Note: The following review is for the HD-DVD upgraded version of Coming Home from Wicked Pictures. The only upgraded part is the movie itself (the extras were left on standard definition discs) but unlike the recent Operation Desert Stormy HD release, there was no move to enhance the extras package, actually dropping all the extras except the commentary track instead. Considering the added expense of the release, I found this decision to be starkly in contrast with other companies in the industry but it does manage to follow that of some mainstream companies so feel free to let the company know what you think of it, if extras matter to you. The quick version of the review (which is largely based on the SD review since little was changed) is that the visual components were enhanced more than a little bit, as were the audio aspects, albeit not to the fullest extent of the high definition format. Wicked Pictures has not really embraced the HD format and recent developments in the format war lead me to believe that it will probably join most other companies with occasional Blu-Ray releases but sales are not good enough to justify really pushing titles in the newer formats so until that changes, the selected few will likely be the blockbusters so many of us enjoy. My sources also lead me to believe that this title was shot in 720p to be up converted to 1080p so it was probably never going to be the stunning flagship title it could have been (either that or the mastering was rushed).
Cast: Kirsten Price, Brad Armstrong, Shyla Stylez, Barrett Blade, Savannah Stern, Scotty Lyons, Brooke Banner, Jada Fire, Gianna Lynn, Chris Cannon, Tyler Knight, Christian, Mikayla, Kayla Carrera, Marcus London, Derrick Pierce, Charles Dera, Vanessa Lane
Non Sex Roles by: Jessica Drake, Randy Spears, Max the dog, Charlie
Length: 186:55 minutes
Date of Production: 4/11/2007 (credits); 5/11/2007 (box cover)
Extra's: The only extra this time was the interesting audio commentary track that I'm listening to as I write this review. It had Brad Armstrong, Jessica Drake, and Kristen Price discussing the movie, the stuff around the set, some of the troubles that took place, and how much work it was to make. Any time I had a question about a scene, I knew that the commentary would cover it; helping to make writing this review far easier in fact (it was fun to listen too; trust me when I tell you that you can benefit by listening). I really, really wish Wicked Pictures had kept all the original extras from the Collector’s Set if not added even more of them given the much higher price.
Audio/Video Quality: Coming Home HD was presented in an appealing 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color as shot by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures to be presented in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. While filmed in high definition, the original was down converted to a regular DVD, so there was some minor grain in some of the scenes where lighting was minimized as part of the scene. The good news is that even in the dark night scenes, the visual elements were reasonably well handled, providing more quality than most studios are capable of handling these days. The video noise was minimal and the composition of the scenes was extremely well taken care of, enhancing the look of the ladies in nearly all cases but the HD upgrade was not the best the company has offered of late either. The audio was presented with two choices, the primary one being a 5.1 Dolby Digital+ English track that balanced the vocals and music nicely. There was also a 2.0 Dolby Digital track in Spanish available for those who care but the fact is that the dubbing seemed humorous to me. Otherwise, the audio seemed to be another step in the right direction for Wicked Pictures, even though the vocals were almost certainly recorded in monaural or dubbed in later (not to mention limited in scope). Still, the music was well done and the overall quality of the audio was better than average as well (especially in a few scenes and dialogue segments).
