Blu-ray Movie Reviews

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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.
Josef Krebs  |  Apr 09, 2021  |  0 comments
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Closing an almost 50-year career that began with Un Chien Andalou, writer-director Luis Buñuel—aided by screenwriting partner Jean-Claude Carrière—created a trio of subversive amusements that savagely poke fun at pillars of French society, including church, military, and figures of the establishment. The master surrealist did so by playing with and disrupting conventional narrative structures, questioning the validity of his protagonists' rationality, and reducing their self-serving behavior and values to nonsense while upsetting cinematic expectations of viewers.
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  |  Mar 26, 2021  |  0 comments
The Paramount Presents line kicked off last April, reintroducing viewers to some of the most enduring titles in the studio's vast library in reverent new Blu-ray editions. Thomas J. Norton recently reviewed the 13th release, The Court Jester, and three more are now available, spanning quite different eras of filmmaking.
Josef Krebs  |  Feb 12, 2021  |  0 comments
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A professional assassin who lives by the ancient code of the samurai finds himself targeted by his Mafia bosses. Ghost Dog, a rare venture into genre films for Jim Jarmusch, allows the writer-director to frequently quote, reference, and build upon many classics in his own quirkily deadpan, deceptively honest way. Dog's unglamorous community of gangsters is reminiscent of John Cassavetes' hoods and lowlifes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, but—this being Jarmusch—an understated absurdist wit frequently underlies the drama.
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.
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.

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