UHF 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 7 hours 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.

A MOST WANTED MAN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 3 days ago

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A Checkan Muslim named Grigoriy Dobrygin (Issa Karpov) illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where we learn from an opening card was once the home of several 9/11 masterminds.  The city has become especially vigilant since its worldwide embarrassment at having been seemingly unaware that a handful of the most dangerous terrorists alive were operating in its own backyard.  Dobrygin gets the attention of Gunther Bachmann (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who runs an anti-terrorist unit in Germany (think of him as an out-of-shape Jack Bauer who doesn’t run, fight or torture people).  What follows is a psychological cat-and-mouse game wrapped in political red-tape to find out if Dobrigyin has ties to larger terrorist organizations.  Hit the jump for my Blu-ray review of A Most Wanted Man.

HERCULES Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 8 days ago

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In the words of the big man himself, Dwayne Johnson was born to play Hercules.  With apologies to Kellan Lutz, there’s only one man in Hollywood these days that could convince audiences that he bested the Nemean Lion, beheaded the Lernaean Hydra, and beat back the Erymanthian Boar, and that man is The Rock.  Unfortunately, Brett Ratner’s take on the Hercules legend chose not to explore the hero’s twelve labors, but to adapt Steve Moore and Admira Wijaya’s graphic novel, “Hercules: The Thracian Wars.”  Perhaps if that had been communicated more clearly in the film’s marketing, audiences (and maybe even critics) would have given Hercules more of a chance, since it’s a surprisingly fun action-adventure film that lets Johnson swing away while surrounding him with a strong supporting cast.  Now that the film’s available on Blu-ray, you can check it out for yourself.

Hit the jump for our Hercules Blu-ray review.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 9 days ago

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It seemed inevitable that Seth MacFarlane was going to star in a movie.  After his success with Ted (which he wrote and directed and which made over half a billion worldwide), after hosting both Saturday Night Live and the Oscars, it seemed he wanted to be in front of the camera, no longer just writing and providing voice work for such television shows as Family Guy and American Dad.  That shot was A Million Ways to Die in the West, which he also wrote, produced and directed, and it did not have the sort of success that would suggest he’ll get to star in another.  The film barely made $40 million domestically, and was roundly panned.  The film has its moments, and will probably get a better reputation when it’s viewed with the lowered expectations that come with home viewing, though it’s the definition of indulgent.  Co-starring with Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson, this comic western is a mostly one-note premise stretched to feature length.  My A Million Ways To Die In The West Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Batman: Assault on Arkham, the latest effort from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, casts Batman aside (for the most part) in order to focus on Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad.  The anti-hero team has gotten quite a bit of press lately for its planned live-action adaptation, so now’s a great time to take a look at one of the Suicide Squad’s animated iterations, now available on Blu-ray.

While Batman: Assault on Arkham takes the opportunity to cast Batman villains in lead roles, it doesn’t come close to exploring all the potential those characters offer.  The voice acting is spot on as usual and the animation style is a visual joy, but the half-baked plot and immature on-screen antics makes this a weak adaptation rather than a must-have addition to your collection.  Hit the jump for our Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray review.

THE NEWSROOM Season 2 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 13 days ago

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Aaron Sorkin’s return to television with the HBO drama series The Newsroom was intended to be a triumphant return to form.  Its basic premise—following the lives of the people that work at a cable news network—seemed to provide a vehicle through which to opine on the major political issues of the day, not dissimilar from Sorkin’s The West Wing.  But instead of the romantic idealism of Sorkin’s previous series, The Newsroom was a more grounded, and thus a slightly more cynical or aggressive series.  It proved to be mighty divisive and didn’t garner nearly the same amount of acclaim as The West Wing or Sports Night, but I mostly liked the first season even if the show did have a few major issues.

