dvd and blu-ray

batman-unlimited-animal-instinctsBatman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is odd to say the least. Cobbled together from a variety of Batman storylines over the years, Batman Unlimited cherry-picks pieces of DCU continuity to offer a new (but not really fresh) take on the characters involved. Set in the not-so-distant future of Gotham City (with a definite Batman Beyond vibe) the straight-to-video movie opens with Batman (Roger Craig Smith) clad in a Beyondish red and black costume before eventually donning his more classic colors.

The film centers around the a group of animal-themed villains in Silverback (Keith Szarabajka), Cheetah (Laura Bailey), Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), and Man-Bat (Phil LaMarr) all working together as “the Animalitia” under the leadership of the Penguin (Dana Snyder). The Penguin also has an army of robotic animals who range from nearly unstoppable to easily destroyed (in the climax our heroes easily dispense with a number of the creatures while they struggle to deal with even single one for most of the movie).

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the-newsroom-season-threeThe final season of The Newsroom may not be as good as the show’s First Season but it is better (taken as a whole) than the show’s inconsistent sophomore outing. Nearly the entire cast returns for a final six episodes centered around an Edward Snowden-like figure whose leaking of classified documents to News Night gets Will (Jeff Daniels) in trouble with the United States Government and forces Neal Sampat (Dev Patel) to flee the country before being charged with espionage and treason. An examination of Snowden’s actions would likely have played better than the fictionalized account that, like Season Two, has several ups and downs.

There’s also a wedding, a romantic turn for Sloan (Olivia Munn) and Don (Thomas Sadoski), relationship drama, Maggie (Alison Pill) and Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) continue their dysfunctional dance, a hostile takeover of the cable news network’s parent company, and the news team mourns the death a major supporting character.

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spaceballs-blu-rayReleased back in 1987, Mel BrooksSpaceballs lampoons the original Star Wars trilogy (and several other sci-fi movies) in a comedic adventure about a scoundrel (Bill Pullman) in a Winnebago, a space princess (Daphne Zuniga) on the run from both a wedding and an evil empire, and a dark-clad villain with a really big helmet (Rick Moranis) and a plan to steal an entire planet’s oxygen supply.

More than 25 years later Spaceballs may be a bit dated but it still provides plenty of laughs and quotable lines, particularly for Star Wars fans. With a supporting cast including John Candy, George Wyner, Dick Van Patten, Joan Rivers, Brooks in multiple roles as both President Skroob and the Schwartz expert Yogurt, a memorable cameo from John Hurt, Mega Maid (who goes dramatically from suck to blow), a memorable radar technician (Michael Winslow), an entire crew of Assholes, and Pizza the Hutt, Spaceballs fills the screen with an enjoyable assortment of odd characters to keep the comedy rolling.

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nikita-complete-blu-rayIt was a reboot of a television show which itself was based on a previously-released film. I came to this show more than halfway through its four-year run not expecting all that much but quickly fell for characters of former killers and assassins turned heroes trying to make the world a better place.

Over 73 episodes Nikita‘s (Maggie Q) mission would continue to change as each season reset the stakes turning enemies to allies and former friends into enemies. Set against the evil Division, a shadow agency training assassins for the U.S. Government, the show began with Nikita and her protege Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) attempting to expose and destroy Division, but the show would have many twists and turns before Nikita’s journey from killer to assassin to hero to fugitive and back to hero was finished. Along for the ride are computer nerd Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford), the villainous Amanda (Melinda Clarke), and Michael (Shane West) whose relationship to our heroine is… let’s just say complicated.

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Seventh Son

by Cap'n Carrot on June 5, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

seventh-son-blu-ray

Sadly in no way related to the (much better) first book in Orson Scott Card‘s The Tales of Alvin Maker, director Sergey Bodrov‘s Seventh Son bombed with critics and audiences alike. With a tired script, plenty of plot holes, and inconsistent special effects it’s impossible to call Seventh Son a good movie, but as a C-List guilty pleasure with a cast too good for its story the movie isn’t without some charm.

Based on The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney, the movie stars Ben Barnes as the newest apprentice of monster hunter extraordinaire Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) who only has a week to learn the craft before going to war with the hated enemies of Gregory’s all but extinct order.

Julianne Moore stars as the leader of a coven of witches who recently escaped the prison Gregory (who has a long history with the woman) put her in years before, and Alicia Vikander is a young witch and potential love interest for the young hero.

