dvd and blu-ray

justice-league-gods-and-monsters-blu-rayI was ecstatic when I heard Bruce Timm was returning to DC for a new animated feature. One of the creators behind Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, the animated DCU just hasn’t been the same since his departure. When I heard the premise of the movie, however, I was more skeptical. It turns out I need not have feared that Bruce Timm might be corrupted by the grit of the New 52 that’s turned so much of DC’s comic and video output to shit. Timm certainly delivers a darker and more adult story than expected but it’s still grounded in a profound understanding and love for these characters that is far too often lacking in much of DC’s current output.

Although the word Elseworlds doesn’t appear in its title that’s exactly what Justice League: Gods and Monsters is: a story set in an alternate version of the DCU vastly different from the any we know. The result is as unexpected as it is enjoyable. It may not be classic Timm, but the man certainly hasn’t lost his knack for characters, design, or storytelling.

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith

by Cap'n Carrot on August 26, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Originally released in theaters 10 years ago, Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who, unbeknownst to each other, are rival spies for competing spy organizations. Doug Liman‘s 2005 film has held up pretty well over the past decade. Pitt and Jolie are fun together in a script that allows them to play off each other and, when called for, kick each other’s ass in one hell of a prolonged action scene that leaves their suburb home destroyed.

Most notable for its action set pieces, Simon Kinberg‘s script also has its share of humor (including a Fantasy Island joke that never fails to tickle my fancy no matter how many times I see the movie). It’s not a great film by any standard, but it still works well as a mostly-entertaining action flick (especially the first hour). Released several times on both DVD and Blu-ray, the new version includes pre-released extras and a digital copy of the film but sadly the Blu-ray only includes the theatrical cut of the film as the unrated extended version isn’t available on this release.

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Insurgent

by Cap'n Carrot on August 12, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

insurgent-blu-rayAs I was rather lukewarm on Divergent, the first movie of this series based on the young adult novels by Veronica Roth, it should come as no surprise that my reaction to its sequel is much the same. Insurgent continues the adventures of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) on the run in a dystopian future broken into strict factions which neither properly fits into. Although the movie has a nice message about individuality, the ponderous path it takes to get there leaves something to be desired.

Despite a strong performance by Woodley as a character far more heroic in her actions and convictions than Katniss Everdeen, time has not made the premise of the series any easier to swallow. Not making that job easier this time around is the sequel’s plot which involves a magic Pandora’s box which only a true divergent may open and which Jeanine (Kate Winslet) believes she can use to crush the outsiders once and for all.

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Sneakers

by Cap'n Carrot on August 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Some movies age more gracefully than others. Even 20 years later Sneakers continues to entertain despite how much of the plot revolves around technology of the time. Robert Redford leads an unusual team of experts blackmailed by who they believe to be the NSA into stealing a Russian mathmatician’s little black box which is the key to decrypting all known codes.

Along with a former CIA agent (Sidney Poitier), a blind computer expert (David Strathairn), a conspiracy nut (Dan Aykroyd), a hotshot kid (River Phoenix), and his ex-girlfriend (Mary McDonnell), Martin Biship (Redford) will attempt to stay one-step ahead of both government agents and shadowy figures (Timothy Busfield, Eddie Jones) while trying to capture the box and trade it for their freedom.

With the stellar cast (which also includes supporting roles by Ben Kingsley and Stephen Tobolowsky), Sneakers provides a humor-packed thriller complete with conspiracies, blind-man stunt driving, and the best use of Scrabble ever seen on film.

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Mission: Impossible

by Cap'n Carrot on August 3, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Although it began a series of increasingly good summer blockbuster over the course of two decades, 1996′s relaunch of the television series of the same name as a theatrical film (which introduced the world to Tom Cruise‘s most successful ongoing character in IMF Agent Ethan Hunt) is problematic at best. Poorly plotted, including a huge fuck you to fans of the original series by turning the television show’s central hero (Peter Graves) into a greedy villain (Jon Voight) selling CIA secrets to the highest bidder, the film hasn’t aged well. Turning Jim Phelps into a villain would be like rebooting Superman into a coldblooded killer. What kind of an asshole would do that?

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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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