Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
This spring, “John Carter” was one of the first cinematic casualties, and that’s a real shame. Making a soft $70 million in the U.S., the film lost money that the $200 million take overseas didn’t cover. This is unfortunate because “John Carter” is a really good film that was sadly doomed from the start.
JOURNEY 2: TH MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
The story follows a Civil War vet who is mysteriously transported to Mars where he becomes the warrior savior of a race of creatures fighting against an alien threat. Because he has muscles developed in Earth’s higher gravity, John Carter has apparent super powers on the new world.
The biggest struggle that “John Carter” has to overcome is its own story. Written a hundred years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs in a serial format, the story is hard to adapt. And while many modern science fiction tales have been inspired by this series, the naive audience seemed to find this movie too derivative of other works.
But at its heart is a beautifully looking, fun-filled action piece which features some incredible effects and kick-ass battle scenes. The biggest stumbling block within the movie is its lead actor, Taylor Kitsch (whose career is pretty much over after the successive flop of “Battleship” this spring). He’s a flat actor who doesn’t quite have an “it factor” on the big screen. However, in spite of Kitsch, this film is an adventure that more people should give a chance.
The two-disc Blu-ray set comes with a DVD for portable use. Both the DVD and the Blu-ray include an audio commentary with the filmmakers, plus the featurette “100 Years in the Making,” which examines the development of the “John Carter” story from the inception of the idea by Edgar Rice Burroughs a hundred years ago.
Exclusive Blu-ray content includes “Barsoom Bloopers,” deleted scenes with optional director commentary, “360 Degrees of John Carter” immersive behind-the-scenes materials and “Disney Second Screen,” which offers access throughout the film.
A four-disc 3D Blu-ray of the film is also available from Disney.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 6/5
While many other critics were rolling their eyes at this in-your-face 3D sequel to 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” I was having a blast watching it. While 3D adventure films can be a challenge, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” decided early on it was going to be nothing more than a fun Saturday morning cartoon ride. And that’s what I thoroughly enjoyed about it.
PHINEAS AND FERB: THE PERRY FILES
I grew up with TV shows like “Land of the Lost” when I was a kid, and the feature film of that wasn’t quite what I wanted. Throwing a couple families on a mysterious island filled with giant lizards and the like made “Journey 2” more “Land of the Lost” than the Will Ferrell movie from 2009.
The new film swaps out Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Brenden Fraser, which was a wise move. Fraser just plays too goofy in a role like this, but Johnson pulls off the family adventure amazingly well. Not since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Kindergarten Cop” days have we seen a musclehead actor be able to work in family films with such ease.
Johnson plays Hank, the step-father of Sean (Josh Hutcherson), a teenager who is trying to find his grandfather (Michael Caine) that went missing on a quest to find Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. Together, they rent a helicopter from Palau, fly into the center of a tropical storm and get stranded on the very island they’re looking for.
There’s no real depth of story here, but the action, visual design and tongue-in-cheek humor of the film keep it going. I remember watching this in the theater with my kids and loving it, then revisiting it at home and enjoying it just as much. Running a relatively short 94 minutes, the film doesn’t get bogged down and left me wanting more. And considering how well the movie did in theaters and overseas, it’s likely we see them all back for another Vernian adventure, as promised in the film.
The Blu-ray includes a gag reel and several VFX-in-process deleted scenes. There’s also an interactive guide to the island that features behind-the-scene spots about the production of the film. The Blu-ray is also UltraViolet compatible, which allows streaming and download to a compatible Android, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices.
A 3D Blu-ray version of the film is also available from Warner Home Video.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Having three children like I do makes you an expert on children’s programming. It also makes you dread many of these shows. Whether it’s the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network, the series made for the very young can get on your nerves. However, now and then there’s some brilliant programming that even an adult can enjoy.
Nickelodeon did just this with its tween show “iCarly,” which I still enjoy watching with my kids. In general, the Disney Channel skews younger, but their live-action sit coms like “Hannah Montana” and the Zack & Cody shows are still fun to watch. The cartoons like “Handy Manny” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” can be wearing, but a show like “Phineas and Ferb” is a triumph.
The show tells the story of two step-brothers getting into grand adventures during their summer vacation – and also their sister who is trying to bust them in front of their parents. Each episode has an invention or experiment for the boys, a song and a hilarious diversion as their pet platypus Perry works as a secret agent.
“Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files” features seven episodes from the television series, which includes some hilarious interactions between Perry and his nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz. By now, the shows have become formulaic, but the writers allow some meta-jokes into the mix to show they are aware of how they have settled into that formula.
This DVD doesn’t go grand and formula-breaking as the recent “Phineas and Ferb” movie did. It’s really just a collection of shows. But considering Disney isn’t releasing complete seasons of the series, this is the best way to get a solid infusion of the show. Running 154 minutes, there’s lots of Saturday morning or summertime fun to have watching this with your kids.
“Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files” comes with Digital Copy for portable use. Bonus features include the featurette “Nerves of Teal,” which is a tongue-in-cheek recruitment video for OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym). There’s also a behind-the-scenes look at the “Platypus Tour,” which followed a Perry bus across the country.
Finally, a cool little physical bonus is an in-pack Perry Activity Kit, which includes stickers, a puzzle and magnets.
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