‘The Lost Boys’ Movie and 4K/Blu-ray Review

The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.

The Lost Boys” falls into the category of a great horror film I have never seen before until now.  With its release on 4K and Halloween a little over a month away, I couldn’t wait to take a bite into this movie (see what I did there?).  Vampires, zombies and werewolves are familiar creatures used in horror films.  The thing which separates the good films from the bad are two things: the characters and the story.  Are we invested in the characters? Is there a compelling story? In the case of “The Lost Boys,” the answer is a resounding yes.  I loved this film, and even though I’m late to the party in watching it, it’s better late than never.

Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and her two sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) have relocated to Santa Carla, California following her divorce.  They end up living with her eccentric, oddball father played brilliantly by Barnard Hughes, and he doesn’t want anyone to touch his root beer or his Oreos.  He also spends a lot of time dabbling in taxidermy and often gives Sam some unwanted presents.  Sam is also flanked by his loyal dog Nanook, an Alaskan Malamute. Sam is doing his best to adjust to this beach town by catching up on some comic books. He ends up getting to know the Frog Brothers, Edgar and Allan, played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander, who know a lot about vampires and comic books.  Their performances are comedy gold in this film, and they are their own little “Strangers Things” group here.

Michael ends up falling for a young lady named Star, played by Jami Gertz. She hangs around a biker gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland).  Something is clearly unusual and odd about them, but Michael is hoping that if they accept him, he can get to know Star.  Lucy ends up getting a job at the local video store which is owned by Max (Edward Herrmann).  Max is a dorky putz, but he means well and seems genuinely interested in getting to know Lucy.  This in spite of the fact that their dates usually always end up in disaster because Sam is convinced something is off with Michael.  Sam wants to protect Michael because that’s his brother, but he’s not entirely happy with how he’s acting lately.  Michael is sleeping all the time and coming home very late now that he has his new friends.

There is plenty to enjoy with “The Lost Boys,” but the key ingredient is the cast.  The actors really sell this material with just the right amount of humor and terror.  Director Joel Schumacher also knows how to get the most out of every single scene.  This film is 97 minutes and frankly, it is the perfect running time for a film like this. We get to know the characters, their dilemma unfolds, and it ends with a bang, literally and figuratively speaking. I really enjoyed the fact the filmmakers went with an R rating.  They build up to the violence, so it really means something when the bodies start to explode and heads begin flying off.  The special effects and make-up are top notch.  When you add in the fact this is a 4K release, everything is enhanced to an even greater degree.

The film also doesn’t lean in too heavily with the vampire gimmick.  Yes, there are characters who are vampires and there are rules to follow, but at the end of the day, it’s a film about a mother and her two sons trying to survive.  Dianne Wiest, a favorite actress of mine, is perfect as the concerned but confused mother.  The late Corey Haim is also top-notch here.  I know I’m singling out their work, but there is not a bad performance in this film.  It also helps that the atmosphere goes back and forth between day and night.  It’s an atmospheric and intense flick which hits all of the right notes you would want in a film like this. I went into it not knowing what to expect, and I ended up having a big smile on my face when the credits were rolling at the end.

“The Lost Boys” is an 80’s gem which deserves to be seen on 4K.  It’s one of those rare examples of a film where everything falls into place: the cast, the acting, the director, the writing, the blood and guts and the twists and turns.  The comedy is done at just the right moments without being too hokey or phony. The action and violence are really turned up a notch without being too much or overdone. This is the perfect Halloween movie to pick up in time to watch for the holiday.  Trust me when I tell you this: You won’t regret it, and you will love it. If you have already seen it, you will love it even more with the 4K upgrade.

* * * * out of * * * *

4K/Blu-Ray: “The Lost Boys” is being released on a two-disc 4K and Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It also comes with a digital copy of the film as well.  It is rated R and has a running time of 97 minutes.

Video Info: The 4K of this film comes with stunning High Dynamic Range (HDR), and it looks incredible.  As I mentioned earlier in my review, the outdoor shots of California are absolutely stunning. When the film is darker and more brooding, it switches to that tone with its color palette.  This is a terrific-looking 4K, and I enjoyed taking it all in for the first time.

Audio Info:  I was hoping they would have a Dolby Atmos track as the audio is good but it’s a little inconsistent at times. It comes on a DTS-HD MA: English 5.1 audio track along with Dolby Digital audio tracks in French and Spanish. Subtitles are in English, French, and Spanish.

