Wrath of the Titans Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson

  • Director: Jonathan Liebesman

  • Language: Portuguese (DTS 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1

  • Number of discs: 2

  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

  • Studio: Warner Bros.

  • Release Date: June 26, 2012

  • Run Time: 99 minutes

                Some films don’t feel worthy of a sequel. Despite a large budget and occasionally impressive special effects, this is how I felt about Clash of the Titans. Then again, I also felt that way about Ghost Rider and G.I. Joe, so apparently this is the time for studios to revisit past failures. In terms of Wrath of the Titans, the sequel actually surpasses the original in most ways. From visual effects and action to the story and characters within them, Wrath of the Titans is a far better film than I had anticipated. The Blu-ray is also some of the more impressive high definition to reach home theaters in some time.

                Sam Worthington returns as the half-god/half-human hero, Perseus, son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). When the gods begin to lose their power with a decrease in faith, it is an opportune time for Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the underworld, to unleash hell on earth. All sorts of evil warriors and creatures find their way above ground wreaking havoc on all they come across. When father of the gods, Kronos, is unleashed upon humanity, it will take effort from gods and demigods alike in order to destroy him.

                The story is admittedly silly, and I would not fault anyone for having no interest in this special effects extravaganza, but there is a marked improvement from the original. Not just the effects have been improved. Even just the simple suspense of the film’s action is more gripping, as the improved effects allow suspension of disbelief with more ease. The high definition Blu-ray also has sound which will put any home theater system to work.

                The Blu-ray combo pack also comes with a DVD and ultraviolet copy of the film. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a Maximum Movie Mode, which allows for two unique interactive ways of viewing the film and special features. Included are storyboard comparisons, picture-in-picture featurettes, and film focus points.  

    Wind Blast Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Francis Ng, Yihong Duan, Zhang Li

  • Director: Qunshu Gao

  • Format: Widescreen

  • Language: Chinese

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

  • Number of discs: 1

  • Rated: Unrated

  • Studio: Well Go USA

  • Release Date: July 3, 2012

  • Run Time: 114 minutes

  •             At the center of Wind Blast is a typical crime storyline, though the methods of delivery are higher octane than your average film. With a majority of the film taking place in a remote desert, there is plenty of room for countless action sequences between sparse moments of dialogue. What is truly impressive in this modern Chinese western is the versatility in the action despite the remote location. Throughout the desert there are car chases, martial arts battles and bullet ballets. Some of the best action films work because of their simplicity, and Wind Blast could be no simpler.

                The story is essentially good guys versus bad in the middle of nowhere. A former boxer named Zhang Ning (Xia Yu) is hired to carry out an assassination, but takes a photo of his employer for extra insurance. When he sneaks back into China for his pregnant girlfriend, Sun (Charlie Young), both the police and a group of assassins are hunting for him.

                Detective Leopard (Duan Yihong) is called onto the case, along with his former teammates, Mastiff, Yak and Shepherd. These four highly trained cops meet their match when they come across a group of assassins led by Mai Gao (Francis NG) and A Nuo (Yu Nan). The assassins have been hired to destroy the evidence, which means they must kidnap Ning. The former boxer continually changes hands as the good guys and bad guys fight over him for the end result.

                Wind Blast is nearly two hours long, though little of that time is stagnant. Nearly all of the film is respectably filled with suspense and action, making this an impressive Blu-ray release. The high definition is impressive, from visual to audio, though the special features are somewhat lacking. There is a making-of featurette as well as some behind-the-scenes footage.

    The Artist Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

  • Director: Michel Hazanavicius

  • Writer: Michel Hazanavicius

  • Producers: Jean Dujardin, Adrian Politowski, Antoine de Cazotte, Daniel Delume, Emmanuel Montamat

  • Language: English

  • Subtitles: Spanish

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

  • Number of discs: 1

  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)

  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Release Date: June 26, 2012

  • Run Time: 100 minutes

  •             Not since the very first Academy Award’s ceremony in the 1920s has a silent film won Best Picture. After Wings in 1928, the silent film went by the wayside, aside from the few masterpieces that Charlie Chaplin would produce for the next decade. The Academy Awards became so preoccupied with dialogue and sound that it became rare for a film to win Best Picture without having also being nominated for Best Screenplay, and yet The Artist was the film to sweep this past year’s ceremony. Winner of five Academy Awards, not to mention countless other honors, The Artist is certainly a must see film, though I would still prefer a classic Chaplin film over this modern silent film any day.

                The story is rather simple for The Artist, making the stylistic choices the most significant factor in the film’s success. Taking place in 1927 Hollywood, The Artist is about the switch from silent to sound in the film industry. Those who were once stars are passed over for new talent, actors with voices to match their looks and acting abilities onscreen. Suddenly the stars of yesterday become obsolete, and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is one of the superstars to fall from the greatest height of fame. He becomes an unknown at the same time that a fresh young girl named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) rises into fame, but only after they have crossed paths with each other.

                Though it is ultimately a film about fame and show business, the relationship between the former star Valentin and the newest wonder Miller takes the forefront of The Artist. Otherwise it is simply about a man who must come to terms with his limitations after the technological advance of sound in film. That being said, I have a certain level of admiration for the amount of material which is conveyed through image alone in The Artist. This is a simple film, but one which is incredibly well done, from the directing to the acting and definitely the cinematography as well.  

                The Blu-ray release includes a blooper reel, as well as a series of high-brow featurettes. There is a making-of featurette, as well as one on the locations of the film and a Q&A with the filmmakers.

    Louie: The Complete Second Season DVD review

  • Actors: Louis C.K.

