Posts Tagged ‘dvd



12
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: Seven Days in May

sdimThose were seven tough days alright…

Starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, and Edmund O’Brien. Directed by John Frankenheimer.

It’s the Sixties and President Lymon (March) has a 29% approval rating (weird to think this would happen 40 years later, but hey, sometimes life does imitate art). He plans on signing a Nuclear Disarmament treaty with the Russians. This causes a problem with General of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James M. Scott (Lancaster). Working under Scott is Col. “Jiggs” Casey (Douglas). Casey finds out something called EconComm and several military officials betting on the Preakness. Does one thing have to do with another? Digging deeper Casey finds that his box is plotting a military coup and he has until March 18th to stop it from happening. He quickly alerts the President and a giant game of cat and mouse has begun, building up to the final day when the President has a Press Conference.

I liked this movie a lot, but then again Frankenheimer is one of my favorite directors. Having came from a background in television this becomes evident with showing various monitors and film playback in scenes. At points he tries giving an almost documentary feel to Kirk Douglas going around and discovering the true depths of the conspiracy.

One of the best scenes is when Lymon, just a day before the coup de grace, invites Scott over to talk about what’s going on. March vs. Lancaster is a scene that rivals Pacino and Deniro in “Heat.” It’s literally that good, and it brings out a few good points: who was more right or who was more wrong than the other?

Does it still stand up today? “Yes” if you can identify with a President with the lowest approval rating in history, or if you can relate to a country that has to cross its fingers and hope the other one will keep its word. “No” on the grounds that explicit letters pertaining to an affair were held back, trying to help Scott “save face” even if what he was doing was wrong. In today’s political climate most politicians or officials would NOT hold back letters regarding an affair. Maybe that’s the change in culture.

It may not be the greatest of the Frankenheimer catalog, but it’s a worthy addition. For those who enjoy conspiracy thrillers, especially Frankenheimer’s original “The Manchurian Candidate,” drop by the video store or put this one in your Netflix queue. It’s worth checking out.

My grade: B

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11
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: To Catch a Thief

to_catch_a_thief2

A fun little movie.

Stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on the novel by David Dodge.

Taking place in the late 40’s/early 50’s, Cary Grant plays wandering American John “The Cat” Robie who went to Europe, got captured by the Germans and released by the French Underground after which he became a jewel thief. Now he lives in a chateau overlooking the countryside, far removed from his previous life of crime. When a series of thefts in Nice mimic “The Cat” he pleads that he hasn’t committed a crime in 15 years. Teaming up with H.H. Hughson (John Williams, the actor not composer), a jewel insurer, Robie obtains a list of those with jewels to insure so he can beat the copycat burglar to their own game. This leads him to meet Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), a woman who came into oil money just as her husband died and her daughter, Frances (Kelly). Frances falls in love with Robie (who is posing as a lumber professional) but is unsure if he’s really committing the robberies. And Robie is unsure who the actual burglar is: is it her? Or someone from his past?

While the first 45 minutes of this movie dragged a little, not even a second after the movie kicks into high gear and becomes a fun ride. Hitchcock delivered on the suspense, tension, mystery, and intrigue, as well as being able to shoot in and around Nice. Grant is great and Kelly is incredibly beautiful. Interesting story with a good payoff ending.

Does this movie still hold up to today? Yes and no. Yes for everything after Grace Kelly appears on the screen, no because most people would be lost on the French Resistance and some other events of Word War II.

Watch for Hitch when Grant gets on a bus, sitting to the left (viewer right) of a woman with birds in a cage.

The copy I watched has the Theatrical Trailer, Photo and Poster Gallery, as well as Writing and Casting TCAT, The Making of TCAT, Alfred Hitchcock and TCAT: An Appreciation, and a tribute to Edith Head.

My grade: B+

03
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: Next

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 My grade: C. Wait, isn’t that a little more than 2 minutes in the future?

Stars Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel. Directed by Lee Tamahori. Based on the Philip K. Dick story, “The Golden Man.”

