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Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD +UltraViolet)
Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD +UltraViolet)
Price: $40.46

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See it on the biggest screen possible…GORGEOUS and INTENSE. Maybe the best action movie of the decade., May 19, 2015
Folks, let’s just start by stating the obvious. When in your life will you again have the chance to see a $150 million budgeted R-rated action movie? Probably never. So go see this in theaters while you still can.

Fury Road is an intensely action-gasmic spectacle. The first 30 minutes bombarded the audience with an unmatched extreme action sequence (and an equally magnificent battle score) beginning with a post-apocalyptic high speed car chase, Max is captured by tribal cultish goons and then escapes giving chase through a subterranean quasi-steampunk lair while still fettered and gagged while battling dozens of these minions while climbing and hanging from things and trudging through water, and then we get another tremendous mass vehicle chase/battle scene littered with explosions and speeding dilapidated car wrecking cartwheels and minions climbing all over these vehicles like ticks on mechanized apocalypse cattle…and then it all continues in a sandstorm with more bodies being flung from or even into the paths of raging war machines in the maelstrom.

There may be LOADS of CGI, but the budget shines as brightly as the rich orange explosions and the electric yellow sand. The cinematography bestows grandiose scale to our vastly empty wasteland populated by chaotically raging traffic. The action was truly flawless throughout, ever-tense and utterly thrilling, and often catches you off guard with the sheer brutality.

George Miller (Mad Max, Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome) hasn’t done very much recently—really only making children’s movies like two Happy Feet films and Babe: Pig in the Big City in the last 20 years. But after making happy-go-lucky bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kids flicks he has returned to Mad Max with a most fierce yet equally welcome assault on the senses. We have not 2 minutes of calm as we meet Max, his two-headed gecko snack, and his dusty Ford Falcon XB GT. From that moment on we are graced with a score that matches the scale of the scenery, the explosions and the budget. It’s grandiose in the best of ways; I truly lost myself in it. By the way, the acting was also great!

As Max, Tom Hardy (Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises) is perhaps perfect, but his character is quite unexpectedly understated. His lines are few and he isn’t really the hero of this story. Rather he is a reluctant sort-of nomad-turned-antihero who trusts no one and remains nameless through the majority of the film. The real hero is Imperator Furiosa (daringly performed by Charlize Theron; Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman), a once-loyal servant with a mechanical arm who is defying Immortan Joe by fleeing his citadel with his enslaved harem of “breeders” (a group of young attractive women Joe uses to produce children). They find unlikely help in a turned minion Nux (Nicholas Hoult; Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer) and a clan of strong, elderly warrior women deep in the desert.

Our antagonist is the tyrant Immortan Joe, played by the very same actor (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who played the villain “Toecutter” from Mad Max (1979). Joe rules by controlling the water supply and motivates his gullible and devoted minions called “war boys”—covered with almost tribal body modifications like body paint, piercings, ritual scarrings and brandings--with promises of an afterlife in the paradise of Valhalla, and as such they are ready (even excited) to die in battle serving their warlord. Look for the guy playing the double-necked flamethrower guitar and the gigantic Nathan Jones (6’11” 390lbs; Troy) at Joe’s side as son Rictus who, along with an army of war boys and heavily modified vehicles, aid Joe in recovering his property (i.e., his breeders). That, in essence, is the plot. Max just ends up in the middle of it all. It may sound overly simple, but it works gloriously.

So who is this movie for? Anyone who likes action movies. Really, ANYONE who likes action movies. Also, anyone who appreciates strong female roles. Feminine strength and freedom is what drives this movie and the rather simple plot. Despite the fact that there isn’t much to the story, the film is overall AMAZING.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2015 11:15 AM PDT


Tales From The Darkside: The Movie
Tales From The Darkside: The Movie
DVD
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles., May 13, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Having directed several episodes of TV’s Tales from the Crypt and Tales from the Darkside, John Harrison had the right experience to bring these stories to life. The wraparound story is rather Hansel and Gretel-ish, featuring a young Matthew Lawrence (Boy Meets World, Creature of Darkness) incarcerated in a kitchen-side cell being fattened with cookies. The young boy distracts his captor (Deborah Harry; Videodrome), who plans on preparing and serving him for a hoity-toity dinner party, by reading twisted stories from a book aptly title “Tales from the Darkside.” The three stories are not linked themselves, but still find a good synthesis with the wraparound story.

