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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Mothra & Space 1999

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 05:50pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. This month we travel from the island of Japan to the depths of the universe.

Mothra, Mill Creek:
When a new hundred million dollar Godzilla reboot to hit the theaters I just assumed we'd be treated to aMothra flood of classic kaiju reissues on Blu-ray, but instead it looks like we only got this. And I'm not knocking this release. Mothra is a great movie and Mill Creek did a fantastic job on this, I just figured there would be more classic Japanese monster movie releases to coattail on the marketing for the new film. All is not lost though. It looks like Mill Creek has signed a deal with Toho and they have more releases to come. On October 15th they will release two classic kaiju Blu-ray sets: Ultraman and Ultra Q. Both of these sets are motherloads of Japanese monster movie goodness and will be the first time North America has ever seen Toho's official remastered hi-def prints of these shows. If they look as good as this new Mothra release, we are in for quite a treat.

This reasonably priced steel book edition of the film comes with both the US and original Japanese versions of the movie as well as some nice extras. This is easily the best print of Mothra that has ever been released and, while it is not flawless, the majority of the film looks gorgeous. Certain scenes like the one in the cave when Mothra's egg hatches have been cleaned up to the point where they reveal all kinds of details you could never see before. The cave is filled with mutated plants and animals that were little more than blurry shapes in the old editions. Sometimes the remastering is so good it leads to unintended effects. Now you can see better than ever before that all the special effects in the film were made with models and puppets, but the models and puppets are totally cool and amazing. Toho created many of their special effects by stacking up multiple layers of film and the new remaster sometimes exposes every scratch and piece of dust on each of these layers of film. But these are pretty minor quibbles. The bottom line is that Mothra has never looked or sounded better.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Halloween Roundup, Part 2

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, October 29, 2018 01:55pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to the second special Halloween themed Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi, where I review recent Blu-ray releases. Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year because that’s when we get a glut of new horror and sci-fi releases. This is my second column this month where I just try and catch up with all of them.

Laserblast, Full Moon Features:
This is kind of a crappy little sci-fi movie from the glory days of VHS that has been given a super deluxe Laserblastedition for it's first Blu-ray release. The film comes in a full-size reproduction of the original video packaging. Inside the huge VHS box you get a DVD/ Blu-ray combo pack of the remastered film and a tiny toy reproduction of one of the aliens from the movie. These are the kinds of goodies that drive hardcore fans crazy and I'm sure somewhere in the future when this goes out-of-print copies will go for big bucks on Amazon and Ebay. Like I said, this is a crappy little movie but there are those of us out there (like myself) who love this film because it was on television when we were growing up. After re-watching it recently, I came to the conclusion that the movie has a really great beginning and end but really drags in between. The film starts with a crazed monster madman shooting a laser gun in the Southern California desert. He is killed by two aliens who soon depart but leave the gun behind. Shortly afterwards, a young man named Billy Duncan discovers the laser gun and that's when things start to go bad for him. At first he is overjoyed by the destructive power of the weapon but it soon starts to take over his life and physically change him. His skin starts to turn green and his behavior becomes increasingly violent and psychopathic. His relationships with his supportive girlfriend and others are increasingly strained as he becomes an alien madman who eventually goes completely berserk and finally goes on a rampage with his new laser gun. That's when the aliens need to come back...

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Doctor Who Season One & Jack the Giant Killer

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 16, 2018 07:16pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi, where I review recent Blu-ray releases. Both of these Blu-rays came out in the past three months.

Doctor Who: Tom Baker - Complete Season One, BBC Video:
These are the episodes that first introduced the Doctor Who franchise to the American public. The series Doctor Who Season Onehad already run for more than a decade in England where the venerable Doctor had long been considered a national icon and a variety of stars had already played the role of the Doctor, but Tom Baker is the face and personality that made him beloved by legions of North American fans. So it makes perfect sense that these would be the first episodes of the long running series to get a deluxe Blu-ray upgrade here in the US. These were originally shot on video so there has been a lot of handwringing online about how good these would look due to the low quality of the original source materials. Many fans have questioned whether it is worth upgrading from DVD to Blu-ray. Well, as soon as I popped in the first disc of this and saw the beautiful sharp picture quality and heard the flawless sound, I realized this was a total no-brainer. This set is a huge improvement over the DVDs and possibly the best restoration I have ever seen of something that was originally shot on video. The image quality is flawless. Once in a blue moon there is a weird lighting artifact that the restoration couldn't cover up, but these are few and far between. Yes, this does reveal many of the shortcomings of the special effects. Now you can see like never before that all the monsters are made of bubble wrap and paper mache, but that is actually half the fun of this set. The production budget for these shows was comparable to what you would see for a local high school play. The special effects crew did the best they could with what they had and there is a funky low-fi style to their effects, which looks charmingly nostalgic in the harsh naked light of this Blu-ray.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Thor Ragnarok & The Outer Limits

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, May 27, 2018 06:51pm | Post a Comment

Having A Movie Moment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi, where I review recent Blu-ray releases. Both of these Blu-rays came out in the past three months.

