Tag Archives: pictures

Jack Reacher: Taking it back to the 80’s

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions


Remember the good-old days when 80’s action movies were a barrel of fun and laughs? There were no concerns with winning awards or receiving critical acclaim. Instead, entertainment was the highest priority as is the case with Tom Cruise’s latest investigative action film, Jack Reacher.

Cruise plays a funny, smart-mouthed ex-army cop who comes out of hiding to track down a mass murderer.

Jack Reacher 4All of the 80’s clichés have been thoughtfully checked off by director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun), who adapted Lee Child’s book, “One Shot”. There’s a wise-cracking detective, a sexy woman, clashing of personalities, a foreign bad guy with a heavy accent, and buckets of action. McQuarrie also was kind enough to keep any gore out of the movie’s action, so those with weak stomachs won’t have to bring their trusty barf bucket.

Jack Reacher 7The recently divorced Tom Cruise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before. Truth is, I love that character and so do you (don’t deny it). The person who deals out the best performance is Joseph Sikora, who made the biggest impact with less than five minutes of screen time.

JACK REACHERFive-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does an amazing job of lighting every scene to complement McQuarrie’s fantastic shooting style. There’s also some excellent audio design with the sound of firearms having incredible lifelike impact.

Jack Reacher 3Bottom Line: If you enjoy the older action flicks as much as I do, you’ll have a blast with this one.

Grade B-

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Beasts of the Southern Wild: The journey you’ve never taken

Pick up your copy of the award contending Beasts of the Southern Wild on December 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media

Pick up your copy of the award contending Beasts of the Southern Wild on December 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media


Independent films depend purely on the strength of their story, lacking access to flashy special effects and bloated budgets to hide imperfections. Instead, everything is stripped bare revealing the heart of the tale. Sure to be an Academy Award contender, Beasts of the Southern Wild is, at its core, an exemplary demonstration of the rawness that is the independent film.

In this semi-fantastical story, we follow six-year old Hushpuppy and her hot-headed father as they face the harsh realities of life in a bayou cut off from the rest of society.

It takes a while to really sink into this film. The characters are difficult to connect with and their thick Louisiana accents can be troublesome to comprehend at times. However, as the film progresses and you witness the predicaments of the people, you slowly begin to latch on to them – Especially little Hushpuppy, played beautifully by Quvenzhané Wallis.

(Quvenzhané Wallis)Wallis’ performance is astonishingly natural for a first time actor of five years old. Her innocence and strength keep you interested in the film, even if the story appears to drift at times.

Writers Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, who also directed the film, deliver a psychological look into the daily life of the neglected and underprivileged people of the world.

(Quvenzhané Wallis), (Benh Zeitlin)For the DVD home release, the original film is given good video transfer, even if there is an excessive amount of film grain. The audio, however, is top notch. Subtle details are everywhere to be found and the use of bass at the appropriate moments really adds weight to certain scenes. The special features are solid and include an in-depth, 18 minute Behind the Scenes featurette, Deleted Scenes with director commentary, some of the audition footage for the father and daughter leads, and the short that led to this movie, Glory At Sea.

(Quvenzhzé Wallis), (Dwight Henry)Bottom Line: This movie has Oscar nominations written all over it and the DVD release is one any movie fan will want to check out.

Movie Grade A-
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Up: Blu Ray Review

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Finding those complete films that deliver on all accounts is rare these days. When I first watched Up, I laughed, cried and was taken on a rollercoaster ride with the oddly paired old man and his accidental sidekick. As I reviewed the all new Blu Ray release, I was amazed as I relived all these emotions for a second time around. Now that’s a powerful film in my book!

Up 1In DisneyPixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen deals with his loneliness and a promise to the love of his life by flying his house to the Venezuelan wilderness with the unwelcome assistance of a good-intentioned Boy Scout, Russell.

The team behind this movie provided such incredible depth of character; you see right past their cartoony shells and dive into the soul of a real person. Combine this with a highly entertaining adventure and what you have left is a timeless classic.

Up 3Edward Asner and first time actor Jordan Nagai are perfect together. Director Pete Docter did a fantastic job in getting a very natural performance out of the young Nagai – Not an easy thing to do when working with brand new actor.

Not only will kids love this movie, but as an adult, you’ll be glued to the screen beside the little ones as you watch Carl and Russell’s quest unfold (Just be sure to have a box of tissue handy).

Up 2As far as the Blu Ray release is concerned, this is one of the best. DisneyPixar has included both 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy to future proof you as your home theatre evolves. The video in both the 3D and 2D copies is magnificent. While the 3D copy adds the expected immersion, it is shocking how much depth of image is in the 2D Blu Ray. On top of that, Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award winning original score sounds beautiful alongside the amazing audio design.

