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DVDs for April 2, 2013

nerd alert

Avengers Boxed Set

Nerd alert! If you’re a big Avengers fan and you don’t get have all the Blu-Rays or 3D Blu-Rays, now’s your chance to get them all together in a SHIELD briefcase with a Tesseract (glowy blue cube). Note that there are no DVDs in this set but there is a bonus disc full of extra scenes and featurettes, plus replica dossiers. For those who need a run down on the movies: Avengers: pretty good, Captain America: really good, Thor: terrific, Iron Man: awesome, Iron Man 2: less than, and Incredible Hulk: kind of forgettable.

Buy The Avengers Super Nerd Set on briefcase.

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hitlers children

Hitler’s Children

I wasn’t originally planning to talk about anything other than the Avengers super nerd boxed set this week, but then I saw Hitler’s Children. It’s a lesser known German documentary (subtitled in English) about the descendants of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle: people like Goering and Himmler. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have everyone associate you with genocide despite the fact that you thought your family was totally normal until the shades were suddenly pulled away, you’ll find this fascinating. I sure did.

Buy Hitler’s Children on DVD.
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dirk gently

Dirk Gently

And finally, if you enjoy detective and police procedural shows, this little known British television series might be up your street. It will be even more up your street if you like clever satire, madcap plotlines, and zany characters, as this is a Douglas Adams adaptation (he of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame). Dirk is the eccentric, insolvent proprietor of a ‘holistic’ detective agency, who relies on the universe’s inherent interconnectedness to solve crimes of a more peculiar nature than you might see on Sherlock or CSI. Check it out if you can find it.

Buy Dirk Gently on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for March 29, 2013

THE HOST



Though I think the Twilight books are terrible, I do think that Stephanie Meyer’s other book (her ONE other book) has an interesting premise – a human trying to coexist in her own head with an alien consciousness. The problem is that I can’t get through the book. I read about 30 pages and didn’t want to go any further. The trailer for the movie version looks pretty interesting. Humans vs alien car chases, sci-fi laser effects, and best of all: they can’t spend the whole time inside her head with the two of them just talking back and forth. It could be funny to watch her struggle with herself on screen like there are two cartoon characters in her brain fighting for control over her puppet strings. Yeah there’s a love story, but it’s already better than Twilight just by not having any sparkling vampires, so I might give it a chance.

G.I. JOE RETALIATION



The first G.I. Joe reboot only made it to #5 on my worst movies of the year list, so if The Host turns out to be ‘typical’ Stephenie Meyer (i.e. #1 worst movie) this sequel might actually turn out to be better. It’s going to be dumb, though. That much is a given. But it’s a fun kind of dumb. The first one was dumb. The trailer is dumb. The plot is a ripoff of the good X-Men movies and every commando movie made in the last two years (oh noes! The government has turned on us! Whatever shall we do?!) Bruce Willis is (yet again) THE ONLY MAN THAT CAN SAVE US. Even though they’re Awesome Team G.I. Joe Commandos or whatever. Ninjas on ropes fight with swords and never think to CUT EACH OTHER’S ROPES. So I guess you have to ask yourself which is better: potentially terrible or definitely dumb?

SPRING BREAKERS



I could hardly even FIND a green band version of the trailer for this movie to embed in this article, so that should tell you a lot about this movie. A better title might have been ‘James Franco pervs on some teenagers in bikinis who have a tenancy to make bad life decisions.’ And no, I’m not talking about how they pick their clothes – I’m talking about their decision to ROB A BANK and BECOME INVOLEVED WITH DRUG DEALERS. It’s like Girls Gone Wild crossed with Blow but ‘legitimate’ because it’s ‘fiction.’ FYI though if your teenage sons want to go see it, you should probably say no. The whole thing reads like a desperate ploy by former Disney actresses to break out of the ‘good girl’ mold.

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Oz the Great and Powerful Review

poster from the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful

Man, I had to work to see Oz the Great and Powerful this week. First I tried to go on Friday night and after an hour and a half of fiddling with the projector and making us watch the first five minutes of the pre-show about a thousand times, the theater staff declared it a bust and handed out free passes. Luckily the Saturday afternoon matinee worked, or we’d be having a very different conversation right now.

