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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2013

ARTICLE INDEX

"Iron Man 3" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-october-2013-iron-man-3

Synopsis

After holding off an alien invasion in The Avengers, Tony Stark is having issues coming back to grips with daily life. Unable to sleep or relax, he toils away all night in his lab on the next series of suits. During this time a mysterious new enemy known only as The Mandarin appears. Carrying out a series of bombings against the US, he manages to do so without leaving behind any trace of the device itself.

After an attack by The Mandarin leaves his former bodyguard in the hospital, Tony Stark challenges him. Now putting the lives of not only himself, but Pepper Potts, in danger.

Specifications

  • Disney
  • 2013, Color
  • Rated PG-13
  • 2 Hours, 11 Minutes
  • 2.40:1, 1080p, AVC Encoded
  • DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
  • Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gweneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce
  • Directed By: Shane Black
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

The first Iron Man was a very good film, and one that I used as demo material for a long time. The second film was worth a rental, but I haven't felt the desire to watch it since then. Thankfully with the third film we have a good addition to all of the Avengers films that have been released to this point.

The plot is good without being too ridiculous. Yes, some of it isn't quite realistic but overall it is pretty good. The film moves along and keeps you interested the whole time. Tying everything back to The Avengers means you should see that film if you haven't already, but it is worth a purchase just like Iron Man 3 is. A very enjoyable film that I'll come back to again later.

Technical

One reason to come back to Iron Man 3 is for the picture and sound. Nothing here is out of place or showing any flaws. A lot of the film is full of dark, shadow detail that is always nice and clear. It never breaks down into murky blobs of black or anything less than a perfect transfer. The bright red and gold of the Iron Man suit are shown faithfully and the overall image is purely fantastic. There is nothing to complain about here.

The soundtrack provides the same experience as well. Action sequences like the attack on the Stark home are 360-degree affairs that pull you into the middle of the movie. The massive explosions utilize every last SPL that your subwoofer can produce and dialogue is clear and natural at all times. A demo disc if there ever was one.

Extras

There is audio commentary, multiple featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, a preview of the new Thor film, and their Second Screen experience. The package also includes DVD and Digital Copies of the film.


"The Hollow Crown" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

Movies-Oct-2013-CROWN

Synopsis

Based loosely on Shakespeare, from executive producer Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) comes a stunning adaptation of four of the Bard's most celebrated history plays: Richard II, Henry IV (Part 1 and Part 2), and Henry V. Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, and Ben Whishaw in his award-winning role as Richard II star in this epic tale of three kings, their battle for survival, and the rise and fall of a dynasty.

Specifications

  • Universal Stusios
  • 2013, Color
  • Rated NR
  • 9 Hours, 20 Minutes
  • 2.78:1, 1080p, AVC Encoded
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, David Suchet, Jeremy Irons, John Hurt
  • Directed By: Richard Eyre, Rupert Goold, Thea Sharrock
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: No

Commentary

Oh what great actors these mortals be! Gorgeous set pieces, intricate and opulent costumes and outstanding supporting cast makes this the box set of the Fall to see. If you think Shakespeare is to cerebral, you owe it to yourself to see this stories. Irons has done great roles in many American films, but Hiddleston and Whishaw are truly outstanding. "For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings; How some have been deposed; some slain in war, Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed; Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd; All murder'd: for within the hollow crown That rounds the mortal temples of a king Keeps Death his court..." As you can tell, I recommend this set highly.

Technical

These DVDs look very good (on my Oppo 103) with great detail and colorful flourishes and the sound quality, though dialog heavy, is sumptuous and well specialized. Some good boom from your subwoofer, too.

Extras

The extras are an interesting faire: The Making of Richard II, The Making of Henry IV, The Making of Henry V and the Making of a King.


"Grimm, Season 2" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-october-2013-grimm2

Synopsis

Grimm is the story of Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt who learns one night he has special powers. He is a Grimm, descended from an ancient order that can see Wesen, supernatural creatures that appear human. As the drama unfolds, he becomes involved in evil plots by European royal families and magical beings bent on power and destruction.

Season Two starts off with the reunion of Nick and his mother who he had believed to be dead. And he is finally forced to reveal to his partner Hank Griffin his true nature. With Hank's help, he continues to rid Portland of the evil Wesen while protecting the peaceful ones. In the meantime, the royal families become more involved in the goings-on. Police Captain Sean Renard, one of their princes reveals himself to Nick later in the season to help battle his evil brother. If Nick's plate weren't already full, his girlfriend Juliette has lost all memory of him thanks to a spell placed on her. And she finds herself irresistibly drawn to Captain Renard in the process. It's mayhem to be sure! 

