DVD Reviews 

The Boxtrolls

by Alan Rapp on January 31, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Boxtrolls
  • IMDb: link

The BoxtrollsBased on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is the latest offbeat stop-motion adventure film from the same production company which gave us both ParaNorman and Coraline. The film centers on an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright) raised by an underground group of Boxtrolls hunted by an evil exterminator (Ben Kingsley) vastly exaggerating the creatures monstrous tendencies for his own ends.

As with the studio’s previous two films the animation is impressive while offering a rather straightforward message for children. But it’s nowhere near as entertaining as The LEGO Movie which Boxtrolls beat out for an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film. Although technically impressive the film itself is little more than a mild diversion.

Available on both DVD and Blu-ray, extras include commentary by directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi, and ten short featurettes on various aspects of the movie. The Blu-ray also includes early storyboard animatic sequences and a digital copy of the film.

[Universal Studios, DVD $29.98 / Blu-ray $34.98 / 3D Blu-ray $49.98]

{ 0 comments }

The Maze Runner

by Alan Rapp on January 18, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Maze Runner
  • IMDb: link

The Maze RunnerA thinly-veiled sci-fi version of Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner (based on the novel by James Dashner) casts Dylan O’Brien as the newest member of a group of children abducted and forced to live in a small wooded clearing in the middle of a vast and deadly maze. Despite the rules against him entering the maze, Thomas (O’Brien) is drawn to it as his actions will have sever repercussions for both himself and the entire community.

By far, the most interesting character of the movie is the maze itself, and the scenes outside the gigantic moving and changing monstrosity suffer as they lose what little magic the film has to work with. The more Thomas remembers about his life and the maze itself the more the film struggles as the answers provided by the movie’s plot are far less interesting than the mystery itself. Pulling back in what is meant to be an epic Dark City style reveal, The Maze Runner flounders at its climatic moment foreshadowing what will be its inevitable sequel.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

The November Man

by Alan Rapp on January 14, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The November Man
  • IMDb: link

The November ManFive years after retiring, ex-CIA specialist Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) is reactivated by his old boss (Bill Smitrovich) and put on a plane to Russia to retrieve the love of his life (Mediha Musliovic) who has been working undercover in the Russian Government for more than a decade. Things go terribly wrong pitting Devereaux against his old agency and his protege (Luke Bracey) in a conspiracy that reaches into both the U.S. and Russian Governments involving the Presidential hopes of a genocidal Russian general (Lazar Ristovski).

Based on Bill Granger‘s novel, The November Man isn’t a bad B-movie action flick but it is a tad too convoluted for its own good. The reasoning behind putting Devereaux in the field is sketchy at best, particularly after the villain is revealed. Brosnan can play the aging spy in his sleep and Olga Kurylenko makes the most out of the over-complicated Alice who holds the key to the entire sordid affair.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

  • Title: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
  • IMDb: link

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire ChroniclesOver his career Tom Cruise has supplied audiences with his share of good, bad, and indifferent feature films. Released in 1994, and adapted from the works of Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles gave audiences Brad Pitt as a present-day vampire describing his history to a reporter (Christian Slater). Directed by Neil Jordan the film also stars Cruise as the vampire Lestat turned by Louie (Pitt) and a young Kirsten Dunst as a child turned into a vampire who will never age.

The movie, and Cruise’s character, still feels too whiny as Lestat bemoans his immortality eventually turning on other vampires and walking the Earth alone. It’s certainly an interesting looking film (earning an Oscar nomination for Art Design) and even a whiny Cruise is occasionally compelling in the role of Lestat, Pitt is effectively creepy, and Dunst offers glimpses of the actress she would become. The film suffers a bit after Pitt exits stage left to be replaced by a vampire coven including Thandie Newton and Antonio Banderas.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Life is not a malfunction

by Alan Rapp on January 4, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Short Circuit
  • IMDb: link

“Number 5 is alive!”

Short CircuitRecently re-released on Blu-ray and DVD, 1986’s Short Circuit starred Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg as a scientist whose robotic invention became sentient after being struck by lightning. After wandering off the military base Number 5 (Tim Blaney) would eventually find his way to Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) who befriends the machine and begins feeding its insatiable appetite about life and information.