Thor Ragnarok, Marvel Studios:
What a great movie! It's pure entertainment of the type that Marvel excels at. This movie works on manyThor Ragnarok levels; it's great science fiction, action, drama, and even comedy all simultaneously. It's got a great story, good acting and pacing, and wonderful sets, costumes, and special effects. Like every recent Marvel movie, the story feeds into the Avengers: Infinity War plot line, but it also succeeds quite well on its own. My daughter and I have been watching all the Marvel shows and movies and know how every related plot thread connects together, but my wife hasn't watched any of that stuff and she enjoyed this movie just as much as me when we watched it together. That's quite a feat, because the Marvel universe has gotten really complicated these days, so it takes great skill to make a new Marvel movie that doesn't need a guidebook for one to understand it.

This is the third Thor movie but it is almost equally a sequel and a prequel to the recent Avengers movies. It picks up with Thor wandering the universe performing his usual godlike deeds of heroism and searching for the Infinity Stones. He is imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur who tells him that his father Odin is no longer in his celestial home of Asgard and that the realm of the gods itself will soon be destroyed in a cosmic armaggedon known as Ragnarok. After dispatching Surtur and a really cool dragon, Thor returns home to find that his evil brother, Loki, has stolen the throne by disguising himself as Odin. After exposing Loki, Thor takes him to earth where they locate Odin with the help of Doctor Strange. Odin is dying, and his death releases his first born daughter, Hela, who destroys Thor's hammer, conquers Asgard, and casts Thor and Loki off into space. They land on a junkyard planet ruled by Jeff Goldblum who forces Thor to fight the Incredible Hulk in an area. Do Thor, the Hulk, and Loki escape? Is Asgard saved? I'm not going to give away any more spoilers, but let's just say that answering these two questions is tons of fun and pure Marvel entertainment.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Endless Poetry, The Projected Man & Blade Runner 2049

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 8, 2018 07:20pm | Post a Comment

Movie Moment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to the second Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi, where I review new releases on Blu-ray and DVD. This month I review a new movie by surrealist wild man Alejandro Jodorowsky, a classic monster movie from the sixties, and the stylish new sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner 2049. Everything reviewed in this column came out in the past four months. So here we go:

Endless Poetry, Alejandro JodorowskyEndless Poetry, ABKCO:
Alejandro Jodorowsky is in his late eighties but he's still making movies. Cinema's arguably greatest maverick is not going quietly into that great night. In fact, this is the second film he's put out in the past five years. Both films have been biographical in nature although, like the rest of Jodorosky's films, reality is often just a launch pad for his surrealist flights of fantasy. Just like Federico Fellini, in Jodorowsky's movies it's hard to tell where reality ends and fantasy begins. In fact, this movie has some obvious nods to Fellini films such as 8 1/2 and Juliette of The Spirits. But make no mistake, this movie is pure Jodorosky and goes to places Fellini could never imagine. Just like the rest of his films, there are things in this movie you'll never be able to unsee. There is one scene that depicts a performance art piece where an armless man enlists audience participation to help him caress and make love to his wife that is one of the more disturbing things I've seen in years. Let's make a check list for this film: Random disemboweling? Check. Love triangle with a dwarf? Check. A mother whose only way to communicate is by singing opera? Check. A parade of skeletons? Check. Weird Freudian sex? Check. Strange orgies of psychedelic art? Check. In fact, this checklist could go on almost forever, because on one level this is a mere biography and on another this is a movie about life, the universe, and everything. This film and it's predecessor are the works of an artist at the end of his life trying to teach us the lessons he has learned and what it all means. On a certain level, this is one of the drawbacks of the film. Endless Poetry is not as good as The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Santa Sangre because those films were delirious searches for the truth, whereas this film is made by a man who has his answers and wants to explain them to us. It's a calmer more controlled work. That difference in tone makes this a more, dare we say, "traditional" film than Jodorosky's early deranged masterpieces. But that is no slight against this picture; the only one Jodorosky is in competition with is the earlier version of himself. This is probably the most crazed and surreal movie that will be released this year. Jodorosky is still in a category unto himself.

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