Monthly Archives: January 2015

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog DVD

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a web musical comedy that follows the exploits of Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), a super villain, as he attempts to gain admittance to the ultimate super-villain organization “The Evil League of Evil.” Why? Because in his words “The world is a mess and I just need to rule it.” Along the way he battles with his arch nemesis Captain Hammer and attempts to win the heart of the girl he loves.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog fits into a relatively new cinematic genre that is entirely produced and written for the internet. Now I must admit I am an open skeptic of this genre, after all a movie made to be released on the internet is simply not going to have the budget of a real Hollywood film. Dr. Horrible however forced me to put that skepticism aside. This was a very good movie and there are three very good reasons for this:

  1. The songs were good: They were witty, well performed, and stayed in my head for at least a week. In fact to this day I still have random lines from the songs pop into my head. What’s really great is that if you like musicals you will love this show because of how creative and well performed the songs were done. If you hate musicals you will love it because it is kind of like the anti-musical in that is does not take itself seriously at all.
  2. The acting was good: No there were not any Oscar worthy performances in this internet flick, instead it seemed all the actors were letting themselves just have fun with their roles. Neil Patrick Harris made the perfect misunderstood and somewhat tragic villain and Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer turned the superhero character on its head and became the hero we love to hate.
  3. The script was good: The script for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was put together by Joss Whedon the creator of Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other hits. In Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Whedon was able to express his creative flair in a much more tongue in cheek manner than you will ever see on the big screen.

Above all else what really makes Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog good enough to get you to sit in front of your computer screen in rapt attention for close to an hour is that it is funny. In a completely unpretentious and hilarious manner this musical will make you crack up laughing and you will come back to watch it again and again and again.

Hannah Montana: The Movie DVD

Ranking:  10.

DescriptionHannah Montana: The Movie is a musical adaptation of the popular Disney television series.  Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) gets caught up in the popularity and glamor of being Hannah Montana and has a few amusing mishaps along the way.  Miley’s dad Robby (Billy Ray Cyrus) decides she should stay at her Grandma Ruby’s (Margo Martindale) house in Crowley Corners, Tennessee to get back to basics.  At the ranch, Hannah unwinds from her Hollywood persona to learn lessons about family, fame and love.

Review:  Although geared toward the Disney ‘tween scene, Hannah Montana: The Movie is funny for the entire family.  Several scenes left everyone in stitches, including a brawl at a shoe store between Hannah and Tyra Banks over the last pair of stiletto heels.  Who can resist two family women fighting over a single pair of shoes?  Hannah’s antics are caught by a spying paparazzi, who is torn between his his job for celebrity mag BonChic and his daughters as devoted Montana fans.

After Miley gets herself in trouble at the shoe store and disappoints friends and family, Dad sends her to Grandma’s house to rediscover her roots.  Miley falls off horses, breaks eggs in the chicken coop and gets frustrated as she tries to get back to her old life.  Meanwhile, her friends and family forgive her for being insensitive as she adjusts to the contrasts of being Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart.  Being a teen is hard enough but it seems even harder when you have to transform into Hannah Montana, too.

Life doesn’t stay quiet for Miley for long.  As she gets back into the swing of life in Crowley Corners, she rediscovers her friendship with Travis Brody (Lucas Till) from first grade as they paint a chicken coop together.  Travis is now a handsome young man who appears to have an interest in Hannah.  The unsure nature of teen infatuation contrasts to an adult romance developing between Robby and ranch foreperson Lorelei (Melora Hardin).

To make life even more complicated, the beloved meadows of Crowley Corners are being hawked by greedy developers.  Miley promises to recruit Hannah Montana for a benefit to help the community raise funds and win their cause.  Hannah Montana performs all-time favorites and new songs including “Rock Star”, “The Climb”, “Butterfly Fly Away” and “You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home”.  Meanwhile, Miley discovers the importance of remaining true to yourself and your roots.

