Recent Reviews

Ratchet and Clank (Blu-ray)
Maybe it's dangerous to say this in August, but I will not have more fun with another video game this year than I did with Ratchet and Clank. I'm not exactly the type of guy to go back and play through a game a second time, but Insomniac Games' reboot of the long-running franchise is so compulsively replayable that I tore through it four times in the space of a few weeks. I scored my first platinum trophy on the PlayStation 4 here, and I'd seriously point to Ratchet and Clank as the single most gorgeous game of this generation. I had such a blast that I wound up replaying the other six (and a half?) mainline titles in the series this summer. I was so hopelessly addicted that "mainline" might be the right word for it too.

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Wait, though, did we somehow wander into Video Game Talk or some wannabe film critic's LiveJournal? I know, I know, I'm getting to it. If there's one thing about the Ratchet and Clank game that let me down, it was that after every level, everything'd come to a screeching halt so it could lob out another clunky scene from the movie. The badniks' sinister scheme(s) unfolded too clumsily for me to care all that much about what was going on. The camaraderie between Ratchet and Clank wasn't really there the way it was in the stacks of video games before it. I was jazzed about the idea of watching one of my all-time favorite video game franchises soar onto the big screen, but after suffering through a sizeable chunk of the flick in largely lukewarm cutscenes, I wound up not bothering. That's what Blu-ray is for, so...yeah, here we are!

Peering over the shoulder of someone else playing a video game is borderline-never as much fun as picking up a controller and giving it a go yourself. That's what too much of this adaptation of Ratchet and Clank...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Ratchet and Clank]

The Bloodstained Butterfly (Blu-ray)
Despite a slew of grisly murders and its killer clad in leather gloves, 1971's The Bloodstained Butterfly is the giallo that's not. Leading up to its final moments, the body count stands at just three, and more than an hour separates the first and second deaths. The elaborate, operatic murders that for many define the genre are nowhere to be found. We witness the aftermaths as well as the seconds leading up to a kill, but the brutal acts themselves -- flashbacks real and imagined aside -- take place offscreen. So many of these films revolve around someone who witnesses a murder and, for one reason or another, is thrust into the role of amateur sleuth. The Bloodstained Butterfly has no central protagonist as such. We're instead introduced to a legion of potential suspects. Any of them could prove to be the hero, just as any one could be unveiled as the murderer. As masterfully composed as the film is, its visuals don't make it a point to dazzle in the same way that Dario Argento and Mario Bava's gialli so often do. It fetishizes forensic science and every aspect of a police investigation far more than gleaming straight razors or bared breasts. These films have a reputation for prioritizing their visuals and standout setpieces far above storytelling. The Bloodstained Butterfly, meanwhile, features what's perhaps the most sharply written and well-thought-out screenplay of any giallo I've come across. With so many characters and an abundance of moving parts, this is a film that demands the audience's attention to be fully appreciated. For those who take comfort in the more familiar aspects of the giallo, The Bloodstained Butterfly may pose a challenge. As for those with a taste for something different...

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The detectives in The Bloodstained Butterfly...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Bloodstained Butterfly]

Microwave Massacre (Blu-ray)

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Check. Massacre...?

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Yup. Gotta say, the math checks out. At the same time, chances are that Microwave Massacre isn't the movie you think it is. Alas, no microwave ever attains sentience and goes on a killing spree. Despite roaring into drive-ins at the height of the slasher boom, it's hardly another teenage body count flick either. Nope, we're talking about a cannibalistic black comedy -- think Eating Raoul-by-way-of-Henny-Youngman -- about a sad sack who just really wants a bologna sandwich.

Donald (Jackie Vernon) doesn't wanna shove anything in his mouth that he can't pronounce. His shrewish wife May (Claire Ginsberg), meanwhile, has a taste for the finer things in life. Y'know, haute cuisine, or "hat quee-zini" as she'd probably shriek it. The lady's got four wall ovens, each dedicated to a particular type of dish. And her shiny, new, industrial-size microwave...? That sucker's so colossal that she could nuke a suckling pig in there. Donald wouldn't bother with chicken cordon bleu or an artichoke and spinach soufflé no matter who was wearing the chef's jacket, but May fumbling around with her microwave...? Fuhgettaboutit. After too many days and nights of this routine, Donald gets a few beers in him, bludgeons his wife to death with a pepper grinder, dismembers her, wraps her remains in foil, and refrigerates the evidence. I know, right? Same old story.

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Anyway, not too long after that, Donald fumbles around in search of a midnight snack and discovers what wonderful taste his late wife truly had. Or, well, has, as he unwittingly takes a chomp out of her severed hand. Mmmm, it's finger-lickin' good! A blue collar guy like Don isn't gonna let all that incriminating...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Microwave Massacre]

More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 8/28: A Hard Day's Night (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray + DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/25: Sausage Party (Theatrical)
  • 8/22: Beauty and the Beast (Three-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/21: Ratchet & Clank (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/20: The Decoy Bride (Hdtv)
  • 8/19: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 8/18: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/17: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 8/16: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/7: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray)
  • 8/1: The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/31: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/31: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray; Commentary)
  • 7/30: The Return of the Living Dead (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 8/28: X-men: Apocalypse 4k Ultra Hd (Blu-ray)
  • 8/23: The Walking Dead, Season 6 (Blu-ray)
  • 8/19: It Came from Outer Space! (3D) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Ratchet & Clank (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/12: Marvel's Captain America: Civil War (3D BD+BD+Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: The Bloodstained Butterfly (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: Microwave Massacre (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 8/11: Ash vs Evil Dead - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
  • 8/4: Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray)
  • 8/2: The Iron Giant: Signature Edition (BD) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/21: The Return Of The Living Dead (Blu-ray)
  • 7/16: The Good Dinosaur (BD + DVD + Digital) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Blood and Black Lace (2-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 7/7: Green Room (Blu-ray)
  • 7/2: Zootopia (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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