Showing posts with label DVD Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DVD Review. Show all posts

Friday, November 01, 2013

We Named the Dog Indiana

Indiana Jones

Last month apparently was Indiana Jones Month on CBS as episodes of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother centered on exploits of the greatest fake archaeologist ever. (Thankfully no one was forced to make homage to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull… yet.) That continues here as I inducted the original trilogy into the Scooter Hall of Fame. For men of a certain age, Harrison Ford is a god among men; the guy went from Han Solo to Indiana Jones. No one comes close to that two headed monster. The only person who comes close is Samuel L. Jackson but he was still a bit player in Star Wars and The Avengers.

Screw Amy Farrah Fowler and her silly logical takedown of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who cares if the Nazi faces would have melted off even if Indiana Jones was not even in the film, it is the journey that matters. And what a journey it was. Indiana Jones was the first action movie I saw that was legitimately funny. There was not a one-liner Harrison Ford did not like to crew on and it was only equaled with his comical hatred of snakes (full disclosure notice: I have the same totally rational hatred of the creature). Armed with only a bull whip, Indiana Jones trotted across the globe on a race to find the rarest of artifacts before they fall into the wrong hands.

The second installment, The Temple of Doom got dark, like rip your beating heart out of your chest and you do not even die dark. The temple in question involved child slavery, black magic and ritual human sacrifice. That was even out by giving Indy a side kick Short Round (who had a nice one-two punch himself as his second movie he played Data in The Goonies but was rarely seen after that). The film also featured a very memorable mine cart chase that should have been made into a rollercoaster ride (at least one in America, there is one in Disneyland Paris).

As dark as the Temple of Doom was, they went the complete opposite route with the follow up The Last Crusade, no beating hearts being ripped, not even any melting Nazi faces. They even went so far away from the previous movie that they replaced the teenaged Short Round as the side kick with Indy’s elderly father (a very game Sean Connery). Though not as entertaining as the first two, it was entertaining to watch the two leads try to out grouch each other.

The less said about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the better.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

He Was the Single Most Hopeful Person I've Ever Met

The Great Gatsby Blu-Ray Combo Pack

In a measure of full disclosure, I should admit, I have never read The Great Gatsby or even saw the four previous movie adaptations. For some reason, none of my English teachers at any level required me to read it (although I had to read Animal Farm twice and Romeo and Juliet more than that) and when it comes to reading for pleasure, I tend to reach for the non-fiction, so I came into the latest adaptation as a clean slate with no preconceived ideas on the property. I did not even see the Paul Rudd television version from a couple years ago.

Though I came to it with no preconceived notions, I do not have a problem with properties being re-imagined, great stories should be told over and again and over different mediums. Nor do I have a problem with out of the time period music like when a children’s choir sang When Doves Cry during Romeo + Juliet. That movie was directed by Baz Luhrmann who also updated the most recent iteration of The Great Gatsby. Own The Great Gatsby on Blu-ray Combo Pack and HD Digital Download today.

Being that it is directed by Baz Luhrmann, you know what you are getting, a grand, if not completely over the top, version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald book. And if you do not like over the top, especially in your classic works of literature, you will probably want to skip this version. But if you do not mind grand spectacle, or really enjoy when directors go over the top, you will enjoy this fun ride through the 1920’s New York City elite. And Luhrmann went all out with the party scenes putting you right in the middle, wishing you would get an invitation.

Not surprisingly, the titular character is played by Luhrmann’s Romeo, Leonardo DiCaprio, although this time around Claire Danes is replaced by Carey Mulligan who seemed to revel in playing a campier role than she has played before. Of course the most important role is that of the narrator Nick Carraway, except Tobey Maguire never felt comfortable in the part, but then again, that may have been the point because Carraway just did not fit into the society he found himself in after meeting his neighbor. Contrast that to newcomer Elizabeth Debicki who plays Jordan Barker and is so striking you cannot take your eyes off her when she is on screen even when surrounded by much bigger stars (this may have been all wig because the actress is completely unrecognizable from her character in the special features with her long blond hair).

