BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Corey Gunnestad Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
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In the opening scene, Apple Computer Company founder and CEO Steve Jobs enters a room filled with devoted employees like a rock star to thunderous applause. He is the undisputed master of the universe, and everyone knows it. But how did he get here? In the mid 1970s, the notion of a personal home computer was as realistic and practical as flying to the moon on a vacuum cleaner.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Magnifying the crisis in midlife crisis, arrested adolescent Gary King (Simon Pegg) coaxes his better-adjusted childhood chums to revisit their hometown and reattempt the feat that conquered them 20 years earlier: drinking their way through all 12 pubs of Newton Haven’s Golden Mile. Last stop: The World’s End. The five friends soon realize that most of the citizenry—including two of their own—have been replaced by alien automatons (“blanks”) and that sleepy Newton Haven is the beachhead for world conquest.
Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Gary Supernova is an ace coordinator at Mission Control on the planet BAAB. His specialty is keeping his lunkheaded brother Scorch, the planet’s superhero-astronaut, from getting himself killed on dangerous missions. But when the most hazardous mission of all comes up—to the Dark Planet from which no one has ever returned—Gary doesn’t want his brother to risk it. Scorch takes the assignment anyway, and Gary refuses to help. But when Scorch gets captured on the Dark Planet and imprisoned in Area 51 along with other alien life forms, Gary comes to the rescue.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 05, 2014 0 comments
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Whenever you dramatize one of the most beloved characters in all of popular culture, you’re going to elicit a lot of strong opinions. Many folks seem to either love or loathe Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder and producer/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s major reboot of the Superman franchise. The basic story is recognizable to even the most casual fans, yet much has changed, so it doesn’t feel like a rehash of any version we’ve seen before.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 26, 2014 1 comments
An eclectic batch of classics—old and new—is the basis of four very different Ultimate Collector’s Editions from Warner. Festooning eminently rewatchable favorites with a thoughtful array of mementos, the 91-year-old studio is fueling our passions with individually numbered limited-edition sets perfect for the most devout film fanatic in your life—even if it’s you.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Feb 21, 2014 0 comments
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There’s not much gained by the contemporary setting to offset the oddness of having Shakespeare’s characters seem like a bunch of Wall Street stockbrokers speaking strange in the Hamptons as if in a Woody Allen comedy, but otherwise the Bard’s words flow well enough from the pretty mouths of the cast.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 20, 2014 0 comments
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It’s the summer of 1964 and Guy Patterson is back from the Army and working in his parents’ appliance store in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. When the shop closes down for the night, Guy puts on his favorite jazz album and plays the drums to his heart’s content. Some old friends have started a band, and when their regular drummer breaks his arm, they come looking to Guy to fill in for a college talent show—which they win thanks to Guy’s decision to pick up the tempo in their breakout song. They end up getting a gig at a local pizza parlor and eventually catch the eye of a roving talent scout. Before they know it, their song is on the radio, they’re signed by Play-Tone records, and they’re off to California.

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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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?
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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.
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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