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Thursday, November 9, 2017
Believe it or not it’s been 11 years since the story of a hot shot young racing car named Lightning McQueen first enchanted young viewers with his story of learning there is more to life than just being the top car. That story talked about learning what it was to have deep rooted friends and family. Here we are all those years later and the third movie in the series is out on disc. What makes it special is that time has passed in the story as well.
McQueen (Owen Wilson) is still the hot shot race car he always was, still living in his adopted town of Radiator Springs and still friends with those he considers family there. But times have changed and he’s gotten older. A new breed of race car is on the tracks now, in particular an up and comer named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). The new cars are faster, train differently and are soon leaving McQueen in their dust. In an attempt to push past them he crashes.
Months pass and McQueen isn’t sure he wants to return to the track. It takes his friend Sally (Bonnie Hunt) to convince him this is what he truly wants. He heads back to Rust-ESE to get back in shape only to find his old friends Luigi and Guido have sold the business to tycoon Sterling (Nathan Fillion). Sterling has it in mind to market McQueen for all he can, endorsing nearly every possibility out there. To insure that he returns to the winner’s circle he’s employing the latest in technology and a trainer by the name of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo).
McQueen does his best with the new system but this isn’t his style of training. After a crash on the simulator he realizes he needs to get back to his roots and heads for the beaches of Florida. Accompanying him is some old friends as well as Cruz. When they begin he spends more time teaching Cruz more than he getting himself ready. Unable to break the speed set by Jackson Storm he begins to give up hope until he thinks of one more possibility.
He goes to where it all began, where his mentor Doc was taught. There he finds Doc’s mentor Smokey (Chris Cooper) still alive along with several of Doc’s old friends. They’ve been expecting him and training in their fashion begins. But will it be enough for him to get back what he once had?
SPOILER ALERT! And here is where the entire film takes a different turn. When the big race comes in the fourth quarter of the film, McQueen bows out and allows Cruz to take his place. And this is what the real story of CARS 3 is all about, the passing of the torch from the older generation to the younger, giving the new comer the chance to bask in the same glory they once enjoyed.
Watching this I was reminded of the ROCKY films. The time had come for Stallone as Rocky to take off the gloves and start helping pass the torch, which he did. This film is doing the same thing and in doing so sets itself up for more movies down the line. Rather than deal with the question of an aging car still winning races against all comers we have a new hot rod in mind. Now it’s up to her to take that torch and carry it across the finish line…or not.
I’ve read a number of reviews that have bad mouthed this film and almost all had the same complaint: it wasn’t the same movie they’d seen before. It made me wonder why they didn’t see the positives in this film, the fact that it extended the life of the series with this new development. It also provides a great lesson for young people to learn and draws in older viewers as well who understand what it’s like to go through what McQueen does.
The animation by Pixar remains top of the line. I’ve seen other movies doing this sort of CGI animation and while good they don’t compare. The story moves along at a steady pace and never involves moments where you wish it would move along faster. It’s a compelling story that needs to be told.
It’s great that the voice over actors have returned time and time again to do the voices and keep continuity in doing so. New actors in new roles do an amazing job as well. Now if they will all continue to do so in the future.
CARS 3 is not the first film but one unto itself. It may involve the same characters but there is a slightly different story going on here. Push play and know that going in and you’ll be delighted to see the old crew, the new crew and the new story unfold. For me it was a delight and a movie I know I’ll pop back in every once in a while. Come to think of it this would make a great movie marathon with the first 2 for my younger nieces and nephews. Time to go out and pick up some microwave popcorn and have them over.
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The movie WARRIOR is out this week in a new 4k resolution edition. Looking back I was surprised that the movie is already 6 years old and for some reason flew under my radar. Don’t get me wrong, I mean I heard about the movie but for some reason never got around to seeing it. Until now.
The movie focuses on the lives of three men. First up is Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), an ex-boxer turned alcoholic in the midst of going sober. Paddy was a terrible father whose boozing ways broke up his family and left him with next to nothing. Then there is Tommy (Tom Hardy), a tough young man who left with his mother long ago, a high school wrestling champ with a chip on his shoulder, forced to watch his mother die and just returned to visit Paddy. And lastly there is Brendan (Joel Edgerton), the elder son who remained with Paddy suffering his abuse and eventually cutting ties with him, now a physics teacher, happily married and the father of two. These three stories connect as we learn about the various issues each is facing, the stories culminating in the ring of a special MMA fight.
The focus is mainly on the two brothers. Tommy has changed his name to his mother’s maiden name and is filled with an ancient rage that won’t let go. He goes to work out in a local gym while visiting Paddy and in a sparring match knocks out the local MMA top dog cold. This was the man who was supposed to enter Sparta, an event bringing together the top 16 fighters to determine once and for all who the best is. But Tommy is also carrying a secret with him, another reason for the name change that comes out later in the film.
Brendan is having financial issues that cause a problem at work. A refinancing structure by the bank has left his family with potentially losing their home. In an effort to make extra money he fights in an off the books MMA match in a strip club parking lot. This incurs the wrath of his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) since the couple decided he’d never fight again. Footage of the fight ends up online and also finds himself in trouble with the school system, getting suspended pending an investigation. Now the fight circuit is the only way for him to make money until that suspension is lifted. Training with an old friend, an injury to that schools champion for the Sparta event leaves an opening for him to enter.
