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DVDs for June 10, 2014

jack ryan

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

This is the first Jack Ryan movie not based on any of Tom Clancey’s novels, and it shows. It’s a lot less politically sophisticated than the previous Jack Ryan films and a lot more confused in terms of who the Jack Ryan character is and what he can do. Though the filmmakers have tried to update the series by bringing it into the present day, it still feels like a Cold War movie, mostly because the Russians are the bad guys and digital data is treated like hard copy. Rent it if you’re looking for a generic action movie or check out my full review.

Buy Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nonstop

Non-Stop

Speaking of generic movies, Non-Stop, a generic thriller about a sky marshall trapped on a plane with a terrorist, also releases this week. It’s a good premise for a contained space thriller, but they ruined it by spending most of the movie texting and by having everyone think that the hero was the villain, which made the plot seem convoluted. If you’re looking at Liam Neeson’s picture on the box and thinking it will be like Taken, think again. There’s only one good fist fight in the whole movie. Read my review for more.

Buy Non-Stop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

cosmos

Cosmos

Judging from the amount of pseudoscientific bullsh** and outright lies being shared by people on my Facebook news feed, a lot more people need to watch this documentary series. It does for physics, astronomy, and ecology what BBC’s Planet Earth did for geography and biology – it makes you want to hear about science. Whether you failed every science class in school or you’re a Popular Science subscriber, TV presenter/real actual scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has something new to say to you. And it looks pretty. Check it out.

Buy Cosmos on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

devils knot

Devil’s Knot

And now for a non-generic thriller: Devil’s Knot is based on the true story of a trio of teens accused of murdering three little boys as part of a satanic ritual. The film delves into the horror of the murders as well as the controversial aspects of the case, raising the question of whether the teens really killed anyone or if the town is just out to get them for being weird. If you’ve seen the documentaries the film probably won’t offer anything new, but if you’re coming to it fresh you’ll find it really interesting. Check it out.

Buy Devil’s Knot on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for May 6, 2014

veronica mars

Veronica Mars

Otherwise known as “The Kickstarter Movie.” In a move reminiscent of Firefly, fans of the Nancy-Drew-esque high school murder mystery show Veronica Mars got together and handed series creator Rob Thomas (not the one from Matchbox 20) enough money to make a movie. They got an extra-long mystery featuring grown up Veronica investigating a case that catches her up with all the people she used to know as a teen. This is pretty much a fans-only movie, so try the TV show first.

Buy Veronica Mars on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

art of the steal

The Art of the Steal

There’s an art to making heist movies that aren’t just the same old cliches trotted out all over again, and this movie doesn’t have it. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a reformed thief bands together with his former colleagues to pull off one more heist before they retire, but divisions among the group screw up the plan. The only real difference is that the lead character played by Kurt Russell is (for some reason) an Evel Knievel knockoff. If you mass-consume heist movies, you’ll probably get to it eventually.

Buy The Art of the Steal on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

burn

Burn

I was first introduced to Detroit’s arson problem through Charlie LeDuff’s book Detroit: An American Autopsy. Overworked, underpaid firefighters in run down equipment risk their lives to fight huge numbers of arson fires in abandoned houses before they burn the handful of remaining people out of their homes (Detroit is where arsonists go on vacation). It’s hard hitting stuff, even more so in documentary form. They got some pretty amazing footage, so definitely check it out (especially you, fellow Chicago Fire fans).

Buy Burn on DVD.

generation war

Generation War

In North America, we call our World War II soldiers “The Greatest Generation.” We make endless movies about how they heroically put down those dastardly Nazis, but what if you’re German? What do you call the ’40s generation then? I always preferred the war movies/books that contained at least a single three dimensional Axis character rather than a hoard of cardboard psychopaths, so this miniseries, which follows five young Germans in different wartime roles, seemed like exactly what I’ve been looking for all this time. This is something we should all watch.

Buy Generation War on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailers for April 18, 2014

TRANSCENDENCE



Otherwise known as: SkyNet – the Movie! I mean, I’ll see it, but how many times do we need to travel the same well-worn territory? Oh no! We created a supermachine and now it can boss us around! The horror!

BEARS



It’s Earth Day again and time for another kids’ documentary about cute animals. While you’re watching Bears, don’t forget to remind your littleuns that if they ever catch a whiff of the fishy garbage-heap-in-the-sun smell of a real bear, under no circumstances should they attempt to approach and/or pat the cute bears, as they will totally rip your face off.

HAUNTED HOUSE 2



Sometimes I like deliberately dumb spoofs, but this one is just bad. That trailer didn’t even make me smile once.

FACE OF LOVE



While I’m not opposed to the notion of a woman falling in love with a guy who looks like her dead husband (okay, I find it a LITTLE creepy), this looks like one of those slow, quiet (read: boring) movies that make me want to hit fast forward just to make something happen.

