If it's crap ... We'll tell you
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: SEASON FOUR (Blu-Ray)
The final five (humans on board the Galactica who are revealed to be sleeper Cylons) have been revealed. It's up to the fourth and last season of the SyFy Channel's most beloved tv show ever, to make it all make sense in context of the various plot elements that had been revealed to us previously? Did they get it right? Depends on who you ask, I suppose. For my money, creators David Eick and Ronald D. Moore spectacularly dropped the ball, abandoning major story threads brought up only a few episodes before the controversial two-part finale, and pulling one of the laziest and literal 'deus ex machinas' in story telling history. So no, I fall firmly on the WTF side of the discussion. Many of the show's biggest mysteries are dealt with some greater level of satisfaction in season four well before the craptacular finish, so it's certainly worth a look if you've gotten that far anyway, but just be warned: the story for fan favorite character Kara Thrace (aka Starbuck) is completely mishandled all the way through the season, and is indeed one of the major complaint points for the final episode for those who felt like I did. The blu-ray set, however, is a nice package, adding in the complete extended version of the movie "Razor" which served originally as the opening two episodes of the season in truncated form and ten hours of extras fill up the bonus features section, most notably the feature, "A Look Back" where the cast and crew examine the good and bad experiences over the years making the show. It's a shame that what was one of the greatest television shows ever made had to come to such an ignoble end. But it's certainly in good company as far as that goes. I'm looking at you "Twin Peaks", "X-Files", "The Sopranos", "Seinfeld", "Quantum Leap", etc, etc.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Battlestar Galactica: Season Four [Blu-ray]
BITTER FEAST (DVD)
I love finding weird little indie horror films that knock it out of the park. 2010's "Bitter Feast" is anything but unpleasant. James LeGros plays Peter Grey, a famous NY chef whose cooking show is in trouble due to his perfectionist and humorless attitude about food. When caustic and popular food critic J.T. Franks (Joshua Leonard) writes a scathing review of his restaurant as well, everything falls apart for him. Franks himself is a giant mess, his life and marriage are disintegrating because of his inability to deal with the recent death of his son, and he's clearly taking out his pain on everyone around him, including the restaurants he reviews. Even worse news for him is that some folks take criticism especially hard and might be just as on the edge as he is. Grey kidnaps Franks and takes him out to his house well away from civilization, where he challenges him to perform various acts of culinary perfection that Franks has harshly criticized other cooks for, in order to be able to eat or drink at all. "Bitter Feast" is the only film I've seen that might be qualified as 'torture porn' that I really liked. What an odd and justifiably entertaining (if you're kind of sick like myself) series of abuses! The horror is mainly of the funny variety for the first two thirds, as the pompous Grey tortures Franks with his series of impossible food challenges, and beats the guy to a pulp as he repeatedly fails them, but it takes a turn for the genuinely suspenseful and scary towards the end. All in all a solid low budget horror. And I'm not just saying that because it hit close to home. I could help but imagine what would happen if someone like George Lucas or Kevin Smith went seriously homicidal and decided to take it out on their detractors. I do NOT want to end up in the Sarlacc pit, is all I'm saying. Or in Kevin Smith's bathroom. Ok, if there's a choice between the two, I'll take the Sarlacc pit.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Bitter Feast
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON EIGHT (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Let me preface this by saying, for those two or three of you out there who don't already know, that I'm a ridiculously huge fan of Joss Whedon. More specifically, I'm a sucker for the Buffyverse, having watched all seven seasons of the show (and all five of it's spin-off "Angel") multiple times, and torn through the officially approved 'canon' comic series that follows the events of the show. Even so, like most fans (I think) I was critical of the comic series, which was uneven. Occasionally it hit heights of brilliance, like with Brian K Vaughan's Faith and Giles revealing four part story "No Future For You", or original show writer Drew Goddard's "Wolves at the Gate" which perfectly captured the fluctuating moods and comedy of the television program. But Whedon's own runs on the book were often confusing. His cadences, so important to appreciating the way he writes, didn't come across clearly at all. It was also hard sometimes to identify who some of the minor characters he brought back from the show were supposed to be. Enter Dark Horse and Fox Home Entertainment's Motion Comics adaptation of the first 19 issues of Season Eight. With the use of subtitles, character confusion is gone, as is any uncertainty as to the way the lines were meant to be spoken (an issue famously encountered with Whedon's written work when Halle Berry grossly misinterpreted her 'Toad' line in the first X-Men film). On the down side, after seeing what Marvel's been doing with the Motion Comics technology lately, it was hard to take a big step back to the beginning. While there's lots of effort to be innovative with the transitions, largely, this is back to the old cut-out paper dolls being slid around a back ground look, and even worse, just filming the comic panels with a bit of shaky-cam. I got used to it after awhile, as I did not hearing ANY of the original actor's voices (seriously, you couldn't even get Nicholas Brendon?) because, as usual, the Buffyverse sucked me right back into its creative, funny, and tragic world. There's a lot of bang for your buck, as this sucker runs at 448 minutes, split up into 10-15 minute 'issues', but let me emphasize that it is NOT a starting point to get into the Buffy universe. Quite frankly, newcomers will have absolutely NO idea what is going on. For fans though, I can only say, what the hell are you waiting for? This IS Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight. Officially. Whether you read it, or watch it...get on it.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Motion Comic (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)