Evans Above

I think the technical term for this is EGADS! Please be patient as we curse and yell at a database mixup that deep sixed dozens of our database entries. We need to clean up or recreate them one by one. Should be fun...

Apr 07, 2022

Jackass Forever Blu-ray review

When the American Film Institute updates its Top 100 films, I’m pretty sure that Jackass Forever will not be added to the list. Still, there are people out there who enjoy Johnny Knoxville and friends’ bone-breaking, ball-bashing stunts so Paramount has released a Blu-ray of their latest mishaps.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It looks really good with excellent detail in most of the footage from nicks and cuts to bruises and stubble. Black levels are good with no evident crushing and pretty good detail in the shadows. The colour palette is natural and some tones really pop. There’s no compression artifacts or digital noise to speak of. It’s a really nice transfer.

On the audio side, being a jackass knows no borders, so you have the choice of an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack and an English Audio Description track as well as French (Canada), German and Spanish (Latin America) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (Canada), German, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish (Latin America) and Swedish. Though the soundtrack is a little front heavy, the surrounds do add to the effects in some scenes and the subwoofer adds to the bone-crunching and explosive mayhem. Dialogue is clear.

On the extras side, the Blu-ray disc also comes with a digital code and additional and extended stunts and interviews connected to the antics.

If you’re not a fan of the Jackass franchise, you’ll probably give Jackass Forever a pass, but for the faithful you’ll get treated to a really good video presentation teamed up with good sound and a nice collection of extras. Recommended for fans.

Soapdish Blu-ray review

Soapdish is one of those light, fun films with a great cast that is perfect when it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon or you’ve got a cold. You want something that’s not too taxing and will give you a few laughs to make you feel better. It’s cinematic chicken soup. Paramount Home Entertainment has just released it on Blu-ray and I was given an opportunity to review it.

Directed by Michael Hoffman, the film stars Sally Field as Celeste Talbert, the star of the soap opera The Sun Also Sets. She’s popular with the fans and a perennial award winner, but on set she has very few friends and many enemies. Her biggest enemy is Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty), a fellow actress who is tired of being the lesser star and needs Celeste gone to accomplish her goals. She’s aided by producer David Barnes (Robert Downey Jr.). He’ll do anything to get into Montana’s pants, including hiring Celeste’s ex, former co-star Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline), who now finds himself working the dinner theatre circuit. Celeste’s one true friend, head writer Rose Schwartz (Whoopi Goldberg), does what she can to protect Celeste, but everyone’s plans go awry when an ambitious young actress (Elisabeth Shue) joins the cast.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation is pretty standard fare. Good details on all the usual suspects (faces, textiles and environment) and a bright colour palette with adequate black levels.

On the audio side, the disc comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, and French. It’s a front-heavy mix, but dialogue is clear and the music sounds good. It’s not going to dazzle anyone, but does the job for this light comedy.

The disc does not come with a digital code and the extras consist of a very short behind-the-scenes featurette and the theatrical trailer.

Look, I’m biased here. The missus and I have watched Soapdish several times over the years. Though this Blu-ray may not have mind-blowing audio and video and lacks exciting extras, I’ll still recommend it if you want the cinematic equivalent of comfort food.

Apr 06, 2022

Let It Ride Blu-ray review

Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing the 1989 comedy Let It Ride on Blu-ray. It’s another one of those back catalog films that you wouldn’t think would get the upgrade, so it’s nice to see. Directed by Joe Pytka, it stars Richard Dreyfuss as a cabbie who has made a deal with his wife (Teri Garr): she gives their marriage another chance and he’ll give up gambling. The hijinks begin when he slips off to make one more bet…and can’t lose. The cast also features David Johansen, Jennifer Tilly, Robbie Coltrane and Allen Garfield.

The 1080p AVC encoded transfer is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The master it was sourced from has some limitations but it’s still a very good transfer with a realistic colour palette and good detail. Really, the only complaint is the loss of some detail in darker scenes. There’s no digital noise or compression artifacts to speak of and there’s still a nice grain element to it.

On the audio end, you can choose between an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, French and German 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks, or a Spanish (Latin American) Mono Dolby Digital track. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Spanish and French. It’s a front heavy mix with very little surround usage, but music is dynamic and dialogue is clear, centred and well-prioritized in the mix.

In terms of extras, Let It Ride does not come with a digital code or slipcover. There’s one short featurette where the cast discuss their characters.

If you’re looking for a fun comedy with a great cast, then adding Let It Ride to your collection is a sure bet.

Jack Reacher 4k SteelBook

2012’s Jack Reacher has been given the 4K UHD SteelBook treatment by Paramount. The video and audio content is identical to the 2018 release, but since I have not seen that release I will review it below.

