Tag Archives: dvd

Hysteria: History meets pleasure

Hysteria is available on Blu Ray September 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne


Injustice comes in all shapes and sizes. Hysteria examines the social injustice women had to bare in Victorian England where doctors treated women diagnosed with Hysteria (By today’s standards they just weren’t “getting any”). What resulted from all of this medical insanity was the invention of the glorious and renowned vibrator.

Director Tanya Wexler does a great job of including different facets of historical fact delivering both drama and humour. Where things fall short is in the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which faulted the credibility of the secondary story.

Outside of this folly, every member of the large cast delivered solid performances.

The most incredible part of the production were the brilliant sets and art direction that throw you head first into middle class Victorian England.

In the Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, you’ll find some excellent special features to accompany this beautifully shot film. They include Commentary with Tanya Wexler, “An Evening with Tanya Wexler, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce” Featurette, Hysteria: Behind The Scenes, and a set of useless Deleted Scenes. The best feature is a short documentary “Passion & Power: The Technology Of Orgasm”. This fascinating look at the history of female sexual oppression and the history of vibrators from their creation is a must watch!

Bottom Line: With an engaging film and interesting special features, this home release is definitely worth checking out.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1


The Rescuers/The Rescuers Down Under: Blu Ray Review

The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under on Blu Ray + DVD combo available on August 21, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Thirty-five years ago, Disney’s animation studios delivered an original tale of two mice risking their lives to save a kidnapped girl from the clutches of a cruel woman. Thirteen years after the success of The Rescuers, Disney delivered one of its first sequels to an animated film in The Rescuers Down Under. For The Rescuers three and a half decade anniversary, both films have been included in the Blu Ray + DVD combo release.

The Rescuers is such a hit simply because it veers away from what so many other films do—talk down to children. Instead, it delivers a darker story everyone can enjoy. Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart work magic together as the unlikely pair of mystery solving, lovable rodents.

In The Rescuers Down Under, the adventure is brought to the other side of the globe where Bernard and Bianca must stop a ruthless poacher in the Outback of Australia. All new characters and phenomenal animation make this sequel a fun ride. Story wise, it just falls short of the first film – But not by much.

This Blu Ray release looked far better than I thought it would on my 60” television and sounded surprisingly good as well. Included you’ll find a wide array of special features to enjoy: “Peoplitis” a deleted song, “Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing-A-Long, and The Making Of The Rescuers Down Under. On top of those, Disney has also included “The Three Blind Mouseketeers” – Silly Symphony Animated Short, and the best feature of all “Water Birds” Disney True Life Adventure. This last feature is a fun video about real birds in nature and how they differ from each other. A must watch for wildlife lovers!

Bottom Line: You and your children will have a blast delving into these timeless mysteries alongside two heroic mice and their companions.

Movie Grades: The Rescuers: A-/The Rescuers Down Under: B
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtimes: The Rescuers: 78 minutes/The Rescuers Down Under: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1


Pocahontas/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: Blu Ray Review

Pocahontas and Pocahontas II Blu Ray + DVD combo available August 21, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


It’s hard to watch a childhood favourite when you’re all grown up, only to realize it is not nearly as good as you once thought it was. This is exactly what I had to come to terms with when watching Pocahontas for its Blu Ray release 17 years after its theatrical release.

Disney has included a duo of Pocahontas and Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World, both remastered in high definition for the Blu Ray release.

For the few of you who haven’t seen the first film, Pocahontas tells the story of the British traveling to North America in search of gold, only to fall into quarrels with the Native Indians they meet upon their arrival. A love affair begins when John Smith befriends Pocahontas and it is up to them to bring peace to the warring sides.

What I failed to notice when I was a child is how basically flawed the entire story is. Character motivations are highly contrived, while the endless campaign of poorly sung musical numbers becomes tired very quickly. The saving grace is the Academy Award winning Best Original Song “Colours of the Wind” brilliantly sung by Judy Kuhn.

In part 2, Pocahontas travels as a peace ambassador to England, only to discover an old foe attempting to sabotage her visit.

Oddly enough, the sequel delivered a more satisfying film than its predecessor. The humour is about the same, whereas the story and characters seem less contrived. Not a brilliant film by any stretch of the imagination, but descent enough for this adult to sit through.

For this Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, both films look better than they ever did before. The special features are not the most impressive set, but there are a few interesting ones to check out. The Audio Commentary and The Music Of Pocahontas really gives us insight into the making of the movie. The other features, while interesting, only serve as distant relatives to the feature film. They include Drawing Inspiration: The Lost Story Of Hiawatha, “Little Hiawatha” Cartoon Short, Deleted Song: “If I Never Knew You”, and Deleted Scenes.

Bottom Line: Unless you’re a huge fan of the film or need it to complete your collection, you would be better off renting this Blu Ray release.

Movie Grades: Pocahontas: C-/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: C
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtimes: Pocahontas: 81 minutes/Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World: 73 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Chimpanzee: Blu Ray Review

Chimpanzee is available in stores on August 21, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyNature


As our genetic ancestors, chimpanzees give humans a glimpse into our extremely distant past. In DisneyNature’s documentary, Chimpanzee, we follow a group of chimps living in the forests of Africa as they try to keep their home safe from an invading clan of rival chimpanzees (Remind you of anyone you know?). Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this film is the story of baby Oscar and the unlikely relationship he forms with the alpha male of his group, Freddy.

