DVD Reviews 

Batman vs. Robin

by Alan Rapp on May 9, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Batman vs. Robin
  • IMDb: link

Batman vs. RobinThe sequel to 2014’s Son of Batman inserts Batman‘s (Jason O’Mara) contentious relationship with Damian (Stuart Allan) into a streamlined version of the Court of Owls arc from DC’s new 52 featuring a secret society of zombie ninja assassins and their 1% overloads all clad in an owl motif. Oh, and they’ve been around ruling Gotham from the shadows unnoticed for decades and have a giant maze in their basement. Yeah, it’s as ridiculous as it sound.

Truncating the unwieldy long arc and motivation of the Court of Owls helps sell the story but the real meat comes not from the new villains but from the struggle of Bruce and Damian to properly connect both as father and son and as Caped Crusaders. Building on events from Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin may not be as strong as the former but it does continue to develop the relationships set-up in the first film, offers some visually interesting fight sequences, and is a far shade better than DC’s other attempts to turn problematic New 52 stories into features.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

4 Film Favorites: Movies that Rock

by Alan Rapp on May 3, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Rock of Ages, School of Rock, Detroit Rock City, Empire Records
  • IMDb: link
  • IMDb: link
  • IMDb: link
  • IMDb: link

4 Film Favorites: Movies that RockCollecting four movies with plots revolving around music 4 Film Favorites: Movies that Rock includes Rock of Ages, School of Rock, Detroit Rock City, and Empire Records.

Although none of the four are standouts, the highlight of the collection (in terms of both star power and musical performances) is likely the theatrical adaptation of the jukebox stage musical Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Malin Akerman. Read the full review.

Empire Records is a B-movie version of High Fidelity starring Anthony LaPaglia, Rory Cochrane, Robin Tunney, Renée Zellweger, Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler, and Johnny Whitworth as employees of a struggling record store. School of Rock stars Jack Black as a struggling musician who takes over the job as a substitute music teacher. Detroit Rock City stars Giuseppe Andrews, James DeBello, Edward Furlong, and Sam Huntington as four teens struggling to make it into a KISS concert in 1978.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Sharky’s Machine

by Alan Rapp on April 22, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Sharky’s Machine
  • IMDb: link

Sharky's MachineA product of its times Sharky’s Machine feels every bit the early 80s cop drama it is. Adapted from William Diehl‘s novel of the same name Burt Reynolds stars as Police Sergeant Tom Sharky. In the movie’s opening scene the reckless hero cop is demoted from Homicide to Vice after a drug bust goes bad. Stuck in the lowest rungs of the department, Sharky begins investigating a string of high-priced call girls one of whom (Rachel Ward) he falls for while surveilling for weeks.

Slow-moving with much of the plot centered around surveillance of a prostitute’s apartment where not much actually happens, Sharky’s Machine is an R-rated film that could probably be shown today on prime-time network television today except for language and a dark final act involving the torture of our hero. It’s also filled with bizarre WTF? moments (such as when a police informant is killed by ninjas). And it features some old school Bond-style romancing of damsels in distress by slapping them around a bit when necessary.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Eddie and the Cruisers Double Feature

by Alan Rapp on April 21, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Eddie and the Cruisers / Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!
  • IMDb: link
  • IMDb: link

“I want to be remembered for the music or not at all.”

Eddie and the Cruisers Double FeatureReleased in 1983 Eddie and the Cruisers was a box office bomb despite a hit soundtrack that got the film a second theatrical release the following year. A rock and roll mystery, the film told the story of frontman Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) through flashbacks and interviews with the other members of the band (primarily the keyboard player played by Tom Berenger) by a reporter (Ellen Barkin) hot on the story of the band’s missing second album and questions as to what really happened to Eddie Wilson. Despite it’s lack of response from both theatrical audiences and critics the movie has become a cult hit that even spawned a sequel in 1989.

Where the first film focused on the fallout of Eddie’s disapperance to those he left behind, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! picks up the threads of the first film finding Eddie Wilson alive in Canada pushed to give music a second chance thanks to the release of the Cruisers lost “A Season in Hell” and an Eddie Lives! campaign by the studio that ruined his life.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

  • Title: How to Beat the High Cost of Living
  • IMDb: link

how-to-beat-the-high-cost-of-living-blu-rayReleased in 1980, How to Beat the High Cost of Living starred Susan Saint James, Jane Curtin, and Jessica Lange as an unlikely trio of friends who turn to crime to pay for the high cost of inflation slowly strangling each of their lives when Jane’s (Curtin) husband drains their bank account to run off with his secretary, Louise (Lange) is being sued by her husband (Richard Benjamin) fighting off an IRS audit, and the divorced Jane (Saint James) with a homeless father (Eddie Albert) and three kids is struggling to make ends meet with another baby on the way.

