GODZILLA Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 days ago

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Gareth Edwards made a big leap from the small scale of 2010’s Monsters to the 2014 summer blockbuster Godzilla, and in doing so he showed that he has the skills for big budget movie-making (which may be why Lucasfilm scooped him up to direct a standalone Star Wars film).  Godzilla features a number of epic set pieces that show Edwards has a great skill and understanding of how to stage and build action.  But the film also has a huge weakness: none of the human characters are as interesting as the titular monster.  Perhaps that’s to be expected, but it’s why the film is impressive while also being a little boring.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson leads the film, which also features Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston and David Strathairn.  My Godzilla Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS II (Mastered in 4K) Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 4 days ago

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Ghostbusters was a cultural phenomenon, and hasn’t left pop culture since it was released in 1984.  Then again, it would be hard to forget considering co-writer Dan Aykroyd has been promising a third entry in the franchise since the nineties.  To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the first film (and the twenty-fifth of the sequel Ghostbusters II) Sony has packaged both together with new extras and the best transfers yet of the films.  The first film remains a classic, while the sequel is not without pleasures.  Both star Bill Murray, Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, and Annie Potts, and both were directed by Ivan Reitman.  My review of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

NEED FOR SPEED Blu-ray Review

by     Posted One week ago

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There’s something thrilling about watching practical stunts in the digital era, which may be why Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed — despite numerous flaws — is just good enough to recommend.  Aaron Paul stars alongside Imogen Poots in this tale of a cross country journey in which Paul’s character wants revenge against the man (Dominic Cooper) who framed him for an involuntary manslaughter.  My Need for Speed Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 12 days ago

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Criterion has released two Spanish-language movies of a sexual nature, one from Mexico, one from Spain.  The former is Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien (which translates to “And your mother too”), which Criterion has been promising for five years, while the other is Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, which was notorious for its NC-17 rated content at the time.  My review of both Criterion editions of these films follow after the jump.

THEY CAME TOGETHER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 13 days ago

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When Wet Hot American Summer came out in 2001, it was released by USA Films – a company that eventually morphed into Focus Features, but at the time had no real footing theatrically.  That may explain why the film was barely released, but eventually found a cult audience.  Considering it was written by Michael Showalter and David Wain (the latter of whom directed the film), and featured many members of The State there was almost a guarantee it would be funny, but the fledging USA Films didn’t know how to sell it.  Originally Showalter and Wain wanted to follow that film with They Came Together, which they were unable to make until recently, and it was also given a small theatrical release (but was also put on VOD).  But now that it’s on home video, it seems likely it too will become a cult favorite.  Starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Chris Meloni and many familiar faces, it is equally hilarious, and my They Came Together Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

WINTER’S TALE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 29 days ago

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Quentin Tarantino has complained about how one of the biggest problems with American cinema is that it’s afraid of big emotions.  Of melodrama that might descend into camp (or perhaps is camp to begin with).  And it’s true, more movies are likely to adapt an ironic distance than go for something earnest.  There’s a reason for that: when earnest doesn’t work, you get films like The Postman and The Room.  But that means some material just isn’t going to translate into American cinema, and that’s why Winter’s Tale is a boring disaster.  Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Will Smith star in this story of star-crossed lovers and miracles, and my Winter’s Tale Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

FILTH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Irvine Welsh made his reputation with both the novel and the filmed version of Trainspotting, with the latter creating the cinematic language that has been borrowed by every adaptation of his work that’s followed.  The most recent big screen Welsh adaptation is Filth, which was written for the screen and directed by Jon S.  Baird and stars James McAvoy as Detective Bruce Robertson, a corrupt cop who’s got some issues at home and in the workforce.  But where it has some of the flash of Trainspotting, it seems more like a Chuck Palahniuk adaptation, replete with a terrible third act twist.  My review of the Filth Blu-ray follows after the jump.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 35 days ago

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The Muppets returned to the big screen with a self-titled relaunch in 2011, and it was met with a lot of excitement from fans, but was not a runaway success.  The follow up Muppets Most Wanted was received with less enthusiasm, and barely made fifty million domestically.  Which is too bad as it’s the slightly better film.  Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Ty Burrell are the main humans and are joined by all the main Muppets (like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and more) in this European caper.  My review of the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray of the film follows after the jump.