TRAILER PARK BOYS: DON’T LEGALIZE IT



I despise Trailer Park Boys, but I know a lot of people don’t, so here’s the trailer. Me: out.

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Muppets Most Wanted Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Muppets Most Wanted

The offerings this week consisted of Noah (too ridiculous) and Bad Words (too angry) so I decided to turn back the clock to last week and see Muppets Most Wanted. I’ve never been a big fan of Kermit, Miss Piggy, or any of the ‘big’ Muppets but I do love backgrounders like Beaker, Robin, and Statler and Waldorf. Plus the last movie was really funny.

After taking Kermit’s place, international criminal Constantine and the Muppets’ manager Dominic Badguy use their world tour as a cover for stealing priceless artifacts.

I’m always worried that a movie with a hilarious trailer will be disappointing because it used up all its good jokes already. Luckily, that didn’t happen here. Though I did occasionally wish for less Muppets and more supporting cast, it turned out to be as funny as the last one.

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Trailer Reviews for March 21, 2014

DIVERGENT



I’ve been looking forward to this movie. The book is excellent. It reminds me a lot of how we’re always trying to put people in boxes with those personality tests – like there are only sixteen kinds of people in the world. I fully expect the movie to be as good (or better) than The Hunger Games, provided they steered clear of all that shaky-cam that plagued the first Hunger Games movie. The trailer says it does. Woot! Bring on Friday!

MUPPETS MOST WANTED



It’s a shame this movie opens the same week as Divergent, because everything about this trailer makes me laugh. “Kerrrrrmeet da frog heeer.” Dominic Badguy. “Thees is my car. Eet is illegal now for eets massive size.” “Turn dem back on, I can’t see anything!” I’m dying over here. The good news is that there’s nothing I care about coming out next week, so I can just wait and do the Muppets then. ERMEGERD MERPERTS!!

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Trailer Reviews for March 14, 2014

NEED FOR SPEED

)

No. Nope. Nuh uh. If I want to oogle expensive cars, I’ll watch Top Gear. At least those guys are funny. What I will not do is watch another terrible video game adaptation starring a guy who has that same dopey look as Deputy Dewey from Scream. Also, that stunt with the helicopter was a whole lot more hilarious in my head, where the chains just ripped off the car bumper and those two idiots plunged to the bottom of the canyon in a big dumb fireball.

ENEMY

)

Directed by the Prisoners guy or not, this looks slow and boring. I’m only mildly curious about why there are two guys who look the same and I feel like the answer to the puzzle is some kind of spaced-out metaphor that would just piss me off anyway. So no way.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

)

I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Wes Anderson films. I love The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox but I hated The Darjeeling Limited (too depressing, not funny enough). This one looks to be more on the goofy side of things, so I’ll see it.

VERONICA MARS

)

Ah yes, the Kickstarter movie the Veronica Mars fans funded when they couldn’t accept the cancellation of their beloved show. I never watched the TV show and I don’t live in one of the select cities this film will be playing in, but if you are/do, I hope you get your money’s worth out of it. I think it looks like Nancy Drew as written by Joss Whedon.

TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB

)

Tyler Perry invents babysitting?

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Mr. Peabody and Sherman Review

poster from the Dreamworks Pictures film Mr. Peabody and Sherman

No way was I paying $14 to be bored to sleep by Slow Motion Swordfight 2: Now With More Beards and Instagram Filters, so my choice this week was cartoons. I only vaguely remembered Mr. Peabody from when I was little, so I could watch the reboot without all those pesky predetermined notions you usually have with a remake.

A hyperintelligent dog tries to keep his adoptive son out of trouble after he messes up the past trying to impress a girl from school.

My major concern was that I would be annoyed by the inevitable historical and scientific inaccuracies, but the movie is so hilarious that I ended up not caring about any of that. It also has some interesting things to say about adoption if you’re paying attention, so it’s both cute and funny. Take the kids. You’ll both like it.

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DVDs for February 11, 2014

enders game

Ender’s Game

Whether or not you agree with the things that Orson Scott Card has been saying online, you should see this movie, because you buying or not buying it won’t affect his bottom line. Ender’s Game is probably the best adaptation we can expect from the classic novel about six-year-olds who are training to wipe out an alien space fleet. It’s a little hectic and a little de-toothed, but it’s exciting, it poses some interesting questions, and the effects are cool. Read my full review for more.

Buy Ender’s Game on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

sherlock season3

Sherlock: Season 3

ERMEGERD! SERSERN THRUH IS ERRT! Says everyone who watches Sherlock but fell into a coma during the long hiatus between seasons. WTF IS THE BIG DEAL? Says everyone who has not watched the show. Group One: the link to buy the DVD is below. Group Two: you need to watch this show. Seriously. Each season is three two hour movies starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as modern day Holmes and Watson. It blows your usual CSI and Law and Order type shows out of the water.