Nic Cage is Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas magician who morosely lives his life performing as Frank Cadillac and who keeps a secret: he can see 2 minutes into his own future. This helps him out of situations whereby he can easily hide from people, duck corners, avoid getting shot, or barely have a stolen car clipped by an oncoming train. “No good deed goes unpunished” as he stops casino carnage by disarming a serial casino shooter. This brings the attention of FBI agent Callie Ferris (Moore) who figures out that Cris’s ability to see into the future isn’t just a magic trick, it’s the real deal. Ferris needs Cris in order to help find a missing nuclear warhead that will take out the L.A. area faster than the current land eroding. Ferris isn’t the only one interested in Cris; the group with the stolen nuke figures that if the FBI is interested in him, so should they. Cris is only interested in living his life as normal and “under the radar” as possible until he meets Liz Cooper (Biel), a part-time teacher he hitches a ride to Flagstaff with and who has the ability to help him see further into the future.

File this one under “Good Idea, Okay Execution.”

Time travel, clairvoyance, precognition, what-have-you has been the staple of many a sci-fi film, and not always the good ones. To say this is the type of movie you can watch and then appreciate “Millennium” (Kris Kristofferson, Cheryl Ladd) may be a bit of an overstatement, but not by much (okay, I was a kid when I saw “Millennium” and thought the watches running backwards were cool, alright?) Okay, how about “Timecop?” I refuse to acknowledge “Star Trek’s” adventures in time because they’ve abused the privilege. The one thing these movies have over “Next” is: a story.

Getting past the point of belief that the bad guys would be interested in Cris, there’s not a lot else going on in this movie. Jessica Biel does a good job at being the romantic interest/ innocent person caught up in all the mayhem. Julianne Moore is good at being the balls-to-the-wall yet soft-hearted FBI agent needing to find Cris to stop the warhead from detonation. And Nic Cage slumbers around until he’s in an action sequence, at which point he jumps and flails around until it’s over and returns to sleep-acting.

Again, I return to the story. The movie smacks you with its “ain’t this cool?” premise so much that it often makes you forget that there has to be a point to the movie. The filmmakers designed the movie to confuse the viewer as to whether or not what we are seeing is the truth, or if it’s a 2-minute “sneak peek.” This actually ruins the ending. And the part where he makes multiple versions of himself to check for traps while cool is unwarranted.

I really wanted this movie to be good, or at least as entertaining as “Paycheck” (another movie based on a PKD story and hey, at least that one WAS entertaining). The movie tries to be cerebral, but there’s nothing cerebral about it with the exception of Cage moping around. The film also had problems mixing romance with action-adventure thriller, throwing the viewer for a loop. By the hour-mark I couldn’t care less about the characters; I just wanted to know how the movie ended. It should’ve spent less time screaming, “Hey, isn’t this concept cool?” and more time developing a story.

Let’s face it: it was a mess of a movie.

Of note, Jim Beaver (“Deadwood”) and Peter Falk (“Columbo”) were in this one.

My grade: C (cool idea, unworthy execution)

01
Jan
09

Movies on DVD Review: Hancock

hancock

 

A superhero mess of a movie.

Starring Will Smith, Justin Bateman, and Charlize Theron. Directed by Peter Berg.

I’m glad I didn’t shell out money on this one.

Story: $mith is Hancock, an alcoholic, washed-up amnesia-victimized superhero living in L.A. who causes more harm and damage than good. When he saves the life of PR professional Ray Embrey (Bateman), Embrey decides to return the favor by representing Hancock. Hancock begins to clean up his act, starting with voluntary jail time. When crime rises 40%, the city calls Hancock back into action. After, he finds out a secret from Ray’s wife Mary (Theron) that threatens the Embreys as well as himself.

The movie can be divided into three parts, as I will demonstrate:

Part One: Everything you saw in the trailer. Everything. If you saw it in the trailer or on a TV spot, it’s within the first third of the movie. $mith is a drunken superhero. $mith saves lives but at a giant cost. $mith saves Bateman. Theron stares at $mith weirdly.

Part Two: Hancock tries redeeming himself. This was the best part of the movie in my opinion. $mith tries being nicer. He goes to jail. He’s released and saves the day with minimal injuries. Everything is going well until…

Part Three: The ‘plot twist.’ In a way that only M. Night Shamma-lamma-ding-dong can appreciate, $mith finds that he’s over 3,000 years old and was married to Theron, who is also a superhero. They have a gigantic fight that goes from the mountains to the middle of L.A. Meanwhile, a group of cons escape prison. $mith ends up in the hospital Theron tells him that as long as they’re near each other, their powers diminish. The convicts find them and war breaks out in the hospital. Theron is shot and nears death, $mith stops the convicts and flies away. Eventually, everything gets better.