Hannah Montana: The Movie is suitable for the entire family.  The familiar songs bring your little ones and ‘tweens’ to their feet to sing and dance.  Everyone else in the family will appreciate the wholesome humor and surprise ending with a lesson for us all.

Watchmen DVD (2009)

Watchmen is a superhero movie set in a fiction 1985 universe in which Nixon is president for his fifth consecutive term.  The movie tells the story of the Watchmen, a former group of semi-superheroes that reunites when an old member, the Comedian, is murdered.  At the same time, the Watchmen look to save the world from nuclear war.  Watchmen is directed by Zack Snyder, freshly off his 2007 hit 300.  The group, formally known as the Watchmen must combat the country that banned them from existence – the same country that once loved them – to find the truth behind the death of the Comedian.

Watchmen begins with a spectacular fight seen that ends with the death of the Comedian, one of the former Watchmen.  The paranoid Rorschach believes that the former Watchmen are being targeted so that no one will be able to stop the impending nuclear warfare due to the culmination of the Cold War.  The remaining members of the Watchmen come together and uncover the plot behind the planned disaster.

Watchmen chronicles the history of the former superheroes through flashbacks and the narrative of Rorschach throughout the film.  The only one with supernatural abilities is Dr. Manhattan.  He was the victim of the common comic book tragedy of scientist trapped in an experiment gone wrong.  He has become a body of particles capable of travelling through space and time.  His love interest is Silk Spectre II, who becomes disenchanted with the doctor and finds comfort in Nite Owl II.  Nite Owl II is the master of technology who is hopelessly in love with Spectre II.  The Comedian, before his murder, was instrumental in the protection of America beating the Viet Cong in Vietnam.  Ozymandias has the distinction of being the smartest man in the world.  All the Watchmen shared in the duty of protecting America until Nixon, facing public pressure, has outlawed the activity of the superheroes.

What makes this movie different from so many of its kind is that the superheroes are villainous in their ways. The Comedian tried to rape Spectre I, Spectre II has several love interests in the group of superheroes, and most of the Watchmen have grown to disregard human life.  Still, the compulsion to save the world outweighs anything that drives the Watchmen personally.

Zack Snyder does a wonderful job maintaining the unique feeling the Watchmen conveyed when it was written in 1985.  Watchmen spectacularly captures the dark and bleak world portrayed by the graphic novel of the same name.  The movie, while slow at times with its many flashbacks, is a visually stimulating with stunning special effects and the character flaws portrayed by the superheroes only enhances the movies social message on where humanity is headed.  The movie is a must see for anyone attracted to the mythical world of comic books and those who enjoy cutting-edge special effects.

Gran Torino DVD

If a Gran Torino is a classic car – and it is – Clint Eastwood’s recent DVD release, Gran Torino is a classic movie.  This is quintessential Eastwood at his best, both as an actor and as a director.  Clint Eastwood climbed to fame playing roles such as the lead role in this film as strong loners, men capable of both violence and tenderness.  To his portrayal of Walt Kowalski, Clint delivers a raw, rude, and realistic character.

The opening scene depicts Kowalski’s wife’s funeral and highlights his disconnected family including his grandchildren who are both rude and uncaring.   Viewers grasp that while Kowalski loved his wife, there is little love lost with his other family members.

Kowalski’s home is a neat, two story frame house, well-kept and trim but the location in a depressed area or what his granddaughter calls a “ghetto” has survived past its’ peak.  Once, other blue-collar workers like retired autoworker Walt, raised their families here but now the neighborhood is home to minorities including Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia.

As the movie begins, viewers met a lonely, bitter man, a Korean War veteran and retired autoworker.  He has lost his wife, his home city of Detroit is in decline, his family is estranged, and he has no respect for the Catholic Church or the young priest who befriended his late wife.

Walt Kowalski’s one remaining pride and joy is his mint 1972 Ford Gran Torino, a car he helped build on the assembly line and that is kept in a garage under cover.   His canine companion, Daisy, is his sole friend but he soon meets, against his wishes, his Hmong neighbors.

