Historical Blu-ray Release Dates

This page lists all available information for new and upcoming releases in the Blu-ray format.
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                            [review_slug] => cats&dogs
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                            [review_title] => Cats & Dogs
                            [picture_created] => 1269351319
                            [picture_name] => cats.jpeg
                            [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers
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                                    [release_year] => 2001
                                    [run_time] => 87
                                    [list_price] => 24.98
                                    [asin] => B003DVB7DM
                                    [amazon_price] => 17.49
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                                            [0] => TBA
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                                            [0] => TBA
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                                            [0] => TBA
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                                            [0] => TBA
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                                            [0] => TBA
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                                            [0] => Commentary by actor Sean Hayes, director Lawrence Guterman, producer Chris DeFaria and production designer James Bissell
                                            [1] => HBO First Look: Cats & Dogs
                                            [2] => Teaching a New Dog New Tricks
                                            [3] => Mr. Tinkles Audition Tape
                                            [4] => Dogs Rule
                                            [5] => Mr. Tinkles Speech
                                            [6] => Storyboard comparisons
                                            [7] => Concept sketches
                                        )

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                                            [0] => Family, Comedy
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                                            [0] => Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins
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                                            [0] => Lawrence Guterman
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                                    [preview_plot_synopsis] => 

They're cunning. They're stealthy. They're waging a top-secret, ultra-high-tech struggle for global domination right under our noses. They're...Cats & Dogs!

Witness this epic "tail" of what happens when an eccentric professor (Jeff Goldblum) makes a discovery that could tip the ago-old balance of pet power. Now, an inexperienced young beagle pup named Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire) is about to begin the ultimate mission im-paws-ible: to save humanity from a total cat-tastrophe! Featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jon Lovitz, Charlton Heston and Sean Hayes.

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Too fat to fly.

It seems in recent years, right before a film opens, the director or stars of a film will get involved in some sort of random fiasco, almost like they want to get their names in the news. It seems they never make incredibly stupid comments, come out of the closet, or get into a back-and-forth feud with a co-worker unless a movie they made is about to hit theaters within a two week window. Perhaps its the easiest, cheapest publicity that can be had, the ol' media outlet, and maybe even the smartest, considering this nation's obsession with celebrities and their random missteps.

Kevin Smith most certainly personified this theory of mine with his most recent effort, 'Cop Out.' Smith seems to love being the center of attention, and he went all out on this one. First, there was the whole incident about being bumped from a flight due to his excessive bulk. That wouldn't have been an issue at all, really, if it weren't for his tweeting about it for days afterwards, drawing attention to himself. Suddenly, his name was in the news, and it wasn't for making a celebrated film. Soon after, most all of the major film critics panned the film, drawing Smith's ire, yet Smith's fans enjoyed the film (and we're sure that they gave an unbiased opinion of the film), bringing out the hypocrite in Smith. Suddenly, Smith felt as though critics should pay to see films, and felt that audience reviews were more important and valid to the worth of a film (and I'm willing to bet he wouldn't say fans shouldn't have to pay!).

This all coming from the very same Smith who absolutely ate up every bit of positive critical mention he could get in the past, riding on the praise for 'Clerks' and 'Chasing Amy' to make a name for himself. The very same Smith who filled in for Roger Ebert for a short stint of film reviews. The very same Smith who, for the first time in his career, topped $40 million in domestic box office take with 'Cop Out,' another first for the filmmaker: the first time he directed a film he didn't write. Mission: accomplished. Become attention whore, get money. Worked for Paris Hilton, and thank god Smith didn't do a low-light home video porno to get said attention.

Brooklyn detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) wants to show his daughter (and prove to his ex-wife and her new husband) that he can cover her lavish wedding, and be there for her in that way. But when he and his longtime partner Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) get suspended without pay, it seems the only way Jimmy can fund the affair would be to sell his rare mint condition 1952 Topps Andy Pafko baseball card. When said card is stolen out from under Jimmy by a petty criminal (Seann William Scott), the duo embark on a personal vendetta, to catch the thief, and get the card back, by any means possible...even if that means dealing with the baseball obsessed drug dealer (Guillermo Diaz from 'Weeds') who bought it off the thief.

Originally titled 'A Couple of Dicks,' 'Cop Out' doesn't exactly seem to try all that hard to create an interesting, funny film, the one and only thing that past Smith films all had in common. In fact, 'Cop Out' seems to embody the very phase that Smith became known for in his personal life: too fat to fly. Running an overly long 107 minutes, there are numerous scenes and side-stories that could have been axed to create a thinner, more accessible, viable film. In short, a movie capable of taking off.

Of course, the baseball card and family marriage plot had to stay, as they're the basis of the story. The rest can be called into question, one piece at a time. The "Shit Bandit," as Scott's character is described in the extras, adds absolutely nothing to the story, besides the ability to make more poop jokes. Couldn't just any criminal steal the card? Why drag in Poh Boy, a third rate, underdeveloped character? Then there's the subplot concerning Paul and his wife (the lovely Rashida Jones of 'Parks and Recreation'), with his suspicions of her infidelity. The only times she appears are in scenes to set up said subplot, and nothing else, so we could axe that section of the film, also, save for the fact that we need something to make Paul more than just a big mouthed buffoon, a one note character.

Poh Boy's gang gets far too much attention, with their various misdeeds and screw ups, causing their demises, but after the first inter-gang execution, we, the audience, get the point that they're expendable. Throw in a competing pair of detectives (Adam Brody and a very subdued Kevin Pollak), a kidnapped Mexican who holds a deep secret (Ana de la Reguera), a grade school car thief, and perhaps the worst performance of Smith favorite Jason Lee's career, and the fat starts to spill over into the other theater aisles.

Even with the excessive weight, 'Cop Out' hardly maintains a tone, as the jokes miss far more often than they hit, and the action section of this action-comedy is incredibly weak. In the extras for this release, we see how much improvisation was used on set, and while it usually goes too far in each scene, said on-the-spot comedy is much more fresh and polished, even made up, than what shows up in the script and the final product.

For all my criticisms, I will admit 'Cop Out' does have a few redeeming qualities. I've never been a fan of Morgan, but he truly has great timing in this film, and is by far the most likable character. We also get a few scenes where we can stare at how amazing Michelle Trachtenberg (remember 'Harriet the Spy?') has grown up to be, and there are a few fun moments between Morgan and both de la Reguera and Jones. Better yet, Smith only has the one View Askewniverse alum drawing attention away from the film (not even his wife!), a real first, and New Jersey really isn't in the equation whatsoever. Fans of Smith's work may be happy to see Dave Klein again serving as DP (not the kind discussed in the film), but may be bummed to discover longtime producer Scott Mosier had no involvement whatsoever.

Smith needs to grow up. As a person, capable of receiving criticism for the work he does (and the criticism he levies on others, as well), and as a filmmaker. At only 40 years old, Smith has plenty of time to refine his abilities, and come through with another critical darling, that fans will surely eat up, as they do all his films. But catering to and appealing to the same audience over and over is not success. That's fan service. 'Cop Out' may be his biggest film to date, and it is the first time Smith has really ventured away from his stable of actor friends, but much like Southwest Air did, Kevin Smith needs to eject the extra (cinematic) weight he's carrying, and finally do what he has long needed to do: just helm a comic movie, film his long-discussed but never (until now) able to be made horror film, and let his work do the talking for a change.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15140 [review_video] =>

Kevin Smith films usually have a unique visual "style" about them, in that they're really, really not made to look like anything special. More real than your average movie, I guess you could say, if you were an optimist. Warner Brothers' VC-1 (1080p, 2.35:1) encode takes that cue, and provides a somewhat bland transfer.

Detail levels are never the problem. In fact, they can be pretty damn awesome, from the very opening interrogation room sequence. Hell, I have never seen Morgan more clearly defined, in the arm tattoos, or his stubble, cropped hair, blemishes, or sweat. The problem is that anything else that can go wrong, possibly does. Ringing is a very minor issue, perhaps the least problematic of the bunch. The killers, though, are the random soft shots and murky moments, the dark sequences that lose any positives the transfer had going for it, the muddled mixture of artifacts, noise, and grain, and the varied contrast levels and depth of picture. This release still earns and deserves the score it is being given, mostly due to the great, great amount of detail on display, but this one could have been special.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15141 [review_audio] =>

'Cop Out' kinda cops out in the audio department, as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix just feels uninspired, lazy, and again, just too fat to fly.

Dialogue is usually clear, though there are more than a few lines that get lost in the mix, annoyingly. Score and soundtrack volume can just overwhelm other portions, perhaps intentionally for that odd '80's vibe, but it doesn't exactly help the mix. There's nice bass, mostly in the soundtrack, and some nice gunfire pop. Gunfire localizes throughout the room, though there's no real motion. Sadly, the most incriminating piece of evidence on this one happens to be missing: rear channel use. Yeah, gunfire erupts from behind, and there are a few bits of ambience here and there, but for the most part, those extra channels just don't get used.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

The extras on this release are all Blu-ray exclusive. Some may appear on the DVD, but not in the same form as they do here.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 4 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15142 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • Maximum Comedy Mode - You may remember this feature from the 'Watchmen' Blu-ray release, when it was known as the Maximum Movie Mode. In short, this is the film, with Kevin Smith popping up, stopping the film, and interacting with it. For a really, really long time. The film itself runs a little over 107 minutes, while the MCM clocks in at 175, almost a full three hours. Letterboxing is ignored, so those of you with constant height projectors may want to set your screen to around 1.85:1 or 1.78:1.

    As intriguing as this feature may be, do not watch it before you watch the film. The commentary will spoil later plot points, and half of the appreciation for this type of track is lost if you're trying to navigate the film, as well as the added content.

    Picture in Picture Audio commentary? Check. Picture in Picture in Picture video commentary? Check. Deleted scenes and dailies footage thrown in for good measure? Check. Pop up trivia blurbs and storyboards? Check-mate! Kevin Smith fans have always been given great treatment, in terms of supplement packages on home video releases (except for that first 'Dogma' DVD release, but that was fixed with the re-release), and this may be the greatest, most immersive feature found on any of Smith's films...and that's truly saying something! Kevin Smith knows his fans are what make him what he is today, so the way he shows appreciation for his most rabid, hardcore fanatics with this track is commendable. Of course, mister sour grapes also makes a few digs at critics, trying to paint them as ignorant. Real adult.

There are a few random bits in this mode, that can be branched off and viewed, miniature features, of sorts. They are also able to be played by their lonesome, so as to make the MCM a bit shorter, in a sense.

  • Wisdom from the Shit Bandit (HD, 4 min) - I've heard advice from even less credible sources than this, but damn, just damn, are these pop ups annoying, and hardly humorous. It's a ton of Seann William Scott popping up and down in the picture, giving a one liner, and that's that.
  • Focus Points (HD, 21 min) - This assortment of miniature features fares much better than the Shit Bandit quotes, as cast and crew give random opinions and insight on subjects, like the film title change, improvisation, in character miniature spots, filming action segments, and compliments towards each other. Really, the information here is fairly EPK, a bit self promotional, but there are some nice spots, and it shows how much fun the people involved had while filming, so that's a plus.
  • DVD/Digital Copy combo disc - The first pressings of this release come with a combination DVD/Digital Copy disc. Since this title does not have a slipcover to distinguish first prints, keep your eye out for the sticker indicating this is a combo release!
  • BD-Live - There is no exclusive content concerning 'Cop Out' on the BD-Live portal, but one can view trailers for other WB titles and films.
  • Resume Play - An unadvertised feature. If you stop playing this disc at any time, and come back to it later, the disc will remember, and ask if you want to resume where you left off. Or, at least, my player did, and it doesn't do that often.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15143 [review_final_thoughts] =>

This release is titled the "rock out with your glock out" edition, but I refuse to dignify such an idiotic name with any mention alongside the title, or the review, beyond making fun of it here.

A long time ago, I was a devoted Kevin Smith fan. His movies received endless replays in my home. But over the years, they grew more and more stale with each re-viewing. Now, I can't help but notice the glaring flaws and failures. 'Cop Out' isn't his worst film, but it ventures away from what makes Kevin Smith films unique: his ability to write dialogue, even as un-believable as it is. No amount of star power could save a film helmed by a mediocre director who seems lost at the wheel at times. Too bulky for its own good, this action comedy really should have tried to focus on being one or the other. The Blu-ray release isn't bad, and it has one of the best extras found on the Blu-ray market, period, one sure to make Smith fans squeal with delight. As such, this one is worth a look, possibly even a blind buy, but don't set your expectations too high.

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On the remote planet of Xarbia, a scientific experiment has gone horrifically wrong. An experimental life-form known as Subject 20,” created by an elite group of scientists to prevent a major galactic food crisis, has instead mutated into a man-eating organism. It’s getting bigger, it has the ability to change its genetic structure at will and, worst of all, it’s hungry. Very, very hungry!

Two-fisted, hard-living, hard-loving bounty hunter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint, Macon County Line, Deathsport) is called in to combat this monstrous menace, but soon suspects that the scientists are keeping something from him. He soon discovers why: Subject 20 is half-human.

In classic Agatha Christie tradition, Subject 20 begins killing off the scientists one by one, while Colby and the remaining survivors desperately try to figure out a way to destroy it -- before it destroys them.

Also released theatrically as Mutant, Forbidden World has it all: Gratuitous gore, unexpected nudity, surprising bits of black comedy, and an assortment of inspired and inventive special effects (done on a Roger Corman budget, of course). Nevertheless, the film earned three Saturn Award nominations: Best Low-Budget Film, Best Special Effects and Best Makeup. The film marked the directorial debut of two-time Primetime Emmy Awards® winner Allan Holzman (Survivors of the Holocaust), who like so many Hollywood luminaries got his start under Corman’s auspices.

[review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106563 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

'Forbidden World,' or 'Mutant' if you want to call it by its original name, really isn't much more than an occasionally showy 'Alien' rip-off. In fact, the director, Allan Holzman, says as much on the commentary. Originally, producer Roger Corman tasked Holzman, who had just edited 'Battle Beyond the Stars' for the studio, to create a kind of 'Lawrence of Arabia' in space. When Holzman turned in the draft, Corman, deeming it too costly and elaborate, said: "Let's just rip off 'Alien.'" And rip off 'Alien' they did.

If this sounds like I'm knocking the movie, well, I am, sort of. But there's something oddly alluring about 'Forbidden World.'

The plot, as much as there is one, concerns a genetic research lab that's orbiting a world with the incredibly science fiction-y name of Xarbia (in the future the letter 'x' is used a lot more). It's on this lab that the scientists create "Subject 20," a hideous monstrosity that goes through several mutations and offs most of the research crew (comprised of B-actors that most people have never heard of, although a young Michael Bowen is in the cast).

It's not spoiling anything to say that the monster is eventually killed, and where one of Holzman's few original ideas comes into play: the monster, after eating the cancer-ridden body of the space station's head of security (Fox Harris), dies from cancer! This isn't spoiling anything, trust you me. It's like this bizarre, cheap-ass sci-fi movie turns into a movie about terminal illness. Or something. And it's this conceit that is evocative of the movie's many nutty tendencies.

Take the opening sequence, which is lifted from both 'Alien' with a dash of '2001' thrown in. Or the fact that the movie has these sections where images flit by, edited without any decipherable reason. (This being a Roger Corman movie, a scene where two of the female crewmembers shower together is a mainstay of these montages.)

There's a lot of goop in 'Forbidden World.' And a lot of blood. And, again, this being a Roger Corman movie, a lot of (refreshingly natural) boobs. You're struck by the amazing ability of crewmembers to mindlessly enjoy a hot sauna while a killer mutant is on the loose. But hey. I'm not complaining about excessive nudity. In fact, scratch "excessive" from that last sentence!

At some point during the screening process for the film, the original, humorous intent was deleted by Corman. Supposedly, if Corman heard an audience laughing WITH a movie, he assumed they were laughing AT the movie. He had Holzman take out all the humor, so what we're left with is a frequently comical sci-fi horror movie that never acknowledges its own ludicrousness.

There's tons of stuff to love about 'Forbidden World' (the boobs, the remarkably straight-faced performances, Susan Justin's score) and often times the movie hums with the low budget, "let's put on a show" attitude that defined the Corman productions from that period. But in the end, just liked its producer said, it's really just an 'Alien' rip off.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 25GB Blu-ray disc is Region A locked. There's a second disc, a DVD, that contains the original, intentionally funny version of 'Forbidden World' aka 'Mutant.' The disc does not automatically play. The case contains a nice little essay called "How to Make an Alien in 20 Days." Another cool feature: you can flip the outside cover inside out and instead of a 'Forbidden World' box you'll have a 'Mutant' box! How cool is that?

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15123 [review_video] =>

The Blu-ray disc comes equipped with a formidable 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer (aspect ratio: 1.78:1) that's probably the best 'Forbidden World' has ever looked.

To compare how bad this could have looked, just pop in the bonus disc with the 'Mutant' director's cut. (More on that later.) Blacks are darker, overall clarity is vastly improved, skin tones look more lifelike, and the list goes on.

Occasionally, low budget movies presented in high definition seem to make their cheapy special effects or unconvincing make-up look cheaper and more unconvincing. This is the case, occasionally, on 'Forbidden World,' especially when the monster is in full effect. The rubbery nature of the beast is really revealed. But that's okay. You were never really "buying" the monster in the first place anyway (H.R. Geiger wouldn't have doodled this beast on a cocktail napkin).

But at the same time, the added depth and dimensionality provided by the high definition transfer affords some of the movie, especially the claustrophobic sets (incidentally designed by James Cameron for another Corman production), some added nuance and believability.

Is this transfer going to blow your mind? No. There are definitely some spotty issues, which I can't decide are the transfer's fault or the fault of that hazy cinematography style that was so favored in the late 70s and early 80s ('Forbidden World' came out in 1982). But does 'Forbidden World' look way better than it has any right to? Yes, definitely. I was really impressed with the clarity and overall look of this transfer, and I'm sure you will be too.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15124 [review_audio] =>

Equally impressive, in that 'hey, this is as good as it's going to get'-way is the disc's DTS 2.0 audio track.

The movie starts almost exactly like 'Alien,' with a crewmember unfreezing after hyperspace and all of these doodads and robots coming to life. It's here that the clarity of the mix really presents itself, and does a good job of sustaining the level throughout the rest of the film.

This isn't the kid of mix that'll blow you away, just as in the video's case, but there is a workmanlike efficiency to the mix, and that's okay by me (especially for a stereo mix). Dialogue is mostly clear and crisp and well prioritized, the monster snarls and grows with the appropriate menace, and despite some scenes where either the sound effects overwhelm or the dialogue goes muddy, this is probably the best the movie has ever sounded, too.

This is your only audio option, as far as I can tell.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15125 [review_supplements] =>

The extras on this disc are duplicated on Shout's DVD release, so sadly there's no exclusive content. On the brighter side, this set has a lovely collection of extras. (Not as many as, say, on the 'Death Race 2000' disc but this isn't exactly the movie 'Death Race 2000' is.) If I can editorialize for a minute (I know, it's so unlike me), I'd like to say how happy I am that the Corman movies have landed at Shout!(!) For years the collection has bounced around to different distributors, hell, even Disney had the rights for a few years, and it's just so nice to see these movies given the treatment they've always deserved. Way to go, Shout!, and keep 'em coming!

  • Making of 'Forbidden World' (HD, 34:16) This surprisingly in-depth look at the making of 'Forbidden World' is pretty engaging. You'll go through the same talking points - Corman coming up with the idea, director Holzman's vision being bigger than the budget would allow, the music, the humor, blah blah blah. But it's a snappily edited piece and features interviews with much of the cast and crew. Well worth a watch, it also acts as a nice pre-game feature to the set's big enchilada - the original cut of 'Forbidden World!' (More on that in a minute.)
  • Interview with Roger Corman (HD, 6:25) This is a short, amiable feature with the king of the castle himself, Roger Corman. Much of the same material is covered either in the making of documentary, or in the commentary with Holzman on the director's cut, but this is still worth watching. Corman is a kind of grandfatherly czar to obsessive genre fans like yours truly, so anytime he pops up it's fun. He won an honorary Oscar this year, remember? While not as lively as his chat with Leonard Maltin on the 'Death Race' disc, this is still worth your time.
  • Interview with Special Effects Artist John Carl Beuchler (HD, 14:20) This is an overlong interview with the chief special effects dude for 'Forbidden World.' Honestly, I thought that this doc, while well-intentioned, was sort of boring and easily the first thing you can skip over.
  • Skotak Gallery This is a gallery of designs by Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, as well as some candid behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Poster & Still Gallery Actually, this is a really lovely gallery. If you don't push anything, the images flip through, slideshow-style (you can also go from one to the next using your remote).
  • Trailer (HD, 2:33) This is a wonderful red band trailer (for mature audiences only!) that actually, surprisingly, captures the decidedly off-kilter nature of 'Forbidden World.' Well worth a watch.
  • Other Corman Trailers You also get trailers for other Corman joints - 'Battle Beyond the Stars' (HD, 2:27), 'Galaxy of Terror' (HD, 1:55), and 'Humanoids from the Deep' (HD, 1:49). These trailers are all pretty priceless, and while Shout currently has 'Galaxy' and 'Humanoids' scheduled for release in high definition, they've kept mum about 'Battle.' But after watching this trailer you'll want it in your Blu-ray collection. Like, now.
  • Director's Cut of 'Mutant' Okay, so on the second disc you get the long lost director's cut of 'Forbidden World,' which is actually closer to 'Mutant.' The movie is only a few minutes longer than the one on the Blu-ray proper (82 minutes versus the theatrical 77 minute), and the DVD looks pretty crummy - it's in full frame and was quite obviously taken off somebody's VHS copy. Still, it's lovely to see the original intent of 'Mutant,' with the humorous layer restored. It goes along much better with the general WTF-ness of 'Forbidden World.' And you can watch the director's cut with our without commentary from director Holzman, moderated by Nathaniel Thompson. Even though 'Forbidden World' has never been on DVD or Blu-ray, which is a big deal in and of itself, the director's cut is the real rarity, which has never, ever been available anywhere. And it's pretty great.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Is 'Forbidden World' (or 'Mutant') a cheap-ass 'Alien' knock-off? Yes, yes it is. But is it also a ridiculous amount of fun? Why yes, it's that too! Shout! Factory has really outdone themselves with their recent work on the Corman movies, and this is no exception. With above-average audio and video and a host of captivating features, including the once-thought long-lost director's cut of 'Mutant,' this is a highly recommended title indeed.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3329 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => galaxyofterror [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Galaxy of Terror [picture_created] => 1271950607 [picture_name] => galaxy-of-terror.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Shout! Factory [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/22/120/galaxy-of-terror.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3329/galaxyofterror.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1981 [run_time] => 81 [list_price] => 26.97 [asin] => B003I87O4Q [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Double-Layer Disc [2] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio Commentary [1] => Trivia Track [2] => Photo Galleries [3] => Original Screenplay [4] => Trailers ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Science Fiction, Horror, Cult Classic ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Grace Zabriskie, Robert Englund ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Bruce D. Clark ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => In the distant future, the crew of the starship Quest is dispatched to the barren planet of Morganthus to search of the missing crew members of the starship Remus, which has crash-landed there. Instead, they encounter something far more mysterious and insidious, as the crew members fall victim to their worst fears -- each one more horrifying than the last. If any of them are survive the Galaxy of Terror, they must unlock the secrets of this deadly world. [review_bottom_line] => Give it A Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106586 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Leave it to Roger Corman to make an outrageously obvious 'Alien' rip-off into a bizarrely entertaining mix of moody sci-fi and shockingly gory horror. Though the plots are drastically different and stray into dissimilar themes, the atmosphere and design is near identical. It's no wonder years later James Cameron, the original production designer of this low-budget feature, later penned and directed the excellent follow-up to Ridley Scott's masterwork. Even the script about a space crew on a rescue mission tries to appeal to a viewer's more intellectual side by slowly turning into a psychological thriller. All things considered, 'Galaxy of Terror' is surprisingly amusing drive-in material, seen as Corman at his most grand and ambitious.

Sorry to say, when it comes to some of the worst of the worst, the movie tends to be listed in the top quarter for many. Often ranked in the same echelon with such disasters as 'The Crippled Masters,' 'Troll 2,' 'TNT Jackson,' 'The Sorceress,' and 'Great White' — another dupe of a horror classic, 'Jaws' — being graded so lowly is actually more like a badge of honor. It gives those with a curiosity for bad movies more of a reason to see it. Remembered not only for how funnily awful the movie is, it's garnered such a large cult following that it refuses to be forgotten, especially for one particular scene involving an overgrown worm and a curvaceous crewmember. Adding to the film's oddity is a cast and crew that later gained familiarity — some more notable than others.

Other than Cameron, Bill Paxton also played a small part in the set production and coincidentally worked with the "King of the World" on 'The Terminator' and 'Aliens.' Robert Englund is, of course, a prominent name in the horror genre as the immortal Freddy Krueger, and Grace Zabriskie eventually became the memorable Sarah Palmer on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks.' As for Sid Haig, his role as Quuhod with the crystal throwing-stars is arguably his standout performance. His recognizable character-actor face of 70s television and other B-movies, like 'Spider Baby,' 'Foxy Brown,' and 'Coffy,' is easy to point out for contemporary audiences as the energetic personality of the Rob Zombie movies.

Two cast members, however, arrived onto the set with a more respectable acting record, allowing for a bit of gravity to the movie's low-budget basis. Ray Walston, of 'My Favorite Martian' fame and eventually 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,' plays the ship's cook with crooked intentions wonderfully. There's something about his soothing voice and elderly characteristics that always makes him so believable and trustworthy. Part of the reason for even doing the role was his attempt to break free from being typecast as an alien. Erin Moran also took part in this strange movie as a drastic change to her famous Joanie Cunningham. Only, Chachi couldn't tag along for this adventure. Interestingly, Corman also produced Ron Howard's directorial debut, 'Grand Theft Auto,' three years earlier.

Trivia aside, 'Galaxy of Terror' is, in all seriousness, a really bad movie. On the other hand, Roger Corman's atmospheric classic is also a delightfully schlocky cesspool of cheesy gore and hilarious dialogue, particularly in the final confrontation. I like to think there's an art to knowing and appreciating bad cult films. And this less-than-modest sci-fi/horror flick is one which can weirdly be appreciated outside its trivial history. While the attempt to cash in on the popularity of Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is unmistakable, 'Galaxy' comes with a unique and elaborate style that reaches far beyond its limited budget, thanks in large part, if not all due, to James Cameron's technical input and set design. And with a script that actually tries to be smarter than its uglier parts, the film is strangely well-polished and loads of fun to watch.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Blu-ray edition of Roger Corman's 'Galaxy of Terror' comes courtesy of Shout! Factory on a Region A locked BD50 disc. It's housed in a standard blue keepcase and accompanied by an 11-page booklet, which features an interesting essay by Jovanka Vuckovic entitled "Marooned on the Planet of Horrors." There are no trailers to skip over at startup, and the disc goes straight to normal menu options while full motion clips play in the background.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15136 [review_video] =>

'Galaxy of Terror' is another cult movie with a sad, shoddy history in the home video market. For many years, it was only available on VHS and LaserDisc with little effort made to give this B-picture a nice scrub down to remove some of its uglier parts. (The 2004 DVD in Italy looked pretty bad as well.) But for this Blu-ray edition, releasing day-and-date with its DVD counterpart, it appears Shout! Factory has taken the time to dust off and clean up the film, because this really is the best the Roger Corman classic has ever looked.

Don't get me wrong, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) won't compare to better catalog titles with higher production value, but for a low-budget feature, the movie looks surprisingly good and free of compression artifacts. I did notice, once or twice, minor specks of dirt, but they're hardly a disruption to the video's enjoyment. The heavy grain structure remains intact, but it's consistent from beginning to end. Contrast is on the lower end of the grayscale although whites are clean and crisp. Blacks are about average, not that I expected any better, and shadow details range from decent to good for this type of movie. The color scheme isn't overly vibrant or dramatic, focused more on secondary hues, but the palette is cleanly rendered and stable. Flesh tones are healthy for the most part, yet they tend to be redder than normal. Considering its origins, the transfer is fairly sharp with appreciable fine object and textural details throughout. It may not look like much, but overall, 'Galaxy of Terror' makes a very nice Blu-ray debut, a strong improvement over previous versions.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15137 [review_audio] =>

As with the video, it appears Shout! Factory has also remastered the audio, because this 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is pretty darn impressive. While it has zero to offer in terms of rear activity, imaging exhibits plenty of action that spreads evenly across the soundstage. It may not be some of the cleanest dynamics I've heard from an older soundtrack, but the mid-range is surprisingly sharp and extensive. Everything is pretty much centered in the middle of the screen, yet strong fidelity details give the lossless mix an enjoyable presence that's somewhat spacious and welcoming. The center channel delivers clear, precise vocals so that fans can take pleasure in every cheese-infested line and the over-the-top acting of the cast. Previous versions may have been poor, but 'Galaxy of Terror' has never sounded as good as it does on this hi-rez track for Blu-ray.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15138 [review_supplements] =>

For this first-time U.S. release on DVD and Blu-ray, Shout! Factory brings 'Galaxy of Terror' with a large and extensive collection of supplements. And best of all . . . the material is all new, which is even more reason for fans to rejoice!

    Audio Commentary — For the commentary track, actress Taaffe O'Connell is joined by special makeup effects artists Allan Apone, prosthetics engineer Alec Gillis and moderated by production assistant David DeCoteau. Everyone in the group is very congenial and a pleasure to listen as each offers a great wealth of information on the movie's history. From their unique input on the production to on-set anecdotes, the conversation hardly lets down, and it's a great treat for fans everywhere.
    Movie Trivia Facts k—It looks like a simple white text on blue background which pops up from time to time, but this factoid track is quite enjoyable. It's mostly snippets on the movie's origins, little known details about the production, and even some quotes from cast and crew.
    "Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making of Galaxy of Terror" (HD, 63 min) — Taking up the biggest piece of the entire package is this terrific six-part documentary on making 'Galaxy of Terror.' Featuring numerous interviews with various members of the cast and crew, the doc starts with some background on Roger Corman and moves along into the movie's origins. Ultimately, the whole thing is incredibly exhaustive and in-depth, a must-watch for anyone interested in low-budget filmmaking. With clips from the movie interspersed throughout, the best segments are the talks on James Cameron's input, the special makeup effects, and the movie's reception and cult status from the viewpoint of those personally involved.
    Extensive Photo Galleries (HD, 3 min) — Broken into six segments, this offers a huge variety of production stills, posters, design sketches and behind-the-scenes photos, which are quite cool to look at if you're a fan.
    Original Screenplay — As the title implies, this is a PDF file copy of the original screenplay for computers with Blu-ray playback capabilities.
    Trailers (HD) — This collection of theatrical previews includes 'Humanoids from the Deep,' 'Piranha,' 'Forbidden World,' and two TV spots. For 'Galaxy of Terror,' there are three versions: English, German, and "Mind Warp."
[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15139 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Granted, Roger Corman's 'Galaxy of Terror' is, in all honesty, a bad movie. But, it's also a very well-made and elaborate bad movie, Corman's most ambitious film aimed to capitalize on the popularity of Ridley Scott's 'Alien.' Despite being categorized as one of the worst movies ever made, 'Galaxy' has the privilege of boasting the involvement of "King of the world" James Cameron. Part of its reputation, aside from seeing a woman violated by a maggot, comes from its moody, atmospheric style, unusual for a schlockfest. This Blu-ray edition is not one to show off the equipment, but the audio and video is a marked improvement, especially considering its low-budget origins. The first-time collection of supplements is the real highlight and worthwhile for fans of the movie. Everyone else will want to stick to a rental for a cheesy, gory night of fun.

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'Just Another Day' follows a day in the life A-Maze (Wood Harris, 'The Wire'), a rapper who is finding it more and more difficult to get his career back on track due to a feud with another rapper named B-Bone. We also meet a wannabe rapper named Young Eastie (Jamie Hector, 'The Wire') who is trying to make a name for himself in the crowded rapping world. The link between the two men is a manager by the name of Gary who manages A-Maze's career, but is also looking to sign new talent like Young Eastie to the new record label he's starting.

The story plays out over the course of a day, hence the title. Like most every other such drama, 'Just Another Day' shows the slums that these characters are living in and trying to claw their way out of. People are shot on a daily basis, kids are forced to sell drugs just to keep their families afloat, and each of them has a dream of making it out – like Young Eastie with his rapping – but, the ghetto keeps pulling them back in.

'Just Another Day' is shot documentary style with ultra-close ups and shaky camera work. Oddly, it works for such subject matter, giving the film a more gritty, life-like feel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ability of this direct-to-video feature to get me as involved as it did. I'll be the first to admit that much of the lingo spoken here flies completely over my head, but the characters are well rounded and surprisingly rich.

It's easy to feel for Eastie as he tries his hardest to crawl out of the desolate area he lives in. His mother grows increasingly disenchanted with him, he's forced to sling drugs just to pay for his rap demo tape, and when everything seems to be finally going his way the ghetto pops up and latches on without mercy.

On the other hand, A-Maze is fighting to deal with his descent into music world irrelevancy. Producers, photographers, people that make him money are growing tired of him and his prima donna antics. They pay lip service with happy smiles to his face, but the first chance they get they disown him. He's also got his greedy entourage to deal with, and doesn't have much time to listen to up and coming rappers like Young Eastie.

While 'Just Another Day' doesn't reinvent or redefine the ghetto struggle genre – this is no 'Menace II Society' – it is a somewhat striking portrayal of what can happen when the mindset is one of violence. The way it's filmed makes it a slightly more intimate experience. Director Peter Spirer, who has spent his career studying the rap scene with his series called 'Beef,' shows here that he knows what he's talking about.

This is a valiant effort at trying to portray some of the problems that face young black males in this country, especially those trying to make it into the rap scene. While the movie overall lacks an emotional core to truly get you invested, Spirer crafts a bleak landscape of violence that convincingly depicts just another day on the block.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15343 [review_video] =>

'Just Another Day' was shot on high definition video. The 1080p transfer, using the AVC encode, does justice to the original high definition source, but still comes away with quite a few problems.

Lighter colors, especially whites, burn way too hot, erasing any sort of fine detail that might be found on shirts, skies, or A-Maze's giant white Cadillac. At times, the video seems like you're watching a whitewashed version of something you know should look a lot better. Blacks suffer a similar fate, never becoming inky or providing any depth to the image. The end sequence where Young Eastie goes to meet A-Maze at his show is a hotbed for crushing, especially in the low lit parking lot. Colors range from not-so-great to dreary. Source noise is minimal, but crops up on occasion as blips and flecks on the screen.

Overall, for a low-budget movie like this it looks OK. It definitely looks better than that other gritty ghetto drama I reviewed a few weeks ago called '.'

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15344 [review_audio] =>

One area where 'Just Another Day' could have really shined, fizzles out pretty bad.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is full of bass-laden hip-hop music failed to register what should be expected of a soundtrack with so much thumping LFE. The music is focused in the front, hardly ever giving an ambient feel in the rear speakers, even during the concert scene. Bass is muted and never reaches its potential. This becomes frustrating as hip-hop song after hip-hop song bursts onto the scene with less of a roar and more of a whimper. Dialogue is another hampered aspect. A-Maze talks a lot in soft, gruff whispers that get lost somewhere in the nether regions of the sound field. He's extremely hard to hear, and you may find yourself rewinding it to pick up some of the stuff he says. Gun shots even sound underwhelming, giving off a canned pop instead of a loud bang.

Everything about this movie lent itself to some awesome audio potential, but it's been squandered big time.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Just Another Day Making Music (SD, 9 min.) – This is a fascinating little extra, especially if you're into rap music. It shows the behind-the-scenes on how the original rap music for the movie was created. I wish it would have been longer.
  • A Hip Hop Hustle: The Making of Just Another Day (SD, 10 min.) – Interviews, spliced in clips from the film, and behind-the-scenes footage. All the stuff we've come to expect from these types of extras without much time to explain anything of importance.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 min.) – Five deleted scenes are included, and once you watch them you'll realize exactly why they were cut.
  • Trailer (SD, 3 min.) – Oh, and you get the trailer too.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15345 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I wasn't expecting to like 'Just Another Day,' but I did. It isn't as great as something like 'Menace II Society,' but it's an interesting look into life in the ghetto, how the rap business is run, and what it takes to make it. For what 'Just Another Day' is, I enjoyed it. Too bad the video is bland and the audio isn't nearly what it could be. Add all that to a completely dry set of extras and this one is just a rental.

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Talk about feeling out of step with my critical brethren: on the same day that 'Mother' screened as part of the New York Film Festival last year, another movie ran right after. After 'Mother,' the crowd was mostly silent, but I had to pick my jaw up off the floor (it was sticky and coated in a weird resin - my jaw, not the floor). Out in the lobby, where we had to chill in-between movies, I was like "WHOA!" And my fellow critics gave the seesawing hand of indifference (one which I've been known to break out from time to time here). Then the second movie screened, which I thought was more or less amateur hour in Dixie, even though it had a strong emotional core and some fine performances. After the second movie the director joined us, and people were tripping over themselves with praise. I thought to myself: didn't you guys just see 'Mother?'

The second movie was 'Precious.'

But 'Mother!' 'Mother' is the masterpiece. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who had previously helmed the genius small town police procedural 'Memories of Murder' and monster movie 'The Host,' the film is a twisted and unique take on the detective story, and a kind of inverse of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho.' (That's if you want a box art-ready pull quote-y quote.

The film takes place in a small South Korean town. Do-joon (Won Bin) is a man in his late twenties but is slow (mentally). He lives alone with his mother, Hye-ja (Kim Hye-ja), and there are some suggestions that their relationship is incestuous, but Joon-ho, the cinematic trickster, never explicitly states anything. When a young girl is murdered, the local police finger Do-joon as the killer. And so, naturally, Hye-ja, a woman pushing senior citizen status, decides to clear her son's name. So the movie is a detective story, except instead of an urban setting it's a small South Korean town and instead of a grizzled detective, it's an elderly woman.

If you aren't sold yet, then there may not be hope for you.

The way the story unfolds is just brilliant, and far too juicy to ruin here, and Joon-ho, who is as much a genre prankster as he is a wonderful painter of human relationships, renders the bond between mother and son beautifully. Yes, it's creepy and weird, but in such a skilled filmmaker's hands it's also quite touching. When I spoke to Bong Joon-ho earlier this year, around the time of the film's theatrical release, he said that he made the movie specifically for Kim Hye-ja. She had played many mothers in Korean film and television, in warm, loving roles, and he wanted to play with her image, and take her to a darker, deeper place. He definitely succeeded.

'Mother,' like all great genre movies, plays with the hallmarks of the form. Besides the detective being played by an elderly woman, there are some really great flashes of gallows humor and there's an unlikely alliance formed between Hye-ja and a young hood (Jin Goo) who is friends with the incarcerated Do-joon. (He helps. For a price.)

And just as beautifully as the story is told, it's also shot with an impeccable eye. Seriously, this thing is just astounding looking. From a wonderful shot of Hye-ja tromping through the rain with a pivotal piece of evidence covered in plastic, to the fairly innocuous activity of retrieving golf balls from a local putting green, everything is just gorgeous. If only American movies this small could look this good. Instead, small budgeted American films are too often defined by their low grade look; crummy cinematography worn as a badge of honor.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I loved 'Mother.' It was my favorite movie at NYFF last year and probably my favorite movie to be released theatrically this year. It's just flat-out brilliant; a funny, thrilling, touching, unique crime story and one that stays with you long after the lights come up in the theater (or the Blu-ray disc stops spinning).

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB Blu-ray disc from Magnolia is Region "A" locked and BD-Live ready (although at the time of this writing there are no BD-Live features up yet). That's about all there is to talk about. Oh, except that there's a great movie on the disc! But I guess I already talked about that.

[review_video_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15244 [review_video] =>

This 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer (aspect ratio: 2.35:1) is really stunning.

Where it counts, it's all there: nice contrast; good skin tones; deep, dark blacks; with a nice layer of grain that creates a truly cinematic feel. There are also no buggy technical issues or evidence of that pesky Digital Noise Reduction.

But where this transfer really succeeds is in capturing the earthiness of Joon-ho's film (and Hong Kyung-pyo's cinematography). Even though the movie becomes very dark and scary at times, there's this kind of earthen warmth that the movie exudes, possibly as an extension of the mother/son relationship metaphor. Grain fields bristle in the wind, a stream of urine trickles like a babbling brook, and the final shot - good lord the final shot - will leave you absolutely breathless and full of hope.

I was worried that this transfer might fall short, and some online have claimed that it's slightly different than the South Korean Region-free Blu-ray, but I was impressed, dare I say amazed, by Magnolia's domestic release.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15245 [review_audio] =>

Equally impressive is the Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix. From the film's gorgeous opening shot of the mother standing in the middle of the field, a Spanish guitar slowly filling the soundtrack, you will know the power of this mix. It's not exactly going to wake up the neighbors, but it is a finely calibrated, wonderful mix none-the-less.

The movie is a mostly quiet one, with a lovely little score by Lee Byung-woo which twinkles in and out and sounds great here. There are some really great sound effects, though, that sound just dynamite here, like when mother chops this wheat-like herb, or when mother and son have a dinner of chicken, these sound effects are just beautifully realized. And the sound effect of the actual murder? Oof. You hear that one in your chest.

It's the perfect case of subtle atmospherics that make good use of the surround channels and effects that pop at just the right moment without ever being too loud or obtrusive. The dialogue is always crisp and clear, not that you'll know what they're saying, unless you speak Korean. Subtitles are provided, within the frame, in English, English SDH, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15246 [review_supplements] =>

The voluminous extras presented here are ported over from the South Korean release, except this time with subtitles! Yay! (And thank you Internet!) There are also a couple of features that are on the Blu-ray that aren't on the DVD, but both have the wonderful, feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary, so fret not.

  • Making of 'Mother' (SD, 1 hour and 30 minutes) Under the fairly innocuous name comes one of the most comprehensive and spellbinding behind-the-scenes documentaries I have seen in quite some time. Once you realize that you're going to be there for a long time, you ease into this nook-and-cranny peek at the making of this wonderful film. This is a must-watch.
  • Music Score (SD, 15:19) This is a nice little look at Lee Byung-woo, which adds to the gentle surrealism that the movie toys with. Honestly, any of these individual features are kind of redundant in the face of the giant documentary, but hey.
  • Supporting Actors (SD, 14:33) Again, a brief featurette about the supporting players in 'Mother.' It's pretty good, but like I said, if you watch the jumbo documentary, these are all pretty beside-the-point.
  • Cinematography (SD, 9:12) Same thing: interesting, thoughtful, if you're not going to invest the time in the behind-the-scenes documentary, this will do a great job in educating you about the movie's wonderful cinematography. But those of us hard enough to watch the entire shebang, there's not much here.
  • Production Design (SD, 11:48) Not to sound redundant, but if you watched the big documentary, then this is pretty redundant. If you didn't watch it, then this is a fine little doc.
  • Trailers There are two trailers here, marked International Trailer 1 (SD, 1:15) and International Trailer 2 (SD, 1:39). They are a little too opaque and easily the most skippable thing on the disc.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 2 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15247 [review_bonus_content] =>

Although not advertised as such, there are a couple of extras on this disc that aren't on the concurrent DVD release. The disc is also BD-Live equipped, but as of this writing were no additional features available. One thing that would have been aces had Magnolia decided to include it would be Bong Joon-ho's first feature, the dark comedy 'Barking Dogs Never Bite.' The studio is putting it out on DVD and it would have been a real treat if they had utilized the extra storage space to throw that baby on here. I'm sure hardcore Bong Joon-ho fans like myself would have gone berserk, even if it was in standard definition.

  • A Look at the Actress Hye-Ja (SD, 9:23) This is just what it says it is: a look at the actress that inspired Bong Joon-ho to do 'Mother.' This is a really nice feature and well worth your time.
  • Behind the Scenes (SD, 6:51) At less than seven minutes, this is entirely unnecessary even if you didn't watch the big long documentary. Skip.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Mother' is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. It's one of the most finely nuanced, emotionally acute, and thrilling mysteries in recent memory. Filled with fine performances and beautiful cinematography, it's a movie that will very literally haunt you long after the movie is over. I cannot recommend this movie enough. And this Blu-ray disc, with superb audio and video and great special features anchored by a feature-length documentary, is equally out-of-this-world. They could have dropped the ball with the high def presentation of this great movie but thankfully, they didn't. This is a must-own disc, all the way.

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In the futuristic action-thriller Repo Men, humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival.

Remy (Jude Law) is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake (Forest Whitaker), to track him down.

Now that the hunter has become the hunted, Remy joins Beth (Alice Braga), another debtor who teaches him how to vanish from the system. And as he and Jake embark on a chase across a landscape populated by maniacal friends and foes, one man will become a reluctant champion for thousands on the run.

[review_bottom_line] => Worth a Look [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106430 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

This film has been modified from its original version to include additional material not in the original release.

Correction: This film borrows sparingly from a more intelligent film, and suffers from excesses not found in its originator...and that's a scary thought, considering how high on excess that film was!

I won't lie...I wanted to take a cheap shot at 'Repo Men' from the minute I found out about it. Originality is hard to come by in modern cinema, so for any film to rehash the themes of 'Repo! The Genetic Opera,' only sans the singing, and turn it into a generic sci-fi action thriller, it just reinforces the cliche of Hollywood being out of ideas. Sure, it goes without mention that this film is adapted from 'The Repossession Mambo.' But, since said novel came out a full twelve years after the first stage iteration of the musical, it's hard to say that said author wasn't influenced by viewing or reading about the work of Darren Smith, Terrance Zdunich, and Darren Lynn Bousman.

That being said, no, I didn't hate this film as much as I feared I might, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sing its praises, either.

In the not-too-distant future, where characters don't get last names, technology reigns supreme, and organ transplants are no longer dependent on donors, The Union grants those with defective or failing body parts the chance to live life to the fullest, with new, improved robotic body parts. Of course, with amazingly high prices, these body parts are sold much like houses, with installment plans, and a 19.99% APR (brutal!). If you can't pay your debt, you may find that the repossession clause is a killer!

Remy (Jude Law) is the best at what he does. He's a Repo Man. When he isn't surgically removing body parts from delinquent accounts, he's trying to make up for his questionable career choice with his wife (Carice van Houten), and just live a normal life. His co-hort, Jake (Forest Whitaker), may very well be the personification of the little devil on one's shoulder, giving advice lacking in any moral integrity, as the two adrenaline junkies push each other to new heights in the business...until a job goes wrong, and Remy finds himself in the shoes of his former customers, the recipient of an implanted heart. Apparently new hearts come with a conscience, as Remy becomes incapable of doing the job he used to do so well, and soon finds himself as a candidate for repossession. His only chance is to stick it to the man (Liev Schreiber as Frank), and the many men above him at The Union, fighting back for all those he used to slaughter, regardless of if they had a spouse, or children.

It's somewhat ironic that a film that spends so much time discussing Schrödinger's cat is a perfect example of said paradox. Is it alive, or is it dead, just rotting in the box? It's all about ideas that don't quite come to fruition and don't have a clear answer, with few payoffs, just more twists and turns than an infinity sign. After a while, the whole point becomes moot, devolving from a thinking man's action thriller to your basic futuristic sci-fi trash romp, so overloaded in its excesses that it makes the 'Saw' films look reserved.

'Repo Men' is spoiled by problems far greater than its dubious timing. Its acting, for one, is damn near inexcusable. Sure, director Miguel Sapochnik has little experience working in film, let alone with "name" actors, but usually when this is the case, said talents just go into auto-drive, and steer themselves, making the rookie look like he knows what he's doing. This doesn't happen here, as Law is completely impossible to empathize with, Whitaker is beyond awful (think about post-'Jerry Maguire' Cuba Gooding, Jr. levels of effort, only lower), and Alice Braga, playing a repo man's dream job, due to her array of past due commissions residing in her flesh, hardly is given enough to work with, as a one dimensional character whose desires and personality change at/for the convenience of the script, but she doesn't make the un-winnable scenario any less painful. Even Schreiber, an underrated talent, is at less than "the top of his game."

The themes of redemption and re-entering humanity are all well and good, but in the midst of a story where said character just changes which side he kills for? Isn't that negating the entire point? In fact, the changes in Remy's demeanor once he's forced into having an implant heart hardly make a lick of sense, as this is a man who gleefully carved up victims, laughing about it, without a care in the world for those he leaves to die. Character change is best shown in progression, not just for no reason other than a life changing event. Wow, suddenly you're on the other side of the coin. How ironic...gee, haven't ever seen that before. The hunter becoming the hunted. Yawn.

For all its faults (the list goes on, and would make me seem like a scorned lover if I were to go on further), I have to give 'Repo Men' some credit. It isn't exactly an awful film. It actually could have been something if left in more competent hands, with a better eye for casting and a few changes of scenery. The violence found within this film is above and beyond that found in your average "unrated" horror film these days, and at times, it can be pretty damn awesome. In fact, the scene with the hacksaw may very well be the coolest use of an ordinary work tool since the lawnmower in 'Dead Alive,' or the hammer in 'Oldboy.' While the similarities to said films end there, 'Repo Men' is loaded to the brim with action and suspense, sometimes to the detriment of the story and pacing, so it's sure to at least entertain at times, even if it doesn't stimulate like it should. The ending is an unoriginal cop out if ever there was one, but all things considered, it could have been worse.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'Repo Men' is housed on a BD50 Dual Layer disc that is Region Free, housed in a standard (non-eco) keepcase. There were no forced trailers before the menu screen, though there is a user-prompt-required screen pre-menu, asking the user if they want to view the film in the theatrical (112 min) or uncut (120 min) version. It's entirely possible that some users may have their player load a trailer via BD-Live, as there were many load screens that brought about nothing. Hell, there might even be a trailer for 'Fast & Furious 10,' which is teased on billboards within the film.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15089 [review_video] =>

While I may have my concerns about the originality of the material, I have no concerns about the quality of the transfer provided 'Repo Men,' as Universal gives the film a flashy AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 2.35:1) encode.

Detail, detail, detail. There's a whole bunch of it...until there isn't. I absolutely love the attention given to flesh, with little bumps from hair follicles and other minute details being readily visible. But I do not love, one bit, the random blurry or soft shots mixed in, seemingly just to piss one off. Three dimensionality is no problem, as the film often leaps right off the screen, but backgrounds can seem lost at times. Edges are great, for the most part, but there are some moments with noticeable ringing that were a tad distracting. Skin tones, well, this isn't a section I'm going to give a compliment as they're tweaked more often than they're not. There's some aliasing to be found here and there, black levels that can seem too bright at times, a bit unnatural, and even a bit of moire to be found in a shirt being lifted in a scene near the finale. High on detail and clarity, but suffering from random hiccups, this transfer will please fans, as well as most viewers in general.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15090 [review_audio] =>

'Repo Men' arrives on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (with a few DTS dub tracks, and a descriptive audio track) that stands up well against other actioners, but falls short of the activity and perfection needed to be a true demo disc.

From the very opening scenes, 'Repo Men' is loud. Active, too. Bass is used with little reserve, while atmosphere and random discrete effects find their way into each and every speaker. Dialogue comes through with brute force, at times, wanting to make sure everyone in the room can hear what's being (literally) barked. High ends are enjoyable, though, seemingly by design, can come across a bit screechy. Movement isn't used sparingly, as gunfire, as well as vehicles, find their way through channels without a hitch. Directionality is spot on, and the film can truly sound immersive. That's all well and good, but when the slight rustling of clothing or a bedsheet can be so loud as to rival dialogue, something is a bit out of whack. Though only sporting only one true room-rattler, 'Repo Men' is a loud, loud film, and it comes off quite nice, actually. It would just be nice if there weren't moment when it felt like a hobo screaming in your face.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15091 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary - With Miguel Sapochnik, Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, on the unrated cut. This track isn't all too deep or engaging, as we get some puns about the Mambo songs used in the film (get it? Like the book name?), random jokes and references amongst the participants that induce giggle-bouts that are very one-sided, and discussion of themes that didn't quite make it to the film, that would have made the overall product much improved, at least in narrative scope. They talk about different cuts of the film, as well, but all in all, this is not a good track. At least they comment on how uniform Jude Law's hair and stubble are throughout the entire film, something that actually disturbed me throughout the entire film.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 8 min) - With optional commentary by the same trio who provided the commentary for the film. There are five axed segments, playable individually, or as a whole. We get some propaganda, senseless nudity, more military service, and a few extended bits that just show us more of the process the Repo Men go through when getting assigned their "jobs." All of the above adds little, if anything, to the film, so feel free to skip them entirely.
  • The Union Commercials (SD, 3 min) - Seven faux commercials for The Union, concerning implants and the people they affect. You know, the lives they "save." There are also some seriously odd commercials, concerning deodorant, mail order brides, and inappropriate soda ad. The future seems like a great place, based off all this. Or at least a place with a great sense of humor.
  • Inside the Visual Effects (HD, 6 min) - Check out the before and after green screen effects, with set extensions, replacement body parts, and scene additions, all with discussion from the same writing/directing trio, leaning towards annoying jokes that only they care about.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

It cannot be said that Universal put little effort into this release. In fact, they put damn near each and every one of their trinkets here. You can Bookmark your favorite scenes (through the My Scenes feature), get some rumble down under if your furniture is D-Box Motion Code enabled, you can control the disc through your iPhone with PocketBlu, and hop online with BD-Live, though the portal isn't yet live. The main menu is also enhanced with the Ticker that advertises other Universal releases (though as of press time, said Ticker was less than intelligent, and was more a nag, begging me to put my player online so that it could inundate me with trailers). All that, and there's still more!

  • U-Control - Available only through the theatrical cut of the film, there are two distinct options for this Universal branded track, neither of which is playable alongside the other. In the Picture in Picture option, we get some information the film just cannot portray, some good, some boring as hell. The PiP has a level of frequency that is a little on the light side, and that has a double meaning, as the audio default is incredibly soft, and is somewhat incoherent. If you are to play this track, be sure to go into the setup option and adjust PiP volume to high. In the Artiforg Tech Specs option, the meandering mess above is not an issue. This pop up may be one of the most advanced U-Control features to date, as we don't just get a screen concerning the organ and its details, but we get a menu for each that lets us choose what to learn about it, with the Features tab of each organ highlighting individual aspects of an organ as you scroll through it. Honestly, it's a bit dry after a while, kinda repetitive, but it's very well made, and deserving of all the applause I can give a U-Control track.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15092 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Watching someone get paid to cut out body parts is so much more fun when there's singing involved. There, I said it. 'Repo Men,' try as it may, just cannot shake the stigma that it's not all that original. It's a piecemeal film, made from the best parts of other films, jumbled together in a way that makes it all nonsense. Bloody, violent nonsense. Universal's Blu-ray release has very good video, great audio, and an acceptable pile of extras. It's worth a look, based on disc quality alone, but damn if it couldn't have been a better film, with a sharper, more experienced eye at the helm, and perhaps a few actors who actually cared about more than their paychecks.

) ) [10] => Array ( [review_id] => 3523 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => losers [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Losers [picture_created] => 1275064256 [picture_name] => losers.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/28/120/losers.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3523/losers.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 97 [list_price] => 35.99 [asin] => B003OCWF6I [amazon_price] => 24.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD/DVD/Digital Copy ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French Dolby Digital 5.1 [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, French, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Band of Buddies: Ops Training [1] => The Losers: Action-style Storytelling [2] => Deleted Scene [3] => Sneak peek - Batman: Under the Red Hood [4] => Zoë and the Losers ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Fantasy, Action ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Sylvain White ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => An elite Special forces unit is sent to the bolivian jungle on a search-and-destroy mission. But the team soon find that they have become the target of a deadly double cross instigated by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Making good use of the fact that they're now presumed dead, the group goes deep undercover in a dangerous plot to clear their names and even the score with Max. [review_bottom_line] => Rent It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106534 [review_movie_stars] => 2.5 [review_movie] =>

A group of super soldiers with a penchant for sarcasm is set up by a faceless government bureaucrat. No this isn't the big screen remake of 'The A-Team,' although a lot of the story mimics that movie, all the way down to a final battle down at the docks. No, this is the story of 'The Losers,' a rag-tag band of US soldiers who have been double-crossed by the very people they're working for. Based loosely on the comic book from DC comics, 'The Losers,' is brainless but a kind of fun.

Clay (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is the Hannibal of the group except with a lot less bravado (Ok I promise that was the last 'A-Team' reference. Credit to 'The Losers' it came out first). Clay is a more reserved type. The rest of the team is rounded out with a wise-cracking communication specialist Jensen (Chris Evans), the lovable sniper Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), professional transportation specialist Pooch (Columbus Short), and tactical coordinator Roque (Idris Elba).

Location: South America. Clay and his team have just "painted" a building to be bombed by the US military. That is until they see a group of kids enter the premises. Clay tries to call off the bombing, but an unfamiliar voice over the radio calling himself Max says the bombing is still a go. Without thinking, the team rushes headlong into the fray to rescue the kids. That's just the kind of guys they are. After their botched job, they learn in a gruesome way that Max is indeed trying to kill them. Now it's time for revenge.

Isn't that what these kind of movies always boil down to? Revenge and the clearing of ones name. Revenge movies can be done well, just look at the 'Kill Bill' films. 'The Losers' on the other hand makes it a little hard to care if they get their revenge. The writers do their best to make Max (Jason Patric) seem like the baddest bad guy alive, as they show him shoot a girl, who apparently was his assistant, just because she couldn't hold an umbrella still over Max's head. Frankly, it's tiresome watching goonish villains in movies nowadays. All they do is kill, kill, kill. I think back to Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds' and say, now there's a villain; a guy that knew how to strike fear into the hearts of the people around him, and in the viewers, without just killing people for mild amusement. Max is a villain you've seen a hundred times over in these types of espionage/action films. He's too cocky for his own good, he's surrounded by an infinite supply of goons, and he seems to have unlimited resources. He criss-crosses the globe hatching his diabolical plan which involves weapons called "Snukes." Bombs which essentially dematerialize everything around it. They test it on a remote island and it disappears like in 'Lost.' "All the destruction, none of the pollution," says Max. OK, I never though terrorists were interested in protecting the environment too, but being green is catching on I guess.

The villain is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the endgame. Sure Max is a douche, but he acts like a petulant child. In the end you're not really afraid that Max is going to dominate the world with his material-sucking bombs. It's hard to root for the good guys, when the bad guy really isn't all that threatening. I guess I just expect more from my villains. Col. Hans Landa would annihilate Max in a "Who's the most evil" contest and he wouldn't even need cute, pollution free bombs to prove his point.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15111 [review_video] =>

'The Losers' sports overblown contrast for a stylistic choice, but still… whew! Yes I realize they're trying to keep some of the same ultra-stylized image that the comic had, but after the umpteenth time of trying to stare at a person's face, which is burning hot white, it gets a little old.

The 1080p transfer is technically brilliant. I didn't see any artifacts (although in one cityscape fly over a multi-windowed building passes underneath, which has a slight bit of aliasing to note). Colors are super bright, almost to the point where regular greens and reds seem to take on almost a neon effect. There are plenty of camera filters used here to match the mood of any particular scene, blue filters for somber moments, red filters for more exciting moments. It's safe to say that 'The Losers' visuals are bursting with color at every turn, and the transfer certainly handles them well.

Fine detail, for the most part, is phenomenal. From Morgan's hero scruff to Zoe Saldana smooth unblemished skin, detail is definitely amped up. Every once in a while I caught a hint of DNR being applied to a few close-ups, but it seemed subjectively applied and never becomes a huge distraction. Like I mentioned above, skin tones waver a lot. If the actors are outside, due to the odd contrast choices, their faces appear flushed, bordering on pale. Again, it's a stylistic choice, but it doesn't necessarily make for a demo-quality transfer.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15112 [review_audio] =>

Now this is an action movie soundtrack! The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio presentation is something to rejoice about.

Explosions rumble deeply through the sub, with LFE constantly resonating throughout the movie. The rear channels produce a quality immersive listening experience whether it be in a crowded South America cock fight or a shoot out in a busy Miami street, the surround sound provides the listener with a fantastic array of ambient sound. Dialogue is very clear and concise, except for a few whispers that get lost in the commotion. Soft dialogue is especially a problem during the scene where Clay and Aisha are in bed together, talking softly. Other than the occasional whisper though, this dialogue prioritization is top-notch. Panning effects are another high point. Speeding hummers, whizzing bullets, swooping helicopters, they all travel around the sound field with ease and precision creating a very life-like presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15113 [review_supplements] =>
  • Zoe and the Losers (HD, 6 min.) – A group of the cast and crew including Zoe Saldana, director Sylvain White, and producer Akiva Goldsman come together to talk about Zoe's character Aisha.
  • Band of Buddies: Ops Training (HD, 16 minutes) - This feature was divided into three segments. The first segment is called "Walk the Ops Walk," which talked about people from the Special Forces and how they do their jobs. Second is "Transforming Puerto Rico," which covered the shooting of the film in Puerto Rico and the overall stylistic, music-video type look to 'The Losers.' The third segment is called "Going Deep Into the Action." Yes I giggled too when I saw that title. This talks about how many of the action scenes were inspired by video games. This isn't a surprise, and isn't a compliment to the movie either. Many of the action scenes are unintelligible, but White feels the need to tell us.
  • 'The Losers': Action-Style Storytelling (HD, 10 minutes) - Andy Diggle, who wrote the comic, and Jock, who was the artist talk, about how the comic went through the process of being adapted for the big screen, and how they always thought it was a cinematic-like comic to begin with.
  • Deleted Scene (HD, 1 minute) – This is more like an alternate, or extended ending, but it's really the first time where I think they should have left a scene like this in the movie. I'll say no more.
  • First Look: 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' (SD, 14 minutes) – Check out what 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' will be like. Or just read my Recommended review! Really, it's just an extended commercial. The sad part is, it's longer than most every other special feature on her.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15114 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I know quite a few people liked 'The Losers.' I just couldn't get into it, mainly because the villain isn't very believable or scary. He's selling pollution free weapons, come on, how scary can a guy like that be? White's stylistic choices grated on me as well. The entire movie is edited like a music video with loads of slo-mo, quick cuts, and moving staccato images. I guess it can be categorized in the "Dumb Action" section, but it didn't really even resonate with me on that level. The video presentation is nice, the audio is booming, but the special features leave a lot to be desired (no Maximum Movie Mode?). Rent it.

) ) [11] => Array ( [review_id] => 3318 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => theredshoes [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Red Shoes [picture_created] => 1271352427 [picture_name] => 5318b69b44fd1.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Criterion [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/15/120/5318b69b44fd1.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3318/theredshoes.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1948 [run_time] => 133 [list_price] => 39.95 [asin] => B003ICZW8C [amazon_price] => 27.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.33:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English LPCM Mono ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie, featuring interviews with stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and filmmaker Martin Scorsese [1] => Introductory restoration demonstration with Scorsese [2] => Profile of "The Red Shoes" (2000), a 25-minute documentary [3] => Video interview with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell's widow [4] => Gallery from Scorsese's collection of The Red Shoes memorabilia [5] => The "Red Shoes" Sketches, an animated film made from Hein Heckroth's painted storyboards [6] => Readings by actor Jeremy Irons of excerpts from Powell and Pressburger's novelization of The Red Shoes and the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale [7] => Theatrical trailer [8] => A booklet featuring an essay by Ian Christie ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, Romance, Music ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Moira Shearer ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => The Red Shoes, the singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor visual feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina romantically torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, now dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist. [review_bottom_line] => Must Own [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 116217 [review_movie_stars] => 5 [review_movie] =>

It says something that no less than three major motion pictures in 2010 directly referenced Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1948 film 'The Red Shoes.' In the circles of film fanatics, the movie is a fetish object – something to be obsessed about and replayed, over and over and over again – and it crops up from time to time in current films, but 2010 was some kind of banner year, with the winks and nods front and center.

In Martin Scorsese's 'Shutter Island,' there's a shot of a spiral staircase, and the camera movement (and the staircase itself) is a nod to a moment in 'The Red Shoes,' while two other films took less specific, but more thematic approaches. In both Edgar Wright's 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan,' the line between reality and fantasy is blurred in the same way that it is in 'The Red Shoes.' 'Scott Pilgrim's' takeaway is more impressionistic while 'Black Swan' seems more rooted in direct homage since it takes place in the world of ballet (and it shares some similar story beats and structural frameworks).

But what makes 'The Red Shoes' such a memorable cinematic artifact?

Well, for one thing, the film is drop-dead gorgeous. The tale of a ballerina (Moira Shearer) who lands the lead in a ballet version of Hans Christian Anderson's fable 'The Red Shoes' (about a pair of enchanted shoes that transform the wearer into an uncannily skilled dancer), it's a story of excess, fame, and psychological instability. (All chestnuts of Hollywood storytelling.) But what really makes it so striking is the photography by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. In 'The Red Shoes' colors don't just pop, they leap off the screen and into your lap.

It's more than just the look of the film, though, that has people coming back for more. (When it was recently booked for a limited engagement in New York's Film Forum there were lines around the block for virtually every screening.) No, it's so much more than that.

'The Red Shoes' is trickily meta-textual for its time, too, weaving both the Hans Christian Anderson story and the story of the tortured and ultimately undone ballerina together in a way that is compelling and cutting edge while never being show-offy. The way the elements of the story are braided together – the on stage magic (uncannily brought to life with the most rudimentary and effective special effects tools) with the heartbreaking behind-the-scenes melodrama, which involves a love triangle with the ballet company's overseer (Anton Walbrook) and the newly installed conductor (Marius Goring) – is downright brilliant and the way that the two layers of reality breakdown as the film progresses is nothing short of jaw dropping. It helps, too, that the music is so compelling, with Brian Easdale's music serving as a sturdy backbone to both planes of existence.

The movie doesn't merely resonate because it looks so damn amazing, but because thematically it still manages to impress and dazzle. Powell and Pressburger (know as The Archers) made a number of noteworthy films during their career, but 'The Red Shoes' is an especially spectacular accomplishment. One of the film's many themes is the idea of immortality through art. And you know what? They accomplished it. Just ask Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, and Edgar Wright.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'The Red Shoes' dances onto high definition courtesy of the good folks at the Criterion Collection. An earlier edition of the movie had been a staple of the collection (which explains the low spine number - #44), but this is a jazzy new version, complete with new supplements. The movie and its special features are housed on a 50GB Blu-ray disc and everything that's on the disc here is also available on the DVD package. It's housed in an extra-chunky Criterion box and is Region A locked.

[review_video_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_video] =>

'The Red Shoes' comes equipped with an 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (maintaining the original 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio) that does nothing short of make your eyes pop out of your skull.

As you'll see elsewhere on the disc, a lot of care and attention has gone into the restoration of the movie's image, and according to the accompanying booklet: "This new high-definition digital master was created from the 2009 4K digital restoration made from the original Technicolor negatives and optical tracks."

In short: it's one of the greatest transfers available on Blu-ray. The transfer shouldn't be based on realism, since there are such fantastical elements of the story in play, but skin tones generally look great, while colors zoom off the screen, detail is unbeatable, and the entire presentation shimmers like a new penny.

This is a noticeable upgrade from the original release, with the image looking deeper, richer, and more glorious. The image looks sparkly clean, too, with many imperfections painstakingly removed but without (thankfully) the impression that it was scrubbed too clean – it looks presentably filmic and absolutely amazing.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio] =>

There is only one audio option on 'The Red Shoes,' an English LPCM Mono track (with optional subtitles). While not as drop-your-soda shocking as the video transfer, the audio is pretty outstanding as well.

You're not going to get a whole lot of range out of a mono track, but for the most part, it sounds great – you can hear all the dialogue with a sharp crispness, the music fills out fairly well, and the sound effects and other embellishments are sparkly too. But the real asset of the audio track is how CLEAN everything sounds – there isn't any foggy background hiss, or pops or crackle or anything like that.

Those of us that had the original release will notice a big improvement over the previous edition; things just sound richer and more dynamic. And that's enough for me.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

The extras package on this disc is a winning combination of old material from the original Criterion release and brand new supplements. It's more or less the definitive package on the film and in addition does a fascinating job of explaining how the movie was painstakingly restored. The booklet contains an essay from film critic David Ehrenstein called "Dancing For Your Life."

  • Audio Commentary The commentary here, a holdover from the original release, is a must-listen and, if you choose only one extra to indulge in, it should be this one! Participants in the track are film historian Ian Christie, stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, the aforementioned genius cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and some dude named Martin Scorsese (who pops up frequently on this disc). Virtually every angle that the film can be viewed from – as a participant, performer, passionate fan – is explored, beautifully.
  • The 'Red Shoes' Novel Another OG special feature, this time it's an audio recording that the Criterion Collection commissioned in which the velvety voiced Jeremy Irons reads excerpts from the Archers' 1978 novelization of the movie. You can even watch the movie with the audio recording going on. Outstanding.
  • Restoration Demonstration (HD, 5 minutes) In this brief documentary, Scorsese, who was instrumental in getting the film restored (and having that restoration seen), explains the process in which the film was cleaned up. In short, the film was shot using a tri-color strip film so the film had to be restored three times, with each color being cleaned up individually and then composited. It was grueling work, for sure, but it paid off. Big time.
  • Profile of the Red Shoes (27 minutes, HD) This good but not exactly extensive documentary, produced in England in 2000, features interviews with historian Ian Christie, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, camera operator Chris Challis, and family members of various members of the movie's creative team. Overall, it's gripping but there is still stuff left to be explored – thank heavens for that commentary track!
  • Thelma Schoonmaker Powell (15 minutes, HD) Michael Powell's widow is Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's long time editor and close collaborator. She talks about her relationship with one half of The Archers, the reference hidden within 'Shutter Island,' what it took to restore the film, and what they're working on restoring next ('Colonel Blimp').
  • Stills Gallery Broken down into a few sections – Cast and Crew; Filming in London; Filming in Paris; Filming in Monte Carlo; Deleted Scenes (black-and-white); Production and costume designs. Worth flicking through.
  • Scorsese's Memorabilia If you don't scream "Me wanty!" at least once during this gallery, then you aren't a real movie geek. Scorsese has tons of stuff – not after-the-fact promotional stuff, either (although he does have that) but things that were actually IN the movie – including the actual red shoes! It's gotten to the point where his famous friends know to give him 'Red Shoes'-related material as presents. A must-watch.
  • The Red Shoes Sketches (HD, 16 minutes) One of the coolest special features, this is a little animated montage based on production designer Hein Heckroth's original color storyboards. It's set to Brian Easdale's score but you can also watch it with Irons' gooey reading of the original fairy tale, or side-by-side with the film. Like everything else on this disc, it's crazy awesome and a loving testament to the power of the original film.
  • Trailer (HD, 3 minutes) The original trailer, which sells the spectacular aspects of the film but not its subversive elements (of course). Fun but not necessarily a must-watch.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD Exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 'The Red Shoes' is an undeniable classic beloved by film fans (and filmmakers) the world over – a tale of passion, love, and madness set against a truly theatrical backdrop. But it's not just a visual spectacle but an emotional one, too. Criterion, using a newly minted print of the film, has put together a dynamite package worthy of the amazing film – from the pristine visuals and audio to the fine collection of extra features, many of them shared with the original release but all of them worth watching. This is a Must Own if there's ever been one.

) ) [12] => Array ( [review_id] => 3529 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => runaways [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Runaways [picture_created] => 1275415885 [picture_name] => runaways.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/01/120/runaways.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3529/runaways.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 106 [list_price] => 34.95 [asin] => B0034G4P76 [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => movieIQ(tm)+sync featuring "The Runaways" Playlist ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English 5.1 DTS-HD MA ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning [1] => Plugged In: Making the Film [2] => The Runaways Featurette ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, History, Music ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Floria Sigismondi ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the music-fueled coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all-girl rock band, The Runaways. They fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, Pearl Harbor), who turns the rebellious Southern California kids into a rock group with outrageous success. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the band's pure rock n' roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten. [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106424 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Focusing on rock goddesses, Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) 'The Runaways' chronicles the rise and fall of the band that made history as an all girl rock band. The rise to stardom, as it does with so many performers, takes a heavy toll on the girls. Drugs, booze, and sex all become commonplace for girls who are barely old enough to drive. Yet, 'The Runaways' shines through with some solid performances and a story of pubescent, angst-ridden girls run amok.

I first saw 'The Runaways' when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The director, Floria Sigismondi, was in attendance and got up at the end to answer a few questions. She commented that the most interesting part of shooting the movie was the fact that Dakota Fanning was the exact same age, at filming time, that Cherie Currie was when 'The Runaways' hit it big. This is both disturbing and fascinating. Fanning seems to be taking on darker, more adult roles before she's actually considered an adult. She writhes around on stage wearing nothing more than a corset and panties, and you can't help but think to yourself, no wonder 'The Runaways' were big.

As the girls rose to fame, much of the attention was paid to Currie as the sexpot, Bridget Bardot lookalike, which caused rifts in the band. Jett, always about the music got angry and resentful that more attention was being paid to the sexy aspects of what they were doing and not to the music. Unfortunately, I'm not up to date on every piece of rock 'n roll history, so I'm going to have to take the movie at its word that this is indeed what finally broke them up. While 'The Runaways' follows the common storyline of a band's meteoric rise to stardom, their subsequent drug use, and fall from grace due to inflated egos, it's interesting to note how young these girls really were. All the drugs and booze that comes along with rock music buries its share of adult rockers, it's hard to imagine the gravity of the situation facing these girls.

It's true that this story only focuses on Jett and Currie, and doesn't really dive into the lives of the other members of the band. In the same Sundance screening we were informed by the director that they were unable to attain the rights to the stories of the other girls in the band.

On the filmmaking front, I feel Sigismondi takes the movie too far into the nether regions of weird camera angles and strange filters just to give it that "indie" feel, when more focus could have been turned to the inner struggles of the leads. When it comes to assembling the soundtrack however, she excels. This film is rockin' with a variety of thumping 70s rock music.

The performances here are great. Stewart – yes she's still playing a brooding teenager – shows some deep emotional range. She's not that softy love stricken girl she plays in the 'Twilight' movies. Her Joan Jett would rip Edward to pieces. She puts on a hard-nosed edge that hasn't been seen in her acting repertoire until now. Fanning plays a coked-out teenage rock star as well as any teenage girl could. It's hard watching her in some of the grittier scenes showing her constant drug use, but she makes it believable. And finally, Michael Shannon, as music producer Kim Fowley, gives one of the most underrated performances of the year. He's one of those guys that either doesn't think before he speaks or just says what everyone else is actually thinking. He's bouncing-off-the-walls insane, but his constant commentary on why people are going to like The Runaways is sad but true. Quoting Kim Fowley "Jail - f****** - bait. Jack - f****** -pot!"

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15080 [review_video] =>

True to the film's theatrical presentation, Sony's 1080p presentation of 'The Runaways' is as gritty as I remember it being when I saw it at Sundance. I recall Sigismondi saying that she wanted a grimier look for the movie because it reminded her of the 70s. In order to create the look she wanted the director filmed with 16 mm film. While the transfer lives up to what the director envisioned and what it looked like during its theatrical run, this is still a disc that wouldn't be great demo material.

Due to the gritty look of the film, blacks are less defined and fine detail is somewhat lost. Filmic grain is heavy throughout the movie, more so during darker scenes. The transfer does handle colors quite well. Reds pop and skin tones are natural looking (even though after Fanning begins her coke phase her skin is anything but normal looking).

Overall, this is a solid transfer of difficult material, but this certainly isn't a film that will blow you away with its picture quality.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15081 [review_audio] =>

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is one you would expect to burst forth with into a sonic wonderland of rock, and while there are plenty of rock songs thumping around during the film, there are times during the band's practices where higher notes seem to screech. Whether this is the old-time equipment they're using, or an actual quirk with the soundtrack, I don't know. But there are definitely a couple scenes where higher notes are accompanied by a slight static noise. In contrast, during the concerts the vocals burst through, filling the room with a cacophony of lyrical rock.

Dialogue can be a problem. It's very soft, and in relation to the music, the mix seems all wrong when it comes to prioritization. Ambient noise is nicely done, with crowded concerts and band soundchecks echoing through the rear channels. LFE is a bright spot, as it keeps rumbling along with the music as the bass is strummed and the drums pound away. Barring the static noise that affects the soundtrack when the band is practicing, this soundtrack sounds pretty good. When they're on stage and the music takes over it's exactly what should be expected of a movie featuring so many well-known 70s rock songs, it's just in the softer, less rocking areas that things get a little tricky. Overall, this is still a solid audio presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15082 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary – The real Joan Jett joins Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in a lively commentary. It's a shame that we don't also get the thoughts of the director and the technicalities on how things were shot and why such and such camera angle was chosen. Jett, Fanning and Stewart have great chemistry though, and make this commentary worth listening to. Especially if you're a fan of Jett, who totally embraced this movie from start to finish.
  • Plugged In: Making the Film (HD, 15 min.) – With behind-the-scenes footage of Fanning strutting her stuff in knee high leg stockings and panties, cast and crew are interviewed. The most fascinating stuff comes from real-life Currie who talks about how she had never sung professionally in her life and then was basically thrown on stage. It does have a feeling of EPK at times, but the history given by Currie about the real band is the reason to watch this featurette.
  • The Runaways (HD, 2 min.) – This is pure promo material. Very clip heavy, it just splices together the same interviews you saw in the more extensive making of.
  • Trailers - 'Chloe,' 'Youth in Revolt,' 'The Square,' 'The Bounty Hunter,' 'Harry Brown,' 'The Pillars of the Earth,' 'Get Low.'

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15083 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • Movie IQ - 'The Runaways' features Sony's movie IQ which brings up information regarding what's happening on screen. Here you'll get information on the musical choices, information on the actresses, and fun trivia throughout the movie.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15084 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I liked 'The Runaways' when I first saw it at Sundance, and after a second viewing my opinion hasn't changed. It's a grim tale about the rise and fall of a teenage girl band that really was doomed from the beginning. This is one of the most rocking musical soundtracks for a recent film. Besides the few static moments heard during their practices, as well as a few areas of soft dialogue, the concert scenes sound great! The video, which adheres to the director's intent, but isn't something you'll throw in your Blu-ray player to show off what high-definition can do. The special features go for quality over quantity, and the commentary and making of are more than worthy of your attention. Overall, 'The Runaways' comes recommended.

) ) [13] => Array ( [review_id] => 3359 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => tinman [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Tin Man [picture_created] => 1272651714 [picture_name] => 5318b6bbaed29.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Vivendi [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/30/120/5318b6bbaed29.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3359/tinman.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 263 [list_price] => 19.97 [asin] => B003G715Q2 [amazon_price] => 19.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 2 50GB Blu-ray Discs ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => None ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: The Making of 'Tin Man' [1] => Nick Willing: On Set with the Director [2] => Wizard Tricks: Gag Reel [3] => The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie: Interviews [4] => Raw and Uncut: A Sitdown With Raoul Trujillo: Interview [5] => Making the Mystic Man [6] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => TV, Fantasy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Zooey Deschanel, Richard Dreyfuss, Alan Cumming, Neil McDonough ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => In this cyber-twisted update of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a leather-clad, soul-sucking sorceress named Azkadellia has scorched the once-beautiful O.Z. into a desolate wasteland. Its only hope is with an "outsider" named DG, a young Midwestern woman, whose troubling dreams have summoned her to the doomed paradise. She not only changes the fate of the O.Z. but also discovers her own destiny in this strange new world. [review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106603 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

I'm happy to say that the SyFy Channel's mini-series 'Tin Man' is one of, if not the best things they've produced. I just got done reviewing 'Riverworld,' a while ago I also reviewed SyFy's reimaging of the Alice in Wonderland story called 'Alice,' and 'Tin Man' blows both of those productions out of the collective SyFy mini-series water. What makes 'Tin Man' so engaging and much better than those other original mini-series? The acting.

Many of these original productions suffer from bland performances. One of the reasons it's so easy to continue watching the lengthy 'Tin Man' is because of Zooey Deschanel ('(500) Days of Summer'). Personally, I could watch Zooey for any amount of time (I admit I've got a crush on her, so what!). Here she's her same goofy, cute self, which goes a long way towards selling the series as a whole. In this re-imagining of the 'Wizard of Oz' story, she plays the part of D.G. (Dorothy Gale),who is transported to the land of OZ (or as the locals pronounce it, "The Oh. Zee"). D.G. is soon thrust into the middle of a battle between good and evil as the cruel sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) rules the land with an iron fist, squashing all those who oppose her.

D.G. soon finds out that she may be more entwined with this strange world than she had ever thought. The twist of how the world of OZ has been shaped is an interesting one. This is far from the story of the Judy Garland classic, but it's clever in its own right. The evil sorceress Azkadellia has imprisoned her mother, and is hell-bent on destroying the entire land of OZ. D.G. doesn't know it yet, but she's come to stop her from completing that task.

Mini-series regular Alan Cummings ('Riverworld') appears here as the updated version of the Scarecrow, his name is Glitch on account of the fact that he's missing half his brain (sound familiar?). Neal McDonough ('Traitor') arrives on the scene as Wyatt Cain. Early in his life, Wyatt was known as a Tin Man, the law enforcement of OZ before the sorceress took over.

While much of the series is full of hokey looking special effects and some terribly rendered green screen shots, this is all is so engrossing that it's easy to look past them. It doesn't feel overly cheesy like 'Riverworld,' or that it's trying too hard like 'Alice.' Zooey, McDonough, and Cummings all do a fantastic job creating a believable world. Throw in a few scenes from a truly bizarre Richard Dreyfuss, and you've got yourself a very nice cast of seasoned actors who make watching a low-budget mini-series enjoyable.

Even though 'Tin Man' clocks in at a whopping 260-plus minutes, the running time doesn't feel that long. It's a story that's as easy to get lost in as Zooey Deschanel's bright blue eyes. The 'Tin Man' isn't the best thing you'll see all year, but it might just be the best mini-series from the SyFy channel available on Blu-ray.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Blu-ray version of 'Tin Man' is dubbed a 2-Disc Collector's Edition. The two discs are indeed two 50GB Blu-ray discs. It still comes in a standard Blu-ray green-friendly keepcase with the recycle arrows on the inside, making it a flimsy case for a "Collector's Edition."

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15119 [review_video] =>

Vivendi's 1080p presentation of 'Tin Man' isn't something to get excited about.

There are moments of brilliant clarity and lush color, but when things in OZ turn dark all bets are off. Much, if not all of this series must have been filmed with a diffuse filter giving the image a more dream-like quality. This creates a soft haloing effect around people, while this isn't a technical problem, sometimes the technique can zap detail, and also create a ghost-like double image. For example, the golden shoulder pieces on Azkadellia's dress often times have a double image reflection. Since the entire series has a softer focus, this is the intended effect.

When darkness falls on the land, or when the characters enter a darkened building interior, the transfer really falls apart. Maybe it's the soft focus being used, or maybe the transfer just isn't up to snuff, but blacks are frustrating too look at. Blacks take on a grayish, flat-looking effect that sucks out fine detail. Characters, details, and just about everything else are lost in amorphous black blobs, blending into the background whenever the lights get dimmer. In lower light, all colors become flat and uninteresting. When comparing daylight scenes to darker scenes it's a world of difference. Daytime scenes are full of color, lush greens and deep blues, but as soon as the light fades, colors take on a metallic looking effect that strains the eyes.

High definition isn't kind at all to the cheap special effects that populate the series. From the computer generated flying bats to the obvious green screen backdrops (like the inside of the Ice Palace), the special effects here look like they came from the discount package. This is no fault of the transfer, but they can't go without mention. Overall, you really can't expect much from a low-budget SyFy production, but seriously much of the darkly lit material here is so frustrating it gets harder and harder to watch as the series progresses.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15120 [review_audio] =>

'Tin Man' is accompanied by a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio presentation that is just about as lackluster as its video counterpart.

First the pros, dialogue is always front and center, always clear, even during whispered tones. I was thankful for that, since this is a very talkative series. Ambient sound is present, although not as lively as one would expect, during scenes where the characters are walking through dense forests or a dried up orchard. In the orchard area they are attacked by dog-like creatures that are given some good, albeit subdued, sound effects as they attack from every side.

The musical score isn't given much room in which to breath, however. It's kept front and center, sounds flat, and isn't ported to the rear speakers to give it that encompassing effect. While dialogue is clearly perceivable it still gives off a slight canned sound. It's just not as full-bodied as one would hope for on a Blu-ray release o a newer series. Overall, the sound on Vivendi's release of 'Tin Man' may be slightly above average, but not much. It just doesn't pack that wallop you'd expect to hear, especially from an action/adventure show.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15121 [review_supplements] =>
  • Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: The Making of 'Tin Man' (SD, 22 min.) – A few behind-the-scenes snippets, interviews with the cast and crew. Just your standard promotional special feature.
  • Nick Willing: On Set with the Director (SD, 6 min.) – Willing talks about he approached the reimagining of such a classic story and how they were able to pull it all off.
  • Wizard Tricks: Gag Reel (SD, 9 min.) – Just standard gag reel stuff here, where actors start laughing, but they really haven't shown you why.
  • The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie (SD, 70 min.) – A nice collection of in depth interviews with the main members of the cast. All the main actors and the director are featured here with interviews on what they thought about the project, the intricacies of it all, and how they put their own spin on such classic characters. The most memorable feature of the bunch in my opinion.
  • Raw and Uncut: A Sitdown With Raoul Trujillo (SD, 16 min.) – Raoul Truijillo, who plays Raw, is given his own interview segment. I was perplexed at why they didn't just put this in "The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie" segment, because it's exactly the same as those interviews. Maybe just to look like there are more special feature selections than what's really here.
  • Making the Mystic Man (SD, 37 min.) – The featurette shows exactly how they put together the Mystic Man scene and gives you some insight as to what goes into moviemaking. Pretty interesting for those of you who want to know just how much goes into creating a film and its world.
  • Trailer (SD, 3 min.) – The original promotional trailer is included.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15122 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Yes, I do think this is one of the best things that the SyFy Channel has produced. They were able to assemble a strong cast, headlined by Deschanel and buoyed up by experienced actors Cummings and McDonough, and they're really what make this material believable and entertaining. Unfortunately, even though this Blu-ray is quite the upgrade from the previous DVD release, it doesn't fare all that well. The video can be striking at times, but when night falls, crushing commences. Sound doesn't get off too easy either, never entering the world of enveloping sound. The special features are all in standard definition, which is annoying. Overall, I'd say this is a rental at best. I liked it the first time through, but even though Deschanel usually keeps me coming back for more with most of her stuff, I just don't see myself revisiting the show again. It's plenty good the first time around though.

) ) ) [reviews_hot] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3202 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => cats&dogs [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Cats & Dogs [picture_created] => 1269351319 [picture_name] => cats.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/03/23/120/cats.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3202/cats%26dogs.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2001 [run_time] => 87 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003DVB7DM [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Commentary by actor Sean Hayes, director Lawrence Guterman, producer Chris DeFaria and production designer James Bissell [1] => HBO First Look: Cats & Dogs [2] => Teaching a New Dog New Tricks [3] => Mr. Tinkles Audition Tape [4] => Dogs Rule [5] => Mr. Tinkles Speech [6] => Storyboard comparisons [7] => Concept sketches ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Family, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Lawrence Guterman ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

They're cunning. They're stealthy. They're waging a top-secret, ultra-high-tech struggle for global domination right under our noses. They're...Cats & Dogs!

Witness this epic "tail" of what happens when an eccentric professor (Jeff Goldblum) makes a discovery that could tip the ago-old balance of pet power. Now, an inexperienced young beagle pup named Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire) is about to begin the ultimate mission im-paws-ible: to save humanity from a total cat-tastrophe! Featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jon Lovitz, Charlton Heston and Sean Hayes.

[review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3440 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => copout [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Cop Out: Rock Out with Your Glock Out Edition [picture_created] => 1273769279 [picture_name] => cop-out.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/13/120/cop-out.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3440/copout.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 107 [list_price] => 35.99 [asin] => B002ZG970G [amazon_price] => 24.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Maximum Comedy Mode with Kevin Smith and Seann William Scott [1] => Focus Points [2] => Picture-in-picture commentary by Smith and Scott [3] => Over 40 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes [4] => Factoids and trivia about making the movie and the buddy cop films that inspired it [5] => BD-Live [6] => DVD/Digital Copy disc ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD/DVD/Digital Copy [1] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 [1] => French Dolby Digital 5.1 [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 [3] => Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, French, Spanish ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Kevin Smith ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Action star Bruce Willis and ace comic Tracy Morgan play bickering-but-got-your-back Brooklyn buddy cops. Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) directs the gritty, goofball goings-on as the guys hunt for a stolen 1952 mint-condition baseball card, a hunt plunging them into a gunslinging war with a deadly drug ring. Batter up, fans. The boys are ready to take you out to the ol’ brawl game! [review_bottom_line] => Worth a Look [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106517 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

Too fat to fly.

It seems in recent years, right before a film opens, the director or stars of a film will get involved in some sort of random fiasco, almost like they want to get their names in the news. It seems they never make incredibly stupid comments, come out of the closet, or get into a back-and-forth feud with a co-worker unless a movie they made is about to hit theaters within a two week window. Perhaps its the easiest, cheapest publicity that can be had, the ol' media outlet, and maybe even the smartest, considering this nation's obsession with celebrities and their random missteps.

Kevin Smith most certainly personified this theory of mine with his most recent effort, 'Cop Out.' Smith seems to love being the center of attention, and he went all out on this one. First, there was the whole incident about being bumped from a flight due to his excessive bulk. That wouldn't have been an issue at all, really, if it weren't for his tweeting about it for days afterwards, drawing attention to himself. Suddenly, his name was in the news, and it wasn't for making a celebrated film. Soon after, most all of the major film critics panned the film, drawing Smith's ire, yet Smith's fans enjoyed the film (and we're sure that they gave an unbiased opinion of the film), bringing out the hypocrite in Smith. Suddenly, Smith felt as though critics should pay to see films, and felt that audience reviews were more important and valid to the worth of a film (and I'm willing to bet he wouldn't say fans shouldn't have to pay!).

This all coming from the very same Smith who absolutely ate up every bit of positive critical mention he could get in the past, riding on the praise for 'Clerks' and 'Chasing Amy' to make a name for himself. The very same Smith who filled in for Roger Ebert for a short stint of film reviews. The very same Smith who, for the first time in his career, topped $40 million in domestic box office take with 'Cop Out,' another first for the filmmaker: the first time he directed a film he didn't write. Mission: accomplished. Become attention whore, get money. Worked for Paris Hilton, and thank god Smith didn't do a low-light home video porno to get said attention.

Brooklyn detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) wants to show his daughter (and prove to his ex-wife and her new husband) that he can cover her lavish wedding, and be there for her in that way. But when he and his longtime partner Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) get suspended without pay, it seems the only way Jimmy can fund the affair would be to sell his rare mint condition 1952 Topps Andy Pafko baseball card. When said card is stolen out from under Jimmy by a petty criminal (Seann William Scott), the duo embark on a personal vendetta, to catch the thief, and get the card back, by any means possible...even if that means dealing with the baseball obsessed drug dealer (Guillermo Diaz from 'Weeds') who bought it off the thief.

Originally titled 'A Couple of Dicks,' 'Cop Out' doesn't exactly seem to try all that hard to create an interesting, funny film, the one and only thing that past Smith films all had in common. In fact, 'Cop Out' seems to embody the very phase that Smith became known for in his personal life: too fat to fly. Running an overly long 107 minutes, there are numerous scenes and side-stories that could have been axed to create a thinner, more accessible, viable film. In short, a movie capable of taking off.

Of course, the baseball card and family marriage plot had to stay, as they're the basis of the story. The rest can be called into question, one piece at a time. The "Shit Bandit," as Scott's character is described in the extras, adds absolutely nothing to the story, besides the ability to make more poop jokes. Couldn't just any criminal steal the card? Why drag in Poh Boy, a third rate, underdeveloped character? Then there's the subplot concerning Paul and his wife (the lovely Rashida Jones of 'Parks and Recreation'), with his suspicions of her infidelity. The only times she appears are in scenes to set up said subplot, and nothing else, so we could axe that section of the film, also, save for the fact that we need something to make Paul more than just a big mouthed buffoon, a one note character.

Poh Boy's gang gets far too much attention, with their various misdeeds and screw ups, causing their demises, but after the first inter-gang execution, we, the audience, get the point that they're expendable. Throw in a competing pair of detectives (Adam Brody and a very subdued Kevin Pollak), a kidnapped Mexican who holds a deep secret (Ana de la Reguera), a grade school car thief, and perhaps the worst performance of Smith favorite Jason Lee's career, and the fat starts to spill over into the other theater aisles.

Even with the excessive weight, 'Cop Out' hardly maintains a tone, as the jokes miss far more often than they hit, and the action section of this action-comedy is incredibly weak. In the extras for this release, we see how much improvisation was used on set, and while it usually goes too far in each scene, said on-the-spot comedy is much more fresh and polished, even made up, than what shows up in the script and the final product.

For all my criticisms, I will admit 'Cop Out' does have a few redeeming qualities. I've never been a fan of Morgan, but he truly has great timing in this film, and is by far the most likable character. We also get a few scenes where we can stare at how amazing Michelle Trachtenberg (remember 'Harriet the Spy?') has grown up to be, and there are a few fun moments between Morgan and both de la Reguera and Jones. Better yet, Smith only has the one View Askewniverse alum drawing attention away from the film (not even his wife!), a real first, and New Jersey really isn't in the equation whatsoever. Fans of Smith's work may be happy to see Dave Klein again serving as DP (not the kind discussed in the film), but may be bummed to discover longtime producer Scott Mosier had no involvement whatsoever.

Smith needs to grow up. As a person, capable of receiving criticism for the work he does (and the criticism he levies on others, as well), and as a filmmaker. At only 40 years old, Smith has plenty of time to refine his abilities, and come through with another critical darling, that fans will surely eat up, as they do all his films. But catering to and appealing to the same audience over and over is not success. That's fan service. 'Cop Out' may be his biggest film to date, and it is the first time Smith has really ventured away from his stable of actor friends, but much like Southwest Air did, Kevin Smith needs to eject the extra (cinematic) weight he's carrying, and finally do what he has long needed to do: just helm a comic movie, film his long-discussed but never (until now) able to be made horror film, and let his work do the talking for a change.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15140 [review_video] =>

Kevin Smith films usually have a unique visual "style" about them, in that they're really, really not made to look like anything special. More real than your average movie, I guess you could say, if you were an optimist. Warner Brothers' VC-1 (1080p, 2.35:1) encode takes that cue, and provides a somewhat bland transfer.

Detail levels are never the problem. In fact, they can be pretty damn awesome, from the very opening interrogation room sequence. Hell, I have never seen Morgan more clearly defined, in the arm tattoos, or his stubble, cropped hair, blemishes, or sweat. The problem is that anything else that can go wrong, possibly does. Ringing is a very minor issue, perhaps the least problematic of the bunch. The killers, though, are the random soft shots and murky moments, the dark sequences that lose any positives the transfer had going for it, the muddled mixture of artifacts, noise, and grain, and the varied contrast levels and depth of picture. This release still earns and deserves the score it is being given, mostly due to the great, great amount of detail on display, but this one could have been special.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15141 [review_audio] =>

'Cop Out' kinda cops out in the audio department, as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix just feels uninspired, lazy, and again, just too fat to fly.

Dialogue is usually clear, though there are more than a few lines that get lost in the mix, annoyingly. Score and soundtrack volume can just overwhelm other portions, perhaps intentionally for that odd '80's vibe, but it doesn't exactly help the mix. There's nice bass, mostly in the soundtrack, and some nice gunfire pop. Gunfire localizes throughout the room, though there's no real motion. Sadly, the most incriminating piece of evidence on this one happens to be missing: rear channel use. Yeah, gunfire erupts from behind, and there are a few bits of ambience here and there, but for the most part, those extra channels just don't get used.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

The extras on this release are all Blu-ray exclusive. Some may appear on the DVD, but not in the same form as they do here.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 4 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15142 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • Maximum Comedy Mode - You may remember this feature from the 'Watchmen' Blu-ray release, when it was known as the Maximum Movie Mode. In short, this is the film, with Kevin Smith popping up, stopping the film, and interacting with it. For a really, really long time. The film itself runs a little over 107 minutes, while the MCM clocks in at 175, almost a full three hours. Letterboxing is ignored, so those of you with constant height projectors may want to set your screen to around 1.85:1 or 1.78:1.

    As intriguing as this feature may be, do not watch it before you watch the film. The commentary will spoil later plot points, and half of the appreciation for this type of track is lost if you're trying to navigate the film, as well as the added content.

    Picture in Picture Audio commentary? Check. Picture in Picture in Picture video commentary? Check. Deleted scenes and dailies footage thrown in for good measure? Check. Pop up trivia blurbs and storyboards? Check-mate! Kevin Smith fans have always been given great treatment, in terms of supplement packages on home video releases (except for that first 'Dogma' DVD release, but that was fixed with the re-release), and this may be the greatest, most immersive feature found on any of Smith's films...and that's truly saying something! Kevin Smith knows his fans are what make him what he is today, so the way he shows appreciation for his most rabid, hardcore fanatics with this track is commendable. Of course, mister sour grapes also makes a few digs at critics, trying to paint them as ignorant. Real adult.

There are a few random bits in this mode, that can be branched off and viewed, miniature features, of sorts. They are also able to be played by their lonesome, so as to make the MCM a bit shorter, in a sense.

  • Wisdom from the Shit Bandit (HD, 4 min) - I've heard advice from even less credible sources than this, but damn, just damn, are these pop ups annoying, and hardly humorous. It's a ton of Seann William Scott popping up and down in the picture, giving a one liner, and that's that.
  • Focus Points (HD, 21 min) - This assortment of miniature features fares much better than the Shit Bandit quotes, as cast and crew give random opinions and insight on subjects, like the film title change, improvisation, in character miniature spots, filming action segments, and compliments towards each other. Really, the information here is fairly EPK, a bit self promotional, but there are some nice spots, and it shows how much fun the people involved had while filming, so that's a plus.
  • DVD/Digital Copy combo disc - The first pressings of this release come with a combination DVD/Digital Copy disc. Since this title does not have a slipcover to distinguish first prints, keep your eye out for the sticker indicating this is a combo release!
  • BD-Live - There is no exclusive content concerning 'Cop Out' on the BD-Live portal, but one can view trailers for other WB titles and films.
  • Resume Play - An unadvertised feature. If you stop playing this disc at any time, and come back to it later, the disc will remember, and ask if you want to resume where you left off. Or, at least, my player did, and it doesn't do that often.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15143 [review_final_thoughts] =>

This release is titled the "rock out with your glock out" edition, but I refuse to dignify such an idiotic name with any mention alongside the title, or the review, beyond making fun of it here.

A long time ago, I was a devoted Kevin Smith fan. His movies received endless replays in my home. But over the years, they grew more and more stale with each re-viewing. Now, I can't help but notice the glaring flaws and failures. 'Cop Out' isn't his worst film, but it ventures away from what makes Kevin Smith films unique: his ability to write dialogue, even as un-believable as it is. No amount of star power could save a film helmed by a mediocre director who seems lost at the wheel at times. Too bulky for its own good, this action comedy really should have tried to focus on being one or the other. The Blu-ray release isn't bad, and it has one of the best extras found on the Blu-ray market, period, one sure to make Smith fans squeal with delight. As such, this one is worth a look, possibly even a blind buy, but don't set your expectations too high.

) ) [2] => Array ( [review_id] => 3374 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => evilaliens [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Evil Aliens [picture_created] => 1272920561 [picture_name] => 5318b6c18ce3a.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c18ce3a.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3374/evilaliens.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2005 [run_time] => 93 [list_price] => 17.98 [asin] => B003HTPHW2 [amazon_price] => 15.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Theatrical & Unrated ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Deleted scenes [1] => Bloopers [2] => Guided Tour of Life Creations [3] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy, Horror, Science Fiction ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Jake West ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Looking for a hot new story, struggling Weird Worlde TV reporter Michelle Fox totes her crew to Wales where residents of a small farming town are reporting alien abductions and impregnations. Unfortunately, their dramatic recreation of the suspicious event turns downright nasty when the real interstellar visitors arrive, and they're hungry for more than a close-up! A no-holds-barred fight for survival ensues, with farmers and TV crew alike falling prey to the ruthless, relentless, unstoppable EVIL ALIENS! [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 3404 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => forbiddenworld [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Forbidden World [picture_created] => 1273198902 [picture_name] => forbidden-world.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Shout Factory [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/06/120/forbidden-world.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3404/forbiddenworld.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1982 [run_time] => 85 [list_price] => 26.97 [asin] => B003I87O4G [amazon_price] => 24.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 (R-rated Blu-ray) [1] => 1.33:1 (Unrated Director's Cut DVD) ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD/DVD ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Interview with producer Roger Corman [1] => Interviews with cast and crew including director Allan Holzman, composer Susan Justin and actor Jesse Vint. [2] => A look at the special effects of Forbidden World with John Carl Buechler, Robert Skotak, Tony Randal and R. Christopher Biggs [3] => Poster and still Gallery [4] => Trailers [5] => The never-before-seen, unrated Director’s Cut (4:3 - Full Frame) DVD with an audio commentary with director Allan Holzman ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Science Fiction, Horror, Comedy, Classic ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

On the remote planet of Xarbia, a scientific experiment has gone horrifically wrong. An experimental life-form known as Subject 20,” created by an elite group of scientists to prevent a major galactic food crisis, has instead mutated into a man-eating organism. It’s getting bigger, it has the ability to change its genetic structure at will and, worst of all, it’s hungry. Very, very hungry!

Two-fisted, hard-living, hard-loving bounty hunter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint, Macon County Line, Deathsport) is called in to combat this monstrous menace, but soon suspects that the scientists are keeping something from him. He soon discovers why: Subject 20 is half-human.

In classic Agatha Christie tradition, Subject 20 begins killing off the scientists one by one, while Colby and the remaining survivors desperately try to figure out a way to destroy it -- before it destroys them.

Also released theatrically as Mutant, Forbidden World has it all: Gratuitous gore, unexpected nudity, surprising bits of black comedy, and an assortment of inspired and inventive special effects (done on a Roger Corman budget, of course). Nevertheless, the film earned three Saturn Award nominations: Best Low-Budget Film, Best Special Effects and Best Makeup. The film marked the directorial debut of two-time Primetime Emmy Awards® winner Allan Holzman (Survivors of the Holocaust), who like so many Hollywood luminaries got his start under Corman’s auspices.

[review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106563 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

'Forbidden World,' or 'Mutant' if you want to call it by its original name, really isn't much more than an occasionally showy 'Alien' rip-off. In fact, the director, Allan Holzman, says as much on the commentary. Originally, producer Roger Corman tasked Holzman, who had just edited 'Battle Beyond the Stars' for the studio, to create a kind of 'Lawrence of Arabia' in space. When Holzman turned in the draft, Corman, deeming it too costly and elaborate, said: "Let's just rip off 'Alien.'" And rip off 'Alien' they did.

If this sounds like I'm knocking the movie, well, I am, sort of. But there's something oddly alluring about 'Forbidden World.'

The plot, as much as there is one, concerns a genetic research lab that's orbiting a world with the incredibly science fiction-y name of Xarbia (in the future the letter 'x' is used a lot more). It's on this lab that the scientists create "Subject 20," a hideous monstrosity that goes through several mutations and offs most of the research crew (comprised of B-actors that most people have never heard of, although a young Michael Bowen is in the cast).

It's not spoiling anything to say that the monster is eventually killed, and where one of Holzman's few original ideas comes into play: the monster, after eating the cancer-ridden body of the space station's head of security (Fox Harris), dies from cancer! This isn't spoiling anything, trust you me. It's like this bizarre, cheap-ass sci-fi movie turns into a movie about terminal illness. Or something. And it's this conceit that is evocative of the movie's many nutty tendencies.

Take the opening sequence, which is lifted from both 'Alien' with a dash of '2001' thrown in. Or the fact that the movie has these sections where images flit by, edited without any decipherable reason. (This being a Roger Corman movie, a scene where two of the female crewmembers shower together is a mainstay of these montages.)

There's a lot of goop in 'Forbidden World.' And a lot of blood. And, again, this being a Roger Corman movie, a lot of (refreshingly natural) boobs. You're struck by the amazing ability of crewmembers to mindlessly enjoy a hot sauna while a killer mutant is on the loose. But hey. I'm not complaining about excessive nudity. In fact, scratch "excessive" from that last sentence!

At some point during the screening process for the film, the original, humorous intent was deleted by Corman. Supposedly, if Corman heard an audience laughing WITH a movie, he assumed they were laughing AT the movie. He had Holzman take out all the humor, so what we're left with is a frequently comical sci-fi horror movie that never acknowledges its own ludicrousness.

There's tons of stuff to love about 'Forbidden World' (the boobs, the remarkably straight-faced performances, Susan Justin's score) and often times the movie hums with the low budget, "let's put on a show" attitude that defined the Corman productions from that period. But in the end, just liked its producer said, it's really just an 'Alien' rip off.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 25GB Blu-ray disc is Region A locked. There's a second disc, a DVD, that contains the original, intentionally funny version of 'Forbidden World' aka 'Mutant.' The disc does not automatically play. The case contains a nice little essay called "How to Make an Alien in 20 Days." Another cool feature: you can flip the outside cover inside out and instead of a 'Forbidden World' box you'll have a 'Mutant' box! How cool is that?

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15123 [review_video] =>

The Blu-ray disc comes equipped with a formidable 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer (aspect ratio: 1.78:1) that's probably the best 'Forbidden World' has ever looked.

To compare how bad this could have looked, just pop in the bonus disc with the 'Mutant' director's cut. (More on that later.) Blacks are darker, overall clarity is vastly improved, skin tones look more lifelike, and the list goes on.

Occasionally, low budget movies presented in high definition seem to make their cheapy special effects or unconvincing make-up look cheaper and more unconvincing. This is the case, occasionally, on 'Forbidden World,' especially when the monster is in full effect. The rubbery nature of the beast is really revealed. But that's okay. You were never really "buying" the monster in the first place anyway (H.R. Geiger wouldn't have doodled this beast on a cocktail napkin).

But at the same time, the added depth and dimensionality provided by the high definition transfer affords some of the movie, especially the claustrophobic sets (incidentally designed by James Cameron for another Corman production), some added nuance and believability.

Is this transfer going to blow your mind? No. There are definitely some spotty issues, which I can't decide are the transfer's fault or the fault of that hazy cinematography style that was so favored in the late 70s and early 80s ('Forbidden World' came out in 1982). But does 'Forbidden World' look way better than it has any right to? Yes, definitely. I was really impressed with the clarity and overall look of this transfer, and I'm sure you will be too.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15124 [review_audio] =>

Equally impressive, in that 'hey, this is as good as it's going to get'-way is the disc's DTS 2.0 audio track.

The movie starts almost exactly like 'Alien,' with a crewmember unfreezing after hyperspace and all of these doodads and robots coming to life. It's here that the clarity of the mix really presents itself, and does a good job of sustaining the level throughout the rest of the film.

This isn't the kid of mix that'll blow you away, just as in the video's case, but there is a workmanlike efficiency to the mix, and that's okay by me (especially for a stereo mix). Dialogue is mostly clear and crisp and well prioritized, the monster snarls and grows with the appropriate menace, and despite some scenes where either the sound effects overwhelm or the dialogue goes muddy, this is probably the best the movie has ever sounded, too.

This is your only audio option, as far as I can tell.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15125 [review_supplements] =>

The extras on this disc are duplicated on Shout's DVD release, so sadly there's no exclusive content. On the brighter side, this set has a lovely collection of extras. (Not as many as, say, on the 'Death Race 2000' disc but this isn't exactly the movie 'Death Race 2000' is.) If I can editorialize for a minute (I know, it's so unlike me), I'd like to say how happy I am that the Corman movies have landed at Shout!(!) For years the collection has bounced around to different distributors, hell, even Disney had the rights for a few years, and it's just so nice to see these movies given the treatment they've always deserved. Way to go, Shout!, and keep 'em coming!

