Doctor Who: The Complete Eighth Series DVD Review

     Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 602 minutes



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            The world of “Doctor Who” has many rules and technicalities to the storyline, no doubt adjusted to continue the franchise from generation to generation. Among these are the specifics behind the doctor’s changing appearance through the years since his arrival in pop culture in 1963. Apparently there are a certain amount of incarnations of the same doctor over the years, which explains the change in actors playing him. The episode, “The Time of the Doctor,” marked the departure of Matt Smith and the introduction of Peter Capaldi for the eighth season. Unfortunately, “The Time of the Doctor” hasn’t been included in this collection, despite past seasons making a habit of including the traditional Christmas special.

     

    Guardians of the Museum DVD Review

         Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2014
  • Run Time: 112 minutes


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            Merely looking at the cover of the “Guardians of the Museum” DVD, one might automatically assume that this was some type of British rip-off of the popular Hollywood film franchise adapted from children’s books, A Night in the Museum. The artwork looks far too similar to go unnoticed, although the content could not be much different. Even with a cover that borders on plagiarism, “Guardians of the Museum” is a rather unique children’s educational game show. Directed at a younger audience, this show gives lessons while simultaneously using special effects and a somewhat contrived narrative to add some elements of fantasy into the historical trivia show.

     

    A Very Funny Christmas DVD Review

         Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2014
  • Run Time: 124 minutes



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            Based on the books by David Walliams, these two hour-long adaptations are not directly related to the holidays despite the conveniently titled package. “A Very Funny Christmas” merely contains two adaptations of stories by Walliams that happen to take place during the holidays. The irreverently imaginative children’s narratives could easily be watched any time of the year, but packaging them this way enhances the timeliness of the stories and sets the DVD up for holiday purchases.

     

    Cartoon Network: Holiday Collection DVD Review

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Cartoon Network
  • DVD Release Date: October 7, 2014
  • Run Time: 44 minutes



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            It is that time of year again, which means many home entertainment releases that would be deemed inconsequential released during any other season. These theme DVDs are a regular occurrence year-round, but they only truly make sense with the holiday collections. Clearly designated as a stocking-stuffer gift, this collection comes with four Christmas-themed episodes from three popular Cartoon Network series.

     

    A Belle for Christmas DVD Review

         Actors: Dean Cain, Kristy Swanson, Haylie Duff
  • Director: Jason Dallas
  • Writer: Jake Helgren
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 91 minutes



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            This is a little bit strange, but as I prepared to review this typically overly-saccharine holiday film involving a dog I couldn’t help but notice that star Dean Cain has a longstanding relationship with both holiday and canine-themed family films. Along with this film, Cain has many other holiday films on his resume, including A Christmas Wedding (2006), A Nanny for Christmas (2010), The Case for Christmas (2011), Merry ExMas (2014), Small Town Santa (2014), Defending Santa (2014).

     

    Premature DVD Review

         Actors: John Karna, Craig Roberts, Alan Tudyk
  • Director: Dan Beers
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes



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            Premature is a predictably typical sex comedy in nearly every way, with the exception of the time loop narrative that makes it resemble Groundhog’s Day or The Edge of Tomorrow for a high school virgin. And even the use of a time loop somehow does little to motivate originality in the screenplay, which is content to re-use the same vulgar gag repeatedly as the only source of entertainment within the film. Characters are little more than props for the repeat sex jokes and predictable outcomes, with female characters sketched out in a two-dimensional manner to fit into the male fantasy.

     

    Bound by Flesh DVD Review

         Actors: Lea Thompson, Nancy Allen
  • Director: Leslie Zemeckis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes


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            Bound by Flesh is strongest when delving into the historical context of the freak show rather than the personal lives of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton. It isn’t that their lives aren’t interesting, but we are given very little content to help us understand or relate to them as people, beginning with the essential choice to remain conjoined despite having no medical reason to stay that way. These sisters chose to remain attached to each other, even long after their fame and careers in the entertainment industry had passed.