A series of events entangles his life with that of his neighbors.  Teen-ager Thao attempts to steal Walt’s Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation but when it fails because Walt steps out with his Korean War era rifle, the thieves flee.  Soon after, gang members attempt to take Thao against his will and so Walt steps up, rifle in hand, to stop the gang. His Hmong neighbors are so grateful that they begin leaving gifts on Walt’s porch and insist that Thao work for Walt to repay his kindness.  While Thao works for him, Walt sets out to use the young man’s skills to repair deteriorating homes in the neighborhood and to teach Thao how to be an American man.  These efforts are some of the most humorous moments of the film.

Some of Walt’s deep-seated racist tendencies begin to fade as he gets to know the young man and begins to understand the struggles that this Hmong family faces. Walt soon befriends Thao’s sister, Sue, a beautiful young woman and is drawn into the ongoing gang conflicts when gang members attempt to kidnap Sue and her young friend, Walt fends them off with a military pistol and takes them home.  He also pays a visit to one of the gang members, warning him to leave Thao’s family alone.

Soon after these events, Walt begins coughing up blood and goes to the doctor.  Although the movie is vague about exactly what is wrong, it is apparent that Walt’s health is poor.   The thwarted gang shoots up the Hmong family home next door to Walt and kidnaps Sue.  Thao is shot and when Sue returns home, she has been beaten as well as raped.

Although Thao wants to seek vengeance and to be a man like Walt, Walt locks Thao in the basement to protect him and sets out to face the gang alone. Walt makes his peace with himself and with God by going to confession at the Catholic Church.  In a dramatic meeting, the gang members expect Kowalski to begin shooting and when he reaches for his cigarette lighter, he is shot and killed.

His death ends the gang’s reign of terror and they are sent to jail for his murder.  By dying, Walt makes the neighborhood safer and more of a community once again.  He leaves his home to the priest and his car to Thao.

At the end, it is not Walt who rides off into the sunset but Thao who drives away, smiling, at the wheel of the classic Gran Torino.

Gran Torino is a must see film for any Clint Eastwood fan and for anyone who likes an old school, classic Hollywood film.  Gran Torino is as gritty as the Detroit neighborhood where it is set and as American as the flag that flies from Walt’s porch.  Eastwood has outdone himself as both actor and director in this outstanding film.

He’s Just Not That Into You DVD (2009)

He’s Just Not That Into You is a romantic comedy that dissects the differences between men and women which brings the Mars vs. Venus theory to a whole new level.  The movie, based on Greg Behrendt’s book He’s Just Not Into You: Your Daily Wake-up Call,  chronicles the relationships of five women and four men, all of whom are living in Baltimore and appear to be in their late twenties and early thirties. With an all-star cast that includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, and Drew Barrymore, He’s Just Not That Into You clarifies the relationship quandaries that plague society by giving the answers to those confusing signs and signals that have always perplexed the opposite sex.

He’s Just Not That Into You (2009) is a comedy that follows the romantic lives of nine adults living in Baltimore.  The narrator of the film is Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), who is desperately seeking her soul mate.  After Gigi goes on a first date with Connor (Kevin Connolly), she impatiently waits for his call; receiving no word, Gigi decides to “accidentally” run into him at his local bar hang out.  Instead of finding Connor, Gigi instead meets Alex (Justin Long), an insensitive but honest bartender.

While Alex takes Gigi on a crash course on how to understand men and their signals, Ben (Bradley Cooper) and Janine (Jennifer Connelly) work on their fast-fading marriage while Ben has an affair with Anna (Scarlett Johansson).  Another relationship that He’s Just Not That Into You takes its audience into is Neil’s (Ben Affleck) and Beth’s (Jennifer Aniston). After seven years of dating, Beth demands marriage, while Neil stands strong on his belief that marriage is not for him.

He’s Just Not That Into You lets its audience in on a not-so-little secret; when it comes to relationships, men and women are simply not on the same page as one another.  This film uses its characters (Long) and Gigi (Goodwin) to illustrate this predicament by having Goodwin play the utterly confused protagonist that adopts Long to decipher for her all the clues that she can’t seem to uncover herself.