Our first story “Lot 249” features a group of graduate students played by a young Christian Slater (Stranded, El Gringo), Julianne Moore (Carrie, Psycho) and Steve Buscemi (Con Air, Escape from LA)…that alone gives good reason for any movie fan to see this. Young Buscemi is an archaeological power geek who acquires (somehow) a sarcophagus with a mummy in it. How he pulled this off without eBay and bypassing customs inspections is beyond me. So what do you do with a mummy other than maybe sell it to turn a profit? Well, have no fear of indecision because the mummy comes with instructions—in the form of a scroll in hieroglyphics. Of course he reads this scroll, after all horror cannot transpire otherwise, and the mummy goes about killing people. The execution of the story is weak, but it’s cheeky tone makes up for that.

Next is “Cat from Hell,” a new take on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. A wealthy geriatric recluse (William Hickey; Puppetmaster) hires a hit man (David Johansen; Campfire Stories, Freejack) to kill his cat for $100,000! Sound funny? Well not to our recluse, who explains how the cat had already killed three members of his household. Of course, our hit man takes the job and it turns out to be considerably harder than he expected. Enjoy. This one is zany but told with a straight face. You’ll giggle, but you’ll also wince.

“Lover’s Vow” is the most clever story by far, it offers no laughs at all, and it steers clear of the tropes we find in the other two segments. In this story an artist (James Remar; Horns, The Unborn, The Warriors) sees something that he shouldn’t have and he swears a vow that he would never tell what he saw or describe his mysterious assailant, which is apparently a gargoyle. Later in the story he meets the love of his life (Rae Dawn Chong) and all the while he keeps from her this secret. There’s a cool ending. I never saw it coming, but my girlfriend managed to predict it.

I first saw this as a child, so this flick has a powerful nostalgia over me. But the stories are still entertaining to see unfold and I feel this should entertain today’s horror fans who haven’t yet seen it—especially viewers old enough (maybe over 30) to appreciate the practical effects and the before-the-were-stars cameos. Enjoy.


Ex Machina
Ex Machina
DVD
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Tugging our sympathies as powerfully as our suspicions, this sci-fi A.I. thriller is told in a manner we have not seen before!, April 28, 2015
This review is from: Ex Machina (Amazon Instant Video)
Almost entirely taking place in one location, Ex Machina keeps us mentally on our toes while never really pulling us out of our comfort zone. This sense of "comfort" works all too well as we, along with Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson; About Time, Dredd, Star Wars Episode VII), get carried away sympathizing for artificial intelligence creation Ava (Alicia Vikander; Seventh Son).

Caleb, a talented coder working for a huge search engine company called BlueBook (much like Google), is charged with performing a week-long Turing test on Ava to establish that her self-awareness is more than just a stunningly accurate simulation of sentience. But Ava surprises Caleb with her elegant mind…and heart.

Ava's creator Nathan (Oscar Isaac; A Most Violent Year, Drive, Robin Hood) is friendly yet arrogant and well-God-complexed--perhaps not surprising being a young billionaire genius engineer who may have created the first ever truly self-aware artificial intelligence. He boasts friendship over beers and then pushes and manipulates to uncover the truths about Ava that he feels Caleb withholds.

As Caleb conducts his Turing inquiry, Ava and Nathan engage in a tug-of-war to earn Caleb's trust. We are given convincing evidence to distrust either of them, but Ava naturally garners more sympathy being that she is kept against her will by her Frankensteinian creator. Ava is not surprisingly brilliant yet carries a mildly naÔve air about her and the likewise naÔve Caleb is almost immediately taken by her.

So who do we trust? The controlling Creator or the created machine? Or do we trust the innocent tester Caleb, whose apparent lack of emotional maturity may blur his judgment? We find that all three of them have their own plan…and we are left to question whose plans match, overlap, or conflict with each other's.

Written and directed by Alex Garland (writer of Dredd, Sunshine, 28 Days Later), this film plays on our sympathy and trust. Driving the story is both Caleb and Ava's innocence, which is starkly contrasted by their craftiness and a shared resistance to Nathan.

As the astute but lonely Caleb, Gleeson is stellar as usual. Ava was carefully and precisely acted by Vikander--her facial expressions and eyes telling us far more than her brilliantly scripted dialogue ever could. But for me Oscar Isaac was the one who truly stole the show as Nathan. Nathan has all the quirks we might expect from a locked in savant…fixation, a bipolar grip on hospitality and temperament, addiction, patience in some regards and impatient in others. Perfectly duplicitous, yet understandably so, Nathan is handled like a villain playing a relatively fair game. At times his behavior skirts that of a sociopath--watch out for the almost surreal "dance scene." He self-medicates his solitude with alcohol, which serves to alienate the obsessed programming paragon from Caleb, befriend Caleb, and even empower Caleb.

