DVD Reviews 

1994 – The Chase

by Alan Rapp on March 5, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Chase
  • IMDB: link

The ChaseReleased on or around this date 20 years ago, The Chase is by no definition a good movie. However, despite its many faults the absurd road chase of falsely convicted Jack Hammond (Charlie Sheen), his rich-bitch hostage (Kristy Swanson), and the various cops, rednecks, and documentary crew following them to the Mexican border does provide some dumb-fun moments (along with one of the most preposterous sex scenes ever filmed).

Other than The Phantom, The Chase is arguably Swanson’s best movie role (especially for those of us who far prefer Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of cheerleader turned vampire hunter Buffy Summers). At its best The Chase is a guilty pleasure fans of Sheen and Swanson can enjoy without using any more brain power than those who put the film together in the first place.

Available on DVD (but not Blu-ray), the only feature the home video version includes is the ability to watch the film in either Full Screen or Widescreen.

[20th Century Fox, $9.98]

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Beware the Batman – Shadows of Gotham

by Alan Rapp on March 1, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Beware the Batman – Shadows of Gotham
  • wiki: link

Beware The Batman - Shadows of GothamCollecting the 13 episode run of Beware the Batman (including the final two episodes which which never aired on Cartoon Network), the CGI-version of the Dark Knight Detective’s early adventures featuring a more formidable Alfred (JB Blanc) and Katana (Sumalee Montano) as Batman‘s (Anthony Ruivivar) sidekick has been on indefinite hiatus since mid-October and its return (despite entitling the home video set “Part 1″) seems to becoming less and less likely.

Despite some shaky beginnings, including too many appearances by D-list villains such as Professor Pyg (Brian George) and Mr. Toad (Udo Kier), Humpty Dumpty, Magpie (Grey DeLisle), and an unnecessary retelling of Metamorpho (Adam Baldwin) origin story, the show was just beginning to find its feet as Katana was growing into her role as Batman’s partner and the show was focusing more and more on the League of Assassins as it winds up its initial 13 episode run ending with a cliffhanger, arguably the show’s best episode, the network chose never to air.

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Journey Double Feature

by Alan Rapp on February 25, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Journey to the Center of the Earth / Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
  • IMDB: link / link

Journey Double FeatureRe-released together as a two-disc set on both DVD and Blu-ray, 2008′s Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island star Josh Hutcherson as a young protagonist who discovers truth behind the writings of Jules Verne while looking for missing members of his family.

Of the two films, the first (co-starring Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem) featuring the group’s discovery of a secret world in the center of the Earth holds up better than its sequel (co-starring Dwayne “It’s Okay to Call Me The Rock Again” Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzmán, and Michael Caine) and the discovery of a secret island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Family friendly, the effects of the two films and the magical settings of each might provide enjoyment for younger viewers and even interest them in Verne’s original works (not a bad thing), but adults aren’t likely to come back to either film too often.

[New Line Home Video, Blu-ray $19.98 / DVD $12.97]

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2004 – Eurotrip

by Alan Rapp on February 21, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Eurotrip
  • IMDB: link

EurotripOn or around this date ten years ago Eurotrip opened in theaters. Although similiar in set-up to 2000′s dismal Road Trip (notable for bigger names and far less laughs), Eurotrip brought together an entirely different cast for a road trip adenture in Europe, that had far more heart while providing a quartet of likable lead characters. The result is a pleasant surprise that is often more enjoyable than you might expect.

The plot centers around four friends heading to Europe (albeit for different purposes) after high school graduation. Twins Jaime (Travis Wester) and Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg) are on vacation together when they run into Scotty (Scott Mechlowicz) and his slacker pal Cooper (Jacob Pitts) who get jobs as couriers to make their way to Europe to repair Scotty’s relationship with his pen pal Mieke (Jessica Boehrs) which is damaged following a misunderstanding and drunken night when Scotty learns (quite publicly) that his now ex-girlfriend Fiona (Kristin Kreuk) has been cheating on him for months.

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1994 – On Deadly Ground

by Alan Rapp on February 18, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: On Deadly Ground
  • IMDB: link

On Deadly GroundReleased 20 years ago today, On Deadly Ground is a clusterfuck even grading on a curve for a Steven Seagal film. Not only does Seagal star but he also directs for the only time in his career in this bizarre tale of a mystical martial artist turned environmental activist (and some sort of official investigator?) who saves the day, I shit you not, by blowing up an oil refinery in Alaska.

Insane doesn’t come close to explain the script by Ed Horowitz and Robin U. Russin, or Seagal’s directorial choices which include a bizarre Native American vision quest, torture, mercenaries from New Orleans (like you’d recruit or an Alaskan job), and the film’s villain (Michael Caine) literally being drowned in his own wealth. And all without an once of fun, logic, or sanity.

