Category Archives: Apr. 2012

Titanic: DVD Review

Titanic miniseries is in stores on April 23rd. Courtesy of eOne Media

In 1997, James Cameron delivered the story of Titanic centred around a love story which turned into a worldwide phenomenon grossing $1.87 billion. Just the thought of making a miniseries about the tragic event must have been daunting, but director Jon Jones and writer Julian Fellows proved up to the task.

Rather than simply following one story, this miniseries follows a variety of people on the ship’s brief endeavour across the Atlantic Ocean. From a builder, to the maids and crew, all the way up to the upper-class, Titanic gives us perspective on the lives aboard the majestic ship.

Each of the four 40-minute installments gives insight into different stories, changing the focus with each episode. This works in some ways, but fails in others. The story seems to accelerate through the events in the first episode leaving you puzzled as to what will take place in the remaining episodes. This confusion momentarily takes you out of the drama; that is until the second episode begins and you realize what the rhythm and structure of the series is supposed to be.

The acting from the vast cast is top-notch, as are the stories and dialogue. Stand out performances among them are Peter McDonald, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Toby Jones, and Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Regardless of this folly, the production value is pretty high for this miniseries and it is transferred very nicely to DVD. The visuals and audio are of higher quality than your average television show – Almost reaching cinematic levels.

Special features have been handed out in spades on this DVD release. They include, Making-of Featurettes, Titanic: Behind-the-Production, The Curse of the Titanic Sisters Documentary, Photo Gallery, Time lapse Set Build, Character Profiles, and a Trailer.

Bottom Line: This is a must see for those interested in something beyond the Jack and Rose love story. You’ll be taken back and thrown into the lives of the tragically lost as well as the sorrowful survivors.

Runtime: 187 minutes plus bonus materials
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Antarctica – The Human Edeavour: DVD Review

Antarctica – The Human Edeavour is available on April 23rd. Courtesy of eOne Media

Global Warming – Is it a threat to life on Earth, or something that is simply being blown way out of proportion. Canadian Jean Lemire and his crew venture aboard the SEDNA IV to the Antarctic for 430 days to confront what Global Warning is doing to the ecosystem.

This is a fairly interesting documentary; however, the science seems to take a back seat in an attempt to tug at heart strings by adding unnecessary back story of a lacklustre crew. If this is what you’re looking for, you’ll get exactly what you need from this home release.

For French speaking persons, this can be an enjoyable documentary to follow and learn from. However, English speaking viewers will most likely find the experience less than captivating and, for the most part, frustrating. Performers were brought in to dub the entire documentary in English, and failed to capture the crew’s tone and emotions. Instead, every line of dubbing is delivered with an obvious over-dramatized read that completely removes you from the otherwise riveting experience.

The film would have been greatly enhanced with the use of English subtitles instead of the “B” acting voice-overs.

The DVD release features the 13 episodes in both French and English languages with no extra features to speak of. To be fair, each episode seems to give you enough behind the scenes footage to negate the need for anything extra.

Bottom Line: A little less personal story and a lot more science would have made this documentary a winner.

Runtime: 308 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns DVD + Digital Copy Review

Jake and his pals help Peter Pan in a full length adventure. Courtesy of Disney Jr.

Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie created the iconic character of Peter Pan back in 1902. Over the years Pan has appeared in many films, television shows, plays and story books. His latest appearance is in Disney Jr.’s one hour special Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns, a television show aimed at 2-5 year old children.

In this special, Jake and his three pirate companions help Peter Pan retrieve his mischievous shadow from the dastardly Captain Hook and his swash-buckling crew.

This musical series features some eye-catching animation mixing hand-drawn with 3D digital renderings. The adventures in which the characters take part are interactive, asking toddlers to participate without talking down to them like other shows which shall remain respectfully unnamed (Dora the Explorer).

In this special home release, there are a lot of goodies for your little ones to dive into. In addition to the Peter Pan Returns special, five additional episodes of the show are also included along with a music video at the end of each segment. There are also two special features, including Yo Ho, You Ready To Find Peter’s Shadow?, an extra adventure for kids to follow along and interact with, and Pirate Party With Pirate-oke, which allows viewers to watch the music videos in a karaoke style.

As an additional bonus, an inflatable pirate sword just like Jake’s is included to help your child make-believe with his pirate friends.

This is a jam packed DVD + Digital Copy release that fans of the show will be able to enjoy time and time again.

Bottom Line: Pick up a copy for your young, heroic pirate-to-be today and revel in their jolly good times.

