3D BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Whenever you dramatize one of the most beloved characters in all of popular culture, you’re going to elicit a lot of strong opinions. Many folks seem to either love or loathe Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder and producer/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s major reboot of the Superman franchise. The basic story is recognizable to even the most casual fans, yet much has changed, so it doesn’t feel like a rehash of any version we’ve seen before.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 23, 2014 0 comments
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Ever wonder how Monsters, Inc.’s Mike and Sully met? Me neither, since their friendship is so well defined in that vastly superior original film. But Monsters University takes us back to their college days anyway, when the optimistic Mr. Wozanski and the cocky Mr. Sullivan first crossed paths. Since childhood, the bookish, hardworking Mike has dreamed of becoming the greatest scarer ever, but after a disastrous first semester, he must win the campus Scare Games if he’s to have any hope of continuing his education. That means teaming up with a ragtag bunch of underdogs—and with Sully, who is rather a shallow jerk before he learns to play nice. This prequel is fraught with clichés and soon feels too darned long. As we used to say back when I was in school, that’s a bummer.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 26, 2010 0 comments
1010sdsoft.monstersaliens.jpgEarth is threatened. Galaxar, a four-eyed, tentacled, interstellar bad guy, is headed our way in search of his lost Quantonium, which it seems is even more valuable than Unobtainium. To make things worse, the Quantonium has landed on earth, struck a bride-to-be named Susan, and turned her into the proverbial 50-foot woman, much to the horror of her groom and wedding guests. She is thrown into an Area 51–like prison, where other monsters have been squirreled away from the public for decades. Out of options, the U.S. president recruits the monsters as Earth’s best hope for survival.

If all of this seems to be straight out of the usual Bruckheimer-Bay-Emmerich mold, it isn’t. Instead, it’s one of the funniest computer-animated films of recent years. Galaxar is a hoot. “People of Earth, I mean you no harm,” he proclaims. “But you’ll all be either dead or enslaved in 24 hours. Don’t be angry; it’s just business.” Susan discovers that she can do better than her egotistical fiancé, and the other monsters prove to be both endearing and fascinating.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 18, 2013 0 comments
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James P. “Sulley” Sullivan is the pride of Monsters, Inc., the power company for Monstropolis. As Sulley and the other Monster scarers pass through doors leading into children’s bedrooms, the energy generated by kids’ screams is captured and stored. Sulley is the champion scarer, and Mike Wazowski is his coach, right-hand monster, and best pal.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments
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Good witches, bad witches, good witches who become bad witches; it’s all in a day’s work for the Wizard of Oz. The story of how the Wizard of Oz first arrived in Oz and became the great and powerful Wizard of Oz is chronicled in Oz the Great and Powerful. This prequel to The Wizard of Oz pays reverent homage to the original classic film in many ways but most noticeably by mimicking its famous prologue. Just like when Dorothy leaves Kansas and her monochromatic world magically morphs to glorious, exhilarating Technicolor, so it goes for the Wizard as well. After a 20-minute black-and-white prologue cropped in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Oz’s balloon arrives somewhere over the rainbow, the image bursts into vibrant color, and the aspect ratio expands to a full 2.40:1.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 30, 2014 0 comments
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Kaiju is a Japanese word meaning, monster—typically a big monster and a very bad hombre with anger issues. Kaiju are hard to miss, and the founder of the Kaiju feast was, of course, Godzilla the Great.

In Pacific Rim, Kaiju (gesundheit) are popping up all over, emerging from a rift in the ocean floor and stomping all over the biggest cities around the Pacific. To counter the looming apocalypse, mankind has built mechanical monsters of its own, mechas known as Jaegers. Jaeger means hunter in German, but while my first encounter with a Jaeger was a schnitzel, these Jaegers are huge machines, matching the size and strength of the Kaiju.

