DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season One
  • wiki: link

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First SeasonContinuing the adventures began in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suffers a bit from having to play with last year’s toys and deal with the fallout of the planned Marvel feature film releases rather than make any real strides on its own. Thankfully thee release of Thor: The Dark World and especially Captain America: The Winter Soldier bolstered the season’s second-half, giving it new life to end the show’s First Season on a string of strong episodes.

Without question Clark Gregg is the show’s star. Reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson, returned from the dead in a mysterious manner (which turns out to be somewhat disappointing once revealed), Coulson puts together his own strike time including two military specialists in Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), a pair a bickering scientists (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge) and a computer hacker (Chloe Bennet) they adopt in the first episode. Throw in an old S.H.I.E.L.D. tricked-out cargo jet, and the team is ready for action.

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Congo

by Alan Rapp on September 18, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Congo
  • IMDb: link

CongoAlthough it’s not his best work, Michael Crichton’s 1980 novel Congo is actually a pretty good story. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the big screen adaptation made 15 years later. The film stars Dylan Walsh as a scientist who has raised a sign-language speaking ape named Amy and decided to return the gorilla back to the wild with the help of a bizarre financier (Tim Curry) whose interests in the gorilla’s doodles make him believe Amy could lead the group to the legendary lost city of Zinj.

The movie condenses and jumbles the motives of everyone involved producing a single expedition which also includes a scientist (Laura Linney) looking for her ex-fiancé and his team who were attacked by strange murderous gray gorillas (rather than motivated by the corporate greed of the priceless diamonds lost in the jungle as in the novel), a great white hunter who happens to be black (Ernie Hudson), and a member of the group who you know has no chance to make it out alive (Grant Heslov).

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Assault on Arkham

by Alan Rapp on September 13, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Batman: Assault on Arkham
  • IMDb: link

Batman: Assault on ArkhamPurposely made to resemble the look and tone of the Arkham Asylum video games (which are more fun to play than watch) and featuring the New 52 version of the Suicide Squad (widely regarded as DC’s worst comic over the past three years), Batman: Assault on Arkham is something of a mixed bag. The character designs are drab, the character interactions are particularly one-note, and the logic of the script is rather weak (sending Task Force X into Arkham not to find a dirty bomb but to retrieve a questionable source of information).

The straight-to-DVD movie does offer us Kevin Conroy reprising the role as Batman, but the rest of the voice cast, while not awful, is quickly forgettable. The squad itself is made up of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), the least impressive version of King Shark possible (wasting the talents of John DiMaggio), a particularly slutty Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), the argumentative Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), the rather nondescript Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), and the quickly-dispatched KGBeast (Nolan North) whose unfortunate early exit is rather disappointing.

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Person of Interest – The Complete Third Season

by Alan Rapp on September 12, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Person of Interest – Season Three
  • wiki: link

Person of Interest - The Complete Third SeasonBuilding on the groundwork laid in Season Two, the Third Season of Person of Interest brought big changes to the show including the building of a second Machine, the involvement of a terrorist group intent on destroying the Machine, bringing back Shaw (Sarah Shahi) and Root (Amy Acker) – this time as series regulars, and, in a pivotal episode of the season, featuring the death of an important member of the original cast which would leave the team reeling.

Highlights of the season include Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) forced to choose between The Machine and the life of a Senator (John Doman), Root’s investigations into Decima Technologies, Shaw and Root’s first partnership, the return of Finch’s fiance (Carrie Preston), a high school reunion, a flashback episode before Finch and Reese met, a two-part episode involving Finch’s old friend old friend (Saul Rubinek) and Control’s (Camryn Manheim) attempt to create her own Machine, the final battle with HR, a girls night out, and death at 40,000 feet.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

by Alan Rapp on September 10, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • IMDb: link

Captain America: The Winter SoldierSeeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the theaters my initial reaction was that the Captain America: The First Avenger sequel was an improvement over the first film and one of Marvel Studio’s best efforts. I’m happy to say the movie holds up on Blu-ray. I actually enjoyed it a little more the second time around.

The wide sweeping conspiracy of Hyrda begins sweeping changes in the overall Marvel Universe, immediately effecting Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (leading to the TV show’s strongest episodes), but more than that The Winter Soldier is a good Captain America story full of strong performances (making great use of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow) along with plenty of intrigue and action. Sure the movie wastes Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and the final battle feels a bit too much like a video game with infiltrating and swapping out the chips in hovercrafts of death, but those don’t detract from a strong storyline filled with plenty of comic book goodness. For more on the movie read my original review.

