Articles

Movie Renter's Guide - February, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX

"Appaloosa" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-appaloosa.jpgSynopsis

In the western town of Appaloosa, a local rancher, Randall Bragg (Irons) does as he pleases, including killing Marshall Jack Bell (Jauregui).

The townsfolk have finally had enough, so they hire Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch (Mortensen), who are notorious for their ability to clean up towns that are plagued by violence, to take care of the problem.

So, the first thing they do is kill two of Bragg's men in a saloon.

Meanwhile, Cole and a local girl, Allison French (Zellweger) start a relatiohship and plan to marry and build a home together.

One of Bragg's men tells Cole that he witnessed Bragg killing Marshall Bell, so Cole arrests Bragg, he is tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang.

On the way to the town where Bragg is to hang, Bragg's men rescue him by holding Allison hostage.

Cole and Everett find them, but they all have to join forces to fight some local Indians.

So Bragg is not hanged, and claims he is a reformed man, setting up a saloon in town. But Cole just can't let it go, and forces a final showdown.

 

Specifications

  • New Line Cinema
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 55 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Robert Jauregui, Jeremy Irons, Robert Jauregui
  • Directed by Ed Harris
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This is a formula plot that has nothing unique about it, but the characters are so interesting, it is worth the rental. Especially Jeremy Irons as Bragg.

Technical

The image is sharp, but interior lighting is poorly done. Too many harsh shadows outdoors as well. There is moderate use of surrounds, but it could have been better.

Extras

These include Director Commentary, Additional Scenes, Bringing the Characters of Appaloosa to Life, History of Appaloosa, The Town of Appaloosa, and Dean Simler's Return to the Western.

 


"Swing Vote" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-w.jpgSynopsis

The story of George W. Bush's trail to the White House is chronicled by Oliver Stone, as he has in JFK, and Nixon.

From his college days at Yale in the 1960's, he was a beer guzzling fraternity boy who failed at every job his father obtained for him, including working in a sporting goods store, oil rig, investment firm, a ranch hand in Arizona, and finally the Air National Guard.

He became Governor of Texas, while the much smarter brother Jeb took the same job in Florida.

He tried hard to please his father, but never seemed to get the approval he wanted so badly.

When he became President, the 9/11 disaster sent his approval ratings through the roof, but he squandered that approval with two wars that are still with us into the next Presidential Administration.

 

 

Specifications

  • Lions Gate
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 9 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Jeffrey Wright
  • Directed by Oliver Stone
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: War Scenes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Josh Brolin does an incredible job portraying a president who just didn't seem very interested in what he was doing, and didn't realize the effects that such a catastrophic presidency could have on the nation.

Technical

The image is very sharp, and the DTS-HD Master Audio picks up Bush's crunching away at Fritos very clearly.

Extras

These include the Director's Commentary, Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Legacy, The Making of, Deleted Scenes, and No Stranger to Controversy.

 


"Changeling" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-changeling.jpgSynopsis

On March 10, 1928, Christine Collins (Jolie) left for work at her job as a supervisor at Pacific Telephone and Telegraph in Los Angeles.

When she came home, her son Walter was missing.

Five months later, the LA Police Department contacted her to say that Walter had been found in DeKalb, Illinois and was being brought home.

When reunited with the boy at the train station, she claimed that the boy was not her son Walter.

The Police Department, not wanting to be embarrassed, reassured her, but she was insistent.

A local pastor, Rev. Gustav Briegleb (Malkovich) who is a crusader against the corruption in the LA PD, takes up her cause.

The police have Christine committed to an insane asylum, and she refuses to sign a form acknowledging the boy as her son in order to get released.

But Briegleb gets her out, and she gathers evidence from Walther's teacher and dentist that the boy indeed is not Walter. The boy is also three inches shorter than Walter was when he disappeared.

Finally, the boy's real mother is found, and there is a trial in which the police department is held accountable for their actions. Christine continues searching . . . .

 

 

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 22 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, Colm Feore, Gattlin Griffith
  • Directed by Clint Eastwood
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The movie is based on a true story, and you will be shocked at the way Christine is treated by the police and asylum, not to mention the corruption in the police department itself.

