KEY AND PEELE: Seasons One & Two Blu-ray Review

by     Posted Yesterday

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Comedy is the most subjective of mediums, and one man’s hilarious genius is another man’s desperate hack. Widely successful comics often water down their material in order to appeal to the broadest possible demographic, while niche comics tailor their message to much that they can’t break out of their established audience. Key and Peele seem to have avoided that fate by finding the right mixture of intelligence, critical thinking and personal passion with their Comedy Central series. The jokes feel like they come from your clever best friend: accessible without being so bland that they fall flat. Their new Blu-ray set – covering the first two seasons – puts some of their best routines on display, which are more than enough to excuse the occasional failure. Hit the jump for my full Key & Peele Blu-ray review of seasons one and two.

FARGO Blu-ray Review

by     Posted One week ago

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With the premiere of the intriguing new Fargo limited series, it was inevitable that we’d receive a new Blu-ray version of the modern classic that inspired it. Joel & Ethan Coen‘s Fargo remains one of the high points of their storied career, and while its arrival on Blu-ray has clearly mercenary motivations, it’s no less welcome because of it. Hit the jump for my Fargo Blu-ray review.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 8 days ago

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As the Marvel movie juggernaut thunders on, we’re beginning to realize how carefully they’ve thought all this out. Kevin Feige and Co. have built their franchise for the long haul, which means pausing to take a breath every now and then instead of constantly trying to top the previous entries (and eventually crashing to the earth as a result). Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows us how that equation can expand this universe in unexpected directions, but the process also creates its share of placeholders: solid movies that nonetheless do little more than entertain us while their creators ramp up for the next mindblower. Case in point: Thor: The Dark World. Hit the jump for my full review of the Blu-ray.

MARY POPPINS 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 76 days ago

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Practically perfect?  Not quite.  Mary Poppins stands as one of the shining jewels in Walt Disney’s crown, and considering the recent release of Saving Mr. Banks, you’d expect the company to throw everything and the kitchen sink at its new 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition of the film. Instead, you can see the signs of cutting corners. It’s not a bad rendition of the movie, but if you own any previous copies, the added benefits are rather thin.  Hit the jump for my full review.

SUNRISE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 80 days ago

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Most people these days know F.W. Murnau for his silent classic Nosferatu, but many have argued that his best work came after he emigrated to America and went to work for Fox. Specifically, Sunrise: a romantic melodrama concerning love lost and found, stands as perhaps the greatest cinematic expression of the Silent Era, and remains a treat not only for film buffs but for anyone interested in strong storytelling. Fox has just released a new Blu-ray edition of the film, and while it’s not the Criterion Collection, it should prove more than enticing for fans and casual viewers alike. Hit the jump for my full review.

ELYSIUM Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 82 days ago

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Popular wisdom considers Elysium a sophomore slump: not bad, but not quite up to director Neil Blomkamp‘s extraordinary feature debut, District 9.  This new film is too preachy, they say.  Too obvious.  It wears its heart too loudly on its sleeve and, for what is apparently Jodie Foster‘s swan song, the celebrated actress really phones it in.  All of these things are true.  And yet they resolutely fail to diminish the film’s impact, both as a comment on our times and as straight-up entertainment in its own right.  When it arrived in theaters last summer, we were in desperate need of a film to shake us out of the doldrums.  Now that it’s out on Blu-ray, its sterling qualities stand out all the more.  Hit the jump for my full review.

RIDDICK Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 93 days ago

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Behold, the power of cheese! If, after the perceived failure of The Chronicles of Riddick, you said that there would be another Riddick movie – and a full ten years later to boot – most people would think you were crazy. Even crazier to say that the new film would be demonstrably awesome. The Riddick movies were always a bit of an acquired taste: the first a surprise hit that helped make Vin Diesel a star, the second a big-budget epic that marked his gradual descent. Now the third movie arrives with its intended audience firmly in mind, which is part of what makes it such earthy fun. Hit the jump for my full review.

THE LONE RANGER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 94 days ago

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The abject failure of The Lone Ranger produced its share of schadenfreude, particularly among people weary of star Johnny Depp and the kind of summer movie hubris that the western reboot seemed to embody in every frame. It was too bloated, too unwieldy, too full of itself and its own overblown event status to merit forgiveness. Audiences stayed away in droves, and not without good reason. There’s a lot here that just doesn’t work. And yet in a season dominated by grim, downbeat, unyieldingly bleak blockbusters, it brought an undeniable sense of fun that most critics completely overlooked. I’m not prepared to go all Tarantino on it, but I will say it shows signs of life that definitely merit a second look. Hit the jump for my full review of The Lone Ranger on Blu-ray.

