New releases are rated on a scale of 0 to 4 stars.
DVD and Blu-ray reviews are on a scale from A+ to F-.
If you don't see a rating it's because I hadn't yet watched that particular film.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New on DVD and Blu-ray – May 1, 2012

Haywire - DVD and Blu-ray (2012) - Grade D

Real-life MMA fighter Gina Carano plays Mallory Kane, a secret agent who’s betrayed by her own organization in this spy craft/martial arts thriller.

Mallory is on an extraction mission in Spain. All goes well and she delivers the kindnapee to the man who hired her company. Then she’s given an escort assignment in Ireland and is paid to be “a lady”. But she finds the corpse of the man that she’d rescued while in Spain and she’s set up as its killer. She’s then on the run and avoiding the local militia, she returns to the US and decided to find out the truth behind her betrayal. She also kills everyone that has or will double cross her further.

The supporting cast includes a terribly miscast Ewan McGregor, a lifeless Channing Tatum, a nonchalant Michael Douglas, a bearded but wasted Antonio Banderas, and my current favourite actor Michael Fassbender.

This is Steven Soderbergh’s first attempt at a martial arts type film that also combines aspects from a spy thriller and contains his own fractured storytelling style. But Haywire is plot heavy and kind of light on martial arts. The martial arts sequences in the film initially portray a sort of realism but end up being flashy and somewhat boring, because MMA is in large partly Jiujitsu; and Jiujitsu is mostly ground based grappling.

Watching Carano and Fassbender duke it out in an expensive hotel room looks just as ridiculous as all of the other action sequences. They strike each other repeatedly in the face, twist one another’s joints, choke one another and throw each other into breakaway objects. No one is cut, no one is bruised, and it’s too showy and unrealistic. When a fight is unavoidable, real spies that are proficient in martial arts tend to finish fights within seconds, breaking their opponent or target’s limbs while quickly dropping them to the ground and delivering killing strikes. Each fight in this film lasts several minutes, objects are constantly broken, and no one is bruised. Nice try Soderbergh.

The biggest problem that I have with the film is that even though it may seem convoluted, once it’s over the audience can piece it all together rather quickly. But the story doesn’t make sense. There isn’t a reason for Mallory’s betrayal. The plot revolves around a very rich man who’s, apparently, also evil and who’s being pestered by a journalist. Banderas is then hired by the rich man to “take care” of the journalist. He contacts McGregor and McGregor hires Mallory to unknowingly “rescue” the journalist from kidnappers, when in actuality the journalist was in a safe house under witness protection. The journalist is then handed over to Banderas and is then transferred to Ireland, where he’s killed behind the scenes. Then the journalist’s corpse appears but with evidence that Mallory had killed him. Then she’s targeted for arrest or assassination. But once again, why? Why is Mallory framed for murder? Why doesn’t the journalist simply disappear? The film never explains that part and as a result the film is made entirely superfluous.

The fight sequences are more annoying and uninspired than entertaining; none of the actors truly cared for how they'd receive their paycheques, and the story doesn’t make any sense. The film was a failure before it even began.

And why does Soderbergh film every movie with the Red camera? Digital will never look better than or even come close to being be on par with film and he also colour tints his films to look sometimes orange and sometimes blue. I don’t know why he liked his movies to that way. It’s ugly and silly. He’s losing his touch.

In summation (and I apologize for repeating myself): bad fight sequences; the story doesn’t make sense; it’s an ugly looking film; and all of the actors deliver lackluster performances. It’s nothing more than a failed experiment that is barely worth checking out on video.

Jeremiah Johnson - Blu-ray (1972)

Jeremiah Johnson

Meet Joe Black - Blu-ray (1998) - Grade B

Meet Joe Black

Men in Black - Blu-ray (1997) - Grade A-

Men in Black
This is just a double dip. The Blu-ray has been out for a few years (I own it) and this is just more of the same.

The Tim Burton Collection (Amazon Exclusive Blu-ray boxset)

Tim Burton Collection

W.E. – DVD and Blu-ray (2011)



  1. I am watching 'Jeremiah Johnson' tonight and will be writing a review of it soon on my blog. I am excited that more films from the 70's are being released on Blu-ray and not just the classic ones. So far the transfers have been excellent.

  2. That's good to hear. By the way, have you check this out? It's too expensive for me (for now) but I want to get it one day on Blu-ray:

    America Lost and Found: The BBS Story

    1. My mouth waters just looking at that page. Yes, that will definitely be worth every penny you spend on it, so when you can afford it will be well worth the expense. 'King of the Marvin Gardens' is a real original with Nicholson playing a subdued character role like you've never seen. Ellen Burstyn suffers a meltdown that stays with you long after the picture is over. 'Drive He Said', which is so far Nicholson's only directorial effort, is an interesting curio about the game of basketball with some surprisingly homoerotic overtones. 'Easy Rider' of course is a classic that needs to be seen at least once.

  3. I honestly only want to buy it for "Five Easy Pieces"; that and "The Shining" are my favourite Nicholson films and contain my favourite Nicholson performances. And then there's Cuckoo's Nest... :O)

    I watched "Goin' South" a few weeks back and found it to be a mediocre to decent film; it was also directed by Nicholson. Now I understand what you mean by "Nicholson's only directorial effort". lol

    1. Yeah, I'm ashamed to say that I forgot all about 'Going South'. I saw it back in 1984 and thought the premise was good and it starts out with a bang, but seemed to dry up by the end and went out with a wimpher losing it from my mind completely. I should probably give it another shot. As I remember Mary Steenburgen is pretty good in it.

  4. She's pretty hot in it. I only watched the film then for the first time and can assure you that it won't seem better with a second viewing. I, too found it getting weaker by the minute after the first 30 minutes.