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DVDs for June 25, 2013

burt wonderstone

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

While it’s not my favorite movie by Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was pretty hilarious. Carrell and Steve Buscemi play a Siegfried and Roy style pair of stage magicians who are knocked out of their top billing in Vegas by Jim Carrey, a Criss Angel style stunt magician. They have to team up with a female magician (Olivia Wilde) and an old guy (Alan Arkin) to come up with something big enough to win their audience back. Check out my full review for more or just go ahead and rent it, because it’s decent.

Buy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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the call

The Call

If this movie gets much attention from movie renters, I suspect it will be because it stars Halle Berry, not because the story is particularly unique or well executed. Berry plays a 9-1-1 operator who takes a call from a young girl (Abigail Breslin) who has been kidnapped by a serial killer. Because she’s taken calls from this killer’s victims before, Berry’s character defies all rules of 9-1-1 operating and common sense and chases after the guy herself hoping to rescue the girl. They do manage to generate some tension, but you’d be better off watching some episodes of Criminal Minds instead.

Buy The Call on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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upside down

Upside Down

It’s a shame this one was only a limited release in theaters because it’s totally unique and really well done. It’s a love story about two people who live on opposite sides of a twinned planet where one surface is upside down from the other and significantly poorer. Scientifically it would never work, of course, but that doesn’t stop the movie from pulling it off. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst are adorable as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the girl born to privilege and the whole concept has got to be the best interpretation of the ‘bird and fish in love’ that I’ve ever seen. Check it out.

Buy Upside Down on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

hansel and gretel get baked

Hansel and Gretel Get Baked

I just had to pick this one because the title was so bad. It conjures up images of two little blonde kids smoking up in their parents’ basement… which turns out to not be far from the truth. The movie features a modern day Hansel and Gretel (played by the reject boy from Twilight and Rick Castle’s daughter) who get high on a drug called ‘Black Forest’ and raid the house of an old lady rumored to be growing the stuff at home and chowing down on people who come to visit. It’s a mildly funny concept but probably would have been better as a short film.

Buy Hansel and Gretel Get Baked on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for June 11, 2013

oz

Oz the Great and Powerful

Studios seem to be competing with one another to create more and more visually stunning movies to play in 3D. A lot of them forget to have a decent story to go with all the special effects, but Oz the Great and Powerful does pretty well. It’s a prequel to the Dorothy story which focuses on Oz the stage magician and how he ousted some evil witches to become the ruler of the Land of Oz. It’s a great movie to watch with kids (unless they’re little and/or easily scared) but it can be a bit of a struggle to like Oz himself. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Oz the Great and Powerful on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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hansel and gretel

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Updated versions of fairy tales are all the rage, but most of them, like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters are pretty bad. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as the fabled brother and sister, who become witch hunters after their encounter at the candy house. They’re both shallow and insufferable, the action is way too gory to make the movie acceptable for kids, and the writers seems to think anachronisms = steampunk. Check out my my full review for more on why even the Renner Factor can’t save this movie.

Buy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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snitch

Snitch

If this movie is to be believed, it is perfectly possible and even downright acceptable for the relatives of accused criminals to offer themselves up as sacrificial lambs in order to free their loved ones from jail. Dwayne Johnson, here masquerading as an ‘ordinary dad’ goes undercover for the government in exchange for the DA dropping the charges against his wrongly accused son. If you can get past that bit of ridiculous logic and the fact that an ‘ordinary dad’ can hold his own against the combined forces of the government and every drug dealer in the world, you might actually like Snitch.

Buy Snitch on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite

I love the Lego video games and I’m chomping at the bit to get a copy of Lego Batman 2. Seeing your favorite superheroes as Lego minifigures who get blasted apart and put back together as often as the scenery is hilarious for both kids and adults. This movie, which is based on the game, features Lex Luthor and the Joker banding together to destroy Gotham against the combined forces of the Justice League, is great for parents to watch with kids because there’s a lot of clever little satirical bits, just like in the video games. It will make you nostalgic for the old Batman cartoons.

Buy Lego Batman: The Movie on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

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DVDs for April 30, 2013

silver linings playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

Some movies get a lot of attention from critics because they’re boring and pretentious, but sometimes they get attention because everybody genuinely enjoys them. Silver Linings Playbook is one of those movies. Regular people like it because it’s a cute romantic comedy starring adorable people (Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) and critics like it because it takes on ‘deep’ issues like mental illness, addiction, compulsive gambling, and dysfunctional relationships. One of my friends went to it 5+ times in theaters, but you’ll probably be fine with once on DVD.

Buy Silver Linings Playbook on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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broken city

Broken City

The whole dirty cop thing is a popular theme, but unlike the rest of the dirty cop thrillers, this one wraps up the cop part early and moves on to private eye (not a huge leap, I know, but it’s something). Mark Wahlberg plays the aforementioned dirty cop who kills a rapist and then gets sucked into a big dirty political mess involving the candidates for the mayoral election. Like most thrillers, it relies on revelations of who met whom for what reason for its tension, but the tension is damaged by the fact that the scandal is a pretty standard one that’s easy to figure out. I wouldn’t bother with it.

Buy Broken City on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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guilt trip

Guilt Trip

I don’t like Seth Rogan at the best of times, but put him in a cliched and unfunny road trip movie with Barbara Streisand and I’d drive across the country just to avoid it. The plot (such as it is) centers around Rogan’s character as a cleaning fluid salesman driving across the US to peddle his product. His mother invites herself along to work out their issues and reunite with an old lover. A road trip movie’s success relies on character/actor chemistry, and unfortunately theirs just doesn’t do anything for me. For a really funny road trip comedy you haven’t seen, try the Australian film Thunderstruck.

Buy The Guilt Trip on DVD or try Thunderstruck instead.

best of both worlds

Star Trek: Next Generation – Best of Both Worlds

This was released in a limited number of theaters last week, but the DVD is what you really want. At $15, it’s the same price as an IMAX ticket and you get special features with it, including a documentary, an audio commentary, and a gag reel. The actual content is movie length – a full two-part episode arc featuring Captain Picard’s capture and assimilation into the Borg collective – and is remastered to look good in HD (though the aspect ratio remains full screen). Not worth it if you have the full season set, but a good nostalgic investment if you don’t.

Buy Best of Both Worlds on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for April 26, 2013

THE BIG WEDDING



Man, it’s been a long time since I saw a romantic comedy. Even longer since I saw a GOOD one. Even longer than that since I saw a good ENSEMBLE romantic comedy. I’m looking forward to this. Why? Well, Ben Barnes is extremely cute. That goes a long way. And then of course the last two wedding related films I saw with Amanda Seyfried and Katherine Heigl in them (Mamma Mia and 27 Dresses, respectively) were HILARIOUS. And then there’s the hint of It’s Complicated thrown in there with the inclusion of a messy divorce/new girlfriend subplot involving the older parents. I’m not a DeNiro affictionato and the reason for the whole mess is tenuous at best (the mother of the groom is very religious) but I guess when you think about it, when are these movies ever that realistic?

PAIN AND GAIN



The fact that there’s a red band version of the trailer for this movie was a bad sign to me. That usually means the comedy is so disgusting they have to warn people before subjecting them to even two minutes of it (sort of like the labels they put on radioactive waste). And then of course there’s the Michael Bay factor. His name is not exactly a seal of quality these days. This movie doesn’t look too bad, though. The utter doofusness of the characters (combined with the fact that the movie and the actors know that these guys are doofuses) gives Pain and Gain a certain amount of charm. The plot seems to be very Seven Psychopaths with heavy thematic does of Jersey Shore, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’d watch this on video someday.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – BEST OF BOTH WORLDS



This is only coming to a select few theaters (i.e those located in cities judged to have a high number of Star Trek fans) which is just as well, because it’s just two episodes squashed together. It costs somewhere between $11 and $16 to see it depending on your theater. For that much money, you might as well buy the DVD. At least then you’d get the special features (I for one would like to see that gag reel). Hell, buy a subscription to Netflix and you can watch all 178 episodes for $8 as long as you can speed through over a hundred hours of show in under a month. Having said that though, these screenings will be total nerd parties, which could be fun regardless of what’s on the screen.

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Trailer Reviews for March 8, 2013

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL



I’ve heard this movie compared to Alice in Wonderland and while it was meant as a compliment, I can’t help but be concerned. Alice in Wonderland was a little too much “look at all the cool stuff we can do with CGI” and not enough “boy, have I got a really great story to tell you.” It does help, though, that this is not the same Oz story we all know – with Dorthy and the little dog and the friends who are all missing their important bits. This is a prequel story about Oz, who has probably the least screen time of anyone in the original film yet somehow manages to be the most interesting character. I for one am looking forward to delving into the back story of the Wizard of Oz. On a side note – that was a cool thing they did there with the aspect ratios in the trailer. It gives me hope that the film will be clever also.

DEAD MAN DOWN



I’m a big fan of the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies. That trilogy was loaded with violence and it didn’t bother me but they almost lost me in Dead Man Down when she started talking about revenge. Too many dark/crime movies turn me off because the main characters are terrible people – revenge obsessed, self-interested, remorseless. I guess the reason I liked Dragon Tattoo so much – and the reason I’m actually kind of interested in seeing this movie – is that the main characters are sympathetic. Obviously the Terrence Howard character is horrible and needs to be stopped. Obviously some really bad stuff happened to the Noomi Rapace character that convinced her nothing but death would stop him. And Colin Farrell’s character is affected by the fact that he kills people. So yeah, I’d probably watch this movie.

STOKER



Apparently Wentworth Miller writes screenplays. Did you know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays? I did not know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays. I wish I could say I like the trailer for the screenplay he has written, because he seems like a nice guy, but sadly I cannot. I mean, it looks like it could have been scary, but it’s way too quiet. As in, quiet enough that I’d probably get bored watching the movie. Too many close ups of spiders crawling around and bits of gunk floating in water. Too many long awkward pauses between lines of dialogue. Too many blank faces delivering emotionless lines. I like all these actors in other things but here… either their characters are psychopaths who missed the ‘mimicking human emotion’ day in psychopath school or they were all having a bad acting day (year?). I’ll pass on this one.

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Trailer Reviews for January 25, 2013

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS



I kind of feel like I’ve seen this movie before (in Van Helsing and Brothers Grimm) but that’s not going to stop me from going to see it. I’m not gonna lie – the fact that it stars Jeremy Renner is probably the biggest (read: only) reason I upgraded it from “ignore” to “go see.” There’s nothing in the trailer that’s particularly enthralling – in fact it seems a little like a slapdash, pseudo-medieval version of Supernatural. I mean, if Hansel is such an expert hunter, how come he throws his shotgun (um… shotgun?) over his shoulder even though the muzzle is pointing right in some poor villager’s face? And where did that witch get a machine gun? And I really REALLY hope that wasn’t Gretel in the lake with Hansel (Surprise! The twist is that they’re not REALLY brother and sister!) [Not really – I made that up].

MOVIE 43



I was intrigued by this movie when I heard it was a collection of sketch comedy shorts. I love sketch comedy shorts (GOOD sketch comedy shorts, that is) But then the blurb went on to say that it was produced by one of the Farrelly brothers, and I was like: “woah woah, let me stop you right there, movie. You can just turn right around and crawl back into the arsehole you came from.” And then I thought: “No, no, you’re being unfair. It could be good.” Even though the blurb warns that the movie isn’t for the ‘easily offended.’ So I watched the trailer and I have to say, it’s not so much offensive as it is stupid, so I guess they’re partially right: if you’re offended by stupidity, you shouldn’t see this movie.

PARKER



I have a friend who is a huge Jason Statham fan (Hi, Meghan!) We do not agree on the relative merits of Jason Statham, probably because one person’s bad assity is the next person’s douchebaggery (it’s a fine line). This is a shame (from the studio’s point of view), because an irrational devotion to the lead actor is the only thing that could possibly make me go see a movie about criminals as heroes AND revenge plots conducted by the supposedly dead AND elaborate jewel heists (three of my least favorite movie premises). So enjoy, fans of baldy-headed criminals with their own moral codes! You will have no competition for tickets from me.

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DVDs for January 22, 2013

End of Watch

Jake Gyllenhaal looks totally weird with a bald head. I just wanted to get that out there before I started talking about the movie. Okay, so, the movie. It’s a pretty typical L.A. Cop story – it pretends to be routine but then throws in a bunch of really serious stuff like uncovering human trafficking or stolen suitcase nukes or whatever. The thing that makes it seem more routine or realistic than your average movie is the fact that it’s shot like a fake documentary. It’s not up my street but if you like a lot of shooting and macho swearing this one’s for you.

Buy End of Watch on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Paperboy

As much as I wish this was a movie about Zac Efron riding a bike up the street pelting people’s houses with newspapers, alas he plays a kid from a scary Florida backwater who helps two journalists investigate whether or not a death row inmate really committed the crimes he’s getting executed for. It sounds very dramatic and possibly thrilling but is actually kind of disjointed and pretentious. But there’s some pretty sensational stuff in there, so you might want to check it out if all you really need from a movie is a few good shocks.


For a Good Time Call

If you liked Bridesmaids, you may have noticed that there weren’t a lot of other films you could follow it with. Most of the crude sex comedies are guy-oriented. But here’s another one from the female perspective. It follows two women who used to hate each other as they start a phone sex hotline in order to keep their insanely expensive apartment. So it’s both a buddy comedy and a sex comedy, combining “we hate each other” jokes with “omg what’s this dildo thing?!” It’s pretty funny. If you think you can handle it, check it out.

Buy For a Good Time Call on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft

If you’re looking forward to seeing Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, you should probably be aware that this is not that film. It’s a cheap high school knockoff starring a real life sister and brother who were apparently named after Fievel Mousekewitz and Yogi Bear’s sidekick. Their only claim to fame is playing werewolves in the Twilight movies, so that should tell you something about this movie (namely that it is terrible). If you didn’t get my hint, let me spell it out for you: this movie is terrible.

Buy Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft on DVD.

