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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Movies That Need To Come Out on Blu-ray

Blu-ray seems to be finally, though slowly, making its way up as the definitive at-home film-watching format.  While its technology wasn’t initially impressive (further worsened by alarming price points), it’s since become a go-to for most film enthusiasts.  Truth be told, many films have never looked better until hitting Blu-ray.  It’s been a bit of a long haul that, though still incomplete, continues to bring apparent upgrades.

This is why I’m here to vouch for films that have yet to receive the attention to detail which (good) Blu-ray releases have received.  By this, I’m referring to movies that don’t even have an announced release date.  Having a general idea of when a film comes out is far more comforting than not knowing if it will be bestowed on us at all.  So film studios, if you want to generate a little bit more revenue, get these treasures out on the big blue already!

The Abyss (Director’s Cut)

James Cameron continually establishes himself as the definition of a cinematic director.  Even the original, low-budget Terminator has plenty of vision to offer in its dark, dismal scenes of the future.  So it’s a bit surprising then that even one of his lesser known releases doesn’t so much as have an announced Blu-ray release.  The film wasn’t a huge hit in theaters, not even gaining back its budget domestically and going on to make less than $100 million worldwide.  Since then, however, it seems to have grown in popularity, especially with the superb Special Edition.  This is where I must emphasize the fact that, when The Abyss does come out on Blu-ray, it has to be the Special Edition, not the comparatively sloppy theatrical cut.  Taking that version into account, it’s a bit understandable why the film didn’t make that big of a splash (pun totally intended).  But thanks to the Special Edition, we were able to get the true version of a film that has since worked its way into many people’s favorite lists, including my own.

SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t seen the movie!

Various Disney Movies (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Tarzan, Mulan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book)

Oh Disney, how you continue to toy with us like the little kids we still are.  When you’re not pointlessly locking up movies in the “Disney Vault” you’re leaving us hungry for movies that should’ve already received top priority for a Blu-ray release.  Of course most of the big names have gotten their (overpriced) release, such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.  However, we still don’t have so much as a release date for The Little Mermaid.  That film really brought the visual overhaul Disney lost back to base, and we’re probably left waiting until well after the scheduled 3D re-release.  In other words: this time next year.  But until that release date is officially announced, its mentioning isn’t going anywhere.  Other movies that deserve the HD treatment include Mulan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Even if they weren’t as big a hit with critics or the box office, they still brought the dough, and I can assure Disney they’ll have my pre-order when the latter is officiallyannounced.

Live Free or Die Hard (Unrated)

This one’s a bit trickier to ask for since the film is technically available on Blu-ray.  However, the superior, unrated version is nowhere to be found, which leaves me clinging to the DVD version until its true successor arises.  What’s sad is that we’re probably going to see A Good Day to Die Hard hit Blu-ray before the true version of this film does.  If so then even a lifetime supply of yippee-ki-yay’s won’t bring justice nor condolence.

Schindler’s List

I feel a bit odd wishing for a movie like this to be released on Blu-ray since it’s essentially 3 hours of Holocaust footage.  Trust me, I’m not a sadist, I’m just constantly hungry for more!  But in all honesty, Schindler’s List is a movie that just begs true, complete treatment, and putting it on Blu-ray only seems fitting.  Besides, it’d take flipping over my DVD to the other side a lot easier, since no one likes having to get up to resume their movie, even for a precious, golden ring.

Hayao Miyazaki Collection (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle)

Seriously, how have NONE OF THESE FILMS made it to Blu-ray yet?  If I was in charge of the first wave of Blu-rays, a Miyazaki collection would be among my very first picks.  Because of their sheer absence, I feel we deserve a box set or collection, and we deserve it ASAP.  That is, assuming the transfers are good and not like, say,The Fugitive.  But they’re beautiful animated movies, how can a studio not make a good transfer?  If nothing else then at least give us Spirited Away, since that’s the one most people will jump at.  Then you’ll have people clamoring for the other mentioned films and we’re likely to be stuck playing the Disney game all over again.  I guess there’s something to this twisted waiting game I just don’t get.  Most of us will buy the movies regardless, it’s not like releasing it earlier makes me less likely to break down and buy something.  But I digress.

Star Wars (The Original Cuts)

Yes, this is an old, tiring one to ask for, but many people like to have their favorite movies as they originally were; especially when the changes have gotten to the point that you might as well add gravy to your ice cream.  Now I’ll admit some of the changes and improvements made to the original trilogy were good and even welcoming.  But after the late 90’s, things just got out of hand.  Jabba looks even worse now than he did in the original cuts, and not in a way that’s consistent with his character’s ugly design.  How bad would I describe it?  I’d say the original Jabba looked like a doll while the current Jabba looks like a blurry, distorted, cell-shaded pile of mud.  Or something else.  Something worse.

