LOST: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 4 years, 50 days ago

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We’ve heard a lot about dirty shenanigans in the financial sector over the last few years, but if you really want to know about a high-risk investment that hardly ever pays off, forget about the Ponzi scheme — look no further than the serialized television drama.

Much as we all love to snigger at the stereotype of the housewife or credulous college student weeping over her soap opera, there are good reasons that shows like General Hospital have lasted for decades, and chief among them is the unique pleasure of following characters and storylines over an extended period of time. The networks dress it up in different outfits each fall, but it’s that same enduring promise that lures viewers into new serialized series every year, and if you’re any kind of television fan, you’re well acquainted with the pain of giving yourself over to a show’s arc, only to watch it land with a thud — or worse, find that the show’s been canceled before it can reach a satisfying conclusion. (This writer is still smarting over the way NBC pulled the plug on Journeyman under cover of the writer’s strike.) Read more about Lost: The Complete Collection after the jump:

RAMBO: THE COMPLETE COLLECTOR’S SET Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 4 years, 82 days ago

You’ve got to give Lionsgate points for chutzpah. The Rambo movies are all already available on Blu-ray, but with The Expendables heading to theaters and a vault full of action flicks to exploit, the studio is fearlessly shotgunning genre fans with a stack of reissues. And since it would be kind of lame if all they had to show for their catalog holdings was a hi-def version of Lock Up, here’s Rambo: The Complete Collector’s Set, which bundles all four chapters in the John Rambo saga into a bloody, brick-shaped chunk of righteous fury.

As examples of egregious double-dipping go, The Complete Collector’s Set isn’t so bad. Lionsgate is clearly trying to take advantage of heightened interest in all things Stallone, but to the studio’s credit, no exclusive content has been added to any of the movies in the box — if you already own any of these titles on Blu-ray, you don’t need to worry about missing some new featurette or commentary track. In fact, this set doesn’t include the extended cut of the fourth film that you get with the standalone disc. What you’re left with, in essence, is a cheaper way to own the series, so even if it doesn’t exactly live up to its name, it’s tough to quibble too much with The Complete Collector’s Set.  More after the jump:

FUNNY FARM and SPIES LIKE US Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 4 years, 91 days ago

Before he was the scene-stealing old guy on NBC’s Community, Chevy Chase was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Between 1978’s Foul Play and 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Chase reeled off a string of nearly 20 comedies, most of them big hits — and then he pissed it all away in a spectacular orgy of horrible flops that included Nothing but Trouble and Cops and Robbersons.

Now that Chevy’s making us laugh again, and the sting of his most egregious failures has worn off, Warner Bros. has decided to pull two of his movies from the vaults for its “Double Feature” series. They aren’t two of his best, unfortunately, but for filmgoers of a certain age, the Funny Farm/Spies Like Us two-fer will bring back plenty of (occasionally rather painful) memories.  More after the jump:

BEST WORST MOVIE Review

by     Posted 4 years, 160 days ago

We bitch about them all the time, but there’s really something kind of special about a bad movie — unlike books, and to a far greater extent than most pieces of music, a bad movie requires the involvement of a great number of people, most of them passionate believers in the doomed project at hand. A movie that’s only crappy will just bore you, but a really bad one can take you outside of your skin for 90 minutes and make you re-examine the way you look at the world. How can so many people go so wrong? Is art real? What does “talent” mean?

These are the kinds of questions posed by the very worst movies, and according to a not inconsiderable number of people, the worst of them all is 1990′s Troll 2. It’s difficult to describe the motion picture misery that is Troll 2, but some of the high points include the fact that it has nothing to do with 1986′s Troll, and it was filmed by a non English-speaking Italian director, in Utah…and it doesn’t include a single troll. The plot, such as it is, revolves around vegetarian goblins (in the quaint burg of Nilbog, natch) who trick people into turning into plants so they can be eaten. There’s a lot of cheap latex, a lot of green food coloring, and tons of truly terrible acting from the cast of unknowns. It technically has a beginning, middle, and end, so whether it’s truly the worst movie of all time is somewhat debatable, but there’s no arguing Troll 2 is a pretty miserable viewing experience.  More after the jump:

ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT DVD Review

by     Posted 4 years, 358 days ago

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Despite an interesting cast and passionate pleas from more than one film critic, Brett Simon’s Assassination of a High School President is the latest project to be burped out of the gaping, bankrupt maw of the Yari Film Group and directly onto the DVD market. Yari’s failure has claimed some terrific films – most notably a pair of Rod Lurie movies – and although Assassination doesn’t quite deserve to be lumped in with the best of the studio’s aborted litter, it’s certainly better than most direct-to-video projects, and well worth a rental and 90 minutes of your time. My review after the jump:

MARY AND MAX Review

by     Posted 5 years ago

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It was created with Claymation, its main characters speak with adorable accents, and funny-looking animals are involved – but “Wallace and Gromit” this ain’t.