Specifications

  • NBC-Universay
  • 2012-13, Color
  • Not Rated
  • 15 Hours, 49 Minutes (22 episodes)
  • 1.78:1, 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

There is no shortage of supernatural shows on TV right now but Grimm is a definite standout. Season One hit the ground running with a superb monster-of-the-week format and Season Two follows in that vein. A larger plot arc has been slowly introduced that goes into full swing during Season Two. My favorite aspect of this show is the variety and depth of the characters. There is plenty of evil-doing, but there is an equal amount of humor and levity. Silas Weir Mitchell as Monroe, the Blutbad (werewolf), is an absolute riot. I also really enjoyed James Frain as the evil prince from Europe. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing that role better. David Giuntoli masterfully plays Nick as a cool, level-headed hero who has a strong moral compass and unfailing loyalty to his friends and the mission. For fans of the supernatural, this series is a must-own.

Technical

The image quality of many TV shows has improved steadily since the advent of Blu-ray and Grimm is one of the best. Portland is a fairly gray, almost murky city, and this transfer portrays that without losing detail or pop in any way. There is no shortage of bold saturated color despite the cloudy skies, and interior scenes show nice warmth. There is the occasional elevation in black levels, usually from just one camera in a scene. Detail is cinema-quality as well. In fact, when the content is CGI-heavy, it's a little too good!

The DTS-HD Master Audio sound track is among the best I've heard from either a TV show or a movie. The dynamic range is vast; so much so that I had to turn the volume down a bit which is very rare. The surrounds are used extensively, as is the sub, during the more intense action scenes. The dialog is clear and well-placed but slightly sibilant at times.

Extras

Bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, two short background documentaries, a set of webisodes, and one extended episode. The package I reviewed also included a digital copy accessible through Ultraviolet.


"The Wizard of Oz 3D" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-october-2013-wizardofoz

Synopsis

Dorothy Gale is a young Kansas girl who finds herself in trouble with an unpleasant neighbor over the activities of her dog Toto. It seems Miss Gulch wants to destroy the dog because he digs in her garden. She takes the dog but Toto escapes back to Dorothy and she decides to run away. After an encounter with a traveling magician, she decides to return home but a sudden tornado prevents her from reuniting with her family. After a bump on the head, she wakes up in the land of Oz. Thanks to the timely landing of her house, she has rid the land of the Wicked Witch of the East and the resident Munchkins couldn't be happier.

Dorothy desperately wants to return to Kansas so she embarks for the Emerald City to see the Wizard. Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion; who all want to go the Emerald City too. But the Wicked Witch of the West has other ideas. She covets the ruby slippers Dorothy is wearing. Eventually they reach the city but the Wizard refuses to help the party until they bring him the Witch's broom. When they try to sneak into the castle, Dorothy is captured. The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion manage to get into the castle but they are captured too. Just when all seems lost, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on the Witch and she melts; much to the joy of all her minions.

The party returns to the Emerald city, Dorothy clicks her heels together and suddenly finds herself in bed where it appears she's just had an amazing dream. She and Toto are reunited and everyone lives happily ever after.

Specifications

  • MGM/Warner Brothers
  • 1939, Black and White/Color
  • Rated G (3D version rated PG)
  • 1 Hour, 42 Minutes
  • 1.37:1, 1080p, MPEG-4 MVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • 3D:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I had not watched The Wizard of Oz since I was a child; but I found myself quickly getting lost in it once again. They really don't make movies like this anymore! For a film that didn't do well at the box office, only grossing $3 million on a $2 million production cost; it has become one of the most significant works ever produced. After several re-releases and becoming a permanent staple on television; the Wizard of Oz is probably the most famous and well-known movie of all time. Produced more like a stage musical rather than a realistic piece of cinema; it takes on a theatrical feel as soon as Dorothy wakes up in Oz in one of the earliest uses of the three-strip Technicolor process. The use of lavishly painted sets and over the top costumes only adds to that vibe. The music really takes you back to Hollywood's golden age when most actors were accomplished singers and every soundtrack was recorded by a full orchestra. Harold Arlen's songs have become as famous as the film itself. The American Film Institute even ranked Over the Rainbow as the number one movie song of all time. If you already own the Blu-ray released in 2009, you'll want this new release for the superb 3D conversion that's included; more on that below. Personally, I'm glad to add this one to my library.

