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.


Transcendence
Mucks up the Works

If Transcendence looks like a movie made by Christopher Nolan, it is because the movie is the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, who photographed every movie Nolan has made since Memento. The movie also features a sci-fi heavy premise that sounds a bit like Inception, only replacing dreams with artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, whereas Inception truly felt like it was something new and exciting, Transcendence pulls too many punches to truly be measured in the same category as Nolan’s film.


Draft Day
Superstar or Bust?

It used to be something only hardcore football fans enthusiastically followed, but now the NFL Draft is a primetime television event that gets high ratings every year. It has turned team general managers from behind-the-scenes businessmen into superstars. It seems appropriate, then, that Hollywood would swoop in and try to capitalize on the phenomenon. The result is Draft Day, a film that focuses on one such general manager as he tries to make a splash for his team on the fateful day of the title.


Bad Words
Hilariously Offensive

The new comedy Bad Words certainly lives up to its name. If you go to this movie expecting a family-friendly movie about kids’ spelling bees, then you will be in for quite a shock. Hopefully, the fact that the poster is nothing but a close-up of star Jason Bateman’s mouth clearly forming the f-bomb will help more sensitive moviegoers steer clear. For those who aren’t turned off by offensive language and raunchy comedy, though, Bad Words is exactly what you hope it would be.


Divergent
Franchise Starter?

It seems that ever since Twilight did so well at the box-office when it was released in 2008 that movie studios are cranking out another young adult book adaptation every couple of months. With the exception of The Hunger Games, though, none of these other potential franchises have really taken off. Enter the latest contender, Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth. With a rising young star in Shailene Woodley in the lead role of Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, the hype for this movie has been growing.


Winter’s Tale
Angels & Demons

Winter’s Tale is being released on Valentine’s Day, but although the story does revolve around a love story, the movie feels more like a film that would come out around Christmas time. After all, angels and miracles are Christmas movie staples and they play a major role in this time-traveling fantasy. The movie just presents us with a world in which angels and demons walk among us without ever feeling the need to explain itself. In that sense, the movie is somewhat refreshing.


RoboCop
Better Effects, Less Fun

The first thing fans might notice about the 2014 RoboCop reboot is that it seems to be missing something that was prevalent in the 1987 original: blood. Whereas the original film made no effort to hold back on the violence, the new film aims for a broader audience with a PG-13 rating. What it lacks in blood and violence it tries to make up for with a topical political agenda, addressing the ideas of drone use and automated law enforcement in our modern society with a look at a possible near future.


The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men was originally considered to be one of the leading Oscar contenders coming down the stretch in 2013, and why not? A war movie based on a fascinating untold true story starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman: how could it not be a contender? Now the question is not whether it will be nominated for Oscars, but whether it will be able to find an audience at all.


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