Category Archives: Oct. 2012

Moonrise Kingdom: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy on Oct. 16th. Courtesy of eOne Media


With the Oscars only months away, Moonrise Kingdom, with its quirky and affecting appeal was a solid contender. While the movie is definitely worth watching, the Blu Ray/DVD release could have used some tweaking.

In Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, he collaborates with Roman Coppola to tell the tale of a young couple’s escape from the watchful eyes of their guardians in order to be with one another.

This straight-faced, off-beat film tells its story in a very minimalistic fashion. Instead of being attacked with endless details, Wes Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola unassumingly ask the audience to decipher this decidedly interpretive story.

Every member of the cast brought their A-game, delivering performances both eccentric and memorable. The young first-time actors playing the love-struck couple, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both displayed a very natural, youthful innocence.

Despite all of its romantic naïveté, Moonrise Kingdom is not a perfect film. Firstly, Wes Anderson clearly neglected necessary (some might say obvious) emotional reactions from the actors, both young and old, which will certainly alienate a large demographic of movie goers. There’s also the lack of enunciation from both Hayward and Gilman; something Anderson should have caught during the shooting process as it was difficult to understand the youngsters during multiple scenes.

For the Blu Ray + DVD release, the audio mastering is perfect. However, Anderson’s choice to shoot the movie with 16mm film, rather than 35mm film, has left the high definition transfer looking like a decent DVD – not a stunning Blu Ray. The special features are also very limited to what boils down to faux “behind the scenes” advertisements for the film. Not what this fan of the film was expecting.

Make no mistake, this is a very good film, it simply is not Oscar winner worthy.

Bottom Line: This Blu Ray is only worth owning if you like the film.

Grade A

Runtime: 94 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Moonrise Kingdom: Trivia and Insights


With the Blu Ray + DVD release of the brilliant Oscar Award contender Moonrise Kingdom due on Oct. 16th, I’ve decided to compile some fun trivia and insight from the cast and crew. Enjoy!

 
 


During filming, Wes Anderson rented an old mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for himself, editor Andrew Weisblum, and director of cinematography Robert D. Yeoman, in which they had a room set up for editing the film. It had been arranged for the cast to stay in a nearby hotel, but eventually some of the actors also decided to stay at the mansion, including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Murray later joked that the theory was to have everyone close by so that they could all work “ungodly art-movie hours.”
Sounds like fun to me!

Fun Fact about Wes Anderson: When asked where audiences would find the next Martin Scorsese, he said to look to Wes Anderson, the young director of Rushmore (1998).
I would cry like a big bald baby if Scorsese said that about me!

The filmmakers wanted the physical production to be focused, not bloated. Accordingly, there were no big trucks, and no actor or filmmaker trailers. Actors were encouraged to arrive camera-ready, requiring them to don their costumes in their hotel rooms before coming to set.
Nice to hear that greatness can be achieved at humbler budgets.

Bill Murray remembers, “My first day at work was on a camp set, and I realized that they didn’t have trailers and so forth. We had tents, pup tents. It was about 40 degrees outside and raining, but once you get 51 people crammed inside a tent, it gets plenty warm. We were cozy after a while.”
That must have been a giant tent to house that many people.

“The director, Wes (Anderson), he wears his pants very short. So he likes everyone in the film to wear them really short. Just a little bit like the kind of person you’d want to mug.”
– Bill Murray
Yes sir, the men all look ready for a flood in this movie.

You can find Bill Murray’s real son in the film as one of the scouts in a Native Indian feathered headdress.
Easier to spot in the special features where they point him out to you.

After an initial audition and three more call-backs over the course of six months, young star Jared Gilman remembers, “I was getting in the car with my mom on the way home from school, and I asked her if she had any news. She didn’t answer; she called up my father instead, and he pulled a Ryan Seacrest [/American Idol results buildup] on me, before he told me I got the part. I screamed, I laughed, and I cried. It was probably the happiest day of my life.”
That’s mean… I love it!

Before filming, neither Kara Hayward nor Jared Gilman had ever seen a typewriter in person. Hayward later said, “Fran (Frances McDormand) had a lot of fun with that. She couldn’t believe it. She showed me that the keys are in the same place as now (on computers).”
This, sadly, is probably the case for most every child in their generation.

As homework for his character, Wes Anderson assigned Jared Gilman to watch Escape from Alcatraz (set in 1963), starring Clint Eastwood.
Proper education.

The film opened in only four theaters, two in New York and two in Los Angeles, but earned $167,250 per screen, the all-time record for highest per-theater box office average of a non-animated film.

You’ll find the Moonrise Kingdom Blu Ray + DVD online and in stores on October 16, 2012.

