I hadn't watched Ron Howard's Apollo 13 in years- probably since the first DTS DVD release in the late 90s. It's extraordinary that this movie remains so riveting- nerve wracking even- so long after seeing it for the first time, and having gone into that first viewing knowing how the story ends! The filmmaking, the performances, the effects, the attention to every technical detail, everything is top notch and about as good as it gets from big-time Hollywood filmmaking. A great, compelling movie, and capsule in time of one of America's most riveting real-life dramas. This is what used to be "reality TV" back in the day!
Extras: 3.5/5 In Marshal Virgil Cole and deputy Everett Hitch's line of work, you shoot quick, you shoot clean, and you reload straightaway. No remorse. No looking back. No feelings. Feelings get you killed. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen stand together as longtime friends and for-hire peacekeepers Cole and Hitch in this character-driven, bullet-hard Western based on Robert B. Parkers novel. As the woman who arrives in town with only a dollar and a keen sense of survival, Renee Zellweger adds feelings - those things that get you killed - to a quest to bring murderer Randall Bragg to justice.
In 2004 Appleseed was released as a groundbreaking CG animation feature. The CG animation style was cutting edge and the action of the film was a lot of fun. While I enjoyed that film I thought the overall story was a bit lacking. This follow up is a step up in almost every department. The new story is a lot better in my opinion, but the film does remind me of a video game at times. The scope is larger, but the way the action progresses and some of the dialogue make me feel like I'm watching cut scenes from a game more than a full length feature every once in awhile. The animation has been supercharged since the first release. The characters and animation in general is far more dimensional and the attention to detail is incredible. Fans of anime in general will definitely want to check this one out.
Before Sam Raimi made his trillions on the Spider-Man franchise, he made a different trilogy of films, starting with The Evil Dead and ending with this classic here. The story follows Bruce Campbell as Ash, who is sucked through time and space to 13th-century England. In order to get back, he needs to acquire the Necronomicon ex Mortis. He botches the job and unleashes an army of undead. If it sounds ridiculous, it is. It’s also hysterically funny. You don’t need to have seen The Evil Dead or Evil Dead II to get this movie, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
Extras: 3.5/5 Russell Brand reinvents the role of lovable billionaire Arthur Bach, an irresponsible charmer who has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and lifelong nanny Hobson to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge: choosing between an arranged marriage to ambitious corporate exec Susan that will ensure his lavish lifestyle, or an uncertain future with the one thing money can't buy - Naomi, his true love. With Naomi's inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will take the most expensive risk of his life and learn what it means to be a man.
Luc Besson has long been known for his larger action feature films such as The Fifth Element and The Professional but most people don't know that he wrote a series of children's books in France. Besson also directed a feature film based on the books and has a follow up coming out later this year. The film was released stateside as Arthur and the Invisibles to a rather lukewarm reception. I’m a huge fan of Besson's live action films but this one was a bit hit or miss. The film is a mix of live action and animation and generally the animation is excellent. The character design reminded me a lot of the Oddworld characters from the video game series of the same name. The problem is the rather hurried script. The story is great, but there is little to no character development, and the dialogue is really tone down for the younger audience. I think this could have been fleshed out significantly and brought a far more satisfying film to the screen.
I'm always on the lookout for new animated fare, regardless of what country it is from. When I saw an import HD DVD was available for Asterix and the Vikings I went ahead and picked it up. The film was getting reasonably good word of mouth and the character looked vaguely familiar from my younger days. Unfortunately this one didn't play out real well. The animation style looked good and I was impressed with the mix of 3D and cell animation, but the story was geared too much to the younger crowd and my wife and I just couldn't get into it. The film does have its funny moments, but the story moves at a pretty slow pace and the forced inclusion of "hip" culture didn't work well for it overall.
Extras: 3/5 Atonement was easily one of my favorite movies of 2007 and I was actually surprised it didn't walk away with the Best Picture statue at the Oscar's this year. While this was an extremely strong year for great films and there was some great nominees I felt this film had the strongest overall arc in terms of production, story, acting and direction. It is rare that a film just nails every aspect as well as this one does, making it a must-see in my opinion.
Extras: 4.5/5 "Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition Loaded With Extra Mojo" includes: "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery"; "The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Goldmember".
Mike Meyers, Beyoncé Knowles, Michael Caine. Directed by Mike Meyers. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). DTS ES 6.1, Dolby Digital EX 5.1, Dolby Surround 2.0. 95 minutes. 2002. New Line N6078. PG-13. $29.99.
Extras: 3/5 A romantic action-adventure epic set in Australia prior to World War II that centers on an English aristocrat who inherits a large ranch. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle drover to protect her ranch. Together they experience four life-altering years, a love affair and the bombing of Darwin during World War II.
Extras: 4.5/5 The journey continues with all three movie versions, including the exclusive Extended Cut not shown in theaters, plus an in-depth, feature-length look at the film's groundbreaking production, additional deleted scenes and more. The greatest adventure of all time just got bigger... and better! "Avatar" takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home. We enter the alien world through the eyes of Jake Sully, a former Marine confined to a wheelchair. He is recruited to travel light years to the human outpost of Pandora, where corporations are mining a rare mineral that is the key to solving the Earth's energy crisis. Because the atmosphere of Pandora is toxic, they have created the Avatar Program, in which human "drivers" have their consciousness linked to an avatar, a remotely controlled biological body that can survive in the lethal air. Reborn in his avatar form, Jake can walk again. He is given a mission to infiltrate the Na'vi, who have become a major obstacle to mining the precious ore. Jake is taken in by a beautiful Na'vi female, Neytiri, after she saves his life. As Jake's relationship with his reluctant teacher deepens, he learns to respect the Na'vi way and finally takes a place among them. Soon he will face the ultimate test as he leads the Na'vi in an epic battle that will decide nothing less than the fate of an entire world.