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Reviews for DVD Releases

Jack Rico

By

2013/09/25 at 2:57pm

New DVD Releases This Week: ‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘Room 237’

09.25.2013 | By |

Every Tuesday, Hollywood’s home video divisions release the latest Bluray and DVD movies for your viewing pleasure. Every Tuesday, we will make sure to highlight what has come out, our review of the film and details of the discs such as how the 3D was or if it’s 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, etc. We begin with… Read More

Jack Rico

By

2013/09/10 at 5:44pm

New DVD Releases This Week: ‘Star Trek 2,’ ‘WikiLeaks’

09.10.2013 | By |

Every Tuesday, Hollywood’s home video divisions release the latest Bluray and DVD movies for your viewing pleasure. Every Tuesday, we’ll make sure to highlight what has come out, our review of the film and details of the discs such as how the 3D was or if it’s 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, etc. We begin with… Read More

Karen Posada

By

2013/05/07 at 12:00am

Jack Reacher (Movie Review)

05.7.2013 | By |

It is not the right time for ‘Jack Reacher’ to be opening nationwide because of its thematic material and unfortunate similarities to the current events that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. There are plenty of scenes that are hard to watch because they will easily remind you of everything that we are seeing and hearing about that tragedy (there’s even a character named Sandy) and if you can’t get pass that, then it’s better to skip this film. On the other hand if you are able to see past the terrible coincidences this is an action movie that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Read More

Karen Posada

By

2013/05/07 at 12:00am

Mama

05.7.2013 | By |

I would say that ‘Mama’ which is presented by executive producer Guillermo Del Toro is not rightly labeled as a horror film, because it is more of a fantasy and supernatural thriller than it is scary. Argentinian director Andrés Muschietti made a short-film in Spanish in 2008 titled ‘Mamá’ along with sister Barbara Muschietti, Del Toro saw something he liked and convinced them to make it into a full-length film. The film approaches what we’ve come to expect from Del Toro such as beauty even in the darkest scenes, an interesting plot and weird supernatural characters. The film is entertaining in it’s own right, but for those that are looking to get spooked you will only be startled and will be taken in a completely different direction. Read More

Karen Posada

By

2013/04/23 at 12:00am

The Impossible

04.23.2013 | By |

The Impossible’ or ‘Lo Imposible’ is a well-crafted natural disaster movie that’s touching, beautiful and definitely haunting. Just from seeing the trailer you know you will need tissues for this one, you would probably need a lot more tissues if the trailer didn’t give most of the movie away. Most films that are based on real life are able to get to the audience and this one certianly is the tear-jerker of the year. The Tsunami this film is based on hit South East Asia 8 years ago, although it might sound like it was a while ago this film makes it feel much more recent because the images and plot are so haunting. One thing to remember though is that wanting to keep so close to the real facts limits the story in itself. Read More

Jack Rico

By

2013/04/19 at 12:00am

Oblivion (Movie Review)

04.19.2013 | By |

From engrossingly existential to plain ol’ dumbed-down is how I would describe the trek from beginning to end in Tom Cruise’s new movie “Oblivion” from director Joseph Kosinski. Overall, “Oblivion” is a good film, but not a great film. It does possess outstanding visuals (Chilean Claudio Miranda is responsible) and another solid performance from Tom Cruise, but the script towards the end, a combination between a novela romance and contrived plot twists, drags the film from a superb movie to just a slightly better than average affair. Read More

Karen Posada

By

2013/04/16 at 12:00am

Django Unchained

04.16.2013 | By |

I bow down to Quentin Tarantino for having given us some of the best movies I’ve ever seen and some of my favorites such as ‘Inglourious Basterds’, ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2’ just to name a few and now comes ‘Django Unchained’ also written and directed by the master himself. This one has his name written all over it and it belongs in this category. To take on the subject of slavery is not an easy task, Tarantino gets around it by concentrating more on a love story, which is what drives the main character; but he does touch upon the brutality of it while not really depressing us with the subject. In fact there’s a lot of comedy, which keeps the film light hearted. While the 165 minutes duration might not be attractive to many, the director’s fan base will be in all the way and will be highly rewarded for it. I encourage everyone to oversee the longevity of it, because thanks to that we get a well played out film that is not rushed. To summarize my point it has been three years since the last Tarantino film and this one makes up for the wait, it’s in line with what we’ve come to expect from him and will remind us why we idolize him.

