Werewolves Within

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

RLJ;
Horror-Comedy;
Box Office $0.58 million;
$27.97 DVD, $28.96 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for some bloody violence, sexual references and language throughout
Stars Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillen, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins, Glenn Fleshler.

A likable cast and its genre-mashup of a premise make Werewolves Within an entertaining addition to lycanthropic movie lore.

Like the video game on which it is based, Werewolves Within makes a whodunit out of the typical werewolf tropes, with the beast tormenting an eclectic group who must figure out who among them is the attacker.

The film also deftly blends comedy into the mix without detracting from the suspense.

Sam Richardson stars as the new wildlife ranger in a small, snowy northern town that seems to be at the center of a tug-of-war between an oil company executive who wants to buy the land to build a pipeline, and an environmental activist who wants to stop it.

Soon after he arrives and gets the lay of the land from the local postal carrier (Milana Vayntrub, best known as Lily from the AT&T phone commercials), the town loses power. The generators have been carved up, a local dog has been eaten, and the body of the local innkeeper’s husband is discovered. The townspeople lock themselves in the inn for protection, which proves short-lived as the attacks continue. The environmentalist determines it could be a werewolf, which only causes more panic.

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Most of the proceedings are shrouded in speculation and hyperbole, though, as the movie entices audiences with several clever misdirects that cast doubt on every character and throws shade on the film’s very premise. No one actually sees a werewolf, and for all we know it could just be a run-of-the-mill serial killer pretending to be a werewolf to foster dissent among the potential victims.

In the tradition of Cabin in the Woods, Werewolves Within manages to find a nice balance between its comedic and horror sensibilities in a way that should appeal to fans of either genre.

Muhammad Ali: A Film by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns & David McMahon

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

PBS Distribution;
Documentary;
$69.99 DVD, $79.99 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Narrated by Keith David.

Boxing history meets the civil rights movement in PBS documentarian Ken Burns and his team’s latest sojourn into the historical record, an examination of the life of legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

Presented as four two-hour episodes, Muhammad Ali is an engrossing profile of the man who dubbed himself “The Greatest,” and backed up his claim in the ring. The political aspects of his life amid the racial tensions of the mid-20th century make it easy to see what made Ali an attractive subject for Burns, who often incorporates the history of race relations into the broader context of American History.

The first episode chronicles Ali’s boyhood in Kentucky, when he was known as Cassius Clay. Seeking help after his bike was stolen, young Clay stumbled across a cop giving boxing lessons, sealing his destiny. A sparkling amateur career led to an Olympic gold medal in Rome in 1960. Turning pro, Ali won his first heavyweight title in 1964.

The second episode finds fame and notoriety catching up to the champ, whose involvement with the Nation of Islam makes him a controversial figure and prompts him to change his name to Muhammad Ali. As he mows down contenders to his title, his biggest foe becomes the U.S. government, as he is drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. His refusal to accept induction leads to a lengthy legal battle, during which he is stripped of his titles and exiled from the sport for three years.

The third disc details his comeback in the early 1970s. As his case makes its way to the Supreme Court, Ali sparks his famous rivalry with Joe Frazier as he embarks on a quest to reclaim his crown.

The fourth disc covers the final years of Ali’s career, his declining health and being embraced as a cultural and sports icon.

While the documentary celebrates the glory of his success, it also takes an unflinching look at his personal life, including a string of troubled marriages, as well as a brazen attitude that didn’t make too many friends.

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