"CHUCK: THE COMPLETE
SECOND SEASON"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Warner Bros.
    Available on DVD January 5, 2010
    Visit the Official Site!

    Back to DVD Review Home

   

WHAT IT’S ABOUT
In the second season of the hit NBC show, Chuck Bartowski finds himself embroiled deeper in national security. He still has the high-tech intersect computer database stuck in his head, and he’s still working his dead-end job at the Buy More. As Chuck deals with his CIA and NSA handlers, he finds more significance to his condition with his college sweetheart and how she relates to Fulcrum, as well as his connection to the mysterious Orion, who invented the intersect in the first place.

WHAT I LIKED
“Chuck” is the perfect show to spark the imagination of the geeks of this world. It does to spy shows what “Star Wars” did to science fiction. It takes your basic nerd and throws him in a larger-than-life battle, making him the most important asset to the survival of the government.

“Chuck” manages to walk the line between being a kick-ass spy show and a workplace comedy. For the most part, the series scores in both departments. It’s a light-hearted spy show, not as edgy as “24” or “Alias” but more along the lines of “Get Smart.” Here it works as a fun series with some excitement and action.

But the real key to the show is what acts as a foil to the spy element: the Buy More. Arguably more entertaining than the spy angle is the workplace comedy. The rogue’s gallery of bizarre characters that work at the Buy More (who are at one point described as “Sam Kineson and a lesbian Indian”) provide plenty of comic relief. Coming into this season, we are treated to Tony Hale as the overbearing assistant manager, and he is probably one of the best things in the series now.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While the nice guy as a spy works, sometimes Chuck is just too nice. I do get a little sick and tired of his bellyaching and his pining for Agent Walker. Yeah, she’s gorgeous, and yes they have chemistry. But at times he starts to sound a little too much like Bella in the “Twilight” series. Maybe it’s just me, but I get tired of characters that whine too much, especially those that really don’t need to.

Pretty much I like all aspects of the show, except for the side-story of Chuck’s sister Ellie and her boyfriend, affectionately known as Awesome. These two characters are decidedly not awesome. Ellie is shrill throughout most of her scenes, and Awesome is just... well, boring, to be honest.

Fortunately, these characters take a back seat to most of the fun in this series.

DVD FEATURES
The six-disc box set of “Chuck: The Complete Second Season” comes with deleted scenes on all the discs, along with some Buy More webisodes on Disc Five.

Disc Six contains the bulk of the special features, including Awesome’s PSA tips on being Awesome called “Chuck: A Real-Life Captain Awesome’s Tips for Being Awesome” and a pretty funny gag reel. Additional featurettes include the behind-the-scenes “Truth, Spies and Regular Guys: Exploring the Mythology of Chuck,” the stunt retrospective “Dude in Distress” and some tongue-in-cheek killer spy advice from John Casey in “John Casey Presents: So You Want to Be a Deadly Spy?”

For the gee whiz factor, there’s also two pairs of 3D glasses included in the set that can be used to watch the Super Bowl episode “Chuck Versus the Third Dimension.” For those who don’t want the eye strain, the episode is also available in 2D (for the first time, actually).

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Geeks who want to be James Bond.



Watch this clip from "Chuck: The Complete Second Season"



"JENNIFER’S BODY"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R and Unrated
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Back to DVD Review Home

   

WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) is a sizzling-hot cheerleader who becomes possessed by a demon after being offered as a non-virgin sacrifice to an indie rock band trying to make it big. When Jennifer awakens, she starts a killing spree in her high school. Amanda Seyfried plays the nerdy Needy Lesnicky, Jennifer’s one-time best friend who now takes it upon herself to stop the killing.

WHAT I LIKED
A couple years ago, I was a champion of the film “Juno.” I was thrilled when Diablo Cody won the Oscar for that screenplay, but I was a bit trepidatious when I heard she was following it up with this tongue-in-cheek horror movie.

On the surface, I respect the hell out of what Cody was trying to do with “Jennifer’s Body.” I went to high school in the 80s, then college in the 90s, so I get the idea of sending up that brand of teen horror. So while I may not have been a big fan of the film, I appreciate what was trying to be done.

My favorite part of the film was Amanda Seyfried, who acts circles around Megan Fox, and it’s sad that she didn’t get nearly the amount of attention she deserved for this.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There were two major problems with “Jennifer’s Body”: the director and the lead actress. If they had gotten the memo that the movie was supposed to be a comedy, it might have been a much better film.