Somehow the film has managed to stay in-print on DVD both as a single film and part of Triple Feature with two more of Segal’s lesser films (Fire Down Below and Out for Justice) which would be a pretty cruel gift to anyone other than your mortal enemy.

[Warner Home Video, $14.00 / $14.98]

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The Jungle Book

by Alan Rapp on February 18, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Jungle Book
  • IMDB: link

The Jungle BookOriginally released in 1967 The Jungle Book may not have aged as well as some of the older Disney films, but the spirit and legacy of the film has lived on through countless films from Disney (and other animation houses) over the years. Several current filmmakers, including Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), credit the movie for getting them interested in animated filmmaking.

Re-released in 1978, I fond have memories of seeing the film in theaters, especially the musical sequence of “The Bare Necessities” sung by Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) and Baloo (Phil Harris). It’s hard not to see the film’s influence in movies such as Robin Hood (which reused multiple character designs) and others years later particularly in The Lion King with its own animal jungle sidekicks singing a very similar philosophy about life.

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1984 – Lassiter

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Lassiter
  • IMDB: link

lassiter-dvdOn this date 30 years ago Lassiter opened in theaters which makes an opportune time to re-share my review of the movie on DVD.

1984′s Lassiter was a pretty obvious attempt to cash in on Tom Selleck‘s popularity from Magnum, P.I. It’s also surprisingly good. The film was directed by Roger Young, who also helmed the first episode of for Magnum (as well as the TV mini-series adaptation of The Bourne Identity starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith). Although a little dated in spots, the film holds up fairly well nearly 30 years after its initial release.

On the eve of World War II, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, London’s premiere cat burglar Nick Lassiter (Selleck) is pressured by a British Police Investigator (Bob Hoskins) and an agent of the FBI (Joe Regalbuto) to use his unique skill set to break into German Embassy in London and steal $10 million in precious uncut gems.

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Ender’s Game

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Ender’s Game
  • IMDB: link

Ender's GameA longtime fan of Orson Scott Card’s book, I was pleased enough with the recent adaptation of Ender’s Game to the big screen to find a spot for it on my Top 13 Movies of 2013. The movie holds up well on Blu-ray as we follow young Ender Wiggin‘s (Asa Butterfield) story as child prodigy sent to Battle School to transform him into to humanity’s best hope in their war against the ant-like race known as Formics.

Adapted and directed by Gavin Hood, the script streamlines Ender’s journey while ignoring large subplots from the book including that of Ender’s siblings (Abigail BreslinJimmy ‘Jax’ Pinchak) on Earth after his departure. What the film does deliver on is the complicated character study of a child genius striving to understand the aggression both in himself and the enemy he will be ordered to destroy, all set inside a collection of amazing effects and production design. For more on the film check out my original review.

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Sherlock – The Complete Third Season

by Alan Rapp on February 16, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Sherlock – Series Three
  • wiki: link

Sherlock - The Complete Third SeasonSherlock Holmes‘ (Benedict Cumberbatch) return from the dead, the marriage of John Watson (Martin Freeman) to Mary (Amanda Abbington), and a new evil enemy in Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) at the three major storylines to dominate the show’s Third Season. The season’s first episode deals primarily with Holmes attempting to repair his relationship with Watson as he returns to London to stop a terrorist attack. It’s the season’s middle episode, however which is the real standout not only for the humor that is offered by Watson’s wedding (and bachelor party), but also because its the only episode that centers on a real mystery.

Sadly the season ends on a down note with the weakest episode of the series to date involving a twist for Mary and a new adversary who actually is proven smarter than Holmes. Ending on a cliffhanger by teasing the possibility of a return of Moriarty (Andrew Scott) from the dead for as well, the Third Season is a bit of a mixed bag containing only a couple of short featurettes on Sherlock’s return and the villains of the series.

[BBC Home Entertainment, DVD $29.98 / Blu-ray $39.98]

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Notting Hill

by Alan Rapp on February 15, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Notting Hill
  • IMDB: link

Notting HillRecently re-released on Blu-ray as part of Universal Studios “Best of the Decade Series,” 1999′s Notting Hill romatic comedy featuring the unlikely pairing of a Hollywood star (Julia Roberts) and British book store owner (Hugh Grant) is a watchable, but not always entertaining, piece of romcom fluff helped by the performances of its two leads (but not always the script by Richard Curtis).

Asking an interesting question of what happens when a celebrity falls for a nobody, the film rather quickly gives up any attempt to say anything original while falling back on the clichéd romcom roller-coaster template complete with a final act break-up and ridiculous last moment romantic gesture to bring the lovers back together. In comparison with other movies of this genre (see the filmogprahy of Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl), Notting Hill isn’t awful but it’s far from one of the best films of this decade.

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