As well as most of the music worked in Romeo + Juliet, the music in The Great Gatsby just falls flat. Most of that blame has to be heaped on musical supervisor Jay-Z who spent the first half of the movie shoehorning in his own songs even when they just feel flat in the scene. But the most egregious song placement was the ill advised Beyonce cover of Back to Black which actually played during a party scene. And I hope you do not hate Lana Del Rey because her contribution to the soundtrack gets placed quite often. It is clear Luhrmann should have let whoever helped him with the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack helm the one for his latest film.

This review is for the Blu-Ray Combo pack that the special features are the same on all versions (there is also a Blu-Ray 3D combo pack which features the theatrical version of the film in 3-D high definition, hi-definition, and standard definition; and there is also a two-disk DVD version; all three versions come with an UltraViolet version). All told, there is almost two hours worth of extras that comes with the movie, most of which is your standard fair of behind the scenes specials and a couple deleted scenes. The most interesting extra is of a trailer to first movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby where you can see just how over the top Baz Luhrmann made his version almost a century later.

Full Disclosure Notice: This Blu-Ray was given to me by Warner Bros. for the purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Very Spoilery Review of the Red Dawn Remake

Red Dawn

I have a kinship towards the alumni of Dillon High School so I will support their movies no matter how crappy they are (*cough*The Roommate*cough*). So this past weekend I had a Tyra Collette double feature of G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Red Dawn. I did not have high hopes going into either of them but G.I. Joe was enjoyable, it had Trya, The Rock, Channing Tatum died early on and there was a really cool fight scene on the side of a mountain, so it was an enjoyable two hours for the most part. Sure the film suffered from Blockbuster fatigue where every summer movie for the last five years has to feature at least one city blow up.

Full Discourse Notice: I should not before going into deal about the updated version, I have never seen the 1984 original of Red Dawn and really all I know about the film is from what I learned from the I Love the 80’s segment which was basically telling a story about how much Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey hated each other on that set and how ironic they went on to star together in Dirty Dancing. So if you have not seen the Red Dawn reboot (or The Avengers or Terminator 2), stop reading now or you are about to be spoiled.

Red Dawn started out enjoyable enough, it had Trya, Tim Riggin’s father, Thor, and some cool fight scenes. Sure the plot was flimsy, the way the North Koreans were able to invade an American city with no U.S. military backlash was a little silly and I never figured out why some Americans were in detainment camps while others were able to come and go in the city as they pleased.

But the movie moved into guilty pleasure territory when Jeffery Dean Morgan showed up with his Navy Seal buddies showed up and added some much needed comic relief. They also set up the climactic battle which came to a satisfying finale when Thor killed the big bad Korean who killed his father at the end of the first act with his father’s gun. So all is well, the Wolverines make I back to the base with the piece of technology that will help rid America of the Koreans, Thor goes over to Tyra for a celebratory make out session… and gets shot in the face. What the frack!?!

Obviously the writers wanted to go for a shocking ending and killing off the main protagonist does the twist. But where the surprise twist at the end of, say, Memento, makes you instantly want to watch the movie again as soon as the credits roll, the shock ending only makes people irate. It is bad to kill off the main protagonist just minutes before the ending but you certainly do not kill him off in a surprise attack, at least give him an honorable death like, well, I was going to say Agent Coulson in The Avengers, but he may not have actually died. The only example that is coming off the top of my head was the time The Terminator melted himself down for the good of mankind at the end of T2.

The writers apparently did this so Thor’s douchebag little brother would have this grand transformation from selfish douchebag at the beginning of the film to the leader of the insurgency at the end. But you know what writers; I still did not care about the douchebag brother by the end. If you really needed the douchebag brother to have some grand transformation, how about just shooting Thor in the leg? Then the ending is douchebag brother giving his big speech, then walk off the stage where Thor is in a wheelchair and says to his douchebag brother, “Dad would be proud of you. I am proud of you.” End Movie.

But no, you have to go with the stupid ending. There is a reason no other film kills off the main protagonist a minute before the credits run, because the audience does not want to see it. Instead of the audience telling their friends, “You should go see Red Dawn because of the surprise ending,” they are going to tell them, “Avoid Red Dawn at all costs, it has one of the worst endings of all time.”

