DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Return to NYC!
  • wiki: link

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Return to NYC!The latest single-disc collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles includes the group’s final adventure before returning to New York and the first six episodes of their return following the Kraang takeover and transformation of their home. The set primarily focuses on the Turtles working to put their family back together and reclaiming the streets of New York from the Kraang.

The episodes include Casey Jones‘ (Josh Peck) attempt to prove his worth, the two-part “Battle for New York,” the Turtles’ search for Karai (Kelly Hu), and the long-awaited introduction of the newly mutated Rocksteady (Fred Tatasciore) and Bebop (J.B. Smoove).

Even with Rocksteady and Bebop finally making an appearance the set lacks a real stand-out episode that is a must-have. That said, the episodes are all solid and fans collecting these single-disc collections (and don’t mind the continued lack of extras) should still enjoy themselves.

[Nickelodeon, $14.98]

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Slow West

by Alan Rapp on July 20, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Slow West
  • IMDb: link

Slow WestHow many westerns can you name where the lead character isn’t a gunfighter, sheriff, rancher, farmer, or outlaw? Written and directed by John Maclean, Slow West stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay Cavendish who has arrived in the new world and headed west in search of the love of his life (Caren Pistorius) who fled her homeland with her father (Rory McCann) following an unfortunate accident which makes their return to Scotland impossible.

The far-too-trusting Jay is encountered by bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) who offers his services to keep the young man alive (while failing to state his real reasons for doing so involve the $2,000 reward on father and daughter). Over the film’s 84-minute running time the pair meet an odd assortment of characters and get into a few scrapes that, along with flashbacks to Scotland, begin to inform the audience of the tragedy surrounding Jay and his crusade.

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Survivor

by Alan Rapp on July 18, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Survivor
  • IMDb: link

SurvivorSometimes a movie just doesn’t work. There are plenty of more successful films with less going for them than James McTeigue‘s Survivor which stars Milla Jovovich as a Foreign Service Agent in London who uncovers a terrorist plot and spends most of the movie running not only from British authorities but a high-class assassin (Pierce Brosnan) responsible for the deaths of her co-workers.

For an action-thriller Survivor is a bore. Brosnan barely registers a pulse as the cold-blooded killer. Jovovich is fine as the woman on the run. The plot, while indistinguishable from any number of action films (other than Jovovich’s specific job), is passable enough but there’s simply no magic on-screen leading to an underwhelming and underachieving movie that’s no so much awful as completely forgettable.

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The Legend of the Lone Ranger

by Alan Rapp on July 18, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Legend of the Lone Ranger
  • IMDb: link

The Legend of the Lone RangerGore Verbinski‘s meandering take on The Lone Ranger wasn’t the first modern take of the masked man on film. Released in 1981 amidst negative backlash for the movie’s producer suing actor Clayton Moore to prevent him from appearing in public as the character he played on television, and the bad press of having a difficult unknown actor whose voice had to be dubbed for The Lone Ranger‘s words to be understood, the film never really stood a chance.

Here’s the thing about the much despised The Legend of the Lone Ranger – it’s actually not a bad movie. And it’s certainly a tighter and more complete origin story than Verbinski’s version. Yes it’s cheap (especially compared to the money thrown around in the new version), but it’s far more faithful to the source material (including John Reid meeting Tonto as boys and the real reason John was shipped off East) than this new version. It also has the feel of a western rather than just another big budget Hollywood action film accidentally stuck in the Old West.

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Ex Machina

by Alan Rapp on July 15, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Ex Machina
  • IMDb: link

Ex MachinaIn creating a film about artificial life that is almost entirely driven on emotion rather than logic writer/director Alex Garland has beautifully crafted one of the most memorable movies in recent years. The film begins with a computer programmer winning an exclusive trip to the secluded home of the company’s CEO who has far more going on than anyone associated with the world’s largest search engine could possibly guess.

In the hidden compound Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) comes face-to-face not only with his boss, the alcoholic self-absorbed Nathan (Oscar Isaac), but also Nathan’s creation Ava (Alicia Vikander) who Caleb was handpicked to help Nathan test whether or not she is indeed the world’s first true Artificial Intelligence. Stranded miles from civilization in these odd surroundings, Caleb’s view on sentience and reality will be tested as Ava proves to be everything Nathan promises, and more.

