WHAT IF Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 11 days ago

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The challenge in making a romantic comedy is the thing that keeps the couple apart.  Most people who meet cute in real life don’t have that many obstacles in front of them, and the genre has suffered from too many starlets attempting to find new ways to keep the obvious from happening.  What If, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as the people destined to be together, finds a novel spin on the genre, and as directed by Michael Dowse tries to find ways of avoiding the obvious pot holes of the genre.  It makes it a film that mostly succeeds by what it doesn’t do, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 16 days ago

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Though Frank Capra is known for his humanist films that are often about great men who fight for social justice, one of his best works is (arguably) the first screwball comedy that backgrounds class issues for a rollicking adventure about a dizzy heiress and a hard-boiled reporter.  That film is It Happened One Night, and it’s rightfully received a place in the Criterion Collection.  Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert star, and my review of the film on Blu-ray follows after the jump.

THE EXPENDABLES 3 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 20 days ago

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The Expendables movies feel like they shouldn’t exist outside of a fever dream.  Even watching one, they’re just the sugar-fueled stories of a kid who’s brought in all his toys to fight each other.  The first two weren’t great, but had moments of charm, and the third film might be the best of the bunch, even if it often feels like the cast are brought in based on their days available.  Sylvester Stallone leads The Expendables 3 cast that includes Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Ronda Rousey, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer and more and my review of the film on Blu-ray follows after the jump.

22 JUMP STREET Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 24 days ago

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Chris Miller and Phil Lord have a history of picking projects that shouldn’t work and turning them into winners, and the one that may have been the trickiest is22 Jump Street.  Where you can argue that people underrated the possibility that 21 Jump Street or The LEGO Movie could actually be good, with 22 Jump Street not only were they making a comedy sequel (usually a bad idea), but had to deliver something as good as the first one.  The shock is they actually made a comedy sequel that is as good (if not better) than the original.  Take that, Ghostbusters 2 and Anchorman: The Legend ContinuesJonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube return for what was the best mainstream film of this past summer, and my review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 34 days ago

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It seemed inevitable that Seth MacFarlane was going to star in a movie.  After his success with Ted (which he wrote and directed and which made over half a billion worldwide), after hosting both Saturday Night Live and the Oscars, it seemed he wanted to be in front of the camera, no longer just writing and providing voice work for such television shows as Family Guy and American Dad.  That shot was A Million Ways to Die in the West, which he also wrote, produced and directed, and it did not have the sort of success that would suggest he’ll get to star in another.  The film barely made $40 million domestically, and was roundly panned.  The film has its moments, and will probably get a better reputation when it’s viewed with the lowered expectations that come with home viewing, though it’s the definition of indulgent.  Co-starring with Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson, this comic western is a mostly one-note premise stretched to feature length.  My A Million Ways To Die In The West Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Transformers: Age of Extinction was initially pitched as something of a reboot.  Though franchise helmer Michael Bay was set to return to the director’s chair, Shia LaBeouf was out as Mark Wahlberg took the lead role.  But even with the new cast, it has the same bloated and confused approach that marked all the sequels, and the fourth film – which is the longest of the series – features all the same problems of the previous movies, but only some of the pluses.  My Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN Ultimate Edition and ALIEN 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 43 days ago

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20th Century Fox has released two of Ridley Scott’s best films in new special editions.  Those films are Alien and Kingdom of Heaven.  One of these editions offers supplements and commentaries never before put to Blu-ray, while the other is a repackaged version of previous editions, where the only new element are some collectables.  My review of both follows after the jump. 

EDGE OF TOMORROW Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 49 days ago

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Seriously, are we supposed to call it Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow now? That’s what the packaging of the Blu-ray (and its title on VOD) suggests, which is odd for a movie that made a little over a hundred million domestically.  Generally that sort of rebranding happens when a film flops, but perhaps this change was made because that’s what audiences thought the title was from the marketing.  Regardless, this Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie was easily one of the better movies of this past summer, but perhaps Cruise fatigue or title confusion left the film to underperform.  Starring alongside Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton, Cruise does great work in this video game-inspired film and my review of the Blu-ray of Edge of Tomorrow follows after the jump.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 51 days ago

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The first Purge posited a relatively clever science fiction plot: For twelve hours every year all crime is legal.  To work within its low budget, it confined most of that activity to one house, and it was slightly better than expected, but it didn’t seem to capitalize on the premise as well as it could.  But its sequel The Purge: Anarchy takes that idea to the place it should have started: On the street.  Following five people who are caught in the middle of purge night by either choice or accident, it does a much better job of exploring the possibilities of what might happen if for one night a year, all crime was legal.  Frank Grillo stars in the film, and my review of the film’s Blu-ray follows after the jump.

CHEF Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 53 days ago

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On one hand Jon Favreau’s Chef is a light, easy to please comedy, a soft rock song that doesn’t want to offend anybody.  On the other, it’s vacuous, middlebrow food porn with its director unable to keep his subtext from leaping to the surface.  Writer/director Favreau stars as the titular chef, and he’s joined by some famous friends like Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo, and Scarlet Johansson in this tale of a cook who lost his way working in the corporate world of restaurants.  My review of the Blu-ray of Chef follows after the jump.

ERASERHEAD and THE INNOCENTS Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 64 days ago

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Criterion has released two classics of gothic black and white horror with Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and David Lynch’s Eraserhead now joining their collection.  The former is a brilliant adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, while the latter is one of the most singular experiences in cinema history, a film that became a perennial midnight movie for a very good reason.  Criterion is celebrating Halloween this year in style, and my review of both films on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

THE ROVER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 70 days ago

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There is probably a sizable percentage of people who hate Robert Pattinson for no good reason.  The Twilight star became an intense object of affection and lust for those team Edward, and for anyone who witnessed that obsessive fandom (especially those who saw it up close), it can be off-putting even if it bears little on the person’s talents.  Considering that Pattinson starred in five of the biggest movies of the last decade, he’s made some of the smartest career moves of anyone who has been suddenly thrust into superstardom: He’s now making an effort to work with talented auteurs in roles that only trade on his fame in the sense that he helps get the movies financed.  Not only has he made two movies with David Cronenberg, he also starred in the David Michod film The Rover.  And as for the latter, he’s excellent in it.  My review of the Blu-ray of The Rover follows after the jump. 

NEIGHBORS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 79 days ago

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Seth Rogen’s acting career took off fifteen years ago when he was cast in Freaks and Geeks, and over the last ten years he’s become a movie star.  And though he’s nowhere near finished, one gets the sense that if Rogen ever had a wild period, he’s past it (it seems his biggest public faux pas is making a film like The Guilt Trip).  He’s married, he’s a successful writer, producer, actor and director, and though he still has a bit of a baby face, he’s no longer capable of playing schlubby twenty-something losers, and it seems that he’s intentionally moving away from those types.  Neighbors, as directed by Nick Stoller, suggests that though Rogen still has some of that party animal in him, he’s also transitioned into being an adult both onscreen and off.  My Neighbors Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

GODZILLA Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 84 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 86 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. 

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