Saturday, December 31, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: All-Star Superman (Review)

All-Star Superman
2011 - Warner Home Video
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on February 22, 2011.

# of Dics: 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Runtime: 76 Minutes

A near disaster instigated by Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) on a ship exploring the sun that was saved by Superman (James Denton) gives Luthor the victory he was craving, as the intense exposure to solar radiation has mortally poisoned Superman.

With his time living running out, Superman seeks to fulfill his dreams including revealing the truth to his love from afar, Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks). But a couple of Kryptonian visitors and the overzealous Luthor keep Superman from going out quietly, instead requiring one more heroic battle to save Metropolis.

After revealing his identity to Lois, Superman takes her back to his Fortress of Solitude where she gets an up close view of the marvelous items inside, including the weapons he has taken from his enemies, a pet Sun-Eater he feeds with small suns he creates with a hammer and anvil, his crew of robot helpers, the Bottle City of Kandor and some relics, like the statue of his parents.

But Superman's secretive nature and Lois' exposure to alien chemicals leads to her paranoia and attack on Superman with a deadly kryptonite laser. But that did not put a hamper on Superman's gift for Lois, a 24-hour liquid dose of his powers, turning her into Superwoman. That of course led to an unwanted adventure with Atlas and Samson, and an encounter with the Ultra-Sphinx. This film was a nonstop roller coaster of serious, funny, and action.

And of course Clark's visit to Lex in prison gave the story that dose of intellectual discussion, a clear vision of Luthor's psychosis and his anger even in the midst of a rampaging Parasite and prison brawl. The parallel of a confident Luthor boasting in prison, and a weakened Clark continuing to fool him right in front of his eyes.

DC and the WB did a great job as always packing their animated film with a bundle of extras, including two featurettes with Grant Morrison, the writer of the comic series ALL-STAR SUPERMAN was based off of. The Morrison featurettes fully explore his vision for the Superman character, one going into the sketches he developed over the years that became the eventual story and the other more on how Superman was revamped for a contemporary audience.

The rest is a usual package for DCU films: commentary, digital comic, a preview of the next DCU film, and two cartoon episodes selected by Bruce Timm. A fun treat for animation, comics, and DC fans.

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is a masterful stroke of storytelling. While it is not an all out action bonanza, the methodical pace to the story helps illustrate the emotional weight carried by Superman now that he is seeing his end coming. What does a "super" man do when death approaches? An inspiring story of spreading love, peace and happiness from the big red blue hope.

Look to buy the ALL-STAR SUPERMAN Blu-Ray disc exclusive version on Amazon for $25.99

Thursday, December 29, 2011

FILM: The Hobbit Trailer + Poster (News)

It is never too early to plan for the end of the year, even when it is a year away. With 2011 ending, it seems just as well that for Warner Bros, MGM and New Line Cinema it was the perfect time to show off the trailer for next December's big release, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.

Returning to J.R.R. Tolkien's world is director Peter Jackson (KING KONG), who after masterfully crafting The Lord of the Rings trilogy looks to follow it up with some familiar faces and some new ones.

Ian McKellen (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) is back as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) reprises his role as Elrond, and Elijah Wood (FREE WILLY) as Frodo. The main star in this one however is Martin Freeman (SHERLOCK) as a young Bilbo Baggins.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY travels to theaters on December 14, 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FILM: The Dark Knight Rises Trailer + Poster (News)

2012 brings with it the next installment of Warner Bros. juggernaut, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. And as 2011 comes to a close, the WB is making sure everyone remembers this by releasing a new trailer and poster this month.

Directed by Christopher Nolan (MEMENTO), THE DARK KNIGHT RISES stars Christian Bale (THE PRESTIGE) as Batman, Gary Oldman (HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX) as Commissioner Gordon, Anne Hathaway (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy (INCEPTION) as Bane.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES into theaters on July 20, 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

SPORTS: NBA 2011-2012 Predictions (Commentary)

Another league, another lockout. However the NBA took its time getting things in order and as a result this season is only 66 games long and jammed together in a very short amount of time to have the season end in somewhat the same time of year. Little to no training camp and preseason means this is going to be one very unpredictable year.

Last year was the first go-around on the blog and GP had the eventual NBA Finals representatives losing in each team's respective conference finals (close but no cigar!), predicted 6 Eastern Conference playoff teams & 6 Western Conference playoff teams. Now this year's picks, first up team projections:

Western Conference:
3) LA CLIPPERS - 43-23
5) LA LAKERS - 38-28

WC First Round: THUNDER over MAVS 4-2, BLAZERS over ROCKETS 4-0, GRIZZLIES over CLIPPERS 4-3, LAKERS over SPURS 4-2
WC Semi-Finals: LAKERS over THUNDER 4-3, GRIZZLIES over BLAZERS 4-1
WC Finals: LAKERS over GRIZZLIES 4-2

