Monthly Archives: March 2017

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Movie Trailer – Agent

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Derek Ting

Starring: Derek Ting, Olivia Hultgren, Eric Keitel

Release: 2017

Is this a joke?  Is someone playing a joke on me and the rest of the cinematic world?  This can not possibly be a real movie.  If it’s a fake film, than you got me, and if it’s real, it’s the worst thing ever made.  Shame on whoever.


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Movie Trailer – Little Boxes

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Rob Meyer

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson

Release: April 14th, 2017

I had high hopes for this film based on the bare bones of the story and the fact that Melanie Lynskey is an international treasure.  But I’ve got to say, the trailer really let me down.  The story looks messy and boring, with some b-list celebrities thrown in just for fun, and no real attention given to truly making this a poignant yet funny drama about an important topic.  I’m disappointed, and I’m out, unless I hear shockingly good things coming from film festivals.


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DVD Review – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Category : DVD Review

Director: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler

Year: 2016

Producing anything that is even remotely related to the Harry Potter universe is a guaranteed money-maker, from theme parks to scarves, from screenplays to jellybeans.  Creating a prequel of sorts and setting up a schedule to release one every two years is a no-brainer, Rowling & Co. set to make mega-millions more than the mega-millions they’ve already raked in.  It’s no guarantee of the quality of the side projects of course, but that hardly matters; audiences will come to the theatre in droves to see whatever new piece of the puzzle the creators of one the richest fantasy worlds ever imagined have decided to tease them with next.  I’ve read the books, I’ve seen the movies, I’m a fan, so don’t count on me to criticize the story or the money made thereon, but also don’t expect me to blindly enjoy anything they decide to label with an ‘HP’.  In fact, I didn’t enjoy this film at all, thought it was an extremely weak attempt all around, and would not put much faith in the other impending four being much better.

The Movie

Newt Scamander, the young man with the weird, amphibian name, the young man who wants to save all God’s creatures great and small.  Actually, I don’t know if he believes in God, do wizards go in for that sort of thing?  But Newt loves all Earth’s creations anyway, valuing the life of all animals, be they lovely or dangerous.  He is much like Hagrid in that mindset, not caring if something could possible kill or eat him, interested only in their safety and happiness.  Newt has amassed quite the collection of animals, not in order to set up a maniacal menagerie, but rather to release them into their proper environment, after he has cared for them and seen them fully prepared for life outside his magic suitcase, a bag that is so much more than it appears.  He keeps his zoo with him wherever he goes, and can enter into a giant realm of varying ecosystems at a moment’s notice to lovingly treat the injured, displaced, and afraid.

Sounds like a great guy, and so he is, but his obsession with creatures has blinded him to the safety of humans.  On a trip to New York from London in order, so he says, to purchase a rare species, Newt stumbles into a dangerous situation that his expertise may make him the perfect hero for, but that his odd case might make him the simple suspect of.  A deadly force has been terrorizing the city, and the local government thinks that Newt’s animals might be to blame.  A failed agent named Tina takes him into custody, only to find herself mixed up in whatever the bloody hell is going on.  Along with her sister and a confused Muggle, Newt and Tina must find the true culprit behind the attacks, capture it if they can, and at the same time find all the relatively harmless animals who really have escaped from Scamander’s case before they cause any real damage.

I don’t begrudge money-maker movies, even when it’s obvious, because we’re the audiences, we can choose not to see them, we don’t have to pay for a product that we can be fairly sure is tricking us into watching.  Create a universe, have a hit, and you’re pretty much set for life, because we are always game for another venture into a fantastic world that caught our attention before.  So I don’t blame J.K. for writing this screenplay, for expanding on our knowledge of the wizarding world, for taking our cash with a smile on her face.  But I do wish that she had been a bit more inventive with her story, something that was obviously made without that same magical fabric as Harry Potter.  It felt underdeveloped, like a plot thought of on a whim, and it never harnessed the power of the films that have come before, never convinced me that I should judge it solely on its own merit.  And if I had done, if I was able to step completely away, I think I’d be even harsher than I intent to be here.

Because, aside for Eddie Redmayne, who is a treasure, the only positives to this movie are the cool creatures and impressive computer images.  I like this universe, I wanted to see more, I got that and some really awesome visuals to boot, but, other than that and apart from Redmayne, almost everything else I can think of was lackluster.  The plot was silly, with an ending that took three seconds to think up and one minute of screen time.  The actors were third-rate, other than Colin Ferrell, who I respect immensely but who was given absolutely nothing to work with here.  Actual, there was an actress who stood out, but for all the wrong reasons, and that was Katherine Waterston.  She was completely lifeless, an awful heroine, and someone I hope to never see again.  She was bad in Inherent Vice, she’ll be bad in Alien: Covenant, and I wish she hadn’t had a place in this film.  Nothing about Fantastic Beasts seemed well thought out or well thought through, almost as if it was made for money alone without a care whether it was actually necessary to produce.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 (1080p HD 16×9) and using an Arri Alexa XT Studio camera with Panavision E- and G-Series lenses, the video quality of the film is top notch, there won’t be any disappointment there.  The incredible array of computer animation on display was breathtaking, as was each and every one of Scamander’s creatures, done with such an eye to detail and description.  The sets were brilliant, from NYC to the underground magical world, from inside Newt’s case to inside Tina’s apartment.  Care was placed on the visuals, that’s for sure, and you can feel Harry’s world coming through very strongly.

