Features and Columns · Movies

‘Black Out’ and ‘Ravenous’ Are the Best Blu-ray/DVD Releases of the Week

By  · Published on June 3rd, 2014

Doppelganger Releasing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

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Black Out

Jos (Raymond Thiry) used to be a very bad man. But he’s reformed now, on the straight and narrow, and engaged to be married to a wonderful woman. All of that’s put at risk when he wakes up the day before his wedding in a somewhat compromising situation… namely with a dead body lying beside him and no memory of how it got there. Now he’s in a race to discover what’s happening, who’s behind it and how he can keep his bride-to-be from hearing about it all.

This Dutch action/comedy has been a long time coming to our shores ‐ we saw it back at Fantastic Fest 2012 ‐ and it’s an absolute blast from beginning to end as it mixes a dark sense of humor with extreme acts of violence and some highly memorable characters. Comparisons to early Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino are fair, but director Arne Toonen makes it his own creation. Highly recommended for fans of funny, profane and fast-moving R-rated fun.

Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, short film, bloopers, gallery


A remote military outpost home to a ragtag group of people welcomes one more into their fold when the cowardly Capt. John Boyd (Guy Pearce) is dispatched to the fort. He’s not there for long before another man (Robert Carlyle) shows up, freezing and telling a tale of a cannibalistic madman in a cave nearby, and soon a handful of soldiers are trekking out for the last adventure of their lives.

Antonia Bird’s film remains an underseen gem mixing action, suspense and comedy into a fantastically entertaining concoction. It’s a visual and aural treat thanks to some marvelously edited sequences, an excellent score from Michael Nyman and the supporting cast including Jeffrey Jones, Jeremy Davies (almost revisiting his Saving Private Ryan character), Neal McDonagh and David Arquette just add to the fun. The only downside here is Scream Factory’s HD transfer which is unfortunately disappointing and not the image upgrade we were all hoping for. It’s far less than what they’ve delivered in the past, but the new Jones interview and its minor step up from VHS will have to do.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, trailer, interview, galleries]

Alexander: The Ultimate Cut

Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) led his forces to conquer 90% of the known world, but his struggles went well beyond the battlefield. He was constantly at war with his people’s expectations, his parents’ demanding pressures and his own drive. Oliver Stone’s film is ambitious to a fault, but it’s also a poorly structured mess thanks to its unnecessary and constant jumps back and forth in Alexander’s life. Dramatic weight is neutered by the shifts with unfortunate results. It’s too bad as there are some solid performances and stunning shots/sequences here.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, documentaries, commentaries, featurette, art book, memos]

Beyond the Trophy

Los Angeles is caught in the grip of a power struggle between rival gangs, and only the scenery chewing of Eric Roberts and Michael Madsen can save it. That might not be the real plot of this crime drama, but it may as well be. The two veterans are the highlights here as the rest of the cast and the generic story can’t quite keep up.

[DVD extras: None]

Falling Skies: The Complete Third Season

Mankind’s fight against the alien invaders continues in all ten episodes of season three as Tom (Noah Wyle) and his ragtag group of resistance fighters join forces with some intergalactic friends of their own. TNT’s series remains a better V clone than NBC’s recent V reboot thanks to its effects, engaging narratives and personality.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, behind the scenes, Wil Wheaton recaps]

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

Alien. Escape from New York. Christine. Repo Man. Paris, Texas. The Last Temptation of Christ. Dream a Little Dream. Twister. Wild at Heart. The Green Mile. And so on, and so on. Harry Dean Stanton has been in well over 200 films/TV shows, and while he’s rarely the lead he’s never less than memorable. This doc puts the spotlight on him as he talks about music, life and other things that interest him. He also chats with friends and sings a song or five along the way.