 

Set in the South of the United States during slavery in 1858 two years before the civil war, we meet Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave that gets some training from German bounty hunter Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Django’s only dream is to be reunited with his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), with the help from his mentor they go on to look for the woman only to encounter a mighty obstacle, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) the owner of an infamous plantation called “Candyland”.

 

Waltz is phenomenal and easily carries more than the first half of the film, his eloquence once more is magnificent as is his performance and I’m happy to see him in a role as one of the “good guys”, where we as an audience can actually like him. He certainly is my favorite part of the film. Foxx takes the backseat for a while there, which is understandable seeing how his character goes through a transformation and once he does, oh boy Django or better yet Foxx is unstoppable. DiCaprio as a bad guy?! Yes please! He’s exceptional and is not a pretty boy anymore but a brutal, elegant, aristocratic man who’s used to getting his way.

 

There are a couple of great cameos in the film one of the best ones is Don Johnson with his character of Big Daddy, owner of the Evergreen Plantation. This was one of the biggest plantations in the South, which is now a historic landmark, and I’m sure a very depressing site to visit, which Foxx himself felt on seeing the slave quarters. Here, thankfully Johnson’s bit with Jonah Hill provides comedic relief in a violent situation. The best surprise comes from Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, Candie’s Butler. The make up work on him is unbelievable, but his character is hilarious and dislikable all at once, everything he does with it is brilliant. 

 

There’s a lot of humor in this film, which for this kind of subject one would think it would be difficult to intertwine the two, but Tarantino does it effortlessly, not only is it given to us in the form of dialogues but with attire, props, it’s all around us even in some of the violent scenes. Because of this the movie never gets heavy, although there certainly are a handful of extremely violent and difficult scenes to watch. There’s even beauty in some of the death scenes, Tarantino believes in the magic of effects being crated without CGI and he’s able to create many magical moments.

 

The film was shot in various locations, among them Grand Teton and these beautiful, majestic winter sceneries give a great contrast to the ones in the South in the plantations. Tarantino exposes some interesting things about slavery, in the case of Candie he takes slavery back to the way many Romans treated it by having their slaves be gladiators; it was an interesting juxtaposition. Tarantinto punches these slave owners with words, best put in the mouth of well-spoken Waltz. The music also gives it a light heartedness and pushes that western feel that the director wanted to give the film.

 

I do wish that the main character wouldn’t be as selfish, he’s not out to end slavery but he’s only out to save himself and his woman and that holds back the story for me. However, this does give it a higher focus otherwise we would probably get a four-hour film and a different movie. Tarantino says it took him ten years to write this picture and being a fan of westerns decided to make one as he believes they are a good depiction of good and evil and that clearly comes out in this one.  

 

The look of the film as a western, along with the heavy subject treated with comedy, violence and beauty make for quite an entertaining movie. Any one that has ever enjoyed Tarantino’s work will without a doubt enjoy this one. For those that aren’t too familiar with him the main thing I can tell you is that this director doesn’t hold back when it comes to violence and for any of his films you have to expect it because it is always there especially in the form of blood. This is not a film for the squeamish, but for those that can take it I recommend it for its originality, laughs and amazing performances. 

Jack Rico

By

2013/04/05 at 12:00am

Evil Dead (Movie Review)

04.5.2013 | By |

Oceans of blood, cringing gore, clenching suspense and some good ol’ laughs for the road make the Evil Dead remake from Uruguayan writer/director Fede Alvarez the best horror movie of 2013 so far.

In this remake, the primary premise from the original has been tweaked. Five twenty-something friends become holed up in a remote cabin.  When they discover a Book of the Dead, they unwittingly summon up dormant demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters in succession until only one is left intact to fight for survival. 

The basic objective for one paying to see horror movies is to experience a flood of adrenaline by way of heart-pounding scares and as much blood one can bear for the price of their ticket. But because moviegoers are exposed to a lot more horror these days many have become desensitized to it. That’s why the same ol’ formula just doesn’t cut it anymore, which is why the majority fail at it (most of the Jason and Freddy Krueger films), though some actually deliver the goods (The Strangers, Insidious, Sinister). I’m glad to say that Evil Dead is one of the fortunate cases where the above essentials are met with a combination of 21st-century technology and classic hardcore horror elements.