-- sponsored by --
Body of Review: Almost three decades ago, America was still recovering from the effects of the Vietnam War (some say we still are) and anti-war movies were all in vogue because of it. One of the best was Coming Home, starring Jon Voight and Jane Fonda as they dealt with the aftermath of his tour of duty. The movie won numerous awards and showed some of the downsides of military efforts around the globe. How poignant is it then that our recent war in Iraq has impacted a number of soldiers in similar fashion, leading to a horde of war movies that aren't quite as cheerleader epics as those shot during Reagan's glory years when we were all told to "get over it already?". Well, in a departure from conventional porn features, director Brad Armstrong and Wicked Pictures went all out to make their own version of a story that dealt with the impacts of war in what is almost certain to become a heavy hitter at award time; using the same name with Coming Home HD. Brad stars as a military reservist that is called to active duty, goes off to serve his country as so many heroes have before him, and through a quirk of fate, finds himself on the wrong side of a lost relationship. I can't speak for other critics but having served myself, including time in the reserves; I've seen some of the issues the movie used all too accurately, making me think Brad had some help when writing this one up. The back cover said it like this: "When Brian Parsons (Brad Armstrong), receives a letter calling him to duty in Iraq, his life in a sleepy little town is shaken when the unthinkable becomes reality. Girlfriend Sarah (Kirsten Price), is distraught when she hears the news. In an effort to soothe her, Brian enlists the help of his best friend Jimmy (Barrett Blade) to keep an eye on her while he's away. Multi-award winning writer/director Brad Armstrong brings you this year's most anticipated adult drama. An unforgettable 3-hour epic ripped from today's headlines, Coming Home is extraordinary movie making." If this sounds like a movie you can get into for the plot as well as the sex, you will probably find it to be worthy of your time, money and seed. It even came in at #2 on our recent 2007 Top Couple’s Porn List so you know it had to be great. That said, here's a quick look at the sex scenes by cast and action, noting that condoms were wisely used by the performers:
Scene One: Kirsten Price, the cutie on the left side of the front cover, was up first in a scene with boyfriend Brad Armstrong as she tried to ease his apprehensions over being called to active duty to fight in Iraq. He's been getting plastered on beer while kicking on the couch at night; Kirsten making the reactivated grease monkey smile as she climbed into his lap for some play. She kissed him hard and the sex began as they pawed each other, the gal peeling off his pants in order to gain access to his cock for the blowjob. Kirsten is one of the best cocksuckers at Wicked Pictures these days (Jessica giving her a "whore-teen" on a scale of one to four), inhaling his rod as he held her hair. He was in rough shape so she took the lead by bouncing on his cock actively, a few positions later draining his nuts of population pudding really well as it plastered her face.
Scene Two: Shyla Stylez, a curvy hotty that has been in porn for awhile, was up next as the stripper practically attacked Barrett Blade in bed. Her gorgeous eyes, blond hair, attractive face, and sweetly curved body all made her a sight for sore eyes as the two made out like lost lovers. The dialogue went well but it was her superior sexual dynamic that truly elevated the heat of the scene this time. The oral was even better than the last scene and she pumped her ass rapidly up and down as his rod tore into her pussy. This was another dimly shot night scene but Brad "the perverted sexual genius" caught it better than many of his peers in the sense that there was little grain to be seen this time. She was lost in the moment as Barrett boned away like crazy until popping on her abdomen (some of it went pretty far though). Yum!
Scene Three: Savannah Stern, a cute brunette, was up next in bed with little Scotty Lyons. The sex was already well underway with him porking her pussy in bed at night when the camera found them. She sucked him off aggressively with her handjob chaser, the guy playing Brad's kid brother. He was a mechanical meat puppet but she showed a serious amount of energy as her all natural body diddled herself while riding him. I prefer gals with more meat on their bones but she showed the enthusiasm of youth so the totality of the scene was pretty warm; ending with a modest semen blast to her face. The gal has a lot of potential in terms of her sexual skills so I hope she gets to do more features for the company.
Scene Four: Brooke Banner, Jada Fire, Gianna Lynn, Chris Cannon, Christian, and Tyler Knight, were up next in a night scene taking place in the tent between the female medics and the male soldiers. Thankfully, this was one of those times when Christian did not come out of the closet (don't ask, don't tell policies are still well known in the military) and the males directed their attentions towards the women with the emphasis being on blowjobs. The ladies worked the meat pipes with a lot of energy orally before sitting on cock for active rides. There was not a lot of variety in the positions here but they did rotate partners like "mother fuckers", doing PTM and variations as part of the veritable buffet of booty that Kirsten would have avoided had she been hungry. I thought Brooke was the best looking, Jada rode the best, and Gianna was probably the best cocksucker of the scene but your mileage may vary according to what you enjoy seeing. The ending was best described as a trio of facials with a cumswap chaser for those who care about specifics.
Scene Five: Kirsten Price, all greased up and looking like a "dirty bitch" in stripper military garb, was up next as Brad Armstrong fantasized about her in his lonely desert location. He bent her over the hummer to finger her holes, the gal responding favorably as her perfect pucker was penetrated. That led to him boning her in various positions, never playing to her oral strengths but providing a nice change of pace from what could have easily become routine, formulaic sex. The ending pop shot went to her open mouth (much of it missing and striking her face instead), leading to a firefight in the plotted portions of the show.