The biggest problem with this movie, aside from the structure, are the leaps in logic (what is commonly referred to as “suspension of disbelief”). In the Information Age, why couldn’t he find out who he was by going to the library? Wouldn’t there be public records, newspaper articles, something to remind him of who he was? Secondly, if Theron and $mith become mortal by being around one another, why did Theron leave only to “pretend” to be mortal around Ray and his kid?

But maybe the biggest crime is having a superhero movie without an arch-nemesis. Three convicts escape prison to go and kick Hancock while he’s down? What kind of bull is that? Yeah, I saw “Superman 2” and while Superman gave up his powers and was mortal he did it with conviction and he paid for the consequences; it was a choice he made, not a “by the way, check this out” convenient plot point. Wait a moment… “Superman 2” had three escaped convicts who took on the Man of Steel while he was mortal. Thieves! You screenwriting THIEVES!

And yes, the “plot twist” is an interesting concept, but in the movie it felt extremely B.S.

Sadly, $mith is working on the sequel to this.

My grade: C-

18
Dec
08

The Case for Steelbook

steelbook-dvd1

For those cruising the DVD aisles of Best Buy, Target, fye, or other DVD retailers, you may have noticed a different kind of DVD case: the Steelbook Case. The Steelbook Case has the exact same front cover of a standard Special Edition case, with the exception that the outside is metal. The inside is plastic, usually transparent with see-through images (notice the “Dark Knight” Steelcase shown above).

The Steelbook Case originates from Denmark. According to the website at www.steelbook.com, Steelbook cases are being used for movies, video games, etc. According to Torsten Brix, Director Group R&D at Glud & Marstrand, “When we started developing the all-metal box we knew that logistics would be a decisive factor.” Wanting to create sturdy, durable metal casing to protect DVDs as well as being aesthetically pleasing, he hired Jan Bjerregaard to help design, create, and automate the distribution of Steelbook.

Currently, Steelbooks are few but up-and-coming for US Region 1 DVDS. Aside from those shown in the picture, there are Steelbooks for “Iron Man,” “Boondock Saints,” “X-Files: I Want to Believe,” “X-Men: The Lats Stand,” and the restored “Godfather” movies. Europe, however, has a slightly larger selection with titles such as “The Departed,” the “Bourne” trilogy, “Beowulf,” “Superman Returns,” and “The Machinist.”

Will Steelbook “catch on” in the U.S.? With Steelbook just beginning to be a player in the DVD manufacturing world, its future is unknown. Although the prices are a little higher than standard DVDs, I like the style and feel of the cases. Of note, Steelbook cases are also being made for Blu-ray.

08
Dec
08

The Dark Knight on DVD and Blu-ray

Tomorrow (Dec.9) will be the release date for “The Dark Knight” on DVD. Whether you’re camping outside the Circuit City, cruising around the Target lot, waiting in line at the Best Buy, or pre-ordered at the fye, a TON of people are going to pick it up tomorrow. But if you’re a savvy DVD/ Blu-ray collector, what versions are available in stores? To save you some time and gas, here are the releases:

standard-single3This is the cover of the Standard and Widescreen Single Disc set. This will be offered at the major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. This version is basically the movie only.

 

 

 

 

standard-2discThis is the cover to the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note the Batpod and Joker covers. This will be offered at major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. Aside from the movie, Disc 2 will also include: Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene- How Christopher Nolan and His team developed the new Bat-Suit and the amazing Bat-pod, AND Composer Hans Zimmer on musically characterizing the Joker’s Reign of Chaos The Dark Knight IMAX scenes – view these 6 action-packed sequences – shot on the largest format possible – in their original IMAX framing, just as they were intended: Prologue, Hong Kong, Armored Car Chase, Lamborghini Crash, Prewitt Building and Final Montage

Gotham Tonight – 6 Episodes of Gotham Cable’s Premier News Program

The Galleries – Poster Art, Production Stills, Trailers

 

circuitcity-2discCircuit City is offering this Limited Edition variant cover. “Why so serious?” Same features as the Widescreen 2-disc, but with a digital copy.

