Eleven-year-old Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) has just moved with her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) to a new home in Oregon. With her parents distracted by work and no one to play with except an annoying boy, Wybie Lovat (Robert Bailey Jr.), she spends her time visiting her older neighbors. When she convinces herself that her new home is the most boring place on earth, she uncovers a secret door that leads to a parallel world much like her ownbut much better. Is the grass greener on the other side or is it all an illusion?
Pixar has changed the way animated films are made, but the days of stop-motion are far from over as director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) proves with this visually stunning and wildly entertaining tale of a young girl in search of attention. One caveatthis isn't really a kid's movie. There are some intense sequences in the "other world" that may frighten younger viewers, so a prescreening is recommended for parents with young children.
Coraline Jones is a lonely little girl. She has just moved into a creepy old house, has no real friends, and her parents are so preoccupied with their work on a gardening catalog that they have no time for her. But she soon discovers a small, papered-over doorway in the living room. It leads to another universe—similar to her own but different in important ways. Her “other” parents in that universe are devoted to satisfying her every whim. Her only new friend there doesn’t talk much (actually, not at all), the neighbors who share the old, subdivided house are fascinating rather than merely eccentric, and everything is colorful and fun.
All is not what it seems. Coraline is, at its core, a bloodless horror story. Much like the recent computer-animated film 9 (the first post-apocalyptic sock-puppet movie, and another dynamite audio/video transfer), it gets under your skin in ways that animated fare rarely does and could seriously frighten young children. It also uses stop-motion animation as refined by stop-motion expert Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Monkeybone, James and the Giant Peach).
Looking to gain the title of "World's Greatest Villain," Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopts three orphans in order to steal a shrinking machine from his nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel). What he didn't count on was the three girls changing his outlook on the world and he'll stop at nothing to protect them.
The marketing campaign for this film stunk and I had no desire to see it in the theaters (and neither did my kids) but was willing to give it a try on Blu-ray. Surprisingly there's a touching story behind the fantastic animation as the villain becomes the hero and discovers he does have a heart buried beneath his evil exterior.
Alfred Hitchcock was a supremely gifted and innovative filmmaker and master of suspense…and a bit of a psycho in his own right, according to recent biographies on him. His films are the benchmark standard that nearly every suspense thriller since has taken its cues from. And in 1954, Hitchcock shot Dial M for Murder in the 3D format at a time when the novelty of 3D films was waning.
As Marvel’s comic characters go, Ghost Rider is hellishly hard to categorize. From what I can gather from the character’s two films, 2007’s Ghost Rider and this sequel (I’m not a fan of the comics), Johnny Blaze is a motorcycle stunt rider who sells his soul to the devil to save his father’s life. In exchange, he periodically turns into an ancient, fiery demon that searches out evil to suck out its soul. A bummer for sure, but everybody needs a hobby. His motorcycle has apparently sold its carburetor and tires to Beelzebub as well, since whenever Johnny goes all flames and stuff, he’s also treated to one hell of a ride. Talk about sitting on the hot seat.
Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo (Mame McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) must overcome many obstacles to be together. But can this young couple find lasting happiness with their two families hell-bent on destroying each other?
This is a classic example of false advertising. While the trailers made this film look funny and fresh, it's anything but that. The screenplay is pathetically weak, the characters exhibit zero personality, and even the great music from Elton John can't make this anything more than a colossal waste of 84 minutes.
In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, an elite force called the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries to protect peace and justice. Each warrior wears a ring that grants him the ability to create anything his mind can imagine, but when an enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, all hopes rest in the hands of their newest recruit and the first human ever selectedHal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds).
I've never been a connoisseur of comic books and my exposure to them has come from feature films. My expectations for Green Lantern were quite low given its poor reviews during its theatrical run so it was a big surprise that I actually liked it. Granted, it's no Iron Man or The Dark Knight, although I enjoyed it as much as Thor. Reynolds does a decent job playing the cocky hero, but its biggest shortcoming is the lackluster screenplay that adds too many subplots and drags throughout the second act.
To impress the pretty newspaper travel editor Darcy (Amanda Peet), an underachieving mailroom clerk named Gulliver (Jack Black) takes a writing assignment traveling to Bermuda. On his way there he's swept into a giant cyclone and ends up on the island of Lilliput and discovers he's a giant compared to the little inhabitants.
