What The Hell Is This, Fox?!

I know I’ve got other things on my plate that I want to talk about, but this is something I need to discuss.  See this image?  I encountered this as soon as I started playing my copy of Independence Day: Resurgence on Blu-Ray.  Apparently, the reason this shows up, is because of Fox Studios’ new copy protection scheme for their Blu-Rays.  This only shows up when you play the Blu-Ray on a computer that has issues connecting to the internet.  If the player can’t play the disc, it asks you to obtain an access code, which is available on the Play My Blu-Ray site.

THIS image is where you are supposed to enter the access code that you get from either the website I mentioned or Twitter.  For those of us who play games on PCs, this is familiar as the product activation screen for some games.  I understand the need to protect your IP.  I do.  But this is counter-productive.  These companies don’t seem to understand that you can’t prevent piracy, and yet they continue to try, much to the inconvenience of the people trying to watch the movie.  It seems like you don’t get this screen when you watch the film on a regular Blu-Ray player or PS3/PS4.  Going by what the website says, it says that this for Blu-Rays that were released on or before 10/19/2016.  If that’s the case, why didn’t I have to use this code for X-Men: Apocalypse, another Fox Blu-Ray that I bought?  It’s very strange.  Now, it seems like it’s a one-and-done kind of deal, meaning that you only have to enter the code once, and then you’re free to watch the disc whenever you want.  Now, I got the message and the images above while I was using PowerDVD 13, Cyberlink’s proprietary software Blu-Ray player.  I haven’t encountered anything like this with any other Blu-Ray from any other company, so……what’s the deal?  The harder you try to prevent piracy, the more determined that pirates are going to be in order to crack your protection scheme.  You shouldn’t have to take extra steps to watch a movie that you purchased legitimately, and that’s who these protection schemes hurt the most:  The consumer.  You don’t see pirates bitching about these kinds of things, because they work their way around them.  The consumer is going to be frustrated at the extra hoops that they have to jump through, just to watch a two-hour movie.  Who really wants to do that?  I’m not saying I advocate piracy.  I do not.  I don’t believe in it.  But I do understand why people do it, and this is going to push more consumers to pirate Fox’s movies.  You’re shooting yourself in the foot by punishing the consumers.  Some might say I’m overreacting to the whole thing, but I don’t think I am.  I’ve seen this crap pushed on gamers for years, but now Fox is starting to push this fucking shit onto audiences that prefer to watch movies at home.  No.  Fuck this shit, and fuck you Fox Studios for pushing this shit on us.

Essential Viewing Part 1

It’s coming up on 2 years since I started this website.  Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me thus far.  I will be doing my Best Movies Of The Year next month, so be sure to stay tuned for that, I’ve had a few surprises this year.  Since I’m coming up on 2 years with this website, I figured it would be a good time to do an Essential Viewing list.  These are movies that I think everyone should see at least once in their life.  Some of them are going to be horror movies, and I will label those ones with a warning, so for people who don’t like horror movies, they can skip if they so desire.  I’m going to be splitting this topic into several posts, so bear with me, as there are a LOT of movies that I think everyone should see.  Keep in mind, however, that not all these movies are great.  Some of them are actually not really good, but are worth watching at least once.  Some of them are going to be controversial to be sure, but again, this is MY list.  With that being said, let’s a have a look at some of the movies that you should see in your lifetime.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Now, I’m not listing this one first because it was the first review I did for the site….well….that’s part of it, but I digress.  I consider this one essential because it was something special.  Stanley Kubrick crafted an incredible visual journey of man’s evolution from ape to what we are now.  It’s not an action movie so forget any ideas about space battles and excitement.  It’s not that kind of movie.  It’s slow and deliberate, but there is a purpose for that.  The film is almost a silent movie of sorts.  It primarily uses visuals and music to tell the story.  This movie came out before we landed on the moon, so while what we saw in the movie wasn’t particularly accurate, it was a prediction of sorts into the future we were/are destined for.  It has a unique villain of sort in the HAL 9000 computer which endangers the crew of a ship on a secret mission.  The thing that really threw audiences for a loop was the ending.  It was weird, visually crazy, but it hinted a possible next step in our evolution.  It was deliberately vague so the audiences had to use their own imagination to figure out what it was all about, and that’s what made 2001: A Space Odyssey such a trip.  It made people think.  Aside from the fantastic visuals and music, it was just a fantastic film to watch.  It has to be seen to be believed.


