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DVDs for Oct 29, 2013

monsters university

Monsters University

Of all the Pixar films, I would probably list Monsters Inc. as my least favorite (yes, below Cars – I love Cars) so when I heard they were making this prequel about the first meeting of kid-scaring monsters Mike and Sully, I whined a lot about how they need to stop cashing in on their old franchises and go back to making original stories. I’d like to say I’ve changed my mind since then, but I haven’t. You’ll probably like it though, if you’re into those college-boy buddy movies a la Old School and Animal House. And your kids will if they’re kids (probably… unless they didn’t like Monsters Inc. either).

Buy Monsters University on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

RIPD

RIPD

Despite the punny acronym, I think this movie had a good premise. Dead cops who police dead people. Unfortunately, in practice it turned out to be a Men in Black clone. Two stereotypically mismatched buddies, Ryan Reynolds as the overachieving straight man and Jeff Bridges as the over-the-top loose cannon, running around shooting at big goofy monsters with science fiction weapons. It would have been better with people-ghosts. As it is, it kind of falls apart under the weight of its special effects, so if you think it sounds cool, just go watch Men in Black again.

Buy RIPD on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

byzantium

Byzantium

Finally, an actual horror movie for Halloween week. This movie has a bit of a Twilight-esque setup. A teenage vampire moves to a small town with her vampire mommy and falls in love with a boy that she shares all her deep dark secrets with, but if you’re going to rent it, don’t expect sparkles. Loose lips sink ships and all that. Because mommy is a vampy hooker and a lot of people get their throats ripped out. At the same time, though, it’s not straight up horror, either. It’s more drama horror, focusing on the characters, so if you’re a slasher fan, heads up.

Buy Byzantium on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

bounty killer

Bounty Killer

If you’re a fan of those goofy, over-the-top Machete Kills style action comedies and you don’t need the movies you watch to make sense or be clever, Bounty Killer ought to keep you occupied for 90 minutes or so. It’s trying to be Mad Max, set in a world where the apocalypse is brought on by corporations and hit men ride around on motorcycles killing people in business suits for the good of the people (but really for the money). It’s a lot muddier (in the making sense sort of way) and siller than Mad Max though. If you’re going to bother with it, just watch it for the violence.

Buy Bounty Killer on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for October 15, 2013

pacific rim

Pacific Rim

Before I saw Pacific Rim, I wouldn’t have said it was possible to love and hate a movie at the same time. I loved the damaged characters who became stronger by pairing up to pilot a giant robot, and the giant robot vs monster fighting was cool, but there were just too many ridiculous, impossible things and not enough secondary females – seriously, it was like the movie took place in the aftermath of a virus that wiped out all the ladies. (Lady virus + space monster attack, a double whammy) And yet – I still enjoyed it. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Pacific Rim on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the heat

The Heat

I love The Heat. It’s a comedy dominated by female characters (which you hardly ever see) and it doesn’t get bogged down in sex and toilet humor (like Bridesmaids). It’s smart, witty, and action packed enough to appeal to anyone, even guys who don’t give a crap about gender equality. It pairs a smug know-it-all (Sandra Bullock) with a brash nutcase (Melissa McCarthy) in a drug case simply because no one else will work with either of them. Check out my full review for more or just go right out and see it. It’s great fun.

Buy The Heat on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

shrek the musical

Shrek: The Musical

I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t another straight-to-DVD holiday special tied to a popular animated franchise. It’s a Broadway-to-DVD recording of a stage show adapted from a popular animated franchise. I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to put a computer animated movie on stage, especially one starring a green ogre, a talking donkey, and a huge purple dragon, but it’s amazing what they can do with makeup and anamatronics these days. Little kids will LOVE it and it retains enough of the movie’s cleverness to appeal to parents as well. Check it out.