Jack Reacher, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and based on Lee Child’s book One Shot, stars Tom Cruise as the titular character. Reacher, a former Army MP who has mostly dropped off the grid, finds himself involved in the investigation of a series of murders that point to a former Army sniper. Cruise is joined by Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney, Joseph Sikora and Robert Duvall.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded video presentation with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image looks great, with sharpness and clarity that really stands out with facial textures, fabrics and environmental elements. The colour palette is vibrant, whites are bright and the black levels are nice and deep with excellent detail present in shadows and darker scenes.

On the audio side, your ears have a choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track as well as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish. The audio track is the same 7.1 track from a previous Blu-ray release, so if you have Atmos speakers, they can take the night off and catch up with family and friends. The 7.1 soundtrack is no slouch and provides an excellent experience. Your surrounds put you firmly into the action. Gunshots are powerful. The score is rich and dynamic and dialogue is clear and well-prioritized.

As far as extras go, the new thing with this release is the SteelBook collectible case, which features Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher against a dark background. It conveys an ominous mood without going overboard. The actual 4K disc contains two commentary tracks while the rest of the special features are on the included Blu-ray disc. They include the two previously mentioned commentaries from Cruise and McQuarrie and composer Joe Kramer, an almost half-hour featurette with the cast and crew, a look at the fight choreography, and an interview with author Lee Child. A digital code is also included.

If you collect SteelBook editions or don’t have the previous Jack Reacher 4K then this is for you. Excellent audio and video presentations coupled with a nice little set of extras makes this a nice get for fans of Tom Cruise or action films in general.

Apr 05, 2022

Scream (2022) 4K review

It’s been 25 years since the original Scream and its Ghostface Killer terrified and amused us and now directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett revisit the franchise with a project that’s part remake, part reboot and part sequel. While the original Scream contained plenty of nods to the framework of slasher flicks, this Scream is fully aware of the tropes and plots of its predecessors and includes three of the original’s most important characters: Sidney (Neve Campbell), Gale (Courteney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette). This is a meta Scream. The Ghostface Killer is navel-gazing. The new teen characters – played by Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Dylan Minnette, Mikey Madison, Mason Gooding, Sonia Ammar, Jack Quaid and Jasmin Savoy Brown – are all variously connected to the prior Woodsboro killings and ponder which one of them might be involved in the new deaths. Thanks to Paramount, I had the chance to review this new 4K release.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K video transfer with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision is released in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It’s a very good video presentation with impressive detail and clarity from the actors’ faces to the sets and textiles. A film like this has plenty of dark, jump-out-of-your-seat scenes and the black levels are deep with no loss of detail in shadows or nighttime. Skin tones are accurate, primary colours pop, and the Ghostface mask is vividly white. There’s no image noise or compression artifacts to speak of.

On the audio side, the disc offers an English 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack as well as English Audio Description, and French, French (Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Latin America) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Cantonese, Dutch, French, French (Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America) and Thai. Oddly, Paramount decided not to do a Dolby Atmos mix for the home entertainment release but the 7.1 mix does a great job. The surrounds are well-used with effects and ambient sounds moving around the soundscape and low frequency effects give some extra oomph to the various jump scares. Dialogue is clear and well-prioritized in the mix.

The 4K disc also comes with a digital code. There’s a small handful of extras including audio commentary from the filmmakers, a few deleted scenes, a reflection on the original Scream, a look at the transition to the younger generation, a tribute to Wes Craven and a trailer for the original’s 4K release.

Whether the 2022 Scream holds a candle to the original will be a long debate between fans of the franchise. With very good video and audio presentations and a humble but good collection of extras, you’ll probably enjoy adding this to your collection.

Mar 23, 2022

For the Love of Money Blu-ray review

Lionsgate’s For the Love of Money did have a limited theatrical release in November of 2021 where it earned just under $500,000. I’m sure the fact that it has a home entertainment release is a last ditch attempt to try to earn some money back for the investors. The film stars Keri Hilson as a single mom trying to keep her Atlanta home and her daughter in private school. When her need for money is desperate, she ends up being involved in a life of drug running and money laundering. The cast is filled with other singers like Keith Sweat, Jazzy Jade, D.C. Young Fly, and Rotimi, so there is the occasional musical break. Comedian Katt Williams also has a cameo and appears to be the only person who considered coming up with a character. The plot has more loose threads than a cheap fast fashion knock-off, the acting is pretty awful, and the film’s only saving grace is a pretty short 98 minute running time. I had the chance to check out the Blu-ray release of the movie, so let’s take a look at the technical aspects.