Audio – The Blu-ray was done in Dolby Atmos English, with an option of DTS-HA Master Audio English 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, and Portuguese.  Subtitles can be selected in English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.  The audio quality of the film receives high marks as well, both for its explosive sound effects and for its use of the theme music we’ve grown to enjoy coming out of this universe.  I always find the balance between dialogue and effects to be a bit action-heavy on Blu-rays, but that’s something most audience members have grown accustomed to.

Extras – There are a ton of special features on the Blu-ray disc, if you can’t get enough of this colossal creation.  Before Harry Potter: A New Era of Magic Begins! is a 15-minute behind-the-scenes and interviews segment.  Characters is a collection of five character studies.  Creatures is seven fascinating creature reports.  Design is six featurettes focused on bringing the film to life.  And there are eleven Deleted Scenes brought together for your enjoyment.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  Judged as a bit of history from the world of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts should charm fans and ignite the old flames that appeared after reading the first books, or watching the first films.  It’s dessert to a starving fan, something many will gobble up, and I don’t blame them.  Beautiful scenes, stunning graphics, imaginative artistic; there is much to enjoy here.  But I can’t help also judge this story as its own feature, and in that way it failed.  The story was not well-written, the dialogue was not sharp, there are moments when I wondered why on Earth that just happened, and the entire project feels a little forced.  It’s a vehicle for the franchise, a way to make money, and I don’t blame it for that, but I also can’t only rave about its visuals, I need to mention its content as well, and that just wasn’t strong enough.  The video is wonderful, the audio solid, there are many extras, so the technical aspects of the project won’t let you down.  Just don’t expect Lord of the Rings, or even Sorcerer’s Stone, because Fantastic Beasts doesn’t have the same heart and won’t leave the same impression.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Rupture

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Steven Shainberg

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Chiklis, Kerry Bishé

Release: April 28th, 2017

I don’t even think this movie looks so bad, I just think it looks like too much.  It’s obviously over-weighted with themes and horror elements; someone needed to pare this story down into something much more concise.  It looks cool and creepy and I’m curious, but I bet the final product won’t be great, I bet at the end we’ll feel overwhelmed and underimpressed.


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Movie Trailer – Churchill

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Starring: Brian Cox, John Slattery, Miranda Richardson

Release: June 2nd, 2017

There’s another Churchill film coming out later this year, and than there’s Dunkirk, so WWII must really be popular right now, although when isn’t it, I guess.  I’m prepared to see any number of films about this era, so I’m not really the person who has to be convinced to go to the theatre, and I wonder at the impact this movie will have on potential audiences.  I’m in, but I doubt the casual movie-goer is.


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Sports – Feisty Foxes 2017

Category : Sports

Spring is in the air and that means baseball!  A new season is right around the corner, time to root root root for the home team.  And with the beginning of the MLB year comes the beginning of fantasy baseball.  If you play you know how addicting it is; the daily lineups, the trades, the hot/cold players, the DL stints.  And if you’ve never played, hop on board & enjoy the ride, it’s a great way to enjoy a great game even more.  Here is my fantasy baseball team this year, once again christened the Feisty Foxes.  I went home run heavy with a bullpen of solid pitchers.  Let me know what you think and/or how your fantasy draft went this year.  Good luck everyone!

C – Evan Gattis – Houston Astros

1B – Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers

2B – Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles

3B – Alex Bregman – Houston Astros

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera – New York Mets

LF – Khris Davis – Oakland Athletics

CF – Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles

RF – Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies

Bench – Yangervis Solarte – San Diego Padres

 Bench – Carlos Gomez – Texas Rangers

Bench – Matt Wieters – Washington Nationals

SP – Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants

SP – Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians

SP – Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals

SP – Aaron Sanchez – Toronto Blue Jays

SP – Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles

SP – Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels

SP – Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies

SP – Ian Kennedy – Kansas City Royals

RP – Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles

RP – Alex Colome – Tamps Bay Rays

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Movie Trailer – Handsome: A Netflix Mystery

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jeff Garlin

Starring: Jeff Garlin, Natasha Lyonne

Release: May 5th, 2017

This looks awful, like a stand-up routine gone horribly wrong, or a crime caper that jumped the tracks.  Netflix is making a brand around the crime/comedy, but I’ve seen too many similar trailers lately, it’s already starting to get a little old.  I’m ready for them to release some bigger stuff, and pronto.


