Media

Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2008

ARTICLE INDEX

"Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert" (3-D, Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-hannah-montana-3d.jpgSynopsis

Miley Cyrus performs as herself and also as Hannah Montana, in the same concert.

Guest stars include the Jonas Brothers.

What makes this disc special is that the concert is in High Definition 3-D, and all you need are the four pairs of red/blue 3-D glasses that are included with the disc.

 

 

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • 2008, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 22 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DD 5.1
  • Directed by Bruce Hendricks
  • Starring Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

3-D and Blu-ray are finally hitting the shelves. Although most of the 3-D movies that have been released in recent time use polarizing filters to give you a separate left and right image, this one uses the oldest method, which is a pair of glasses with one red lens and one blue. It works in color by having one eye see the full color image, and the other eye sees the stereo image in only one color. The 1950's movie Hondo used this technique, and I hope it gets released in Blu-ray, as it was one of John Wayne's best movies in my opinion. Another old film that used it was called Gorilla at Large, and I would prefer that Hollywood not waste any money releasing it in 3-D Blu-ray.

Technical

The 3-D effect is excellent, but you can opt to just watch it in 2-D if you like. Some people get a headache when watching 3-D movies. Live concerts sure sound great in 7.1 surround, especially when it is high rez DTS HD Master Audio.

Extras

These include Backstage Disney, additional songs, and other things.

 


 

"Nixon" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-nixon.jpgSynopsis

Richard Nixon was one of our most brilliant presidents, and perhaps, one of the most troubled.

This film by Oliver Stone, and which was nominated for four Academy Awards, chronicles Nixon's rise to power and fall from grace, ending in the only resignation from the presidency in US history.

It was known as the Watergate scandal, and it involved a lot of people.

But, as they say, the buck stops here, and that was Richard Nixon.

 

Specifications

  • Hollywood Pictures
  • 2002, Color, Rated R, 3 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM
  • Directed by Oliver Stone
  • Starring Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

Anthony Hopkins is brilliant as Nixon. He did not choose to have rubber prostheses to make him really look like the former president. The hair is slicked back, the shoulders hunched, and the mannerisms are chilling. Of course, Watergate was only the culmination of the story. The movie covers all the events from early childhood that brought Nixon to a climactic disaster that was one of the low points in political history.

Technical

The image is not as sharp as I expected, although the film source seems pristine. Much of it is in shadows, just like the people who were hiding there. The sound is recorded way, way too low. I had to turn it up 20 dB past my usual setting.

Extras

Extras are on a separate disc, and include a documentary on Beyond Nixon, deleted scenes, interviews, and other things.

 


 

"Camp Rock" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-camp-rock.jpgSynopsis

Mitchie (Lovato) wants more than anything to attend Camp Rock during the summer vacation, but her family can't afford it.

Then, the opportunity arises when her father's catering business is hired to prepare meals at Camp Rock, so off she goes.

Between lots of music and making new friends, all of whom have perfect teeth, this Disney Channel original movie will have your household teens finding out what a feel good movie does to their spirits.

 

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • 2002, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 38 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM, DD 5.1
  • Directed by Matthew Diamond
  • Starring Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Meaghan Jette Martin
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

Among all the current movies filled with graphic violence, foul language, and explicit sex, Walt Disney still sets the standards for movies that will keep you from calling the suicide prevention clinics.

Technical

I am sure that Disney had a big budget for all the brightly lit scenes. Reminds me of the CinemaScope days when there was no such thing as shadows. Everyone has on their colorful back-to-school clothes too.

Extras

The extras are centered mostly on more music, such as "Start the Party" and "We Rock" music videos.

 


 

"Only the Valiant" (SD DVD)

movie-august-2008-only-the-valiant.jpgSynopsis

Captain Richard Lance (Peck) captures Tucsos, an Apache Indian chief, and expects to take him to another fort, but his subordinant, Lt. Bill Holloway (Young) is assigned instead.

The Apaches make short work of the detail and send Lt. Holloway's body back to the fort, having been brutally tortured.

Captain Lance then takes a detail to Fort Invincible, which stands at the front of a pass, behind which, Tucsos and his followers will be coming.

Lance must hold the fort until a relief column of 400 men arrives.

 

 

Specifications

  • Republic Pictures
  • 1951, Black & White, Not Rated, 1 Hr 45 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • 480i
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English DD 2.0
  • Directed by Gordon Douglas
  • Starring Gregory Peck, Ward Bond, Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney, Gig Young
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is one of those movies that I remember vividly as a child (I was about 7 years old when I saw it on TV), and the reason is Lon Chaney. There is a scene in which Chaney's character, Trooper Keybussyan, is in a fight to the death with Tucsos' band of Indians at the pass.

Technical

For a movie that is more than half a century old, this one is in pretty good shape. The sound is mono.

Extras

No extras.

 


 

"The Forbidden Kingdom" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-forbidden-kingdom.jpgSynopsis

A young boy, Jason (Angarano), is transported back to ancient China in order to return a magic staff to its rightful owner, the Monkey King.

