"CARLITO’S WAY"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated R
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After giving the cinema world two of the best gangster films ever made – “Scarface” and “The Untouchables” – Brian DePalma brings another crime drama to the big screen. “Carlito’s Way” tells the story of a drug kingpin released from prison who plans to go straight. However, the people from his past, as well as those he thinks are his friends, make it impossible for him to escape his life of crime.

WHAT I LIKED
Any discussion of “Carlito’s Way” is not complete without a nod to the fantastic performances. I’m not necessarily talking about Penelope Ann Miller (though I did enjoy seeing her boobs, thank you very much, Brian DePalma!). Rather, I’m talking about Sean Penn and his crazy hair as Carlito’s corrupt lawyer. This was a great comeback for Penn in this role, and he deserved his accolades. No one plays creepy like Sean Penn does.

Of course, Al Pacino is great as Carlito Brigante, but you expect this from him whenever he plays a gangster. Those he does show a bit of humanity that we haven’t seen since his early years in “The Godfather.” There’s a soft side to Pacino in this film that really works from a tragic level.

“Carlito’s Way” is perhaps the last great DePalma film, using his trademarks well but not overusing them like he did in movies like “Snake Eyes.” The action is great when it happens, but this is hardly a shoot-‘em-up action film. Rather, it’s a slow burn that shows the destruction of a character who desperately wants to escape.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Overall, the movie works well in its own context. It does run a bit slow with a near 2 1/2-hour running time. But to escape that, it’d be a different movie.

Again, the only other weak point in the acting is Penelope Ann Miller. She’s not terrible, but she’s also not great.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray includes the vintage featurettes “The Making of Carlito’s Way” and “Brian DePalma on Carlito’s Way.” Additional features include deleted scenes, D-Box Motion Enabling and access to BD-Live.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Brian DePalma’s crime dramas.





"DUNE"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Centuries in the future, the universe is run by an emperor, and a mysterious Guild holds the key to space travel, which is a mysterious “spice” found on only one planet. This planet, known formally as Arrakis but colloquially as Dune, becomes the focus of a power battle between families to control the universe. The son of an assassinated duke goes into hiding with the natives on the planet and paves the way to become a religious messiah.

WHAT I LIKED
I remember seeing “Dune” in the theaters almost 25 years ago, and I loved the epic nature of the film. There’s not a shred of humor in it, and it’s a bleak look at humanity’s future. But I was swept into the fantastic world.

Having read the book after the film, I wasn’t burdened by the changes that were made. And even now, after reading Frank Herbert’s novel, I appreciate the film for the piece of art that director David Lynch made. It’s an obtuse story that isn’t for everyone, but I found the entire film fascinating.

The best part about this movie, now released on Blu-ray is the gorgeous production design, sets and special effects, most of which hold up to today’s standards. Watching this film in high definition allowed me to dive even deeper into Arrakis than I could have ever done on VHS, DVD or any SciFi Channel rebroadcast.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not a whole lot. All the flaws (of which I admit there are plenty) are forgivable in the making of such a visionary movie.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with deleted scenes, access to BD-Live and D-Box Motion. There’s also several featurettes, including “Designing Dune,” “Dune FX,” “Dune Models & Miniatures” and “Dune Wardrobe Design.” In particular, I most appreciated the attempt by the De Laurentiis family to explain the truth behind the many cuts of the film.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the movie, but probably not fans of the book.



"SPARTACUS
50th ANNIVERSARY"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Universal

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Universal has released on Blu-ray for the first time the epic gladiator film “Spartacus” in a 50th Anniversary Edition. The film tells the story of a random slave who becomes a gladiator and unites them in a revolt against Rome. Starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, “Spartacus” is the original gladiator film.

WHAT I LIKED
The first thing I noticed when I watched this Blu-ray was how fantastic it looked. The cinematography has been brought to new life on high definition. While some shots are very grainy with the 1960s film stock, the movie looks beautiful on a high-def television.

Kirk Douglas, while a little old in the role, makes a fine action hero, and Stanley Kubrick’s still-accessible directing made the movie click. I loved the battle sequences, even with the 60s cheesiness surrounding them, and the character struggles are, in a word, classic.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only complaints I have about “Spartacus” come with its time. It runs long at 3 hours 17 minutes, but that’s to be expected from an epic journey back in the day when they still had intermissions and overtures. The acting is a bit silly at times, but that’s a sign of its time. And the hair styles and make-up reek of the turn of the 50s/60s decade. Still, “Spartacus” is a great film.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The 50th anniversary Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, archival interviews with Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons, behind-the-scenes footage, five vintage newsreels and multiple image galleries. There’s also access to BD-Live.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of classic, epic movies.


    

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