DVD Reviews 

The LEGO Movie

by Alan Rapp on June 28, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The LEGO Movie
  • IMDb: link

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie isn’t the first animated feature to be developed after a toy line but it’s hard to imagine someone doing one better. Centered around the misadventures of construction worker Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) and his new friends who take on the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), The LEGO Movie is a clever tale that not only delivers one of the most fun movies of the year but leaves the audience with a nice message for both children and their parents.

Filled with some amazing GCI effects crafting a world made entirely of LEGO Bricks which don’t necessarily need 3D to be effective, the movie holds up to multiple viewings. In the true definition of a family film, Emmet’s journey from lifeless drone to the most important character in all of LEGO creation is the kind of story which should play just as well for children and adults. For more on the movie check out my original review.

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2004 – DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story

by Alan Rapp on June 21, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story
  • IMDb: link

“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!”

DodgeBall: A True Underdog StoryOn or around this date ten years ago DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story opened in theaters. Centered around a slacker gym owner (Vince Vaughn) and group of likable misfits (Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Chris Williams, and Alan Tudyk a man who dresses as a modern-day pirate) fighting against a ridiculously over-the-top rival gym owner (Ben Stiller) by entering a dodgeball competition, it’s lightweight fare to be sure but surprisingly one of the more entertaining movies of either Vaughn or Stiller’s careers.

Throwing in Christine Taylor as a love interest for Vaughn, Rip Torn as an insane dodgeball coach, and Gary Cole and Jason Bateman as the tournament’s announcers, and camoes from the likes of David Hasselhoff, William Shatner, Chuck Norris, and Lance Armstrong, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s first feature delivers its share of memorable scenes and lines which gets the most out of its premise and has aged fairly well over the past decade.

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

by Alan Rapp on June 15, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  • IMDB: link

Jack Ryan: Shadow RecruitPulled from it’s plumb Christmas Day scheduled release date to be dumped in the middle of the graveyard of January and February, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit came and went without much fanfare. Although pulling in more than $135 million worldwide the movie underachieved based on its original planned release and met with mixed reaction from both critics and fans.

Rebooting the long-dominant Jack Ryan series, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit cast Chris Pine in the role of Jack Ryan. I enjoyed the film, and found it more memorable than either of Harrison Ford‘s offerings or the Ben Affleck 2002 attempt to reboot the franchise.

Bringing in Keira Knightley as Ryan’s girlfriend, Kevin Costner as his CIA mentor, and Kenneth Branagh to do double duty both as the film’s villain and director, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit offers a solid cast for an old school thriller.

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  • Title: Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
  • IMDB: link

Journey to the West: Conquering the DemonsCo-writers and directors Stephen Chow and Chi-kin Kwok‘s comedic take on one of the four classic novels of Chinese literature stars Zhang Wen as would-be Buddhist demon hunter Tang Sanzang on his road to enlightenment. On the road he meets a far more experienced demon hunter (Qi Shu) who begins to fall for the goofy Sanzang.

Offbeat, humorous, and more than a little uneven, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is a bizarre horror-comedy with subplots ranging from a love story to Buddhist enlightenment to the intelligence of using fairy tales to fight monsters. Featuring battles involving pig-monsters and giant fish, the movie features an odd collection of characters in the Monkey King (Bo Huang) and rival bounty hunters with the strength and speed of a tiger (Yu Xing), a giant foot (Chaoli Zhang), and telekinetically-powered swords (Show Luo). More of it works than not, but at times it’s thoroughly engaging and at times it’s just plain weird.

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Graceland – The Complete First Season

by Alan Rapp on June 9, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Graceland – Season One
  • wiki: link

Graceland - The Complete First SeasonSet in an undercover beach house in Southern California used by the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Customs, the First Season of Graceland follows the house’s newest member Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) fresh out of the FBI Academy and installed in Graceland not only to replace an agent (Clayne Crawford) whose cover was blown in the first episode but also to secretly investigate the house’s leader, Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata), who Mike’s superiors feel may have turned.

Highlights from the season include Mike getting his first taste of undercover life and meeting Paige (Serinda Swan), Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) working with a Federale (Vincent Laresca), Mike being hired by Bello (Gbenga Akinnagbe) to train his soldiers, the house helping Lauren (Scottie Thompson) finish her last mission, Mike’s handler (Pedro Pascal) taking matters into his own hands to uncover Briggs’ secrets, the revelation of the true identity of the drug smuggler Odin, and a mission goes horribly wrong for Charlie forcing Briggs to try and hide her rash actions from the house.

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

Pretty Little Liars - The Complete Fourth SeasonYear Four is a tumultuous one for the Liars beginning with the murder of Detective Wilden (Bryce Johnson) and Hanna’s mother (Laura Leighton) being charged with the crime, which isn’t helped by Hanna (Ashley Benson) rash actions at a college party, and ending with the girls learning the truth that Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) is alive and finally getting a few answers.

