BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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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.
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Shane Buettner Posted: Feb 05, 2014 0 comments
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Widely credited as the first “slasher” movie, 1978’s Halloween is a horror trailblazer and a modern classic. It was a highly successful independent film prior to people knowing the term; and before Jason and Freddy could turn horror schlock into movie franchises (or vice versa), the genre’s way was paved by writer/director John Carpenter’s boogeyman, Michael Myers. The story is deceptively simple with fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, terrorized on two Halloween nights 15 years apart.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 05, 2014 0 comments
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Before Midnight is the unplanned Part 3 of what may turn out to be a lifetime series—one episode every nine years, so far—following the romance of Jesse and Céline. Before Sunrise (1995) had them, at 23, meeting on a train in Europe, getting off together in Vienna, walking and talking all day and night, and making love at dawn. Before Sunset (2004) found Jesse, author of a best-selling novel about that brief affair, running into Céline at a reading in Paris, resuming their walking and talking through the winding streets, and ending in her apartment on an ambiguous note: Will he catch his plane back to Chicago, returning to his wife and child, or stay with Céline, for whom he’s been pining all these years?
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: 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: 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.

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