Eastern Conference:
1) MIAMI HEAT - 50-16
2) CHICAGO BULLS - 48-18
3) ATLANTA HAWKS - 44-22
4) ORLANDO MAGIC - 40-26
5) NEW YORK KNICKS - 37-29

EC First Round: HEAT over 76ERS 4-2, PACERS over BULLS 4-3, HAWKS over CELTICS 4-2, MAGIC over KNICKS 4-1
EC Semi-Finals: HEAT over MAGIC 4-2, PACERS over HAWKS 4-2
EC Finals: HEAT over PACERS 4-0

NBA Finals: LAKERS over HEAT 4-3

Individual Awards:
MVP: Kobe Bryant (LAKERS)
Scoring Title: Kobe Bryant (LAKERS)
Defensive Player of the Year: LaMarcus Aldridge (BLAZERS)
Rookie of the Year: Ricky Rubio (TIMBERWOLVES)
Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra (HEAT)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

FILM: Into the White Trailer (News)

With the Harry Potter films now squarely in the rear-view mirror, its talented cast of actors are beginning to show up on new projects. Tom Felton appeared in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES this summer, Emma Watson had a role in last month's MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, Dan Radcliffe stars in THE WOMAN IN BLACK due out in February, and now Rupert Grint finds himself in the World War II drama, INTO THE WHITE.

Directed by Petter Næss, INTO THE WHITE is about a group of English and German soldiers that shoot each other down and find themselves surviving the harsh winter in the Norwegian wilderness together in the same cabin. Outside of Grint, the cast is filled with actors that American audiences would find it difficult to recognize. David Kross (WAR HORSE) and Stig Henrik Hoff (THE THING) play German soldiers.

INTO THE WHITE flurries its way into theaters in Norway on March 9, 2012. No U.S. release has been set.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FILM: John Carter Trailer (News)

Disney has been looking for their next big live-action film franchise to follow in the footsteps of their Pirates juggernaut, and have already released the likes of PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME and TRON: LEGACY in 2010. Now they are stepping back into the fantasy realm with one of the biggest stories in terms of scale, JOHN CARTER.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (WALL-E) and based off the epic novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, JOHN CARTER stars Taylor Kitsch (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) as the title character, Lynn Collins (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE) in the equably timeless role of Princess Dejah Thoris, along with the likes of Mark Strong (GREEN LANTERN) and Willem Dafoe (FANTASTIC MR. FOX) also amongst the cast.

The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter, who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris. In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.

JOHN CARTER wanders into theaters on March 9, 2012.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition (Review)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Ultimate Edition
2009 - Warner Bros
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on June 14, 2011

# of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray x 2)
Runtime: 153 Minutes

The sixth installment of the epic series, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE turns up the dial on comedy and romance as Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), find themselves in the middle of teen relationships.

Outside the trials and tribulations of being a teenager, not all is hunky-dory in the Wizarding World as Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) wrecks havoc and spreads his reign of terror, transforming the busy and vibrant Diagon Alley into a bleak and fairly empty place. And the suspicious actions of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) catches Harry's notice.

One of the new characters in this film would be the returning Hogwarts professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), who has a penchant for making connections and has become interested in Harry as he fills the now vacant Potions Professor position. But his most memorable moment may be his introduction to Harry and the audience, when he is disguised as a purple armchair in a wrecked house only to be found out and have to transform back into his regular body.

Sticking out of this film's bleak version of Diagon Alley would be the wacky store of Fred and George Weasley, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Colorful and loud, much like its owners, the store breathes defiant life into the street and the movie that had so far been in less than pleasing times. The imagination and magic of the world that has been somewhat diminished as the films have gone on returns with a fervor inside the shop, a visual masterpiece with all of the intricate creations that lasted maybe only a handful of moments on screen. A reminder that magic can be fun and good, even in the darkest of times.

Action takes a back seat for the most part in this film but it would not be a Harry Potter film without some adventure and the cave scene with Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Harry is a visual delight, perfect for Blu-Ray watchers. Between the vastness of the cave and its waters, the horde of Inferi that come after them and the maelstrom of fire that Dumbledore produces to save Harry and himself from the danger that literally envelops nearly the entirety of the cave.

Extras come in droves when it comes to these Ultimate Edition releases. Besides a 44-page book with photos from all the films and limited edition character cards featuring Dumbledore and Draco, this one comes with Part Six of the eight part documentary series that covers the creation of the film series that has a chapter paired with each Ultimate Edition release. Part Six covers Magical Effects, and goes into the visual effects in the movie both through CG and techniques used to accomplish things right there with the actors.

There is also 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Behind the Magic' TV special included that has host Ben Shephard explore the film set, talk with the actors and even be cast as an extra in a scene for the movie. Not only that but a special on the author of the series filmed around the time she was finishing the final book in the series is on the disc titled, 'J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life'.

