Blu-ray Movie Reviews

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Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 22, 2021  |  0 comments
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What a journey. Originally conceived as a simple sequel to his popular children's book, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings grew to become the epitome of epic fantasy. Set in the far-off, long-ago realm of Middle-earth, it introduces the good-hearted, vertically-challenged Frodo Baggins (wide-eyed Elijah Wood), tasked with destroying a cursed ring in order to stop a great evil from conquering the world.
Josef Krebs  |  Jan 08, 2021  |  0 comments
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Director David Lynch's film tells of Joseph Merrick, whose terrible deformities to head, limbs, and skin led to him being called the Elephant Man. It begins with Merrick's nightmare of his mother being attacked by elephants—supposedly the cause of Merrick's condition—in smeary, scary, surreal images as disturbing as those from Lynch's earlier fatherhood paranoia party film, Eraserhead.
Al Griffin  |  Dec 31, 2020  |  0 comments
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"It's the getting started that's the puzzle—no way for a poor man to start. You need capital. Or you need some kind of miracle. Or a crime." These words, uttered by King-Lu, a Chinese immigrant seeking fortune in the mid-19th century Oregon Territory, set forth a series of events leading to a business selling baked goods to the hardscrabble inhabitants of Fort Tillicum. King-Lu's partner in the venture—which originates from a crime, as opposed to capital or a miracle—is Otis Figowitz, a mild-mannered cook also trying to carve out a future among the fort's traders and trappers.
Roger Kanno  |  Dec 24, 2020  |  0 comments
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Mamoro Oshii's beautiful and unsettling anime film, Ghost in the Shell, has been released on Ultra HD Blu-ray to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Based on Masamune Shirow's cyberpunk manga, the film explores themes of existence, and humanity in a technologically advanced world where people are cybernetically enhanced or have their bodies entirely replaced by cybernetics. One such cyborg is the film's protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, who questions her own reality as she battles with the mysterious Puppet Master who hacks not only computers, but also humans.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 11, 2020  |  0 comments
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District 9 rises above its disparate components—there are multiple strong influences, everything from Alien Nation to the faux-documentary feel of The Office—to deliver a socially resonant story that's even more relevant a decade after its release. Like all good science fiction, its impact derives from how it weaves in the trappings of everyday life, perhaps illuminating our own foibles.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 09, 2020  |  0 comments
Each autumn, I fret that we won't be able to find ten worthy entries for this gotta-have-'em list, and every year am genuinely surprised at the bounty that has somehow remained heretofore unreleased. I guess there will always be anniversaries and restorations and quadrilogies and the like, and as long as the studios keep investing the time and care to craft these disc-filled boxes we enjoy so much, we'll continue recommending the cream of the crop to help stoke seasonal merriment.
300
Chris Chiarella  |  Nov 27, 2020  |  0 comments
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Inspired by the 1962 Cinemascope epic The 300 Spartans that he saw as a lad, writer/artist Frank Miller would go on to create the five-issue graphic novel 300, a wildly stylized, heavily fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae. In his telling, full of indelible images and gruesome violence, the historical events of brave King Leonidas and his 15-score soldiers' resistance against an innumerable horde are elevated to nigh-mythological status. Led by the self-proclaimed god-king Xerxes, Persia was mercilessly conquering much of the world, but the willful Spartans, still renowned as the greatest warriors ever, dared to stand their ground.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Oct 30, 2020  |  0 comments
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Supernatural horror film The Wretched, from sibling filmmaking duo The Pierce Brothers, follows a wayward teenage boy named Ben (John-Paul Howard) who goes to live with his divorced father over the summer and discovers a malevolent spirit has infiltrated the family living next door.
Josef Krebs  |  Sep 25, 2020  |  0 comments
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At first glance, Marriage Story seems like six (or so) characters in search of a Woody Allen film. But it soon settles into writer-director Noah Baumbach's own rhythm and whine as two self-absorbed, narcissistic artistic personalities move toward a break-up and into the clutches of divorce lawyers.
Chris Chiarella  |  Sep 11, 2020  |  1 comments
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The timeless overclass/underclass struggle was never more memorably explored than in Spartacus, a film adapted from Howard Fast's fact-based, heavily dramatized book. Directed by young up-and-comer Stanley Kubrick and starring old-school movie idol Kirk Douglas in the title role, it's the sort of epic spectacle often aspired to but seldom achieved.
Chris Chiarella  |  Sep 04, 2020  |  2 comments
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Star Wars imitators were both inevitable and plentiful in the late 1970s. The Buster Crabbe science fiction/adventure serials of old were a strong influence on that blockbuster, and whereas Buck Rogers was destined for a television reboot, mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis had already acquired the movie rights to Flash Gordon years prior. And so the space-faring hero returned to the big screen, reimagined in a lavish international production.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 28, 2020  |  0 comments
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Composer Michael Kamen had a vision. Back in April 1999, he convinced Bay Area metal overlords Metallica to team up with the San Francisco Symphony in Berkeley, California, for S&M, a 2.2-hour concert wherein classical music met aggro-rock head-on. Not only that, but Kamen's skilled orchestral re-arrangements of 20 Metallica classics also revealed how many of the band's subversive originals were perhaps more progressively inclined than others may have previously thought.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Aug 07, 2020  |  0 comments
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With a heavyweight cast including Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, and Meryl Streep, 1979's five-time Academy Award-winning (including for Best Picture and Best Director) The Deer Hunter is an at times elegiac look at an America that was. It also explores the domestic woes of the working class, and later takes a brutal view of the experiences and consequences of war.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jul 31, 2020  |  1 comments
There is nothing like Star Wars. Across its three trilogies of Roman-numeraled Episodes, creator George Lucas and the inheritors of his galaxy far, far away opened the minds of audiences across the globe as well as across generations of fiercely devoted fans, thanks to their unique spin on epic fantasy. Love it, hate it, or anywhere in the middle: Star Wars has left an undeniable mark on the world of entertainment.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 24, 2020  |  4 comments
"I miss going to concerts."

It's a common refrain these days. Perhaps you've even said it yourself out loud on occasion to no one in particular but yourself, and/or to whomever you're jointly commiserating and quarantining with, and/or have typed it out as a comment-cum-lament underneath one of those incessant social media "memories" reminders that really only serve to bum you out about what you're missing—not to mention what you most decidedly won't be able to replicate in a comparable fashion in the near future.

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