The Iron Giant

What is with all the great animated movies not getting so much as a Blu-ray announcement?  The Iron Giant has become a bit of a cult classic in that its popularity has slowly grown with time but still isn’t at that truly famous level.  It’s a shame too, because there are plenty of people who would jump at the chance to see it on Blu-ray.  A great film with terrific animation and one of those perfect, retro, nostalgic vibes for many of us, The Iron Giant deserves a Blu-ray as big as his body and his heart.

The Prince of Egypt

I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen The Prince of Egypt from start to finish.  But Ken, how can you request a movie you haven’t truly seen?  Well, just watch the trailers or any montage clip you can find online.  The film definitely has its share of fans which, again, is only growing.  Not only that, but even in standard definition the movie looks incredible.  This is reference and demo quality material for your HDTV/home theater set-up.  Plus, if I’m going to watch a great-looking movie for the first time then I want it to be as beautiful as possible.  That’s how I enjoyed Earth by Disney and let’s just say there were a couple stretches where my jaw dropped so hard I had to seriously consider house insurance.

Munich

Munich seems to be a bit of an unsung release for Spielberg.  I don’t even remember hearing about it during the initial release and only know a few people who are aware of its existence.  Like Schindler’s List, this is a more serious and less conventional piece of Spielberg’s filmography.  But like most unorthodox releases, this one is well worth watching and deserving of a high-def transfer.  Watching it on DVD, there were a few parts I thought to myself “imagine that given a proper transfer on Blu-ray.”  It’s really that simple: when a movie leaves you hungry for a prettier version of itself, you know something has to be done.  I don’t anticipate Munich getting a Blu-ray release any time soon, but the longer it takes, the longer this list will persist.  Internal rhyming aside, I believe it’s a (somewhat) decent argument.

So there’s my current/first(?) list of movies that need a Blu-ray already or, if not soon-to-be-released, then at least some sort of official announcement.  How about you?  Are there any movies I left out–any classics, showcases for audio and/or video?  If there are, leave it below in the comments section, I’d like to know what I myself am looking over.

UPDATE: It’s recently been announced that The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan (and Who Framed Roger Rabbit) will be released on Blu-ray in March.  Now Disney have made waiting for the Spring even tougher.  Still, I’m a man of my word and have already pre-ordered my copy of Hunchback on Amazon.

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Blog, Film, Movies

 

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Weekly Stumblings (11/26)

Where some are just resuming their normal lives today, I had a one day break on Black Friday.  Regardless, I hope you all had a good, tasty Thanksgiving and a more successful Black Friday than I did.  And despite a lack of posts recently, things will resume normal routine.  So here are the latest Weekly Stumblings!

Who Said Money Can’t Buy Happiness? http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2wY6lB/kushperfume.com/htgb/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/So-true-Nothing-brings-happiness-like-a-bag-of-weed.jpg/

Life Hacks: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/27tFXT/www.imageblog.co.nz/viewimage.cfm?image=7415/

Cats Being Introduced to Each Other: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2lI6au/www.frequency.com/video/cutest-thing-you-will-see-todayhow-to/44428730/

Color Psychology: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1i12gq/misscentsible.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/psychology-of-color/

Medijate: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1SMLqm/www.larrycarlson.com/medijate/

Exobotics: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1t5NJw/www.exopolis.com/holiday/2007/factory.html/

If Historical Documents Were Blog Posts: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/8WW6AS/www.goldenliterature.com/Random/historical-blog-post.html/

Six Word Stories: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/5HW6GF/www.sixwordstories.net/

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Blog

 

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Quote Review: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

“Royalty, nobility, the gentry, and……oh, how quaint – even the rabble.”

Far from an evenly paced or even consistently put together movie, Sleeping Beauty offers a good share of the best and worst aspects Disney are known for.  But like the tale itself, what’s good outweighs the bad (or lesser, in this case).

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Lincoln (2012) Review

It’s tough to say what we have more of: Movies that Steven Spielberg attaches his name to, or the number of reviews for Steven Spielberg movies.  Maybe Mr. Spielberg should take his name and endorse my reviews so views and comments will finally pop up.

The hype surrounding Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln has swelled so much that it seems to have left Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in the dust.  Does anyone else find it creepy how close Anthony Hopkins name is to Anthony Perkins from Psycho?

