Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Interstellar

Interstellar Blu-ray

Synopsis:
In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

Review:
Cooper is out of his element in an Earth where science and exploration take a back seat to agriculture and simple survival. When he discovers a code that sends him to a secret NASA installation, he is chosen to be a part of a small crew to help save humanity – with only one backup plan.

Interstellar is a unique science fiction epic from Christopher Nolan. It often felt like Signs meets 2001 Space Odyssey . The storytelling was unique, jumping from Cooper’s mission to back home on Earth where his family is aging and his daughter is trying to help NASA come up with a solution to save the humans left on Earth. The acting is gripping and emotional. And surprisingly the message is about love overcoming science.

Science and science fiction fans may be the only ones to appreciate (or understand) some of the mechanics of interstellar travel and the passage of time. I was impressed with the level of detail. I was pretty disappointed with the robot crew members, being so boxy with limited movement. Though, they were the only ones with a sense of humor through the movie – of which there definitely wasn’t enough. The visual effects were the highlight of this movie, and sometimes the story seemed to drag because of it. The film is a bit disjointed and strange – as the trailers suggested. It’s intensely dramatic, but a bit too slow for my taste. There are points of brilliance and creativity, however. I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m glad I finally saw it, but I don’t know that I’d watch it again.

The Blu-ray Edition also includes:
• The Science of Interstellar—Extended cut of the broadcast special.
• Plotting an Interstellar Journey—Discusses the film’s origins, influences and narrative designs.
• Life on Cooper’s Farm—Bringing Americana and the grounded nature of a farm to a sci-fi space movie.
• The Dust—Learn how cast and crew avoided sand blindness, and see how to create, and clean up after, a catastrophic dust storm.
• TARS and CASE—Designing and building these unique characters and how they were brought to life on set and in the film.
• Cosmic Sounds—The concepts, process, and recording of Hans Zimmer’s unforgettable score.
• The Space Suits—A look at the design and build of the suits and helmets, and what it was like to wear them.
• The Endurance—Explore this massive set with a guided tour by production designer Nathan Crowley.
• Shooting in Iceland: Miller’s Planet/Mann’s Planet—Travel with the cast and crew to Iceland and see the challenges they faced in creating two vastly different worlds in one country.
• The Ranger and the Lander—A look at the other two spaceships in the film.
• Miniatures in Space—Marvel at the large-scale models used in the explosive docking sequence.
• The Simulation of Zero-G—Discover the various methods that the filmmakers used to create a zero gravity environment.
• Celestial Landmarks—Explore how the filmmakers used practical special effects informed by real scientific equations to give the illusion of real space travel for both the actors and the audience.
• Across All Dimensions and Time—A look at the concept and design of the Tesseract, which incorporated a practical set rather than a green screen.
• Final Thoughts—The cast and crew reflect back on their Interstellar experience.
• Theatrical Trailers

Blu-Ray Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Own Edge of Tomorrow on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and Digital HD on October 7th.

SYNOPSIS:
The epic action of Edge of Tomorrow unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop—forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.

REVIEW:
Tom Cruise’s action and scifi films are usually a must-see for me. He’s a brilliant actor, no doubt about it. The only reservations I had seeing this for the first time was the Groundhog Day repetition of seeing the same day over and over. Especially if it was just going to be a slaughter each time. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how the the story moved along. Though viewers will feel for Cage, we don’t have to witness all of his countless, gruesome days.

Edge of Tomorrow had some tough competition this year as far as science fiction blockbusters go. But I thoroughly enjoyed this wild ride. From Cruise’s relatable and often-humorous Cage to Emily Blunt’s rough-around-the-edges Rita, the characters were fantastic. And, of course, Bill Paxton shined as Master Sergeant Farell. And despite the aliens being so strange and unique (and maybe a bit confusing for some) and almost the entire film set in one day set on repeat, the writers did a great job of making this complex story flow well. There were several unpredictable plot twists and non-stop suspense up to the incredibly-intense, climactic ending. Don’t miss this one.

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Synopsis:
An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly and enigmatic Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Review:
Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) is a wise-cracking thief and philanderer, with a penchant for Earth music from the 70s. Gamora is a conflicted assassin and the adopted daughter of the supervillain Thanos. Rocket is a talking raccoon and bounty hunter – a former medical experiment who now has genius level mechanical abilities. Groot is a tree-like creature who acts as Rocket’s bodyguard and who can only speak three words “I am Groot.” And Drax is a tortured man (who takes everything literally) driven by revenge for the death of his family. These five unique characters unite to form the unlikeliest of superhero teams.