Reasons for both to win the match and the $5 million dollar prize are presented before the match begins. Each of the brothers is the underdog, Brendan more so, as they battle the opposition to get to the finals. Brendan even has to face off an undefeated terror from Russia named Kobar (Kurt Angle). The Rocky type story find you rooting for both men. But what happens when they must face off against one another? With noble motivations who can you root for?
Some might consider this film just another fight flick and they’d be wrong. It is the story of a family torn apart years ago, who no longer communicates on the basest level, formed by three men who still carry the pain from their shared past experiences. It is a story where you wait to see if they can surmount those differences and come together once again.
The movie is exceptionally well made, directed by went on to direct JANE GOT A GUN and the recent THE ACCOUNTANT. As co-author of the script he’s also crafted a well spun story giving what could have been just another fight film some depth. The performances are fantastic to watch. Nolte may have a more supporting role but he plays it remarkably well. Edgerton displays the sensitive fighter who may be in over his head but who struggles anyway. And Hardy, who has become a force to be reckoned with in the acting field, gives early signs of what was to come over the years. The movie is a treat to watch.
This new release of the film comes packed with extras that are as interesting as the film itself. They include the usual blooper reel, the documentary REDEMPTION: BRINGING WARRIOR TO LIFE, PHILOSOPY IN COMBAT: MIXED MARTIAL ARTS STRATEGY, a breakdown of the climactic fight, an audio commentary track, an enhanced viewing mode and a tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. a consultant on the film and one of the founders of Tapout, the clothing manufacturer for the MMA circuit.
The biggest news here though is that the film is being released in a 4k ultra HD format. The format yields the cleanest and sharpest picture you can achieve currently. In addition to that disc there is the blu-ray version as well as the digital code to place your copy in your online digital account. Watching and enjoying the film in the blu-ray format made me long for a 4k system to enjoy the movie that much more. In the meantime I’ll hold on to it until that day comes and plan on enjoying the movie once again on that day.
One things has to be said for the smaller DVD/Blu-ray releasing companies. They are taking the time and putting the effort into putting out some long lost films in the most gorgeous looking condition that can be found anywhere. When these same films were released on video way back when the worst looking prints were found and a quick buck was made. Now time is being taken and the difference is visible with each new release. Some call it a niche market. I call it a labor of love.
Garagehouse Pictures is just such a company and while their releases come out slowly they are done to perfection. I mentioned a while back their release of the film THE INTRUDER. Now they’ve released another film that is worth picking up for fans of horror films, especially those made in Italy.
WEB OF THE SPIDER is a remake of the film CASTLE OF BLODD, the much loved black and white Italian production that starred Barbara Steele. Both films are directed by Antonio Margheriti under the pseudonym Anthony M. Dawson.
The story revolves around a drunken Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski) telling tales in a bar for drinks while in England. In walks Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa), a journalist who has been seeking out Poe for an interview. They begin to talk about life, death and what happens after but while Poe believes in ghosts Foster does not. Poe and his friend Thomas Blackwood challenge Foster to put his money where his mouth is and suggest he spend the night in the castle owned by Blackwood.
Foster takes the challenge and the three head to the castle. He’s been told by Blackwood that no one has ever survived an overnight visit to the castle on this night as it is All Hallow’s Eve. Foster scoffs at the idea of the supernatural and the trio arrive at the gate and the pair leave Foster to fend for himself. He gets through the front gate, walks through a cemetery in front of the estate and finds his way in.
A quick walkthrough of the lower floors, a few passages played on a harpsichord and soon he finds himself face to face with Elisabeth Blackwood (Michele Mercier). She shows him around the estate, talking about things that have happened there. Forster is intrigued by this beautiful woman so much that he begins to fall in love with her.
But as the night moves forward things begin to happen. Where once there were cobwebs and dust there is now a ballroom filled with guests dancing away the night. Elisabeth is now in the arms of her husband as Forster begins to witness the past before his eyes and learns that Elisabeth is not what he thought but just one of many ghosts in the house.
As the night progresses Foster learns of what happened to each of the various apparitions he sees before him. Will he survive the night? Or is there some insidious reason that these wraiths have appeared before him, some need they have for him to continue on with their own survival?
The movie is a classic styled gothic horror film from the setting and costumes to the customs of the time, both past and present in the tale. The sets in use are wonderfully detailed and bring to life the story that unfolds. Not only that we’re offered the film in a widescreen presentation, something that’s been missing for some time.
The acting is above what most would expect in a film with this sort of topic. Franciosa was an underrated actor who should have garnered better roles. Even so he put his all into the roles he had and it shows in this one. Mercier is equally up to the task matching him from their first scenes together to their last. And Peter Carsten as Dr. Carmus, a ghost who was once a visitor like Forster does a great job as well.
Garagehouse Pictures is releasing this in the best version you’ll ever be likely to find. The film has been fully restored and mastered from an uncut, domestic theatrical negative and it shows. The clear, crisp, clean image on view is amazing. In addition to that the film is loaded with extras that include an audio commentary track with George Reis & Keith Crocker, an audio commentary track by Stephen Romano, 2 German Super 8 movie digests, an Antonio Margheriti trailer reel, deleted scenes, an uncut Italian version of the film (non-high def), an art gallery, a collection of Garagehouse Pictures trailers and it features new artwork by Stephen Romano.
Horror fans will want to add this one to their collections. Fans of Italian horror films will be pleased to finally have this film available in such great shape. It offers a sold evening’s worth of entertainment and should please most. This is a great example of how good a movie was being made at the time.