dvd and blu-ray

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Bookended by the deaths of major characters in both the season opener and the season finale, the Second Season of Netflix’s House of Cards continues the devious machinations of former House Whip turned Vice President of the United States Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) whose quest for power has not been satiated now that he has found himself one step away from the most powerful office in the land.

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Under the Skin

by Cap'n Carrot on July 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Film

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The line between a movie being artistic and pretentious is, like beauty, often in the eye of the beholder. Director Jonathan Glazer helms this tale of a beautiful woman (Scarlett Johansson) stalking lonely men in Scotland. Adapted from the novel by Michael Faber, Under the Skin has sharply divided audiences over the issue of style versus substance.

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journey-to-the-west-conquering-demons-blu-rayCo-writers and directors Stephen Chow and Chi-kin Kwok‘s comedic take on one of the four classic novels of Chinese literature stars Zhang Wen as would-be Buddhist demon hunter Tang Sanzang on his road to enlightenment. On the road he meets a far more experienced demon hunter (Qi Shu) who begins to fall for the goofy Sanzang.

Offbeat, humorous, and more than a little uneven, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is a bizarre horror-comedy with subplots ranging from a love story to Buddhist enlightenment to the intelligence of using fairy tales to fight monsters. Featuring battles involving pig-monsters and giant fish, the movie features an odd collection of characters in the Monkey King (Bo Huang) and rival bounty hunters with the strength and speed of a tiger (Yu Xing), a giant foot (Chaoli Zhang), and telekinetically-powered swords (Show Luo). More of it works than not, but at times it’s thoroughly engaging and at times it’s just plain weird.

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graceland-season-1-dvdSet in an undercover beach house in Southern California used by the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Customs, the First Season of Graceland follows the house’s newest member Mike Warren (Aaron Tveit) fresh out of the FBI Academy and installed in Graceland not only to replace an agent (Clayne Crawford) whose cover was blown in the first episode but also to secretly investigate the house’s leader, Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata), who Mike’s superiors feel may have turned.

Highlights from the season include Mike getting his first taste of undercover life and meeting Paige (Serinda Swan), Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) working with a Federale (Vincent Laresca), Mike being hired by Bello (Gbenga Akinnagbe) to train his soldiers, the house helping Lauren (Scottie Thompson) finish her last mission, Mike’s handler (Pedro Pascal) taking matters into his own hands to uncover Briggs’ secrets, the revelation of the true identity of the drug smuggler Odin, and a mission goes horribly wrong for Charlie forcing Briggs to try and hide her rash actions from the house.

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covert-affairs-season-four-dvdThe Fourth Season of Covert Affairs sets Annie (Piper Perabo) up against her most ruthless opponent yet when she risks everything to take down Henry Wilcox (Gregory Itzin). Pairing Annie and Auggie (Christopher Gorham) up romantically for the first time, it’s an uneasy road for the couple with Annie’s new mission and the arrival a trio of new characters in Calder Michaels (Hill Harper), Arthur‘s (Peter Gallagher) terrorist son Teo Braga (Manolo Cardona), and Auggie’s not-so-dead former partner and wife Helen Hanson (Michelle Ryan) who will play major roles is disrupting their lives over the course of the season.

Highlights from the season include the fruition of Henry’s master plan, Annie choosing to fake her own death to pursue Henry and her painful reunion with Auggie following the death of Helen, Vincent Rossabi (Noam Jenkins) getting screwed over by Annie and the CIA again, Annie attempting to turn Henry’s ex-wife into an asset, an undercover mission in Hong Kong, and the finale pitting Annie against Henry for the final time.

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legend-of-hercules-dvdEven for a throwaway B-action-flick, The Legend of Hercules is a bad movie that doesn’t even really deliver on its title. Rather than offer a movie centered on the legendary achievements of Hercules, writers Sean Hood, Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve, and Renny Harlin (who also directs) offer audiences a bland origin tale centered around the god-like Prince Alcides (Kellan Lutz) whose father King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) sends on an impossible mission to get the boy killed guessing correctly that Alcides isn’t his son.

