Stanley Kubrick: The Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 8 days ago

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Is that the sound of double-dipping?  Oh right, it must be Warner Bros with another extraneous Blu-ray set.  Having already released a terrific Stanley Kubrick collection in 2011, they now hit us with a bigger, sexier box set… with one fewer movie and several more documentaries to differentiate it from the old one.  In and of itself, it’s an excellent collection, despite the absent film.  But for those who bought the earlier set, it makes for an exasperating choice.  Hit the jump for my Stanley Kubrick Masterpiece Collection Blu-ray review.

UHF 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 24 days ago

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Now here’s a real cinematic oddity.  You can describe UHF in any number of ways: hubristic misfire, beloved cult classic, amiable shaggy dog as harmless as it is corny.  All of them apply, and in fact the stories surrounding the movie are actually more interesting than the movie itself.  But as forgettable as it is, its core sweetness makes it terrific comfort food for the right sort, and while you may not love it, hating it seems like an act of needless cruelty.  Hit the jump for my full UHF Blu-ray review.

BATMAN: The Complete TV Series Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Christian Bale, most would say, made an incredible Batman.  Long-time fans of the character also champion Kevin Conroy, who voiced the Caped Crusader through numerous animated incarnations.  Michael Keaton’s turn is deeply underrated, that kid on Gotham is doing yeoman’s work, and though I have my fears about Batman v Superman, I think Ben Affleck is going to rock the doors off the thing.  They’re all great performers, they all do justice to the character… and yet whenever I see them, some small part of my brain whispers a simple reminder: none of them are Adam West.  Without him, none of them would have had their shot at the cape and cowl, and for all the derision foisted on his campy take on the Dark Knight, his version has endured for almost half a century.  We’ve waited decades to see his Batman anywhere outside of a bootleg DVD; this week, our long national nightmare is finally over.  Hit the jump for my full Batman: The Complete TV Series Blu-ray review.

STAR TREK: THE COMPENDIUM Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 82 days ago

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Paramount committed an egregious faux pas last year with its release of Star Trek: Into Darkness by sprinkling different extras on different Blu-rays.  If you bought your disc at Target, you got one set of extras.  If you bought it at Best Buy, you got a different set.  If you wanted all of them, you basically had to buy multiple copies of the same movie, then vent your fiery wrath across the Internet.  Trekkies hit the roof and with good reason: it took the double-dipping crime to a whole new level.  The new Star Trek Compendium is intended to correct that issue, and I suppose it does… if you’re waiting for all those features in a single collection.  Unfortunately, it compounds the original sin with a whole new one and slaps a higher price on the results in the bargain.  That leaves a sour taste behind for a collection that should have come as a huge relief to long-suffering fans.  Hit the jump for my full review.

TWIN PEAKS: THE ENTIRE MYSTERY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 89 days ago

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Few can deny that we’re living in a Golden Age of television, as the explosion of new outlets and stations has created a need for unique original programming.  People complain (rightfully so) about the proliferation of sleazy reality shows, but we’ve also received the likes of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Veep, Downton Abbey, Justified, The Americans, Archer, Boardwalk Empire… the list goes on into the sunset.  And none of them – not a single one – would have made it to the screen were it not for Twin PeaksChanging an entire medium is rare enough, especially if your show barely lasted thirty episodes.  But so strange and marvelous was its appearance on ABC in the spring of 1990, that even then we knew nothing would ever be the same.  Hit the jump for my full Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu-ray review.

SCANNERS Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 129 days ago

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David Cronenberg made six movies before Scanners, and it felt like all of them were a precursor to a great coming out.  Critics were shocked with what he put onscreen.  Nobody knew what to make of it.  They only knew that they were seeing something strange and disturbing, something that resembled nothing else in movie history.  They were disgusted by the groundbreaking visual effects, and disturbed by the paranoid fantasy lying beneath them.  But the film became a big hit and with it, the career of one of cinema’s most distinctive auteurs had well and truly begun.  The new Criterion Blu-ray edition is everything any fan could possibly hope for.  Hit the jump for my full Scanners Criterion Collection Blu-ray review.

BAD WORDS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 133 days ago

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Movies like Bad Words tend to fiercely divide critics, with one half accusing them of empty shock tactics and the other half praising their edginess and daring. I fall into the latter camp with this one, though I can certainly understand the former. Not everyone wants to watch Jason Bateman’s misanthropic protagonist laying into small children with a viciousness that would make Terrell Owens blanch. The question becomes why his character would do such a thing, and in its journey towards the answer, Bad Words actually goes to some very interesting places. Hit the jump for my Bad Words Bluray review.

