DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Newsroom – Season Three
  • wiki: link

The Newsroom - The Complete Third SeasonThe final season of The Newsroom may not be as good as the show’s First Season but it is better (taken as a whole) than the show’s inconsistent sophomore outing. Nearly the entire cast returns for a final six episodes centered around an Edward Snowden-like figure whose leaking of classified documents to News Night gets Will (Jeff Daniels) in trouble with the United States Government and forces Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) to flee the country before being charged with espionage and treason. An examination of Snowden’s actions would likely have played better than the fictionalized account that, like Season Two, has several ups and downs.

There’s also a wedding, a romantic turn for Sloan (Olivia Munn) and Don (Thomas Sadoski), relationship drama, Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) continue their dysfunctional dance, a hostile takeover of the cable news network’s parent company, and the news team mourns the death a major supporting character.

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Blackhat

by Alan Rapp on June 20, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Blackhat
  • IMDb: link

BlackhatAlthough less intentionally comedic than Hackers, the idea of Chris Hemsworth as one of the world’s most preeminent hackers is no less ridiculous than Angelina Jolie as one. The movie’s story revolves around the search for those responsible for cyber attacks in both United States and China which causes the creation of a joint task force and brings Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) to the United States to get his old college buddy Nick Hathaway (Hemsworth) out of prison to help with the search.

Along for the ride are Dawai’s sister Lien (Wei Tang) who wastes no time in taking a romantic interest in Hathaway (creating a problematic romantic subplot that has no hope of ever paying off), Holt McCallany as a Federal babysitter, and Viola Davis having fun as the one-note Department of Justice ball-buster who uncharacteristically chooses to help the criminal putting her own career and life in jeopardy when the plot demands it.

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  • Title: Spaceballs
  • IMDb: link

Spaceballs (Your Helmet is So Big Edition)Released back in 1987, Mel BrooksSpaceballs lampoons the original Star Wars trilogy (and several other sci-fi movies) in a comedic adventure about a scoundrel (Bill Pullman) in a Winnebago, a space princess (Daphne Zuniga) on the run from both a wedding and an evil empire, and a dark-clad villain with a really big helmet (Rick Moranis) and a plan to steal an entire planet’s oxygen supply.

More than 25 years later Spaceballs may be a bit dated but it still provides plenty of laughs and quotable lines, particularly for Star Wars fans. With a supporting cast including John Candy, George Wyner, Dick Van Patten, Joan Rivers, Brooks in multiple roles as both President Skroob and the Schwartz expert Yogurt, a memorable cameo from John Hurt, Mega Maid (who goes dramatically from suck to blow), a memorable radar technician (Michael Winslow), an entire crew of Assholes, and Pizza the Hutt, Spaceballs fills the screen with an enjoyable assortment of odd characters to keep the comedy rolling.

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  • Title: Pretty Little Liars – Season Five
  • wiki: link

Pretty Little Liars - The Complete Fifth SeasonThe Fifth Season of Pretty Little Liars saw the return of Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) to Rosedale, the (apparent) death of a major character, a Christmas ball, Alison arrested for murder and Hanna (Ashley Benson) framed as an accessory, and the discovery of A’s storage locker, all leading up to the Liars‘ abduction in the season finale.

Highlights of the season include the show’s 100th episode, trouble in New York in the season premiere, an amusing dinner party at the Marin household, dance lessons, Alison’s return to Rosedale High, an investigation into Shana‘s (Aeriel Miranda) death, Hanna searching for solace at the bottom of a bottle, Ella Montgomery‘s (Holly Marie Combs) almost wedding, a confrontation between Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Melissa (Torrey DeVitto), the end of Paily, more snooping at Radley, another funeral, the introduction of a new love interest for Emily (Shay Mitchell), the odd behavior of Aria‘s (Lucy Hale) little brother, Spencer’s adventures in England, and Alison’s trial and verdict.

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Guilty Pleasure – Seventh Son

by Alan Rapp on June 5, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Seventh Son
  • IMDb: link

Seventh SonSadly in no way related to the (much better) first book in Orson Scott Card‘s The Tales of Alvin Maker, director Sergey Bodrov‘s Seventh Son bombed with critics and audiences alike. With a tired script, plenty of plot holes, and inconsistent special effects it’s impossible to call Seventh Son a good movie, but as a C-List guilty pleasure with a cast too good for its story the movie isn’t without some charm.

Based on The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney, the movie stars Ben Barnes as the newest apprentice of monster hunter extraordinaire Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) who only has a week to learn the craft before going to war with the hated enemies of Gregory’s all but extinct order.

Julianne Moore stars as the leader of a coven of witches who recently escaped the prison Gregory (who has a long history with the woman) put her in years before, and Alicia Vikander is a young witch and potential love interest for the young hero.

