DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Released in 1968, The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was a groundbreaking film. Capturing the imaginations of audiences, it became an instant his, bolstered by the popular songs of the Beatles. Now, more than four decades later, “Yellow Submarine” is re-releasing on DVD with a coordinated Blu-ray release as well.
TEEN WOLF: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
The psychedelic trip tells the story of how Ringo, John, George and Paul help the old captain of a magical yellow submarine rid his land of the evil Blue Meanies, who try to stomp out music and happiness. With the help of the Boob, a “Nowhere Man” that represents pseudointellectuals of the time, the Beatles rescue Sgt. Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band to bring peace to the land.
It’s a bit of a trip, let me tell you. But even without the Beatles-endorsed drugs of the time, it’s still fascinating to watch. It’s a silly, goofy, deep and fun movie. The animation style is so tied to the era in which it was made that it is hard to not feel nostalgic when watching it.
While I was not in existence in 1968, I grew up in the 70s, where plenty of this psychedelic animation spilled over. It’s unique and unlike anything you’ll see today. Not always making complete sense, “Yellow Submarine” is indescribable in the traditional narrative sense.
Made before the Beatles fractured, so their internal problems were hidden enough to keep the silly happiness alive in their public personas, the film is a bizarre children’s movie that is relateable to adults. Like the somewhat contemporary “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Yellow Submarine” goes beyond hinting at adult recreation while still being an interesting G-rated watch.
Even as a self-described “Elvis man” (as Quentin Tarantino delineated in “Pulp Fiction”), I still enjoyed the movie. Ringo’s silly pun-filed optimism made things work for me, and the charm of the other three Beatles still came through, even though they were essentially caricatures of their public personas courtesy of talented voice actors.
I had not seen the film in its entirety before this release, so I’m coming at it as a rather square 40-year-old man who doesn’t engage in (nor have I ever engaged in) recreational drug use. Still, I found it a fascinating ride. And running a brisk 90 minutes, it doesn’t wear out its welcome.
Special features on the new DVD include audio commentary by John Coates with Heinz Edelmann. There’s a vintage making-of documentary called “Mod Odyssey” as well as the original theatrical trailer, storyboard sequences, original pencil drawings and behind-the-scenes photos. Finally, there’s a slate of interviews with the voice actors, animation director and co-writer.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
When a film series like “Twilight” (which I still refuse to call a saga for obvious non-saga reasons) rips apart the box office year after year and gobbles up all the MTV Movie Awards, it’s inevitable that there will be rip-off attempting to cash in on its popularity. The fortunate thing is that with the “Twilight” series being so dreadfully, horribly written, often the rip-offs end up being better products.
HBO knocked it out of the park with “True Blood,” and the CW has a nice little supernatural romance on its hands with “The Vampire Diaries.” It was only a matter of time before MTV threw its hat into the ring.
Described as a “reimagining” (read as: totally reworked based on name only) of the cheesy 80s film “Teen Wolf” (which itself is a remake of the cheesy 50s film “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”), “Teen Wolf” offers a better story than “Twilight” but turns into a male-centric version of “The Vampire Diaries” with fewer monsters.
The story follows Sean, a struggling high school student who is bitten by a werewolf. As he changes into a werewolf himself, he discovers new powers and abilities. He also finds new confidence to find a girlfriend (whose family happens to be the local werewolf hunters... go figure) and learns about the new society of lycanthropes he is now a part of.
Where the original films presented lycanthrope as a metaphor for adolescence, “Teen Wolf” goes for a more straightforward teen angst action drama. I can get behind that, and I applaud the series for not overcrowding the screen with additional monsters like vampires, witches, zombies and the like (an annoyance of the other modern teen monster shows).
Though not a fantastic show, “Teen Wolf” shows some positive growth by MTV, which is bogged down with godawful reality programming. After utter disasters like “The Hard Time of R.J. Berger” and “Skins,” it’s nice to see a well-made show that actually tries something consistent and entertaining... even if it does feel derivative of “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries.”
In addition to the twelve Season One episodes of the series, the DVD set includes behind-the-scenes and cast commentary on select episodes and an extended version of the season finale. There’s a slate of deleted and extended scenes as well as a standard gag reel. Behind-the-scenes featurettes include “Meet the Cast of Teen Wolf” and “Love Bites!” Finally, there’s an utterly vacuous look at the cast hitting the red carpet and the “Shirtless Montage” featuertte that panders to the “Twilight” crowd a little too much.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
I’m not a hockey fan. Heck, I’m not a sports fan at all. My home town has a professional hockey team (the Columbus Blue Jackets), and I’ve been to a couple games, but I’m not at all into the sport. However, there’s a rapid fan base out there for hockey, and it’s not just from our neighbors to the north.
However, like any good sports movie, it’s not about the love of the game that makes the film. It’s about the characters and story. In this respect, “Goon” is plenty fun, and for as violent as it is, it’s a sweet film with a lot of heart.
