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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom Blu-ray Review
Sep 02 2015 01:34 PM
Bringing their original True-Life Adventures nature series into the 21st century, Disneynature’s eighth feature film Monkey Kingdom is surely one of its most... Read More
Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One Blu-ray Review
Sep 01 2015 06:54 PM
An animated program taking place in the Star Wars universe some five years before the events of A New Hope, Star Wars Rebels is crammed full of the things Je... Read More
Herbie Goes Bananas Blu-ray Review
Aug 31 2015 01:36 PM
In just over a decade, the Walt Disney Company managed to squeeze every bit of creative juice out of its Love Bug franchise and left it a limp, pale shadow o... Read More
Lego DC Super Heroes - Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom! Blu-ray Review
Aug 31 2015 07:19 PM
The Lego Justice League returns in Attack of the Legion of Doom! The latest Lego Justice League film introduces the Martian Manhunter to the League while Lex... Read More
Woody Allen’s uneven variation on Ingmar Bergman’s magically intoxicating romantic comedy Smiles of a Summer Night arrived in 1982’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy. While there are the usual Allen preoccupations with sexual attraction and the battle between intellectualism and humanism, the film misses the magic and eroticism of Bergman’s masterpiece. Played more for the comedy in its title rather than for the inexorable lure of sexual attraction, Allen’s opus is not one of his stronger films of the 1980s. It’s beautiful to look at certainly, and some witty lines naturally hit their mark, but one wishes his first film to feature Mia Farrow were stronger in retrospect. He certainly did justice to her talent in later movies.
There are lots of beautiful people and plenty of exquisite Grecian locations in Randal Kleiser’s Summer Lovers, but unless one is only interested in people watching, there’s nothing much of substance in this pea-brained excursion into a modern ménage à trois. Feeble dialogue, amateurish acting from at least one of the principals, and a story that goes nowhere all drag down the movie which, if the point was in attempting to make a 1980’s stab at a Jules et Jim retread, never comes close to the mark.
Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem continues the adventures of Bruce Wayne/Batman in a near future Gotham City first introduced in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts. The near future depicted herein is very similar to the one in Batman Beyond, which was a deliberate artistic choice by the creators, as set forth in the special features. Fortunately, the same talent behind the first Batman Unlimited film return for this one for an animated Batman film appropriate for all ages.
A gorgeously set and shot crime drama inside of postwar Japan, Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo is such a mixture of the familiar and the offbeat that it sets its own standard. Peopled with a glowing cast of unique character actors playing out one of the postwar era’s most unusual love triangles, House of Bamboo offers rich storytelling and unconventional characterizations amid such directorial flair that it makes for breathtaking viewing and is not to be missed.
Hackers is probably better known for helping to launch the careers of Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller than for the movie itself. Released to theaters in 1995 by MGM, the film failed to connect (no pun intended) with audiences, grossing only $7 million at the box office versus its reported $20 million budget. With help from cable and DVD, the film gained cult status, and now Shout! Factory has released a 20th anniversary Blu-ray edition with improved video and a retrospective featurette.
The producers of CBS' hit series Elementary seem to have an incessant desire to continually shake up their series. Never content to establish its procedural formula and simply let it run, in each of its three seasons on the air, new elements have been added to stir up its already successful mix of mirth and mystery thus never allowing complacence to set in. The decisions made for season three, however, didn't always work in the show's favor in terms of popularity with its ratings sagging to their lowest-ever level after a late start due to CBS' new commitment to early fall Thursday night football games. While the core Holmes-Watson relationship eventually returned to familiar and ingratiating normalcy which is what made the series so popular from the beginning, the early part of the season going with an abrasive new character to deal with and Holmes and Watson on far more prickly ground did not always work to the show's benefit. Neither did an admittedly competently established but nevertheless unsatisfying season ending episode.
CITIZENFOUR, the winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, is a fascinating look at the story of whistleblower (or traitor, if you prefer) Edward Snowden and how he connected with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Snowden, as you probably know, released to Greenwald numerous classified documents which revealed the extent of the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance of United States citizens. The release of this excellent Blu-ray is particularly timely in view of the New York Times reporting on August 15, 2015 that AT&T provided the NSA with billions of domestic e-mails between 2003 and 2013.
Mark Rydell’s The Reivers is a bracing coming-of-age tale told with lots of fun and pace but a lack of bombast. It’s not nearly as rowdy or profane as it could have been which makes it play all the more beautifully some four decades later. As a narrative, there isn’t tremendous cohesion between its high points, but the performances are so entertaining and the direction is so confident that it’s pure pleasure to see again after an absence of many years.
CBS’ highest rated new show of the 2014-2015 season was NCIS: New Orleans, an entertaining if very familiar spin-off of the network’s most popular drama NCIS. Set in The Big Easy with an ingratiating cast of characters and featuring much of what makes the port city so special (the show is actually filmed in New Orleans rather than having Los Angeles backlots and locations sub for it), NCIS: New Orleans may not have established anything particularly new or fresh with the procedural genre, but the odds are if you like the mothership, you’re going to like this offshoot as it’s much more patterned after the original than the first spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles was.
With its popularity unwavering and its writers continuing to delve into the psyches of each of its core characters, CBS’ number one drama NCIS had a sterling twelfth season. Delivering wonderfully involving puzzles each week interwoven with an easy-going banter between characters and introspective digs into what makes this family of people work so brilliantly as a team, NCIS ranked for the second year in a row as the most popular drama in the world. Fifty-seven million people around the world on a weekly basis find time to spend an hour or more with the members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, an impressive record indeed.
Breaking up can be hard to do, especially when your ex comes back from the dead as a zombie. That is the premise of director Joe Dante's latest feature, which he has referred to as a zom-com made for his fans that, unfortunately, never got a wide theatrical release when it was picked up by Image Entertainment and released to theaters and VOD day and date last June (most of the major chains refuse to book such films). The film is out on Blu-ray, but available at Best Buy exclusively until October.