Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

SciFi Movie Review: Dimensions

Dimensions

Synopsis:
Cambridge, England, 1921 – or so it seems. A brilliant young scientist becomes obsessed with finding a way back to his past – no matter what the cost.

Review:
Henry Lloyd-Hughes stars as Stephen, a young scientist obsessed with time travel. When he was a boy, there was a tragedy involving his first love. And he has made it his life’s ambition to get back to that time.

Dimensions is a hauntingly, dramatic film. The setting is beautiful, a relief from the otherwise morose feel of the story. The characters are engaging, and the acting is fantastic. I found it hard to relate to someone becoming obsessed with a pre-pubescent childhood love, but I had to remind myself that obsession defies logic. This is a dark tale of love and obsession, full of heartache and hope. It will make viewers think and raise interesting questions.

Trailer:

Blu-Ray Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition

If you can’t get enough of The Hobbit, this new release includes almost nine hours of new bonus features including additional commentaries, a documentary of the filming, and even extra film footage. Because the theatrical cut wasn’t long enough, right?

“I’m thrilled that the Extended Edition will give fans the opportunity to experience certain key scenes in the film as they were originally shot, as well as an abundance of special features,” said [Peter] Jackson. “It’s exciting to present this expanded and enriched version of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ to allow fans to fully immerse themselves in the movie, before seeing the second part of the trilogy.”

ALL-NEW SPECIAL FEATURES ON BLU-RAY 3D, BLU-RAY AND DVD:

• Commentary with Peter Jackson, Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Philippa Boyens, Co-Producer/Screenwriter
The Appendices – A multi-part chronological history of the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.
• New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth

SYNOPSIS:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

From previous blu ray review:
REVIEW:
Martin Freeman (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) stars as Bilbo Baggins. He’s a reluctant hero with a good heart and extremely likeable. Sir Ian McKellen returns to his role as Gandalf the Grey – a younger Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Returning roles also include: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as Old Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. It’s a bit odd going back and doing a prequel story, making characters younger. But with the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s not surprising that The Hobbit was picked up as well.

Nine years after the release of the Return of the King also means that the CGI and cinematography is even that much more fantastic. The rich landscapes are breathtaking. And the creature effects are incredibly impressive and life-like. In fact, my only complaint is that the novel The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien has been split into three movies. It felt like parts of this installment could have been skipped in order to fit everything in – and just made into a slightly longer film. But I’m sure the movie makers want the extra money that 3 films can bring instead of 1 or even 2.

This first installment in the Hobbit trilogy is a fun, thrilling, adventure. Full of humor, suspense, drama, and magic – fantasy fans will certainly enjoy. Since this is the first in the trilogy of films (and it’s based on only one novel) the film ends in an abrupt, awkward place. And the wait for the next installments seem painfully long.

ORIGINAL BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:

Full Suite of Peter Jackson’s Production Videos. Enter Middle-earth of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Academy Award-winning Director Peter Jackson takes you behind the scenes, on location and amidst the star-studded cast in a series of video journals that puts you in the forefront of latest in filmmaking with more than two hours of additional content. Highlights of the journals include:
o Start of Production
o Location Scouting
o Filming in 3D
o Post-production Overview
o Wellington World Premiere

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012, with the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, releasing December 13, 2013, and the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, slated for July 18, 2014.

Get The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Extended Edition on Blu-ray Nov. 5th!

Blu-Ray Review: Pacific Rim

PACIFICRIM_3DCOMBO_2D

Pacific Rim Blu Ray Edition

Synopsis:
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

Review:
Many have compared this film to Transformers on first glance alone. But other than some giant robots, there really isn’t much to compare. Pacific Rim has more depth (no pun intended) and is darker, edgier and certainly more suspenseful. The invading Kaiju are monstrous, Godzilla-like creatures that come through a portal within the Earth. Earth unites and creates enormous robots that take a two-man team to pilot. This works for a while, but the Kaiju are adapting and becoming stronger and smarter.

Pacific Rim is an action-packed, science fiction disaster film – with a looming global apocalypse. Yet it also has just the right amount of heart and humor to balance the suspense. This is a surprisingly fun and visually stunning film with amazing CGI. The Jaeger robots and Kaiju are just as much characters in the story as the actors’ roles.

