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

by     Posted 189 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 214 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.

ARROW: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 217 days ago

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As we watch DC Comics desperately playing catch-up with arch-rival Marvel in the feature film department, it’s interesting to remember that they pretty much own the field as far as prime-time TV shows go. Their record stretches back to the George Reeves Superman show, and includes Adam West, Lynda Carter, the Smallville gang and Lois and Clark among others. Marvel, on the other hand, basically just has the 70s Incredible Hulk and a few pilots, TV movies and one-season-and-out losers. (We’ve yet to see whether Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will change that, but no matter.)  To their list of winners, you can add Arrow, which proved another hit for the CW and now comes to us on Blu-ray. Hit the jump for my full review of the show’s first season on Blu-ray.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE Season 3 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 233 days ago

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Having established a solid precedent for its first two seasons, Boardwalk Empire ran a serious risk of letting us down in the third. Having established its sweeping scope of Prohibition-era crime, it seemed to grow more timid, focusing on domestic soap opera elements rather than the marvelous gangster saga it had promised. The character arcs seemed to be stalling, things were moving forward at a slower pace than we might expect. What could be done?

Frankly, an Emmy-nominated supporting figure was a big step in the right direction. Hit the jump for my full review.

EVIL DEAD Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 235 days ago

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The best compliment that you can pay the new Evil Dead is that we don’t want to destroy it for the audacity of using the name.  It captures the same spirit as Sam Raimi‘s legendary original: that queasy mix of horror and humor that turned it and its sequels into genre masterpieces.  This new version also doesn’t make the mistake of trying to “update” the scenario for a new millennium.  With the exception of a few fashion choices and the odd bit of tech, this story could be set in the exact same era that the first one was.  It even finds a sly way to slip series stalwart Bruce Campbell in there without overshadowing the proceedings.  That’s no mean feat in these days of half-assed remakes, and the filmmakers deserve a big round of applause for it.  Hit the jump for my full review.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 285 days ago

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There is no rational reason why I enjoy Texas Chainsaw as much as I do. It’s an unpretentious entry in a largely unremarkable horror franchise, which – like a lot of said franchises – followed its groundbreaking original up with an increasingly bewildering pile of drek. By now, no one expects anything from it, which may make its not-at-all-bad status come as a refreshing surprise. Hit the jump for my full review.

PARKER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 289 days ago

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Richard Stark’s anti-hero Parker was made for Jason Statham, who has spent the last decade establishing himself as the heir apparent to Charles Bronson. In many ways, Parker should be a slam dunk for him, positing a lean revenge thriller that gives him countless opportunities to drop the pain hammer on deserving miscreants of all stripes. So why, then, does it feel like half measures? Hit the jump for my full review.

MAD MAX TRILOGY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 291 days ago

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Even today, it’s hard to overestimate the impact of the Mad Max trilogy. They made a star out of Mel Gibson, brought Australian filmmaking to the States and set a standard for vehicular mayhem that may never be matched. Even now, thirty years later – with all that road behind it and its star now in a state of permanent disgrace – their power remains intact. The new Blu-ray collection lets us see them with a newfound clarity… though it doesn’t provide much in the way of extra features. Hit the jump for my full review.

MAMA Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 307 days ago

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Mama’s producer Guillermo del Toro understands the nature of fear as few others do. Its purity. Its simplicity. The way it cuts through all the bullshit and grabs you by the fundaments. He once said, “fear is simply the presence of something that shouldn’t be there or the absence of something that should be there.”  Everything else is details. Director Andres Muschietti takes that adage to heart with this, his feature film debut. He can’t quite find the brilliance of his producer, but he catches glimpses of it at times, and that propels Mama far past what we might otherwise expect.  Hit the jump for my review of the film on Blu-ray.

NAKED LUNCH Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 312 days ago

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To quote Nelson Muntz, “I can think of two things wrong with that title.”

The notion of an unfilmable novel is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. You can film anything. You might film it badly, but you can film it. David Cronenberg proved that in 1991 when he adapted William S. Burrough’s novel Naked Lunch for the big screen. Good or bad doesn’t quite enter into it – to dive into Burroughs is to experience madness in its purest form – but if anything could defy adaptation, that book would be it. And if any director could find a way to crack its code, it would be Cronenberg.  Hit the jump for my review of Naked Lunch on Blu-ray.

JACK REACHER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 318 days ago

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In many ways, Tom Cruise never escaped the fallout from that infamous 2005 ride on Oprah’s couch.  His box office returns have gradually slipped and the sheen of “Scientology Weirdo” still hangs around him in the public mind. It’s quite unfair because 1) the man’s private life is still his own business and 2) the quality of his films in recent years has been quite good. From his brilliant cameo in Tropic Thunder to the slick thrills of Valkyrie and the unexpected triumph of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, he’s pretty much firing on all cylinders these days… despite comparatively poor box office. Jack Reacher is a sad testament to the bind he finds himself in: a smart, intelligent action thriller that got lost amid bad timing. The Blu-ray release is a perfect opportunity to catch what you probably missed. Hit the jump for my full review.

DJANGO UNCHAINED Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 331 days ago

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When does self-indulgence trump talent? Plenty of directors have tested that boundary to their detriment: witness the litter of auteurial “visions” that almost destroyed the studio system in the late 1970s. Quentin Tarantino hasn’t gotten there yet. His voice shines too bright and his visions are too singular to let their increasing flabbiness bother us. But while his epic Django Unchained remains a terrific entry in his canon, one wonders how much farther it would have gone if the director could just get out of his own way. Hit the jump for my full review of Django Unchained on Blu-ray.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 351 days ago

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At first glance, the stand-alone release of Star Trek: TNG - The Best of Both Worlds on Blu-ray looks like typical double dipping. The Season Three Blu-ray includes the first half of the two-part episode, but not the second, forcing Trekkies the world over to either pick this set up or wait until later this summer for Season Four to arrive. Why not get a few extra bucks out of the folks who can’t wait? The set certainly doesn’t justify any extra expense… but it does make an easy option for more casual fans who don’t want to invest in two expensive season collections. Hit the jump for the full review.

Jonathan Frakes Talks Season Three of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, Directing, The Best of Both Worlds, and More

by     Posted 353 days ago

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Jonathan Frakes will always be associated with Star Trek, thanks to his role as Commander William Riker on The Next Generation. But that also led him to a career in directing, first with TNG and later with over 40 episodes of other series (including Leverage, Castle and Burn Notice). With the release of the third season of The Next Generation on Blu-ray – as well as a separate copy of The Best of Both Worlds – he sat down for a one-on-one interview with Collider.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION: SEASON 3 Blu-Ray, and The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I & II Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 356 days ago

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Of all the tidbits on the new Blu-ray of Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Three, the tastiest comes from writer Michael Piller. He planned to leave the show at the end of the season until Gene Roddenberry himself appealed for him to stay. Before that happened, he conceived of one hell of a final act: a dilemma for the crew of the Enterprise so insurmountable that even he didn’t have the slightest idea how they were going to get out of it. Of course, he came back and subsequently came up with a corker of a solution. But without that go-for-broke fearlessness – without the desire to write a beginning that no ending could possibly match – we wouldn’t have had The Best of Both Worlds. And not only TNG, but television in general would have lost one of its unquestioned high points. Hit the jump for the full review.

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