Technical

The image is quite sharp and there is moderate (meaning not enough) use of the surround channels.

Extras

These include The Making of, Picture-in-Picture, Los Angeles: Then and Now, The Common Thread: Angelina Jolie Becomes Christine Collins, and is BD-Live.

 


"Miracle at St. Anna" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-miracle-at-st-anna.jpgSynopsis

In 1983, in New York City, when a Post Office clerk named Hektor Negron (Alonso) shoots a man at his counter window point blank with a German Luger pistol and is arrested, a reporter, Tim Boyle (Gordon-Levitt), interviews him in jail about what happened. He recounts a story of WW-II in which he was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers (all African Americans) in Italy.

It was winter, 1944, and Hektor was a member of George Company, crossing a river in Tuscany, Italy. German fire was heavy, and Hektor was one of four who escaped into the hills where they met a small boy, Angelo (Sciabordi), who leads them into his local village.

The villagers aid the soldiers while Italian partisans and the Germans are fighting nearby. When the partisans find the Americans in their village, there is a great deal of tension and suspicion.

Finally, however, the Americans and Italian partisans work together to deal with the attacking German forces.

 

 

Specifications

  • Touchstone Pictures
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 40 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Pierfrancesco Favino, Matteo Sciabordi, John Turturro, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Directed by Spike Lee
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The story is as much about personal relationships and the prejudice against the black soldiers as it is about war. It's very well done, and a great war movie that hits home.

Technical

The image is a bit soft here and there. There is pretty good use of the surround channels.

Extras

Just a few extras here, including Deeds not Words (interviews with WW-II veterans), The Buffalo Soldier Experience (first hand accounts), and Deleted Scenes.

 


"Eagle Eye" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-eagle-eye.jpgSynopsis

Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf) withdraws some cash from an ATM and sees that his balance is more than $750,000. When he gets home, he finds his apartment filled with weapons. A phone call from a mysterious woman warns him that the FBI is about to arrest him, but it is too late, and he is picked up and taken into custody.

The mysterious woman helps him escape and meet with a single mother, Rachel Holloman (Monaghan). The mysterious woman turns out to be a supercomputer named Aria, which is planning for Jerry and Rachel to be a part of an assassination of the president because he made a mistake in ordering the killing of suspected terrorists who turned out to be innocent civilians.

Jerry discovers the true nature of the mission and does his best to get out of the situation, and in the process, there is plenty of action coming from all directions, including an explosive necklace that is set to go off when a trumpter playing the National Anthem at the President's address hits high F.

 

 

Specifications

  • Dreamworks Pictures
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 57 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Chiklis
  • Directed by D.J. Caruso
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The story could be summed up as implausible, with enough action to keep you paying attention anyway.

Technical

The image is sharp, and there is satisfactory surround envelopment.

Extras

These include Deleted Scenes, The Making of, Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?, On Location, Gag Reel, Shall We Play a Game, and Photo Gallery.

 


"Traitor" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-traitor.jpgSynopsis

Samir Horn (Cheadle) is a devout Muslim who was born in Sudan, moved to the USA, and had been trained in the US Special Forces as an explosives expert. He is now living in Afghanistan, and apparently has betrayed his home country (USA) by selling bomb-making materials to terrorists.

When there are bomb attacks in Spain and France, FBI Agents Roy Clayton (Pearce) and Max Archer (McDonough) begin to track Samir as he makes his way from country to country, trying desperately to find out what his next target is.

The head of a major terrorist group, Nathir (Rawi), tells Samir that they are to make a major strike in the heart of the US by putting bombs on 50 busses, all to explode at the same time.

Now, Samir, who believes that killing innocent civilians is against the teachings of the Koran, must face his duty to the terrorists, as well as to God.

 

 

Specifications

  • Starz/Anchor Bay
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 54 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels, Saïd Taghmaoui, Raad Rawi, Neal McDonough
  • Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This is one of the best in a trend of films about terrorism in the Middle East, and it has a surprise ending that is very satisfying.

Technical

The image is very sharp, and there is excellent use of the surround channels.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, The Stunts and Special Effects, An In-depth Look at Traitor's exotic locations, and a digital copy for uploading to your Video iPod.