Buy Shrek: The Musical on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the colony

The Colony

This movie is like a Day After Tomorrow featuring the Reavers from Serenity/Firefly. It’s years after the apocalypse and people are living underground in colonies. One colony receives a distress signal from another, sends a team out to investigate, and ends up in the middle of a Dead Space video game, complete with blood all over the walls (poor Laurence Fishburne – he never seems to catch a break). It’s pretty good, as horror movies go. It falls into some of the usual cliches (esp. characters and decision making) but it’s not bad enough to pass over.

Buy The Colony on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for October 1, 2013

croods

The Croods

The Croods can probably best be described as “some cave people and their adventures with anachronisms” and will best be remembered (among my friends, anyway) as the reason we didn’t get popcorn buckets with Star Trek: Into Darkness on them. The movie is in the same vein as Ice Age, in that science and history are twisted in any way the filmmakers like for the purposes of plot and puns. Reviewers on IMDB are falling all over themselves to praise it, but I think that’s mostly because it looked pretty and the jokes weren’t (all) cringe-worthy.

Buy The Croods on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

this is the end

This is the End

I know a lot of people who think this movie is hilarious, but I really don’t like it. The main attraction is the fact that it stars a bunch of celebrities (James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, etc.) as “themselves.” And by “themselves,” I mean I hope it’s not accurate, because the characters are all selfish morons. I can’t stand over-the-top crudeness or unlikeable characters and this movie has the biggest collection of them I’ve seen yet. Be warned that it’s really only going to please people who are already fans of the actors involved.

Buy This is the End on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fright night 2

Fright Night 2

In this straight-to-video sequel to the 2011 remake of Fright Night, Jerry Dandridge the vampire next door neighbor is now Gerri Dandridge the vampire college professor who preys on visiting high school students who just so happen to be connected to the last film. Charley is still Charley (though played by a different kid) and Peter Vincent, the vampire hunter whose help he enlists, is still Peter Vincent (though played by a different guy) and the staking is still a staking. It’s brand new, so it’s a good choice for your upcoming Halloween party – no one will have seen it already.

Buy Fright Night 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

ferb marvel

Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel

For all you Avenger fans who are off salivating over the Age of Ultron trailer, wait! Come back! The Disney Channel has done a crossover cartoon with one of your OTHER favorite franchises: Phineas and Ferb. Okay, so mostly it will just be kids who will watch this movie, but seriously grown-ups, you’re missing a chance to see Iron Man being wheeled around on a dolly. Apparently he, Hulk, Thor, and Spider-Man have all lost their powers and need help from the inventive, oddly-shaped stepbrothers and their secret agent platypus. YES REALLY.

Buy Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

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Trailer Reviews for September 27, 2013

RUSH



I was raised by Formula 1 fans, so I know my Michael Schumachers from my Fernando Alonsos. However, until I saw the trailer for this movie, I’d never heard of Niki Lauda or James Hunt, probably because their rivalry played out back in the 70s, which was pretty much ancient history as far as I was concerned, even when I was watching races with my parents on a fairly regular basis. Because I don’t know the story, I’m that much more excited for the movie. Why? Because I have no idea how it plays out. Who wins? Who loses? Does anyone die? The trailer doesn’t give it away either, so seeing this film on Friday should be pretty exciting!

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2



I really liked the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was just so completely bonkers. And it has a great title – no chance of getting a lot of extraneous results searching for THAT monster on Google! I’m sad that I’m going to miss the sequel. The trailer actually made me laugh! Shrimpanzees! Mosqui-toast! A leek in the boat! Ah ha ha ha ha ha! ‘Course, it’s only funny if you know what a leek is, so that’s kind of a parent joke. I had hoped I could fit it into my schedule next week, but next week is Gravity and after that Captain Phillips is coming… so I don’t know. This may be something I’ll have to catch on DVD.

AT ANY PRICE



The blurb for this movie starts off with ‘In the competitive world of modern…’ which makes you think it’s going to be a sports movie, but then it goes ‘agriculture’ and you go: ‘what?’ And then they switch from farming to race car driving anyway, because I guess even the movie realizes that farming is too boring to support a whole movie (though I would point to MacLeod’s Daughters to disprove that theory). A couple of weird things though: what did they do that could ruin them and why are the wind turbines the only things that make this movie look like it’s set later than the 90s?

