Blu-Ray Review: Hereafter

Hereafter Blu-ray Edition

When Marie (Cécile de France) a French journalist is caught in a tsunami, she has a near death experience that begins to affect her life dramatically. George (Matt Damon) is a psychic with an ability to speak to the dead loved ones of those he touches. And young Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren) from London loses a dear family member in a tragic accident, and begins to search for answers to what happens after someone dies. Each of them will begin a journey that will converge in their search for what may happen in the hereafter.

The first scene of a violent and catastrophic tsunami is certainly the most moving and tragic in the film. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is dismal and extremely slow-moving. Bouncing around the three main storylines, it’s obvious from the start what will bring the three characters together. But the journey is painfully slow. To make matters worse, over a third of the film is in French (with English subtitles).

While the acting was spot on, it wasn’t enough to make the film worthwhile. The three storylines obviously connect, but without much resolution at the end. It was a long build-up to a fizzled, lackluster ending. Clint Eastwood directs this strange, monotonous film with seemingly little direction. Fans of drama, with a paranormal twist, who don’t mind reading their movies and watching stagnant scenes (like Matt Damon eating meals by himself) may be interested in this one. But it was definitely not one that I can recommend.

Blu-Ray Review: Dungeons & Dragons 2-Movie Collection

Dungeons & Dragons 1 & 2 Blu-Ray Edition

Dungeons and Dragons (2000)
Young Empress, Savina wishes to make great changes to the kingdom of Izmer, establishing equality for everyone, not just the Mages. But the evil Profion plots to usurp her control. Meanwhile, Ridley and Snails are two thieves, unhappy with the Mages’ dominance. While stealing from the Mages, the two find themselves wrapped up in a search for a mythical rod that could mean certain destruction if it falls into Profion’s hands. The film has an impressive cast including: Jeremy Irons (Profion), Bruce Payne (Damodar), Justin Whalin (Ridley), Marlon Wayans (Snails), Thora Birch (Empress Savina) and Zoe McLellan (Marina). The comical and almost cartoonish feel make for a fun and light-hearted fantasy with plenty of magic, dragons, and heart. Those unfamiliar with the game (like me) with little-to-no expectations, this was a fun and fast-paced adventure when it released in 2000. Re-watching it in 2011, I found it much more corny, with out-dated special effects. Yet, it was still enjoyable following the thief characters and their party.

Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God (2005)
Damodar plans revenge against the kingdom of Izmer, capturing a powerful orb in order to summon a dragon to destroy the kingdom. The warrior Berek and mage Melora, along with a diverse group of heroes, fight to reach the orb before Damodar’s plans unfold. Bruce Payne (Damodar) is the only returning main character for the sequel. Though, the acting and special effects once again fall flat. The pacing is off and I became confused several times throughout the film, wondering if familiarity with the game is necessary to understand all of the plot elements. This sequel has little else in common with its predecessor. Where the previous was fun and light-hearted, this installment is very violent and humorless. A definitive quest-like adventure, the highlight of the film is the diverse party’s various encounters with monsters along their quest.

Dungeons & Dragons 1 & 2 is now available on Blu-Ray with plenty of extras, including a game points gift card for the online game.

DVD Review: Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

In 1947, an alien spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. The US Army recovered four alien bodies and has been keeping them a secret ever since. Almost twenty years later, young couple John Loengard and Kimberly Sayers move to Washington DC. And while investigating military budgets, John uncovers a terrifying secret. There are aliens among us. And they’re not peaceful. And the covert organization known as Majestic is keeping it a secret from the rest of the world.

This science fiction show from 1996 stars Eric Close as John Loengard and Megan Ward as Kimberly Sayers. The two have a fantastic chemistry that makes this show worthwhile. The series follows the two across the country in their search for answers and to protect humanity from the alien Hive. Taking place in the sixties, we are shown a history many historic events were influenced by the Hive and Majestic – from Kennedy’s assassination to the Beatles and the Civil Rights Movement. John and Kimberly’s mission and relationship are certainly the highlight of the show. And the few episodes near the end where Kimberly becomes replaced with Jeri Ryan’s character (Juliet), is where the series jumped the shark for me. While Juliet is passionate, there was no chemistry with John. Thankfully, the majority of the series revolved around John and Kimberly. J.T. Walsh also stars as Capt. Frank Bach, head of Majestic as a man with strong (though sometimes misplaced) convictions who will do anything to stop the Hive – as long as he doesn’t have to give up control.

The series has a distinct feel of X-Files meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The special effects are, of course, very out-of-date and comical at times. But the storylines, strong characters, and suspense are enough to make this series still completely enjoyable today. Creepy aliens, intrigue, danger, cleverly written alternative history, and plenty of heart – Dark Skies is a truly impressive series that I certainly recommend for any science fiction fan.

