Ultra HD Blu-ray Movie Reviews

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Al Griffin  |  Jun 18, 2021  |  0 comments
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As the first film to launch the MonsterVerse, a "cinematic universe" featuring enduring monster movie icons, this 2014 reboot of the Godzilla franchise set the template for several movies to come, including Kong: Skull Island and the late-pandemic sensation, Godzilla vs. Kong. Here's the deal: After escaping a nuclear weapons assault (cloaked by authorities as a "nuclear test") in the 1950s, Godzilla went deep underground.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jun 11, 2021  |  3 comments
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Legend has it that director Zack Snyder was streaming his Dawn of Justice one day and was unhappy with the color, specifically red, a shade relevant to much more than a certain Last Son of Krypton. And so, the studio took the unusual step of remastering the movie from the existing 4K video transfer and rereleasing it, with the new version addressing Snyder's crimson concerns as well as showcasing the de rigueur IMAX scenes in their full and correct 1.43:1 aspect ratio.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 28, 2021  |  2 comments
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It can be taken for granted that if Tom Hanks is starring in a movie, we will become acquainted with a compelling lead character. Also, if Paul Greengrass is directing, it will be an exciting ride. Following the South's loss in the Civil War, Texas circa 1870 was a complicated place and time in the United States. World-weary Captain Kidd (not Phillips) ekes out a humble existence traveling from town to town, reading the news of the day to small groups of dime-paying customers who might otherwise remain oblivious.
Chris Chiarella  |  May 14, 2021  |  1 comments
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Pixar O.G. and now Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter touched our hearts with Up, then plumbed the intricacies of the human mind in Inside Out. It would follow, then, that his next movie would be Soul.

Together, these are arguably the most grown-up entries in the Pixar canon, not for any sort of overly mature content, but rather for their sophisticated themes and storytelling. And Soul might be the most adult-skewing: It's the longest of the three, exploring The Great Hereafter and even "The Great Before," namely where souls originate prior to their arrival on Earth. This concept requires quite a bit of exposition, and it's executed masterfully by Docter, co-writer/co-director Kemp Powers, and co-writer Mike Jones, through bold visuals and pithy gags.

Chris Chiarella  |  Apr 30, 2021  |  1 comments
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They are living amongst us, manipulating the entire human race, dominating us using hidden messages of obedience and rampant commercialism. Who they are and why they're doing it are less important than how we will expose them—and who will be brave enough to fight back. A down-and-out working-class hero and all-around good egg (Roddy Piper) stumbles across special sunglasses that block the oppressors' shenanigans and gives him a clear look at them…and he doesn't like what he sees.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Apr 16, 2021  |  0 comments
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(Cue deep, sonorous narration.) In a world infested with giant, hungry bugs, what's left of mankind has hunkered down in underground colonies where they're safe (mostly) from being eaten alive. How this post-apocalyptic nightmare began is explained in the brief opening sequence of Love and Monsters, but in short it was mankind (as usual) that messed things up.
Chris Chiarella  |  Apr 02, 2021  |  2 comments
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This is how director Christopher Nolan does time travel. Actually, to hear him tell it, this is how he does a spy thriller, inspired by the Bonds of his youth and enhanced with all of the mind-bending trappings we've come to expect from one of filmdom's brainiest auteurs. The central conceit of Tenet—one that commands audiences to pay full attention lest they be left behind—is the recent discovery of a temporal anomaly, possibly man-made, that can send certain objects backwards in time, rather than in the usual direction.
Chris Chiarella  |  Feb 19, 2021  |  0 comments
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Let's never forget that the enduring Mad Max franchise—four movies in with a fifth on the way—began right here 42 years ago with this low-budget car/motorcycle-chase gem. Relative to its more popular sequel, The Road Warrior, Max can be viewed as a sort of origin story, showing how a good cop (Mel Gibson) goes mad after a horrible act of violence befalls his family. He hits the road to exact some fuel-injected revenge, leaving behind the world he once knew. What's striking about this movie today is seeing how much better it is than it needed to be, from the emotional story to the intense acting, superb cinematography, sharp editing, and outrageous stunts.
Roger Kanno  |  Feb 05, 2021  |  0 comments
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Total Recall is a near-perfect mix of sci-fi action, plot twists, and the kind of warped tongue-in-cheek humor we expect from director Paul Verhoeven, delivered here with gusto by Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Douglas Quaid, a construction worker. More correctly, Schwarzenegger is Carl Hauser, a secret operative for the "Agency" who believes he is Quaid due to a memory implant. After being attacked by agents from the "Agency," Quaid escapes to Mars to aid the rebel independence movement and discover his true identity.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 29, 2021  |  0 comments
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The Lord of the Rings was a box office phenomenon, which of course meant demand for more movies. And lo, a prequel book had already been written, so after some wrangling Peter Jackson returned to make another trilogy set within J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical universe. Taking place 60 years before the start of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gives us Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), content to go about his safe, humdrum existence, until fate and a tall, pushy friend sweep him up in an incredible adventure.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 22, 2021  |  1 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.
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.

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