DVD Reviews 

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

Person of Interest - The Complete Fourth SeasonPerson of Interest‘s Fourth Season is a rough one for the operatives of The Machine. Spending all season in hiding and on the run from Samaritan and the new A.I.’s operatives Reese (Jim Caviezel), Finch (Michael Emerson), Root (Amy Acker), and Shaw (Sarah Shahi) will continue to fight the good fight.

Highlights of the season include the return of Elias (Enrico Colantoni) and super-fixer Zoe Morgan (Paige Turco), the introduction of Samaritan’s own Root, Fusco (Kevin Chapman) getting a few pointers on how to pick-up women, more flashbacks to Finch’s early troubles with The Machine, the introductions of new recurring characters such as the Brotherhood, Officer Danni Silva, and Harper, an entire episode from Control‘s (Camryn Manheim) point-of-view, the war between the computers, the desperate season finale, and the unforgettable fan favorite mid-season episode which delivered all fans of Shaw and Root could hope for… before ripping it all away.

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Justice League: Gods and Monsters

by Alan Rapp on August 27, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Justice League: Gods and Monsters
  • IMDb: link

Justice League: Gods and MonstersI was ecstatic when I heard Bruce Timm was returning to DC for a new animated feature. One of the creators behind Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, the animated DCU just hasn’t been the same since his departure. When I heard the premise of the movie, however, I was more skeptical. It turns out I need not have feared that Bruce Timm might be corrupted by the grit of the New 52 that’s turned so much of DC’s comic and video output to shit. Timm certainly delivers a darker and more adult story than expected but it’s still grounded in a profound understanding and love for these characters that is far too often lacking in much of DC’s current output.

Although the word Elseworlds doesn’t appear in its title that’s exactly what Justice League: Gods and Monsters is: a story set in an alternate version of the DCU vastly different from the any we know. The result is as unexpected as it is enjoyable. It may not be classic Timm, but the man certainly hasn’t lost his knack for characters, design, or storytelling.

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2000 – Bring It On

by Alan Rapp on August 26, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Bring It On
  • IMDb: link

“I am a choreographer.  That’s what I do.  You are cheerleaders.  Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded.  What you do is a tiny, pathetic subset of dancing.  I will attempt to turn your robotic routines into poetry, written with the human body.  Follow me, or perish, sweater monkeys.”
 

bring-it-on-posterReleased on or around this date 15 years ago, here’s a look back at 2015’s Bring It On. Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) gets her dream when she becomes the captain of the Fighting Toros cheerleading squad, only to find her world go downhill faster than a cheerleader on the football captain.

On her first day one of her teammates is injured (Bianca Kajlich) causing a mad search for a replacement.  Torreance, against the wishes of most of her teammates, chooses new transfer, punk girl Missy (Eliza Dushku), who has the gymnastic background but not the usual cheer spirit.

Torreance’s world gets even crazier when Missy informs her that the award-winning cheers the Toros are using were stolen by the former captain of the Toros (Lindsay Sloane) from a nearby urban high school (led by Gabrielle Union).  An attempt to use a choreographer (Ian Roberts) to create the team a new routine blows up in her face, and her cheating and unsupportive college boyfriend (Richard Hillman) destroys he confidence and prevents her from acting on her feelings for Missy’s brother Cliff (Jesse Bradford).

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith

by Alan Rapp on August 26, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • IMDb: link

Mr. & Mrs. SmithOriginally released in theaters 10 years ago, Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who, unbeknownst to each other, are rival spies for competing spy organizations. Doug Liman‘s 2005 film has held up pretty well over the past decade. Pitt and Jolie are fun together in a script that allows them to play off each other and, when called for, kick each other’s ass in one hell of a prolonged action scene that leaves their suburb home destroyed.

Most notable for its action set pieces, Simon Kinberg‘s script also has its share of humor (including a Fantasy Island joke that never fails to tickle my fancy no matter how many times I see the movie). It’s not a great film by any standard, but it still works well as a mostly-entertaining action flick (especially the first hour). Released several times on both DVD and Blu-ray, the new version includes pre-released extras and a digital copy of the film but sadly the Blu-ray only includes the theatrical cut of the film as the unrated extended version isn’t available on this release.

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Scandal – The Complete Fourth Season

by Alan Rapp on August 25, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Scandal – Season Four
  • wiki: link

Scandal - The Complete Fourth SeasonScandal‘s Fourth Season begins with Olivia (Kerry Washington) being pulled back from island paradise into the political intrigue of Washington D.C. and ends with her quest to destroy B613 and see her father (Joe Morton) behind bars. In-between Abby (Darby Stanchfield) will grow into her role as the White House Press Secretary, Huck (Guillermo Díaz) will reconnect with his family, Mellie (Bellamy Young) will begin her own political career, Maya (Khandi Alexander) will wreak havoc, the Vice President (Jon Tenney) will attempt a coup, Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) will fight for re-election, and Olivia will spend several episodes held for ransom halfway around the world.

