Articles

Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX

"Star Trek" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

Star Trek

Synopsis

Stardate 2258. Planet Vulcan has been attacked by Romulans, whose leader is Nero (Bana).

The Federation comes to the rescue, and young James T. Kirk (Pine) and Spock (Quinto) are officers on board the US Enterprise, NCC-1701.

Sulu (Cho), Scotty (Pegg), Uhura (Saldana), and Bones (Urban) are also part of the team.

Together, they boldly go where no man has gone before, and do their thing as they have for the past four decades on TV and in theaters.

 

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 6 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Chris Pine, Zachary Pinto, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin
  • Directed by J.J. Abrams
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This movie is supposed to be the Prequel to the entire saga. Much of the film is devoted to young Kirk as a risk taker, and his training at the Academy. Spock is an instructor there, and their first encounter is when Kirk rigs one of the flight simulators so that he can easily defeat the imaginary enemy. I really think they should have entitled this Star Trek: Prequel, for indexing purposes. Obviously, there will be more movies to follow. This is the best one of all the Star Trek films that I have seen.

Technical

The video is superb, but the audio could have been more encompassing

Extras

Not much here. Just a Director's Commentary and BD-Live. However, I only had the single-disc package. There is a three-disc package that has the extras.


"The Taking of Pelham 123" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

The Taking of Pelham 123

Synopsis

In New York City, the Pelham 123 subway train (arriving from Pelham at 1:23 pm) doesn't quite get there as expected.

Walter Garber (Washingon) works for the MTA (transit system) in the city as a detective, but he has been temporarily assigned as a dispatcher while he is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes. Walter is contacted over the communication system by a man named Ryder (Travolta) who tells him he has hijacked the train, has a lot of passengers under his control, and demands 10 million dollars in cash within one hour. He emphasizes that he will kill one passenger for each minute the money is late.

NYC Police Lt. Camonetti (Turturro) brings in his squad to handle the hostage negotiation, and he tells Walter to delay everything as much as he can while S.W.A.T works their way into the tunnels to set up snipers who will take the hijackers out if they can.

Specifications

  • Sony Pictures
  • 2009, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 46 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Denzel Washington, John Travolta, John Turturro, Luis Guzmán, Victor Gojcaj
  • Directed by Tony Scott
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language:Bad

Commentary

This is another attempt at remaking an old film, by the same title. Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw starred in that 1974 version.

The 2009 version is better than the old film, but only because the director had the availability of showing much more graphic violence, and of course, lots of the "F" word in the conversations about what will happen if the MTA doesn't get that money down to the train in the one hour time. Walter Matthau played it much more tongue in cheek than Washington. The ending in the 1974 version actually is comedic. Not so in the 2009 film.

Technical

The video is quite sharp, but not as sharp as it could be, and the audio doesn't make enough use of the surround channels.

Extras

These include No Time to Lose, The Third Rail, From the Top Down, Marketing Pelham, and other things.


"Angels & Demons" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

Angels & Demons

Synopsis

After the death of the Pope, four Cardinals who are in line to replace him are kidnapped by members of the Illuminati in Vatican City (in Rome), and are told that they will kill them. Religious history expert Robert Langdon (Hanks) is flown from the US to Rome to assist in finding the Cardinals before they are executed.

The problem is that the Illuminati have stolen some anti-matter from a research laboratory, and it is contained in a small cell that is kept magnetized at both ends by a battery. If the battery runs out of power, the anti-matter will cause an explosion equivalent to a 6 kiloton nuclear weapon. So, the team is working against time not only to save the Cardinals, but to save Vatican City itself, which would be demolished by the explosion.

Another issue is that Langdon does not believe in God, so his help is not so welcomed by religious officials at the Vatican, including Cardinal Strauss (Mueller-Stahl) and Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (McGregor), nor the local police.

Specifications

  • Sony Pictures
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 18 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd, Vittoria Vetra, Armin Mueller-Stahl
  • Directed by Ron Howard
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

The first movie in this series, The Da Vinci Code, was a disaster, because of weak direction and a seemingly bored Tom Hanks. Well, the directing is still weak, and Tom Hanks snores his way through this one just like in the first film. It is almost as if he is reading the script from a teleprompter. If he is bored with making movies, then he should retire. Especially in the case of having such milk toast direction. If there had been an enthusiastic star, the film might have been more exciting to watch.

At least you get an education about what the Catholic Church did during various centuries of its existence and why the Illuminati came into being. Nice tour of several churches too. Guess I don't need to go to Rome to see them in person.

Technical

The video quality is fabulous, and the surround sound is fully encompassing and appropriately eerie in all those dark, centuries-old chambers and corridors.

Extras

Through Cine-Chat On-Line, you can get further information about the cast, crew, music, and the production. You can also chat with others who happen to be watching the movie at the same time, although if you ping them, you will probably just wake them up and they will get mad at you.


"Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

Santa Buddies: The Legend of Santa Paws

Synopsis

At the North Pole, not only is there a Santa Claus, but a Santa Paws who oversees toys and other goodies that should be delivered to all the good puppies out there.

Unfortunately, Santa Paws' son, Puppy Paws, is not very enthusiastic about Christmas and all the hassle of delivering gifts.

So, our pals, the Santa Buddies (same characters in previous Disney movies about dogs, including Budderball, B-Dawg, Rosebud, Buddha, and Mudbud) get together to teach Puppy Paws that Christmas is not about the gift of material things, but a sharing of joy.

In the process, Puppy Paws ends up in the dog pound, and the gang has to rescue him.

Specifications

  • Walt Disney
  • 2009, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD
  • Starring (Voices of) George Wentz, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Conway, Tom Bosley
  • Directed by Robert Vince
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Over the decades, Disney Studios has learned the art of making films that are mainly for kids, but are entertaining to their parents too. Such is the case for this series of stories involving the adorable puppies, whose characters children will recognize from movie to movie.

Technical

The video quality is excellent, but again, not much use of the surrounds. Is it really that much trouble and expense to add some ambience in the surround channels? Geesh! Now I am starting to sound like the Grinch.

Extras

These include Sing Along to Christmas Carols, a Music Video, and the SD DVD version.


"A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Synopsis

It's Christmas time, but Charlie Brown is depressed.

Lucy suggests that they all put on a Christmas play, and that Charlie be the director. He accepts.

Unfortunately, Charlie brings a small tree with almost no branches to serve as the centerpiece for the play, and the gang ridicules him for it.

But, in the end, the holiday spirit overtakes the grumbling, and everyone is smiling once again. Even Snoopy.

Specifications

  • United Feature Sindicate, Inc.
  • 1965, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 28 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DD
  • Starring (Voices of) Chris Duran, Sally Dryer, Bill Melendez, Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford
  • Directed by Bill Melendez
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

For 1965, the production team did a marvelous job restoring the movie from the original camera negative. Remember, in those days, animation was still done by drawing each individual frame and photographing it.

What is interesting here is that this movie has never been seen in high definition because it was only shown on TV, and in 1965, TV had a resolution of only 330 lines, compared to 1080 now. So, the dust is not on the film, but on the artwork that was photographed, and you can see it! You may have been only a child when you saw it on TV, and now you can purchase it for your own children to enjoy, and watch it for the first time with a sharp picture.

Technical

The video quality is excellent, but the soundtrack is mono. Nevertheless, it sounds fine.

Extras

These include It's Christmas Again, Charlie Brown, Holiday Preparations, Peppermint Patty Sweating Out an Important Book, The Making of, and other things.


"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1965, Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Synopsis

In this Dr. Seuss story, all the characters live in Whoville, except for the Grinch, who lives up in the mountains by himself, except for his dog.

The Grinch hates Christmas, and he hates to see others enjoy it.

So, when Christmas approaches, he devises a way that he thinks will ruin the big Christmas party for the Whoville residents. He dresses up in a Santa Claus suit and goes into the town and steals all the presents under the trees of all the households.

When he gets back home, he is full of glee, because he thinks he has ruined Whoville's Christmas day.

But, on Christmas morning, he hears the townsfolk singing and having fun as if nothing had happened. He discovers that Christmas isn't about boxes of toys underneath a tree, but a celebration of life, which cannot be wrapped in paper and tied with a ribbon.

Specifications

  • Cat in the Hat Presentation
  • 1965, Color, Rated G, 26 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 2.0 DD
  • Starring (Voices of) Boris Karloff, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft
  • Directed by Chuck Jones, Ben Washam
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is another holiday classic that has been restored and released in high definition. Like A Charlie Brown Christmas, reviewed above, it has never been seen in this resolution, because in 1965, only NTSC TV was available, with its much lower resolution. So, get a copy and enjoy it at its best, with your children.

Technical

Superb video quality, but the soundtrack shows its age and is a bit harsh.

Extras

Lots of extras on this one, including Making Animation and Bringing it to Life, Dr. Seuss and the Grinch, Songs in the Key of Grinch, and other things.


"Wrong Turn" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movie-november-2009-wrong-turn

Synopsis

Chris Flynn (Desmond Harrington) is on his way to a job interview when he hits traffic. Without any other options, he turns around and finds another route, through the mountains of WEST VIRGINIA. On a quiet dirt road, Chris gets distracted and crashes into a Range Rover which had gotten a flat tire. Turns out to be a group of youngsters looking to get away on a camping trip. Surprisingly they aren't that pissed off at this guy who just destroyed their SUV.. Four of them decide to walk down the road to look for help while two stay behind. It doesn't take long to realize there is someone in the woods watching them. The two that stayed behind don't last too long, while the other 4 stumble upon a rundown shack in the woods. The smartest thing to do is, of course, to go inside and have a look around. They quickly realize they should not be there, as whoever, or whatever lives there is not normal. Unfortunately, the family that lives there returns before they have a chance to escape, so the four city folk have to hide. They witness the brutal mutilation of their friend's body before managing to sneak out.. almost unnoticed. The group is chased through the woods till they find a meadow filled with the blood stained cars of previous victims. In order to escape, Chris attempts to distract the mutants, but gets shot in the leg. The other boy, Scott, also tries to distract the mutants, to allow the girls to steal their truck. He isn't so lucky. The final 3 find solace in an old forest ranger lookout tower. From here they are able to radio for help. Surely the final 3 will be able to make it to safety? Not everyone can die, can they?

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 2003, Color, R, 84 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC MPEG-4
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Eliza Dushku, Desmond Harrington
  • Directed by Rob Schmidt
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Gory Horror Violence, Ugly Mutants
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Some

Commentary

Horrible movie. I really do not have anything good to say about it. If you like these kinds of movies, then maybe it wouldn't be so bad with a group of friends, some popcorn, and a bottle of whiskey.

Technical

This is one of the worst looking and sounding discs I have watched. The video is soft, contrast is weak, and the colors are not accurate. The DTS soundtrack is nothing special either. This is not a disc you watch to show off your system.

Extras

All the extras on this disc are exactly the same as the DVD. None are in HD. Audio commentary with Director Rob Schmidt and actors Eliza and Desmond. "Fresh Meat the Wounds of Wrong Turn" - A make-up and special effects featurette. "The Making of Wrong Turn" - A short promo piece. "Eliza Dushku in the Woods" - A short featurette about her character. "Stan Winston" - Another short featurette, this one about the legendary Stan Winston. Also some Deleted Scenes and the theatrical trailer.


"An American Werewolf in London" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movie-november-2009-american-werewolf-in-london

Synopsis

A couple of American backpackers, David and Jack, begin their vacation in northern England. After walking for hours in the cold rain, they come upon an old pub, the Slaughtered Lamb, and seek comfort inside. They are not greeted with open arms, instead the local town folk give them the cold shoulder. David and Jack don't know better and just end up irritating the people further until they are asked to leave. They are warned to stay on the road and to be careful. It is not long until they hear the howls of a strange creature and the two are attacked by a werewolf. Jack dies while David is injured right before the werewolf is shot and killed by several townsmen. David wakes up 3 weeks later in a London hospital. He is tended to by Nurse Price and they develop feelings for each other. David starts having nightmares in which his dead friend Jack visits him. Jack tells him he must kill himself before the next full moon. David is confused and doesn't understand what is happening to him. Eventually he is released from the hospital and ends up staying with Nurse Price. A full moon arrives and David turns into a werewolf, going on a killing spree. He wakes up in a zoo with absolutely no recollection of what just happened. The next time he turns into a werewolf David is in a busy downtown area. The police corner him and end things for good.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1981, Color, R, 97 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine
  • Directed by John Landis
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Gory Horror Violence
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Some

Commentary

This was my first time watching An American Werewolf in London. I think the movie would have been more enjoyable had I seen it in the '80s. Unfortunately, I found it to be a bit cheesey. However, fans will absolutely love this fresh new blu-ray.

Technical

From what I have read of the previous releases of this film, the transfer has never been given much time and effort, till now. Colors are natural and contrast is good. Don't expect this movie to look like today's releases, it does show the film's age. Plenty of film grain is present, but that's not always a bad thing. The image was a bit soft at time, but overall pretty good. The DTS HD Master audio track was decent. Nothing particularly impressive.

Extras

Documentary "Beware the Moon" - an in-depth, full length documentary about the movie.
Audio Commentary with actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne. Also included are some interviews, outtakes, and the original theatrical trailer.

"How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000, Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-november-2009-big

Synopsis

A live action version of the classic Dr. Seuss book, "Grinch" stars Jim Carrey at the title character, an outcast from the town of Whoville that is unable to get into the holiday spirit as his heart is "two sizes too small".