Runtime: Approx. 169 minute
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

The Darkest Hour: Acting couldn’t save it

This sci-fi thriller is available on DVD April 3rd. Courtesy of eOne Films

Alien invasion movies are a dime a dozen, with most of them landing at the bottom of the trash pile. Even with an estimated budget of $30 million, The Darkest Hour gives off a strong smell of a “B” movie.

In this sci-fi action a strange race of aliens with electrical energy force-fields have destroyed most of the world’s population leaving a few survivors struggling to defeat them.

With a weak script and retro-worthy special effects (the aliens), there is no reason to expect very much from this movie. Not all is lost however.

What keeps this movie from being a total disaster are a couple of good performances from Emile Hirsch (Milk, Into the Wild) and Olivia Thirlby (Being Flynn, No Strings Attached). Both actors managed to keep every line of their dialogue convincing.

What is troubling about the script is that writer Jon Sphlaints has also worked on Prometheus, one of the highly anticipated films of 2012. We can only hope he shows more talent there than he did in The Darkest Hour.

For the DVD home release, there is a good set of special features for fans to enjoy. A short film Survivors gives a brief look at the continued battle against the aliens after the movie’s events. Visualizing an Invasion is an interesting featurette showing how the stunts and special effects came to life. There are also four deleted scenes and an extended scene that you can watch with commentary, as well as a full length commentary for the film.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking to get your money’s worth, stay away from this film.

DVD Release Date: April 3, 2012

Movie Grade C-
DVD Grade B-

Runtime: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

Angels Crest: Never met full potential

Angels Crest is available on DVD April 3rd. Courtesy of eOne Films

If you were responsible for the death of your child, would you be able to move on with your life? This and other life dilemmas are examined in Gaby Dellal’s Angels Crest.

The story revolves around a young, single father’s upcoming trial for criminal neglect that led to the death of his son. In their small town where privacy in not a liberty, lives are intertwined and these events send them into a downward spiral.

There is a lot of potential in this movie, but none of it is fully realized by director Gaby Dellal and writer Catherine Trieschmann. The baseline story and themes are real and the audience is able to connect to the unfortunate circumstances that have taken place. However, there is a lack of cohesion between the multiple themes and characters. Too many unnecessary characters are given storylines and pointless screen time, leaving little room for important ones to develop.

The saving grace of this film lays in the good performances from Thomas Dekker (My Sister’s Keeper, A Nightmare On Elm Street), Lynn Collins (John Carter), Elizabeth McGovern (Clash of the Titans), Kate Walsh (Legion), and the young Ameco Eks Mass Carroll.

The DVD release features two alternate scenes and brief deleted scenes, both with director commentary. There are also interviews with actor Thomas Dekker and actress Mira Sorvino. The movie’s video encode is poorly compressed, but the audio mastering is good.

Bottom Line: Worth a rental, if you’ve got nothing else to watch and are in need of a darker drama.

Movie Grade C-
DVD Grade C-

Runtime: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

War Horse: A brilliant film wrapped in poor packaging

Steven Spielberg's latest epic, War Horse. Courtesy of Disney Pictures

There are few directors in the history of cinema who have crafted such a vast array of classic films as the legendary Steven Spielberg. His latest Oscar nominated epic War Horse proves the magic of movie making still flows powerfully in Spielberg’s veins.

War Horse, based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, takes us on a journey with Joey, the stallion who touches the lives of everyone he meets and his harrowing journey through World War I.

This is far more than a war film depicting good versus evil. Both sides are examined, which gives this movie depth. Every aspect of this film is of the highest caliber. The acting is superb from every member of the vast cast, including Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, and new comer Celine Buckens.

While none of the animals were harmed in the filming process, the movie does depict animal cruelty and there are scenes of horses suffering. A word of warning: if you are an animal lover (as I am), these scenes can be very difficult to watch.

Unfortunately, this combo pack comes in a large DVD style case, instead of the compact Blu Ray case. Since most people will be purchasing the movie for their Blu Ray collection, it makes absolutely no sense to package and promote an inferior product.

The feature set is on the light side for this DVD/Blu Ray combo release, with only two featurettes to enjoy. War Horse: The Journey Home sits you down in a roundtable discussion with the cast, writer, cinematographer, set designer, costume designer, editor and the one and only Spielberg himself. The second is An Extra’s Point Of View – a brief look into the hundreds of extras and what they endured to bring this story to the big screen.

Bottom Line: While the hardware is lacking, the powerful film within is worth every penny.

Release Date: April 3, 2012

Movie Grade: A
Blu Ray/DVD Grade: C

Runtime: 146 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1