"BOOK OF ELI"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated R
    Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack,
    DVD, On Demand and for Download 6/15
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Denzel Washington plays Eli, a man who walks across the country decades after an apocalypse. He carries with him a treasure that he must protect until the time is right to let it loose on the world. He comes to a secluded town where the villainous Carnegie (Gary Oldman) rules the townspeople. Carnegie wants Eli’s book for his own power, and Eli must fight to bring the book – and the human race – to salvation.

WHAT I LIKED
There are certain parts of this film that are quite brilliant. The look of the movie is pretty amazing, and the cinematography looks fantastic. The use of de-saturation and high contrast really give the film a retro look without being strictly black and white. There are also some pretty fine performances by Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.

Most of the flaws are forgivable in the context of the film... at least until you get to the end. But through much of the movie, it’s sufferable to get to the kick-ass action sequences.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The acting of Washington and Oldman is balanced by the truly dreadful performance of Mila Kunis. Sure, she’s a looker, but damn if she can’t act in a movie like this.

Aside from that, my biggest sticking point is the ending of the movie. I won’t go into spoilers, but the bulk of the film cheats the ending to the point of almost not caring that the ending exists. Certain direction is meant to be clever, but it’s not-so-subtly just flat-out lying to the audience.

And speaking of the ending, the ending of this film has got to be the longest ending in the history of cinema. This isn’t a fast-paced film to begin with, but the almost painfully evangelical story grinds to a crawl for the last fifteen minutes.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with some excellent special features, starting off with an included DVD which also has Digital Copy. Blu-ray exclusive features include the “Maximum Movie Mode Survival Guide,” which integrates interviews, behind-the-scenes and storyboard comparisons into the film itself. There are also several deleted scenes.

Stand-alone features include “Starting Over” which explores what would happen after a global catastrophe, “Eli’s Journey” which looks at the historical and mythological roots of the main character, “The Book of Eli Soundtrack” which takes a look at the music of the movie and “A Lost Tale: Billy” which provides a motion-comic prelude to the film.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Denzel fans and anyone who doesn’t mind getting preached at without any level of finesse.





"SUPERNATURAL: THE
COMPLETE FIRST SEASON"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Not Rated
    Studio: Warner Bros.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The first season of the paranormal thriller series “Supernatural” is available on Blu-ray for the first time. Sam and Dean are brothers whose mother was killed by a mysterious demon. Their father John spent years hunting demons and hoping to destroy the one that killed the woman he loved. However, one day he goes missing, and it’s up to Sam and Dean to pick up the demon trail to save him. Along the way, they travel the country, vanquishing demons and solving unsolvable mysteries.

WHAT I LIKED
I honestly don’t know how this show got by me because it’s a damn fine piece of entertainment. As a huge fan of “The X-Files” and other paranormal stories, it was great to watch a television series that strives to provide viewers with some horror-based action stories.

Sure, the first season of “Supernatural” turns into a monster-of-the-week show pretty quickly, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a series that plays off tradition American horror movies each week. The show makes a decision to be about the unexplained without copping out with a “Scooby Doo” explanation week to week.

Plus, being on the WB (which later becomes the CW), “Supernatural” manages to provide the eye candy for the younger female audience without bogging down in a teen soap opera. I enjoyed watching this first season and am now hooked. This is a fun show that actually provides better horror movie fodder than most horror movies out there.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
You can’t have a show aimed at teenagers that stars a bunch of guys without spraying testosterone all over the place now and then. The character of brothers Sam and Dean fight a lot, and when they are finally reunited with their dad, there’s even more barking. Plus, with an avid female WB audience, there’s plenty of pining for lost loves. Still, this is forgivable considering how fun the show can be.

Other problems in the series come from general TV unreality silliness, like how the brothers almost never change their clothes or actually spend more than 30 seconds coming up with fake authority identities. But that’s all okay in the context of a fun television show.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The season one Blu-ray includes deleted scenes from select episodes, commentary on one episode and a gag reel. There are two featurettes, “Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen” and “Supernatural: Tales from the Edge of Darkness.” There’s also a lengthy Q&A with the cast and crew at the Paley Festival Panel.

The coolest thing on the Blu-ray is exclusive to this format. “The Devil’s Road Map” provides an interactive U.S. map that includes behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, true urban legend information and factoids on the various locations mentioned in the show.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Horror movie fans who want to see the WB/CW version of a monster-of-the-week show.

