BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Shane Buettner Posted: Dec 24, 2012 0 comments
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Writer/director Wes Anderson’s artsy comedies are so distinct, you’d never mistake a single frame of his movies for anyone else’s. 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums showcases many of his hallmarks and themes: a mixed family of blood and adopted relatives separating and then banding together to overcome collective dysfunction, oddly brilliant characters whose clothes are identity uniforms, a simultaneous embracing and lampooning of academia, a labyrinthine set that functions like a cross between a playhouse and a fort, and a nice role for the great character actor Seymour Cassel. It’s Anderson’s most polarizing film in terms of accessibility, but it’s also his funniest.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 18, 2012 0 comments
What better gift than a Blu-ray box set? We cherry pick the best of the best so you don't have to hunt to find that perfect gift for a family member, special friend or... yourself.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Dec 12, 2012 0 comments
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For those who found Revolutionary Road too upbeat comes its British postwar counterpart in the soul-crushing slog that is The Deep Blue Sea (for those hoping to read a review of Renny Harlin’s guilty pleasure of a shark movie, the title of that is simply Deep Blue Sea, so sorry to disappoint you!). Set in 1950 post-war London, The Deep Blue Sea gives us Hester (Rachel Weisz), a smart, cultured, and ardent woman at a time when none of those traits was apparently valued in British society. Hester leaves her staid marriage to a wealthy judge old enough to be her father (and who looks old enough to be her grandfather), falling in for a fiery affair with a handsome pilot nearer her age named Freddie (Tom Hiddleston, or Loki to Avengers fans out there). The drag is, Freddie’s rather a creep and has issues with both commitment and finding gainful employment.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Dec 06, 2012 1 comments
In May 1977, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were vacationing in Hawaii together. Spielberg already had the biggest box-office hit of all time under his belt: a little film called Jaws; and Lucas was hiding out from what he was certain would be a monumental disaster: a pet project of his called Star Wars. After Star Wars exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and then some, Spielberg and Lucas sat and mused about future projects. Spielberg expressed a boyish desire to direct a James Bond adventure. Lucas replied, “I’ve got that beat.”
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Shane Buettner Posted: Nov 26, 2012 1 comments
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Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was the first summer blockbuster, a classic that not only cemented its director and stars in film’s pantheon, but transcended cinema altogether, taking a huge bite out of global pop culture. To this day, there are 40- and 50-somethings who quote this movie’s dialogue daily and still won’t go in the water. It’s the best monster movie ever made, and of course it’s legend that the unbearable suspense created by not seeing the beast for the first hour of the movie was due to the mechanical shark, Bruce, not working, forcing Spielberg and company to develop brilliant devices to have a shark movie without the shark.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Nov 19, 2012 1 comments
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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the sexiest hunk of all? If given a choice between G.I. Joe or Ken, who do you think Barbie would choose? It’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is obvious all the same. And even though the handsome Prince in Snow White and the Huntsman isn’t exactly a Ken doll, he’s still hopelessly out of his depth here. A woman’s quest to stay forever young and beautiful can go to some pretty obsessive lengths depending on the woman (so I’m told), and in the kingdom of Tabor, the Evil Queen Ravenna is taking it to the harshest of extremes. Snow White, total hottie and legitimate heir to the throne, poses the last remaining threat to the queen’s eternal beauty and supreme rule, so drastic measures are called for.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 19, 2012 0 comments
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The Pirate Captain (voiced by a wonderfully swaggering Hugh Grant) leads his merry men across the high seas, searching for gold, adventure…and ham? He’s never quite what we expect a career swashbuckler to be, and when the Captain sets his sights on the Pirate of the Year Award, we soon see that this criminal rogue is actually just a flawed softie with a chance at redemption. The underlying plot is surprisingly similar to the recent Despicable Me, but what sets The Pirates! Band of Misfits apart is a series of wacky twists involving a dateless, conniving scientist named Charles Darwin and a downright loopy Queen Victoria. The movie also overflows with subtle sight gags, little placards and such in the shadows just behind a character. My kids laughed hysterically along with me, and they didn’t even catch half the jokes, so this disc definitely merits a purchase for the sake of repeat viewings.
