Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
“Prometheus” could possibly have simultaneously been the most maligned and the most praised film of the summer of 2012. It spurred quite polarizing reviews, both coming from fans of Ridley Scott’s classic “Alien.”
E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
Personally, I thought this was a fantastic film. Just as “Alien” was a visionary masterpiece, “Prometheus” tread new ground and made the world more interesting. Where “Alien” was a relatively simple yet terrifying haunted house story, “Prometheus” opened things up. Those who were expecting a tight story that answered only a few questions were left in the dust as the universe became a much bigger place with greater questions and fewer answers.
I loved this about the film. Part of the reason for this was that I know Ridley Scott never does the same movie twice, which is not the case when it comes to a typical “Alien” sequel. This was Scott’s attempt at a “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and for the most part, he achieved that.
“Prometheus” tells the story of a group of scientists who travel to another star system to find the origin of life. There, they discover a tomb of dead humanoids who possibly were involved in the manufacture of life on Earth. However, there are deeper and darker secrets in store for them.
Even as gorgeous as this film looks on Blu-ray, it is a bit of a step down from the IMAX 3D experience, which made you feel like you were actually in the room with the characters. Still, the movie looks spectacular, and the image is quite solid.
As an “Alien” flick, it’s a bit of a diversion. However, for another slice of dark speculative fiction, “Prometheus” is awesome.
The Blu-ray comes with limited features, but these are quite meaty for what they are. There are two commentary tracks, one featuring Ridley Scott and the other featuring writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Additional features include “The Peter Weyland Files,” which are short videos giving in-character background to the film, and about 35 minutes of deleted scenes, which has some more insight into the conversation with the Engineer. There is also access to the UltraViolet streaming interface.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Along with “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” was easily Universal’s most anticipated Blu-ray of 2012. It’s anticipation outweighed the recent Blu-ray box set releases of “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future.” And this is for good reason. “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” is a classic film that is long overdue for the high-def treatment.
2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA
I was just turning eleven when “E.T.” first came out in theaters in 1982. I remember what a insane phenomenon it was. Similar to how the recent explosions of popularity and record breaking that we’ve seen in superhero movies over the past decade (starting with “Spider-Man” in 2002, continuing through “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” in 2008, and most recently making news with “The Avengers” this past summer), the era of “E.T.” seemed unreal.
The story is quite simple. It’s a little lost alien that is left behind on Earth. He finds his way into a suburban home where he meets a young boy and forms a special bond. The children in the family try to keep E.T. hidden, and they hope to help the little alien call home. However, a persistent scientist eventually tracks him down.
Forget the fact that this film was a science fiction blockbuster during Spielberg’s heyday, when he was making a string of hits from “Jaws” until the third “Indiana Jones” film. As much as this movie touches the general mainstream audience, it is at its heart, a kids’ film. Simply put, “E.T.” is the story of a boy and his dog... only without any hair.
Given the gap from the original release to now, I’m looking at the film with a different eye. I’m now in my early 40s, a parent myself to a boy who has recently turned eleven himself. I see a lot of the warts on “E.T.” more than I ever did. It’s cheesy as all get-out. It’s corny, too. The parents shown in the movie are absentee at best and dangerously irresponsible at worst (though this was a common thing in the movies of the 80s).
However, among all that corniness, there’s a great little movie. It still pays smoothly and cheerfully. Featuring comic book logic and an race of aliens that are more simplified than the whitewashed abductors in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.” still has plenty of charm that makes it a fantastic film to enjoy with the family. Until the next generation format, this is a good movie to have in your library if you have any children in your family.
The Blu-ray comes with several new bonus features, including the new “Steven Spielberg & E.T.” and “The E.T. Journals” which feature behind-the-scene footage from the set. Additional vintage features include deleted scenes, marketing materials and the featurettes “A Look Back,” “The Evolution and Creation of E.T.,” “The E.T. Reunion,” “The Music of E.T.” and “The 20th Anniversary Premiere.”