Director Karyn Kusama, whose credits include the godawful “Aeon Flux,” takes things too seriously, and not in the way comedy needs to be taken seriously. The movie plays out as if she’s telling a real tender story of tragic demonic possession. I just don’t think she got the joke.

And that leads into Megan Fox’s performance. Sure, she’s hot, and I’ll gladly flip through any Maxim magazine that she’s in. But she’s not a good actress. At all. Fox can barely chew through the Juno-speak dialogue in this movie, and her snotty attitude makes her ultimately unappealing.

Cody seems to be trying to retread her success with “Juno” by splattering pop culture references throughout the quirky dialogue, and it just all seems so forced. She’s a better writer than this, and it just felt like she was playing too much to expectations. After all, I’ve seen most of the plot elements of this movie done better in films like “Heathers.”

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The DVD only comes with the two commentary tracks for both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. The Blu-ray disc is the better buy with a nice selection of bonus materials.

There are deleted scenes (several of which are edited into the unrated version of the film), the featurette “Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool” about the climax of the film, some pretty extensive video diaries and a gag reel that plays out more like a music video.

There are some “Megan Fox Extras,” which include her tongue-in-cheek PSA about being yourself, and that’s somewhat funny for what it’s worth.

The Blu-ray is also packaged with a digital copy of the film for use in portable media devices.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Die-hard fans of Diablo Cody or Megan Fox.



"FIGHT CLUB:
10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Back to DVD Review Home

   

WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Edward Norton plays our narrator, a man who travels for a living and finds himself defined by his possessions and single-serving life. When he meets Tyler Durden on a plane, they become friends. Eventually they find excitement in life by starting a fight, which leads to the testosterone-fueled Fight Club. Here, they find greater meaning to their lives by tapping into their primitive desires.

WHAT I LIKED
Like much of the American public, I wasn’t taken by “Fight Club” when it came out ten years ago. I didn’t rush out to see it, but I later watched it on DVD. The reality of this film is that there is so much more to it than the name implies. It’s very difficult to explain to someone without giving away the story. That makes a great plot, but it also makes it very hard to recommend.

Director David Fincher really started to show his style with this film, using innovating filmmaking techniques and out-of-the-box thinking to tell the story. “Fight Club” took his dark nature he honed with “Se7en” and delivered a film that is truly unique.

There are many levels of this film, which has a lot to say about anarchy, identity and consumerism. It manages to make a hero out of a pretty unlikable character, and it taps into a part of us that makes us want to be like Tyler Durden.

Both Edward Norton and Brad Pitt do excellent jobs acting, but there are also great performances from Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf to round things out.

There’s many levels of brilliance to this film, from the script to the acting to the cinematography to the overall directing. Some may say that “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is Fincher’s best film, but I think that “Fight Club” is the film to beat in terms of overall artistic style.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
My one real beef with this film is that it is so hard to encapsulate and describe to others. The movie paints itself into a corner with a name like “Fight Club.” Too many would-be audience members are turned away by its apparent violent nature with very little hint of the though-provoking story beneath this exterior.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The original DVD of “Fight Club” was impressive as hell to begin with. This new 10th Anniversary Blu-ray builds upon this. All the commentary tracks are intact. One features Fincher alone. Another features Fincher with Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. There’s also a writer’s commentary with Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls. Finally, there’s a technical commentary with Alex McDowell, Jeff Cronenweth, Michael Kaplan and Kevin Haug.

Other vintage features include behind-the-scene vignettes with multiple angles and commentary, deleted and alternative scenes, trailers, TV and internet spots, hilarious PSAs, a music video and multiple image galleries.

New to the Blu-ray is “A Hit in the Ear,” which takes a detailed, interactive look at the sound design of the film. There’s also the ten-year retrospective “Flogging Fight Club” as well as the “Insomniac Mode: I am Jack’s Search Index” which allows you to jump throughout the film.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of David Fincher, Chuck Palahniuk and the film itself.



"SCRUBS: THE COMPLETE
EIGHTH SEASON"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: ABC Studios

    Back to DVD Review Home

   

WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After almost ending after season seven, “Scrubs” came back on the air – switching networks from NBC to ABC – for an eighth season. This year, things are shaken up a bit with a new batch of interns joining the Sacred Heart hospital. J.D., Elliot, Turk and Carla have to become teachers and mentors of the new staff, presenting themselves with new challenges. Meanwhile, the Janitor is getting married and Ted finds a girlfriend. Bob Kelso hangs out at his old digs because retirement bores him, and Dr. Cox has to face the horrors of becoming an administrator.

