand Tour (1991, aka Timescape) is the first major feature film form the sci-fi-oriented director of the (four so far) disappointing Riddick films, plus mixed-results projects like The Arrival (1996) and Below (2002) showing a filmmaker who knows his way around a genre, but one who has not totally been able to leave his mark on it.

The ever-underrated Jeff Daniels plays a widowed father who lands up dealing with a strange group of people obsessed with disasters, but the twist is that this potential cult is traveling in time from the future to catch a few before they happen. Its a somewhat interesting premise that has potential and Twohy, Daniels and the cast get the off-kilter part of this concept down pat, but it cannot get past its Twilight Zone/Night Gallery form despite the cast doing so well. The screenplay then goes into all kinds of directions until we get an ending (which feels like a last-minute tack-on) and it ends. Now you can see for yourself.

Ariana Richards, Nicholas Guest, George Murdoch, Robert Colbert, Marilyn Lighthouse and David Wells also star.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film, though some shots that look a bit off are the way they likely always will be due to the film's low budget. The sound here, presented in PCM 2.0 Stereo, has a strange history. The film began with the intent of using only cheap, rough Ultra Stereo analog noise reduction, a cheaper version of Dolby's old, own, original A-type analog noise reduction they invented in 1965, later used on films slowly staring in 1971. By the time this film was in production, both analog formats were available for theatrical feature film releases, but Dolby had invented Spectral Recording (aka SR) by 1987 and that was the new pre-digital standard by the 1990s. It is even still used for some films today and for preservation purposes, Dolby finally finding their answer to DBX noise reduction.

At the last minute, the producers of this film found the money to issue it in Dolby SR and have it remixed in a THX-certified theater. The result is likely cleaner and better than just plain old Ultra Stereo, but since they did not start that way, the results are not as great as an actual SR film form the time (think Dances With Wolves or The Silence Of The Lambs) so you will get some good results when decoding the stereo here in Pro Logic or one of its variants, but it cannot escape the early audio work, or budget or its age.

Extras include a reversible cover (unlisted on the package) plus a Trailer, separate Production & Artwork Stills, the Timescape title sequence and vintage featurette Lost To Time, a Cannes Film Festival promo.

M3gan (2023 aka Megan) modernizes the killer doll genre as a seriously creepy humanoid doll that, much like Chucky in the Child's Play series, will go to great lengths to protect its child imprinted master. Produced by Blumhouse, M3gan is a predictable but fun popcorn flick that doesn't take itself too seriously and has fun with a tried and true genre movie formula. In all honesty there are a lot of similarities between M3gan and the 2019 Child's Play remake. The real difference is the gender of the killer robot, not as much gore and swearing (even in this unrated version), and slight changes in the story. Still, M3gan is fun and is different enough that these glaring similarities can mostly go overlooked. The film was a big success in the box office on the sleepy month of January and really deserved a 2160p release on 4K UHD right off the bat, but we will have to settle for the Blu-ray / DVD combo pack for now.

The film stars Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, and Jen Van Epps, plus was produced by Blumhouse, Owner/Producer Jason Blum and Director James Wan.

The prototype M3gan is created by a troubled and stressed out woman (Allison Williams of Get Out) and her newly orphaned niece (Violet McGraw). At first, M3gan seems like a breakthrough in child companionship, but soon she takes on some murderous and vengeful characteristics and becomes too smart for her own good, rebelling against anyone who crosses her path.

M3gan is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit) mix. For Blu-ray this is fine with no real complaints. Also included is an anamorphically enhanced, standard definition DVD of the film that has a compressed image and lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix. The film is slick and Hollywood looking much like other Blumhouse productions.

Special Features:

Two versions of the film: R rated and unrated

A New Vision of Horror

Bringing Life to M3GAN

and the Getting Hacked featurette.

M3gan has franchise potential within the walls of Blumhouse and has equal amounts of horror and fun to make it an audience pleaser despite its familiarity to other films of the killer doll sub-genre.

One of the first films in the long career of Jennifer Connelly and a favorite amongst Dario Argento fans is Phenomena (1985) also known as Creepers, which has finally landed stateside on 4K UHD disc from Synapse Films. There are a few different editions of this from Synapse including a limited edition of 6,000 units, but this review will be covering the standard 2 disc 4K UHD version, which still features three cuts of the film on two separate 4K UHD discs loaded with extras. The Italian horror thriller has Argento's unique visual style, a fantastic soundtrack, and beautiful locations.

The film stars Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Fiore Argento, Federica Mastroianni, and Fiorenza Tessari. The film features Connelly as a young girl with telepathic abilities that are coming to fruition. She has the power to control insects which comes in handy when solving a case of brutal murders at her remote boarding school.

Phenomena looks incredible on this release, to say the least and a huge improvement over previous versions. The film is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with Dolby Vision/HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and audio mixes depending on the version of the film you choose.