But enough digressing, we’re here to talk about a movie guaranteed to sweep up Oscars simply for being the cinematic equivalent of a typecast.  And if you think Oscar bait can only work so many times, need we remember the eye-rolling predictability of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture two years ago?  The very premise of Lincoln is a catalyst for what the senile blokes at the Academy are suckers for: Lincoln’s strives to pass the thirteenth Amendment.  Some have even taken the film’s plot as reason to stake claims that it really isn’t about Lincoln, that the film deserves–get this–a different title.

This type of claim only then begs the argument: Just where does the focus lie?  Is it really on Lincoln or the days leading up (and in) to the abolishment of slavery?  Or is it really about the role Lincoln played in the closing days of the Civil War, leading to one of history’s greatest landmarks?  It’s ultimately one of those cases where what you bring and expect from the film is going to directly impact how you react.  What must be made clear is that this is far from a character study, since the naysayers do have a point in that Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t have much to work with.  In fact, I can’t even point to an arc in the Lincoln we’re given on-screen.  What’s at his disposal is less a character and more a role, a piece of history.  The man is literally a walking speech, a story waiting to happen (which the film pokes fun at).  We get so much of this that I actually wanted less talking and more silent emoting or brief responses between characters.  Our first scene with Lincoln actually accomplishes this in a proper way, making the President seem more human and less like a piece of theater.  It’s just a shame this doesn’t define his other key moments and might leave you constantly disillusioned.

If Lewis isn’t convincing us with his make-up and testing us with his speeches, then it’s Tommy Lee Jones who sweeps up our attention and laughing strings.  As Thaddeus Stevens, Jones is the political embodiment of a riot–and then some.  The man practically steals what short scene him and Lewis share as he proves to be that scumbag character you’d disparage in real life but want to elect as a character.

Even for a slow, two and a half hour movie, there are still points of Lincoln that feel tragically abandoned.  One key area is with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Lincoln’s son, who’s only given so much time and doesn’t leave much of an impression, save one bitter scene.  The film seems to subtly hint at the development of a relationship or dynamic between the two, yet this is never truly realized.  Granted, this asks another whole plotline, and all the while the focus is stuck on the 13th Amendment.  Still, we definitely could have had a few minutes more with Lincoln Jr. so as to get a plate without room for sides.  Most of the interactions take place between our political characters and, if not them, then Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife.  The two have a rough passion in both their roles and between each other, which makes the realization they’re married simultaneously convincing and shocking.

Clearly, Lincoln seems to be filmed and released for the sake of being a showcase for its talented cast.  This is all some of us really need in order to become immersed and, if your theater is anything like mine (people three to four times my age) then an applause is only inevitable.  But something tells me the reasons for such a reaction will vary from person to person.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Blog, Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Quote Review: Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad.”

If Scott Pilgrim and Toy Story (somehow) had a child, Wreck-It Ralph would be its not-too-distant cousin.  Even those who’ve been completely sheltered from videogames will have a tough time resisting this plethora of puns and play-on-words.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Shoutout Blog

In lieu of Weekly Stumblings, I’m providing a shoutout for a few blogs and reviewers I follow and recommend.  You may follow a few of these already, others might be new to you.  Either way, this will give you an idea of what keeps me coming back and checking the internet.

The Impulsive Buy: This is probably the most popular of my shoutouts, and with good reason.  This food and drink site has gone as far as releasing many of their reviews in an e-book.  In addition to a plethora of reviews thanks to their wonderfully talented staff, they let followers play their part in the Spotted on Shelves section, which lets us know what items to keep an eye out for on shelves.  Also, if you have your own blog or website, they might give you recognition in their Week in Reviews section, where their reviews and others across the internet are given some attention.  The Impulsive Buy is really an all-encompassing site that the fatty in you should have no trouble falling in love with.

http://www.theimpulsivebuy.com/

Candy Blog: The aptly titled Candy Blog is also very comprehensive, offering what you’d expect from a blog of said name.  They haven’t been posting nearly as much recently, but their archives seem nearly endless, with almost every regular candy item having already received a review or some form of recognition.

http://www.candyblog.net/

On Second Scoop: In many ways, On Second Scoop could be argued as the quintessential ice cream blog, despite missing a few essential flavors or selections.  Nevertheless, the blog has held a good run and continues to update at least twice per week.  Be sure to check these guys out.

