BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 24, 2017  |  0 comments
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I was thrilled with Punch-Drunk Love when it came out: such loopy energy, zigzag surprises, so preposterous but insouciantly so oddly appealing—a mess but a dazzling mess, like most of P.T. Anderson’s movies. A decade-and-a-half later, it’s lost a lot of its punch. I don’t know if I’ve changed, if imitations have sucked out its novelty, or what, but its shortcomings now shine too clearly. Adam Sandler plays a plumbing-parts salesman who’s out on the spectrum (a bit of Benjamin Braddock crossed with Rain Man), who’s never traveled or had a girlfriend, who’s always been tormented by seven playful sisters who don’t know the madness they’re inflicting.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Mar 17, 2017  |  0 comments
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Forget all the hyperbole about an all-female cast and man-hating: Is this Ghostbusters reboot any good simply based on merit? Yes and no. The movie retreads familiar ground and tries too hard to emulate its predecessor but has fantastic special effects. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones are a group of paranormal hunters. McCarthy and Wiig play longtime pals once estranged from each other, reunited when Wiig is fired from her position at Columbia University due to McCarthy’s publishing of a book they wrote years earlier expounding on the existence of ghosts.
Josef Krebs  |  Mar 10, 2017  |  0 comments
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This elegant, suspenseful adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, Our Kind of Traitor, makes for a marvelous companion piece to the recent excellent TV miniseries adaptation of the writer’s The Night Manager. Here, a bored and lost university poetry professor whose marriage is in crisis—one of le Carré’s endless supply of honorable and principled innocent civilians who, seeking purpose and redemption, allow themselves to become involved in international intrigue—is seduced into helping Dima, a charismatic money launderer for the Russian mafia desperate to defect to England and save his family.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Mar 10, 2017  |  0 comments
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The Legend of Tarzan nearly functions as a sequel of sorts, picking up where most other Tarzan movies leave off. It’s 1890 and the man formerly known as Tarzan, John Clayton III the Earl of Greystoke, and his beautiful wife Jane are happily married and living as aristocrats in England.
Chris Chiarella  |  Mar 03, 2017  |  2 comments
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The mind reels at the creativity needed to craft a sequel to Finding Nemo, once the most popular Pixar movie of them all. The results pick up a year after clownfish-dad Marlin went on a quest to locate his missing son, and now traveling companion Dory is the one in need of finding. The lovably forgetful blue tang (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is on her own mission now, to reconnect with her parents, but soon enough she’s “trapped” at a marine biology theme park, reunited with some chums of her youth and aided by some new aquatic allies.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 24, 2017  |  0 comments
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In old Japan, young Kubo lives in a mountain cave with his mother, whose mental clarity comes and goes. As an infant he lost an eye, and his father is long gone. Every day he goes to the market in a nearby town to entertain the locals with his three-string shamisen and wondrous stories, told with magic origami that fold and unfold into lifelike characters. His stories never have an ending, much to the disappointment of the townsfolk. Nevertheless, they’re ready for more the next day (Kubo apparently invented the miniseries cliff-hanger).
David Vaughn  |  Feb 24, 2017  |  9 comments
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Three years into their five-year mission, the crew of the Enterprise is in dire need of shore leave. Fortunately, they’re in a sector of space with an advanced star base, and they drop in for a visit. Shortly after their arrival, a distress call comes from a remote nebula, and their leave is cut short since the Enterprise is the only ship in the sector that can navigate through it. Once inside, they meet a deadly alien race in search of a rare artifact that just happens to be located on the Federation ship and will kill anything in their path to obtain it—even the Enterprise crew.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Feb 17, 2017  |  0 comments
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Two decades after Independence Day, the bug-like aliens that threatened humanity are back with their queen in Independence Day: Resurgence, bigger and badder than ever. Earth has been preparing for the return of the aliens, and humanity has come together to cooperate in unprecedented fashion, using the aliens’ own technology to build up planetary defenses. No one anticipated the aliens would return more advanced, with a mothership 3,000 miles in diameter with impenetrable force fields and a swarm of hive-like fighter jets. Central command must devise a plan with the help of recovered friendly alien technology to take out the enemy aliens’ queen.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 10, 2017  |  0 comments
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Bigger-than-life John Wayne stars as Sean Thornton, a mild-mannered American returning to his native Ireland, seeking nothing more than a peaceful life in a charming village. But his homecoming is soon complicated by the sight of a tempestuous redhead (Maureen O’Hara) and by the aggressions of a blustery local bully... who just so happens to be her brother. Sean does his best to blend into the colorful community, occasionally led into an inadvertent clash of cultures, and ultimately forced to confront a dark secret from his past, all culminating in one of the most satisfying two-fisted finales in movie history. Much of the story might seem a bit quaint or even politically incorrect to modern audiences, but The Quiet Man endures as a sweetly irresistible bit of entertainment, quite possibly inspiring an urge to visit The Emerald Isle or at least throw back a pint.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Feb 10, 2017  |  0 comments
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The world of the battle-bred Orcs is dying. They must find a new domain to inhabit, which requires brutal conquest. Their chief sorcerer, Gul’dan, has devised a way to open a mystic portal into the human world of Azeroth and… oh, who cares? We’ve seen all this before. Warcraft follows the paint-by-numbers formula for wizards, warriors, and witchcraft, taken from the sacred scrolls of the Dungeons & Dragons playbook; shamelessly lifting countless elements from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sagas, and vainly trying to replicate the dramatic scope and gravitas of Game of Thrones. And all while trying to carve its own niche in the genre.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 03, 2017  |  0 comments
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When a child’s father leaves his home in a small village to seek work in the city, his young son, not understanding why his father has left, sets out on a mission to find him.

That’s the plot of Brazilian director Alê Abreu’s dramatically obscure but stunningly animated film. We’re encouraged to experience the world through the boy’s eyes. If his world doesn’t always make sense to us, that may be the point. The world is a jumble to a young boy, and the result is a brilliant and visually compelling adventure. The film was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2015 (Inside Out won, however).

David Vaughn  |  Feb 03, 2017  |  0 comments
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Having recently lost her mother to cancer, Nancy decides to drop out of medical school in order to go surfing at a remote Mexican beach where her mother used to surf. Unfortunately, Nancy’s “plus one” decides she’d rather hang out with the guy she met at the hotel bar, so Nancy makes the stupid decision to go by herself. What could go wrong?
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 27, 2017  |  0 comments
Perhaps by coincidence, many of independent label Shout! Factory’s recent releases hail from the era of big hair and synthesized music, ranging from the little-seen Metalstorm (in 3D!) to the gritty urban thriller, Night Hawks. We donned our day-glo parachute pants and spun four of their most interesting.
David Vaughn  |  Jan 20, 2017  |  0 comments
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The 1980s get a bad rap for big hair, shoulder pads, and synthesized music. But for those of us who are middle-aged, we remember it fondly for those reasons and more. Director John Carney takes us back with his coming-of-age story set in Dublin, circa 1984, where 14-year-old Conor is sent to a more affordable school as his parents are struggling financially. With no friends to speak of, things start out rough, but he eventually finds his place when he decides to form a band in order to get the girl that’s caught his eye. His older brother tutors him on various music genres, and as the band evolves, his life takes a turn for the better.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 20, 2017  |  0 comments
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When Prince passed away from an accidental overdose of fentanyl this past April, multiple generations bonded over their mutual appreciation of his one-man empire of sonic creativity, quirky yet influential style, and overall mystique. In the wake of all this new and renewed interest in the Purple One, Warner has remastered his only three starring roles for high-def Blu-ray release via the simply titled Prince Movie Collection.

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