Through many of the movie’s funny lines and situations, this romantic comedy leaves its audience relating to the film.  Whether it’s the struggling marriage of Janine (Connelly) and Ben (Cooper), the affair that Ben lands himself in with Anna (Johansson), Connor’s (Connolly) efforts to win over Anna, a girl who clearly isn’t interested in him, the stagnant point in which Beth (Aniston) and Neil (Affleck) find themselves in, or the endless dating games Gigi is forced to play, viewers of this film will undoubtedly appreciate He’s Just Not That Into You for its sometimes obnoxious, but realistic revelations on the nuances of dating.

This movie, while filed under the category of a chick-flick, is actually a movie that should be seen by both sexes.  Anyone who has ever shared in the struggles of dating or in the frustrations of relationship will appreciate this film. As for those people who currently find themselves in the world of dating and confusing relationship signals, these audience members will enjoy He’s Just Not That Into You immensely for its candid honesty and its divulging of the meaning of those curious signs and signals that so often accompany those awkward beginning dating moments.

Valkyrie DVD (2008)

Valkyrie is a suspense drama set in Nazi Germany during World War II.  Valkyrie chronicles the 1944 assassination attempt of Adolph Hitler.  Tom Cruise stars as Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who tries to rid the world of a tyrant.  Stauffenberg (Cruise), as well as his fellow conspirators, played by Eddie Izzard, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighly, and Tom Wilkinson, plan to use Hitler’s own national emergency plan to gain the power of Germany.  Directed by Bryan Singer, Valkyrie takes you on a captivating and thrilling ride that will leave its audience in awe, amazed at the story never told.

Valkyrie lands Tom Cruise his first role fresh off of his comedic appearance in Tropic Thunder.  Cruise plays the lead in the far more serious role as the German Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who attempts to assassinate Hitler during WWII.

After an attempted assassination of Hitler fails when the planted bomb on the Fuhrer’s airplane does not go off, Col. Stauffenberg (Cruise) is recruited by the German Resistance to replace the arrested Major involved in the bombing attempt.  Stauffenberg initiates the well-planned assassination attempt when he meets with Hitler and his advisors to have Hitler sign off on Operation Valkyrie, a plan on the implementation of the Reserve Army during a national emergency; a plan that has been rewritten by the Resistance for their intended coup d’état.

The plan fails when the Fuhrer is only mildly wounded from the bomb’s explosion.  The Resistance continues their movement, as the Nazi’s simultaneously recover and ultimately subdue, capture, and finally, execute Stauffenberg and the other Resistance leaders.

Cruise portrays Stauffenberg as expected: a satisfactory, melodramatic performance that succeeds due more to the talented cast around him, than of Cruise’s marginal acting abilities themselves.  While the ending of this story is already well-known, Bryan Singer directs in such an outstanding way that he perpetuates the audience into hoping and praying that the assassination plot works.

While the movie starts out rather slow, which should be expected in semi-historical documentary, which is what Valkyrie is; It picks up so suddenly, so abruptly, that the breathless audience barely has time to come up for air.  While the movie ends in its expected and certain conclusion, Valkyrie manages to not only recite history, but tells it in such a way that leaves its audience bewildered and dismayed by what originally was the expected and certain conclusion of the film.  Long after seeing this film, its viewers will think to themselves how close one of the world’s ugliest incidents came from never happening.

Valkyrie should be seen for both its educating insights and its overall excellent presentation.  This film, while not completely accurate, should be seen by history buffs wanting to see a well told historical account. For those who just love experiencing the thrill of a good suspense, this movie will certainly deliver.

Slumdog Millionaire Movie Review

4.5 of 5 stars

Slumdog Millionaire follows the exciting life of Jamal Malik, an 18-year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai. Malik’s journey is action-packed from early childhood until present day, when he sits one question away from winning 20 million rupees on India’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Along the way, viewers learn about the life experiences that helped Malik know the answer to each question on the quiz show, despite the fact that the show’s producers have accused him of cheating.