There were many stories of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, but no movie did the man justice the way Tombstone did.  There’s a lot of reasons why I consider this essential.  One: The cast.  It’s rare to see such an ensemble cast like this.  You had Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Steven Lang, Sam Elliott and Dana Delaney.  But the real cast members to watch the movie for are Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.  These guys really inhabited those roles.  The film was thrilling, charming and had a realistic take on the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  Tombstone is one of the best Westerns I’ve ever seen, and many people agree.

The Dark Knight

It’s not just because I’m a huge fan of Batman as a character, but The Dark Knight is one of the best comic book movies ever made.  There are several reasons for this.  One: The stakes are much higher in this one, because the film has a villain that is purely chaotic:  The Joker.  This guy might come off as a lunatic, and he is, but there is a method to his madness.  Two: Heath Ledger’s performance.  This was Ledger’s last fully completed film before he tragically died, and he won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  He stole the show, and put everything he had on the line for the film.  But it wasn’t just the Joker that made the movie good, it’s that everything that Batman did in these movies had consequences.  Everything good that he did would get turned on its head with the Joker, which speaks to the connection that the two characters have.  It’s a great story that’s well-paced and it gets pretty brutal at times, but it is absolutely a phenomenal film that everyone should see, whether or not you’re a comic book movie fan.

The Birth of A Nation(1915)

This one’s going to stir up some controversy, no doubt.  Before Nate Parker decided to make his own movie using the name, The Birth of a Nation, the original film was a Civil War epic.  It was also a silent movie, because in 1915, there was no way of recording audio into a movie, aside from music.  It was a technical marvel of a film that pioneered techniques that are still used today.  The reason I consider this one to be essential, if not required, is that the film is very controversial.  The story of The Birth of a Nation basically centered around the rise of the KKK, with the second half of the film portraying them as the good guys, even though reality and history painted a very different picture.  It caused a massive protest from the NAACP who still consider the film to be racist.  They’re not entirely wrong, though.  The fact of the matter is, is that a movie that still has the power to piss people off over a century after its release speaks to the power of the film.  You might hate it, and a lot of people did and still do, but you can’t deny that it’s a historically important film despite it’s inaccuracies.

The Ten Commandments

When it comes to Biblical epics, few can really match the glory of The Ten Commandments.  This 3.5 hour epic is the best film adaptation of Exodus, the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt.  They don’t make movies like this anymore, and definitely not to this scale.  While some of the blue-screen effects are obvious by today’s standards, back in 1956 this was state-of-the-art.  The Ten Commandments is one of the most iconic films in history.  Charlton Heston’s performance is something to see, as is Yul Brynner’s.  Some of the wide shots are absolutely spectacular.  When you see the thousands of people leaving Egypt, you are seeing thousands of extras.  They don’t do things like that anymore.  It’s all done with CGI these days, but back in the day, hiring extras was the only way to get the scale of the story across.  It really did.

That’s going to conclude part 1 of my Essential Viewing topic, there are others that I will be talking about in the next day or so, so be sure to check back.

Blood Father

Released: August 2016

Director: Jean-Francois Richet

Rated R

Run Time: 88 Minutes

Distributor: Lionsgate Films

Genre: Action, Crime Thriller

Mel Gibson:  Link
Erin Moriarty: Lydia
Diego Luna: Jonah
Michael Parks: Preacher
William H. Macy: Kirby
Mel Gibson is by far one of the most talented actors and directors in the entire film industry.  His first big break as an actor was Mad Max back in 1979.  He hit it big time in Australia, but it wasn’t until The Road Warrior that the rest of the world got their first look at Mel.  After that, the rest is history.  He’s been in some of the biggest and best movies the industry has seen.  He didn’t just do action movie, he did comedy and drama, and he was really good at it.  Behind the camera, Mel Gibson was also extraordinary.  Braveheart wasn’t his first movie as a director, but it was his best effort that won him two Oscars:  One for Best Picture, and one for Best Director.  Braveheart is one of the best period epics I’ve ever seen.  The movie he directed after BraveheartPassion of the Christ was a very controversial picture.  I wouldn’t say it was the catalyst for Mel’s meltdown that followed several years after, but it didn’t help matters any.  He got railed by critics and audiences for what some people felt was a torture movie, despite the fact that it was based on TRUTH.  After Apocalypto, Mel Gibson went completely off the rails, and as a result was blacklisted by Hollywood for nearly a decade.  So, it pleases me to review a recent film of his called Blood Father.