  • Making of 'Forbidden World' (HD, 34:16) This surprisingly in-depth look at the making of 'Forbidden World' is pretty engaging. You'll go through the same talking points - Corman coming up with the idea, director Holzman's vision being bigger than the budget would allow, the music, the humor, blah blah blah. But it's a snappily edited piece and features interviews with much of the cast and crew. Well worth a watch, it also acts as a nice pre-game feature to the set's big enchilada - the original cut of 'Forbidden World!' (More on that in a minute.)
  • Interview with Roger Corman (HD, 6:25) This is a short, amiable feature with the king of the castle himself, Roger Corman. Much of the same material is covered either in the making of documentary, or in the commentary with Holzman on the director's cut, but this is still worth watching. Corman is a kind of grandfatherly czar to obsessive genre fans like yours truly, so anytime he pops up it's fun. He won an honorary Oscar this year, remember? While not as lively as his chat with Leonard Maltin on the 'Death Race' disc, this is still worth your time.
  • Interview with Special Effects Artist John Carl Beuchler (HD, 14:20) This is an overlong interview with the chief special effects dude for 'Forbidden World.' Honestly, I thought that this doc, while well-intentioned, was sort of boring and easily the first thing you can skip over.
  • Skotak Gallery This is a gallery of designs by Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, as well as some candid behind-the-scenes photos.
  • Poster & Still Gallery Actually, this is a really lovely gallery. If you don't push anything, the images flip through, slideshow-style (you can also go from one to the next using your remote).
  • Trailer (HD, 2:33) This is a wonderful red band trailer (for mature audiences only!) that actually, surprisingly, captures the decidedly off-kilter nature of 'Forbidden World.' Well worth a watch.
  • Other Corman Trailers You also get trailers for other Corman joints - 'Battle Beyond the Stars' (HD, 2:27), 'Galaxy of Terror' (HD, 1:55), and 'Humanoids from the Deep' (HD, 1:49). These trailers are all pretty priceless, and while Shout currently has 'Galaxy' and 'Humanoids' scheduled for release in high definition, they've kept mum about 'Battle.' But after watching this trailer you'll want it in your Blu-ray collection. Like, now.
  • Director's Cut of 'Mutant' Okay, so on the second disc you get the long lost director's cut of 'Forbidden World,' which is actually closer to 'Mutant.' The movie is only a few minutes longer than the one on the Blu-ray proper (82 minutes versus the theatrical 77 minute), and the DVD looks pretty crummy - it's in full frame and was quite obviously taken off somebody's VHS copy. Still, it's lovely to see the original intent of 'Mutant,' with the humorous layer restored. It goes along much better with the general WTF-ness of 'Forbidden World.' And you can watch the director's cut with our without commentary from director Holzman, moderated by Nathaniel Thompson. Even though 'Forbidden World' has never been on DVD or Blu-ray, which is a big deal in and of itself, the director's cut is the real rarity, which has never, ever been available anywhere. And it's pretty great.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Is 'Forbidden World' (or 'Mutant') a cheap-ass 'Alien' knock-off? Yes, yes it is. But is it also a ridiculous amount of fun? Why yes, it's that too! Shout! Factory has really outdone themselves with their recent work on the Corman movies, and this is no exception. With above-average audio and video and a host of captivating features, including the once-thought long-lost director's cut of 'Mutant,' this is a highly recommended title indeed.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3329 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => galaxyofterror [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Galaxy of Terror [picture_created] => 1271950607 [picture_name] => galaxy-of-terror.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Shout! Factory [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/22/120/galaxy-of-terror.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3329/galaxyofterror.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1981 [run_time] => 81 [list_price] => 26.97 [asin] => B003I87O4Q [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Double-Layer Disc [2] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio Commentary [1] => Trivia Track [2] => Photo Galleries [3] => Original Screenplay [4] => Trailers ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Science Fiction, Horror, Cult Classic ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston, Grace Zabriskie, Robert Englund ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Bruce D. Clark ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => In the distant future, the crew of the starship Quest is dispatched to the barren planet of Morganthus to search of the missing crew members of the starship Remus, which has crash-landed there. Instead, they encounter something far more mysterious and insidious, as the crew members fall victim to their worst fears -- each one more horrifying than the last. If any of them are survive the Galaxy of Terror, they must unlock the secrets of this deadly world. [review_bottom_line] => Give it A Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106586 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Leave it to Roger Corman to make an outrageously obvious 'Alien' rip-off into a bizarrely entertaining mix of moody sci-fi and shockingly gory horror. Though the plots are drastically different and stray into dissimilar themes, the atmosphere and design is near identical. It's no wonder years later James Cameron, the original production designer of this low-budget feature, later penned and directed the excellent follow-up to Ridley Scott's masterwork. Even the script about a space crew on a rescue mission tries to appeal to a viewer's more intellectual side by slowly turning into a psychological thriller. All things considered, 'Galaxy of Terror' is surprisingly amusing drive-in material, seen as Corman at his most grand and ambitious.

Sorry to say, when it comes to some of the worst of the worst, the movie tends to be listed in the top quarter for many. Often ranked in the same echelon with such disasters as 'The Crippled Masters,' 'Troll 2,' 'TNT Jackson,' 'The Sorceress,' and 'Great White' — another dupe of a horror classic, 'Jaws' — being graded so lowly is actually more like a badge of honor. It gives those with a curiosity for bad movies more of a reason to see it. Remembered not only for how funnily awful the movie is, it's garnered such a large cult following that it refuses to be forgotten, especially for one particular scene involving an overgrown worm and a curvaceous crewmember. Adding to the film's oddity is a cast and crew that later gained familiarity — some more notable than others.

Other than Cameron, Bill Paxton also played a small part in the set production and coincidentally worked with the "King of the World" on 'The Terminator' and 'Aliens.' Robert Englund is, of course, a prominent name in the horror genre as the immortal Freddy Krueger, and Grace Zabriskie eventually became the memorable Sarah Palmer on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks.' As for Sid Haig, his role as Quuhod with the crystal throwing-stars is arguably his standout performance. His recognizable character-actor face of 70s television and other B-movies, like 'Spider Baby,' 'Foxy Brown,' and 'Coffy,' is easy to point out for contemporary audiences as the energetic personality of the Rob Zombie movies.

Two cast members, however, arrived onto the set with a more respectable acting record, allowing for a bit of gravity to the movie's low-budget basis. Ray Walston, of 'My Favorite Martian' fame and eventually 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,' plays the ship's cook with crooked intentions wonderfully. There's something about his soothing voice and elderly characteristics that always makes him so believable and trustworthy. Part of the reason for even doing the role was his attempt to break free from being typecast as an alien. Erin Moran also took part in this strange movie as a drastic change to her famous Joanie Cunningham. Only, Chachi couldn't tag along for this adventure. Interestingly, Corman also produced Ron Howard's directorial debut, 'Grand Theft Auto,' three years earlier.

Trivia aside, 'Galaxy of Terror' is, in all seriousness, a really bad movie. On the other hand, Roger Corman's atmospheric classic is also a delightfully schlocky cesspool of cheesy gore and hilarious dialogue, particularly in the final confrontation. I like to think there's an art to knowing and appreciating bad cult films. And this less-than-modest sci-fi/horror flick is one which can weirdly be appreciated outside its trivial history. While the attempt to cash in on the popularity of Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is unmistakable, 'Galaxy' comes with a unique and elaborate style that reaches far beyond its limited budget, thanks in large part, if not all due, to James Cameron's technical input and set design. And with a script that actually tries to be smarter than its uglier parts, the film is strangely well-polished and loads of fun to watch.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Blu-ray edition of Roger Corman's 'Galaxy of Terror' comes courtesy of Shout! Factory on a Region A locked BD50 disc. It's housed in a standard blue keepcase and accompanied by an 11-page booklet, which features an interesting essay by Jovanka Vuckovic entitled "Marooned on the Planet of Horrors." There are no trailers to skip over at startup, and the disc goes straight to normal menu options while full motion clips play in the background.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15136 [review_video] =>

'Galaxy of Terror' is another cult movie with a sad, shoddy history in the home video market. For many years, it was only available on VHS and LaserDisc with little effort made to give this B-picture a nice scrub down to remove some of its uglier parts. (The 2004 DVD in Italy looked pretty bad as well.) But for this Blu-ray edition, releasing day-and-date with its DVD counterpart, it appears Shout! Factory has taken the time to dust off and clean up the film, because this really is the best the Roger Corman classic has ever looked.

Don't get me wrong, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) won't compare to better catalog titles with higher production value, but for a low-budget feature, the movie looks surprisingly good and free of compression artifacts. I did notice, once or twice, minor specks of dirt, but they're hardly a disruption to the video's enjoyment. The heavy grain structure remains intact, but it's consistent from beginning to end. Contrast is on the lower end of the grayscale although whites are clean and crisp. Blacks are about average, not that I expected any better, and shadow details range from decent to good for this type of movie. The color scheme isn't overly vibrant or dramatic, focused more on secondary hues, but the palette is cleanly rendered and stable. Flesh tones are healthy for the most part, yet they tend to be redder than normal. Considering its origins, the transfer is fairly sharp with appreciable fine object and textural details throughout. It may not look like much, but overall, 'Galaxy of Terror' makes a very nice Blu-ray debut, a strong improvement over previous versions.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15137 [review_audio] =>

As with the video, it appears Shout! Factory has also remastered the audio, because this 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is pretty darn impressive. While it has zero to offer in terms of rear activity, imaging exhibits plenty of action that spreads evenly across the soundstage. It may not be some of the cleanest dynamics I've heard from an older soundtrack, but the mid-range is surprisingly sharp and extensive. Everything is pretty much centered in the middle of the screen, yet strong fidelity details give the lossless mix an enjoyable presence that's somewhat spacious and welcoming. The center channel delivers clear, precise vocals so that fans can take pleasure in every cheese-infested line and the over-the-top acting of the cast. Previous versions may have been poor, but 'Galaxy of Terror' has never sounded as good as it does on this hi-rez track for Blu-ray.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15138 [review_supplements] =>

For this first-time U.S. release on DVD and Blu-ray, Shout! Factory brings 'Galaxy of Terror' with a large and extensive collection of supplements. And best of all . . . the material is all new, which is even more reason for fans to rejoice!

    Audio Commentary — For the commentary track, actress Taaffe O'Connell is joined by special makeup effects artists Allan Apone, prosthetics engineer Alec Gillis and moderated by production assistant David DeCoteau. Everyone in the group is very congenial and a pleasure to listen as each offers a great wealth of information on the movie's history. From their unique input on the production to on-set anecdotes, the conversation hardly lets down, and it's a great treat for fans everywhere.
    Movie Trivia Facts k—It looks like a simple white text on blue background which pops up from time to time, but this factoid track is quite enjoyable. It's mostly snippets on the movie's origins, little known details about the production, and even some quotes from cast and crew.
    "Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making of Galaxy of Terror" (HD, 63 min) — Taking up the biggest piece of the entire package is this terrific six-part documentary on making 'Galaxy of Terror.' Featuring numerous interviews with various members of the cast and crew, the doc starts with some background on Roger Corman and moves along into the movie's origins. Ultimately, the whole thing is incredibly exhaustive and in-depth, a must-watch for anyone interested in low-budget filmmaking. With clips from the movie interspersed throughout, the best segments are the talks on James Cameron's input, the special makeup effects, and the movie's reception and cult status from the viewpoint of those personally involved.
    Extensive Photo Galleries (HD, 3 min) — Broken into six segments, this offers a huge variety of production stills, posters, design sketches and behind-the-scenes photos, which are quite cool to look at if you're a fan.
    Original Screenplay — As the title implies, this is a PDF file copy of the original screenplay for computers with Blu-ray playback capabilities.
    Trailers (HD) — This collection of theatrical previews includes 'Humanoids from the Deep,' 'Piranha,' 'Forbidden World,' and two TV spots. For 'Galaxy of Terror,' there are three versions: English, German, and "Mind Warp."
[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15139 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Granted, Roger Corman's 'Galaxy of Terror' is, in all honesty, a bad movie. But, it's also a very well-made and elaborate bad movie, Corman's most ambitious film aimed to capitalize on the popularity of Ridley Scott's 'Alien.' Despite being categorized as one of the worst movies ever made, 'Galaxy' has the privilege of boasting the involvement of "King of the world" James Cameron. Part of its reputation, aside from seeing a woman violated by a maggot, comes from its moody, atmospheric style, unusual for a schlockfest. This Blu-ray edition is not one to show off the equipment, but the audio and video is a marked improvement, especially considering its low-budget origins. The first-time collection of supplements is the real highlight and worthwhile for fans of the movie. Everyone else will want to stick to a rental for a cheesy, gory night of fun.

) ) ) [reviews_slices] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3375 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => justanotherday [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Just Another Day [picture_created] => 1272934997 [picture_name] => 5318b6c1db659.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c1db659.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3375/justanotherday.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 95 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B003HTPI8U [amazon_price] => 26.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 25GB Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Deleted scenes [1] => A Hip Hop Hustle: The Making of “Just Another Day” [2] => Music video [3] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Music, Drama ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Wood Harris, Jamie Hector, Clifton Powell, Lil Scrappy, Inny Clemons ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Peter Spirer ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Just Another Day tells the story of Young Eastie (Jamie Hector, “The Wire, “Heroes”): a rapper who dreams of getting his first record deal. Willing to do almost anything to get his signature on a contract, he is thrown into a harsh business that accepts and destroys on a whim…dazzling, dishonest, irresistible. He hopes to get a deal through his hero, the legendary A-Maze (Wood Harris, “The Wire”, Image Award™ winner, Remember the Titans). But A-Maze is facing problems of his own: he feels his place at the top slipping, and he will use anyone to stay there – even Young Eastie. [review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106877 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

'Just Another Day' follows a day in the life A-Maze (Wood Harris, 'The Wire'), a rapper who is finding it more and more difficult to get his career back on track due to a feud with another rapper named B-Bone. We also meet a wannabe rapper named Young Eastie (Jamie Hector, 'The Wire') who is trying to make a name for himself in the crowded rapping world. The link between the two men is a manager by the name of Gary who manages A-Maze's career, but is also looking to sign new talent like Young Eastie to the new record label he's starting.

The story plays out over the course of a day, hence the title. Like most every other such drama, 'Just Another Day' shows the slums that these characters are living in and trying to claw their way out of. People are shot on a daily basis, kids are forced to sell drugs just to keep their families afloat, and each of them has a dream of making it out – like Young Eastie with his rapping – but, the ghetto keeps pulling them back in.

'Just Another Day' is shot documentary style with ultra-close ups and shaky camera work. Oddly, it works for such subject matter, giving the film a more gritty, life-like feel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the ability of this direct-to-video feature to get me as involved as it did. I'll be the first to admit that much of the lingo spoken here flies completely over my head, but the characters are well rounded and surprisingly rich.

It's easy to feel for Eastie as he tries his hardest to crawl out of the desolate area he lives in. His mother grows increasingly disenchanted with him, he's forced to sling drugs just to pay for his rap demo tape, and when everything seems to be finally going his way the ghetto pops up and latches on without mercy.

On the other hand, A-Maze is fighting to deal with his descent into music world irrelevancy. Producers, photographers, people that make him money are growing tired of him and his prima donna antics. They pay lip service with happy smiles to his face, but the first chance they get they disown him. He's also got his greedy entourage to deal with, and doesn't have much time to listen to up and coming rappers like Young Eastie.

While 'Just Another Day' doesn't reinvent or redefine the ghetto struggle genre – this is no 'Menace II Society' – it is a somewhat striking portrayal of what can happen when the mindset is one of violence. The way it's filmed makes it a slightly more intimate experience. Director Peter Spirer, who has spent his career studying the rap scene with his series called 'Beef,' shows here that he knows what he's talking about.

This is a valiant effort at trying to portray some of the problems that face young black males in this country, especially those trying to make it into the rap scene. While the movie overall lacks an emotional core to truly get you invested, Spirer crafts a bleak landscape of violence that convincingly depicts just another day on the block.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15343 [review_video] =>

'Just Another Day' was shot on high definition video. The 1080p transfer, using the AVC encode, does justice to the original high definition source, but still comes away with quite a few problems.

Lighter colors, especially whites, burn way too hot, erasing any sort of fine detail that might be found on shirts, skies, or A-Maze's giant white Cadillac. At times, the video seems like you're watching a whitewashed version of something you know should look a lot better. Blacks suffer a similar fate, never becoming inky or providing any depth to the image. The end sequence where Young Eastie goes to meet A-Maze at his show is a hotbed for crushing, especially in the low lit parking lot. Colors range from not-so-great to dreary. Source noise is minimal, but crops up on occasion as blips and flecks on the screen.

Overall, for a low-budget movie like this it looks OK. It definitely looks better than that other gritty ghetto drama I reviewed a few weeks ago called '.'

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15344 [review_audio] =>

One area where 'Just Another Day' could have really shined, fizzles out pretty bad.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which is full of bass-laden hip-hop music failed to register what should be expected of a soundtrack with so much thumping LFE. The music is focused in the front, hardly ever giving an ambient feel in the rear speakers, even during the concert scene. Bass is muted and never reaches its potential. This becomes frustrating as hip-hop song after hip-hop song bursts onto the scene with less of a roar and more of a whimper. Dialogue is another hampered aspect. A-Maze talks a lot in soft, gruff whispers that get lost somewhere in the nether regions of the sound field. He's extremely hard to hear, and you may find yourself rewinding it to pick up some of the stuff he says. Gun shots even sound underwhelming, giving off a canned pop instead of a loud bang.

Everything about this movie lent itself to some awesome audio potential, but it's been squandered big time.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Just Another Day Making Music (SD, 9 min.) – This is a fascinating little extra, especially if you're into rap music. It shows the behind-the-scenes on how the original rap music for the movie was created. I wish it would have been longer.
  • A Hip Hop Hustle: The Making of Just Another Day (SD, 10 min.) – Interviews, spliced in clips from the film, and behind-the-scenes footage. All the stuff we've come to expect from these types of extras without much time to explain anything of importance.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 min.) – Five deleted scenes are included, and once you watch them you'll realize exactly why they were cut.
  • Trailer (SD, 3 min.) – Oh, and you get the trailer too.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15345 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I wasn't expecting to like 'Just Another Day,' but I did. It isn't as great as something like 'Menace II Society,' but it's an interesting look into life in the ghetto, how the rap business is run, and what it takes to make it. For what 'Just Another Day' is, I enjoyed it. Too bad the video is bland and the audio isn't nearly what it could be. Add all that to a completely dry set of extras and this one is just a rental.

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Talk about feeling out of step with my critical brethren: on the same day that 'Mother' screened as part of the New York Film Festival last year, another movie ran right after. After 'Mother,' the crowd was mostly silent, but I had to pick my jaw up off the floor (it was sticky and coated in a weird resin - my jaw, not the floor). Out in the lobby, where we had to chill in-between movies, I was like "WHOA!" And my fellow critics gave the seesawing hand of indifference (one which I've been known to break out from time to time here). Then the second movie screened, which I thought was more or less amateur hour in Dixie, even though it had a strong emotional core and some fine performances. After the second movie the director joined us, and people were tripping over themselves with praise. I thought to myself: didn't you guys just see 'Mother?'

The second movie was 'Precious.'

But 'Mother!' 'Mother' is the masterpiece. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who had previously helmed the genius small town police procedural 'Memories of Murder' and monster movie 'The Host,' the film is a twisted and unique take on the detective story, and a kind of inverse of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho.' (That's if you want a box art-ready pull quote-y quote.

The film takes place in a small South Korean town. Do-joon (Won Bin) is a man in his late twenties but is slow (mentally). He lives alone with his mother, Hye-ja (Kim Hye-ja), and there are some suggestions that their relationship is incestuous, but Joon-ho, the cinematic trickster, never explicitly states anything. When a young girl is murdered, the local police finger Do-joon as the killer. And so, naturally, Hye-ja, a woman pushing senior citizen status, decides to clear her son's name. So the movie is a detective story, except instead of an urban setting it's a small South Korean town and instead of a grizzled detective, it's an elderly woman.

If you aren't sold yet, then there may not be hope for you.

The way the story unfolds is just brilliant, and far too juicy to ruin here, and Joon-ho, who is as much a genre prankster as he is a wonderful painter of human relationships, renders the bond between mother and son beautifully. Yes, it's creepy and weird, but in such a skilled filmmaker's hands it's also quite touching. When I spoke to Bong Joon-ho earlier this year, around the time of the film's theatrical release, he said that he made the movie specifically for Kim Hye-ja. She had played many mothers in Korean film and television, in warm, loving roles, and he wanted to play with her image, and take her to a darker, deeper place. He definitely succeeded.

'Mother,' like all great genre movies, plays with the hallmarks of the form. Besides the detective being played by an elderly woman, there are some really great flashes of gallows humor and there's an unlikely alliance formed between Hye-ja and a young hood (Jin Goo) who is friends with the incarcerated Do-joon. (He helps. For a price.)

And just as beautifully as the story is told, it's also shot with an impeccable eye. Seriously, this thing is just astounding looking. From a wonderful shot of Hye-ja tromping through the rain with a pivotal piece of evidence covered in plastic, to the fairly innocuous activity of retrieving golf balls from a local putting green, everything is just gorgeous. If only American movies this small could look this good. Instead, small budgeted American films are too often defined by their low grade look; crummy cinematography worn as a badge of honor.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I loved 'Mother.' It was my favorite movie at NYFF last year and probably my favorite movie to be released theatrically this year. It's just flat-out brilliant; a funny, thrilling, touching, unique crime story and one that stays with you long after the lights come up in the theater (or the Blu-ray disc stops spinning).

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB Blu-ray disc from Magnolia is Region "A" locked and BD-Live ready (although at the time of this writing there are no BD-Live features up yet). That's about all there is to talk about. Oh, except that there's a great movie on the disc! But I guess I already talked about that.

[review_video_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15244 [review_video] =>

This 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer (aspect ratio: 2.35:1) is really stunning.

Where it counts, it's all there: nice contrast; good skin tones; deep, dark blacks; with a nice layer of grain that creates a truly cinematic feel. There are also no buggy technical issues or evidence of that pesky Digital Noise Reduction.

But where this transfer really succeeds is in capturing the earthiness of Joon-ho's film (and Hong Kyung-pyo's cinematography). Even though the movie becomes very dark and scary at times, there's this kind of earthen warmth that the movie exudes, possibly as an extension of the mother/son relationship metaphor. Grain fields bristle in the wind, a stream of urine trickles like a babbling brook, and the final shot - good lord the final shot - will leave you absolutely breathless and full of hope.

I was worried that this transfer might fall short, and some online have claimed that it's slightly different than the South Korean Region-free Blu-ray, but I was impressed, dare I say amazed, by Magnolia's domestic release.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15245 [review_audio] =>

Equally impressive is the Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix. From the film's gorgeous opening shot of the mother standing in the middle of the field, a Spanish guitar slowly filling the soundtrack, you will know the power of this mix. It's not exactly going to wake up the neighbors, but it is a finely calibrated, wonderful mix none-the-less.

The movie is a mostly quiet one, with a lovely little score by Lee Byung-woo which twinkles in and out and sounds great here. There are some really great sound effects, though, that sound just dynamite here, like when mother chops this wheat-like herb, or when mother and son have a dinner of chicken, these sound effects are just beautifully realized. And the sound effect of the actual murder? Oof. You hear that one in your chest.

It's the perfect case of subtle atmospherics that make good use of the surround channels and effects that pop at just the right moment without ever being too loud or obtrusive. The dialogue is always crisp and clear, not that you'll know what they're saying, unless you speak Korean. Subtitles are provided, within the frame, in English, English SDH, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15246 [review_supplements] =>

The voluminous extras presented here are ported over from the South Korean release, except this time with subtitles! Yay! (And thank you Internet!) There are also a couple of features that are on the Blu-ray that aren't on the DVD, but both have the wonderful, feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary, so fret not.

  • Making of 'Mother' (SD, 1 hour and 30 minutes) Under the fairly innocuous name comes one of the most comprehensive and spellbinding behind-the-scenes documentaries I have seen in quite some time. Once you realize that you're going to be there for a long time, you ease into this nook-and-cranny peek at the making of this wonderful film. This is a must-watch.
  • Music Score (SD, 15:19) This is a nice little look at Lee Byung-woo, which adds to the gentle surrealism that the movie toys with. Honestly, any of these individual features are kind of redundant in the face of the giant documentary, but hey.
  • Supporting Actors (SD, 14:33) Again, a brief featurette about the supporting players in 'Mother.' It's pretty good, but like I said, if you watch the jumbo documentary, these are all pretty beside-the-point.
  • Cinematography (SD, 9:12) Same thing: interesting, thoughtful, if you're not going to invest the time in the behind-the-scenes documentary, this will do a great job in educating you about the movie's wonderful cinematography. But those of us hard enough to watch the entire shebang, there's not much here.
  • Production Design (SD, 11:48) Not to sound redundant, but if you watched the big documentary, then this is pretty redundant. If you didn't watch it, then this is a fine little doc.
  • Trailers There are two trailers here, marked International Trailer 1 (SD, 1:15) and International Trailer 2 (SD, 1:39). They are a little too opaque and easily the most skippable thing on the disc.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 2 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15247 [review_bonus_content] =>

Although not advertised as such, there are a couple of extras on this disc that aren't on the concurrent DVD release. The disc is also BD-Live equipped, but as of this writing were no additional features available. One thing that would have been aces had Magnolia decided to include it would be Bong Joon-ho's first feature, the dark comedy 'Barking Dogs Never Bite.' The studio is putting it out on DVD and it would have been a real treat if they had utilized the extra storage space to throw that baby on here. I'm sure hardcore Bong Joon-ho fans like myself would have gone berserk, even if it was in standard definition.

  • A Look at the Actress Hye-Ja (SD, 9:23) This is just what it says it is: a look at the actress that inspired Bong Joon-ho to do 'Mother.' This is a really nice feature and well worth your time.
  • Behind the Scenes (SD, 6:51) At less than seven minutes, this is entirely unnecessary even if you didn't watch the big long documentary. Skip.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Mother' is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. It's one of the most finely nuanced, emotionally acute, and thrilling mysteries in recent memory. Filled with fine performances and beautiful cinematography, it's a movie that will very literally haunt you long after the movie is over. I cannot recommend this movie enough. And this Blu-ray disc, with superb audio and video and great special features anchored by a feature-length documentary, is equally out-of-this-world. They could have dropped the ball with the high def presentation of this great movie but thankfully, they didn't. This is a must-own disc, all the way.

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In the futuristic action-thriller Repo Men, humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called The Union. The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, The Union sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival.

Remy (Jude Law) is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake (Forest Whitaker), to track him down.

Now that the hunter has become the hunted, Remy joins Beth (Alice Braga), another debtor who teaches him how to vanish from the system. And as he and Jake embark on a chase across a landscape populated by maniacal friends and foes, one man will become a reluctant champion for thousands on the run.

[review_bottom_line] => Worth a Look [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106430 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

This film has been modified from its original version to include additional material not in the original release.

Correction: This film borrows sparingly from a more intelligent film, and suffers from excesses not found in its originator...and that's a scary thought, considering how high on excess that film was!

I won't lie...I wanted to take a cheap shot at 'Repo Men' from the minute I found out about it. Originality is hard to come by in modern cinema, so for any film to rehash the themes of 'Repo! The Genetic Opera,' only sans the singing, and turn it into a generic sci-fi action thriller, it just reinforces the cliche of Hollywood being out of ideas. Sure, it goes without mention that this film is adapted from 'The Repossession Mambo.' But, since said novel came out a full twelve years after the first stage iteration of the musical, it's hard to say that said author wasn't influenced by viewing or reading about the work of Darren Smith, Terrance Zdunich, and Darren Lynn Bousman.

That being said, no, I didn't hate this film as much as I feared I might, but that doesn't mean I'm going to sing its praises, either.

In the not-too-distant future, where characters don't get last names, technology reigns supreme, and organ transplants are no longer dependent on donors, The Union grants those with defective or failing body parts the chance to live life to the fullest, with new, improved robotic body parts. Of course, with amazingly high prices, these body parts are sold much like houses, with installment plans, and a 19.99% APR (brutal!). If you can't pay your debt, you may find that the repossession clause is a killer!

Remy (Jude Law) is the best at what he does. He's a Repo Man. When he isn't surgically removing body parts from delinquent accounts, he's trying to make up for his questionable career choice with his wife (Carice van Houten), and just live a normal life. His co-hort, Jake (Forest Whitaker), may very well be the personification of the little devil on one's shoulder, giving advice lacking in any moral integrity, as the two adrenaline junkies push each other to new heights in the business...until a job goes wrong, and Remy finds himself in the shoes of his former customers, the recipient of an implanted heart. Apparently new hearts come with a conscience, as Remy becomes incapable of doing the job he used to do so well, and soon finds himself as a candidate for repossession. His only chance is to stick it to the man (Liev Schreiber as Frank), and the many men above him at The Union, fighting back for all those he used to slaughter, regardless of if they had a spouse, or children.

It's somewhat ironic that a film that spends so much time discussing Schrödinger's cat is a perfect example of said paradox. Is it alive, or is it dead, just rotting in the box? It's all about ideas that don't quite come to fruition and don't have a clear answer, with few payoffs, just more twists and turns than an infinity sign. After a while, the whole point becomes moot, devolving from a thinking man's action thriller to your basic futuristic sci-fi trash romp, so overloaded in its excesses that it makes the 'Saw' films look reserved.

'Repo Men' is spoiled by problems far greater than its dubious timing. Its acting, for one, is damn near inexcusable. Sure, director Miguel Sapochnik has little experience working in film, let alone with "name" actors, but usually when this is the case, said talents just go into auto-drive, and steer themselves, making the rookie look like he knows what he's doing. This doesn't happen here, as Law is completely impossible to empathize with, Whitaker is beyond awful (think about post-'Jerry Maguire' Cuba Gooding, Jr. levels of effort, only lower), and Alice Braga, playing a repo man's dream job, due to her array of past due commissions residing in her flesh, hardly is given enough to work with, as a one dimensional character whose desires and personality change at/for the convenience of the script, but she doesn't make the un-winnable scenario any less painful. Even Schreiber, an underrated talent, is at less than "the top of his game."

The themes of redemption and re-entering humanity are all well and good, but in the midst of a story where said character just changes which side he kills for? Isn't that negating the entire point? In fact, the changes in Remy's demeanor once he's forced into having an implant heart hardly make a lick of sense, as this is a man who gleefully carved up victims, laughing about it, without a care in the world for those he leaves to die. Character change is best shown in progression, not just for no reason other than a life changing event. Wow, suddenly you're on the other side of the coin. How ironic...gee, haven't ever seen that before. The hunter becoming the hunted. Yawn.

For all its faults (the list goes on, and would make me seem like a scorned lover if I were to go on further), I have to give 'Repo Men' some credit. It isn't exactly an awful film. It actually could have been something if left in more competent hands, with a better eye for casting and a few changes of scenery. The violence found within this film is above and beyond that found in your average "unrated" horror film these days, and at times, it can be pretty damn awesome. In fact, the scene with the hacksaw may very well be the coolest use of an ordinary work tool since the lawnmower in 'Dead Alive,' or the hammer in 'Oldboy.' While the similarities to said films end there, 'Repo Men' is loaded to the brim with action and suspense, sometimes to the detriment of the story and pacing, so it's sure to at least entertain at times, even if it doesn't stimulate like it should. The ending is an unoriginal cop out if ever there was one, but all things considered, it could have been worse.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'Repo Men' is housed on a BD50 Dual Layer disc that is Region Free, housed in a standard (non-eco) keepcase. There were no forced trailers before the menu screen, though there is a user-prompt-required screen pre-menu, asking the user if they want to view the film in the theatrical (112 min) or uncut (120 min) version. It's entirely possible that some users may have their player load a trailer via BD-Live, as there were many load screens that brought about nothing. Hell, there might even be a trailer for 'Fast & Furious 10,' which is teased on billboards within the film.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15089 [review_video] =>

While I may have my concerns about the originality of the material, I have no concerns about the quality of the transfer provided 'Repo Men,' as Universal gives the film a flashy AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 2.35:1) encode.

Detail, detail, detail. There's a whole bunch of it...until there isn't. I absolutely love the attention given to flesh, with little bumps from hair follicles and other minute details being readily visible. But I do not love, one bit, the random blurry or soft shots mixed in, seemingly just to piss one off. Three dimensionality is no problem, as the film often leaps right off the screen, but backgrounds can seem lost at times. Edges are great, for the most part, but there are some moments with noticeable ringing that were a tad distracting. Skin tones, well, this isn't a section I'm going to give a compliment as they're tweaked more often than they're not. There's some aliasing to be found here and there, black levels that can seem too bright at times, a bit unnatural, and even a bit of moire to be found in a shirt being lifted in a scene near the finale. High on detail and clarity, but suffering from random hiccups, this transfer will please fans, as well as most viewers in general.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15090 [review_audio] =>

'Repo Men' arrives on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (with a few DTS dub tracks, and a descriptive audio track) that stands up well against other actioners, but falls short of the activity and perfection needed to be a true demo disc.

From the very opening scenes, 'Repo Men' is loud. Active, too. Bass is used with little reserve, while atmosphere and random discrete effects find their way into each and every speaker. Dialogue comes through with brute force, at times, wanting to make sure everyone in the room can hear what's being (literally) barked. High ends are enjoyable, though, seemingly by design, can come across a bit screechy. Movement isn't used sparingly, as gunfire, as well as vehicles, find their way through channels without a hitch. Directionality is spot on, and the film can truly sound immersive. That's all well and good, but when the slight rustling of clothing or a bedsheet can be so loud as to rival dialogue, something is a bit out of whack. Though only sporting only one true room-rattler, 'Repo Men' is a loud, loud film, and it comes off quite nice, actually. It would just be nice if there weren't moment when it felt like a hobo screaming in your face.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15091 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary - With Miguel Sapochnik, Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner, on the unrated cut. This track isn't all too deep or engaging, as we get some puns about the Mambo songs used in the film (get it? Like the book name?), random jokes and references amongst the participants that induce giggle-bouts that are very one-sided, and discussion of themes that didn't quite make it to the film, that would have made the overall product much improved, at least in narrative scope. They talk about different cuts of the film, as well, but all in all, this is not a good track. At least they comment on how uniform Jude Law's hair and stubble are throughout the entire film, something that actually disturbed me throughout the entire film.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 8 min) - With optional commentary by the same trio who provided the commentary for the film. There are five axed segments, playable individually, or as a whole. We get some propaganda, senseless nudity, more military service, and a few extended bits that just show us more of the process the Repo Men go through when getting assigned their "jobs." All of the above adds little, if anything, to the film, so feel free to skip them entirely.
  • The Union Commercials (SD, 3 min) - Seven faux commercials for The Union, concerning implants and the people they affect. You know, the lives they "save." There are also some seriously odd commercials, concerning deodorant, mail order brides, and inappropriate soda ad. The future seems like a great place, based off all this. Or at least a place with a great sense of humor.
  • Inside the Visual Effects (HD, 6 min) - Check out the before and after green screen effects, with set extensions, replacement body parts, and scene additions, all with discussion from the same writing/directing trio, leaning towards annoying jokes that only they care about.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

It cannot be said that Universal put little effort into this release. In fact, they put damn near each and every one of their trinkets here. You can Bookmark your favorite scenes (through the My Scenes feature), get some rumble down under if your furniture is D-Box Motion Code enabled, you can control the disc through your iPhone with PocketBlu, and hop online with BD-Live, though the portal isn't yet live. The main menu is also enhanced with the Ticker that advertises other Universal releases (though as of press time, said Ticker was less than intelligent, and was more a nag, begging me to put my player online so that it could inundate me with trailers). All that, and there's still more!

  • U-Control - Available only through the theatrical cut of the film, there are two distinct options for this Universal branded track, neither of which is playable alongside the other. In the Picture in Picture option, we get some information the film just cannot portray, some good, some boring as hell. The PiP has a level of frequency that is a little on the light side, and that has a double meaning, as the audio default is incredibly soft, and is somewhat incoherent. If you are to play this track, be sure to go into the setup option and adjust PiP volume to high. In the Artiforg Tech Specs option, the meandering mess above is not an issue. This pop up may be one of the most advanced U-Control features to date, as we don't just get a screen concerning the organ and its details, but we get a menu for each that lets us choose what to learn about it, with the Features tab of each organ highlighting individual aspects of an organ as you scroll through it. Honestly, it's a bit dry after a while, kinda repetitive, but it's very well made, and deserving of all the applause I can give a U-Control track.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15092 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Watching someone get paid to cut out body parts is so much more fun when there's singing involved. There, I said it. 'Repo Men,' try as it may, just cannot shake the stigma that it's not all that original. It's a piecemeal film, made from the best parts of other films, jumbled together in a way that makes it all nonsense. Bloody, violent nonsense. Universal's Blu-ray release has very good video, great audio, and an acceptable pile of extras. It's worth a look, based on disc quality alone, but damn if it couldn't have been a better film, with a sharper, more experienced eye at the helm, and perhaps a few actors who actually cared about more than their paychecks.

) ) [2] => Array ( [review_id] => 3523 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => losers [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Losers [picture_created] => 1275064256 [picture_name] => losers.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/28/120/losers.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3523/losers.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 97 [list_price] => 35.99 [asin] => B003OCWF6I [amazon_price] => 24.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD/DVD/Digital Copy ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French Dolby Digital 5.1 [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, French, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Band of Buddies: Ops Training [1] => The Losers: Action-style Storytelling [2] => Deleted Scene [3] => Sneak peek - Batman: Under the Red Hood [4] => Zoë and the Losers ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Fantasy, Action ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Sylvain White ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => An elite Special forces unit is sent to the bolivian jungle on a search-and-destroy mission. But the team soon find that they have become the target of a deadly double cross instigated by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Making good use of the fact that they're now presumed dead, the group goes deep undercover in a dangerous plot to clear their names and even the score with Max. [review_bottom_line] => Rent It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106534 [review_movie_stars] => 2.5 [review_movie] =>

A group of super soldiers with a penchant for sarcasm is set up by a faceless government bureaucrat. No this isn't the big screen remake of 'The A-Team,' although a lot of the story mimics that movie, all the way down to a final battle down at the docks. No, this is the story of 'The Losers,' a rag-tag band of US soldiers who have been double-crossed by the very people they're working for. Based loosely on the comic book from DC comics, 'The Losers,' is brainless but a kind of fun.

Clay (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is the Hannibal of the group except with a lot less bravado (Ok I promise that was the last 'A-Team' reference. Credit to 'The Losers' it came out first). Clay is a more reserved type. The rest of the team is rounded out with a wise-cracking communication specialist Jensen (Chris Evans), the lovable sniper Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), professional transportation specialist Pooch (Columbus Short), and tactical coordinator Roque (Idris Elba).

Location: South America. Clay and his team have just "painted" a building to be bombed by the US military. That is until they see a group of kids enter the premises. Clay tries to call off the bombing, but an unfamiliar voice over the radio calling himself Max says the bombing is still a go. Without thinking, the team rushes headlong into the fray to rescue the kids. That's just the kind of guys they are. After their botched job, they learn in a gruesome way that Max is indeed trying to kill them. Now it's time for revenge.

Isn't that what these kind of movies always boil down to? Revenge and the clearing of ones name. Revenge movies can be done well, just look at the 'Kill Bill' films. 'The Losers' on the other hand makes it a little hard to care if they get their revenge. The writers do their best to make Max (Jason Patric) seem like the baddest bad guy alive, as they show him shoot a girl, who apparently was his assistant, just because she couldn't hold an umbrella still over Max's head. Frankly, it's tiresome watching goonish villains in movies nowadays. All they do is kill, kill, kill. I think back to Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds' and say, now there's a villain; a guy that knew how to strike fear into the hearts of the people around him, and in the viewers, without just killing people for mild amusement. Max is a villain you've seen a hundred times over in these types of espionage/action films. He's too cocky for his own good, he's surrounded by an infinite supply of goons, and he seems to have unlimited resources. He criss-crosses the globe hatching his diabolical plan which involves weapons called "Snukes." Bombs which essentially dematerialize everything around it. They test it on a remote island and it disappears like in 'Lost.' "All the destruction, none of the pollution," says Max. OK, I never though terrorists were interested in protecting the environment too, but being green is catching on I guess.

The villain is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the endgame. Sure Max is a douche, but he acts like a petulant child. In the end you're not really afraid that Max is going to dominate the world with his material-sucking bombs. It's hard to root for the good guys, when the bad guy really isn't all that threatening. I guess I just expect more from my villains. Col. Hans Landa would annihilate Max in a "Who's the most evil" contest and he wouldn't even need cute, pollution free bombs to prove his point.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15111 [review_video] =>

'The Losers' sports overblown contrast for a stylistic choice, but still… whew! Yes I realize they're trying to keep some of the same ultra-stylized image that the comic had, but after the umpteenth time of trying to stare at a person's face, which is burning hot white, it gets a little old.

The 1080p transfer is technically brilliant. I didn't see any artifacts (although in one cityscape fly over a multi-windowed building passes underneath, which has a slight bit of aliasing to note). Colors are super bright, almost to the point where regular greens and reds seem to take on almost a neon effect. There are plenty of camera filters used here to match the mood of any particular scene, blue filters for somber moments, red filters for more exciting moments. It's safe to say that 'The Losers' visuals are bursting with color at every turn, and the transfer certainly handles them well.

Fine detail, for the most part, is phenomenal. From Morgan's hero scruff to Zoe Saldana smooth unblemished skin, detail is definitely amped up. Every once in a while I caught a hint of DNR being applied to a few close-ups, but it seemed subjectively applied and never becomes a huge distraction. Like I mentioned above, skin tones waver a lot. If the actors are outside, due to the odd contrast choices, their faces appear flushed, bordering on pale. Again, it's a stylistic choice, but it doesn't necessarily make for a demo-quality transfer.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15112 [review_audio] =>

Now this is an action movie soundtrack! The DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio presentation is something to rejoice about.

Explosions rumble deeply through the sub, with LFE constantly resonating throughout the movie. The rear channels produce a quality immersive listening experience whether it be in a crowded South America cock fight or a shoot out in a busy Miami street, the surround sound provides the listener with a fantastic array of ambient sound. Dialogue is very clear and concise, except for a few whispers that get lost in the commotion. Soft dialogue is especially a problem during the scene where Clay and Aisha are in bed together, talking softly. Other than the occasional whisper though, this dialogue prioritization is top-notch. Panning effects are another high point. Speeding hummers, whizzing bullets, swooping helicopters, they all travel around the sound field with ease and precision creating a very life-like presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15113 [review_supplements] =>
  • Zoe and the Losers (HD, 6 min.) – A group of the cast and crew including Zoe Saldana, director Sylvain White, and producer Akiva Goldsman come together to talk about Zoe's character Aisha.
  • Band of Buddies: Ops Training (HD, 16 minutes) - This feature was divided into three segments. The first segment is called "Walk the Ops Walk," which talked about people from the Special Forces and how they do their jobs. Second is "Transforming Puerto Rico," which covered the shooting of the film in Puerto Rico and the overall stylistic, music-video type look to 'The Losers.' The third segment is called "Going Deep Into the Action." Yes I giggled too when I saw that title. This talks about how many of the action scenes were inspired by video games. This isn't a surprise, and isn't a compliment to the movie either. Many of the action scenes are unintelligible, but White feels the need to tell us.
  • 'The Losers': Action-Style Storytelling (HD, 10 minutes) - Andy Diggle, who wrote the comic, and Jock, who was the artist talk, about how the comic went through the process of being adapted for the big screen, and how they always thought it was a cinematic-like comic to begin with.
  • Deleted Scene (HD, 1 minute) – This is more like an alternate, or extended ending, but it's really the first time where I think they should have left a scene like this in the movie. I'll say no more.
  • First Look: 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' (SD, 14 minutes) – Check out what 'Batman: Under the Red Hood' will be like. Or just read my Recommended review! Really, it's just an extended commercial. The sad part is, it's longer than most every other special feature on her.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15114 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I know quite a few people liked 'The Losers.' I just couldn't get into it, mainly because the villain isn't very believable or scary. He's selling pollution free weapons, come on, how scary can a guy like that be? White's stylistic choices grated on me as well. The entire movie is edited like a music video with loads of slo-mo, quick cuts, and moving staccato images. I guess it can be categorized in the "Dumb Action" section, but it didn't really even resonate with me on that level. The video presentation is nice, the audio is booming, but the special features leave a lot to be desired (no Maximum Movie Mode?). Rent it.

) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 3318 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => theredshoes [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Red Shoes [picture_created] => 1271352427 [picture_name] => 5318b69b44fd1.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Criterion [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/15/120/5318b69b44fd1.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3318/theredshoes.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1948 [run_time] => 133 [list_price] => 39.95 [asin] => B003ICZW8C [amazon_price] => 27.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.33:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English LPCM Mono ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie, featuring interviews with stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and filmmaker Martin Scorsese [1] => Introductory restoration demonstration with Scorsese [2] => Profile of "The Red Shoes" (2000), a 25-minute documentary [3] => Video interview with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell's widow [4] => Gallery from Scorsese's collection of The Red Shoes memorabilia [5] => The "Red Shoes" Sketches, an animated film made from Hein Heckroth's painted storyboards [6] => Readings by actor Jeremy Irons of excerpts from Powell and Pressburger's novelization of The Red Shoes and the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale [7] => Theatrical trailer [8] => A booklet featuring an essay by Ian Christie ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, Romance, Music ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Moira Shearer ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => The Red Shoes, the singular fantasia from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor visual feasts ever concocted for the screen. Moira Shearer is a rising star ballerina romantically torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, now dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist. [review_bottom_line] => Must Own [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 116217 [review_movie_stars] => 5 [review_movie] =>

It says something that no less than three major motion pictures in 2010 directly referenced Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1948 film 'The Red Shoes.' In the circles of film fanatics, the movie is a fetish object – something to be obsessed about and replayed, over and over and over again – and it crops up from time to time in current films, but 2010 was some kind of banner year, with the winks and nods front and center.

In Martin Scorsese's 'Shutter Island,' there's a shot of a spiral staircase, and the camera movement (and the staircase itself) is a nod to a moment in 'The Red Shoes,' while two other films took less specific, but more thematic approaches. In both Edgar Wright's 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan,' the line between reality and fantasy is blurred in the same way that it is in 'The Red Shoes.' 'Scott Pilgrim's' takeaway is more impressionistic while 'Black Swan' seems more rooted in direct homage since it takes place in the world of ballet (and it shares some similar story beats and structural frameworks).

But what makes 'The Red Shoes' such a memorable cinematic artifact?

Well, for one thing, the film is drop-dead gorgeous. The tale of a ballerina (Moira Shearer) who lands the lead in a ballet version of Hans Christian Anderson's fable 'The Red Shoes' (about a pair of enchanted shoes that transform the wearer into an uncannily skilled dancer), it's a story of excess, fame, and psychological instability. (All chestnuts of Hollywood storytelling.) But what really makes it so striking is the photography by cinematographer Jack Cardiff. In 'The Red Shoes' colors don't just pop, they leap off the screen and into your lap.

It's more than just the look of the film, though, that has people coming back for more. (When it was recently booked for a limited engagement in New York's Film Forum there were lines around the block for virtually every screening.) No, it's so much more than that.

'The Red Shoes' is trickily meta-textual for its time, too, weaving both the Hans Christian Anderson story and the story of the tortured and ultimately undone ballerina together in a way that is compelling and cutting edge while never being show-offy. The way the elements of the story are braided together – the on stage magic (uncannily brought to life with the most rudimentary and effective special effects tools) with the heartbreaking behind-the-scenes melodrama, which involves a love triangle with the ballet company's overseer (Anton Walbrook) and the newly installed conductor (Marius Goring) – is downright brilliant and the way that the two layers of reality breakdown as the film progresses is nothing short of jaw dropping. It helps, too, that the music is so compelling, with Brian Easdale's music serving as a sturdy backbone to both planes of existence.

The movie doesn't merely resonate because it looks so damn amazing, but because thematically it still manages to impress and dazzle. Powell and Pressburger (know as The Archers) made a number of noteworthy films during their career, but 'The Red Shoes' is an especially spectacular accomplishment. One of the film's many themes is the idea of immortality through art. And you know what? They accomplished it. Just ask Darren Aronofsky, Martin Scorsese, and Edgar Wright.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'The Red Shoes' dances onto high definition courtesy of the good folks at the Criterion Collection. An earlier edition of the movie had been a staple of the collection (which explains the low spine number - #44), but this is a jazzy new version, complete with new supplements. The movie and its special features are housed on a 50GB Blu-ray disc and everything that's on the disc here is also available on the DVD package. It's housed in an extra-chunky Criterion box and is Region A locked.

[review_video_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_video] =>

'The Red Shoes' comes equipped with an 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (maintaining the original 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio) that does nothing short of make your eyes pop out of your skull.

As you'll see elsewhere on the disc, a lot of care and attention has gone into the restoration of the movie's image, and according to the accompanying booklet: "This new high-definition digital master was created from the 2009 4K digital restoration made from the original Technicolor negatives and optical tracks."

In short: it's one of the greatest transfers available on Blu-ray. The transfer shouldn't be based on realism, since there are such fantastical elements of the story in play, but skin tones generally look great, while colors zoom off the screen, detail is unbeatable, and the entire presentation shimmers like a new penny.

This is a noticeable upgrade from the original release, with the image looking deeper, richer, and more glorious. The image looks sparkly clean, too, with many imperfections painstakingly removed but without (thankfully) the impression that it was scrubbed too clean – it looks presentably filmic and absolutely amazing.

[review_audio_stars] => 4.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio] =>

There is only one audio option on 'The Red Shoes,' an English LPCM Mono track (with optional subtitles). While not as drop-your-soda shocking as the video transfer, the audio is pretty outstanding as well.

You're not going to get a whole lot of range out of a mono track, but for the most part, it sounds great – you can hear all the dialogue with a sharp crispness, the music fills out fairly well, and the sound effects and other embellishments are sparkly too. But the real asset of the audio track is how CLEAN everything sounds – there isn't any foggy background hiss, or pops or crackle or anything like that.

Those of us that had the original release will notice a big improvement over the previous edition; things just sound richer and more dynamic. And that's enough for me.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

The extras package on this disc is a winning combination of old material from the original Criterion release and brand new supplements. It's more or less the definitive package on the film and in addition does a fascinating job of explaining how the movie was painstakingly restored. The booklet contains an essay from film critic David Ehrenstein called "Dancing For Your Life."

  • Audio Commentary The commentary here, a holdover from the original release, is a must-listen and, if you choose only one extra to indulge in, it should be this one! Participants in the track are film historian Ian Christie, stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, the aforementioned genius cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and some dude named Martin Scorsese (who pops up frequently on this disc). Virtually every angle that the film can be viewed from – as a participant, performer, passionate fan – is explored, beautifully.
  • The 'Red Shoes' Novel Another OG special feature, this time it's an audio recording that the Criterion Collection commissioned in which the velvety voiced Jeremy Irons reads excerpts from the Archers' 1978 novelization of the movie. You can even watch the movie with the audio recording going on. Outstanding.
  • Restoration Demonstration (HD, 5 minutes) In this brief documentary, Scorsese, who was instrumental in getting the film restored (and having that restoration seen), explains the process in which the film was cleaned up. In short, the film was shot using a tri-color strip film so the film had to be restored three times, with each color being cleaned up individually and then composited. It was grueling work, for sure, but it paid off. Big time.
  • Profile of the Red Shoes (27 minutes, HD) This good but not exactly extensive documentary, produced in England in 2000, features interviews with historian Ian Christie, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, camera operator Chris Challis, and family members of various members of the movie's creative team. Overall, it's gripping but there is still stuff left to be explored – thank heavens for that commentary track!
  • Thelma Schoonmaker Powell (15 minutes, HD) Michael Powell's widow is Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's long time editor and close collaborator. She talks about her relationship with one half of The Archers, the reference hidden within 'Shutter Island,' what it took to restore the film, and what they're working on restoring next ('Colonel Blimp').
  • Stills Gallery Broken down into a few sections – Cast and Crew; Filming in London; Filming in Paris; Filming in Monte Carlo; Deleted Scenes (black-and-white); Production and costume designs. Worth flicking through.
  • Scorsese's Memorabilia If you don't scream "Me wanty!" at least once during this gallery, then you aren't a real movie geek. Scorsese has tons of stuff – not after-the-fact promotional stuff, either (although he does have that) but things that were actually IN the movie – including the actual red shoes! It's gotten to the point where his famous friends know to give him 'Red Shoes'-related material as presents. A must-watch.
  • The Red Shoes Sketches (HD, 16 minutes) One of the coolest special features, this is a little animated montage based on production designer Hein Heckroth's original color storyboards. It's set to Brian Easdale's score but you can also watch it with Irons' gooey reading of the original fairy tale, or side-by-side with the film. Like everything else on this disc, it's crazy awesome and a loving testament to the power of the original film.
  • Trailer (HD, 3 minutes) The original trailer, which sells the spectacular aspects of the film but not its subversive elements (of course). Fun but not necessarily a must-watch.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD Exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 'The Red Shoes' is an undeniable classic beloved by film fans (and filmmakers) the world over – a tale of passion, love, and madness set against a truly theatrical backdrop. But it's not just a visual spectacle but an emotional one, too. Criterion, using a newly minted print of the film, has put together a dynamite package worthy of the amazing film – from the pristine visuals and audio to the fine collection of extra features, many of them shared with the original release but all of them worth watching. This is a Must Own if there's ever been one.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3529 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => runaways [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Runaways [picture_created] => 1275415885 [picture_name] => runaways.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/01/120/runaways.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3529/runaways.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 106 [list_price] => 34.95 [asin] => B0034G4P76 [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => movieIQ(tm)+sync featuring "The Runaways" Playlist ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English 5.1 DTS-HD MA ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning [1] => Plugged In: Making the Film [2] => The Runaways Featurette ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, History, Music ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Floria Sigismondi ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the music-fueled coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all-girl rock band, The Runaways. They fall under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, Pearl Harbor), who turns the rebellious Southern California kids into a rock group with outrageous success. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself and so do its two leads: Joan is the band's pure rock n' roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten. [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106424 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Focusing on rock goddesses, Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) 'The Runaways' chronicles the rise and fall of the band that made history as an all girl rock band. The rise to stardom, as it does with so many performers, takes a heavy toll on the girls. Drugs, booze, and sex all become commonplace for girls who are barely old enough to drive. Yet, 'The Runaways' shines through with some solid performances and a story of pubescent, angst-ridden girls run amok.