Technical

The 2D image quality is superb. This is one of the finest restorations I've ever seen. It's easily the equal of The Ten Commandments, another reference-level transfer. It is the same disc that was released in 2009 so if you aren't watching the new 3D version, there's nothing new in this package. The color, contrast, and cleanliness are pretty much unparalleled. It's obvious a lot of care was taken here.

The new 3D conversion is the star of this 75th anniversary edition. Taken from a brand-new 8K scan, the film was re-restored and converted to 3D. And the result is breathtaking. Most conversions look like conversions but this example could almost pass for a film shot in 3D. Perhaps it's the staging of the movie itself but I must commend the creators on a job extremely well-done. There are no gimmicks or moments when the 3D seems intrusive. It only enhances; it never detracts.

The sound track is a DTS-HD Master Audio re-encode of the original monaural recording. As such it sounds a bit boxed-in most of the time. The best parts are the musical numbers which have a warm vintage tone that I enjoyed immensely. The dialog is crystal-clear and firmly anchored in the center of the screen. There isn't much for the surrounds or sub to do, but it really isn't that kind of movie. I suspect the creators couldn't do much better with the original track but it's not the very best restoration I've heard.

Extras

Bonus features are quite extensive, and total over two hours. The main attraction is a 67-minute making of documentary which is quite fascinating. There is also audio commentary from Sydney Pollack and Oz historian John Frick. Interviews with actors from the film, and their descendants are also included. Both the 2D and 3D discs contain extra material like photo galleries, song clips, outtakes, and rehearsal footage. Fans wanting the full set of extras will have to buy the 5-disc edition from 2009 but this new release contains the best of that volume. The only thing missing here is a DVD or digital copy.


"Monty Python's: The Meaning of Life" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-oct-2013-Monty

Synopsis

Those six pandemonium-mad Pythons are back with their craziest adventure ever! Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin have returned to explain The Meaning of Life. These naughty Brits offer the usual tasteful sketches involving favorite body parts and bodily functions, the wonders of war, the miracle of birth and a special preview of what's waiting for us in Heaven. You'll never look at life in quite the same way again!

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2013,Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
  • 1.37:1, 1080p, MPEG-4 MVC
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Raunchy, tasteless, vulgar, funny, zany, insane, wacky, musical, shocking and all of it is just classic Monty Python! (Oh, and I forgot blasphemous…but the musical number "Every sperm is sacred" is so jaunty). Though not as popular with the critics as The Life of Brian and not as hilarious as Holy Grail, if the mad cap antics of British comedy are your cup of tea, you will want to run our and complete your set with this, the final film from the group. I still don't know what the meaning of life is, but it was very fun not finding out. Oh, and the copious amounts of gratuitous topless women should keep you from letting the kids watch this on a Saturday night.

Technical

The picture quality runs the gamut from good to fair. Though the overall presentation is better than the DVD version, the picture often looks a bit soft and film grain can be quite pronounced in some scenes. The deeper blacks are still a bit washed out and the colors rarely pop. Scratches and dirt rear their ugly heads often. Sound quality was good, but nothing special with little usage of surrounds or sub. Dialog is clear though, and the musical numbers fill the room with wonderful sound. In spite of its flaws, this is about as good as this movie is probably going to look in your home. (Seriously, 4K is not going to improve the picture, so just buy this and be done with it). And now for something completely different

Extras

Bonus material includes the "making of", insights from the cast members, a spoof on the "re-mastering" of this epic film. A DVD and digital copy are included as well.


"The Purge (DVD) - Reviewed by Cynthia Johnson

The Purge

Synopsis

This thriller is about a well to do family surviving the most dangerous 12 hour night in America. According to the law, the Sandin's family choose not to participate and must lockdown their house while any citizen who is in need of a 'purge' can commit a multitude of crimes including murder without consequences. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) leads his wife (Lena Headey) and kids through a night of terror. Everyone is fair game for those 12 hours. Do they hide, fight back or join in on a purge of their own?

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2013, Color, Rated R, 85 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: English 5.1 Dolby True HD
  • Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield
    Director-James DeMonaco
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

This movie did not last long in the theaters. I can understand why. Dear Ethan Hawk, how could you have gone from Training Day to The Purge? (Sigh). Dear Lena Headey, please stick with your character on Game of Thrones.

Hawk and Headley play an unconvincing family role of parents in the Sandin family. Starting off with the typical family of 2 teenage kids who are all living in a safe and eye pleasing gated community where he has sold Home Protection to the entire neighborhood. However it only works 99% of the time because no one expects that to happen in 'their' neighborhood.

