BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Apr 24, 2007 Published: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
Yes, I know it’s stupid, sophomoric, and about two dumb guys doing some fancy driving in an old muscle car, but that’s what makes it great! OK, maybe “great” is too strong a word. It makes me laugh and has some of the best precision driving since Ronin. I wrote the DVD review for this movie a few months ago, and I really can’t think of anything else to say about it. Bo and Luke have to—I don’t know—save Uncle Jesse’s farm or something.
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John Higgins Posted: Apr 24, 2007 Published: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments
Video: 5
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
Do you ever think about how implausible the plots of mystery books and movies are? So does Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Writer/director Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) adapts, in part, Brett Halliday’s mystery novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them. Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.) finds himself in the middle of a seemingly simple murder mystery within his first day out in Los Angeles. But Harry knows mysteries are never simple. He soon gets sucked in, along with Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) and Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), trying to find how multiple murders are linked before his is next. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a highly enjoyable dark comedy that turns murder mysteries on their head. The performances are engaging, especially Robert Downey, Jr.’s narration, and all the actors handle the quick banter superbly.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Jul 25, 2006 Published: Jul 26, 2006 0 comments

<I>The Last Samurai</I> is a movie that succeeds more than I expected it to in spite of Tom Cruise giving one of the worst performances of all time by an actor of his stature (and I’m not referring to his diminutive height here). I didn't see <I>Samurai</I> in the theater because I was repelled by its marriage of subject matter and star. And no, I'm not a Tom Cruise hater at all. I just had a hard time imagining him in a Samurai picture of any kind. And even my lowered expectations didn't prepare me for how laughably unconvincing Cruise is here as the adrift Civil War hero Nathan Algren. Cruise's performance is all the more frustrating because the man can be nothing short of brilliant when he wants to be (see <I>Born on the Fourth of July</I>, <I>Magnolia</I> and even <I>Interview with the Vampire</I> for proof positive).

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Shane Buettner Posted: Jul 25, 2006 Published: Jul 26, 2006 0 comments

"It was whiskey done it, much as anything else." So says William Munny (Clint Eastwood), a man of notoriously vicious and mean disposition, when asked how he killed so many men so easily in his younger years. <I>Unforgiven</I> deconstructs the myth of the western gunman, a character Eastwood himself played to such great effect earlier in his career.
This is a bleak film to be sure, one in which the kindest characters are inflicted with the cruelest fates. In westerns we typically see some rough form of justice meted out by the gunman/hero, and we cheer when the bad guys "get what's coming to them." According to Eastwood's Munny, "we all have it comin."

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Shane Buettner Posted: Jul 25, 2006 Published: Jul 26, 2006 0 comments

Before there was <I>Rocky</I> there was, in real life, James J. Braddock. Braddock was a respectable fighter and contender in the late 20's who fell on extremely hard times during the depression. He was reduced to poverty like so many millions of Americans and barely put food on this family's table between boxing and working the docks. In the mid-30's he went on the right winning streak at the right time, culminating in his capturing the heavyweight title in 1935. Offering some idea of what an underdog Braddock was in his title bout with Max Baer, he entered the ring that night with the very pedestrian record of 44 wins and 23 losses. The "Cinderella Man's" story inspired millions, not to mention the impact it's had on sports movies over the decades.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jun 17, 2006 0 comments

In these still early days of HD DVD, it's a little creepy that three of the releases have been films about bad cops: <I>Assault on Precinct 13</I>, <I>Training Day</I> (see below) and now <I>16 Blocks</I>.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jun 17, 2006 0 comments

Stephen Sommers, director of a fun ride in <I>The Mummy</I> and an unnecessary, overblown sequel in <I>The Mummy Returns</I>, brings us a whole bevy of uglies in <I>Van Helsing</I>. It's a monster mash, with Dracula getting together with his vampire brides, the Frankenstein monster, Mr. Hyde, wherewolves, and various other hangers on.

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Tom Norton Posted: Jun 17, 2006 0 comments

<I>Training Day</I> is about a bad cop. A very bad cop who has convinced himself that if he can do good in questionable ways and get a little action on the side for himself (not to mention for a few bad cop buddies), that’s the name of the game. When it comes to breaking in a rookie, however, he gets more than he bargained for.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 30, 2006 Published: May 31, 2006 0 comments

As submarine movies go, <I>U-571</I> is far from a classic. It includes scenes we've seen in countless other submarine films, and its history is warped (implying that the U.S. Navy and not the Royal Navy captured the Nazi Enigma machine and broke the German naval codes&mdash;though the end titles do correct the record).

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Tom Norton Posted: May 30, 2006 Published: May 31, 2006 0 comments

I have mixed feeling about the Bourne films. This one is the sequel to the first, <I>The Bourne Identity</I>. The two movies feature a rogue, on-the-run, amnesiac CIA hit man trying to discover who he really is, and in the process discovering "talents" that he didn't know he had.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 30, 2006 Published: May 31, 2006 0 comments

As noted in another blog, I've been having fun lately with unexpectedly good movies that fell through the critical and audience cracks during their theatrical releases. And <I> The Greatest Game Ever Played</I> certainly surprised me as much as any of them.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 28, 2006 0 comments

I've been experiencing an unusual run of good films on standard definition DVD lately, though most are not of any special demonstration quality, nothing gets blowed-up real good in most of them, few were big hits, and several are set in the past. But I'm a sucker for almost any historical film or TV miniseries (HBO's two part <I>Elizabeth I</I> resides on the HD PVR in my cable box even now waiting for me to find the 4 hours I need to invest in watching it!)

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Tom Norton Posted: May 28, 2006 0 comments

A bored, rich widow, Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) buys a failed London theater on the eve of World War II. But she soon discovers she has no idea what to do with it. After she hires an experienced producer (Bob Hoskins) the theater is briefly successful running music hall reviews. But soon reality sets in and the competition drives them into the red.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 28, 2006 0 comments

Yes, I know. This film was received by critics as if it was the sequel to <I>Battlefield Earth</I> instead of the follow-up to the cult favorite, <I>Pitch Black</I>. Riddick, you may recall, was once a dangerous, sociopathic villain. Here, like a gravel-voiced Captain Kirk, he arrives just in time to save the universe from the Underverse.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 18, 2006 0 comments

And now for something entirely different. Film critics and theater audiences had a mixed reaction to this computer-animated release. So mixed, in fact, that it moved in and out of theaters last fall before it had a chance to develop any word of mouth.

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