BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Michael Berk Posted: Oct 07, 2011 0 comments

Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction are both out this week in brand-new Blu-ray releases, approved by the director, and we've gotten some copies to give away, courtesy of Lionsgate/Miramax.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 07, 2011 0 comments
Former cop Brian O'Copnner (Paul Walker) and his girlfriend Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) hookup with her fugitive brother Dom (Vin Diesel) and head to South America to elude the authorities. Tired of running, they assemble an elite team of top racers to help pull off one last job in order to secure enough cash for retirement, but when a hard-nosed federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) shows up in Rio de Janeiro, their job goes from hard to nearly impossible to complete.

Generally speaking, sequels tend to pale in comparison to the original, but here's a case where the fifth film in the series is actually the best. It all boils down to the screenplay, which has more of an Ocean's 11 tone than a racing-centric plot found in the previous films. Regardless, it's a lot of fun to watch and the spectacular audio and video help keep you on the edge of your seat.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 05, 2011 0 comments
Forced into exile by his evil Uncle Scar after the death of his father, young Simba hooks up with a meerkat named Timon and his warthog chum Pumbaa. Adopting their carefree lifestyle, Simba ignores his real responsibilities until he realizes his destiny and returns to the Pride Lands to stake his claim to the throne.

When The Lion King hit theaters in 1994, Disney had its third animation success in a row and solidified the fact that the studio had regained its hit-creating mojo. The voice cast is outstanding, the story is inspiring, and the soundtrack is just as fun today as it was last century. Looking to capitalize on the 3D craze hitting Hollywood, Disney converted the hand-drawn animated film into the new format with surprisingly good results. While it doesn't look quite as good as Beauty and the Beast, it fares much better than some live-action conversions I've seen.

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David Vaughn Posted: Oct 03, 2011 0 comments
Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) is a bright and beautiful young woman who finds escape from her ordinary life by reading books. When her father is taken prisoner by a cursed young prince (Robby Benson), Belle comes to the rescue and agrees to take her father's place. With the help of the castle's enchanted staff, she sees beneath the Beast's exterior and discovers the heart and soul of a human prince.

Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (plus five other nominations) and won two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Original Score. The talent behind the voices includes Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, the candelabra, and David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, the mantel clock. The story is engaging and filled with adventure, but it's the score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman that makes this film a classic.

Michael Berk Posted: Sep 30, 2011 0 comments

We've been keeping you up to date on the progress of 7.1 in theatrical sound, and Brent Butterworth checked in last month with Dolby Labs Director of Blu-ray Ecosystems Craig Eggers, who gave us an update on some developments in 7.1 for the home - when we talked to Craig, he let us know that while there were some 225 titles available on Blu-ray in 7.1 mixes, most of those simply duplicated the theatrical mixes.

That's starting to change.

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 30, 2011 3 comments
In 1959, a UFO crash-landed on the moon and it was the true catalyst for space race between the US and Russia as they hurried to investigate the incident. In present day, the Autobots become aware of the crash and race to the moon to do their own investigation. Onboard the spacecraft they discover a deactivated Sentinel Prime who can only be reactivated by Optimus Prime, who is curious what happened so many years ago.

I wasn't a big fan of the original Transformers movie and skipped the critically panned sequel, but had heard good things about this one and was willing to give it a chance. The premise actually had some promise, but everything I disliked about the first movie is repeated here—shallow plot, poor acting, senseless characters, and a never-ending third act that repeats many of the action scenes witnessed in the first two acts. Granted, Michael Bay doesn't make these films to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, but he'll certainly never win a Best Editor award because the bloated run time clocks in at 154 fatiguing minutes.

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Ken Korman Posted: Sep 30, 2011 0 comments

Forty years have hardly put a dent in Straw Dogs, the controversial 1971 film by director Sam Peckinpah (which spawned the faithful remake now showing in theaters). With its graphic depiction of violence, the movie remains as disturbing as ever.