David Vaughn Posted: Nov 12, 2012 0 comments
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L ooking to impress the girl of his dreams by finding her a real-life Truffula tree, Ted Wiggins follows the advice of his grandmother and ventures outside the walls of Thneedville in search of the Once-ler. At first, the reclusive old man wants nothing to do with the teenage boy, but he eventually tells his story of how greed and ignorance led to the destruction of the Truffula forest and how he should have listened to the warnings of the mystical Lorax—the protector of the trees. Looking for a chance at redemption, the Once-ler put his faith in the teenager to correct the errors of his ways, although the ruthless Aloysius O’Hare will stop at nothing to deter the young lad from fulfilling his destiny to restore the trees and get the girl.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Nov 08, 2012 0 comments
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I saw American Pie in the theater and enjoyed it enough to stick it out through two sequels: American Pie 2 and American Wedding. By that point, though, I felt the creative teat had pretty much been sucked dry and it was time to call it a day. Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that the success of those films had spawned no less than four direct-to-video sequels: American Pie: Band Camp, American Pie: The Naked Mile, American Pie: Beta House, and American Pie: The Book of Love. Not done by a long shot, the original cast now reunites for another go-round in American Reunion. As the title implies, it’s been more than a decade since our fresh-faced and inexperienced teenagers graduated from high school and made the awkward transition into adulthood.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 01, 2012 0 comments
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The second-highest-grossing movie of 1977 (behind only a certain science-fantasy film of some renown) and one of the biggest hits in the esteemed history of Universal Studios, Smokey and the Bandit combined frequent car chases, vast amounts of beer, and copious nose-thumbing at The Man to create a wildly popular piece of entertainment. Like most movies of the era, it lacks the slickness of modern fare and relies more heavily on the charm of its star, Burt Reynolds, as legendary trucker Bo “Bandit” Darville. He takes a big bet to deliver 400 cases of Coors beer across five states in only 28 hours, an extremely difficult and highly illegal challenge.
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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 23, 2012 0 comments
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Four Atlanta businessmen set out in two canoes down the fictional Cahulawassee River before a dam is built to generate electricity for the growing population of Atlanta. Their adventure starts normal enough, but you get the impression that something isn’t right with the inbred people of the backcountry—and their enjoyable river ride turns into a horrific life-changing experience.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 17, 2012 12 comments
Going back a few years, the arrival of high definition in general and Blu-ray specifically signaled a new era of entertainment. While home theater has long promised a movie-watching experience that we could enjoy in our pajamas—without getting arrested—the reign of the 1080p optical disc promised us DVD convenience combined with superior cinematic quality. Delivering on that promise wasn’t always so easy, however. Owing to a variety of variables, such as poor film storage, tight budgets, and the simple fact that some studios are more dedicated to the preservation of their libraries than others, many of the most anticipated Blu-ray debuts have been lackluster, frequently mere ports of existing standard-def masters.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments
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1971’s Harold and Maude, a cult classic before there was such a thing, undoubtedly remains the weirdest rom-com of all times (classifying this movie as such has me laughing out loud as I type!). Harold (Bud Cort) is an odd young man who lives with his wealthy, high-society widow of a mother and gets his kicks (and much-needed attention) from elaborately acting out his own death. Over and over. While Harold’s mom’s ideas for straightening him out are to put him in the military or marry him off, another of Harold’s hobbies, attending strangers’ funerals, leads him to Maude (Ruth Gordon), a daring older woman and the freest spirit you’ve ever seen. She lives in a renovated boxcar, fights the system in her own inimitable ways, ruffles a lot of feathers, and steals a hell of a lot of cars. She’s a gas and is absolutely as obsessed with life as weird Harold is with death. They fall in love.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 10, 2012 11 comments
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Adaptations of old TV shows are a mixed bag, especially when filmmakers take the risky step of amping up the comedy factor of the original. The new gold standard of this bawdy-yet-reverent approach is 21 Jump Street, with much of the credit belonging to star/executive producer/co-writer Jonah Hill. He plays a brainy high school loser who, years later, winds up enrolling in the police academy at the same time as his brawny erstwhile tormentor (Channing Tatum).
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 10, 2012 2 comments
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Last year’s Best Picture, The Artist, embodies a simple enough idea: a silent movie about silent movies, told in the classic style. Set in the waning days of the era, the story introduces us to aging matinee idol George Valentin (Oscar winner Jean Dujardin) who meets the wide-eyed ingénue Peppy Miller (nominee Bérénice Bejo) outside one of his premieres. Seldom does the screen see such an intoxicatingly attractive couple, and yet their relationship is a complicated smolder of admiration and respect that has its share of ups and downs across years of drastic change.

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