I first saw 'The Runaways' when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The director, Floria Sigismondi, was in attendance and got up at the end to answer a few questions. She commented that the most interesting part of shooting the movie was the fact that Dakota Fanning was the exact same age, at filming time, that Cherie Currie was when 'The Runaways' hit it big. This is both disturbing and fascinating. Fanning seems to be taking on darker, more adult roles before she's actually considered an adult. She writhes around on stage wearing nothing more than a corset and panties, and you can't help but think to yourself, no wonder 'The Runaways' were big.

As the girls rose to fame, much of the attention was paid to Currie as the sexpot, Bridget Bardot lookalike, which caused rifts in the band. Jett, always about the music got angry and resentful that more attention was being paid to the sexy aspects of what they were doing and not to the music. Unfortunately, I'm not up to date on every piece of rock 'n roll history, so I'm going to have to take the movie at its word that this is indeed what finally broke them up. While 'The Runaways' follows the common storyline of a band's meteoric rise to stardom, their subsequent drug use, and fall from grace due to inflated egos, it's interesting to note how young these girls really were. All the drugs and booze that comes along with rock music buries its share of adult rockers, it's hard to imagine the gravity of the situation facing these girls.

It's true that this story only focuses on Jett and Currie, and doesn't really dive into the lives of the other members of the band. In the same Sundance screening we were informed by the director that they were unable to attain the rights to the stories of the other girls in the band.

On the filmmaking front, I feel Sigismondi takes the movie too far into the nether regions of weird camera angles and strange filters just to give it that "indie" feel, when more focus could have been turned to the inner struggles of the leads. When it comes to assembling the soundtrack however, she excels. This film is rockin' with a variety of thumping 70s rock music.

The performances here are great. Stewart – yes she's still playing a brooding teenager – shows some deep emotional range. She's not that softy love stricken girl she plays in the 'Twilight' movies. Her Joan Jett would rip Edward to pieces. She puts on a hard-nosed edge that hasn't been seen in her acting repertoire until now. Fanning plays a coked-out teenage rock star as well as any teenage girl could. It's hard watching her in some of the grittier scenes showing her constant drug use, but she makes it believable. And finally, Michael Shannon, as music producer Kim Fowley, gives one of the most underrated performances of the year. He's one of those guys that either doesn't think before he speaks or just says what everyone else is actually thinking. He's bouncing-off-the-walls insane, but his constant commentary on why people are going to like The Runaways is sad but true. Quoting Kim Fowley "Jail - f****** - bait. Jack - f****** -pot!"

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15080 [review_video] =>

True to the film's theatrical presentation, Sony's 1080p presentation of 'The Runaways' is as gritty as I remember it being when I saw it at Sundance. I recall Sigismondi saying that she wanted a grimier look for the movie because it reminded her of the 70s. In order to create the look she wanted the director filmed with 16 mm film. While the transfer lives up to what the director envisioned and what it looked like during its theatrical run, this is still a disc that wouldn't be great demo material.

Due to the gritty look of the film, blacks are less defined and fine detail is somewhat lost. Filmic grain is heavy throughout the movie, more so during darker scenes. The transfer does handle colors quite well. Reds pop and skin tones are natural looking (even though after Fanning begins her coke phase her skin is anything but normal looking).

Overall, this is a solid transfer of difficult material, but this certainly isn't a film that will blow you away with its picture quality.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15081 [review_audio] =>

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is one you would expect to burst forth with into a sonic wonderland of rock, and while there are plenty of rock songs thumping around during the film, there are times during the band's practices where higher notes seem to screech. Whether this is the old-time equipment they're using, or an actual quirk with the soundtrack, I don't know. But there are definitely a couple scenes where higher notes are accompanied by a slight static noise. In contrast, during the concerts the vocals burst through, filling the room with a cacophony of lyrical rock.

Dialogue can be a problem. It's very soft, and in relation to the music, the mix seems all wrong when it comes to prioritization. Ambient noise is nicely done, with crowded concerts and band soundchecks echoing through the rear channels. LFE is a bright spot, as it keeps rumbling along with the music as the bass is strummed and the drums pound away. Barring the static noise that affects the soundtrack when the band is practicing, this soundtrack sounds pretty good. When they're on stage and the music takes over it's exactly what should be expected of a movie featuring so many well-known 70s rock songs, it's just in the softer, less rocking areas that things get a little tricky. Overall, this is still a solid audio presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15082 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary – The real Joan Jett joins Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart in a lively commentary. It's a shame that we don't also get the thoughts of the director and the technicalities on how things were shot and why such and such camera angle was chosen. Jett, Fanning and Stewart have great chemistry though, and make this commentary worth listening to. Especially if you're a fan of Jett, who totally embraced this movie from start to finish.
  • Plugged In: Making the Film (HD, 15 min.) – With behind-the-scenes footage of Fanning strutting her stuff in knee high leg stockings and panties, cast and crew are interviewed. The most fascinating stuff comes from real-life Currie who talks about how she had never sung professionally in her life and then was basically thrown on stage. It does have a feeling of EPK at times, but the history given by Currie about the real band is the reason to watch this featurette.
  • The Runaways (HD, 2 min.) – This is pure promo material. Very clip heavy, it just splices together the same interviews you saw in the more extensive making of.
  • Trailers - 'Chloe,' 'Youth in Revolt,' 'The Square,' 'The Bounty Hunter,' 'Harry Brown,' 'The Pillars of the Earth,' 'Get Low.'

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 15083 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • Movie IQ - 'The Runaways' features Sony's movie IQ which brings up information regarding what's happening on screen. Here you'll get information on the musical choices, information on the actresses, and fun trivia throughout the movie.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15084 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I liked 'The Runaways' when I first saw it at Sundance, and after a second viewing my opinion hasn't changed. It's a grim tale about the rise and fall of a teenage girl band that really was doomed from the beginning. This is one of the most rocking musical soundtracks for a recent film. Besides the few static moments heard during their practices, as well as a few areas of soft dialogue, the concert scenes sound great! The video, which adheres to the director's intent, but isn't something you'll throw in your Blu-ray player to show off what high-definition can do. The special features go for quality over quantity, and the commentary and making of are more than worthy of your attention. Overall, 'The Runaways' comes recommended.

) ) [5] => Array ( [review_id] => 3359 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => tinman [review_release_date] => 1279609200 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Tin Man [picture_created] => 1272651714 [picture_name] => 5318b6bbaed29.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Vivendi [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/30/120/5318b6bbaed29.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3359/tinman.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 263 [list_price] => 19.97 [asin] => B003G715Q2 [amazon_price] => 19.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 2 50GB Blu-ray Discs ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => None ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: The Making of 'Tin Man' [1] => Nick Willing: On Set with the Director [2] => Wizard Tricks: Gag Reel [3] => The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie: Interviews [4] => Raw and Uncut: A Sitdown With Raoul Trujillo: Interview [5] => Making the Mystic Man [6] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => TV, Fantasy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Zooey Deschanel, Richard Dreyfuss, Alan Cumming, Neil McDonough ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => In this cyber-twisted update of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a leather-clad, soul-sucking sorceress named Azkadellia has scorched the once-beautiful O.Z. into a desolate wasteland. Its only hope is with an "outsider" named DG, a young Midwestern woman, whose troubling dreams have summoned her to the doomed paradise. She not only changes the fate of the O.Z. but also discovers her own destiny in this strange new world. [review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106603 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

I'm happy to say that the SyFy Channel's mini-series 'Tin Man' is one of, if not the best things they've produced. I just got done reviewing 'Riverworld,' a while ago I also reviewed SyFy's reimaging of the Alice in Wonderland story called 'Alice,' and 'Tin Man' blows both of those productions out of the collective SyFy mini-series water. What makes 'Tin Man' so engaging and much better than those other original mini-series? The acting.

Many of these original productions suffer from bland performances. One of the reasons it's so easy to continue watching the lengthy 'Tin Man' is because of Zooey Deschanel ('(500) Days of Summer'). Personally, I could watch Zooey for any amount of time (I admit I've got a crush on her, so what!). Here she's her same goofy, cute self, which goes a long way towards selling the series as a whole. In this re-imagining of the 'Wizard of Oz' story, she plays the part of D.G. (Dorothy Gale),who is transported to the land of OZ (or as the locals pronounce it, "The Oh. Zee"). D.G. is soon thrust into the middle of a battle between good and evil as the cruel sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) rules the land with an iron fist, squashing all those who oppose her.

D.G. soon finds out that she may be more entwined with this strange world than she had ever thought. The twist of how the world of OZ has been shaped is an interesting one. This is far from the story of the Judy Garland classic, but it's clever in its own right. The evil sorceress Azkadellia has imprisoned her mother, and is hell-bent on destroying the entire land of OZ. D.G. doesn't know it yet, but she's come to stop her from completing that task.

Mini-series regular Alan Cummings ('Riverworld') appears here as the updated version of the Scarecrow, his name is Glitch on account of the fact that he's missing half his brain (sound familiar?). Neal McDonough ('Traitor') arrives on the scene as Wyatt Cain. Early in his life, Wyatt was known as a Tin Man, the law enforcement of OZ before the sorceress took over.

While much of the series is full of hokey looking special effects and some terribly rendered green screen shots, this is all is so engrossing that it's easy to look past them. It doesn't feel overly cheesy like 'Riverworld,' or that it's trying too hard like 'Alice.' Zooey, McDonough, and Cummings all do a fantastic job creating a believable world. Throw in a few scenes from a truly bizarre Richard Dreyfuss, and you've got yourself a very nice cast of seasoned actors who make watching a low-budget mini-series enjoyable.

Even though 'Tin Man' clocks in at a whopping 260-plus minutes, the running time doesn't feel that long. It's a story that's as easy to get lost in as Zooey Deschanel's bright blue eyes. The 'Tin Man' isn't the best thing you'll see all year, but it might just be the best mini-series from the SyFy channel available on Blu-ray.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Blu-ray version of 'Tin Man' is dubbed a 2-Disc Collector's Edition. The two discs are indeed two 50GB Blu-ray discs. It still comes in a standard Blu-ray green-friendly keepcase with the recycle arrows on the inside, making it a flimsy case for a "Collector's Edition."

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15119 [review_video] =>

Vivendi's 1080p presentation of 'Tin Man' isn't something to get excited about.

There are moments of brilliant clarity and lush color, but when things in OZ turn dark all bets are off. Much, if not all of this series must have been filmed with a diffuse filter giving the image a more dream-like quality. This creates a soft haloing effect around people, while this isn't a technical problem, sometimes the technique can zap detail, and also create a ghost-like double image. For example, the golden shoulder pieces on Azkadellia's dress often times have a double image reflection. Since the entire series has a softer focus, this is the intended effect.

When darkness falls on the land, or when the characters enter a darkened building interior, the transfer really falls apart. Maybe it's the soft focus being used, or maybe the transfer just isn't up to snuff, but blacks are frustrating too look at. Blacks take on a grayish, flat-looking effect that sucks out fine detail. Characters, details, and just about everything else are lost in amorphous black blobs, blending into the background whenever the lights get dimmer. In lower light, all colors become flat and uninteresting. When comparing daylight scenes to darker scenes it's a world of difference. Daytime scenes are full of color, lush greens and deep blues, but as soon as the light fades, colors take on a metallic looking effect that strains the eyes.

High definition isn't kind at all to the cheap special effects that populate the series. From the computer generated flying bats to the obvious green screen backdrops (like the inside of the Ice Palace), the special effects here look like they came from the discount package. This is no fault of the transfer, but they can't go without mention. Overall, you really can't expect much from a low-budget SyFy production, but seriously much of the darkly lit material here is so frustrating it gets harder and harder to watch as the series progresses.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15120 [review_audio] =>

'Tin Man' is accompanied by a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio presentation that is just about as lackluster as its video counterpart.

First the pros, dialogue is always front and center, always clear, even during whispered tones. I was thankful for that, since this is a very talkative series. Ambient sound is present, although not as lively as one would expect, during scenes where the characters are walking through dense forests or a dried up orchard. In the orchard area they are attacked by dog-like creatures that are given some good, albeit subdued, sound effects as they attack from every side.

The musical score isn't given much room in which to breath, however. It's kept front and center, sounds flat, and isn't ported to the rear speakers to give it that encompassing effect. While dialogue is clearly perceivable it still gives off a slight canned sound. It's just not as full-bodied as one would hope for on a Blu-ray release o a newer series. Overall, the sound on Vivendi's release of 'Tin Man' may be slightly above average, but not much. It just doesn't pack that wallop you'd expect to hear, especially from an action/adventure show.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15121 [review_supplements] =>
  • Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: The Making of 'Tin Man' (SD, 22 min.) – A few behind-the-scenes snippets, interviews with the cast and crew. Just your standard promotional special feature.
  • Nick Willing: On Set with the Director (SD, 6 min.) – Willing talks about he approached the reimagining of such a classic story and how they were able to pull it all off.
  • Wizard Tricks: Gag Reel (SD, 9 min.) – Just standard gag reel stuff here, where actors start laughing, but they really haven't shown you why.
  • The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie (SD, 70 min.) – A nice collection of in depth interviews with the main members of the cast. All the main actors and the director are featured here with interviews on what they thought about the project, the intricacies of it all, and how they put their own spin on such classic characters. The most memorable feature of the bunch in my opinion.
  • Raw and Uncut: A Sitdown With Raoul Trujillo (SD, 16 min.) – Raoul Truijillo, who plays Raw, is given his own interview segment. I was perplexed at why they didn't just put this in "The Brain, Heart and Courage of the Movie" segment, because it's exactly the same as those interviews. Maybe just to look like there are more special feature selections than what's really here.
  • Making the Mystic Man (SD, 37 min.) – The featurette shows exactly how they put together the Mystic Man scene and gives you some insight as to what goes into moviemaking. Pretty interesting for those of you who want to know just how much goes into creating a film and its world.
  • Trailer (SD, 3 min.) – The original promotional trailer is included.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15122 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Yes, I do think this is one of the best things that the SyFy Channel has produced. They were able to assemble a strong cast, headlined by Deschanel and buoyed up by experienced actors Cummings and McDonough, and they're really what make this material believable and entertaining. Unfortunately, even though this Blu-ray is quite the upgrade from the previous DVD release, it doesn't fare all that well. The video can be striking at times, but when night falls, crushing commences. Sound doesn't get off too easy either, never entering the world of enveloping sound. The special features are all in standard definition, which is annoying. Overall, I'd say this is a rental at best. I liked it the first time through, but even though Deschanel usually keeps me coming back for more with most of her stuff, I just don't see myself revisiting the show again. It's plenty good the first time around though.

) ) ) ) ) [July 13, 2010] => Array ( [reviews] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3277 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => assaultonprecinct13_2005 [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) [picture_created] => [picture_name] => [manufacturer_name] => Universal [picture_source] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/pop-on-amazon.png [picture_source_195] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_235] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_300] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_660] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_alternate] => Box coming soon [picture_title] => Box coming soon [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3277/assaultonprecinct13_2005.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2005 [run_time] => 109 [list_price] => 26.98 [asin] => B003GJUYLM [amazon_price] => 18.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => D-BOX Motion Code ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Armed and Dangerous [1] => Behind Precinct Walls [2] => Plan of Attack [3] => The Assault Team [4] => Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Jean-Francois Richet [5] => Caught in the Crosshairs: Behind the Scenes of Assault on Precinct 13 [6] => Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Francois Richet, Writer James DeMonaco and Producer Jeffrey Silver ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Jean-Francois Richet ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne lead an explosive, all-star cast, including John Leguizamo, Ja Rule and Drea de Matteo, in the gripping, action-packed thriller, Assault on Precinct 13. Run-down Precinct 13 is closing its doors forever. But everything changes when a high-security prison transport bus arrives with some of Detroit's most lethal prisoners. Soon, the only thing more dangerous than the criminals on the inside is the rogue gang on the outside. And if they're going to survive the night, two men on opposite sides of the law will have to work together to battle an enemy who doesn't follow the code of cop or criminal. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3342 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => caughtinthecrossfire [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Caught in the Crossfire [picture_created] => 1278949461 [picture_name] => caught1.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/12/120/caught1.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3342/caughtinthecrossfire.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 85 [list_price] => 29.99 [asin] => B003KM4CHW [amazon_price] => 20.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD 25GB Single-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Outtakes ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Adam Rodriguez, Chris Klein, and Richard T. Jones ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Filmed and set in Michigan, the story follows two police detectives (Rodriguez and Klein) who begin to investigate a suspicious crime, only to discover they have become the new targets of gang members and crooked cops. [review_bottom_line] => One to Avoid [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106298 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

Just check out Chris Klein on that cover. He's pissed, furrowed brow, steely gaze, like a skinnier Vic Mackey with more hair. The "I don't take any crap from nobody" stare he's sporting is a pre-requisite for actors starring in "gritty" cop dramas nowadays. It's just how it goes.

There are so many things wrong with 'Caught in the Crossfire' that it's hard to know where to begin. So, let's start with the fact that they're advertising this direct-to-video movie with a big headline that says: "From a producer of '16 Blocks,' and 'Righteous Kill.'" Usually, when producer credits are thrown around to entice people to see a movie we at least get a "the." Here we just get an "a." It could be any old producer, it doesn't matter, it's just a tricky attempt to link this movie with names like Bruce Willis, Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro.

Briggs (Klein) and Shepherd (Adam Rodriguez) are partners. They've been assigned to investigate the killing of one of their own. A cop has been murdered in cold blood and Briggs is very serious about finding out who did it. See, the guy who was murdered also happened to be Briggs' old partner. The plot thickens.

Briggs is the loose cannon, because it's completely impossible in today's world to have a cop movie without a loose cannon. Shepherd is all about "the book." He balks at entering houses without warrants, and he puts an end to good old fashioned beat downs that Briggs gives out to get information. Doesn't Shepherd know that going by the book isn't cool? Cops who get things done are the cops that play loosey goosey with the rules. This is just common knowledge.

I'm not sure what Klein is going for with his performance here, either an Oscar or a Razzie. He's just insane. It's not good insane though, like Nic Cage in 'Bad Lieutenant.' This is aggravating insane. Like for example, when Klein gruffly talks to himself about how everything during a shootout went down. It's hard not to laugh out loud during that scene, but he's so serious about it you have to give him credit for jumping in head first.

'Caught in the Crossfire,' is another movie in the long line of predictable cop movies that follows the trail of dirty cops doing dirty things. There are no surprises here. The "surprise" ending can be seen a mile away.

The one appealing aspect of the whole movie is that the story is told as Briggs and Shepherd are recounting the events in an interrogation from their superiors. If only the rest of the movie was that interesting.

Are there any more clean cops in the movies? Was there ever any? Or are they all just dirty, usurping their power over the poor civilians of the world? Oh, who cares! 'Caught in the Crossfire,' is as bland as any other humdrum cop show out there. Klein would like us to think that his Briggs character is different, but he's not. It's all more of the same old cop drama that is described as gritty and dark so it can get away with being lame and unoriginal.

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_video] =>

'Caught in the Crossfire's AVC-encoded 1080p transfer leaves a lot to be desired.

The entire image is plagued with a constant rat-ta-tat-tat of source noise that pops up at a frequent rate. Fine detail is at a minimum here. There are only a handful of scenes that genuinely pop. The scene where Klein talks to himself (mentioned above) is one of the better looking scenes. Most of the movie takes place either at night or in a dimly lit interrogation room. Believe me when I tell you low-light, or none at all isn't very viewer friendly here. Blacks reside somewhere in the gray spectrum. Crushing is a constant offender with 50 Cent's head being lost in the murk more often than not.

I know you probably weren't expecting much from this direct-to-home-video film, but this definitely should have looked better in high definition.

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio] =>

'Caught in the Crossfire' features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation. The sound doesn't fare much better than the video.

The first noticeable offense is that the ambient sound in the surround speakers – barring the gunfight at the beginning – remains almost completely silent for the length of the movie. The film features a front-heavy mix containing lots of dialogue, which is soft and oft times hard to hear. LFE is present during some of the musical soundtrack, and helps with deeper sounds that come from the numerous gunshots in the movie, but it never sounds deep and resonant.

This is just a bland sound presentation to go along with the underwhelming video.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Outtakes (HD, 10 min.) – Not sure that a "hardcore and gritty" crime drama like 'Caught in the Crossfire' is the right movie to include outtakes on, but here you go. Actor flubs and a few laughs.
  • Trailer (SD) – The trailer is included, oddly in standard definition.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Just avoid 'Caught in the Crossfire.' I know, I know, you'd never have even heard of it if it weren't for this review. Well, just in case you're a huge Chris Klein fan, stick with something like 'Just Friends' or 'Election' and give this soon-to-be turkey a pass. The video and audio presentations seem to be scraped off the bargain basement floor. This is one to avoid.

) ) [2] => Array ( [review_id] => 3494 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => chloe [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Chloe [picture_created] => 1274716910 [picture_name] => chloe.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/24/120/chloe.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3494/chloe.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 96 [list_price] => 34.98 [asin] => B0037QGS0K [amazon_price] => 24.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p / AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => BD-Live ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 50GB Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio Commentary [1] => Deleted Scenes ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Atom Egoyan ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => When Catherine (Julianne Moore), a successful doctor, begins to question her husband David's (Liam Neeson) fidelity, she sets out to resolve her suspicions with the help of an alluring young woman, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried). Soon caught in a web of sexual desire, Catherine finds herself on a journey that places her family in great danger. [review_bottom_line] => Rent It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106032 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

What is it about playing a prostitute or a stripper that seems to be so enjoyable for actresses? Megan Fox, while promoting her movie 'Jonah Hex,' announced that every actress should play a prostitute at least once during their careers. Now Amanda Seyfried, who coincidentally starred with Fox in 'Jennifer's Body,' takes her turn in the sexual thriller 'Chloe.' What's puzzling is the fact that Seyfried is at the top of her game after her work in movies like 'Mamma Mia!' and 'Dear John.' This type of titillating nudity usually surfaces at the start of a struggling actresses career, or later when their professional prospects seem to require a jumpstart or reinvention. I was skeptical after hearing about Atom Egoyan's ('Exotica') new erotic thriller 'Chloe' and how it's main selling point was the fact that Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried roll around together in bed sheets, wearing nothing but pleasure-induced soft core smiles, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the intriguingly dark nature of this thriller.

One day, Catherine (Moore) sees a striking blonde prostitute (Seyfried) outside her office window. We don't really know the exact reason why she's so fixated on the girl. Catherine's husband, David (Liam Neeson), is a college professor who finds it increasingly hard to love his wife. Even when she throws him a supposed surprise party he doesn't bother showing up. They're one of those couples that create tension just being in the same room together.

Catherine finds a suspicious picture of David on his cell phone with one of his students. She automatically thinks that David is cheating on her. After years of rejection and a failing marriage it isn't hard to see why Catherine comes to cheating as a conclusion. Unfortunately, she can't prove that he's cheating so she takes it upon herself to hire a hooker to seduce him. If he gives into the seduction, he's guilty, if not, then it's back to their unloving marriage, but at least she can trust him not to love anyone else!

Chloe (Seyfried) is the hooker Catherine chooses to seduce her husband. Seyfried's Chloe is the most interesting part of the movie. Why is she doing what she's doing? Does she enjoy it? Is she hell-bent on using her powers of sexuality and manipulation to control and possess people? Egoyan doesn't provide many answers during the film, instead he lingers, watching each of these characters wallow in their lives. Maybe they don't have any answers themselves.

'Chloe' is confusing yes, but Egoyan's constant, subdued style hints at an undercurrent of malice. The three leads jump head first into a film that if played any other way could turn into a laughable camp-fest. Here Moore, Neeson, and Seyfried add a dynamic quality and take on the material without any reservations. Moore again provides a performance that shows she's not afraid of anything.

The slow, methodical pacing, along with the hoards of unanswered questions, may leave some viewers with a bad taste in their mouths. On the other hand, these are some brilliantly executed performances from some seasoned actors. They make it believable and erotic.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14943 [review_video] =>

'Chloe' is definitely a stylized work by Egoyan and his cinematographer Paul Sarossy ('The Wicker Man' ). Colors are slightly oversaturated and a diffuse filter seems to be used throughout the movie, giving it more of a dream-like feel. Colors are softer, except for the color red, which bursts off the screen whenever shown. Seyfried's dark red lipstick is a perfect example to keep a look out for. The 1080p presentation from Sony gets high marks in the fine detail category. Close ups reveal striking facial details and slight blemishes of the skin. During the intimate scene between Moore and Seyfried it's even possible to pick out tiny body hairs as the camera pans around the writhing bodies of the two stars. Grain is a consistent presence, but only adds to the cinematic feel of the movie. Blacks are handled well, but could be darker and more precise. Shadow delineation provides a good bit of detail throughout the film, but there are a few darker instances where faces, clothing, and objects disappear into blackness. The stylized vision of Egoyan, may indeed be having some affect on the blacks here.

Overall, 'Chloe' looks great for a film of this genre. The mysterious look is carried across nicely in high definition.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14944 [review_audio] =>

Sony's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound presentation accompanying 'Chloe,' works well, but isn't going to blow you away with sonic pleasures.

First and foremost, the dialogue here, which is by far the main focus of the features, is presented nicely through the center channels. It never gets muddled up or drowned out by the other aspects of the sound design. Chloe's club, and a walk down a busy city street, provide the movie with some deeply engaging surround sound. Too bad much of the time we're left with reserved or silent rear speakers. Directionality works well as cars zoom through the front channels producing some nice panning effects. There's nothing overly exciting about this track, but to Sony's credit, it provides a solid presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14945 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary – It's always nice to see a commentary track with more than one person talking. Here director Atom Egoyan, actress Amanda Seyfried, and writer Erin Cressida Wilson, all lend their voices to a decent enough commentary, which provides more than enough information on what was going on during filming. Egoyan constantly asks Wilson and Seyfried to weigh in with their interpretations of different scenes. Even now, much of the movie is a mystery and even the people involved have different ideas on what certain scenes mean.
  • Introducing 'Chloe' (SD, 26 min.) – Based on a French film called 'Nathalie,' we learn how 'Chloe' came to be and what it took to get the movie to full production. The standard promo-esque interviews are offered, but we do get some nice behind-the-scenes footage.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 min.) – Only a couple scenes are offered here. One of the Catherine's son showing why indeed he needs therapy and the other involves Chloe talking about her teenage past.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

'Chloe' has BD-Live functionality, but as of this writing, the BD-Live features haven't been turned on. I can't expect that we'll see some outrageously awesome BD-Live special features, but who knows.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14946 [review_final_thoughts] =>

In a way 'Chloe' feels confused, and a bit muddled, but I think that was Egoyan's intention. We're not supposed to know why Chloe does the things she does. She has a power over people that can't be quantified or explained. It's somewhat eerie. Yes there is a love scene between Moore and Seyfried, which some people are very excited to see, but there's something about this movie that rises above famous girl-on-girl action. It's haunting, and thrilling to watch. The video is well above average, while the sound leaves a little to be desired. Same old, same old when it comes to the extras. Overall, I'd say rent it.

) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 3372 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => gabrieliglesias_hot&fluffy [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Gabriel Iglesias: Hot & Fluffy [picture_created] => 1272919385 [picture_name] => 5318b6c0ef637.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c0ef637.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3372/gabrieliglesias_hot%26fluffy.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 60 [list_price] => 17.98 [asin] => B003HTPHUO [amazon_price] => 15.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Opening acts ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Gabriel Iglesias ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Gabriel Iglesias is one of the fastest rising comics today! With his unique brand of humor, loveable stage presence and a wide range of voices and impressions, it's no wonder he became an instant favorite on "Last Comic Standing." Now you can see Comedy Central's "Comic of the Year" in a sold out concert performance at the historic Fox Theater in Bakersfield, California. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3392 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => greenberg [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Greenberg [picture_created] => 1278629877 [picture_name] => green.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Universal Studios [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/08/120/green.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3392/greenberg.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 108 [list_price] => 39.99 [asin] => B002ZG97TC [amazon_price] => 27.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => BD-live [1] => My Scenes [2] => Pocket Blu [3] => Social Blu ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [1] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French DTS 5.1 Surround Sound [2] => Spanish DTS 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, French, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Greenberg [1] => Greenberg Loves Los Angeles [2] => Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Ben Stiller ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Noah Baumbach ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Roger Greenberg is single, fortyish and deliberately doing nothing. In search of a place to restart his life, he agrees to house sit for his brother in LA and tries to reconnect with his former bandmate and ex-girlfriend. But old friends aren't necessarily still best friends, and Greenberg soon finds himself forging a connection with his brother's personal assistant, Florence. Despite his best attempts not to be drawn in, Greenberg comes to realize that he may at last have found a reason to be happy. [review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106110 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

They say don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge a movie either.

When 'Greenberg' was released into theaters this past spring, it had an appropriately melancholic one sheet, showing star Ben Stiller as the titular man-child who is having a mid-life crisis while house-sitting for his successful brother in Los Angeles. Showing Stiller looking very small against a field of white, it summed up the movie's angst-y mixture of alienation and contemplation, and set the right tone for the comedy/drama that followed.

For the home video release, Universal, apparently burned by the poor box office for 'Greenberg' (it didn't exactly bring in 'Night at the Museum 2' numbers), decided to present the movie like your typical romantic comedy.

Out is the white void of space, replaced by a montage-like border featuring tiny scenes from the movie, while the main focus of the poster is now a flirty picture of Stiller interacting with his adorable costar Greta Gerwig in a way more affable way than ever actually happens in the movie. (Stiller's character is kind of a loser/asshole, if I haven't already made that abundantly clear.)

There are now big blocks of text that fill the space in between Gerwig (adorable) and Stiller (not): "Extremely Entertaining!" exclaims The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, in big block letters. In even bigger, blockier letters is a quote from A.O. Scott, not from his day job as the frequently wonderful film critic from the New York Times, but from his night gig as populist host for the re-jiggered 'At the Movies' program (the one that used to be 'Siskel & Ebert' and has since been axed).

The entire, re-presentation of 'Greenberg' is supposed to suggest that the movie is fun, quirky, witty, and worthy of your attention. I agree with all of these things. It's an acerbic comedy that sticks with you in ways that few comedies these days do (another recent exception: the outrageously wonderful 'The Kids Are All Right'), full of pathos and heart and truth, especially when it comes to navigating the wasteland of Los Angeles without a car.

But this marketing ploy is also inherently false. The movie is persnickety, difficult, and at times almost painfully awkward. Wait - replace the word "almost" with the word "frequently." The movie was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who directed the similarly cringe-worthy films 'Margot at the Wedding' and the more palpable 'The Squid and the Whale.' (Also, in his duties as Wes Anderson's collaborator, he co-wrote last year's great 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.') These are movies that don't warrant casual recommendation, and the same is true of 'Greenberg.' For a "funny" movie starring Ben Stiller, it goes to some pretty bleak places that I personally don't feel are for every viewer out there, especially if there's any kind of mood trying to be established (not exactly first date material, at home or in the theater).

That isn't to say that the movie isn't completely brilliant, because it is. I loved every second of it, even when it made me want to take a razorblade to my skin to exorcise all the scurrying vermin crawling around in there. It's a beautifully shot movie, photographed with loving detail by Harry Savides, who also shot 'Zodiac' and 'Birth' (he is very talented). And Stiller's performance is the most nuanced and fearless he's been in years, the perfect mixture of toxicity and smarmy charm. He's not the most lovable guy, but there will be another 'Meet the Parents' sequel this Christmas for all you folks who want to see him embarrass himself with no cathartic value.

This is Baumbach's second most tolerable movie, in terms of a wide audience, after 'The Squid and the Whale.' Part of it is the jangly, rambling quality of the film's narrative. Part of it is the aforementioned adorableness of Gerwig, who cut her teeth on the "mumblecore" sub-genre of American independent films. Part of it is the wonderful score by James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame. Part of it is that 70s-style vibe of aimless self-doubt. But none of it comes from that god awful cover art.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB dual-layer disc does not automatically play. Typical of Universal releases, there is no art on the disc itself (just a clear disc with blue lettering). It's BD-Live ready and I guess I'm supposed to say that it has "social network features" and "mobile features." It is Region A locked.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14966 [review_video] =>

The disc's VC-1 1080p transfer (aspect ratio: 2.35:1) mostly does the movie justice. Mostly.

When I saw this movie in the theater, I was blown away. Blown away I tells ya. There's this really wonderful Steadicam shot that follows Ben Stiller as he walks into a swimming pool that made my jaw drop. There was an amazing amount of depth to the images Savides captured, an almost three-dimensional quality, particularly in the velveteen darkness that accompanies a nighttime party scene towards the end of the movie.

That dimensionality isn't as present on the Blu-ray transfer, which instead emphasizes the more atonal quality to many of the sequences, which are obviously meant to mimic the hazy look of many 1970s movies (movies to which 'Greenberg' owes an obvious debt).

You'll notice this diffuse visual scheme from the word 'go,' as the 70s-style font choice of the opening titles fills up a vast panorama of Los Angeles. I'm not complaining. The sequences that made my eyes pop out of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon character still do the same, but there's just less depth there.

Technically, the disc is peerless: skin tones look great, blacks are deep and inky, and most shockingly, while there isn't any grain present the movie retains a decidedly filmic look and feel. There aren't any wonky technical issues either.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14967 [review_audio] =>

'Greenberg' is blessed with one of the year's best scores, by LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. Thankfully, it is brought to beautiful life by a subtle and superb lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix.

This isn't the most dynamic mix out there, nor should it be, but it is one of the crispest, with dialogue coming through loud and clear and well prioritized. Scenes that require some ambient atmosphere, like the aforementioned party sequence, really bristle to life, and Murphy's laid-back, partially electronic score commands your attention every time it pops up (ditto the excellently selected soundtrack picks).

There isn't a whole lot of serious surround sound activity, which will certainly rub some people the wrong way, but this is the best kind of sound track, one that is absolutely faithful to the material. The long, awkward stretches of silence are appropriately silent, and everything that should sound good, does sound good. I say well done.

Also included on this disc are French DTS 5.1 and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks and subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14968 [review_supplements] =>

The special features on this thing are totally lacking. Clearly, Universal didn't want to spend any more money on this film, an expensive little movie that really didn't make as much money as they would have liked. So it got virtually no attention with the home video release. There are some Blu-ray "exclusives" but they barely are worth mentioning. The entire spectrum of special features lasts less than ten minutes in total. That's disgusting. Especially for a movie this good.

  • A Behind the Scenes Look at 'Greenberg' (HD, 3:24) Basically, this is an extended trailer with a few seconds of the actors in there. It's completely worthless. Skip.
  • Greenberg Loves Los Angeles (HD, 2:08) This could have been good if it wasn't about as long as a television commercial. It basically runs down what the director and location manager were going for while choosing locations. But it's over before it began. God this is infuriating.
  • Greenberg: Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach (HD, 1:32) Again, this could have been amazing! Baumbach is saying that he was more interested in emulating 20th century novelists when crafting 'Greenberg.' But guess what? THIS FEATURETTE IS LESS THAN TWO MINUTES LONG. I'm getting irate.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 14969 [review_bonus_content] =>

These are such a waste of time (and they take up about a quarter of the back of the Blu-ray box, of course). The Blu-ray exclusives are (get ready for this): pocket BLU, where you can control your Blu-ray player with your Blackberry for some reason; social BLU which, according to the box allows you to "connect with friends on your social networks to talk about your favorite movies, enjoy Blu-ray community features together and more" (not going to happen); and BD-Live, which at the time of this review doesn't have any exclusive material.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14983 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I really loved 'Greenberg.' I know that seems weird to say about a movie as cold and alienating as this is, but there's something to be said for a film that actually examines the messy details of humanity. Ben Stiller, in an absolutely fearless role, shines as an awkward man-child trying to get his shit together. The Blu-ray features wonderful audio and video but really fails in the special features department, like, crash-and-burn fail. Don't be put off (or sucked in) by the cloyingly sentimentalized box art. This movie isn't for everyone. But if you want something that's a little more spice than sugar, this is the movie for you. You will be rewarded for going out on a limb and you'll be glad you did, even if you squirm while watching.

) ) [5] => Array ( [review_id] => 3278 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => inbruges [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => In Bruges [picture_created] => 1271263698 [picture_name] => in-bruges.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Universal Studios [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/14/120/in-bruges.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3278/inbruges.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 107 [list_price] => 26.98 [asin] => B001PMRBJA [amazon_price] => 20.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => D-BOX Motion Code [1] => BD-Live [2] => My Scenes ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [2] => Region A ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French DTS 5.1 Surround ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH [1] => French [2] => Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Deleted and Extended Scenes [1] => Gag Reel [2] => A Boat Trip Around Bruges ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Drama, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Martin McDonagh ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Hit men Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter) have been ordered to cool their heels in the storybook city of Bruges (it's in Belgium) after finishing a big job. But since hit men make the worst tourists, they soon find themselves in a life-and-death struggle of comic proportions against one very angry crime boss (Fiennes)! [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 116379 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

Setting is an important feature of any movie. In some stories the location that surrounds the characters can become a living, breathing entity of its own, just as important and integral to the narrative as the major players themselves. With the 2008 crime comedy 'In Bruges' that place of interest is the idyllic, beautiful, Belgian city of Bruges. A peaceful medieval tourist attraction littered with swans, rich culture, and apparently many alcoves, the dreamy, wistful streets of Bruges serve to lure the audience and characters into a kind of stasis, a hazy purgatory with a false sense of security, that is expertly juxtaposed against darker threats. As our characters pass through this fairy tale-like atmosphere, they bring with them pain, violence, guilt, and a healthy dose of humor, which all contrast perfectly with their charming surroundings in a hilarious and surprisingly thoughtful clash of bullets and wit.

'In Bruges' follows two hit men, Ray (Colin Ferrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) as they are forced to lay low in the quiet city of Bruges after their last job fails to go according to plan. While Ken takes a liking to the serene atmosphere, Ray starts to go mad with boredom and wanders the town looking for action. When their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), tasks Ken with a new and unsavory assignment, friendships are tested and complications arise.

Martin McDonagh's Academy Award nominated script is wonderful and demonstrates a great command of tone. The opening line itself, which mentions Ray killing some people and then washing his hands in a Burger King bathroom, effectively sets the stage for the entire movie, showcasing a matter of fact treatment of violence that is undercut by a quick dose of humor. Full of sharp and biting dialogue, the characters are all given unique and distinct voices that still manage to carry a singular comedic wit and style throughout. The performances are also exceptional. Farrell's Ray is a charming mix of crass thug and sensitive soul. Almost every word out of his mouth is a potentially offensive, politically incorrect jab that is somehow written and delivered in just the right way, with just the right blend of innocent ignorance that carries no sign of mean-spirited intent. Gleeson is equally fantastic as Ken, bringing a kind intelligence and elegance that works well with the more unhinged traits of Ray. Even the more minor characters have their moments, and everyone seems to have an extra layer of depth hidden just beneath their exterior.

Much of the comedy is a direct result of taking these potentially larger than life killers out of their usual seedy element and dropping them into such ordinary circumstances and surroundings. Some of the funniest bits come from simple little moments, reactions, or lines. Highlights include the gangsters' various attempts at simple sightseeing, Ray's surprising and childlike excitement at seeing a little person actor filming a movie in the city, Ken and Harry's discussion on the virtues of Pizza Hut, and one character's obsession with the many alcoves (or nooks and crannies) in Bruges. While the movie is consistently hilarious throughout, there is also a more serious element to the script that is handled with just the right amount of sensitivity and insight. An undercurrent of melancholy runs just below the surface of the film, flowing through the little nooks and crannies (or alcoves) of the movie's bittersweet score. Farrell's character harbors massive guilt for a mistake he made during his last kill, and this shame hangs heavy in Ray's heart and throughout the story itself. This sobering dose of reality plays well with the movie's humorous elements and adds up to a surprisingly thoughtful experience.

While the movie is mostly successful, there are some minor areas of concern. A few actions taken in the last act bend the realm of believability just a bit, and though the characters are all well written, there is a certain inherent lack of authenticity that comes with having professional killers as kind, moral, and ethical as Ray, Ken, and even Harry. Also, though beautifully shot, the ending sequence might be a bit too ironic and thematically overt for its own good. Still, these are rather minor issues and the movie as a whole more than makes up for them.

Overall, 'In Bruges' is a wonderfully entertaining, funny, and intelligent film about guilt, friendship, and atonement. The script is refreshingly creative and smart, with strong characters and dialogue. The city of Bruges itself comes alive through the dreamlike cinematography, and serves as more than just a setting, effectively becoming a major thematic element of the action. We may never know for sure if Ray escapes the peaceful limbo he finds so mundane, or if he finds himself stuck in a swan infested hell, but either way the journey through 'In Bruges' is well worth your time.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 21125 [review_video] =>

Presented in a 1080p/VC-1 transfer in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 'In Bruges' looks quite good. The print is nice and clean, with some thin, natural grain present.

The picture has nice levels of detail, but while not soft, it's never exactly razor sharp either. Many shots, especially those which feature the pretty lights of the city just out of focus in the background, carry a welcomed sense of depth, providing a sometimes impressive level of dimension. The film has an intended high contrast, almost dreamlike look to it, giving the idyllic town of Bruges a wistful and beautiful sheen. While this visual palette sometimes gives colors a slightly subdued look, they still carry a full and pleasing richness. Even with the slightly stylized look, black levels are deep and shadow detail is good.

Overall, while not among the most impressive transfers the format has to offer, there is certainly nothing to complain about with the video here. Free of any technical artifacts or inconsistencies, Universal has done a respectful job.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 21126 [review_audio] =>

The film is provided with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and a French DTS 5.1 track with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles. Despite what the marketing for this film may have you believe, this is actually a fairly quiet movie, and the audio here reflects that.

'In Bruges' is mostly dialogue driven, and thankfully the speech is clean and crisp. The track is mostly front loaded, but surrounds are occasionally used early on for various atmospheric effects which add a nice but restrained level of immersion. When bullets do eventually start to fly, the surrounds rise to the challenge and bustle with activity. Dynamic range also proves to be fairly impressive in these action sequences, providing a nice booming contrast to the quieter scenes. Balance remains good between elements and bass also picks up with a nice, full punch.

While not the most lively track, this dialogue centric film sounds very good with an effective but subtle use of surrounds. It won't exactly give your system an aural workout, but the track is technically strong and packs a powerful jolt or two when it needs to.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

Unfortunately, outside of the deleted scenes, supplements here are pretty sparse. Some behind the scenes featurettes or interviews with the filmmakers would have been welcomed. Supplements are all presented in standard definition with stereo sound and English, Spanish, and French subtitle options.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (SD, 18 min) - Eleven deleted scenes and two extended scenes are presented here. Footage includes additional sequences of Ray and Ken visiting various tourist attractions, some additional insight into Ken and Harry's past including an actual flashback to an event mentioned in the movie that features the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, as a younger Harry. These scenes are all very good and seem to have been cut for pacing reasons. Definitely worth a look.
  • Gag Reel (SD, 6 min) - A gag reel featuring some blown lines and outtakes from the movie. Farrell and Gleeson look like they had a good time, but this is pretty standard fare. Still, it might offer a laugh or two for fans.
  • A Boat Trip Around Bruges (SD, 6 min) - This is exactly what it sounds like, a literal boat trip through the city of Bruges set to music from the film while facts about the town scroll across the top and bottom of the screen. Though a fairly odd supplement, there is a strangely hypnotic quality to the peaceful boat ride and you never know when facts about a beautiful medieval town in Belgium might come in handy.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • BD-Live - Universal has provided standard BD-Live functionality that leads to a page with trailers for other releases.
  • My Scenes - This is a standard bookmarking feature to save and mark clips from the film.
  • D-Box Motion Code - The disc features D-Box enhancement for those with compatible D-Box motion controllers.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 21127 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'In Bruges' is an incredibly funny and dramatically potent crime film. Its rich characters, quotable dialogue, and bittersweet themes will stick with you for days, and while there are some tiny shortcomings in the final act, these faults are easily forgivable. The video and audio are both strong, but there's a lack of substantial extras. Still, the movie itself is the real attraction, so this disc is definitely recommended.

) ) [6] => Array ( [review_id] => 3229 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => insomnia [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Insomnia [picture_created] => 1279569259 [picture_name] => insomnia.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/19/120/insomnia.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3229/insomnia.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2002 [run_time] => 118 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003ELMR9E [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 [1] => French Dolby Digital 5.1 [2] => German Dolby Digital 5.1 [3] => Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English SDH [1] => French [2] => German [3] => Portuguese [4] => Spanish ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Christopher Nolan ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Invited to Nightmute, Alaska, to head a murder case, veteran LAPD detective Will Dormer finds his investigation interrupted by an ever-shining midnight sun that wreaks sleep-depriving havoc on him- and by personal guilt over a second crime that may be real... or a figment of his increasingly unstable consciousness. [review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106527 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

Director Christopher Nolan is obsessed with obsessed characters. From Guy Pearce's revenge-seeking amnesiac in 'Memento' to Hugh Jackman's secretive magician in 'The Prestige' to this summer's 'Inception,' where a crackerjack dream warrior creates an entire world to explore his failed relationship with his wife. (Then there's his pair of Batman movies… if anybody needs therapy, God knows it's Bruce Wayne.)

In 'Insomnia,' based on a 1997 Norwegian thriller of the same name by Erik Skjoldbjærg, Nolan's obsessive is played by Al Pacino. As Los Angeles detective Will Dormer, he's brought to the tiny Alaskan town of Nightmute, where a young girl has been brutally murdered. He's accompanied by his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), as a favor to the chief of police (Paul Dooley). But the detectives are also hiding out: there's an internal affairs investigation going on in Los Angeles that involves the pair, which, in typical Nolan form, is parceled out over a fairly lengthy amount of screen time.

The town of Nightmute, it's explained by Hilary Swank, as Dormer and Eckhart's plucky police liaison, is so far north that they're currently experiencing a kind of "endless day," where all 24 hours are drenched in sunlight. (Like the inverse of '30 Days of Night.') While chasing the killer down a foggy embankment, Pacino shoots the wrong man and doesn't confess to the crime.

Pacino's character is guilt-ridden, a typical Nolan protagonist trait, but he's also tortured by the endless day, unable to sleep, and becoming increasingly sensitive and unnerved. Making matters worse are the fact that the killer (Robin Williams) calls Pacino and taunts him with the facts, having witnessed the tragic accident.

There's a noose around Pacino's character's neck, and as the movie goes along it gets tighter and tighter and tighter, until things get unbearably claustrophobic. This is undoubtedly Nolan's darkest, most pessimistic film (yes, even more so than 'Memento') and at times it gets uncomfortably bleak. But, like all of the director's films, it's so filtered through a character (Pacino, in a superb performance) that we feel exactly what this character is going through, for better or worse. Through Nolan's usual expert mixture of editorial work, photography, and sound cues, you really do feel like an insomniac by the time the movie is done, but never once does the movie drag or get dull. It remains vital throughout.

As far an obsessive characters go, Pacino's defective detective is a humdinger, morally ambiguous but so sure of his actions. When he starts to unravel, things get even darker, so much so that 'Insomnia' winds up being a little too grim to merit all that many repeat viewings. You may want to watch again just to see how Nolan pulled it off, but man, things are depressing.

Is it Nolan's best film? No. But it's a great "stepping stone" movie in between the smallish indie world and the big budget, thematically complicated studio work that has defined the later phase of his career. 'Insomnia' will certainly keep you awake (and obsessed), long after it's over.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB Blu-ray disc is Region Free. Um. Yeah, that's about it. Oh, I would like to compliment Warner Bros on going with a different, and altogether brilliant, box art image for this release of 'Insomnia.' The previous edition had some horrendous floating heads against a black backdrop. This is a wonderful, totally evocative image that is just perfect. Well done.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15166 [review_video] =>

'Insomnia's' Blu-ray debut comes with a handsome VC-1 1080p transfer (aspect ratio: 2.40:1) that beautifully captures the movie's chilly locations and even chillier characters.

But here's the thing: I couldn't stop staring at Al Pacino's hairpiece. I know this is a weird thing to confess, but the entire time I was watching it I just couldn't stop. I was becoming one of Christopher Nolan's obsessed protagonists. I watched, as his hairline dipped into his forehead and then recessed again. Every scene, no matter the dramatic weight, paled in comparison to what was going on with the top of Al Pacino's head. It was terrible!

Besides this minor hiccup, which grew into just about the only thing I could think about while watching the movie, the transfer is absolutely wonderful. Detail is superb, ditto textures, and skin tones look realistic and true (not that the cast is particularly multi-cultural). There is a nice, healthy layer of grain that lends a cinematic quality to the transfer, and there aren't any glitchy technical issues to speak of. Black levels are also deep and dark, when appropriate (a shadowy alleyway, for instance, or a violent flashback).

This is, overall, a really great transfer; one of the best I've seen lately. Just, please, try not to look anywhere near Al Pacino's forehead. It could end up consuming you, like it did to me.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15165 [review_audio] =>

Just as impressive as the video transfer is the outrageously great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix.

There's a moment in the movie, maybe thirty minutes in, when Al Pacino's insomnia manifests itself at the police station. He looks around and everything: a clerk stapling a stack of pages, someone grabbing a drink of water, a fan oscillating, sounds incredibly loud. He's overwhelmed by the cacophony. It's a wonderful psychological manifestation of his insomnia and his interior madness/guilt. And here it sounds superb. Every sound effect is crisp and clear. Nothing overwhelms. It's just the perfect amount of atmosphere.

Another neat effect that sounds great here is the "searing" noise that the sunlight makes as it pours through Pacino's hotel window. Try as he might to shut it out, it comes back. It's hard not to think that Danny Boyle borrowed some of this for his spectacular 'Sunshine.'

Sound effects aside, the mix is wonderful ambient and atmospheric. There's a nice scope to the movie, visually, which is matched by both the sound effects (aforementioned) and the minimalist score by David Julyan. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear and the surround channels are often supported. Overall, a really great sound mix to go along with the impressive visuals, and when I was listening to 'Insomnia,' I wasn't focusing on Al Pacino's hairpiece.

Also included here are French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes as well as subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German SDH.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15133 [review_supplements] =>

'Insomnia' follows Warner Bros' typical Blu-ray catalogue approach: reproducing all the special features from the already features-laden DVD. Warner Bros had a bunch of great DVD special features and it's nice to have them here, but it would also be nice to have some new supplements, especially retrospective stuff. A boy can dream, can't he?

  • Commentary with Christopher Nolan This is really one of the best commentaries I've heard (and when listening to it for this review I cannot believe I never spun it on the DVD, which I've had since its original release). Basically, what Nolan does is a commentary that corresponds with the shooting schedule of the movie. So you're seeing the movie all jumbled up, with a stamp at the bottom of the screen that says something like "Scene 65, Day 1" or whatever. This commentary really gives you an impressive look into how Nolan's mind works and what making a big, long studio movie is like. Really fascinating stuff; as far as I'm concerned it's a must-listen.
  • Cast and Crew Commentary This features a whole bunch of people, and in an interesting move you can select the participants on the main menu and just listen to their section. So you've got Hilary Swank (her time totals 2:36), screenwriter Hilary Seitz (really interesting, 11:25), cinematographer Wally Pfsiter (8:01), production designer Nathan Crowley (4:42 - love his accent), and editor Dody Dorn (14:34). I would suggest listening to this commentary in one go, not in the nugget-like way I attempted it, because I'm an idiot. All the participants are sharp and engaged. Recommended.
  • 180? Chris Nolan Interviews Pacino (SD, 17:10) This is pretty interesting. It's supposed to be our intrepid director interviewing his legendary star and it is that, at least for a little while. But it's also the two of them reminiscing about the production of 'Insomnia' and Pacino telling Nolan about previous experiences. Keep in mind that this was Christopher Nolan's first studio film, and only second movie out of film school ('Following' was a student production), so he's doing a lot of learning too. Well worth watching.
  • Day for Night: The Making of 'Insomnia' (SD, 7:56) Brief, borderline EPK about the making of 'Insomnia.' You can skip this.
  • In the Fog (SD, 6:10) You can watch this with commentary from either cinematographer Wally Pfister or production designer Walter Crowley. It's basically a look behind-the-scenes at the sequence in which Pacino chases Williams through a foggy embankment. Pretty cool stuff. Either commentary (or both) recommended.
  • Additional Scene with Optional Commentary (SD, 3:03) This is really two brief scenes, both have little bearing on the story and are hardly revelatory. This is worth watching if you're curious (or like Maura Tierney) and want to hear Nolan's thoughts about why he clipped them from the final film.
  • Trailer (SD, 2:26) BAD, BAD, BAD. Skip! With a trailer like this it's not hard to figure out why the movie didn't find the audience it rightfully deserved.
  • Eyes Wide Open (SD, 7:27) This is a brief documentary about real life insomniacs. Now you may be wondering: why should I care? And I really don't have an answer for you. This is dull and unnecessary and only tangentially related to the movie (the people interviewed have been suffering from insomnia for literally years, Al Pacino's character has only been affected for a few days). Oddly enough, this doc might put you to sleep. Zing!
  • Photo Gallery Pretty much what the titles says.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

If you're a fan of the twisty, turny, guilt-filled world of director Christopher Nolan but have let 'Insomnia' slip through your grasp, well, it's time to correct that RIGHT NOW. His first studio movie is a masterful exercise in atmosphere and neuroses, weighted by a trio of great performances from Pacino, Swank, and Williams. It might not be the most uplifting move you see this week, but you'll be glad you took the trip to the icy, sundrenched town of Nightmute, Alaska. With some great A/V and a hearty collection of extras, this is a highly recommended disc indeed. Just, please, don't look at Al Pacino's hairline.