     

    The Paradise: Season Two Blu-ray Review

        
         Format: Blu-ray, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: November 18, 2014
  • Run Time: 464 minutes



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            “The Paradise” is a new BBC series which has the feel of a classic literature adaptation, filled with savory melodrama and colorful characters in an immaculate Victorian setting. Season one of this delightful romance could stand alone as a miniseries by the way the story is neatly wrapped up in eight episodes, though the narrative continues with this second season. While the narrative may not be so neatly contained in a second season, the characters are increasingly endearing through a new series of obstacles and conflicts.  

     

    Miss Marple Blu-ray Review


        Actors: Joan Hickson
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 28, 2014
  • Run Time: 527 minutes





  •         Agatha Christie’s iconic character of Miss Marple has been played by many actresses, from Margaret Rutherford to Angela Landsbury with more adaptations inevitably on their way, but none are likely to surpass the success of the original interpretations by Joan Hickson in the 1980s and early 90s. Hickson was 78 when she was cast as Miss Marple in 1984, making her one of the oldest actresses to ever take a lead role in a television series. This collaboration resulted in twelve television film adaptations of Christie’s classic works starring Hickson, before her retirement eight years later.

     

    Last Heroes of D-Day DVD Review

       

         Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 100 minutes




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            “Last Heroes of D-Day” is a 2-part World War II documentary special about the events leading up to D-Day on June 6th, 1944. Utilizing interviews from surviving veterans, reenactments and special effects, this special gives the top secret stories of espionage and planning that went into the calculated attack in Northern France by the Allied Forces. It is all very cutting edge and flashy, including hip young host Dan Snow.

     

    Walter’s War DVD Review

           
       Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 108 minutes




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            Walter Tull was a successful professional football player prior to the First World War, where he was a heroic non-commissioned officer until his death in 1918. The television movie, “Walter’s War” focuses entirely upon Tull’s time in the war, and the 53-minute TV-movie feels incomplete because of these limitations in the screenplay. This wounds the telling of this true story, but it is the cliché racial obstacles within the narrative that deals a fatal blow to the derivative screenplay from actor-turned-writer Kwame Kwei-Armah.

     

    It Happened One Night Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable
  • Director: Frank Capra
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
  • Release Date: November 18, 2014
  • Run Time: 105 minutes


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            This was the film which catapulted the success of the screwball comedy genre in the 1930s, not to mention its impact on the sales of undershirts in America. Made just prior to the days of Production Code censorship and restriction, It Happened One Night has a sequence which doesn’t seem anything but mild by today’s standards, but might have been cut had the film been made a year later. The scene featured Clark Gable’s character undressing, and this dashing star’s missing undershirt in this sequence suddenly gave men all over the country to skimp on this article, either for fashion or frugality.

     

    I Am Ali Blu-ray Review

         Director: Clare Lewins
  • Writer: Clare Lewins
  • Producers: Clare Lewins, George Chignell, Greg Hobden
  • Format: Blu-ray, Ultraviolet, Widescreen
  • Language: Portuguese (DTS 5.1), German (DTS 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, English
  • Dubbed: Portuguese, French, German, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Rated: PG
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Release Date: November 11, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016
  • Run Time: 112 minutes


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            Certain cultural figures never truly leave the limelight, and it feels as though there is renewed interest in their celebrity every few years through various documentary and film projects. These icons most commonly include John Lennon, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. The latter of these three has been given another documentary feature to praise his accomplishments, though I Am Ali does little to add to the cultural significance of the man. Aside from the rehashing of familiar material, the main draw of I Am Ali is commentary from those closest to him and private recordings of personal conversations with family members. For those who have no need to hear one of the greatest boxers talking in a baby voice for his children, any of the other documentaries will likely suffice.

