The Cinco De Mayo Blu-Ray and DVD Review Round Up
Fifty Shades Of Grey (**) Universal/2015/ R,Theatrical Version 2 Hours 5 MInutes, Unrated Extended Version 2 Hours 9 Minutes/2:40:1 Aspect Ratio Blockbuster adaptation of E.L.James popular book about the sensual affair between a wideeyed secretary Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) working for a powerful millionaire Mr. Grey (Jaime Dornan). Soon their undeniable attractions to each other especially the naïve Ana leading to find out Grey's sensual appetites. The film which of course will have two sequels come out in the next few years, isn't a terrible film but it's definitely not a masterpiece either. Denton and Johnson do have chemistry, but the film is basically an erotic affair that fans of the book will be disappointed in despite some positives including Danny Elfman's ultra cool and sensual score. If you want a better movie of this type, easily go for 9 and A Half Weeks with Oscar Winner Kim Basinger and Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke. A nice plethora of special features are included.
The Wedding Ringer (***) Sony/R/1 Hour 41 MInutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio. Surprisingly entertaining but flawed comedy starring the ultra hot Kevin Hart as a best man for hire who takes on the "golden tux" task of a desperate loser (Frozen's Josh Gad) marrying his super hot fiancée (Big Bang Theory's Kaley Coco-Sweeting) by hiring a bunch of losers to be his best men for his impending wedding which would yield disasterous results before they eventually get to the alter. The film like I said is flawed, but it is hilarious when it hits its' target and there a many good ones here. Hard and Gad are very solid playing an Odd Couple and Coco-Sweeting lights up her scenes when she is on, but the problem is that she's not featured enough. The other reason is the film was originally intended to be the sequel to 2005's blockbuster, Wedding Crashers that slated to star Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell that never got off the ground. Still for what it is, it works and if you want a good laugh if you don't take it seriously, this one works!
The Gambler (**1/2) Paramount/R/1 Hour 51 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio A pretty good remake of the hard hitting 1974 film starring James Caan and Paul Sorvino based on the real life story of writer/director James Toback. This version starring Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett, a hard gambling college professor who's in debt to a couple of dangerous gangsters (Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman), while ailinating his rich and domineering mother (Oscar Winner Jessica Lange) and one of his students (Brie Larson) who cares about him as he heads down a dark and deadly road that he would risk his life for the thrill of throwing everything away. The film is flawed and has the long looming shadow of a great 1970's film, but you can't dismiss it as being a pretty good film despite its' problems. Wahlberg definitely looks the part of a hard core gambler, but the film really belongs to the strong supporting cast including Williams, Larson, Lange and Goodman, who really delivers' a menacing performance and is a true stand out. The films' studio interference which has been reported really seems very accurate judging my the uneven tone it has and completely abrupt ending that just ticks you off. For what it is, it is better than most have critized it for.
Paddington (****) Anchor Bay/PG/1 Hour 35 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Funny and charming big screen adaptation of the popular children's book which was a surprise critical and financial hit for the Weinstein Company about a young Pervuvian bear apply named Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who is sent away from home to London in search of a home and is taken in by a kindly family named the Browns and starts to learns about the ups and downs of London life including being pursued by an evil taxidermist (Oscar Winner Nicole Kidman) who wants to capture Paddington and keep him as part of her collection. This film was a complete and total surprise for me in a positive way. I honestly didn't expect the film to be this good and this why I do this for positive surprises like this. This is a very solid film for family viewing.
The Boy Next Door (**) Universal/R/1 Hour 40 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio This is easily one of the good-bad movies of the year and probably will become a cult classic no thanks to enjoyably bad dialog and bad acting of Jennifer Lopez. The film stars JLo as a high school teacher who soon becomes the obsession of the boy next door (Ryan Guzman), a smart and good looking guy who later reveals is one of her students to her surprise, but not ours. The film does have it's undeniably positive moments which do keep your attention and kept afloat by the direction of Rob Cohen, who directed the original Fast And The Furious ages ago doing his best with the paper thin script that he has to work with.
Mortedcai (***) Lionsgate/R/1 Hour 47 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Johnny Depp's latest film which bombed at the box office in January arrives and it isn't a bad film. Depp plays a once wealthy art connoseur named Mortedcai married to the lovely Johanna (Oscar Winner Gwyneth Paltrow in the films' livest performance) and is always protected by his willing man servant Jock (Paul Bettany). Mortdecai is coerced by Johanna's ex (Ewan McGregor) a MI5 agent in search of a legendary lost painting that features a clue to hidden Nazi fortune. Mordecai and Jock are chased all over Europe and ultimately, Los Angeles by assassins, greedy art collectors and a nympho! It's a handsomely directed film by Writer/Director David Koepp, but this type of slapstick comedy doesn't seem to play well anymore which a shame because it really isn't that bad of a film. Depp, Paltrow and McGregor are having a good time with cheerful glee along with Bettany along with a scene stealing Olivia Munn ("The Newsroom") make this a pretty good film for home viewing more.
Cake (**1/2) Fox/R/1 Hour 42 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Jennifer Aniston gives a bravura performance that was snubbed by the Academy as a rich Los Angeles lawyer Claire Bennett on the road to recovery from a serious near death skydiving accident. The cantankerous Clarie is a pill popping and bitter woman who's only friend is her housekeeper (Adriana Barraza) and finds solace in handsome widower with a young son (Sam Worthington) whose wife (Pitch Perfect's Anna Kendrick) committed suicide as she tries to find her way back to enjoying her life. The film directed by Daniel Barnz is very good for what it is, but it feels like it's been cut too short because there are characters including both William H.Macy and Felicity Huffman that really come and go without any real explanation. Aniston's injury isn't fully explained by mostly inferred by a few lines of dialog. The film is definitely worth seeing for Aniston for sure and Kendrick is very effective her brief scenes.
Mad Max (Collector's Edition) (****) Shout! Factory/R/1 Hour 33 Minutes/2:35.1 Aspect Ratio This is the one that started it it all. This sensational 1979 Australian import was both an international and commercial success and introduced the world to Oscar Winner Mel Gibson. The action packed film directed by George Miller stars then unknown Gibson as Max Rocatansky, a tough Australian police officer who goes head to head with a band of ruthless biker mauraders led by the villainous Toecutter. When Max's wife and young son are brutally murdered by the gang, he becomes hellbent and goes into the outback to kill the gang one by one with reckless abandon. The film which would spawn the classic sequel, The Road Warrior and the commercial and critically acclaimed hit, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and now the latest, Mad Max: Fury Road starring Tom Hardy and Oscar Winner Charlize Theron, isn't as polished as the sequels or this latest reboot but it works on the dramatic level that is proponent of Max's rage and ultimate isolation in the Australian outback. This special edition Blu-Ray features some new documentaries not featured on the MGM/Fox Blu-Ray or the Warner Bros. Mad Max Trilogy. A must own for fans of the series.
Selma (***) Paramount/PG-13/2 Hours 8 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Very good, but not perfect film about the famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama campaigned by the late civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyewolo, in a brilliant performance) to secure equal voting rights for African-Americans throughout this country which eventually led to the Voting Rights Act signed by President Lyndon B.Johnson (Tom Wilkinson). The film is slow paced, but the performances including support from both Carmen Ejogo and Wilkinson is what really drives this film to the eventual reenactment of the massive march which is very inspiring. The film is definitely Oyewolo's all the way and the main reason to see it.
Batman Animal Instincts (** 1/2) Warner Bros./PG-13/1 Hour 20 Minutes/1:78.1 Aspect Ratio This lastest DCU Animated film features the Dark Knight battling a slew of cyber animals that are terrorizing Gotham with a series of ultra bizzare crimes committed by the Animilitia, a group of dasterdly villains from the DC Universe made up of Silverback, Cheetah, Killer Croc and Man-Bat. Batman investigates the crimes in the search for the real culprit sending Gotham's infamous criminals to wreak havoc and is ultimately joined by Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing and Red Robin to battle the cyber villains before the city is destroyed. Not one of the best animated DCU films they've done, but a pretty good one. Everything that fans of the other films is here, plenty of action, characters to like and good animation. A solid set of features are included as usual from Warner Bros.
A bunch of special Television releases also make this set of releases including:
Brady Bunch Complete Series Paramount/2980 Minutes/20 Discs This special repackaged collection featuring the entire series run features all 117 episodes from the ultra popular series for a wonderful bargin reprises all of the special features previously available on the other complete series package and the individual season box set releases.
Wild Wild West Complete Series Paramount/5166 Minutes. Another repacking of the hit Western television series starring Robert Conrad as the famed Secret Agent James West paired with his sidekick and inventor Artimus Gordon on the trail of campy and unique villains similarly styled to the James Bond films on their modernized private train. This 26 disc package features the entire four season run of the hit series that would go on to unfortunately inspire the dreadful Will Smith film from 1999.
Fraser Complete Series Paramount/5895 Minutes Another welcomed repackaging of the complete series run of the Emmy Award Winning series spunoff from the hit series, Cheers. This massive 44 disc set starring Kelsey Grammer as Seattle phsychiatrist Fraser Crane who gets into a mess of mishaps along with his brother Niles (David Hyde-Pierce). A fun series, that made an impact during its' 11 season run and still is fun.
Power The Complete First Season Starz!/Anchor Bay/460 Minutes/2 Disc Blu-Ray/3 Disc DVD Entertaining series from executive producer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and the creator of the hit CBS' series, The Good Wife revolves around a world set in the New York club scene that is easily contrasted by the gritty and hard hitting streets there the drug trade rears its' ugly head. James "Ghost" St.Patrick (Omari Hardwicke) is a powerful man leading a double life where on one side is a legitimate family man and is the owner of the hottest New York club. His other life, revolves around his circles around the drug trade which have led him to this legitimate straight life which he's becoming more and more tempted to pursue and leaving the dangers of his past life which all of a sudden start calling in a serious way threatening everything he's built to this point. A solid show that has potential to become a cult classic in the years to come.
