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Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: March 27

Thor Diakow | posted Monday, Mar 26th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 27, 2018: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Downsizing.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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SYNOPSIS: Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi—the next action-packed chapter of the Star Wars saga— Earned critical acclaim and the No. 1 spot atop 2017’s list of highest-grossing films. The visually stunning film welcomes the return of original characters, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Yoda, R2-D2 and C-3PO and further explores the deepening journey of the saga’s new members, Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. This release also marks Disney’s first title available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision™ HDR and Dolby Atmos® immersive audio, delivering consumers a transformative viewing experience.

Arguably the most controversial – and polarizing – Star Wars film yet, The Last Jedi certainly bears re-examining no matter what you thought the first time you saw it. Writer-director Rian Johnson made some bold decisions when it came to the characters and overall direction of the saga but that is perhaps what makes Episode VIII so special. Thrilling, bold, daring, exciting, and sometimes downright weird, The Last Jedi leaves many unanswered questions and it may work better, nestled in the middle, once this new trilogy is complete. The deleted scenes (14 of them!) and making-of material alone make this Blu-ray a must-have for any Star Wars fan.

Special Features:
Director Rian Johnson takes fans on an intimate journey into the creation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in a feature-length documentary, explaining his unique interpretation of the Force, detailing the painstaking process of creating Snoke, and deconstructing action-packed scenes from the film such as the epic space battle and the final confrontation. Johnson also reveals two exclusive scenes, featuring Andy Serkis as Snoke prior to his digital makeover, as well as 14 never-before-seen deleted scenes, in addition to his audio commentary.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

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SYNOPSIS: When four high-school kids discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of–Jumanji–they are immediately drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the avatars they chose: gamer Spencer becomes a brawny adventurer (Dwayne Johnson); football jock Fridge loses (in his words) “the top two feet of his body” and becomes an Einstein (Kevin Hart); popular girl Bethany becomes a middle-aged male professor (Jack Black); and wallflower Martha becomes a badass warrior (Karen Gillan). What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji–you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves–or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.

Many (myself included) rolled their eyes at the prospect of another Jumanji movie but most of us were pleasantly surprised with this rollicking adventure. Welcome to the Jungle does a commendable job of bringing the 90s action-comedy into the modern moviemaking era. It may be silly and frantic at times but the flick also moves at a decent pace, features hilarious performances from a great cast, and is consistently funny. It also works as a fitting tribute to the 1995 original starring the late, great Robin Williams.

Blu-ray Special Features:
-Gag Reel
-“Jumanji, Jumanji” Music Video by Jack Black and Nick Jonas
-Five Featurettes:
-“Journey Through The Jungle: The Making of Jumanji”
-“Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast”
-“Attack of the Rhinos!”
-“Surviving the Jungle: Spectacular Stunts!”
-“Book to Board Game to Big Screen & Beyond! Celebrating The Legacy of Jumanji”

DVD Special Features:
-Gag Reel
-“Jumanji, Jumanji” Music Video by Jack Black and Nick Jonas
-Three Featurettes:
-“Journey Through The Jungle: The Making of Jumanji”
-“Meet the Players: A Heroic Cast”
-“Attack of the Rhinos!”

4K Ultra HD Special Features:
-Feature film presented with Dolby Vision high dynamic range and Dolby Atmos sound
-Also includes the film and special features on the included high-def Blu-ray

Downsizing

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SYNOPSIS: When scientists find a way to shrink humans to five inches tall, Paul Safranek (Academy Award winner** Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to ditch their stressed out lives in order to get small and live large in a luxurious downsized community. Filled with life-changing adventures and endless possibilities, Leisureland offers more than riches, as Paul discovers a whole new world and realizes that we are meant for something bigger. “Brilliant and daring” (Shawn Edwards, Fox-TV) and “full of surprises” (Noah Gittell, Nerdist), DOWNSIZING also stars Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz*** and Hong Chau in a breakthrough performance that earned her Golden Globe® and SAG nominations.

This satirical sci-fi drama boasts some fine acting from a great cast but it’s high concept premise can’t quite sustain the entire film. The first half of Downsizing is utterly fascinating, mixed with compelling ideas and striking visual effects. However, as the story progresses it succumbs, in the plot department, to the typical genre clichés. Still, Alexander Payne’s skilled direction and the plot’s intriguing premise keep it afloat just enough to make it worth a watch.

