August 25, 2009


Fox is one of the better companies when it comes to Blu-ray, but they generally don’t add much exclusive content to their Blu’s. So when they put out an older title, you can expect not much more than what’s already been released. Such is the case with Towering Inferno, and My Cousin Vinny. Where Dragonball Evolution is pretty cut and dried. These are what I’m about to review after the jump.

goku_and_bulma_goku_dragonball_movie_poster.jpgI found Dragonball Evolution to be harmlessly formulaic. What a positive review. Justin Chatwin stars as Goku, the title character of the Japanese comic thing that I guess some kids were into. He’s got a grandfather (but no parents) who teaches him the art of kung fu, and he’s really good at it. But in school he’s a complete outsider and unable to talk to Chi Chi (Jamie Chung), the woman of his dreams. He gets a dragonball for his birthday but Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) is on the hunt for all these balls himself. So Piccolo kills Goku’s grandfather, and Goku ends up teaming up with bounty hunter Bulma (Emmy Rossum) to find the rest of the dragonballs. Goku’s Ben Kenobi is Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat), who is the wisecracking wizard there to complete Goku’s training. And then there’s Yamcha (Joon Park) who gets sucked in for the cash. All these Star Wars archetypes means that you know where it’s going, but the fighting is not that poorly staged as to be boring and the film is a scant 85 minutes. I found it to be relatively painless, which is better than I expected, but also disappointing in that it’s not a truly bad movie.

20th Century Fox presents the film on Blu-ray in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD. Extras include “Goku’s Guess Game” which asks you to click the red button when you see a dragonball on screen. Get all seven, and there’s bonus video. There’s eight deleted scenes (11 min.), “Goku’s Workout (4 min.) that walks you through some of the fighting moves, a music video, a gag reel (2 min.), the Fox Movie Chanel: “Making a Scene” (9 min.), and their “Life after Film School with Justin Chatwin” (25 min.). Also included is a digital copy.

towering_inferno_william_holden_movie_image_blu-ray_01.jpgPeople get amped up about summer releases. I bet in thirty years we may look at some of the big summer movies the way we look at films like The Towering Inferno now. Bloated, mildly pretentious, and modestly entertaining. The Towering Inferno is about a building designed by architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman), but was built by Jim Duncan (William Holden), who cheated some of the corners. Well, faulty wiring sets their building ablaze, which sends Fire Chief Michael O’Hallorhan (Steve McQueen) to the rescue. Then there’s the old con man Harlee Claiborne (Fred Astaire) who is wooing rich eldery woman Lisolette Muller (Jennifer Jones), Doug’s girlfriend Susan (Faye Dunaway), snively villain Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain) – who was the real hatchet man -and his wife Patty (Susan Blakely). Then there’s O.J Simpson as the building’s security guy, Robert Vaughn as a senator, and Robert Wagner as a lover who doesn’t see the fire coming because of it, and many more. And a number of these people die horribly.

the_towering_inferno_image__2_.jpgYou could call this a disaster movie, I call it an evacuation movie. There’s a revolving cast of characters, which is good because no one is all that strong in terms of narrative drive. You have archtypes, who go about the film’s 165 minute running time dealing with the fire in their ways. Some surprise deaths, and some okay stunt sequences make up most of it, with the sequence where Newman has to take a bunch of kids through some metal, and missing stairs the highlight. But this is long, and kinda ugly to watch, it’s just got a garish color palette. This was a budget buster with huge stars and a thundering concept, but the Poseidon Adventure had a better structure because it has a narrative drive. Here people are trying to get out of a burning building, and it’s not as dramatically satisfying.

20th Century Fox’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) in DTS-HD 5.1 and in English 4.0 surround, and a regular Dolby surround track. There’s also a commentary by F.X. Feeney for the length of the picture, and he’s got a good game, and knows what he’s talking about. It’s insightful, and pretty much anything you’d want out of a commentary track. This is supplemented by scene specific commentary by Special Effects Director Mike Venzina (13 min.) stunt coordinator Branko Racki (22 Min.). This is followed by 33 deleted scenes (45 in.) from what appears to be a work print and TV version. There’s a making of called “Inside the Tower”( 8min.) with Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Susan Flannery, production illustrator Joseph Musso, and technical advisor Peter Lucarelli. “Innovating Tower: The SPFX of an Inferno” (7 min.) covers  how some of the ffects were done, while “The Art of Towering” (5 min.) gives the storyboarders and illustrators their due. “Irwin Allen: The Great Producer” celebrates Allen (6 min.) from mostly his actor’s perspective, including Roddy McDowell and Stella Stevens, along with most of those interviewed already. “Directing the Inferno” (4 min.) gives director John Guillerman his credit, “Putting out Fire” (5 min.) and “Running on Fire” (6 min.) talk to the effects work and stunts.  “Still the World’s Tallest Building” (8 min.) is all about huge buildings that have arisen in the world. Okay. And “The Writer: Sterling Silliphant”(9 min) gives the writer a loving tribute. Then to wrap up the section is the AMC backstory on the film (22 min.). Then there’s six storyboard to film comparisons (13 min.), a NATO promo reel (11 min.), two original 1974 featurettes (8 min. and 7 min.), an Irwin Allen interview (12 min.),  two trailers, a trailer for The Poseidon Adventure, Three American Cinematographer pieces, and five still galleries. Holy moly that’s a lot of stuff.

my_cousin_vinny_joe_pesci_movie_image_blu-ray_01.jpgIn comparison, My Cousin Vinny comes with a commentary by Jonathan Lynn two trailers and two TV spots, but it’s the best of the bunch. Two kids moving across country travel through the south, and have their inherent prejudices. When they get pulled over by the cops they think they’re being picked on, but they’re accused of murder one. They need a lawyer, and so Billy Gambini (Ralph Macchio) calls his cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci). Vinny has never tried nor won a case before, as he’s spent the last couple years trying to pass the bar. But since family is family, Billy and his buddy Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitefield) trust Vinny to run their case. Vinny also has a promise to his girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) that they’ll get married after he wins a case. But everything seems stacked against them, with the judge Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne) exceptionally difficult.

Vinny is what used to pass for an excellent Sunday afternoon movie. It’s a little long, but the lawyer stuff is engaging, and it’s a hard film to turn away from. When Vinny goes into his “magical Grits” it’s a solid bit of set up/pay off where Vinny uses the information he’s been given off-handedly to his benefit. Joe Pesci was never a great leading man, but this is his best non-Scorsese starring role, and Marisa Tomei exudes the charm that baffled millions when she won the best supporting academy award for her work. Honestly, it’s not a bad choice, she’s excellent in the film, and it’s a starmaking role. It’s something of a dawdle, but the picture works, and you root for the conclusion, which builds to a great pitch as all the pieces come together. Fox presents the film in widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS 5.1 HD. The surround is modest, but the transfer is solid.

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