 

 

 

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2000, Color, PG, 105 Minutes
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Jim Carrey
  • Directed by Ron Howard
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Cartoonish Violence
  • Sex: None
  • Language: None

Commentary

I'm sure almost everyone is familiar with the classic Dr. Seuss story, and has most likely seen the TV version of the story at some point. Unfortunately, I was not a fan of this new version at all. I found it to be overly bold and obnoxious, and very overlong as what was a 26 minute story has now expanded to 105 minutes by creating a large back story about the Grinch. Since the original version is now available on Blu-ray as well, that is the one that I will be showing my kids in the future.

Technical

The picture for the film is sharp, but not as razor sharp as the best transfers. However, they picture just doesn't have much of a punch to the colors and everything seems a bit muted compared to how it should look. The soundtrack was well done with good use of all channels, and dialog was nice and clear.

Extras

Extras include deleted scenes, special features on the costumes, makeup, and set design, music videos, and commentary from the director.


"The Office: Season Five" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

The Office: Season Five

Synopsis

The office of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton, Pennsylvania branch is anything but ordinary. Under the wacky management of Michael Scott (Steve Carell), the staff struggles in a valiant effort to accomplish any real work. Season five of "The Office" includes 26 episode, including two one-hour specials that follow the continued exploits of the staff, including Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Jim (John Krasinski), and Pam (Jenna Fischer).

Specifications

  • Universal/NBC
  • 2009, Color, Not Rated, 9 hrs 46 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak
  • Director: Not listed
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: None
  • Sex: Some suggestive behavior
  • Language: None

Commentary

At the repeated urging of my friends, I finally started watching "The Office" about a year ago. I'm glad that I did, as this show is absolutely hilarious. It will have even more relevance if you've ever worked in a "corporate" environment. The writers have managed to keep this show fresh and creative, episode after episode. They also have a knack for taking real-life office issues and showing exactly how they should NOT be handled, such as disc one's "Business Ethics" episode where Meredith admits to having sex with a vendor rep in exchange for discounts on product (and some steak house gift certificates). Each actor is a perfect fit for their role and this season devoted a lot of time to character development, which I enjoyed. There are also some significant plot twists that keep things interesting.

Technical

"The Office" looks pretty darn good on Blu-ray. It falls a bit short of that "looking through a window" effect with some occasional soft scenes and scattered color tone issues, but in general the picture is crisp and clear. Motion is very smooth since it was shot for TV and the image shows good depth and contrast. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does its job, with clean dialogue and a surprising amount of surround usage. There is not a ton of bass, but there are a few scenes where the LFE channel makes its presence known.

Extras

Extras (most in HD) are scattered over all four discs and include episode commentaries, a one-liner soundboard, a gag reel, webisodes, some "best of" moments from the first 100 episodes, and a tribute from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. There are also about three HOURS worth of deleted scenes, which are well worth the time committment.


"Battlestar Galactica - The Plan" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

movie-november-2009-big

Synopsis

The remake of the Battlestar Galactica series on the SyFy channel was a huge suceess all around, with fans and critics both falling in love with the series that was produced from the start. BSG tells the story of how Cylons, the robot servants for hum"The Plan" goes back and tells us that same story, only this time from the point of view of the Cylons intead of the Humans. Using footage from the first four seasons of the show, in addition to all new scenes as well as new special effects, you can see how the story plays out from a completely different perspective.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2009, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 51 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: VC-1
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Edward James Olmos, Grace Park, Michael Trucco, Dean Stockwell
  • Directed by Edward James Olmos
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Hardcore fans will have undoubtedly already seen this new BSG "movie". While an interesting concept (telling the story from the Cylon point of view), the execution of "The Plan" ultimately falls flat and ends up feeling like an editing together of deleted scenes more than a coherent narrative. Devoted BSG follows will gain some small character and plot insights, but overall, as a more than casual BSG series viewer, I found the presentation a little boring.

Technical

For a film that is coming from the SyFy Channel, and I would imagine lacks the budget of a major network or film, The Plan looked very good to me. It has a very stylized look to it, but it looks as good as this film is going to look. The weakest point of the transfer is that you can now tell that the budget for special effects isn't up to what a major film would be, and they can look a little cheesy in comparison to everything else. The soundtrack, however, leaves nothing to be desired. From the early attack sequence you get some fantastic use of the surrounds and LFE channel, and it's really a wonderful DTS-MA HD track.

Extras

Extras include Deleted scenes, Featurettes on the director, the special effects, and the Cylons, a full length commentary with the director and writer, Battlestar Galactica trivia via BD-Live.


"District 9" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

District 9

Synopsis

In 1982, Johannesburg, South Africa, an alien ship situates itself above the city, but nothing happens after that. Humans board the ship and find aliens sick and starving, so they move them off the ship and into a sealed-off area nearby, calling it District 9.

The humans learn the alien language, but the aliens keep to themselves, foraging through garbage dumps for food, with a particular taste for catfood. They look like prawns, so the humans refer to them with that name.

Years go by, and the conditions of District 9 deteriorate, so an organization called Multi-National United decides to relocate them. They assign one of the officials, Wikus van de Merwe (Copley), to go to the aliens and get their leaders to sign an agreement to move, essentially evicting them from where they live. Along the way, Wikus finds a canister in one of the alien's huts, and accidentally gets sprayed in the face with its contents.

In the meantime, the military is trying to find a way to use the aliens' weapons, which are far superior to the ones they have. The problem is that the weapons only work when used by someone with the aliens' DNA. Well, it just so happens that Wikus finds that the spray has infected him, and he is slowly turning into one of the aliens himself.

So, the military now trys to capture Wikus and use him to research methods of obtaining ways that humans would be able to fire the aliens' weapons.

Wikus, now turning into an alien, joins the aliens in their fight to keep from being evicted.

Specifications

  • Sony Pictures
  • 2009, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Sharlto Copley, Norman Anstey, Anthony Bishop, Anthony Fridjhon, William Allen Young, Mike Huff
  • Directed by Neill Blomkamp
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

The story is filmed as a documentary, with a cameraman following Wikus through his exploits. The whole thing seems like a mixture of The Incredible Hulk series and James Cameron's Aliens.

Technical

The image quality is excellent and the DTS-HD MA does justice to the aliens' rather strange voices as well as the massive amount of violence at the climax of the film.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes, Director's Commentary, The Alien Agenda, The Transformation of Wikus, Creating the World of District 9, Joburg from Above, a digital copy for your Video iPod, and BD-Live.


"Inglourious Basterds" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by John Johnson

Inglourious Basterds

Synopsis

It's early WW-II, and Germany is occupying a defeated France. Nazis are executing members of the resistance, while Jews are being murdered in concentration camps.

American Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt) assembles a group of French Jews as a team to give the Nazis a taste of their own medicine. They plow their way through France, capturing Nazis, beating them to death, and scalping them. Of course, Hitler is outraged, but he wants to keep their exploits quiet. Their nickname becomes the "Basterds". He wants them captured.

Major Hans Landa (Waltz) is a specialist in finding people. Currently, he is finding Jews who are in hiding, and having them put to death by his squads of goose stepping swine. At a dairy farm, a young girl, Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent), escapes death by running away while the rest of her family are being shot.

A few years pass, and the Basterds continue their exploits.

Now, Hans is assigned the task of finding Lt. Raine.

A German movie star, Bridget von Hammersmark (Kruger), is collaborating with the resistance, and she sets up a meeting with the Basterds, who will help Shosanna, who now owns a movie theater in Berlin and has changed her name to Emmanuelle Mimieux, kill Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, and Borman, who will be attending the premier of a movie called Nation's Pride, which is about one particular German hero who killed more than 300 Allied soldiers with his sniping skills.

Their plan is to set the theater on fire using stored films placed in a pile behind the screen. In those days, movie film was made of cellulose nitrate, which was extremely flammable.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2009, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Malanie Laurent, Diane Kruger
  • Directed by Quentin Tarantino
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

Tarantino's films vary in plot, but never in style or quality. Basterds is certainly not your garden variety of WW-II stories, and there really is not all that much violence, although the violence that is shown, is horrific. Christoph Waltz's portrayal of the SS officer Hans Landa is brilliant, with a likely Oscar nomination in the wings. He absolutely oozes slime, but is a coward underneath, like all the Nazis who brutalized the helpless Jews that had no weapons to defend themselves.

Technical

The image quality is superb, and the DTS-HD MA goes a long way to make the film as enjoyable to the ears as it is a feast for the eyes.

Extras

These include Extended and Alternate Scenes, The Making of Nation's Pride, A Conversation with Rod Taylor (he plays Winston Churchill), Quentin Tarantino's Camera Angel, Pocket BLU, and BD-Live.

Here is my own extra for certain very special people:

Für alle von Ihnen Neo-Nazis dadraußen der Traum von wiederzubeleben den 1000 jährigen Reich von Hitler, werden Ihre Träume nie erkannt werden, weil sie in den Gruben des tiefsten Faulraums auf dem Planeten vergraben sind. Bitte Sprung in und Versuch, sie zu finden. Alle von Ihren Freunden sind schon dort, erdrosselnd auf Hundscheiße. Der einzige Ort, den der Nazistische Salut je wieder gegeben werden wird, ist in Hölle.