This beautifully shot documentary delivers a powerful story of both spirit and family. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, as is the in-depth camera work the crew managed to achieve in order to bring us intimately close to this group of playful primates.

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield managed to show the darker side of the animal’s lives, but successfully cut everything graphic and potentially disturbing out for those younger and ever so sensitive viewers. With the assistance of Tim Allen’s (Toy Story, The Santa Clause) playful narration, younger audience members will be thoroughly engaged in this astonishing world of survival.

DisneyNature has included a fantastic array of special features for the Blu Ray + DVD release. Every minute of the On Location: Making Of Chimpanzee featurette is a must watch. It chronicles the pain-staking efforts the crew went through to deliver this astonishing footage. Also included is “Rise” Music Video By McClain Sisters, Behind The Scenes Of “Rise”, See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzee, Disney’s Friends For Change, and Disney’s Conservation Legacy.

Bottom Line: Whether you live alone or have a large family, everyone will be captivated by this heartfelt documentary and its phenomenal cinematography.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Here are some fun activities for you to download and print for your little ones to enjoy:

CHIMPANZEE Activites

 


Marley: Documentary hits all the right notes

Marley is available on DVD August 7, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media


Living as a man of mixed heritage, Robert Marley looked beyond race, colour, creed or status. His ideals flowed through his innovative music to invoke peace, love and harmony around the world. In Kevin MacDonald’s documentary, Marley, we’re given the most intimate look yet into the legend’s life.

It’s easy to think of most biographical documentaries as one long special feature detailing varying aspects of someone’s life. Kevin MacDonald doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel with his movie, but lets us gather a glimpse into Bob Marley’s world, who he was and how he spent his days from birth through to his untimely death.

Knowing only the popular basics of Marley’s life, I was blown away at what I learned about the man, his passions and his music.

For the DVD release, the video quality is perfectly decent, and the audio is simply delightful. The filmmakers have also included a plethora of excellent special features to compliment this feature documentary. The special features include EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH BUNNY WAILER, CHILDREN’S MEMORIES, which was my personal favourite as Bob’s children tell fond stories from their childhood of growing up with their father. There’s also LISTENING TO “I’M LOOSE” where those closest to Marley listen and reminisce to a late recording of him writing a song, AROUND THE WORLD looks at how Bob affects people across the globe, and over 10 minutes of footage from his performance from the MANHATTAN CENTER 21ST JUNE 1975.

Bottom Line: After watching it once, you know you’ll want to watch it again… It’s just as addictive as his music.

Movie Grade A-
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtime: 144 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Street Dance 2: Blu Ray Review

Street Dance 2 available on Blu Ray Combo Pack July 24th. Courtesy of eOne Media


When you watch a movie about dance, how high do you set your expectations? Given the recent history of the genre, expectations are deservedly set at rock bottom. Street Dance 2 serves only to continue this horrible trend, while hitting the right notes when it came to, yes you got it, the dancing.

In this sequel, a humiliated street dancer has to venture across Europe to put together the best crew in order to win the world dance battle and redeem himself.

The performances and script are just hard to sit through. There are some adequate moments, but they are few and far between. As an actor, the only person worth their paycheque is British comedy legend, Tom Conti (The Dark Knight Rises, Derailed). While his French accent left something to be desired, his performance gave realism to the otherwise predictable dialogue.

On a positive note, the dancing in this movie will make you want to get up and jam with the incredibly talented performers. What the dancers lack in acting ability, they make up for with their tremendous dance experience. The movie features break dancing, popping, locking, Latin dancing and, most intriguing, all of them mixed together for a Street-Latin fusion. The entire movie was shot in 3D, which keeps the dancing the focal point of every dance scene.

The Blu Ray + DVD combo pack includes only the beautifully shot feature with its excellent audio track. It’s sad that there are no behind the scenes featurettes to give us insights into the choreography which would have been nice.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the movie or street dancing, you’ll have fun with this movie. Otherwise, keep your distance.

Movie Grade C
Blu Ray Grade C

Runtime: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


The Three Stooges: Blu Ray Review

The Three Stooges movie is available on Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Download on July 17th. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox


During my childhood, every Sunday morning was spent in front of the television watching two hours of black and white slapstick hilarity. The Three Stooges, with their Looney Tunes-style violence left me and millions around the world reeling with stitch bursting laughter, and effect that still holds strong today. With Hollywood stuck in remake mode, it was only a matter of time before they decided to revisit this iconic television show.

In this “origins” story, we follow Larry, Curly and Moe from their days as orphans to their adulthood where they try to raise money to save the orphanage they grew up in.

What the famous Farrelly brothers try to accomplish with this remake is to modernize the classic edition while creating a homage to the comedic greats. Unfortunately, the slapstick humor and outlandish situations simply do not translate well outside of the period in which they were created.

