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    Shrek: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on July 7th, 2016

    Oh…you were expecting Prince Charming?”

    Shrek really did pick the absolute perfect time to emerge from his swamp. The 2001 computer animated sensation from Dreamworks arrived just as rival studio Disney was winding down its decade-long hot streak of hand-drawn new classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In other words, it was the ideal moment for someone to come along and take shots at cartoon musicals and fairy tales that end with “Happily Ever After.” (Shrek‘s biggest target, however, was probably the Mouse House itself.) But how does the movie play 15 years later? Fortunately, Fox and Dreamworks have released a new Anniversary Edition to help us figure out the answer.
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    Bridge of Spies (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Paul on February 1st, 2016

    Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. The Coen Brothers. 1957. The Cold War. Mark Rylance. There are a lot of elements to the stew that is Bridge of Spies. Let’s start with the most important ingredient. Steven Spielberg has been a household name for decades now as the most reliable producer/director of movie entertainment we may have ever seen. His name is so synonymous with big-screen entertainment that he needs no introduction from me. But he has been trying to get away from pure entertainment for a long while now, often with great success.
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    Original Christmas Classics Gift Set (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 4th, 2016

    If you were a child in the 1960’s or 1970’s, you were around at the golden age of the Christmas television special. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and there were a ton of holiday charms that came and went each year. But there were a handful that became classics and found their way to the airwaves every year in December. Of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas became one of these, and it is indeed among the best. It was not the only special to become beloved by generations of viewers. Now Dreamworks has brought together  seven of the most memorable of these classics.
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    Amistad (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 13th, 2014

    “Whoever tells the best story wins.”

    This bit of lawyerly wisdom is given by John Quincy Adams in Amistad, Steven Spielberg’s account of a real-life 19th century slave revolt. President Adams is offering advice on how to mount the most effective case on the slaves’ behalf, but his words ring true well beyond the courtroom. Spielberg has been telling some of the best stories since the 1970s. Amistad may not be top-tier Spielberg, but the film — making its Blu-ray debut — is an absorbing historical drama in its own right.
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    The Terminal (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on May 12th, 2014

    You are not to leave this building. America is closed.”

    That’s certainly a far cry from “give me your tired, your poor…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It’s also the predicament faced by Viktor Navorski, an accidental refugee who falls through a proverbial crack in the system and winds up trapped at JFK International Airport. The harsh, sobering command comes early on in The Terminal, a large-scale, feel-good parable. Even 10 years ago, a tonally-tricky studio movie like this one could only find its way to multiplexes if someone with the clout of a Steven Spielberg or Tom Hanks decided to make it.
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    Shrek: The Musical (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on October 23rd, 2013

    Hollywood (rightfully) gets a lot of flack these days for being creatively bankrupt. But you can’t throw a rock down Broadway without hitting the marquee for a musical that’s based on an existing film. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon — and it doesn’t always work — but some of the most successful and beloved musicals feature stories you already know and fell in love with on the big screen. The trend seems to have really picked up at the turn of the century, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So adapting a massive hit like Shrek for the stage must’ve been a no-brainer.
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    The Croods (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on October 9th, 2013

    For years it seems DreamWorks Animation has been living in the shadow of Pixar.  Sure, DreamWorks has had their success with Shrek and Ice Age, but when you stack the films next to Pixar’s library, you see Pixar just seems to be the best at what they do.  That is until The Croods came along; with the new DreamWorks release it would appear the animation studio has stepped up their game and released their best-looking 3D film to date.  My expectations were not too high with this release, but I was at least reliEepd I wouldn’t be watching Ice Age Ten: The Ice is Still Melting.  With a theater screening filled with what appeared to be thousands of little screaming children
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    Rise of the Guardians

    Posted in Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on April 11th, 2013

    The boogeyman, who goes by the name Pitch Black, is gaining power by turning children’s dreams into nightmares. An alliance of fantasy characters, North (Santa Claus), (the Easter) Bunny, Sandman, and Tooth (Fairy), come together to face this opponent. They call themselves Guardians who have sworn to protect all of the world’s children. In this adventure they recruit a new member, Jack Frost, who is on his own personal quest of discovery.
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    Lincoln (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 28th, 2013

    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

    These were strong words, and the man who spoke them was certainly a dominant figure in American history.
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    Puss In Boots (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 24th, 2012

    One of the more popular characters from the Shrek franchise steps into the starring spotlight here, in an adventure whose locale is rather different from the familiar swamp-forest-castle fairy-tale settings of the parent films. Seeking to steel magic beans from the husband-and-wife thugs Jack and Jill, Puss (Antonio Banderas) and rival Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) become caught up in a wild scheme masterminded by the duplicitous Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis).
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    Kung Fu Panda 2 / Secrets of the Masters (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on December 14th, 2011

    “Long ago in ancient China, the peacocks ruled over Gongmen City. They brought great joy and prosperity to the city, for they had invented fireworks. But their son, Lord Shen, saw darker power in the fireworks. What had brought color and joy could also bring darkness and destruction. Shen’s troubled parents consulted a soothsayer. She foretold that if he continued down this dark path, he would be defeated by a warrior of black and white.”

    We all know who that warrior is, don’t we?
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    The Island (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on June 24th, 2011

    Most film-goers could identify a Michael Bay film just by the techniques he uses — quick edits, sun drenched color palette, and lots of action. This usually means that Bay is suited more for low-brow action movies as opposed to high-concept films. In Pearl Harbor, Bay proved that he couldn’t handle anything that didn’t explode — resulting in a lopsided film. The first hour was a tedious love story; the last 90 minutes were better — including an excellent recreation of the surprise attack.
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    Megamind (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 21st, 2011

    It’s funny how the zeitgeist works, in that it is hardly unusual for two films with very similar high concepts to hit the screens at close to the same time. Dante’s Peak and Volcano. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Hell, The Towering Inferno came about as a result of Fox and Warner cooperating in order to avoid making identical films. And this year, two animated features with super-villains as their protagonists: Despicable Me and our current subject: Megamind.
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    American Beauty (Sapphire Series) (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 21st, 2010

    Alan Ball was pretty much an unknown to anyone but a few Hollywood insiders and fans of such television shows as Grace Under Fire and Cybill, where he wrote a mere total 10 episodes combined. When he began to shop the idea for American Beauty, he had originally conceived it as a stage production. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure that there was a studio out there that would touch the awkward dark idea. But Dreamworks was still a young company with big ideas. If there was a studio out there that was going to take a flyer on a young talent with an oddball script, it was Dreamworks.
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    I Love You, Man (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 13th, 2009

    The cast and crew of I Love You, Man constantly refer to the film as a “bromance”. I’m not exactly sure what they mean by that, but I was actually pretty pleased with the clever turn on the typically droll romantic comedy. Maybe someone’s finally come up with a romantic comedy that actually can appeal to men. Whatever you call it, I Love You, Man is a bit of a refreshing take on today’s innuendo comedy. Writer/director John Hamburg has turned a pretty inane idea into a rather funny little comedy that just might be the compromise between a chick flick and something we won’t have to squirm in our seats just to make our dates happy.
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    The Soloist (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 11th, 2009

    The Soloist is based on a book written by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. The book was based on a series of columns the writer assembled involving his relationship with a street musician he happened upon while searching for material. Lopez was touched by the musician, Nathaniel Ayers, who was playing a violin with only two remaining strings. Still he was able to produce music that made the writer do a double take and begin to wonder what he was doing out on the street. Ayers’ ramblings made it immediately obvious that the man was suffering from mental illness. Their first contact revealed that the street performer was once a student at Juilliard.
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    The Uninvited (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on May 1st, 2009

    The Uninvited is yet another in a long string of Asian films that are translated and retooled for American audiences. It’s been a rather strong and long running trend that was kicked off with the wildly successful The Ring, from the Asian classic, Ringu. But, for every effective spooky thriller that comes out of this Asian pipeline, there appear to be a dozen or more complete failures. Some American directors think that all they need to do is throw fast moving creepy ghosts at us and often have them inhabit some modern electronic device. Presto! You have a horror movie for the purposes of generated cash. I’m happy to report that The Uninvited is a fresh approach
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    Uninvited, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on May 1st, 2009

    Citing personal history, I don’t do really well with horror films. As mentioned in other reviews, my parents let me see scary movies such as Exorcist & Poltergeist (as well as R-rated action films) when I was no more than ten years old. While, Poltergeist sits proudly in my DVD collection, I still have trouble to this day with Exorcist. Yes, I can be a scaredy cat at times. To be also perfectly honest, I was a bit worried when I received The Uninvited in the mail to review. After all, it proclaims proudly on the cover that it is made by the producers of the Ring(which I absolutely hated) & Disturbia. By the end of the movie, I was very pleasantly surprised.
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    The Last Kiss (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 17th, 2009

    The Last Kiss is based on the internationally acclaimed Italian movie L’ultimo bacio which was written by Gabriele Muccino and adapted for this American version by screenwriter Paul Haggis. From all reports the movie is remarkably similar to the Italian classic with only the ending modified. Haggis tells us in the extras of this release that he attempted to merely translate the original work and performed little in the way of modifications. From the looks of things, the ending was a bit of a struggle for these filmmakers,
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    Things We Lost in the Fire (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on April 1st, 2009

    For first time screen writer Allen Loeb, Things We Lost In The Fire is quite an ambitious script. It relies almost completely on the writing and the performances that can be gotten from the acting leads. There’s really no place to hide in this story for anybody. And while I certainly found several elements of the story forced or contrived, there was an underlining emotion to the whole thing that carried through strong enough for the actors to find some very solid grounding. With that grounding Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro delivered what should have been award winning performances.
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    The Kite Runner (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on March 26th, 2009

    I was very eager to revisit this film now that it has come our way on Blu-ray and high definition. There are issues that I struggled with in my own viewing that I will discuss later in this review. In high definition this film becomes a case study in contradiction. It’s amazing how pretty a thing can be when it really isn’t very pretty at all. We are witness to bad things, but the director chooses to present these things amid a flurry of beauty. It’s a rather striking contrast, made more so on Blu-ray. It actually made for a much more effective experience, even if most of my initial feelings about the film remain unchanged.
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    Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa/Penguins 2 Disc

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on February 18th, 2009

    Everything you loved from the first film is back again. Dreamworks took the high road and brought all of the voice cast back. That means the wonderful chemistry these characters developed in the first film gets to continue. We don’t have to waste time setting up new bonds. We can get right to the adventure. Dreamworks also retained pretty much the entire animation team and added even more talent. The quality of this animation actually improves upon that of the original. Water, in particular, is startling on this film. It is as photo real as I’ve seen it in any animation feature to date.
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    Ghost Town (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 6th, 2009

    David Koepp is one of Hollywood’s power screenwriters. His credits include Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Spider-Man. As a director he has also had some limited success with films like Stir Of Echoes. It seems almost from left field that we end up with a romantic comedy both written and directed by the award winning writer. If Koepp is out of his element here, it really doesn’t show at all.
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    Eagle Eye

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on December 31st, 2008

    Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are on the run from a series of carefully orchestrated catastrophes. All are ominously foretold by a rather humorless young lady that may or may not be a robot in the new thriller Eagle Eye, a film that purports to be “from Stephen Spielberg.” Spielberg-lovers, don’t get your hopes up. Authorial rights belong more to director D.J. Caruso and a smorgasbord of writers that include John Glenn,
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    Ghost Town

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on December 29th, 2008

    Ghost Town, the new romantic comedy from writer-director David Koepp, succeeds in not only introducing its British star Ricky Gervais to a wider audience but also in telling a simple, familiar story with an addictive charm all its own. Gervais plays Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets without the extreme OCD. What he lacks in this, however, he makes up for in his hatred of humanity.
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