BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Corey Gunnestad Posted: May 13, 2016 0 comments
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I sometimes wonder if the filmmakers behind those cheesy science-fiction/horror B films of the 1950s ever believed that they were creating high art. Certainly films like Creature with the Atom Brain, Invasion of the Saucer Men, and I Married a Monster from Outer Space must have seemed pretty ridiculous to the moviegoers of the time too, don’t you think? And yet since then, those films have been elevated to a near-mythic cult status.
Chris Chiarella Posted: May 13, 2016 1 comments
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Andy Weir’s bestselling novel The Martian was justly lauded for its clever use of hard science facts to tell a thrilling yet believable tale of science fiction. Of course, the characters needed to be compelling as well if this bold survival epic was to work, and on screen as well as on the page, the futuristic drama is a smashing success. We begin a couple of decades from now as a manned Mars expedition is cut short due to a violent storm on the surface of the Red Planet.
SV Staff Posted: May 12, 2016 5 comments
No format launch would be complete without movies to play, and UHD Blu-ray Disc boosters got more than they could have hoped for, with more than two-dozen titles from Sony, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate available concurrent with the debut of the Samsung UBD-K8500 player and all mastered with HDR10 high dynamic range. We asked our movie reviewers Tom Norton and David Vaughn for their top-line observations on 14 titles in the first batch to help you separate the demo-worthy from the duds.
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Josef Krebs Posted: May 06, 2016 0 comments
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Two dice roll into close-up. Thus, down-and-out dockside gambler Johnny Farrell is introduced, along with the theme of characters that make their own luck by cheating with chance, love, and big business. Whereas Johnny just plays his way into a job at an exotic Buenos Aires casino through his cardsharp skills, snappy spiel, and fast fisticuffs, his boss, Ballin, has greater ambitions in creating an international monopoly and is willing to use intimidation, illegal business practices, and murder to attain his goal. Johnny becomes as faithful and obedient to his mentor as Ballin’s phallic walking stick, until Ballin breaks their agreement of no women around, returning from a business trip with a wife—Gilda. Especially as she’s the woman who’d ripped Johnny’s heart out.
Pan
David Vaughn Posted: May 06, 2016 4 comments
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Peter is an orphaned 12-year-old whose rebellious ways constantly have him in hot water with the nuns running his orphanage. Although he’s never met his mother, he knows there’s something special about himself, and he dreams of a better life. One night, he’s whisked away to Neverland where he finds adventure, danger, and the mystery of his mother’s heritage. With the help of the warrior Tiger Lily and his newfound friend James Hook, Peter must overcome the meddlesome Blackbeard in order to save Neverland and fulfill his destiny.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 29, 2016 1 comments
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When a government strike against the Mexican drug cartel on American soil proves fruitful but costly, a dedicated FBI field agent (Emily Blunt) joins an interagency task force to help bring the men responsible to justice. She quickly learns, however, that her new colleagues have a disturbing tendency to bend or break the rules, or even write their own. They’re an effective bunch, albeit mysteriously motivated. The dangerous transport of a high-value prisoner to the U.S. yields valuable information, including the whereabouts of a crucial cartel tunnel under the border.
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Anthony Chiarella Posted: Apr 29, 2016 1 comments
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Ricki Randazzo’s dreams of rock stardom are shrinking in the rearview mirror. While her group, The Flash, is the house band at a dive bar, Ricki (Meryl Streep) struggles as a cashier at an upscale supermarket. It’s there that she receives a call from her ex-husband (Kevin Kline) asking her to come home to Indianapolis as her estranged daughter has attempted suicide. Ricki returns not only to an unstable daughter but also to one son fresh out of the closet and another about to be married… with no intention of inviting her to the wedding.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 22, 2016 0 comments
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As if their world-saving missions weren’t hard enough already, the entire Impossible Mission Force is shut down by an overzealous CIA director, and the IMF’s best agent, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), is now an international fugitive. Of course, those setbacks don’t stop him from continuing his search for the Syndicate. The Syndicate is ruthless, frighteningly effective, and worst of all, the CIA refuses to believe that it even exists, so the pursuit is uphill all the way.