BAGGAGE CLAIM



I feel like it’s been ages since a romantic comedy has come near my theater. We’ve been so overloaded with big budget super movies and 3D animation and gut wrenching drama that I could really use a nice relaxing romantic comedy. The premise is a little thin (but they always are with rom coms) and it’s not very original (similar thing to The Ex-List and What’s Your Number?) and it’s not obvious from the trailer who her soul mate is supposed to be (which makes me a little nervous). But it looks like it fits together well and (this is the important part) is looks FUNNY. “Nobody move! I have no life, which gives me all day to ruin yours!” Priceless! But what are the odds we’ll actually get this in my theater?

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DVDs for August 20, 2013

epic

Epic

I feel pretty ‘meh’ about this movie. It’s like Honey I Shrunk the Kids crossed with A Bug’s Life, both of which I would probably watch again instead of this movie. A girl gets shrunk down to bug size and helps leaf and bug based warriors save the world from a cackling evil villain. The best you can really say about the story is that it’s familiar, which can be a plus if you’ve got one of those kids who just wants to watch the same movie over and over again. It’s occasionally funny, but it’s clear that most of the effort went into the animation quality. It is pretty nice looking, but then what isn’t these days?

Buy Epic on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

evidence

Evidence

I like this movie because it’s an interesting twist on something that I feel has been done to death – found footage. There is found footage in the movie shot by some hapless tourists who are being mauled to death by unseen entities, but WE aren’t watching it. A pair of detectives (Stephen Moyer and Radha Mitchell) are watching it after the fact with the goal of figuring out what happened and putting somebody behind bars for it. I find it MUCH more interesting than the usual found footage story, which tends to go: everyone dies. The end! Check it out.

Buy Evidence on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

killing season

Killing Season

Humans hunting humans in the middle of a forest is nothing new. They did it in Deliverance, in Battle Royale, and most recently in The Hunger Games. This movie puts a bit of a twist on it by having John Travolta pretend to be Robert DeNiro’s friend and then going after him for some Bosnian War-related reason. The pretend friend setup is just a transparent attempt to get the characters into the woods where their battle can be filmed cheaply, but it didn’t turn out badly (except, of course, for John Travolta’s facial hair). If you like psychological action/thrillers, you might want to check it out.

Buy Killing Season on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

rapture palooza

Rapture-Palooza

I had to mention this movie because it involves John Francis Daley shooting down Jesus with an anti-aircraft cannon. That’s how silly it is. Like Idiocracy level silly, but perhaps with a less intelligent satirical undertone. As you may have guessed, it’s Daley and Anna Kendrick (as teenagers, no less) vs Hell (in the form of Craig Robinson as the anti-Christ). There’s plenty of Christian satire thrown in for fun, including a TV show of people being raptured during embarrassing moments. It’s pretty funny. Give it a look next time your friends are over.

Buy Rapture-Palooza on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Planes Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Planes

Not many adult Pixar fans include Cars on their list of favorites, probably because it was a more obvious attempt to sell toys than even their movies about toys were, so it was only me, the airplane fan, who got excited over Planes. Now a Pixar-less Disney franchise, my big concern that Planes would turn out to be Cars with planes and therefore a big cynical marketing ploy.

A cropdusting plane with a fear of heights competes in a round-the-world race to show everyone that it’s not what you’re made for but what you’re made of that matters.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you that it is Cars with planes, but it’s also Cars 2 with planes, Speed Racer with planes, the pod racing subplot of Star Wars Episode I with planes, and of course Top Gun with (animated) planes. In other words, it’s different enough not to be a total insult to the audience. Plus it’s really, really cute.
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Trailers for August 9, 2013

ELYSIUM



I really liked District 9 and this movie looks pretty interesting, even if it does seem to consist of elements taken from District 9, the new Total Recall, and numerous other science fiction movies. I’d go if it didn’t star Matt Damon. He’s like the cardboard vanilla flavor of actors and no matter how action packed the movie got or how apt the socio-political satire, I’d still be annoyed that I wasn’t watching someone else. I’m skipping this one.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS



I liked the Percy Jackson books and I didn’t hate the first movie, Lightning Thief, but the big problem I had with that movie remains (and has gotten worse) in this sequel: Percy Jackson and his buddies are much too old. Logan Lerman (Percy) is 21. Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth) is 27. Brandon T. Jackson (Grover) is 30. None of them can pass for less than 17. In the books, Percy and his pals were wise-cracking, trouble-making 13-year-olds. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they’d updated the rest of the material to fit the characters’ new ages, but they didn’t. The characters still look and act like tweenagers, gawping and bumbling their way through a summer camp adventure, and it’s annoying.

WE’RE THE MILLERS



This looks, at best, mildly funny. At worst, I suspect it’s cringe-worthy. Too many instances of vicarious audience embarrassment pass as jokes these days. Also the principle of the film seems flawed. Surely there are dogs hanging around border crossings sniffing for drugs that would make their half-assed plan to pass themselves off as a family pointless?

PLANES



As the lone living adult who actually enjoyed the Cars movie and a lifelong lover of airplanes, when I found out about Disney’s Planes, I felt like they made it just for me. I reserve judgment on the story, however. The flying-creature-with-fear-of-heights thing was done in Rio and the learning-to-be-a-racer story was done in Cars. In fact, other than the fact that it has planes in it, I can’t see ANY way in which this movie is different. That bothers me, but not enough to make me see something else.

THE CONSPIRACY



When I first started watching this trailer I thought I had the wrong one – it looked like one of those Inside Job style documentaries. But it’s a fake documentary style horror movie. It seems kind of cliched to me that the conspiracy theorist should fall victim to a conspiracy theory. I also think I’ve read or seen half a dozen stories about a cabal of shadowy villains who direct the political and financial course of the world by yanking on puppet strings. All in all nothing here that would convince me to see this movie.

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DVDs for July 23, 2013

trance

Trance

Danny Boyle movies rarely slip by without a lot of people taking notice and making a big deal over them, but Trance did, probably because it’s just not as good as Slumdog Millionaire or Sunshine. James McAvoy works at an auction house and his job is to hide the expensive paintings if thieves come to steal them. Thieves come, he hides the painting, then they hit him on the head and hire a hypnotist to mess around in his brain with the ultimate goal of finding out where the painting is. It deliberately messes with you, so if you don’t like being confused and/or frustrated, watch something else.

Buy Trance on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

riders of berk

Dragons: Riders of Berk

This ‘movie’ is really a kids’ TV series that has already been released on the Cartoon Network. There are only twenty 22 minute episodes, but for some reason Dreamworks went the Battlestar Galactica route and released them on two separate DVDs. Probably to try and weasel more money out of you. The show itself is good, almost as good as the movie, and it stars the same voice actors. Post-movie, the town of Berk has opened a Dragon Academy and each episode features a standalone problem that requires dragon and human cooperation. However, you don’t really need to part with $26 just to watch it. Someone’s already uploaded them all to YouTube.

Buy Dragons: Riders of Berk Part 1 and Part 2.

love and honor

Love and Honor

Now that Liam Hemsworth is well known as “the much hotter dude” who doesn’t get to be Katniss’ boyfriend from The Hunger Games (see the Honest Trailer), you might be looking to see something where he gets the girl. And boy does he ever in this one. Love and Honor is a sappy, stilted, weirdly clean-cut Vietnam War movie about a soldier who flies home on leave with his buddy to help the buddy win back his hippy girlfriend and ends up with a hippy girlfriend of his own. It feels like a god movie with the god stuff missing, but if you like Hallmark Channel movies, you might like it.

Buy Love and Honor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

turtles 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3

If the three Transformers movies aren’t enough reason to stay away from the Michael Bay reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, buy these DVDs and relive the awesomeness of your childhood all over again. Then think of how bad the first set of live action films were. Then think of Michael Bay and how he’s going to turn April O’Neil into Megan Fox, and vow to keep your money in your pocket. Seriously, as long as people keep going to the trainwrecks he produces, people will continue to hire him to produce more trainwrecks. IT’S A VICIOUS CYCLE.

Buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3 on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for July 19, 2013

RED 2



I absolutely loved the first RED. It took me completely by surprise. Obviously the surprise factor will be gone this time but judging from the trailer it’s going to be just as funny. With the Russian connection, missing nuke, and locked up scientist, the plot seems very similar to A Good Day to Die Hard, but I’m going to think of it as this plot’s chance to redeem itself from its terrible showing in Die Hard rather than outright copying. After all, it’s not like Twentieth Century Fox can copyright Russia (though they’ve probably tried). At least you know when this movie gets ridiculous, it’s actually TRYING to be ridiculous rather than totally ignorant of the laws of physics.

R.I.P.D.



Oh, hello again, Mary Louise Parker! That’s two movies for you in one week. If it weren’t for the fact that RED 2 was opening this weekend, I might have gone to see this one. The trailer hooked me as soon as it smashed Ryan Reynolds’s face off the concrete. Ouch! That’s gotta be worth a broken neck. The R.I.P.D. Thing is a little cutesy but funny – in the same way that the angels hell-bent on getting Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz to fall in love in Life Less Ordinary were funny. Though, obviously, there’s a lot more wanton destruction in this movie, probably because they had a lot more money. I’ll wait for the DVD.

Turbo



Oh, hello again, Ryan Reynolds! That’s two movies for you in one week as well! Are we playing a game I’m not aware of? Perhaps One Degree of Separation? I have to thank this movie, because I had no idea that nitrous oxide was capable of giving superpowers molluscs. Since there seems to be a fine line between superpowers and horrible death by poisoning, I’ll know to be careful if I ever decide to douche-up my Honda Civic with happy-gas canisters and little green lights. I was also unaware that cars were optional in the Indy 500. Look at all the new facts I’m learning today! If you need me I’ll be in Indianapolis pedaling madly on my tricycle. Where I will NOT be is in the theater watching this movie.

The Conjuring



Oh, hello again, Patrick Wilson! Sadly, you’ve ruined the game. This movie seems very familiar, probably because found footage films are a dime a dozen these days and there are whole shows devoted to people who wander around old houses with EMF meters trying to talk to ghosts. Sadly none of them are as good as Supernatural, though I suspect this movie won’t be a total waste of money. If it’s anything like Insidious it will take a 90 degree turn into crazytown about two thirds of the way through the movie, so even if you think you know the whole story from watching the trailer there are still a few surprises left. I wish they weren’t so liberal with displaying all the horrors all over the screen, though. Don’t they get that what we CAN’T see is scarier?

Renoir



This movie reminds me a little bit of Ever After, though I couldn’t say why. Maybe because it’s a semi-historical love story that stars a famous painter as the grownup who browbeats the two young lovers into pulling their heads out of their own asses. I’m intrigued by the story and the characters. It looks good, the acting seems solid…. and yet, I suspect it would be boring. Not because it’s foreign and I’d have to read – I like reading. Because they used the slowest, dreariest music they could possibly find for this trailer. That does not bode well for the pace of the film.

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Despicable Me 2 Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Despicable Me 2

I complain a lot about how there are too many sequels/remakes and not enough new movies being made, which is partly why I tend to like computer animated movies so much: because they’re original. Except these days, when every other one is a sequel. I adored the first Despicable Me but I had my doubts that they could make lightning strike twice with a sequel, especially since Gru is not a villain anymore.

Retired supervillain Gru tries to navigate the world of dating while raising three adopted daughters and helping an anti-villain league track down a stolen serum.

They did a good job switching things up. They replaced Gru learning to love his kids with Gru finding a girlfriend, swapped out the villainous plans with hero plans, and kept all the hilarious minion sidebars. Despicable Me was cute and funny and watching the movie was a great time, but I didn’t love it like I loved the first one.

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