Director Adam Elliot won an Oscar for 2003′s “Harvie Krumpet”, a 23-minute animated short about a one-testicled, Tourette’s-ridden World War II survivor and animal rights activist, and he brings that same gift for unique characters and melancholy overtones to his debut full-length feature “Mary and Max”. My review after the jump:

LABYRINTH and THE DARK CRYSTAL Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 5 years, 11 days ago

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For most people, just coming up with a cast of characters as wonderfully lovable as the Muppets – to say nothing of helping spearhead a pair of television classics as durable as The Muppet Show and Sesame Street – would be enough to justify an early and lucrative retirement. For Jim Henson, however, those feats only scratched the surface of his ambition, and by the early ’80s, the man who helped turn puppets from a sideshow trick into an art form was ready to try his hand at slightly more grown-up fare. The results were 1982′s The Dark Crystal and 1986′s Labyrinth, a pair of PG-rated fantasy films that connected the dots between The Muppet Movie and The Lord of the Rings. Neither film made much of an impression at the box office, but they’ve both acquired cult status over the years – and now they’ve both been given rather painstaking hi-def upgrades courtesy of Sony Pictures. My reviews after the jump:

THE OFFICE Season Five Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 5 years, 41 days ago

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Though it’s never been a ratings powerhouse, finishing outside the Nielsen Top 50 in each of its five seasons, NBC’s “The Office” has everything else a network could want in this increasingly fragmented era of television entertainment: Mountains of great reviews, a likable cast that stays in the public eye with budding film careers, plenty of opportunities for product placement, and a devoted following among the coveted 18-49 demographic. In fact, if you didn’t have any idea what the Nielsen rankings were, you might think “The Office” was a phenomenon of “Cheers” proportions, when in fact it hasn’t even managed “Night Court”-sized ratings. More after the jump:

Eddie Murphy’s DELIRIOUS DVD Review

by     Posted 5 years, 135 days ago

Eddie Murphy Delirious movie image (1).jpgUnspeakably vulgar, unbelievably rude, and the virtual textbook definition of “politically incorrect,” Eddie Murphy’s Delirious is not only a classic piece of standup, but an honest-to-goodness cultural touchstone for an entire generation of comedy fans. If you came of age during the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you’ve spent at least one evening – if not dozens – gathered around a television with friends, trapped in gales of helpless laughter as you watch Murphy unleash one of Delirious‘ many timeless bits. If you’ve ever screamed “ICE CREAM MAN IS COMING!” or sung “G.I. Joe is swimming in the water,” you understand – and you’re probably interested in Starz/Anchor Bay’s new double-disc reissue of the special, which first aired on HBO in 1983. (Clearly, someone at the studio isn’t so good at math, but whatever.)

FANBOYS DVD Review

by     Posted 5 years, 142 days ago

fanboys.jpgIn his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman lays out what is essentially the unifying theory of Johnny Carson – the idea that the advent of cable and the home video market, not to mention the Internet, has splintered public tastes to the point that there’s no longer any such thing as a shared cultural experience anymore; according to Klosterman, the last patch of common ground was Johnny Carson, and once he disappeared from the airwaves, he took the last link in our pop culture chain with him.

Klosterman had a point, one which grows ever more relevant with each passing year – but every so often, a cultural event comes along with enough significance to achieve true water cooler status. Case in point: the long-awaited debut of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999, a breathlessly anticipated extension of a film franchise that was virtually inescapable in its day. When George Lucas announced he was working on a prequel trilogy that would fill in the story behind the original films, pretty much everyone was at least curious to see what they’d look like – and the hardcore fans were on pins and needles.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 5 years, 143 days ago

There's Something About MAry.jpgWhen we say a movie is influential, it’s normally meant as a compliment; fans point back to films like Alien, Die Hard, or The Manchurian Candidate to give them credit for inspiring entire genres, and sometimes even schools of thought for subsequent filmmakers. In the case of 1998′s There’s Something About Mary, however, “influential” has a decidedly negative connotation – which is understandable, given the sea of shitty gross-out comedies that Mary spawned, but still unfortunate, because as much as excessive repetition may have numbed us to its original impact, it was one of the funniest comedies of the ’90s – and it remains the best thing the Farrelly brothers have ever done.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS The Third Season DVD Review

by     Posted 5 years, 153 days ago

friday night lights.jpgWhen last we saw the cast of “Friday Night Lights,” they were suffering from a particularly brutal version of the sophomore jinx. Barely renewed for a second season after a low-rated (but critically praised) initial run, “FNL” added “bad timing” to its list of problems upon its return; thanks to the 2007-08 writers’ strike, production halted after 15 episodes, and despite the fact that the show was one of the only scripted series on NBC’s schedule during the strike, it continued to languish in the lower reaches of the Nielsens. The closing moments of the season’s final episode – which saw the Dillon Panthers on the verge of the playoffs, and star running back Brian “Smash” Williams (Gaius Charles) dealing with the aftermath of a brawl that cost him a scholarship – seemed likely to wind up going down as a terribly unsatisfying conclusion to a series that never had a chance to really hit its stride.

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