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Apollo 13

by Alan Rapp on July 13, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Apollo 13
  • IMDb: link

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Apollo 13Based on the real events surrounding the flight of NASA’s Apollo 13, director Ron Howard‘s 1995 film is arguably his best. (I’d put it neck-and-neck with the underrated Frost/Nixon.) Casting Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon as the three astronauts whose mission to the moon goes horribly wrong and Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Chris Ellis as those in Mission Control who help bring them home, Apollo 13 is a tense drama where knowing beforehand the ending somehow (despite all logic) doesn’t hurt it’s climactic final act.

Despite centering on one of the most memorable instances of something going wrong with the NASA space program, Apollo 13 is a celebration of the wonder and ingenuity that went into every aspect of the space program which was already beginning to lose its allure during Apollo 13’s launch (as we see with news stations refusing to carry video from crew… at least until things get far more interesting when the lives of the astronauts were put in jeopardy).

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Focus

by Alan Rapp on July 5, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Focus
  • IMDb: link

FocusWritten and directed by the team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus met with mixed reactions from both audiences and critics when it opened in theaters earlier this year. It’s reminiscent of Out of Sight, the film rests largely on the performances of two photogenic and charming stars who, from time to time, need to smooth over the rough spots in the plot.

As a fan of heist and con flicks Focus is right up my alley, and it’s one of Will Smith‘s more interesting acting choices in recent years. As expert con man Nicky “Melo” Spurgeon, Smith takes a young grifter (Margot Robbie) under his wing in a screenplay that has a few too many twists for its own good but still turns out to be largely enjoyable thanks to the chemistry of its two leads. Focus may be cotton candy, lightweight with less going on beneath the surface than one would hope for, but it’s still a tasty treat that goes down easily and will momentarily satisfy your sweet tooth.

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The Terminator

by Alan Rapp on July 2, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Terminator
  • IMDb: link

the-terminator-dvdTerminator 2: Judgement Day is a superior action flick with huge stunts and explosions. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is actually a very well thought out science fiction film that fits the events of the series into perspective. The first in the series however, The Terminator, is one of the most perfect monster movies of all time featuring an unstoppable killing machine sent from the future who is programmed to kill Sarah Connor and any who get in its way.

In the future the world has been taken over by machines bent on ruling and destroying what is left of humanity the war between human and machine rages on until the year 2029 when the humans led by John Connor finally achieve victory. Unable to admit defeat a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a robotic killing machine covered in flesh and blood to resemble a human, is sent back in time to kill off the leader of the rebelling humans before he is ever born. Too late to stop them, the humans send one soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and history. The only question is who will get to her first?

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Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

by Alan Rapp on June 30, 2015

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts
  • IMDb: link

Batman Unlimited: Animal InstinctsBatman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is odd to say the least. Cobbled together from a variety of Batman storylines over the years, Batman Unlimited cherry-picks pieces of DCU continuity to offer a new (but not really fresh) take on the characters involved. Set in the not-so-distant future of Gotham City (with a definite Batman Beyond vibe) the straight-to-video movie opens with Batman (Roger Craig Smith) clad in a Beyondish red and black costume before eventually donning his more classic colors.

The film centers around the a group of animal-themed villains in Silverback (Keith Szarabajka), Cheetah (Laura Bailey), Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), and Man-Bat (Phil LaMarr) all working together as “the Animalitia” under the leadership of the Penguin (Dana Snyder). The Penguin also has an army of robotic animals who range from nearly unstoppable to easily destroyed (in the climax our heroes easily dispense with a number of the creatures while they struggle to deal with even single one for most of the movie).

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  • Title: The Newsroom – Season Three
  • wiki: link

The Newsroom - The Complete Third SeasonThe final season of The Newsroom may not be as good as the show’s First Season but it is better (taken as a whole) than the show’s inconsistent sophomore outing. Nearly the entire cast returns for a final six episodes centered around an Edward Snowden-like figure whose leaking of classified documents to News Night gets Will (Jeff Daniels) in trouble with the United States Government and forces Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) to flee the country before being charged with espionage and treason. An examination of Snowden’s actions would likely have played better than the fictionalized account that, like Season Two, has several ups and downs.

There’s also a wedding, a romantic turn for Sloan (Olivia Munn) and Don (Thomas Sadoski), relationship drama, Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) continue their dysfunctional dance, a hostile takeover of the cable news network’s parent company, and the news team mourns the death a major supporting character.

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