A selfish con-man is caught in a tornado and transported to the land of Oz, which he is prophesied to save from an evil witch… if he can get his act together.

I loved the cartoon version of The Wizard of Oz when I was a kid and I enjoyed this movie too. It was funny, there was action. The plot twists were even somewhat surprising because I have only the vaguest recollection of the Dorothy story. However, the problem with redemption stories is that the main character has to be a jackass, and I hate jackasses.

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Futuredaze Anthology now available!

futuredaze-cover-final

A few days ago a really cool anthology that I have a story in came out. It’s called Futuredaze and all the stories in it are science fiction stories for teenagers. You don’t see a lot of short science fiction for teens, so that’s why the editors made it.

My story is called “Me and My Army of Me” and it’s about a fifteen year old boy who uses his mad science skillz to gather enough versions of himself to fight back against the school bully. It’s even got funny little stick figure cartoon diagrams! (did you know I drew cartoons? I draw cartoons)

You can check out the Futuredaze website for more info on the other authors and their stories (some of them are famous!). I only just got my copy so I haven’t read them yet, but I’m sure they’re FABULOUS.

You can click here to find out where you can get a copy. Chapters has it, Amazon has it in Canada, the UK, and the USA, and there are other sellers worldwide who carry it. Paper copies are only $14.95. And the Kindle edition is a couple bucks cheaper if you’re one of those technology people.

Anyway, here’s a cool trailer for the book so you can see if you want one. Clearly these people are way better at photoshop than me….


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DVDs for December 4, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I don’t like the title for The Dark Knight Rises. It sounds more like a beginning than the ending it is. But that’s pretty much the only thing I didn’t like about this movie. I don’t like it quite as much as Batman Begins but it’s miles better than The Dark Knight – tight, action packed, and good at keeping its secrets from you. It’s the third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series and it chronicles the rise of Bane as he takes over Gotham and the return of Batman, who has to save the citizens from a grown-up Lord of the Flies situation. Watch it. It’s awesome. Or you can read my review.

Buy The Dark Knight Rises on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green

On the opposite end of the spectrum from gritty Batman is this cutesy Disney movie about couple who wishes so hard for a child that an eleven year old sprouts from their garden. It’s your typical ‘odd child fitting in’ story, except when it switches to a ‘pulling together to save the town movie’ near the end. It’s pretty good – not so cutesy as to be nauseating (most of the time) and his parents are funny – but it wasn’t even the best movie that came out that week (that honor goes to Paranorman). You can read the full review here.

Buy The Odd Life of Timothy Green on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Butter

Jennifer Garner, who plays Timothy Green’s mother, is also in this hilarious comedy about a town that’s obsessed with butter carving. The movie takes place during the run up to the big butter carving contest, and Jennifer Garner’s character is taking it WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. Like to the point of sabotaging the cute little adopted girl she’s competing against (along with just about everyone else in town). There’s really nothing else like Butter, so you should totally see it… even though it will probably put you off butter just in time for Christmas (hmm… maybe that’s not such a bad thing).

Buy Butter on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Hope Springs

There’s a Colin Firth movie called Hope Springs. This isn’t it. This is the latest installment in the new “old people can be funny” genre (joining a list of movies like Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, RED, and It’s Complicated, but at the bottom). It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a couple trying to reconnect with the help of a marriage counselor played by Steve Carrell. So many romantic comedies these days are so phoned in, it’s nice to see one come along that actually tries. It’s no British comedy, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Buy Hope Spings on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Veteran’s Week Book List Day 4: Lone Hawk

Don’t like to read? No problem! For those of you who are reluctant readers, there are graphic novels, like today’s Veteran’s Week book list feature, which detail the lives and struggles of some of the world’s best known military veterans.

Lone Hawk: The Story of Air Ace Billy Bishop

by John Lang

Comics have come a long way from the garish superhero serials of our childhoods – modern graphic novels are self-contained stories that are often sober, gritty, and gripping accounts dealing with mature themes and asking important questions. This black and white graphic novel chronicles the life of Billy Bishop, Canada’s top ace in World War I, from his boyhood to his withdrawal from combat near the end of the war. With 72 victories to his name, Billy faced down some of Germany’s best pilots (including the famous Red Baron) as well as the constant danger of flying in unreliable open-cockpit biplanes. This book will draw in readers of almost any age, but is particularly geared toward the middle grades (ages 9-13).