     

    22 Jump Street Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Peter Stormare, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Wyatt Russell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony
  • Release Date: November 18, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017


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            21 Jump Street seemed like a terrible idea, along with The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch and every other television-to-film adaptation from decades past. In the end, it was the film’s unwillingness to take the material seriously which was ultimately the saving grace, which is why it makes sense for the post-modern, self-referential style to carry the sequel into successful comedic territory. Rather than just creating a straightforward second installment in the franchise, this quickly becomes a comedy about the ridiculousness of all buddy-action sequels. The impact of this humor was also far greater before the news of another sequel in the works, especially since the end of this film is dedicated to poking fun at that very prospect.

     

    Land Ho! Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Paul Eenhoorn, Earl Lynn Nelson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 95 minutes



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            Road trip films are often far more interested in the journey than the destination, but the Icelandic setting of Land Ho! makes each step of the trip feel like an arrival of sorts. The plot is minimal between the two old friends on the trip together, so all focus is on the character development, and the scenery often feels as though it has a supporting role in the narrative. This is not unlike many other road trip/vacation buddy comedies, though it does begin to feel like a travelogue for Iceland at certain points in the meandering screenplay.

     

    Iceman Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Eva Huang, Simon Yam
  • Director: Law Wing Cheong
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: November 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 104 minutes


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            Donnie Yen has somehow gone from one of the most impressive martial arts action stars working today to becoming nothing more than a celebrity face for the latest CGI-filled blockbuster in Chinese cinema. Iceman is the latest of these poorly constructed vehicles of mass entertainment, mashing up period costume drama with modern police procedural, all filtered through the expectations of logic usually lowered for a comic book movie. There is action and humor every fifteen-minutes, all meant to entertain while distracting from the ridiculousness bursting from every frame of this film. And just in case the open-ended resolution of the film’s climax doesn’t completely turn away the audience, there are plans for a sequel to follow.

     

    LFO DVD Review

         Actors: Patrik Karlson, Per Lofberg
  • Director: Antonio Tublen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Swedish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Dark Sky Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
  • Run Time: 98 minutes



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            This low-budget science-fiction dark comedy from Sweden plays into the darker recesses of human nature, specifically delving into the question of what we might do if there were no repercussions for our actions. What if we could act any way that we wanted, because the simple push of a button could provide the ability to control the way that others perceive events? LFO imagines a situation where that power is in the hands of a disturbed loner spending most of his time alone, envious of those he watches from the windows of his home.

     

    Beneath DVD Review

        Actors: Kelly Noonan, Jeff Fahey
  • Director: Ben Ketai
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
  • Run Time: 89 minutes



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            The ambiguity of the horror film Beneath is what allows it to still claim inspiration from a true story, though we know that many of the film’s more grotesque images cannot possibly have existed in reality. This is also what helps the audience to grasp some type of understanding from the ambiguity. I found this construction in the screenplay to be the most impressive element of the film, which in every other way seems to be as generic a horror movie as I have ever seen.

     

    Impractical Jokers: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 572 minutes



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            I was more than a bit of a troublemaker when I was younger, mostly due to my overactive imagination and the unwillingness to remain bored. When my physical situation is dull, I find my mind compensating with creative inspiration for ideas of less than traditional amusement. In other words, I would have fit right in with the guys of “Impractical Jokers,” despite the fact that they are fully grown and still amusing themselves through immature methods. The adult in me is somewhat embarrassed for these four grown men, while the kid in me is simply jealous of their job.

     

    Deliver Us From Evil DVD Review

         Actors: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez
  • Format: Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017



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            There have been far too many exorcism/demonic possession films in recent film history for Deliver Us from Evil to stand out without a twist, which is the blending of a police procedural with the religious horror genre. Add the fact that it was inspired by actual accounts of an NYPD sergeant (another favored element of the genre), and Deliver Us from Evil should have delivered adequate entertainment. Unfortunately, in order for a film to be frightening, you have to be able to see what is going on, and this is easily one of the worst shot horror films I have ever seen.