) ) [7] => Array ( [review_id] => 3373 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => middleofnowhere [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Middle of Nowhere [picture_created] => 1272919923 [picture_name] => 5318b6c141d5f.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c141d5f.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3373/middleofnowhere.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 96 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B003HTPHVS [amazon_price] => 26.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD 25GB Single-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Making-of Middle of Nowhere [1] => Cast interviews [2] => Deleted scenes [3] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Eva Amurri, Anton Yelchin, Justin Chatwin, Willa Holland, Susan Sarandon ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => John Stockwell ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => A pair of co-workers at a small-town water park—restless troublemaker Dorian and the tightly wound Grace – form an unlikely bond when Dorian cooks up an illicit plan to earn big money. With no assistance from a flaky, free-spending mom and competition from a sexy younger sister, Grace needs all the help she can get if she’s going to make it to college. [review_bottom_line] => Skip It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106313 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

Instead of a film full of bikini clad women, which has been John Stockwell's ('Blue Crush' and 'Into the Blue' ) calling card for the past few years, 'Middle of Nowhere' features fully clothed girls dealing with a deadbeat mother who steals from their inheritance. While this is happening, Dorian (Anton Yelchin, 'Star Trek' ) is coming to blows with his rich parents. Oh and we also meet another rich kid who lives in a gated community and is utterly and completely sick of being rich. Just once I'd like to see a movie with rich kids from the suburbs who actually like being rich.

Dorian is a troubled young man who apparently tries to kidnap his family's maid and drive her to Fort Lauderdale. To be honest, the scene that gets Dorian in trouble made absolutely no sense to me! Not a good sign. Dorian is soon shipped off to live with his strict uncle and work as a lifeguard at the local water park.

Grace (Eva Amurri, 'Californication') is also an employee at the water park. She's dealing with her mother, who cares more about putting Grace's 15 year-old sister through modeling school than she does about more immediate concerns like family finances. Grace can't get a loan from school because her mother has taken out credit cards in her name and thereby blessed her with horrible credit.

As you may have guessed, Grace and Dorian meet up, discuss their problems, and work out a solution. They'll sell pot to the local townsfolk. In the context of the story, this decision makes absolutely zero sense, but Stockwell doesn't seem to care.

What follows is a dreadfully overly dramatic mess that has Dorian flip-flopping on whether he wants to be a drug dealer, a good son, or just find his birth mom (he's adopted). Grace is dealing with a myriad of problems herself, such as her loser mother, her prissy sister, the fact that she's going to get kicked out of college, and whether or not to fall in love with Dorian.

Yelchin is a fine young actor, and he does what he can with the dismal material he's given here. He's got great energy, which he showed in 'Star Trek,' and in the lesser known 'Charlie Barlett.' Amurri also tries her best, but she can't quite seem to figure out how to play the part of the leading lady (instead of just the hot girl who seduces David Duchovny in 'Californication').

Ultimately, Director Stockwell ('Crazy/Beautiful') splits 'Middle of Nowhere' into a movie with dozens of different directions, but the storylines eventually end up in the middle of nowhere. The title is all too apt.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15049 [review_video] =>

'Middle of Nowhere' sports a 1080p/AVC encoded image that is middling at best.

Soft shots dominate much of the runtime, while source noise runs rampant. The film fares better in brightly lit scenes, for example the water park sequences are very strong. Nighttime scenes are also solid, but soft shots ruin much of the picture when the scene grow darker – the source noise is also more noticeable when black is the dominate color on screen. Colors are strongly enhanced, with bright blues, greens, and reds. Skin tones seem natural looking. Fine detail leaves a little to be desired, but gives us some good looking close-up facial detail.

Overall, this is on OK transfer, but it's not without its problem to be sure.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15050 [review_audio] =>

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation for 'Middle of Nowhere' is just about as average as audio presentations come.

Dialogue heavy, the movie is mainly focused up front, with clear intelligible dialogue. Scenes involving lots of people and crowded places, like the water park, lack the kind of surround sound that it seems should be engulfing the listener. Instead the surrounds are left with flat sounding ambience that feels forced and unnatural. LFE is also muted for much of the movie except when the obligatory dance music is blasted at parties.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15051 [review_supplements] =>
  • Making Of (SD, 25 min.) – Clip heavy this is the standard promo fluff with interviews from the cast and crew on how great it is working with each other and how much they enjoyed working on this movie.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 6 min.) – Only a few deleted scenes included, but nothing that really needs to be viewed. Once you see them you'll understand why they were left on the cutting room floor.
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (SD, 11 min.) – Here you can pick which cast member you'd like to hear an interview from. Many of the interviews are almost the exact same thing you'd hear in the Making Of featurette.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.
[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15052 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Stockwell's 'Middle of Nowhere' is a mess. While movies like 'Into the Blue' don't fare much better than this, they do have their selling points. Unfortunately, this film definitely proves dramatic fodder isn't always his strong suit (har har). Stick to the bikinis man! The video on this Blu-ray is about average while the audio is forgettable. Overall, this is quite skippable. I really wanted to like this one, but in the end it's just formulaic and dull.

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'Our Family Wedding' combines the plots of 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,' and 'Meet the Parents' into an oddly watchable movie. I know I probably shouldn't have liked this movie. I mean one check of the trusty Tomatometer shows 'Our Family Wedding' languishing in the critical nether regions, with a paltry 13 percent. Seriously, I shouldn't like this movie!

Lucia Ramirez (America Ferrara) has found the man of her dreams in Marcus Boyd. One catch, Lucia is Hispanic and Marcus is African American. Lucia's father Miguel (Carlos Mencia) and Marcus' father Brad (Forest Whitaker) don't get along. Partly because of the racial divide, and partly because Miguel towed Marcus' car at the beginning of the film. It's clear that both of them have a problem with their offspring marrying someone not of their ethnic background. Miguel condescendingly refers to Marcus as "Bro," while Marcus spits back with a sarcastic "Vato!"

Lucia and Marcus want to get married, but as soon as they even mention the word their parents are up in arms about the wedding, how it should be planned, which traditions are going to be followed, and if they should even get married in the first place. Having gone through the whole marriage planning process, I can attest that executing a wedding with dozens of people all thinking they are in charge is one tricky situation to pull off effectively. Here, the problems only are compounded as race becomes the driving factor between the two families.

'Our Family Wedding,' besides one sequence with a goat loose in the house, is fairly subdued in its humor and motives. It's not one of those in-your-face romantic comedies that lashes out at you with inane situational comedy, and then plasters a phony-baloney message on top of it all. The film covers the problems faced by the two families with care and a bit of humor. Each character is flawed and has to work through his or her differences. Lucia and Marcus' wedding is merely the setup for a family drama.

Sure there are major issues that are conveniently side-stepped, and misunderstandings that come out of nowhere, but 'Our Family Wedding' didn't feel like many of those other wedding fiasco movies I've seen. In some weird way it felt sort of real (except for that goat!).

Whitaker does a great job portraying a man who keeps his family close to his heart, but has problems that are dragging him down. If you were Marcus, how would you feel if your fifty year-old dad was bringing home twenty-somethings from the local club every night? (the correct answer is horrified, not proud.) Mencia takes a break from his grating stand-up comedy, and settles into a role that requires him to emote something other than the disdain he ejects during his stand-up shows.

'Our Family Wedding' works, for me, as a simple yet effective (if slightly over-dramatic) wedding film about families trying to work out their differences through conversation and actions. Yes, I still know about its dismal 13 percent on the Tomatometer, but I blame that on the goat.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15670 [review_video] =>

'Our Family Wedding's 1080p transfer, featuring an AVC encode, shimmers on Blu-ray.

Fine detail shines through from Brad's finely tailored suits to the embroidered stitching on the headrests of Miguel's restored car. Like most other rom-coms, expect a warm color palette to pervade throughout the movie. Even then, colors pop off the screen, especially when someone wears a really bright outfit, juxtaposed with the softer colors. Blacks are nicely rendered with detailed shadows. Crushing never becomes a problem, even during the darkest scenes. Skin tones all stay natural. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be found.

Overall, this is a very solid looking transfer from Fox and, if you're one of the film's few fans out there, you'll be pleased with what you see.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15671 [review_audio] =>

Suffering from the plague of rom-coms, 'Our Family Wedding' sports a fairly uninteresting sound presentation. Not because there's anything technically wrong with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation, but just because of the nature of the movie. Heavy on the talking, and light on just about everything else, 'Our Family Wedding's soundfield is almost strictly confined to the front channels. LFE is a very occasional participant, mostly chiming in while Brad and Miguel are in a club. The surrounds are almost silent as busy city streets, crowded restaurants, and lively baseball diamonds are devoid of any kind of ambient sound. I did catch a technical problem located at the 17:14 mark where a small line of dialogue sounds like it echoes ever so slightly, like a small hiccup or something. It's strange and I had to rewind it a couple of times to make sure I was hearing what I was hearing, but it's there. It's not super distracting, but it isn't something that should be there. The audio is nowhere near the quality of the video, but that's just the kind of movie we're dealing with here. 'Our Family Wedding' doesn't really lend itself to a sonic feast of the ears.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15672 [review_supplements] =>
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 17 min.) – Six deleted scenes are included here. There's also an alternate.
  • Extended Scenes (HD, 4 min.) – Only two scenes get the extension treatment, and it's nothing that needs to be seen anyway.
  • 'Til Dads Do Us Part (HD, 15 min.) – This is actually a fairly informative, but breezy, making-of featurette. Watch it if you're a fan.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 3 min.) – Your usual lineup of muffed lines and actors laughing with each other.
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15673 [review_final_thoughts] =>

OK, I understand! I'm pretty much the only critic who didn't mind 'Our Family Wedding.' Is it cheesy in some parts? Yes. Does it use many of the typical wedding movie clichés? Yes. Does it feel just a little bit more real than many of the wedding movies out there? Thankfully, yes. I'm not saying 'Our Family Wedding' has reinvented the wedding movie genre, but it's a worthy addition to it. The characters feel real and so do their problems. Maybe I was in an extra generous mood when I watched this one, but it really isn't that bad. The video is nice, the audio is what you'd expect from a talk-heavy rom-com, and the special features package is as bland as they come. Rent this if nothing else.

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The review for 'The Bounty Hunter' is being temporarily delayed so that a vocabulary lesson may be provided to our reading audience. The word I'd like to focus on today is "penance." In addition to being the name of a Marvel Comics character with spikes inside and out of the costume (kinky), the word can be generically defined as an act to show sorrow for committing a misdeed. Basically, self-punishment. In addition to its use in some religious beliefs, this word also describes why I'm reviewing this film right here and now.

It was my turn to take one for the team.

That isn't to say I had my mind made up on this film before going into it; far from it. The only thing I knew about it was that it had a semi-interesting trailer, that it scored a horrendous 8 percent at Rotten Tomatoes, and that its leads, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, were romantically linked by numerous websites that link any male seen within 300 feet of Aniston, regardless of if they're being paid to do it, as Butler was. She's kind of the tabloid sensation, you see, due to her heartbreak over the whole Brad Pitt thing, people sympathize/empathize with her. It's like she's everyone's Friend. Unfortunately, Aniston has shown less range than a guillotine in recent years, constantly playing a woman with a troubled relationship, or troubled history of relationships. This is all I knew going into 'The Bounty Hunter.'

I really wish I had just watched the trailer for two hours. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome the review for this film would have been if I did. Sadly, that is not the review you are reading right now.

Nicole Hurley (Aniston) is a wanted felon. She's out on bail for assaulting a police officer, and blew off her court appearance to investigate a story she is working on for her job at The Daily News. Milo Boyd (Butler) is a bounty hunter, a former cop with a gambling debt, and a string of bad luck. Did his luck just change when he gets his dream job: hooking his ex-wife and delivering her to jail? Not so much. As much as Boyd revels in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the story Hurley is working on seems to become more relevant and dangerous to both of them, and soon the spiteful pair must try to work together to stay alive. Police corruption? Missing drugs? A lovelorn co-worker (Jason Sudeikis) pining after Hurley in the most stalker-y of fashions? Danger? The chance to see what drove a happy couple apart, and fix it? Yeah, it's all there.

'The Bounty Hunter' isn't a good film, and the problem lies mostly in the writing. Simply put, this story seems too manufactured, built around the idea of capitalizing on Aniston and her personal life, and combining genres to try to make a hybrid of sorts (and any science fiction-horror fan can tell you, combining species is never a good idea...). This action/romantic comedy/suspense film tries to do too much, and stretches itself far too thin to be effective at any one of its elements.

This film has potential written all over it, which only adds to the frustration of watching it unfold (more like unravel). What adult cannot imagine themselves in one of the two leads? Sure, the whole "arrest" thing is an exaggeration, but who hasn't been in a relationship that ended on less than amicable terms, leading to severe disdain? There are plenty of guys who have been jerked around and misled to the point that they would love to see their former-significant other have to pay for their crimes, even literally, in this sense. Additionally, plenty of women can say they've been alienated by their former beaus, and driven away by their actions, only to be made to look like the villain.

How can something so basic, relatable, and real be screwed up so badly? I can't blame director Andy Tennant, as the pacing problems seem to be more the fault of the meandering "do everything for everyone" story premise, and numerous scenes are above and beyond what one would expect from a stinker. In fact, the entire film reeks of potential, but fails to reach out and connect the dots. Aniston's shtick is really worn out at this point, as it has been years since she truly played a "different" role, while Butler has gone from a role that made him beyond famous ('300') to spitting in the face of the same audience that made him what he is now with his involvement in films that are beyond uninspired. He was set to be the next Russell Crowe, but may end up a flash in the pan like Russell Brand with his awful career choices.

The way story lines collide in 'The Bounty Hunter' may be one of the big reasons why it falls flat on its face. We need the basic premise that Hurley is in danger, and said danger may reignite the flames with her ex. What we don't need is the side plot with Boyd, and his bookie trying to collect her money through her moronic thugs at every corner. It's simply amazing that this film didn't get so lazy as to have Hurley's pursuers off Boyd's, just to tidy up the story, considering it was so lazy with everything else. Instead, we're stuck with boring supporting characters who do nothing to the story beyond complicate it further, to the point that we no longer can associate with anyone.

The way 'The Bounty Hunter' also tries to put the characters in familiar situations to remind them of what they lost is also sadly predictable, cliche, and aggravating. As Hurley sees a sign for the place where she and Boyd honeymooned, she weeps at the memory. Why do we have to then go to said place? It's stupid, obvious, and cheap. It's amateur, it's been done a million times. More descriptions of what it was? Sure! It's flat insulting to the movie-going public, and just another reason why this film tanked so horribly. Originality. I wanted to like this film, as the trailer had promise, but damn if this film didn't make the task impossible.

The Disc: Vital Stats

Sony brings 'The Bounty Hunter' to Blu-ray on a Region Free (A/B/C) BD50 Dual Layer disc. There are some annoying pre-menu trailers ('The Back-Up Plan,' 'Chloe,' 'Get Low,' and an annoying as hell Sony product trailer called Make.Believe), but they fail to even come close to how annoying (and horrendous) the menu is.

Imagine, if you will, a menu that is amazingly slow to react (on a player that never has given me one problems on said topic). Alright, now imagine that with every selection you make, a menu pops up, that doesn't let you select anything immediately. Instead, it makes the text slowly increase in size, as if it were coming from the back forward. If you select an option that has another menu pop up, it does it again. Now, when you close any of these screens, instead of disappearing, the text first slowly shrinks, going through the opposite motion as before. The time you wasted reading this paragraph is nothing compared to the time this menu wastes if you're trying to see what all is available on this disc. Add in some horribly annoying menu music, and you have what I'd like to call the biggest piece of shit menu in Blu-ray history.

The case for this title is one of the new Eco-Vortex cases, that has sections that are thinner plastic than the rest, but without the annoying cut-outs other eco-cases have. It is entirely possible that one could sprinkle narcotics onto the case, and roll it into a blunt. I would bet it wouldn't even snap or crack. That's how cheesy these new cases are. Just be warned, said action may send the bounty hunter after you!

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 14893 [review_video] =>

The video for 'The Bounty Hunter' (by way of a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode at 2.35:1) had to be the hardest part to grade, as I went back and forth between a couple scores. No title has ever made me second guess back and forth on a score for even a fraction of how much this one has. I wish that was a good thing.

'The Bounty Hunter' is just the biggest tease of a transfer I've ever seen. It's much like a PG-13 strip club (yes, there's one of those in this film), where guys hoot and holler like they've never seen exposed ankle, in that it has the goods (and the goods? They're great), but it decides to put clothing on, rather than take it off. It stinks like stripper sweat.

Let's start with the bad (the film sure does!). A few early scenes have a distracting blue tint to them, that may have been caused by lighting, or by the fact that no one gave a damn. Pick one. Soon after the Smurf-y flash-forward opening, we're brought back 24 hours earlier in the story, and it's like going through a time machine, back to the time when the men and women in charge of video quality control thought tinkering a title all to shit was a good thing. The entire scene that unfolds is one of horror. Imagine a parade, in a city that is CGI'ed to look bigger. Yep, set extensions. Alright, now imagine that either by product of non-existant special effects budget, or the nastiest edge enhancement ever, that everything has a blue outline to it. Yes, at times the outline is thicker on both sides than the item or character it is outlining. Said outline is countless shades darker than the very light blue sky. This problem only appears in this area of the film this dramatically, but it may as well have been a missing reel straight out of 'Grindhouse,' in my eyes. Terrible, flat terrible.

Now, ringing pops up from time to time in the rest of the film, just never as amazingly pronounced as the effect described above. There are numerous blurry scenes, and plenty of times where faces have literally no distinction to them. Noise is a distraction every now and again, and grain levels don't stay consistent. Wavering is a big issue, as well, as there are two scenes that are nearly back to back that are reminiscent of the ocean. First, the black trim tiles in the women's restroom move in thickness as Aniston moves through the area (with the camera holding fairly still), then, on the roof of a building, the lines on the ground pulse and waver. Shots of both Aniston and Gerard in their vehicle at times are looped very, very poorly. I say that, in that the shots of the two principal actors are shades different than normal, and so flat and two dimensional that they may as well be computer generated body doubles performing the scenes. Honestly, considering the lifeless acting on display, this wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Last on the laundry list, the hideous striped outfit Butler wears in the finale of the second act creates some odd aliasing effects.

All the above is a tremendous shame, and a wasted opportunity, as 'The Bounty Hunter' really could have shown through. Detail is amazing at times, literally leaping right off the screen. I have never seen Aniston's hair so amazingly detailed and rich, with the layers of blonde and brown discerning themselves like they were at war, and her stray and frizzy hairs leaping from her head. Skin tones felt fairly natural, and colors were beyond bright and vibrant.

Putting all this into paragraph form from my notes helped me make up my mind. Let's drop this puppy down a notch.

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14894 [review_audio] =>

This is the part of the review where expectations vs. reality come into play, as 'The Bounty Hunter' revels in its own audio mediocrity, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that's quite mundane. Honestly, the entire thing would feel over ten years old, with its uninspired, middling mix, if it weren't for the modern hipster soundtrack that is sure to date this film worse than its leads and its story. Dialogue is clear, and never dares to move around the room, staying nice, front, and center. Sometimes it can come off a tad hollow, but overall it's satisfactory. Rears get the tiniest bits of ambience, often not matching the activity levels found on screen. For every nice moment or two(the loudspeakers at the racetrack localizing, the gunfire found at the end of the film having a tiny bit of movement and localization), there is a bit of facepalm worthy failure (busy exterior scenes that start with only front ambience, that slowly creep into the rears, as the scene gets less busy. I wish that were exaggeration). The soundtrack has some great bass, but that's about all the bass gets, and the scored moments certainly have the most range on display. In short, this track is your generic, cheap, lazy romantic comedy audio mix, and it really, really pissed me off.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Making 'The Bounty Hunter' (HD, 17 min) - I wonder if Aniston and Butler will talk positively of this production. I wonder if the cast and crew will say anything other than how great the idea and experience were. I was very, very scared by the appearance of Tennant, as he looked somewhat like the Grimace, only less purple, slightly. There are some light anecdotes, and so on, but this entire feature is far too EPK to be taken seriously.
  • Stops Along the Road: Hunting Locations (HD, 11 min) - We shot here, we shot here, we shot here, we shot many different places. Yeah, you certainly did. There are some good features on how they dressed sets for moods, but this is mostly a pretty boorish feature.
  • Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter (HD, 1 min) - Rule #1- get a recording of him making racist comments, draw media outrage, and scram. Seriously, this short extra lacks any real information, about the topic, or the film. It's just a brief recap of all of the zany evasion tactics and ploys found in the film. Complete crap, with annoying narration.
  • Previews PMT ones, plus The Runaways, Nine, Extraordinary Measures, Dear John, Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy), and The Pillars of the Earth.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are a few exclusives on this release, though they don't amount to much. First, there's MovieIQ + Sync, which is the standard next-gen trivia track from Sony. Then, there's a BD-Live portal, though it is not live as of the posting of this review. Lastly, there is a separate disc containing a PC/Mac Digital Copy of the film, while the main movie disc has a PSP Digital Copy code, as well.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14895 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I feel wronged right now. I captured and scolded a horrible criminal, yet not only am I not collecting a few thousand dollars, the wrongdoer is still going to be released upon the public. Sure, it's unrealistic to think Sony would bury every existing copy of 'The Bounty Hunter,' but they probably should have at least considered it. That should sum up my feelings on this film. This Blu-ray is a bit of a mess, with very disappointing audio and video for such a new release, and a pile of generic, boring extras. This is one to avoid, for many, many reasons.

) ) [11] => Array ( [review_id] => 3537 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => greatest [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Greatest [picture_created] => 1275410153 [picture_name] => greatest.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => National Entertainment Media [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/01/120/greatest.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3537/greatest.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 99 [list_price] => 26.98 [asin] => B003GOOZHQ [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Interview with director Shana Feste [1] => Interviews with actors Pierce Brosnan, Carey Mulligan and Johnny Simmons ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Drama, Romance ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon, Carey Mulligan ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Shana Feste ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Three months after Allen and Grace's son dies, a young woman shows up pregnant with his child. At first her arrival threaten to tear the family further apart, but eventually she proves to be the very thing that brings them back together. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [12] => Array ( [review_id] => 3349 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => whitecollar_s1 [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => White Collar: The Complete First Season [picture_created] => 1272465495 [picture_name] => poster-2.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => 20th Century Fox [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/28/120/poster-2.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3349/whitecollar_s1.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 677 [list_price] => 69.99 [asin] => B003CN5B6K [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 3-Disc Set ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, French, Spanish Portuguese ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Episode Commentaries [1] => Gag Reel [2] => Deleted Scenes [3] => Pro and Con [4] => A Cool Cat in the Hat [5] => Nothing But the Truth ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Matthew Bomer, Tim Dekay, Willie Garson, Sharif Atkins ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => When Neal escapes from a maximum-security prison to find his long-lost love, Peter nabs him once again. Rather than returning to jail, Neal suggests an alternate plan: He'll provide his criminal expertise to assist the Feds in catching other elusive criminals in exchange for his eventual freedom. Initially wary, Peter quickly finds that Neal provides insight and intuition that can't be found on the right side of the law. [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 107381 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

The first thought that popped into my head when USA debuted 'White Collar' last season was, 'So, they made 'Catch Me If You Can' into a TV show, eh?' With my already packed TV schedule I didn't make it a point to watch the series. Then I was assigned the Blu-ray to review. This is the first time I've laid eyes on an episode of 'White Collar,' and I've got to say, I'm very impressed. As a matter of fact, I downright love this show now!

Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a world-renowned con-man. He's smooth. He knows how to work the system. In the pilot episode he escapes from a maximum-security prison like it's a walk in the park. There's nothing he can't do. His nemesis is FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). He's the one who put Caffrey away in the first place. Burke works for the White Collar crime unit in the Bureau, investigating everything from mortgage fraud to art theft. Caffrey cuts a deal with the FBI after his escape attempt and re-incarceration, after he finds out that Burke is looking for a con-man that he can help bring in. A life-long smooth criminal is now in Federal custody, wearing a tamper-proof ankle bracelet, helping the FBI nab the world's most clever con-people.

'White Collar' works on a few levels, one being the charisma of Matt Bomer and the chemistry he has with Tim DeKay. Their interaction is one of the many highlights of this well-written show. Bomer looks like a con-man. He looks like a person who could fake his way into being anything he wanted himself to be. DeKay is a by-the-book FBI agent, but there's nothing about him that's formula.

The formula for the show is similar to series like 'Burn Notice.' There are a few storylines that are pulled into season-long drama, but each episode stands alone with the over-reaching story arcs sprinkled throughout. Here Caffrey is desperately searching for his girlfriend who he thinks might be in danger. Most episodes start and end with tidbits about where she is, while each episode focuses on a different case Burke and Caffrey have to solve together.

Usually the case solving means that Caffrey must go in undercover by assuming an alias and infiltrating crooked groups of people doing illegal things. This is easy for Caffrey, because it's what he did for a living (allegedly). One plot hole that did nag at me is the fact that Caffrey on more than one occasion refers to the world of con-men and art thieves as a very small world, but Caffrey is hardly recognized by people dabbling in the same industry.

Despite the one discrepancy, 'White Collar' is a fun, exciting, and entertaining show. The episodes fly by, and the stories are original. This series is a nice surprise indeed.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The Blu-ray series of 'White Collar arrives complete on three 50GB Blu-ray discs. It comes in your standard keepcase packaging, with a disc holder that swings in the middle, which houses two of the three discs. Each disc has its own section for extras which contain the commentaries for that disc, but the bulk of the special features are found on the third disc.

The first disc is the only one with advertisements, which play before the menu. The other discs go straight to the the menu. A word to the wise, the menu music is pumped up at full volume and can be jarring after coming back from a soft special feature from which you had to turn up the sound to hear, like the "Gag Reel."

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15454 [review_video] =>

After watching the show on Blu-ray I turned on USA and watched some of the high-def broadcasts of the show. I have Comcast, but as with most shows broadcast in high-def the inadequate bandwidth provided often results in a presentation full of all kinds of digital artifacts, mostly very annoying macro-blocking. The Comcast delivery isn't any different. While 'White Collar' looks great in high-def, when shown on TV the image is littered with blocking almost the entire time.

Bringing the show to Blu-ray shows exactly what we were missing. One thing 'White Collar' does so well is showcase so many different, stunning angles of New York, I can't believe this is the same city I've seen over and over in shows like 'Law and Order.' 'White Collar's low angle shots take in the New York skyline like no other show on TV. Its wide angle shots show off Central Park and the surrounding areas in dazzling detail. 'White Collar' has a smooth, polished look and Blu-ray is the perfect place to show it off.

Here you'll get none of those pesky digital artifacts you get during while watching it on TV. The 1080p transfer of 'White Collar' is pristinely clear and deeply detailed. While there are a few soft shots here and there, for the most part each shot in 'White Collar' has fine detail popping out everywhere. Did I mention that almost every episode you get to see Tiffani Thiessen in HD? That's never a bad thing! Black levels are dark, shadow delineation is very strong and detailed. Crushing is never a problem during darker interior or nighttime scenes. Detail pops off the screen from the textures of Neal's fine suits to the delicate facial features of a matured Kelly Kapowski. Nighttime scenes suffer from some slight source noise, but other than that the transfer is clean.

I still can't get over some of the shots of New York in this though. While some fly-overs feature a bit of aliasing while the camera pans over skyscrapers full of tiny rows of windows, each and every one of their city shots looks spectacular.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15455 [review_audio] =>

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 packs just as much punch as the 1080p video. From the theme music that booms during the menu, to the end credits, this is one fine sounding TV sound presentation. While the show lacks the sort of explosion-filled action that made a show like '24' sound phenomenal on Blu-ray, it still plays nice with what it's got.

Heavy on the talk, 'White Collar' finds itself with a perfectly intelligible dialog mix that never sounds hushed or muted. Dialog is always presented clearly through the center channel, finding its way into the front side speakers whenever directionality of voices is needed. LFE is constantly going, mainly due to the bass-heavy musical soundtrack that interjects whenever there's a fadeout where commercials would have been. If anything a little too much attention in the mix is paid to the music. The menu gets downright distracting to listen to if it plays in its set loop for more than two or three times. Maybe the music is pumped up to give the show more of an action-y feel, but it doesn't need to be. Going along with the TV origins and the fact that most of the movie takes place inside Burke's house, or the FBI offices, we don't get much in the way of ambient sound coming through the rear speakers. Some parties, crowded city streets, and restaurant scenes lend themselves to light surround sound, but nothing spectacular. Again, this really isn't the fault of the mix, rather its just a product of it being a TV show and the fact that the show really doesn't have much going on in the periphery most of the time.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15456 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentaries – Five audio commentaries in all. Not bad. I was disappointed that we didn't get to hear from Matt Bomer on the "Pilot" episodes. That would have been nice, since it's all about setting up his character. Other than that each of the commentaries has some great insight into the show. You can tell that creator Jeff Eastin has a special love for the show and it's nice to have commentaries with more than just one person talking.

    Disc 1

    "Pilot" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, and Willie Garson

    Disc 2

    "Free Fall" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Willie Garson, and Tim DeKay

    "Hard Sell" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, and Tim DeKay

    "Vital Signs" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKa, and Tiffani Thiessen

    Disc 3

    "Out of the Box" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer


  • Gag Reel (SD, 12 min.) – Your usual line flubs, but it's kind of funny that the actors use some pretty strong curse words that aren't bleeped after they mess up their lines.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 min.) – The first deleted scene is from the "Pilot" episode and it's actually pretty good. It goes over a lot of the crimes that were allegedly committed by Caffrey. I especially liked the one about him renting offices in Trump Tower back to Trump. I also really liked the second one where Agent Burke meets Miles at a lock shop. I love Miles and his nervousness. It's hilarious.
  • Pro and Con (HD, 7 min.) – Creator Jeff Eastin talks about cooking up 'White Collar' and creating the character of Neal Caffrey. It's a nice, but still promotional-sounding behind-the-scenes featurette.
  • A Cool Cat in the Hat (HD, 6 min.) – This is talks about 'White Collar's wardrobe and how they dress characters. Especially how they dress Neal and the way he fits into certain situations with how he's dressed.
  • Nothing But the Truth (HD, 2 min.) – Jeff Eastin talks about how they got Tom Barden as a FBI consultant to make the show feel as real as possible when it came to making a show about white collar crime.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15457 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'White Collar' was a nice surprise. I couldn't fit it into my busy TV watching schedule, but viewing it on Blu-ray is the way to see it anyway. No pesky commercials, no irritating blocking artifacts. I've fallen in love with the show partly because of the story, partly because of the characters, and partly because of Tiffani Thiessen (I admit it! Kelly Kapowski still inhabits my dreams!). The video on here is excellent, and the audio is pretty good for a TV show. This set comes recommended, and seeing the recent trend of TV show to Blu-ray, fans of the show need to buy this one or we'll see the studios pull another 'Burn Notice' on us. I for one don't want only one season of 'White Collar' on Blu-ray, so please buy this set. For the good of us all!

) ) ) [reviews_hot] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3277 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => assaultonprecinct13_2005 [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) [picture_created] => [picture_name] => [manufacturer_name] => Universal [picture_source] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/pop-on-amazon.png [picture_source_195] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_235] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_300] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_660] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_alternate] => Box coming soon [picture_title] => Box coming soon [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3277/assaultonprecinct13_2005.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2005 [run_time] => 109 [list_price] => 26.98 [asin] => B003GJUYLM [amazon_price] => 18.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => D-BOX Motion Code ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Armed and Dangerous [1] => Behind Precinct Walls [2] => Plan of Attack [3] => The Assault Team [4] => Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Jean-Francois Richet [5] => Caught in the Crosshairs: Behind the Scenes of Assault on Precinct 13 [6] => Audio Commentary with Director Jean-Francois Richet, Writer James DeMonaco and Producer Jeffrey Silver ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Jean-Francois Richet ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne lead an explosive, all-star cast, including John Leguizamo, Ja Rule and Drea de Matteo, in the gripping, action-packed thriller, Assault on Precinct 13. Run-down Precinct 13 is closing its doors forever. But everything changes when a high-security prison transport bus arrives with some of Detroit's most lethal prisoners. Soon, the only thing more dangerous than the criminals on the inside is the rogue gang on the outside. And if they're going to survive the night, two men on opposite sides of the law will have to work together to battle an enemy who doesn't follow the code of cop or criminal. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3342 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => caughtinthecrossfire [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Caught in the Crossfire [picture_created] => 1278949461 [picture_name] => caught1.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/12/120/caught1.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3342/caughtinthecrossfire.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 85 [list_price] => 29.99 [asin] => B003KM4CHW [amazon_price] => 20.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD 25GB Single-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Outtakes ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Adam Rodriguez, Chris Klein, and Richard T. Jones ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Filmed and set in Michigan, the story follows two police detectives (Rodriguez and Klein) who begin to investigate a suspicious crime, only to discover they have become the new targets of gang members and crooked cops. [review_bottom_line] => One to Avoid [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106298 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

Just check out Chris Klein on that cover. He's pissed, furrowed brow, steely gaze, like a skinnier Vic Mackey with more hair. The "I don't take any crap from nobody" stare he's sporting is a pre-requisite for actors starring in "gritty" cop dramas nowadays. It's just how it goes.

There are so many things wrong with 'Caught in the Crossfire' that it's hard to know where to begin. So, let's start with the fact that they're advertising this direct-to-video movie with a big headline that says: "From a producer of '16 Blocks,' and 'Righteous Kill.'" Usually, when producer credits are thrown around to entice people to see a movie we at least get a "the." Here we just get an "a." It could be any old producer, it doesn't matter, it's just a tricky attempt to link this movie with names like Bruce Willis, Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro.

Briggs (Klein) and Shepherd (Adam Rodriguez) are partners. They've been assigned to investigate the killing of one of their own. A cop has been murdered in cold blood and Briggs is very serious about finding out who did it. See, the guy who was murdered also happened to be Briggs' old partner. The plot thickens.

Briggs is the loose cannon, because it's completely impossible in today's world to have a cop movie without a loose cannon. Shepherd is all about "the book." He balks at entering houses without warrants, and he puts an end to good old fashioned beat downs that Briggs gives out to get information. Doesn't Shepherd know that going by the book isn't cool? Cops who get things done are the cops that play loosey goosey with the rules. This is just common knowledge.

I'm not sure what Klein is going for with his performance here, either an Oscar or a Razzie. He's just insane. It's not good insane though, like Nic Cage in 'Bad Lieutenant.' This is aggravating insane. Like for example, when Klein gruffly talks to himself about how everything during a shootout went down. It's hard not to laugh out loud during that scene, but he's so serious about it you have to give him credit for jumping in head first.

'Caught in the Crossfire,' is another movie in the long line of predictable cop movies that follows the trail of dirty cops doing dirty things. There are no surprises here. The "surprise" ending can be seen a mile away.

The one appealing aspect of the whole movie is that the story is told as Briggs and Shepherd are recounting the events in an interrogation from their superiors. If only the rest of the movie was that interesting.

Are there any more clean cops in the movies? Was there ever any? Or are they all just dirty, usurping their power over the poor civilians of the world? Oh, who cares! 'Caught in the Crossfire,' is as bland as any other humdrum cop show out there. Klein would like us to think that his Briggs character is different, but he's not. It's all more of the same old cop drama that is described as gritty and dark so it can get away with being lame and unoriginal.

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_video] =>

'Caught in the Crossfire's AVC-encoded 1080p transfer leaves a lot to be desired.

The entire image is plagued with a constant rat-ta-tat-tat of source noise that pops up at a frequent rate. Fine detail is at a minimum here. There are only a handful of scenes that genuinely pop. The scene where Klein talks to himself (mentioned above) is one of the better looking scenes. Most of the movie takes place either at night or in a dimly lit interrogation room. Believe me when I tell you low-light, or none at all isn't very viewer friendly here. Blacks reside somewhere in the gray spectrum. Crushing is a constant offender with 50 Cent's head being lost in the murk more often than not.

I know you probably weren't expecting much from this direct-to-home-video film, but this definitely should have looked better in high definition.

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio] =>

'Caught in the Crossfire' features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation. The sound doesn't fare much better than the video.

The first noticeable offense is that the ambient sound in the surround speakers – barring the gunfight at the beginning – remains almost completely silent for the length of the movie. The film features a front-heavy mix containing lots of dialogue, which is soft and oft times hard to hear. LFE is present during some of the musical soundtrack, and helps with deeper sounds that come from the numerous gunshots in the movie, but it never sounds deep and resonant.

This is just a bland sound presentation to go along with the underwhelming video.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Outtakes (HD, 10 min.) – Not sure that a "hardcore and gritty" crime drama like 'Caught in the Crossfire' is the right movie to include outtakes on, but here you go. Actor flubs and a few laughs.
  • Trailer (SD) – The trailer is included, oddly in standard definition.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Just avoid 'Caught in the Crossfire.' I know, I know, you'd never have even heard of it if it weren't for this review. Well, just in case you're a huge Chris Klein fan, stick with something like 'Just Friends' or 'Election' and give this soon-to-be turkey a pass. The video and audio presentations seem to be scraped off the bargain basement floor. This is one to avoid.

) ) [2] => Array ( [review_id] => 3494 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => chloe [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Chloe [picture_created] => 1274716910 [picture_name] => chloe.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/24/120/chloe.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3494/chloe.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 96 [list_price] => 34.98 [asin] => B0037QGS0K [amazon_price] => 24.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p / AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => BD-Live ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 50GB Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Audio Commentary [1] => Deleted Scenes ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Atom Egoyan ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => When Catherine (Julianne Moore), a successful doctor, begins to question her husband David's (Liam Neeson) fidelity, she sets out to resolve her suspicions with the help of an alluring young woman, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried). Soon caught in a web of sexual desire, Catherine finds herself on a journey that places her family in great danger. [review_bottom_line] => Rent It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106032 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

What is it about playing a prostitute or a stripper that seems to be so enjoyable for actresses? Megan Fox, while promoting her movie 'Jonah Hex,' announced that every actress should play a prostitute at least once during their careers. Now Amanda Seyfried, who coincidentally starred with Fox in 'Jennifer's Body,' takes her turn in the sexual thriller 'Chloe.' What's puzzling is the fact that Seyfried is at the top of her game after her work in movies like 'Mamma Mia!' and 'Dear John.' This type of titillating nudity usually surfaces at the start of a struggling actresses career, or later when their professional prospects seem to require a jumpstart or reinvention. I was skeptical after hearing about Atom Egoyan's ('Exotica') new erotic thriller 'Chloe' and how it's main selling point was the fact that Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried roll around together in bed sheets, wearing nothing but pleasure-induced soft core smiles, but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the intriguingly dark nature of this thriller.

One day, Catherine (Moore) sees a striking blonde prostitute (Seyfried) outside her office window. We don't really know the exact reason why she's so fixated on the girl. Catherine's husband, David (Liam Neeson), is a college professor who finds it increasingly hard to love his wife. Even when she throws him a supposed surprise party he doesn't bother showing up. They're one of those couples that create tension just being in the same room together.

Catherine finds a suspicious picture of David on his cell phone with one of his students. She automatically thinks that David is cheating on her. After years of rejection and a failing marriage it isn't hard to see why Catherine comes to cheating as a conclusion. Unfortunately, she can't prove that he's cheating so she takes it upon herself to hire a hooker to seduce him. If he gives into the seduction, he's guilty, if not, then it's back to their unloving marriage, but at least she can trust him not to love anyone else!

Chloe (Seyfried) is the hooker Catherine chooses to seduce her husband. Seyfried's Chloe is the most interesting part of the movie. Why is she doing what she's doing? Does she enjoy it? Is she hell-bent on using her powers of sexuality and manipulation to control and possess people? Egoyan doesn't provide many answers during the film, instead he lingers, watching each of these characters wallow in their lives. Maybe they don't have any answers themselves.

'Chloe' is confusing yes, but Egoyan's constant, subdued style hints at an undercurrent of malice. The three leads jump head first into a film that if played any other way could turn into a laughable camp-fest. Here Moore, Neeson, and Seyfried add a dynamic quality and take on the material without any reservations. Moore again provides a performance that shows she's not afraid of anything.

The slow, methodical pacing, along with the hoards of unanswered questions, may leave some viewers with a bad taste in their mouths. On the other hand, these are some brilliantly executed performances from some seasoned actors. They make it believable and erotic.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14943 [review_video] =>

'Chloe' is definitely a stylized work by Egoyan and his cinematographer Paul Sarossy ('The Wicker Man' ). Colors are slightly oversaturated and a diffuse filter seems to be used throughout the movie, giving it more of a dream-like feel. Colors are softer, except for the color red, which bursts off the screen whenever shown. Seyfried's dark red lipstick is a perfect example to keep a look out for. The 1080p presentation from Sony gets high marks in the fine detail category. Close ups reveal striking facial details and slight blemishes of the skin. During the intimate scene between Moore and Seyfried it's even possible to pick out tiny body hairs as the camera pans around the writhing bodies of the two stars. Grain is a consistent presence, but only adds to the cinematic feel of the movie. Blacks are handled well, but could be darker and more precise. Shadow delineation provides a good bit of detail throughout the film, but there are a few darker instances where faces, clothing, and objects disappear into blackness. The stylized vision of Egoyan, may indeed be having some affect on the blacks here.

Overall, 'Chloe' looks great for a film of this genre. The mysterious look is carried across nicely in high definition.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14944 [review_audio] =>

Sony's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound presentation accompanying 'Chloe,' works well, but isn't going to blow you away with sonic pleasures.

First and foremost, the dialogue here, which is by far the main focus of the features, is presented nicely through the center channels. It never gets muddled up or drowned out by the other aspects of the sound design. Chloe's club, and a walk down a busy city street, provide the movie with some deeply engaging surround sound. Too bad much of the time we're left with reserved or silent rear speakers. Directionality works well as cars zoom through the front channels producing some nice panning effects. There's nothing overly exciting about this track, but to Sony's credit, it provides a solid presentation.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14945 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentary – It's always nice to see a commentary track with more than one person talking. Here director Atom Egoyan, actress Amanda Seyfried, and writer Erin Cressida Wilson, all lend their voices to a decent enough commentary, which provides more than enough information on what was going on during filming. Egoyan constantly asks Wilson and Seyfried to weigh in with their interpretations of different scenes. Even now, much of the movie is a mystery and even the people involved have different ideas on what certain scenes mean.
  • Introducing 'Chloe' (SD, 26 min.) – Based on a French film called 'Nathalie,' we learn how 'Chloe' came to be and what it took to get the movie to full production. The standard promo-esque interviews are offered, but we do get some nice behind-the-scenes footage.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 5 min.) – Only a couple scenes are offered here. One of the Catherine's son showing why indeed he needs therapy and the other involves Chloe talking about her teenage past.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

'Chloe' has BD-Live functionality, but as of this writing, the BD-Live features haven't been turned on. I can't expect that we'll see some outrageously awesome BD-Live special features, but who knows.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14946 [review_final_thoughts] =>

In a way 'Chloe' feels confused, and a bit muddled, but I think that was Egoyan's intention. We're not supposed to know why Chloe does the things she does. She has a power over people that can't be quantified or explained. It's somewhat eerie. Yes there is a love scene between Moore and Seyfried, which some people are very excited to see, but there's something about this movie that rises above famous girl-on-girl action. It's haunting, and thrilling to watch. The video is well above average, while the sound leaves a little to be desired. Same old, same old when it comes to the extras. Overall, I'd say rent it.

) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 3372 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => gabrieliglesias_hot&fluffy [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Gabriel Iglesias: Hot & Fluffy [picture_created] => 1272919385 [picture_name] => 5318b6c0ef637.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c0ef637.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3372/gabrieliglesias_hot%26fluffy.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 60 [list_price] => 17.98 [asin] => B003HTPHUO [amazon_price] => 15.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Opening acts ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Gabriel Iglesias ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Gabriel Iglesias is one of the fastest rising comics today! With his unique brand of humor, loveable stage presence and a wide range of voices and impressions, it's no wonder he became an instant favorite on "Last Comic Standing." Now you can see Comedy Central's "Comic of the Year" in a sold out concert performance at the historic Fox Theater in Bakersfield, California. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3392 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => greenberg [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Greenberg [picture_created] => 1278629877 [picture_name] => green.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Universal Studios [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/08/120/green.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3392/greenberg.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 108 [list_price] => 39.99 [asin] => B002ZG97TC [amazon_price] => 27.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => BD-live [1] => My Scenes [2] => Pocket Blu [3] => Social Blu ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [1] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French DTS 5.1 Surround Sound [2] => Spanish DTS 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, French, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Greenberg [1] => Greenberg Loves Los Angeles [2] => Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Ben Stiller ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Noah Baumbach ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Roger Greenberg is single, fortyish and deliberately doing nothing. In search of a place to restart his life, he agrees to house sit for his brother in LA and tries to reconnect with his former bandmate and ex-girlfriend. But old friends aren't necessarily still best friends, and Greenberg soon finds himself forging a connection with his brother's personal assistant, Florence. Despite his best attempts not to be drawn in, Greenberg comes to realize that he may at last have found a reason to be happy. [review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106110 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

They say don't judge a book by its cover. Don't judge a movie either.

When 'Greenberg' was released into theaters this past spring, it had an appropriately melancholic one sheet, showing star Ben Stiller as the titular man-child who is having a mid-life crisis while house-sitting for his successful brother in Los Angeles. Showing Stiller looking very small against a field of white, it summed up the movie's angst-y mixture of alienation and contemplation, and set the right tone for the comedy/drama that followed.

For the home video release, Universal, apparently burned by the poor box office for 'Greenberg' (it didn't exactly bring in 'Night at the Museum 2' numbers), decided to present the movie like your typical romantic comedy.

Out is the white void of space, replaced by a montage-like border featuring tiny scenes from the movie, while the main focus of the poster is now a flirty picture of Stiller interacting with his adorable costar Greta Gerwig in a way more affable way than ever actually happens in the movie. (Stiller's character is kind of a loser/asshole, if I haven't already made that abundantly clear.)

There are now big blocks of text that fill the space in between Gerwig (adorable) and Stiller (not): "Extremely Entertaining!" exclaims The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, in big block letters. In even bigger, blockier letters is a quote from A.O. Scott, not from his day job as the frequently wonderful film critic from the New York Times, but from his night gig as populist host for the re-jiggered 'At the Movies' program (the one that used to be 'Siskel & Ebert' and has since been axed).

The entire, re-presentation of 'Greenberg' is supposed to suggest that the movie is fun, quirky, witty, and worthy of your attention. I agree with all of these things. It's an acerbic comedy that sticks with you in ways that few comedies these days do (another recent exception: the outrageously wonderful 'The Kids Are All Right'), full of pathos and heart and truth, especially when it comes to navigating the wasteland of Los Angeles without a car.

But this marketing ploy is also inherently false. The movie is persnickety, difficult, and at times almost painfully awkward. Wait - replace the word "almost" with the word "frequently." The movie was written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who directed the similarly cringe-worthy films 'Margot at the Wedding' and the more palpable 'The Squid and the Whale.' (Also, in his duties as Wes Anderson's collaborator, he co-wrote last year's great 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.') These are movies that don't warrant casual recommendation, and the same is true of 'Greenberg.' For a "funny" movie starring Ben Stiller, it goes to some pretty bleak places that I personally don't feel are for every viewer out there, especially if there's any kind of mood trying to be established (not exactly first date material, at home or in the theater).

That isn't to say that the movie isn't completely brilliant, because it is. I loved every second of it, even when it made me want to take a razorblade to my skin to exorcise all the scurrying vermin crawling around in there. It's a beautifully shot movie, photographed with loving detail by Harry Savides, who also shot 'Zodiac' and 'Birth' (he is very talented). And Stiller's performance is the most nuanced and fearless he's been in years, the perfect mixture of toxicity and smarmy charm. He's not the most lovable guy, but there will be another 'Meet the Parents' sequel this Christmas for all you folks who want to see him embarrass himself with no cathartic value.

This is Baumbach's second most tolerable movie, in terms of a wide audience, after 'The Squid and the Whale.' Part of it is the jangly, rambling quality of the film's narrative. Part of it is the aforementioned adorableness of Gerwig, who cut her teeth on the "mumblecore" sub-genre of American independent films. Part of it is the wonderful score by James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame. Part of it is that 70s-style vibe of aimless self-doubt. But none of it comes from that god awful cover art.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB dual-layer disc does not automatically play. Typical of Universal releases, there is no art on the disc itself (just a clear disc with blue lettering). It's BD-Live ready and I guess I'm supposed to say that it has "social network features" and "mobile features." It is Region A locked.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14966 [review_video] =>

The disc's VC-1 1080p transfer (aspect ratio: 2.35:1) mostly does the movie justice. Mostly.

When I saw this movie in the theater, I was blown away. Blown away I tells ya. There's this really wonderful Steadicam shot that follows Ben Stiller as he walks into a swimming pool that made my jaw drop. There was an amazing amount of depth to the images Savides captured, an almost three-dimensional quality, particularly in the velveteen darkness that accompanies a nighttime party scene towards the end of the movie.

That dimensionality isn't as present on the Blu-ray transfer, which instead emphasizes the more atonal quality to many of the sequences, which are obviously meant to mimic the hazy look of many 1970s movies (movies to which 'Greenberg' owes an obvious debt).

You'll notice this diffuse visual scheme from the word 'go,' as the 70s-style font choice of the opening titles fills up a vast panorama of Los Angeles. I'm not complaining. The sequences that made my eyes pop out of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon character still do the same, but there's just less depth there.

Technically, the disc is peerless: skin tones look great, blacks are deep and inky, and most shockingly, while there isn't any grain present the movie retains a decidedly filmic look and feel. There aren't any wonky technical issues either.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14967 [review_audio] =>

'Greenberg' is blessed with one of the year's best scores, by LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. Thankfully, it is brought to beautiful life by a subtle and superb lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix.

This isn't the most dynamic mix out there, nor should it be, but it is one of the crispest, with dialogue coming through loud and clear and well prioritized. Scenes that require some ambient atmosphere, like the aforementioned party sequence, really bristle to life, and Murphy's laid-back, partially electronic score commands your attention every time it pops up (ditto the excellently selected soundtrack picks).

There isn't a whole lot of serious surround sound activity, which will certainly rub some people the wrong way, but this is the best kind of sound track, one that is absolutely faithful to the material. The long, awkward stretches of silence are appropriately silent, and everything that should sound good, does sound good. I say well done.

Also included on this disc are French DTS 5.1 and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks and subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14968 [review_supplements] =>

The special features on this thing are totally lacking. Clearly, Universal didn't want to spend any more money on this film, an expensive little movie that really didn't make as much money as they would have liked. So it got virtually no attention with the home video release. There are some Blu-ray "exclusives" but they barely are worth mentioning. The entire spectrum of special features lasts less than ten minutes in total. That's disgusting. Especially for a movie this good.

  • A Behind the Scenes Look at 'Greenberg' (HD, 3:24) Basically, this is an extended trailer with a few seconds of the actors in there. It's completely worthless. Skip.
  • Greenberg Loves Los Angeles (HD, 2:08) This could have been good if it wasn't about as long as a television commercial. It basically runs down what the director and location manager were going for while choosing locations. But it's over before it began. God this is infuriating.
  • Greenberg: Noah Baumbach Takes a Novel Approach (HD, 1:32) Again, this could have been amazing! Baumbach is saying that he was more interested in emulating 20th century novelists when crafting 'Greenberg.' But guess what? THIS FEATURETTE IS LESS THAN TWO MINUTES LONG. I'm getting irate.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 14969 [review_bonus_content] =>

These are such a waste of time (and they take up about a quarter of the back of the Blu-ray box, of course). The Blu-ray exclusives are (get ready for this): pocket BLU, where you can control your Blu-ray player with your Blackberry for some reason; social BLU which, according to the box allows you to "connect with friends on your social networks to talk about your favorite movies, enjoy Blu-ray community features together and more" (not going to happen); and BD-Live, which at the time of this review doesn't have any exclusive material.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14983 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I really loved 'Greenberg.' I know that seems weird to say about a movie as cold and alienating as this is, but there's something to be said for a film that actually examines the messy details of humanity. Ben Stiller, in an absolutely fearless role, shines as an awkward man-child trying to get his shit together. The Blu-ray features wonderful audio and video but really fails in the special features department, like, crash-and-burn fail. Don't be put off (or sucked in) by the cloyingly sentimentalized box art. This movie isn't for everyone. But if you want something that's a little more spice than sugar, this is the movie for you. You will be rewarded for going out on a limb and you'll be glad you did, even if you squirm while watching.

) ) ) [reviews_slices] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3278 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => inbruges [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => In Bruges [picture_created] => 1271263698 [picture_name] => in-bruges.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Universal Studios [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/04/14/120/in-bruges.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3278/inbruges.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 107 [list_price] => 26.98 [asin] => B001PMRBJA [amazon_price] => 20.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => D-BOX Motion Code [1] => BD-Live [2] => My Scenes ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [2] => Region A ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => French DTS 5.1 Surround ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH [1] => French [2] => Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Deleted and Extended Scenes [1] => Gag Reel [2] => A Boat Trip Around Bruges ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Drama, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Martin McDonagh ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Hit men Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter) have been ordered to cool their heels in the storybook city of Bruges (it's in Belgium) after finishing a big job. But since hit men make the worst tourists, they soon find themselves in a life-and-death struggle of comic proportions against one very angry crime boss (Fiennes)! [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 116379 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

Setting is an important feature of any movie. In some stories the location that surrounds the characters can become a living, breathing entity of its own, just as important and integral to the narrative as the major players themselves. With the 2008 crime comedy 'In Bruges' that place of interest is the idyllic, beautiful, Belgian city of Bruges. A peaceful medieval tourist attraction littered with swans, rich culture, and apparently many alcoves, the dreamy, wistful streets of Bruges serve to lure the audience and characters into a kind of stasis, a hazy purgatory with a false sense of security, that is expertly juxtaposed against darker threats. As our characters pass through this fairy tale-like atmosphere, they bring with them pain, violence, guilt, and a healthy dose of humor, which all contrast perfectly with their charming surroundings in a hilarious and surprisingly thoughtful clash of bullets and wit.