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack Special Features:
• Audio Commentary by Guillermo del Toro
• The Directors Notebook
• Drift Space
• The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim
• The Shatterdome
• Focus Points
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel

2-Disc Standard Definition DVD Special Edition Special Features:
• Audio Commentary by Guillermo del Toro
• Drift Space
• The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim
• The Shatterdome
• Focus Points
• Deleted Scenes
• Blooper Reel

Exclusive Hot Men of Pacific Rim Photo Gallery:

Blu Ray Review: World War Z

wwz

World War Z (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

World War Z stars Brad Pitt and is (loosely) based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks. Pitt plays a former United Nations investigator who hunts down a solution to the sudden zombie plague wreaking havoc across the world.

The first thirty minutes of the film had me on the edge of my seat, cringing and wondering how the rating was only PG-13 instead of R. It’s very intense with heart-pounding suspense and chase scenes. Though, unlike other zombie movies, the focus isn’t gore. Which is good as these zombies are FAST. And they can turn others within seconds of biting.

I had few expectations going in, other than knowing it was nothing like the book. So I was pleasantly surprised with the solid characters and story. The acting is outstanding. They did a good job making us care about the characters while so much is going on. World War Z is a global apocalypse meets zombie thriller.

WORLD WAR Z Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
• Origins—The filmmakers discuss collaborating with renowned actor/producer Brad Pitt to create a Zombie film the likes of which have never been seen.
• Looking to Science—Explore the scientific realities of Zombie behavior in nature and learn more about Zombies in literature and film.
• WWZ: Production
– Outbreak—Go on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s breathtaking first attack in Philadelphia.

– The Journey Begins—Delve deeper into Gerry’s fight for survival during the dramatic escape in South Korea.
– Behind The Wall—Explore the epic scene in Jerusalem and discover the incredible logistics of creating the elaborate stunts and crowd sequences.
– Camouflage—Experience the final confrontation between Gerry and the Zombies and discover the phenomenal scope of the film’s production.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

Blu Ray Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star trek into darkness Combo

Star Trek Into Darkness (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

Synopsis:
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS features an outstanding ensemble cast including John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller and Anton Yelchin.

Review (First few paragraphs previously posted for theater review):
Four years have passed since JJ Abrams’ last Star Trek film. And it was well worth the wait. Diehard Trek fans as well as new fans to the franchise will enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed adventure. Those familiar with the original series will, of course, catch more clues and references to the impending story and correlation to the alternate version. And this super-fan was not disappointed in the least. My one complaint is that Abrams could stand to tone down the lens flares during the bridge scenes.

Full of intense fight scenes, drama, suspense, intrigue, and plenty of humor, Star Trek Into Darkness is an excellent sequel. And while I loved the story, the strong point for the film is the characters. We had the backstory and groundwork set in the previous film, and here we see the characters grow and their relationships develop. The cast and acting is spot-on, once again. Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), and Simon Pegg (Scotty) have great, central roles in this film. I wish Karl Urban (Bones) had more screen time. I think he’s fantastic. And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant in his complex, villainous role.

While some of the big mystery reveals were a bit predictable, especially to fans who may have heard spoilers, I think it served as a respectable homage. I only hope we don’t have to wait another four years to see another installment. But with Abrams focusing on Star Wars next, Star Trek will need to pass on to another director for that to happen. A strong foundation has been laid here with this alternate crew with limitless possibilities for new stories and adventures, whether it be more films, tv, or novels. Don’t miss this exciting sequel.

The blu-ray edition contains some great behind the scenes featurettes on the making of the film’s various incredible scenes. And the last one is just an advertisement, though a good cause. I only wish there were some deleted scenes and/or outtakes.

Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition

• Creating the Red Planet – Experience the creation of a never-before-seen alien world, as featured in the action-packed opening sequence of the film.

• Attack on Starfleet – Go behind the scenes with the cast and filmmakers and witness the creation of the shocking attack on Starfleet Headquarters.

• The Klingon Home World – Discover the stunning world of Kronos, and see how the filmmakers reinvented the Klingons for a new generation.

• The Enemy of My Enemy – Find out how, and why, the identity of the film’s true villain was kept a mystery to the very end.

• Ship to Ship – An in-depth and thrilling look at the filming of the iconic space jump sequence, which both defied the laws of physics and pushed the limits of visual effects.

• Brawl by the Bay – Sit in with Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch as they revisit their intense preparation for the film’s breathtaking climax.