Watch this clip from "SUPERNATURAL: SEASON 1"





"THE ILLUSIONIST"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
A reclusive magician named Eisenheim (Edward Norton) has fallen in love with a Sophie (Jessica Biel). Unfortunately, Sophie is betrothed to the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). What starts out as professional admiration quickly turns into jealous competition as Eisenheim and Leopold vie for Sophie’s love. When Sophie turns up murdered, both men are suspects. Eisenheim falls into seclusion, but continues to perform as a magician. Soon, he makes contact with Sophie from beyond the grave, complicating the investigation of both Eisenheim and Leopold.

WHAT I LIKED
I remember when this film came out four years ago, it was compared (with good reason) to Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige.” While both films were their own story, they both dealt with turn-of-the-century magicians and had some pretty significant twists. “The Illusionist” had the advantage of coming out first, and that helped make it a hit before “The Prestige” took the box office ring.

I liked the film back when I saw it in the theater and later on DVD. It manages to be a period piece while escaping a lot of the humdrum boringness of a standard period piece. There’s a real mystery behind the film, and the driving force behind that comes from Paul Giamatti who plays a police inspector.

The key to this film was the acting. Edward Norton was okay as Eisenheim, though his arrogance comes through a little too much. And while Jessica Biel is pretty, she’s really nothing great in the film. But Giamatti steals the show, with Rufus Sewell also showing some excellent acting chops as the villain.

“The Illusionist” is a decent film and worth revisiting.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The movie doesn’t hold up quite as well as it could, and I fear that ten years from now, it will hold up even less. Rewatch this soon if you intend to because something about the digital effects to show Eisenheim’s abilities just doesn’t feel right any more. It’s a big difference that four years of special effects advances can make.

DVD FEATURES
The most disappointing thing about this release is the bare-bones nature of the Blu-ray. Not only are there no special features on the hi-def disc, but there’s no subtitles or even a static menu. It’s just the movie... period. I mean, sure, the film looks fantastic in high definition (though the audio mix is a bit uneven), the only reason to buy this now is if you don’t already own the DVD and want to watch the hi-def transfer.

The saving grace is that “The Illusionist” Blu-ray comes packaged with the previously struck DVD, which includes a commentary track and two featurettes.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People looking for a period piece with a little magic in it.



"WHEN IN ROME"
Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr


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

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Touchstone Pictures

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Kristen Bell plays a no-nonsense New Yorker who is happy with the path her career is taking, even though her dating life is in shambles. When she travels to Rome for her sister’s sudden wedding, she steals coins from a magical fountain in hopes that they will bring her luck. However, those coins cause the men who threw them in to be hopelessly in love with her. While fending off these potential suitors, she has to wonder if the one guy she likes that she met in Rome might actually be love or magic.

WHAT I LIKED
Parting ways with many a critic, I found myself really enjoying “When in Rome.” It was a fluffy, airy romantic comedy that didn’t take itself too seriously and was rather oddly plotted, but I had fun. First, it helps that Kristen Bell leads the cast because I challenge anyone to find a more adorable leading lady than she.

But the real charm of this film was the slate of bizarre suitors that set their sites on her throughout the film. Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Heder and Danny DeVito all give hilarious performances as over-the-top weirdoes vying for her affection. Whenever these guys are on screen – and yes, I also mean whenever the normally annoying Dax Shepard is on screen – the movie is a hoot.

For the romantic comedy fan, this film works. It’s not as groundbreaking as “Pretty Woman” or “When Harry Met Sally,” but it makes a sweet movie for date night.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I’ll admit that the script seems a bit half-baked at times. There are some forced moments, especially at the end how the movie shoe-horns all the suitors together. These moment are to be expected from your standard rom com, and I didn’t mind them. This film is just a silly fantasy, after all.

Anyone who hates romantic comedies will find plenty to complain about here, but many of those things are conventions of the genre itself.

BLU-RAY FEATURES
The Blu-ray comes with some exclusive features, including an alternate opening and ending, extended scenes with the four suitors and the featuertte “Crazy Casanovas: Mischief from the Set.” Features that also appear on the DVD include bloopers, deleted scenes and two music videos.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Rom com fans.


    

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