In its second season, The Newsroom went through some significant tweaking both to its structure and its characters, and while there are still some problems to be found, I’d argue it’s an improvement over the first season and remains a worthwhile (and entertaining) series.  Read my full The Newsroom Season 2 Blu-ray review after the jump.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 15 days ago

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Transformers: Age of Extinction was initially pitched as something of a reboot.  Though franchise helmer Michael Bay was set to return to the director’s chair, Shia LaBeouf was out as Mark Wahlberg took the lead role.  But even with the new cast, it has the same bloated and confused approach that marked all the sequels, and the fourth film – which is the longest of the series – features all the same problems of the previous movies, but only some of the pluses.  My Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

BATMAN: The Complete TV Series Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 16 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.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN Ultimate Edition and ALIEN 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 18 days ago

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20th Century Fox has released two of Ridley Scott’s best films in new special editions.  Those films are Alien and Kingdom of Heaven.  One of these editions offers supplements and commentaries never before put to Blu-ray, while the other is a repackaged version of previous editions, where the only new element are some collectables.  My review of both follows after the jump. 

EDGE OF TOMORROW Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 24 days ago

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Seriously, are we supposed to call it Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow now? That’s what the packaging of the Blu-ray (and its title on VOD) suggests, which is odd for a movie that made a little over a hundred million domestically.  Generally that sort of rebranding happens when a film flops, but perhaps this change was made because that’s what audiences thought the title was from the marketing.  Regardless, this Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie was easily one of the better movies of this past summer, but perhaps Cruise fatigue or title confusion left the film to underperform.  Starring alongside Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton, Cruise does great work in this video game-inspired film and my review of the Blu-ray of Edge of Tomorrow follows after the jump.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 26 days ago

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The first Purge posited a relatively clever science fiction plot: For twelve hours every year all crime is legal.  To work within its low budget, it confined most of that activity to one house, and it was slightly better than expected, but it didn’t seem to capitalize on the premise as well as it could.  But its sequel The Purge: Anarchy takes that idea to the place it should have started: On the street.  Following five people who are caught in the middle of purge night by either choice or accident, it does a much better job of exploring the possibilities of what might happen if for one night a year, all crime was legal.  Frank Grillo stars in the film, and my review of the film’s Blu-ray follows after the jump.

CHEF Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 28 days ago

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On one hand Jon Favreau’s Chef is a light, easy to please comedy, a soft rock song that doesn’t want to offend anybody.  On the other, it’s vacuous, middlebrow food porn with its director unable to keep his subtext from leaping to the surface.  Writer/director Favreau stars as the titular chef, and he’s joined by some famous friends like Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo, and Scarlet Johansson in this tale of a cook who lost his way working in the corporate world of restaurants.  My review of the Blu-ray of Chef follows after the jump.

WOODSTOCK: 3 DAYS OF PEACE AND MUSIC 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 36 days ago

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I have always been fascinated by Woodstock.  The incredible music of so many legendary artists, the shots of the unfathomably large crowd (surpassed many times since but still uniquely spectacular), the peak of a generation that would so soon experience its unrecoverable abyss at Altamont—an event that should have failed in every way, should have been an epic disaster, and yet somehow resulted in peace, music and pure magic.

An event whose unique circumstances could never be repeated and thus never experienced again by another generation.  Fortunately for us all, Woodstock was documented on film (despite occurring in the pre- every instant of life captured on video era), thus allowing future generations a glimpse into the mythic truth.  Read my full Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music Blu-ray review after the jump.

ERASERHEAD and THE INNOCENTS Criterion Blu-ray Reviews

by     Posted 39 days ago

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Criterion has released two classics of gothic black and white horror with Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and David Lynch’s Eraserhead now joining their collection.  The former is a brilliant adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, while the latter is one of the most singular experiences in cinema history, a film that became a perennial midnight movie for a very good reason.  Criterion is celebrating Halloween this year in style, and my review of both films on Blu-ray follows after the jump. 

THE ROVER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 45 days ago

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There is probably a sizable percentage of people who hate Robert Pattinson for no good reason.  The Twilight star became an intense object of affection and lust for those team Edward, and for anyone who witnessed that obsessive fandom (especially those who saw it up close), it can be off-putting even if it bears little on the person’s talents.  Considering that Pattinson starred in five of the biggest movies of the last decade, he’s made some of the smartest career moves of anyone who has been suddenly thrust into superstardom: He’s now making an effort to work with talented auteurs in roles that only trade on his fame in the sense that he helps get the movies financed.  Not only has he made two movies with David Cronenberg, he also starred in the David Michod film The Rover.  And as for the latter, he’s excellent in it.  My review of the Blu-ray of The Rover follows after the jump. 

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