The 1080p AVC encoded video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The visuals do contain a nice level of detail, especially on the colourful outfits worn by the female cast and the bright colour palette pops on the screen. However some shots in the film do have issues like aliasing. So while it’s not a great video presentation, for the material it’s supporting it’s good enough.

On the audio side, there’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Subtitles are available for English SDH and Spanish. The surrounds get the occasional usage in crowd or club scenes and dialogue is clear throughout the movie.

Wrapping things up, the Blu-ray I reviewed also comes with a US-only digital code. Unless you are a huge fan of Keri Hilson, simply must have everything Katt Williams appears in, or need a new coaster, I don’t think you’ll want to add For the Love of Money to your home entertainment library.

Mar 20, 2022

Dexter: New Blood Blu-ray SteelBook review

Ten years after Dexter left our TV screens, everyone’s favourite police blood splatter expert and serial killer returns in Dexter: New Blood. This time we’ve left the warm, sunny beaches of Miami for the colder, snowier fictional small town of Iron Lake, New York, where Dexter lives under a new identity. He’s turned things around and his “ethical” serial killing is under control. Oh, who are we kidding here? Dexter’s “Dark Passenger” is back and so is his need to avoid detection. Paramount has now released Dexter: New Blood on Blu-ray and I had a chance to review the limited edition Steelbook version. Joining Michael C. Hall in the ten episodes are Jack Alcott, Jennifer Carpenter, Julia Jones, Alano Miller, Johnny Sequoyah and Clancy Brown.

The 1080p AVC encoded transfer is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The detail in the video presentation is great and checks all the boxes of hair and facial features, indoor and outdoor environments and textiles. The black levels are very good too and with many night and shadowy scenes we can still see what’s going on. The colour palette is bleaker (Iron Lake is not Miami) but the white snow is bright and the blood, of course, is rich and red. There are no digital noise or compression issues to speak of.

On the audio side, Dexter: New Blood has an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack with English SDH subtitles. The surround usage is good for putting some of the unsettling ambient sounds and effects around you and there’s subtle use of low frequency sounds but it won’t overwork your subwoofer. Dialogue is clear, centred, and well-prioritized.

The 4-disc SteelBook edition that I’m reviewing features a snowy, menacing headshot of Dexter on the front cover. The back cover features an overhead shot of a snow-covered forest with a blood-stained road bisecting the image. The discs are on individual spindles and behind them there’s a photo of Dexter chopping wood with an axe. There are bonus materials on three of the discs. While three are just about two minutes long and give some brief info on the show, disc four has a half-hour look at the show’s legacy and production.

Obviously, you’ll want to have watched the previous Dexter series to be fully up on what’s happening in Dexter: New Blood. With an excellent video and audio presentation, Dexter fans old and new will be interested in this release.

Mar 19, 2022

The Stand (2020 limited series) Blu-ray review

I may be a little late to the party here. Though the 2020 limited series of The Stand was released on Blu-ray in the US in October 2021, it didn’t get released in Canada by Paramount until March 2022. Based on Stephen King’s 1978 novel, and a remake of the 1994 series, The Stand is a post-apocalyptic story that occurs following a pandemic caused by a military biological research mishap. The remaining survivors are drawn to following two people, Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) or Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), in a struggle of good versus evil. The main cast of the series also includes James Marsden, Odessa Young, Jovan Adepo, Henry Zaga, Greg Kinnear, Irene Bedard, Nat Wolff, Owen Teague, Amber Heard and Brad William Henke.

The 1080p AVC encoded digital transfer is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It’s a really good looking video presentation with amazing detail from hairs and skin textures to environmental elements, textiles and the ravages of disease cooked up by the makeup department. The colour palette is natural, flesh tones look very good, and black levels are deep with good detail in darker scenes.

On the audio side, The Stand comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as German, Spanish, French, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English SDH, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The 5.1 soundtrack makes good use of the surrounds to place ambient sounds around the viewer, while action effects also move around the soundscape with a nice floor of low frequency tones for your subwoofer. The score is dynamic and mostly focused in the front. Dialogue is clear and well-prioritized.

The three-disc set comes with a couple of extras: a gag reel and an almost twenty minute featurette that looks at King’s work and some of the production aspects.

Given what we’ve been going through in the world these past few years, this update of The Stand seems quite timely and comes with a great cast and excellent video and audio presentations.

Mar 18, 2022

The Godfather Trilogy 4K review

Film lovers and physical media collectors can often be heard talking in their sleep. Nine times out of ten what they’re mumbling is “When is The Godfather coming out on 4K?” Wake them up now, because Paramount has released a newly-restored 4K set of the entire trilogy to celebrate the first film’s 50th anniversary. The set contains The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, which is Francis Ford Coppola’s preferred cut of the third film. It also contains the theatrical and 1991 cuts of what was then called The Godfather: Part III. I had a chance to take a look at a review copy of The Godfather Trilogy 4K courtesy of Paramount.

