Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Project Almanac

Project Almanac Blu-ray Edition

SYNOPSIS:
PROJECT ALMANAC follows a brilliant high school student (Jonny Weston) and his friends who discover blueprints for a machine that can send them back in time. They soon rewrite history to win the lottery, ace exams, and party like there’s no tomorrow. But by changing the past, they have threatened the future of our world. Can they undo the damage they have unleashed before it’s too late?

REVIEW:
David is a brilliant young man who gets accepted to MIT. But the scholarship money isn’t enough, so David looks through his father’s old things to see if he can use something to impress MIT. He discovers a time machine that he believes can fix everything. Instead, things go horribly wrong.

I’m not a fan of the way this was shot, seemingly from one of David’s friends or sister the entire time. Thankfully, it’s not a shaky camera – so it’s not bad. And at the end, there’s a clever way that the camera ties into the story. The story itself is a teenage and not-so-dark version of The Butterfly Effect. There were times the pacing lagged, specifically when the kids were working on the machine and testing it. Though, they suddenly jump to testing it on themselves after it has proven unsafe, so this shows how these are just kids and they aren’t thinking things through. They have several fun, time travel adventures to improve grades, win a lottery, and witness a concert. It’s a cute, light-hearted, science fiction adventure that younger viewers may enjoy. As a fan of time travel stories, I guess I was expecting more science and suspense and not so much teen angst. It does build up to an exciting and (somewhat) satisfying conclusion. Though, several questions are left unanswered which were bothersome as well.

Blu-ray Combo Pack Includes:
Blu-ray
• Feature film in high definition
• Alternate Opening
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Endings
DVD
• Feature film in standard definition

Blu-Ray Review: Jupiter Ascending

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

SYNOPSIS:
Jupiter Jones (Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people’s houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along—her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

REVIEW:
Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a humble housecleaner from a close-knit family of immigrants. Somehow, the galactic royal family discovers that Jupiter is the genetic successor of royalty. And her life is in sudden danger. Channing Tatum is Caine, a genetically spliced human with a wolf hybrid, has been hired to protect Jupiter and get her to safety. The two have a cute, easy camaraderie that is fun to watch. I really enjoyed Sean Bean as well. The only person I couldn’t stand was Eddie Redmayne as Balem Abrasax, the main villain. He had an annoying, whispery voice that was hard to hear and just over-done. His character was a corny, one-dimensional villain.

I did enjoy the universe and special effects of Jupiter Ascending, however. The visuals were spectacular. The story was unique and full of suspense, intrigue, drama, and humor. It was fairly predictable, but still a fun science fiction adventure that was very entertaining.

Continue reading Blu-Ray Review: Jupiter Ascending

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: