Media

Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - September, 2012

ARTICLE INDEX

“Snow White and the Huntsman" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movies-sept-2012-snowwhitehunstman

Synopsis

King Magnus and Queen Eleanor rule over a vast kingdom in which they have it all, including a son and a beautiful (cough, if you are a fan of K Stew..) daughter named Snow White.  All is well until the Queen dies and a dark army lures the King into battle.  A powerful dark sorceress is rescued by King Magnus and he falls for her beauty, getting married to her the next day.  The sorceress Ravenna kills the King and places the princess Snow White in a dungeon.  In order to keep her beauty, Ravenna must prey on young women, sucking the life out of them. The day Snow White comes of age, Ravenna learns she must consume her heart, or else be destroyed by the princess. She commands her brother to fetch Snow White, but he fails and Snow White escapes.  Ravenna enlists Eric the Huntsman to find her by telling him she can bring his dead wife back to life in exchange.  Eric does not believe her and demands Ravenna to live up to her promise before he gives her Snow White.  Ravenna’s creepy brother Finn reveals she does not have the power to bring is wife back to life and the Huntsman decides to escape with Snow White.  The two are on their way to the home of Snow White’s brother, Duke Hammond’s castle, when they meet up with a gang of seven dwarves.  The Hunstman along with the dwarves fight to protect the land’s only hope, Snow White.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2012, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 11 Minutes (extended)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p 
  • Codec: AVC
  • English DTS-HD MA 7.1
  • Starring: Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and Nick Frost. Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth are also in it.
  • Directed by Rupert Sanders
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild, Fantastical
  • Sex: None
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Snow White and the Huntsman attempts to re-envision a classic Grimm fairy tale, but falls well short of a success.  I am not a fan of Kristen Stewart. She has one look and one performance, Bella from Twilight, and she has yet to stray from it.  This was to be expected and was not the cause of my discomfort whilst watching the film.  More so, I was annoyed by Charlize Theron’s performance, not finding it the least bit convincing.  Her yelling at the top of her lungs was more laughable than intimidating.  Then you have the Hunstman, Chris Hemsworth, who is such a shallow character with zero depth that you could give a rat’s ass about him. He is sad because his wife is dead, but apparently Snow White is so beautiful he forgets she ever existed.. Romance at its finest.  For me the only entertaining moments in this movie involved the dwarves.  Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, and Nick Frost are excellent and I just wish they were in the entire movie.  At most I would say give this one a rent, but honestly, you could skip it altogether.

Technical

In general, the video transfer is very good. The movie can be a bit dark and dreary which doesn’t tend to produce stunning picture quality. The brighter more colorful scenes looked great.  I appreciated the 7.1 mix, but it was far from top tier audio presentations. Movement and use of the extra surround channels was used sparsely and could have been more effective. Bass definition was weak and boomy. 

Extras

Plenty of extras here for the fans. Theatrical and Extended (4 extra minutes) editions, Audio Commentary tracks, U-Control Pic-n-pic, Around the Kingdom set tour, A New Legend is Born - about the production, Reinventing the Fairy Tale, Citizens of the Kingdom, The Magic of Snow White and the Hunstman - visual effects.


 “The Five-Year Engagement" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-september-2012-five-year-engagement

Synopsis

Tom Solomon (played by Jason Segal) pops the question to his girlfriend, Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), on the first anniversary of their initial meeting.  The proposal comes after Tom plans a surprise dinner atop a trendy San Francisco restaurant overlooking the Bay Bridge.  Violet hardly hesitates to accept this romantic invitation.  Not long after, things get topsy turvy when Violet decides to accept a research opportunity at the University of Michigan.  So Tom quits his job as a sous chef in San Francisco and moves to Michigan with Violet.  Each and every time they try to finalize their wedding plans, something comes up that causes another postponement.  Will this seemingly perfect couple be able to hold it all together and finally tie the knot?

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 5 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p 
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English DTS-HD Master 5.1
  • Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie
  • Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.  The best parts had me spontaneously laughing and I felt that the story stayed right in the romantic comedy slot during the majority of the film.  There just weren't many dead spots in the plot and it held my attention well, even with a running time a little over 2 hours.  Credit goes to Jaime Harlan and Jennifer Lurey for assembling a strong cast from top to bottom.  This movie ultimately proves to follow the essence of a formulaic plot as it tries desperately to break free.  I must admit that Jason Segal is starting to grow on me more than ever thanks to his performances here, on "The Muppets" and in the quirky "Jeff, Who Lives at Home." 

Technical

This is another superior-looking Blu-ray.  The colorful image is sharp with decent contrast and  minimal crush.  Skin tones and greens are about as natural as the medium will allow.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio displayed a solid image across the front.  But the musical score didn't have quite the degree of dynamic shading as the best Blu-rays out there. 

Extras

This is a two-disc package with the Blu-ray, DVD, a Digital Copy and an Ultraviolet streaming code.  On-disc extras are plentiful - Deleted Scenes, Extended & Alternate Scenes, a Gag Reel, a Line-o-Rama Reel, The Making of The Five-Year Engagement documentary and a Commentary Track with Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt and producer Rodney Rothman.


 “Sixteen Candles" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-september-2012-sixteen-candles

Synopsis

The movie opens the morning of Samantha Baker's sixteenth birthday.  Too bad her whole family forgot  about her special day due to all the hoopla surrounding the run-up to her big sister's wedding.  From here, the audience follows Samantha to school where we find she is attracted to the most popular boy in school.  Meanwhile,  the biggest geek in school has a crush on her!  Things start to get really crazy when her doting grandparents stay over for the big wedding.  Then there is even more excitement when Samantha is forced to take a Chinese exchange student, Long Duc Dong, to the dance where he falls for Marlene, the "Lumberjack".

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1984, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p 
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English DTS-HD Master 5.1
  • Starring: Molly Ringwald, Paul Dooley, Justin Henry and Anthony Michael Hall
  • Directed by John Hughes
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Suggested
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I had almost forgotten how promiscuous teens were in the 80's.  Almost.  Throughout the movie, there is open talk of drinking, sex and some nudity.  And the movie is rated PG.  Interesting.  In any event, Sixteen Candles remains a classic Hollywood coming of age story and it is bolstered through some very fine perforances that were in many ways the vehicle that really started the rise of the Brat Pack.  So I thoroughly enjoyed Ringwald's understated performance and Anthony Michael Hall's turn as Farmer Ted.  Hall is the classic geek for sure.  This was John Hughes' directorial debut and it represents a significant achievment that foreshadowed his other great works yet to come.  Highly recommended.

Technical

This Blu-ray is being released as one of Universal's series of 100th Anniversary restorations.  So it has a fully restored image and sound.  The print shows some signs of wear and minor specks of dirt, but the restoration is well done for the most part.  I've made some deductions because there is a bit of crush in the darker scenes and finer details in some scenes are not conveyed.  The audio sounds a bit dated, with limited surround activity.  It is certainly great fun to hear some of the music from the early 80's again.

Extras

This 100th Anniversary release comes as a special 2-disc package.  You get the Blu-ray, a DVD and a Digital Copy code.  The extensive extras include "Celebrating Sixteen Candles", "100 Years of Universal: The '80s" and "100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters".


 “Chimpanzee" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-Sept-2012-Chimp

Synopsis

From Disneynature, comes Chimpanzee - a remarkable story of individual triumph and family bonds. Journey deep into the African rainforest and meet Oscar, an adorable young chimp with an entertaining approach to life. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps who love creating mayhem. Full of curiosity, a zest for discovery, joy, and a love for mimicking others, they are some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Stunning hi-definition images bring you up close and personal as Oscar and his family navigate the complex territory of the forest. It's an inspiring and life-changing adventure that overflows with courage and charm.

Specifications

  • Disneynature Studios
  • 2012, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 18 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p 
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English DTS-HD Master 5.1
  • Starring: The voice of Tim Allen
  • Directed by Alastair Fothergill, Mark Linfield
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Slight
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Like African Cats before it, Chimpanzee is a pseudo-documentary that will entertain both the young and old. My nephew complained that the chimps don’t talk in this movie, but what does he know? He’s five years old! Tim Allen does a pretty good job with narration and doesn’t stray into goofiness. A lot of time and work went into filming this in the rainforest and the effort pays off in the end. Most of us will never get this close to chimps in our life time. Recommended, especially for 5+.

Technical

Stunning PQ and equally good sound makes this film look very nice on the big screen. Details are super crisp and the dark shadows of the rainforest never degrade into murkiness. Like almost all of the Disneynature flix, this one has impeccable picture and sound.

Extras

In-depth behind-the-scenes footage showcasing the filmmakers efforts to document the making of the film, a feature on Disney’s conservation efforts, and the McClain Sisters “Rise” music video.


 “Harvey" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-sept-2012-Harvey

Synopsis

James Stewart gives one of his finest performances in this lighthearted film, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Stewart stars as the good-natured Elwood P. Dowd, whose constant companion is Harvey, a six-foot tall rabbit that only he can see. To his sister, Veta Louise, Elwood’s obsession with Harvey has been a thorn in the side of her plans to marry off her daughter. But when Veta Louise decides to put Elwood in a mental hospital, a hilarious mix-up occurs and she finds herself committed instead. It’s up to Elwood to straighten out the mess with his kindly philosophy, and his “imaginary” friend, in this popular classic that features a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award-wining performance by Josephine Hull.

  • Universal Studios
  • 2012, B/W, Rated G, 1 Hr 45 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: MPEG 4
  • English DTS-HD Master 2.0
  • Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Cecil Kellaway, Charles Drake
  • Directed by Henry Koster
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is perhaps my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie. He plays a character that is unusual, not because he drinks a bit or sees an invisible 6 foot Pooka, but because he is genuinely interested in people and invests in kindness. These are traits that are so rare, that to exhibit them can brand you as an odd-ball. This movie is adapted from a play and is so well written that the run time seems incredibly short. The actors are all wonderful. Jesse White is in this movie…you may remember him as the old Maytag repairman from the commercials in the 70-80’s.

Technical

Fortunately, Universal has done this classic film the treatment it deserves. The image is crisp with wonderful detail and depth for a B/W movie. Film grain is apparent but not distracting. The only scene that had a few vertical lines in it was when Dowd was in the doctors office ¾ of the way through. Otherwise, no spots or blemishes appear during the film. Frankly, I don’t think it looked this good in the theaters all those years ago.

Extras

Jimmy Stewart narration with photographic montage, production notes, The Carl Laemmle Era, The Lew Wasserman Era and theatrical trailer.


 “Freelancers" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-september-2012-freelancers

Synopsis

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson plays Malo, the son of a New York Police officer.  Malo takes to a life of crime after his father is killed in the line of duty but he redeems himself later by joining the force himself, along with two of his close friends.  Soon after they graduate from the police academy, Malo gets recruited by Joe Sarcone (De Niro) to join a rogue group of cops who operate outside the stricter confines of the law.  Sarcone is a chiseled veteran who was Malo's father's partner.  Well, Malo accepts the invitation to join the vice corps and he gets partnered with Sarcone's right hand man, LaRue (Whitaker).  Malo is put to the test in his new role on the secret squad.  Then when he learns the truth behind his father's death, he goes about seeking true justice.

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 36 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p 
  • Codec: AVC
  • English DTS-HD Master 5.1
  • Starring: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Forest Whitaker and Robert De Niro
  • Directed by Jessy Terrero
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

This movie had a very limited theatrical run and wound up on video in near record pace.  I can clearly see why this would be as it was very "Malo" (bad) in so many ways: the meandering script, the inconsistent acting and the amatuerish set deigns to name but three.  It didn't help matters that one of Malo's friends is teamed with a veteran cop, Billy Morrison (Matt Gerald), who is so extremely racist that his character defies any logical explanation in the context of the real world.  Nobody that out of kilter could remain part of the force for very long, no matter how bureaucratic the department may be.  I  can barely comprehend why actors the caliber of De Niro and Whitaker would be part of a project like this.

Technical

The video offers a detailed image, but the color pallette appears to have been manipulated in post production.  The image consequently has limited "pop" and the whole presentation comes across as somewhat cartooney.  The audio is surprisingly front heavy for an action film but with good voice reproduction, passable dynamics on effects and decent bass on the hip hop songs that comprise the better part of the score. 

Extras

This single disc package contains a decent slate of extras - Commentary with Director Jessy Terrero and Actor Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes with Interviews, Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew and a Trailer Gallery.

 


 

“The Firm" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-september-2012-firm

Synopsis

Hotshot Harvard Law School graduate Mitch McDeere is being courted by all the top law firms in the country but when a small Memphis firm offers him nearly $100,000 a year, he bites.  After moving in, he quickly discovers something is not quite right when two of his associates die under mysterious circumstances.  After being approached by the FBI, he learns the firm represents the Morolto crime family and is being investigated.  Mitch is recruited to steal files in order to take down the firm.  To avoid violating attorney-client privilege, he comes up with a charge of mail fraud.  With the help of his brother, an unlikely secretary, and his wife, he brings his plan to fruition and manages to escape with his life and reputation intact.

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 1993, Color, Rated R, 2 Hrs 34 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Gene Hackman
  • Directed by Sydney Pollack
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Brief
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This has always been one of my favorite law and crime dramas and I looked forward to its Blu-ray release for nearly two years.  Perhaps it was triggered by a recently cancelled TV show of the same name.  The story is quite engaging and will have you on the edge of your seat pretty much all the way through.  Tom Cruise and Jeanne Tripplehorn look amazingly young until you realize this film is almost 20 years old.  My favorite character is lawyer Avery Tolar played brilliantly by Gene Hackman.  His portrayal of a thoroughly corrupt, skirt-chasing, worn-out counselor is fascinating to watch.  Tom Cruise is intense as usual but Hackman steals the show.  I also enjoy Ed Harris as the frustrated temperamental FBI agent.  He has one of the best male screams in Hollywood!  If you’re a fan of crime drama, The Firm is a must-own.

Technical

This is one of the better catalog releases I’ve seen of late.  The image is crisp and detailed despite obvious film grain.  Color is rich and natural; a great representation of the more realistic color palettes common to older movies.  Contrast is very good but a few scenes showed elevated black levels; thus the reason for docking a star.  And thankfully, there is no added edge enhancement.

The Dolby TrueHD encode is clean and clear with a nice wide front sound stage and excellent dynamic range.  Surrounds are used very little but given the content, I didn’t miss them.  Dialog sounds natural and unforced with clear position cues in the front three speakers.

Extras

The only bonus features are two trailers.

 


 

“The Vampire Diaries Season 3" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-september-2012-vampire

Synopsis

We pick up right where Season 2 left off with Stefan having joined Klaus in his quest to create more vampire/werewolf hybrids.  Stefan is quite the ripper leaving a trail of blood and bodies in his wake.  Elena tries desperately to find him and when she does, Klaus compels Stefan to bury his humanity.  The war escalates when the rest of Klaus’ family is awakened along with his mother, the original witch.  She hatches a plot to correct her mistake in creating vampires by killing off her children, the original vampires.  By season’s end the war is in full swing and Elena starts down a path she never anticipated.

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 2012, Color, Not Rated, 15Hrs 27 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: No

Commentary

While teen vampires have reached a saturation point in film and on TV, The Vampire Diaries manages to stay fresh and interesting when other shows lapse into the romance and forget about the action and intrigue.  There are many plotlines going on at once and there is no shortage of chaos and mayhem in each episode.  Watching the season on Blu-ray is much easier than following the series week to week when the long breaks make it easy to forget what’s going on.  There is plenty of young cheesecake, of both sexes; to please everyone and all the actors are very skilled.  Ian Somerhalder is the best of the bunch performing a perfect balance of good and evil behavior.  Even though the show is aimed squarely at a teen-aged demographic, some of the subject matter is very adult.  People die with alarming frequency in Mystic Falls, promiscuity is common among high school students, and there is plenty of drinking and joint smoking on screen.  Parents might want to check this out before letting their kids watch.