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Ladyhawke

by Cap'n Carrot on June 1, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

ladyhawke-blu-rayMy favorite Richard Donner film is neither Superman nor Lethal Weapon; it’s 1985′s Ladyhawke which starred a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick as a thief named Gaston who becomes entangled in a tragic love story between the former Captain of the Guard Navarre (Rutger Hauer) and the beautiful Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer). With the help of a drunken priest (Leo McKern), Gaston will be charged with helping to break the curse laid on the two lovers by the jealous Bishop of Aquila (John Wood) which keeps them together but forever apart.

Set to an electronic score by Andrew Powell and the stunning cinematography of Oscar-winner Vittorio Storaro the medieval fairy tale about love, faith, hawks, wolves, dark magic, and a thief becoming a hero, remains one of the most unique films of its time. Pfeiffer has never looked better on film and she and Hauer sell the tortured nature of their existence while Broderick’s wisecracks provide just the right counterbalance to their tragic tale.

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Everly

by Cap'n Carrot on May 28, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

everly-dvdEverly is a gritty revenge drama that fails because it refuses to embrace how ridiculous its premise is while delivering hard-boiled action verging on torture porn which would have been far more palatable as a more straightforward shoot ‘em up.

Salma Hayek stars in the title role as a sex slave who, after four years, has finally had enough and starts to fight back. Taking place entirely in the apartment where Everly has been kept for years, the body count continues to grow as the the woman with no hand-to-hand combat or weapons training coninues to kill the odd range of prostitutes and killers who show up to collect the bounty on her head.

Written by Yale Hannon and directed by Joe Lynch, the movie also includes a subplot involving Everly’s daughter (Aisha Ayamah) and mother (Laura Cepeda) whose safety is her primary concern now that the shit has hit the fan. Available on DVD and Blu-ray, extras include two separate commentary tracks and a music video. Notable only for Hayek’s involvement and its bizarre assortment of characters, Everly is a misfire that never finds its target.

[Anchor Bay, DVD $22.98 / Blu-ray $26.99]

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the-mentalist-season-7-dvdWith Red John defeated, half of the cast having moved on to other projects, and consisting only 13 episodes collected on three discs, the final season of The Mentalist feels more like an epilogue than than a full season of the show. Along with the case of the week, the season will continue to deal with the now romantic relationship between Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) and Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) culminating in the pair’s wedding in the series finale.

Emily Swallow doesn’t return but the series replaces her with Josie Loren as fresh-faced new Agent Michelle Vega who tragically won’t live to see the end of the season. Other highlights include Jane and Lisbon feeling out their relationship in the season premiere, Lisbon going undercover in jail, Lisbon temporarily taking on the role of fake psychic, and the much-anticipated return of Erica Flynn (Morena Baccarin). Extras include deleted scenes and a look back at Jane’s journey over the course of the series.

[Warner Home Video, $39.98]

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eddie-and-the-cruisers-double-featureReleased in 1983 Eddie and the Cruisers was a box office bomb despite a hit soundtrack that got the film a second theatrical release the following year. A rock and roll mystery, the film told the story of frontman Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) through flashbacks and interviews with the other members of the band (primarily the keyboard player played by Tom Berenger) by a reporter (Ellen Barkin) hot on the story of the band’s missing second album and questions as to what really happened to Eddie Wilson. Despite it’s lack of response from both theatrical audiences and critics the movie has become a cult hit that even spawned a sequel in 1989.

Where the first film focused on the fallout of Eddie’s disapperance to those he left behind, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! picks up the threads of the first film finding Eddie Wilson alive in Canada pushed to give music a second chance thanks to the release of the Cruisers lost “A Season in Hell” and an Eddie Lives! campaign by the studio that ruined his life.

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teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-retreat-dvdTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Retreat! collects the first seven episodes of the show’s Third Season which is most, but not quite all, of Leonardo (Seth Green), Raphael (Sean Astin), Michelangelo (Greg Cipes), and Donatello‘s (Rob Paulsen) time in the country licking their wounds following the Kraang mutation of New York City.

Seth Green takes over the voice of the injured Leonardo with “Into the Woods” whose rehabilitation is one of the major storylines of the set. The Turtles also meet Bigfoot, deal with leftover Kraang tech which takes the appearance of April‘s (Mae Whitman) mother, fight to survive their dreams, and deal with new mutants including mutant frogs, Casey’s car, and the bizarre Chimera. The episodes aren’t without charm (such as the introduction of Crognard the Barbarian) but they’re among the weakest of the series lacking any of the trademark villains. I also find it quite odd that “Vision Quest” (the last episode of the arc) isn’t part of this collection. The single-disc DVD does include short featurettes for each of the episodes included.

[Nickelodeon, $14.98]

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