Short, quick, reviews for some of the movies that are out on Blu-Ray this week.

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) (V)

Great for the fans of the Batman universe and characters, to everybody else, it's just another mediocre animated DC movie though.

The story is a tad bit too simplistic and straightforward and besides, the movie never becomes a truly engaging or exciting one to watch.

A lot of this has to do with its characters. Rather than focusing on the main hero Batman it focuses just on the villains instead and tells the story from their perspective. They are never sympathetic enough as characters though and it's hard to ever truly care about any of them or root for them throughout this movie, making this far from the most engaging animated movie to watch.

Luckily the movie still is a good looking one and remains entertaining enough, also due to a fast pace, plenty of action and its many, many different characters, that still provide the movie with plenty of variety, while the story itself really doesn't.

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Hercules (1997)

Both story- and character-wise this isn't the most impressive Disney movie but it's still one of the more entertaining ones.

The movie has a nice overall style and pace, that's fast and modern. There is plenty of action, that's animated and directed well.

As often is the case in a Disney movie, it's the villain, voiced by James Woods, who steals the show and who actually also is the best and most fun character out of the entire movie.

Even though it's far from a masterpiece, it still is the best- or at least the most entertaining, Hercules movie till this date.

Tarzan (1999)

A more adult Disney movie and a nice and original take on the well known Edgar Rice Burroughs story, that is still great to watch for kids as well.

It's entertaining, it's thrilling, it's spectacular, it's Tarzan as it should be! Themes such as family and love get handled nicely and maturely. It's true that some moments and characters are too childish for the adults and some of other moments are too serious and heavy for kids but overall there is a good balance between all of the movie its different themes and ingredients.

The movie is made all the more memorable and uplifting by the Phil Collins songs. It's also refreshing that the movie features some well placed songs in it, rather than having any of them sung by any of the movie its characters, at all of the predictable points.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

The animated sequences are the highlights in this otherwise pretty random and messy Disney feature movie. The one moment they are flying on a magic bed, the next they're stuck in an animated world and after that they prevent a Nazi invasion, using an army of inanimate objects.

Being random and creative is fine for a fantasy/adventure movie made for kids but not when it goes at the expense of the overall quality. The problem with it is that the movie isn't consistent enough. For every thing that works out as great and entertaining for the movie, there are at least 2 things that really don't work out at all.

The movie for instance is at the start of it far too slow, boring and dark for young children, as is the ending. The only truly great and entertaining aspect of the movie is its entire middle part, that's absolutely marvelous and Disney at its very best. When I used to watch this movie as a young kid I also would only watch the middle part and skip everything else.

Out of the Past (1947)

One of the best film-noirs that's around.

It combines a fantastic atmosphere with some good looking sets, cinematography, story and acting, by classic actors such as Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas in one of his very first roles.

The story features all of the classic genre ingredients, such as corruption, backstabbing characters and a femme fatale. The story besides provides the movie with plenty of great twists and unexpected moments in it, which helps to make this movie a very engaging and powerful one.

Breakheart Pass (1975)

A western whodunit, set almost entirely aboard a train and I absolutely loved it.

It's an highly original movie, based on a Alistair MacLean novel, that successfully combines different genres. The movie works as a mystery, it works as a thriller, it works as an entertaining action flick and surprisingly enough still as a typical classic western as well, despite the fact that it features none of the usual clich├ęs or settings in it.

Charles Bronson plays a wonderful lead role in this one of a kind movie, that deserves to be seen by more.

Locke (2013)

You can say that this movie is like "Cosmopolis", only done right and more grounded in which a man, played by Tom Hardy, tries to prevent his life from spinning out of control, while riding his car.

That's right, this movie is entirely set inside a car, featuring just one physically visible character in it. It maybe doesn't sound like the most appealing thing to watch but the movie does a very good job with keeping things interesting and going at all times. It's a fast paced movie and the creative camera work and editing ensures that there also is plenty of variety.

It story-wise still isn't the most interesting or powerful movie around but its originality and creativity still make this a pretty good and interesting watch.

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Mr. Majestyk (1974)

One simply does not mess with Charles Bronson's melons!

It's a simple enough- and typical '70's like movie, that uses action, crime and drama elements. in which a hit-man, played by Al Lettieri and a melon farmer, played by Charles Bronson, cross each other's paths and clash.

A simple good guy versus bad guy type of movie, in which it's very easy to get behind the characters and root for them. It's a nice touch that the movie focuses just about equally on both its good- and bad guys.

Great for the lovers of '70's action movies and Charles Bronson movies in general.

The Unforgiven (1960)

Some movies are so bad that they actually are fun to watch, however not this one though.

A terrible soap-like and sappy first half, followed by a more than excellent and thrilling second half. That pretty much sums "The Unforgiven" up.

I really wasn't digging the story or any of the exaggerated performances by the actors at first but luckily about halfway through the movie starts to take a turn for the better. Suddenly the movie turned into a more serious and engaging one, when a feud starts between a family and a neighboring Indian tribe.

Not everything in the story works but it still touches upon some interesting themes such as racism. It's too bad that the movie as a whole doesn't work out as thought-provoking and powerful as it truly, so easily, could have, despite Burt Lancaster's and Audrey Hepburn's best efforts.

Rage (2014)

When I first watched this movie it was still known as "Tokarev". It's of course never a good sign when a movie changes its title for a DVD/Blu-Ray release and indeed, this movie also does heavily disappoint.

It's another revenge movie in the vein of "Taken", that wants to be all tough and violent but basically has no idea how to do this in a good and effective way. The violence in the movie is all there to shock but it serves no real purpose for the story. It's ridicules to see how the Nicolas Cage character kills just about every character he runs into, in a very exaggerated, loud, way. It lets the Cage character come across as more crazy and evil than any of the bad guys of the movie.

The story besides features too many side-plots and characters in it and the twists are all incredibly formulaic and predictable.

It's never an entertaining movie to watch with any of the violence and action and never an engaging movie with either its story or characters.

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A Haunted House 2 (2014)

A cheap and simplistic movie that feels like yet another quick and sure cash grab, after the success of the first movie.

The movie isn't following much of a story and it instead feels like it's featuring just the one 'comical' scene after the other, without making much of a connection or trying to set up a good and original story.

Next to mostly unsuccessfully spoofing some recent, yet also pretty obscure, horror movies, the comedy of the movie also heavily relies on racial jokes and stereotypes, which just isn't funny at all. Marlon Wayans' performance mostly consists out of constantly yelling and jumping around, which shows you how few ideas they had on how to turn this movie into a funny one.

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Bloodsucking Freaks (1976)

...Or also known as "The Incredible Torture Show", which is a title that I like better and covers what the movie is all about.

This movie is pure trash and '70's horror exploitation at its finest in in its purest form. Nudity and gore galore in this movie, that's all about torture, in a sickeningly creative form.

It's a bad movie with its weak acting, bad editing, lame dialog, poor sound quality and everything else you can expect from a low budget genre movie. It's bad entertainment but entertainment nevertheless and through its silliness and trashy movie ingredients actually becomes an irresistibly amusing movie to watch.

Proxy (2013)

A mystery-thriller that feels like a second rate Brian De Palma movie, that keeps switching directions a few times too many.

At times it's a true mystery movie and at others definitely more a thriller. There is new twist every few other minutes, which makes the movie original and surprising but at the same time the movie yet feels far from effective. Things don't always flow too well and the movie is needlessly long and slow at parts.

It's still an original movie, that is far from conventional but it really could have used a bigger budget and better, big name, actors in it, in order for it to work out as a truly great and effective enough movie.

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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