Murderville

STREAMING REVIEW:

Netflix;
Comedy;
Not rated.
Stars Will Arnett, Haneefah Wood, Lilan Bowden, Phillip Smithey, Conan O’Brien, Marshawn Lynch, Kumail Nanjiani, Annie Murphy, Sharon Stone, Ken Jeong.

The hilarious new comedy series “Murderville” offers a spoof of police procedurals with a twist. Each episode, homicide detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) takes on a new trainee partner in the form of a celebrity guest star playing themselves. The catch is, the celebrities haven’t been given a script to let them know what’s going on, forcing them to improvise their way through the scenes, leading up to them choosing which of the episode’s three suspects they think is the killer.

Think of it as “Law & Order” meets “Police Squad” with touches of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and one of those murder mystery party games, as the premise, inspired by the British TV series “Murder in Successville,” serves as an excuse to subject the celebrity guest to humiliating scenarios while distracting them from trying to notice clues.

For instance, the first episode ensnares Conan O’Brien in a situation in which he has to keep eating a sloppy joe even as Arnett keeps pouring hot sauce on it. Another set-up sees former NFL star Marshawn Lynch pretending to be the mirror image of a suspect he looks nothing like because the two-way mirror in the interrogation room is missing.

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There are also running gags that flow through all six of the episodes, giving sharp-eyed viewers plenty to appreciate. Arnett shines as the detective at the center of it all, acting as ringleader to egg on the celebrities while guiding them through each case, not to mention the audience, who can play along at home.

You know you’re dealing with an elevated level of silliness when one of the secondary objectives seems to be trying to make the actor playing the corpse crack up (and a couple of times it almost works). Even the skilled performers guest starring or playing suspects aren’t immune to breaking from time to time, which just contributes to the dumb fun.

Total Recall

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 12/8/20;
Lionsgate;
Sci-Fi;
$22.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R.’
Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Marshell Bell, Roy Brocksmith.

The latest edition of the 1990 sci-fi classic offers a new Ultra HD transfer and some engaging new retrospective bonus features that should please fans.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1966 short story ‘We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” the film that eventually became Total Recall went through dozens of script revisions before ending up in the hands of director Paul Verhoeven, who had just had a massive success in the sci-fi/action genre with RoboCop.

At one point Richard Dreyfuss was attached to star, playing a meek accountant who awakens hidden memories that he is, in fact, a deadly secret agent. When Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on, the character was changed to a construction worker, as the writers felt a character played by the famed muscle-man would not be believable having a number-crunching desk job. (Interestingly, four years later in True Lies Schwarzenegger would play a secret agent pretending to be a boring family man.)

Verhoeven’s version, set in the late 21st century, involves Schwarzenegger’s Doug Quaid attempting to break from the monotony of his life by visiting Rekall, a company that specializes in implanting memories of exotic vacations. However, Quaid’s attempts to implant a trip to Mars seems to trigger a dormant memory that he’s actually a spy named Hauser working with a revolutionary movement at the colony on the red planet. The unsurfacing of these memories prompts the Martian administrator (Ronny Cox) to send a security team to subdue Quaid, who manages to stay one step ahead thanks to clues his alter ego left himself, but who also wonders if this whole adventure might be nothing more than a dream.

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Even after 30 years, the film holds up as a pulse-pounding actioner with sumptuous visuals, snappy quips and a fair share of laughs.

The film is filled with over-the-top violence, a particular trait of Verhoeven’s style. Ronny Cox, who was so effective as the heavy in RoboCop, takes on a similar role here. Legendary tough guy Michael Ironside, who plays the leader of the hit squad after Quaid, had been in line to play RoboCop before dropping out, Verhoeven said, but ended up working with the director here, as well as in 1997’s Starship Troopers. Meanwhile, Sharon Stone, a mainstay of bit parts throughout the 1980s, got a lot of attention playing Quaid’s supposed wife, leading to Verhoeven casting her in his 1992 thriller Basic Instinct, a role that would catapult her to superstardom.

According to Verhoeven on the film’s commentary, a planned sequel to Total Recall would have adapted Dick’s Minority Report and involved Schwarzenegger leading a team of psychics — mutated Martian colonists — to prevent crimes before they happen. Eventually Minority Report ended up a standalone movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise.

The 30th anniversary Blu-ray set of Total Recall features a new 4K transfer by StudioCanal overseen by Verhoeven. The image retains a fair amount of grain to retain that film look, while giving the color palette a bit more pop, particular the extensive use of red on Mars.

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Among the extras carried over from earlier home video presentations are a 23-minute featurette about the film’s innovating visual effects, which won a Special Achievement Academy Award (meaning it received so many more nominations than any other film that there was no point in actually voting for a winner along with the other categories). Also included are a vintage eight-minute making-of featurette that seems to have been produced to promote the film’s original theatrical release, and a 30-minute “Imagining Total Recall” behind-the-scenes featurette that first appeared on the film’s 2001 DVD.

Also carried over from that original DVD is Verhoeven’s commentary, which he shares with Schwarzenegger, making for an accent-heavy affair as they discuss the film’s development, its production tricks, story points, and working together.

Newly added for this Blu-ray release are the new hourlong documentary Total Excess: How Carolco Changed Hollywood, about the history of the film’s production company — a fun look back at some of the biggest action blockbusters of the 1980s and ’90s.

Also new is the 21-minute Open Your Mind: Scoring ‘Total Recall,’ a featurette in which several music experts discuss Jerry Goldsmith’s memorable score for the film. Finally, there’s the eight-and-a-half-minute “Dreamers Within the Dream: Designing Total Recall,” a look at the production design of the film from concept sketches to final product.

Not making the cut this time around from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases is a half-hour Verhoeven interview, Rekall vacation vignettes, photo gallerys, storyboard comparisons, and other featurettes, including “Visions of Mars.”

HBO’s ‘Mosaic’ Coming to Disc in July, Four Months After Digital Release

Mosaic, a six-part limited series from Oscar- and Emmy-winning director and executive producer Steven Soderbergh, will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on July 10, HBO Home Entertainment has announced.

Starring Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund and Beau Bridges, the series previously was available as a digital download (as of March 5).

The Mosaic Blu-ray and DVD comes with a two-part featurette, “Heart of Homicide.”

Set against the backdrop of a mountain resort town, Mosaic follows popular children’s book author and illustrator Olivia Lake (Stone). When she disappears, leaving behind a blood-soaked studio, all eyes turn to two new men in her life: graphic artist Joel Hurley (Hedlund) and charming stranger Eric Neill (Frederick Weller). It’s left to detective Nate Henry (Devin Ratray) and Eric’s sister, Petra (Jennifer Ferrin), to unravel the mystery.

HBO previously released a Mosaic app that allowed viewers to explore the world of the story and choose different paths through the narrative.

HBO’s ‘Mosaic’ Available for Digital Download March 5

Oscar- and Emmy-winning director and executive producer Steven Soderbergh’s six-part limited series Mosaic, starring Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund and Beau Bridges, will be available through digital download starting March 5 from HBO Home Entertainment.

Set against the backdrop of a mountain resort town, Mosaic follows popular children’s book author and illustrator Olivia Lake (Stone). When she disappears, leaving behind a blood-soaked studio, all eyes turn to two new men in her life: graphic artist Joel Hurley (Hedlund) and charming stranger Eric Neill (Frederick Weller). It’s left to detective Nate Henry (Devin Ratray) and Eric’s sister, Petra (Jennifer Ferrin), to unravel the mystery.

HBO previously released a Mosaic app that allowed viewers to explore the world of the story and choose different paths through the narrative.