Paddington Theatrical Review

 
 

 


        The increase in digitally created characters saw an increase this past year, most notably with the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and with the intelligent primates of Dawn of the Planet of Apes. Although these films feature cutting-edge effects and technology, it seems to me that the greatest indicator of their success is the ability to blend in. The narrative should not be secondary to the impressive technical abilities of the film, and Paddington succeeds in having the spirit of the source material taking precedence over flashy effects.

No Good Deed Blu-ray Review

     Format: Blu-ray, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony
  • Release Date: January 6, 2015
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2018
  • Run Time: 84 minutes



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            The biggest crime of No Good Deed is simply how dull and unimaginative it manages to be with the simplistic plot. Sure, it is absurd how the film connects the storyline with a ridiculous twist at the end. Yes, the narrative is dominated by unimaginative violence and terror perpetrated against attractive women in peril. The plot is contrived, the characters one-dimensional, and the dialogue asinine, but it is the lack of imagination that truly irritated me.

     

    Traffickers Blu-ray Review

        Actors: Chang Jung Lim, Daniel Choi, Oh Dal-su, Jo Yoon-hee
  • Director: Kim Hong-seon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Korean
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 23, 2014
  • Run Time: 111 minutes


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            Traffickers opens with an intense sequence, before even getting caught up in details of plot or character, and at its best moments returns to this suspenseful style of filmmaking. Unfortunately, the plot is never able match these glimmers of effective filmmaking. Despite some well-shot sequences, the final product is too uneven and jumbled. There are too many coincidences and twists, in an apparent attempt to create an exciting fictional storyline from real-world criminal events.

     

    Get on Up Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis
  • Director: Tate Taylor
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Release Date: January 6, 2015
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016




  •         From the opening sequence that has Chadwick Boseman in make-up as an aged James Brown pulling a shotgun on the employees of his car dealership for using his personal restroom, it is quite clear that Get on Up is determined not to be your typical straightforward biopic. From winks and nods to the camera from the protagonist to a narrative that jumps back and forth in time as a means of maintaining high octane storytelling fitting the subject, this is a movie set out to capture the essence of James Brown over aspects of realism. Just the same, Boseman’s incredible performance is so frighteningly accurate that the film remains grounded despite all of the filmmaker bells and whistles and shortcomings in storytelling.

     

    The Guest Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser
  • Director: Adam Wingard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Release Date: January 6, 2015
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016


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            Sometimes action movies are dumb and fun, like pretty much all of the buddy cop films from the 1980s, especially those starring Sylvester Stallone. Sometimes they are highbrow like the Bourne franchise or most adapted from Tom Clancy novels. Rarely are there movies that are able to capture both the intelligence of thoughtful action paired with the excitement of innovative spectacle. The Guest isn’t so much one of these movies as it is a hodgepodge of collected sequences and referential nods to many influential films of the past. Despite the clear tendency to borrow from other films, or perhaps because of it, The Guest is pulsing with an undeniable energy and sense of spectacle.

     

    Pride Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Bill Nighy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 23, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2018
  • Run Time: 120 minutes



  •         The greatest success of Pride is the ability to keep the film hopeful and amusing, despite some heavy topics that might have easily carried the narrative into the realm of melodrama. It is a true story that is inspirational by facts alone, with no need for further embellishment or contrived cinematic manipulations. Instead, we are given the rare privilege of a film based on a true story that is as entertaining as it is inspirational.

     

    Kelly & Cal DVD Review

         Actors: Juliette Lewis, Jonny Weston
  • Director: Jen McGowan
  • 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: December 30, 2014
  • Run Time: 110 minutes


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            There is a sincere honesty in both the writing and the portrayal of Kelly (Juliette Lewis) in Kelly & Cal, however derivative, predictable and unpleasant as the film itself may be. The real honesty is that there are some narratives that I would simply prefer not to see, both for lack of enjoyment and originality, regardless of how well they are executed. Juliette Lewis gives a wholly convincing performance as punk rocker-turned suburban mom, but the screenplay by Amy Lowe Starbin left a bad taste in my mouth.

     

    Last Weekend DVD Review

         Actors: Patricia Clarkson, Joseph Cross, Zachary Booth
  • Director: Tom Dolby, Tom Williams
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 30, 2014
  • Run Time: 94 minutes


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            When the motion picture industry first began, it was an affordable source of entertainment for the lower working class, those who couldn’t afford tickets to the theater, symphony or ballet. Last Weekend’s biggest error is thinking that a film about the 1% can be sentimentalized into audiences having sympathy for the narcissistic over-privileged. Only Patricia Clarkson’s uncanny ability to subtly make any role engaging, there is no focus in the debut feature from Tom Dolby and Tom Williams.

     

    The Trip to Italy Blu-ray Review


     
     
     

         Actors: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon
  • Director: Michael Winterbottom
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dark Sky Films
  • Release Date: December 23, 2014
  • Run Time: 108 minutes


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            There is desperation behind actors who are always performing, constantly to try and convince others of their talent, and even more transparent insecurities in those who spend a majority of their conversations boasting and exaggerating minor achievements. I have spent enough time on set listening to pathetically unsuccessful day players and background actors do this that I have no urge to find these personalities in my entertainment as well. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon may be adequate entertainers when they are playing someone else, but the singular joke of these two actors desperately trying to one-up each other through a TV series and two films has significantly worn out my patience.