Red Dawn gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

We're all Gonna Have so Much Fun We're Gonna Need Plastic Surgery to Remove our Smiles

National Lampoon's Vacation

In Hollywood’s never-ending quest to ruin my childhood, it looks like we will be getting a National Lampoon's Vacation reboot in the near future focusing on a grown up Rusty Griswold. But instead of getting a return of Anthony Michael Hall, Johnny Galecki, Ethan Embry, or even Jason Lively (that is actually a pretty impressive lineup of then unknown actors, certainly better than the former Audrey’s which is just Juliette Lewis and three actresses no one remembers) Ed Helms will star in Theme Park Vacation. Granted I would still watch if it involved strapping a dead Chevy Chase to the roof of the car.

But like many reboots and remakes, no matter how bad it will be, it will not taint the brilliance of the original Vacation, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame. The movie was not just a comedy but a horror film for any child facing a long trip stuck in a station wagon with their family where anything that can go wrong does like getting stranded in the desert or when your aunt does en route to her son’s house and you have to strap her to the roof of your car.

And reaching your destination is no oasis either when you find the amusement park you drove thousands of miles to go to is closed for repairs. So the Griswold’s would do anything an sane family would do, kidnap the security guard, the always funny John Candy, and make him run free in the park. We have all been there.

Many kids these day may just know Chevy Chase today as they bumbling old dude who just got fired from Community, but Vacation came at a time when he was about to make the funniest run at the multiplex possibly ever. He followed up the Vacation with Fletch, European Vacation, Spies Like Us, and ¡Three Amigos!, all released over a three year span. I defy anyone to find a funnier concentration of films by anyone ever. Unfortunately after completing a string of sequels in 1989 (Caddyshack 2, Fletch Lives, and Christmas Vacation) he really has not been that funny since. Anyone remember Cops And Robbersons? It may be better if you did not.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family’s a Messy Business, Ain’t Nothing Thicker than Blood.

Texas Chainsaw 3-D

Full Disclosure Notice: I have never seen the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre film. Or its three sequels. Or the Jessica Biel reboot. Or even the Jordana Brewster prequel to the reboot. So I went into the seventh (7!) film in the series Texas Chainsaw a complete newbie. Texas Chainsaw 3D (another full disclosure notice: I do not own a 3-D enabled HDTV because I am morally opposed to 3-D and refuse to watch it, but if you are fine with it, the Blu-Ray comes with both the 2-D and 3-D versions on one disk) actually picks up right where the first movie picks up and the title sequence actually recaps that film for those that are new to the franchise like me, or just need a refresher just to get the other quasi-sequels and reboots out of your head.

The film starts with the police coming to the Sawyer house to investigate the events of the first film and then fast forwards to present day where we meet Alexandra Daddario (Adam Braverman’s hot assistant on Parenthood) who learns she not only is she adopted, her birth grandmother has left her the family estate. So she hops in a van with her boyfriend Trey Songz (who I know now why he goes by a pen name after learning his government is Tremaine Neverson, no one is making babies to an artist named Tremaine Neverson), best friend Tania Raymonde (Ben Linus’ daughter on Lost) and her boyfriend, some random dude who, along with the random hitchhiker they pick up, you know will not be lasting very long. Soon as they arrive in Texas, Daddario learns of her family, and the town’s dirty little secret. And that secret carries around a chainsaw.

Texas Chainsaw is you typical paint by numbers horror film that you have already seen before even if you skipped the earlier Chainsaw films. The kills are pedestrian and really the only scene that really crept me out was when Leatherface created his latest “mask” and put it on. Of course the young people in the film are stupid (but that does lead to an unintentionally funny scene where they try to drive the van through a gate) and the cops are not the smarter. But there is an interesting scene where one cop goes into Leatherface’s lair with his iPhone sharing video with the sheriff and mayor, but that did not even pay off like I was hoping for.

