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Number 118 - January, 2005

Staff

 


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Spider Man 2 Top Gun; Collector's Edition
i, ROBOT King Arthur
Troy

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Columbia Tristar

2004, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 7 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Sam Raimi


Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Wilem Dafoe

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

No

"Spider-Man 2"

Synopsis

Peter Parker (Maguire), a.k.a., Spider-Man, works as a free lance photographer for the city newspaper, and is assigned to photograph Dr. Otto Octavius' (Molina) demonstration of his new scientific breakthrough that will supply cheap energy to the world.

The demonstration goes awry, and Dr. Octavius is transformed into a human monster with mechanical arms. Under his new name, Doc Ock, he must find a new supply of energy, called tritium, to keep the mechanical structure running.

Harry Osborn (Franco) meets Doc Ock and tells him that if he will capture Spidey and deliver him, he will get the tritium that Ock needs. You might remember that Spidey was responsible for the death of Harry's father, Norman Osborn, a.k.a., The Green Goblin.

In the meantime, Peter's true love, Mary Jane Watson (Dunst) is tired of waiting for Peter to express his feelings, and plans to marry someone else.

Spidey is so depressed, he loses his powers, but hopes that he can now spend time pursuing Mary Jane before she is lost forever to another man.

When Ock kidnaps Mary Jane, Peter regains his alter ego and rushes to her rescue.

Commentary

Although I am not a big fan of this series, I do think that the sequel is better than the first film. The CG is done in such a way that it is obviously not a real person swinging between the high rise buildings, but I think it was done on purpose to emphasize this is a comic book character.

Extras

These include The Making Of, Cast Commentary, Technical Commentary, Enter the Web, Spider-Sense, Gallery, Trailers, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Paramount

1986, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 49 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 6.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

 

Directed by Tony Scott


Starring Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

Suggestive

Language

S Word

"Top Gun ; Collector's Edition"

Synopsis

Maverick (Cruise) is a hotshot Navy flyer who is sent to the Navy's prestigious Top Gun program.  But to become "The Best of the Best", he'll first have to overcome his wild streak and learn to be a team player.

Commentary

From the archives, just in time for Christmas, Paramount dusts off this title and reissues it with a fist full of extras.

Truth be told, I never thought this was a particularly good movie.  By the producers, director, and actors' own admission, it,s just a rock video with a remarkably thin script.  Though enlistment went up dramatically following its release, the majority of that surge ended up not wanting to be there once they discovered it's not at all the glamorous life depicted in the film.

Yet it ran seemingly forever in theaters and is regarded globally as a huge financial success, paving the way and setting the formula for what producer Jerry Bruckheimer is now famous for:  Entertaining movies which are (usually) not "good" movies.  They now teach in film school that exact distinction.

Extras

The first item on disk 1 is a commentary track by Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott.  Also included are music videos for several of the movie's pop songs, and TV spot trailers.

On disk 2, and the main feature of this new release, is a 6 part Making-of documentary.  It's actually quite interesting because it reveals just how far removed from good movie making they actually were.  For example, Tony Scott talks about the Volley Ball scene as being thrown in purely for its value as "soft male porn". 

In what is called the "Vintage Gallery", there is an original Behind-the-Scenes featurette, a Survival Training featurette, Tom Cruise Interviews, and Production Photography.

Technical

There is no indication that this is a fresh video transfer, and indeed the image is reminiscent of the first DVD.  It is reasonably detailed but is most of the time marred by video noise.  There is some halo/ringing which is tight but quite pronounced.  On the whole, not reference material.

Theatrically Top Gun had a limited 70mm blow up release, complete with 6 track magnetic sound.  It is uncertain whether the 5.1 mix we have today is a direct descendant of that mix, but it is exemplary none the less.  I recall before DVD how the laserdisc was always used as a demo, at least the opening title sequences with its throbbing rock music and screeching F-14 launches.  This mix shows the occasional hard pan in the surrounds and carries on the boisterous nature of the film.  The 6.1 DTS encoding of the soundtrack is new on this release, but other than a 4 dB level advantage (when played on non-THX surround sound processors), it is subjectively identical to the Dolby Digital encoding.

 - Brian Florian -

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Twentieth Century Fox

2004, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 54 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Directed by Alex Proyas


Starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Mild

Sex

No

Language

S Word

"i, ROBOT"

Synopsis

It is the year 2035, and Del Spooner (Smith) is a Police Detective in Chicago. Robots, built by U.S. Robotics (USR), number in the millions. They do all the basic chores in life, along with some others that have resulted in lost jobs for humans. So, Spooner doesn't like them.

When one of USR's principle scientists, Dr. Alfred Lanning (Cromwell), is found dead, apparently from a suicide, Spooner is called in to investigate.

