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3D BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 15, 2011 2 comments
Eleven-year-old Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) has just moved with her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) to a new home in Oregon. With her parents distracted by work and no one to play with except an annoying boy, Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), she spends her time visiting her older neighbors. When she convinces herself that her new home is the most boring place on earth, she uncovers a secret door that leads to a parallel world much like her own—but much better. Is the grass greener on the other side or is it all an illusion?

Pixar has changed the way animated films are made, but the days of stop-motion are far from over as director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) proves with this visually stunning and wildly entertaining tale of a young girl in search of attention. One caveat—this isn't really a kid's movie. There are some intense sequences in the "other world" that may frighten younger viewers, so a prescreening is recommended for parents with young children.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 26, 2010 0 comments
1010sdsoft.coraline.jpgCoraline Jones is a lonely little girl. She has just moved into a creepy old house, has no real friends, and her parents are so preoccupied with their work on a gardening catalog that they have no time for her. But she soon discovers a small, papered-over doorway in the living room. It leads to another universe—similar to her own but different in important ways. Her “other” parents in that universe are devoted to satisfying her every whim. Her only new friend there doesn’t talk much (actually, not at all), the neighbors who share the old, subdivided house are fascinating rather than merely eccentric, and everything is colorful and fun.

All is not what it seems. Coraline is, at its core, a bloodless horror story. Much like the recent computer-animated film 9 (the first post-apocalyptic sock-puppet movie, and another dynamite audio/video transfer), it gets under your skin in ways that animated fare rarely does and could seriously frighten young children. It also uses stop-motion animation as refined by stop-motion expert Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Monkeybone, James and the Giant Peach).

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 19, 2011 0 comments
Looking to gain the title of "World's Greatest Villain," Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopts three orphans in order to steal a shrinking machine from his nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel). What he didn't count on was the three girls changing his outlook on the world and he'll stop at nothing to protect them.

The marketing campaign for this film stunk and I had no desire to see it in the theaters (and neither did my kids) but was willing to give it a try on Blu-ray. Surprisingly there's a touching story behind the fantastic animation as the villain becomes the hero and discovers he does have a heart buried beneath his evil exterior.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
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When we last saw Gru, our slightly dorky but lovable and (in his own mind) super-villain, he had softened up thanks to the trio of meet-cute orphans. Gru is now happily domesticated, has renounced his bad-guy role, and has converted his villain’s lair into a production facility for a range of delicious jams and jellies.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 20, 2013 0 comments
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Alfred Hitchcock was a supremely gifted and innovative filmmaker and master of suspense…and a bit of a psycho in his own right, according to recent biographies on him. His films are the benchmark standard that nearly every suspense thriller since has taken its cues from. And in 1954, Hitchcock shot Dial M for Murder in the 3D format at a time when the novelty of 3D films was waning.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Gary Supernova is an ace coordinator at Mission Control on the planet BAAB. His specialty is keeping his lunkheaded brother Scorch, the planet’s superhero-astronaut, from getting himself killed on dangerous missions. But when the most hazardous mission of all comes up—to the Dark Planet from which no one has ever returned—Gary doesn’t want his brother to risk it. Scorch takes the assignment anyway, and Gary refuses to help. But when Scorch gets captured on the Dark Planet and imprisoned in Area 51 along with other alien life forms, Gary comes to the rescue.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 22, 2013 0 comments
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Little Nemo and his dad, Marlin, are the only survivors of a barracuda attack that took his mom and not-yet-hatched siblings. On Nemo’s first day of school (fish in a school—who knew?), he swims out beyond safety and is scooped up by a scuba diver. The distraught Marlin sets out on a journey to find him. In his quest, he meets up with a memory-challenged fish, Dory; a trio of sharks in a fish-anonymous rehab group; a convoy of surfer-dude turtles; a great blue whale; and more.
David Vaughn Posted: Jun 19, 2013 0 comments
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Coerced into playing baseball by his father, Victor connects with the hit of his life and sails one over the fence. His beloved dog, Sparky, thinks it’s a game of fetch, races after the ball, is hit by an oncoming car, and dies. Terribly depressed and lonely, Victor is inspired by his science teacher to bring his dog back to life. Successful in his task, his home-sewn creature draws the attention of an evil classmate when he escapes, and Victor is forced to reveal his secret on how to raise the dead. All hell breaks loose when the town is suddenly overrun by reanimated pets, and it’s up to Victor and Sparky to save the day.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 17, 2012 1 comments
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As Marvel’s comic characters go, Ghost Rider is hellishly hard to categorize. From what I can gather from the character’s two films, 2007’s Ghost Rider and this sequel (I’m not a fan of the comics), Johnny Blaze is a motorcycle stunt rider who sells his soul to the devil to save his father’s life. In exchange, he periodically turns into an ancient, fiery demon that searches out evil to suck out its soul. A bummer for sure, but everybody needs a hobby. His motorcycle has apparently sold its carburetor and tires to Beelzebub as well, since whenever Johnny goes all flames and stuff, he’s also treated to one hell of a ride. Talk about sitting on the hot seat.
David Vaughn Posted: May 16, 2011 3 comments
Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo (Mame McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) must overcome many obstacles to be together. But can this young couple find lasting happiness with their two families hell-bent on destroying each other?