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DVDs for November 6, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man

If you’re a huge Spider-Man fan, you can probably see the point in rebooting a movie that’s not even as old as some of the stuff in my freezer, but I’m not so I can’t. Andrew Garfield isn’t that much less annoying than Tobey Maguire was, his girlfriend has a different name, he’s obsessed with some mystery surrounding his parents’ deaths (that he gets no answers to) and the villain is a monster lizard. That’s about the extent of the differences. Oh, and it’s in 3D, which only matters if you have a 3D TV. Rent it if you’re a fan, but otherwise the old one will do just fine. Read the full review here.

Buy Amazing Spider-Man on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Arthur Christmas

If you’re looking for something new to watch during the holidays with your family, I highly recommend Arthur Christmas. It’s a British film that follows the screwup youngest son of Santa as he tries to save Christmas by delivering a gift to the one kid that Santa’s automated juggernaut of an operation overlooked. There’s nothing really new about the story or characters, but it is downright hilarious instead of just being campy and full of sap, so it’s fun for both adults and kids. You can read the full review here.

Buy Arthur Christmas on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Fire With Fire

If someone said to me: “so there’s this movie where Josh Duhamel is a fireman–” I’d be like: “sold!” before they’d even finished the sentence. Sadly, Josh isn’t a fireman for the whole movie – just in the beginning so they can use that lame pun for the title when he witnesses a convenience store robbery and has to go all vigilante on a sociopath who threatened him. And Bruce Willis is in it, because by law at least one aging action star has to be featured in all new movies. It’s straight to video (obviously) but you should still watch it if you a) think Josh Duhamel is hot or b) like to watch people shoot each other.

Buy Fire With Fire on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Red Dog

This movie has three things going for it: 1) it’s Australian. 2) It stars a cute dog, and 3) Josh Lucas is in it. Story-wise it’s a bit like The Littlest Hobo, had the littlest hobo ever come to his senses and stayed in one place after he made friends and solved everyone’s problems. It’s based on a true story in which a dog (played by a dog named Koko) shows up in the road one day, is adopted by an industrial town in the middle of nowhere, and brings them all together while he searches for his one true forever person. Major cuteness. Rent it immediately.

Buy Red Dog on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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DVDs for September 25, 2012

The Avengers

I’m in the minority here (I may even get yelled at for saying this), but I think The Avengers is overrated. Sure you get to see snarky Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor buddy up with two assassins and kick alien ass on a flying aircraft carrier, but the the alien invasion plot has been done to death recently, they spend an awful lot of time fighting amongst themselves, and the supervillain Loki is badly underused. I prefer the individual films, but that’s just me. You should watch it anyway. Read more about it here.

Buy The Avengers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

Don’t get this confused with The Dark Knight Rises. That one stars Christian Bale. This one is a cartoon. However, that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy if for your six year old who loves Batman. Even though it looks like the 90s Batman animated series you remember, it’s actually based on a Frank Miller comic, which mean’s it’s loaded with brutal violence. The plot follows 50 year old Batman as he returns to fight crime after a ten year absence, so it’s kind of a little bit like Dark Knight Rises, but not really. Check it out if you’re over 12.

Buy Batman: Dark Knight Returns 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Resident Evil: Damnation

Exercising what they no doubt see as great restraint, the people at Sony waited a whole ten minutes after the last Resident Evil movie (the live action Retribution) before putting out this one. It’s animated and stars floppy haired Leon Kennedy, who goes to Eastern Europe to investigatebioweapons/kill zombies. You may notice this is the same plot as most of the Resident Evil games and that the animation is the same weirdly jerky CGI as the cut scenes, so I can only conclude that this was supposed to be a game but they forgot to put in the game part. Sadly it’s still better than Retribution.

Buy Resident Evil: Damnation on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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American Horror Story: Season 1

If you regularly watch cliched haunted house movies like Amityville, The Haunting, and Paranormal Activity and wish they were drawn out until they were twelve hours long, this is the DVD set for you. It follows a family (Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, and Taissa Farmiga) who move into a rickety old mansion which (SUPRISE!) turns out to be haunted. It’s fairly highly rated on IMDB and has won a Golden Globe, so it’s not terribly done – it’s mostly the characters who carry it – it’s just an overdone story.

