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BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2013 0 comments
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If you’re a fan of science fiction and haven’t heard of the TV series Farscape (1999-2003) you don’t get out much. If you’re not a sci-fi fan, this series might just make you one. It offers more compelling characters, action, humor, drama, weird plot twists, sudden mood shifts, poignancy, and stunning performances than any other dozen TV shows you might name.

It all begins when astronaut John Crichton encounters a wormhole on an experimental mission. He’s flung to a distant quadrant of the galaxy, encounters a gigantic vessel nearby, and docks with it. It turns out to be a living ship, know to the locals a leviathan, operated by a bonded pilot. The ship’s occupants are alien prisoners escaping from their captors. The latter, the Mr. Bigs in this area of space, call themselves the Peacekeepers, and from all appearances (externally at least) appear indistinguishable from humans.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Dec 16, 2013 0 comments
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Based on director Joseph Kosinski’s (Tron: Legacy) unpublished graphic novel “treatment,” Oblivion plays like a patchwork quilt of samples from just about every popular science-fiction movie made since 2001: A Space Odyssey. While Kosinski’s graphic novel concept supposedly predates Pixar’s 2008 blockbuster Wall-E, the similarities aren’t at all subtle, especially with flying drones that look and act so much like EVE that I’m surprised Universal isn’t getting dinged for likeness royalties.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Dec 13, 2013 0 comments
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By 1973, the marital arts genre was nothing new, but Bruce Lee took it to new heights with what would be his final completed film, Enter the Dragon. The movie gave a worldwide theatrical audience a glimpse of his genius as a true star and as an action hero second to none, performing feats that boggle the mind even in today’s jaded milieu of wire-enhanced stunts and computer-generated effects. Lee starred as, well, “Lee,” a gifted Shaolin martial artist recruited by British intelligence to compete in an exclusive tournament staged by the suspected opium lord, Mr. Han.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Dec 04, 2013 0 comments
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Director Steven Soderbergh’s latest firecracker of a movie, Side Effects, is really two distinct movies. As good as it is, it would have been even better if it had stuck with the first one. Side Effects begins as a harrowing look at a woman’s descent into a crushing clinical depression and finally full-blown psychosis.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Dec 04, 2013 0 comments
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In the not-too-distant future, life on planet earth is perfect. World peace has finally been achieved. There is no more war, hunger, disease, or environmental disaster, and humans live in contented harmony with each other. Sounds pretty cool, no? So what’s the problem?
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 25, 2013 0 comments
It’s been 34 years since the world was introduced to Max Rockatansky, a good cop in a bad world. For reasons not explained in 1979’s Mad Max, society “a few years from now” is crumbling, and the law is losing the battle to keep it safe from violent gangs. When Max (a very young Mel Gibson) runs down a murderer with vengeful chums, his contented life is torn asunder, sending him off into the wasteland with a bleak, uncertain future.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 25, 2013 0 comments
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The old fairy tail of Jack and the Beanstalk has been a staple in movies and television, with versions including Disney’s Mickey and the Beanstalk, several Looney Tunes cartoons, a segment in the recent Puss in Boots animated feature, a recent TV episode of Once Upon a Time, and even a 1952 Abbot and Costello movie. In Jack the Giant Slayer, teen Jack trades his uncle’s horse and cart for those magic beans.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 21, 2013 0 comments
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Silver Linings Playbook is the most oddly enticing rom-com in a long time. Think Billy Wilder filtered through Martin Scorsese, which isn’t a bad way to describe the flip sensibility and kinetic style of writer-director David O. Russell at his best (Three Kings and Flirting with Disaster, not I Heart Huckabees). It’s a movie about crazy people: self-destructive and socially oblivious in various ways to varying degrees, all of them finding a place in the sun through love, family, community, music, and sports.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 08, 2013 0 comments
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White Heat is one of the greatest gangster movies ever made. It’s a true film noir, a Freudian character study, and a pioneering police procedural, with slick suspense, a dry wit, and a deep-cutting (but not bloody) cruelty that’s still jarring today. The script is by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, who later wrote a few seasons of the Charlie’s Angels TV show, which at its best pulled off a warmed-over, softly satirical simulacrum of those traits.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Nov 08, 2013 0 comments
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You take on some baggage when your movie stars Tom Cruise. He’s been a box office titan for decades, so you’re improving your chances of a hit. On the other hand, ever since the couch-jumping incident, he tends to bring a certain off-screen persona that rubs a lot of folks the wrong way. Plus, a leading man of his magnitude tends to be Tom first, character second.
Josef Krebs Posted: Oct 31, 2013 0 comments
Deadwood: The Complete Series, La Notte, Monster Cars: Monsters University 3D & Cars 3D, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 9.
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.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Oct 31, 2013 2 comments
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Cloud Atlas is something of a cinematic curiosity. It is incredibly ambitious and deftly executed, weaving together six disparate tales with similar themes of oppression and rebellion, each told with the same handful of actors playing the key roles in each scenario. Set in different locations and in eras ranging from 1849 up through 2321, the movie serves up everything from a single slave earning his freedom on a sailing ship to a genetically engineered hostess inspiring a full-on societal revolt. But even when the all-star filmmaking team of the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer has three hours to play with, not one of the half-dozen narratives can be particularly deep or overwhelmingly original. They have, however, fashioned an enormous event movie that pushes technique—dramatic as well as purely technical—into bold new territory.
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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Oct 24, 2013 0 comments
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In the opening scene of Identity Thief, financial analyst Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) receives a phone call from the Fraud Protection Department at Indenti-Vault Credit Monitoring Service. A woman named Janine informs him that someone has tried to steal his identity. Fortunately, they prevented it in time, but to circumvent future problems, she offers him a free total protection plan that will safeguard his credit against theft or fraud.
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.

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