3D BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Guido Henkel  |  Feb 26, 2016  |  0 comments
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Traditionally, I avoid Adam Sandler films, for the simple reason that I just don’t think he’s funny. In the case of Pixels, however, I made an exception because the theme of retro arcade machines definitely appeals.

As aliens invade Earth, disguised as digitized characters from old-school arcade favorites, the military is stumped. Nothing could prepare them for an assault of video-game nemeses, and neither their tactics nor their weapons are a match for these attackers. That’s when the president calls upon old pals from his nerdy teenage days spent at the arcade, and with their lightning-fast reflexes and ingrained strategies, they set out to stop the onslaught of deadly avatars.

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 19, 2016  |  0 comments
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Growing up is tough enough for any eleven-year-old, but when Riley finds out that her family is moving, her idyllic life is turned upside down. She must now contend with a new house, a new school, and a host of new feelings. Fortunately, the five main emotions that share control of her mind—Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger—are at the ready. But when partners Joy and Sadness find themselves cut off from headquarters, confused little Riley’s situation quickly goes from bad to worse.

Once again, writer/director Pete Docter has crafted a tale that entertains the youngest viewers while also challenging even the smartest adults in the room. The underlying psychology is brilliantly laid out, allowing us to explore the relationship between emotions, memories, and personality. Dialogue is deliciously witty (star Amy Poehler is comedy gold in any medium), and in revealing the delicate balance between happiness and sorrow, the story achieves its greatest poignancy.

Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 12, 2016  |  1 comments
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The still-thrilling Terminator franchise has certainly experienced its share of highs and lows over the last 30-odd years. And so creator James Cameron’s ringing endorsement for the latest installment, Terminator Genisys—in which he had no direct involvement—carried a lot of weight with fans. While giving major respect to the classic canon, this fifth movie is superbly smart, inventive, and even quite funny at times.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 18, 2015  |  0 comments
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Sequels can be a tough nut. Age of Ultron is of course the follow-up to 2012’s The Avengers, but along the way, there were four other Marvel Universe movies that apparently need to be acknowledged here, coupled with the laborious task of tying in TV series and setting up movies yet to come. Throw in too many characters and some extraneous subplots, and the result is a sequel more exhausting than entertaining.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Dec 11, 2015  |  4 comments
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If Disneyland once got sued because (it was alleged) Winnie the Pooh had accidentally slapped a young guest while posing for photos, it boggles the mind to contemplate all the lawsuits Jurassic World would have incurred after the devastation depicted in this film.

In the 22 years and three films since Jurassic Park re-introduced living dinosaurs to the world, there has been rampant chaos, carnage, and death at every turn. Still, it seems the harsh lessons of playing God and tampering with Mother Nature have gone completely unheeded yet again. Lo and behold, another attempt at a state-of-the-art theme-park zoo of cloned dinosaurs has made its debut for the paying public: Jurassic World is now open for business, and the park is packed with 22,000 eager tourists. But this time, all the bugs are worked out, and the past mistakes have been corrected. What could possibly go wrong?