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.
Corey Gunnestad Posted: Feb 12, 2014 0 comments
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Watching R.I.P.D., you might experience a profound sense of déjà vu. You may find yourself saying, “Hey, I’ve seen this before, only it was called Men in Black and it had Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in it.” The RIPD is a secret special service branch of the afterlife whose primary task is to track down and terminate other “deados” who hide out in the real world and refuse to cross over. Yes, apparently it’s possible to kill someone who’s already dead.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 16, 2013 0 comments
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It’s not exactly a secret that Sony Pictures produced a fabulously successful trilogy of Spider-man films from 2002 to 2007. All three were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey Maguire as the resident arachnid. Though the last of the three laid something of a critical egg, it was nevertheless a golden one at the box office. The Amazing Spider-Man is not a sequel but instead a complete reboot, origin story and all. Clearly, Sony was hoping to re-invigorate the franchise. Judging from its commercial success, I’d say it succeeded.
Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Apr 27, 2012 0 comments

I had no intention of seeing Titanic in 3D. This wasn't a "Hmmm, should I" type decision. At no point was the option of going to a theater and seeing this movie in faux-3D a valid option in my brain. It was up there with "run marathon," "time travel," and "read Twilight" on the list of things I know I will never do.

Well, last night I saw it - James Cameron's retrofitted 3D masterpiece. And you know what, I expected to hate it. . . and didn't. As someone who reviews 3D crap - sorry "stuff" - for a living, here's my take.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 19, 2011 0 comments
Blu is a companion to Linda, and the two are inseparable. But when Brazilian ornithologist Tulio shows up, Linda learns that Blu is the only male blue macaw in existence and must mate to save the species. Linda reluctantly agrees, and she, Blu, and Tulio set off to Rio de Janeiro. This leads to events Linda never dreamed of back home in Moose Lake, Minnesocold. And when birdnappers, together with a particularly nasty jailbird, enter Blu’s world, his adventures parallel hers.

Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the computer animation house behind the successful Ice Age franchise, Rio’s story line doesn’t feel all that promising at first. But it grows on you. While 2011 hasn’t yet equaled 2010 for potential entries in the animation hall of fame, a chameleon, a panda, and now a macaw are more than enough to keep the current golden age of computer animation firing on all cylinders.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 08, 2013 0 comments
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When boogeyman Pitch Black schemes to plant fearsome nightmares into the minds and hearts of children throughout the world, it falls on the Guardians to derail his plans. When they attempt to convince Jack Frost, a free-spirit prankster, to join them, he agrees only when things turn truly grim.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 26, 2015 0 comments
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Sin City: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In A Dame to Kill For, the second big-screen adaptation of the works of writer/artist/director Frank Miller, we find that stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) has been driven cuckoo-bananas by the events surrounding the death of her hero and one true love a few years ago. She now finds herself shadowed by the ghost of Bruce Willis (where have I seen that before?)
David Vaughn Posted: Mar 28, 2011 5 comments
Pursued by the King's troops, Flynn Rider (voice by Zachary Levi) takes refuge in a mysterious tower, but he's not alone. Before he knows it, he's tied to a chair by Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), a spirited teen with 70 feet of magical golden hair. Looking for her ticket out of the tower she's been trapped in for years, she strikes a deal with the handsome thief, and the duo set off on an adventure pursued by a determined horse, a pair of thugs, and an evil woman who doesn't want to lose her fountain of youth.

This is Disney's 50th full-length animated feature, and while I wouldn't consider it to the level of The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, it's very entertaining. There are a lot of laughs, especially from the horse and overprotective chameleon, but the musical numbers are a mixed bag.

Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 24, 2015 1 comments
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Way back in the mid to late 1980s, I was an avid comic book collector, and one of my favorite discoveries around that time was a brand-new and independently produced comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It lacked the polish and grandeur of the Marvel and DC titles, but it was raw, edgy, and totally original. There was no shortage of blood on the katana, if you get my drift. Not long after that, however, mainstream pop culture bastardized it into a puke-inducing kiddie cartoon and toy franchise. The once-hardcore vigilante turtles suddenly became pizza-eating wisecrackers who over-frequently used words like dude and cowabunga. It also spawned three diaper-filling live-action films, and I abandoned all hope after that.

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