ENDER’S GAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 16 hours 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 2 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.

JULES AND JIM Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Love triangles in cinema are as old as cinema itself, but most play out along a few generally similar lines.  Few take a path so unique as the course taken in François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, a landmark of the French New Wave, a film that on one hand may seem like a light-hearted romance but on the other hand hits notes of great sadness and ugliness in the realism emblematic of the movement.  My Jules and Jim Criterion Blu-ray review after the jump.

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

by     Posted 6 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 12 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 13 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.

ENEMIES CLOSER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 15 days ago

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If you’ve always wanted to see Jean-Claude Van Damme as a French-Canadian Mountie/vegan drug-dealer, then Enemies Closer is the incredibly specific movie for you!  It’s a must-see film, not because it’s that great, but because it’s about as crazy a role as JCVD has ever played.  His one-liners are amazing, his antics are worth the price of purchase, and that hair just never quits.  Tom Everett Scott and Orlando Jones also star in the Peter Hyams-directed action thriller that’s available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  Hit the jump for my review.

47 RONIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 16 days ago

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The story of the Forty-seven Ronin is well known in Japan, and has been since the historical event occurred early in the 18th century.  It’s not nearly as common knowledge on these shores, but that’s something that Carl Rinsch’s 47 Ronin adaptation looked to change.  Keanu Reeves stars in this tale that reimagines the factual story of revenge, honor, and loyalty as one set within a world rich with the fantastical elements of Japanese folklore.  In its theatrical release, 47 Ronin was a box office dud, never coming close to making its reported $175 million budget back.  Perhaps it was simply a case of the wrong movie at the wrong time.  Since the quality of the production is surprisingly high, 47 Ronin might find new life on home video.  Hit the jump for my 47 Ronin Blu-ray review.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 18 days ago

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Telling the true story of someone’s life in a film is a difficult task.  The trappings of the biopic genre become glaringly apparent when filmmakers try to chronicle an entire life in a two-hour film.  There are innumerable events over the course of a person’s lifespan that alter him or her, for better or worse, and humans are always undergoing change.  Trying to discern which events are most important is a futile effort, and more often than not, the cradle-to-grave biopic results in a droll feature.  However, when the filmmaker focuses on a constrained period of time in a person’s life and frames an entire film around that, the results can be fascinating.  Such is the case with writer/director John Krokidas’ drama Kill Your Darlings, which chronicles the early college years of poet Allen Ginsberg and the beginnings of the Beat movement, using that as a springboard to explore themes of rebellion, obsession, and self-discovery.

The result is an ambitious, bombastic debut feature for Krokidas, buoyed by a pair of fearless performances from Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan.  My full Kill Your Darlings Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

HOMEFRONT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 22 days ago

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In recent years, there have been quite a few attempts at bringing the magic of 80s and 90s action movies back to the big screen, most notably by the big names who owe their success to the era.  So it’s surprising to find that Gary Fleder’s crime thriller Homefront might be the best effort out of the lot.  Perhaps it’s due in part to the strength of Chuck Logan’s novel, which was adapted by Sylvester Stallone and moved from the frozen falls of Minnesota to the bayou of Louisiana.  And while frontman Jason Statham turns in one of the best performances of his career, the entire film is buoyed by an excellent supporting cast that turns in surprisingly reserved performances, including James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, and newcomer Izabela Vidovic.  Sadly, the Blu-ray is rather bare when it comes to extras, but the feature itself is worth another look.  Hit the jump for my review.

FROZEN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 23 days ago

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It’s no shock that Frozen — the great animated film by Disney — became a hit, but it’s a little surprising it became a phenomenon.  Currently the film is still in theaters, even though it’s now on DVD and Blu-ray, and it’s about to cross the $400 Million dollar mark domestically, while it’s now the twelfth highest grossing film of all time worldwide (unadjusted, of course), and could cross into the top ten when all is said and done.  What made this so special? Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Idina Menzel lead the voice actors, and my review of Frozen on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 24 days ago

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Quentin Tarantino recently pointed out that with most directors there’s a notable falling off of quality as they get older.  That their last three films are often their worst.  And it’s true that with most directors that’s the case.  Martin Scorsese is currently 71 years old, and is a notable exception.  The Wolf of Wall Street is one of his best films.  It joins such established masterpieces as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas in the upper echelon of his work, and it’s the best performance that Leonardo DiCaprio has ever given.  My review of The Wolf of Wall Street on Blu-ray follows after the jump.

FANTASTIC MR. FOX Criterion Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 25 days ago

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Few filmmakers are better suited to the world of stop-motion animation than Wes Anderson.  The director has fine-tuned his visual aesthetic over the course of his career, bringing quick and stable camera movements, gorgeous set designs, and specific yet vibrant color palettes to the forefront of his signature style.  After a swell run films that made him one of the most exciting directors in the business, Anderson expanded his scope to the sea (Life Aquatic) and international locales (Darjeeling Limited) before diving into the world of stop-motion animation for his 2009 film Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The result is a highlight of an already impressive career, and the impeccable Roald Dahl adaptation is finally a part of the Criterion Collection.  Read my review of the Fantastic Mr. Fox Criterion Blu-ray after the jump.

AMERICAN HUSTLE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 26 days ago

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It may speak to the year or the film itself, but David O. Russell’s American Hustle exploded on the scene, arriving to quickly become an Oscar front runner, and netting ten nominations in the process (while also grossing nearly $150 Million at the box office).  But by the time of the awards ceremony, Hustle went home empty handed, even though stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence we all nominated.  The film turned out to be all sizzle and no steak.  Which is actually the story of the movie as two hustlers are put on the spot by the FBI to help catch bigger swindlers.  My review of American Hustle on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

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