Relationships are hard on the Liars this years as Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Toby‘s (Keegan Allen) romance is strained first by her keeping secrets that might help her boyfriend investigate his mother’s death and later by the recurrence of her pill-addiction. Emily‘s (Shay Mitchell) swimming future and scholarship chances will be derailed by a shoulder injury which also begins the first of many problems with Paige (Lindsey Shaw). Hanna will lose Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) to the show’s spin-off. And Aria (Lucy Hale) will dump Jake (Ryan Guzman) and return to Ezra (Ian Harding) which becomes doubly-complicated when the Liars begin to suspect he might be A.

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Pompeii

by Alan Rapp on June 8, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Pompeii
  • IMDB: link

PompeiiJudged as an action film Pompeii isn’t awful, but there’s nothing all that remarkable about it either. Judged as a Paul W.S. Anderson film it’s actually better than expected. Gladiator-lite meets destruction porn in this tale of a Celtic warrior (Kit Harington) sold into slavery who makes his way to Pompeii on volcano day with just enough time to fall in love with a nobleman’s daughter (Emily Browning) and exact revenge on the men (Kiefer Sutherland, Currie Graham) who led the raid that killed every member of his village.

Teasing us with tremors and small quakes, the first two-thirds of the film center nearly completely on Milo’s gladiatorial life and Cassia’s (Browning) relationship with her parents (Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris) on her return home from Rome and a Roman Senator (Sutherland) who follows her. The action is competently done, as is the eventually eruption of Vesuvius, but the movie certainly struggles to make the more dramatic scenes effective.

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

“Hello Miss Walker.”

Covert Affairs - The Complete Fourth SeasonThe Fourth Season of Covert Affairs sets Annie (Piper Perabo) up against her most ruthless opponent yet when she risks everything to take down Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin). Pairing Annie and Auggie (Christopher Gorham) up romantically for the first time, it’s an uneasy road for the couple with Annie’s new mission and the arrival a trio of new characters in Calder Michaels (Hill Harper), Arthur‘s (Peter Gallagher) terrorist son Teo Braga (Manolo Cardona), and Auggie’s not-so-dead former partner and wife Helen Hanson (Michelle Ryan) who will play major roles is disrupting their lives over the course of the season.

Highlights from the season include the fruition of Henry’s master plan, Annie choosing to fake her own death to pursue Henry and her painful reunion with Auggie following the death of Helen, Vincent Rossabi (Noam Jenkins) getting screwed over by Annie and the CIA again, Annie attempting to turn Henry’s ex-wife into an asset, an undercover mission in Hong Kong, and the finale pitting Annie against Henry for the final time.

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The Art of the Steal

by Alan Rapp on June 3, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Art of the Steal
  • IMDB: link

The Art of the StealWritten and directed by Jonathan Sobol, The Art of the Steal is your basic heist flick centered around getaway driver Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell) who, after spending seven years inside a Polish prison thanks to his brother Nicky (Matt Dillon), gets the old gang (Kenneth Welsh, Chris Diamantopoulos), his new apprentice (Jay Baruchel), and Nicky together for one last score.

The movie also includes a B-story involving a buffoonish Interpol agent (Jason Jones, hamming it up like a SNL skit) and his criminal consultant (Terence Stamp) which play much more lighthearted than the rest of the film giving it an inconsistent tone that doesn’t quite pay off.

Despite the cast (Baruchel being the stand-out and Dillon something of a head-scratching miscast), and some pieces of the story that work well, The Art of the Steal isn’t as smart as it thinks it is or as smart as it needs to be to pull of the big twists it has in store (most of which you should see coming).

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The Legend of Hercules

by Alan Rapp on June 2, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Legend of Hercules
  • IMDB: link

The Legend of HerculesEven for a throwaway B-action-flick, The Legend of Hercules is a bad movie that doesn’t even really deliver on its title. Rather than offer a movie centered on the legendary achievements of Hercules, writers Sean Hood, Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve, and Renny Harlin (who also directs) offer audiences a bland origin tale centered around the god-like Prince Alcides (Kellan Lutz) whose father King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) sends on an impossible mission to get the boy killed guessing correctly that Alcides isn’t his son.

Surviving a slaughter and life as a gladiator, Alicides eventually makes it home under the name Hercules, which Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) wanted to name him, to take on his father, brother (Liam Garrigan), and rescue the woman (Gaia Weiss) he loves all while being told he has a greater destiny to fulfill (which the movie then completely ignores). Cribbing the storyline from Gladiator, without any of its style, The Legend of Hercules is an impressively bad movie that doesn’t even offer cheesy enjoyment in its many faults.

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