Bill Murray’s overview of the movie:


All information was taken from eOne’s press notes and IMDB.com


Prometheus: Blu Ray Review

Prometheus is available on Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Copy on Oct. 9, 2012. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox


With a classic sci-fi/horror like Alien (1979), any movie associated with it will be viewed under extreme scrutiny. Luckily, Prometheus separates itself from the original by focusing on the science, while adding elements of horror to spice things up.

In Prometheus, a scientific discovery leads to a galactic exploration in an attempt to find the origins of humanity. As with many sci-fi flicksm, What they discover when they reach their destination is nothing close to what they expected.

Legendary director Ridley Scott, with the aid of writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindeloff, takes us on a journey that explores man’s greatest mystery: Where do we come from? Both director and writers achieve an incredible level of thought provoking ideas. However, they also left a lot of unexplored venues which prevent this movie from reaching the stratospheric acclaim of its predecessor.

Michael Fassbender is phenomenal in his role as the multi-layered android. Alongside him, Noomi Rapace shows equal skill in manifesting her character’s emotions (very reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver in 1979). While the rest of the cast is great, Charlize Theron completely lacked everything that was required to make her performance memorable. Mind you, it is hard to be memorable when your character appeared to be tacked on haphazardly.

For the Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Copy release, this movie is absolutely reference quality material, featuring breathtaking video and immersive audio. Special features include two entertaining audio commentaries: One from director Ridley Scott and one from writers Jon Spailhts and Damon Lindelof. There’s also a plethora of deleted/alternate scenes (with optional commentary), many of which deserved inclusion in the final cut, and a set of mini featurettes called The Peter Weyland Files. This last set serves as a great character development addition that is worth watching before viewing the film. If you’re looking for the 3D version and behind the scenes featurettes, pick up the four disc edition.

You can also download the Second Screen Movie App, which allows you to sync your tablet or smart phone with the movie and dive deeper into the film and its creation.

Bottom Line: This is a must own Blu Ray for fans of the movie and the sci-fi genre alike.

Movie Grade B+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 124 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


Check out The Engineer walking around Downtown Toronto:



The Great Mouse Detective: Blu Ray Review

The Great Mouse Detective is available on Blu Ray + DVD on Oct. 9, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Films


Between 1958-1982, Eve Titus parodied the greatest fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, into a mouse named Basil Rathbone for a series of children novels. His success in making the adult detective series accessible to youngsters led to Disney’s adaptation The Great Mouse Detective.

In this rodent based adaptation, Basil and Dr. Dawson (a parody of Dr. Watson) track down the notorious Professor Ratigan in order to prevent him from committing a heinous crime against the Royalty of Victorian England.

What’s really astonishing about this film is how they’ve retained the original character traits of the base characters, while adding whimsical nuances to entertain younger generations. Disney did a fantastic job of allowing the sophisticated detective genius from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work to shine through, all the while interweaving a daring adventure for younger audiences.

Twenty-six years after its theatrical release, Disney has completely restored both the original film and its audio track for the Blu Ray + DVD release. On top of that, they’ve included some special features worth checking out. “So You Think You Can Sleuth” is entertaining and educational to both children and adults. This featurette looks at the history of crime solvers and provides a lighthearted wrongdoing for the audience to take a stab at solving. There’s also The Making Of The Great Mouse Detective and “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” Sing-A-Long Song.

Bottom Line: This mousy mystery is timeless and definitely worth owning on Blu Ray.

Movie Grade A-
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtime: 74 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Cinderella (1950): Blu Ray Review

Disney’s Cinderella is available to own on Blu Ray for the first time ever on Oct. 2nd, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


When Disney’s timeless tale Cinderella was released in 1950, the film had the financial future of Disney studios resting on its shoulders. As we all know, the movie was a smashing success and propelled Disney into the world of gargantuan movie mogul.

Disney’s telling of the humble, beautiful orphaned girl, shunned into slavery by her wicked stepmother and wretched step sisters has never been told better. What sends this fairy tale to the stratosphere of a true classic is the inclusion of a secondary set of animal characters and their complimentary storyline. The humour, suspense and grandeur of the entire production means this film will continue to entertain movie goers for generations to come.

With a complete digital restoration for its Blu Ray + DVD release, this classic looks and sounds as if it were recently animated. They’ve polished the fuzzy animation cells and scratchy soundtrack without adding anything that doesn’t belong. If only George Lucas thought this way.

If you’re a fan of special features, you’ve hit the jackpot! There is a plethora of goodies to dive into, even if the best ones are tucked into the recesses of the menu. You’ll find everything from behind the scenes making-of featurettes that take you into the conception of the film, casting, and musical inspiration. You’ll even hear from the people who animated the characters! There’s also a storyboarded alternate opening sequence, as well as animated shorts, and even a preview of Walt Disney World’s new addition to their theme park: Disney Princess Fantasyland.

Bottom Line: This incredibly remastered, bonus feature laden fairy tale is a must own on Blu Ray for kids and past kids alike.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 75 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1