When the staff is returned, the Monkey King will face an evil warlord who has wrongfully banished the Jade King, and restore him to his rightful throne.

 

 

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 44 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1280p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio
  • Directed by Rob Minkoff
  • Starring Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michael Angarano
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is apparently the first time that both Jackie Chan and Jet Li are in the same movie.  Obviously, there are martial arts scenes from one end of the story to the other.

Technical

They must have had a huge budget to digitally erase the wires that helped everyone fly around the room during the battles.

Extras

Lots of extras on this one, including The Kung Fu Dream Team, Monkey King and the Eight Immortals, Discovering China, and a digital copy on a second disc for you to upload to your video iPod.

 


 

"Rolling Stones: Shine a Light" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-shine-a-light.jpgSynopsis

This is a behind the scenes chronicle of how the Rolling Stones concerts are set up and executed.

Martin Scorsese shoots the entire thing on video, from notes that list the music to be played, to setting up the stage and lighting, to rehearsal, and then to the concerts themselves.

 

 

Specifications

  • Paramount Classics
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 1 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1280p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, DTS HD Master Audio
  • Directed by Martin Scorsese
  • Starring Mick Hagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This reminds me of a recent Blu-ray documentary about Celine Dion, except the Rolling Stones have been doing concerts for decades, and it just seems so much more casual. But, the music is just as good as it has been all these years, and the concert goers are still just as enthusiastic.

Technical

It's all shot in video, and much of it has been converted to black & white with lots of video noise, I suppose, just for the effect.

Extras

There are some extra performances by the Stones not seen in the theatrical release and a behind the scenes featurette.

 


 

"Transformers" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-transformers.jpgSynopsis

An ancient interstellar war between robots (Autobots and Decepticons) has led them to planet earth as a site to continue the battle, and to take over the human race.

After encountering the alien bots in Qatar (Middle East), the US Secretary of Defense (Voight) recruits young, energetic, bright computer geeks to find out who or what is driving the invasion, and to figure out how to stop them.

 

 

Specifications

  • Paramount
  • 2007, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 23 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1280p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
  • Directed by Michael Bay
  • Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, John Voight
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I just want to know why they picked a Camaro as the car with special talents.

Technical

The robot animation is superb, but does not stand out among similar films to make it worth renting just because of that.

Extras

This is a two-disc version, with plenty of extras on the second disc, such as Human Allies, Our World, and The Story Sparks. Disc 1 has the directory commentary.

 


 

"Smart People" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-smart-people.jpgSynopsis

Dr. Thomas Wetherhold (Quaid), Professor of English at a local university, injures himself when trying to keep his car from being impounded, and while in the hospital, he encounters Janet Hartigan, who was one of his students in an English class, and now is a physician at the hospital. He does not remember her very well, and being romatically interested in him, she proceeds to bring him back up to speed.

Meanwhile, Tom's daughter Vanessa (Page) is trying to prepare for her SAT (tests for entrance to college), and feels inconvenienced by a father who needs some help.

And if that is not enough, Tom's brother Chuck (Church), not having any money or place to live, moves in with Tom and Vanessa, complicating things to a rather large degree.

And so, we have one more film in the category "Romantic Comedy".

 

 

Specifications

  • Miramax
  • 2008, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 35 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1280p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 5.1 Uncompressed
  • Directed by Noam Murro
  • Starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Hayden Church, Ellen Page
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Bad

Commentary

I guess these kinds of lives are why the word "dysfunctional" is part of our lexicon. Ellen Page was more interesting as Juno.

Technical

No complaints here. It would have been more or less the same entertainment with or without the high definition image and sound.

Extras

These include deleted scenes, bloopers, and other things. I think someone should make a movie that only uses the bloopers for every scene.

 


 

"Meet the Browns" (Blu-ray)

movie-august-2008-meet-the-browns.jpgSynopsis

Brenda Brown (Bassett) receives a letter informing her of her father's death. In spite of the fact that she never really knew him and does not feel grief from his passing, she is compelled to go to Georgia to attend the funeral.

So, off she goes, along with her three children to visit her father's family.

Unfortunately, her dad's clan don't even know who she is, and apparently, they are suprised that he had a daughter that they were unaware of.

And of course, what begins as an embarrassing situation evolves into relationships that she wished she had never been without.

 

Specifications

  • Lionsgate
  • 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 41 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1280p
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio
  • Directed by Tyler Perry
  • Starring Angela Bassett, Rick Fox, Margaret Avery, Frankie Faison
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I keep thinking Hollywood must be out of romantic comedy storylines, and they keep coming up with new ones. Or at least, new takes on plots that have been around forever.

Technical

Even though the movie does not "exploit" its high definition image quality and HD surround sound, I am getting quite used to being able to see all the detail, regardless of the story, and to hear it all, without compression distortion.

Extras

These include Mr. Brown's Fashion Breakdown, Meet the Lovebirds, and other things.