The purge commences and the 12 hour lockdown begins. Cue good karma points for the son Max, when he sees a bloody beaten man screaming for help on the highly tech savvy in-home monitors, and decides to open the locked fortress to save him. Unfortunately that man is running from a group of purge crazy men and women, led by a polite yet crazy stranger (Rhys Wakefield) who demands that James Sardin release him or join him as a victim along with his entire family.

All in all, this was a good idea for a movie but poorly casted and directed.

Technical

No need to rent this movie in high definition. Maybe turn up the subwoofer to get a few jumps out of it but nothing more to report.

Extras

Bonus features if you want to watch the making of The Purge and interviews with both Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey and more.


"High Plains Drifter (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-Oct-2013-Drifter

Synopsis

A lone stranger rides into town and is immediately set upon by some of the locals. Unfortunately for these rough locals, they've picked Clint Eastwood to aggravate and they receive his quick six shooter justice for their efforts. The locals, being a cowardly bunch, eagerly set out to appease him in every way in order to secure his loyalty and protection from a group of criminals who are soon to be released from the territorial prison. But have the town folk picked the devil they don’t know over the devil they do know?

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2013, Color, Rated R, 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: English 5.1 DTS-MA
  • Starring: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Mariana Hill, Mitchell Ryan, Jack Ging
    Director-Clint Eastwood
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

This is arguably one of Eastwood’s best films and one that he both starred and directed. Filled with dark humor and squinty-eyed menace, the film is chock full of allusions and metaphors. The line between good and evil are purposefully blurred, so you are never quite certain who the good guy is. It raises the question: Bad men are indeed bad, but are cowardly men worse? If you love Eastwood, you probably already own this on DVD. Should you upgrade to the BD? I’m going to paint the town red and say YES!

Technical

This film has been completely restored and cleaned up. The sound is excellent and the picture looks stunning. I’ve seen this flick on TV dozens of times and the depth and detail of this release are jaw dropping. Not perfect, but amazing none the less. Some of the darker scenes are a bit murky, but the details are razor sharp and the colors are bright and solid. I did not notice a single speck or blemish throughout the film. Not bad for a film that is over 40 years old. Kudos to Universal!

Extras

Only the original theatrical movie trailer in standard def. Now that’s a killer!


"R.I.P.D. (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-october-2013-ripd

Synopsis

Boston Police detective Nick (Reynolds) heads out with his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) to raid a meth lab. During the firefight, Hayes kills Nick to cover up his theft of a large quantity of gold from a previous bust. Before Nick can say “crossing over,” he finds himself part of the Rest In Peace Department; a force of un-dead policemen from every period in American history. Their mission is to capture spirits, known as deados, who inhabit the living world. Nick quickly discovers the gold is part of a larger plot to create a portal for all the un-dead to return to Earth causing Armageddon. With his partner Roy (Bridges), he manages to foil the plot, and briefly reconnect with his widow as he saves her life.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2013, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 hour 36 minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video: 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC
  • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-MA
  • Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker
  • Directed by Robert Schwentke
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Fans of Men In Black will be instantly familiar with the concept and plot of this film. Instead of aliens, we have un-dead spirits masquerading as humans. And replacing the dark-suited agents who look like Will Smith is an army of slain cops from various times in history. Ryan Reynolds does a decent job playing the newbie but Jeff Bridges seems to be phoning it in. And his attempt to replicate the drawl of a wild west lawman slurs his speech to the point where it sounds like he’s talking with a sponge in his mouth. Thankfully, the audio is crystal-clear; otherwise Bridges’ dialog would be unintelligible. The movie’s world and plot is so close to the first Men In Black film, I’m surprised there isn’t a lawsuit. That being said, it is fairly entertaining. There’s more than enough action and comedy to fill an hour and a half. But Jeff Bridges is no Tommy Lee Jones (at least not in this role); and Ryan Reynolds is a long way from being Will Smith!

Technical

The image is crisp and detailed throughout with a mostly natural color palette. My only nitpick concerns a slightly cool tint that pervades most of the outdoor scenes. It makes it more difficult to discern the time of day. For instance, early morning scenes should be much warmer in tone. The CGI effects also seem dated; like something from a few years ago. They lack the polish of more current films. All of the un-dead characters, when they shed their disguises; are entirely computer-generated, and it shows.

