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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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Top 5 Horror Movies That Could Really Happen

pumpkin

It’s almost Halloween and this week’s new releases were pretty underwhelming. None of them were even horror movies! Being poor, I’m into voting with my wallet, so I decided to save money and do another list instead of subjecting myself to a movie I knew I wouldn’t like. This list is all about horrifying things that are actually real and could really happen to you (so no vampires, aliens, giant monsters, sharks inside a tornado, etc.) not all of the movies on here are technically horror movies, but I really liked each one and they all contain at least one scene that I wished I could un-see. If you’re a horror fan and you’ve already seen all the good horror movies, or if you’re just looking for new ideas for your Halloween party, maybe this will help you broaden your horizons and/or scar yourself for life.

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DVDs for October 22, 2013

conjuring

The Conjuring

There are a lot of “The Whatever” horror movies out, and most of them are not great. However, if you get them mixed up you may miss the one genuinely scary movie of the bunch: this one. Set during the 1970s (No cell phones! No laptops! The horror!) it follows a pair of paranormal investigators (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farminga) who get called in to deal with the creepy goings-on in a family farmhouse. If you like horror movies that are tense, scary, and coy rather than loud, bloody, and obvious, this is the movie for you.

Buy The Conjuring on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

internship

The Internship

Some movies are not good but also not bad enough to tear into little pieces. They’re just… forgettable. This is one of those movies. I like the premise. It’s pretty timely. Two salesman lose their jobs because of the internet. Since their whole industry has become obsolete, they have to switch careers in their 40s and compete for internship positions at Google with about a million computer savvy kids. Unfortunately, the laughs just aren’t there. Vaughan and Wilson deliver their dialogue with their trademark punch, but there’s nothing in it to laugh at. Pass.

Buy The Internship on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the way way back

The Way Way Back

This movie can best be summed up as: a sour-faced little twerp is petulant. The end. Even my friend, who loves movies about angsty little jerks railing about how no one understands them didn’t like this movie. Said punchable twerp is fourteen and misunderstood by his new step family (a pushy dad and bitchy sister) and pissed off that his mom chose them over him. So he falls in with the irreverent, irresponsible staff at a nearby waterpark. That’s the story. A lot of people (mainly adults) think it’s amazing, but I think you should skip it.

Buy The Way Way Back on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

before midnight

Before Midnight

The star-crossed lovebirds of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) are all grown up now and have grown up problems. Like kids and babysitting and family vacations and screwing other people. So kind of like what This is Forty tried to do, but not as goofy and blah. It kind of shatters the ‘and then they lived happily ever after’ assumption that we all make at the end of romance films, but that’s the idea. It’s best for people who like analytical romances and are old enough to identify with the characters.

Buy Before Midnight on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for October 18, 2013

FIFTH ESTATE



Sorry, Fifth Estate movie, but that title doesn’t make me think of Wiki Leaks. It makes me think of CBC documentaries (for those of you who are not Canadian, our national broadcasting corporation runs an investigative documentary series called The Fifth Estate). Why didn’t they just call it Wiki Leaks, I wonder? Everyone knows what that is. Title issues aside, it looks exciting. Lies! Spies! Getting chased! Best friends fighting! Whee! It’s like The Social Network crossed with Mission Impossible (the first one). I didn’t follow the real Wiki Leaks story that closely so I don’t know how it ends (yay ignorance!) Plus, after Daniel-Bruhl-as-Niki-Lauda totally knocked me over, I’d watch (almost) anything with him in it (FYI – he’s the Wiki Leaker who’s not Benedict Cumberbatch).

12 Years a Slave



Oh no! This looks really good too! Not as exciting, of course, but more moving. Life sucked for slaves across the board, but I imagine it would be a lot worse if you knew what it was like to be free beforehand. There’s got to be legal rules/policing on that sort of thing, even back then.
And there’s GOTTA be a happy ending (if there isn’t, I will be mad). So I guess the question is: do I want to be moved or excited? I also have to choose between Chiwetel Ejiofor/Michael Fassbender and Daniel Bruhl. That’s a tough call. And between Benedict Cumberbatch and…. Benedict Cumberbatch (I guess his movies come in Cumberbatches – hur hur). Maybe I’ll save this one for next week.

CARRIE



Nope. This was a movie that did NOT need a remake. The book was very creepy. The original movie was very creepy. The only thing they can really improve on is the special effects, which tends to damage the story. Too many things flying around, not enough character. My money will go elsewhere.

ESCAPE PLAN



I have a couple of questions for this movie. This is a huge prison with many inmates. Who built it? Who paid for it? Who works in it? How to they manage to kidnap and imprison high profile baddies without one anybody’s friends/family finding out about the prison and demanding their friend/family member’s release, a la Guantanamo Bay? If you’re going to break the law that obviously, wouldn’t it make more sense (and be a lot cheaper) to just kill all these guys? Especially when it comes to the PROFESSIONAL PRISON BREAKER. If I could get past that (I probably couldn’t) it looks like it could be an okay movie… except for that vegetarian line. That doesn’t even make any sense, but at least they didn’t say ‘girl.’

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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 8, 2013

after earth

After Earth

In this far-future science fiction survival movie, father/son team Will and Jaden Smith play a father/son team of Rangers, which are a type of alien monster fighter. The alien monsters sense fear, so after their ship crash-lands on an Earth populated by monsters and other human-killing organisms, the son much learn to suppress his fear to save his dad. It’s nice to look at and it works very well as a coming-of-age movie, but I would have liked to see more background on why Earth became so deadly and where the monsters came from. Check out my full review for more

Buy After Earth on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

hangover 3

The Hangover Part III

My friend had to buy my ticket to get me to go see this movie. That’s how enthusiastic I was about seeing it. I liked The Hangover but thought Part 2 was more of a remake than a sequel. With this film, they took things in a different direction. No one’s mysteriously missing and no one lost their memory – Doug has been kidnapped by a gangster and the pals are forced to pull off a heist to get him back. I appreciate the effort, but it just didn’t work for me. Even the jokes weren’t all that funny. Fans and non-fans will probably both be disappointed. Check out my full review for more.