For those enjoying the series’ longer arcs the season delivers. For those of us preferring to see Olivia and company in their roles as fixers we’re mostly out of luck as broader storylines continue to derail Olivia & Associates from making an honest living. The season certainly has its share of memorable moments, such as the return of a familiar face, but I wouldn’t rank it as my favorite.

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Superman: Doomsday

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Superman: Doomsday
  • IMDB: link

When I heard that Bruce Timm and the folks who brought us Justice League were planning a DVD movie of “Death of Superman” I was stoked. Sadly what emerged was more than a little disappointing and foreshadowed other such entries to DC Animation’s line-up. 

The Death of Superman,” “World Without a Superman,” and “Reign of Supermen,” storylines which spanned issues and years, are all condensed into 75 minutes.  We get Doomsday, Superman and Lois’s tearful goodbye, and Superman’s return in a black suit.  We don’t get Steel, Suberboy, Cyborg Superman, or the Eradicator.

There are several things which bug me about this movie.  First off, rather than use actors who had been used for Justice League or Superman: The Animated Series, every part is recast, most unnecessarily.  Some come off okay, Adam Baldwin is a passable Clark/Superman and Swoosie Kurtz is not too shabby as Martha Kent, but others, including Anne Heche as Lois Lane, come off just short of disaster.

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1995 – The Usual Suspects

by Alan Rapp on August 17, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Usual Suspects
  • IMDb: link

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The Usual SuspectsOn or around this date 20 years ago The Usual Suspects hit theaters for the first time. Written by Christopher McQuarrie (who recently gave us the best Mission: Impossible movie yet) and directed by Bryan Singer (who has struggled to make a film even half as good ever since), The Usual Suspects introduces us five criminals through a series of flashbacks which recount the events which brought them all together in a police line-up and what then led them to the docks a fateful night leaving only a single member of the group alive to tell the tale.

Despite the fact that the film hinges on reveal and twist ending, it works as well on the twelfth viewing as it does the first. Kevin Spacey stars as Verbal Kent (a role that would earn him an Academy Award and make him a star) who recounts the events of the crew’s movements to Customs Agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) while attempting to keep certain facts about the boat and the mythical Keyser Soze from coming to light. The definition of an unreliable narrator, Verbal’s accounts are all Kujan and the audience are given to deduce the truth for themselves.

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Insurgent

by Alan Rapp on August 12, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Insurgent
  • IMDb: link

InsurgentAs I was rather lukewarm on Divergent, the first movie of this series based on the young adult novels by Veronica Roth, it should come as no surprise that my reaction to its sequel is much the same. Insurgent continues the adventures of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) on the run in a dystopian future broken into strict factions which neither properly fits into. Although the movie has a nice message about individuality, the ponderous path it takes to get there leaves something to be desired.

Despite a strong performance by Woodley as a character far more heroic in her actions and convictions than Katniss Everdeen, time has not made the premise of the series any easier to swallow. Not making that job easier this time around is the sequel’s plot which involves a magic Pandora’s box which only a true divergent may open and which Jeanine (Kate Winslet) believes she can use to crush the outsiders once and for all.

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Sneakers

by Alan Rapp on August 10, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Sneakers
  • IMDb: link

“Too many secrets.”

SneakersSome movies age more gracefully than others. Even 20 years later Sneakers continues to entertain despite how much of the plot revolves around technology of the time. Robert Redford leads an unusual team of experts blackmailed by who they believe to be the NSA into stealing a Russian mathmatician’s little black box which is the key to decrypting all known codes.

Along with a former CIA agent (Sidney Poitier), a blind computer expert (David Strathairn), a conspiracy nut (Dan Aykroyd), a hotshot kid (River Phoenix), and his ex-girlfriend (Mary McDonnell), Martin Biship (Redford) will attempt to stay one-step ahead of both government agents and shadowy figures (Timothy Busfield, Eddie Jones) while trying to capture the box and trade it for their freedom.

With the stellar cast (which also includes supporting roles by Ben Kingsley and Stephen Tobolowsky), Sneakers provides a humor-packed thriller complete with conspiracies, blind-man stunt driving, and the best use of Scrabble ever seen on film.

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Mission: Impossible

by Alan Rapp on August 3, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Mission: Impossible
  • IMDb: link

Mission: ImpossibleAlthough it began a series of increasingly good summer blockbuster over the course of two decades, 1996’s relaunch of the television series of the same name as a theatrical film (which introduced the world to Tom Cruise‘s most successful ongoing character in IMF Agent Ethan Hunt) is problematic at best. Poorly plotted, including a huge fuck you to fans of the original series by turning the television show’s central hero (Peter Graves) into a greedy villain (Jon Voight) selling CIA secrets to the highest bidder, the film hasn’t aged well. Turning Jim Phelps into a villain would be like rebooting Superman into a coldblooded killer. What kind of an asshole would do that?

Opening with the death of an IMF team (Kristin Scott Thomas, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Emilio Estevez) and Ethan on the run from his former bosses who believe he is responsible, the film climaxes early on with a break-in at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It’s this sequence, and really only this sequence, that’s worth noting from the otherwise forgettable tale.

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