The goofy screenplay by Robert Kaufman involving the three women working to rob a giant glass ball full of money in the local mall during its anniversary sale isn’t exactly high concept, but the three leads, and a supporting cast that includes Benjamin, Albert, Dabney Coleman, and Fred Willard, somehow makes (most of) it work as a guilty pleasure heist flick most memorable for Jane Curtain’s striptease during the middle of the mall robbery.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

The Majestic

by Alan Rapp on March 28, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Majestic
  • IMDb: link

The MajesticI’ve always had a soft spot for director Frank Darabont and screenwriter Michael Sloane‘s sentimental (many would argue overly sentimental) 2001 movie The Majestic. Jim Carrey stars as screenwriter Peter Appleton who while fleeing an appearance in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee during the height of the Red Scare has a car accident and finds himself stumbling into a sleepy small town without his memory and a striking resemblance to one of the town’s missing sons.

Derided by many critics and a commercial failure, the film is a throwback to Frank Capra playing on broad themes of patriotism, small town values, and a duty to stand up for what’s right even in the face of overwhelming odds. Is it schmaltzy and emotionally manipulative? Sure, but (despite its length) it’s also entertaining making great use of its star and supporting cast. The film hangs on Carrey as a man who looses his memory but finds his soul while helping a struggling time rediscover its heart as well.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Blade Triple Feature

by Alan Rapp on March 24, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity
  • wiki: link

Blade Triple FeatureRe-released in a new three-pack Triple Feature Blu-ray Wesley SnipesBlade trilogy is far from the best comic book movies have to offer. Collecting Blade, Blade II, and Blade: Trinity, the set has one good movie, one mediocre flick, and one so awful it might as well be an Underworld movie. Each comes with its original special features including commentaries for each film and assorted featurettes and trailers.

Snipes is fine as a human/vampire half-breed based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The first film, other than introducing the world and its core characters, is largely forgettable. Blade II, involving the hero teaming with a group of vampires (most notably Leonor Varela and Ron Perlman) to take on a new deadly version of vampires known as reapers, is the only one that holds up to multiple viewings. As for the horrifically bad third film, introducing Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel as vampire hunters and Dominic Purcell as the most ridiculous version of Dracula ever, the less said the better.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Retreat!

by Alan Rapp on March 20, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Retreat!
  • wiki: link

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Retreat!Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Retreat! collects the first seven episodes of the show’s Third Season which is most, but not quite all, of Leonardo (Seth Green), Raphael (Sean Astin), Michelangelo (Greg Cipes), and Donatello‘s (Rob Paulsen) time in the country licking their wounds following the Kraang mutation of New York City.

Seth Green takes over the voice of the injured Leonardo with “Into the Woods” whose rehabilitation is one of the major storylines of the set. The Turtles also meet Bigfoot, deal with leftover Kraang tech which takes the appearance of April‘s (Mae Whitman) mother, fight to survive their dreams, and deal with new mutants including mutant frogs, Casey’s car, and the bizarre Chimera. The episodes aren’t without charm (such as the introduction of Crognard the Barbarian) but they’re among the weakest of the series lacking any of the trademark villains. I also find it quite odd that “Vision Quest” (the last episode of the arc) isn’t part of this collection. The single-disc DVD does include short featurettes for each of the episodes included.

[Nickelodeon, $14.98]

{ 0 comments }

2005 – The Upside of Anger

by Alan Rapp on March 19, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Upside of Anger
  • IMDb: link

The Upside of AngerReleased ten years ago, writer/director Mike Binder‘s The Upside of Anger is an underrated film built around a terrific performance by Joan Allen as the pissed-off matriarch of a family struggling to keep it together after her husband has disappeared (presumably to live with his secretary in Sweden). The woman’s life is further complicated by varying states of disrepair of her relationships with her three daughters (Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, and Evan Rachel Wood) and a burgeoning romantic relationship to a former Major League pitcher turned radio host (Kevin Costner) who, despite the woman’s rough edges, quickly falls for Terry and her family.

Along with Allen’s performance (arguably the best of her career as the unlikable but somehow still lovable Terry) the film gives each of the daughters strong roles dealing in their own ways with their mother’s constantly boiling disposition. Russell, Christensen, and Witt each bring something different to their roles as Evan Rachel Wood shines as the youngest sibling who is forced to grow up too quickly due to her father’s abscence and mother’s consequent behavior.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

The Interview

by Alan Rapp on March 14, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Interview
  • IMDb: link

The InterviewThe Interview is known mostly for North Korean pressure stopping its wide release in theaters. The controversy that followed brought attention to a throwaway cheap-laugh comedy that would have otherwise been quickly forgotten. The script by Dan Sterling is part Spies Like Us and part Saturday Night Live skit as the star (James Franco) and producer (Seth Rogen) of a talk show get an inclusive interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). The pair are quickly approached by the CIA who attempt to use the opportunity to kill Kim by turning a pair of complete morons into assassins without proper training or back-up.

Franco and Rogen are funny guys but they’re just going through the motions of various gags (including a surprisingly bloody action sequence). In someone else’s hands the premise might have led to a subversive satire but its clear Rogen and company only care about stuffing the film with as many cheap laughs as possible with the Franco-Rogen bromance in full swing complete with several dick jokes and multiple discussions of hiding spy gear up Rogen’s ass.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }