New to Blu-ray/DVD: Texas Rising & The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season


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Editor’s Notes: Texas Rising and The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season are out on their respective formats September 1st.

Texas Rising
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Texas Rising (Lionsgate) is a History-TV mini-series that covers the early history of Texas and its war of independence from Mexico. The series opens with the smoldering ruins of the Alamo in 1836. The film switches back and forth from various camps whose men are trying to hold onto territory. General Sam Houston (Bill Paxton) is a strategic leader, weighing the consequences of impulsive actions to avenge the Alamo massacre. This puts him at odds with many of his followers as he spouts heroic-sounded lines while figuring the best time and place to make a move. He sends Emily West (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to avenge her dead brother by serving as a spy.

Meanwhile, General Santa Anna (Olivier Martinez) with his huge force is preening after defeating the outnumbered Alamo defenders and feels complete victory is well within his grasp. He is portrayed as a slimy, ambitious military man who sees the Texas campaign as stepping stone to a political career.

Other characters include Deaf Smith (Dean Morgan), a courageous Texas Ranger with a secret illness, Lorca (Ray Liotta), an Alamo survivor who goes on a murderous rampage, President Andrew Jackson (Kris Kristofferson), and half-breed Texas Ranger Billy Anderson (Brendan Fraser).

At 7 1/2 hours, the series is way too long. There’s so much padding, uninteresting subplots, and jumping around that viewers will lose interest well before the series’ resolution. Performances are fine and the casting interesting, but its length ultimately is its worst enemy. There’s not enough material to justify so much screen time. Battles are well staged, for the most part, but the elimination of the Alamo siege is a misstep. This might have been covered in a montage, just to set the stage for what follows. Instead, the viewer is thrown into the aftermath of the siege. It’s almost like coming into a movie theatre and missing not only a big sequence, but the springboard for everything to follow.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include profiles on Sam Houston and Santa Anna, and a behind-the-scenes, making-of featurette. A digital HD copy is included.

The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season

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The Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season (Warner Home Video) picks up several months after the fall of the “other side.” Most of the main characters are living in denial and disillusion as they attempt to move on after losing two of their best friends. Rather than grieve, however, Caroline (Candice Accola) has chosen to fight to reverse the spell keeping them all from returning home to Mystic Falls. Elena (Nina Dobrev) copes with Damon’s death by drinking a magic potion that allows her to interact with a counterfeit version of Damon. Stefan (Paul Wesley) plays at being a mechanic and becomes involved romantically with a local woman, but he’s still in contact with Alaric (Matthew Davis). Tyler (Michael Trevino) is once again human, but lives in constant fear of triggering his werewolf curse. Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) chases random girls, plays video games, and seems to care little for anything but his own pleasure.

Episode 1, “I’ll Remember,” spends a sizable amount of time recapping earlier events and acquainting viewers with what the characters have been up to since the other side disappeared. The episode disorients before the plot puzzle pieces are reassembled. The final scene is witty and intriguing as it sets up the questions that will be addressed during the season.

The show derives its popularity from smoothly integrating horror, fantasy, and romance genres with a generous shot of soap opera melodrama. All 22 episodes of Season 6 are included on the 4-disc Blu-ray release. Bonus extras include 2 new featurettes, 2014 Comic-Con panel, audio commentary on 2 episodes, gag reel, and unaired scenes.


About Author

For over 25 years, I was the Film and Home Entertainment Reviewer for "The Villadom TIMES," a New Jersey weekly newspaper, and have written for several other publications. I developed and taught a Film Studies program for two New York City high schools that included Film History, Horror/Fantasy, and Film Making.