Ultra HD Blu-ray Movie Reviews

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Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 27, 2019  |  0 comments
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With its childlike innocence and a universal charm that's born of its exquisite characters, The Wizard of Oz is likely the greatest family film of all time, the sort we may never see again. The adventure of a willful Kansas farmgirl transported to a strange, wondrous land is a heart-tugging journey of music and laughter that should continue to enthrall generations to come. There are 80 years' worth of observations for me to draw upon here, but I'll just go with this: Not enough can ever be said of Margaret Hamilton's turn as the gleefully, irresistibly, deliciously wicked villain.
Fred Kaplan  |  Aug 17, 2018  |  0 comments
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Forget the misguided moral and political complaints:Three Billboards is a masterpiece, a dark tale about grief, anger, and the inadequate cushions of community. It’s also funny as hell. Writer-director Martin McDonagh, an Irish playwright (two words that say much), has long explored Biblical themes through vernacular-profane language and deeply flawed characters (his best film until now,In Bruges, was basically about sin).
David Vaughn  |  Jun 05, 2020  |  5 comments
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One of my favorite movies from the 1980s, Top Gun stars Tom Cruise as Lt. Peter Mitchell, call sign "Maverick," a young hot-shot pilot picked to attend the prestigious "Top Gun" flight school and hone his air-to-air combat skills. Also appearing are Val Kilmer as "Iceman," Anthony Edwards as Maverick's RIO (radar intercept officer) "Goose," and Tim Robbins as "Merlin." Rounding out the cast is Kelly McGillis as Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood, a civilian instructor who is an expert on Russian aviation.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 20, 2019  |  0 comments
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On her first day at pre-school, Bonnie, the kid who received Andy's toys at the end of Toy Story 3, makes (literally) a new friend out of a discarded spork. She calls him Forky and he soon becomes her favorite toy. But that's just the first act. On a road-trip with Bonnie's family, cowboy-toy Woody reunites with his old flame Bo Peep. Bo, now a "lost toy," has acquired the skills of an action hero—a sort of RamBoPeep.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 14, 2017  |  0 comments
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There are many definitions of a troll, but as they appear here, in a form first conceived by a Danish woodcarver in 1959 (and subsequently as popular toys), they’re tiny, cute creatures with spiky, multicolored hair who do little besides sing, dance, hug, and party. The miserable Bergens, their enemies, believe that by eating a Troll they can be happy—at least for a day.
David Vaughn  |  Aug 01, 2017  |  0 comments
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It was about ten years ago that BBC debuted their original Planet Earth on both Blu-ray and HD DVD here in the United States to much critical acclaim. Not resting on their laurels, the Planet Earth team went to work on their next project, appropriately named Planet Earth II. While 1080p was cutting-edge a decade ago, simple HD wouldn’t cut the mustard any longer since we are living in a 4K world that expects wide color gamut (WCG) and high dynamic range (HDR)—or at least readers of Sound & Vision do.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Aug 25, 2017  |  0 comments
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Unforgiven marked another turning point for Clint Eastwood and the Western genre. The deconstructed Western stars Eastwood as aged outlaw Bill Munny, who, after years of living a reformed life, is dragged back into his old ways. His wife has passed, and his pig farm is struggling, so an offer to avenge a brutalized prostitute is too much to pass up. He enlists his old running mate, Ned (Morgan Freeman), and they set off with the young “Schofield Kid” to collect the bounty.
Us
Chris Chiarella  |  Jun 21, 2019  |  0 comments
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With Get Out, his first film as writer/director, Jordan Peele introduced us to a refined new form of horror. He was the only filmmaker who could do justice to his Oscar-bound script, finding just the right tone and wringing that last bit of mood from every line, every shot, every performance. Now, with Us, he has raised the stakes, telling a deeper story on a much grander scale.
Avi Greengart  |  Mar 02, 2018  |  1 comments
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Valerian is director Luc Besson’s passion project: He wrote and directed it based on a French comic book he loved as a child. It’s also the most expensive independent film ever, with a budget of around $180 million. It’s quite the spectacle, and the plot—involving displaced aliens amidst a multi-species space station—could be a reasonable foundation for a sci-fi adventure or sci-noir procedural. Unfortunately, the acting, character development, and dialogue are simply terrible. Ironically, the only believable character is a shape-shifting burlesque dancer played by Rihanna.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 09, 2018  |  1 comments
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War for the Planet of the Apes concludes a trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. It tells the story of Caesar, from a nascent, intelligent ape to the leader of a band of smart simians. Humankind here has been nearly wiped out, with the survivors fighting to retain their freedom and humanity. In a twist from the classic 1968 original, however, the humans here are the villains, and the apes, fleeing the remnants of an army led by an obsessed, Ahab-like colonel, are the heroes. We’re driven to root for the Apes, from the story’s beginning to its near-biblical conclusion.
David Vaughn  |  Feb 16, 2018  |  0 comments
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This is the classic story of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl wakes up one day and realizes she loves boy and can’t live without him. Will daddy approve? Not likely since the boy comes from the group that daddy is trying to wipe off the face of the Earth, so the young couple must overcome long odds to live happily ever after. Although there’s a twist here that you don’t often see—the boy is a zombie who can’t even remember his name other than it begins with an R.
Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  2 comments
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In a not too distant future, the wealthy plunk down big bucks to enter Westworld, a Disneyland for adults populated by “hosts”—human-like A.I. androids capable of fulfilling their every desire. With a cast of A-list names such as Evan Rachel Wood, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, and Ed Harris, this psychological, character-driven drama series goes beyond the gimmickry of its 1973 original to offer up a well-crafted exploration of what it means to be human as well as the blurred lines between good and evil and past and present. Could it be a replacement for Game of Thrones? Only time will tell.
David Vaughn  |  Feb 08, 2019  |  3 comments
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Westworld: Season One ended in a cliffhanger with Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) taking charge of the adult amusement park. Westworld: Season Two picks up shortly after this event with the puppet show now over and the liberated “hosts” coming after the humans for their own pound of flesh.
Roger Kanno  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  1 comments
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Widows is a taught crime thriller directed by Oscar-winner Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), who co-wrote the script with author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). Based on a British television series, it follows the lives of several women brought together by their husbands' criminal pasts and features an outstanding cast led by an intense performance from Viola Davis, with support from Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and others. Told in a stylish and well-paced manner, Widows holds plenty of twists and surprises for the viewer. I found the movie to be thoroughly engrossing.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 19, 2018  |  2 comments
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Many filmmakers would surely crack under the challenges of finally bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen. But the remarkably gifted Patty Jenkins (writer/director of 2004’s Monster, her last feature) tackles the ambitious production—an action-heavy World War I– era period piece—with educated gusto, thoughtfully honoring and expanding upon the beloved heroine’s legacy. Of course, none of that matters without the right star, and Gal Gadot’s Princess Diana combines strength, brains, and innocence to give this movie an irresistible heart.

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