'In Bruges' follows two hit men, Ray (Colin Ferrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) as they are forced to lay low in the quiet city of Bruges after their last job fails to go according to plan. While Ken takes a liking to the serene atmosphere, Ray starts to go mad with boredom and wanders the town looking for action. When their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes), tasks Ken with a new and unsavory assignment, friendships are tested and complications arise.

Martin McDonagh's Academy Award nominated script is wonderful and demonstrates a great command of tone. The opening line itself, which mentions Ray killing some people and then washing his hands in a Burger King bathroom, effectively sets the stage for the entire movie, showcasing a matter of fact treatment of violence that is undercut by a quick dose of humor. Full of sharp and biting dialogue, the characters are all given unique and distinct voices that still manage to carry a singular comedic wit and style throughout. The performances are also exceptional. Farrell's Ray is a charming mix of crass thug and sensitive soul. Almost every word out of his mouth is a potentially offensive, politically incorrect jab that is somehow written and delivered in just the right way, with just the right blend of innocent ignorance that carries no sign of mean-spirited intent. Gleeson is equally fantastic as Ken, bringing a kind intelligence and elegance that works well with the more unhinged traits of Ray. Even the more minor characters have their moments, and everyone seems to have an extra layer of depth hidden just beneath their exterior.

Much of the comedy is a direct result of taking these potentially larger than life killers out of their usual seedy element and dropping them into such ordinary circumstances and surroundings. Some of the funniest bits come from simple little moments, reactions, or lines. Highlights include the gangsters' various attempts at simple sightseeing, Ray's surprising and childlike excitement at seeing a little person actor filming a movie in the city, Ken and Harry's discussion on the virtues of Pizza Hut, and one character's obsession with the many alcoves (or nooks and crannies) in Bruges. While the movie is consistently hilarious throughout, there is also a more serious element to the script that is handled with just the right amount of sensitivity and insight. An undercurrent of melancholy runs just below the surface of the film, flowing through the little nooks and crannies (or alcoves) of the movie's bittersweet score. Farrell's character harbors massive guilt for a mistake he made during his last kill, and this shame hangs heavy in Ray's heart and throughout the story itself. This sobering dose of reality plays well with the movie's humorous elements and adds up to a surprisingly thoughtful experience.

While the movie is mostly successful, there are some minor areas of concern. A few actions taken in the last act bend the realm of believability just a bit, and though the characters are all well written, there is a certain inherent lack of authenticity that comes with having professional killers as kind, moral, and ethical as Ray, Ken, and even Harry. Also, though beautifully shot, the ending sequence might be a bit too ironic and thematically overt for its own good. Still, these are rather minor issues and the movie as a whole more than makes up for them.

Overall, 'In Bruges' is a wonderfully entertaining, funny, and intelligent film about guilt, friendship, and atonement. The script is refreshingly creative and smart, with strong characters and dialogue. The city of Bruges itself comes alive through the dreamlike cinematography, and serves as more than just a setting, effectively becoming a major thematic element of the action. We may never know for sure if Ray escapes the peaceful limbo he finds so mundane, or if he finds himself stuck in a swan infested hell, but either way the journey through 'In Bruges' is well worth your time.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 21125 [review_video] =>

Presented in a 1080p/VC-1 transfer in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 'In Bruges' looks quite good. The print is nice and clean, with some thin, natural grain present.

The picture has nice levels of detail, but while not soft, it's never exactly razor sharp either. Many shots, especially those which feature the pretty lights of the city just out of focus in the background, carry a welcomed sense of depth, providing a sometimes impressive level of dimension. The film has an intended high contrast, almost dreamlike look to it, giving the idyllic town of Bruges a wistful and beautiful sheen. While this visual palette sometimes gives colors a slightly subdued look, they still carry a full and pleasing richness. Even with the slightly stylized look, black levels are deep and shadow detail is good.

Overall, while not among the most impressive transfers the format has to offer, there is certainly nothing to complain about with the video here. Free of any technical artifacts or inconsistencies, Universal has done a respectful job.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 21126 [review_audio] =>

The film is provided with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and a French DTS 5.1 track with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles. Despite what the marketing for this film may have you believe, this is actually a fairly quiet movie, and the audio here reflects that.

'In Bruges' is mostly dialogue driven, and thankfully the speech is clean and crisp. The track is mostly front loaded, but surrounds are occasionally used early on for various atmospheric effects which add a nice but restrained level of immersion. When bullets do eventually start to fly, the surrounds rise to the challenge and bustle with activity. Dynamic range also proves to be fairly impressive in these action sequences, providing a nice booming contrast to the quieter scenes. Balance remains good between elements and bass also picks up with a nice, full punch.

While not the most lively track, this dialogue centric film sounds very good with an effective but subtle use of surrounds. It won't exactly give your system an aural workout, but the track is technically strong and packs a powerful jolt or two when it needs to.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

Unfortunately, outside of the deleted scenes, supplements here are pretty sparse. Some behind the scenes featurettes or interviews with the filmmakers would have been welcomed. Supplements are all presented in standard definition with stereo sound and English, Spanish, and French subtitle options.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (SD, 18 min) - Eleven deleted scenes and two extended scenes are presented here. Footage includes additional sequences of Ray and Ken visiting various tourist attractions, some additional insight into Ken and Harry's past including an actual flashback to an event mentioned in the movie that features the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, as a younger Harry. These scenes are all very good and seem to have been cut for pacing reasons. Definitely worth a look.
  • Gag Reel (SD, 6 min) - A gag reel featuring some blown lines and outtakes from the movie. Farrell and Gleeson look like they had a good time, but this is pretty standard fare. Still, it might offer a laugh or two for fans.
  • A Boat Trip Around Bruges (SD, 6 min) - This is exactly what it sounds like, a literal boat trip through the city of Bruges set to music from the film while facts about the town scroll across the top and bottom of the screen. Though a fairly odd supplement, there is a strangely hypnotic quality to the peaceful boat ride and you never know when facts about a beautiful medieval town in Belgium might come in handy.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>
  • BD-Live - Universal has provided standard BD-Live functionality that leads to a page with trailers for other releases.
  • My Scenes - This is a standard bookmarking feature to save and mark clips from the film.
  • D-Box Motion Code - The disc features D-Box enhancement for those with compatible D-Box motion controllers.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 21127 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'In Bruges' is an incredibly funny and dramatically potent crime film. Its rich characters, quotable dialogue, and bittersweet themes will stick with you for days, and while there are some tiny shortcomings in the final act, these faults are easily forgivable. The video and audio are both strong, but there's a lack of substantial extras. Still, the movie itself is the real attraction, so this disc is definitely recommended.

) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3229 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => insomnia [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Insomnia [picture_created] => 1279569259 [picture_name] => insomnia.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/07/19/120/insomnia.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3229/insomnia.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2002 [run_time] => 118 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003ELMR9E [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 [1] => French Dolby Digital 5.1 [2] => German Dolby Digital 5.1 [3] => Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English SDH [1] => French [2] => German [3] => Portuguese [4] => Spanish ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Christopher Nolan ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Invited to Nightmute, Alaska, to head a murder case, veteran LAPD detective Will Dormer finds his investigation interrupted by an ever-shining midnight sun that wreaks sleep-depriving havoc on him- and by personal guilt over a second crime that may be real... or a figment of his increasingly unstable consciousness. [review_bottom_line] => Highly Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106527 [review_movie_stars] => 4 [review_movie] =>

Director Christopher Nolan is obsessed with obsessed characters. From Guy Pearce's revenge-seeking amnesiac in 'Memento' to Hugh Jackman's secretive magician in 'The Prestige' to this summer's 'Inception,' where a crackerjack dream warrior creates an entire world to explore his failed relationship with his wife. (Then there's his pair of Batman movies… if anybody needs therapy, God knows it's Bruce Wayne.)

In 'Insomnia,' based on a 1997 Norwegian thriller of the same name by Erik Skjoldbjærg, Nolan's obsessive is played by Al Pacino. As Los Angeles detective Will Dormer, he's brought to the tiny Alaskan town of Nightmute, where a young girl has been brutally murdered. He's accompanied by his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan), as a favor to the chief of police (Paul Dooley). But the detectives are also hiding out: there's an internal affairs investigation going on in Los Angeles that involves the pair, which, in typical Nolan form, is parceled out over a fairly lengthy amount of screen time.

The town of Nightmute, it's explained by Hilary Swank, as Dormer and Eckhart's plucky police liaison, is so far north that they're currently experiencing a kind of "endless day," where all 24 hours are drenched in sunlight. (Like the inverse of '30 Days of Night.') While chasing the killer down a foggy embankment, Pacino shoots the wrong man and doesn't confess to the crime.

Pacino's character is guilt-ridden, a typical Nolan protagonist trait, but he's also tortured by the endless day, unable to sleep, and becoming increasingly sensitive and unnerved. Making matters worse are the fact that the killer (Robin Williams) calls Pacino and taunts him with the facts, having witnessed the tragic accident.

There's a noose around Pacino's character's neck, and as the movie goes along it gets tighter and tighter and tighter, until things get unbearably claustrophobic. This is undoubtedly Nolan's darkest, most pessimistic film (yes, even more so than 'Memento') and at times it gets uncomfortably bleak. But, like all of the director's films, it's so filtered through a character (Pacino, in a superb performance) that we feel exactly what this character is going through, for better or worse. Through Nolan's usual expert mixture of editorial work, photography, and sound cues, you really do feel like an insomniac by the time the movie is done, but never once does the movie drag or get dull. It remains vital throughout.

As far an obsessive characters go, Pacino's defective detective is a humdinger, morally ambiguous but so sure of his actions. When he starts to unravel, things get even darker, so much so that 'Insomnia' winds up being a little too grim to merit all that many repeat viewings. You may want to watch again just to see how Nolan pulled it off, but man, things are depressing.

Is it Nolan's best film? No. But it's a great "stepping stone" movie in between the smallish indie world and the big budget, thematically complicated studio work that has defined the later phase of his career. 'Insomnia' will certainly keep you awake (and obsessed), long after it's over.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB Blu-ray disc is Region Free. Um. Yeah, that's about it. Oh, I would like to compliment Warner Bros on going with a different, and altogether brilliant, box art image for this release of 'Insomnia.' The previous edition had some horrendous floating heads against a black backdrop. This is a wonderful, totally evocative image that is just perfect. Well done.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15166 [review_video] =>

'Insomnia's' Blu-ray debut comes with a handsome VC-1 1080p transfer (aspect ratio: 2.40:1) that beautifully captures the movie's chilly locations and even chillier characters.

But here's the thing: I couldn't stop staring at Al Pacino's hairpiece. I know this is a weird thing to confess, but the entire time I was watching it I just couldn't stop. I was becoming one of Christopher Nolan's obsessed protagonists. I watched, as his hairline dipped into his forehead and then recessed again. Every scene, no matter the dramatic weight, paled in comparison to what was going on with the top of Al Pacino's head. It was terrible!

Besides this minor hiccup, which grew into just about the only thing I could think about while watching the movie, the transfer is absolutely wonderful. Detail is superb, ditto textures, and skin tones look realistic and true (not that the cast is particularly multi-cultural). There is a nice, healthy layer of grain that lends a cinematic quality to the transfer, and there aren't any glitchy technical issues to speak of. Black levels are also deep and dark, when appropriate (a shadowy alleyway, for instance, or a violent flashback).

This is, overall, a really great transfer; one of the best I've seen lately. Just, please, try not to look anywhere near Al Pacino's forehead. It could end up consuming you, like it did to me.

[review_audio_stars] => 4 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15165 [review_audio] =>

Just as impressive as the video transfer is the outrageously great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix.

There's a moment in the movie, maybe thirty minutes in, when Al Pacino's insomnia manifests itself at the police station. He looks around and everything: a clerk stapling a stack of pages, someone grabbing a drink of water, a fan oscillating, sounds incredibly loud. He's overwhelmed by the cacophony. It's a wonderful psychological manifestation of his insomnia and his interior madness/guilt. And here it sounds superb. Every sound effect is crisp and clear. Nothing overwhelms. It's just the perfect amount of atmosphere.

Another neat effect that sounds great here is the "searing" noise that the sunlight makes as it pours through Pacino's hotel window. Try as he might to shut it out, it comes back. It's hard not to think that Danny Boyle borrowed some of this for his spectacular 'Sunshine.'

Sound effects aside, the mix is wonderful ambient and atmospheric. There's a nice scope to the movie, visually, which is matched by both the sound effects (aforementioned) and the minimalist score by David Julyan. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear and the surround channels are often supported. Overall, a really great sound mix to go along with the impressive visuals, and when I was listening to 'Insomnia,' I wasn't focusing on Al Pacino's hairpiece.

Also included here are French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes as well as subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German SDH.

[review_supplements_stars] => 4 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15133 [review_supplements] =>

'Insomnia' follows Warner Bros' typical Blu-ray catalogue approach: reproducing all the special features from the already features-laden DVD. Warner Bros had a bunch of great DVD special features and it's nice to have them here, but it would also be nice to have some new supplements, especially retrospective stuff. A boy can dream, can't he?

  • Commentary with Christopher Nolan This is really one of the best commentaries I've heard (and when listening to it for this review I cannot believe I never spun it on the DVD, which I've had since its original release). Basically, what Nolan does is a commentary that corresponds with the shooting schedule of the movie. So you're seeing the movie all jumbled up, with a stamp at the bottom of the screen that says something like "Scene 65, Day 1" or whatever. This commentary really gives you an impressive look into how Nolan's mind works and what making a big, long studio movie is like. Really fascinating stuff; as far as I'm concerned it's a must-listen.
  • Cast and Crew Commentary This features a whole bunch of people, and in an interesting move you can select the participants on the main menu and just listen to their section. So you've got Hilary Swank (her time totals 2:36), screenwriter Hilary Seitz (really interesting, 11:25), cinematographer Wally Pfsiter (8:01), production designer Nathan Crowley (4:42 - love his accent), and editor Dody Dorn (14:34). I would suggest listening to this commentary in one go, not in the nugget-like way I attempted it, because I'm an idiot. All the participants are sharp and engaged. Recommended.
  • 180? Chris Nolan Interviews Pacino (SD, 17:10) This is pretty interesting. It's supposed to be our intrepid director interviewing his legendary star and it is that, at least for a little while. But it's also the two of them reminiscing about the production of 'Insomnia' and Pacino telling Nolan about previous experiences. Keep in mind that this was Christopher Nolan's first studio film, and only second movie out of film school ('Following' was a student production), so he's doing a lot of learning too. Well worth watching.
  • Day for Night: The Making of 'Insomnia' (SD, 7:56) Brief, borderline EPK about the making of 'Insomnia.' You can skip this.
  • In the Fog (SD, 6:10) You can watch this with commentary from either cinematographer Wally Pfister or production designer Walter Crowley. It's basically a look behind-the-scenes at the sequence in which Pacino chases Williams through a foggy embankment. Pretty cool stuff. Either commentary (or both) recommended.
  • Additional Scene with Optional Commentary (SD, 3:03) This is really two brief scenes, both have little bearing on the story and are hardly revelatory. This is worth watching if you're curious (or like Maura Tierney) and want to hear Nolan's thoughts about why he clipped them from the final film.
  • Trailer (SD, 2:26) BAD, BAD, BAD. Skip! With a trailer like this it's not hard to figure out why the movie didn't find the audience it rightfully deserved.
  • Eyes Wide Open (SD, 7:27) This is a brief documentary about real life insomniacs. Now you may be wondering: why should I care? And I really don't have an answer for you. This is dull and unnecessary and only tangentially related to the movie (the people interviewed have been suffering from insomnia for literally years, Al Pacino's character has only been affected for a few days). Oddly enough, this doc might put you to sleep. Zing!
  • Photo Gallery Pretty much what the titles says.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 4 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

If you're a fan of the twisty, turny, guilt-filled world of director Christopher Nolan but have let 'Insomnia' slip through your grasp, well, it's time to correct that RIGHT NOW. His first studio movie is a masterful exercise in atmosphere and neuroses, weighted by a trio of great performances from Pacino, Swank, and Williams. It might not be the most uplifting move you see this week, but you'll be glad you took the trip to the icy, sundrenched town of Nightmute, Alaska. With some great A/V and a hearty collection of extras, this is a highly recommended disc indeed. Just, please, don't look at Al Pacino's hairline.

) ) ) [1] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3373 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => middleofnowhere [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Middle of Nowhere [picture_created] => 1272919923 [picture_name] => 5318b6c141d5f.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c141d5f.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3373/middleofnowhere.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2008 [run_time] => 96 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B003HTPHVS [amazon_price] => 26.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD 25GB Single-Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Making-of Middle of Nowhere [1] => Cast interviews [2] => Deleted scenes [3] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Eva Amurri, Anton Yelchin, Justin Chatwin, Willa Holland, Susan Sarandon ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => John Stockwell ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => A pair of co-workers at a small-town water park—restless troublemaker Dorian and the tightly wound Grace – form an unlikely bond when Dorian cooks up an illicit plan to earn big money. With no assistance from a flaky, free-spending mom and competition from a sexy younger sister, Grace needs all the help she can get if she’s going to make it to college. [review_bottom_line] => Skip It [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106313 [review_movie_stars] => 2 [review_movie] =>

Instead of a film full of bikini clad women, which has been John Stockwell's ('Blue Crush' and 'Into the Blue' ) calling card for the past few years, 'Middle of Nowhere' features fully clothed girls dealing with a deadbeat mother who steals from their inheritance. While this is happening, Dorian (Anton Yelchin, 'Star Trek' ) is coming to blows with his rich parents. Oh and we also meet another rich kid who lives in a gated community and is utterly and completely sick of being rich. Just once I'd like to see a movie with rich kids from the suburbs who actually like being rich.

Dorian is a troubled young man who apparently tries to kidnap his family's maid and drive her to Fort Lauderdale. To be honest, the scene that gets Dorian in trouble made absolutely no sense to me! Not a good sign. Dorian is soon shipped off to live with his strict uncle and work as a lifeguard at the local water park.

Grace (Eva Amurri, 'Californication') is also an employee at the water park. She's dealing with her mother, who cares more about putting Grace's 15 year-old sister through modeling school than she does about more immediate concerns like family finances. Grace can't get a loan from school because her mother has taken out credit cards in her name and thereby blessed her with horrible credit.

As you may have guessed, Grace and Dorian meet up, discuss their problems, and work out a solution. They'll sell pot to the local townsfolk. In the context of the story, this decision makes absolutely zero sense, but Stockwell doesn't seem to care.

What follows is a dreadfully overly dramatic mess that has Dorian flip-flopping on whether he wants to be a drug dealer, a good son, or just find his birth mom (he's adopted). Grace is dealing with a myriad of problems herself, such as her loser mother, her prissy sister, the fact that she's going to get kicked out of college, and whether or not to fall in love with Dorian.

Yelchin is a fine young actor, and he does what he can with the dismal material he's given here. He's got great energy, which he showed in 'Star Trek,' and in the lesser known 'Charlie Barlett.' Amurri also tries her best, but she can't quite seem to figure out how to play the part of the leading lady (instead of just the hot girl who seduces David Duchovny in 'Californication').

Ultimately, Director Stockwell ('Crazy/Beautiful') splits 'Middle of Nowhere' into a movie with dozens of different directions, but the storylines eventually end up in the middle of nowhere. The title is all too apt.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15049 [review_video] =>

'Middle of Nowhere' sports a 1080p/AVC encoded image that is middling at best.

Soft shots dominate much of the runtime, while source noise runs rampant. The film fares better in brightly lit scenes, for example the water park sequences are very strong. Nighttime scenes are also solid, but soft shots ruin much of the picture when the scene grow darker – the source noise is also more noticeable when black is the dominate color on screen. Colors are strongly enhanced, with bright blues, greens, and reds. Skin tones seem natural looking. Fine detail leaves a little to be desired, but gives us some good looking close-up facial detail.

Overall, this is on OK transfer, but it's not without its problem to be sure.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15050 [review_audio] =>

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation for 'Middle of Nowhere' is just about as average as audio presentations come.

Dialogue heavy, the movie is mainly focused up front, with clear intelligible dialogue. Scenes involving lots of people and crowded places, like the water park, lack the kind of surround sound that it seems should be engulfing the listener. Instead the surrounds are left with flat sounding ambience that feels forced and unnatural. LFE is also muted for much of the movie except when the obligatory dance music is blasted at parties.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15051 [review_supplements] =>
  • Making Of (SD, 25 min.) – Clip heavy this is the standard promo fluff with interviews from the cast and crew on how great it is working with each other and how much they enjoyed working on this movie.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 6 min.) – Only a few deleted scenes included, but nothing that really needs to be viewed. Once you see them you'll understand why they were left on the cutting room floor.
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (SD, 11 min.) – Here you can pick which cast member you'd like to hear an interview from. Many of the interviews are almost the exact same thing you'd hear in the Making Of featurette.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.
[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15052 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Stockwell's 'Middle of Nowhere' is a mess. While movies like 'Into the Blue' don't fare much better than this, they do have their selling points. Unfortunately, this film definitely proves dramatic fodder isn't always his strong suit (har har). Stick to the bikinis man! The video on this Blu-ray is about average while the audio is forgettable. Overall, this is quite skippable. I really wanted to like this one, but in the end it's just formulaic and dull.

) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3389 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => ourfamilywedding [review_release_date] => 1279004400 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Our Family Wedding [picture_created] => 1281939404 [picture_name] => our.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => 20th Century Fox [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/08/15/120/our.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3389/ourfamilywedding.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 103 [list_price] => 39.99 [asin] => B003L16FC2 [amazon_price] => 27.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 50GB Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, French, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Deleted & Extended Scenes [1] => “Til Dads Do Us Part” featurette [2] => Gag Reel ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Forest Whitaker, Carlos Mencia, America Ferrera, Lance Gross ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Rick Famuyiwa ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Carlos Mencia (“Mind of Mencia”) star in this clash-of-cultures comedy about two overbearing dads who must put aside their differences to plan a wedding for their children, Marcus (Lance Gross; Meet the Browns) and Lucia (America Ferrera; “Ugly Betty”), in less than two weeks. As the wedding brings out the best and worst in both families, the young couple soon discovers the true meaning of love and finds there is truth to the saying - that when you marry someone, you marry their entire family. [review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 107709 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

'Our Family Wedding' combines the plots of 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,' and 'Meet the Parents' into an oddly watchable movie. I know I probably shouldn't have liked this movie. I mean one check of the trusty Tomatometer shows 'Our Family Wedding' languishing in the critical nether regions, with a paltry 13 percent. Seriously, I shouldn't like this movie!

Lucia Ramirez (America Ferrara) has found the man of her dreams in Marcus Boyd. One catch, Lucia is Hispanic and Marcus is African American. Lucia's father Miguel (Carlos Mencia) and Marcus' father Brad (Forest Whitaker) don't get along. Partly because of the racial divide, and partly because Miguel towed Marcus' car at the beginning of the film. It's clear that both of them have a problem with their offspring marrying someone not of their ethnic background. Miguel condescendingly refers to Marcus as "Bro," while Marcus spits back with a sarcastic "Vato!"

Lucia and Marcus want to get married, but as soon as they even mention the word their parents are up in arms about the wedding, how it should be planned, which traditions are going to be followed, and if they should even get married in the first place. Having gone through the whole marriage planning process, I can attest that executing a wedding with dozens of people all thinking they are in charge is one tricky situation to pull off effectively. Here, the problems only are compounded as race becomes the driving factor between the two families.

'Our Family Wedding,' besides one sequence with a goat loose in the house, is fairly subdued in its humor and motives. It's not one of those in-your-face romantic comedies that lashes out at you with inane situational comedy, and then plasters a phony-baloney message on top of it all. The film covers the problems faced by the two families with care and a bit of humor. Each character is flawed and has to work through his or her differences. Lucia and Marcus' wedding is merely the setup for a family drama.

Sure there are major issues that are conveniently side-stepped, and misunderstandings that come out of nowhere, but 'Our Family Wedding' didn't feel like many of those other wedding fiasco movies I've seen. In some weird way it felt sort of real (except for that goat!).

Whitaker does a great job portraying a man who keeps his family close to his heart, but has problems that are dragging him down. If you were Marcus, how would you feel if your fifty year-old dad was bringing home twenty-somethings from the local club every night? (the correct answer is horrified, not proud.) Mencia takes a break from his grating stand-up comedy, and settles into a role that requires him to emote something other than the disdain he ejects during his stand-up shows.

'Our Family Wedding' works, for me, as a simple yet effective (if slightly over-dramatic) wedding film about families trying to work out their differences through conversation and actions. Yes, I still know about its dismal 13 percent on the Tomatometer, but I blame that on the goat.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15670 [review_video] =>

'Our Family Wedding's 1080p transfer, featuring an AVC encode, shimmers on Blu-ray.

Fine detail shines through from Brad's finely tailored suits to the embroidered stitching on the headrests of Miguel's restored car. Like most other rom-coms, expect a warm color palette to pervade throughout the movie. Even then, colors pop off the screen, especially when someone wears a really bright outfit, juxtaposed with the softer colors. Blacks are nicely rendered with detailed shadows. Crushing never becomes a problem, even during the darkest scenes. Skin tones all stay natural. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be found.

Overall, this is a very solid looking transfer from Fox and, if you're one of the film's few fans out there, you'll be pleased with what you see.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15671 [review_audio] =>

Suffering from the plague of rom-coms, 'Our Family Wedding' sports a fairly uninteresting sound presentation. Not because there's anything technically wrong with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation, but just because of the nature of the movie. Heavy on the talking, and light on just about everything else, 'Our Family Wedding's soundfield is almost strictly confined to the front channels. LFE is a very occasional participant, mostly chiming in while Brad and Miguel are in a club. The surrounds are almost silent as busy city streets, crowded restaurants, and lively baseball diamonds are devoid of any kind of ambient sound. I did catch a technical problem located at the 17:14 mark where a small line of dialogue sounds like it echoes ever so slightly, like a small hiccup or something. It's strange and I had to rewind it a couple of times to make sure I was hearing what I was hearing, but it's there. It's not super distracting, but it isn't something that should be there. The audio is nowhere near the quality of the video, but that's just the kind of movie we're dealing with here. 'Our Family Wedding' doesn't really lend itself to a sonic feast of the ears.

[review_supplements_stars] => 2 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15672 [review_supplements] =>
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 17 min.) – Six deleted scenes are included here. There's also an alternate.
  • Extended Scenes (HD, 4 min.) – Only two scenes get the extension treatment, and it's nothing that needs to be seen anyway.
  • 'Til Dads Do Us Part (HD, 15 min.) – This is actually a fairly informative, but breezy, making-of featurette. Watch it if you're a fan.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 3 min.) – Your usual lineup of muffed lines and actors laughing with each other.
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.

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There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15673 [review_final_thoughts] =>

OK, I understand! I'm pretty much the only critic who didn't mind 'Our Family Wedding.' Is it cheesy in some parts? Yes. Does it use many of the typical wedding movie clichés? Yes. Does it feel just a little bit more real than many of the wedding movies out there? Thankfully, yes. I'm not saying 'Our Family Wedding' has reinvented the wedding movie genre, but it's a worthy addition to it. The characters feel real and so do their problems. Maybe I was in an extra generous mood when I watched this one, but it really isn't that bad. The video is nice, the audio is what you'd expect from a talk-heavy rom-com, and the special features package is as bland as they come. Rent this if nothing else.

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The review for 'The Bounty Hunter' is being temporarily delayed so that a vocabulary lesson may be provided to our reading audience. The word I'd like to focus on today is "penance." In addition to being the name of a Marvel Comics character with spikes inside and out of the costume (kinky), the word can be generically defined as an act to show sorrow for committing a misdeed. Basically, self-punishment. In addition to its use in some religious beliefs, this word also describes why I'm reviewing this film right here and now.

It was my turn to take one for the team.

That isn't to say I had my mind made up on this film before going into it; far from it. The only thing I knew about it was that it had a semi-interesting trailer, that it scored a horrendous 8 percent at Rotten Tomatoes, and that its leads, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, were romantically linked by numerous websites that link any male seen within 300 feet of Aniston, regardless of if they're being paid to do it, as Butler was. She's kind of the tabloid sensation, you see, due to her heartbreak over the whole Brad Pitt thing, people sympathize/empathize with her. It's like she's everyone's Friend. Unfortunately, Aniston has shown less range than a guillotine in recent years, constantly playing a woman with a troubled relationship, or troubled history of relationships. This is all I knew going into 'The Bounty Hunter.'

I really wish I had just watched the trailer for two hours. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome the review for this film would have been if I did. Sadly, that is not the review you are reading right now.

Nicole Hurley (Aniston) is a wanted felon. She's out on bail for assaulting a police officer, and blew off her court appearance to investigate a story she is working on for her job at The Daily News. Milo Boyd (Butler) is a bounty hunter, a former cop with a gambling debt, and a string of bad luck. Did his luck just change when he gets his dream job: hooking his ex-wife and delivering her to jail? Not so much. As much as Boyd revels in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the story Hurley is working on seems to become more relevant and dangerous to both of them, and soon the spiteful pair must try to work together to stay alive. Police corruption? Missing drugs? A lovelorn co-worker (Jason Sudeikis) pining after Hurley in the most stalker-y of fashions? Danger? The chance to see what drove a happy couple apart, and fix it? Yeah, it's all there.

'The Bounty Hunter' isn't a good film, and the problem lies mostly in the writing. Simply put, this story seems too manufactured, built around the idea of capitalizing on Aniston and her personal life, and combining genres to try to make a hybrid of sorts (and any science fiction-horror fan can tell you, combining species is never a good idea...). This action/romantic comedy/suspense film tries to do too much, and stretches itself far too thin to be effective at any one of its elements.

This film has potential written all over it, which only adds to the frustration of watching it unfold (more like unravel). What adult cannot imagine themselves in one of the two leads? Sure, the whole "arrest" thing is an exaggeration, but who hasn't been in a relationship that ended on less than amicable terms, leading to severe disdain? There are plenty of guys who have been jerked around and misled to the point that they would love to see their former-significant other have to pay for their crimes, even literally, in this sense. Additionally, plenty of women can say they've been alienated by their former beaus, and driven away by their actions, only to be made to look like the villain.

How can something so basic, relatable, and real be screwed up so badly? I can't blame director Andy Tennant, as the pacing problems seem to be more the fault of the meandering "do everything for everyone" story premise, and numerous scenes are above and beyond what one would expect from a stinker. In fact, the entire film reeks of potential, but fails to reach out and connect the dots. Aniston's shtick is really worn out at this point, as it has been years since she truly played a "different" role, while Butler has gone from a role that made him beyond famous ('300') to spitting in the face of the same audience that made him what he is now with his involvement in films that are beyond uninspired. He was set to be the next Russell Crowe, but may end up a flash in the pan like Russell Brand with his awful career choices.

The way story lines collide in 'The Bounty Hunter' may be one of the big reasons why it falls flat on its face. We need the basic premise that Hurley is in danger, and said danger may reignite the flames with her ex. What we don't need is the side plot with Boyd, and his bookie trying to collect her money through her moronic thugs at every corner. It's simply amazing that this film didn't get so lazy as to have Hurley's pursuers off Boyd's, just to tidy up the story, considering it was so lazy with everything else. Instead, we're stuck with boring supporting characters who do nothing to the story beyond complicate it further, to the point that we no longer can associate with anyone.

The way 'The Bounty Hunter' also tries to put the characters in familiar situations to remind them of what they lost is also sadly predictable, cliche, and aggravating. As Hurley sees a sign for the place where she and Boyd honeymooned, she weeps at the memory. Why do we have to then go to said place? It's stupid, obvious, and cheap. It's amateur, it's been done a million times. More descriptions of what it was? Sure! It's flat insulting to the movie-going public, and just another reason why this film tanked so horribly. Originality. I wanted to like this film, as the trailer had promise, but damn if this film didn't make the task impossible.

The Disc: Vital Stats

Sony brings 'The Bounty Hunter' to Blu-ray on a Region Free (A/B/C) BD50 Dual Layer disc. There are some annoying pre-menu trailers ('The Back-Up Plan,' 'Chloe,' 'Get Low,' and an annoying as hell Sony product trailer called Make.Believe), but they fail to even come close to how annoying (and horrendous) the menu is.

Imagine, if you will, a menu that is amazingly slow to react (on a player that never has given me one problems on said topic). Alright, now imagine that with every selection you make, a menu pops up, that doesn't let you select anything immediately. Instead, it makes the text slowly increase in size, as if it were coming from the back forward. If you select an option that has another menu pop up, it does it again. Now, when you close any of these screens, instead of disappearing, the text first slowly shrinks, going through the opposite motion as before. The time you wasted reading this paragraph is nothing compared to the time this menu wastes if you're trying to see what all is available on this disc. Add in some horribly annoying menu music, and you have what I'd like to call the biggest piece of shit menu in Blu-ray history.

The case for this title is one of the new Eco-Vortex cases, that has sections that are thinner plastic than the rest, but without the annoying cut-outs other eco-cases have. It is entirely possible that one could sprinkle narcotics onto the case, and roll it into a blunt. I would bet it wouldn't even snap or crack. That's how cheesy these new cases are. Just be warned, said action may send the bounty hunter after you!

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 14893 [review_video] =>

The video for 'The Bounty Hunter' (by way of a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode at 2.35:1) had to be the hardest part to grade, as I went back and forth between a couple scores. No title has ever made me second guess back and forth on a score for even a fraction of how much this one has. I wish that was a good thing.

'The Bounty Hunter' is just the biggest tease of a transfer I've ever seen. It's much like a PG-13 strip club (yes, there's one of those in this film), where guys hoot and holler like they've never seen exposed ankle, in that it has the goods (and the goods? They're great), but it decides to put clothing on, rather than take it off. It stinks like stripper sweat.

Let's start with the bad (the film sure does!). A few early scenes have a distracting blue tint to them, that may have been caused by lighting, or by the fact that no one gave a damn. Pick one. Soon after the Smurf-y flash-forward opening, we're brought back 24 hours earlier in the story, and it's like going through a time machine, back to the time when the men and women in charge of video quality control thought tinkering a title all to shit was a good thing. The entire scene that unfolds is one of horror. Imagine a parade, in a city that is CGI'ed to look bigger. Yep, set extensions. Alright, now imagine that either by product of non-existant special effects budget, or the nastiest edge enhancement ever, that everything has a blue outline to it. Yes, at times the outline is thicker on both sides than the item or character it is outlining. Said outline is countless shades darker than the very light blue sky. This problem only appears in this area of the film this dramatically, but it may as well have been a missing reel straight out of 'Grindhouse,' in my eyes. Terrible, flat terrible.

Now, ringing pops up from time to time in the rest of the film, just never as amazingly pronounced as the effect described above. There are numerous blurry scenes, and plenty of times where faces have literally no distinction to them. Noise is a distraction every now and again, and grain levels don't stay consistent. Wavering is a big issue, as well, as there are two scenes that are nearly back to back that are reminiscent of the ocean. First, the black trim tiles in the women's restroom move in thickness as Aniston moves through the area (with the camera holding fairly still), then, on the roof of a building, the lines on the ground pulse and waver. Shots of both Aniston and Gerard in their vehicle at times are looped very, very poorly. I say that, in that the shots of the two principal actors are shades different than normal, and so flat and two dimensional that they may as well be computer generated body doubles performing the scenes. Honestly, considering the lifeless acting on display, this wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Last on the laundry list, the hideous striped outfit Butler wears in the finale of the second act creates some odd aliasing effects.

All the above is a tremendous shame, and a wasted opportunity, as 'The Bounty Hunter' really could have shown through. Detail is amazing at times, literally leaping right off the screen. I have never seen Aniston's hair so amazingly detailed and rich, with the layers of blonde and brown discerning themselves like they were at war, and her stray and frizzy hairs leaping from her head. Skin tones felt fairly natural, and colors were beyond bright and vibrant.

Putting all this into paragraph form from my notes helped me make up my mind. Let's drop this puppy down a notch.

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14894 [review_audio] =>

This is the part of the review where expectations vs. reality come into play, as 'The Bounty Hunter' revels in its own audio mediocrity, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that's quite mundane. Honestly, the entire thing would feel over ten years old, with its uninspired, middling mix, if it weren't for the modern hipster soundtrack that is sure to date this film worse than its leads and its story. Dialogue is clear, and never dares to move around the room, staying nice, front, and center. Sometimes it can come off a tad hollow, but overall it's satisfactory. Rears get the tiniest bits of ambience, often not matching the activity levels found on screen. For every nice moment or two(the loudspeakers at the racetrack localizing, the gunfire found at the end of the film having a tiny bit of movement and localization), there is a bit of facepalm worthy failure (busy exterior scenes that start with only front ambience, that slowly creep into the rears, as the scene gets less busy. I wish that were exaggeration). The soundtrack has some great bass, but that's about all the bass gets, and the scored moments certainly have the most range on display. In short, this track is your generic, cheap, lazy romantic comedy audio mix, and it really, really pissed me off.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>
  • Making 'The Bounty Hunter' (HD, 17 min) - I wonder if Aniston and Butler will talk positively of this production. I wonder if the cast and crew will say anything other than how great the idea and experience were. I was very, very scared by the appearance of Tennant, as he looked somewhat like the Grimace, only less purple, slightly. There are some light anecdotes, and so on, but this entire feature is far too EPK to be taken seriously.
  • Stops Along the Road: Hunting Locations (HD, 11 min) - We shot here, we shot here, we shot here, we shot many different places. Yeah, you certainly did. There are some good features on how they dressed sets for moods, but this is mostly a pretty boorish feature.
  • Rules for Outwitting a Bounty Hunter (HD, 1 min) - Rule #1- get a recording of him making racist comments, draw media outrage, and scram. Seriously, this short extra lacks any real information, about the topic, or the film. It's just a brief recap of all of the zany evasion tactics and ploys found in the film. Complete crap, with annoying narration.
  • Previews PMT ones, plus The Runaways, Nine, Extraordinary Measures, Dear John, Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy), and The Pillars of the Earth.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are a few exclusives on this release, though they don't amount to much. First, there's MovieIQ + Sync, which is the standard next-gen trivia track from Sony. Then, there's a BD-Live portal, though it is not live as of the posting of this review. Lastly, there is a separate disc containing a PC/Mac Digital Copy of the film, while the main movie disc has a PSP Digital Copy code, as well.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14895 [review_final_thoughts] =>

I feel wronged right now. I captured and scolded a horrible criminal, yet not only am I not collecting a few thousand dollars, the wrongdoer is still going to be released upon the public. Sure, it's unrealistic to think Sony would bury every existing copy of 'The Bounty Hunter,' but they probably should have at least considered it. That should sum up my feelings on this film. This Blu-ray is a bit of a mess, with very disappointing audio and video for such a new release, and a pile of generic, boring extras. This is one to avoid, for many, many reasons.

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The first thought that popped into my head when USA debuted 'White Collar' last season was, 'So, they made 'Catch Me If You Can' into a TV show, eh?' With my already packed TV schedule I didn't make it a point to watch the series. Then I was assigned the Blu-ray to review. This is the first time I've laid eyes on an episode of 'White Collar,' and I've got to say, I'm very impressed. As a matter of fact, I downright love this show now!

Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a world-renowned con-man. He's smooth. He knows how to work the system. In the pilot episode he escapes from a maximum-security prison like it's a walk in the park. There's nothing he can't do. His nemesis is FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). He's the one who put Caffrey away in the first place. Burke works for the White Collar crime unit in the Bureau, investigating everything from mortgage fraud to art theft. Caffrey cuts a deal with the FBI after his escape attempt and re-incarceration, after he finds out that Burke is looking for a con-man that he can help bring in. A life-long smooth criminal is now in Federal custody, wearing a tamper-proof ankle bracelet, helping the FBI nab the world's most clever con-people.

'White Collar' works on a few levels, one being the charisma of Matt Bomer and the chemistry he has with Tim DeKay. Their interaction is one of the many highlights of this well-written show. Bomer looks like a con-man. He looks like a person who could fake his way into being anything he wanted himself to be. DeKay is a by-the-book FBI agent, but there's nothing about him that's formula.

The formula for the show is similar to series like 'Burn Notice.' There are a few storylines that are pulled into season-long drama, but each episode stands alone with the over-reaching story arcs sprinkled throughout. Here Caffrey is desperately searching for his girlfriend who he thinks might be in danger. Most episodes start and end with tidbits about where she is, while each episode focuses on a different case Burke and Caffrey have to solve together.

Usually the case solving means that Caffrey must go in undercover by assuming an alias and infiltrating crooked groups of people doing illegal things. This is easy for Caffrey, because it's what he did for a living (allegedly). One plot hole that did nag at me is the fact that Caffrey on more than one occasion refers to the world of con-men and art thieves as a very small world, but Caffrey is hardly recognized by people dabbling in the same industry.

Despite the one discrepancy, 'White Collar' is a fun, exciting, and entertaining show. The episodes fly by, and the stories are original. This series is a nice surprise indeed.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The Blu-ray series of 'White Collar arrives complete on three 50GB Blu-ray discs. It comes in your standard keepcase packaging, with a disc holder that swings in the middle, which houses two of the three discs. Each disc has its own section for extras which contain the commentaries for that disc, but the bulk of the special features are found on the third disc.

The first disc is the only one with advertisements, which play before the menu. The other discs go straight to the the menu. A word to the wise, the menu music is pumped up at full volume and can be jarring after coming back from a soft special feature from which you had to turn up the sound to hear, like the "Gag Reel."

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 15454 [review_video] =>

After watching the show on Blu-ray I turned on USA and watched some of the high-def broadcasts of the show. I have Comcast, but as with most shows broadcast in high-def the inadequate bandwidth provided often results in a presentation full of all kinds of digital artifacts, mostly very annoying macro-blocking. The Comcast delivery isn't any different. While 'White Collar' looks great in high-def, when shown on TV the image is littered with blocking almost the entire time.

Bringing the show to Blu-ray shows exactly what we were missing. One thing 'White Collar' does so well is showcase so many different, stunning angles of New York, I can't believe this is the same city I've seen over and over in shows like 'Law and Order.' 'White Collar's low angle shots take in the New York skyline like no other show on TV. Its wide angle shots show off Central Park and the surrounding areas in dazzling detail. 'White Collar' has a smooth, polished look and Blu-ray is the perfect place to show it off.

Here you'll get none of those pesky digital artifacts you get during while watching it on TV. The 1080p transfer of 'White Collar' is pristinely clear and deeply detailed. While there are a few soft shots here and there, for the most part each shot in 'White Collar' has fine detail popping out everywhere. Did I mention that almost every episode you get to see Tiffani Thiessen in HD? That's never a bad thing! Black levels are dark, shadow delineation is very strong and detailed. Crushing is never a problem during darker interior or nighttime scenes. Detail pops off the screen from the textures of Neal's fine suits to the delicate facial features of a matured Kelly Kapowski. Nighttime scenes suffer from some slight source noise, but other than that the transfer is clean.

I still can't get over some of the shots of New York in this though. While some fly-overs feature a bit of aliasing while the camera pans over skyscrapers full of tiny rows of windows, each and every one of their city shots looks spectacular.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15455 [review_audio] =>

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 packs just as much punch as the 1080p video. From the theme music that booms during the menu, to the end credits, this is one fine sounding TV sound presentation. While the show lacks the sort of explosion-filled action that made a show like '24' sound phenomenal on Blu-ray, it still plays nice with what it's got.

Heavy on the talk, 'White Collar' finds itself with a perfectly intelligible dialog mix that never sounds hushed or muted. Dialog is always presented clearly through the center channel, finding its way into the front side speakers whenever directionality of voices is needed. LFE is constantly going, mainly due to the bass-heavy musical soundtrack that interjects whenever there's a fadeout where commercials would have been. If anything a little too much attention in the mix is paid to the music. The menu gets downright distracting to listen to if it plays in its set loop for more than two or three times. Maybe the music is pumped up to give the show more of an action-y feel, but it doesn't need to be. Going along with the TV origins and the fact that most of the movie takes place inside Burke's house, or the FBI offices, we don't get much in the way of ambient sound coming through the rear speakers. Some parties, crowded city streets, and restaurant scenes lend themselves to light surround sound, but nothing spectacular. Again, this really isn't the fault of the mix, rather its just a product of it being a TV show and the fact that the show really doesn't have much going on in the periphery most of the time.

[review_supplements_stars] => 3 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15456 [review_supplements] =>
  • Audio Commentaries – Five audio commentaries in all. Not bad. I was disappointed that we didn't get to hear from Matt Bomer on the "Pilot" episodes. That would have been nice, since it's all about setting up his character. Other than that each of the commentaries has some great insight into the show. You can tell that creator Jeff Eastin has a special love for the show and it's nice to have commentaries with more than just one person talking.

    Disc 1

    "Pilot" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, and Willie Garson

    Disc 2

    "Free Fall" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Willie Garson, and Tim DeKay

    "Hard Sell" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, and Tim DeKay

    "Vital Signs" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKa, and Tiffani Thiessen

    Disc 3

    "Out of the Box" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer


  • Gag Reel (SD, 12 min.) – Your usual line flubs, but it's kind of funny that the actors use some pretty strong curse words that aren't bleeped after they mess up their lines.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 min.) – The first deleted scene is from the "Pilot" episode and it's actually pretty good. It goes over a lot of the crimes that were allegedly committed by Caffrey. I especially liked the one about him renting offices in Trump Tower back to Trump. I also really liked the second one where Agent Burke meets Miles at a lock shop. I love Miles and his nervousness. It's hilarious.
  • Pro and Con (HD, 7 min.) – Creator Jeff Eastin talks about cooking up 'White Collar' and creating the character of Neal Caffrey. It's a nice, but still promotional-sounding behind-the-scenes featurette.
  • A Cool Cat in the Hat (HD, 6 min.) – This is talks about 'White Collar's wardrobe and how they dress characters. Especially how they dress Neal and the way he fits into certain situations with how he's dressed.
  • Nothing But the Truth (HD, 2 min.) – Jeff Eastin talks about how they got Tom Barden as a FBI consultant to make the show feel as real as possible when it came to making a show about white collar crime.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15457 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'White Collar' was a nice surprise. I couldn't fit it into my busy TV watching schedule, but viewing it on Blu-ray is the way to see it anyway. No pesky commercials, no irritating blocking artifacts. I've fallen in love with the show partly because of the story, partly because of the characters, and partly because of Tiffani Thiessen (I admit it! Kelly Kapowski still inhabits my dreams!). The video on here is excellent, and the audio is pretty good for a TV show. This set comes recommended, and seeing the recent trend of TV show to Blu-ray, fans of the show need to buy this one or we'll see the studios pull another 'Burn Notice' on us. I for one don't want only one season of 'White Collar' on Blu-ray, so please buy this set. For the good of us all!

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In Los Angeles 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner, Jim. George dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately lead him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend Charley, a 48 year old beauty who is wrestling with her own questions about the future. A young student of George's, Kenny, who is coming to terms with his true nature, stalks George as he feels in him a kindred spirit. A romantic tale of love interrupted the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.

[review_movie] =>

An impeccably dressed man lies in bed with a revolver in his hand, contemplating suicide. He has already laid out his insurance paperwork and other vital documents on the dining room table for his housekeeper to find. His favorite opera plays on the stereo. He adjusts the pillows and sits upright, struggling to find the best position. He puts the gun in his mouth and experiments to find the right angle. He realizes what a mess this will leave on the bed and the wall. He couldn't be so cruel to his poor housekeeper. After testing out the bathroom shower and finding it not quite acceptable either, he returns to the bed with a sleeping bag, and zips himself completely in. How undignified. Eventually, he just gives up for the night. This is entirely far too much of a bother. How does anyone manage this? There must be a better way.

So goes 'A Single Man', the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford. The film is based on a 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, and is set in Los Angeles of that time period (specifically, in late 1962). Colin Firth stars as gay college professor George Falconer, whose long-term partner died in a car crash eight months earlier. His grief is profound, but the social climate of the day isn't particularly sympathetic to his plight. His partner's family didn't even want him to be notified of the accident, and refused to allow him to attend the funeral.

The story follows George on what he plans to be the last day of his life, as he sets his affairs in order without quite letting anyone know what he's doing. He spends time with best friend Charlie (Julianne Moore), an aging socialite and divorcee whose own personal life is kind of a mess. He says his goodbyes without actually saying goodbye. Then, as the day winds down, an encounter with a student (Nicholas Hoult from 'About a Boy' and the British TV series 'Skins') who represents an idealized vision of youth may force George to question the decisions he's made. No, he hasn't found love; but perhaps he's rediscovered that there can still be beauty in life, even after such a personal tragedy.

As you might expect from a movie directed by a fashion designer, 'A Single Man' is particularly preoccupied with appearances, and especially with textures. Every character is always dressed in precisely the perfect clothes, and styled with precisely the perfect hair and makeup for each situation. In this case, Ford has found a way to marry the style of the piece with its substance, so that each comments on the other. The focus of George's life is his need to maintain the appearance of normalcy. His clothes and personal appearance are his armor against the world. Any stray hair represents a chink in that armor that may allow something to wound him.

Every shot is composed for maximum aesthetic impact. Ford has chosen to photograph the majority of the movie in a grainy, monotone style to emphasize George's depression. Yet even its drabness has a beauty to it. My wife exclaimed that one early scene was, "The prettiest car accident I've ever seen." Flashbacks to his happier days are more vibrant and alive. At specific revelatory moments, colors creep into the main storyline, and then rise and fade to follow George's emotions.

Colin Firth delivers a terrific performance. The role was tailor made for the actor, and he makes George's stoicism, underlying anguish, and moments of sly wit very sympathetic and engaging. Julianne Moore is also solid as always, if less impressive than Firth. She hits all the right emotional notes, but the British accent her character has been saddled with isn't always convincing.

Tom Ford proves himself a capable filmmaker with an effective mastery of tone. 'A Single Man' may be a downer, but it's a beautiful downer.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings 'A Single Man' to Blu-ray on a disc with no fewer than five obnoxious trailers programmed before the main menu. These must be skipped individually. The "Top Menu" command has been disabled.

[review_video_picture_id] => 15256 [review_video] =>

The Blu-ray's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (presented in the theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio) appears to be very faithful to the stylistic intentions of the filmmaker. As mentioned earlier, the bulk of the movie has a drab, grainy appearance to establish mood and provide texture. Much of the contrast range has been flattened, and both colors and flesh tones have been desaturated, almost to the point of looking faded. Detail is good in close-up shots, but softer in wide shots. All of this seems to be completely intentional, and is frequently quite striking even if won't meet the "eye candy" standards that some Blu-ray viewers expect from every disc.

Some flashback scenes are photographed in crisp black & white, while others are vibrantly colorful. At specific moments throughout the narrative, colors will be dialed in to highlight the characters' emotions, often even mid-shot.

The movie has been compressed onto a single-layer BD-25 disc. That's problematic for such a grainy movie. Although the disc doesn't have many egregious compression errors, the grain looks a little noisy and blocky in some scenes, notably the opening credits. Fortunately, this isn't a severe problem. Overall, the disc looks very good.

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'A Single Man' is a very talky movie, and much of the dialogue is delivered in hushed tones. Because some of the dialogue is so low, you may wish to adjust your volume a little higher than normal. However, the movie also has sporadic moments where the music will swell up loudly or specific sound effects will hit with dramatic impact. Be aware of these, and be careful not to boost your volume too loudly, or you may regret it when the car crash blasts into your ear.

Otherwise, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has a warm and spacious musical presence. Surround activity is minimal, and heavy bass is extremely rare. Fidelity is excellent on the whole. When the director chooses to exaggerate some sound effects (like a heartbeat, a ticking clock, or the thwap of a tennis ball), they come across very crisply and cleanly.

The movie has one scene around the 44-minute mark with Spanish dialogue. For the first time that I'm aware of, Sony has programmed the English subtitles to automatically appear within the 2.40:1 picture, rather than the letterbox bar. All of the other optional subtitles and caption options are likewise placed inside the active movie picture. This means that the disc is safe for viewing on Constant Image Height projection screens.

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Unfortunately, Sony hasn't chosen to grace 'A Single Man' with much in the way of bonus features. What little we get is fairly respectable, however.

  • Audio Commentary – Producer/director Tom Ford jumps right in with a very talkative discussion of his artistic choices, the movie's themes and symbolism, and various production logistics. He had a very clear vision for this material, and sounds more like a seasoned pro than a first-time filmmaker.
  • The Making of A Single Man (HD, 16 min.) – The interviews for this featurette are presented in black & white and "scope" aspect ratio, most likely in order to stand out from the usual EPK fluff. The director and cast discuss what drew them to the material and their approaches towards the characters. While this piece doesn't necessarily contain any major revelations, it's generally more thoughtful and less blatantly promotional than most so-called "making of" featurettes.

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The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, but the studio's BD-Live portal contains just the usual assortment of trailers for unrelated movies, nothing specific to this one. Beyond that, the disc also has:

BD-Live: Requires Profile 2.0

  • MovieIQ – Sony's MovieIQ (accessible through the disc's "Play Movie" menu), offers a running database of cast and soundtrack info, along with sporadic trivia. The information is provided by Gracenote, and is updateable in real-time via the BD-Live internet connection.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'A Single Man' is an elegant, if depressing, period drama. Fashion designer Tom Ford has a clear vision and proves himself surprisingly adept at his transition to filmmaking. This may not be the type of movie you'll pull off the shelf to watch every Saturday night, but when the mood strikes for something thoughtful and melancholy, it should fill the bill. The Blu-ray looks and sounds very good. The bonus features aren't plentiful, but have more substance than expected. This disc merits a solid recommendation.

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InBrooklyn’s Finest, burned out veteran Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is just one week away from his pension and a fishing cabin in Connecticut. Narcotics officer Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke) has discovered there’s no line he won’t cross to provide a better life for his long-suffering wife and seven children. And Clarence “Tango” Butler (Don Cheadle) has been undercover so long his loyalties have started to shift from his fellow police officers to his prison buddy Caz (Wesley Snipes), one of Brooklyn’s most infamous drug dealers. With personal and work pressures bearing down on them, each man faces daily tests of judgment and honor in one of the world’s most difficult jobs.

When NYPD’s Operation Clean Up targets the notoriously drug-ridden BK housing project, all three officers find themselves swept away by the violence and corruption of Brooklyn’s gritty 65th Precinct and its most treacherous criminals. During seven fateful days, Eddie, Sal and Tango find themselves hurtling inextricably toward the same fatal crime scene and a shattering collision with destiny.

[review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105997 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Sometimes, as the old proverb goes, fiction has a hard time competing with the wonders of the real world. A fine case in point is 'Brooklyn's Finest,' Antoine Fuqua's latest violent cop melodrama starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, and Ethan Hawke. In the real world -- our world -- we have the fascinating fairytale of NYC MTA employee and wannabe screenwriter Michael C. Martin toiling away during rehab for a broken back to passionately pen his first script, all because he wanted to enter a screenplay contest to afford a car. He loses the contest, but a producer finds his script, and it quickly ends up in the hands of 'Training Day' director, Fuqua. Within two years -- a very short timetable in the "development" of a screenplay -- the movie is shot with a real budget and four movie stars. This is not the story of a randomly lucky person, but rather a guy who struggled tirelessly to pursue a dream, working internships and unpaid gigs while supporting himself with a day job deep in the tunnels of New York's subway system. In the end, hard work won and a dream became a reality.

That dream of course is 'Brooklyn's Finest', about three very different cops in one of New York's most dangerous precincts. Gere plays Eddie, the 22-year veteran with one week left to go. He has survived for many years by never getting involved, but maybe these events will finally cause him to act. Cheadle lives as Tango, an undercover officer who has been so deep so long he's in jeopardy of losing his former life to the one he's playing. Snipes, as Caz, is Tango's real life hoodlum friend, and who is trying to go straight after getting out of jail. Will Tango set up his old friend to get back his life? And Hawke, portraying family man Sal, is a narc who needs to score cash quick to get his large family into a safer home. How many laws will be crossed, and lives dispensed, so a man can provide for his own?

The archetypes we have all seen before, perhaps too many times, but the best thing about 'Brooklyn's Finest' is its natural authenticity. The characters and their world are both well scripted and honestly portrayed. One can imagine all the passion and effort that went into creating this detailed, interesting world, and for the most part it works well.

However, on the flipside of that very same coin, the filmmakers' noble efforts are perhaps too visible on screen. The film has a wonderful sense of impending doom -- many or all of these characters may die, but we're not sure which, how, when, why, or by who's hand -- but these tragedies feel more coincidental than linked in a cause-and-effect way, as if the characters only make these choices on this day because their Creators wanted it to be so. There is perhaps a missing "inevitability." Further, even with 30 minutes left on the cutting room floor (and available to see in the Special Features), the movie can feel long and overloaded with great character moments. Meaning, individually, each scene bathes in interesting choices and naturalized-yet-emotionally powerful dialogue, but back to back to back to back, every scene plays like Oscar-fodder. Which shouldn't be a bad thing, yet if every scene is a "10," it can make a movie feel flat or one note.

Potential flatness and the occasional pacing issues aside, 'Brooklyn's Finest' is a good movie, but not a great one. It's hard to exactly say why, as the actors certainly swing for the fences, doing some really strong work – with an extra compliment to Snipes who displays real range here. Fuqua delivers some nice visuals into this broken world, though this isn't as thrilling or cohesive a cop journey as 2001's 'Training Day.' The real star of the show remains the writer. His raw tale of the men and the streets they police is a fresh enough take on a world where everything could have easily seemed old, and his story is passionately well crafted. By the end of the story, the journey taken is an emotional one, filled with characters we care about, which makes 'Brooklyn's Finest' largely a success, though I imagine for reasons perhaps unarguable, this script was a better read than it is a complete film.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB dual layer Blu-ray disc does not appear to be Region locked. Popping the disc into your player brings HD trailers for Starz's (Anchor Bay's sister company) 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand,' 'The Crazies' (a really strong horror film, by the way), and a general ad for Anchor Bay / Stars / Overture Films Blu-ray.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14935 [review_video] =>

'Brooklyn's Finest' comes to Blu-ray with a very good 1080p/24 AVC-MPEG4 encode (aspect ratio 2.40:1).

There's no noise, damage, or blemishes to be found. And there is a great amount of detail in faces and surrounding textures (see Cheadle sitting in the tall wooden bench of a restaurant with Will Patton, or Hawke's basement). Skin tones are natural, reflecting their environments and lighting schemes. Night scenes exude high contrast, which flawlessly transition from bright lights to inky blacks. Low-lit scenes never display a drop in resolution or color quality.

Knocking this Blu down from the perfection that is "reference" are occasional soft moments and some banding in a few over-saturated scenes (see Gere's skin when bathed in the red light of a prostitute's apartment), but overall, this is a fine example of a modern film being immediately preserved in HD.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14936 [review_audio] =>

The disc features an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround sound mix, but beware, the film will start with its lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track unless you specifically select otherwise. This of course can be done at the main menu, or mid-movie.

Overall, 'Brooklyn's Finest' has a robust mix, featuring piercing and popping gunshots, with a well-toned LFE channel. Bass is punchy and supportive to whatever is happening on screen, but never calls attention to itself. Voices are clear and never hidden. The soundtrack's score and ambient music combine nicely to create a believable environment as well as drive the film's tragic tone.

The big flaw in the mix, which is an odd one, is how the surround channels seem to have incorrect directional qualities. For example, there's an early scene where Don Cheadle enters an drug den apartment. At first, the soundtrack shines, discretely locating the various conversations simultaneously taking place. However, as Cheadle moves into the environment, and no matter the camera angle, the sound levels of these conversations remain at a high volume and located in one channel (in this case, the front right) despite the fact they should have naturally transitioned to another channel or become softer. It's unclear as to when this mistake was made, whether it was post production or in the Blu-ray's encode, but it's a distracting flaw that shows up more than once, making a generally strong surround mix seem imprecise, which is odd for a modern film.

As stated above, there is also an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track and regarding subtitles, viewers may opt to read 'Brooklyn's Finest' in English SDH, and Spanish.

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'Brooklyn's Finest comes loaded with hours of special features, including an audio commentary; 30 minutes making-of featurettes (which can be viewed all at once, or separately); 30 minutes of deleted, alternate, or expanded scenes (which can only be accessed in one lump; the theatrical trailer; and a Digital Copy to play on your Mac, PC, or mobile device.

  • Chaos & Conflict: The Life Of A New York Cop (HD, 7 minutes). A quick making-of, which paints the themes behind each of the lead characters.
  • Boyz N The Real Hood (HD, 6 minutes). Another short piece about shooting a feature film about Brooklyn in Brooklyn. The community seemed to love having Hollywood in town, and the film looks that much better for living that world and giving back to the neighborhood.
  • An Eye for Detail: Director Featurette (HD, 7 minutes). A quick look at Antoine Fuqua. Cast and crew sing the praises of this film's captain. An interesting moment is Ethan Hawke saying that he's a better director now than he was on 'Training Day'.
  • From The MTA To The WGA: Writer Featurette (HD, 5 minutes). Interviews with Michael C. Martin, Antoine Fuqua, along with the cast and crew who sing the praises of the script and the writer who crafted the story that brought them all together.
  • Three Cops And A Dealer: Character Profile (HD, 8 minutes). This is a look at the overlapping theme of corruption in the movie. Very similar to the first Featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes (30 minutes, HD). Mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1, and formatted in an HD MPEG-2 video codec, these scenes don't hold up a candle (in a picture quality sense) to the main feature, and most are added or alternate character moments to scenes still in the movie, but they do offer some added dramatic value. One can see why, for pacing reasons most likely, these were dropped, but I enjoyed them.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 1/2 minutes).
  • Director's Commentary with Antoine Fuqua Fuqua is a dry speaker, but very informative, covering the multitude of ideas, themes, and choices made behind every moment in the film. Well done.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusive extras on this disc.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14938 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Brooklyn's Finest' is an authentic, honest journey into the pressures involved with being a cop in very tough neighborhoods. As in real life, there is no one definition for the "cop" experience, and here the acting, directing, and writing combine to explore these emotional tragedies in Shakespearean broad strokes. Though not perfect, I suspect this film -- as well as its "always on 10" mentality -- may grow on me as time passes. Fans of the film will be very happy with this Blu-ray. Those wondering if they should check it out, I would say, yes, give it a rent. It's not as good as 'Training Day', but it's worth at least one viewing for audiences to decide for themselves whether this is for them.

For those wondering about the film's star rating, please know that I struggled with this one -- between 3.5 and 4 -- but personally a "4 or 4.5 rating" is a movie I really enjoy, craving watching often, and one that I feel fully succeeds in almost every way it intended. For me, 'Brooklyn's Finest comes in just a hair under that, but may in time grown into a full 4. If this were a lettered system, I'd say "B minus". If I could legally invoke Thumbs in an up or down position, and I were two people, I'd probably split it with one up and one down.

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Dr. Giggles: night-prowling surgical M.D. (as in Maniacally Deranged) takes a vengeful whack - or saw, scalpel, stomach pump or whatever else he finds in his little black bag of medical malpractice - at teens, cops, and other residents of a once-pleasant town.

Otis: Otis has everything he needs for the prom: the corsage, the convertible, the cool baby-blue tux (not to mention the fully equipped torture chamber in his basement). He even has the girl -- a pretty blonde he's named Kim -- who is dying to be his date. Literally.

[review_bottom_line] => A Rental at Best [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 108378 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

In another double feature release from Warner Home Video, two flicks are lumped together on a single disc with very little in common. At this point, I've given up trying to figure out how they arrive at these decisions since the two movies offered barely show any similarities. The two either star with the same actor or they share comparable genre themes. In this case, we have two low-budget features which can be categorized as horror comedies with a twisted, gory sense of humor. And they're also pretty bad. Other than that, 'Dr. Giggles' and 'Otis' are unrelated, except that the former is a better film. Also confusing is the fact that the latter has already been released on Blu-ray. So, why not give horror fans something different to accompany the nutty doctor rather than the same crummy movie all over again. Just a thought for future reference.

Dr. Giggles

One of the best parts of 'Dr. Giggles,' a slasher flick from the early nineties with a twisted sense of humor, is the endless one-liners. The role of an escaped lunatic playing doctor offers miles of clichéd expressions and medical jargon outrageously appropriate for the gruesome deaths of his imagined patients. And each line is delivered with terrific, nutty goofiness by the creepily animated Larry Drake. The character actor, also known for his Robert Durant role in 'Darkman,' is given top billing is this bizarre horror feature about revenge, heart transplants, and some likely malpractice suits. It may not have led to the A-list for Mr. Drake, but there's no doubt his performance is the star of the show, and without him, the movie would easily be forgotten as another badly-made B-movie campfest.

His real name is Evan Rendell, Jr. and the nickname "Dr. Giggles" was given him during his 35-year stay in a mental institution due to his relentless — and somewhat infectious — giggling. When he breaks out from the hospital, he heads back to his hometown of Moorehigh where his father once set up shop as a family physician. But one day, the townspeople turned on the doctor and killed him after discovering several patients missing. Set on finishing what his father started, Dr. Giggles resumes the search for the perfect patient and perform the first successful heart transplant. As it turns out, this little sleepy town, which has turned the Dr. Rendell history into urban legend and a nursery rhyme, happens to have a young teen with a heart condition. (I think a "well, duh!" is in order right about here.)

Only problem is that Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs of 'Charmed' fame) isn't really in the best mood for medical experimentation at the moment. She's dealing with other emotional issues, typical of most teenage girls. And this is also where some of the fun comes into play because the cast is given complete freedom to overact their roles in these comically cheesy subplots. First, she just found out that her summer will be spent with an unsightly heart monitor. Added to that, her mother has recently passed away due to some heart complications, but daddy (Cliff De Young) has already moved on with a bitchy live-in girlfriend (Michelle Johnson). To top it all off, her persistent, horny boyfriend (Glenn Quinn) is being chased after by the local schoolyard floozy. And now this! A psychopath wants her as a test subject. Being a teenager is really tough for poor ole Jennifer.

There's really nothing scary or frightening about 'Dr. Giggles,' but it's quite entertaining for a boring, rainy day. For horror hounds, the flick comes with some imaginative, laugh-out-loud kills. The oversized Band-Aid is a freaking riot! Besides Drake's flawless portrayal and the funny deaths, the movie has an amusing and playful style to it. Best known for his work on the '24' series and 'Star Trek: Enterprise,' director Manny Coto provides the horror comedy with a facetious, carnival-like atmosphere. Weird, off-center camera angles, wacky close-ups and a cool sequence in the house of mirrors serve as constant reminders that the movie's intention is to tickle your funny-bone not make you fear your next doctor visit. 'Dr. Giggles' is an off-the-wall slasher for those with the sense of humor to laugh at the madcap craziness. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

Otis

Watching 'Otis' is similar to enjoying some bizarre, oddball thing that in the back of your mind you know you really shouldn't find amusing or even remotely funny. But that's exactly what's happening with this Raw Feed production about the torture and abduction of a young teen in the hands of a deranged, overweight psychopath. Technically speaking, societal norms forbid us from seeing the humor in the poor girl's struggle to survive or the vengeful rage fueling a married couple's dispute over the best methods of inflicting pain. Alas, there is no other way to really watch this wacky straight-to-video movie because much of what happens on screen is so freakishly weird and sleazily preposterous that one has to laugh in order to get through it. This horror comedy is truly a guilty pleasure in every sense of the phrase.

Also surprising is that this comes from the same team, director Tony Krantz and screenwriter Erik Jendressen, that gave us 'Sublime' the prior year. In fact, Mandingo (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) makes a wittily strange and very brief cameo appearance in the hallway of a hospital. While the first movie is meant as a trippy dream versus reality movie, 'Otis' is a curious off-the-wall test of endurance. What type of sick and depraved horror fanatic are you if you actually laugh at any of this? Yes, the jokes are mostly stupid, often tasteless and lack any real style, delivered so sloppily that it becomes part of the humor. But it's meant to be a vulgar and badly modernized reimagining of Craven's 'Last House on the Left.'

'Otis' kicks things off with a hilarious exchange between an insensitive anchorperson and the parents of a missing girl. Some of the things said foreshadow part of the movie's premise and the attempt at social commentary, which in all honesty it fails miserably at. There's really nothing observant about the title character (Bostin Christopher) trying to relive his high school glory days by forcing girls into a fantasized prom or in watching two suburban parents (Daniel Stern and Illeana Douglas) argue over how to exact justice while torturing an innocent man. At the end of the day, the entire spectacle feels like a silly and morbid comic book brought to life. The fun lies in just watching the lack of common sense amongst the characters and their reactions.

It's to the credit of the cast that much of the movie doesn't end up being an annoying mess. Then again, Jared Kusnitz's Reed can be quite irritating and grating at times. Thankfully, Christopher's amateur acting overshadows Kusnitz's in every way. Kevin Pollack also has a decent role as Otis' older brother, Elmo, but we don't get to see enough of him. It's a bit surprising to see Ashley Johnson — you know, little Chrissy Seaver from 'Growing Pains' — playing Riley and doing some of the things she does. Other than Christopher, the best character is the incompetent, tactless and self-important FBI Agent Hotchkiss, played to perfection by Jere Burns. Ultimately, 'Otis' is a sick, dark parody of other slasher flicks, and it does reasonably well for a low-budget feature. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15859 [review_video] =>

Dr. Giggles

Making his Blu-ray debut, 'Dr. Giggles' looks fairly nice in high definition and has some really great moments. Unfortunately, details and overall resolution generally fall on the average side for this 1080p/VC-1 encode, presented once again in a 1.85:1 frame instead of its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Blacks are attractive and deep, but shadows tend to ruin delineation in several sequences. Low-lit interiors show the worst aspects, and grain structure is a bit inconsistent though not terribly intrusive. A few scenes, however, are suggestive of digital noise reduction being applied, yet they don't distract too much from enjoying the rest of the presentation. Contrast is suitable with bright, clean whites and only a couple outdoor scenes which are attractive. Primaries are overly saturated and look artificial, but secondary hues are better rendered and stable with natural flesh tones. The transfer has its moments, but by and large, it makes for an average video quality on Blu-ray. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)

Otis

Side to side comparison reveal this 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) of 'Otis' is identical to the Blu-ray release from 2008, not that I expected anything different. Despite being filmed with HD cameras, the picture quality is downright poor, looking generally hazy and out of focus in most all interior sequences. Digital noise is noticeably visible during these same scenes. Contrast is pretty bland and unexciting, but highlights are consistently blown and there’s a great deal of white-washing which takes away from clarity and resolution. This also ruins black levels into muddled, grimy blobs with only a small number of moments where they appear clean and solid. Shadow details tend to fall below average and indistinct thanks to all of this. Colors show decent saturation and rendering, but they're by and large quite drab and dingy, except for some very bold reds. Overall, this straight-to-BD presentation of the horror-comedy is plainly bad. (Video Rating: 2/5)

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15860 [review_audio] =>

Dr. Giggles

'Dr. Giggles' arrives on Blu-ray with a hale and hearty DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that fans can really enjoy. Dialogue reproduction is clear and distinct while the low end is only noticeably mild during certain scenes. The lossless mix is a stereo presentation, as it should be, but the musical score allows for the soundfield opening up and spreading into the background convincingly. The mid-range remains uniform and clean during these moments, creating a pleasant and highly enjoyable front soundstage. There’s very little in terms of discrete effects, except for those scenes at the carnival, which is more by design than anything else. In the end, 'Dr. Giggles' is just a fun listen on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 3/5)

Otis

It's nothing terribly exciting or very active, but at least Otis sounds better than he looks. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack offered in this double feature is the same as the previous release. A few minor and rare moments of movement in the surrounds try to extend the soundfield, but they're easily localized and feel artificially forced. The lossless mix's best aspect is in the soundstage, where it offers strong dynamics and good imaging. The music and song selections do the majority of the work, spreading across all three channels with attractive balance. While vocals are cleanly delivered and intelligible, they also feel flat and lifeless. This might have a great deal to do with a weak and lackluster low-frequency bass. In either case, the track accomplishes its intended goal. Only with nothing to really impress along the way. (Audio Rating: 3/5)

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15861 [review_supplements] =>

As with previous double feature releases, Warner Home Video offers this Blu-ray package with zero supplemental material. It's understandable that disc space might be the deciding factor in this area, but I'm pretty sure fans would gladly do without 'Otis' if it meant providing some minor bonus features for 'Dr. Giggles.' Oh, well. I suppose we're still getting two movies for the price of one.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15862 [review_final_thoughts] =>

For this package, horror fans are offered two gory comedies with little else relating them. Dr. Giggles' is a fun early-nineties feature thanks to Larry Drake's excellent performance as the titular character and also stars future 'Charmed' star Holly Marie Combs. 'Otis' has some great funny moments due to Bostin Christopher and Jere Burns, but the overall story tries too hard to be smart and clever rather than simply having fun with the material. The Blu-ray package arrives with poor picture quality, an average audio presentation, and zero supplements. In the end, fans are better off renting and waiting for a standalone release of 'Dr. Giggles,' because in all honesty, that's the better movie.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3367 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => eyeborgs [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Eyeborgs [picture_created] => 1272910251 [picture_name] => 5318b6bf8f518.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6bf8f518.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3367/eyeborgs.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 102 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B003HTPI80 [amazon_price] => 26.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD25 Single Layer Disc [2] => Region A ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Behind the scenes [1] => Deleted scenes [2] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Sci Fi, Action ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Adrian Paul, Megan Blake, Luke Eberl, John S. Rushton, Danny Trejo ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Richard Clabaugh ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => It is the near future, and the fear of terrorism has escalated into hysteria. In order to deal with the paranoia, robotic cameras – “eyeborgs” – are everywhere: in people’s homes, on the streets, in the workplace. In every corner, lenses are lurking. But are the cameras used to keep America safe…or to safekeep Americans? Federal agent Gunner Reynolds (Adrian Paul, “Highlander”) becomes suspicious of this prowling, precautionary system after a series of murders occur in which the video records don’t match the physical evidence. Recruiting the help of television reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake, “Dawson’s Creek”) and the President’s punkish, purple-haired nephew, Jarett Hewes, (Luke Eberl, Letters from Iwo Jima, “Big Love”) Gunner works outside the system to discover who really is controlling the eyeborgs. But it’s G-man (Danny Trejo, The Devil’s Rejects, Spy Kids), a reclusive political dissident, who first realizes what’s happening: “What if they’re not ‘just cameras’? What if somebody puts in a weapon?” At least Big Brother only watched… [review_bottom_line] => Worth a Look [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106331 [review_movie_stars] => 2.5 [review_movie] =>

Is it wrong to enjoy bad movies? I don't think so! There's something to be said for simply watching a movie to have a good time, and often the smaller the budget (and hype) the more enjoyable the end result may be. It's my love for awful cinema that opened the door for a review of possibly the goofiest film released on Blu-ray to date: 'Eyeborgs.'

The funny thing is, with a bit more polish, and a better third act, 'Eyeborgs' could have been truly amazing. It's a film of unrealized potential, or squandered opportunity, depending on your outlook on life.

Terrorist attacks have opened the door for change in America, as the Freedom of Observation Act, headed by the Department of Homeland Security, has linked all surveillance cameras, as well as any form of electronic communication, to create an all-seeing, all-knowing defense system, known as ODIN (Optical Defense Intelligence Network). The real beauty of the system? Eyeborgs. These critters wander around, recording everything they see and hear, networking with police in an attempt to prevent crime, and instituting a form of control. But what if the machines were compromised? Gunner Reynolds (Adrian Paul), reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake), and the nephew of the president, Jarett Hewes (Luke Eberl) are about to find out that the powers handed to these robotic enforcers may have given them control of the entire country, and the world.

"Those who chose safety over freedom deserve neither."

'Eyeborgs' is so stupid, it's smart, yet so smart that it's infinitely stupid. It's a tad paint-by-numbers, leading the viewer along by the hand, with characters explaining things out loud in a manner that people don't do (think of those annoying radio "conversation" commercials, where two people banter on about a product or service), and twists along the road can be about as predictable as an M. Night Shyamalan "thriller." The references to voter fraud, constant war for profit, and behavioral control are just side notes, throw away lines, rather than highlights, in what could have been a valid sci-fi political spoof.

Only, the trees aren't killers here. Robots are. It's a neat twist that these accepted parts of democracy, which remove all freedom, and constantly skirt legality openly, before they go grow murderous, are armed with various weapons. The miniature bots contain tasers and saw blades (saws that are never seen spinning, despite the noises they make suggesting otherwise), while the bigger Eyeborgs contain drills and spikes. They act in unison, which is great, as the best horror films out there have creatures that don't operate by their lonesome, rather as part of a collective. The film gets ridiculous by the time the third act rolls around, but the regular surveillance Eyeborgs are quite fun villains.

No matter how amusing and entertaining 'Eyeborgs' is, it's certainly not a good film. The various allegations of terrorists doing this and that are hardly concerns to the viewers, as we don't have a single character to truly care about in this story, as numerous one-dimensional beings take the role of the lead throughout the film. The photo/video-shopping done by the Eyeborgs is so damn awful, that anyone believing that shit must have never seen a television before. Characters are more fodder than they are human, so their continued peril is hardly worthy of consideration or concern. If anything, it's hard not to root for the Eyeborgs to kill everyone in their path, considering who they're up against. A purple headed Presidential-relative, who doesn't even know the truth about his uncle, who carries around a crumby guitar. His girlfriend, whose past attempted suicide is highlighted for an obvious payoff. A reporter who knows the truth but does little about it. A government agent in the same boat. Hell, the only good characters are the ones that get the least amount of time, as Danny Trejo gets some time in, miscast as he may be for his role of a conspiracy theorist guitar salesman (seriously, if he sold throwing knives, or, I dunno, machetes, then I'd go for it).

As a whole, this film fails. But take out the last third of the film, and you're left with the following: Erotic car washes with girls constantly soaping up the windows, rather than paying attention to the wheels or any panels. Robots that fake car accidents. Random odd occurrences setting the way for further Eyeborg frame-jobs. Robots that manipulate video in order to get what they want. People rattling on about the world around them, with little they can do about it. And lest we forget, robots that blow shit up. I can forgive the cheesy five dollar sets. I can almost forgive the scene of Gunner walking down a church aisle, as flashbacks of his slain wife and child fade in and out to either side of him. I can even forgive not showing off Trejo's trademark chest tattoo. But I can't forgive wasted opportunities and potential, and 'Eyeborgs' almost redefines both, going from "intriguing and tongue-in-cheek" to "balls-to-the-walls stupid" in almost a minute flat, right when the biggest twist of the film is revealed. This one coulda been special. It coulda been a contendah. Instead, it's going to get very, very little movement on the home video front, and for good reason.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15030 [review_video] =>

Image brings 'Eyeborgs' to Blu with an AVC MPEG-4 encode (1080p, 2.35:1) that can be a tad half-baked at times.

Detail is solid, and colors are equally impressive, with great skin tones (for the most part) and solid contrast levels. There's no banding, ringing, or aliasing problems. So why call it less than great? There are many reasons.

Occasionally there's a smattering of noise, which on a few occasions looked frozen. Light artifacting is visible, while delineation is pathetic, with even well lit scenes suffering black on black icrush. Grain is inconsistent, with very little for the most part, but random shots that are utterly littered with it. Entire scenes can have a greenish tint that can't be from the lighting, as blues, blacks, and grays suffer, while whites remain solid and natural. Lastly, though not the fault of the transfer, the Eyeborgs themselves can be a visual distraction. The smaller they are, the better they look, as they blend into their environments proper, but the larger they get, the more they stand out, with lighting that cannot possibly fit in with their scenes, making them feel too damned out of place and thrown in at the last minute, with the last remaining dollars of the budget. The supplements package states that the majority of the film was made with handheld cameras, so the constant wobble of the picture is the way it will always be.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15031 [review_audio] =>

There is only one option for audio on 'Eyeborgs:' a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (with optional English SDH and Spanish subs). There is also only one way to describe said track: overkill.

When first watching this release, it feels like a job well done. Rear activity is constant. Dialogue is clear. Range is unlimited. Music is intense, bass is rocking, utterly rocking. Then the shit hits the fan. Any time there's soundtrack and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Anytime there's action and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Soundtrack and effects, dialogue and effects, and so on, and so on, you get the picture. Noise becomes indistinct, and to quote Brick from 'Anchorman,' "LOUD NOISES!!!!" Louder elements of the mix can blare, particularly any moment an actor "yells." Gunfire has great pop at first, with localization and all that jazz, but with each scene involving gunplay, the score is raised in intensity so much that it all becomes a indistinct roar. Hell, one only need quote the film itself for an explanation of this track. It's just a bunch of incoherent screaming!" True that.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15032 [review_supplements] =>

I cannot say this will happen to everyone, but if you leave the menu open too long, it can reset, to the point where you cannot make any choices with your remote, other than to eject the disc. The tab selector disappears, it's just a loop of the same horrid rock track. Even when it's working, when at the full left, pressing left won't get the cursor to the far right, and the same goes from right to left, which is a pretty basic command. Menu fail, all around.

  • Behind the Scenes (HD, 32 min) - This feature is playable as one whole piece, or individually, with Making 'Eyeborgs,' Stunts, Visual Effects, How to Make Robots in 3 Minutes, and a Blooper Reel. Producers discuss themes, actors talk about their roles and filming experiences, and the entire group talk up the entire production in the first EPK section. The Stunts segment is really informative and enjoyable, surprisingly. VFX focuses on the robots, and there are some utterly hilarious shots of still robots thrown into the film moving around, some as still pictures being held up by a hand. The entire focus of this segment is lost when this happens, it's impossible to take it seriously anymore! Three minutes is three minutes worth of stupid. Lastly, the blooper reel is your generic flubs and pandering.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 min) - Six deleted scenes are included, playable individually or all together. There's some utterly, utterly hilarious moments, with unfinished effects in most of the shots, save for the first, which has a funny extended attack of the Eyeborgs. Watch computer screens when there's supposed to be content, to see generic text replacing what is supposed to be there, and video that moves around. An entire scene has a moving robot replaced by a solid picture moving around the screen.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min) - The trailer for 'Eyeborgs,' in standard def. Honestly, this trailer reminded me of the classic 'Grindhouse' films that would repeatedly use the film name in the trailer.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15033 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Eyeborgs' isn't a terrible film. It really isn't. It's just all potential, with little actual follow up.

Still, 'Eyeborgs' is fairly good for such a random title, at least in terms of Blu-ray quality, even if the supplement package is pretty weak. For both the unintentional comedy factor, and the premise, which had so much going for it, this one is worth a look. It may be easy to dump on the film, but to those willing to give it a shot, they just may find 2/3's of a good movie here.

) ) [5] => Array ( [review_id] => 3112 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => funnyfarm_spieslikeus [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Funny Farm/Spies Like Us [picture_created] => 1267632923 [picture_name] => 5318b64012740.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/03/03/120/5318b64012740.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3112/funnyfarm_spieslikeus.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1985 [run_time] => 203 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003ES5HBW [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 [1] => English Dolby Digital 2.0 [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, French ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => George Roy Hill, John Landis ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => 'Funny Farm' - George Roy Hill's 'Funny Farm' stars Chevy Chase as Andy Farmer, a big-city sportswriter. Since he and his wife, Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith), are fed up with the tensions of urban life, they decide to buy a house in the country where each of them will be able to work on their book projects in peace. Shortly after they've moved to a spacious farmhouse in a small New England village, Andy begins to realize that his dreams of bucolic nirvana are, in fact, delusions. First the birds sing too loudly, preventing him from concentrating on his work. Then he learns that there's a corpse buried in their garden, not to mention snakes in their lake. They have to make calls from the pay phone located in their kitchen, and the grasping townspeople seem to have their meters running 24/7. To make matters worse for Andy, who can't get started on his book, his wife has sold her children's book, with a squirrel protagonist named Andy, not long after moving into the new house. 'Spies Like Us' - A pair of naive guys with aspirations to become government spies have their wish come true only to find out that they're being used as decoys for a real spy team. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [6] => Array ( [review_id] => 3002 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => highlander_s2 [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Highlander: The Series - Season Two [picture_created] => 1275576143 [picture_name] => poster-2.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Davis-Panzer [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/03/120/poster-2.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3002/highlander_s2.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1994 [run_time] => 1078 [release_date_notes] => Delayed from April 30. [list_price] => 0.00 [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.33:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 720p/TBA ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Picture-in-picture commentaries by Adrian Paul for two episodes [1] => Documentary: Season of Change [2] => Photo Gallery [3] => BD Touch remote for the iPhone or iPod Touch [4] => Fans Talk about Highlander [5] => Fan-created watcher documentaries [6] => Fan-created PiP commentary ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 5 BD-50 Blu-ray Discs ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD And Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => None ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Sci-fi ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Adrian Paul ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => For Duncan MacLeod, season two is one filled with hope, heroics and heartache. Through it all the mystery of the "Highlander" unfolds and deepens as his incredible story leaps time and emotions to bring us further into the tortured world of the Immortals. In the end, there can be only one. 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[review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106350 [review_movie_stars] => 4.5 [review_movie] =>

By nature, humans beings are egotistical, narcissistic and self-interested. We are mammals that on occasion forget we are also merely players in the animal kingdom. Upsetting as this truth may be, it's partly the reason for our foolish notion of superiority and dominance over the planet. As a species, we exist as if detached from the natural conditions and resources upon which we truly depend on.

In this new BBC series, 'How the Earth Changed History' (originally and more fittingly titled 'How Earth Made Us' in the UK), geologist and professor Iain Stewart challenges all of this by exploring geological phenomena that has incidentally shaped human history. With each episode, he travels to various parts of the world and provides viewers glimpses of Earth's greatest ecological wonders. Displaying beautiful, breath-taking and astonishing photography of these marvels, he shows our close and often intimate relationship with the unpredictable changes and adjustments of Mother Nature. Concentrating on the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), he reveals the growth and evolution of human civilization as intrinsically joined, even necessitated, by our natural planet.

To crudely paraphrase the series host: As empires come and go, this is the stuff we never read in history books. But we should.

Essentially using a combination of geology, natural history and anthropology, Stewart details the interrelationship of environmental occurrences which participate in the development of ancient societies and the beginning of humankind's mastery to exploit them for its survival. We would never know it by just looking at them in sheer admiration, but the gigantic selenite crystals of the Naica Mines in Mexico, called Cave of Crystals, were created by mineral-rich ground water situated right above a fault line where an underground magma chamber released heat for 500,000 years. For Stewart, this is a perfect starting point in explaining the attraction of early cultures populating areas where earthquakes are more likely to happen. Short answer: It's due to the immense amounts of naturally occurring minerals and deposits.

In the remainder of the "Deep Earth" episode, Stewart explores other deep caverns around the world and describes how we've taken advantage of the deposits and resources offered by such regions. In "Water," empires have reigned for hundreds of years in territories where the flow of water could be controlled, including the harshest environs where underground fresh water proved a valuable living source. The "Wind" episode seemed at first straightforward with sailing ships paving the way for trade business and globalization, but learning of Christopher Columbus's most valuable contribution to human history is worthwhile.

For "Fire," there's little doubt that our control of fire is a significant moment in our evolution, eventually leading to the Bronze Age and the Industrial Revolution, but it's interesting to think the one major ingredient of this element —carbon — can also be the demise of our species and planet.

In the final episode entitled "The Human Planet," Stewart turns the tables on his viewers to look at the indelible impact we've made on Earth. It's clear the host is not looking to spark another debate on the controversies of global warming. Rather, he is investigating from a purely empirical approach our intimate relationship with the planet as a double-edged sword. Our continual methods to control and master the unpredictable forces of nature have inadvertently created other — often disastrous — adversities. For all the good our drive to use and conquer Earth's resources can brin about, there is an unmistakable negative result to coincide with it. With our manipulation of the elements, humans have proven themselves a force that is also leaving a permanent impression.

While watching the series, I can understand a viewer's possible reluctance and dislike of the show as Stewart does tend to gloss over some important but complex geological science in order to quickly arrive at the point. There is a great deal of information being shared here — and it comes from one who clearly knows his subject — and it can suffer a bit by a constrained timeframe. (My wife even mentioned needing a second viewing to fully grasp everything.) In the end, however, Stewart's goal is to demonstrate the awesome and powerful forces that shape Earth's habitat have also served as the driving influence behind the evolution of human civilization. And to this day, those same geological forces continue to affect the survival and well-being of the planet's dominant species: us.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Warner Home Video delivers the five-part series 'How the Earth Changed History' in a two-disc package and a keepcase that holds each disc on opposing panels. Both discs (one has three episodes; the second has two and special features) are region free, and curiously, they come with different skippable trailers at startup. The first BD50 disc shows a promo for BBC Earth and other nature documentaries on Blu-ray ('Wild Pacific,' 'Ganges,' 'Galapagos,' 'Wild China,' and 'Yellowstone'), while the second BD25 disc carries a trailer for 'Life.' At the main menu, viewers have a choice to watch a single episode or click on "Play All" while full motion clips play in the background.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 14997 [review_video] =>

Given the content of this entertaining documentary series, the picture quality of 'How the Earth Changed History' would be expectedly amazing if not at least brilliantly stunning. Unfortunately, this AVC MPEG-4 encode in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio is rather inconsistent and simply doesn't compare to the likes of Attenborough's 'Life' and 'Planet Earth' on Blu-ray.

The freshly-minted transfer, which comes in at a rate of 1080i/60, is for the most part clean and pleasing to the eye, with many scenes looking incredibly sharp and detailed. Colors often pop with impressive boldness, and black levels are richly rendered. The image can display astounding clarity and wonderful depth in those same sequences, but they're regularly countered by a series of artifacts during other parts of the presentation. Likely related to the HD cameras used, contrast runs very hot is several areas, blowing out whites and causing severe clipping. Banding is a nagging and distracting issue throughout. The picture is also frequented by poor resolution, a bit of noise, and some instances of light aliasing.

Clearly, the series comes with a few problems, but overall, the Blu-ray is passable for a very good nature program.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14998 [review_audio] =>

Being a documentary, there really is only so much one can expected from 'How the Earth Changed History,' but the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does a generally fine job of complementing the video. Of course, much of the attention is centered around Stewart's enthusiasm, and his narration is understandable and clear for the most part. A few times when our host is surrounded by lots of commotion, however, his informative speeches can be somewhat difficult to make-out. But I'm fairly sure that has more to do with a combination of the particular environment and his Scottish accent than a fault in the codec. The LFE-channel provides a startlingly hefty low-end for certain scenes, and the front-heavy mix displays a strong balance in separation. The soundstage is welcoming, with a warm and detailed dynamic range, creating an attractive and stable presence. Some minor ambient effects spread into the rear speakers from time to time, making this lossless track quite appealing.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14999 [review_supplements] =>

Warner releases 'How the Earth Changed History' with a chintzy assortment of supplements that fails to add any value to the package. Presented in standard definition and broken into three segments ("The Crystal Caves," "Walking Through Fire," and "Paragliding"), the lone featurette is nothing more than a 19-minute interview with Stewart about shooting in different environments. While not all that exciting to watch, some of the background info can be interesting.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15000 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'How the Earth Change History' is a five-part documentary series from the creators of 'Earth: The Biography.' Hosted by geologist and professor Iain Stewart, each episode infuses geology, natural history, and anthropology as part of its attempt to explain the rise and fall of ancestral societies. Essentially, the series is an exploration of our intrinsically intimate relationship with Earth's natural forces and how they in turn serve as the impetus to the evolution of human civilization. Although all around passable, the two-disc Blu-ray set fails to make much of an impression in terms of picture quality, but scores higher in the audio department. Unfortunately, the package suffers from a meager collection of bonus features. Overall, the series is recommended for fans of BBC documentaries on natural history.

) ) [8] => Array ( [review_id] => 3330 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => jasonandtheargonauts [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Jason and the Argonauts [picture_created] => 1274973227 [picture_name] => 5318b6fd96eb7.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/27/120/5318b6fd96eb7.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3330/jasonandtheargonauts.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1963 [run_time] => 104 [list_price] => 24.95 [asin] => B003HTSJ9A [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.66:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Audio commentary with Peter Jackson and Visual Effects Artist Randall William Cook [1] => Audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen with film historian Tony Dalton [2] => The Harryhausen Legacy [3] => Ray Harryhausen Chronicles [4] => Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards [5] => Trailers and TV spots ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [1] => Region Free ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => English Mono ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Ray Harryhausen interviewed by director John Landis ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Adventure ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Todd Armstrong ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Don Chaffey ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Fantastic special effects by Ray Harryhausen and exciting mythological adventure make this a film that is fun for everyone. It's the story of Jason (Todd Armstrong), a fearless sailor and explorer, who returns to the kingdom of Thessaly after a 20-year voyage to make his rightful claim to the throne. But to do so, Jason must first find the magical Golden Fleece. He selects a crew and with the help of Hera, Queen of the Gods, sets sail in search of the Fleece. Jason and his crew must overcome incredible obstacles including a 100-foot bronze giant, the venomousHydra-a huge creature with the heads of seven snakes-and a spectacular battle with an army of skeletons. [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105984 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

I'm sure anyone who grew up loving older sci-fi and fantasy films is familiar with the name Ray Harryhausen. The stop-motion legend is not only responsible for pioneering what has become the "dynamation" technique (as seen in such classics as 'Earth vs. The Flying Saucers,' 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,' and my own personal favorite -- 'Clash of the Titans'), his masterful creations have been the driving force behind many a filmmaker over the years and his incredible work has carved a significant niche throughout the annals of cinematic history. Just a week after Harryhausen turns ninety years old, Sony finally brings to Blu-ray the film Harryhausen himself considers his greatest achievement--the Greek mythological adventure 'Jason and the Argonauts.'

Loosely based on the epic poem The Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius, the film recounts the tale of Jason and his infamous voyage to find the fabled Golden Fleece. In this version, Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) learns from a seer that he is destined to overthrow King Aristo of Thessaly, but he will lose his reign to one of Aristo's offspring. Pelias, of course, doesn't like the sound of that end bit, so after seizing control of the city he viciously begins eliminating Aristo's bloodline. This infuriates the Queen of the Gods -- Hera (Honor Blackman, best known as Bond girl Pussy Galore from 'Goldfinger'), who stops Pelias from harming Aristo's infant son Jason -- and reveals that a man wearing a single sandal will one day bring his doom.

Twenty years pass and Jason -- now a dashing heroic adventurer played by American Todd Armstrong (who much to his dismay had his voice dubbed by British actor Tim Turner), returns to reclaim his rightful place as heir to the throne. Along his way, Jason rescues a man from drowning in a river and loses his sandal while saving him. The man turns out to be Pelias, and though Jason is unaware of Pelias' true identity, Pelias knows exactly who his savior is and doesn't intend on giving up his kingdom. Since he can't outright kill Jason for fear of stirring the wrath of the gods, Pelias figures the next best thing is to send Jason on some deadly wild goose chase for the mythical Golden Fleece. And so, with a ship he names the Argo -- after its shipbuilder Argos (Laurence Naismith), and a group of well-greased Greeks he dubs the Argonauts -- including the legendary mighty Hercules (Nigel Green) and the cunning Acastus (Gary Raymond), Jason sets sail to the end of the world -- with danger lurking around every corner.

At the time of its release in 1963, 'Jason and the Argonauts' was one of the first Harryhausen films to get a single billing in theaters (as opposed to being part of a B-movie double feature) and mesmerized audiences of all ages. Now it may not have quite the same impact, but it's still lighthearted nostalgic fun. While the story by Beverley Cross (who wrote the other Harryhausen classics 'Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger' and 'Clash of the Titans') and co-writer Jan Read is simple and straightforward, it captures much of the fantastical essence of Greek mythology. The acting can be rigid and excessively melodramatic, but Armstrong brings energy and charisma to our main hero, and Green is probably the most entertaining as the boastful strongman -- oozing machismo and leaving a trail of manliness in his wake. The action sequences are just as overplayed and cartoonish as the performances (this is a G-rated film from the sixties after all), yet they're still amusing in their own way. The sword fight that takes place on the Argo is unintentionally hilarious. One of the stronger parts of the movie is the attractive backdrops featuring real ancient ruins, as 'Jason and the Argonauts' was filmed on location at numerous places in Italy. Director John Chaffey also keeps the film moving at a decent clip, going from one setting to the next with hardly any dull points in between.

Like any film touched by Harryhausen, though, the real stars of the show are his magnificent creations. Harryhausen breathes life into Talos--a bronze giant inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, who dominates the screen with such grandeur that in 2004 Empire magazine listed it as the second best movie monster of all time after King Kong. I also love the motion of the bat-like wings of the harpies as well as the distinct movements of each of the hydra's seven heads. But it's the skeleton battle from this film that is perhaps Harryhausen's pièce de résistance, which would later serve as Sam Raimi's inspiration for the legion of undead in 'Army of Darkness.' The three minute sequence took a staggering four months to complete, and after nearly fifty years it's still a fitting grand finale to one of Ray Harryhausen's finest classics.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Jason and the Argonauts' sail to high-definition on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc inside a standard blue keepcase. After a short loading screen, the disc boots up directly to the menu without any previews or annoying Blu-ray promos. The disc is also reported to be region free and therefore should function properly in all machines.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 14778 [review_video] =>

Sony has given 'Jason and the Argonauts' a respectable 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.66:1 aspect ratio) encode for this Blu-ray release that naturally has a few issues stemming from the quality of the source material, but in general it looks pretty spiffy.

The film has been cleaned up significantly, with hardly any specs or splotches to speak of. The picture is still quite grainy. There's some crawling activity, most noticeably in the baby blue sky, though I wouldn't really call it a nuisance. Colors can be pretty rich and vibrant--especially the deep crimsons of the actors' cloaks and the greenery of plant life--and whites can look phenomenal. Black levels are also decent overall with adequate shadow detailing. Skin tones are accurate and Argos is more bronze from working on the ship under the sun. Fine details are nicely rendered, too--from the lines separating blades of grass, the ridges and cracks in the mountainous cliffs of the Clashing Rocks and various stonework ruins, and you can practically get entangled in the carpet growing on Hercules' chest. Many scenes have a good level of depth to them as well.

Of course, the scenes combining stop-motion with live-action don't look very attractive in high-definition, although to be fair they will never be due to the techniques originally used in the film. These cases tend to have a flatter picture, sporadic occurrences of blurring, and colors are heavily washed out. Black levels here can be weaker, though I actually still found them to be sufficient, particularly in the sequences lacking sunlight with the harpies. The detailing on Harryhausen's monstrosities is appealing in close-ups, but there is an occasional shroud of murkiness in places. With the amount of grain still intact DNR doesn't seem to be an issue, and there may be some edge enhancement but it's most likely just due to the application of the effects.

All things considered, though, Sony's Blu-ray transfer for 'Jason and the Argonauts' is a good one and easily trumps Warner's for 'Clash of the Titans' for sure.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14779 [review_audio] =>

'Jason and the Argonauts' shines even more in the audio department--as this Blu-ray not only includes the original mono soundtrack from past releases, but Sony's engineers have also remastered the track to provide an all-new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as the default option on the disc.

The new track is still generally front heavy, as this isn't a film with much in terms of discreet effects and ambient surround activity, but the wider presence is certainly a welcome upgrade. Although occasionally a little bit hollow, dialog is cleaner and the creature effects sound more robust. There's some (albeit minimal) added directionality, with the most noticeable being a few swooshes from Jason's sword when he is fending off the hydra. But the best part is the energetic score composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann ('Citizen Kane' and 'Psycho') and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This is really only where we get a hint of bass activity, but the music has a nice expansive flow throughout the room and sounds terrific.

'Jason and the Argonauts' still can't compete with some of the more modern bombastic action films, but fans used to listening to the mono tracks will definitely be pleased with the new and improved results on this Blu-ray.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

Sony previously brought 'Jason and the Argonauts' to DVD in 1998 and again as part of 'The Ray Harryhausen Collection - The Legendary Monster Series' box set back in 2004. Both releases only included a featurette and a trailer. Sony not only ports over that content to this Blu-ray, they've also gone the extra mile to provide a wealth of high-definition exclusives (see appropriate section below).

  • Ray Harryhausen interviewed by director John Landis (SD, 11:53) – The only real recycled supplement is a featurette in which director John Landis ('An American Werewolf in London') joins Harryhausen to talk about the film's monsters and explain the stop-motion process with a peek at one of the actual skeleton models used in the movie.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 3.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 14780 [review_bonus_content] =>

We can't celebrate a birthday without party favors now, can we? As previously mentioned, Sony really rolls out the red carpe--I mean Golden Fleece--for this Blu-ray with an assortment of new material that fans will undoubtedly enjoy.

  • Audio Commentary – The first of two commentary tracks is with director Peter Jackson and visual effects artist Randall William Cook ('The Lord of the Rings Trilogy'). This is a very technical track covering the history of the film's production, the various actors and actresses, and of course, Harryhausen's masterful effects. I personally always find Jackson commentaries to be worth a listen--and this one is definitely no exception.

  • Audio Commentary – Even better, though, is the second track featuring the legend himself, Ray Harryhausen, joined by film historian Tony Dalton. Along with the usual production insights, Harryhausen injects some great anecdotal stories like how David Prowse (who would eventually be immortalized as Darth Vader) was considered for the role of Triton and didn't get the part since his arms were too short. But the real treat comes when his creations appear on screen and he reveals the tricks, techniques, (and occasional headaches) behind them. It really makes you appreciate his hard work even more. This is, by far, the most engaging supplement on the disc.

  • The Harryhausen Legacy (SD, 25:32) – In this tribute of sorts, directors John Landis and Joe Dante ('Gremlins') as well as visual effects gurus John Dykstra, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and a host of others reflect on how Harryhausen's movie magic influenced their own careers.

  • Ray Harryhausen Chronicles (SD, 57:57) – Next we have a solid hour-long documentary on the illustrious stop-motion career of Ray Harryhausen--which initially began as his hobby after being awestruck by the original 'King Kong.' The documentary includes several interviews, a look at some of his surviving models, rare animation segments, and much more. The great Leonard Nimoy narrates this feature.

  • Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards – Included here is a gallery of the original storyboard drawings for the skeleton army fight sequence. The storyboards were only rediscovered five years ago and reveal plans for a scene where one of the skeletons was going to lose their head, but the idea never made it into the final animated battle.

  • Trailers and TV Spots – Technically a trailer appeared on the DVDs, but rather than create two separate sections I'm just lumping it in here. The disc includes two 'Jason and the Argonauts' trailers, eight TV spots, and a nostalgic 1963 theatrical sweepstakes trailer in black & white promoting the film.

  • Previews (HD, 10:21) – Trailers for 'Ghostbusters,' 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' and three other Harryhausen classics on Blu-ray -- 'It Came From Beneath the Sea' (currently only available as part of the 'Ray Harryhausen Collection'), '20 Million Miles to Earth,' and 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.'

  • BD-Live – The supplements conclude with Sony's standard BD-Live portal.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14781 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Jason and the Argonauts' is one of Ray Harryhausen's finest films and contains some of his most memorable creations. Even though the stop-motion effects may not win over younger audiences, Harryhausen's work is an influential steppingstone in cinematic history and is still impressive even today.

Sony honors the FX legend's 90th B-day by giving the film Harryhausen personally considers to be his best a great Blu-ray release. The video and audio definitely blow the DVDs away, but it's the collection of new exclusive goodies that is the real selling point of this disc. Factored in with an attractive suggested retail price, and 'Jason and the Argonauts' easily comes recommended for any home video library.

) ) [9] => Array ( [review_id] => 3299 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => jimmyhollywood [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Jimmy Hollywood [picture_created] => 1277789021 [picture_name] => 51okzhrd-8l_sl500_aa300_.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/28/120/51okzhrd-8l_sl500_aa300_.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3299/jimmyhollywood.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1994 [run_time] => 118 [list_price] => 19.99 [asin] => B003H14DG6 [amazon_price] => 13.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Bookmarks ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD25 Single Layer Disc [2] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => None ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Christian Slater, Joe Pesci ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Barry Levinson ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Struggling actor Jimmy Alto (Pesci) can't get arrested. But the criminals that terrorize his neighborhood are making a killing. So Jimmy makes a bold career move. With the help of his loyal but spaced-out best friend (Slater), Jimmy transforms himself into "Jericho," leader of a mock-vigilante group that videotapes criminals and then turns them over to the police. It's the role of a lifetime, but when Jimmy gets caught in a crossfire between the cops and the crooks, it looks like it could be his last. [review_bottom_line] => One to Avoid [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105833 [review_movie_stars] => 1.5 [review_movie] =>

Hollywood does Hollywood. It does it all the time, and Hollywood loves it. What better way to reminisce about the golden years than to recreate them, over and over again? New generations become culturally aware of the past, while those living in the era can see the glitz and glamour one more time. But while the Academy seems to favor such films (and portrayals of real life characters), not every Hollywood on Hollywood film film is worthy of praise. Some are flat out bad.

Meet 'Jimmy Hollywood.' It falls in the "bad" category. It almost redefines it.

Jimmy Alto (Joe Pesci, in a horrible, horrible blonde wig) is a down and out "actor extraordinaire," trying to land that big role, ignoring any possibilities for bit parts or background acting. He believes he's a star, and nothing less, when in reality he's just a film fanatic, who wants to be a part of what he loves. His new scheme to reach stardom? A bus bench with his information on it, outside the gates of Bel Air. In addition to being an "actor," Jimmy's fed up with the disintegrating world around him, the theft, drug dealing, violence, all of it. When his car stereo gets stolen, Alto decides to take the law into his own hands, alongside his braindead friend William (Christian Slater), videotaping a stereo thief, abducting him, and turning in the evidence and perp to the cops, signed "The S.O.S." (named after David O. Selznick, the producer of 'Gone with the Wind'). Yes, that's a "D" in his name...

When the cops find more interest in stopping the S.O.S. than the criminals, Alto, who has taken the name "Jericho," begins to take the S.O.S. to greater and greater heights, drawing more publicity, public support, and ire from the police for being a vigilante. Playing the role of a lifetime, the role he can never get legitimately, Jimmy can't let go of his newfound fame. But both the law enforcers and criminals he's infuriating will do their best to put an end to the S.O.S., and Jimmy's "career."

The problems with 'Jimmy Hollywood' are too massive to ignore. It doesn't take a genius to know that living in or around Los Angeles costs a relative fortune. Hell, even two and a half hours away, where I live, the housing market has been affected by the over-inflated prices. Yet, we see Jimmy living in the middle of it all, with his live-in girlfriend (and hairdresser) Lorraine de la Peña (Victoria Abril), constantly dining out, buying new cars, and living somewhat large. The hair brained duo of Jimmy and William have all the money in the world for a camcorder and plenty of tapes. We never see Jimmy make a dollar in the entire film (up until he no longer needs money, going on the lam). Lorraine doesn't make that much, as we find out Jimmy sucked her bank account dry for his bus bench ad. How does anyone afford rent, utilities, expensive food, and new cars, on such a lifestyle?

Simply put, this is just one of the disconnects from reality found in this film. It strives to be a statement on the filth and decay of modern Los Angeles, with open drug dealing on the streets and graffiti everywhere. It feels manufactured to try to be relevant, important. It's also a tad overboard. Kidnapping, assault, and arson, all in the name of a car stereo? Talk about messed up priorities.