There is an attempt at a twist near the end of the film but it comes off as forced as well as pretty telegraphed for anyone who paid attention to the early parts of the films with a couple characters who overlook some horrible things to justify their actions. For those that saw the original and wonder why they would want to watch the newer version, it does boast actors from the original movie including Leatherface himself Gunnar Hansen, the girl that escaped his house of horrors Marilyn Burns, Bill Moseley who was in the sequel and John Dugan who actually reprises his role as Grandpa Sawyer which apparently is a record for the longest amount of time between someone playing the same role in a movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Blu-Ray is also filled with almost two hours of extra over nine featurettes not including three separate audio commentaries one with the producers, one with the creator, and another with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre alumni. The alumni also get their own featurette: Texas Chainsaw Legacy. There is also Resurrecting the Saw about how the new film came about; The Old Homestead on how the recreated the original house (surprisingly the house used in the first movie was moved and is now a restaurant for anyone who wants to eat at a place that once housed cannibals); Casting Terror about how the new cast were recruited; while Leatherface 2013 was dedicated to recasting the iconic character; Light Camera Massacre focused on making the film in 3-D, It’s in the Meat deals with the special effects makeup in the movie, as well as six five minute fly on the set look into six scenes. In lieu of any deleted scenes, there is an Alternative Opening which is essentially just and extended scene.

And though I am morally opposed to 3-D on television and at the movie theater, it is cool that the cover is in 3-D with Leatherface coming at you with his chainsaw. Granted it uses the same 3-D technology that was used on A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes & Life CD cover seventeen years ago (just realizing how old that album is makes me feel really old). Both the blu-ray and DVD version come with a digital copy code where you can get both the UltraViolet version of the film and was download a copy from iTunes for anyone who wants to view the movie on the go or while running away from your local chainsaw wielding maniac.

Full Disclosure Notice: This Blu-Ray was given to me by Lionsgate for the sole purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

WWII from Space: A Review

WWII From Space

No, WWII from Space is not some new sci-fi movie, it is the latest special from History being released on Blu-Ray and DVD (they retail at the same price so you definitely want to pick the former if you have a player for it) today. Sure there have been hundreds, if not more, documentaries on the Second World War, what sets latest special apart from the rest is, well, it is seen at the very macro level from space. You can look down from miles above the Earth as battalions go through Europe and the Pacific theaters in the deadliest war the world has ever witnessed.

WWII from Space features the most impressive CGI I have ever seen for a documentary on the subject, and I have seen my fair share because I spent a lot of time watching the History Channel back when it went by that name. We do not only get to see the war from a satellite’s vantage point but they also go beneath the ocean to show us where ships were sunk and submarines traveled. Of course we get insight from military minds, professors, and a few eye witness accounts.

There really is not any new information, so anyone who had gotten past high school will not learn much new, though I did learn a couple new facts in the hour and a half like the trade of information the British gave to us in hopes that we would help them out (they basically gave us every war time information they had). The special is also very American centric, it starts off with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and does not even get into the strategy of the other countries until about forty minutes in when they focus on Germany invading Russia. I was also a bit disappointed that the glossed over the rest of the European theater after the invasion of Normandy which gets wrapped up in about a minute. But WWII from Space is definitely worth checking out if you are a history buff, or if you have one in your family and want to stock up for a birthday or Christmas.

Full Disclosure Notice: This blu-ray was given to me by Lionsgate for review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Real Vikings Collection from History

The Real Vikings Collection on DVD from History

Last week, History launched its first ever scripted series Vikings, but for those that want to learn about the Nordic warriors without the poetic license that comes with a work of fiction, even if based on real events, History has compiled three of its specials on the subjects for The Real Vikings Collection. All three specials were an hour long and fit on a single disk. The first special is Foot Soldiers: The Vikings from 1998 and it hosted by the very nineties Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame. Despite being the oldest (and thus being the only one presented in the old timey 4:3 presentation), it is the most entertaining of the specials where you leaned where the myth of the Viking helmets with horns came from and you even get to see Al on a surfboard. You also learn of the special Viking fighting force, the Berserkers, who would fight on mushrooms. And yes, that is where our term “berserk” came from.

The next special is an episode of Lost Worlds from 2007 which takes CGI models to show us what Vikings societies looked like at the time based on archaeological digs and artifacts from the time (which include a Buddha statue despite the Vikings never ever making it to the Far East). The third special is an episode of Warriors with Terry Schappert (rechristened “Viking Terror” on the DVD) where the former Green Beret looks at the different fighting styles and weapons from the “Hell’s Angels of the Middle Ages”.