The DTS-HD Master Audio encode is bright and clear with excellent action and dialog cues. Despite Jeff Bridges attempt to completely cover his lines with cowboy drawl, he can be understood if you pay close attention. I deducted one star because the dynamic range seems a little compressed. With the volume cranked, the whole thing is a tad polite. Given the totally wild action scenes, I would prefer a more in-your-face feel.

Extras

The package I received included a DVD and digital copy, accessible through UltraViolet. Bonus features are two alternate openings, several short making-of featurettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.


 "Chucky - The Complete Collection" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-october-2013-chucky

Synopsis

Universal has released the definitive Chucky collection on Blu-ray just in time for Halloween!  This set includes all six Chucky movies starting with 1988's "Child's Play", its two direct sequels, "Child's Play 2" and "Child's Play 3" along with a couple of reimaginings - "Bride of Chucky" and "Seed of Chucky".  As if this wasn't enough for the die-hard fans out there, the set also includes the latest Chucky installment - 2013's direct to video release, "Curse of Chucky".  This is the first time all six films are available in a single box set.  Plus they out did themselves by offering the best possible picture and sound quality by issuing these films on the Blu-ray disc format. 

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1988 - 2013, Color, R, 8 Hr 55 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: All 1.85:1 except Curse of Chucky (1.78:1)
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Excpet Child's Play 2 & 3 (DTS-HD Master 2.0)
  • Starring: Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Justin Whalin, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif and Danielle Bisutti
  • Directed by Tom Holland, John Lafia, Jack Bender, Ronny Yu and Don Mancini
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Before I got this set, I would have guessed that the first Chucky film was originally released in the late 70's, not 1988.  It just felt like I'd seen it way before it was actually released.  I also would not have been able to guess that there were 6 installments all together.  But now that I've watched them all, I can say that I found this experience to be a fun ride.  The first three films are sort of serious horror movies (though they are campy).  Then Bride and Seed came along as humorous stories centered more on Chucky and his bride Tiffany.  Then the final chapter goes back to more of a pure horror format.  All in all, I was highly engaged throughout all these movies and I started to pull for Chucky as one might root for Walter White in Breaking Bad.  This is a recommended set for any collector of horror films.

Technical

The image quality is reasonably consistent over the first three movies.   That is to say decent image detail, solid colors and good grayscale tracking with noticable film grain present.  Bride and Seed fall short of the first three movies due to limited shadow detail and some added sharpness.  Curse of Chucky was clearly shot on video and it is the best transfer in the bunch.     

The audio is a mixed bag as well.  Again, the two main sequels - Child's Play 2 and 3 get the short end of the stick with stereo tracks (no surround).  All others are DTS HD Master 5.1 that sound good within the limitations of the original audio mix.  

Extras

This six disc package is chock full of extras (except for Child's Play 2 and 3 though?).  There are too many features to list in the space available here.  One noteworthy addition is that you also get an Ultraviolet streaming code for the whole set.


 "Notting Hill" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-oct-2014-Notting

Synopsis

Notting Hill is an unforgettable romantic comedy from the writer of Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Anna Scott (Roberts) is the world's most famous movie star. Her picture has been plastered on the cover of every magazine and every time she makes a move, the entire world knows about it. William Thacker (Grant) owns a travel bookstore in the quaint neighborhood of Notting Hill with a roommate from hell and a nonexistent love life. When their paths cross, the couple comes to face with the ultimate question: can two people fall in love with the whole world watching? 

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • (1999) 2013, Color, PG 13, 2 Hrs 04 mins
  • Aspect Ratio:2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Richard McCabe, Rhys Ifans, Hugh Bonneville
  • Directed by: Roger Michell
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Grant and Roberts exude loads of charm in this recycled fairy tale of two opposites that attract. Set in the Notting Hill section of London, I found this love story to be quite apealing and Julia’s best work since Pretty Women. Grant does his usual droll, humble commoner role with dry humor and wit. Ifans almost steals the lime light with his boorish behavior as Grants roommate. Guys, if you have to watch a chick-flick with the significant other, it might as well be this one. It’s funny and romantic without being too smaltzy. What ever happened to Grant and Roberts anyway?

Technical

Overall a very solid and colorful picture with some great detail, especially of facial close-ups. The print was clean of debris and spots. Sound was clear, but the few musical numbers really sounded lush. This is certainly an improvement over DVD. The sub only comes into play when the music starts, because this movie is about love and not war.

Extras

Commentary with Roger Michell, producer Duncan Kenworthy, and writer Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant's Movie Tips, Spotlight on Location, Elvis Costello "She" Music Video, Shania Twain "You've Got a Way" Music Video, a photograph montage & trailer.


