BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: May 23, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/052308ps.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>As Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) celebrates her 30th birthday, she receives a most unusual gift from her husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler). It's a cake and a recorded message preparing her for the letters she will be receiving over the next few months from him. The kicker is that Gerry recently died from an illness at the tender age of 35, and his passing has ripped Holly's heart apart. With the help of her mother (Kathy Bates) and her two best friends (Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gerson), Holly learns to live without her soul mate.

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David Vaughn Posted: May 23, 2008 0 comments

<IMG SRC="/images/archivesart/052308compass.jpg" WIDTH=200 BORDER=0 ALIGN=RIGHT>Imagine a parallel universe that is familiar yet strange, where human souls reside not in the body, but in accompanying animal spirits called daemons. A young girl, Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards), gains possession of the coveted Golden Compass&mdash;the last example of a mystical, powerful device also known as an alethiometer that can unveil the truth, reveal what others wish to hide, and even see into the future. In order to save her best friend after he is abducted by the Gobblers, a sinister group secretly headed by Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman), she must travel to the frozen tundra of the North with help from the clans, Gyptians, and an armored bear.

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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 2.5/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.5/5
John Woo had definitely done some great action work over the years. But I will be the first to admit that not all of his films grab me. While I found this one entertaining, it was never one of my favorites by him. Probably because I went through a basic hate relationship with Travolta films for awhile. After Pulp Fiction it seemed like every other movie out there had him in it, and he always acted exactly the same. Since I've had a bit of a break from all that now, I will say the film sat a bit better with me this time around, but I still think it is one of Woo's weaker titles.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.5/5
I had a strong feeling going into this film that I wouldn't be a fan. I am not big on Ferrell's brand of comedy (though I did love Stranger than Fiction) and Heder hasn't done anything particularly good since Napoleon Dynamite. The comedy is a bit too over the top for me, and they borrowed a lot from comedies of the past. There are some good laughs here and there, but not nearly enough of them to warrant a purchase. I would stick with a rental on this one.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 3.75/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 4/5
V for Vendetta was different than I expected. Its tones on fear and controlling population through it touch the nerve of a lot going on in our own country, though probably not quite to the extent of what is portrayed here. It is a theme that has been in more and more media lately including an excellent book I just read from Michael Crichton.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 3.25/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.5/5
Twister is one of those big budget popcorn films that audiences just flock to during the summer movie season. I was just as excited as everyone else to see it, since the special effects looked amazing in the trailers. Years later the film is still a fun ride, but with technology and special effects where they are now, this film doesn't have the technical flair it used to. For those who haven't seen it (if there are any), the film follows a group of storm chasers who have developed a measuring device for tornadoes. The bad part is, they have to get right in the path of the twister to use it. ILM did some phenomenal work on the special effects for the time and this is still a pretty intense ride.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 4.25/5
Extras: 3.5/5
Based on a story by sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick, this is an interesting premise on future sight and what could be achieved with it. The story is interesting enough and I never got bored, but the production had its limitations. The special effects could have been a bit better, and at times they were almost embarrassingly bad. My wife even commented on how fake things looked. Aside from that though, this is a fun popcorn film.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 22, 2008 0 comments
Video: 3.75/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 3/5
I've been in the Navy for 13 years now and I've been to sea on several occasions during that time. Fortunately for me that time was spent under the water as I am a proud submariner. Peter Weir's Naval epic may not show the life of a modern submariner, but I think it is a testament to enduring life at sea and the comradely that blooms from it. The tale pits an English boat captain against a faster and more capable French ship, but the day to day struggle of the ship's crew is really the focus of this masterful film. The production values are stunning and I'm actually shocked we haven't seen more films like this since after seeing how well they executed it this time around. Here's hoping for more!
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Kris Deering Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
Video: 3/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: 3.5/5