The casting was spot on. Chris Pratt was born for his role as Peter Quill. And I’m convinced no one could do it better. And John C. Reilly and Glenn Close shine as their respective Nova Corps characters. As a fan of the comics, I couldn’t be happier. Director James Gunn and Marvel really pushed the envelope when introducing a film with a talking raccoon and sentient tree as central characters. And succeeded in creating a brilliant movie without equal.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action-packed, intergalactic adventure with a lot of laugh-out-loud comedy. In fact, the audience was laughing so much that it was easy to miss dialog. I had high expectations after seeing the fantastic trailers set to great songs (“Hooked on a Feeling” and “Spirit in the Sky”) – a genius marketing strategy. I was just hoping the film could live up to all the hype. And amazingly enough, it did. Adding classic 70s pop songs as an integral part of the film was smart and took the whole experience to another level. It’s emotional, riveting, gritty, and hilarious. This will be yet another Marvel movie that I’ll be watching multiple times in the theatre.

I thought Captain America: The Winter Soldier would be hard to top, but Guardians of the Galaxy is now my favorite movie of 2014.

Blu-Ray Review: Transcendence

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Transcendence (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)

Synopsis:
In Transcendence, Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence. For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown. The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

Review:
The previews for this film gave away most of the plot, so not much was a surprise. Johnny Depp and the rest of the acting was fantastic, which I expected. But the far-fetched “transcending” of Will was beyond this science fiction fan’s realm of believability. Especially, when he got into nanotechnology and creating a hive of followers. The story also dragged at times for a bit too much reflection and artsy imagery.

The events build to a suspenseful and exciting ending with a bit of a surprise. But a lot is still left unanswered. For a hard science fiction film, there is a lot of introspection and was just too slow-paced for my taste. However, it was unique and a film I’ll not soon forget.

Photo Gallery:

Own Transcendence on Digital HD now and on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on July 22nd.

Blu Ray Review: I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein

Synopsis:
The explosive thriller takes place 200 years after Dr. Frankenstein’s shocking creation came to life. Celestial forces name the creature Adam, and arm him with weapons to defeat the demons that are constantly seeking his destruction. However, soon Adam finds himself in the middle of a war over the fate of humanity and discovers that he also holds the key that could destroy humankind.

BLU-RAY/DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Audio Commentary with Co-writer/Director Stuart Beattie
• Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, James McQuaide and Kevin Grevioux
• “Creating a Monster” featurette
• “Frankenstein’s Creatures” featurette

Review:
Aaron Eckhart stars as Adam, Dr. Frankenstein’s monster. 200 years after his creation, he doesn’t age and he still bears scars (physical and psychological). He has an uneasy truce with the angelic gargoyles who protect humanity from demons. Adam just tries to live his life in the shadows and stay out of everyone’s way. But he’s thrust into the middle of the war between good and evil, as a demon prince seeks to discover the secrets of Dr. Frankenstein’s science.

I, Frankenstein is a fun, action-packed adventure. It didn’t get good reviews in the theater, but I was pleasantly entertained. Fans of the Underworld films should appreciate this science fiction/fantasy mash-up of gargoyles versus demons. It’s mindless entertainment that is visually stunning with some great special effects. I thoroughly enjoyed the story – mystery, suspense, action, mythology, with a little drama and even a hint of romance. And only Eckhart could make Frankenstein’s monster so easy on the eyes.

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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:

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

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Thor: The Dark World

Official Synopsis:
Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with the treacherous Loki to save not only his people and those he loves…but our universe itself.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and is based on Marvel’s classic super hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book Journey Into Mystery #83 in August, 1962.

Review:
Thor returns with a completely different attitude in this second installment. His prior arrogance is gone, now he pines for Jane Foster back on Earth when he should be celebrating bringing stability to the Nine Realms. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jane stumbles across a strange substance that infects her and awakens the Dark Elves. The Dark Elves are the major villains in this film, very stoic and no other motivation other than to turn the universe dark again. Whereas, Loki brings a much-needed levity and complexity that makes him one of my all-time favorite villains.

Thor: The Dark World packs in a lot of fast-paced adventure, action, and humor. Thor and Jane’s romance is a focus as well. The plot is pretty similar to that of the last film and the Avengers movie, though for once Loki isn’t the main villain. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Despite having had to watch the beginning several times before the theater gave up trying to fix the 3D. And since I saw an early screening, I continued to sit through a mostly-blurry film – because it was Thor. And it was worth it.

Blu-Ray Review: Pacific Rim

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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: