Media

Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX
"Coraline" (Blu-ray)

CoralineSynopsis

In this animated film, Coraline Jones (Fanning) lives at the Pink Palace Apartments with her mother and father, both of whom don't seem to have enough time to spend with her.

In her dreams, she explores the world behind a door in the apartment building, and finds that it is the same as the real one, with her mother and father there.

But, in this case, mom and dad really focus their attention on Coraline.

At first, she likes it, but soon, the alter-parents try to force her to stay, with the requirement that she sew buttons onto her face instead of her own real eyes.

So, Coraline must now try to escape back to the real world, where she can accept her real parents for who they are.

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 40 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring (Voices of) Teri Hatcher, Dakota Fanning, John Hodgman, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French
  • Directed by Henry Selick
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

The movie was not only shot with stop-motion figures (real objects that are moved by hand in between each frame), but shot in 3-D. Some scenes have true depth to them, while others don't have any at all, I suppose, to emphasize certain actions.

Technical

The last stop-motion film I remember was the old Gumby series of cartoons. Stop-motion photography is a lot of work. I would imagine they could have obtained the same optical results from CG. Maybe they had too much time on their hands.

Extras

These include The Making Of, Deleted Scenes, Voicing the Characters, and a digital copy for your iPod.


"The Soloist" (Blu-ray)

The SoloistSynopsis

Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez (Downey) discovers a homeless man, Anthony Ayers (Foxx) living under a bridge, playing a violin. Anthony plays so well, Steve asks him about his past, and Anthony tells him he was a cello student at Juliard School of Music.

Steve checks on this, and finds it to be true, so he decides to write a story about Anthony. First, he gets a cello, and gives it to Anthony, who is shocked at first. Then he begins to play, and Steve can see that Anthony is a gifted musician who has succumbed to the ravages of schizophrenia.

Steve helps Anthony find shelter where he can live safely, but it is very difficult for Anthony, because of his mental illness.

Finally, he brings Anthony to the attention of the first chair cellist of the local symphony orchestra, who, seeing how well Anthony plays, offers to arrange a recital for Anthony.

Anthony shows up on stage with the cello and his grocery cart with his belongings. He looks into the spotlight, and into the eyes of so many people in the audience, and,  . . . . well, if you know someone who is schizophrenic, you could probably imagine the outcome.

 

Specifications

  • Dreamworks
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 57 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine Keener, Meggan Anderson, Halbert Bernal
  • Directed by Joe Wright
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

The movie is based on the book by Steve Lopez, and although it is a true story, it moves a little slow at times. But then, trying to help a schizophrenic person is also one step at a time.

Technical

The image is not as sharp as it could be, but there is good use of the surrounds.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Kindness, Courtesy, and Respect, The Making Of, and Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles (there are 90,000 of them).


"Fast & Furious" (Blu-ray)

Fast & FuriousSynopsis

Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) are highjacking oil tankers in the Dominican Republic, and when the latest one goes badly, Dom moves to Los Angeles.

He becomes involved in an investigation into drug trafficking with his old friend Brian O'Connor (Walker), who is an FBI agent working on the case. Brian's conflict is with upholding the law and not arresting Dom.

A man named Campos (Ortiz) who works for a drug cartel that is bringing heroin into the US, is assigned the task of finding drivers who can outrun the police.

So, with Dom's help (he knows how to drive really, really fast), Brian is able to bring down the leader of the cartel.

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 47 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz
  • Directed by Justin Lin
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

If you are a fan of the Fast & Furious series, you will probably like this one. It gets deeper into Dominic as a person than the other installments.

Technical

The image doesn't seem much better than SD DVD, and there is modest use of the surround channels.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Los Bandeleros, The Making Of, Stunts, Gag Reel, and a digital copy for your iPod.


"12 Rounds" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2009-12-roundsSynopsis

When FBI detectives try to capture an Irish terrorist, Miles Jackson (Gillen), who deals in international sales of weapons, New Orleans Police Detective Danny Fisher (Cena) and his partner happen to be at the scene.

Detective Fisher chases Jackson on foot while Jackson and his girlfriend try to get away in a car.

Danny finally is able to get in front of Jackson's car and the car overturns, killing his girlfriend, but not Jackson.

Jackson vows to get revenge on Detective Fisher, and after escaping prison, he blows up Fisher's house, then calls him on a cell phone and tells him that he has Fisher's girlfriend Molly (Scott), and that he has to pass 12 tests in order to see Molly alive again.

Of course, the 12 tests are loaded with traps, each of which will kill Danny if he makes the wrong move.

 

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 48 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring John Cena, Ashley Scott, Aidan Gillen
  • Directed by Renny Harlin
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This appears to be a low budget film overseen by a high budget director. The movie is actually pretty exciting, as Harlin is a good action director. The plot is a little tenuous, as most terrorists would probably just kill Detective Fisher outright. Nevertheless, it's an hour and 48 minutes of non-stop explosive storytelling.

Technical

The image is not very sharp, and there is very little use of the surrounds.

Extras

These include Alternate Endings, Film with Caution, A Crash Course, Round and Round with Renny, Hands and Helicopter, Director's Commentary, and a digital coy for your video iPod.