Buy American Horror Story Season 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Dredd Review

poster from the DNA Pictures film Dredd

As I’ve probably mentioned before (ad nauseum), I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone’s. I do remember watching the old Judge Dredd, but I don’t remember caring enough find out that it was based on a comic book. Now that comic book movies are big moneymakers, they’ve dreddged (get it? Dreddged??) up the franchise and given it the modern FX treatment. The story is different:

Two judges, a veteran and a rookie, are trapped inside an apartment complex by a gang leader while trying to make a drug bust.

The 90s one was about Judge Dredd getting framed for murder, I think. Both make sense in terms of the world, which is a humungous lawless post apocalyptic city policed by judges who are actually more like executioners than anything else. It sounds like a token smashy smashy, but I really liked it.

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Trailer Reviews for September 21, 2012

DREDD



When I heard Karl Urban was taking over Sylvester Stallone’s old role in the Judge Dredd remake, I was excited. “I love Karl Urban!” I thought. “He’s a terrific actor! This is going to be great!” Except now that I’ve seen the trailer, I don’t see any differences between the old Stallone version and this new one. The special effects are better, obviously, and the plot’s a little different. I don’t remember there being slow motion drugs in the old one. But Judge Dredd never takes off his helmet and always speaks in a gravelly monotone, so Karl Urban might as well BE Sylvester Stallone in this for all he gets to show of his talent. I dunno, maybe it’s just that the trailer is bad, but I’m not expecting much from this one other than a few hours of smashy smashy.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET



See, now this is a good horror movie trailer. It sets up the premise without giving away the entire plot of the movie and then teases you with a few scary glimpses. A teenage girl’s family moves in next door to a teen boy with a scary past. The teen girl falls for the teen boy and gets embroiled in his scary past. The end. The scary thing could be his dead sister, his live but traumatized sister, a demon that convinced his sister to kill their parents, the dead parents, the live but traumatized parents, the teen boy, a demon possessing the teen boy, or any one of a thousand other things. WE DON’T KNOW. And that’s the way it should be. We should not know until the movie chooses to tell us. I for one will (eventually) go and see what it has to tell me.

THE TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE



Mmm, two baseball movies in a row I wouldn’t mind seeing? (this one and Moneyball)? Maybe I don’t hate baseball as much as I thought….. *turns on baseball on TV*….. annnd nope. Still hate it. What actually happened was that someone figured out that a sports movie that was about more than just sports would appeal to more people. Moneyball had the math angle, this movie has the father/daughter relationship. Not that I believe Clint Eastwood could be Amy Adams’ father. Great Great Great Great Grandfather, maybe. He looks to be about 1,000 years old. But I can overlook it just for this movie because his character is so funny.

END OF WATCH



Oh great, now they’re taking that annoying home movie/found footage gimmick and applying it to a police movie. Which makes it… what? A glorified episode of Cops? And – oh extra joy – the plot is all about how they cross organized crime! At least they’re not involved in organized crime. That would be even more annoying. But it does seem that the more time they spend running from assassin bullets, the less time they have to remember their gimmicky home video premise. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s definitely an inconsistent thing. If End of Watch starred someone I liked, MAYBE I could be convinced to eventually rent this DVD, but I don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal or Michael Pena, so I have no qualms about giving this one a pass. It’s a limited release, so not everyone will get it anyway.

ROLLER TOWN



Ugh, it’s like a bad parody of Flashdance, which was itself also a bad movie. I didn’t laugh once during this trailer, and by halfway through I was bored and wanted to turn it off. HALFWAY THROUGH A TWO MINUTE TRAILER. That joke at the end was more sad than funny, because it’s so true. Score one more success for Canadian film! Geez, I don’t know whether we just suck at making movies or if I’m just the purple penguin of Canada, but I’d be hard pressed to think of even one Canadian film that came out in the last five years that I even wanted to see. Maybe no one will give us money to make movies because they know we won’t make anything good (not that that ever stopped people funding American movies).

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of PINA, a formless, plotless collection of interpretive dancing scenes.

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