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Number 137 - August, 2006

Staff

 


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The Chronicles of Riddick (HD DVD) Inside Man
The Matador The Hard Corps
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada  
   
   

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Universal Pictures

2004, Color, Not Rated, 2 Hr 15 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

English DTS 5.1

 

Directed by David Twohy


Starring Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Colm Feore, Judi Dench

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"The Chronicles of Riddick" (HD DVD)

Synopsis

The Chronicles of Riddick is the follow-up to the sleeper hit Pitch Black that had found a bit of a cult following after its release on DVD. It also introduced the world to the anti-hero Riddick, played by Vin Diesel. Riddick is a hardened criminal who has spent most of his life in remote prisons on several different planets. This film is set a few years after the end of Pitch Black and finds Riddick on a remote planet being hunted by mercenaries working a bounty from one of the people Riddick saved in the first film.

Riddick finds his way to the contractor and discovers a world that is on the brink of invasion from a race of warriors known as "Necromongers". This race takes over planets and recruits new soldiers as they conquer then destroy the planet as they leave. This race is making its way across the universe to a place called "Underverse" where their Lord Marshall came from.

Commentary

The Chronicles of Riddick is a very solid sci-fi action film with good effects work, great locales, and plenty of action. Twohy has penned other underappreciated gems like Below and Pitch Black, and this film sets up yet another story at the end. Anyone who is into science fiction should not miss this one. I have my fingers crossed that Twohy will be able to bring this character back again in more films!!

The original DVD release of this movie is still regarded as one of the best looking DVDs out there. Image detail, contrast, depth, and compression were incredible and looked like HD more than SD, so needless to say I was REALLY excited when I found out Universal was releasing this on HD DVD early on.

The HD DVD takes the image to the next level and offers incredible small object detail, black detail, and depth. There wasn't a lot of room to improve upon with the original release, but the fine detail of this transfer just makes the image look incredible. There is also a complete lack of compression artifacts and haloing, giving the image a stable and crisp look that is almost unrivaled. Pure reference material here.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (DD+5.1) and is also great demo material. The soundtrack combines incredible dynamics with an enveloping surround soundstage. Dialogue sounds very clear with no harshness at all. The battle sequences are a real treat, with extremely low and clean bass and plenty of discrete surround effects that draw you in.

Extras

Extras on this release are identical to the previously released Director's Cut DVD with no new HD material. This includes some behind the scenes features as well as an opening introduction by the director.

 - Kris Deering -

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Universal Studios

2006, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 9 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Spike Lee


Starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Plummer

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Apparently

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"Inside Man"

Synopsis

A bank in New York City is being robbed, and there are hostages. Detective Keith Frazier (Washington) is a negotiator, and is assigned to get the hostages out with no casualties.

In dealing with the leader of the gang in the bank, Dalton Russell (Owen), Frazier gets suspicious that something unusual is going down, and it is not just a bank robbery.

He becomes even more suspicious when a young woman, Madeline White (Foster), asks to talk to Russell.

It seems the head of the bank, Arthur Case (Plummer) has something to hide, and the bank robbers know what it is. And . . . it's in the bank.

When everyone comes out of the bank with their hands up, and all are dressed the same, Frazier is faced with finding out not only what the dark secret is, but which of the group were the perpetrators in the first place.

Commentary

Maybe not all of Denzel Washington's movies are terrific, but I have never seen one that wasn't worth the rent at Blockbuster, and this is no exception. He is a fine actor, the story is very unusual, and Spike Lee delivers as he always does (apparently Ron Howard was set to direct it, but decided to do Cinderella Man instead).

It is nice to see a movie with so many big stars in it. Reminds me of the good old days in the 1950s.

Extras

These include Making Of, Deleted Scenes, Director's Commentary, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Weinstein Company

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 37 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Richard Shepard


Starring Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Explicit

Language

Bad

"The Matador"

Synopsis

Julian Noble (Brosnan) is a hit man.