Technical

The image quality is a curious mix of sharp detail and crushed blacks along with an extremely warm color palette.  On one hand, facial close-ups and outdoor shots brim with crisp features and great dimension.  On the other hand, dark details are crushed in almost every scene that takes place indoors.  Most of the actors have dark hair which results in them appearing to wear black helmets all the time.  The darkest scenes are a series of disembodied faces floating on a murky background.  The color appears to be a director’s choice but it almost never looks natural.  Saturation is high though which gives a decent pop to brighter material.  At least there is no edge enhancement!

Sound quality is quite good thanks to the lossless encode.  Surrounds are used sparingly but the sub gets quite a workout.  Both the sound effects and the music make frequent use of the low end.  My only complaint was occasional sibilance in the dialog track.  It’s not too bad but a little surprising in a modern Blu-ray release.  The front soundstage is broad and deep and I enjoyed the pop music that is used quite liberally throughout.

 

Extras

Bonus features include three featurettes and fan-favorite scenes that total about 74 minutes.  Also included is a gag reel and some deleted scenes.  The package now includes DVDs of the entire series plus a digital copy accessible via the Ultraviolet service


.

“Life Happens (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movies-Sept-2012-Happens

Synopsis

Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson star in this sharp and witty comedy about single living, friendship and the joys of life's curveballs. When a one-night-stand results in an unexpected pregnancy, things take a sudden turn for Kim (Ritter) and her roommates, Deena (Bosworth) and Laura (Bilson). Jumping back into the dating scene, Kim copes with single motherhood amid fears that toting a tot will be a dating buzz-kill.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Geoff Stults, Justin Kirk, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Ritter, Rachel Bilson
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Who knew that being responsible for your poor choices could be such a drag? Usually, this type of movie depicts an immature guy fathering a child and learning to grow up after a few dozen hilarious situations arise. This film follows the same formula, only it is the girl that has to learn unprotected, casual sex can really change your outlook on life. Her friend Deena is really a self centered jerk of a friend (she has one blue eye and one brown eye…weird!). No new ground broken here and the storyline is only mildly entertaining. Frankly, it could have covered more ground in less time, but hey, life happens.

Technical

The picture is average, by which I mean it doesn’t jump out as being stunning. Some scenes are a bit soft, though flesh tones are good and the contrasts are fine. I saw no artifacts, but fine details were just not there. The sound was good with the soundtrack (Ridin’ Dirty) had plenty of detail and punch. Dialog drives this film and it is always intelligible. Surrounds were used judiciously.

Extras

Only a few previews happen.


“Cold Creek Manor" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

 

movies-Sept-2012-coldcreek

 

Synopsis

Cold Creek Manor is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat in tension-filled suspense. Wanting to escape city life for the saner, safer countryside, New Yorkers Cooper Tilson (Quaid), his wife Leah (Stone), and their two children move into a dilapidated old mansion still filled with the possessions of the previous family. Turning it into their dream house soon becomes a living nightmare when the previous owner (Dorff) shows up, and a series of terrifying incidents lead them on a spine-tingling search for clues to the estate's dark and lurid past.

 

 

Specifications

  • Touchstone Entertainment
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1Hr 49 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC/ MEPG 4
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

 Commentary

It took awhile for this movie to get rolling, and in spite of some plot holes, it provides a few chilly moments. Quaid has been appearing in movies lately as a creepy protagonist lately, but here he portrays a new home owner up to his neck in trouble. For you Twilight fans, Kristen Stewart is here as a young teen. Overall, the plot was too slow and I found myself looking at my watch half way through the movie. Why do “city folk” insist on staying in a dangerous situation when they move to the sticks? Not good. Still, if you are desperate for something to watch on Halloween, this might work for you. Otherwise, stick to Hitchcock.

Technical

The picture fluctuates from sharp to grainy. Some crushing of detail was noticed in the twilight shots or when the camera moved into the dark basement. The evening sky also exhibited some banding, as well. Skin color ranged from too pink to jaundiced orange. The sound was enveloping, especially when in a wooded area where the birds and wind swirled around you. Dialog was always crisp and well focused.