Add in the holdovers from the previous HBP Blu-Ray release of deleted scenes, cast questions, a peek at the Wizarding World theme park and Deathly Hallows and the Maximum Movie Mode and the Ultimate Edition is literally overflowing in special features nearly doubling the time of the film itself. Fans of the Harry Potter movies and are looking to move into the Blu-Ray way of things would be smart to get the Ultimate Edition release over the previous one. If extras are your thing, the Ultimate Editions will ruin you for all other releases.

Look to buy the Ultimate Edition Blu-Ray release of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE on Amazon for $38.99.

Friday, December 9, 2011

FILM: Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island International Trailer (News)

If you are looking for a sequel to watch that is also a family fun adventure film, you are in luck. From New Line Cinema comes the sequel to the 2008 film, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3D that starred Brendan Fraser (THE MUMMY) and Josh Hutcherson (ZATHURA) as a scientist and his nephew in search of his missing brother.

Now in JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, Josh Hutcherson reprises his role as Sean Anderson, this time in the company of his stepfather Hank played by Dwayne Johnson (FAST FIVE) as they look for Sean's grandfather, played by Michael Caine (THE DARK KNIGHT), who is thought to be missing on a mysterious island.

Brad Peyton (CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE) is directing and Vanessa Hudgens (HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) is also in the film as Kailani, their tour guide and the girl that catches Sean's eye.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND floats into theaters on February 10, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

FILM: Mirror Mirror Trailer (News)

As forewarned a few posts ago, 2012 is the year of Snow White, and here comes a look at the other film in production on the fairytale character, MIRROR, MIRROR.

From Relativity Media and director Tarsem Singh (IMMORTALS), MIRROR, MIRROR stars Julia Roberts (LARRY CROWNE) as the Evil Queen, Lily Collins (ABDUCTION) as Snow White, Armie Hammer (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) as the Prince, and Sean Bean (GAME OF THRONES) as the King.

MIRROR, MIRROR reflects into theaters on March 16, 2012.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FILMonBLU-RAY: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Review)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
2011 - Warner Bros
Released on Blu-Ray/DVD on November 11, 2011

# of Discs: 4 (Blu-Ray x 3, DVD - Target 4-Disc Exclusive comes with additional Blu-Ray disc)
Runtime: 130 Minutes

The final chapter in the story of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 continues right where the last one left off.

Harry, and his friends, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), are recovering from their ordeal at Malfoy Manor and looking towards breaking into Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley where they believe another Horcrux is hidden. Soon enough the trail leads them back to Hogwarts and a final battle with Voldemort and his dark army for the survival of the Wizarding World as they know it.

While the first film had more of a methodical pace as Harry and his friends struggled to find the way to defeat Voldemort, the second moves with a purpose. Harry's journey heads to Gringotts Bank where with the use of the Polyjuice Potion to turn Hermione into Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), and the Invisibility Cloak to hide Harry, along with the help of the goblin, Griphook (Warwick Davis), they gain access to the labyrinth tunnels in the bank that lead to the vaults. Things do not go smoothly though, with a booby-trapped Lestrange vault and a double-crossing Griphook leaving the three to jump on the back of a dragon they break free to escape from certain doom. The visuals of the trip down to the vaults, the multiplying goblets in the vault and the terrifyingly fierceness of the dragon are all must sees.

Another visual marvel is the scene that takes place in the Room of Requirement, as Harry is finding the next Horcrux and is confronted by Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and his cronies. The vastness inside the room and the power it has is really apparent at this point, as the room has taken the shape of the place where everyone hides/stores things inside, a place that goes on and on. Yet it becomes truly terrifying once Goyle's fiendfyre spell goes haywire and the whole place becomes ablaze in flames, leading to a maddening run and flight on brooms to escape harm.

But in the background for the majority of the film is the final battle that takes place on the Hogwarts Grounds and literally shakes the foundations of the castle. The walkway bridge is purposely blown up by the students to cut off an access point in an exhilarating way for Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), the Quidditch stadium is razed by the Death Eaters, the teachers and members of the Order of the Phoenix help with putting up a magical shield around the castle that only the power of the Elder Wand in Voldemort's hand is able to break. Each moment is brilliantly filmed and a pleasure to watch on Blu-Ray, a real immersing experience.

I had my hands on the Target Exclusive release of the film that features an additional Blu-Ray Disc that has a near hour long documentary titled, 'When Harry Left Hogwarts', that covers the final days on set for the principle actors of the film and the film itself. While I would not be surprised to see it find its way into the eventual Ultimate Edition release it was well worth the extra few dollars to see it. Along with featurettes on The Women of Harry Potter, The Goblins of Gringotts and a Conversation between author J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe, there are so many extras that will literally double the amount of time you spend with this release.

A fantastic movie deserves an equally fantastic media release, and Warner Bros. has achieved this with HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2. More so than even the first part, this film appeals to movie fans of all kinds and is a perfect wrap up to a decade-long series. Buy it if you have not, Try it if you have never seen it. It is worth seeing this epic in Blu-Ray.

Look to buy the 3-Disc Blu-Ray release of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 on Amazon for $24.99.