Ray Donovan Season 2 CBS/Paramount/636 Minutes/3 Disc Blu-Ray/4 Disc DVD Welcomed Second Season of the terrific Showtime series starring Live Schriber and Oscar Winner Jon Voight continues it's brilliant excellence with excellent performances throughout in a harrowing second season where our favorite Hollywood fixer finds himself battling personal problems with his dad, his wife's affections for a cop of all things and his rebellious daughter.
Odds and Ends
Lovesick Starz/Anchor Bay/1 Hour 25 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Uneven and mostly uncharming comedy starring Friends' Matt LeBlanc as the principal of a local school who falls for the aunt (played by Ali Larter of Resident Evil) of one his students and immediately becomes obsessed with her and tries to win her heart. I've seen both actors in better films and this isn't one of them despite the pretty good chemistry undone by a predictable finale.
Roommate Wanted Lionsgate/R/1 Hour 30 Minutes/1:78.1 Aspect Ratio Dreadful and annoying wanna be black comedy starring Spy Kids' Alexa Vega as a perfect girl who's the roommate to a psycho. There are no words that could describe this garbage other than just simple words such as: suck, suck, suck and ha ha ha. How this thing ever got greenlit is beyond words!
Duck Dynasty Season 7 Lionsgate/233 Minutes Yet, another season devoted to this series which to me is the most annoying thing on A&E as the Robertson family continues on their journey to the promised land of good things.
Champs Starz!/Anchor Bay/NR/1 Hour 31 Minutes/1:78.1 Aspect Ratio Solid and uncompromising documentary on this history of boxing and in particular, three former boxing champions in Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Evander Holyfield who tell their stories as they rise from poverty to fame to personal downfalls to personal recoveries in their lives with actors such as Oscar Winner Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Oscar Winning Director Ron Howard discussing a sport where anyone can go from a zero to a champion and eventually fall on hard times. A solid film.
Texas Rangers: The Real Stories Lionsgate/NR/2 Hours 15 Minutes This show revolves around the true stories of working as part of the most dangerous profession in this country in law enforcement. Not bad for its' type and very engaging at times.
Spare Parts Lionsgate/PG-13/1 Hour 54 Minutes Nice film based on a true story Directed by Sean McNamara, who directed the wonderful Soul Surfer years ago featuring a solid cast including Jaime Lee Curtis, George Lopez and Oscar Winner Marisa Tomei about a rag tag group of Hispanic students lead by their passionate teacher and very little money create a robot in a competition with MIT.
Picks of The Week
Ski School (***) Olive Films/1991/1 Hour 29 MInutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Fun, raunchy and a major guilty pleasure comedy revolving the worst group of ski instructors and skiiers named Section 8 led by their leader Dave (Summer School's Dean Cameron), his best friend (Stuart Fratkin) and their hard partying brother (Patrick Labertheaux) who have found the light at the end of their partying tunnel when John (Tom Breznahan), a pro skiier joins their group to lead them in a fierce competition against their preppy stuck up rival (Mark Miller) who wants to turn their beloved mountain into a resort for rich corporate big wigs. The film which was released on DVD makes a sensational Blu-Ray debut here in letterboxed form and does feature a lot of good laughs throughout and very appealing for those who love raunchy comedies of this type.
Hit! (***) Olive Films/1973/R/2 Hours 15 Minutes/2:35.1 Aspect Ratio This film could easily be considered as the first "Taken" of sorts as Billy Dee Williams plays a Federal Agent named Nick Allen, who recruits a group of regular citizens with criminal records including a young Richard Pryor as his own unauthorized personal hit squad under his supervision to go after a group of high class drug runners and wheeler dealers in Marsailles who are responsible for Williams' daughter death after overdosing. The film is slow paced but a very solid thriller that does work and is a unique one to the genre under Sidney J. Furie's direction.
King Of New York (****) Lionsgate/1990/R/1 Hour 46 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Sensational and easily one of Director Abel Ferrara's best and most popular films along with the Bad Lieutenant. Oscar Winner Christopher Walken plays a reformed drug kingpin who's released from prison trying to do good the wrong way trying to keep hospitals open and keeps getting back into his old bad habits with the help of his wild henchman Laurence Fishburne. While the NYPD declares war on Walken and his violent entourage led by CSI: Miami's David Caruso and Blade's Wesley Snipes to rid the streets of Walken for good. The film is one of the more violent, yet engrossing crime thrillers that have made this one a really popular films in the last 25 years. It's not as great as Scarface or Goodfellas, but this film is sensational and Walken's films are always fun! This one is definitely no exception.
Well that'll do it for this week but not before we recap this round up
- Fifty Shades of Grey Thumbs Down
- Paddington Thumbs Up!
- The Gambler Thumbs Up with Reservations
- The Boy Next Door Thumbs Down with trashy affection
- The Wedding Ringer Thumbs Up
- Cake Thumbs up mainly for Jennifer Aniston's solid performance
- Mordecai Marginal Thumbs Up
- Selma Thumbs Up
Next time we'll have some more solid reviews of the latest on the market including American Sniper starring Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper. Till then my balcony is closed.