The Last Action Hero Blu-ray

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The Last Action Hero
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O`Brien
Originally released 1993
Mill Creek Entertainment 2018

Mill Creek Entertainment re-releasing this great action comedy allows those who have not seen The Last Action Hero to discover it. Fans of The Last Action Hero can appreciate it once again. This action comedy is on my underrated list and this Blu-Ray confirms it is a must for fans of the genre and Arnold Schwarzenegger fans.

Young Danny is a great fan of the Jack Slater action movie franchise. There is a fourth Jack Slater movie coming out and Danny is invited by an old projectionist working in a neighborhood rundown theater to see the new Jack Slater movie before anyone else (as if a run-down theater would get a print) The projectionist makes a ceremony of the showing, including giving Danny a golden ticket he says he got from Houdini.

This sends Danny into the fourth Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger) and he becomes part of the movie Director John McTiernan and the writers have a lot of fun playing with the tropes of the genre after Danny points out Hollywood rules apply to Jack Slater IV. The Last Action Hero gets even more fun when Slater discovers he is a fictional character and he and the bad guys cross the fourth wall into the real world. Charles Dance is great as the villain and gets better when he discovers you can shoot people without consequence in the real world.

This is where things get even more fun and part of what makes The Last Action Hero a must have and must keep action comedy. The scene where Ahnold and Arnold fight each other is a lot of fun.

The Last Action Hero Blu-ray re-release from Mill Creek Entertainment comies in a retro VHS look cardboard sleeve. Unfortunately, there are no special features and I found the Blu-ray a bit grainy.

The Last Action Hero is also available from Mill Creek Entertainment in an 8-pack action movie set:

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My Dinner With Herve – HBO October 20th 8:00 PM

My Dinner With Herve Poster
My Dinner With Herve
Peter Dinklage, Jamie Dornan
Written and directed by Sacha Gervasi
HBO October 20th 8:00 PM

My Dinner With Herve is an excellent movie that is part biopic and part ruminations on the meaning of life. It is based on the meeting between magazine writer Sacha Gervazi and Herve Villechaize (of Fantasy Island and James Bond The Man With the Golden Gun fame). My Dinner With Herve airs on HBO October 20th at 8 PM and is a lot more interesting than any TV or internet blurb might indicate

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) is excellent in the title role of a movie he had long sought to bring to life. Dinklage plays Villechaize in the last couple of weeks of his life and grasping at the last straw he has to tell his story. Jamie Dornan is also very good as journalist Danny Tate who is 30-days sober, separated from his wife, and facing his own demons.

Tate was sent to L.A on a last-chance assignment to do a hatchet piece on a famous writer and then a fluff piece on Villechaize on the 20th anniversary of Fantasy Island. The Villechaize interview makes Tate late for the meeting with the famous author. The author is pissed at having had to wait and dismisses Tate.

This is where the story really starts as Villechaize picks up Tate in a long white limousine. Between bouts of drinking (where Tate remains stone cold sober) and side trips to a strip club and the Fantasy Island set, Villechaize tells his story, or versions of his story. Tate grows more and more impatient as he feels he is wasting his time yet Villechaize keeps him interested enough to keep going until sunrise.

Each man forces the other to face the truth about himself and the major mistakes he has made. This makes for a movie that is more than just a biographical presentation of a once famous person.

My Dinner With Herve has a couple of weak points. It is probably a couple of scenes too long and Dinklage’s Villechaize accent is sometimes hard to understand.

This is more than made up for by excellent writing with some very memorable lines. My Dinner With Herve is definitely worth watching and recording for a later viewing or two.

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Ready Player One – Blu-ray DVD Digital

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Ready Player One
Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Warner Brothers 2018
140 minutes

Ready Player One is a mind blowing, superb, enthralling, technically stunning movie. 140 minute movies are often demanding on the viewer as most have pointless scenes and repetitions and you need a break. My girlfriend and I watched Ready Player One from beginning to end and were surprised when it was already over.

Based on the Ernest Cline novel, Ready Player One is set in 2045 where everyone spends most of his or her time as a character in the RPG Oasis, a virtual reality created by James Halliday. Halliday’s will states that whoever solves the three riddles to find the three keys he has hidden in three Easter Eggs in the Oasis will become sole proprietor of the game and its countless riches. Everybody is of course out to get the keys including a tech company named IOI who uses people who owe it credits and various very smart geeks to solve the riddles and find the eggs and keys.

On the civilian side there is Wade Watts aka Parzival who lives in The Stacks, mobile homes stacked on top of one another. Parzival becomes the first character to ever solve a riddle, find the key and get the egg. Parzival soon attracts the attention of IOI but also of some players who want to help him in his quest including a girl called Art3mis and a big brute character named Aech. Though Wade Watts – Parzival is a loner, he soon decides teamwork is the best solution.

