Category Archives: Movie Reviews

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:

Blu Ray Review: World War Z

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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

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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