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Jack Reacher Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Reacher

I’ve been a fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books for a while, so when I heard they were making a movie out of One Shot, I was like: yay! Then when I heard they were getting Tom Cruise to star as the quiet, deadly, 6’5” blonde main character, I was like: oh no. Not Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is crazy. But Lee Child supported the decision, so of course I had to give the movie a chance. For those of you who haven’t read One Shot, here’s the plot:


A mysterious former military policeman uncovers a conspiracy after a Marine sniper is accused of killing five people.

I was prepared to not like it. Book adaptations don’t always work out, especially when you read the book first. But now that I’ve seen Jack Reacher, I have to admit that it’s one of the best book adaptations I’ve seen and that Tom Cruise got it exactly right.

Read More

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Trailer Reviews for December 14, 2012

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY



How they can get three movies out of a book that’s barely long enough to make one, I don’t know. My friends who have read the other books have said they’re drawing on the excised background material from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but still… does this not seem like a money grab to anyone? Kind of like splitting the last Twilight and Harry Potter books into two movies instead of cutting out the boring parts. And there are a LOT of boring parts in Tolkien’s books – so many that the first third of the first book is covered by about ten minutes of screen time in Fellowship of the Ring. Anyway, I don’t like Tolkien (could you guess?) but I will see this movie. Why? The Lord of the Rings movies weren’t bad and it stars Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Martin Freeman) and Lucas North from Spooks (Richard Armitage).

DEADFALL



Ugh! Oh god! Ew! Eric Bana with a southern accent. It’s so pervy and wrong! Make it stop! And Olivia Wilde… she’s pretty icky here too, preying on some random dude who was nice enough to stop when she was freezing her butt off on the side of the road. I don’t like either of the main characters and yet I’m supposed to care whether they get to Canada with their ill gotten gains? I don’t think so. Plus it seems a little like Fargo without the wood chipper and the likeable small town cops. I’ll be skipping this movie in favor of something where the bad guys aren’t the good guys.

HITCHCOCK



Before I even started watching this trailer, I was like: GROAN. Why? Because it’s two minutes and fifty seconds long. Too long. That’s like a movie that’s almost three hours long. My attention span will not support a three minute trailer. I have things to do. Places to see. Shorter trailers to watch. But I watched it anyway because I need to think of SOMETHING of substance to say. And when I did watch it, I was not bored. That hardly even looked like Anthony Hopkins and I love the idea that Hitchcock’s wife deserved some credit but never got any (until now). I also had no idea that Psycho was that much of a struggle to get made. I’d like to hear about that, too. Someday. If my theater ever gets it in.

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DVDs for November 15, 2011

Larry Crowne

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, the king and queen of bland romantic comedies in the 1990s, have jumped back into the game with this bland romantic comedy, which is meant to appeal to all their old fans who are now middle aged and likely as washed up as their characters. The story follows Tom Hanks (Larry Crowne) who loses his job in retail and goes to the college that Julia Roberts teaches at for retraining. They’re both kind of depressed – him because he lost his job and her because she hates hers – but love makes them happier – huzzah! So far, so standard.

Buy Larry Crowne on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Beginners

On the surface, this movie looks like your standard independent fare – there’s a man, he’s a little odd, somebody gets cancer, he’s got to deal with it, yadda yadda, but I tend to give Ewan McGregor more credit than that. He always picks good movies to be in. In this one, he talks to his little dog and he’s got a hilarious father (played by Christopher Plummer), who’s just discovering the gay scene after years in the closet. Tonally it’s sort of up and down at the same time and a lot of people think it doesn’t live up to its trailer, pacing wise, but give it a chance anyway. It’s Ewan freaking McGregor.

Buy Beginners on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Flypaper

Guess what I hate? Heist movies! Also, hostage situations. So I’m definitely not interested in seeing a movie about a hostage situation that results from a heist, right? Even if it stars Patrick Dempsey? Under normal circumstances, you would be right. But this one manages to sneak in under the anti-heist/hostage movie missile radar because it’s a comedy. Instead of being a cowering hostage, Dempsey plays a Mentalist inspired character alternately goading and manipulating two competing sets of bank robbers in an effort to get them caught. Plus, he’s trying to win the heart of a bank teller. Funny!

Buy Flypaper on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Whitechapel: Ripper Returns

I don’t usually do TV series(es?) but I didn’t want this one to get lumped in with all the other British crime dramas in your mind, because it’s got a tremendously cool premise: Jack the Ripper returns! Or rather, he’s inspired a copycat. It’s set in 2008 in Whitechapel, the original neighborhood Jack the Ripper terrorized, and it stars Rupert Penry-Jones, whom you likely have not heard of, but he’s awesome, trust me. There are only six episodes so far (three per year on a single case) so it’s really more of a miniseries than anything else. Check it out.

Buy Whitechapel: Ripper Returns on DVD.

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