SCANNERS Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

by     Posted One week ago

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David Cronenberg made six movies before Scanners, and it felt like all of them were a precursor to a great coming out.  Critics were shocked with what he put onscreen.  Nobody knew what to make of it.  They only knew that they were seeing something strange and disturbing, something that resembled nothing else in movie history.  They were disgusted by the groundbreaking visual effects, and disturbed by the paranoid fantasy lying beneath them.  But the film became a big hit and with it, the career of one of cinema’s most distinctive auteurs had well and truly begun.  The new Criterion Blu-ray edition is everything any fan could possibly hope for.  Hit the jump for my full Scanners Criterion Collection Blu-ray review.

ERNEST & CELESTINE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Hollywood, sadly, has turned its back on traditionally-styled, 2D animation for the big screen.  With the rare exception of The Princess and the Frog, animated films from the major studios have all recently been of the computer-generated variety, barely separated from big visual effects movies by the look of the characters.  To find films that celebrate the traditional style, one has to turn to those created in other countries, such as the works of Miyasaki or, in this case, the French film Ernest & Celestine.  Read my Ernest & Celestine Blu-ray review after the jump.

BAD WORDS Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 11 days ago

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Movies like Bad Words tend to fiercely divide critics, with one half accusing them of empty shock tactics and the other half praising their edginess and daring. I fall into the latter camp with this one, though I can certainly understand the former. Not everyone wants to watch Jason Bateman’s misanthropic protagonist laying into small children with a viciousness that would make Terrell Owens blanch. The question becomes why his character would do such a thing, and in its journey towards the answer, Bad Words actually goes to some very interesting places. Hit the jump for my Bad Words Bluray review.

THE RAID 2 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 13 days ago

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Coming back for a sequel, Gareth Evans’ follow up to The Raid, The Raid: Berandal is a much bigger film in every respect.  It’s scope (2.35:1) instead of flat (1.85:1), it’s a full fifty minutes longer, and it features some of the craziest and greatest stunt sequences in the history of cinema.  But also with that two and a half hour running time comes some bloat, which may have been unavoidable with the scope of the film.  Iko Uwais returns as Rama, who this time goes undercover to take the most powerful bosses in the business, but to do so he most put a lot of his life on the line.  My The Raid 2 Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 15 days ago

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Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night is one of the most exuberant and entertaining movies ever made.   Catching The Beatles phenomenon like getting lightning in a bottle, the film feels just as alive and inventive as it must have when it premiered fifty years ago.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr appear as themselves in a very loosely plotted story of the events that lead up to a fictionalized television performance.   Breezy and filled with great songs and jokes, anyone who dislikes this film probably has terrible taste.   My review of the Criterion Collection edition (which includes both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film) follows after the jump. 

THE LEGO MOVIE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 19 days ago

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The idea of making a movie out of LEGO toys sounds stupid on paper.  Though you have no narrative you’re stuck to (which is both good and bad), the film’s existence seems based on shilling a product.  That Phil Lord and Chris Miller were able to transcend that and deliver a movie with heart and great jokes is nothing short of a miracle.  The LEGO Movie is not only excellent, it could very well be an all-time great movie.  My review of the 3D Blu-ray of The LEGO Movie follows after the jump.

DOM HEMINGWAY Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 20 days ago

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Director Richard Shepard’s comedy Dom Hemingway tells you exactly what kind of film it is with its opening scene: Jude Law delivers an ode to his, um, member, directly into the camera while engaging in a certain act in a prison shower.  It’s vulgar and hilarious all at the same time, and Law delivers the lines with such gusto that you’re inclined to take this guy’s word for it.  The rest of the film is an absolute delight, but particularly the first act is a whirlwind mix of hilarity, sadness, and pure boldness as we follow the titular Hemingway’s very specific path to rehabilitation after being released from prison.  Read my full Dom Hemingway Blu-ray review after the jump.

NOAH Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 22 days ago

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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.

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 33 days ago

WALK OF SHAME Blu-ray Review

Elizabeth Banks is one of the best comediennes working today, and she always brings something interesting to a part, be it big or small.  She should be a bigger star and films like Walk of Shame aren’t going to help prove it as the film ended up debuting in theaters and on VOD at the same time for a reason.  A high concept movie that leaves its star to wallow in embarrassment, there’s probably a sharp film to be made of the story of a woman who, after a night of casual sex, ends up having to make her way through the city to finally get her car and life back — but this isn’t it.  James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star and my Walk of Shame Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

SABOTAGE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 36 days ago

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Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen can’t be called much of a comeback as The Last Stand, Escape Plan and Sabotage were all bombs.  Sabotage tanked the hardest as it was barely able to cross the ten million dollar mark.  Perhaps Arnie will regain his footing from his role in the upcoming Terminator sequel, but it seems unlikely that he will ever front a non-sequel again (or at least for another five years).  That’s too bad as Sabotage is a fun throwback to his early eighties action movies which delivers the “red meat city” PG-13 action movies of late are unable to do.  Mixing Commando with a slasher sensibility, Sabotage has Schwarzenegger leading a team of DEA agents (including Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, Joe Manganiello, and Sam Worthington) who are being hunted and by a mysterious killer.  My Sabotage Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 37 days ago

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As the supplements suggest, 300: Rise of an Empire is not a straight sequel to Frank Miller and Zack Snyder’s 300, as it can also be described as a prequel, sidequel, and probably some other words that have been invented to describe modern spin-off films that don’t pick up after the last film ended.  Rise of an Empire is meant to be like a glove to the first film, as it surrounds the original narrative with new material.  The results are a film that doesn’t totally work on its own terms, but does offer a delicious scene-stealing performance from Eva Green.  My 300: Rise of an Empire Blu-ray review follows after the jump. 

I, FRANKENSTEIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 42 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.

JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA .5 Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 45 days ago

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The problem with alternative comedy cuts is fairly self-evident: they’re made up of footage deemed less than what was actually released. Thus by their very make-up, they are less funny than whatever original preferred version preceded them.  Bad Grandpa .5 makes a valiant attempt to overcome these short-comings (at least for the first half) by being less a collection of unused footage and more a behind the scenes making of.  Hit the jump for my Bad Grandpa .5 Blu-ray review. 

LONE SURVIVOR Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 48 days ago

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‘Tis the season for red, white and blue patriotism, which finds perfect cinematic expression in the pro-American military thriller Lone Survivor, which recently debuted on Blu-ray.  Based on The New York Times bestselling book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10,” Lone Survivor doesn’t stop to ask any big questions about what we’re doing in the Middle East, let alone offer any Kubrick-ian treatise on the nature of war.  Instead, it simply dramatizes with harrowing effectiveness the true story of four heroic Navy SEALs who fought against the Taliban to the bitter end out of unmitigated love of country and their fellow American soldiers.

Hit the jump for my complete Lone Survivor Blu-ray review.

BLAZING SADDLES 40th Anniversary Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 50 days ago

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Warner Brothers must have both wanted to capitalize and mock the release of Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, as they’ve just created a slightly new special edition of Blazing Saddles for the film’s 40th anniversary.  There was no way (and no offense to MacFarlane) that he could match or top Mel Brooks’ film, which is hard to call his masterpiece or even the best film he directed that year.  But that’s only because in 1974 both it and Young Frankenstein were released.  Which is the better movie boils down to preference.  That said, I prefer Saddles.  The film stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn in this Western send up, and my Blazing Saddles Blu-ray review follows after the jump.

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