 


"High School Musical 3: Senior Year" (Blu-ray); "High School Musical Remix" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-high-school-musical.jpgSynopsis

The series follows some kids at East High School and all the competition therein. In this case, the focus is on Troy Bolton (Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Hudgens) in their senior year, getting ready for college which will separate them.

Everyone decides to have a musical production as a final farewell, and both Troy and Gabriella want the leading roles. This causes a problem in the social order of the high school, because Troy is a member of the "Jocks" (The Wildcats), and Gabriella is one of the "Brainiacs".

So, everyone has to adjust in order to pull the whole thing off without friction. And, as if you didn't already know, "Friction" is a cornerstone of high school student interaction.

In Remix, there is a similar theme, except Troy has to balance his role as a player on the basketball team in a big game with the work that has to be put into the new musical production.

All, in all, though, the whole thing is one big party with lots of music and dance numbers, and is enjoyable only in a way that Disney can make it happen.

 

 

Specifications

  • Walt Disney
  • 2008, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 57 min, 1 Hr 52 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD; 5.1 DD
  • Starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel
  • Directed by Kenny Ortega
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

The original made for TV, High School Musical was shown on the Disney Channel in January, 2006, and turned out to have the highest ratings of any Disney Channel original movie up until that time. So, of course, sequels were made. They are now up to Part 3 and Remix. I suspect more are on the way.

Technical

The image is quite sharp, but not much use of the surround channels in Part 3, compared to Remix, which has much more of a surround sound envelopment.

Extras

There are plenty of extras here, especially in the three-disc version of Part 3, which also contains the SD DVD version of the movie. These include Cast Profiles, Cast Goodbyes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Sing-Along, The Making of, Close-up of Rehearsal, The Hollywood Premiere, Disney Channel Dance-Alongs, Sing Along with the Movie, and five music videos. Part 3 is BD-Live. These extras are as entertaining as the movies and are well worth checking out. Note that coincidentally, Walt Disney's "High School Musical On Ice" is currently on tour.

 


"Pride and Glory" (SD DVD)

movie-february-2009-pride-and-glory.jpgSynopsis

When four NYPD officers are killed in a drug raid, Detective Ray Tierney (Norton) is asked to lead an investigation.

Ray discovers that there has been a coverup, and that police officers have been brutalizing and murdering suspects, as well as stealing money from small businesses, and are accepting money from drug dealers.

The investigation leads to Ray's brother Francis (Emmerich) and brother-in-law Jimmy (Farrell).

Ray's father, Francis Sr. (Voight), who is the boss of all detectives in Manhattan, tries not only to find out what is really going on, but to save his family from self destruction.

 

 

Specifications

  • New Line Cinema
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 10 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 480i
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DD
  • Starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich, Jon Voight, Jennifer Ehle
  • Directed by Gavin O'Connor
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras: None
  • Violence: Graphic
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This is one of the best police dramas I have ever seen, and it is all held together by the superb actor Edward Norton.

Technical

For an SD DVD, the image is very good, and there is nice use of the surround channels.

Extras

There are no extras in the SD DVD version.

 


"The French Connection I & II" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-french-connection-1-2.jpgSynopsis

NYPD Detectives Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Scheider) are narcotics officers, and they are passionate about their jobs, going after suspects furiously.

In Part I, the narcotics squad gets word that a huge shipment of heroin is on its way to New York. They note that a local gangster, Sal Boca (Lo Bianco), is connected to a businessman, Joel Weinstein, and follow the lead to a French movie star, Henri Devereaux (de Pasquale), and French businessman, Alain Charnier (Rey).

They confiscate Devereaux' car that he had brought with him from France and find 120 pounds of heroin hidden inside.

So, they chase Charnier all over New York, with the finale in an abandoned warehouse. Charnier escapes.

In Part II, Doyle goes to Marseille, France, to capture Charnier and put him out of business, but the French Police, particularly Detective Barthélémy (Fresson) tells Doyle that he is an observer only, and not to carry a gun. Of course, Doyle is not about to go to the most dangerous parts of the city without a weapon.

Charnier's henchmen kidnap Doyle and addict him to heroin. They see that Doyle has not really learned anything about their operation, so they give him an overdose and dump him in front of the Police Station. The police save his life, and Doyle is back on the streets again, this time burning down the hotel where Charnier had held him captive.

The climax to the story is on board a yacht, as Charnier thinks he has once again escaped capture.

 

 

Specifications

  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • 1971,1975, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 44 min, 1 Hr 59 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 34.5 Mbps, 26 Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, Tony Lo Bianco, Bernard Fresson, Frédéric de Pasquale
  • Directed by William Friedkin, John Frankenheimer
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The first film was a surprise hit, and it has one of the best car chase scenes in film history (like Steve McQueen's chase in Bullitt). It won five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Part II is not quite as good as Part I, but it still is an incredible story.

Technical

Part I is extremely grainy, but is as sharp as a razor, while Part II has no visible grain but is not as sharp. I think they applied a low-pass filter on Part II. The sound in Part II doesn't have much of a soundstage.

Extras

These include Director's Introduction, Actors' Commentary, Hackman on Doyle, Scene of the Crime, Rogue Cop: The Noir Connection, The Music of Don Ellis, and The Poughkeepsie Shuffle.

 


"Ghost" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-ghost.jpgSynopsis

Sam Wheat (Swayze) and Molly Jensen (Moore) are deeply in love and thinking about getting married.

One evening on a dark street, they encounter a mugger. Sam fights with him and there is a gunshot. He chases after the mugger, but when he returns to Molly, she is kneeling over his body. Apparently, Sam is dead, and he is now a spirit.

Sam tries to communicate with her but cannot. He wanders into a spiritualist's shop, and discovers that the owner, Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg), can hear him but not see him.

He convinces her to help him communicate with Molly, but she doubts that Oda Mae is really talking to Sam.

In the meantime, Sam discovers where the murderer, Willy Lopez (Aviles), lives, and then finds that his colleague at work, Carl Bruner (Goldwyn), actually set up Sam's murder so he can get to some information in Sam's home that will help him launder 4 million dollars.

Carl becomes suspicious when Molly mentions Willy's name, after she spoke with Sam through Oda Mae. So, now she is in danger of being murdered as well. Sam and Oda Mae have to convince that Sam is really there and that she must run for her life.

 

 

Specifications

  • Paramount Pictures
  • 1990, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 6 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Rick Aviles
  • Directed by Jerry Zucker
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Another surprise hit, the film won two Academy Awards. The final sequence is guaranteed to bring tears to even the tough guys in the audience.

Technical

The image is not quite as sharp as it could be, but there is good use of the surrounds, and the music by Maurice Jarre is superb.

Extras

Not very many extras. They include Director Commentary, The Making of, Inside the Paranormal, Cinema's Great Romances, and a few other things.

 


"Hulk vs. Thor, Hulk vs. Wolverine" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-hullk-vs.thor.jpgSynopsis

In Hulk vs. Thor, we find ourselves in Asgard, the Realm of the Gods, where Loki wishes to destroy his brother Thor. Loki knows that only Hulk can match Thor's strength, so, with Odin, King of the Gods asleep, Loki uses Hulk to attack Thor, and there is a mighty battle.

In Hulk vs. Wolverine, Hulk has been tromping all over Canada, so Canada's Secret Department H uses one of their agents, Wolverine, to track Hulk down and do battle.

 

 

Specifications

  • Lions Gate
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 18 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring (Voices of) Mark Acheson, Michael Adamthwaite, Steve Blum, Jay Brazeau, Grey DeLisle
  • Directed by Frank Paur, Sam Liu
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 and the animation is pretty basic, so I think these were meant for broadcast on TV. I am not sure what audience this is intended for, as the violence is extreme.

Technical

The image is very sharp because the whole thing is computer generated and never went through a lens. Too bad the animation is not up to par.

Extras

These include Directors' Commentary, The Making of, Jack Kirby and Thor, Hulk vs. Wolverine at the 2008 Comic-Con, and some other things.

 


"Babylon A.D." (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-babylon-ad.jpgSynopsis

A mercenary soldier Toorop (Diesel) is contracted by a man named Gorsky (Depardieu) to transport a young woman, Aurora (Thierry) who lives in a convent in Serbia, to New York City to be reunited with her father.