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Showgirls

by Alan Rapp on June 3, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Showgirls
  • IMDb: link

ShowgirlsLet’s get something straight, Showgirls is a terrible movie. You can argue director Paul Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas‘s 1995 train wreck is a guilty pleasure or falls into the “so good it’s bad” category (neither of which I agree with), but you can’t convince me by any measurable standard that Showgirls could ever be considered a good film. Some argue it’s satire, which it is, but good satire has something to say about its subject while Showgirls only has something to show while expecting a generous tip in its g-string for the trouble.

Elizabeth Berkley stars as stripper Nomi Malone whose dream of becoming Las Vegas showgirl which becomes a reality after meeting the depraved star of the show (Gina Gershon) and her equally-lecherous boyfriend (Kyle MacLachlan). What follows is a poorly written, with equally bad acting, tale of backstage politics, sex, backstabbing, revenge, and a brutal gang rape scene between Nomi’s roommate (Gina Ravera) and a celebrity’s (William Shockley) posse.

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Ladyhawke

by Alan Rapp on June 1, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Ladyhawke
  • IMDb: link

LadyhawkeMy favorite Richard Donner film is neither Superman nor Lethal Weapon; it’s 1985’s Ladyhawke which starred a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick as a thief named Gaston who becomes entangled in a tragic love story between the former Captain of the Guard Navarre (Rutger Hauer) and the beautiful Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer). With the help of a drunken priest (Leo McKern), Gaston will be charged with helping to break the curse laid on the two lovers by the jealous Bishop of Aquila (John Wood) which keeps them together but forever apart.

Set to an electronic score by Andrew Powell and the stunning cinematography of Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro the medieval fairy tale about love, faith, hawks, wolves, dark magic, and a thief becoming a hero, remains one of the most unique films of its time. Pfeiffer has never looked better on film and she and Hauer sell the tortured nature of their existence while Broderick’s wisecracks provide just the right counterbalance to their tragic tale.

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Everly

by Alan Rapp on May 28, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Everly
  • IMDb: link

EverlyEverly is a gritty revenge drama that fails because it refuses to embrace how ridiculous its premise is while delivering hard-boiled action verging on torture porn which would have been far more palatable as a more straightforward shoot ‘em up.

Salma Hayek stars in the title role as a sex slave who, after four years, has finally had enough and starts to fight back. Taking place entirely in the apartment where Everly has been kept for years, the body count continues to grow as the the woman with no hand-to-hand combat or weapons training coninues to kill the odd range of prostitutes and killers who show up to collect the bounty on her head.

Written by Yale Hannon and directed by Joe Lynch, the movie also includes a subplot involving Everly’s daughter (Aisha Ayamah) and mother (Laura Cepeda) whose safety is her primary concern now that the shit has hit the fan. Available on DVD and Blu-ray, extras include two separate commentary tracks and a music video. Notable only for Hayek’s involvement and its bizarre assortment of characters, Everly is a misfire that never finds its target.

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  • Title: The Mentalist – Season 7
  • wiki: link

The Mentalist - The Complete Seventh SeasonWith Red John defeated, half of the cast having moved on to other projects, and consisting only 13 episodes collected on three discs, the final season of The Mentalist feels more like an epilogue than than a full season of the show. Along with the case of the week, the season will continue to deal with the now romantic relationship between Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) culminating in the pair’s wedding in the series finale.

Emily Swallow doesn’t return but the series replaces her with Josie Loren as fresh-faced new Agent Michelle Vega who tragically won’t live to see the end of the season. Other highlights include Jane and Lisbon feeling out their relationship in the season premiere, Lisbon going undercover in jail, Lisbon temporarily taking on the role of fake psychic, and the much-anticipated return of Erica Flynn (Morena Baccarin). Extras include deleted scenes and a look back at Jane’s journey over the course of the series.

[Warner Home Video, $39.98]

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  • Title: Covert Affairs – Season Five
  • wiki: link

Covert Affairs - The Complete Fifth SeasonAnnie Walker‘s (Piper Perabo) spy adventures come to an end in the final season of Covert Affairs. The Fifth Season introduces a new love interest for Annie in Ryan McQuaid (Nic Bishop), whose guilt or innocence in a terrorist plot against the United States takes up a big chunk of the season, and sees Annie leave the CIA over medical issues the Agency feel could compromise her effectiveness in the field.

Highlights include the season premiere which introduces McQuaid and brings Annie back into the CIA following her takedown of Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin), Annie going to work for McQuaid, Amy Jo Johnson joining the cast to investigate the Chicago bombing, Annie and McQuaid’s trip to Caracas, the final appearance of Eyal Lavin (Oded Fehr), Auggie (Christopher Gorham) getting lost in a conspiracy, the struggle to prove McQuaid’s innocence, Auggie’s abduction and torture by Aleksandre Belenko (Shawn Dowyle), the revelation of how Annie spent her summer, the return of Natasha (Liane Balaban), trips to Paris and Azerbaijan, and the final two episodes of taking down Belenko.

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