BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 08, 2017  |  2 comments
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Remember how excited we were when we heard that George Lucas—the man who started it all—was going back to directing Star Wars movies? And a lot of us went to see Episode I and said, “Oh.” And then, a few years older and wiser, we sat through Episode II and said, “Oh. Well.”

Ridley Scott is putting us through much the same ringer with the Alien franchise he began, famously returning for 2012’s technically accomplished but overly complicated Prometheus (also newly available on 4K). And now he’s back again with Alien: Covenant, which might just be the nadir for the series.

Corey Gunnestad  |  Dec 08, 2017  |  0 comments
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Seventeenth-century feudal Japan wasn’t exactly fertile ground for sowing the seeds of Christianity. For the Jesuit priests who went there to bring the word of God and their faithful converts, they were met with hostility, unspeakable cruelty, and death. Christ was the ultimate living example of persecution and sufferance, and the Jesuits could find strength and perseverance in that. But even Christ had his moment of doubt, and every person has his breaking point. And the Japanese were ruthlessly methodical in their efforts.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  0 comments
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When a new baby arrives at the Templeton house, seven-year-old Tim has his world turned upside down. He’s even more flummoxed when he sees that the baby is wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase, and is here on a mission from BabyCorp, where babies come from. Puppy Co., the company that Tim’s parents work for, is threatening BabyCorp’s only market by producing cute, cuddly, “forever puppies” that threaten to eliminate the human passion for babies.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  0 comments
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If you do something in your life and there’s no camera around to capture it, did it really happen? In essence, that’s the core conceit of The Circle, director James Ponsoldt’s of-the-moment adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 speculative fiction novel that imagines a fully interconnected world where the life unfilmed is not worth living (well, kinda).
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 17, 2017  |  0 comments
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In a world of seemingly infinite crappy sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is worthy of special praise for getting so much right. While delivering another dose of the irreverent humor and hybrid-fantasy action that made the first film so popular, it also cultivates the themes and plot lines so that the two volumes fit seamlessly, telling an epic story.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Nov 17, 2017  |  0 comments
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I have a great respect and admiration for auteur filmmakers—guys like Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino who write their own screenplays and direct them into cinematic classics. Oftentimes the temptation of appearing in their own movies proves too great for some of these filmmakers… like Woody Allen or Quentin Tarantino. Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, and George Clooney have also directed themselves into great acclaim and Oscar glory, and even Alfred Hitchcock, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese have managed to sneak themselves into their films here and there.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Nov 10, 2017  |  3 comments
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Resident Evil: Vendetta picks up the mantle yet again for the Capcom strain of this popular video-game franchise. Sticking to the animé-oriented roots and offering some visceral action without the frenzied camera panning and ADD editing of the live-action The Final Chapter, the film brings together favorites from the franchise. Game characters Leon S. Kennedy (voiced my Matthew Mercer), Chris Redfield (Kevin Dorman), and Rebecca Chambers (Erin Cahill) battle wanted bioterrorist Glenn Arias (John DeMita), who plans to release a deadly virus in New York City as revenge for the government killing his wife.
Josef Krebs  |  Nov 10, 2017  |  0 comments
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This being the third film in a row I’ve reviewed on Blu-ray in which a man’s life is destroyed by the death of a child and the loss of a wife (alongside Manchester by the Sea and Nocturnal Animals) leads me to suspect that a strong sense of loss is vibrating through our national zeitgeist despite the blessings of unsocial media. Collateral Beauty, a feel-good downer (a romtrage, if you will), is a parable filled with It’s a Wonderful Life–like whimsy concerning a grieving advertising executive, Howard (Will Smith), who, two years on from the loss of his daughter, is writing letters to Time, Death, and Love to voice his complaints and express his trauma.
Josef Krebs  |  Nov 03, 2017  |  0 comments
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Writer/director Alex Cox wrote a script for a fictional rockumentary about highly original and articulate Johnny Rotten, writer/lead singer of The Sex Pistols. It might have been an extremely rewarding movie. Instead, he made Sid & Nancy, which focuses on two talentless, star-crossed, star-struck dope heads. Yet the film manages to capture the era’s excitement, disrespectful mockery, and aggressive antisocial attacks on mainstream consumer beliefs.
David Vaughn  |  Nov 03, 2017  |  1 comments
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Robbed of his birthright when his father is murdered by his uncle and ascends to the throne, Arthur somehow escapes. He’s found floating down the Thames by some prostitutes doing their laundry, and the young man ends up being raised in a brothel and learns how to survive on the streets of the big city until that fateful day he pulls Excalibur from the stone.
Josef Krebs  |  Oct 27, 2017  |  2 comments
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Auteur Michelangelo Antonioni set his story of a photographer who gradually looses perspective in the perfect place—swinging London of 1966. In the course of his jam-packed day, the freewheeling image-obsessed artist goes undercover in a shelter to snap pictures of homeless men, physically invades the spaces of various vacuous fashion models, and stakes out a couple in the park to capture pictures of their private, intimate moments.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Oct 27, 2017  |  2 comments
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Ronin is director John Frankenheimer’s 1998 crime thriller, with a script co-written by David Mamet (under a pen name) and featuring an all-star cast headlined by Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. This gritty film borrows heavily from classic genre predecessors such as The French Connection, Le Cercle Rouge, and Bullitt. It follows a former U.S. intelligence agent (De Niro) working with a group of mercenaries trying to track down a package being pursued by both Irish and Russian interests.
Chris Chiarella  |  Oct 20, 2017  |  0 comments
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If you’re going to steal, the saying goes, steal from the best. Like many a filmmaker, Dario Argento was strongly influenced by the works of a certain British director, so much so that he earned the nickname “The Italian Hitchcock.” His debut film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, embraces many a cliché of the thriller genre while also forging its own path. Shot and scored with genuine inspiration, the film boasts a clever plot, with twists that are not easy to predict, as well as a distinctive sense of humor.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Oct 20, 2017  |  0 comments
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Donnie Darko is the 2001 indie cult film from Richard Kelly (Southland Tales). Set in the 1980s, the film is an amalgam of sci-fi, psycho-thriller, and horror that’s an early new-millennium answer to the John Hughes films of the 1980s. The titular character, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a disaffected high school student in suburban Middlesex living with his college-age sister (played by sister Maggie), his mother and, and younger sister. Donnie deals with psychological problems that cause him to see a 6-foot-tall rabbit named Frank that tells him the world is going to end in less than a month.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  2 comments
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It’s 1973, and a U.S. survey and mapping expedition, supported by an Army helicopter unit recently released from the wind-down of the Vietnam War, heads toward the previously unexplored Skull Island.

If they’d brushed up on their old movies, they wouldn’t have been gobsmacked, and soon simply smacked, when they spot and engage with a really big ape. Big enough to squish all previous versions of the character under his big toe. Big enough to easily challenge the helicopters and crews. I mean really, really big.

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