 "Parkland" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-oct-2013-Parkland

Synopsis

November 22nd, 1963 was a day that changed the world forever – when young American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. We follow a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions after this incomprehensible event that would change their lives and forever alter our world’s landscape: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital, the chief of the Dallas Secret Service, the unwitting cameraman who captured what has become the most watched and examined film in history, the FBI Agents who had gunman Lee Harvey Oswald within their grasp and Vice President Lyndon Johnson who had to take control of a country in a moment’s notice. Parkland is the true story behind a tragic day in history you thought you knew, but didn’t, and couldn’t, until now… 50 years later.

Specifications

  • Millennium Studios
  • 2013, Color, PG 13, 1 Hr 27 mins
  • Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC/MPEG 4
  • Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital True HD
  • Starring:Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver
  • Directed by: Peter Landesman
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Implied
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This film recaps apparently randomly selected excerpts from the Kennedy assassination and its immediate aftermath. The film does not shed new light on the events and seemed to be a jumble of story lines that weave and cross at various times over a 3 day period. The acting is fine, except that Oswald’s mom comes across as a callused "loon". There are plenty of other films that deal with the Kennedy assassination better than this one, and I found that I just could not find the emotional center in Parkland. This left me bored. A better assasinated president movie is Lincoln. That one left me truly saddened.

Technical

Picture quality is average with fairly excellent detail and depth. Their are interspersed scenes from actual footage that looks fairly horrible. Think of all of the cell phones that would have recorded this event had it taken place today! The sound is dialog driven and is clear, but front heavy. I'm not sure my sub ever kicked in during the entire film.

Extras

Only deleted scenes.


"Pacific Rim" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-october-2013-pacific-rim

Synopsis

In the year 2013, a massive monster called a Kaiju emerges from the sea and attacks San Francisco. After days of fighting with the military the creature is finally destroyed. Thought to be an isolated incident, more Kaiju begin to emerge from a fissue deep in the ocean. As these become harder and harder to deal with, humans embark on the Jaeger program.

A Jaeger is a giant robot monster, controlled by two pilots, which battle the Kaiju. Initially the Jaeger’s are very successful, but the Kaiju that continue to attack grow smarter and more resistant to the Jaeger. As the Kaiju get stronger and stronger, mankind has one last set of Jaeger’s that need to be able to stop the Kaiju invasion once and for all.

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 2013, Color
  • Rated PG-13
  • 2 Hours, 11 Minutes
  • 1.78:1, 1080p, AVC Encoded
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & 7.1
  • Starring: Irdis Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi
  • Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Pacific Rim plays more like a super cut of every action movie cliché out there than an original film. The central concept, monsters invading the earth through a portal and fighting giant robots, is new but everything around it feels like it has been done before. A speech to rally the troops sounds like something straight out of Independence Day. Every plot device that is used could have been lifted from countless other movies that has come before.

Of course there are big gaps in logic as well. Why do the pilots need to move their feet for the robot to move when their brain directly interfaces it? Why would they stop the Jaeger program when it seems to be the only possible solution? Are those one-line drops about environmentalism and class warfare part of a longer plotline that got cut, or just weird comments?

Going in I expected a bit of mindless entertainment, but with a bit more originality in it. If you’re fine with watching the exact same movies you’ve seen before, with only the monsters vs. robots angle to differentiate it, then Pacific Rim will keep you entertained. I was hoping for something a little more original and came away disappointed.

Technical

Whatever display you watch Pacific Rim on had better handle black levels well, as almost the entire film seems to take place at night or underwater. A battle scene in Hong Kong looks fantastic with the bright neon lights against a black nighttime sky. Shadow details are fantastic and the transfer is really razor sharp. I wish more of the action took place during the daytime, but the visuals are excellent.

The audio is even stronger than the images. The first Jaeger vs. Kaiju attack startled me with the amount of bass that it brought into play. The surrounds are used extensively and sound fantastic. The sounds of metal crunching or a Jaeger punching a Kaiju resonate well. When the humans take refuge in an underground shelter, and subtle sound effects that produce a feeling of fear and anticipation really resonate. I’m not sure that I’ll ever watch all of Pacific Rim again, but I’ll certainly pull it out to use as a demo disc in the future.

Extras

Included in the 2D package is audio commentary, Focus Point featurettes that highlight selected scenes, multiple featurettes, deleted scenes, bloopers, as well as DVD and Ultraviolet copies of the film.