Slumdog Millionaire is the quintessential “underdog” movie, a cross between a love story and gangster film through the eye of an independent lens. Though fairly predictable throughout, the movie does manage to pack just enough action to keep viewers hooked. Set in Mumbai, this urban fairytale of bravery and morality paints a picture of the stark difference between good and evil.

Lovable hero Jamal and heroine Latika win hearts as two orphans inexorably linked to each other across space and time. The movie jogs back and forth between past and present as it documents Jamal’s journey from the slums of Mumbai to “the hot seat” of the renowned game show. Before the eyes of the nation, Jamal works his way, question by question, to outstanding success until he stands only one question away from the top prize, 20 million rupees.

Some suspect Jamal of cheating, while others think he is simply very lucky. The plot gradually peels back layers of Jamal’s past, giving viewers insight into life events that provided the 18-year-old with the answer to each challenging question. It is an action-packed journey from middle-class happiness to impoverished orphan to successful street con to hard-working tea server. Along the way, the extreme displays of both kindness and brutality are heart-wrenching and even shocking at times.

This film’s strengths lie in its cinematography and music selection. The camera angles and splashes of vibrant colors fit perfectly with the engaging Indian rhythms sprinkled throughout the film. The acting is superb, as is the costuming – especially Latika’s colorful and stylish wardrobe.

Viewers will likely find themselves cheering on the lovable Jamal as he struggles to rise above his impoverished beginnings, even as almost everyone around him tries to keep him down. It is an inspiring and endearing film that will leave viewers feeling hopeful and confident that the easy choice is not always the right one, but with perseverance, obstacles are surmountable.

This film has very broad appeal, most like Romeo and Juliet mixed with the brainiac version of Rocky and shades of Scarface. Some disturbing scenes may make this movie inappropriate for viewers younger than their mid-teens, and parental discretion should be applied. Aside from that, males and females of all ages will find something to appreciate in this modern rendition of age-old themes, and it will be a particular treat for film buffs who appreciate slightly off-beat independent films. The plot’s only fault is its predictability because it plays on themes seen throughout the history of Hollywood, but at the same time, that familiarity is what makes this film so lovable.


The Wrestler DVD

Release Date: April 21st 2009 (Standard DVD & Blu-Ray)
Rating: 4 out of 5

Move Description

Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler became the must-see film of 2008 after winning top honors at the Venice Film Festival. The film earned rave reviews with Mickey Rourke’s performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson singled out as the comeback gig in his turbulent career.   The film follows Randy as a failing amateur wrestler who wants nothing more than one last chance to grab some spotlight.
Does Aronofsky display the ability to connect on a deeper level with his audience? Is the hype surrounding Rourke’s performance to be believed?

The Wrestler DVD Review

I’m sure you have already worked out from the rating I gave this film that both Rourke’s and Aronofsky’s performances were exceptional. How so?

Whilst Rourke’s performance has been raved about with continuous references to his characters complicated and messy personal life; if this was the only requirement for receiving accolades then I’m sure there would be an endless list of hyped up actors and actresses. Don’t get me wrong, Rourke delivered a magnificent performance – not only was it physical, powerful and in-your-face, it was sad, quiet and touched a nerve with the audience (well, it certainly did with me!).  The fact that The Wrestler covers such a wide spectrum of emotions, from exciting to sad, makes it one of the best movies of 2008 without question.

The writer, Robert D. Siegel has obviously committed himself to research a lot of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s wrestling scene as Randy has similar characteristics to Hulk Hogan and other famous wrestlers. The fact Randy continues to wrestle even when he knows it could kill him shows the sad side to his character, answering the every need of the somewhat crazy fans. Once Randy has a heart-attack, we begin to see the other side of Randy as he tries to make up for not being there for his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood).