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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Apr 22, 2016 0 comments
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After he and his film Seven Years in Tibet (1997) were banned from China, director Jean-Jacques Annaud returns to the country for his visually stunning Wolf Totem, an adaptation of Jiang Rong’s semi-autobiographical novel.

Set during China’s Cultural Revolution of 1969, Wolf Totem is an environmentalist tale that follows Beijing student Chen Zhen (Shaofeng Feng), who is assigned to China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to teach its nomadic shepherd population. Instead, Zhen becomes attached to the land, its people, and the balance between them and their most feared enemy, the wolves.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 15, 2016 0 comments
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Ant-Man begins in 1989 as genius inventor and industrialist Hank Pym achieves a major success in a revolutionary shrinking technology that can reduce a man to the size of an ant while increasing his strength a hundredfold or more. But he hides his accomplishment and resigns from his company to keep the development from falling into the wrong hands. As we jump to the present, his protégé, Darren Cross, is now the head of the company and close to the success that Pym secretly achieved in 1989.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 15, 2016 1 comments
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The first brick of The Wall was set in place over 72 years ago on February 18, 1944, the day British Army Second Lieutenant Eric Fletcher Waters was deemed “missing in action, presumed dead” during the Battle of Anzio in Aprilia, Italy in World War II. Ever since then, his son, Roger Waters, has attempted to come to grips with that loss and the ensuing ripple effects of the spoils of war in both his lyrics and music, best realized in Pink Floyd’s 1979 magnum opus, The Wall. Waters later took The Wall Live on the road in 2010–13 for 219 performances as a fully realized audio/visual extravaganza, and I can personally confirm it as being the bestlooking and best-sounding stadium concert I’ve ever attended.
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Brandon A. DuHamel Posted: Apr 08, 2016 1 comments
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Older anime fans in North America will likely remember Gatchaman, the classic 1972 series created by Tatsuo Yoshida, as Battle of the Planets (1978). Battle of the Planets was a tamed-down version of Gatchaman that removed elements of graphic violence and profanity and changed plot points related to the transgenderisim of the villain in order to avoid controversy with parents. It also rode the wave of Star Wars’ success by adding in scenes reminiscent of the space opera to mask deficiencies introduced by the changes and eliminations (only 85 of 105 episodes were used). Slightly younger audiences may be even more familiar with a subsequent mid-’80s adaptation, G-Force: Guardians of Space, which more closely followed the original series.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Apr 08, 2016 2 comments
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Ted, the foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear, has married his longtime human girlfriend, Tami-Lynn, and a beautiful wedding it was. But as with most marriages between stuffed animals and human beings, the honeymoon ends all too soon, and after only a year, the newlyweds are already fighting. Naturally, the best remedy to soothe a decaying marriage and revitalize the spark is to bring a baby into the equation. But since Ted is lacking in the genitalia department, their choices are reduced to either adoption or artificial insemination.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 01, 2016 1 comments
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Mulholland Drive is a wild and woolly movie, rife with swooning mysteries, esoteric clues, red herrings, black swans, and, even if the whole mélange remains a puzzle to you, it tosses up some of the most haunting and sensual images and sounds ever to come out of Hollywood. It begins with heavy breathing and soft focus on a red sheet, your first signal that what you’re about to see is someone’s dream, though how much, and at what point things flit back and forth from nightmare to reality (or, simply, to random jetsam from writer-director David Lynch’s own weird dreams and fantasies) is up for grabs.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 01, 2016 1 comments
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Damian Hale, an extremely wealthy and self-centered businessman (is there any other kind in the movies?), is in his late sixties and dying of cancer. But he’s found an escape in a secretive company that has developed a way to transfer the contents of someone’s brain into a younger, healthy human body. They call the process shedding. It succeeds on Damian, but with complications he didn’t anticipate.

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