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BluRay/DVD Spotlight

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: Man Of Steel


[“Man Of Steel” is] a thundering dud that embodies everything wrong with modern day superhero yarns. David Goyer’s work on the “Dark Knight” trilogy was always in concert with Jonathan Nolan, and it’s more apparent than ever that the former had nothing to do with that series’ creative successes. Goyer’s work here is so uninspired, so hackneyed, that it’s a wonder anyone even considered handing him the keys to such a celebrated franchise. That Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures actually did it boggles the mind. It takes a special kind of writer to turn Michael Shannon (General Zod) into just another character actor, but the innately talented Shannon gets nothing to work with here and essentially fumbles around whenever he’s on screen. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: Iron Man 3


In the wake of two enormously successful “Iron Man” films (and an accompanying superhero mash-up, “The Avengers”), Marvel could have rested on its laurels with “Iron Man 3,” extending the series’ legacy as lucrative but tepid summer entertainment. Yet, remarkably, the series’ latest entry flies in the face of everything that came before it, resulting in a wonderfully imaginative (and frequently bizarre) riff on the superhero genre. Some audiences won’t know what hit them, but “Iron Man 3” is a picture of absolute infectiousness – and a nearly perfect piece of summer entertainment. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: World War Z


For a film so famously plagued by production issues (budgetary, creative, and otherwise), “World War Z” is remarkable in its composure, as if retroactively transforming its choppy history into something nearly unflappable. That its biggest thrills come in its quietest moments is even more of a surprise, but a welcome one. At its best, Marc Forster’s film is an atmospheric, frequently creepy zombie thriller that strikes a nice balance between horror and action-adventure, leaning on familiarity but never abusing it. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: Star Trek Into Darkness


For a series that prides itself on space exploration, “Star Trek Into Darkness” is surprisingly shortsighted, remaining a little too close to its roots as a television serial. From a cold open that acts as a rousing but ultimately insubstantial short film, the world of “Into Darkness” feels closed off, particularly during a protracted, hour-long space battle in the film’s second half. Yet, what the film sets out to do is done wonderfully. It’s exactly what a self-contained “Star Trek” film should be. This means that, strangely, its lack of ambition is both its biggest strength and most glaring weakness. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: The Place Beyond The Pines


“The Place Beyond The Pines” has no trouble pinning down its destination, but struggles mightily with the journey. This brand of character study should grab each member of the audience by the collar, dragging them into its fragmented world of crime, corruption, and moral ambiguity. But instead, “Pines” is content in tapping us on the shoulder and politely going about its business, weaving a decidedly unconventional tale of fathers and sons and the impact they have each other’s lives. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD / VOD: Spring Breakers


One does not simply watch “Spring Breakers.” No, it requires that you strap in and keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. It’s a fireworks show as seen through a kaleidoscope, all while teetering on the ledge of a twenty-story building – just to catch a glimpse. And considering its stockpile of extremely R-rated material, a height requirement wouldn’t be out of place. Just as radio has transformed hip-hop into hip-pop, writer-director Harmony Korine has coupled his avant-garde sensibilities with a kind of pop-art explosion. The picture is David Lynch by way of Andy Warhol – all with a healthy dose of Britney Spears. But beware. If you’re not sure if “Spring Breakers” is for you, it’s not for you. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD Spotlight (June 4th, 2013)


The picture sputters when its leads aren’t onscreen – the subplot featuring T.I. and Genesis Rodriguez is feeble – but such downtime is infrequent enough that momentum is never entirely lost. Additionally, the film would have been better off at 90 minutes instead of 110, but the scenes that are the most inessential to the plot provide some of the biggest laughs (see: Diana apologizing to Sandy’s wife). (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD Spotlight (May 21st, 2013)


Director Steven Soderbergh has insisted that “Side Effects” is his last foray on to the big screen. He’s been adamant in his plans to move on to stage work and writing and pretty much anything but film. And that’s his right. But screens won’t be quite as luminous without him behind the camera, nor will the filmmaking community be able to replace a voice as unique as his. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD Spotlight (May 7th, 2013)


“Jack Reacher” is the kind of film that shows up, checks most of the necessary boxes, and leaves without a trace. It’s competent but undistinguished work – workmanlike but entirely uninvolving. Surprisingly, its wit – not its action – is its best quality, but its razor sharp dialogue is so overcooked that it ultimately becomes a liability. Once the audience realizes that the effort put into the story doesn’t match that of its verbal aerobics, the picture is over. (more…)

Blu-ray / DVD Spotlight (March 26th, 2013)


“Lincoln” isn’t nearly as sweeping or as “Oscar-bait-y” as its trailers might lead you to believe, and ironically, that’s one of its weaknesses. It could have been one of the great, unabashed American movies, but instead, it’s just a competent but muted record of an American hero with some great elements. Some will argue that its genius is taking the “myth” out of mythmaking, but it could be just as easily asserted that that’s what it’s missing. A terrific early, esoteric scene visualizes one of Lincoln’s dreams, a motif that demands revisiting. (more…)
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