Even for those that are watching the scripted Vikings series, it is interesting watching this DVD collection to see what the series got right and what they are taking liberties with. While each special has its own focus on the Viking culture, one event all of them focused on was assault on the English monastery as featured in the second episode which is widely considered the beginning of the Vikings era in Europe. It does look like the set design has gotten the living quarters and the boating design very close to how the Vikings built things in their times. And the special could depict what could be coming up in future episodes or season. I really hope a Vikings battle, as demonstrated by Schappert, gets staged.

Full Disclosure Notice: This DVD was given to me by Lionsgate for review.

Monday, March 04, 2013

A Very Spoilery Review of Looper

Over the weekend I watch the movie Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levett where he plays the younger version of Bruce Willis (even though he clearly looked like he was a younger version Ed Norton to the point that I wondered if Norton was replaced at the last minute and Gordon-Levett just said, “screw it, I spent months perfecting my Ed Norton, I am just going to go with it) who has to kill his future self when his future crime boss sent Willis back from the future to be killed off by current day looper, thus closing the loop. As the title suggests, this review is going to be very spoilery, so if you have not seen the film, stop reading, go watch the movie and come back here. It is definitely worth watching and discussing which is what I am about to do.

Last chance, because I am about to spoil the ending.

There are eventually three theories when it comes to time travel, 1) time is a linear unit so if you went back in time you will not be able to change anything because it already happened and you were already there, like on Lost. 2) If you time travel you are creating an alternative timeline so you can change the future in the current timeline, just the timeline you just created, like on Terra Nova (or so I assumed, I never watched the show). 3) If you go back in time, be careful because you may alter history, like when Marty McFly almost ceased to exist when he made up with his future mom. Looper follows the third theory of time travel.

Before, and during the movie I have always subscribed to the philosophy that you do not kill Hitler if given the chance via time travel. Who knows, Hitler may have been suppressing someone ever worse that would rise in his void. You may even cease to exist because you grandfather may have met, and fallen in love with someone who would have died at the hands of the Nazis instead of your grandmother meaning your father is never conceived, and neither are you. But there was a point where I figured that Bruce Willis has changed enough; he might as well kill the Rainmaker.

This is why I was a bit disappointed with the ending. At the end, starring at Willis starring at Emily Blunt, shielding the future Rainmaker, Gordon-Levitt had three options: 1) kill Willis and help Emily raise the Rainmaker and make sure he harnesses his powers for good. 2) Help Willis hunt down the future Rainmaker to make sure his reign of terror never starts. But Joseph picked the third and what I thought was the worst of the three options he had: killing himself (and in turn taking Bruce with him to the afterlife) leaving the world to fend for itself against the Rainmaker.

That is not to say I did not enjoy Looper, it was my favorite sci-fi movie since Inception, but the more I think about the ending, the more I dislike keeping it from being as good as Inception along with some of the lesser quibbles I have (how does Blunt know about Looper? I was disappointed that Jeff Daniels did not play a bigger part in the whole of the movie; I thought he would turn out to be the Rainmaker’s father or possibly the older version of his inept employee that kept shooting his own foot). But the movie did make me think and I wish there were many more movies released these days that make you think and debate as much as I have spent debating the ending with myself alone.

Looper gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

They Didn't Discover This Modern America, They Built It

The Men Who Built America on Blu-Ray

We have all heard of Vanderbilt University, Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, JP Morgan Chase, and Ford Motors, but there namesake had more to shape America than even your history teacher would have you believe. They became the first men in America more powerful than the president (and even bought one of them) and gave us what would become the foundation of America in the twentieth century: railways, oil, steel, electricity, and the automobile. Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford were the basis of History’s The Men Who Built America.

The series took place over the five decades in between the Civil War and the First World War when the industrial revolution propelled the United States into a super power it remains today. Spread over eight episodes (the series was originally aired in four two hour segments, but has been cut done to an hour for the home video release) it follows those five men as they compete with each other while using each other product in a battle to become the richest man in the world. Really it mainly follows the middle three as Vanderbilt dies early on and Ford does not show up until the last episode to introduce the same work practices that are used today.