The Italian Version has lossless Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks, derived from the original 4-channel Dolby Stereo elements. Also a lossless, "hybrid" English/Italian DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 soundtrack and optional English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack. The International Version has lossless English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks on the international version, also derived from the original 4-channel Dolby Stereo elements. And the Creepers version has lossless English PCM 1.0 mono soundtrack and is mastered from the original 3 track DME magnetic mix.

The color correction is a bit darker and more blue than it was on Blu-ray previously which doesn't hurt the film at all, but modernizes the look of it a bit. The soundtrack remains intense and beautiful. The film has been released on Blu-ray from Synapse in the film before in 2017 and could serve as a good comparison piece on the improvement and new color scan in this release. The picture quality is the same on all three versions with the only difference being the film's editing.

Special Features:


Audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of Murder by Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento

Of Flies and Maggots, a feature-length 2017 documentary produced for Arrow Films, including interviews with cowriter/producer/director Dario Argento, actors Fiore Argento, Davide Marotta, Daria Nicolodi and Fiorenza Tessari, cowriter Franco Ferrini, cinematographer Romano Albani, production manager Angelo Iacono, special optical effects artist Luigi Cozzi, special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, makeup artist Pier Antonio Mecacci, underwater camera operator Gianlorenzo Battaglia, and composers Claudio Simonetti and Simon Boswell

Archival interview with Andi Sex Gang musician Simon Boswell

Original Italian and international theatrical trailers

"Jennifer" music video, directed by Dario Argento

and a Japanese pressbook gallery


Audio commentary on the international version by Argento scholar and author Derek Botelho and film historian, journalist and radio/television commentator David Del Valle

The Three Sarcophagi, a visual essay by Arrow producer Michael Mackenzie comparing the different cuts of Phenomena

US theatrical trailer / US radio spots

The 116-minute Italian cut features approximately six minutes of footage for which English audio does not exist. In these instances, the hybrid track reverts to Italian audio with English subtitles.

Dario Argento's Phenomena is a classic and if you haven't seen it and are a fan of Italian horror cinema it's a must. It might not appeal to everyone over here in America and is in many instances a bit dated, but the craftsmanship and fun of the film has been reincarnated on 4K UHD here. Check out reviews of other Dario Argento films on this website!

Lastly, we have Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Season One (2022) delivering the first prequel series of the now endless spin-offs of the original 1960s classic. Anson Mount is Captain Christopher Pike, the original captain of the original USS Enterprise and Ethan Peck is Mr. Spock, but the new crew looks more like a cast for a recent show than one that would have happened before the 1960s show. That is not much of an issue since Pike only appeared in the first Trek pilot before producer Lucille Ball put out the money for a second pilot (unheard of at the time, but Lucy knew she had something here and, as usual, was right again!) and Pike was gone.

However, though it has some amazing talent here in Akiva Goldsman, Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, it still feels off as a show and maybe was made a few decades too late. Like the sequel series and Chris Pine theatrical films, they try to create technology that will not look too dated (as in the 1960s series and even now, Next Generation) but too much of it is too good and new. They should have had some of the tech look a little older, but the look of the show might be the biggest issue of all.

The over-digitalized look of the various series since the last Next Generation feature film and most of the recent series is just too distant from the original show. At least Discovery, for whatever reasons, has had many shots that were darker than usual for any TV series or feature film of the last few decades and that has actually been to its advantage. This version should have shot on film (35mm or even 16mm color film) to imitate the Eastman Kodak/DeLuxe color look of the 1960s series, then it would look like a gradual easing into that series. They could have even followed the color scheme specifically of the rejected pilot, but they went for this same old look and it backfired. Maybe a retro-color episode could be done, but I won't hold my breath.

With that said, the teleplays are fair but nothing very memorable. Keep all that in mind when trying the show out and you might like it a bit more than I did.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is trying to look cinematic and might have some good shots, but I never bought the choice and that makes it yet another difference from the originalshow that falls flat and rings false. I definitely know this looks better in HD form HD clips I have seen and a 4K version is also being issued. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is good and solid, but weak by today's lossless standards, though it is lossless on the Blu-ray and 4K editions. Neither will feature DTS: X, Auro3D or Dolby Atmos sound mixes.

Extras (per the press release) offers over 90 minutes of special features, including content exclusive to home entertainment:

  • PIKE'S PEAK (Exclusive): Anson Mount takes fans through his journey as Captain Christopher Pike in the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, providing a glimpse into his portrayal with intimate footage throughout the season.

  • WORLD BUILDING: Led by Production Designer Jonathan Lee and his team, the season's production design utilized cutting-edge technology to create worlds prior to shoots, allowing the actors to fully immerse themselves into scenes rather than imagine the worlds around them in a green room. Through interviews with producers, cast and crew, fans will learn about the expertise involved in the development process and how the powerful technology was seamlessly integrated into the show.

  • EXPLORING NEW WORLDS (Exclusive): Fans will explore the storylines and characters that bring Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to life with writers, cast and crew.


  • DELETED SCENES (Exclusive)

  • and a GAG REEL (Exclusive)

- Nicholas Sheffo (Trek, Tour, Code) and James Lockhart



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