S.W.A.T. (2003): Special Edition [Blu-ray]

While I wouldn’t call it a action movie masterpiece, “S.W.A.T.” is a decent iteration of the television series that broadens its appeal for a younger audience. While I would have loved a movie that was darker and grittier, the movie works as a comic book kind of movie about the S.W.A.T. unit that look kind of like law enforcing Avengers. The 2003 action crime thriller flaunts every would-be super star and up and coming superstar, taking the S.W.A.T. team and turning it on its head when corruption reaches even its ranks.

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TV on DVD: Teen Titans The Complete First Season [Blu-Ray], S.W.A.T. The Complete Series (DVD)

With Teen Titans getting their own live action television series, and their spin off about to grant them their own movie, inexplicably, Warner finally unleashes season one of the good version of “Teen Titans” on Blu-Ray for fans. It’s a good way to honor the legacy of a great series, but I take it as a great reminder of a time when “Teen Titans” was a very good animated series that wasn’t exclusive to children. “Teen Titans” is a pseudo-anime iteration of the classic comic book series that is bold enough to set itself apart from the usual Bruce Timm animated style.

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One Million B.C. (1940) [Blu-Ray]

At one time One Million BC was considered a real hit at the box office and even earned some Academy Award nominations. Today it’s a pretty clunky albeit ambitious movie that predates Roland Emerich’s “10,000 B.C.” by decades where it tells the tale of a group of cavemen and cavewomen with perfect hair and make up, trying to survive in the wastelands. Said wastelands include dogs dressed as elephants, giant badgers fighting giant snakes, and a lot of stunt animals over a flat screen blown up to look like dinosaurs. Saving the effort of claymation and stop motion, the effect is a major dud most times, as the animals never really look all too menacing.

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Mary and The Witch’s Flower (2018)

Based on Mary Stewart’s classic children’s book “The Little Broomstick,” we meet frizzy haired Mary, a young girl sent to live with her great aunt Charlotte by her parents as they prepare to move. Overcome by boredom, she ventures out in to the wilderness and follows a mysterious black cat in to the nearby forest. There she finds an old broomstick embedded in an old tree, as well as a mysterious glowing flower called the “Fly-by-Night.” The influences of Studio Ghibli are all over the place in Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s animated adventure “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” From “Whisper of the Heart,” “Spirited Away,” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” there are so many nods and winks to the aforementioned properties that it becomes kind of a treat to see it all unfold.

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Emilie Black’s Top 5 Theatrical Releases of 2017

Having seen mostly independent films and foreign releases, making a top 10 of mainstream, theatrically released films is practically impossible.  However, some of these films deserve to be recognized and seen.  Here are my 5 favorites of the mainstream American films I’ve seen this year.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Rian Johnson has created what is easily one of the most complete and well developed “Star Wars” cinematic installments since “Empire.” While it does have the occasional pitfall (Porgs), “The Last Jedi” is a masterstroke for the series so far. Johnson manages to skillfully build on this new universe while also answering a lot of the pressing questions that the fans had for “The Force Awakens.” This is the second film to usher in the new generation and ease out the originals, turning this in to a war where the underdogs are still the rebels and they’re filled with reverence for folks like Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Johnson focuses primarily on the “How,” and “Why” questions from “The Force Awakens,” allowing fans closure on a lot of the nagging questions that left them excited and or baffled.

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