There is something for everyone on Ready Player One: Lots of action, puzzles, a love story, a few social messages, and lots of spot the references to eighties trivia.

Ready Player One Special features include: The ’80’s: You’re The Inspiration. Game Changer: Cracking the Code. Effects for a Brave New World. Level Up: Sound for the Future. High Score: Endgame. Ernie & Tye’s Excellent Adventure

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Landwhale – Jes Baker

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On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass
Jes Baker
Seal Press 2018

I wanted to read this book, because I hated the title. It offended me that anyone would refer to a fat person as a landwhale, let alone that it would be a name that the author would use for herself (maybe to remove its power). I wanted to know what was between the pages. Kindle: Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass

Jes Baker is an internationally known, and vehemently outspoken body positivity advocate. She is a self-proclaimed hardcore badass. Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass is her memoir.

There is no softening or political correctness in this book. Fat is fat. Baker tells it like it is. Brutally honest, intense, and often difficult to read, Landwhale is an eye-opener. It is about much more than weight.

Baker tackles topics such as six ways to hate your body, clothing choices, relationships, fat sex, discrimination, persecution, nonacceptance, and the illusion of the bulletproof fatty. Also included are wonderful stories of adventure and resilience, and a community of support and role models. She covers how being fat politically challenges society’s norms and expectations of perfection, and ends Landwhale with six ways to love your body.

A disturbing theme that recurs is how fat-shaming members of society deny fat people’s simple “right to live”. Targeted and scathing judgements are daily experiences that undermine self esteem and perpetuate nonacceptance of others and self, and the “we and they” mentality.

One one hand, her pain is palpable. One the other, her living life to the fullest, her sense of adventure and dedication to the cause are amazing!

Certain that everyone can relate to at least some things Baker says, I recommend Landwhale for those fat, thin or anything in between. Not for the faint of heart, it is a statement to the damage we can do to each other as human beings, and a compelling reason to love ourselves and others and break the cycle. I finished the book with a greater sense of compassion and understanding. (I still hate the title, but something tame would not have caught my attention.)

J Curran

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All Systems Down Cyber War Vol. 1 Sam Boush

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All Systems Down
The Cyber War Book 1
Sam Boush
Lakewater Press 2018
240 pages

Cyber war meets Stephen King’s The Stand in All Systems Down, the first of three SF novels in the Cyber War series by Sam Boush. The only thing wrong with this excellent speculative fiction novel is you have to wait for the other two to find out what happens. Kindle version

The premise is North Korea has invaded the United States with a malicious code that shuts down anything that has an electronic component. This means communications, power and water supply, most cars, and every infrastructure you can think of. The United States is left defenseless and people have to fend for themselves. A multinational force from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea then invades the U.S.

ALL Systems Down has strong lead characters: Lieutenant Kelly Song, a naval fighter pilot, Brendan, a giant of a man with tremendous strength with a family to protect, Xandra, a computer expert who is the only hope to defeat the code, and a pilot and his young daughter hired to fly Xandra to Portland.

Every thriller needs a great villain and Sierra Eigelb, a salesclerk who discovers the joy of killing is an absolute great villain. She brings a great dose of violence to what is otherwise a fairly quiet apocalyptic story.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two books in the Cyber War series by Sam Boush.

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The Escape Artist

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The Escape Artist
Brad Meltzer
Grand Central Publishing 2018

What do an embalmer working for the U.S. Army, the Army’s artist in residence, and Harry Houdini’s long-deceased friends have in common? That is the heart of The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer. If you are looking for a mystery novel off the beaten path with solid characters and an original plot, this novel is a sure bet. The Escape Artist Kindle

Jim “Zig” Zigarowski is a magician embalmer who can make the most battered body almost lifelike. Nola Brown is the Artist in Residence for the U.S. Army both because she is a great artist whose talents are valuable on the battlefield but also to keep her out of harm’s way, her harm’s way. A plane crashes in Alaska, Nola Brown was on it, and her body is brought to Zig who immediately recognizes the name of a girl who saved his daughter’s life but that name does not belong to the body in front of him.

Zig sets out to find out what happened to Nola Brown because the body left a message indicating Nola Brown is in real danger. Nola is often one step ahead of Zig and does not want to be found. They both stumble upon operation Bluebook. A blue book is what magicians used to leave around different towns for the next magician who needed background stories on the locals to make his or her talking to the dead more believable. Here, Bluebook is the names of Harry Houdini’s long-deceased friends that are used decade after decade as covers for agents in secret operations.

A man who calls himself Houdini really wants to make Nola Brown disappear before she learns too much and this is when Zig gets caught in the crossfire.

Also integrating chapters about Nola’s childhood, The Escape Artist is a complex narrative but Brad Meltzer has a sure hand and this mystery novel never loses its reader or his or her interest.

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