Unfortunately, he has anxiety disorder, and fails to execute his target in Mexico City.

His boss, Mr. Randy (Hall), realizes that Julian has now become a liability, and decides that Julian will be the next target.

In a bar, Julian meets Danny Wright (Kinnear), who is in Mexico as a salesman. They strike up a conversation, but Danny decides that Julian is just a bit weird - besides being a murderer - and makes his exit.

Six months later, Julian shows up at Danny's home back in the USA, and asks Danny to help him do one last hit. He says he can't do it alone because he is so anxious.

So, together, Julian and Danny go to a ball game to make the hit, and guess who is the target?

Commentary

Critics have said this is Brosnan's best work, but I think it is only because it's so shocking to see him having explicit sex and using such profane language.

It's not his best work, but it is a funny movie, if the topic of assassination can be in the comedy category.

Extras

These include Making Of, Deleted Scenes, Director's Commentary, and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2005, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 50 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Sheldon Lettich


Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vivica A. Fox, Raz Adoti, Viv Leacock, Peter Bryant

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

Mild

Language

Bad

"The Hard Corps"

Synopsis

Philip Sauvage (Van Damme) was a Desert Storm soldier and is now in a hospital, trying to recover psychologically.

Another former soldier asks Sauvage to join him in forming a team of bodyguards who will be protecting the Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Wayne Barclay (Adoti) from a thug, Terrell Singletery (Leacock), whom Barclay testified against, resulting in Singletery going to prison, and who has just been released.

At first, Barclay's sister Tamara (Fox) does not like Philip, thinking him a bit strange. But, when Singletery's henchmen attack Wayne at a dance club, and Sauvage saves Wayne's life, Tamara decides that Philip is just the man to cornerstone the entire team.

When Singletery discovers that getting to Wayne will not be easy, he kidnaps Tamara and demands that Wayne come to his house for peace negotiations.

Of course, Philip is not fooled by this, and makes sure the meeting is a trap, not for Wayne, but for Singletery instead.

Commentary

Like most Van Damme movies these days, this one was direct to DVD, but it is one of his best action films.

What makes Van Damme's characters much more appealing than Steven Segal's (another action film selection that is usually direct-to-DVD at this point) is that Van Damme characters have weaknesses, such as the damaged psyche in this one. So, when Van Damme comes back from his suffering to win, it is always satisfying.

Extras

There are none.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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Sony Pictures

2005, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 1 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (16x9 enh)

English Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Directed by Tommy Lee Jones


Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, Julio Cedillo, January Jones

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Bad

"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada"

Synopsis

Peter Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones), a Texas cowboy, has a friend named Melquiades Estrada (Cedillo), who works with him on the ranch. Melquiades tells Pete one day that if he dies, please take him back to Mexico to be buried. Pete brushes off the conversation, saying he isn't going to die.

Well, of course, we all have to die someday, and Melquiades' day comes when a new USA/Mexico Border Patrol officer named Mike Norton (Pepper) accidentally shoots him while searching for illegal immigrants crossing the border. Mike buries Melquiades (the first burial).

Pete finds out that Mike did the deed and makes him dig up the body, only to rebury him on the ranch (the second burial).

Then, Pete decides to honor Melquiades' request, and has Mike dig the body up again so they can take it back to his home town in Mexico for final burial (the third burial).

Along the way, of course, Mike continually tries to get away, but in the extreme heat and dryness, he finally resigns himself to his fate.

You can imagine the state of deterioration of the body as they march the horses through Mexico.

Commentary

This was Tommy Lee Jones' theatrical film direction debut (he directed a made-for-TV movie back in the 1990s), and it is quite entertaining.

For those of you who have never been to Texas, it is just like it's portrayed in the movie. Whether or not you like that sort of scenery and climate is another matter. And, oh . . . the Mexican food is something else. Lots of red gravy and not too much cheese.

Extras

These include a Director's Commentary and other things.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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