BLU-RAY MOVIE REVIEWS

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Brandon A. DuHamel  |  Feb 02, 2018  |  4 comments
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Ridley Scott’s stunning dystopian allegory about the meaning of life, where technology ends and humanity begins, Blade Runner—from the Philip K. Dick cyberpunk novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—draws from many influences. Perhaps the strongest are the classic Fritz Lang film Metropolis and the Heavy Metal sci-fi magazines of the 1970s. The story follows gruff lawman Deckard (Harrison Ford) chasing androids called “replicants” that are nearly indistinguishable from humans.
Josef Krebs  |  Feb 02, 2018  |  0 comments
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Based the novel by E. M. Forster, Maurice is a groundbreaking room with a different view, projecting as much romance, passion, and class consciousness as producer Ismael Merchant and screenwriter-director James Ivory brought to their earlier hit adaptation of another Forster novel. In 1909, a student at Cambridge, Clive, urges college colleague Maurice to embrace the love of male physical beauty as described in classical literature and accept their mutual platonic love.
Josef Krebs  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  0 comments
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Shot on a budget of $5 million, acquired for $12 million, and promoted with a $20-million marketing budget, The Big Sick grossed $50 million worldwide and claimed much acclaim. For me, The Big Sick initially came across as The Big Suck, but on a second, more sobering screening, it made sense, building from the characters’ youthful shallowness to emotional growth into something like near-human depth.
David Vaughn  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  0 comments
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When an extraterrestrial being is left behind on Earth, he befriends a 10-year-old boy named Elliott who, as luck would have it, is in dire need to be loved and wanted. He’s the middle of three children, and his parents’ recent divorce has put a strain on the household. The pair share a bond that leads to some trouble at school for Elliott, but in the end, E.T. just wants one thing—to go home—and Elliott and his family are more than willing to help this happen.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 19, 2018  |  1 comments
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When I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, as a college student, I was bored and, beyond that, puzzled: such a static set piece from the maker of Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange. I wasn’t alone: Box office was middlin’, critics were mixed. The film now strikes me as a masterpiece, although a demanding one, as many masterpieces are. Based on Thackeray’s mid-19th-century novel about the rise and fall of an Irish upstart seeking to connive his way into British high society, it’s a string of gorgeous pictures, as gorgeous as many paintings in a museum, and Kubrick modeled many shots on paintings by Hogarth, Gainsborough, and other artists of the era.
Chris Chiarella  |  Jan 19, 2018  |  2 comments
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Many filmmakers would surely crack under the challenges of finally bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen. But the remarkably gifted Patty Jenkins (writer/director of 2004’s Monster, her last feature) tackles the ambitious production—an action-heavy World War I– era period piece—with educated gusto, thoughtfully honoring and expanding upon the beloved heroine’s legacy. Of course, none of that matters without the right star, and Gal Gadot’s Princess Diana combines strength, brains, and innocence to give this movie an irresistible heart.
Corey Gunnestad  |  Jan 05, 2018  |  0 comments
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I typically tend to bash films that rely on hackneyed plot devices and laughably implausible action sequences, and Disney’s latest escapade in their beleaguered Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is guilty on all charges. The entire series has anchored its plot lines to a host of supernatural elements like cursed pirates, leviathan sea monsters, and homicidal mermaids.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 05, 2018  |  0 comments
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Based on a series of twelve children’s books, Captain Underpants: The Original Superhero is the story of Best Friends Forever George and Harold. To stay sane in their suffocating grammar school, they write comics starring their imagined superhero, Captain Underpants. They also engage in elaborate pranks, to the dismay of their insufferable, warden-like principal, Mr. Krupp.
David Vaughn  |  Dec 22, 2017  |  0 comments
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Captured in 1943, a battalion of British soldiers is forced to work as slave labor to build a bridge for the Japanese over the River Kwai. The sadistic POW commander, Col. Saito, insists the British officers work alongside the enlisted personnel against the bylaws of the Geneva Convention. The British officer, Col. Nicholson, brings this to the attention of Saito, who promptly puts him in the “hot box” until he changes his tune. Nicholson refuses to back down, and a battle of wills ensues. Saito eventually realizes he’s fighting a losing battle and must find a way to inspire the prisoners to work faster, and Nicholson is the key to getting the bridge built on time.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 22, 2017  |  0 comments
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Can the dangerous business of getaway driving be elevated to an art form? Propelled by the constant soundtrack of his life, Baby (Ansel Elgort) combines speed, daring, and creativity in a thrilling and highly profitable display of skill. He doesn’t want to be a part of this prolonged crime spree, but he needs to repay a debt to a local kingpin (Kevin Spacey). In fact, he believes he has an exit strategy all figured out, once they’re square, and that he and his new lady friend (Lily James) can drive off into the sunset.
David Vaughn  |  Dec 15, 2017  |  2 comments
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In a world where people are enhanced with technology, Major (Johansson) is rescued from near death, or so she believes. Her cybernetic implants make her the first of her kind as she fights criminals with an upper hand, but things are not always what they seem to be. She begins to have visions of her past and starts to believe that the corporation that “saved” her is actually trying to control her. She makes it her personal mission to unravel her mysterious past and find out what truly happened.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 15, 2017  |  0 comments
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Although Martin Scorsese is listed as one of the executive producers, Free Fire actually seems to exude more of the DNA from Reservoir Dogs. This impressively tight hour-and-a-half plays out as essentially one long scene—an arms deal gone bad—with a diverse group of tough guys (and gal) brought to life by a well-chosen international cast.
Chris Chiarella  |  Dec 08, 2017  |  2 comments
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Remember how excited we were when we heard that George Lucas—the man who started it all—was going back to directing Star Wars movies? And a lot of us went to see Episode I and said, “Oh.” And then, a few years older and wiser, we sat through Episode II and said, “Oh. Well.”

Ridley Scott is putting us through much the same ringer with the Alien franchise he began, famously returning for 2012’s technically accomplished but overly complicated Prometheus (also newly available on 4K). And now he’s back again with Alien: Covenant, which might just be the nadir for the series.

Corey Gunnestad  |  Dec 08, 2017  |  0 comments
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Seventeenth-century feudal Japan wasn’t exactly fertile ground for sowing the seeds of Christianity. For the Jesuit priests who went there to bring the word of God and their faithful converts, they were met with hostility, unspeakable cruelty, and death. Christ was the ultimate living example of persecution and sufferance, and the Jesuits could find strength and perseverance in that. But even Christ had his moment of doubt, and every person has his breaking point. And the Japanese were ruthlessly methodical in their efforts.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 01, 2017  |  0 comments
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When a new baby arrives at the Templeton house, seven-year-old Tim has his world turned upside down. He’s even more flummoxed when he sees that the baby is wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase, and is here on a mission from BabyCorp, where babies come from. Puppy Co., the company that Tim’s parents work for, is threatening BabyCorp’s only market by producing cute, cuddly, “forever puppies” that threaten to eliminate the human passion for babies.

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