Buy The Hangover Part III on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

purge

The Purge

There are so many generic one-word horror titles with creepy faces on the cover that it took me a minute to remember which one this was when I saw it on the list. It has an interesting (if ridiculous and unlikely) premise: that in the future American life is perfect and peaceful because for one night of the year all crime is legal. The movie follows the story of a family that shelters a stranger and ends up having their home invaded by a masked mob. Despite the fact that the premise would never really work, it could have been chilling. Unfortunately, it was dragged down by bad writing and genre cliches.

Buy The Purge on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

much ado

Much Ado About Nothing

This movie is basically a massive nerdgasm for Joss Whedon fans. It’s Shakespeare’s original romantic comedy play (sort of half) updated to modern times (costumes and setting yes, characters and dialogue no) starring some of the most popular actors in the Whedonverse – Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Franz, Sean Maher, etc. Also, it’s in black and white and was filmed in secret over 12 days on a lark while they were in the middle of The Avengers. Shakespeare fans and kids trying to avoid their assigned reading should watch the Kenneth Branagh version. Only Whedon fans will properly appreciate this.

Buy Much Ado About Nothing on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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Gravity Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Gravity

Being lost and alone is something that almost everyone is afraid of, which is why horror movies about being lost in forests, houses, desert islands, oceans, and space ships have all done so well. As we saw with Open Water, however, it can be a challenge to make sure there’s enough for the lost people to do without resorting to convenience. If Gravity was going to have a problem, I imagined that would be it.

Two space astronauts find themselves struggling for survival in space after their shuttle is destroyed by orbital debris.

And while its true that Gravity does occasionally rely on luck (both good and bad) and it does play fast and loose with science, it doesn’t matter, because you’ll be too busy gnawing off your own fingers in agonized tension to get picky over details. Seriously, I’ve never been so wound up by a movie in my life.

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Trailers for October 4, 2013

GRAVITY



I’m really looking forward to this movie. I think it could be really scary. Which is weird, because I didn’t think Open Water was anything but boring, and this is essentially the same setup: two people. Lost. Featureless landscape. Running out of something (in this case air, in Open Water, it was the energy to keep swimming). So why is it more interesting? Well space, obviously, is much prettier and deadlier than the ocean. Also, with the things crashing into other things, it looks like there’s more action – like the characters have something to do besides float around and talk about how screwed they are. But I guess we’ll see if they managed two whole hours of interesting.

RUNNER RUNNER



Okay, if this guy’s too poor to pay his tuition, where does he get the money to fly over and confront the online poker site owner? Also, if he’s so smart, why doesn’t he have a scholarship? And why doesn’t he realize online gambling is a dumb way to get tuition money? And why can’t he pull his head out of his ass for long enough to think that maybe confronting an international criminal could be dangerous? I don’t think this guy is very smart at all. I think he’s just smart enough to convince himself he’s an invincible genius, which of course leads to nothing but trouble. Also, they stole that crocodile scene from Romancing the Stone. A good showing, Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, but I’m not interested.

PARKLAND



Americans are obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. I can’t even count how many books and movies I’ve read/seen pushing some sort of insane conspiracy involving everything from the CIA to aliens. It’s refreshing to see a movie that’s NOT trying to push a conspiracy theory but just trying to illuminate the little-known people on the periphery of the event who would have been affected just as much as the big players. Like Zac Efron the baby-faced doctor trying to put a man’s blown-off head back together while the entire world looks over his shoulder. I’d watch it.

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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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DVDs for September 17, 2013

world war z

World War Z

I know a lot of people hate this movie, largely because it has very little to do with the book it’s based on, but I really like it. Not many horror movies manage to scare me, but this one did. It’s loaded with tension as the main character tries to get his family out of a zombie-riddled city and then track down the disease’s origins and cure (I’m a sucker for epidemiology stories). The zombies are much scarier than regular zombies – they pile like ants and react to sound. Watch it with the lights on or read myfull review first.

Buy World War Z on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the east

The East

The East is a boring title that tells you nothing about the movie and makes it difficult to get relevant search results on Google, so let me make it easy for me. This is a dark thriller about a woman who gets hired by a security company to infiltrate a group of anarchists who are launching guerrilla attacks against the company’s sleazy big-business clients. She kind of falls down the rabbit hole and ends up questioning whose side she should be on (especially when she meets the hot ringleader – Alexander Skarsgard). It’s pretty good. Check it out.

Buy The East on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

scenic route

Scenic Route

I have to laugh at this one. The DVD box makes it look like a quirky comedy, like ‘oh, haha, this dude went on a road trip and ended up with dirty clothes and a goofy haircut’ but if you watch the movie or the trailer, it’s obvious that it’s a serious psychological horror/thriller about a pair of guys who come unhinged after their truck breaks down in the desert. I don’t know about you, but I’d have preferred the first scenario. Still, there is the Josh Duhamel factor, and it’s not bad for what it is.

Buy Scenic Route on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

disconnect

Disconnect

This is a drama/thriller, but it should really be classed as a public service announcement and shown in schools, because it’s all about the different ways you can totally screw yourself over by posting too much online. Cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, scams, stalking, and just generally spending so much time digitally connected that you forget to have a life in the real world – it’s all in here, each issue presented as a different subplot in an ensemble drama. There have been a couple of ‘online dangers’ issue movies, but this is the best one so far.

Buy Disconnect on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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