Sean Hayes (Larry), Will Sasso (Curly) and Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe) managed to impersonate the mannerisms and give us a glimpse of the characters they were playing. However, none of them fully transformed, and each of their performances became a caricature of what we know and love to be the Stooges.

What this movie does have going for it is a great Blu Ray + DVD + Digital Copy release. The movie looks and sounds wonderful, and they’ve included a generous dose of special features. The usual Deleted/Extended Scenes are included, all of which deserved to be chopped out of the final cut. After that, we get to the juicy features, including What’s the Big Idea?: A History of The Three Stooges, Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges, Did You Hear That? The Three Stooges Sound Effects, Poifect! Casting The Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Mash-up, and finally the Original Screen Test.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the film, this Blu Ray is a must own. For everyone else, your money would be wisely invested in finding the original shorts to own and enjoy.

Movie Grade C
Blu Ray Grade A-

Runtime: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


W.E.: Blu Ray + DVD Review

W.E. is Madonna’s latest directorial effort. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


A pop icon such as Madonna has the world as her oyster. There’s no denying that the singer turned actress has had a few moments in the sun as an actress in the cinema world but When it comes to her direction and writing, the sun simply refuses to shine – And with good reason.

In W.E., Madonna attempts to tell the story of King Edward VIII’s affair with American divorcée Wallis Simpson, while trying to connect it to a modern day affair between a trophy wife and a security guard.

To be as blunt as a rusty axe, Madonna should never step behind a camera. Her insistence on using every perceivable technique and camera angle served as a distraction and nothing else. Perhaps she should have bought a couple of gallons of crazy glue to add some sense of cohesion to the story she was painfully trying to tell. With the aid of Alek Keshishian, she managed to take what could have been a wonderful biopic of Edward VIII, and turned it into a convoluted mess.

She luckily had a decent cast to work with, all of whom managed acceptable performances within the confines of the uninspired script.

The picture quality is decent as is the audio. There are no special features to indulge in, so if you’re a fan looking for a little bit more (why??) don’t get your hopes up.

Bottom Line: Nothing to see here but a horrendous film.

Movie Grade F
Blu Ray Grade D-

Runtime: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


Man on a Ledge: Blu Ray + DVD Review

Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks star in Man on a Ledge. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


If you were wrongly accused of a crime and sentenced to 25 years in jail, how far would you go to prove your innocence and bring down the people who set you up? Nick Cassidy goes the ultimate distance venturing out onto a 21st storey ledge in order to prove his innocence.

Not without its faults, Man on a Ledge manages to provide a thrilling ride with its suspense and amazing cinematography.

With only a documentary under his belt, director Asger Leth alongside veteran cinematographer Paul Cameron (Man on Fire, Gone in Sixty Seconds) take us to dizzying heights and keep us on the edge of our seats for almost two hours as we watch the story unravel. The pace of the film is tight, but there are definitely a few unnecessary comedic relief moments that deserved a Karate chop in the editing room.

After years in the business, Australian born Sam Worthington’s acting is very hard to appreciate due to his very distracting and pitiful American accent. Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie and the rest of the cast range from decent to good.

In the Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, you get a solid presentation of the film both visually and orally. On top of that, there is an excellent “The Ledge” featurette that takes you behind the scenes to explain how they managed to film acrophobic (fear of heights) scenes. They’ve also included a feature length commentary with actress Elizabeth Banks.

Bottom Line: While not perfect, there’s still an adrenaline pumping ride worth experiencing in this home release.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: Approx. 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


John Carter: Blu Ray + DVD Review

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins star in the Blu Ray release of John Carter. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Edgar Rice Burroughs’ magazine serials from the early 1900’s hit cinemas earlier this year in the form of John Carter. Unfortunately, the film was completely ill-advertised and suffered a disastrous box office run. Hopefully more people are willing to give this fantasy/sci-fi adventure a chance when it’s released on Blu Ray today.

The movie tells the story of Civil War veteran John Carter’s unwitting transport to Mars, discovering a race of human and alien life forms at war.

Academy Award winning writer/director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) does a good job with his first foray into live action cinema. He creates a good balance between drama and action, with neither element overpowering the other – Unlike a hollow blockbuster. To be honest, this isn’t his best work, but there’s enough substance in the story to keep the audience eagerly intrigued.

This is Taylor Kitsch’s first time as a lead in a film with such a vast budget (estimated at $250 million… Not exactly pocket change). Kitsch did a great job as the leading man, showing a good range of emotion as well as a much appreciated knack for slap-stick comedy. The rest of the cast felt solid, but never outstanding.

For Blu Ray + DVD release, Disney has included a stout amount of special features for fans to explore. Among these are Disney’s interactive Second Screen feature that allows you to connect with a computer or tablet for additional viewing pleasure, Deleted Scenes, Barsoon Bloopers, 360 Degrees Of John Carter featurette, 100 Years in the Making featurette, and a feature length commentary with the director and producers.

On top of that wallop of special features, the movie itself looks and sounds fantastic.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the film or looking for something different to watch, this movie will provide a ride you’re sure to enjoy.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 132 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1