There isn’t a single special feature not worth watching in this home release. Included in the vast array of high definition features you’ll find:

• Cine-Explore Commentary

• Adventure Is Out There

• Partly Cloudy

• Dug’s Special Mission

• The Many Endings of Muntz

• Documentaries – A series of behind the scenes featurettes.

• Married Life

• Global Guardian Badge Game

• Up Promo Montage

• Worldwide Trailers

Not only do they include behind the scenes of the making of the film, they also provide a fun educational game for kids (just as much fun for adults).

UPBottom Line: This is how Blu Rays should be done. With a movie this good, why wait to let the fun begin? Pick up your copy today and go on a ride of a lifetime with your wee ones.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Finding Nemo: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


The story of an overprotective father’s desperate search for his lost son captured audiences worldwide like few films ever have. Unhindered perfection is the best way to describe what DisneyPixar produced in 2003 with Finding Nemo. Nine years after grossing over $900 million worldwide in theatres and Oscar Award acclaim, Nemo and Co. received the 3D treatment and is now available on Blu Ray.

Finding Nemo 1For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, Finding Nemo is the story of a father and son clown fish that are quickly separated and spend the rest of the movie engaging the help of a variety of quirky sea creatures as they attempt to find their way back to one another.

It should go without saying, but for that sole individual who has yet to embark on this incredible journey, this movie is inspiringly original, and features some of the best voice work to date.

Finding Nemo 3Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres’ performances are sublime. Degeneres’ portrayal of the memory addled Dori is absolutely hilarious with just the right amount of emotion to provide an unforgettable character.

The all new Blu Ray release is fully loaded to future proof you (from a technology standpoint). Included are 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy, ensuring that you can enjoy the film anywhere. The image quality is great, only topped by the immersive and dynamic audio design/mastering. Finding Nemo 4If you have the equipment to watch the movie in 3D, you’ll definitely enjoy the added depth the third dimension adds to this deep sea adventure. If you don’t, the 2D experience is no slouch, delivering a crisp, clean image.

There are a lot of special features to go through, including:

• Cine-Explore

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable

• Reinventing the Submarine Voyage

• A Lesson in Flashbacks

• Deleted Scene

• Knick Knack

• Trailers and Sneak Peeks

• Art Review

• Making Nemo

• Exploring the Reef

• Studio Tour

• Old School

• Deleted Scenes

• Outtakes

• Publicity Pieces

• Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia

• Aquariums

Most of these features combine comedy, educational elements and a good deal of insight into the making of the blockbuster film. My only complaint would be with the lack of a “play all” option, as some of the features are a concise 10 seconds long, but take almost 30 seconds to load. Other than that, fans will have fun going behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Finding Nemo 2Bottom Line: A must own DisneyPixar adventure that you’ll want to dive into time and time again.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Anna Karenina: Never-ending drama

Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson star in Anna Karenina. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Leo Tolstoy’s first official novel (according to Tolstoy), Anna Karenina, is regarded as the greatest novel of all time (2007 “The Top Ten in Time”). In its thirteenth film adaptation, director Joe Wright gives the story a staged theatrical spin. However, all the glamorous theatrics cannot spark life into this endless melodrama.

Anna is an upper class socialite in 19th century Russia whose affair with an affluent Count defames her among society’s highest ranks and throws her life into disrepute.

Whether it was the director’s or the writer’s idea to have the movie’s scenes transition from stage to the cinematic world – It just doesn’t work. It acts purely to bring the audience out of the fantasy world they are attempting to draw us into.

The story itself is a drawn out soap opera that seldom features a thought provoking moment outside of the infidelity and flashy wardrobes and sets.

The cast makes due with what they are given. No performances stand out or are even worth mentioning. It all felt very… adequate.

This is the first Joe Wright film I did not enjoy. In fact, I downright detested it. Unlike past treasures of his, such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement (both period pieces), this film fails on every count outside of costume design.

Bottom Line: Unless you are a diehard fan of the novel, stay miles away from this heap of pretentious babble.

Grade D+

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Lincoln: Has Oscar written all over it

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


With the USA battling through election pangs this year, it’s fitting that we take a look back to what a great president like “Honest” Abraham Lincoln can do for their country. In Steven Spielberg’s latest historical epic, we follow Abe as he fiercely battles the confederates and most of the nation to rid the United States of Slavery.

Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the 16th president. His performance is packed with a special blend of both subtlety and power – The kind of which only great actors can deliver. The supporting cast keeps close to Lewis’ charisma, with Sally Field leading the charge.

Spielberg has nothing left to prove in his career, yet shows no complacency in his direction of Tony Kushner’s excellent adapted screenplay. There is a constant tension throughout the film that is perfectly broken with rich comedic relief from the statuesque president himself.