Let’s take a look at the video presentation first. The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded transfers with HDR10 and Dolby Vision for all three films are presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. All three films have been lovingly and meticulously restored, looking over multiple source materials and spending thousands of hours cleaning up stains and scratches. The results are just beautiful. The clarity and detail of the visuals are spot on. Facial textures, hair, textiles, sets and outdoor locations have an amazing amount of detail. The original film grain is slightly more pronounced in the first film, but who cares? Black levels and contrast are spot on and there’s a really good amount of detail in the shadows and darker scenes. Colours are natural but pop where needed and the HDR really enhances fire and neon elements. Digital noise and artifacts are not noticeable at all. Again, just a beautiful video presentation.

On the audio side, The Godfather has an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and 2.0 Restored Mono Dolby Digital soundtrack as well as Spanish, French, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and French, Italian, and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese Spanish, and Swedish. The Godfather: Part II has an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Restored Mono soundtrack as well as French, Japanese, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and French and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone has an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack as well as Czech, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish (Spain and Latin American) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and a Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Roman, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, and Thai. The Godfather: Part III (Theatrical and 1991 cuts) have an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, soundtrack as well as French German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Latin America) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Roman, Simplified Chinese, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Swedish, and Thai.

Phew! Still with me? Okay, so how is the sound? The 5.1 mixes make good use of the soundscape with ambient sounds and effects placed and moving throughout. For purists, the first two films also come with their original mono soundtracks. The subwoofer adds extra weight to not only effects like gun shots but also the scores which are rich and dynamic throughout the three movies. Dialogue is clear, centred and well-prioritized in the mix.

The Godfather Trilogy is a five-disc set. The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone each get a 4K disc. A fourth 4K disc contains the theatrical and 1991 cuts of The Godfather: Part III, while the fifth disc, a Blu-ray, contains the special features. Digital codes are included for the three main versions. The extras are a mix of legacy materials from previous releases and some new featurettes for this release. The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II 4Ks include audio commentaries from Coppola and there’s an additional commentary on Part III 1991 cut. We get looks at the restoration work, a piece on the late set photographer Steve Schapiro, multiple production featurettes, behind-the-scenes looks at the music, the cinematography, and screenwriting, additional scenes, photo galleries, and interviews with the filmmakers. It’s a great set of extras.

Stunning visuals, great sound and a plethora of bonus materials in The Godfather Trilogy 4K leaves me with just one question: What are you waiting for? Go! Add this to your collection!

Mar 09, 2022

Shooter 4K SteelBook review

In the 2007 film Shooter, Mark Wahlberg plays a former Marine sniper, Bob Lee Swagger, who is asked to come back and help prevent a Presidential assassination attempt. When he finds himself double-crossed by a group with tentacles in the halls of power, he sets out to clear his name and bring justice to the traitors with the assistance of Michael Peña, who plays an FBI agent. Paramount Home Entertainment is celebrating the film’s 15 anniversary with a 4K limited-edition SteelBook release, which I had a chance to review.

The 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Shot on film, IMDb indicates there was a 2K digital intermediate and I haven’t seen if there was a new 4K scan. Regardless if this is native 4K or upscaled 2K, the detail in the image looks amazing with a light filmic grain. Close-ups reveal every hair and pore, while textiles, environments and weaponry look great. The HDR does wonders for the colours. Bright whites, deep rich greens and browns, and popping primaries. There’s no digital noise or compression artifacts nor is there any damage to the 15-year-old print. It’s a great video presentation.

On the audio side, there’s an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as German, Spanish, French and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (Portugal), Spanish (Latin America), Spanish (Spain) and Swedish. Phew! Your subwoofer will appreciate the mix with gunshots and other action effects landing with a real oomph. The surrounds are used well to space both effect and ambient sounds and place the listener in the action. The score is powerful and dialogue is clear, centred and well-prioritized. Though an Atmos upgrade would have been nice, this soundtrack is no slouch.

The 4K Steelbook features a black and white photo of Swagger holding his sniper rifle on the front, along with some red, glowing embers. The back features the text “I Didn’t Start It But I Mean to See it Through.” There’s a digital code. One extra that’s missing is a director’s commentary from Antoine Fuqua that was on a previous Blu-ray release. There is a trailer, some deleted scenes, a look at Independence Hall, and an almost 20 minute “making of” featurette.

Well-directed action, amazing visuals and great sound makes Shooter an easy recommendation for fans of the genre.

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