DVD Reviews 

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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The Blacklist – The Complete First Season

by Alan Rapp on August 15, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Blacklist – Season One
  • wiki: link

The Blacklist - The Complete First SeasonWhen the FBI’s most wanted turns himself over to authorities and agrees to help them catch infamous villains (many of whom the government isn’t even aware of) the life of Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) changes in a flash as she finds herself in a world of secrets, half-truths, and lies concerning all aspects of Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and why the master criminal chose her as his liason to the FBI.

The set collects all 22 episodes of the show’s First Season in which Reddington leads the team (Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, Parminder Nagra, Hisham Tawfiq) to take down a member of The Blacklist every week while Lizzie deals with ugly truths in her own life which Reddington’s prescence brings to light – including the truth of her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold). The uneven First Season is a bit too secretive for its own good (much like Red), but does produces some strong episodes.

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Divergent

by Alan Rapp on August 12, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Divergent
  • IMDb: link

DivergentBased on the young adult novel by Veronica Roth, Divergent cashes in on several of the same themes that made The Hunger Games a box office success. Casting Shailene Woodley as Tris, the plucky young heroine in a dystopian future, the movie follows a similar formula of class warfare and child warriors.

In a world where people are grouped into five castes, each centered around a specific ideal, Tris reaches the age of choosing in which she decides to forgo a life of servitude to become a warrior. Her choice is heavily influenced by the fact that Tris, unlike the vast majority of the population, has a genetic code that doesn’t fit neatly into any one of the particular factions.

Hiding her divergence from both friends and enemies, Tris trains to become a member of Dauntless, but to succeed in becoming a full member of the faction she’ll have face the truth about herself and keep anyone else from learning her secret.

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  • Title: House of Cards – Season Two
  • wiki: link

House of Cards - The Complete Second SeasonBookended by the deaths of major characters in both the season opener and the season finale, the Second Season of Netflix’s House of Cards continues the devious machinations of former House Whip turned Vice President of the United States Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) whose quest for power has not been satiated now that he has found himself one step away from the most powerful office in the land.

The main conflict of the season comes from Frank’s repeated attempts to drive a wedge between President Walker (Michael Gill) and his trusted advisor billionaire Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney) while continuing to move chess pieces around the board including backing the upstart Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) to fill his old role in the House and play a dangerous game putting the U.S. economy and its trade status with China in serious jeopardy. Once completed, Frank must deal with the fallout of the situation including weathering the President’s disfavor.

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Under the Skin

by Alan Rapp on July 21, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Under the Skin
  • IMDb: link

Under the Skin

The line between a movie being artistic and pretentious is, like beauty, often in the eye of the beholder. Director Jonathan Glazer helms this tale of a beautiful woman (Scarlett Johansson) stalking lonely men in Scotland. Adapted from the novel by Michael Faber, Under the Skin has sharply divided audiences over the issue of style versus substance.

Stripped down to its core, Faber’s story, adapted here by Glazer and Walter Campbell, is incredibly simple leaving very little room for character or plot development. Putting all his eggs in one basket, Glazer uses an over-stylized look to enhance the story that never attempts to ask or answer basic questions about what Johansson’s character, or her equally unnamed biker partner (Jeremy McWilliams), need with the men trapped like mosquitoes in amber in their monochromatic domicile (which must come from Gallifrey as it’s infinitely larger on the inside than the unassuming exterior would have you believe).

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Non-Stop Mediocrity

by Alan Rapp on July 19, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Non-Stop
  • IMDb: link

Non-Stop MediocrityNon-Stop is the kind of fast-paced dumb action thriller which Liam Neeson seems to so enjoy making these days. Well-paced, the story about an air marshal aboard a transatlantic flight hijacked by an unknown adversary has all the trademarks of a cliched action thriller including an uber-smart bad guy, protocols which keep putting innocent lives in danger, a down on his luck hero who breaks the rules, the tease of a romantic distraction (Julianne Moore), quick-cut blurry action sequences, plenty of implausible coincidences, consistently dumb choices from pretty much every character, and enough red herrings to feed half a theater full of movie goers.

Trouble begins halfway through the flight when Marshall Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a text message from a hijacker promising to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until he is paid $140 million all while making it appear to both the outside world and the passengers on the plane that Marks is the one responsible for the hijacking.

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