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, the original director and star respectively, are producers this time around helping Fede Alvarez succeed in his debut. From what I saw, Alvarez has a vast knowledge of the Evil Dead universe and it made for a nostalgic yet modern cinematic experience, which should make any fan of the original trilogy proud. Critics can try and nitpick the movie all they want and even find drawbacks with the ending, but they’re so minimal that the average moviegoer will ignore the particulars.

The production quality this time around is authentic, stylish, crisp and raw. The location took place in a real forest in New Zealand with as little soundstage as possible. The film was shot in the new super high resolution 4k cameras that give it that 16mm film look. CGI was kept to a minimum as to give the movie a more realistic look and the bloody sequences were almost excessive. Jason Durey, the FX supervisor says that his shoot of “30 Days of Night,” which was quite a big, bloody, vampire film, went through 4,500 liters of blood. On this movie, they went through a whopping 25,000 liters of blood and 300 liters of vomit.

As for the acting, it is so much better than the original. I understand that fans think that the bad acting is part of the charm, but even Bruce Campbell himself thought that was one of the original’s biggest foibles. Shiloh Fernandez, of Portuguese descent, along with the rest of the cast, don’t set the world on fire, but they’re convincing, and at the end of the day that’s all you need. I bought their plight and fears and have no complaints to offer.

In regards to the director, I’m glad Hollywood is becoming culture blind. Fede Alvarez, a full fledge Uruguayan, is one of the great Hollywood stories of 2013. He went from the obscurity of a third world country in the farthest regions of the world, to directing and writing the remake of one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror films. Alvarez joins a new wave of Latino filmmakers that are giving the new crop of American helmers a run for their money. Latino filmmakers provide a different point of view on story lines, a more gritty, auteur look to their films and an enthusiasm that is evident on their projects. He is a talented filmmaker, is technically sound and knows how to put a movie together. He reminds me a lot of Robert Rodriguez, another skilled and multi-talented filmmaker who can pretty much do anything with little funding. With new and fresh Latino directors providing Hollywood with a spark for the future, it is only time until the Oscars are flooded with Latino nominees and winners. 

But as much as I enjoyed the movie, I’m not surprised to read that some critics were dissatisfied with it. Perhaps it is because they’re trying to compare it with William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” or Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” or any other iconic classic. Those classic films come along once in a blue moon and are considered an exception where masterpiece cinema meets crowd-pleasing satisfaction. What they don’t get is that most horror films are done with entertainment value in mind, in other words, they amp up the gore elements audiences relish so much. Regrettably, the execution ends up being very amateurish and stale. Not with Evil Dead though. 

Bottom line – the movie experience you get from Evil Dead is one that you will certainly enjoy. Mentally, there is already a level of excitement as soon as you sit down and eat that buttery drenched popcorn with your fried nachos in deep soggy cheese. Half way through, take a look at the people around you and you’ll notice the whole theater clinching their jaws, gripping the armrests of their chairs and young girls covering their eyes tormented as to what revolting scene is approaching with chilling suspense. Your senses are begging for a break after being exhausted for an hour and a half. The end is a welcome sight and you’ll be happy it’s over, but deep inside, you’re already asking yourself – “When is “Evil Dead 2” be coming out?”

Jack Rico

By

2013/03/26 at 12:00am

Lincoln

03.26.2013 | By |

 

Imagine being able to travel back in time and see history unfold before your very eyes when Abraham Lincoln, arguably the best President in US history, fought to abolish slavery no matter the opposition, dirty politics or the burden of seeing thousands massacred for the cause. That is what master director Steven Spielberg has provided us in ‘Lincoln,’ a beautiful, powerful and lasting film that is the definitive Lincoln movie ever made. Daniel Day-Lewis not only plays Lincoln, it feels like he is Abraham Lincoln. It is almost eery.

 

If you think ‘Lincoln,’ is a movie about his life, think again. Astutely, Spielberg limits the action only to the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office where a nation was divided by war and the strong winds of change. Due to the perpetual torment the country was going through, Lincoln was obligated to pursue a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. His choices during this critical moment is where the movie begins.