Aurora is accompanied by Sister Rebeka (Yeoh) who is trained in the martial arts, which comes in handy when they wade their way through post apocalyptic Eastern Europe to Russia.

From there, they go by submarine to Alaska, through Canada, and then to New York City, all the while being attacked by forces who want to capture Aurora.

When they get to New York, Toorop discovers that Aurora is carrying a virus that turns ordinary humans into super beings who have knowledge of all things. Aurora is a target for capture because others want to clone her to make humans that can rule the world.

 

 

Specifications

  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • 2008, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 30 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Vin Diesel, Charlotte Rampling, Michelle Yeoh, Lambert Wilson, Gérard Depardieu, Mélanie Thierry
  • Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Extreme
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Most of the action seems to occur in places piled with junk and buildings that are falling apart.

Technical

The image is sharp, but not super sharp, and there is nice use of the surrounds.

Extras

These include Scene Evolution, Babylon Babies, Flight of the Hummers, Deleted Scene, Behind Enemy Lines, Babylon A.D. Commercials, and a digital copy for uploading to your iPod.

 


"Body of Lies" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-body-of-lies.jpgSynopsis

Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) is a CIA Agent working in the Middle East, trying to locate a terrorist mastermind, Al-Saleem (Abutbul) who is planning several attacks throughout Europe and the USA.

Ed Hoffman (Crowe) monitors Ferris' progress by telephone but also by small aircraft that hover over his location with high resolution lenses.

Although Ferris makes progress, they both find that being supervised from thousands of miles away does not work as well as they had hoped.

Ferris enlists the help of the Senior Officer, Hani (Strong), at the Jordanian General Intelligence Division in Amman.

Finally, Ferris closes in on Al-Saleem, only to be captured and is prepared to be beheaded.

 

 

Specifications

  • Scott Free/De Line Pictures
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 8 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Strong, Alon Abutbul
  • Directed by Ridley Scott
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Graphic
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

In spite of having great actors and a well established director, Body of Lies is just a routine CIA/Middle East espionage story with a predictable ending.

Technical

The image is not as sharp as I would like to see, but the surround sound is great.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Interactive Debriefing, Additional Scenes, and Deconstructing Body of Lies (on-set footage). The disc is also BD-Live.

 


"Street Fighter" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-street-fighter.jpgSynopsis

In Shadaloo City, Southeast Asia, General M. Bison (Julia) has taken over the country, and become a violent dictator who destorys anyone who gets in his way.

Col. William F. Guile (Van Damme) heads a team of U.N. Forces sent in to get rid of General Bison, but it is no easy task, as Bison has supernatural powers.

 

 

Specifications

  • Universal Pictures
  • 1994, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 42 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia, Kylie Minogue
  • Directed by Steven de Souza
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This is a very silly movie. I wasn't expecting much, and I got even less.

Technical

The image has a bit of visible edge enhancment, but perhaps is it just the aging film. Good surround envelopment though. About the only interesting part of the movie.

Extras

These include The Making of, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Storyboard Sequences, Cyberwalk, Director's Commentary, and Street Fighter Game Trailers.

 


"Raging Bull" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-raging-bull.jpgSynopsis

The story chronicles the career of Jake LaMotta in the 1940's as a world middleweight boxing champion.

He is prone to fits of violence, and his brother Joey (Pesci) tries to keep the lid on.

He marries Vickie Thailer (Moriarty), and she becomes the object of his occasional rages.

But most of his anger is expressed in the boxing ring, where he takes a huge amount of punishment, but the other guys look a lot worse.

 

Specifications

  • MGM
  • 1980, Black & White, Rated R, 2 Hr 9 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 28 Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto
  • Directed by Martin Scorsese
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and De Niro won for Best Actor.

Technical

The film is shot in black & white, and is razor sharp. The surrounds are not used very much though.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Before the Fight, Inside the Ring, Outside the Ring (Behind the Scenes), The Bronx Bull, De Niro vs. LaMotta, and LaMotta Defends Title.

 


"Zodiac" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-zodiac.jpgSynopsis

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, there was a series of murders in San Francisco that never were solved.

The perpetrator sent messages to the newspapers daring the police to try and catch him by solving coded messages. He signed the messages as Zodiac.