Scene Six: Mikayla, Kayla Carrera, Marcus London, and Derrick Pierce, were up in a second orgy (of sorts) at the drive in theatre in the dark. Sex in a car, especially at the drive in theatre, used to be as American as apple pie but most of them have long since closed down years ago. In this case, the four performers stuck with a male/female, no switching partners' scenario; the majority of the sex being blowjob and oral sex related. The two couples had some fun but the factors limiting the sex held back the heat a lot too. There was some vaginal sex, active vaginal sex, by the ladies too before the ending mouth pops closed things out.
Scene Seven: Kirsten Price, wearing a green shirt and blue jean shorts, was up next by the lake with real life partner Barrett Blade; the two having decided to consummate their burgeoning relationship as she came to terms with her loss. It was a slower, more seductive scene than the previous bouts of boning, catering to the plot dynamics better than a mechanical bit of screwing would have provided. I almost always sense real chemistry between these two in their scenes, their real relationship adding the spice needed to make it come across as true to their characters. The hummer and other oral tricks seemed heated with the passionate vaginal screwing completing the action before the obligatory abdomen pop shot. Whew!
Scene Eight: Shyla Stylez, playing the pissed off girlfriend to the hilt (and exceptionally well), was up next on the couch with Charles Dera. The lighting was not as good as the outside lighting of the last scene but at least it wasn't as dark as all the night scenes used for dramatic effect either. She gyrated her cookie as he ate away with a sense of abandon, the realism of her getting off showing she is either a wonderful actress or was really into the action; sucking a "pretty good cock" as Jessica put it on the commentary track. The editing was decent in the entire movie (with minor exceptions) but I appreciated it here more than elsewhere as it elevated the manner in which she looked even more than usual. She went to town orally and the resulting vaginal screw was far too short but proved her aggressive style should be used more often by Brad and his peers at Wicked. The sex ended with a titty pop and their passion continued until the scene faded away.
Scene Nine: Vanessa Lane, skillfully playing a stripper at a mid end club, wore her black fishnet outfit as she tore into Brad Armstrong with her firm, hard body. The use of Kirsten intermixed into the scene (as though he was fantasizing about her as he plowed Vanessa) was interesting but Vanessa was the better of the two sexually. He eat her bent over body and she blew him in return, the active vaginal riding taking the form of a few positions before both gals showed up for the ending dream sequence. He popped on both of their faces, waking up half drunk on the couch at the bar to finish up the scene's dialogue.
Scene Ten: Shyla Stylez, barely held in by her top, was up last as she congratulated Brad Armstrong on his status among the living. Having been wronged by the offending couple herself, she decided it was time for some turnabout as Brad drove his cock deep inside her grinding pussy. He was riding her doggy style as Brad called the cheaters who were woken from a slumber, Shyla's aggressive sexuality finishing the movie up with the proverbial bang. The screwing then went to anal and she was just as active at taking his cock inside her that way; Brad warming up her perfect pucker with his tongue and fingers in the bed (as he gave her "twisty stinking finger"). Her hummer was again well done and as with the other scenes, she was the sexual high light of the movie in most ways. After some ATM, he rubbed out a load to her mouth, the rest of the movie's dialogue ending the story on a bittersweet note.
Summary: Coming Home HD by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures was one of my favorite dramatic fuck flicks of the year so I rated it as Recommended. The extras were taken away but the acting was substantially better than average and except for some pacing issues with the story, it might have been the best story line presented by Wicked all year long (there were a few others that surpassed it in that sense but not the kind of blockbuster this was). This was not a feel good drama with a happy ending but the amount of sex presented, not to mention the variety of sexual practices, was a couple of steps forward for the company too; the cast almost all fitting their respective roles both sexually and in the dialogue. Co-director Jessica Drake would have been better used in a sex scene and the blockbuster releases of the season have not all come out yet, but Coming Home HD proved again that Brad and Wicked make a good team for serious dramatic entertainment and will likely win some formal accolades at AVN, XRCO as it did here on the Xcritic 2007 Top Porn List. Good job!
---- You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon