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Fri
04
Sep

THE WIRE on Blu-ray Makes for Compelling, Depressing Binge-Watching

The Wire Complete Series Blu-ray HBO Critical Blast

HBO's police procedural, THE WIRE, is a wholly engrossing departure from the norm. There are no mysteries to be solved here -- the viewer is let in on the criminal activities as well as the police activities, so the 'whodunnit' aspect isn't there.

Thu
03
Sep

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell a Magical Delight

Jonathan Strange Norrell BBC Sussana Clarke Critical Blast

Once upon a time, I read a piece on the Internet where Neil Gaiman extolled the virtues of Susanna Clarke's novel, JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL. A bit of a time later, I found the book in hardcover, which I promptly snapped up, and promptly placed it into a neat little nook on my bookshelf, where it lived happily ever after. The end.

Of course, I had completely neglected to make the time to actually read the thing, hefty tome that it was. Therefore, I am completely without a point of reference by which I could tell you whether or not the vision of director Toby Haynes is true to that of Ms. Clarke's. But I can tell you, as a body of work standing on its own, this BBC series is a thing wondrous strange.

Tue
01
Sep

Second Season (Part 2) for TEEN TITANS GO! Comes to DVD

Teen Titans Go House Pests Season Two Critical Blast DVD

For my own part, if I'm going to watch the animated Teen Titans, I'm going to go with the YOUNG JUSTICE series. Following that, the Filmation shorts, and then the Cartoon Network's TEEN TITANS -- all of which I would forego for a DC Universe animated movie of THE JUDAS CONTRACT, but let's not go there while there's still another BATMAN adventure to make. Watching TINY TOON ADVENTURES acted out by cutesified versions of superheroes wouldn't really top my list.

The seven-year-old boy who has taken up (and taken over) residence with me has other ideas. He thinks they're hilarious. He loves the butt-jokes. He even has a little crush on Raven. (When he grows up and sees Tara Strong, who provides the character's voice, he'll still have it and we'll have something in common.)

So while I wouldn't choose to watch TEEN TITANS GO! I nonetheless have viewed it and...I survived. In fact, some of it was actually fun, and funny.

Fri
21
Aug

Legion of Doom Big Trouble for Justice League in Latest LEGO Adventure

Justice League Legion of Doom LEGO Blu-ray DVD Critical Blast

The Justice League is back, and ready to hit the bad guys like a ton of bricks. LEGO bricks, that is.

JUSTICE LEAGUE: ATTACK OF THE LEGION OF DOOM is the latest installment in the animated LEGO adventures of DC Comics' Justice League characters: Superman (Nolan North), Batman (Troy Baker), Wonder Woman (Grey Griffin), Flash (James Arnold Taylor), Green Lantern (Josh Keaton) and Cyborg (Khary Payton). Together, they've been successful in stopping the bad guys in their tracks.

Thu
20
Aug

MATCH a Fine Story Matched by Equally Fine Acting

Match Patrick Stewart Matthew Lillard Carla Gugino Critical Blast Dennis Russo

The root story behind MATCH is a simple one, but therein lies its mystery as well.

Patrick Stewart stars as Tobi Powell, an aging, single, Manhattan ballet instructor and former dancer who is forced to confront his past -- willingly at first, and forcibly later on -- when a young couple, Lisa and Mike Davis (Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard), from Seattle interrupt his life under the guise of wanting to interview him about his colorful life as a dancer back in the 1960’s.

I tend to love movies that feature a limited main cast in a confined set area (mostly Tobi’s apartment), where the story and acting are so strong that you not only lose track of the time but you're unaware of the limited surroundings. MATCH is a textbook example of this for me. While, yes, there are times when we are not in Tobi’s apartment, and there are some limited interactions with other people, those times are more to set up the story that plays out in the apartment between the three of them.

Tue
11
Aug

SEVENTH DWARF Comes Up Short

Seventh Dwarf Blu-ray DVD Combo Shout Factory

Marrying up the fairy tales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, THE SEVENTH DWARF comes up short in story and in film quality, coming nowhere near the levels set by HOODWINKED or the SHREK franchise.

The scene is the 18th birthday party for Princess Rose (Peyton List). It's more than your average big deal, because it marks the day the princess can take off all her armor, which she's been forced to wear since she was born, having been cursed to sleep for 100 years if she were to prick her finger. But the evil witch, Dellamorta, is determined to bring her curse to fruition, and put Rose in a slumber that only the kiss of true love can dispel.

Thu
06
Aug

HOT PURSUIT Victim of Drive-By Writing

Hot Pursuit Reese Witherspoon Sofia Vergara Blu-ray

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara forge an unlikely partnership in this cop film / buddy film / road trip film that goes off the rails almost immediately after the credits.

Witherspoon plays Officer Rose Cooper, whom we see grow up in the back seat of her father's patrol car. This upbringing has made her a rather intense person with a complete knowledge of the codes and regulations, but not much in the way of social interaction. In summation, she's a female Barney Fife, working a desk. For reasons that defy even the plot, she's selected to accompany a detective to bring in a Federal witness to testify, so that she can accompany the witness's wife, Daniella Riva (Vergara).

Mon
27
Jul

Its title is a misnomer but BLAST FROM THE PAST has arrived on Blu-ray.

Bomb shelters, doomsday preparedness, and those on the apocalypse watch have a part in our society today just like they did at least as far back as the Cold War. The struggle to survive is deeply ingrained in the human psyche but some people clearly will go to drastic means to survive an Earth-changing conflagration. I can see the sentiment, more so now that I have a family, yet building an underground bunker has never been high on my things-to-do list. Perhaps it's because, no matter how close to the edge society rides, I'm more of a "half full" kind of guy, that believes the world won't drop over the precipice.

Fri
24
Jul

GODS AND MONSTERS Not Your Usual Justice League

Justice League Gods and Monsters Blu-ray Warner Brothers DC Comics Critical Blast

What if it hadn't been the son of Jor-El, but the son of General Zod who had made the trek from a doomed Krypton to Earth as a baby? What if Bruce Wayne's parents hadn't been killed? What if Diana had never come from Paradise Island?

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS is the brainchild of Bruce Timm (BATMAN ANIMATED ADVENTURES, JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED), and it's a Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman like you have never seen before.

Tue
21
Jul

BITTEN Season of the Witch Now on DVD

Syfy Bitten Season 2 DVD Laura Vandervoort werewolves witches Critical Blast

The complete second season of the Syfy drama, BITTEN, is now out on DVD, allowing for some wonderful binge-watching of werewolves -- and, this season, of witches as well.

This sexy action-drama picks up with the murder of Elena's friend, who had discovered her lycanthropic secret. However, while that's touched on a little bit in this second season, it takes a back seat to the new plot, which introduces a coven of witches, led by Ruth Winterbourne (Tammy Isbell) and her daughter Paige (Tommie-Amber Pirie). One of their own, young Savannah (Kiara Glasco) has gone missing, and is being used to bring about the prophesied "Undoing" of all witches.

Thu
25
Jun

I AM EVEL KNIEVEL shows what it takes to be a legend!

Evel Knievel bluray Critical Blast

Being born in 1973 means icons like Bruce Lee, Jackie Robinson, Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali, and Evel Knievel permeated my life basically from the womb until today. These men had all accomplished many of their greatest feats before I was born, or, if nothing else, at a time when I was still sucking my thumb. Yet through reruns, playground antics, highlights, and toys they became some of my greatest celebrity influences. On Spike! I have seen "I Am..." films for McQueen and Lee, but I somehow missed their recent special devoted to the daredevil some dubbed The Last Gladiator.

Wed
24
Jun

Gods and Monsters Chronicles #3 - "Big" (Wonder Woman)

Rounding out our coverage of JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS CHRONICLES is the third episode. This one is called "Big" and is all about Wonder Woman.    


Commentary:

You know, the HR-V ads before these videos are WAAAAYYYYY off theme.  The narrator is so bright and cheery, it takes a second to adjust back into the dark tone GODS AND MONSTERS has going for it.  

This one starts with President Waller sending Agent Steve Trevor to infilitrate Kobra to find a powerful new weapon they are building.  Kobra is about to execute him when suddenly Wonder Woman appears through a Boom Tube to rescue him.  They quickly defeat Kobra, but Kobra is able to activate their secret weapon, Gigantra!  Actually, a giant robot.

Wed
24
Jun

Gods and Monsters Chronicles #2 - Twisted (Batman Vs Harley)

Here is the second of three episodes of JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS CHRONICLES.  This one features Harley Quinn and Batman, and is called “Twisted.”


 

Commentary:  While I have thought both of these shorts were terrific, I can’t help but think that it has to be confusing for a lot of casual viewers to do stories like this.  One of the comments on Youtube said “This ain't your grandma's Justice League!” and I’m just not sure how I feel about that.  YES, I love to see the status quo get rocked at every opportunity, but when you get this far away from the source material, part of me wonders why you don’t just create something new entirely.  Batman’s costume in particular is such a departure, he looks more like an homage to Batman than any version of Batman I’ve ever seen before.

Mon
22
Jun

Gods and Monsters Chronicles #1 - Bomb (Superman vs Brainiac)

DC has been putting a lot of marketing muscle behind the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS.  In the upcoming weeks, there will be a digital comic series, and they have also been posting some shorts on Machinima's Youtube channel.   There are three of them, and we'll be posting them over the next few days.

Here is the first one, called "Bomb" and featuring Superman and Brainiac:

Mon
08
Jun

Doctor Who Vs. The Daleks in this New Collection from BBC

On July 14, BBC Video will be releasing Doctor Who: The Daleks. This collection features a Doctor Who story from each of the modern Doctors facing off against the Daleks, a classic Doctor Who story, and a new Documentary called Dalek Origins. 


Dalek (season 1, episode 6)

Sun
07
Jun

Nothing Miraculous About Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus Bill OReilly Review Critical Blast

KILLING JESUS is the film based on the book by Bill O'Reilly with Martin Dugard. I have not read this book, but if Christopher Menaul's vision of the movie is anything close to it, it's a very unique vision of Jesus, and one that I couldn't see sitting comfortably with most Christians.

The story covers the range of Jesus's life, but skips over some important aspects. It begins with King Herod (Kelsey Grammer) who has a vision of Isaiah telling him the true King of the Jews has been born. This precedes a visit from the magi who are following an astronomical sign, which prompts Herod to order all the male babies to be killed. But Jesus escapes, because Joseph feels that the adulation poured out on their child will arouse Herod's jealousy.

In case you're even an amateur Bible scholar, you may have noticed that we're skipping over that whole bit about a visitation from an angel and going with a gut feeling.

Tue
02
Jun

McFarland, USA Inspiring Stand Up and Cheer Flick

McFarland USA Disney Kevin Costner Cross Country Sports Critical Blast

When high school football coach Jim White is fired, again, he and his family end up in the poorest town in California -- McFarland. The population is almost entirely Mexican immigrants who work as pickers, Their football team is a pushover -- and it isn't long before he loses his position as an assistant coach for them as well!

What he does notice, however, is that these kids can run -- fast, and for long distances. As Jim (Kevin Costner) relates his plan to Principal Camillo (a much-slimmed Valente Rodriguez, THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW), the kids carbo-load on rice and beans, and then run miles to their jobs in hot dry weather. They're natural fits for cross-country running.

Putting together a team of seven is a challenge, and White has many obstacles keeping them together. Ultimately, however, his work has a lasting impact on the runners, their families, White's family, and indeed the entire town.

Tue
02
Jun

Focus Has Sharp Scenes But Astigmatic Plot

I love a good con movie. From THE STING through LEVERAGE, if it's done well, I'm pulled in.

FOCUS starts off with great promise, and the fact that the filmmaker's brought in the master, Apollo Robbins, as a consultant, shows they at least had their hearts in the right place going into this. The film stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie (who will pair up again in the already overexposed SUICIDE SQUAD next year) as Nicky, a master con man, and Jess, a would-be pickpocket who crosses his path. He takes her in, mentors her in the finer points of the grift, and lets her take part in some of his current cons. And then, without notice, he cuts her loose. All that buildup, all those wonderfully filmed scenes just go poof as we realize this was just backstory to the film that's only just now getting started well into the movie.

Sat
30
May

Jupiter Ascending a Sci-Fi Mash Up Lacking Cohesion

Jupiter Ascending Mila Kunis Channing Tatum Critical Blast

There's a certain mathematical elegance to the Wachowski's JUPITER ASCENDING. Given infinite space and infinite time, someone will be born somewhere with the exact same genetic sequence as someone who already existed. Multiply those infinite chances out, and that previous person might have been the Queen of the universe, who owned the Earth and willed it back to herself should she ever be genetically reassembled.

Of course, if the Queen of the Universe had children who covet the Earth because they're getting ready to harvest the people there to make their special water of life (the daughter is over 14 millennia old), then you might want to watch your royal back.

Wed
27
May

Ripper Street Season Three Carves Up More Solid Stories, Stellar Performances

Ripper Street Season Three BBC Critical Blast

Ripper Street: Season Three is set to hit the streets on DVD and BluRay on June 23rd, and if you’re a fan of the Leman Street good guys you’ll mark this date down on the calendar! I was hooked on Ripper Street half-way through the first episode of season one and I haven’t stopped loving every episode since.

Season Three is 8 episodes in length, and starts out four years after Season 2 ended. It takes the events that ended in season two and progresses them outward to what we see they’ve become four years hence. Things have not been so cozy in the time that has elapsed.

Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) left Whitechapel and moved to Manchester to start over again and become the police officer/man he always wanted to be, foregoing violence to become a man of peace. Having risen quickly through the ranks, we see him here now as Inspector Drake.

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