Special Features:

4K UHD Disc

·           Commentary by Joel Schumacher

Blu-ray Disc

·           Commentary by Joel Schumacher

·           “The Lost Boys: A Retrospective”: 24:00

·           “Inside the Vampire’s Cave: A Director’s Vision”: 6:58

·           “Inside the Vampire’s Cave: Comedy vs. Horror”: 4:44

·           “Inside the Vampire’s Cave: Fresh Blood-A New Look at Vampires”: 4:23

·           “Inside the Vampire’s Cave: The Lost Boys Sequel?”: 2:25

·           “Vamping Out: The Undead Creations of Greg Cannon”: 14:02

·           “The Return of Sam and the Frog Brothers: Haimster & Feldog-The Story of the 2 Coreys”: 4:30

·           “The Return of Sam and the Frog Brothers: Multi-Angle Video Commentary by Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander”: 18:23

·           The Lost Scenes: 15:16

·           Lou Gramm “Lost in the Shadows” Music Video: 4:35

·           Trailer: 1:26

Normally, I would complain about the fact they don’t have any new special features for the 4K here, but considering this was my first time watching the film, all of the special features were new to me.  There is a commentary track with the director and plenty of lengthy special features discussing the film.  Based on the quality of the movie, the 4K upgrade, and the special features, this one comes highly recommended as a day-one purchase.  If you are a horror enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to watch this film at the highest quality available.  As far as the film itself, there is so much to like about it. Even though the film is a vampire film, it doesn’t feel like a vampire film.  I felt the vibes of It and Stranger Things mixed with a family drama.  The acting is really, really good, and it’s a big reason why it’s such an effective film.  The kills featured in the film are also really grisly and blood-soaked.  I loved this movie! I’m really enjoying the fact that Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is going into their vault and releasing a lot of their older titles on 4K.  This is a top-of-the-line upgrade with bright colors and a vivid picture. If you are like me and haven’t seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to add it to your collection.

**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free.  The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.

‘The Mule’ Movie and Blu-ray Review (Written by Tony Farinella)

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The fact that Clint Eastwood is still directing films at his age is nothing short of amazing.  When he is acting and directing them, it is even more impressive.  “The Mule” marks the first time he has directed and acted at the same time since 2008’s “Gran Torino,” so it’s been a while. He does not disappoint as the usual Eastwood touches are here.  He is a simple yet powerful filmmaker and actor.  He is not going to do a lot with the camera, but he trusts his actors, the writer, and he gives everyone them the space they need to tell the story.  It is what he has always done as a director.  He’s not a flashy filmmaker and he doesn’t need to be since he knows what works.

Eastwood stars as Earl Stone, a 90-year old horticulturist from Peoria, Illinois who is seeing the world changing rapidly thanks to the Internet. The film starts out in 2005 and he is winning awards at conventions and making friends left and right.  However, he has forgotten about his family in the process.  He is not on good terms with them and they feel neglected.  Early on in the film, they show him missing out on his daughter’s wedding.  His real-life daughter (Alison Eastwood) is in the film, which is a nice touch.

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With the internet growing, Earl has now fallen on hard times.  When he shows up to visit his granddaughter at a brunch for her upcoming wedding, he notices his family has not forgiven him for putting work over family. He wants to make it up to them by pitching in for Ginny’s (Taissa Farmiga) upcoming wedding.  Someone approaches him at the brunch and informs him that all he has to do is drive and he can make a lot of money.  Driving is something he is very good at as he has driven in forty-one states and has never been pulled over or ever had a ticket.

Little does Earl know he will be driving for the cartel and carrying around some cocaine. Since he is such a good driver, and 90-years old, it seems like the perfect way for him to make some easy money and get back in the good graces of his family. At first, he only takes on one job and believes it will be enough to hold him over.  Before long, he is their top driver and highly thought of by the cartel.   However, two DEA agents played by Bradley Cooper and Michael Peña are trying to take down the cartel, and Earl may go down with them as well.

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There is nothing here which is incredibly moving, profound, or earth shattering. The jokes about cell phone usage are a little overdone.  It is still very entertaining, however, and a very easy movie to watch. The film also features stellar performances from Laurence Fishburne, Dianne Wiest as Earl’s ex-wife, Richard Herd, Andy Garcia, and Clifton Collins Jr. Eastwood is the one leading the charge here, and he always plays it with his usual Eastwood calm, cool, and collected persona even when things get a little hairy.  He makes a decision and he sticks with it.

At 116 minutes, “The Mule” breezes by with humor, suspense, and tension.  At this rate, we don’t know how many more times Eastwood will be in front of the camera, and he is a Hollywood icon, so it’s always a treat.  I don’t see any upcoming films for him as a director/actor, and he is someone who should be cherished.  He still has it and will never lose it. I hope he lives forever and keeps making movies.  This is the kind of movie where you sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride Eastwood and company take you on for almost two hours.  It’s not great, but it’s still quite good.

* * * out of * * * *

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Blu-Ray Info: “The Mule” is released on a two-disc Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.  It has a running time of 116 minutes and is rated R for language throughout and brief sexuality/nudity.

Audio Info: The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital: French 5.1 (Dubbed in Quebec), and Spanish 5.1. Subtitles are included in English, Spanish, and French.

Video Info:  The film comes to you in 1080p High Definition 16×9 2.4:1.

Special Features:

The Making of The Mule: Nobody Runs Forever (10:59): Clint Eastwood talks about how it was different from other projects he had done in the past.  It was inspired by true events as well. The screenwriter of “Gran Torino” wrote this film, which makes total sense.  Eastwood gives great details about how he approached the character. Many of the main cast members chime in with their thoughts on the film and working with Eastwood.  They also go into detail on how Eastwood was big on getting all of the little things right in this movie.