 

 

 

 

 

bluray-2discBlu-ray is offering a 2-Disc set. Disc 1 contains the movie and Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene – director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the incredible detail and planning behind the film, including stunt staging, filming in IMAX, the new Bat-Suit and Bat-Pod and exclusive features via BD-Live

Disc 2 contains Batman Tech – the incredible gadgets and tools

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight – delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman througn real-world psychology

Gotham Tonight – 6 episodes of Gotham’s cable premier news program

The galleries – the joker cards, concept art, poster art, production stills, trailers & tv spots

 

bluray-lmtdBlu-ray also has a Limited Edition with a small scale model of the Batpod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fye-2discFinally, fye is releasing “The Dark Knight” Steelcase Edition. This will contain the same features as the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note: this will be released on Dec. 15.

 

 

 

 

walmert_batman1

 

 

 

Walmart is offering the standard Widescreen 2-disc. This however comes with a Collectible Batman comic book and Commemorative Coin (think Two-Face).

 

 

 

 

Thanks to MovieWeb for the information.

Check them out at www.movieweb.com

 

21
Nov
08

Will Digital Kill the Video Disc?

As I walk into my garage where I can pop the 8-track into my quadraphonic stereo and mellow out to the Mamas and Papas, I say to myself, “I love the digital age.”

 

No, wait.

 

Skip forward to the cassette and then to the CD to the MP3 player, or maybe from the VHS to the DVD to the digital download. Thanks to leaps in technology, and in no small part to the Internet, we can now download movies or watch them streaming from a site online. While the music counterpart was quick to ban against MP3 technology, and then eventually let it in, the Hollywood system has been cautious, nay leery, of digital technology.

 

Why this is no one can say for sure. Part of it could be the fight between the RIAA and peer-to-peer sites over copyright infringement, which has led to the creation of bit torrent sites for downloading. Part of it could be that downloading hurts any current contracts with DVD distribution companies. And part of it could be mankind’s caution with technology. No one of these reasons is greater than the others.

 

With the proliferation of the peer-to-peer and bit torrent sites, Hollywood was more than compelled to begin offering movies for downloading. Sites such as CinemaNow, Movielink, and Vongo have sprung up offering users up to 4,000 video/movie titles as well as hundreds of TV show episodes. iTunes has also joined the market, extending their interests from just music to TV, movies, and music videos.

 

Back to the question: will digital downloading kill DVD/Blu-ray discs?

 

“Yes” because:

         Society has become “instant gratification,” and with faster Internet ability and movies being able to be compressed to the size of 1gb, they will become easier to download. And when someone’s finished with the movie and no longer wants to keep it on their harddrive, they can just delete it.

         Downloading will kill the “need” for packaging. Like the example above, there will be no need to deal with scratched discs or misplaced ones, or creating shelf space to house your collection when you can keep it on a computer.

         Downloading will put the current video retailers (Blockbuster, Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video) out of business by offering “what’s new” to users online instead of making users wait in line at a checkout or brave “weather elements” as they stand outside a video cube.

 

“No” because:

         Currently, we do not have the electronic infrastructure for it. This means that if EVERY person in the U.S. logged on to download a movie, the Internet would HALT. While this is a worst-case scenario, it brings out the point that in order to offer more movies to more people, networks have to be changed/ rearranged, and we’re not currently seeing that happening.

         It would be nearly impossible (at least from the current standpoint) to offer the more than 21,000 films that have been made online. Each week several movies are available on disc, with only a fraction available online. We would first have to offer everything current before tackling the insurmountable-looking back catalog.

         Believe it or not, some people want the ability to hold a video in their hands, packaging and all. They don’t care about shelf space or depreciating value; it’s the ability to look for it (like a book) and pop it into the DVD player when they want, instead of having to navigate through a computer that they don’t like having.

         There is no clear platform for downloaded movies. Some of the services use a browser, while others use the application created by the company.

         Digital rights management. The above mentioned download sites have their “special” ways of displaying the movie you downloaded. Eventually, movie downloading and watching will have to go cross-platform, which means the above companies will have to agree on one format to use in order to show the films. That will also make the movies “easier” to pirate and transport.

         With all the viruses running around, as well as “inclement weather,” what happens when your computer DIES? The motherboard fries, the harddrive locks up, etc. If your collection isn’t burned onto disc, you’re in trouble…

 

In closing, my belief is that digital downloading, while it is an interesting addition to movie watching, has a ways to go before it will get to the point it needs to be. That and with the fact that computers aren’t 100% reliable, I do not believe that video discs are leaving all that soon.

 

For more info on movie site downloading, check out the following link:

http://www.bigpicturebigsound.com/movie-download-websites-903.shtml