Aronofsky’s direction is extremely impressive, with the fast-paced wrestling action offering both strength and excitement. Aronofsky’s ability to switch from a powerful, egotistical scene to a more intimate one is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. In one particular scene we are left feeling shocked and quite emotional, when Randy has glass and staples pulled from his flesh only then do we realize what this man is willing to take despite the fact it’s well known that wrestling is fake.

The Wrestler will appeal to both males and females, with a fast-paced and emotional side you can’t fail to be impressed by what can only be described as a piece of art by Aronofsky.

Twilight DVD


Available: March 21, 2009

Twilight, for those who do not yet know, is about Bella Swan; a teen girl who has just moved from sun and surf to the always gloomy town of Tiny Forks Washington, and the complicated relationship that develops between she and vampire Edward Cullen who is from a family of self-proclaimed “vegetarian” vamps. (They only drink animal blood.)

Twilight the movie will resonate with those for whom it was designed. Held breathless at the sweeping forest vistas and the much anticipated meadow scene done so magically, the target audience of teen girls and young adult women has made this movie the success it has become.  The many movie reviewers being unable to tap into their young feminine sides, has unfortunately resulted in many not so rave reviews, but the movie was indeed created fairly closely to the book; certainly even within better limits than some of insanely popular Harry Potter movies.

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattison (Edward Cullen), Cam Gigandet (James), Edi Gathegi (Laurent), Rachelle Lefevre (Victoria), and  Taylor Lautner (Jacob), combine their still budding talents to give an enjoyable performance which holds rapt its intended audience, if not their companions; the boyfriends and husbands enticed to watch with them for companionship sake. And even as they scoff at the sparkling skin of these superhuman “bad-boys”, underneath it all they cannot help but admire the protectiveness Edward feels for his Bella as they curl their arms around the girl beside them and pretend to roll their eyes.

The four-book Twilight series has printed over 17 million copies and produced New York Times best-sellers. Over 350 Twilight fan websites have helped expand the attraction and fascination surrounding the story of Bella Swan and her soul-mate, Edward.

The DVD comes in both a single and two disc set and has some wonderful special features. The two-disc set has extended and deleted scenes. Both will delight the young teen girls and women that are even now rushing the stores to find a copy.  Even their mothers and grandmothers can become enraptured with them if they are the type that enjoy a bit of eye candy and don’t mind going back in time just a bit to those years of their life when romance ruled.

WALL-E DVD (2009)

Rating 5 out of 5

Movie Description:

In a distant future, a polluted earth is abandoned except for a robot whose job it is to collect garbage. He encounters a robot named Eve, sent back to earth to determine if it is inhabitable. After years by himself on the desolate planet, he immediately becomes drawn to the sleek Eve, and it this bonding that eventually proves to humanity’s hope.


It’s easy to miss the darker undertones of this movie thanks to the majestic visuals. The message speaks volumes, and it is timely given current concerns about environmental issues. WALL-E may be a robot, but from the outset, there is a last-man-on-earth feel to the story.

While we easily accept that robots would have no emotion, his loneliness is almost palpable, even though it does not affect his daily routine. WALL-E does what he was built to do, clean up a cluttered earth, with no complaints, and only a cockroach for company.

The story does not evolve through the humorous dialogue and standard plot common in so many Pixar films. Rather, a blend of stunning visuals, and his chemistry with the reconnaissance robot Eve make for a compelling tale. WALL-E’s only contact with humanity is the items he collects, including a worn videotape featuring a classic musical. It becomes clear that these things are more than mere garbage to the lonely robot. In a way they shape his personality and imbue the story with a touch of humanity.

When WALL-E does finally encounter human life it is not the vision we would hope for ourselves. It is as if the human beings have now become the robots, fed a constant stream of data, with personal contact being virtually non-existent. On this level, WALL-E is a fully realized Sci-fi adventure that on some level paints a bleak picture, yet manages to restore hope.

WALL-E, despite its limited dialogue, will entertain even small children. It is easy to accept that this machine, can feel a longing for companionship, and yes, love. It is an enormously entertaining ride that everyone should get on at least once.