Bonus Features Include:
– International Pilot
– Signal to Noise: Uncovering Dark Skies – a look back at the series
– The Dark Skies Glossary
– Original Sales Presentation
– Electronic Press Kit
– Network Promos
– Never-before-seen proposal for Season 2

DVD Review: Merlin: The Complete Second Season

Merlin: the Complete Second Season

Merlin is once again taken on the difficult task of keeping Prince Arthur and Camelot safe, while trying to keep his powers a secret. With many more monsters and other adversaries, Merlin and Arthur face even greater obstacles than before. Meanwhile, Lady Morgana is going through changes, and ultimately makes decisions that will lead her down the path of evil.

Colin Morgan returns as the title character Merlin. Growing from the awkward geeky boy, to a more confident young man in this season. Arthur, played by Bradley James, goes through changes himself, as he becomes stronger and more humble. Arthur also experiences the first hint of love blossoming with Guinevere (Angel Coulby). And Morgana (Katie McGrath) begins to show her darker side. Watching these characters develop is a highlight of the season. While I’m not a fan of Angel Coulby’s Guinevere, I thoroughly enjoy the rest of the cast of characters and their interpretations.

Even more exciting than the first season, Merlin is full of magic, adventure, humor, friendship, and romance. Packed with extras, this second season DVD set includes all thirteen episodes as well as behind-the-scenes clips, commentaries, and more. Brilliantly blending humor and fantasy, this is one show I hate to miss. The King Arthur legend was never so much fun.

Blu-Ray Review: The A-Team

The A-Team

Hannibal Smith leads a team of Special Forces soldiers on dangerous missions for the military. Their latest mission backfires and counterfeit money plates are stolen by a rival mercenary team. Hannibal and his “A-Team” are framed and sent to prison. But high security prisons, mercenaries, and traitors are no match for this team that specializes in the crazy and impossible.

The A-Team, based on the legendary 80’s television show are played by Liam Neeson (Hannibal), Bradley Cooper (Face), Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (B.A.), and Sharlto Copley (Murdock). Neeson plays every role to perfection, and this is no exception. Hannibal is the man who always has a plan, brilliant and a bit crazy. Speaking of crazy, Murdock is certifiably insane, but an ace pilot and the team’s constant comic relief. Copley does a wonderful job of acting like he should be committed. Cooper is Faceman aka Templeton Peck – the pretty boy, master of disguise and master of manipulation. There’s a bit of craziness to him as well, but we get to see a deeper side of him when his former love (played by Jessica Biel) is on their trail. And Jackson gets to play the iconic character of B.A. Baracus – the tough as nails former Airborne Army Ranger who becomes afraid of flying.

With over-the-top action, incredible stunts, and impossible situations, The A-Team is much like the original series – if the original series were allowed to actually shoot people. All of the fun-loving spirit, adventure, and comedy from before with a re-vamp of fantastic characters and a fun (if somewhat predictable) story. This was my favorite of 2010’s summer action blockbusters. And I was more than excited to own it on Blu-ray, with all of its special features and extras. This edition also includes a digital copy of the theatrical version. Huge explosions, lots of laughs, and plenty of surprises – The A-Team certainly exceeded my expectations.

Special Features Include:
Disc 1:
• Theatrical Version
• Extended Version
• The Devil’s in the Details: Inside the Action with Joe Carnahan
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• A-Team Theme Mash-Up Montage
• Plan of Attack
• Character Chronicles
• Visual Effects Before and After with Commentary by Visual Effects Supervisor James E. Price
• Theatrical Trailer

Disc 2: Digital Copy

DVD Review: Six Million Dollar Man Season 1

Six Million Dollar Man

The Six Million Dollar Man

When the NASA pilot crashes in a near-fatal accident, Colonel Steve Austin becomes a test subject for state-of-the-art cybernetic enhancements. In return for his new abilities, Steve begins working for OSI, an agency that guards the United States from continuous threats and danger.

Lee Majors stars as the iconic Colonel Steve Austin the “Six Million Dollar Man.” The show, beginning first as two movie pilots, started as a slow-paced drama. But as the show was picked up for regular season, so did the action and adventure. Lee Majors played Steve as a reluctant hero and very down-to-earth (even though a famous NASA pilot), who happens to have an extraordinary gift. Though of course, the special effects are very out-of-date and some situations are a bit hokey, this incredible show still holds up today, with plenty of drama, action and adventure.

The Six Million Dollar Man also produced the spin-off The Bionic Woman, starring Lindsay Wagner, (an almost equally iconic character of the decade) and several reunion specials. Science fiction enthusiasts that were around in the 70s and early 80s remember the show with fondness. I was a child, who caught the show on reruns and was especially fond of the Bionic Woman as well. And I’m happy to say that re-watching this classic series, and reunion specials in particular, was still a fun and memorable experience as an adult.

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Collection releases for the first time today at with loads of bonus features.

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