Dr. Susan Calvin (Moynahan) escorts Spooner throughout the factory, and when he indicates he thinks that a robot may have been involved, she reminds him of the Three Laws of Robotics, which stipulate that no robot can harm a human.

Nevertheless, Spooner persists, and the President of USR, Lawrence Robertson (Greenwood), shows suspicious behavior, which makes Spooner even more determined to get to the bottom of Dr. Lanning's death.

Soon, Dr. Calvin realizes that Spooner is right, and at least one of the robots is not paying much attention to the three laws, so she helps him find which one is the renegade.

Commentary

It is always dangerous to have the principle actor serving as a producer on a film, as the results are usually mediocre, and that is the case here. In spite of being based on a brilliant short story of the same title, by Isaac Asimov, the movie just never seems to catch fire. The CG is excellent, but the translation from book to screen is just short of a yawner. The Making of featurette is actually more entertaining than the movie.

George Orwell wrote his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, and this was his statement about what he thought could happen to us in the future. Big Brother watching us and all that. Well, it did not happen. Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, written in 1968, did not come true in 2001 either.

Asimov's story comes from his 1950 collection of short stories about robots. It is placed almost 100 years beyond the time it was written. 2035 is now only 30 years away, and as far as having robots do the kinds of things they do in this movie, 30 years from now, well, let's put it this way. This year, there was a race held in the Western US, where contestants built cars that were robot controlled. The idea was to see how far the robot controlled cars could drive by themselves along the roads without crashing. The course was 150 miles long, and the prize was in the millions. The winning car made it for 7 miles. The rest crashed before that.

We humans way overestimate our ability to understand the universe and what we are capable of achieving in short time frames. There was no Big Brother in 1984, no insane HAL 9000 in 2001, and there will be no renegade robots in 2035.

Extras

These include The Making Of and Director Commentary.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Touchstone Pictures

2004, Color, Unrated, 2 Hr 19 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French

 

Directed by Antoine Fuqua


Starring Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Loan Gruffudd, Stellan Skarsgard

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Extreme

Sex

No

Language

No

"King Arthur"

Synopsis

This is yet another tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, only this time, it is supposedly not romanticized. Unfortunately, it did poorly at the box office, so I guess they had better go back to making the romanticized versions.

Although the classic tale is set in the 15th century, apparently the real person, if there was one, lived in the 3rd century. The story is centered around Arthur (Owen) before he is made King of Britain. He and his knights, including Lancelot (Gruffudd) are soldiers of the Pope, fighting for Christianity.

One of the Pope's Bishops comes to Arthur and says that the church is leaving Britain due to the Saxons who are invading from the north. Before he releases Arthur from his duties, he wants him to rescue a young man whom the Pope plans to make a church official, before the Saxons overrun the countryside.

At the castle where the young man lives, Arthur finds prisoners held on charges of being pagans, and releases them while at the same time rescuing the young man. Guinivere (Knightley) is among the prisoners, and she joins Arthur as he prepares to face the invading Saxons.

Commentary

The movie failed at the box office for several reasons. One is the pervasive gloom of the countryside. There is constant rain, mud, and darkness, which makes the whole thing very depressing. The sun never seems to come out. The second reason is that the characters are just not well developed. It assumes you know who Arthur and Guinevere are from your own history books. As a result, the film characters don't seem to have a soul of their own.

Extras

These include Alternate Ending, Forging King Arthur, Director Commentary, Photo Gallery, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Warner Brothers

2004, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 42 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen


Starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Peter O'Toole

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Graphic

Sex

Nudity

Language

No

"Troy"

Synopsis

Based on Homer's The Iliad, this is the story of how Paris (Bloom), a Prince of Troy, steals Helen (Kruger), wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, and takes her home to Troy.

Menelaus and King Agamemnon (Cox), his brother, decide to go to war against Troy, with Achilles (Pitt) heading the army of 1000 ships.

The Greek army attacks Troy, but fails to breach the walls of the city.

After fighting Prince Hector (Bana), and gaining entrance to the city using the famed Trojan Horse, Achilles faces Paris in his final battle.

In order to understand what happens between Paris and Achilles, you need to know that Achilles' mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx as a baby, which would immunize his body against being mortally wounded. The only part of him that did not get dipped in the river was his ankle, where she held him. So, when you see how Achilles reacts when shot in the ankle, you will know why.

Commentary

Although, like King Arthur, reviewed above, Troy did less than expected at the box office, Troy is quite a good film. It is a very long story - almost 3 hours worth - but very entertaining. It has cameo appearances by Peter O'Toole as King Priam of Troy, and Julie Christie as Thetis, Achilles' mother.

Extras

These are contained on a separate disc, and include In the Thick of the Battle, From Ruins to Reality, An Effects Odyssey, Gallery of the Gods, and Theatrical Trailer.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

 


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