Special Features:
The DOWNSIZING 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include nearly an hour of fascinating bonus content with six behind-the-scenes featurettes. Join the incredible cast including Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig, plus Academy Award-winning director Alexander Payne to see how his unique vision was brought to life. Take a journey on set and check out the production design and visual effects behind the miniaturized world of Leisureland, and much more!

·Feature film in high definition
·Bonus Content:
-working with Alexander
-the cast
-a visual journey
-a matter of perspective
-that smile
-a global concern

 

 

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Mar. 13

Thor Diakow | posted Wednesday, Mar 14th, 2018

Hit the movie titles for trailer links.

March 13, 2018: The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name, Justice League, Ferdinand, The Handmaid’s Tale: Season One.

The Shape of Water

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SYNOPSIS: From master storyteller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER, an otherworldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America circa 1962. In the hidden, high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones.

Guillermo del Toro’s sensational creature feature romance needs no introduction; the Best Picture winner (plus three other Academy Awards: Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design) combines a wide assortment of the visionary filmmaker’s signature talents. Sally Hawkins gives an incredible, wordless performance and her chemistry with frequent ‘creature collaborator’ Doug Jones is both mystifying and beautiful. The rest of the cast, including Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Jenkins, and Octavia Spencer, is excellent as well. Although The Shape of Water‘s script wasn’t the strongest of the year, and the story may have been familiar at times, it still represents a veteran craftsman working in top form and is essentially an immaculately-constructed love story that is only enhanced by its unconventional fantasy plot.

Special Features:
•A Fairy Tale for Troubled Times
•Anatomy of a Scene: Prologue
•Anatomy of a Scene: The Dance
•Shaping the Waves: A Conversation with James Jean
•Guillermo del Toro’s Master Class
•Theatrical Trailers

Call Me by Your Name

91s52ZZp0sL._SL1500_SYNOPSIS: It’s the summer of 1983 in Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old, spends his days in his family’s villa transcribing and playing classical music and reading. Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father, an eminent professor. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever. Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME was directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by James Ivory. The film was produced by Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges, Rodrigo Teixeira, Marco Morabito, James Ivory and Howard Rosenman and executive produced by Derek Simonds, Tom Dolby, Margarethe Baillou, Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Naima Abed, Nicholas Kaiser, Sophie Mas and Lourenço Sant’Anna.

2017’s most sumptuous and gorgeous love story finally comes home. Featuring heart-wrenchingly great acting from the sensational Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer (and a scene-stealing Michael Stuhlbarg), this beautiful romantic drama also contains some simply stunning cinematography. Call Me by Your Name boasts a brilliant, tender, thought-provoking script – the film won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay – grounded by genuine performances which transcend the genre by offering an unforgettable love story that, while never tragic, manages to delicately balance passion with pathos.

Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Exclusive Bonus Materials:
•Two Featurettes:
-“Snapshots of Italy: The Making of Call Me By Your Name”
-“In Conversation With Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg & Luca Guadagnino”
•Commentary with Timothée Chalamet & Michael Stuhlbarg
•Music Video for “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens

Justice League

91KYrsp8xoL._SL1500_SYNOPSIS: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.  Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.  But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Despite plenty of critical backlash, Justice League is actually a decent ride and represents a significant step up from some recent DC flicks, aside of course from the rousing Wonder Woman. The tone may be inconsistent at times and the main villain is a rather generic CGI creation. However, this superhero flick also offers some refreshing humour, decent chemistry between its larger-than-life characters, and LOTS of spectacular action. The Blu-ray is also loaded with interesting insights into the production process so it might be worth adding to your comic book movie collection.

Special Features:
“Justice League” 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack contains the following special features:
•Road to Justice
-Journey alongside DC comic creators as they explore over fifty years of the Justice League, from comic books to animated adventures to their cinematic debut.
•Heart of Justice
-Discover the heart, soul and mind of the Justice League, as the cast and filmmakers share their admiration for DC’s iconic Trinity: Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
-Technology of the Justice League
-From Batman’s arsenal to Cyborg’s alien tech, interface with the Justice League database to learn their most advanced secrets.
•Justice League: The New Heroes
-Join Ray Fisher on a personal tour to meet the newest members of the Justice League: Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg.
•The Return of Superman
-Bonus scenes not seen in theatres
•Steppenwolf the Conqueror
-Join actor Ciarán Hinds and the filmmakers as they reveal the story behind mankind’s ancient enemy and the Justice League’s greatest challenge.
-Take a closer look at the filmmaking process behind Justice League’s most visually exciting and action-packed sequences
•Scene Studies: Revisiting the Amazons
•Scene Studies: Wonder Woman’s Rescue
•Scene Studies: Heroes Park
•Scene Studies: The Tunnel Battle
•Suit Up: The Look of the League
-Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson explores the innovation and artistry that goes into creating the costumes of DC’s iconic heroes.

