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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > WWII > Horror > Thriller > Psychological > Exploitation > Superhero > Animation > Fortunes Of War (2023/101 Films DVD)/Impulse (1974/William Shatner/MVD/Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray Set)/Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part One 4K (2024/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-r

Fortunes Of War (2023/101 Films DVD)/Impulse (1974/William Shatner/MVD/Grindhouse Releasing Blu-ray Set)/Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part One 4K (2024/DC Comics/Warner 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

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

Now for a diverse new set of genre release, with two live action low budget affairs included...

Bill Thomas' Fortunes Of War (2023) is a WWII action film that is more action than historic drama with an unknown cast trying their best to make this British Commandos vs. Nazis tale work. Some parts are not bad, taking place in Norway, but I never bought much of it. It did not seem realistic, of its period or too specific to its time. It could have been any war, imaginary or historical.

I was shocked it got made at all since Nazi WWII stories are rarely made and the more serious action kind ended by the late 1970s (Raiders Of the Lost Ark brought them back in pulp serial form) and is lightyears away from the realism and grit of The Dirty Dozen or Great Escape. Some might be curious, but I was oddly disappointed. Only the very, very curious will want to give it a look.

There are no extras, but this release could have used some.

William Grefe's Impulse (1974) comes out of the era where Hitchcock's Psycho, the original Diabolique and Peeping Tom launched hundreds of imitators, more than a few of which were exploitation or semi-exploitation romps where the killer(s) motives have shallow explanations, the kind that would not make it in a serious, honest, reputable college study of the matter. William Shatner, in between the cancellation of Star Trek and its permanent revival, did some of his oddest and most interesting work. He also did some of his most hilarious and most unintentionally campy and funny work.

Here he plays a womanizing man who had a serious childhood trauma involving his helplessness and murder. When he is triggered by any odd thing that connects to that event, he kills!!!! He actually starts killing too many, starting to leave a trail of dead bodies, so soon, investigators are starting to catch up with him, but having no idea of the why. Director Grefe may be a b-movie journeyman filmmaker, but unlike most big budget hacks today, he at least understand genre better than most.

Still, the film is not great and even when it starts to get better, either a down moment comes up or Shatner breaks its momentum unintentionally. Still, he is always interesting to watch and there is some suspense here and not just if he'll get caught and who will die next. This also has an interesting supporting cast including Ruth Roman, Bond film alumni Harold Sakata, Jenifer Bishop, William Kerwin, Marcia (Marcey) Knight and James Dobson. Even with its issues and flaws, everyone should see this one at least once.

Extras, which run onto a second disc, are incredibly extensive and include a reversible cover

  • Glossy illustrated booklet with liner notes by acclaimed underground filmmaker Jacques Boyreau

  • Beautiful embossed slipcover with new art by esteemed painter Dave Lebow

  • Collectible postcard featuring original oil portrait of William Shatner by artist Dave Lebow

  • KINGDOM OF THE SHATNER: William Shatner Live in Santa Monica - Oct. 9, 2022

Provocative, in-depth interviews with director William Grefe among many others

  • Additional interviews with producer and make-up artist Doug Hobart (FLESH FEAST, SCREAM BABY SCREAM) and art director Roger Carlton Sherman

  • Audio commentary by William Grefe

  • Haunting alternate French soundtrack

  • Local Florida TV news piece on Grefe's Second Unit work on the 1973 James Bond classic LIVE AND LET DIE, the debut 007 film for Roger Moore

  • Hours of rare cinematic treasures from the vaults of William Grefe, including some shorts

  • Still galleries, trailers for this and 20 other Grindhouse releases


Sisters is in black and white, 1.33 X 1, low definition and involves a woman kidnapped when answering a newspaper ad for work. An attempt to make a realistic crime drama ripped out of the paper headlines is a real mixed bag at best. Godmothers (full color, 1.33 X 1, low definition) is a gangster spoof, one of many, inspired by the massive success of Coppola's The Godfather (1972) as part of a mania of that film with Mickey Rooney, Bob Hilliard, Frankie Fontaine, Billy Barty, Jerry Lester, Templeton Fox, Joe E. Ross and an uncredited early turn by Danny Aiello as two men start dressing as women to avoid marrying daughters of mob bosses. Strange, very unfunny, shockingly odd and really bad, but a curio nonetheless that serious gangster genre fans will want to see once... and just once.