     

    At the Devil’s Door Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Ashley Rickards, Naya Rivera, Catalina Sandino Moreno
  • Director: Nicholas McCarthy
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • Release Date: December 16, 2014
  • Run Time: 95 minutes




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            Filmmaker Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) has a real sense for creating dread onscreen, creating some truly terrifying images to go with the narrative in At the Devil’s Door. The only problem is that nothing in his derivative screenplay matches the visuals created, making At the Devil’s Door feel more like a horror demo reel than a complete story. Frightening as some of the images are, they are neither grounded in reality nor attached to realistic characters that the audience can be convinced to care for. Instead, each scene merely feels derived for the singular purpose of setting up each atmospheric sequence to the next, like a collection of style-heavy student films rather than a complete narrative.

     

    Cam2Cam DVD Review

         Actors: Ben Wiggins, Russell Geoffrey Banks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Ifc Independent Film
  • DVD Release Date: December 16, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes



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            Sometimes bad acting or poorly written dialogue can be forgiven, though this is typically only the case in B-film genre pictures which offer other distractions. This usually comes in the form of sex or violence, both of which Cam2Cam seems to offer up with its premise and a DVD cover featuring a near-nubile girl carrying an ax. Unfortunately, Cam2Cam fails to deliver quality or exploitation, leaving audiences with nothing more than a cheaply shot tepid thriller.   

     

    Time Bandits Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Format: Widescreen, Blu-ray, Restored, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Release Date: December 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 116 minutes


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            Terry Gilliam emerged as a filmmaking talent to be watched with his initial work done with the Monty Python troupe, with his feature debut being Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Although Time Bandits (1981) shifted into a darker fantasy tone that has since become stylistically recognizable as distinctly Gilliam, he still utilizes many of the talents from Monty Python (even co-writing the screenplay with Michael Palin). This creates a blend of irreverent zaniness and childlike sentimentality, fanciful settings and realistic concerns. It is a children’s film that doesn’t pander or dumb down, and one which contains layers of meaning to be stripped away with repeat viewings and maturation. 

           

    Magic in the Moonlight DVD Review

         Actors: Colin Firth
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 16, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017
  • Run Time: 96 minutes


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            Woody Allen has nearly created an entire sub-genre of comedy with the consistency that he has retained many of the same narrative and stylistic choices over the years, even since his shift from New York to Europe as a regular shooting location. Allen nearly has a Japanese mentality to filmmaking, seeming to long for consideration as a whole, as one would do with the work of Yasujiro Ozu, and the breadth of his work makes this entirely plausible. In theory, this will always make Allen a filmmaker of incredible significance, though I hardly anticipate upcoming releases from him with any amount of excitement. Magic in the Moonlight fits perfectly in this filmography; seemingly effortlessly produced with the fluidity of a well-oiled machine, though void of any innovation. Allen may be more high-brow than the average romantic comedy, but he has come to be every bit as predictable.

     

    When the Game Stands Tall Blu-ray Review

        Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony
  • Release Date: December 9, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017
  • Run Time: 115 minutes


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            Basing a film on true events can often be a double-edged sword in the hands of an incapable filmmaker. There are two opposing impulses in these narratives, and they can often be in direct conflict with each other. The urge to mold the inspirational and motivational events to adhere to genre structures can often directly contradict the goal of a faithful and realistic portrayal of the actual people behind the story. When the Game Stands Tall attempts to do both, at the detriment to the final product.

     

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Blu-ray Review

    Format: Blu-ray, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese
  • Dubbed: German
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony
  • Release Date: December 2, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2014
  • Run Time: 90 minutes



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            The Poverty Row studio Columbia Pictures won 13 Academy Awards in the 1930s, and 11 of them were directed by Frank Capra. Capra was a filmmaker both loved and despised for his saccharine handling of social issues in film, each making grand statements in themes with the help of likeably quirky characters. Some criticize this style, while others revel in the pure emotional pleasure of films like It’s a Wonderful Life and You Can’t Take it With You. While there is an incredible amount of realism in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, including a recreated set of the Senate chamber, it also has the unmistakably familiar touch of Capra sentimentality.

     

    Justified: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 2, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017
  • Run Time: 607 minutes



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            Based on the short story “Fire in the Hole” by crime novelist Elmore Leonard, “Justified” works as an adaptation with room for growth. Timothy Olyphant has a strong presence as the lead, and he has plenty of experience carrying a western-type show, though this FX seriesis far more similar to “Sons of Anarchy” than “Deadwood.” The premise had begun to run a little bit thin by the third season, though the inevitable final season in sight has increased the stakes of the drama. He is still a lawman who often operates outside of conventional law, and surrounded by corruption this is often a necessary approach.

     

    Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Vegar Hoel, Organ Gamst, Martin Starr
  • Director: Tommy Wirkola
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: Norwegian
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 9, 2014
  • Run Time: 100 minutes



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            I have a vague recollection of enjoying Dead Snow, but little about the actual film stands out in my mind. The main problem is the cookie-cutter co-ed characters and set-up that resembled numerous other horror movies. The familiarity of this set-up was only off-set by the creativity and tone of the film’s violence, though the first act forces the audience to spend far too much time with a predictable premise and disposable characters. This problem is immediately resolved in the sequel, which begins where the first film ended, with solitary survivor Martin (Vegar Hoel) battling zombies after accidentally killing his girlfriend and sawing his own arm off. This fast-paced beginning only lets up for moments, but once again filmmaker Tommy Wirkola’s strength lies in the creatively gory action.

     

    What If DVD Review

         Actors: Daniel Radcliffe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2014
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2017
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




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            I desperately wanted to like the romantic comedy spoof, They Came Together, because few genres of film are as formulaic and predictable. The problem with that film was the inability to exceed the sheer ridiculousness of the popular date movie narrative. Even in the attempt to mock romantic comedies, They Came Together simply resembled the worst, most contrived, formulaic and cliché of the genre; like What If. If you picture any stereotypical romantic comedy scenario, it is presented unironically somewhere in the 98-minute running-time of this fluff art.

     

    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.