“Justice League” Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
•Road to Justice
•Heart of Justice
•Technology of the Justice League
•Justice League: The New Heroes
•Steppenwolf the Conqueror
•Scene Studies: Revisiting the Amazons
•Scene Studies: Wonder Woman’s Rescue
•Scene Studies: Heroes Park
•Scene Studies: The Tunnel Battle
•Suit Up: The Look of the League

Ferdinand

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SYNOPSIS: From the creators of Ice Age and Rio comes the most love-a-bull family comedy of the year! Ferdinand (John Cena) is a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast and torn from his home, he rallies a misfit team of friends for the ultimate adventure to return to his family. Based on the classic children’s book, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover!

This family-friendly flick (which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature) provides a well-told ‘life lesson’ story, with some effective vocal talents, and brims with eye-popping visuals. John Cena really leads the movie, as the big bull with a heart of gold, with plenty of support from fellow celeb voices including Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning, and Gina Rodriguez. In short, Ferdinand isn’t a classic but should make a worthy addition to your kids movie library.

Special Features:
•Featurettes:
-“Ferdinand’s Guide to Healthy Living” with John Cena
-“A Goat’s Guide to Life”
-“Ferdinand’s Team Supreme”
-“Spain Through Ferdinand’s Eyes”
-“Confessions of a Bull-loving Horse”
-“Creating the Land of Ferdinand”
-“Anatomy of a Scene: The Bull Run”
-“Learn to Dance with Ferdinand”
-“Ferdinand’s Do-It-Yourself Flower Garden”-
-“Creating a Remarka-Bull Song”
•“Home” Music Video
•Gallery

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season One

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SYNOPIS: Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, best-selling novel, “THE HANDMAID’S TALE” is the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state.  As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss; Top Of The Lake, Mad Men) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, one of the  castes of women forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated  world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids – where anyone could be a spy for Gilead – with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her. “A magnificent and effectively haunting 10-episode series” (Hank Stuever, The Washington Post), “THE HANDMAID’S TALE” features outstanding performances from Moss, Joseph Fiennes (American Horror Story – Asylum, Shakespeare in Love), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck, Dexter), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black), Ann Dowd (Compliance, The Leftovers), O.T. Fagbenle (The Five), Max Minghella (The Mindy Project) and Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black).

Gripping and haunting, The Handmaid’s Tale is a fascinating, and sometimes terrifying, examination of a chilling dystopian future. This dark drama may not be for everyone but will reward the patient viewer with eerie storylines (that often draw disturbing present-day parallels), strong acting, and plenty of sharp writing that hits the notable themes of Margaret Atwood’s source material.

Special Features:
From Script to Screen: Go inside the premiere episode’s “Salvaging”, a harrowing scene where Handmaids violently participate in the execution of an alleged attacker. Interviews with series Showrunner/Executive Producer Bruce Miller, Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd and Madeline Brewer, as well as an in-depth look at the story points, character arcs and complexity of shooting this sequence with Director of episodes one through three, Reed Morano.

Hope in Gilead: Examine the reasons why “THE HANDMAID’S TALE” has captivated millions and become a cultural phenomenon. The cast and crew discuss parallels with today’s political climate as well as the series’ themes of hope, resilience and the fight for freedom.

Thor’s Blu-ray/DVD Reviews: Feb. 27

Thor Diakow | posted Tuesday, Feb 27th, 2018

Click the movie titles for trailer links.

February 27, 2018: Thor: Ragnarok (March 6), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Murder on the Orient Express, Coco, Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection, The Dark Crystal: 4K Ultra HD (March 6).

Thor: Ragnarok (March 6)

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SYNOPSIS: Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” the God of Thunder’s third installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, electrified both audiences and critics alike reaching over $845M at the global box office. Now the colorful cosmic adventure, loaded with action, humor, drama and spectacle, bursts into homes Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD, 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand.

The god of thunder gets a much-needed infusion of dazzling visuals and plenty of laughs in this third installment of the Thor series. Thanks mainly to New Zealand film director Taika Waititi’s trademark humour, along with a catchy, electronic-infused score from Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, Thor: Ragnarok proves there is still a lot of gas left in the tank of this Marvel franchise. Watch for scene-stealing from Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, and Cate Blanchett as the villainous Hella.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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SYNOPSIS: Award-winning actress Frances McDormand (Fargo) delivers a stunningly powerful performance in this darkly comic drama that has been hailed as one of the year’s best films. A murdered girl’s defiant mother (McDormand) boldly paints three local signs with a controversial message, igniting a furious battle with a volatile cop (Sam Rockwell) and the town’s revered chief of police (Woody Harrelson).

With under a week to go before the Academy Awards it looks like this savage dark comedy could be a lock for a Best Picture Oscar. A career-topping performance from Frances McDormand – and Sam Rockwell in a brilliantly stunning, complex role – mixed with writer-director Martin McDonagh’s acerbic examination of middle America, Three Billboards… was one of the finest films of 2017 and is equal parts poignant, heartbreaking, and hilarious. Don’t miss this one.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•Featurette: “Crucify ‘Em: The Making of Three Billboards”
•Six Shooter (Short Film)

Murder on the Orient Express

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SYNOPSIS: Follow celebrated detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) as he works to solve the mystery of the murder that occurred on his train ride. The film will fully entrance you with its beautiful aesthetics and scenic shots. Murder on The Orient Express has a stacked cast – it stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, and Daisy Ridley.

While this throwback mystery boasts an impressive cast it ultimately fails to offer anything new to the genre. Branagh is certainly commanding in the lead role but his direction is pedestrian at best. The story meanders at a sometimes glacial pace and, while the costumes and production design are admirable, some of the visual effects needed a bit of polish. Despite a strong ensemble cast and several moments of intrigue, this twisting drama is sorely lacking in palpable thrills and may have been better served by a different director and stronger script.

Coco

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SYNOPSIS: “Coco” —the story of a 12-year-old aspiring musician’s extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors—won a 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The critically acclaimed animated film celebrates the importance of family, honoring your ancestors and following your dreams, and includes extensive extras for the whole family.

Coco is a delight for the whole family and another impressive achievement from Disney/Pixar. It may prove a tad laborious (due to the runtime) for very small kids but will create an opportunity to chat with older children about the importance of family legacy and even how we handle the subject of death. It’s chock-full of gorgeous animation, catchy songs, will certainly tug at the heartstrings, and is a beautiful ode to rich, vibrant Mexican culture.

Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

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SYNOPSIS: Experience the timeless tale three different ways along with all-new bonus features! We are proud to announce that this February, Disney’s cherished animated classic, “Lady and the Tramp,” joins the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection. Every member of the family will treasure this timeless tale—loaded with three versions of the film, classic bonus material and three all-new features.

Here’s another one to add to your animated Disney collection. Some of the reference and dialogue may seem dated to young viewers but Lady and the Tramp is still heralded as a benchmark in animation, considering it was made way back in 1955. This new version features a breathtaking restoration and some very cool bonus features.

The Dark Crystal: 4K Ultra HD (March 6)

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SYNOPSIS: In another time, The Dark Crystal was the Balance and Truth in the Universe, but was destroyed dividing the world into two factions: the wicked Skeksis and the peaceful Mystics.  Now as the convergence of the three suns approaches, the Crystal must be healed or darkness will reign forever.  It is up to Jen, the last of his race, to carry out the prophecy that a Gelfing will return the missing chard of crystal and destroy the Skeksis’ evil Empire.  But will Jen be up to the challenge of battling the unknown? Directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz with producer Gary Kurtz (Stars Wars, The Empire Strikes Back), The Dark Crystal is a fantasy masterpiece weaving a timeless myth of Good and Evil.

Don’t miss your chance to own this groundbreaking fantasy with this ultimate collector’s edition packaging. Jim Henson’s masterpiece is still considered a major filmmaking feat and the 4K Ultra HD transfer is simply stunning. This is a must-have for fans of the movie and it also comes with an impressive array of special features that delve into the arduous and complicated production of the iconic film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:
•ALL-NEW: The Myth, Magic and Henson Legacy: Go behind the scenes of this iconic film with stories from Lisa Henson and Toby Froud.
•Deleted Scenes
•Commentary with Brian Froud
•Picture-in-Picture Storyboard Track
•Original Skeksis Language Scenes with Introduction by Screenwriter David Odell
•The World of The Dark Crystal Documentary
•Reflections of The Dark Crystal: “Light on the Path of Creation” & “Shard of Illusion”
•Photo Galleries
•Theatrical Teaser & Trailer

 

 

 

 

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