Archive for the 'Recent DVDs' Category

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
It’s Going to Be a Long One

It has been nine years since director Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy concluded, an accomplishment that stands as one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. Given the trilogy’s success, it was only a matter of time before that trilogy’s literature prequel, the much beloved The Hobbit, arrived in theaters. Delayed by, among other things, legal trouble, the tale of Bilbo Baggins has finally arrived in theaters; at least, part of it has. In a curious decision, Jackson has decided to tell the three hundred page story in three parts, each part epic in its own right. The first film in the new trilogy has been titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it comes in at just under three hours.

Hyde Park on Hudson
There Will Be Hot Dogs

Following Lincoln, Hyde Park on Hudson is the second movie of the holiday season about a former president of the United States. Like the previous film, Hyde Park focuses only on a brief period of time in the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s, rather than trying to tell his entire biography. It’s an interesting story about an event that few modern Americans will know took place and although he may not disappear into his character as much as Daniel Day-Lewis, Bill Murray makes a good 32nd President of the United States.

Silver Linings Playbook

Having already been seen by a number of people thanks to early festival screenings, Silver Linings Playbook’s early Oscar buzz can be seen as more than just hype. This movie is already earning a reputation on more than just pure expectations. The buzz is somewhat surprising, considering that the movie, at its core, follows the typical romantic comedy format. But it is because the writing is so sharp, the characters so deep, engaging, and well-played by talented, popular actors that this movie is running up to the podium draped in a garbage bag; you know, “for sweat.”

Life of Pi
A Visual Delight

Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s popular novel about a young boy stranded on a lifeboat with a deadly Bengal tiger, once seemed unfilmable. Multiple high-profile directors have been attached to the project, but none could figure out how to pull it off. Oscar-winner Ang Lee once thought the same thing, until he had a revelation: shoot it in 3D! It’s an unexpected direction to take a drama that doesn’t feature any giant robots or laser beams, but it’s a technique that works to bring the audience right into the center of Pi’s story of survival.

A Stunning Portrait

Poll one hundred random Americans as to who the greatest president in our country’s history was and it’s a safe bet that Abraham Lincoln’s name would come up quite a bit. The Great Emancipator is held in great esteem by this country, and yet, just a few months ago, he was something of a joke in cinemas thanks to the awful Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Fortunately, director Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis are here to right the ship with Lincoln, their fascinating story about the 16th President’s battle to pass the 13th Amendment, banning slavery.

Can’t Quite Keep the Nose Up

It is hard to believe that it has been twelve years since Robert Zemeckis has directed a live-action movie. The director of such hits as Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump has been at the forefront of the motion capture animation movement over the past decade, but now returns to live-action with Flight, a drama that opens with a spectacular plane crash… a sequence worth the price of admission alone. Too bad that the rest of the movie couldn’t keep up the momentum.

Alex Cross
Reboot Fail

Tyler Perry has gotten pretty well known as a director, but outside of his role as Madea in his own films, he is not really known as an actor. Alex Cross signifies a blind leap into the deep end for the actor, taking over a popular literary character; a character that was previously played in movies by Morgan Freeman, no less. You have to admit, the casting choice is intriguing. Sadly, the dive into the deep end is more belly flop than swan dive.

Declassified Real-Life Suspense

As a director, it is safe to say that Ben Affleck’s career is currently skyrocketing. Following the critically successful, Boston-set Gone Baby Gone and The Town, the director now heads to the middle-east for an Iranian-set drama that just screams Oscar bait. Based on a formerly classified true story, Argo not only tackles an incredible event in the history of America’s relationship with the Middle East, but does so with a Hollywood twist. How will Academy voters be able to resist?

Seven Psychopaths
Not Psycho Enough

It all sounded so brilliant. Director Martin McDonagh reunites with his In Bruges star Colin Farrell for a comedy called Seven Psychopaths. As if that weren’t enough, the cast of the psychopaths was filled out by the likes of Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, and Christopher Walken! How could it be anything but great? Unfortunately, the movie turns out to be just a mildly amusing mess.

Taken 2
The Man with Skills is Back

Released on January 30, 2009, the original Taken was a blockbuster at the time of the year when there aren’t supposed to be blockbusters. Historically, January and February are the least successful months at the box office, but for some reason the revenge thriller transcended that. It’s not that the plot was that original, but there was something about Liam Neeson as a vengeful father that just clicked with audiences. It was probably inevitable, then, that a sequel would not be far behind. But while Taken 2 does succeed as a moderately entertaining thriller, it lacks the punch of the original.

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