Ultra HD 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.
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.
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.
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.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jul 10, 2020  |  2 comments
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When we think shark, we think scares, but the incredible thrills that helped propel Jaws to the #1 box office crown in 1975 would not have been nearly as effective without a rock-solid story and engaging characters. (That's one explanation for the many awful rip-offs.) Peter Benchley's best-selling first novel gave director/ uncredited screenwriter Steven Spielberg tremendous fodder, with concrete plot points, clear motivations, and rich backstories.

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