Toby Keith “Don’t Let the Old Man In” Music Video (02:54)

Five Nights in Maine

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When it comes to dealing with grief, there is no textbook with instructions on how to cope. In movies we often see characters react to the death of loved one in a way that feels overly dramatic and never real. Sometimes the tears come right away, but other times you are simply in shock as accepting the reality of a death takes a long time. We are lead to believe everyone grieves in the same way, but that is simply not true as writer and director Maris Curran shows us in “Five Nights in Maine.”

We are introduced to Sherwin (David Oyelowo) while he is having a wonderfully intimate moment with his wife, Fiona (Hani Furstenberg), and then a few scenes later he gets a call from the police informing him she was killed in a car accident. Overwhelmed by this sudden loss, Sherwin goes on alcoholic binge to deaden the pain which seems never ending. Out of the bluw, he receives a call from his estranged and terminally ill mother-in-law, Lucinda (Dianne Wiest), who invites him to stay with her at her secluded home in rural Maine in order to find a way to deal with the loss of someone they cared so much about.

Now at this point “Five Nights in Maine” looks to be one of those Hollywood movies where two people from different parts of life come together to sort out their differences and come to see what makes their suffering the same. Well, this movie is and isn’t that. What’s fascinating is how Sherwin and Lucinda don’t share grief as much as they compete with each other over who is grieving the most. It’s almost like a variation on a classic Ethel Merman song:

“Any grief you can feel, I can feel greater. I can feel it greater, greater than you.”

“No you can’t!”

“Yes I can!”

“No you can’t!”

“Yes I can!”

“No you can’t!”

“YES I CAN! YES, I CAN!”

Is this the best way to deal with grief? Perhaps not, but it is the way Sherwin and Lucinda decided to take. Sherwin tries to reason with Lucinda who is cantankerous and difficult to deal with, and it turns out Lucinda’s last meeting with her daughter did not go well at as Fiona returned from it very upset. As the movie goes on, you wonder if it is possible for either of them to find any common ground on Fiona’s passing. After a while, you just hope and pray they find a way through their immense pain to move on with their lives or, especially in Lucinda’s case, what’s left of them.

If there is one reason to see “Five Nights in Maine” other than the wonderful cinematography by Sofian El Fani, it’s the performances. David Oyelowo, criminally robbed of an Oscar nomination for his performance in “Selma,” reaches some deep emotional depths as Sherwin. The reaction Sherwin gibes off upon learning of Fiona’s death feels so amazingly genuine that you wonder how Oyelowo was able to portray it with such piercing honesty. This is clearly not an actor who takes the easy way out when it comes to any role he takes on.

Wiest, an actress we don’t see enough of these days, gives her strongest performance in quite some time as a mother facing death’s door and trying to understand why her daughter made it through there before she did. She is not out to make Lucinda an easily likable person, but she does show the cracks in her stern face as the reality of Fiona’s death begins to settle in.

There’s also a wonderfully understated performance here by Rosie Perez who plays Lucinda’s nurse, Ann. This character serves to fill in the missing blanks of which Sherwin was not witness to when Fiona met with Lucinda for the last time. Knowing how sassy Perez can be on screen or during her time on “The View,” her performance in “Five Nights in Maine” is a compassionate one which doesn’t require her unbridled enthusiasm to make it work. Watching her here serves as a reminder of her Oscar nominated performance years ago in Peter Weir’s “Fearless,” and how dare we forget how good she was in that one.

Curran, just as Josh Mond did with his film “James White,” sticks the camera right in his actors’ faces to where their every little gesture and facial movement comes to speak volumes when words cannot do the same. She is also not a director looking to spell out everything for the audience which I admire, and she doesn’t bang them over the head with a shamelessly manipulative film score. Speaking of which, David Boulter’s music helps heighten how lost the characters are in their own wilderness of pain and guilt.

Having said all that, I cannot help but have mixed feelings about “Five Nights in Maine.” While the acting is stellar and the direction strong, Curran’s screenplay feels strangely incomplete. While the actors are able to plumb the depths of their characters, Curran ends up keeping us at an arms-length distance from them. I came out of this movie feeling like I could have gotten to know them better, and their resolution over the loss they experienced does not feel entirely fulfilling. Like I said, Curran doesn’t spell everything out for the audience, but I wished she had dug even deeper into the characters’ psyches to give us something more memorable.

There is a lot to like about “Five Nights in Maine,” but I found some time after watching it that it didn’t leave much of an aftertaste. Overall the movie is a near miss for me. The performances are strong, but the story and the screenplay are an incomplete puzzle with pieces which shouldn’t be that hard to find. This movie quickly reminded me of the Peter Gabriel song “I Grieve” which offered a far more complete journey through grief in just a few minutes’ time. When this movie concludes, it still feels like Sherwin and Lucinda still have a long way to go to find peace with what happened.

Five Nights in Maine Oyelowo and Wiest

* * ½ out of * * * *

Copyright Ben Kenber 2016.