Blood Father picks up with a man called Link in a meeting with Alcoholics Anonymous, describing his……sordid past.  Link is currently making a living in a trailer park as a tattoo artist when he gets a call from his estranged daughter, Lydia.  It seems she’s gotten herself into some serious trouble with the wrong people.  After picking her up and taking her back to his trailer, he realizes that she’s heading down the same road that he has been with drugs and alcohol.  He’s determined to try and set her straight when some gang members come looking for Lydia.  After an intense shootout, Link and his daughter end up on the run.  Story-wise, there isn’t anything here that we haven’t seen before and follows certain formulas.   That’s not a bad thing.  It’s a simple story about a father looking after his child, and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her, and he does.  What really gives Blood Father its edge is not the story, but its characters.  These are flawed people trying to dig their way out of a hole.  That’s about as human a story as you can make it.  Again, I’ve seen it before, and it has been done better, but that’s not really the main reason why we watch a movie like this.

There’s really only one reason to watch this movie, and it’s Mel Gibson.  This has to be the man’s best performance in years.  The character of Link strikes me as a bit of a parallel to Mel Gibson.  Both Link and Gibson have suffered from the abuse of alcohol and have been in some really dark places in their lives.  The journey of Mel Gibson’s character is one of redemption, and to a certain extent also Gibson’s journey at the same time.  We have a character that has done some really bad things and driven away the people that he loved most.  He’s now in a place where he’s trying to get his life back on track and try to reconnect with his child.  Mel Gibson just inhabits the character of Link with a certain humility and humanity that you probably wouldn’t expect from Mel.  It also helps that Erin Moriarty’s character of Lydia is just as damaged as Link.  The one thing that has brought them together, ironically enough, is the one thing that has kept them apart.  It’s a very interesting and touching dynamic that really gives the film its emotional core.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the other characters are interesting, but they aren’t the focus of the story.  This is about a character, for once in his life, trying to do the right thing, and Mel Gibson really dives headfirst into the role.  Erin Moriarty is awesome as Lydia and she goes toe-to-toe with Gibson.  These performances are incredibly strong and help elevate what is otherwise a fairly generic action thriller.

As an action thriller, Blood Father hits all the right notes.  It’s gritty and extremely intense at times.  Some of the best action sequences are when they are on the road.  There’s no CGI here, it’s all done practically with squibs and fake blood.  It helps make the film more realistic.  The pacing also helps drive the movie.  It does have some slow moments to help develop the characters, but then it picks up again.  It may seem like your average action thriller, but it’s still surprisingly effective.  When you get to know the characters, it makes it more intense, because you want to see these people survive.

By the end of the film, you’re so wrapped up in the world that these actors and directors have created, that you really feel like you’re a part of the journey.  While the film isn’t perfect, no film is, it does enough to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.  It’s just a damn shame that Blood Father never really got a chance to shine in theaters across the world.  I guess people are still upset over the things that Mel Gibson has said and done over the past decade.  Personally, I’ve long since forgiven him for his outbursts.  He’s a flawed human being as we all are, and stumbles just as much as we do.  In my opinion, Blood Father goes a long way to getting Mr. Gibson back on track.  Mel Gibson has a new film coming out that he’s directing called Hacksaw Ridge.  It seems to me like some people are finally ready to give him another chance.  That’s all any of us can really ask for.  Blood Father is by far one of the biggest surprises of 2016 and I really am looking forward to what Mel Gibson has coming in the future.

Final Score: 9/10.



Released: April 2016(USA)

Director: Sabbir Khan

Not Rated

Run Time: 133 Minutes

Genre: Action, Romance

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Tiger Shroff: Ronny
Shradda Kapoor: Sia
Sudheer Babu: Raghav
Shaurya Bharadwaj: Guruswamy
Kazu Patrick Tang: Yong

I’ve seen movies from nearly every country that has a film industry.  That’s pretty extensive.  From Chile to Japan, I’ve sampled movies from nearly all corners of the Earth.  But the one country that eluded me for some reason was India.  Why?  I guess it has something to do with the prejudices I had unintentionally adopted about India and its people.  I had always heard about Bollywood and the kinds of movies they made.  I didn’t bother checking them out because I had assumed that most of those movies were directly ripping off the stuff that we make here in the States.  I had also heard that every movie made in India were musicals and had dance numbers.  Why would I be interested in that?  The question I should have asked was, “How much of what I had heard was true?”  It wasn’t until I heard about an upcoming martial arts superstar that was from Mumbai named Tiger Shroff.  There was a number of websites that were advertising and promoting a movie called Baaghi.  This caught my attention.  After checking out the trailer, I was intrigued, so I looked for other stuff from Mr. Shroff.  As it turns out, Baaghi was his second movie.  I checked out a movie called Heropanti, and I was actually surprised at how much I really liked it.  Dance numbers?  Definitely, but it also had some pretty decent martial arts action.  It was definitely different from what I’m used to watching, but I was intrigued.  That was my first Bollywood experience.  Wow.  So, what does Baaghi have to offer?