NOAH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 144 days ago

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The sign of a good religious picture is the controversy surrounding it.  Whenever a movie asks you to seriously grapple with theological issues, it’s bound to rile those who like their religion safe and comforting.  Noah certainly prompted its share of screeching op-ed pieces, along with the smug indifference of the secular crowd.  In truth, director Darren Aronofsky has punk’d them all: creating a serious, thoughtful and unbearably intense study of our relationship to God in the context of a giant Hollywood blockbuster.  Hit the jump for my full Noah Blu-ray review.

I, FRANKENSTEIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 164 days ago

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Let’s talk bad movies for a while, for regardless of what its few defenders maintain, I, Frankenstein is resolutely bad. It was apparently assembled out of scenes cut from the Underworld movies: spliced together much like the monster at its heart and set loose among the unsuspecting movie-going public last January. Lousy CG effects compete with stone-faced actors dutifully regurgitating plot exposition of breathtaking banality.  “Cliché” would be a kindness, and I, Frankenstein leaves not a single hackneyed chestnut unturned. It is, in the sum of things, breathtakingly awful. But is it devoid of entertainment value? That’s a much more interesting question. Hit the jump for my I, Frankenstein Blu-ray review.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 178 days ago

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One wonders why, if Paramount were so keen to reboot the Jack Ryan franchise — and in fact developed a pretty good movie to do it with — that they would suddenly treat the whole endeavor like an embarrassment.  How else could they explain such a high-end production given the feckless title of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, followed by a January release and the kind of ad campaign normally reserved for direct-to-video Russian imports?  Jack Ryan died an unsurprising death at the box office, a lamentable state of affairs obscuring a film that deserved better.  Hit the jump for my Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Blu-ray review.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 193 days ago

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Movie or Blu-ray? Movie or Blu-ray? That’s a tricky question when reviewing the new version of Double Indemnity, unquestionably one of Hollywood’s great masterpieces and an absolute must-have for any serious film fans’ collection. You can’t do any better… despite the fact that the new Blu-ray is about as lazy and uninspired a product as one could hope for. Universal put together a terrific DVD package for the film a few years ago, then apparently decided that that was enough. Hit the jump for my Double Indemnity Blu-ray review.

Orson Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 194 days ago

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Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil generally represents the close of the “classic” film noir period that began in the 1940s.  Neo-noir continued of course, but Welles delivered the last true masterpiece of the original era.  It’s bled over into popular culture in bits and pieces – the lengthy opening shot, the off-screen tussles, the widely mocked  (and apparently studio-mandated) decision to cast Charlton Heston as a Mexican – but the actual film is so much more than such cultural flotsam and jetsam.  It’s another dark look at the endurance of human wickedness, and how right and wrong can become so blurred as to be indistinguishable.  A pity that Universal treated it so poorly for this Blu-ray release.  Hit the jump for my Touch of Evil Blu-ray review.

NURSE 3D Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 236 days ago

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The term “acquired taste” was made for movies like Nurse. It brazenly wears its exploitation status on its sleeve, daring critics to condemn it and then laughing in their faces when they do. It’s not overtly camp — the wit is too sly and the jokes too subtle for that — but it knows exactly what it is, and that knowledge serves it extremely well. Naturally any movie about a homicidal nurse who seduces philandering men before disposing of them in creatively violent ways won’t tickle everyone’s fancy. But for those attuned to such grindhouse depths, the treats on display are far too tasty to resist. Hit the jump for my full review.

ENDER’S GAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 242 days ago

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If you’re looking for a film that deserves a second chance, Ender’s Game will certainly fit the bill. It came and went without much fanfare last fall, another adaptation of a beloved teen novel that failed to catch fire the way the producers clearly hoped it would. It was further burdened by homophobic comments made by the novel’s author Orson Scott Card, which the filmmakers were quick to disavow to no avail. Ender’s Game came and went with nary a hiccup, which sadly overshadowed the fact that – in and of itself – it’s actually rather terrific. Hit the jump for my full Ender’s Game Blu-ray review.

CHINESE ZODIAC Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 243 days ago

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It’s hard to know how to take Jackie Chan these days. The iconic action star turned 60 earlier this month, and his mileage is definitely showing. Movies like Chinese Zodiac appear to take that into account, using a lot of tricks and distractions to hide the fact that he simply can’t perform the eye-popping stunts that helped make him a household name. Recent films have tried to break him out of that mold completely, and this one seems to recognize the futility of the endeavor. Unfortunately, it can’t find a viable alternative, so it gussies up a scenario that the younger Chan would have eaten for breakfast. This time, too many cracks are showing. Hit the jump for my full Chinese Zodiac Blu-ray review.

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