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Movie Trailer – Captain Underpants

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: David Soren

Starring: Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll

Release: June 2nd, 2017

I don’t like the movies they mentioned that this would be like, so I have no faith that I’ll enjoy this film either.  The trailer is a little funny, I didn’t hate it, but that’s not nearly enough to get me into the theatre to see it, or more likely, sit my kids down to watch it.  And I have no idea where this story came from, I don’t know the source material, so the ‘phenomenon’ aspect completely misses its mark with me.


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DVD Review – Resistance

Category : DVD Review

Director: Amit Gupta

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wlaschiha, Michael Sheen

Year: 2011

I can’t use the term “alternate history” without thinking of “alternative facts”, so there goes that innocence, thanks Trump.  It’s ironic that both terms mean fiction when one of them is supposed to mean truth, but to avoid getting political, I’ll attempt to slide past what my mind wants me to focus on and stick to the film at hand.  Alternate history is an entertaining genre, re-imagining the past and reshaping it into what might have been.  It’s almost a form of science fiction, minus the science, or at least has a multi-dimensional feel that I enjoy, an other-worlds-than-these atmosphere that I like woven into a historic drama, which I also like.  So the genre is a win-win; too bad this take on it is most definitely not.

The Movie

As WWII draws to a close, Germany is poised for victory.  D-Day has failed, the Allies have not retaken Europe, and Nazi forces are beginning to take over the civilized world.  They begin their occupation of Britain, an inexorable crawl that meets no battle, as a defeated England draws in on itself in an admission of defeat.  Entering the nation from the south and from the east, the Germans parade across the countryside in relative peace and order, exemplifying the unstoppable end.  The British government issues that no civilian should help or aid the occupying forces, that they should stay in their homes, that life goes on, but for those on the new “front”, choices are not so simple.

In one small village, the women of the farms wake up one morning to discover that all their men have disappeared.  The assumption is that they have joined in the resistance in the hills, refusing to sit and watch enemy troops take control of their country.  But no man said a word to his wife, so that no clue could be given to the Nazis, and now the women must live under German control alone and unsure.  As winter approaches, a small German military band stationed in the village begins to help with the farm work, the saving of animals and crops, the protection of the local people.  They seem to want to sit out the rest of the war, to forget that they are enemy soldiers, to keep a low profile from the watchful eyes of the Gestapo.  But can the villagers accept these men, can they forget their own kin living somewhere in the forests, and can life really go on after so much war?

The idea behind this film is fairly brilliant.  We’ve seen occupation stories centered around the Holocaust, even around Nazis in France, but I’ve never come across an alternate history based on the possibility of occupied Britain.  I’m sure there are enough true stories from this time period to fill a million films, but it was nice to see something unique in its content and its fiction, creating a new way to look at WWII for those who just can’t get enough.  Giving a face to those who suffered from this war in this way, even a fictionalized face, was intriguing, as was the attention given to the German soldiers as well, painting them as people rather than uniforms.  Shooting a gun is easy, creating relationships with sworn enemies is something else entirely, a concept this film plays with in a very imaginative way.

And that’s where the positives end, other than the first 10 minutes of the film.  As we enter the village and discover that the men have gone, we meet the women who are left, a few underground resistance fighters, and the Nazi troops stationed here.  These characters are fascinating at first in their complexity, but quickly lose any magic as the film trudges on.  It quickly becomes one of the dullest war movies you will ever see, and I don’t mean because it lacks big explosions, but because it also lacks any real reason to watch.  There’s a pseudo-love story, a cameo by Michael Sheen, some walks in the woods, and all the while audiences have got to be wishing that someone would put this story out of its misery.  It’s both boring and banal, a failure to create a stirring drama based on the curious what-ifs of history.  Don’t be fooled by the set up; the rest of the show offers us nothing.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using Panavision cameras and lenses, the video quality of this film is nowhere near the strength that it ought to be, failing to visually capture the locale or the time period in a way that pleases audiences or lives up to the potential of the technology at hand.

Audio – In the setup menu, there is a choice between Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound, with an option of turning on English subtitles.  That’s it as far as the sound is concerned, and the music is even less exciting, adding to the film in no way whatsoever.

Extras – There are no special features on this disc.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  With a good concept but very little else, this is a movie better skipped by most, but something that might just interest enough aficionados for a recommendation that you don’t write it off completely.  The alternate history aspect is very cool, as is the beginning set up, but the fact that the rest of the action seems to be a race to rock bottom destroys any credibility the movie earns early on.  The technical aspects are all dubs, from the audio/visual to the extras.  Only WWII buffs or slow romance fiends would find a spark here, and I imagine even the more critical among them would recognize that the meat of the film is not of a very high quality.

☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Death Note

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Willem Dafoe

Release: August 25th, 2017

This film is at the center of the current white-washing controversy; it seems like movies take turns, one taking on the anger, and then passing the torch to another.  I don’t mean to disregard the problem, but it’s become a buzz word rather than an actual cause, and that makes it the victim of cynicism, which doesn’t help anyone.  So, I don’t know, I’m no expert on white-washing or on this franchise, so I’ll just say that I’m intrigued by the story, I’m glad it has a popular base, and I look forward to checking it out when it comes on Netflix this summer.