"SHERLOCK HOLMES"
BLU-RAY Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Snappy director Guy Ritchie re-imagines the character of Sherlock Holmes in a new blockbuster film. Robert Downey Jr. plays the legendary detective while Jude Law play his faithful assistant Dr. Watson. These are younger, more hip versions of Holmes and Watson as they uncover the mystery behind an evil British Lord obsessed with the occult who was put to death and mysteriously risen from the grave.

WHAT I LIKED
Unlike my mother, I’m not beholden to the classic character of Sherlock Holmes. I know a bit about the character and have read some of the stories, but I am okay with a lot of the changes and updates that were made.

Guy Ritchie brings his own special brand of pizzazz to this film, but it become something more than just “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Detectives.” There’s a real story here, and we are treated to Holmes in all his arrogant glory. There is definitely a mystery here to be solved, and all the elements are laid out. Yet, like an episode of “House,” the knowledge needed to solve it is a bit obscure and fun to watch unravel.

The action is what separates this version from your parents’ Sherlock Holmes. It’s just a good splash of fun.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While I like most of the character that were presented in this adaptation, I will admit that the only actor who didn’t seem to fit was Rachel McAdams. Sure, her character was critical to the plot, but she was just only so-so in the film.

There are also some pretty alarmingly goofy special effects here. It doesn’t play as bad as it did projected on the big screen, but the visual element of this “Sherlock Holmes” looked a bit odd to me.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray is relatively thin for the technology present. Though it is not without special features. The best part of the experience is the Maximum Movie Mode which utilizes the branching technology of Blu-ray to include picture-in-picture content, storyboard comparisons, still galleries, focus points and a timeline.

Additional features include access to the BD-Live platform and a 30-minute chaptered behind-the-scene documentary that shows how the character of Sherlock Holmes was given an update but remained true to the legend.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who’d like to see a hip, action-packed version of what was once a stuffy literature character.



"THE PRISONER"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Not Rated
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
AMC and Warner Bros. have updated the classic British television series “The Prisoner” into a new miniseries. Rather than being a direct update of the show, this miniseries is more of a re-imagining, taking the concepts behind the series to a different level. In this show, Number Six (Jim Caviezel) finds himself in the mysterious Village, from which he can’t escape. Six soon learns more about the Village from other residents, but the more he learns, the more confusing and trapped he becomes.

WHAT I LIKED
It’s been decades since I’ve watched the original “The Prisoner” with Patrick McGoohan, and that’s probably a good thing. This miniseries is so vastly different than the 1960s British spy series that it almost doesn’t deserve the name. Still, it has some interesting things happened.

On the whole, I liked where the show went. I liked the updated concept, and it managed to zero in on all the confusion that Number Six feels in his prison of the new Village. Additionally, the performances were pretty good. Caviezel has only a few goofy moments, and the casting of Ian McKellen a Number Two is pretty spot-on.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While I enjoyed the original series, I didn’t think it was untouchable. However, it seems that the people putting this version of “The Prisoner” together tried too hard to differentiate it. I’m not against the massive changes that were made in the story and characters, per se. I was just too confused too often in this series. After sitting through all six hours of television, I felt this could have really been condensed into a 90-minute movie and been even more effective.

The opening episode and the closing episode were decent, but everything in between seems to be just fluff to add confusion to the audience via the characters themselves.

DVD FEATURES
The DVD comes with deleted scenes and commentaries on two of the episodes, which offers a little more explanation if you just didn’t get the ending even after watching it. There’s also a slate of featurettes, including “Beautiful Prison: The World of The Prisoner,” “A 6-Hour Film Shot in 92 Days: The Diary of The Prisoner,” “The Prisoner Comic-Con Panel” and “The Man Behind ‘2’” in which Jamie Campbell Bower interviews Ian McKellen.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the actors who aren’t too in love with the original TV series.

Watch this clip from "The Prisoner"



"THE BLIND SIDE"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Waner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) was a poor kid living on the wrong side of the tracks in Memphis. One day, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) sees him walking alone and takes him under her wing. The Tuohy family adopts him as a son and helps him have a better shot at life. With their help and support, Oher gets a shot at a career in both college and professional football.

WHAT I LIKED
Probably the biggest compliment that I can pay a movie like “The Blind Side” is that it is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. From the early advertisements, I thought the film was going to slathered with cheese and be one of the worst kinds of inspirational sports movies. While I didn’t think it was one of the best films of the year, I did enjoy it and found it very heartwarming and inspirational.