THE RAID 2 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 54 days ago

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Coming back for a sequel, Gareth Evans’ follow up to The Raid, The Raid: Berandal is a much bigger film in every respect.  It’s scope (2.35:1) instead of flat (1.85:1), it’s a full fifty minutes longer, and it features some of the craziest and greatest stunt sequences in the history of cinema.  But also with that two and a half hour running time comes some bloat, which may have been unavoidable with the scope of the film.  Iko Uwais returns as Rama, who this time goes undercover to take the most powerful bosses in the business, but to do so he most put a lot of his life on the line.  My The Raid 2 Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 56 days ago

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Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night is one of the most exuberant and entertaining movies ever made.   Catching The Beatles phenomenon like getting lightning in a bottle, the film feels just as alive and inventive as it must have when it premiered fifty years ago.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appear as themselves in a very loosely plotted story of the events that lead up to a fictionalized television performance.   Breezy and filled with great songs and jokes, anyone who dislikes this film probably has terrible taste.   My review of the Criterion Collection edition (which includes both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film) follows after the jump. 

UNDER THE SKIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 57 days ago

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For some Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin will be known as the best science fiction film since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  For others it will be known as the film where Scarlett Johansson gets naked, and will be famous to them for the screengrabs that revealed more than her leaked nude pictures.  In fact, it’s likely that some will be familiar with images from the movie but will never see the film.  Such is nudity in the internet era.  Which is too bad as the film itself is a striking work, though the film is more interested in tone than narrative.  My Under the Skin Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

THE LEGO MOVIE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 60 days ago

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The idea of making a movie out of LEGO toys sounds stupid on paper.  Though you have no narrative you’re stuck to (which is both good and bad), the film’s existence seems based on shilling a product.  That Phil Lord and Chris Miller were able to transcend that and deliver a movie with heart and great jokes is nothing short of a miracle.  The LEGO Movie is not only excellent, it could very well be an all-time great movie.  My review of the 3D Blu-ray of The LEGO Movie follows after the jump.

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 62 days ago

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One of the greatest movies never made, Alejandro Jodorowsky – famous for his midnight movies El Topo and The Holy Mountain – spent two years in the seventies attempting to make an adaptation of Frank Hebert’s Dune, only for his efforts to be spent in vain.  Assembling an international cast and an amazing crew of visual artists, the film might have come out in 1975 and altered the course of cinema forever.  It didn’t happen, but now Jodorowsky and many others who worked on the film have been interviewed for the movie Jodorowsky’s Dune, which gives us a look at what might have been.  My Jodorowsky’s Dune Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 74 days ago

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

Elizabeth Banks is one of the best comediennes working today, and she always brings something interesting to a part, be it big or small.  She should be a bigger star and films like Walk of Shame aren’t going to help prove it as the film ended up debuting in theaters and on VOD at the same time for a reason.  A high concept movie that leaves its star to wallow in embarrassment, there’s probably a sharp film to be made of the story of a woman who, after a night of casual sex, ends up having to make her way through the city to finally get her car and life back — but this isn’t it.  James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star and my Walk of Shame Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

SABOTAGE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 77 days ago

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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen can’t be called much of a comeback as The Last Stand, Escape Plan and Sabotage were all bombs.  Sabotage tanked the hardest as it was barely able to cross the ten million dollar mark.  Perhaps Arnie will regain his footing from his role in the upcoming Terminator sequel, but it seems unlikely that he will ever front a non-sequel again (or at least for another five years).  That’s too bad as Sabotage is a fun throwback to his early eighties action movies which delivers the “red meat city” PG-13 action movies of late are unable to do.  Mixing Commando with a slasher sensibility, Sabotage has Schwarzenegger leading a team of DEA agents (including Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and Sam Worthington) who are being hunted and by a mysterious killer.  My Sabotage Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

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