BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Tom Norton Posted: Sep 20, 2007 Published: Sep 21, 2007 0 comments

<I>Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within</I> is a cross-genre blend of sci-fi and computer animation, more Japanese anime than cuddly Disney. Check out the flood of Japanese names in the end-credits. Released in 2001, it was one of the first attempts at photo-realistic animation, and in that respect, at least, was startlingly successful. While you'll never confuse the images here with those of real people, they're as close to it as anyone has come, either before or since. Unlike the more recent <I>Polar Express</I>, the characters here don't have creepy, zombie-like eyes.

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Tom Norton Posted: Sep 20, 2007 Published: Sep 21, 2007 0 comments

When it was released in 1998, <I>Elizabeth</I> (HD DVD) was nominated for a bushel of awards, but most of them went to a competing Elizabethan drama, <I>Shakespeare in Love</I>. The latter was more accessible, crowd-pleasing, and fun. <I>Elizabeth</I> on the other hand, was a dark take on the early years of Elizabeth I, with the emphasis on the international intrigue and court politics that both preceded and followed her accession to the throne.

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Tom Norton Posted: Sep 20, 2007 Published: Sep 21, 2007 1 comments

I confess to a serious weakness for <I>The Last Starfighter</I>. Even by 1984 standards, the year of its release, it wasn't a great science fiction film. But there is something immensely appealing in its old-fashioned innocence.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 14, 2007 0 comments

Oh boy. How about a hilarious, satirical dissection of the buddy cop genre by the cheeky bastards who brought us <I>Shaun of the Dead</I>? This movie is hysterically funny, if relentelessly silly. I do think the gag here isn't quite enough to sustain the full two hour runtime- it would have moved better at closer to 90 minutes. But I feel cranky even saying that. Honestly, how can you not love a movie about buddy cops in which the buddy cops themselves love <I>Point Break</I>?!

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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 11, 2007 0 comments

Universal pulled an odd one here, releasing the sequel to this movie on HD DVD over a year ago, but just getting this, the inaugural film in the <I>Bourne</I> franchise onto the format just ahead of the third installment's arrival in theaters. Better late than never!

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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 10, 2007 0 comments

This is a plausible, compelling look at the artistic process and inspirations behind J.M. Barrie's writing of Peter Pan. It features complex and convincing acting from Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and the still luminous Julie Christie. Not to mention the wild boys, led by Freddie Highmore. Worth mentioning too that director Marc Forster also did 2001's <I>Monster's Ball</I> and last year's sadly underrated <I>Stranger Than Fiction</I>. A filmmaker worth watching.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Aug 10, 2007 0 comments

I don't think there's a damned thing I can tell you that you don't already know about these two movies. The first is everything a summer movie should be: big, loud, both fun and funnny, and an all around good time at the movies. And yes, the superb filmmaking and acting elevate this material beyond expectations for a moivie based on a beloved theme ride at Disneyland! And yes, the second installment is bigger in every way and not necessarily better (or maybe even as good), but it too works in keeping a smile on the audience's face. And if you think the plots get a bit lost and that these movies are short on character development, well, guess what? You're in the wrong movie! Go see something that's <I>not</I> based on a Disneyland ride!

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Shane Buettner Posted: Jul 11, 2007 Published: Jul 12, 2007 0 comments

Talk about a win-win. Not only is the BBC's <I>Planet Earth</I> series spectacular hi-def eye candy, it's so well-made and narratively compelling that it holds up to an insane number of repeated viewings. And I should know- my two-year old son has us watching several of these episodes (especially <I>Shallow Seas</I> and <I> Ocean Deep</I>) several times a week.

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John Higgins Posted: Jul 02, 2007 Published: Jun 29, 2007 0 comments
Video: 5
Audio: 5
Extras: 4
When the ad campaign for the theatrical release of Happy Feet started, I was amazed and perplexed. The animation looked fantastic, but, for the life of me, I had no idea what the movie was about. The most amazing part was that not a single person I knew had any idea what the movie was about, but it had dancing penguins and an all-star cast, leaving us all mesmerized. Not only was everyone mesmerized, they all planned on seeing it without any clue what it was about.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jul 02, 2007 Published: Jun 29, 2007 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 3
Extras: 1
This touching movie from Tim Burton is very un–Tim Burton. It’s the story of a son trying to get to know his father, whose stories of his life have been nothing but tall tales. It’s an almost surreal journey and worth it for anyone who has ever had a father. It stars Ewan McGregor, but there are small parts from a host of great actors like Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, Robert Guillaume, Jessica Lange, and more. I saw this movie on an airplane the first time. Even on a 4-inch LCD screen, I loved it, so that should say something.
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John Higgins Posted: Jun 19, 2007 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
Okay, I admit it. I like Will Ferrell. His movies are almost always funny and entertaining, from the recent Blades of Glory, to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and back to his evil turn as Mugatu in Zoolander. Some are also surprisingly sweet and touching. (If you haven’t seen Elf, go rent it.) Ferrell’s honest and genuine acting allows him to connect to characters and audiences with ease.
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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jun 19, 2007 0 comments
Video: 3
Audio: 2
Extras: 4
Rarely before this movie had such bad people been seen getting away with bad things. You love Steve McQueen’s Carter despite the fact that he’s a bank robber and he kills people. Add in Ali MacGraw, explosions, and the fact that this is one of the only movies made almost entirely in sequence (as in the first scene was shot first, the last one last), and you have a classic of American cinema.
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Joel Brinkley Posted: Jun 12, 2007 0 comments

Who can forget <I>Seven Years in Tibet</I>? In the early days of DVD, almost ten years ago, it was one of the first great releases. It offered stunning picture quality with video imagery that took full advantage of the top-of-the-line production values. The move is "panoramic." It shows vast Tibetan vistas, as well as exotic and colorful religious dress of the era – the late 1930s and early 1940s. Eventually, Sony even put out a "SuperBit" version, which was said to have even better picture quality.

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Joel Brinkley Posted: May 30, 2007 2 comments

<I>Smokin' Aces</I> is a thriller-action film full of suspense and quite satisfying. I liked it, and I had not seen it before the HD DVD arrived. The studio calls it an action "comedy." But don't look to this movie for laughs.

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Tom Norton Posted: May 30, 2007 5 comments

Mel Gibson may or may not have terminally damaged his impressive film career with his well-publicized antics last summer, but no one can accuse him of being a hack filmmaker. His box office draw as an actor may not be what it once was, but he does know how to direct a movie.

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