The mini-series is narrator by Campbell Scott and features commentary from historian and some of today’s most notable entrepreneurs and businessmen like Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, Jack Welsh, and Alan Greenspan. Even though many of Men lived over a decade ago it is amazing the parallels to today. You have the liberal unions taking on the guns for hire conservatives of the Pinkertons. When Rockefeller testifies in front of Congress in defense of his shady business practices actually said he was just a figurehead at his own company during some illegal or just immoral times almost word for word excuses that Mitt Romney had when confronted about Bain Capital. But the most obvious parallel to these times was the election of 1896 where the Men Who Built America, in a rare bit of collusion, pulled their wealth together to buy the president, the difference being they actually were successful (that and the South voted for the Democrat while the Republican candidate swept New England). Ironically they were undone when their president was assassinated and his replacement brought anti-trust lawsuits against the big businesses at the time (which makes you wonder what modern day Roosevelt Republican will have the guts to brake up today’s too big to fail banks).

The Men Who Built America is a fascinating narrative on a period that is quickly rushed by near the end of the school year in history class. It is filled with plenty of fascinating tales, like how Carnegie recruited an elephant to prove that his bridge across the Mississippi, the largest at the time, was safe to travel across. Even funny at times, like Morgan and Rockefeller trading Christmas presents. And even horrifying like when Thomas Edison, as bankrolled by Morgan, invented the electric chair just to make his rival Nikola Tesla look bad. Which begs the question, when does Tesla get his own movie? He keeps showing up in during stories in this time period, ends up being the most interesting figure, but has never gotten the starring role himself.

The blu-ray (the press release who have me to believe the DVD version have the exact same features) features three disks with the first featuring the episodes A New War Begins, Oil Strike, A and Rivalry Is Born. The second hosts Blood Is Spilled, A New Rival Emerges, and Owning it All. The third disk has the final two episodes Taking the White House and The New Machine. Each disk features a couple never before seen on TV clips which combine to around twenty-six extra minutes.

Full Disclosure Notice: This Blu-ray was given to me by Lionsgate for review.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Well Young Man, You're Going to Have a Very Unusual Life

Branded on Blu-Ray

We have all seen this superhero movie: a regular man is bestowed superhero powers and exploits them until (s)he realizes they wield too much power and go into self seclusion before realizing that the world needs them and returns to destroy the big bad. Branded follows this basic premise. And the superpower in this film? Marketing. Seriously. In the movie Ed Stoppard (The Little Vampire) makes Don Draper look like the guy who created New Coke, named the iPad, or thought it was a good idea to have the Washington Bullets change their name to the Wizards.

And who is the arch-nemesis to the marketing genius: fast food. Seriously. These evil corporations have figured out a way to make obesity sexy and something to obtain through evil marketing and it is up to our heroes to counter market a vegetarian fast food chain. Seriously. Playing Lois Lane in this scenario is Leelee Sobieski (Joan of Arc) whose character even cribs a storyline from Superman Returns (maybe not the best superhero movie to steal from.

Or that is what I took away from the movie. Branded is a big jumbled of a movie that wants to express some big ideas (companies are becoming too good at marketing that we no longer realized we are being sold a load of goods) but sometimes gets bogged down in its heavy handedness. It is not until Stoppard returns from his Fortress of Solitude where the movie starts to embrace the absurdity and hammers the message more clearly. By then it may have been too little too late.

In addition to a pair of theatrical trailers, the only special feature included is an audio commentary with writers / directors Jamie Bradshaw and Alexander Doulerain.

Full Disclosure Notice: This Blu-ray was given to me by Lionsgate for review.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Hate Hospitals... People Die Here

The Possession on Blu-Ray

Whenever a horror movies claims to be “based on a true story” I have to laugh a little because they make an assumption that we will actually believe that ghosts, demons, and / or other things that go bump in the night when Occam’s Razor would suggest that chick just went cray-cray. But on the bright side, crazy people have a vivid imagination and can come up with some pretty entertaining stories even if they did not really happen. The fact they happen outside the realm of reality is what makes them entertaining.