WHAT I LIKED
I have been a huge fan of “Scrubs” since the first season. Like other fans, I was nervous at how things would shake out once the show switched networks (although it never switched production companies, which kept it at ABC Studios).

For the most part, and despite some criticisms by other critics and fans, I felt that this new version of “Scrubs” retained its fresh and heartfelt nature. Sure, there are some shifting roles in the series, but we found a good place for everyone from Dr. Cox to Bob Kelso.

My favorite part of the series has been the quirky secondary characters, and it’s wonderful to see people like the Janitor get more screen time (and a girlfriend as well). Likewise, Ted the sweaty lawyer takes a seat closer to the front with his own storyline.

Overall, the interns in this season are pretty good, each playing against the leads of the film pretty well. Sure, J.D. has become even more effeminate in this season, and the constant shifting love interests are getting a bit tired, but overall, the “Scrubs” team still works in Season Eight.

The season climaxes with a great finale in a tropical setting, which also serves as a Indian-giving farewell to some characters. This new “Scrubs” could work with the new interns were they given time to season. If only it wasn’t changed to “Scrubs: Med School” for the next year.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only points where this show has suffered has been from a constant state of almost being over. Some of the characters (like Bob Kelso and Nurse Laverne) have exited the series only to be brought back in a somewhat awkward manner. And due to behind-the-scenes budgetary crises and politics, we find some of the characters literally phoning their performances in.

With the show revamped once again for Season Nine, this might be your last chance to see the “Scrubs” team at its height.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The bonus features are pretty impressive for the eighth season of a series. Included are the standard bloopers, deleted scenes and alternate lines. There’s also a Blu-ray exclusive “It’s All In the Name,” which rolls through practically every girlie name that Dr. Cox called J.D. over the course of the show.

There’s a behind-the-scenes look at the “My Bahamas Vacation” episode as well as the “Scrubs Intern” webisodes that introduced the fans to the new characters via the internet.

Probably one of the coolest things about this Blu-ray is the new “SeasonPlay” feature. What is natural for DVDs – to remember where you were if you eject the disc – is a challenge for Blu-ray players. This set comes with a feature that will recall where you were in the show so you don’t have to skip around after turning off your player. Hopefully this will become standard on Blu-ray releases from this point on.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the show.



"MIRAGEMAN"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Not Rated
    Studio: Magnolia

    Back to DVD Review Home

   

WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Maco is a young man dealing with the horrible memories of his parents getting killed and his younger brother getting attacked. When he stumbles across a crime in his neighborhood, he jumps into action and dispatches the culprits. This inspires him to become a real-life superhero, dressing up as Mirageman and fighting crime in the city. However, his new-found fame comes at a price when a pretty, young reporter he once saved makes it her mission to reveal his identity.

WHAT I LIKED
Over the years, there have been quite a few real-life superhero movies that have been released. This one, a Chiliean import, is pretty simple and straightforward. Because it’s a low-budget martial arts film, it’s not burdened by the Hollywood system or high-end special effects. Instead, it relies on real-world action to make things work.

In this respect, “Mirageman” has a retro feel to it. It’s something more likely to have been seen in American theaters in the 1970s and the 1980s before digital effects edged out the independent superhero movie.

“Mirageman” tells a relatively simple story with a comic book feel to it. It’s to be admired for its ballsy nature in making a movie that is every geek’s fantasy. However, it’s really nothing more than a martial arts flick with a guy in spandex. And there’s nothing wrong with that for 87 minutes.

The good news is that the follow-up “Mandrill” recently premiered at Fantastic Fest, and there’s a talk of an American remake at some point in the near future.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Part of what works for a do-it-yourself superhero flick is the need for a family audience. “Mirageman” passes over this, not because of the martial arts action but rather for the grim subject matter in the beginning. Maco’s brother is sexually assaulted, and the early crimes are a bit brutal. By the middle of the film, it feels like a comic book adventure, but the film carves out a certain under-18 demographic with its earlier violence.

Also, the story with the reporter may fit the formula well, building off the Lois Lane and Vicki Vale aspects of the superhero mythology, but the reporter’s motivations are bit odd. After all, Mirageman did save her from being raped and horribly murdered. You’d think she’d have more respect than that.

DVD FEATURES
The only special feature on the disc is a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is in Spanish.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who wants to see a unique superhero movie.




    

Click here to read more DVD reviews!

Click here to read more movie reviews!

Click here to watch films by 7M Pictures!