As far as cinematography is concerned, this is some of the best the Hollywood has offered this year.

My only minute criticism is toward the sheer quantity of names being thrown at you. It can lead to confusion when you’re trying to decipher whom the characters are referring to scene after scene.

Again, that is just a tiny blemish in this phenomenal film that will light up the Academy ballots come 2014.

Bottom Line: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are a winning combination in this must see taste of American history.

Grade A

Runtime: 149 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


360: Blu Ray Review

360 is available to own on Blu Ray, November 6, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


Infidelity makes up such a large portion of entertainment in our society. Soap operas, movies and even reality TV are riddled with some form of adultery.

Fernando Meirelles’ latest film, 360, connects the lives of various sexually corrupt people from different areas of the world.

The crippling factor in this film rests in the story. Unlike brilliant films such as Closer or Little Children, this movie tries especially hard to tell far too many stories (I stopped counting at 7), without ever fully developing any of them.

Luckily, the performances are solid. The star studded cast including Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jamel Debbouze, Lucia Siposová, Gabriela Marcinkova, and Ben Foster showcase their abundant talents commendably. Foster’s performance as the paroled sexual offender in particular, is fantastic, albeit chilling.

The Blu Ray release delivers the solid cinematography and thoughtful score nicely; however, the special features are fairly thin. Both The Making-of 360 and A look at 360 featurettes feature the cast and filmmakers synopsising the story and its characters. Behind-The-Scenes, however, actually lets you stand behind the camera and watch scenes being filmed or hear discussions between the actors and director Fernando Meirelles. Very cool stuff!

Bottom Line: Unless you’re a fan of the film there isn’t any reason to add this Blu Ray to your collection.

Movie Grade C+
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1


Skyfall: Already a classic

Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem are brilliant in Skyfall! In IMAX and theatres November 8, 2012. Courtesy of Sony Pictures


Sean Connery brilliantly embodied Britain’s most famous fictional secret agent 50 years ago. When Daniel Craig took the reins as James Bond in 2006, all of his skeptics were thoroughly proven wrong. Craig’s confident, modern, suave portrayal of Bond rivaled Connery’s iconic performances of the 60’s and 70’s. Then there was the writer’s strike of 2008 resulting in the poorly written sequel, Quantum of Solace; an all-around flop. Four years later, we have what may be the best Bond film yet!

In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when a terrorizing computer genius unleashes his vengeful plans upon them.

The main cast of this film are nothing short of spectacular. Daniel Craig delvers everything we’ve come to expect from his rugged yet composed portrayal of Bond, and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) is easily one of the all-time greatest Bond villains. His charismatic performance brings a multitude of layers to the surface just waiting to be explored by the audience.

These great characters all stem from the wonderful minds of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, both of whom worked on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Together with John Logan (The Last Samurai, Gladiator) they crafted an intriguing, original story, while remaining faithful to the original flavour of our favourite MI6 agent.

Academy Award winning director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), was the perfect choice to captain the 23rd Bond film. This isn’t a nonsensical mash-up of endless action scenes. Mendes makes this a methodical film with heart-stopping action woven into a gripping story.

There is absolutely no reason the Academy should not recognize this film as one of the year’s best.

Bottom Line: Don’t miss the ride. This is one film you’ll want to watch over and over and over again.

Grade A+

Runtime: 143 minutes
IMAX: Yes
3D: No


Wreck-It-Ralph: Smashes its way to your heart

John C. Reiley and Sarah Silverman star in the video game bonanza, Wreck-It-Ralph. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Who remembers the original gaming consoles like ColecoVision, Atari, Nintendo, Sega Master System, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc…? For many boys, and a fair number of girls, video games and the characters we battled were a vital source of our entertainment during childhood. Reminiscent of Toy Story, Disney Animation’s latest feature, Wreck-It Ralph, brings an old fantasy to life: What happens to the video game characters when we aren’t playing with them?

Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of a gigantic video game baddy who tires of his thankless existence and ventures off into other games to find his heroic moment.

Let’s make something clear right away, this movie will be a hit. The incredible story will push all the right buttons and keep you locked in for the journey. Writers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston manage a near flawless story arch, with intricate twists and lovable characters. The only downside to their script is the lack of humor. There are a decent amount of jokes, but also a lot of missed opportunities and jokes that fell flat.

Casting was solid in this film. John C. Reilly (Ralph) and Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz) are great together, as is the rest of the cast. The benefit of the actors recording their dialogue together, as opposed to the norm of doing them individually really shows.

You’ll definitely want to pay extra for the 3D option that will be sure to take you on an immersive roller coaster ride.

Bottom Line: Ralph and Vanellope’s story will touch your heart, while the pedal-to-the-metal action will rock your world.

Grade A-

Runtime: 93 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: Yes


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