 

Spielberg has not lost his directorial touch at all. Even ‘War Horse,’ which was nominated Best Picture at the Oscars earlier this year, was aesthetically and expertly directed. But without doubt, ‘Lincoln’ is his best film since ‘Saving Private Ryan’. By using Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, ‘Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln’ as a template, Spielberg was able to meticulously capture that period in the White House and return us to what it would have been like if we were a fly in the Oval Office. Amongst all of its virtues, the one thing that this film won’t be recognized for is for its rousing emotional fulfillment. It won’t be met with a thunderous applause or a profusion of enthusiasm the way ‘Rocky’ or even 1984’s ‘The Karate Kid’ made one feel. You’ll be a witness to history, but with mixed emotions for the  way that Lincoln had to achieve the liberty of blacks. 

 

The performances of the cast for ‘Lincoln’ are the best of the year. Expect SAG and Critics Choice awards for the ensemble. Day-Lewis is sure to win the Oscar for Best Actor, as well for other award galas, for his strong and memorable portrayal of Lincoln. Also worthy of mention is Sally Field, as Lincoln’s volatile wife, who I have not seen deliver an emotional acting punch in years, if not decades. The rest of the cast is fantastic including Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, John Hawkes, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It truly is the best ensemble cast of 2012. 

 

There are so many ways to have wrecked a biopic of a historical figure like ‘Lincoln’. All you need as proof is Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’. Soporific is one word to describe that film, not to mention overly-acted and melodramatic at times. We are fortunate to have seen a biopic, like this one, done the right way. I feel Lincoln himself would not have objected. 

 

Jack Rico

By

2013/03/12 at 12:00am

Rise of the Guardians

03.12.2013 | By |

 

Though it wasn’t even nominated in the Best Animated Feature category at the 2013 Oscars, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ in 3D is the gem of the 2012 animated movies. Its simpatico characters, wondrous-action-packed universe and crisp-immersive 3D, make this a fun and overwhelming joy to watch with adults, teens and young children, not kindergarden kids, making that clear. 

 

The story is very similar to the Avengers – a group of the most powerful childhood legends, called The Guardians (Jack Frost, Santa Claus, The Easter Rabbit, Tooth Fairy and Sandman), assemble to put an end to The Bogeyman, a villain that has attained ultimate darkness and whose mission is to erase the Guardians from existence by robbing children of their hopes and dreams. Jack Frost, a reluctant new recruit who’d rather enjoy a snow day than save the world is who the film revolves around.

 

‘Rise of the Guardians’ is an epic animation with loads of adventure, touching moments, humor, and some twists to keep you sharp. The voice actors, formed by Alec Baldwin (Santa Claus), Hugh Jackman (Easter Bunny), Chris Pine (Jack Frost), Isla Fisher (Tooth fairy) and Jude Law (Bogeyman), do a commendable job. The best voice actors are those whose voice changes enough to not discern who they are immediately. Law doesn’t quite live up to those standards, yet his is a pleasing and soothing voice worth listening to. The rest of the cast provide are enjoyable vocal performances and don’t overshadow the visuals. 

 

Speaking of visuals, this film is a 3D spectacle. I am not a technical graphics animator, but I can recognize when my eyes and mind have a psychogenic orgasm. I remember seeing ‘Avatar’ and not feeling as wowed by the 3D as James Cameron had promised, but here, for the first time in my life I felt I was actually inside a movie. The skin texture of the characters, the universe where they reside in, the color richness, lighting, and cinematography were just sublime. Perhaps the greatest cinematographer Hollywood has is Roger Deakins and he served as the visual consultant to the production in selecting and composing the shots that would best be suited to 3D. The 3D technology used here is called “Tru 3D” – it’s a standard in all DreamWorks Animation films – and is utilized here in an organic way that was integral to the story, not as a stunt or an afterthought. As a result, the movie has a sense of wonder and magic, not to mention a lustrous feel to it all. The best moments to appreciate the 3D are during Jack Frost’s scenes. The snowflakes falling from the sky feel like they’re falling inside the theater and the characters close-ups look like they’ve popped out of the screen. Just wonderful.

 

Worthy to mention, award-winning, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who collaborated with DreamWorks Animation as a creative consultant on “Megamind” and was an executive producer on “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots,” returns as an executive producer for the movie. 

 

Overall, ‘Rise of the Guardians’ is an ambitious, visually stunning and sophisticated animation that has a wonderful message at its core – a quest to never stop believing in goodness. If there is one family movie to see this year it’s this movie… and in 3D

 

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