Buy Sherlock: Season 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the counselor

The Counselor

If you would like to be depressed, confused, and generally divested of your faith in humanity by your next film, add The Counselor to your Netflix list. It’s a teamup between Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy and features a greedy lawyer who ruins his life by getting involved with drug trafficking. All the wholesome violence of No Country for Old Men combined with the bleakness of The Road. Who could resist? It’s the feel-good movie of the year for people who don’t like there to be anyone left alive at the end of the film.

Buy The Counselor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

austenland

Austenland

Either I missed this in theaters or they changed their minds and put it out straight to DVD, because I was looking for it. I read the book. It was cute and half decently funny – better than the other Pride and Prejudice-inspired chick lit novels I’ve read (there are a lot). The main character decides to go on a Regency retreat to kick her Mr. Darcy addiction once and for all, only to fall in love with the actor playing Mr. Darcy (d’oh). It’s not going to rock anyone’s world, but it’d make a great selection for your next Girls’ Night In.

Buy Austenland on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for January 14, 2014

riddick

Riddick

Chances are you’ve heard of Riddick by now. He was the mysterious, morally ambiguous character at the center of the 2000 horor movie Pitch Black who was subsequently demystified and turned into a meatheaded sci-fi/fantasy action hero in a sequel movie and some video games. By the time Riddick rolled around, the character been relegated to cheap-bin status. The movie itself is about Riddick being chased by bounty hunters. Read my fake review Riddickulous to see what I thought of it.

Buy Riddick on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the butler

The Butler

In this semi-true historical epic based on a newspaper article, an African American White House butler played by Forest Whitaker witnesses (and even manages to influence) most of the major civil rights related events of the second half of the 20th century. It’s interesting as a character study (his family members are all conveniently involved in different movements, which makes for a lot of conflict) and as a historical survey for anyone who’d like to learn more about Civil Rights. Check it out.

Buy The Butler on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

carrie

Carrie

Here’s another addition to the genre of ‘movies that didn’t need to be remade.’ Since it bills itself as a ‘re-imagining,’ you might think that it goes back to the source material (Stephen King’s novel) but it doesn’t. It’s just a remake of the 1976 version, where a telekenetic high school senior goes on a rampage after her bullies take things too far, but with more simplified characters/plot and better special effects. So if you like complexity, rewatch the old version. If you like CGI tables flying around, watch this one.

Buy Carrie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

top gear 20

Top Gear Season 20

If you’re not already watching this show… what’s the matter with you? Haven’t you been listening to me? This is the funniest show on TV (and yes, I am counting all your favorite sitcoms). Even when they’re just reviewing cars, Jeremy, James, and Richard crack me up. When they challenge themselves to build/do something that looks easy, I can’t breathe. This season their six episodes of antics include: choosing the most inconspicuous supercar, driving a homeade hovervan on the Avon River, and crashing a lot of old taxis in a race.

Buy Top Gear: Season 20 on DVD.

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DVDs for December 3, 2013

wolverine

THE WOLVERINE

Otherwise known (by me) as Wolverine Goes to Japan to distinguish it from the other standalone Wolverine movie from 2009, which wasn’t that great. Wolverine Goes to Japan, however, is pretty awesome, largely because it keeps things simple. Wolverine turns to a Japanese mutant for help after his healing powers are stolen as part of a ploy to take over a major Japanese corporation. It only loses points in my book by referencing X-Men: The Last Stand, which should be forgotten once and for all. Read my full review for more.

Buy The Wolverine on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

city of bones

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments book series, and for a book adaptation, the movie is surprisingly okay. The story centers around a teenage girl who discovers that she belongs to an ancient race of demon hunters after her mom is kidnapped by bad guys. There’s lots of action, a well rounded main character, and some cool mythology. However the plot was a bit confusing, the boyfriend character was kind of odd looking, and my favorite character Alec was pushed into the background. Read my review for a full rundown or just watch it yourself. Book reading is optional but recommended.

Buy City of Bones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

smurfs 2

Smurfs 2

Ugh, I used to watch The Smurfs as a kid even though I didn’t really like them. As an adult, I don’t just find them annoying and stupid but also sexist, pervy, and unfunny. In this second film, Smurfette (the ONLY female smurf in a community of several generations) is kidnapped by the wizard Gargamel so she can use a magic smurf-making spell (sex?) to turn his evil anti-Smurfs into real Smurfs for… some reason related to magic. But since Smurfette FOR SOME REASON has always felt “different” from other Smurfs she might not want to go home. Ick. Watch The Muppets instead.

Buy Smurfs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

drinking buddies

Drinking Buddies

This movie looks like a light, fun comedy about two best friends (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson) who work at a brewery together and COULD have a thing were it not for the fact that they’re both in long term relationships (with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively). However it’s more of a funny-awkward dramedy with inappropriate flirting and breakups than a flat out comedy and things don’t work out as perfectly as they would in a true rom com, so if you’re planning on renting it, just keep that in mind. But for quirky indie true-to-life dramedy people? Perfect.

Buy Drinking Buddies on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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