As we learn more about the motives driving each of our three players, we see our expectations crumble before our eyes into such a simple, sensible conclusion that we somehow never saw coming. My only successful prediction: that something bad was going to happen to someone.

We adjourn with an ending that is powerful. Its impact will haunt you.


Niacin Vitamin B3 Pure Bulk Powder.
Niacin Vitamin B3 Pure Bulk Powder.
Offered by ParMatrix Fine Ingredients
Price: $12.48 - $31.48

5.0 out of 5 stars This was a good addition to my suite of supplements. It amped me up, and my workout., April 17, 2015
I have always been a fan of buying pure powder form supplements. I pre-make my pre-workout and post workout drinks according to my workload for a given workout, so this just makes sense...some glutamine, creatine, betaine, Vitamin B3, etc. So, as someone who wants Niacin in some of these special recipe drinks, I'm a fan of this product, which comes at a good price. Hard Rhino is a good brand for reasons beyond product purity. The package is double sealed...thus adding to their shelf life.

Like any new supplement, use baby steps with the dosage. High doses of readily digestible supplements like this can make you feel a bit "off" when you're not used to them. I'd go 50%, 75%, 100%...moving between steps only when you feel "normal" or at least "not over-stimulated." You might feel flushed, for example, or even tingling.

Anyway, this was a good addition to my suite of supplements. It amped me up, and my workout.


The Voices [Blu-ray]
The Voices [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ryan Reynolds
Price: $15.93
27 used & new from $8.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark comedy w/ Ryan Reynolds as a likable schizophrenic whose Scottish cat urges him to kill people, April 17, 2015
This review is from: The Voices [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Definitely not for everyone. This film is sweet and funny, but it has its Texas Chainsaw moments, too. It’s a cute little murderous movie. MOVIES

Ryan Reynolds (RIPD, Safe House, Green Lantern) seems to be supportive of indie and experimental films. The Captive and Buried presented him with new challenges, and I suppose The Nines and Finder’s Fee presented some different styles to try to round him out as an actor. His latest non-mainstream endeavor is The Voices, in which he plays the voices of his Scottish-accented cat Mr. Whiskers, his dog Bosco, a weird Bunny Monkey sock puppet, and a dying deer his character hits with a car. It’s like a slasher-Psycho version of Eddie Murphy’s The Nutty Professor.

If that sounds a bit odd to you, your suspicions are correct. This film is odd. Were it not for my being a Ryan Reynolds fan, I’d probably have spent the first 20 minutes of this movie wondering if renting it was a mistake. That said, the story does find its legs and gains some traction. It doesn’t end up anywhere great, but it certainly turned out to be something interesting. At the very least, it’s a story you have not seen told before (not like this anyway).

Meet Jerry. Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) is a sweet, likable factory worker with schizophrenia. He tries to fit in and live a normal life, but his actions highlight his eccentricities, alerting everyone around him that something about him is weird. As a product of not taking his medication, he comes home to a friendly talking dog and his cat, who verbally abuses him with a Scottish accent.

Jerry has a crush on Fiona (Gemma Arterton; Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Byzantium) that turns from something pathetic into something awkward and then develops into something tragic…but the whole time we feel for Jerry. Things gets worse when Lisa (Anna Kendrick; Pitch Perfect) goes out on a date with him. Completely incompetent and thus facilitating his madness is Jerry’s psychiatrist (Jackie Weaver; Haunt, Stoker), who never takes appropriate action regarding Jerry’s treatment and medication. Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jackie Weaver all contribute decent performances.

The most interesting and eye-opening scene by far is when Jerry actually takes his medication and, to his horror, sees his sickly abject home and muted pets as they truly are. The scene brings the story together and solidifies Jerry’s ensuing actions and our forgiveness for those actions.
This movie is nothing spectacular, but Reynolds does a fantastic job of presenting his murderous character through a sympathetic lens, begging reasonable forgiveness for even his most heinous acts. He’s the killer you feel sorry for…you even want to see him happy even though you know it won’t happen, making this a very endearing psycho-killer film. LOL

Also, I’m not sure if this was just an authored scenario or a sleight of social commentary about our health care system, but it is only because the health care system (especially his psychiatrist) fail Jerry that he causes anyone harm.

