DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 5/8/2012

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The Vow touches upon the possibility that Paige (Rachel McAdams) might be annoyed with life she’s forgotten.  After all, before she met Leo (Channing Tatum), she was a law student with a fiancé and a promising life ahead of her.  Then she decided she’d had enough (The reason is eventually explained) and started a less lucrative career as an artist and married Leo.  Now, she’s forgotten everything after a car accident and thinks her life the way it was pre-Leo.  The movie is circular in nature, since Paige must obviously return to were she was at the start.  By the time the only section of the story with dramatic potential arrives, it’s already over.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray. Continue reading

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 5/1/2012

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Haywire announces the arrival of a bona fide action star in Gina Carano.  She plays Mallory, a former Marine who is on the run from a mysterious agency.  That’s all that is necessary for the plot and her character–an enigma whose work is, after all, her life.  The story takes place primarily in flashback, revealing how and why (The “why” is far less important) she is running in the first place.  It’s little more than excuse for Mallory to beat various men to a pulp, and, in that respect, the film works quite well.  The actors brawl and bash each other with aplomb.  Carano is the star, but director Steven Soderbergh fills in the rest of the cast with fine supporting work from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, and even Channing Tatum.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray. Continue reading

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 4/24/2012

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Contraband spends a lot of time with its characters in the opening act.  They aren’t dumb, and they aren’t part of a brainless movie, either.  Mark Wahlberg heads the cast as Chris Farraday, a former smuggler who’s gone legitimate after starting a family.  A family affair brings him back into the criminal world.  The cast is solid, playing characters who seem to be one way only to turn out to be the exact opposite.  Giovanni Ribisi plays the villain, who’s actually a single father.  Ben Foster plays Chris’ best friend who seems a bit too interested in how his buddy’s plan is unfolding.  We really appreciate the time with these characters, and the movie doesn’t do anything wrong, really.  It’s simply that what it does isn’t all that involving.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray. Continue reading

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 4/17/2012

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The old adage goes that a good movie is “three great scenes and no bad ones.”  There are at least three great action setpieces in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol–astonishing, humorous, and always inventive.  The story once again follows IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team of fellow agents (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg) as they movie from thrill ride A to thrill ride B to stop an insane man (Michael Nyqvist) from starting a global nuclear war.  The stuff in between the action is serviceable, but the film really comes to life when Ethan and company (but mostly Ethan) find themselves in precarious situations, like when Ethan must scale the tallest skyscraper in the world using only some electronically adhesive gloves.  After a productive career in animation, director Brad Bird makes his live-action debut with immediate and kinetic simplicity.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray. Continue reading

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 4/10/2012

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Meryl Streep won an Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher, the first and only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in The Iron Lady.  It’s a movie that must revolve around her performance, which is a fine impersonation but not much more (The makeup does most of the work), because the narrative itself is a messy collection of flashbacks–contrived prop setups bring us into them–that don’t reveal any significant information about Thatcher.  It’s meant to be tragedy, and it is tragic but for reasons that have nothing to do with the story at hand.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 4/3/2012

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Do not expect subtlety from War Horse.  This is a film that begins with sweeping shots of the English highlands and ends with a sunset that washes the screen in amber.  Call me sentimental, but I was genuinely moved by this tale of a horse that becomes involved in the Great War and encounters the best of humanity and the worst, which always tries to destroy the former.  Once again, director Steven Spielberg achieves an intimate portrait of individual characters within a grand vision.  He genuinely believes that a horse can symbolize an angel of our better natures, and the film is all the better for that dedication to the ideal.  One of the 10 best films of 2011.  My review is here.  Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 2-Blu-ray Combo. Continue reading

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DVD/Blu-ray Releases — 3/27/2012

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It’s too easy to get caught up in the dialogue of A Dangerous Method and ignore the actions that accompany it.  I did in my first viewing of director David Cronenberg’s historical speculation about the relationship between two brilliant men at the forefront of their field.  Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) reveal everything about themselves over the course of the film, and they do so in that convenient trick afforded them by their profession: They speak in generalities and hypotheses.  Cronenberg and the cast find the right note of detachment while hinting at the tension coming to a slow boil beneath.  My review is here.  Available on DVD and Blu-ray. Continue reading

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