Archive for the 'Recent DVDs' Category

Act of Valor
Reality? Check!

As the action unfolds, you never get the sense that something absolutely ridiculous (Mission: Impossible), leaden (The Expendables), or overly-kinetic (Bourne or anything Statham) is going to happen. If bad guys are gonna get taken out, it’s going to happen quick, and the SEALs are going to move on, fast. If something blows up, it’s going to happen… once, and the SEALs are going to move on, fast. If something technologically sophisticated is required, we’re going to see bits of it—it won’t be belabored and shown off—and the SEALs are going to move right along, fast.


Saints and Soldiers

At the crux of the plot is the same dilemma as in Steven Spielberg’s heavy-handed and polemic Saving Private Ryan: Do you show mercy to your enemies? Little’s film doesn’t treat that question in a perfunctory manner, on either end of the spectrum… though, naturally, it just isn’t possible to read this as a “shoot the bastards” tract.


The Snow Walker

What happens when a headstrong rumrunner crash-lands in the Arctic Barrens? In 2003’s The Snow Walker, this question has to be answered in the context of post-World War II technology, not with the luxury of GPS beacons and satellite phones. So when Charlie Halliday drops the last spare radio tube in his crashed single-prop, and it breaks, the answer is… a whole lot of survival training.


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
More of the Same

Based on the popular graphic novels by Frank Miller, the 2005 movie Sin City was something of a revelation in cinema. Director Robert Rodriguez had his actors perform in front of a green screen and then added the rest of the film elements digitally. The result was a visually stunning film that completely captured the stylized images of Miller’s books. Nine years later, co-directors Miller and Rodriguez bring us back to their world with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, a movie that matches the stunning visuals of the original… but unfortunately lacks interesting enough stories to make it worth it.


When the Game Stands Tall
Overcoming Adversity On and Off the Field

If I were to tell you that they were making a movie about a team that won 151 consecutive football games, you might assume that the movie would be about how this team came together to accomplish that feat. When the Games Stands Tall is about the team that experienced that tremendous winning streak, but instead of focusing on what went into the streak, the movie focuses on what came after: how the team bounced back from an onslaught of adversity that hit them all at once.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Evolving Franchise

Based on the novel by French writer Pierre Boulle, the original Planet of the Apes film inspired a franchise that included five movies between 1968 and 1973. After a forgettable Tim Burton remake in 2001, the franchise was rebooted in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. While it is often referred to as a reboot, that movie stayed true enough to the original franchise that it could also be considered a prequel. The franchise now continues with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which logically advances the progression from the events of the 2011 movie towards the events depicted in the 1968 original.


Transformers: Age of Extinction
Enough is Enough

After going low-budget (relatively speaking) and directing one of last year’s biggest surprises, Pain & Gain, Michael Bay returns to his big-budget franchise with Transformers: Age of Extinction. The movie is technically a sequel, picking up the story four years after the events of 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but it also has elements of a reboot. Gone are Shia Labeouf’s Sam Witwicky and the rest of the human characters from the first three movies, replaced by a whole new cast led by Mark Wahlberg. With the exception of a few holdovers, most of the robot cast is new as well, including a brand new villain.


X-Men: Days of Future Past
Bringing Together Young and Old

Many thought that the original X-Men series had run its course after 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Five years after that film, the series was supposedly rebooted with X-Men: First Class, which took place in the 1960s and introduced the younger versions of many of the main characters. It was an interesting new direction and an opportunity to tie the X-Men franchise in with real-life events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead of creating a direct sequel to First Class, however, director Bryan Singer returned to the franchise and creates X-Men: Days of Future Past, which manages to feature the casts of both the reboot and the original films.


Godzilla
King of the Monsters, Indeed

As movie monsters go, there is one that stands out above the rest. After first appearing in the allegorical Japanese film Gojira in 1954, the character that became known as Godzilla has appeared in over thirty movies. Most of these movies have been Japanese products and for good reason: when Hollywood attempted to make a Godzilla movie in 1998, it was a laughable disaster. Under the theory that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, Hollywood is back with another stab at the legendary movie monster. Does this Godzilla have what it takes to succeed? The answer is a resounding yes.


Million Dollar Arm
Agent of Distraction

Following their success with Remember the Titans in 2000, Disney began releasing based-on-true-events inspirational sports dramas every couple of years. For the most part, these movies have been consistently entertaining and successful with Titans and Miracle being arguably the cream of the crop. As entertaining as they are, however, by following virtually the same formula with every movie, they are feeling less and less fresh with each new outing. That is very apparent in their latest film, Million Dollar Arm, a moderately entertaining effort that hits a little too many clichés on its way around the bases.


Next Page »