dvd and blu-ray

tmnt-return-to-nyc-dvdThe latest single-disc collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles includes the group’s final adventure before returning to New York and the first six episodes of their return following the Kraang takeover and transformation of their home. The set primarily focuses on the Turtles working to put their family back together and reclaiming the streets of New York from the Kraang.

The episodes include Casey Jones‘ (Josh Peck) attempt to prove his worth, the two-part “Battle for New York,” the Turtles’ search for Karai (Kelly Hu), and the long-awaited introduction of the newly mutated Rocksteady (Fred Tatasciore) and Bebop (J.B. Smoove).

Even with Rocksteady and Bebop finally making an appearance the set lacks a real stand-out episode that is a must-have. That said, the episodes are all solid and fans collecting these single-disc collections (and don’t mind the continued lack of extras) should still enjoy themselves.

[Nickelodeon, $14.98]

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Slow West

by Cap'n Carrot on July 20, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

slow-west-blu-rayHow many westerns can you name where the lead character isn’t a gunfighter, sheriff, rancher, farmer, or outlaw? Written and directed by John Maclean, Slow West stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay Cavendish who has arrived in the new world and headed west in search of the love of his life (Caren Pistorius) who fled her homeland with her father (Rory McCann) following an unfortunate accident which makes their return to Scotland impossible.

The far-too-trusting Jay is encountered by bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender) who offers his services to keep the young man alive (while failing to state his real reasons for doing so involve the $2,000 reward on father and daughter). Over the film’s 84-minute running time the pair meet an odd assortment of characters and get into a few scrapes that, along with flashbacks to Scotland, begin to inform the audience of the tragedy surrounding Jay and his crusade.

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Ex Machina

by Cap'n Carrot on July 15, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

ex-machina-blu-rayIn creating a film about artificial life that is almost entirely driven on emotion rather than logic writer/director Alex Garland has beautifully crafted one of the most memorable movies in recent years. The film begins with a computer programmer winning an exclusive trip to the secluded home of the company’s CEO who has far more going on than anyone associated with the world’s largest search engine could possibly guess.

In the hidden compound Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) comes face-to-face not only with his boss, the alcoholic self-absorbed Nathan (Oscar Isaac), but also Nathan’s creation Ava (Alicia Vikander) who Caleb was handpicked to help Nathan test whether or not she is indeed the world’s first true Artificial Intelligence. Stranded miles from civilization in these odd surroundings, Caleb’s view on sentience and reality will be tested as Ava proves to be everything Nathan promises, and more.

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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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