Seann William Scott plays Doug Glatt, a relatively simple guy whose best job he can get is a bouncer at a bar. After a scuffle with a hockey player in the stands, Doug catches the eye of the local coach. Using his penchant for fighting and tough exterior, Doug soon becomes a star of the team as an enforcer to keep the other players safe. He works his way up into the bigger leagues and ends up in Nova Scotia. There, he falls for a local girl and faces a showdown against another one of hockey’s greatest enforcers.
What makes “Goon” work isn’t the hockey sequences, though the entire film is made with plenty of love for the sport. Instead, it’s Doug’s rough exterior to a really sweet guy that sells the film. He’s honorable, loyal and honest. The emotional connection he shares with the somewhat loose Eva (Allison Pill) is dysfunctional but undeniable adorable.
This is not to say that Doug Glatt is the Forrest Gump of hockey movies. It’s not a question of Doug’s intelligence, or lack thereof. He’s not presented as a guy with a mental deficiency. And that’s a relief in an industry with films that use mental retardation and various forms of autism as a crutch upon which to build an interesting character. Instead, Doug is just an average guy destined for an average life. His talent is toughness and violence, ironically juxtaposed against his gentle demeanor. In a different time, he’d be a warrior knight, but in modern society, his talents are best used on the ice.
I know plenty of hockey fans who have gone gaga over this movie. So if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely enjoy it. But more importantly, “Goon” is a film about honor, love and loyalty that transcends its subject matter and can connect to a larger audience if they give it a chance.
The movie itself is charming (though violent) enough, but the extra boost comes from some nice special features, even on the DVD. The “Power Play Mode” provides about 40 minutes of interstitial elements embedded throughout the film. There’s also quite a few deleted scenes, along with an outtakes and bloopers reel. Jay Baruchel joins director Michael Dowse for a commentary track. Additional features include “Goalie Auditions,” “Fighting 101,” “HDNet: A Look at Goon,” the theatrical trailer and “Goon” hockey cards.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Like most of America, I like Denzel Washington as an actor. It’s for this reason why I am always surprised to be reminded about how middling his movies perform at the box office. While he can usually carry a film to a strong opening, his movies have never broken $200 million to make a modern blockbuster, and only a handful have even cracked $100 million.
This February, “Safe House” shocked a lot of people (me, included) with its incredible box office returns. It was the second film of 2012 to reach $100 million, hot on the heels of the dreadful “The Vow.” I attribute a lot of this success to Washington’s power as a movie star. And to be honest, he’s what drove the film, not Ryan Reynolds.
The story follows CIA agent Matt Weston (Reynolds), who is in charge of a safe house in Cape Town, South Africa. One morning, he receives a “package,” which is rogue agent Tobin Frost (Washington), a man who has left the agency and sells state secrets to the highest bidder. Unexpectedly, a strike team attacks the safe house, sending Weston on the run, desperately attempting to keep Frost in his custody.
This isn’t the first time that Denzel Washington has played a bad guy. He won an Oscar for doing so in “Training Day,” and his role in 2007’s “American Gangster” also turned some heads. In fact, Washington seems to do best playing the darker character. I’m not sure why that’s the case. Maybe it’s because he’s such a likeable figure that you can’t help but root for him no matter how bad he is on screen.
There might have been a decent thriller in “Safe House” back during the script stage, but all sense of character, plot and story got perverted. Yeah, there’s plenty of car chases and some spectacular explosions, but good luck being able to see them in the overly grainy and palsied cinematography.
As convoluted as the plot is, there are no surprises at all. Even Washington, who is a commanding and good actor, can’t deliver his lines enough to make sense or evoke any empathy. It’s a flashy film, but in the end, “Safe House” is a dull, lifeless, noisy bore.
Still, as an action film, “Safe House” will do in a pinch. Director Daniel Espinosa has a serious case of Tony Scott envy, much the same way that Peter Berg suffers from severe Michael Bay envy. In this sense, “Safe House” is a bit of a frenetic mess, moving the camera too much that any heightened sense of excitement becomes mundane in the process.
Reynolds works as the wet-behind-the-ears CIA newbie. Unfortunately, he’s saddled with a painfully cliche sidestory with a girlfriend who doesn’t know what he does for a living. This element wouldn’t be so bad if his girlfriend isn’t a typical model-turned-actress, leggy blonde with zilch in the personality department. Aside from making the audience worry about her so the bad guys don’t kill such a pretty girl, she’s vacuous, playing a brilliant oncologist who in reality can barely put three words together to form a sentence.
Like Mark Wahlberg’s “Contraband,” it’s a movie that can entertain for an afternoon and then be completely forgotten until you stumble onto it again while flipping channels years later.
Like many of Universal’s major Blu-ray releases, “Safe House” includes Universal’s Second Screen, which allows the user to activate bonus content from their iPad or computer using the pocketBLU app. There’s also embedded content throughout the film via U-Control. Finally, exclusive to the Blu-ray is Ultraviolet, which allows your movie to be accessed via cloud technology. Standard Digital Copy is also available.
Featurettes include “Making Safe House,” “Hand-to-Hand Action,” “Shooting the Safe House Attack,” “Building the Rooftop Chase,” “Behind the Action,” “Inside the CIA” and “Safe House: Cape Town.”
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