Supposedly The Possession was based on a true story where a newly divorced Jeffery Dean Morgan (Watchmen) is patroning garage sales to pick up essentials for his new house with his daughter when one of them Natasha Calis (The Firm) picks up an antique wooden box for herself. Except when they take it home it does not open and is covered in Hebrew. Until it mysteriously opens and the young child finds dead moths, teeth and other weird and random artifacts. Oh yeah, and the box also held an unseen demon.

The Possession does not add anything to the genre and can really be considered the Jewish take on exorcisms, as performed by former Hasidic Jew Matisyahu (why do the Catholics get to have all the fun?) or does not turn the genre on its head. But there are plenty of good scares in the film for all the horror fans out there like the scene in the trailer when the kid looks down her throat in the trailer to see fingers trying to climb out of her esophagus. I will also be infinitely more freaked out by moths after seeing this film. And of course the inclusion of children makes any horror movie just a little creepier.

For skeptics like me when it comes to movies “Based on a true story” there is a bonus feature The Real History of the Dibbuk Box which starts off by saying that the Dibbuk box shown for the feature is just a replica for your safety. The real story turns out nothing like the movie except the original owner has a stroke when coming into contact with the box (which is depicted much more violently in the movie). But low and behold when they say they are going to show us the actual Dibbuk box, I seriously thought of just turning off my television just in case. I did not and am still alive and still have all my appendages. Other specials on the blu-ray (which are the same as the DVD) include two separate audio commentaries, one with director Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch) while other is with the writers Juliet Snowden and Stiles White (Knowing). It also comes with a code that can be redeemed for both a digital copy and an UltraViolet copy for those that like to watch their movies on their mobile devises. I wonder if scary movies are more or less frightening on a smaller screen.

Full Disclosure Notice: Lionsgate gave me this blu-ray for review.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What's the Most You Ever Lost on a Coin Toss

Javier Bardem 3-Film Collection

Later this week Javier Bardem will become the latest Bond villain in Skyfall so Lionsgate has rounded up a three film collection of his most memorable roles out on DVD this week. (Granted I would have included Vicky Christina Barcelona.) The collection is highlighted by No Country for Old Men which garnered him an Oscar as an unorthodox hit man with an unorthodox haircut with a penchant for flipping coins. Bardem is hired to hunt down Josh Brolin (The Goonies) who came across two million dollars after a drug deal gone bad while Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive) is the local lawmen who tries to hunt them both down.

No Country for Old Men is a harrowing tale where directors Joel and Ethan Cohen faithfully reproduce the Cormac McCarthy novel. The three top line names all deliver unforgettable performances while Woody Harrelson (Zombieland) and Stephan Root (Newsradio) give great cameos. The DVD features the same extra as the original release of the movie including a Making Of feature, “Working with the Coens”, and “Diary of a Country Sherriff” featurettes.

I had never heard of Mondays in the Sun until I got this collection and when I put it in I knew why: the film is in Spanish. Like No Country for Old Men, Bardem had a memorial haircut, this time instead of the Dorothy Hamill bowel cut, he is significantly balding as he plays an out of work dockworker. After everyone was laid off when their ship building jobs were shipped to Korea, Bardem and his friends spend their days looking for new work and nights hanging out in a bar that one of them bought with his severance pay. Even though the film is a decade old, take place in another country, and is in a different language, the heartbreaking tale can resonate in today’s America where many people are still trying to cope with jobs that went to Asia a while ago. The DVD also features audio commentary from Bardem, and director Fernando Leon de Aranoa, deleted scenes, a Making Of featurette, and storyboard to scene comparison.

Biutiful saw Bardem team with famed director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) and produced by Guillermo del Toro which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Bardem lost out on picking up another Best Actor Award but was the first ever nominated for an entirely Spanish-speaking performance). Yep, this one is in Spanish too. The film takes him back to Spain where he struggles to provide for his children while working on the wrong side of the law. This DVD is low on extras, just featuring the director’s flip notes, and an interview with the cast and crew.

Full Disclosure Notice: The DVD was given to me to review by Lionsgate.