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Sol Louis Siegel Posted: Sep 30, 2011 0 comments

There’s one reason to see Ingmar Bergman’s 1976 drama, but it’s a compelling one: Liv Ullmann’s performance, which is among the greatest in any movie. (She was nominated for Best Actress but lost to Network’s Faye Dunaway.)

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Joshua Zyber Posted: Sep 28, 2011 0 comments
According to the painstaking research I performed before writing this review (i.e., looking at Wikipedia for all of five minutes), Charlotte Brontë’s proto-feminist novel (I cribbed that phrase right from the wiki, FYI) had been adapted at least 15 times for the silver screen and an additional 10 for television before this year’s revival. That’s to say nothing of the other numerous attempts to sequelize, prequelize, or retell the story in literary form. What is it about this book that inspires so many people to tell the story until someone finally gets it right?

The latest Jane Eyre comes from director Cary Fukunaga, an American filmmaker of Swedish and Japanese descent whose only previous feature was the Mexican gangster film Sin Nombre. In other words, he’s exactly the first person you’d think of to make a British period romance starring an Australian actress and German-Irish leading man. The mind reels.

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 28, 2011 1 comments
City-boy Ren (Kevein Bacon) moves to the small Midwestern town of Beaumont and quickly learns that dancing and popular rock music has been banned. He befriends Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), the daughter of the popular preacher who's leading the charge for the "no fun zone," and a line is drawn in the sand between hometown values and teenage fun.

Footloose is one of those 80's films that stir-up a lot of memories for people in my age demographic. Back in 1984 it was wildly popular due to the hip music, fun dancing, and anti-establishment message. There wasn't a guy I knew who didn't want to be like Ren, but I'm positive I wouldn't approve of my teenage daughter dating a guy like him today!

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David Vaughn Posted: Sep 26, 2011 2 comments
Set behind the scenes of the BBC newsroom as an investigative news program is launched, the drama plots the personal lives, professional interplay, and jealous ambition between aspiring journalist Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), ambitious young producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai), and Hector Madden (Dominic West), the face and lead anchorman of this rising television news team. A love triangle ensues and the intense ambitions between the rising news team plays out against the backdrop of a mysterious murder and Freddie's controversial and dangerous investigation.

The BBC has been churning out some pretty entertaining programs lately with Sherlock and now The Hour. This six episode set starts off very slow and it almost lost me, but I was hooked once I got to know the characters and Freddie began to unravel the mystery behind the murder.

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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Sep 26, 2011 0 comments
On the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed in Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Twelve days later, his assassin John Wilkes Booth, perished while barricading himself in a barn rather than surrender to the Union Army. In the tumultuous weeks following the assassination, a web of conspiracy was uncovered, and a number of Booth’s accomplices were arrested and put on trial.

The conspirator of the film’s title is Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), the woman who owned the boarding house where the accomplices met in secret and whose son was closely tied to Booth. Blinded by revenge and an unrelenting desire to put the matter to rest, the American State Department completely disregarded the rule of law and Surratt’s constitutional rights in their fervor to secure a conviction. James McAvoy deftly plays Frederick Aiken, the attorney assigned to defend Surratt and who ends up fighting overwhelming opposition from the seats of power in his quest for a fair trial.

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 23, 2011 1 comments
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a nifty film noir with brisk dialogue (by noir novelist Jim Thompson) and brushstroke characters. It features a taut narrative within a daringly fitful structure (the plot starts over and over, charting the events from different points of view, leading up to the climax) and an ending straight out of O. Henry. The story line is fairly conventional—a racetrack heist, the mastermind who devises it, and the gang of misfits who try to pull it off. But the theme—human foibles trumping the best-laid plans—anticipates many Kubrick films to come, notably Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is also the first film where Kubrick, just 28 years old, displays a master director’s touch: a keen visual sense, both for the composition of the frame and for the fluid camera motion (it seems to be moving almost constantly). The acting is a bit outsized, but so it is in most Kubricks, and as with most, it fits the movie’s mood. This one marks his first association with Sterling Hayden, who’s very fine as the methodical planner: mordantly witty, slow-burning with desire to break through life’s trappings, and in the end stoic about his prospects.

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