The best part of this film was the performances by both Aaron and Bullock, and while I wouldn’t have picked her as the best actress of the year, her Oscar was not undeserved. “The Blind Side” serves its purpose by making the audience tear up in some moments and cheer in others. It’s a total button-pusher, but it does so in a very good way.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I could barely drag myself off the couch to initially view “The Blind Side” in theaters, but when I did, I wasn’t sorry for it. However, the hype surrounding this movie has reached “Twilight” levels of silliness. The performances were good, but they weren’t as good as one might be led to believe. The movie does get really schmaltzy at times. And it is very heavy-handed in its portrayals. I know it was on true events, but I found myself wondering how true some of these events were.

Finally, two more points... I get why there was so much love heaped on college football with this movie, but I thought the parade of coach cameos just gets a little old too fast. And in the end, I really felt the film should have been more about Michael Oher rather than a spectacle of how awesome Leigh Anne Tuohy is, ‘cause that gets rammed down your throat a bit too much here.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray includes an interview with the real Michael Oher, along with one-on-one interviews between Sandra Bullock and the real Leigh Anne Tuohy, as well a director/screenwriter John Lee Hancock one-on-one with the book’s author, Michael Lewis.

Other Blu-ray exclusive features include the “Acting Coaches: Behind the Blind Side” featurette and a look at the casting of Big Quinton Aaron in the lead role. There is also the DVD and a Digital Copy disc included in the package.

Finally, there’s a slate of deleted scenes, which are also available on the DVD.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Sandra Bullock and inspirational sports movies.



"WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG
    Studio: Waner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Spike Jonze delivers a bipolar adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak children’s book. Max is a misunderstood boy who runs away from home and ends up living on a mysterious island a the king of the wild things. There, he learns more about friendship and acceptance and why things can’t be perfect all the time.

WHAT I LIKED
While I enjoyed “Where the Wild Thing Are,” I didn’t think it was the greatest movie of the year, which is what seemed to be the case with most of the blogosphere. Rather, I thought it was a very intelligent adaptation that can be enjoyed by adult who were fans of the book. Indeed, this film was made more for grown-ups who had been through the confusing time of pre-adolescence that Max is navigating in life.

No matter what he touches, Jonze always gives a unique interpretation on screen, and “Where the Wild Things Are” is no exception. It’s a brilliantly designed piece, opting for puppetry over too many visual effects. This may not have been how I envisioned the really short picture book when I was a child, but it was a really cool adaptation nonetheless.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only real complaint I have about “Where the Wild Things Are” is its own psychosis. The movie has a range of emotion of a typical “Punky Brewster” episode, going from joyous to depression in a single scene. Sure, this is very true to the emotional make-up of a child, but it’s a bit hard to take. I wouldn’t say it’s a great kids’ movie, but kids will enjoy it.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with an impressive list of shorts by Lance Bangs: “Maurice and Spike,” “Max and Spike,’ “The Records Family,” “Carter Burwell,” “The Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog Running and Barking at the Same Time” (my personal favorite), “Crew Pranks Spike,” “Vampire attack: The Max Records Short” and “The Kids Take Over the Picture.” These short featurettes cover a variety of topics from basic behind-the-scenes interviews to bizarre elements of the shooting process.

There’s also the HBO First Look episode of the movie along with the new shot film “Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must be More to Life,” which offers the same adult-oriented, bipolar adaptation of a Maurice Sendak book.

Finally, the Blu-ray is packaged with the DVD and a disc for Digital Copy, which makes it a good buy.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Grown-ups who loved the book as kids.



"NINJA ASSASSIN"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)

    Rated R
    Studio: Waner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Let’s not mince words with this one. It’s about a ninja assassin....

Yeah, that’s about it.

WHAT I LIKED
This film was much maligned by critics for its copious amounts of CGI blood and rocky storyline. However, I had a hell of a lot of fun watching this movie both in the theater and at home on video. “Ninja Assassin” is nothing more than an excuse for violent ninja fighting with a huge body count and plenty of blood – real and CGI.

I really can’t say the story was great, but it was passable. And Naomi Harris was very fetching as the Europol damsel in distress. It’s no “Kill Bill,” but I’d go as far to say it’s just as fun for its short 99 minutes.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Sure, the CGI blood got out of hand, and I would have rather seen more practical effects. But I’m not going to harp on that cost-cutting measure. The only real problem I had with this one is that it often took itself too seriously. Rain, the Japanese pop star who plays the title character, is full of himself, and the storyline tries to be too artful in its rather rote delivery.

DVD FEATURES
The single-disc DVD comes with only about five minutes of deleted scenes.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who want some big, dumb, bloody, kick-ass fun.




    

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