The Blu-ray also includes access to UltraViolet streaming, and Digital Copy.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)
Political documentaries are a tricky thing. Reviewing political documentaries can be even trickier. After all, depending on which side of the aisle you lean, you’re likely to either nod your head in agreement with or dismiss as utter hogwash any given film. And there’s very few things that can be said to change anyone’s mind on the subject.
MONSTER HIGH: GHOULS RULE
“2016: Obama’s America” is the closest conservatives are going to get to “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Both movies were released in the summer before a hotly contested Presidential election. Both movies targeted the incumbent president. Both movies were embraced by their respective parties. And both movies had massive flaws that made them woefully malconstructed films.
Without regard to political leaning, “Fahrenheit 9/11” was a mess of factual inaccuracies, poorly presented arguments, half-truths and opinion disguised as reality. The movie begins with a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the 2000 election, making it look like Bush stole a slam dunk from Gore. (Fact is, it was no slam dunk for anyone. The race was neck-and-neck all night, and it wasn’t going to be an easy win for either side.) After that opening scene, which inaccurately presented something I originally watched live, I knew I couldn’t trust a damn thing in the film.
“2016: Obama’s America” doesn’t commit such an egregious opening error. Instead, it uses faulty logic and bait-and-switch evidence to make an eventual point, as long-winded as it could be. Similarly, with such a delivery, how can any of the arguments made in the film hold any water.
The movie follows filmmaker and political think tanker Dinesh D’Souza’s examination of President Barack Obama’s past affiliations. Through this line of thinking, D’Souza paints the President as a maverick socialist with extreme anti-colonial beliefs. The problem is, D’Souza never actually shows this with Obama’s own words or deeds. Instead, he engages in guilt by association.
D’Souza performs exposés on everyone from Obama’s father to friends in college. There’s some disturbing elements that surround the President in his early years, but there’s no real connection to these things and the man’s own thoughts and ideals. His father is presented as an absentee parent, so how much influence could really be from there? And his friends and acquaintances over the years might be people with problems, but I saw nothing that demonstrated Obama had the same beliefs.
Were all of the points in this film laid out on a murder board from a basic television police procedural, there’s be lots of photographs with red yard coming off of them. However, none of those pieces of yarn could actually connect to the lone picture of Barack Obama in the center of the board.
In the end, “2016: Obama’s America” will make the die-hard Republicans cheer, but it’s not going to change anyone’s mind... just like “Fahrenheit 9/11” made the Democrats excited but resulted in zero effect on the voting public.
The DVD comes with just the film itself and no special features.
DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
I have to admit that I had no idea what the heck “Monster High” was, mostly because while I’m a huge monster movie fan I don’t have daughters and have gaps in my franchise knowledge here. However, after a quick Google search and watching the DVD of “Monster High: Ghouls Rule,” I got up to speed.
For those in the same boat as me, “Monster High” is a line of Mattel toys featuring fashion figurines based on famous monsters in films and television. They go to a special school for monsters which allows them to exhibit their unique abilities without being hunted by the “normies.” “Monster High: Ghouls Rule” is a CGI animated film based on the series.
In this film, the kids learn about the history of Halloween, which was a time when normies attacked monsters. Some of the kids want to open up better relations with the normies and rekindle the nicer spirit of Halloween. However, when a famous monster hunter from the school starts poking around, things get dangerous for the students at Monster High.
Overall, this is a perfectly fine show for the right audience, particularly tween girls who still watch Nickelodeon. The animation is quite rudimentary, but that’s to be expected for such a small release. The story has the expected uplifting message of tolerance and friendship, and there’s nothing too scary in it for pretty much anyone who can make it through an episode of “Scooby-Doo.”
The DVD comes with three short Flash-animated cartoon vignettes from the “Monster High” vault. They’re cute enough and actually look better than the crude CGI animation of the actual feature.
Click here to read more DVD reviews!
Click here to read more movie reviews!
Click here to watch films by 7M Pictures!