NOAH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted Yesterday

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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 21 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 35 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 50 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 51 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 93 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 99 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 100 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.

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

by     Posted 104 days ago

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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 110 days 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 111 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 Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray review.

MARY POPPINS 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 179 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 183 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 185 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 196 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.

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