When you take classic literature and modernize its story, sometimes something can be lost in the translation, and that's certainly the case here. While Black is his usual funny self, the screenplay is quite shallow and contains a litany of two-dimensional characters. I have to admit, I laughed out loud on a number of occasions, but I was equally grossed out when Gulliver needed to extinguish a blazing fire and chose a rather unique way to putting it out.
As the third installment of the Ice Age franchise, you’d expect the latest adventures of our odd herd of prehistoric mammal friends—Sid the sloth, Manny and Ellie the wooly mammoths, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, Crash and Eddie the possums, and (off on his own as usual) everyone’s favorite latter-day Coyote, Scrat, the squirrel-rat. Scrat’s role has grown with each entry in the series, and here he gets a love (or rather love-hate) interest in Scrattle, a challenge to his acorn obsession.
The main attraction, and what makes this film the best of the three Ice Age movies, is clear from the title. It’s hard to make a bad movie featuring dinosaurs (although the recent remake of Land of the Lost took its best shot). Dinosaurs disappeared long before wooly mammoths walked the glaciers, but as they appear here in a sort of lost-world environment, we can forgive this bit of creative license.
Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, Imax Deep Sea guides you on an astonishing adventure that lets you swim alongside our planet's most exotic creatures. You'll follow green sea turtles as they gather at the cleaning stop so surgeonfish can strip harmful algae from their shells, see Humboldt squid change color four times per second like a strobe light, and witness a mantis shrimp fight off an octopus.
This is the second time I've seen this documentary on home video, but experiencing it in 3D blows away the DVD. Our oceans house some of the most interesting creatures on our planet and this Imax presentation takes you right into the action with freakishly realistic visuals.
Imagine a world of incredible color and beauty. Of crabs wearing jellyfish for hats or of fish disguised as frogs, stones, and shag carpets. Journey into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef and other South Pacific realms and immerse yourself into 3D from the comfort of your own home.
Here's the first of many Blu-ray 3D reviews you'll be seeing at UltimateAVmag.com. For the sake of full disclosure, our household was divided about 3D. My wife and daughter have always enjoyed it, while my son and I haven't, with one exceptionAvatar. Everyone enjoyed the 3D experience of James Cameron's blockbuster at our local theater.
An old adage (OK, I just made it up) says that if you’re going to make a movie in 3D, you’d better give the audience something interesting to look at. The Mysterious Island does just that, dazzling the eyes with nonstop wonders held together by a wholly adequate plot. Young Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is having trouble living the suburban life of a normal teen after the excitement of his journey to the center of the earth. And soon enough, a cryptic message from his missing grandfather sets him off on a new adventure halfway around the globe, this time chaperoned by his supercool stepdad (Dwayne Johnson).
Young owl Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) marvels at tales of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, mythic winged warriors who battled to save all owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. When he and brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) fall into the talons of the Pure Ones, it's up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave owls and seek out the Great Tree, home of the Guardians.
The marketing for this film wasn't very enticing, but the story has a lot of heart and is very entertaining. Director Zach Snyder (300, Watchman) makes his animation debut with this fantasy adventure based on the beloved books by Kathryn Lasky.
Escaped from the Central Park Zoo, four animal friends were “rescued” and sent back to the wild, a humanitarian effort that turned into a whirlwind global adventure. The quartet has been on the savanna since the end of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, but lion Alex (Ben Stiller) still misses the zoo and so with his zebra, hippo, and giraffe chums, he’s off to collect the penguin master- minds from the birds’ Monte Carlo excursion and figure out a way home.
Earth is threatened. Galaxar, a four-eyed, tentacled, interstellar bad guy, is headed our way in search of his lost Quantonium, which it seems is even more valuable than Unobtainium. To make things worse, the Quantonium has landed on earth, struck a bride-to-be named Susan, and turned her into the proverbial 50-foot woman, much to the horror of her groom and wedding guests. She is thrown into an Area 51–like prison, where other monsters have been squirreled away from the public for decades. Out of options, the U.S. president recruits the monsters as Earth’s best hope for survival.
If all of this seems to be straight out of the usual Bruckheimer-Bay-Emmerich mold, it isn’t. Instead, it’s one of the funniest computer-animated films of recent years. Galaxar is a hoot. “People of Earth, I mean you no harm,” he proclaims. “But you’ll all be either dead or enslaved in 24 hours. Don’t be angry; it’s just business.” Susan discovers that she can do better than her egotistical fiancé, and the other monsters prove to be both endearing and fascinating.