Extras

Commentaries, deleted scenes and an alternate ending, all in glorious standard def.


 “Arachnophobia" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

 movies-Sept-2012-Arachno

 

Synopsis

Everyone is afraid of something ... for Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels), his phobia is downright embarrassing. But when he moves his family to a small town, the one thing that bugs him most is now harming the townspeople at an alarming rate. For this unlikely hero, overcoming a childhood fear of spiders might just save the community, but it may already be too late! Sometimes a monster can be very small. Also starring John Goodman, this critically acclaimed breathtaking hit entertains with its terrific mix of thrills, chills, and laughter!

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Hollywood Pictures  Entertainment
  • 2012, Color, Rated PG-13, 1Hr 45 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC/ MEPG 4
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, Roy Brocksmith
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

 Commentary

Steven Spielberg had a hand in the making of this movie and it shows. The opening was bit reminiscent of Indiana Jones, come to think about it. It contains just the right amount of terror and humor to make it a load of fun for the whole family (though my wife got up and left near the intense ending). Very little CGI here, and the spiders look real and convincing for the most part. This movie did for spiders what Jaws did for sharks, only you’ll be shaking out your blankets at night before you retire.

 Technical

I was disappointed in the picture. The open scenes in South America looked washed out and grainy. Blacks are not inky, but only a dirty grey. Because the contrast was so poor, the depth of field suffers and looks flat. Film grain can be noisy and distracting  at times in the darker shots at night and in the basement. Details are good in some scenes and fuzzy in the next. Don’t get me wrong: the film is clean, speck free and certainly watchable, but it could have been spruced up more. Sound was lively and clear with ample surround effects and an occasional deep note for the sub. (Disney has announced that the grey haze and black levels have been corrected for the consumer discs that are now in the stores. I have not seen the corrected version, so Caveat emptor!)

Extras

Deleted scenes and commentaries.


"The Raid: Redemption" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

 movies-Sept-2012-Raid

 

Synopsis

As a rookie member of an elite special-forces team, Rama (Iko Uwais) is instructed to hang back during a covert mission involving the extraction of a brutal crime lord from a rundown fifteen-story apartment block. But when a spotter blows their cover, boss Tama (Ray Sahetaphy) offers lifelong sanctuary to every killer, gangster and thief in the building in exchange for their heads. Now Rama must stand in for the team's fallen leader and use every bit of his fighting strength - winding through every floor and room to complete the mission and escape with his life.

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Sony Entertainment
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC/ MEPG 4
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy, Donny Alamsyah
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

  Commentary

Wow! This foreign film was a bit of a surprise and may be the best action flick I have seen this year. Intense close martial arts, gun play and knives slicing through flesh action will keep your jaw agape through out the entire film. I recommend watching with the sub-titles off and the dialog in English, because you will want to watch the action without distraction, as our hero fights through a 15 story building full of people out to kill him. Sure, this is not Oscar worthy material, but it sure provides a fun ride. Not for the squeamish or the little kids...but this is a great evening-in-the-man-cave type of movie!

 Technical

The overall picture was quite good for a low budget film. Colors and contrasts were pretty spot on. The dark scenes had good depth, and there are plenty of dark scenes in this movie. (Not much sunlight in this film, because no one should be standing in an open window, if you catch my drift). Details were also very good, though some of the blood flying around looked a bit too CGI. Sound was loud and like the action, in your face. Lots of sub and surround effects. The music helps to keep your adrenaline high, too.

 Extras

Where to begin? Commentary with Writer/Director Gareth Evans, 6 behind-the-scenes video blogs with Gareth Evans, Behind the Music: Featurette with Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and composer Joe Trapanese, Inside the Score: A trailer teaser for Mike Shinoda's first feature score, An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese feaurette Conversation with Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda: Details on the hard shoot, score, stunts, and themes, An Anatomy of a Scene: Outlines hole drop sequence THE RAID TV Show Ad (circa 1994): Spoof of an actual 1994 Japanese anime TV commercial, Claycat's The Raid: Lee Hardcastle's UK claymation short film with a Mike Shinoda music score.