"TRAFFIC"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated R
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Steven Soderbergh directs his Oscar-winning film about the war on drugs in America. Following several storylines, “Traffic” examines how the drugs originate south of the border, what local law enforcement is doing about it, how the judicial system is handling it and how these substances can hit close to home. Featuring performances by Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Traffic” is a film as complex as the drug trade itself.

WHAT I LIKED
When I first saw “Traffic” ten years ago, I was simply blown away. It is such a complex film yet artfully done in such a way that you cannot help but sit back and admire it. The best aspect of this movie is how Soderbergh uses a different look for a different point in the drug war, and when characters move from one place to another they literally experience a different visual world.

This was the first in a wave of multi-character films that followed, and by far it is the most superior. “Traffic” is a feat in filmmaking because of its out-of-the-box presentation that was just ripped off by films like “Crash” and “Syriana.”

With the exception of a petulant speech by Topher Grace in the middle, this film shows the drug issue outside of a political stance. It doesn’t try to solve it, but rather presents the problems from a realistic perspective, showing us how intricate, complex and out of control things are.

The acting is superb, featuring Benicio Del Toro at his best and even Catherine Zeta-Jones (who is generally nice to look at but hardly a fantastic actor) with a memorable role.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Nothing about the film, but I’m still damn mad about it losing the Best Picture Oscar. Screw “Gladiator.” “Traffic” was the best film of 2000.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The new Blu-ray comes in a flip-disc format, which includes the DVD burned on one side, allowing one purchase for multiple players. Although I’m not a fan of the double-sided disc in general, this seems to be the most efficient cross-platform presentation.

Bonus material includes access to BD-Live as well as an “Inside Traffic” featurette and 24 deleted scenes.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Soderbergh fans and anyone who might have missed this in theaters ten years ago.





"THE JACKAL"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated R
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After a botched arrest in Russia, an assassin known only as The Jackal (Bruce Willis)is hired to take out someone high in the U.S. government. The FBI Deputy Director (Sidney Poitier) seeks the help of an Irish terrorist (Richard Gere) to track down The Jackal and prevent an international incident.

WHAT I LIKED
Movies like “The Jackal” are forgettable fun for me. I saw it back when it first hit video (on the ancient format of VHS no less) more than ten years ago. It was an enjoyable film then but nothing groundbreaking.

Revisiting it more than a dozen years later, I had an equal amount of fun. There’s some excellent acting by Sidney Poitier, and even Bruce Willis does a fine job as the stoic assassin. At its heart, “The Jackal” is an action film, and it delivers in the shoot-‘em-up mentality, not to be taken seriously but a fun thing to watch on a Saturday afternoon.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Some films have one person in the cast that is a sticking point for the entire movie. For me, this was Richard Gere, who was enjoying a career resurgence following the hit “Pretty Woman” a few years before this. Sadly, while Gere isn’t terrible with his Irish accent, I just don’t buy him as a badass. At all. In fact, Gere doesn’t scare me at all, with his squinty eye charm and all. He just isn’t threatening.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
“The Jackal” has been released in a Blu-ray/DVD flip disc, with the same content on both sides. Additional features include access to BD-Live, feature commentary by director Michael Caton-Jones and “The Making of The Jackal” featurette.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of mid-90s political thrillers.



"OUT OF AFRICA"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Sidney Pollack won seven Academy Awards with his epic romance “Out of Africa.” Telling a story that spans years, the film follows a woman who travels to Kenya to be with her new (and frigid) husband. While there, she falls in love with a rogue game hunter, whom she tries to tame over the years. But soon, she discovers that amid the struggles of her life, the hunter is as tamable as Africa itself.

WHAT I LIKED
The movie looked great, especially on Blu-ray. And it was very well acted. But let’s face it, this isn’t my kind of film. In fact, when I let a friend know that I was going to watch it, she laughed and said rather sarcastically that I should enjoy it.

Point taken. Touché.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I’ve never been a fan of the epic three-hour romance that transcends decades. From “Doctor Zhivago” to the more recent Nicholas Sparks movies, I just am not interested in people whose paths cross occasionally but have an unending love for each other.

“Out of Africa” runs painfully long, and like many films that fit this mold, it’s an experience of its own time. I get the beauty of the film and the realistic struggles that people have, but I just am not a fan of these movies. Fantastic acting or not... seven Oscars or not... I was bored. And I can’t get past that.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
“Out of Africa” comes on a Blu-ray/DVD flip-disc. It also has access to BD-Live and includes feature commentary, deleted scenes and a full-length documentary about the making of the film, including an examination of the original source material. Not surprisingly, the story behind the film is more interesting than the film itself, but not by much.

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


    

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