[DVD extras: None]

In the Blood

A woman (Gina Carano) on her honeymoon in the Caribbean runs into trouble when her husband is abducted by unknown bad guys for unknown reasons. Good thing she was trained by her father to kick ass and take names. Carano’s long overdue second lead role (after Haywire) is a let-down across the board. She’s not given nearly enough ass-kicking opportunities and instead is tasked with far too much acting. This mistake is compounded by a weak script and a cheap look.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes]

Lone Survivor

Four Navy SEALs on a secret mission in Afghanistan find themselves trapped and outnumbered on a mountain as the enemy slowly drives them higher and higher. This true story of heroism is marred to some degree by its jingoistic nature, action film aesthetic and blatant spoiler of a title, but Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster do good work here (even though both have shown better action chops elsewhere). Director Peter Berg’s best remain The Kingdom and The Rundown.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

The Motel Life

Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry (Stephen Dorff) are brothers leading what amounts to a life in and around Reno, NV, but when Jerry gets involved in a crime the brothers are forced on the run with tragic consequences. This low-key drama feels like it should be a lot more dire than it is, but it’s a compliment to the cast and filmmakers that it manages to let more than a little light and beauty in along the way.

Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, gallery, trailer

Parts Ber Billion

A deadly pandemic is sweeping the globe, and three couples spend their potential demise in varying ways. This is more relationship drama than end-of-the-world thriller and could honestly have probably done without the catastrophe angle. It implies a sense of urgency that the film itself never actually finds as instead we’re stuck with three couples who rarely do anything but mope.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Fourth Season

Four friends continue to play amateur detective as they investigate a friend’s mysterious death. I’m honestly impressed that this series has had four seasons now, four full 24 episode seasons, playing off what should have been a simple mystery. Even more mind boggling is how they’ve managed to keep this ‘A’ person in the shadows. Seriously, move the hell out of this town.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, unaired scenes]

Rawhide: The Eighth and Final Season

Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) saddles up one last time ‐ well, thirteen last times and not counting the movies obviously ‐ for the final season of his TV western from the ’60s. It’s not a surprise the show lasted eight seasons as even then Eastwood was star material, and the stories are engaging and varied enough to keep the interest. The series never really did anything a dozen other TV westerns didn’t, but it did it well.

[DVD extras: None]

Robocop (2014)

Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is fighting the good fight against Detroit’s less savory elements when he’s mortally wounded in the line of duty. A corporation steps in with a program designed to use what’s left of him in conjunction with a new cybernetic creation. This remake boats a strong cast, but the resulting film is the usual generic update that misses the point and the fun of the original. There are some solid sequences to be sure, but they exist within the confines of a sanitary PG-13 world.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]

Sugar Cookies

Alta was a popular adult film star whose death at the end of a pistol was judged an unfortunate suicide, but when her agent (Mary Woronov) and a sex-craved producer set out to find a replacement they stumble upon a young woman who looks exactly like the deceased starlet. Lloyd Kaufman, he of Troma fame, is the big name behind the scenes here, but don’t let his presence fool you. Sure the acting’s a bit rough around the edges, but the story and darkly sexual nature of it feel a bit beyond his usual sophomoric fare.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailers]

True Blood: The Complete Sixth Season

Vampires, werewolves and fairies oh my! This HBO series has had an interesting arc. The first couple of seasons were fun, exciting and sexy adventures that followed the human and vampire (and shape-shifting bar owner) travails of the citizens of Bon Temp, LA. But things changed over the next couple of seasons as the show became heavy with characters, subplots and mythology to the point where none of it was worth caring about. And then something wonderful happened… the show went bug nuts and became a hilarious series filled with absolute absurdity. Sure some of the characters are still trying to play it straight, but the ludicrous world around them always wins.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries]

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection
Alpha Alert
Blood Widow
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
Cowboys vs Zombies
Curious George: The Complete Seventh Season
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats
Gestapo’s Last Orgy
Goodbye World
Graceland: The Complete First Season
Mirage Men
New Tricks: Season 10
Peekarama: Baby Rosemary / Hot Lunch
The Pretty One
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide
What’s In a Name
Workaholics: Season Four

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.