The film closes with a weirdly funny musical number at the end featuring Reynoolds and the major cast during the credits. Nice touch to wrap up the mania of this cute little murderous movie. Definitely not for everyone. This film is sweet and funny, but it has its Texas Chainsaw moments.


Absentia
Absentia
DVD ~ Katie Parker
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $6.08
23 used & new from $2.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quietly scary adult fable melding the Billy Goats Gruff with a hauntingly melancholy atmosphere, April 14, 2015
This review is from: Absentia (DVD)
I must say, this film surprised me in more ways than one. I skipped this film for years following its release labeling it “just another straight-to-DVD horror” that I’d “get around to” when I had time. I kept delaying. After all, if you look at the DVD cover art you wouldn’t think there was anything original behind that woman being dragged into the darkness. In the last couple years, however, I’ve been noticing mounting positive reviews of the film. So I finally caved in and decided to give it a shot when I saw it on Netflix.

At its start I feared my original concerns would come true. I recognized none of the actors and I could tell it had a low budget (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). I just figured this would turn out to be some haunting story brought upon by some past misdeed of the main character, a pregnant woman whose husband has been missing for 7 years. But this was nothing of the sort.

The story begins very simply: Callie moves in with her sister Tricia when Tricia is forced to sign papers declaring her husband (who has been missing for 7 years) “dead in absentia.” However, instead of finding closure, Tricia’s inner conflict continues as she is apparently haunted by her husband’s tormented spirit.

The scares and imagery are rattling and the atmosphere is powerfully off-putting. But rather than being “loud” and scary, it’s quiet and eerie—think Session 9 (2001) and you’ll know what I mean. Not so surprising, I guess, after learning this was written and directed by Mike Flanagan, who later went on to helm Oculus (2014; which cameos the actors of this film).

Character-driven and nightmarish, our story advances as Callie begins to link several recent disappearances spanning 100 years (and that of Tricia’s husband) to a nearby tunnel. The film includes scenes with the book “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and serves as an adult version of the fable. That said, this isn’t a monster movie, or a haunting story…yet it feels like both.

And like a terrifying fable, we find no solid reason behind the disappearances at the end, only evidence of a cause, making this feel satisfyingly mysterious yet many will feel at least partially annoyed by the lack of explanation. But isn’t that where most horror falls apart? When things are explained, or over-explained, or we try to rationalize a supernatural story with rules…? Maybe it’s for the better that it ends this way. Not all horror is meant to be explained. Sometimes, just sometimes, that’s what makes it scary.


It Follows [Blu-ray]
It Follows [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Maika Monroe
Price: $26.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entrancing & unsettling, a gritty timeless film serving as a powerful cautionary metaphor to the consequences of unprotected sex, April 1, 2015
This review is from: It Follows [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Entrancing and unsettling, this gritty timeless film serves as a powerful cautionary metaphor to the consequences of unprotected sex. Beautifully executed and a unique experience; quite an unusual combination in the horror genre.

This film felt like so many familiar things, yet like nothing else. The presence of a Kindle (or something sort of like that) indicates that the story takes place now—or close to present day. Yet the use of corded phones and minimal presence of cell phones creates a sense of media isolation, much like pre-2000 horror, and the overall feeling reminds me more of an 80s horror setting. Adding to this isolated 80s sensation, the entire film is scored with synthesizers. This scoring is of much higher quality than an 80s film, and the style sets an ominous tone that readily resets our uneasiness as we watch.

And what is it we’re watching for? After an intimate encounter, a young girl (Maika Monroe; The Guest) is told by her newly ex-boyfriend that “something” will follow her from now on; that this something once followed him but he has now “given it” to her. This something has no specific form or identity and may appear as anyone, from a random unknown person to someone you love. The only certainty is that, where ever you are, “it” will be somewhere walking directly towards you…until it takes you, or you give it to someone else. “It” becomes a palpable nightmare.

And that brings us to the most important thing of all: this movie is scary? You may not leap out of your seat or scream, but you will be scared. This film propagates more of a continuous, quiet sense of dread. As with White Noise, Shadow People and Paranormal Activity we find our eyes locked on the screen, looking for the “it” that “follows.” Suddenly every person in the background becomes a candidate and every time a door opens we wonder if “it” will pass the threshold. Typically we watch a screen and may jump at the appearance of a killer before his victim. Here, we watch more in the same manner as the victim. I really felt like I was in the movie for many of the scenes.