  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

  • Language: English

  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1

  • Number of discs: 2

  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)

  • Studio: 20th Century Fox

  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2012

  • Run Time: 314 minutes

  •             There is a fantastic opening to one of the episodes in the second season of “Louie” which starts like a sitcom. It is like the majority of sitcoms which comedians end up starring in; Louie is married to a far too understand and overly attractive housewife, though his behavior is inconsiderate and stereotypically male. Before this cliché storyline can continue, however, Louie stops it and we discover that he is attempting to make a sitcom but can’t bring himself to contribute to the longstanding tradition for comedians on television.

    The reality is that “Louie” breaks all rules for television shows starring a comedian. It isn’t like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” but it also is nothing like “Seinfeld.” This is one of the few creative and unique shows on television, and I can’t think of another show to compare it to. The closest comparison would be “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and even that is a stretch because it is far less irreverent. Louie C.K. is not only one of the best comedians working today, but he also has one of the most unique and creative minds in television.

                Season two takes even more chances than the first season. There are also far more awkward moments. From a remarkably profound episode in Afghanistan on a U.S.O. tour to a true-life addressing of joke theft between Dane Cook and Louie, season two is willing to bend the boundary of comedy to drama as well as reality to fiction. Other uncomfortable cameos include Chris Rock and Joan Rivers, though it is always the comedian’s complete control over the show which makes these appearances more than average.

                Season two includes thirteen half-hour episodes, though the Afghanistan episode (“Duckling”) is an hour-long. All season two episodes are fit onto two discs, along with a few special features of deleted scenes and commentaries by Louie on select episodes. There is also a Fox Movie Channel special about the series.  

    Bullhead Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian

  • Director: Michael R. Roskam

  • Format: Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen

  • Language: English

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

  • Number of discs: 1

  • Rated: R (Restricted)


  • Release Date: June 26, 2012

  • Run Time: 124 minutes

  •             Ever since Nicholas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy, which began in the Tarantino-influenced 1990s, I have been a fan of Danish crime cinema. Not since then has a Danish crime film or director provided a character study as compelling and visceral as Michaël R. Roskam’s Academy Award nominated Bullhead. Each frame is assuredly presented in a way which appears completely intentional, unfolding a uniquely confident debut.

                The simplistic storyline is given added depth with the complexity of the protagonist and his dark past, which is shown to us through a series of flashbacks. A childhood trauma leaves cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthais Schoenaerts) with a heavy reliance on illegal steroids and hormones, which he also uses on his livestock. After making a deal with a notorious Mafioso meat trader being investigated by the police, Jacky becomes a part of the investigation. The only thing protecting him is a childhood friend working with the police as an informant, who also just happens to have a debt owed to Jacky.

                The investigation becomes increasingly heated when a federal agent investigating the use of illegal steroids in cattle is killed, and suddenly everyone with a connection to the crime is in danger. While Jacky should be more concerned with the investigating police, he becomes obsessed with a girl from his past. Schoenaerts gives a remarkable breakout performance as Jacky, though it is a character of few words. Bullhead itself is not dialogue heavy, but gets a message across with the power of well-placed images. Even the scenery and supposed throwaway shots have purpose to the themes within the storyline, all building to an inevitable climax.

                The Blu-ray release of Bullhead is one of the first for Drafthouse Films, who have begun a solid tradition of insert booklets, a practice previously reserved for the prestigious Criterion collection. The Drafthouse inserts often include comments from fellow filmmakers, and Bullhead is no exception. There is a brief essay from Michael Mann on the film, as well as an excerpt from an interview with actor Udo Kier on the film. The sixteen-page booklet also includes some of the film’s excellent photography in some still shots, and the disc itself also has plenty of special features.

                There is a director’s commentary with Roskam, as well as a making-of featurette. There are also a series of interviews, both with Roskam and his star, Schoenaerts, and a short film which the two also collaborated on.  

    Best Laid Plans Blu-ray review

  • Actors: Stephen Graham, David O'hara, Lee Ingleby, Peter Wight

  • Director: David Blair

  • Format: Color, Widescreen

  • Language: English

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

  • Number of discs: 1

  • Rated: Unrated

  • Studio: Well Go USA

  • Release Date: June 26, 2012

  • Run Time: 108 minutes

  •             To say that Best Laid Plans is loosely based on John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men,’ is essentially just because the story revolves around a man who cares for a mentally retarded man of a much larger stature. All other aspects of the novel fall to the wayside, and perhaps that is for the best. I was hesitant of an adaptation of the classic piece of literature. It seems silly to even claim any connection between the two, especially since anything will pale in comparison to the source material. That being said, Best Laid Plans is a surprisingly entertaining, albeit occasionally frustrating, crime film.

                Best Laid Plans is set in the underworld of Nottingham, where the compulsive addict Danny (Stephen Graham) relies on the brute strength of Joseph (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to survive. Joseph has the mental age of seven and hates violence, but Danny is so deep in debt that he must put his friend in a series of underground cage fights. This torturous storyline is counterbalanced when Joseph meets a mentally retarded girl who is being bullied. Their love story runs parallel to a romance that Danny begins with a call girl.

                Much of Best Laid Plans is painfully awkward to watch. These characters exist in a dark world, and Danny often turns to drugs and alcohol for a release. Joseph is more innocent and simply wants to be near his new girlfriend, but is constantly pulled back into a world of violence in order to protect Danny. The acting is great and some of the dialogue is spectacular, but the film as a whole is too somber for its own good. It is difficult to forgive Danny for the way he seems to use Joseph.

                The Blu-ray includes a DVD copy as well.