I’ll admit to loving the movie as a kid and still having a soft spot for it (but not its sequel) years later. More likely to appeal to kids than parents, Short Circuit is memorable for a number of reasons including the robot itself (obviously the template years later for Wall-e), some very quotable lines (“Malfunction. Need input.”, “Nun soup?”), and the bizarre (and kinda racist) choice to have Fisher Stevens play an Indian scientist. It’s not a great film by any means, but it’s held up pretty well over the years and continues to offer fun family entertainment that does discuss the nature of life and debate whether or not a machine such as Number 5 could ever truly be alive.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Quantum Leap – The Complete Series

by Alan Rapp on January 3, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Quantum Leap
  • wiki: link

Quantum Leap - The Complete SeriesTo prove his experiment worked quantum physicist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) “stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator and vanished.” Premiering back in 1989, Quantum Leap ran for five seasons placing Bakula at different time periods as he would “leap” into someone whose timeline needed a quick fix. Although audiences saw only Sam (except in an occasional reflection) those around him continued to see the individual into whose body Sam leapt into that week (who occasionally would turn out to be a woman). Stuck with a swiss-cheesed memory as a side-effect of the experiment, Sam would rely on the help of Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) who, from the future, would lock onto Sam’s latest leap and, appearing as a hologram only Sam could see and hear, provide him with the information needed that week.

Collecting all 97 episodes on 27 discs, the Complete Collection offers fans of the show the entire five-year run in a single set. Sadly you won’t find any added extra features as the set only includes the previously released season sets packaged together for the first time.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Continuum – The Complete Third Season

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Continuum – Season Three
  • wiki: link

Continuum - The Complete Third SeasonThe Third Season of Continuum is a promise fulfilled as the show’s central character finally begins to question the role in which she’s been assigned to track down terrorists from the future who hope to remake the world into something more than the corporate oligarchy where she comes from. Alliances would change, friendships would be destroyed, two Alec Sadlers (Erik Knudsen) fight for control of futuristic technologies, and Kiera Cameron‘s (Rachel Nichols) belief in her mission would eventually be shaken to its core.

Highlights of the season include Kiera turning on the Freelancers, an episode set in her past involving Kiera tracking down Kagame (Tony Amendola) and Liber8, the season finale which sets up an entire new set of problems for our heroine, the reveal of the true identity of Kiera’s new friend (Ryan Robbins), Dillon (Brian Markinson) choosing to use his daughter to infiltrate Liber8, the death of a major supporting character, and Kiera choosing which Alec to betray.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Boyhood

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Boyhood
  • IMDb: link

BoyhoodShot over the course of 12 years, Boyhood is one of the most ambitious projects any filmmaker has attempted to tackle. It’s also easily one of the best films of the year.

Starting the project at age 5 we witness Ellar Coltrane grow-up as Mason over the filming of Richard Linklater‘s latest film which began production in 2002 and finally arrived in theaters in 2014. Over its 165-minute running time Mason’s scripted tale delves into his relationships with both his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke), the complexities of modern-day extended families, and the journey of Mason from grade school to college.

Begun without a finished script, but with an established beginning and ending, Linklater adapted the story by the changes he saw in his cast over the years. Arquette and Hawke carry much of the early scenes of the movie while Coltrane takes over a larger part of the story as he grows as an actor.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Obvious Child

by Alan Rapp on December 24, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Obvious Child
  • IMDb: link

“I think a lot of people learned a lot about the Holocaust tonight.”

Obvious ChildWritten and directed by Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child is the harsh look at modern life and romantic relationships that the more ballyhooed Enough Said never had the balls to be (choosing instead to fall back on basic romcom clichés). Jenny Slate stars as a struggling stand-up comedian whose recent break-up leads to a drunken hook-up with a man (Paul Briganti) she barely knows. Despite having the best night she can remember (even if she can only remember tiny pieces of it) the shamed Donna attempts to move on which becomes more difficult when she discovers she’s pregnant weeks later.

What could easily have been made in an unwatchable Hollywood tripe, Robespierre steers clear of the pitfalls of the genre focusing almost entirely on Donna and her friends and family, keeping the romantic possibilities on the back burner. The movie is about Donna’s reaction to a pivotal moment in her life not an excuse for pratfalls and over-the-top romantic gestures.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Young Justice: Invasion

by Alan Rapp on December 22, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Young Justice: Invasion
  • wiki: link

Young Justice: InvasionSet five years after the show’s First Season, the Second Season of Young Justice introduced older versions of the original show’s characters while expanding the team with a new set of young heroes as well. Invasion‘s overall arc involves the behind-the-scenes manipulations of The Light as well as the arrival of The Reach on Earth whose true purposes are far more nefarious than the aliens let on.

With Dick Grayson moving onto the role of Nightwing (Jesse McCartney) the team gets a new Robin (Cameron Bowen) along with Batgirl (Alyson Stoner), Wonder Girl (Mae Whitman), and Impulse (Jason Marsden) all becoming a part of the team. Aqualad (Khary Payton) and Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) will both spend a large portion of the season undercover with The Light, the truth about Red Arrow & Arsenal will be discovered, and another founding member of the team will give his life to save the world from The Reach in the series finale.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }