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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - May, 2013

ARTICLE INDEX

"Frankie Go Boom" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-may02013-Boom

Synopsis

An insane comedy about two brothers, a girl with a broken heart, a sex tape, an angel... and a pig. For his whole life Frank (Hunnam) has been tortured, embarrassed and humiliated on film by his horrible brother, Bruce (O'Dowd). When Bruce makes and uploads a video of a disastrous one-night stand of Frank's, the sex tape immediately becomes a viral hit and things really hit the fan. Will Jack (Noth), Bruce's violent drug-fiend rehab buddy, find out it's his daughter (Caplan) in the video? Frankie Go Boom is an outrageous comedy about brotherly hate, amateur porn and the dangers of online fame.

Specifications

  • 2013, Rated R, 1 hour 29 min
  • Universal Studios
  • AVC 1080p, 2.40:1
  • DTS-MA 5.1
  • Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Chris Noth
  • Directed by: Jordan Roberts
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

If an hour and a half of crude, vulgar, obnoxious people is your idea of a good time…this movie is for you. I find vulgarity as humor to be sophomoric and it grows old really fast. The synopsis alone should be enough to warn you not to go here. I could cut the movie some slack if the characters were likeable, but none of them are. To help “sell” the movie, a sticker is on the cover stating that this film is recommended by the NY Times. So what? Who reads the Times anymore these days? Perhaps I am just getting too old. No, that can't be it...

Technical

The picture looks a lot better than this film deserves, with crisp focused images and nice color renditions. Blacks and shadows are very good as well. Sound quality is also good, but front heavy. This film is dialog driven and there is not a lot of surround action. A few acoustic numbers play through the film, but they are nothing that stands out.

Extras

Deleted scenes and commentaries are included. I found nothing in the deleted scenes that would have enhanced the movie. Some things are best left on the cutting room floor.


"Jack Reacher" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-may2013-Reacher

Synopsis

From The New York Times bestselling author Lee Child comes one of the most compelling heroes to step from novel to screen - ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Cruise). When a sniper takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. Upon interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: “Get Jack Reacher!” So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence, a secret to keep and a target on Reacher’s back.

Specifications

  • 2013, Rated PG-13, 1 hour 30 min
  • Paramount Pictures
  • AVC 1080p, 2.35:1
  • DTS-MA 7.1
  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog
  • Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Is this the best Cruise action movie ever? I don’t know. I haven’t seen Oblivion yet. However, this movie is the best action movie I have seen in months and if you like Tom in general, you are going to love this film. The story is not as complicated as the M.I. series, so it is a bit more accessible. Fast paced with plenty of fist to the face, this film will make your home theater explode with plot twisting goodness. Seriously, I really enjoyed this movie and hope that a sequel is in the works...it’s that fun. The premise of a rogue sniper killing civilians is a bit disconcerting, especially in these times, but the plot quickly advances with some smart directing and a surprise end that really leaves the viewer satisfied. You owe it to yourself to "Get Jack Reacher".

Technical

The picture is fantastic, with solid colors, good contrasts and lots of detail. Even the dark scenes look great. The sound is exemplary with lots of action in the surrounds and sub. Wait till you hear the roar of the muscle car chase scene! This film is in 7.1, and it uses ALL of the channels. Is this a demo worthy flick? Oh yeah...

Extras

 Commentary by Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie, Commentary by composer Joe Kraemer, When the Man Comes Around You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons and The Reacher Phenomenon... all in HD!


"A Glimpse Inside the MInd of Charles Swan III" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-may-2013-side-effects

Synopsis

Set in a stylized Los Angeles, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a playful comedy of lost love, relationships, revenge fantasies, and Brandy Alexanders. Charles (Sheen) is a successful graphic designer whose fame, money and charm have provided him with a seemingly perfect life. But when Ivana - the woman of his dreams - leaves him, Charles falls apart. He swirls into comedic, fantasy-inspired reflections upon his colorful past, and all the women that have played a part in it. With the support of his intimates including Kirby (Schwartzman), Saul (Murray) and sister Izzy (Arquette), Charles begins to come to terms with a life without Ivana.

Specifications

  • 2013, Rated R, 1 hour 27 min
  • Lionsgate Pictures
  • AVC 1080p, 1.85:1
  • DTS-MA 5.1
  • Starring: Charlie Sheen, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Patricia Arquette
  • Directed by: Roman Coppola
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Nude images
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Charles Swan III (Sheen) is having a bad day. His girlfriend has broken up and the next day he has what he thinks is a heart attack. When he recovers, he begins to reflect on what has transpired recently in his life. This movie has a Wes Anderson feel to it and is very off beat. Unfortunately it lacks the charm of an Anderson film. Sheen does a great job in this film, but I could not help but feel that the events are exactly what goes on in his personal life. It’s like Coppola told him not to act, but just “be yourself”. Talk about art imitating life! I love Murray, but his talent seemed wasted in this flick and his small role could have been played by almost anyone else. This is Roman Coppola’s first movie under his direction, but he was involved with Moonrise Kingdom and Darjeeling Limited. If you don't understand or like Coppola's Andersonesque humor, then I would avoid this movie.

Technical

Picture quality is mostly very good, but some minor crushing was noticed in the darkest scenes. Sound was good with some interesting music tracks thrown in here and there. Not a whole lot for the surrounds and sub to do during the bulk of this movie. Sorry, but if you are looking for demo qualitysound and picture, look elsewhere.

Extras

Nothing too mindful: An audio commentary, a “making of” and an interview are included.