R.I.P.D. Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 124 days ago

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The summer of 2013 won’t exactly go down in the annals of cinematic greatness  (kind of like the rest of 2013), and while there may have been bigger disappointments, you won’t find a film released in that period more indicative of what’s wrong with the system than R.I.P.D., a lazy knock-off of Men in Black without one-tenth of the wit or cleverness, it somehow managed to corral a couple of A-listers it clearly didn’t deserve to deliver onscreen boredom for theaters rightfully bereft of audiences.   Hit the jump for my full review.

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 135 days ago

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It’s amazing to consider how prolific Clint Eastwood has been as a director.  When actors direct, they tend to focus on just a few projects.  Kevin Costner, for instance, has just three directing credits to his name.  Mel Gibson has four.  And yet it took Eastwood almost twenty films before he received the same accolades that they did for his skills. (He currently stands at 35-plus movies.)  It took him that long to be properly acknowledged.  Luckily, because he has so many, we can genuinely chart his growth and progress as a creative force in ways we can’t with those other filmmaker/stars.  High Plains Drifter, which has arrived in freshly minted Blu-ray form, was the first Western he directed, and remains one of his most challenging (and disturbing) efforts behind the camera.  Hit the jump for my full review.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Extended Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 167 days ago

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Since its release, the one criticism leveled most consistently against The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was its length. Eager to fill the giant void in their profit margins left by the departure of Harry Potter, Warner Bros leveraged a three-film cycle out of Peter Jackson, stretching J.R.R. Tolkien’s comparatively slim novel far past its breaking point. The result was a pretty good film in a lot of ways, but one whose flabby center and general overindulgence prevented it from joining the pantheon of greats occupied by The Lord of the Rings.  As you may have gathered, adding another fifteen minute doesn’t exactly improve matters. Hit the jump for my full review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition Blu-ray.

THE WIZARD OF OZ: 75th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 181 days ago

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What can one say about The Wizard of Oz that hasn’t already been said? It overcame a troubled production, a flawed plot, and enough casting changes to fill a dozen movies to create a piece of indescribably beautiful cinematic magic. As adults, we can snark at its idiosyncrasies, marvel at the awkward questions we missed (“The Wizard sent them off to die; they’re not pissed about that?!”), and notice the things we never did as a child (“If it was all a dream, won’t Miss Gulch be coming back for the dog?!”). But the moment “Somewhere over the Rainbow” starts up, all that cynicism melts away. We’re five years old again, ready to follow that Yellow Brick Road wherever it might lead, and reminded that no amount of criticism can possibly damage this movie. It’s justly celebrated as the most beloved film of all time, a title I daresay it will never relinquish. It exists to be loved and cherished; there’s simply nothing else to say about it. The new 75th anniversary Blu-ray collection does full justice to it, though one wonders how necessary it is after the earlier 70th anniversary edition already set such a high standard. Hit the jump for the full review.

THE LITTLE MERMAID Diamond Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 182 days ago

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With the exception of Snow White, no film changed the fortunes of the Walt Disney Company as dramatically as The Little Mermaid. It arrived at the end of over two decades in the wilderness following the death of Walt Disney: a period marked by financial doldrums, mediocre movies and the very real possibility that they would get out of the cinematic game altogether and become a theme park company. The arrival of CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg helped change all that, greenlighting an update of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale that reestablished the company’s status as king of the animation cage. The film’s arrival on Blu-ray gives us another chance to evaluate its strengths, its weaknesses, and the legacy that continues to reverberate almost 25 years later. Hit the jump for the full review.

Monty Python’s THE MEANING OF LIFE 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 184 days ago

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The Meaning of Life makes the ideal swan song for legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. And that’s not the same thing as saying it’s perfect. It essentially replicates the sketch-style comedy of their television show, covering the Seven Ages of Man in an uproarious send up of God, religion and the profound questions that never seem to have a definitive answer. This marks a break from their shaggy-dog-plot approach to The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian, which presumed to tell a coherent story no matter how many ridiculous detours they took in the meantime. The Meaning of Life got them back to their roots in grand fashion… and that includes some glaring weaknesses along with their undiminished strengths. Hit the jump for the full review.

BATES MOTEL: Season One Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 209 days ago

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It’s hard to believe that Psycho actually qualifies as a franchise, mostly because everything after the immortal original was a steaming pile of cow flop.  Three theatrical sequels, one aborted TV pilot, the well-intentioned but ultimately pointless Gus Van Sant thing… it hasn’t been an easy ride for Norman Bates and his mother. Until now.

Bates Motel starts out feeling like a terrible gimmick, covering Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) formative years in what initially promises to be a one-trick pony.  Instead, the show serves up a meaty cocktail of American Gothic, as Mrs. Bates (Vera Farmiga) buys a quiet hotel with her young son in hopes of escaping a very checkered past.  Naturally, things go from bad to worse as the hotel’s old owner shows up, the local sheriff (Nestor Carbonell) pops in to ask awkward questions, and bodies both real and metaphorical start getting dumped in out-of-the-way places.   Hit the jump for my full review of Bates Motel season one on Blu-ray.

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