• Continuing the Mission – An inspiring look at the partnership between the film’s crew and the organization that assists returning veterans to find meaningful ways to contribute on the home front.

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition

Star Trek Into Darkness comes to Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand Sept 10th, arrives on digital August 20th

Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2


Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray Disc August 20 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before the events of Star Trek®: The Original Series. Set in the 22nd century, in a time when interstellar travel is still in its infancy, ENTERPRISE follows Captain Archer and his crew of brave explorers as they set out to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft and experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Review:
Picking up after the season 1 cliffhanger finale, “Shockwave, Part II” where Captain Archer is stuck hundreds of years in the future. My favorite stories from Enterprise involve time travel, the Temporal Cold War, and the beginnings of Section 31. And I was one of the theme song haters at first, but by this season I had come to appreciate “Where My Heart Will Take Me” as it just fit the theme of the show. It really had a great cast and great storylines, up until the arguable Xindi debacle. This season had some great episodes – first contact with alien races, “Carbon Creek”, and “Regeneration” (with the Borg). Unlike the other Star Trek series, this ship is full of inexperienced and optimistic crew members who are on the front lines of space exploration. Every experience is new and exciting for them. The addition of the featurettes makse this a must for any Enterprise fan. Brannon Braga hosts a fun, new cast reunion – “In Conversation: The First Crew” as the cast shares memories and stories from the set.

Disc One: Continue reading Blu-Ray Spotlight: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 2

Blu Ray Review: Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The fabled siblings are all grown up and hell-bent on tracking and killing witches wherever they hide in the no-holds-barred epic of modern action and adventure HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, taking flight on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and On Demand June 11, 2013 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS stars Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Thomas Mann, and Peter Stormare. Written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the film earned more than $200 million at the global box office and a sequel is in development. The movie tells the story of the brother and sister team seeking to avenge their parents’ deaths. But after a lifetime of hunting witches, Hansel and Gretel now must face an evil greater than anything they’ve seen: a terrifying new threat so massive, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Review:
As the synopsis states, this is a grown-up Hansel & Gretel. Having killed the witch who tried to eat them as children, the siblings begin making witch-hunting their job traveling from town to town ridding the land of the dark evil with considerable skill and clever gadgets. This steampunk, adult fairy tale is as dark and gruesome as it is smart and funny. Think Van Helsing meets Underworld.

While the over-the-top violence was a bit much for my taste, it was rounded out by plenty of humor. And the though a bit predictable, the acting was solid. I especially loved Jeremy Renner’s understated performance, as well as Famke Janssen’s evil witch persona. This fun, action-packed adventure is packed with suspense, mystery, romance, and excitement. I like that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a mindless action flick with entertaining characters and a fresh take on a well-known fairy tale.

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray:
• Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
• Reinventing Hansel & Gretel
• The Witching Hours
• Meet Edward the Troll

DVD:
• Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

Blu Ray Spotlight: Mad Max Trilogy

Mad Max Trilogy Blu Ray

Synopsis:
The three films – Mad Max (1979), Mad Max Road Warrior (1982) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – are all set in the near-future in Australia. From the very first film, Oscar® winner George Miller (Happy Feet, 2006) proved a master at creating the gritty, bleak dystopian world and staging the incredible car stunts and crashes in the era when stuntmen, not computers, achieved the effects. All three movies starred Mel Gibson, virtually unknown until after the second film, as Max Rockatansky, a highway cop traveling through the Outback in a society descending into chaos. The films started Gibson on his road to international superstardom, led to his signature Lethal Weapon series, and later two Academy Awards® for his roles as producer and director of Braveheart (1995).

Mad Max:
A vengeful Australian policeman sets out to avenge his partner, his wife, and his son whom were murdered by a motorcycle gang in retaliation for the death of their leader.

Mad Max Road Warrior:
In the post-apocolyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline-rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome:
A former Australian policeman is rescued by a tribe of children when he is banished from a desert town and sent into the desert to die by the desert town’s evil queen.

The blu ray set is packaged in a collector’s tin with separate cover art. It’s a great addition to any classic scifi fan’s movie library. The films look great in HD, though I’m not sure the sound was remastered. The action and car chase scenes are loud and clear, but the dialog is hard to understand. And no, it’s not the Australian accents. Besides having to turn up/down the volume constantly, I really enjoyed revisiting these cult classic action films.