"Side Effects" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-may-2013-side-effects

Synopsis

After her husband is released from prison, Emily begins to suffer from anxiety and depression, leading to a suicide attempt with her car.  At the hospital she encounters Dr. Banks, who she begins to see to treat her for her depression.  At first the drugs don’t help her, as the side effects are worse to her and her husband than the depression is.  Finally she finds a new drug and her doctor agrees to put her on it.  The side effects are a bit strange, including a bit of sleepwalking, but it helps to snap her out of her depression.

As her use of it continues, she discovers that the side effects of the drug might be more than she bargained for.  At the same time, Dr. Banks begins to wonder about his treatment and if he had missed something, or if something else was wrong all along.

Specifications

  • 2013, Rated R, 1 hour 47 min
  • Universal
  • AVC 1080p, 1.85:1
  • DTS-MA 5.1
  • Starring: Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Jude Law
  • Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Soderbergh might not be at the very top of his powers anymore, but he still does a better job than most.  Aside from knowing that Soderbergh directed it, I had no knowledge about anything else in Side Effects before watching, and found myself really pulled into the film.  The pacing and buildup reminded me a bit of his work in Contagion, where it might be slightly clinical and analytical, and doesn’t really excite you, but as the film builds you find yourself really wanting to know what is going to happen.

The performances from Jude Law and Rooney Mara are also quite good.  Side Effects is certainly not a happy film, and one that’s going to leave you bubbly and cheery on the way out of the theater, or even leave you exhilarated with excitement.  It is a very good film, and one that I certainly enjoyed watching and likely will again in the future.

Technical

Shot digitally on a RED camera, the image on Side Effects looks very good on Blu-ray.  It doesn’t have the large dynamic range that some other digital cameras do, but I didn’t spot a hint of any other flaws in the image.  The soundtrack is much more reserved, with not that much use of the surround channels during the film.  Most importantly vocals were clear and crisp, even when dialog was being spoken at a whisper, so I never had to repeat a scene to understand what was being said.

Extras

Included on the Blu-ray are a couple commercials for the fake drugs in the film and a pair of featurettes.  There is also a DVD and an UltraViolet copy as well.


"John Dies at the End" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-may-2013Johndies

Synopsis

It's all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can they save the world in time? No...no they can't.

 

Specifications

  • 2013, Rated R, 1 hour 39 min
  • Magnet
  • AVC 1080p, 1.78:1
  • DTS-MA 5.1
  • Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman
  • Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: A congregation of topless people
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Not completely true to the David Wong book from which the film is based, I still enjoyed this strange, but fun movie. Some viewers may be put off by the bizarre nature of the film, but I found it very entertaining. The cast of characters were quirky, but interesting. Paul Giamatti (co-producer) played the reporter, Arnie, to whom this strange story is being told. It is hard to describe the plot which included a mind altering drug called “soy sauce”, a monster constructed out of meat from a freezer and the Mall of the Dead. You are never told why things happen the way they do, but in this movie you just go along for the ride. If you like dark humor and sci-fi, this might be right up your alley. Remember, “You don’t choose the soy sauce. The soy sauce chooses you” …

Technical

For a low budget film, the picture looked pleasing being shot on a digital RED camera. Sound was clear with some interesting use of surrounds. Minor crushing appears only in the very darkest scenes. Frankly, a too squeaky clean digital look would have distracted from the quirky narrative of the story.

Extras

Included are: Commentary with Writer/Director Don Coscarelli, Producer Brad Baruh, Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes, Deleted Scenes, Getting Sauced: The Making of John Dies at the End, Creature Corps: The Effects of Soy Sauce, Casting Sessions, Fangoria Interview with Paul Giamatti and some trailers.


 "Open Road" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-may-2013-open-road

Synopsis

This story follows a young Brazilian woman, Angie (Camilla Belle) as she searches through the American Southwest looking for someone who is missing from her life.  Angie works in a diner during the day and sleeps in a tent in the wilderness where she meets and befriends a fellow drifter Chuck (Andy Garcia).  She leaves this town to continue her search for the missing person, but her car breaks down.  This is when she meets a County Constable named David (Colin Egglesfield).  Angie winds up staying with David while her car is being repaired.  The story unfolds as she continues her search, expands her work as an artist and falls in love.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2013, Color, Not Rated, 1 Hr 26 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master
  • Starring: Camilla Belle, Colin Egglesfield, Andy Garcia, Juliette Lewis and John Savage
  • Directed by: Marcio Garcia
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I think this movie was well acted by all the main players; Egglesfield, Garcia and Belle.  Each turns in a restrained and heartfelt performance.  However, the movie is ultimately undone by the weak script and story line.  I never understood how Garcia's story was the least bit plausible.  Even though Angie is apparently from a wealthy family, one must assume that she is travelling like a vagabond largely because she made the trek to America without the blessing of her mother back home in Brazil but this story point is never fully cleared up.  There is a side story to Angie's history that plays out through a series of nocturnal dreams.  This is used to solidify her back story but it is not connected to the main plot in any way.  I could go on, but the main point is that this is a fun movie and I enjoyed it, but the viability of the story and plot relies too heavily on a series of blanket assumptions by the audience.  Some of these assumptions are downright implausible. 

Technical

Much of this movie is set in Arizona.   To match the setting, the film takes on a characteristically blanched look and a subdued color palette.  I found that the transfer was true to this style choice with about average image detail for a Blu-ray.  The night scenes exhibit crushed blacks at the low end.  All in all, the picture quality is of a passable and pedestrian quality for a modern production.  

The audio also gets the job done in a passable way.  Music and voices sound clear and natural.  There are occasional sound effects that won't exactly test your system, but they are solidly rendered.  This is not a complex audio mix and the dynamics remain subdued in kind.   

Extras

This is a one disc package.  Extras include Digital Copy and Ultraviolet download codes.  Besides the original trailer, there is only one additional Bonus Feature - a 15 minute Making of Featurette.