Since the murders are still unsolved, the movie cannot really focus on the killer. Instead, the story revolves around three characters, Detective David Toschi (Ruffalo), newspaper crime reporter Paul Avery (Downey), and, of all things, an editorial cartoonist, Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal).

 

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 2007, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 37 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Brian Cox, Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny
  • Directed by David Fincher
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

What is so maddening is that Zodiac was never caught, although the San Francisco Police certainly had a suspect that was never prosecuted.

Technical

The image is sharp, and there is modest use of the surround channels.

Extras

These include the Director's Commentary, Zodiac Deciphered, The Visual Effects of Zodiac, This is the Zodiac Speaking, and His Name is Arthur Allen.

 


"The Passion of the Christ" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-passion-christ.jpgSynopsis

The story of Jesus in the last 12 hours of his life is told from a point of view that does not hold back on exhibition of the suffering He was made to endure (how many movies about Jesus are rated R?)

 

Specifications

  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • 2004, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring James Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Christo Jivkov, Maia Morgenstern, Francesco De Vito
  • Directed by Mel Gibson
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

 

 

Commentary

The languages chosen for the film were Aramaic and Latin, for realism I suppose, but reading subtitles is certainly a distraction.

Technical

The image is very sharp and there is nice surround envelopment.

Extras

There are two versions of the movie, one with all the violence and a second with the explicit bloodiness edited out. There is also the Director's Commentary, The Making of, A Historical and Cultural Retrospective of the Crucifixion, Deleted Scenes, and other things.

 


"Friday the 13th - Uncut" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-friday-the-13th.jpgSynopsis

A counselor (Palmer) and group of students go to Camp Crystal Lake Lodge for some vacation time, but unfortunately, it turns out to be more than they bargained for.

One by one, the students are murdered in various and quite gruesome ways.

Jason Voorhees has begun his rampage that inspired 11 sequels.

 

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 1980, Color, Unrated, 1 Hr 35 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Starring Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Peter Brouwer, Ronn Carroll, Harry Crosby
  • Directed by Sean Cunningham
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

This was a low budget movie with unknown actors (an early Kevin Bacon) that turned out to be a big hit. The scene with the arrow through the throat is one that I have vivid memories about.

Technical

The image is OK for such an old movie, but it seems to have a bit of noticeable edge enhancement. The sound is basically jazzed up mono.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, New Tales from Friday the 13th, The Man Behind the Legacy, Friday the 13th Reunion, Lost Tales from Camp Blood, Friday the 13th Chronicles, Secrets Galore Behind the Gore, and the trailer.

 


"The Boondock Saintst" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-boondock-saints.jpgSynopsis

Two Irish brothers, Connor (Flanery) and Murphy McManus (Reedus), are vigilantes who are trying to rid the world of evil. And the word is termination. They decide that the Russian Mafia in Boston would make a good start.

FBI Agent Paul Smecker (Dafoe) knows what they are up to, but decides that maybe it's a good thing, and lets them proceed with their activities.

At one point, it looks like such a good idea, he considers joining them.

 

 

Specifications

  • Fox/MGM
  • 2000, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 50 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 38 Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus
  • Directed by Troy Duffy
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

A variation on Death Wish and its sequels, Boondock Saints is a routine, but enjoyably satisfying kick the bad guys' asses movie.

Technical

The image has noticeable edge enhancement, and this seems to be the norm for many old films. There is good surround sound envelopment though.

Extras

Extras are sparse, including Extended Director's Cut, Director's Commentary, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, and The Boondock Saints Script.

 


"Repo! The Genetic Opera" (Blu-ray)

movie-february-2009-repo.jpgSynopsis

At some time in the future, organ failures are the main disease that plagues mankind. But never fear, because GENECO will supply fresh healthy organs, of course at a steep price.

Unfortunately, it's a price that not everyone can keep up on their payments.

So, the Repo Man hunts them down and repossesses the transplanted organs.

And it's all done in operatic form with lots of singing, slippin' and slidin' in the blood.

 

 

Specifications

  • Lions Gate
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 38 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton
  • Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

This one reminds me of Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with its singing while cutting throats.

Technical

The image is not as sharp as it could be, but there is good surround sound.

Extras

These include Director's Commentary, Video Sing-alongs, and other things.