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Elementary – The Complete Second Season

by Alan Rapp on August 26, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Elementary – Season Two
  • wiki: link

Elementary - The Complete Second SeasonElementary‘s Second Season continued to build on the modern day Sherlock Holmes‘ (Jonny Lee Miller) adventures in New York City by introducing new versions of classic characters, returning “The Woman” (Natalie Dormer) to trouble the detective once more, and offering plenty of mysteries for Holmes and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) to solve.

Highlights include Holmes’ return to London and introduction of Lestrade (Sean Pertwee) and Mycroft Holmes (Rhys Ifans) in the season premiere, murders surrounding an unsolvable mathematical problem, a murder from Holmes past effecting a current case, Watson discovering a link between Holmes and a girlfriend, the arrival in New York of the woman (Olivia d’Abo) who came between the Holmes brothers, Holmes considering returning to London, Holmes working to set things right after he frees a murderer from a frame job he deserved, the attack on Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) which threatens the man’s career and friendship with Holmes, and a dinosaur.

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Young Justice – The Complete First Season

by Alan Rapp on August 23, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Young Justice – Season One
  • wiki: link

Young Justice - The Complete First SeasonBased on the late 90s comic of the same name, Young Justice offered DC Animation a new show to focus on its teenage heroes on a slightly different Earth who weren’t quite ready to fully join the Justice League. Making use of the youngsters lower profiles Batman (Bruce Greenwood) sets the group of up Robin (Jesse McCartney), Miss Martian (Danica McKellar), Aqualad (Khary Payton), Superboy (Nolan North), Kid Flash (Jason Spisak), and Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) as a covert force.

Several DC mainstays make an appearance over the course of the First Season including Red Tornado, Black Canary, Martin Manhunter, Superman, Captain Marvel, Zatanna, and Doctor Fate. Highlights of the season include the two-part premiere involving Superboy’s origins and Project Cadamus, Billy Batson saves two worlds from five powerful sorcerers, Artemis joining the team, the invasion of the cave, Zatanna and Artemis’ Halloween adventure, and the season finale.

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  • Title: Once Upon a Time – Season Three
  • wiki: link

Once Upon a Time - The Complete Third SeasonSeason Three took characters to Neverland, the Enchanted Forest, Oz, and back home to Storybrooke. It featured a second curse, a missing year, the deaths and resurrections of multiple characters, and the introduction of both a sister (Rebecca Mader) and love interest (Sean Maguire) for Regina (Lana Parrilla).

The second-half of the season centered around a character from Oz works better than the Neverland arc which grows a bit stale as Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) and her family attempt to save Henry (Jared Gilmore) from Peter Pan (Robbie Kay). Highlights from the season include the time-traveling season finale, Regina taking another step on her hero’s journey, Hook‘s (Colin O’Donoghue) time away from Storybrooke, the escape from Neverland, a battle between sisters, the death and the return of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle), and Regina and Zelena’s first meeting.

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Rage

by Alan Rapp on August 17, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Rage
  • IMDb: link

RageIf you expect anything more from Rage than yet another throwaway B-movie from Nicolas Cage you are bound to be disappointed. Set around the life of a former mobster turned businessman, the film follows the decent of Paul Maguire (Cage) when his teenage daughter (Aubrey Peeples) is kidnapped and later found dead.

After her body turns up shot by a Tokarev traced back to the Russian mob, Maguire believes it must tie back into a hit from the old days involving a dead Russian mobster. Rounding up his old crew (Max Ryan, Michael McGrady) for answers and payback, Maguire’s actions threaten to start a gang war across the entire city.

Starting out like Taken, Rage turns into a revenge flick when the body of Maguire’s daughter is found. The trouble is the script by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller relies far too much on twists and coincidences to be compelling. And despite the number of long-held shots by Paco Cabezas Rage isn’t nearly as deep or dramatic as it aspires to be.

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Rio 2

by Alan Rapp on August 16, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Rio 2
  • IMDb: link

Rio 22011’s Rio was a colorful (if mostly by the numbers) film featuring a domesticated Spix Macaw (Jesse Eisenberg) who finds himself stuck in the wider world in your basic fish (or in this case bird) out of water storyline. The sequel doesn’t stray far from the original as Blu (Eisenberg) once again is put in uncomfortable new surroundings only to eventually prove he has what it takes to survive and thrive.

After the discovery of other Macaws, Blu and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) head into the Amazon with their children (Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg, Pierce Gagnon) where Blu finds it increasingly hard to fit in (and that’s before meeting Jewel’s disapproving father). Once again the movie gives us both human and bird enemies, unnecessarily returning Jemaine Clement as the vengeance-obsessed Nigel, along with the supporting cast of the first film and a few new faces (most notably Kristin Chenoweth as a poisonous tree frog) as well.

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