This is a classic example of false advertising. While the trailers made this film look funny and fresh, it's anything but that. The screenplay is pathetically weak, the characters exhibit zero personality, and even the great music from Elton John can't make this anything more than a colossal waste of 84 minutes.

David Vaughn Posted: Oct 17, 2011 0 comments
In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, an elite force called the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries to protect peace and justice. Each warrior wears a ring that grants him the ability to create anything his mind can imagine, but when an enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, all hopes rest in the hands of their newest recruit and the first human ever selected—Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds).

I've never been a connoisseur of comic books and my exposure to them has come from feature films. My expectations for Green Lantern were quite low given its poor reviews during its theatrical run so it was a big surprise that I actually liked it. Granted, it's no Iron Man or The Dark Knight, although I enjoyed it as much as Thor. Reynolds does a decent job playing the cocky hero, but its biggest shortcoming is the lackluster screenplay that adds too many subplots and drags throughout the second act.

David Vaughn Posted: Apr 25, 2011 0 comments
To impress the pretty newspaper travel editor Darcy (Amanda Peet), an underachieving mailroom clerk named Gulliver (Jack Black) takes a writing assignment traveling to Bermuda. On his way there he's swept into a giant cyclone and ends up on the island of Lilliput and discovers he's a giant compared to the little inhabitants.

When you take classic literature and modernize its story, sometimes something can be lost in the translation, and that's certainly the case here. While Black is his usual funny self, the screenplay is quite shallow and contains a litany of two-dimensional characters. I have to admit, I laughed out loud on a number of occasions, but I was equally grossed out when Gulliver needed to extinguish a blazing fire and chose a rather unique way to putting it out.

Corey Gunnestad Posted: Oct 24, 2013 0 comments
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In the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, the titular children are lost in the woods and find a house made of candy. Starving, they devour the architecture with little regard for the occupant inside. The wicked witch who lives there lures them in and tries to eat them for supper. Any homeowner would sympathize. But they overpower the old crone and throw her into her own oven and burn her to death.
David Vaughn Posted: Jun 10, 2013 4 comments
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When Toy Story launched the digital animation genre in 1995, you just knew that every Hollywood studio would eventually set up its own department to cash in on the latest movie trend. Throw in vampires with the Twilight phenomenon and 3D with Avatar, and it was just a matter of time before all three concepts would be mixed together into one picture, hence we get this entertaining animated tale from Sony Pictures.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 26, 2010 0 comments
1010sdsoft.iceage.jpgAs the third installment of the Ice Age franchise, you’d expect the latest adventures of our odd herd of prehistoric mammal friends—Sid the sloth, Manny and Ellie the wooly mammoths, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, Crash and Eddie the possums, and (off on his own as usual) everyone’s favorite latter-day Coyote, Scrat, the squirrel-rat. Scrat’s role has grown with each entry in the series, and here he gets a love (or rather love-hate) interest in Scrattle, a challenge to his acorn obsession.

The main attraction, and what makes this film the best of the three Ice Age movies, is clear from the title. It’s hard to make a bad movie featuring dinosaurs (although the recent remake of Land of the Lost took its best shot). Dinosaurs disappeared long before wooly mammoths walked the glaciers, but as they appear here in a sort of lost-world environment, we can forgive this bit of creative license.

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