"VALENTINE'S DAY"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: New Line Cinema

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Garry Marshall directs this ensemble romantic comedy about the various stories of many different people on Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles. We have a flower shop owner who recently proposed to his girlfriend, a phone sex worker who is hiding her moonlighting from her new beau and her hard-nosed boss, an elementary school teacher who is having an unbeknownst affair, a teenager ready to lose her virginity and a senior citizen couple having to deal with past secrets.

WHAT I LIKED
On the whole, I like Garry Marshall. I enjoyed “The Princess Diaries” movies, and I will continue to hold up “Pretty Woman” as an example of the perfect romantic comedy. Marshall brings his warm charm to this film and enjoys spending time with the characters he creates.

With a cast this big, it’s inevitable that you’ll find someone in there you like. And since most of these actors play roles that are similar to their common on-screen persona, you can easily fall into familiarity. The actors I like include Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway and Queen Latifah.

This is a light and fluffy Garry Marshall comedy that hits all the points it’s supposed to with its target audience.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
My biggest problem with this movie is that it was way too crowded, even for an ensemble piece. It tries so hard to capture the magic of films like “Love Actually” but just stumbles. The filmmakers could have shaved off at least one or two of the storylines to make things move smoother. In particular, the black hole of acting that is Taylor Swift could have been dropped. (Though I know why it wasn’t... who could resist the popular Taylors on screen, no matter how bad the acting is.)

And while you will inevitably find character and actors you automatically like in this film, you’re also going to find ones you don’t like. For me, the stand-bys of Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts and Jamie Foxx all got on my nerves.

Garry Marshall is a fine director. Sadly, in this film, he succumbed too much to his own let’s-have-a-schmooze mentality.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with a sneak peek of “Sex and the City 2,” which is nothing more than an extended trailer, a music video by Jewel and commentary by Garry Marshall. Additional features include the stars sharing their Valentine’s Day stories, a featurette called “The Garry Factor” which examines the classic director’s particular style and a blooper reel that is really an outtake reel.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Rom com lovers and Garry Marshall fans.





"INVICTUS"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Clint Eastwood delivers his Oscar contender for 2009, following Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) as he tries to unite South Africa upon assuming office. To bridge the gap between the black Africans and those who imprisoned him, Mandela turns to the South African rugby team, challenging them to win the World Cup.

WHAT I LIKED
Clint Eastwood can be counted on to deliver a well made movie or two each year. And “Invictus” is well made. It looks fine, and the acting is pretty good. As with any Eastwood film, there’s a passion behind the characters, and we are not given a typical production.

In “Invictus,” Eastwood crafts an inspirational sports film without falling into all of the cliches that the genre holds. Likewise, with few films about rugby made, it’s a completely different backdrop for the audience.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The problem Eastwood often faces in his films is that by being unique and taking a different spin on his genres, we sometimes get an experiment. At times, the experiment works and inspires. Other times, it just falls apart and comes off as awkward. The latter is the case with “Invictus.”

While the film is well made, the acting just doesn’t work with its leads. Morgan Freeman sounds like he’s doing an impression of Mandela rather than becoming the character. Likewise, Matt Damon as the rugby captain just doesn’t inspire me at all. Like Hillary Swank’s performance in “Amelia” last year, Damon probably gives a truthful performance of an otherwise non-compelling personality.

Finally, as a big, fat, dumb American, I don’t understand the game of rugby. So all of the climax is lost on me as I couldn’t figure out what was going on until the crowd cheers.

The bottom line... I was bored. Sorry, Clint. Sue me.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray, which includes a second disc for DVD viewing and Digital Copy, includes a picture-in-picture explanation of the film, featuring Clint Eastwood’s journey to the story. There’s also a 30-minute documentary about Morgan Freeman meeting the legend which he plays as well as a short featurette in which Matt Damon learns to play rugby. Rounding things out is a trailer for the music of “Invictus” and a 22-minute teaser of “The Eastwood Factor,” a documentary about Clint Eastwood’s career at Warner Bros.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who love a Clint Eastwood movie because it’s a Clint Eastwood movie.



"EDGE OF DARKNESS"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated R
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Mel Gibson returns in front of the camera as a Boston cop whose daughter is shot to death after coming home to visit. As the story unfolds, and he conducts his own investigation, he discovers a conspiracy that points to a very dangerous game.

WHAT I LIKED
I don’t care how far Mel Gibson puts his foot in his mouth, I like the guy in the roles he plays. Similar to how Alec Baldwin makes asinine comments but I still love his schtick, Gibson can always redeem himself as a cop on the edge.

There’s a lot of twists and turns in this plot, and were it a book, it’d be a real page-turner. The story does not always go down the expected path, which is great for someone who wants to see something different. Mel Gibson captures the intensity and pain of a grieving father, and he’s totally believable in the role.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While this is a fine return for Mel Gibson, it doesn’t pack the same punch as his earlier work, in particular the first two “Lethal Weapon” movies. The story drags at several points, and it seems that the director is more interested in showcasing the city of Boston over moving the film along.

Ultimately, “Edge of Darkness” falls into cliches after taking some unexpected twists and turns. It’s hard to craft a totally original story, but the Wizard behind the curtain in this film seems to be a little less interesting than the curtain itself.

DVD FEATURES
The single-disc DVD comes with about five minutes of deleted and alternate scenes that give a slightly deeper look behind the conspiracy.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who want to see Gibson return as a cop on the edge.


    

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