Tag Archives: Elizabeth Banks

People Like Us: Blu Ray Review

Find the dramatic comedy People Like Us in stores on Oct. 2nd, 2012. Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

How many perfect families are there? The honesty presented in a film like People Like Us gives us a glimpse into the dysfunctions that plague a modern family, all the while, keeping us readily entertained.

In People Like Us, we follow a struggling salesman, Sam (Chris Pine), as he deals with reconciling with his family after his neglectful father’s passing. When settling his estate, Sam discovers a half-sister and his dad’s secret life.

Witty, truthful, and heartfelt all describe this drama. From the guys who wrote Transformers and Star Trek (2009), both Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci find a completely different angle in which to tell a story. Both writers, with the aid of Jody Lambert, piece together a multitude of character studies in this tightly knit film.

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall D’Addario deliver true to life dramatic and comedic performances. It’s one of the truest example of genuine acting I’ve seen in a long while.

The Blu Ray + DVD release features a decent set of special features to accompany the fantastic film. They include a behind the scenes look at how the story came to be and the production footage in Number One With A Bullet: The Story Behind People Like Us. There’s also Taco Talk, which gives you Chris Pine’s and Elizabeth Banks’ complete improvisational and hilarious scene at the taco stand. Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel and Audio Commentary are also included.

Bottom Line: Come for the comedy, stay for the heart. Well worth owning.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 113 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

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

The Hunger Games: Riveting adaptation

Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES. Courtesy of Alliance Films Media

How many times has Hollywood butchered novels when adapting them into films? It’s fair to say countless times. The Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins has sold 800,000 copies around the world, making expectations for the movie adaptation climb to dizzying heights.

Collin’s story tells the tale of a future in which the Capitol of an oppressive North America selects a boy and a girl from each of the 12 districts to fight to the death in The Hunger Games tournament. We follow an anti-social, skilled archer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who takes the place of her younger sister when she is chosen to compete.

This is one of the first blockbuster adaptations in recent memory to be, not only faithful to the source material, but also a fantastic film.

The story gives the audience something to sink their teeth into, alongside characters to route for and against. It isn’t peddling to the masses by giving into the romantic aspect of the story. Instead, it allows a natural progression that feels organic and true to human nature.

Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, X-Men: First Class) is one of Hollywood’s finest talents at the moment and she brings every bit of her acting arsenal to our heroine. Her empathetic performance shows incredible range and raised the level of acting from all around her. Her cast members, including Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Elizabeth Banks (Man On A Ledge), Stanley Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger), and Wes Bentley (Underworld: Awakening) all deliver the necessary goods in spades.

The one major criticism is in the direction. Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) did everything a director should do except competently shoot the action scenes. Even the simple things like walking quickly or moving through a crowd were riddled with shaky camera work. The actual battle royal was impossible to decipher with his extreme close-up, earthquake-worthy shooting style.

Regardless of this foible, this movie does everything Twilight should have done and will captivate both male and female audiences around the world.

Bottom Line: I’m already itching for the sequel!

Grade A-

Runtime: 142 minutes
3D: No