Fox brings the famous outlaw duo Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Blu-ray. This has always been one of my favorites in the genre and Newman and Redford are hilarious as the infamous outlaws on the run from a band of hired guns out to stop their railroad thieving. The film has gorgeous photography, great performances and is always a good time.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: 2/5
Freedom 5 continues right where the last one left off with Takeru and Biz in Florida and in the company of the girl they flew from the moon to find. I wasn't that impressed with the last episode of this series since it was a bit boring in comparison to the first few episodes, but this episode picks up the pace a bit. While still not as engaging as the first few episodes you get a better look at the new characters from Earth and a direction for the series to take now that we've move to Earth. I still that this is a narrative that would have played out better in a single release but I'm eager to see how it all plays out.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 2/5
This is one of those films I would have missed completely if it hadn't shown up on my doorstep for review. This musical reminded me a bit of Moulin Rouge with its sensational production design but its execution is a lot like a stage play. There are only so many locales and the musical numbers reminded me more of a musical video in their dubbing and execution than a feature film. Nevertheless this is still a fun movie with great visuals, better than expected music and a different look at love.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 19, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 3/5
Extras: 3.5/5
You don't really see films like this anymore. David Lean's epic take on social/political prejudice in India is not what I would call popular film, but you can't deny the outstanding production value. The problem I had with the film is its runtime. This is a movie that could easily have been a bit short of two hours but runs for nearly three. The film takes its time developing the characters, but it isn't until nearly half way through that the real meat of the story begins. While I am always a fan of character development and strong storytelling I couldn't help but get bored with the pacing of this film. I love the photography and the scale of production, but without a strong and interesting storyline coupled with it, you find yourself looking at the remaining time left too often. The film revolves around a young English woman who ventures to India with the mother of a local magistrate who she is gearing up to marry. Shortly after arriving she finds herself questioning her relationship with him and longs to see more of native India. She meets up with a local doctor who takes them on a trip to a local landmark. Things don't go well and a social battle begins when the doctor is accused of sexually assaulting her, setting the stage for a local revolt. Again the tale is interesting enough; I just think it could have been edited down substantially.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 11, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 4/5
Just in time for the second installments launch in theaters, Disney brings their big budget The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to Blu-ray as a 2-disc special edition. I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan of this film when I saw it originally in theaters. I usually go for this kind of film but this one just didn't strike a chord with me at all. On this second viewing my feelings are pretty much the same. I just have trouble connecting with the characters and I don't like the toned down nature of the film. Obviously Disney wanted something that would be family friendly but I think this hurts the scope and emotional impact. Warner has managed to balance these issues with their popular Harry Potter series, but Disney missed that mark in my opinion. Nevertheless audiences seemed to love this one given its box office haul so I'm sure there are plenty of fans eager to see it on Blu-ray. One word of note though, this is the theatrical cut of the film. An extended edition was released on DVD sometime ago and I was honestly surprised it was not included for this release.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 11, 2008 0 comments
Video: 3/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: .5/5
Sony has been picking some interesting catalog titles lately. The Devil's Own is a solid action/drama, but a surprising pick this early in the format. I guess I'm use to tie-ins with upcoming summer movies around this time of year. This is an early film for Brad Pitt and pairs him with mega-star Harrison Ford. Pitt plays an IRA soldier who is sent to the US to procure some weapons for the cause. A New York judge that is helping the cause puts him up with an Irish cop (Ford) during his stay. Things go smooth until the deal starts to go sour with the arms dealer and Ford's family is put in harms way. The message of this film was stronger during the unfortunate conflict in Ireland but doesn’t have quite the pull today. It's still a solid thriller though.
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Kris Deering Posted: May 11, 2008 0 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 2.5/5
Extras: 2/5
I'm always on the lookout for new animated fare, regardless of what country it is from. When I saw an import HD DVD was available for Asterix and the Vikings I went ahead and picked it up. The film was getting reasonably good word of mouth and the character looked vaguely familiar from my younger days. Unfortunately this one didn't play out real well. The animation style looked good and I was impressed with the mix of 3D and cell animation, but the story was geared too much to the younger crowd and my wife and I just couldn't get into it. The film does have its funny moments, but the story moves at a pretty slow pace and the forced inclusion of "hip" culture didn't work well for it overall.

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