The film opens as we see a young actress getting kidnapped by a gangster and taken to Bangkok, Thailand.  Turns out that the gangster who kidnapped her was madly in love with her.  However, she already had a guy in her life, Ronny.  After her abduction, her father seeks out Ronny to try and get her back.  Due to certain circumstances, Ronny is reluctant to find her, but ends up going anyway, just for the money.  The story is about as straight-forward as you can get.  There are no surprising twists or turns along the way to confuse the audience.  However, a good chunk of the story is told through a flashback that comprises nearly half the movie.  I’m not saying it’s a bad thing as we get to know our main characters, specifically Ronny, Sia and Raghav.  While a great many people would balk at such a simple premise, we have to realize that story isn’t really the most important thing in a Bollywood production.  Not only that, their film industry hasn’t really developed enough to really warrant complex story lines.  You know what?  I’m fine with that.  Simplicity can be a beautiful thing.

Now, the first thing you may notice about Tiger Shroff is how similar he looks to the late Brandon Lee.  If I didn’t know any better, I would say Mr. Shroff is a dead ringer for Brandon.  Having seen Tiger in Heropanti, it’s very clear that the man is physically capable of handling his own stunts and fights.  He is a 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  However, for Baaghi, he trained for several months under India’s proprietary martial art, Kalaripayattu.  I had not heard of this style until I started reading about Baaghi.  This is a very unusual martial art that bears a great resemblance to Chinese Kung Fu.  In fact, there are some stories and legends in India that Kalaripayattu is the original martial art from which all others are derived.  How much of that is actually true, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s very clear that this style had been around for quite a while.  The fight choreography in the film is surprisingly tight and controlled.  There are certain scenes that seemed to be copied directly from movies like Ong-Bak, but overall, the action is pretty damn good, and it hits pretty damn hard.  These guys don’t mess around.

The acting in this film is not bad.  One has to remember, that the standards that we set for OUR actors and actresses aren’t necessarily going to apply to those involved in a Bollywood production.  It’s a completely different mindset.  As a result, the acting may come across as a bit cheesy, but it definitely strikes me as genuine.  These actors do a good job with what they’ve got.  Movies like this are NOT intended to be realistic.  Let’s face it, the film follows a certain formula to the letter.  It’s your basic “hero taking on the bad guys to get the girl” story.  As such, the main actors are decent enough.  I think that Tiger Shroff could probably use a bit more refinement in his acting.  He can physically do it, but his emoting seems forced at times.  Shradda is simply gorgeous.  She does a fine job, but she’s definitely there to look pretty and be the damsel in distress, although she does some butt-kicking later in the film, so there’s that.  Sudheer Babu plays your basic mustache-twirling villain.  He constantly sneers and growls, but he’s a physical presence like Tiger and he definitely holds his own.

Since Baaghi is a Bollywood production, music plays an extremely important part.  What you have heard about Bollywood movies suddenly erupting into musical dance numbers is true.  A lot of modern Bollywood movies use pop music as a way of expressing an emotion, which can be more effective than prose or regular acting.  Because music plays such an important part in Hindu culture as well as being a part of their identity, it makes sense that Bollywood uses music this way in their productions.  It’s not a bad thing, really, as some of these songs and dance numbers can be pretty catchy.  In fact, economically, these dance number and songs are put into movies as another way to generate revenue by selling records and CD’s.  The songs and dances in this film are very well-choreographed and pretty entertaining.  I have to admit, I’m a sucker for musicals, and modern Bollywood is getting really good at it, while crafting a solid action movie at the same time.  That’s also why Bollywood movies are so long.  They take the time for an impromptu dance number.  I could understand how that could really get on someone’s nerves, but it really didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I have to admit, after seeing Heropanti and Baaghi, I’m really curious about what the rest of India has to offer in movies.  I’m truly glad that I finally got to see a couple of Bollywood movies.  It’s helped me get past certain preconceptions about Bollywood and how they do things.  It’s very, very different to be sure, but it’s surprisingly effective, provided you go into it with an open mind.  Seeing these films has allowed me to expand beyond what I already know about movies, and seeing a movie from India puts things in perspective, one could say.  Baaghi isn’t perfect, I think it runs a little too long, and the second act of the film seems a little….off.  But then again, I don’t really have a whole lot of experience with Bollywood movies to really complain about it.  If you like action movies and don’t mind something a little..nay..very different, I would suggest Baaghi.  It’s a pretty decent film with some really astounding production values and is pretty entertaining from beginning to end.

Final Score: 8/10.