And, torn from the pages of DC's 1985-1986 comic book series 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part One 4K (2024) from Warner Brothers Animation signals the end of the Tomorrowverse animated film storylines and is the first of three parts to be released on 4K UHD disc this year.

This is a pretty epic and all character encompassing storyline for DC Comics that had some ideas picked from it in the 2023 Flash movie. To create the scale of this animated feature into live action would take a serious budget and a huge cast equivalent to the cinematic feats of Avengers Infinity War/Endgame. Who knows, maybe Warner Bros. will explore that option someday once newly appointed cinematic CEO James Gunn (hopefully) gets things back on track.

This DC multiverse is broken and the infinite worlds are colliding! The Anti-Monitor is released and starts to destroy every world in its path. As it threatens the end of reality as we know it, DC heroes from every multi-verse must ban together in a desperate effort. You can definitely spot many lesser known characters in the film, which adds an additional element of fun to the piece.

The voice cast includes Darren Criss, Stana Katic, Jensen Ackles, Matt Bomer, Meg Donnelly, Jimmi Simpson and Zachary Quinto, to name a few headliners.

Special Features:

Crisis Prime(r): The filmmakers reveal in detail their intricate plan to create a comprehensive animated universe across seven films, concluding with the events of the three-part adaptation Justice League Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Selfless Speedster: Explore The Flash's legendary role in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" comic series, the creative process that brought him to life in the animated adaptation, and the vocal performance behind his heroic and romantic story.

and Silent Treatment: Film Clip from Justice League Crisis on Infinite Earths - Part Two (Digital Only)

DC animated series fans will want to check this out and tune in for the next two installments landing on 4K UHD / Blu-ray later this year. I think on the whole, the DC animation department has done a good job of adapting some of the brand's most infamous comic storylines to these straight to disc movies. I do also think, however, focusing on storylines that cross over with the live action movies makes more sense, and am happy that Mr. Gunn is going that route going forward. This storyline is an appropriate send-off, however, to the company's many animated projects that we have gotten on 4K UHD and Blu-ray over the past decade. (Many of which are reviewed elsewhere on this site.)

Now for playback performance. Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths - Part One 4K is presented in 2160p on 4K UHD disc with HDR10, an HEVC / H.265 codec, a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an audio track in lossless, English DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit). The animation is on par with previous DC animated shows and looks and sounds fine on both formats here. The 4K UHD does look a bit more sharp than the lower resolution 1080p Blu-ray version. The animation is passable, but not necessarily mind blowing.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Impulse comes from surviving 35mm materials as the original 35mm negative was apparently destroyed (!!!!!) but Grindhouse has done what they could with what remained and the transfer is as good as it can look under those conditions with some good color, detail and some depth, but you can see the limits versus other films from the time, esp. ones recently issued on 4K disc. Though Technicolor was the lab for the film, it apparently was not issued in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor prints, so that would be the first of hundreds since the company stopped making such prints until 1997. Its low budget has little to do with the image limits.

The PCM 2.0 Mono comes form surviving optical sound elements and has also been restored as well as possible, but its already low budget theatrical monophonic sound had limits, so this is only going to be so good. The combination is still the best I have ever seen this film.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Fortunes is much softer than I would have liked, so either the HD shoot had issues, or this reduction to standard definition has ben done with a lack of research or the transfer technology is dated. The soundtrack here is in both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes, but they too are not great with the 5.1 seeming a stretch and 2.0 Stereo a little lacking.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (4K)



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