There was one scene towards the end that I didn’t like. It was a long and major scene, but still just the one turned me off. You’ll know it when you get to the indoor pool scene. It felt like it belonged in a different movie of lower caliber.

Director/writer David Robert Mitchell is brand new to the business, but I expect he’ll become a household name to horror fans. As far as I can tell, It Follows serves as something of a cautionary metaphor representing the risks of unsafe or premarital sex and being “followed” by the consequences, even the sense of dread that may haunt one while waiting to receive the results of an HIV test. This metaphor, however, really pushes the envelope and the realness and likability of the young cast veils this nightmare with urgency. There is one particularly intense scene in which “it” takes the form of a teen victim’s mother, and the way it “takes” you when it finds you is quite a disturbing image that was burned into my mind. This film was unsettling and gritty, for sure—and it does it without a menacing killer with a name and a scary past. It does it with a nameless, protean entity; an unnerving breath of fresh air.

Even my horror-desensitized mind was on edge as I watched this masterfully crafted horror. This truly unique and beautifully executed film pleased me overall. It felt like a classic horror from the late 70s or early 80s with a modern production treatment.

Ignore the sexual theme, understand that there is nothing raunchy or gratuitous to be seen, and enjoy sense of unmatched isolated dread of It Follows.


Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Isolate, Vanilla Creme, 2 Pounds
Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Isolate, Vanilla Creme, 2 Pounds

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most cost efficient and lean protein powders out there that has some vitamins in it and doesn't taste awful., March 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Not the tastiest protein powder, but it is one of the most cost efficient and lean protein powders out there that has some vitamins in it and doesn't taste like garbage. I'd advise blending it with ice, milk, greek yogurt, a banana, etc, but it's not terrible with cold water. Some of the super cheap protein powders taste like chocolate-flavored powdered dogfood.

This is whey isolate, so it costs a bit more than the standard product and should be taken right after your workout for faster absorption. It also has a small dose of creatine in it. So if you shy away from creatine, get a different product. It's also very lean (far from a weight gainer) and good for cutting (despite the creatine).

I've used this product for years as my post-workout. But I often opt for the tastier MuscleMilk products for my breakfast shake (well before I workout).


Cytosport - Muscle Milk Genuine Lean Protein Gainer Powder Drink Mix Cookies N' Creme - 4.94 lbs
Cytosport - Muscle Milk Genuine Lean Protein Gainer Powder Drink Mix Cookies N' Creme - 4.94 lbs
Price: $48.17
15 used & new from $47.89

5.0 out of 5 stars This is not the cheapest, but it is perhaps the tastiest of whey protein powders on the market. Love it. #GAINZ Not for cutting., March 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Delicious. That's the take home message here. This is not the cheapest, but it is perhaps the tastiest of whey protein powders on the market.

I should point out that it is not the leanest protein powder. Body Fortress is much leaner, as is the Muscle Milk Lean product line. Maybe that's why this tastes so good to me. I can drink this with cold water and it doesn't feel like I have to "get it over with." However, some milk, greek yogurt or even blended with ice and a banana this becomes a treat.

Again, it's not cheap, nor is it super lean (it's no weight gainer, though), but it's tasty. I used to choke down Body Fortress with water (when I didn't have access to my kitchen for some milk, etc). This is much better. If you're trying to lean out, though, you should find a leaner product.


Cellucor C4 Extreme Workout Supplement, Icy Blue Razz, 342 Gram
Cellucor C4 Extreme Workout Supplement, Icy Blue Razz, 342 Gram
Offered by Esquire's Closet & Stuff
Price: $43.99
15 used & new from $40.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my favorite flavor of my favorite pre-workout supplement., March 26, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is my favorite flavor of my favorite pre-workout supplement.

1. Tastes good, with a strong flavor that can mix with the often-fruit punchy creatine powder.
2. I've never had a headache from this. Everyone is different, though. Find the product that works for you.
3. It has a dose of creatine, but I add more. That's just me.
4. Gives me a good amped up workout. I have recorded every rep/set/weight of every exercise I've done in every workout for 5 years. When I skip my pre-workout supp (e.g., when on vacation at a hotel gym) I notice. I start out my workout as normal, but by the third or fourth exercise I begin losing reps and/or lifted poundage.
5. I have never noticed a side effect I didn't like. However, a friend of mine (who is very caffeine sensitive) felt like his heart was going to burst from his chest when he had his first scoop. (I take 2 and notice no change in heart rate, sweating, or anything like that).


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