http://www.onsecondscoop.com/

The Ice Cream Informant: Of all the shoutouts here, I’d say The Ice Cream Informant is the most overlooked.  This one-person blog updates every other day to almost every day, providing plenty of reviews for eye-catching ice creams while being arguably the most up-to-date ice cream blogger I’ve found.  It’s a shame comments are so scarce for this blog, because it deserves more attention and discussion.  Definitely check this blog out, especially if you’re an ice cream fan (which means ALL OF YOU!).

http://www.theicecreaminformant.com/

Freezerburns: Greg of Freezerburns has been supplying reviews for frozen foods for well over 500 episodes and has gradually grown to have a bit of a presence on YouTube.  Referred to as the “frozen food master,” he’s given his own take on the convenient but generally subpar selections in the freezer aisles.  Additionally, he took part in the Food Stamp Challenge recently, where he survived off $20 of food for five days.  If you haven’t already and want to know where your $2-$5 should go for frozen foods, definitely have a look through his videos.

http://www.freezerburns.com/wordpress/

http://www.youtube.com/user/Freezerburnsdotcom

Mark Kermode: Now we’re moving into film reviewer territory with Mark Kermode, who I just recently came across thanks to YouTube reviewer recommendations.  Mark is the exact definition of a wholesome, professional critic who knows his vocabulary as well as his movies.  His thoughts on movies are less reviews and more impressions and almost thematic observations, which gives him a nice edge compared to his peers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/

Chris Stuckmann: Like other video bloggers on YouTube, Chris has done well to come into his comfort zone, offering a fairly steady stream of movie reviews that always start with a brilliant opening.  Like other film reviewers I’m mentioning here, he usually gets to see early screenings which, combined with the fact he feels less like a critic and more like an everyday person, makes him an ideal go-to reviewer.

http://www.youtube.com/user/ChrisStuckmann

Jeremy Jahns: Jeremy is in a similar boat to Chris with how his reviews have come into their own.  On occasional he’ll provide a videogame review or reporting from a convention, but he’s most often recognized as a film reviewer.  In many ways he’s more composed and maybe professional than Chris but both are terrific sources to tide you over (or make waiting around more grueling) for hotly anticipated movies.

http://www.youtube.com/user/JeremyJahns

Schmoes Know: And finally we have Schmoes Know, who provide probably the most movie reviews of anyone I’ve suggested here.  I’m not as big a fan of them as the above three, but they’re still very entertaining and, similar to Siskel and Ebert (and Roeper), the fact we always have both of them reviewing the same movie means they can play off each other very well.  They’re humorous and an enjoyable duo, so I give them a full recommendation.

http://www.youtube.com/user/schmoesknow

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Blog, Review

 

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Skyfall (2012) Review

Mr. Bond certainly isn’t the individual who needs someone to handle introductions for him, much less by an English major working in retail.  Perhaps we can take it a step further with my admittance that Bond has had a…less than involved history with me.  Goldeneye, Die Another Day, Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace.  Not exactly a full blown history lesson, per se; but Bond can always be argued as a character of impressions, which his latest outing, Skyfall, charismatically delivers.

For the third time, Daniel Craig assumes the role of James Bond, and while his first time was certainly charming, that doesn’t mean the third is automatically exempt.  Thanks in large part to a sure-handed cast and crew, Skyfall repays us for the sins committed by the 2008 outing.  The film is less obnoxious and over-the-top, but still finds enough room to let these seep in a few times for the sake of fun.  Just don’t take that to mean Bond is all laughs (which are great here, mind you), because Skyfall leaves a path that is, as M and Mallory would put it, shadowy.

Being grounded in reality isn’t the first thing to come to mind with a Bond film, but Skyfall comes about as close as we’ll ever get to that.  Sure, the opening sequence just screams (impressive) stunt work, but again, for a Bond film this is some fairly down-to-earth stuff.  It’s an edge that is bound to put the cheesy Bond purists off, but even the less dedicated film viewer can appreciate the changes made.  To that degree there’s not as much to let Skyfall stand out from the crowd other than the franchise’s namesake.  Fortunately, director Sam Mendes and director of photography Roger Deakins have provided us an immaculately shot and detailed film.  I’m not one to tell you to spend extra money when it’s not necessary, but this is definitely a film to catch in IMAX if you get the chance.  If Deakins doesn’t get some Best Cinematography awards, I’m afraid I’ll lose all hope in “professional” film appreciation.

Bond has returned with a film that does well with the characters thanks to its liberties and (remaining) loyalties.  We’re left with a film that gives us a cloudy but assured look ahead for its successors, but whatever follows will have some big shoes to fill.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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