Surviving a slaughter and life as a gladiator, Alicides eventually makes it home under the name Hercules, which Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) wanted to name him, to take on his father, brother (Liam Garrigan), and rescue the woman (Gaia Weiss) he loves all while being told he has a greater destiny to fulfill (which the movie then completely ignores). Cribbing the storyline from Gladiator, without any of its style, The Legend of Hercules is an impressively bad movie that doesn’t even offer cheesy enjoyment in its many faults.

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batman-brave-and-bold-season-one-dvdOdds are if you’re a Batman: The Brave and the Bold fan you’ve long ago picked up the episodes on DVD. Tired of waiting years for a complete set (or even separate full season sets) I eventually picked up the heavily discounted the previously half-season releases. However for those who have been holding out, or those unfamiliar with the show until now, the Complete First Season has finally arrived on both Blu-ray and DVD.

The set-up was relatively simple. Borrowing both its premise and its title from DC’s long-running team-up book which ran from 1955-1983, the show teamed Batman (Diedrich Bader) up with a revolving cast of guest-stars heroes (from both the Silver Age and pre-New 52 Mondern Age) to take on various threats and super-villains over the show’s three-year run. Collecting the first 26 episodes of the series on 4 discs (or 2 Blu-rays), which is arguably the weakest of the bunch as you can tell the show was struggling to find the right mix of Bat-tastic adventure and Silver Age campiness which became its trademark style.

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I, Frankenstein

by Cap'n Carrot on May 27, 2014 · 0 comments

in Film

i-frankenstein-dvdWritten and directed by Stuart Beattie, I, Frankenstein is a ridiculous action-thriller setting Frankenstein’s monster, known here as Adam (Aaron Eckhart), in present day in the middle of a war between heavenly gargoyles and demons led by Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy).

With dialogue as laughable as the plot itself involving Naberius’ plans to use Frankenstein’s research to create and army of unstoppable warriors, I, Frankenstein is really only worth viewing for the special effects and Yvonne Strahovski as a modern-day scientist working on reviving Frankenstein’s work without realizing who exactly she’s working for.

Available on both DVD and 3D Blu-ray, extras include digital Ultraviolet copies of the movie, audio commentary from Beattie, and a second commentary from Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, James McQuaide, and Kevin Grevioux, trailer, and a pair of featurettes on Adam, the make-up, special effects, and monsters of the film.

[Lions Gate, DVD $29.95 / Blu-ray $39.99]

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terminator-3-rise-of-the-machines-blu-ray

I know there are those that feel otherwise, but I like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and appreciate the kind of story director Jonathan Mostow and screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris set out to tell.

Whereas the first Terminator had no higher goal than that of straight-forward monster movie (still the best Hollywood has produced in the last 30 years), and Judgement Day was more concerned with action that developing the themes presented in the first film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the only movie of the three that is actually a sci-fi film at its core. That fourth film starring Christian Bale? Yeah… we don’t talk about that one.

Picking up years after the second film, Rise involves John Connor (Nick Stahl) finally beginning to understand and embrace the destiny which was introduced in The Terminator.

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longmire-season-two-dvd

Longmire‘s Second Season presents new crimes of the week to solve in Absaroka County while continuing ongoing storylines of the election of town sheriff and Detective Fales’ (Charles S. Dutton) investigation into the murder of the man responsible for the death of the wife of Sheriff Longmire (Robert Taylor). Highlights of the season include the season opener as the sheriff tracks an escaped serial killer through the snowy wilderness, Longmire looking into a couple who want each other dead, Vic (Katee Sackhoff) being stalked by a man from her past (Lee Tergesen), murder tied to an illegal rodeo, the armed hijacking of a cattle trailer, Branch (Bailey Chase) searching for the truth behind the attack on Cady (Cassidy Freeman), a murder by alcohol poisoning, and the season finale as Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) is arrested for murder.

The three-disc set includes all 13 episodes, introduction from the show’s executive producers for two extended episodes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

[Warner Home Video, $39.98]

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