Corey Gunnestad  |  Aug 28, 2015  |  0 comments
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Spongebob Squarepants is a fry cook at a popular fast-food diner called The Krusty Krab in the undersea city of Bikini Bottom. The Krusty Krab is famous for a particular burger-type delicacy called The Krabby Patty. They’re insanely popular, and the secret formula is kept under lock and key. Unbeknownst to Spongebob and his compatriots, an enterprising surface-dweller pirate named Burger Beard, played with delightful relish and gusto by Antonio Banderas, has found an ancient text that essentially tells the story of the movie you’re currently watching. This gives Burger Beard the ability to rewrite the story as it progresses.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Mar 24, 2015  |  2 comments
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Way back in the mid to late 1980s, I was an avid comic book collector, and one of my favorite discoveries around that time was a brand-new and independently produced comic called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It lacked the polish and grandeur of the Marvel and DC titles, but it was raw, edgy, and totally original. There was no shortage of blood on the katana, if you get my drift. Not long after that, however, mainstream pop culture bastardized it into a puke-inducing kiddie cartoon and toy franchise. The once-hardcore vigilante turtles suddenly became pizza-eating wisecrackers who over-frequently used words like dude and cowabunga. It also spawned three diaper-filling live-action films, and I abandoned all hope after that.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 26, 2015  |  0 comments
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Sin City: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. In A Dame to Kill For, the second big-screen adaptation of the works of writer/artist/director Frank Miller, we find that stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) has been driven cuckoo-bananas by the events surrounding the death of her hero and one true love a few years ago. She now finds herself shadowed by the ghost of Bruce Willis (where have I seen that before?)
Corey Gunnestad  |  Feb 19, 2015  |  1 comments
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Life isn’t easy when you’re the bastard child of Zeus, father of all Gods, and your name happens to be Hercules. In ancient Greece, it was commonplace for the Gods to descend from Mount Olympus to fornicate with humans and leave mortal offspring in their wake. But Zeus’ infidelity incurred the vengeful wrath of his wife, Hera, who wanted to destroy his illegitimate progeny. When killing Hercules proved problematic, she instead did the next best thing and drove him to madness and the murder of his own wife and children. Remorse then prompted him to undertake his twelve impossible labors to purge himself of his crime.
David Vaughn  |  Feb 04, 2015  |  5 comments
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Although he’s never seen combat, Major William Cage crosses the wrong general and finds himself on the front lines of a D-Day-like battle in France where he stands no chance of survival against an onslaught of ridiculously superior alien invaders. Within minutes of landing on the beach, he’s killed by one of those aliens, but instead of heading toward a white light, he instantly wakes up the day before the attack, and now he is destined to live that day over and over. In lieu of becoming alien fodder again, he hooks up with a heroic Special Forces warrior, and they hatch a plan to get Cage trained for battle and embark on a journey to rid the planet of the aliens for good.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 21, 2015  |  0 comments
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You’d think that the unique power to control metal, or the weather, or other people’s minds would be awesome, but no. In the world of the X-Men, mutated superhumans with such gifts are feared and hated and—in one possible future—will be hunted to the brink of extinction by an army of killer robots. Even worse, these deadly machines will also begin targeting us ordinary human beings, and the world we know now appears doomed.
David Vaughn  |  Dec 22, 2014  |  2 comments
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In the 1940s and ’50s, the South Pacific was the testing ground for nuclear weapons as the Cold War was beginning to heat up. But were there actually tests, or was there another reason? Could the super powers actually have been waging battle with some creature of unknown origin? What would Nature’s reaction be to all of the nuclear fallout in the region?
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 25, 2014  |  0 comments
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Peter Parker’s a recent high school graduate with an awesome girlfriend and—thanks to a bite from an experimental spider—has become the super-powered guardian angel of New York City, and quite the folk hero. But Pete’s good fortune seldom lasts, and the return of his boyhood chum Harry Osborn quickly takes a dark turn—or is that just the new villain Electro sucking all the juice out of the Big Apple?
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 19, 2014  |  0 comments
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I guess people really like to watch robots breaking stuff. Transformers: Age of Extinction was another worldwide hit for the franchise, repeating more of the same paranoid nonsense (and lame dialogue and unfunny jokes) as its three predecessors. This time, a couple of suits decide they can build and control their own Transformers, using technology stolen from the evil Decepticons. How do you think that works out? The human ally this time is an underdog inventor (Mark Wahlberg) with a cutie-patootie daughter, in a mildly disturbing riff on Beauty and the Beast.
Chris Chiarella  |  Sep 03, 2014  |  2 comments
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After an onslaught of Real American Heroes and Robots in Disguise, we often meet a new toy-inspired movie with the lament, “It’s just a two-hour commercial!” And so it is with no small measure of shock and awe that I watched The Lego Movie. The immensely talented filmmaking duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller has managed to tell an engaging story with boundless wit, originality, and even audacity, while still embracing what we know and love about these little bricks and the many associated characters.

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