Running at a bloated two hours, 'Jimmy Hollywood' is over a half-hour too long for its own good, beating the point into our heads, and into the ground. We get a moral tale, not only of fighting back against crime, but one showing how putting the law into one's own hands is dangerous and foolish. We get the message that Jimmy is as bad as those he fights, with his acts of kidnapping and arson, to name a few of his misdeeds. But it feels like the film wants to hammer these messages home too often, repeatedly, so that we get the point. We get. The point.

Pesci is utterly painful in the titular role, and it doesn't help that the character is written in such an unlikable manner. Slater? I have yet to see him be anything but awful, so his performance is in line with the rest of his work at the very least. It really doesn't help that his character is possibly the most underdeveloped second lead ever. Beyond them, the only actor getting any real time is Abril, who may give the best performance in the film, providing a nice and average portrayal that may be just a tad over the top.

The scary part of all this? The man behind the wheel. The problems with this film could be more forgivable if it were a rank rookie behind the pen or in the chair, but this film was written and directed by Barry Levinson (!!), who adapted 'Sleepers' from its source novel, and co-wrote 'High Anxiety,' as well as directed the severely underrated 'Wag the Dog,' alongside classics 'The Natural,' 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' and 'Rain Man,' which won him an Academy Award. How can anyone fall from grace so damn fast, being behind the wheel of some of the greats, to something so unbelievable and ridiculous? (Editor's Note: He had the equally 'Toys' (his dream project!) as a practice run.)

[review_video_stars] => 1 [review_video_picture_id] => 14824 [review_video] =>

No positive words will be uttered in this section of the review. None. The string of negative words found within are not the result of a thesaurus, as there aren't too many suggestions to replace "suck-tastic." That's right. The AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 1.85:1) encode provided 'Jimmy Hollywood' is the very definition of the term. Not even Pesci's awful hair or Slater's awful "acting" can show up this abysmal display.

Having never seen the film before this viewing, I can't begin to guess if the problems with the appearance in the film are longstanding or newly formulated. I can only say I felt like I just wasted two hours worth of precious DLP burn time. It isn't the random dirt speckles that populate the film from start to finish. It isn't the random changes in colors, contrast, and detail every so often. It wasn't even the weak clarity, so much. The killer here is that I felt like I was watching an unfinished version of 'A Scanner Darkly,' with the whole "rotoscoped" appearance creating light blurs and smudges. Arms would lose their solidarity, lips would grow and shrink, moving like ocean waves, and the entire picture looked blotchy far too often, moving nonstop. I've never had "beer goggles," but I can probably relate to everyone who has by saying this is the exact opposite effect: it makes everything look uglier.

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio] =>

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

That may be a saying that attributes itself more to the video qualities of a Blu-ray release, but combine a mediocre film with bad video and virtually no extras, and the audio can't help but be the best part of the disc. Lionsgate gives 'Jimmy Hollywood' a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that just doesn't get its feet off the ground...ever. Dialogue is clear, but it never strays from the front channels, and never has any real spikes in volume, no matter how quiet or intense it may get. But dialogue isn't alone in middling around with no lows or highs, as range is stuck in the middle as well, with no real standout moments to put a sound system to work. The most difficult scene for the speakers may have been the opener, and it didn't fare too well, as the soundtrack easily overpowers dialogue. Crowded rooms never find noise in the rears, as soundtrack elements are around 99% of the surround activity. Throw in a blip or two, and you have yourself a track that just is there. Nothing more, nothing less.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

The sole "extra" is entitled "Also from Lionsgate." Basically, it's the same Blu-ray catalog title trailer that is played before the menu.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

This Blu-ray also has Bookmark capabilities, for you to document your (least) favorite scenes in the film.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 1.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14825 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Jimmy Hollywood' is painful, just painful. Movies about the film industry are usually so damn enjoyable for me, but this was akin to surgery by butter knife. Pesci proves that he's not leading-man material (as if that weren't obvious), while Slater proves he's not even craft services material. This disc has an average audio track, and an absolutely terrible transfer, alongside virtually no extras, and you have a losing combination. S.O.S. - save our streets. S.Y.M. - save your money. One to avoid.

) ) [10] => Array ( [review_id] => 3300 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => ladybugs [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Ladybugs [picture_created] => 1277788727 [picture_name] => unnamed.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/28/120/unnamed.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3300/ladybugs.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1992 [run_time] => 89 [list_price] => 19.99 [asin] => B003H14DGG [amazon_price] => 13.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Bookmarks ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD25 Single Layer Disc [2] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => None ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy, Sport ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Rodney Dangerfield, Jonathan Brandis, Jackée Harry ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Sidney J. Furie ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Chester is a salesman looking for a little respect... and a big job promotion. To impress his boss, Chester becomes the coach of the company-sponsored girls' soccer team, the Ladybugs. But when Chester and his assistant coach (Jackée) see their woefully unskilled players, they realize the Ladybugs are going to get squashed! Chester decides the team needs a girl who plays like a boy, so he secretly enlists his fiancée's son, Matthew (Brandis), to become Martha, the Ladybugs' newest member. With his harebrained plan in place, Chester figures he has a shot at winning the championship and saving his career... or losing everything! [review_bottom_line] => For Fans Only [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105805 [review_movie_stars] => 1.5 [review_movie] =>

"You know anything about soccer?"

"Not much. All I know is, I got a lotta balls!"

Oh Rodney, Rodney, Rodney. For such a comedic talent, there isn't all that much to show in his filmography. Sure, there's 'Caddyshack' and 'Back to School,' which may be his early peak, but what's left after that? 'Easy Money?' A cameo of sorts in 'Natural Born Killers?' Honestly, the man who made a career talking about the lack of respect he got, sure didn't make it easy to respect his career in film. With so many bombs, 'Ladybugs' just may be one of Dangerfield's more memorable roles. Memorable because for a few years, it played nearly every day on cable.

Chester Lee (Dangerfield) can't get no respect! He's been with the same company for twelve years, and can't seem to get his boss (Tom Parks) to give him that promotion he's after. For some unknown reason, he won't propose to his girlfriend (Ilene Graff) until he gets said promotion. Perhaps he thinks she's shallow. He must not have seen a mirror lately, if he thinks that!

In an attempt to get in good with the boss, a little white lie gets stretched to the point that Chester becomes the coach of the girls soccer team his company sponsors, the Ladybugs, which has his boss' daughter Kimberly (Vinessa Shaw) on the team. He thinks it will be an easy gig, considering the team's championship history, but he's soon to find out this is a "rebuilding year," full of girls who know as little about soccer as he does. After a humiliating loss, and a reprimand from his boss, Chester does the only thing he can to win: get his girlfriend's son, Matthew (the late Jonathan Brandis), to play for the girls team. Matthew/Martha is an athletic kid, and is easily the best in the league, but can he get the girls to play together, and make them better in the process? Can Martha hide her secret and help Chester earn that promotion, or will he get his father-figure and his sidekick Julie (Jackée) fired?

There's a reason Dangerfield got no respect, no respect! It's uninspired career choices like this. The sports comedy is a fairly easy genre, with a built in audience in youths and fans of said sport. The cast doesn't need anyone beyond a star and a comedian or two on the side. The story can stink, but still be fondly remembered if caught at the right time in one's life. It's just dangerous to revisit titles like this from one's past, after so many years.

'Ladybugs' isn't a bad film, despite what the star rating may say. It's just a lazy, paint-by-numbers, go-through-the-motions exercise in trying to occupy an audience's mind for an hour or two. The acting is horrendous, with Parks and Jackée (who later added the last name Harry to her moniker) bringing the "goods" with their respective performances. Sure, Jackée is meant to be the comedic sidekick, but time has not been kind to her role. Her gags are all painful, painful, painful.

The jokes aren't gut-bustingly funny, but they can get a few giggles here and there, and there are a few risque moments (including child molester jokes in a changing room) that look very different in the changed world. Nearly every line from Dangerfield is a gag, or a necessary expository comment to keep the ball rolling in the right direction. The romantic side-plot, involving Kimberly and Matthew, is somewhat disturbing, particularly the most awkward dream sequence in film history (as a child, watching a kid fantasize about another kid may be cute. As an adult, cree-py...). Yes, Shaw grew up to play a hooker in 'Eyes Wide Shut,' but here it's just odd. While they're the same age, she looks years more developed, so it's doubly odd. The only reason the characters are worth mentioning beyond the synopsis is the way Matthew/Martha has to juggle his feelings for Kimberly, while also trying to be a friend...a friend who is deceiving her the entire time!

Yes, the film is cliche. The final match, of course, the championship, is beyond ridiculous, with an amazing team jutting out to a huge lead at half time, only for a motivational speech being all the Ladybugs need to succeed. Sure, there are a few drag jokes too many, and a Rodney Dangerfield in drag scene that burns one's soul. It's also fun to watch, for the sole reason that no one in their right mind would look at Martha's body, and hear "her" voice, and think she's a girl. If you enjoyed this as a kid, you may want to reconsider the obligatory purchase and leave it in the realm in which it is best seen: memory. Hell, just watch 'Kicking & Screaming' every time the urge to view this film pops up.

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 14819 [review_video] =>

The video for 'Ladybugs' is presented with an uneven AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1, 1080p) that can go from great to abysmal and back again faster than you can put on a crappy wig.

The entire film has an even amount of dirt throughout, and it's fairly tiny and non-distracting. Grain, on the other hand, goes from zero to sixty in one second flat , and can be an annoyance solely for that reason. Contrast seems flat, matching the picture itself, and colors can seem awfully drab, with boring textures to boot. Then, out of nowhere, a brilliant shot will pop up, with the tiniest of grass blades leaping, colors getting vibrant and rich, and textures shooting off of uniforms and clothing. Then, again, back to mucking around. There is no consistency to this issue, as it isn't like soccer games are great, and indoor scenes are murky. It's just whenever, whatever. Edges are clean, but there is a tiny bit of noise, and the occasional blur, and a hint of color bleed here and there. I'm not saying this release is ugly. I will just quote Dangerfield himself, in saying "It's two faced....and it should have worn the other one!"

[review_audio_stars] => 2.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14820 [review_audio] =>

Lionsgate brings 'Ladybugs' to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that, honestly, is about as convincing as Matthew was as "Martha." It's much like the video, but without the random patches of greatness mixed in.

Rear use starts from the get go, with a light city ambience, or little localized effects in the self-help seminar, then it fades to oblivion. Sure, the music finds its way back there, but for the most part, only the most random and forced bits of crowd atmosphere ever find their way to the back. The music also has an unnatural volume at times, not quite overpowering the rest of the film, but coming awful close. Dialogue is clear, even in the mumbliest of Dangerfield trademark mumbles, but any yell or higher end voice sounds utterly shrill. Range? It gets no respect, as there is really little to speak of.

One can't expect much from a family sports comedy that's nearing its twentieth anniversary, so this wasn't that much of a surprise. Hard to field an all star team when there isn't a single star in the league.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14821 [review_supplements] =>

The only extra for 'Ladybugs' is a generic trailer for catalog Blu-ray titles from Lionsgate. The same trailer that plays before the menu. Hooray. Also worth noting: this release has one of the most annoying menus on the format, with a tab noise for every move, and a shrill whistle with every selection. You can turn it off, but you have to hear multiple, multiple noises to do so.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

Exclusive to this Blu-ray release, fans can Bookmark their favorite scenes.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14822 [review_final_thoughts] =>

"What is this? A drag race?" A marginal film, to be sure. Fun, but just bad. Imagine 'Ladybugs' with anyone but Dangerfield. Anyone. It would be so, so much worse. With average video and audio, but no extras, this is your stereotypical bargain release. It's a guilty pleasure, to be sure, and is a must for Dangerfield fans. For everyone else, this one is a questionable purchase, even at the low price it's sure to draw at retailers. Considering the only edition of the DVD release is out of print, this will be the only way to purchase 'Ladybugs' domestically for the time being, at a fraction of what the DVD goes for.

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See this irresistible funnyman at the top of his form and guaranteed to make you laugh again and again! A star of Comedy Central's hit film Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie, Larry has cracked up TV viewers of Showtime, MTV, Evening at the Improv and Comic Strip Live. He's also well-known for his wacky, outrageous radio commentaries and for his bestselling album, Lord, I Apologize. 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Love comes knocking at her door when she meets sexy photographer Paolo, but will she dare to let her guard down and let romance in? 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Practical Magic: Sally and Gillian Owens are sisters hexed by a centuries-old curse...and coping with a witches brew of events involving a possible love match for one, a zombie for the other and a need to resume the age-old witchcraft taught by two doting aunts.

The Witches of Eastwick: Alex, Jane, and Suki are three bored New England woman left to live without their husbands. They innocently conjure up a mystery man, who could satisfy all their desires. A new man moves into town - and he fits the bill perfectly.

[review_bottom_line] => A Rental at Best [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 107717 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

In popular culture and media, witches represent two drastically different roles of womanhood. On one end, we have decrepit old hags of fairy tales, hovering over a cauldron, often depicted with a black, pointed hat, a broomstick and a hideous face. These mythological creatures are the generally accepted image, commonly associated with black magic and the supernatural. On the flip side, we have other fictional representations many might consider as more positive. While not fully adopting the witch persona as the proto-feminist archetype it truly is, these stories offer images of strong and passionate female empowerment that, when not tempered, can run amok. The women of such tales practice the pagan arts so as to escape societal norms and expectations. And by consequence, they discover liberation and a sense of self.

As part of their Blu-ray double-feature series, Warner Home Video has put together two comedies with similar themes and motifs, and both coincidentally viewed as positive depictions of witchcraft. They are also both adapted from novels drastically different in tone and moral dilemma. While 'Practical Magic' places more stress on the romance and a longing for acceptance, 'The Witches of Eastwick' is a sort of gothic morality tale on selfish desires. Still, each film carries an emphasis on self-discovery and the strong bond of sisterhood.

Practical Magic

Based on the novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman, 'Practical Magic' follows two orphaned sisters as different as they come. Living with their magical but eccentric aunts, Frances (Stockard Channing) and Jet (Dianne Wiest), the two girls learn about the history of their hereditary powers, an old family curse that looms over their love-lives, and having to face the cruel, intolerant contempt of townspeople. And herein lies part of the movie's problem — too many issues with little focus on one cohesive narrative arc. Even the two sisters in their adulthood seem at odds with these different aspects of the plot, jumping from one predicament to the next as the story moves hastily along.

As the responsible, conscientious, and naturally-talented witch, Sally (Sandra Bullock) grows to resent her family, especially after the death of her husband, vowing her daughters will live a normal life without witchcraft. Of course, the girls already know about their family thanks to their ever-so-adorable aunts and living in this small New England-type town, where everybody knows everybody, the chances of them growing up like everyone else are pretty much nil. So, is this a drama about Sally confronting her new widowed life, but eventually finding love again with a State Investigator (Aidan Quinn)? Or, are we dealing with Sally's desire to be accepted as an average citizen but eventually embraces her family's uniqueness? Further complicating matters are her sister's own problems.

Gillian (Nicole Kidman) is the opposite of Sally in every way. She's stormy, impulsive and rebellious. One visual cue I found particularly clever is the character's fiery red hair to reflect her unruly and rowdy nature. In the novel, Gillian is supposed to be a blonde, but with Kidman in the role, the woman is a firecracker. She welcomes the wild and unexpected of life, until it leads her to the violent tempers of Jimmy and his accidental death. This, then, introduces a supernatural element with minor features of a mystery thriller. Later, we end up with a bizarre drinking game of truth-telling, rapidly growing rose bushes, toads spitting out rings, and an emotional exorcism.

While a majority of the script fails more than it succeeds, I have to give credit to actor/director Griffin Dunne ('An American Werewolf in London,' 'After Hours') for keeping the story brisk and intelligible. Any loose ends are quickly and smoothly tied together by film's end, however effortlessly and somewhat manufactured. 'Practical Magic' has its charm as an easy diversion by being more original than most romantic comedies. Unfortunately, it's not all that funny either. The cast, especially Channing and Wiest, do terrifically well in their respective roles, and Bullock definitely possesses a magnetism that attracts a large female audiences. With a little attention to focusing the plot, the movie would have benefited greatly. But as it stands, the magic isn't all that impressive. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

The Witches of Eastwick

Set in the fictional town of Eastwick, Rhode Island, three unsatisfied women unwittingly conjure up the ideal man that can satisfy each of their needs and desires equally. And like the John Updike novel upon which the film is loosely based, this story about a coven of women discovering their hidden magical powers is meant as an outlandish social satire on the modern culture. Alexandra (Cher) is a self-assured, outspoken artist who would like a partner who understands and accepts her for who she is. Recently divorced music teacher Jane (Susan Sarandon) longs for a man who can inspire and encourage the passion hidden deep within. Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a timid single mother of six who just wants someone who will listen to her without being made to feel dim-witted or simple.

Soon after their latest Thursday night get-together, where they inadvertently set their spell in motion, a mysterious but oddly enchanting stranger, Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), arrives in the small town and buys a large estate believed to have a history with witchcraft. Folks are quickly in a flutter and creating scandal as Nicholson flexes his acting chops to steal the show. Although not often mentioned, this is one of Nicholson's best over-the-top performances, bringing that sinister, wry sneer of his to a role of absolute ridiculousness and farce. The only actor to match wits is Veronica Cartwright's splendid and memorable portrayal of the town's busybody. As the hilarious Felicia Alden, her character shows that sometimes a liberal woman's worst enemy is another woman, especially one who holds true to traditionalist, outdated modes of thinking.

In 'The Witches of Eastwick,' George Miller ('Happy Feet,' 'Twilight Zone: The Movie') delivers a wonderful, whimsical tale where the female leads subtly question their role as women and their dependency on men — even when that man is their ideal. The writer and director of the 'Mad Max' films provides an excellent, bewitching mix of fantasy horror and slapstick comedy with plenty of smarts. One very memorable scene that displays Miller's talent as director takes place immediately after a music recital when Nicholson's character is finally introduced. The sequence is marvelous at revealing how quickly townspeople gossip while also adding to Daryl's devilish origins. Miller even throws in a couple of nods to 'Double Indemnity' with the Walter Neff character, 'The Omen,' and Nicholson's impersonation of Buster Keaton from 'Steamboat Bill Jr.'

With performances and actors faultlessly in tune, 'Eastwick' also comes with one of John Williams' most memorable musical scores. Still heard in contemporary films and trailers, his music is the perfect blend of lighthearted humor and cheer with a child-like wonder for the silly. It's a terrific complement to an already very funny movie. From Miller's fun, slapstick style behind the camera to the splendid, witty performances of Nicholson and Cartwright, 'The Witches of Eastwick' is by far one of the most imaginative and wildly comical films on the battle of the sexes. How better for a woman to fight for her liberation than from the most vilely sexist chauvinist of them all: Jack Nicholson's devil. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15660 [review_video] =>

Practical Magic

Only twelve-years-old and already, 'Practical Magic' is showing its age. Apparently, Warner doesn't think it necessary to give this coven a new makeover, meaning a remaster, because the movie isn't looking all that sprightly. I kept waiting for the opening sequence to finish, but the 1080p/VC-1 transfer (2.40:1) didn't improve. A light veneer of grain washes over the image, but the picture is unexpectedly soft with average resolution levels. Contrast tends to run a bit hot though it's evenly balanced for the most part. Blacks are accurate and very deep, so much so that they often obscure details in the darkest shadows. Colors are generally in good standing, yet some scenes look much too saturated while others are dull and unnatural. Although flesh tones appear warm and healthy, they are regularly on the redder side. Ultimately, the video never feels like an HD presentation and sadly looks no better than an upconverted DVD. (Video Rating: 2/5)

The Witches of Eastwick

Only two years shy of its 25th anniversary, a remaster of 'The Witches of Eastwick' is really what's in order, because this 80s gothic comedy looks nice on Blu-ray. Softness is, of course, understandable and easily forgivable, but the 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) also shows several sequences of poor resolution. While contrast is pleasantly well-balanced and crisp, blacks tend to fluctuate between average and accurate. The image sometimes displays appreciable depth with strong shadow delineation, and then suddenly feels flat a minute later. On a positive note, the transfer comes with many beautiful moments of high-def greatness and attractive detailing, chiefly in the bright, sunny exteriors. The color palette is quite vibrant and bold with particular attention given to primaries, and the faces of actors appear natural and healthy. Overall, it's an acceptable video presentation, but I can't help wonder what it would look like with a true remaster. (Video Rating: 3/5)

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15661 [review_audio] =>

Practical Magic

Though it fares much better than the video, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for this romcom offers a pleasant listen, appropriate for the genre. The lossless mix simply delivers what is expected of it, and it does it well. A few nighttime scenes expand the soundfield a bit with some mild ambient effects in the rears, like the sounds of distant crickets, toads, or beetles. However, the track is generally front-heavy with strong vocals lucidly delivered in the center and some good movement between the channels. The soundstage is incredibly wide and welcoming with a surprisingly warm mid-range. Bass is much more active than initially expected, giving song selections and the bit of action some power. All in all, the audio makes for an attractive stereo presentation. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

The Witches of Eastwick

Similar to the picture, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has some great moments. It even makes entertaining use of the rear speakers, however sporadic it may be. Certain scenes worth noting are the tennis match and a few roars of thunder which nicely enhance the soundfield from a front-heavy mix with well-prioritized vocals. The mid-range is clean and sharp, even at the higher peaks, and low-frequency effects are mild but accurate to the on-screen action. John Williams' musical score is highly attractive, filling the soundstage with great warmth and clarity while subtly bleeding into the back channels.

But the one sequence which really caught me by surprise, demonstrating the quality of the imaging, is a private conversation between Daryl and Alex, just as she's about to storm out of his mansion. Jack Nicholson's voice moves from right to left and back again with such convincing fluidity and effortlessness that it almost seems as if he's in the room. Unfortunately, this is later countered by another heated exchange between Daryl and Alex towards the end of the second act when he's ironing a shirt. When he raises his voice, his echoes should logically surround the listener as it fills the empty halls of the mansion. Instead, his fuming speech is restricted to the center of the screen as if in mono. All things considered, however, this an enjoyable lossless track for a great 80s comedy. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15659 [review_supplements] =>

Seeing as how Warner Home Video is offering two motion pictures on a single Blu-ray disc, there is little room left for special features. This is a barebones release.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15658 [review_final_thoughts] =>

Two films for the price of one appear to be the trend here, as one Blu-ray disc carries two similarly-themed comedies. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star as two magical sisters struggling with a family curse and looking for love in 'Practical Magic.' The second feature is the 80s horror comedy 'The Witches of Eastwick' about three women, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, battling wits with Jack Nicholson as a sexist, horny little devil. The Blu-ray comes with an average picture quality, but a better audio presentation. Unfortunately, there is no room for any supplements, so those expecting a packaged deal might want to look elsewhere. Unless you're a devoted follower of both films, I suggest waiting to participate in the next incantation.

) ) [15] => Array ( [review_id] => 3376 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => stevebyrne_thebyrneidentity [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Steve Byrne: The Byrne Identity [picture_created] => 1272935672 [picture_name] => 5318b6c20d963.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6c20d963.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3376/stevebyrne_thebyrneidentity.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2010 [run_time] => 73 [list_price] => 17.98 [asin] => B003HTPHVI [amazon_price] => 15.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.78:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English LPCM 2.0 ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Oh, Boise [1] => Steve's Greatest Accomplishments [2] => Who Are You? ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Steve Byrne ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Steve Byrne has established himself as one of the premier stand-up comedians of his generation. In his second one hour special, Steve asks the universal question “Who are you?” The result is a poignant, inventive, and immensely funny look at how we identify ourselves in America. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [16] => Array ( [review_id] => 3237 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => getaway_1972_1994 [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Getaway (1972)/The Getaway (1994) [picture_created] => [picture_name] => [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/pop-on-amazon.png [picture_source_195] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_235] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_300] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_source_660] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/images/public/[email protected] [picture_alternate] => Box coming soon [picture_title] => Box coming soon [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3237/getaway_1972_1994.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1972 [run_time] => 237 [list_price] => 0.00 [amazon_price] => 0.00 [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Adventure, Thriller ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Master thief Doc McCoy knows his wife has been in bed with the local political boss in order to spring him from jail. What he can't know is the sinister succession of double-crosses that will sour the deal once he's on the outside - and executing the ultimate robbery. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [17] => Array ( [review_id] => 3486 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => girl_dragon_tattoo [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) [picture_created] => 1274399176 [picture_name] => dragon-tattoo.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Music Box Films [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/20/120/dragon-tattoo.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3486/girl_dragon_tattoo.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 152 [list_price] => 34.95 [asin] => B003T6LIBM [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD-25 Single-Layer Disc [2] => Region Free ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround [1] => English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Interview [1] => Family Tree graphic [2] => Trailers ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Mystery, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Peter Haber, Lena Endre, Marika Lagercrantz ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Niels Arden Oplev ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

In 1966, 16-year old Harriet Vanger disappeared without a trace from a family gathering on the island owned by the powerful Vanger family. Nearly 40 years later, disgraced magazine journalist Mikael Blomqvist is contacted by Harriet's uncle, powerful industrialist Henrik Vanger, who asks him to write the history of the Vanger family and find out what happened to Harriet. Joining forces with troubled young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, Mikael starts to delve into the past of the Vanger family – and unearths a history more sinister and violent than he could ever have imagined.

[review_movie] =>

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is only the first part of a trilogy that already made its rounds in other parts of the globe last year. In the U.S., the movies are being released a few months apart, with the last in the series expected later this year. Adapted from the posthumously published novels of Stieg Larsson, known as the Millennium Trilogy, the connection between each film is the partnership of two polar opposites with highly inquisitive, sometimes dangerous minds. Although their rapport is of great interest to the story, it's the circumstances which bring them together that are the focus of the plot. And at the heart of this brilliantly structured thriller, their methodology and tenacious attitude for uncovering the truth is what ultimately grabs and holds our attention.

After losing a high-profile libel case against a corrupt businessman, middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) tries to deal with the possibility of a shattered career. Before serving his three-month jail sentence, he is offered a job by major industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube). Seeing this as a chance at redemption, Blomkvist agrees to solve the 40-year-old murder case of Henrik's niece, Harriett. Although he's made some minor progress, Blomkvist is stumped by one final clue in the girl's journal: a series of names and numbers. Interested by the case, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who had previously been hired to investigate Blomkvist, provides the missing pieces via email. Impressed, Blomkvist proposes she assist him. Together, they unearth a secret far more sinister and disturbing within the ranks of the Vanger family.

'Dragon Tattoo' is a deceptively intelligent film with an intricate detective story at its surface. The film is essentially a crime drama with elements of a police procedural — a murder mystery of the old-fashioned type reminiscent of classic Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler. Granted, Blomkvist lacks the hard-boiled cheekiness of Phillip Marlowe or Sam Spade, but Nyqvist is excellent in the role, demonstrating that the down-on-his-luck journalist at least shares in the philosophies of those characters. He continues to dig deeper, even when confronted with threats as the unsolved case turns up other disconcerting factors. What starts as a simple assignment for personal gain suddenly turns into a crusade of social justice, and the film evolves into a commentary on the state of contemporary capitalist societies.

Determining the identity of the killer is not as important as the terrifying reasons behind the crime and a serial murder spree spanning five decades. As if returning public credibility and integrity to investigative journalism, which is not too farfetched considering Larsson's background, we become fascinated by each clue and revelation. From unethical business practices to questions of nature versus nurture, 'Dragon Tattoo' is really an exploration into various themes, particularly the issue of violence against women. This is made more apparent when we consider the original title: 'Men Who Hate Women.' True journalism, as far as the plot is concerned, is in exposing the immoral deeds of others. The film even mentions Blomkvist as "the last bastion of journalism with ideals."

With this in mind, our main attraction to the entire story also comes into view. Lisbeth is a fascinating and complex character, and Rapace is superb in her portrayal of a highly intelligent but emotionally damaged woman. She delivers such intense and passionate stares which negotiate the vulnerable fragility of a girl and the fierce, defensive anger of a feminine warrior. She functions as a sharp contrast to a world of power and corruption, a world dominated by a class looking for every opportunity to take advantage of the weak. Despite her intimidating exterior, which immediately identifies her as an outcast, she is a severe combatant of justice, capable of vengeful vigilantism in an effort to rid society of all the evil. Lisbeth is a terrific foil to Blomkvist.

As a murder mystery, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' will likely be a daunting task for most. But for those willing to sit until the end credits, the film offers a rewarding experience, an intelligent crime drama that seems so incredibly rare these days. It's a greatly absorbing thriller with a classic style for suspense and a cast of characters we can care for. Don't wait for the rumored U.S. remake, this is well worth your time!

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Music Box Films and is housed in a standard blue keepcase. At startup, the Region Free, BD25 disc shows a series of skippable previews (listed in the special features) before arriving at the typical set of menu options.

[review_video_picture_id] => 15228 [review_video] =>

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' debuts on Blu-ray with a highly detailed picture, showing many moments of impressive demo-worthy scenes. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1) is incredibly sharp, with resolute, distinct lines of various objects in the foreground as well as in the background.

Exterior shots of the Swedish landscape are most striking, displaying excellent definition in foliage and the aged architecture. Even in poorly-lit interiors, the finer details hardly falter. Facial complexions are remarkable, revealing wonderful lifelike texture and appearing appropriate for the cold climate. Contrast is spot-on, providing terrific visibility of the distant mountains. There are some instances, however, where the crisp whites come off a bit too strong and the picture is poorly resolved. It's not a huge detriment to the overall quality, but it does bring the presentation down a notch. Blacks are beautifully rendered and intense, with the exception of a few indoor scenes at night where brightness is noticeably weaker. The palette is mostly subdued, adding to the cold, chilly atmosphere, but accurate and dramatic nonetheless. In general, the tone and hue of the photography changes depending on where the conversation takes place: indoor scenes are warm and inviting, while exteriors are icy white and steely blue. All things considered, this is an excellent-looking transfer for a very good thriller.

On a side note, the subtitles accompanying the picture are contained within the image proper, as they should be, making the film safe for viewing on Constant Image Height projection screens.

[review_audio_picture_id] => 15229 [review_audio] =>

For the audio portion of this Blu-ray disc, Music Box Films deemed it only necessary to offer two lossy Dolby Digital soundtracks for fans: one in the native Swedish and the other an English dub.

Although not having the option for a higher-resolution codec is a bit hurtful, the sound quality presented is not all that bad. Seeing as how 'Dragon Tattoo' is driven by character interaction, vocals are terrifically and cleanly delivered in the center of the screen. The front-heavy presentation also shows great movement between the channels, creating an attractive and engaging image with a wide, sharp mid-range. The LFE-channel is not really used extensively, but low bass is present to add a bit of weight when called upon. Once in a while, we can catch certain ambient effects spread into the rears, but they're ultimately unconvincing and easily localized. The musical score has better luck in extending the soundfield with subtle, pleasant bleeds.

Although a lossless mix would've been preferred, 'Dragon Tattoo' still sounds good on Blu-ray.

[review_supplements_picture_id] => 15230 [review_supplements] =>

For such an entertaining film, the bonus content on this Blu-ray edition of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' feels greatly lacking, if not grossly unjust.

  • Interview with Noomi (HD, 13 min) — Undoubtedly, the best segment of the entire package is this intimate conversation with actress Noomi Rapace, lifted from the film's press tour. She talks extensively about the preparation for playing the unique role of Lisbeth.
  • Family Tree (HD) — A visual aide for understanding the connections between the Vanger family.
  • TGWPWF Sneak Preview (HD) — A quick look at the second installment to the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, already in theaters.
  • Trailers (HD, SD)—A collection of previews for 'Shall We Kiss,' 'Séraphine,' 'Cloud 9,' 'Northface,' 'OSS: Lost in Rio,' and 'Mesrine,' along with the U.S. theatrical trailer for the film.
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There are no high-def exclusives.

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'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is the sort of dark and suspenseful crime thriller we don't see often enough, one with a classical feel to it where we take part in unraveling the mystery. Beneath the graphic violence and likeable main characters (especially Rapace's superb performance as Lisbeth), 'Dragon Tattoo' has a truly engrossing and intelligent narrative. The Blu-ray from Music Box Films arrives with an excellent video presentation, but audio options are limited to legacy codecs, while supplements are also disappointing. Although fans are sure to pick this up (and should), others are encouraged to give this Swedish gem a watch. Recommended.

[review_movie_stars] => 4.5 [review_video_stars] => 4 [review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106668 ) ) [18] => Array ( [review_id] => 3238 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => lastboyscout_lastmanstanding [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => The Last Boy Scout/Last Man Standing [picture_created] => 1270048092 [picture_name] => 5318b67d940de.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/03/31/120/5318b67d940de.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3238/lastboyscout_lastmanstanding.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1991 [run_time] => 0 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003F18008 [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.40:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/24 VC-1 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD50 Dual Layer Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English: DTS-MA 5.1 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH [1] => French [2] => Spanish ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Thriller ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Bruce Willis ) [preview_plot_synopsis] =>

Last Boy Scout: a seedy detective and a disgraced quarterback team to dodge ambushes, fire off one-liners and bust chops. When the going gets tough, they get together. And funnier. They came to play. And to settle a score in this raging fireball where bigger is better, hits are harder and bad guys end up deader.

Last Man Standing: John Smith, an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition, happens upon Jericho, Texas, which has become a ghost town since two warring gangs have 'driven off all the decent folk.' Smith sees this as an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun.

[review_bottom_line] => A Bargain for Fans [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106042 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

'Last Man Standing' (2.5/5).

Trying to follow up 'Yojimbo' or 'A Fistful of Dollars' is a tough prospect for anyone, but Walter Hill tried his damnedest. 'Last Man Standing' is a violent, well-rendered world that successfully fuses western motifs into those of the bootlegging 1920s gangster films. But for my money, this classic tale of a master-less Samurai -- or here, Bruce Willis as the mysterious gunslinger, John Smith -- who enters a town overrun with two warring gangs, is too cold and distant. It's a movie that feels not quite at home with the story it's trying to tell.

Released in 1996, 'Last Man Standing' was a critical and commercial flop. Playing 14-year Monday morning quarterback, it's not hard to hypothesize why. John Smith is neither able to transcend some mythic figure, nor do we get to know him well enough to truly feel for him, to understand why he makes certain choices. Clearly, as with the originals, leaving decisions to destiny or fate is a big part of who Smith is, which is fine, but with pretty much no one left in a nearly empty town to save from the rival gangsters, I kept wondering what was at stake. Essentially, as a remake or retelling, it felt like the film was going places and enacting scenes based more on what is "supposed to happen" rather than something more organic.

Performances by character actors like Christopher Walken are memorable, and the western locations and production design elements are easy on the eyes, but for an action film, the stunts are a bit tame and Smith's "amazing" pistol talents don't always feel real. Yes, it's great for the hero to shoot everyone without getting hit, but Willis' shooting style didn't appear on film as more accurate than anyone else. In that realm, flicks like 'Equilibrium' have more accurately updated how "swordplay" can cinematically translate into a gunslinger's miraculous marksmanship. I'm glad to have finally seen this film, but it just wasn't for me.

'The Last Boy Scout' (4/5)

For another Bruce Willis-starring, 1990s mash up of classic film genres, enter screenwriter Shane Black ('Lethal Weapon') and director Tony Scott ('Man on Fire,' 'True Romance') with their modern version of the film noir hardboiled private detective tale. Fallen heroes, murdered dames, and corruption within the NFL (uh, I mean "pro football"). Now, this is the Bruce Willis I personally love. The tired, put-upon hero, who only survives setback after setback by cracking wise. And while not all of Black's trademark one-liners stand the test of time, for the most part they're just as razor sharp today as they were when the film was released in 1991. Most importantly, I care because Willis is an imperfect guy trying to be a good dad who's gotten the wrong end of the stick more than once.

Joining Willis on the quest for truth is the murdered dame's boyfriend, played by Damon Wayans, who was previously known more for comedy (anyone else love Homey The Clown???). As a disgraced football star, Wayans does a remarkable job creating a believable character that both deserves his recent string of failures, but is also a victim. In the "action buddy comedy" realm, it's hard to think of anyone that could keep up with the 'Die Hard'-era Willis in terms of both dry comedic sense and sheer action bravado. Together, these two guys are hilarious, and kick a lot of ass.

Much like the other half of this disc, the story here is archetypal (so nothing new or revelatory), but the mix of brains, dark humor, violence, and comedy come together well for an enjoyable cinematic collage which I have enjoyed for years. It's not a great film, but the world is a believable one, the villains are real and scary, and the action set pieces are exciting, not exaggerated with CGI. 'The Last Boy Scout's greatest strength is perhaps that it has real stakes, yet never takes itself too seriously (see the chase that ends with a car landing upside down in a random pool). Much like Black's 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' the filmmakers are at once entertaining within the genre, and deconstructing it.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB dual layer Blu-ray disc does not appear to be Region locked. Popping the disc into your player immediately brings you to a main menu for both films. Selecting either film opens a submenu with language and scene selections, as well as the option to go to the other film. With my PS3, taking the disc out and later playing it restarts either film where you last played it.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 14958 [review_video] =>

'Last Man Standing' (3.5/5) comes to Blu-ray with a decent 1080p/24 VC-1 encode (aspect ratio 2.40:1) and is clearly the winning presentation of this double feature. The warm color palette and wide vistas of the old west look great on a large screen. Skin tones are even, and night scenes feature deep, dark blacks. On the negative side of the coin, this print is littered with some pretty constant dirt and dust. There is also the occasional scratch, and for the first reel, there is an odd, but minor aberration running down the left side of the frame. Overall, the presentation seems representative of the source material, has not been over manipulated to reduce its natural grain structure, but is a generally flat-looking film that wavers between being soft and highly detailed.

'The Last Boy Scout (3/5). Anyone who has a DVD copy of 'The Last Boy Scout' will be relieved to make the upgrade to high definition. In directly comparing transfers, the added resolution is heavenly, though this Blu-ray presentation does appear a few degrees darker than its standard definition sibling. Upgrade aside, this is a mediocre looking film in general. I know there's detail on hand here (as evidence in many of the close ups, or day exteriors), but it's a shame that this and 'Last Man Standing' are so soft. I suppose Blu-ray's technical ability to equally accentuate strength and weakness are to blame. The movie looks the best it ever has, but it's not really that stunning. Colors are accurate, skin tones reflective of their often-colorful settings, but black levels are in question. There's plenty of darkness, but the blacks are crushed, leaving almost no detail within shadows, even in lighter scenes where the human eye would be able to see. I would think this is filmmaker intent, but the DVD doesn't look this way. Bottom line, this is a significant, but imperfect upgrade.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14959 [review_audio] =>

'Last Man Standing' (4/5). Audiophiles, you're in for some fun. With a powerful 5.1 DTS-MA Surround Sound mix, 'Last Man Standing' and it's lossless audio are the highlight of this double feature. Standards like clear and well-mixed dialogue are a given, but your speakers are about to be treated to 90 minutes of gunfire and splintering glass. Built out of deep lows and crystal clear highs, the mix has wonderful fidelity, and uses all your speakers in specific, direct ways. Every time another baddie was blasted into the air by Willis' .45 caliber pistols, I wanted to cheer because of the roaring tones. And then I would marvel when something subtle would move past the sound field to my back or sides. The mix overall could be more aggressive for an action film. Modern movies certainly exhibit more range in exploring different sounds (both in the literal sense of what is recorded, and how it then pans around the soundscape), but having heard other action pictures of the late '90s, this one is a winner.

'The Last Boy Scout' (3.5/5) also comes with an active 5.1 DTS-MA track. In analyzing the audio portion of this review, I was reminded of an interesting thing about the relative nature of reviewing Blu-rays. Having watched 'Last Man Standing' first, 'The Last Boy Scout' does not compete in the audio or video department, but in comparing 'The Last Boy Scout' against the DVD's lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, it's clear how much added value comes with this new release. In watching key scenes, most notably Chapter 6 (called "Kaboom!" on the DVD), the exploding car sounded decent in the DD version, but in DTS-MA, was more detailed, rolling through the front channels eliciting a powerful roar from the flames. Much like the video portion, the best thing about 'The Last Boy Scout' is that it's a instantly recognizable upgrade to all previous releases. That being said, it's a pretty average mix. The dialogue is clear, but like any film from 1991, it's more akin to a front heavy stereo mix. Further, the available fidelity and dynamic range on hand feel compressed.

No other soundtracks are available, but on the subtitle front, both films are available in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

This is a bare bones disc (save for the fact that you get two flicks on one Blu). Gone from earlier DVD releases of 'Last Man Standing' are the star highlights, theatrical trailer, and cast bios. 'The Last Boy Scout' drops 5 theatrical trailers, cast bios, and production notes from its special features. Both earlier releases also included blasphemous 1.33:1 "full screen" editions of the movies along with French two-channel stereo mixes.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14960 [review_final_thoughts] =>

So, is it worth it? I suppose that's up to each individual buyer. Double-titles only present a bargain to those who love both movies. If you're a fan of these 1990s Bruce Willis action vehicles, then for less than twenty bucks, you're in for a treat: two movies whose transfers look the best they ever have and soundtracks that are significantly upgraded. Just know the results don't compete with modern films in regards to image clarity or sound design (but one can't really expect that without some sort of restoration or awful artificial enhancement). Personally, I've only been waiting for 'The Last Boy Scout' half of this Blu-ray, so I may have skipped this release or rented it. Collectors, you'll probably want to upgrade to have the best presentation available, but this bare bones release loses what few Special Features you had. Since these DVDs were pretty bare bones as individuals, that might not be a big deal. Casual fans and first timers, I wouldn't recommend a blind buy unless you're already a fan of macho 1990s action cinema. Though faithful to the original materials, this is not a stunning Blu-ray, and to me personally, doesn't have two amazing films.

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In Los Angeles 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner, Jim. George dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately lead him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend Charley, a 48 year old beauty who is wrestling with her own questions about the future. A young student of George's, Kenny, who is coming to terms with his true nature, stalks George as he feels in him a kindred spirit. A romantic tale of love interrupted the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.

[review_movie] =>

An impeccably dressed man lies in bed with a revolver in his hand, contemplating suicide. He has already laid out his insurance paperwork and other vital documents on the dining room table for his housekeeper to find. His favorite opera plays on the stereo. He adjusts the pillows and sits upright, struggling to find the best position. He puts the gun in his mouth and experiments to find the right angle. He realizes what a mess this will leave on the bed and the wall. He couldn't be so cruel to his poor housekeeper. After testing out the bathroom shower and finding it not quite acceptable either, he returns to the bed with a sleeping bag, and zips himself completely in. How undignified. Eventually, he just gives up for the night. This is entirely far too much of a bother. How does anyone manage this? There must be a better way.

So goes 'A Single Man', the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford. The film is based on a 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, and is set in Los Angeles of that time period (specifically, in late 1962). Colin Firth stars as gay college professor George Falconer, whose long-term partner died in a car crash eight months earlier. His grief is profound, but the social climate of the day isn't particularly sympathetic to his plight. His partner's family didn't even want him to be notified of the accident, and refused to allow him to attend the funeral.

The story follows George on what he plans to be the last day of his life, as he sets his affairs in order without quite letting anyone know what he's doing. He spends time with best friend Charlie (Julianne Moore), an aging socialite and divorcee whose own personal life is kind of a mess. He says his goodbyes without actually saying goodbye. Then, as the day winds down, an encounter with a student (Nicholas Hoult from 'About a Boy' and the British TV series 'Skins') who represents an idealized vision of youth may force George to question the decisions he's made. No, he hasn't found love; but perhaps he's rediscovered that there can still be beauty in life, even after such a personal tragedy.

As you might expect from a movie directed by a fashion designer, 'A Single Man' is particularly preoccupied with appearances, and especially with textures. Every character is always dressed in precisely the perfect clothes, and styled with precisely the perfect hair and makeup for each situation. In this case, Ford has found a way to marry the style of the piece with its substance, so that each comments on the other. The focus of George's life is his need to maintain the appearance of normalcy. His clothes and personal appearance are his armor against the world. Any stray hair represents a chink in that armor that may allow something to wound him.

Every shot is composed for maximum aesthetic impact. Ford has chosen to photograph the majority of the movie in a grainy, monotone style to emphasize George's depression. Yet even its drabness has a beauty to it. My wife exclaimed that one early scene was, "The prettiest car accident I've ever seen." Flashbacks to his happier days are more vibrant and alive. At specific revelatory moments, colors creep into the main storyline, and then rise and fade to follow George's emotions.

Colin Firth delivers a terrific performance. The role was tailor made for the actor, and he makes George's stoicism, underlying anguish, and moments of sly wit very sympathetic and engaging. Julianne Moore is also solid as always, if less impressive than Firth. She hits all the right emotional notes, but the British accent her character has been saddled with isn't always convincing.

Tom Ford proves himself a capable filmmaker with an effective mastery of tone. 'A Single Man' may be a downer, but it's a beautiful downer.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings 'A Single Man' to Blu-ray on a disc with no fewer than five obnoxious trailers programmed before the main menu. These must be skipped individually. The "Top Menu" command has been disabled.

[review_video_picture_id] => 15256 [review_video] =>

The Blu-ray's 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (presented in the theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio) appears to be very faithful to the stylistic intentions of the filmmaker. As mentioned earlier, the bulk of the movie has a drab, grainy appearance to establish mood and provide texture. Much of the contrast range has been flattened, and both colors and flesh tones have been desaturated, almost to the point of looking faded. Detail is good in close-up shots, but softer in wide shots. All of this seems to be completely intentional, and is frequently quite striking even if won't meet the "eye candy" standards that some Blu-ray viewers expect from every disc.

Some flashback scenes are photographed in crisp black & white, while others are vibrantly colorful. At specific moments throughout the narrative, colors will be dialed in to highlight the characters' emotions, often even mid-shot.

The movie has been compressed onto a single-layer BD-25 disc. That's problematic for such a grainy movie. Although the disc doesn't have many egregious compression errors, the grain looks a little noisy and blocky in some scenes, notably the opening credits. Fortunately, this isn't a severe problem. Overall, the disc looks very good.

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'A Single Man' is a very talky movie, and much of the dialogue is delivered in hushed tones. Because some of the dialogue is so low, you may wish to adjust your volume a little higher than normal. However, the movie also has sporadic moments where the music will swell up loudly or specific sound effects will hit with dramatic impact. Be aware of these, and be careful not to boost your volume too loudly, or you may regret it when the car crash blasts into your ear.

Otherwise, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has a warm and spacious musical presence. Surround activity is minimal, and heavy bass is extremely rare. Fidelity is excellent on the whole. When the director chooses to exaggerate some sound effects (like a heartbeat, a ticking clock, or the thwap of a tennis ball), they come across very crisply and cleanly.

The movie has one scene around the 44-minute mark with Spanish dialogue. For the first time that I'm aware of, Sony has programmed the English subtitles to automatically appear within the 2.40:1 picture, rather than the letterbox bar. All of the other optional subtitles and caption options are likewise placed inside the active movie picture. This means that the disc is safe for viewing on Constant Image Height projection screens.

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Unfortunately, Sony hasn't chosen to grace 'A Single Man' with much in the way of bonus features. What little we get is fairly respectable, however.

  • Audio Commentary – Producer/director Tom Ford jumps right in with a very talkative discussion of his artistic choices, the movie's themes and symbolism, and various production logistics. He had a very clear vision for this material, and sounds more like a seasoned pro than a first-time filmmaker.
  • The Making of A Single Man (HD, 16 min.) – The interviews for this featurette are presented in black & white and "scope" aspect ratio, most likely in order to stand out from the usual EPK fluff. The director and cast discuss what drew them to the material and their approaches towards the characters. While this piece doesn't necessarily contain any major revelations, it's generally more thoughtful and less blatantly promotional than most so-called "making of" featurettes.

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The Blu-ray is BD-Live enabled, but the studio's BD-Live portal contains just the usual assortment of trailers for unrelated movies, nothing specific to this one. Beyond that, the disc also has:

BD-Live: Requires Profile 2.0

  • MovieIQ – Sony's MovieIQ (accessible through the disc's "Play Movie" menu), offers a running database of cast and soundtrack info, along with sporadic trivia. The information is provided by Gracenote, and is updateable in real-time via the BD-Live internet connection.

[review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'A Single Man' is an elegant, if depressing, period drama. Fashion designer Tom Ford has a clear vision and proves himself surprisingly adept at his transition to filmmaking. This may not be the type of movie you'll pull off the shelf to watch every Saturday night, but when the mood strikes for something thoughtful and melancholy, it should fill the bill. The Blu-ray looks and sounds very good. The bonus features aren't plentiful, but have more substance than expected. This disc merits a solid recommendation.

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InBrooklyn’s Finest, burned out veteran Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is just one week away from his pension and a fishing cabin in Connecticut. Narcotics officer Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke) has discovered there’s no line he won’t cross to provide a better life for his long-suffering wife and seven children. And Clarence “Tango” Butler (Don Cheadle) has been undercover so long his loyalties have started to shift from his fellow police officers to his prison buddy Caz (Wesley Snipes), one of Brooklyn’s most infamous drug dealers. With personal and work pressures bearing down on them, each man faces daily tests of judgment and honor in one of the world’s most difficult jobs.

When NYPD’s Operation Clean Up targets the notoriously drug-ridden BK housing project, all three officers find themselves swept away by the violence and corruption of Brooklyn’s gritty 65th Precinct and its most treacherous criminals. During seven fateful days, Eddie, Sal and Tango find themselves hurtling inextricably toward the same fatal crime scene and a shattering collision with destiny.

[review_bottom_line] => Give it a Rent [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105997 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

Sometimes, as the old proverb goes, fiction has a hard time competing with the wonders of the real world. A fine case in point is 'Brooklyn's Finest,' Antoine Fuqua's latest violent cop melodrama starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, and Ethan Hawke. In the real world -- our world -- we have the fascinating fairytale of NYC MTA employee and wannabe screenwriter Michael C. Martin toiling away during rehab for a broken back to passionately pen his first script, all because he wanted to enter a screenplay contest to afford a car. He loses the contest, but a producer finds his script, and it quickly ends up in the hands of 'Training Day' director, Fuqua. Within two years -- a very short timetable in the "development" of a screenplay -- the movie is shot with a real budget and four movie stars. This is not the story of a randomly lucky person, but rather a guy who struggled tirelessly to pursue a dream, working internships and unpaid gigs while supporting himself with a day job deep in the tunnels of New York's subway system. In the end, hard work won and a dream became a reality.

That dream of course is 'Brooklyn's Finest', about three very different cops in one of New York's most dangerous precincts. Gere plays Eddie, the 22-year veteran with one week left to go. He has survived for many years by never getting involved, but maybe these events will finally cause him to act. Cheadle lives as Tango, an undercover officer who has been so deep so long he's in jeopardy of losing his former life to the one he's playing. Snipes, as Caz, is Tango's real life hoodlum friend, and who is trying to go straight after getting out of jail. Will Tango set up his old friend to get back his life? And Hawke, portraying family man Sal, is a narc who needs to score cash quick to get his large family into a safer home. How many laws will be crossed, and lives dispensed, so a man can provide for his own?

The archetypes we have all seen before, perhaps too many times, but the best thing about 'Brooklyn's Finest' is its natural authenticity. The characters and their world are both well scripted and honestly portrayed. One can imagine all the passion and effort that went into creating this detailed, interesting world, and for the most part it works well.

However, on the flipside of that very same coin, the filmmakers' noble efforts are perhaps too visible on screen. The film has a wonderful sense of impending doom -- many or all of these characters may die, but we're not sure which, how, when, why, or by who's hand -- but these tragedies feel more coincidental than linked in a cause-and-effect way, as if the characters only make these choices on this day because their Creators wanted it to be so. There is perhaps a missing "inevitability." Further, even with 30 minutes left on the cutting room floor (and available to see in the Special Features), the movie can feel long and overloaded with great character moments. Meaning, individually, each scene bathes in interesting choices and naturalized-yet-emotionally powerful dialogue, but back to back to back to back, every scene plays like Oscar-fodder. Which shouldn't be a bad thing, yet if every scene is a "10," it can make a movie feel flat or one note.

Potential flatness and the occasional pacing issues aside, 'Brooklyn's Finest' is a good movie, but not a great one. It's hard to exactly say why, as the actors certainly swing for the fences, doing some really strong work – with an extra compliment to Snipes who displays real range here. Fuqua delivers some nice visuals into this broken world, though this isn't as thrilling or cohesive a cop journey as 2001's 'Training Day.' The real star of the show remains the writer. His raw tale of the men and the streets they police is a fresh enough take on a world where everything could have easily seemed old, and his story is passionately well crafted. By the end of the story, the journey taken is an emotional one, filled with characters we care about, which makes 'Brooklyn's Finest' largely a success, though I imagine for reasons perhaps unarguable, this script was a better read than it is a complete film.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The 50GB dual layer Blu-ray disc does not appear to be Region locked. Popping the disc into your player brings HD trailers for Starz's (Anchor Bay's sister company) 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand,' 'The Crazies' (a really strong horror film, by the way), and a general ad for Anchor Bay / Stars / Overture Films Blu-ray.

[review_video_stars] => 4 [review_video_picture_id] => 14935 [review_video] =>

'Brooklyn's Finest' comes to Blu-ray with a very good 1080p/24 AVC-MPEG4 encode (aspect ratio 2.40:1).

There's no noise, damage, or blemishes to be found. And there is a great amount of detail in faces and surrounding textures (see Cheadle sitting in the tall wooden bench of a restaurant with Will Patton, or Hawke's basement). Skin tones are natural, reflecting their environments and lighting schemes. Night scenes exude high contrast, which flawlessly transition from bright lights to inky blacks. Low-lit scenes never display a drop in resolution or color quality.

Knocking this Blu down from the perfection that is "reference" are occasional soft moments and some banding in a few over-saturated scenes (see Gere's skin when bathed in the red light of a prostitute's apartment), but overall, this is a fine example of a modern film being immediately preserved in HD.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14936 [review_audio] =>

The disc features an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround sound mix, but beware, the film will start with its lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital track unless you specifically select otherwise. This of course can be done at the main menu, or mid-movie.

Overall, 'Brooklyn's Finest' has a robust mix, featuring piercing and popping gunshots, with a well-toned LFE channel. Bass is punchy and supportive to whatever is happening on screen, but never calls attention to itself. Voices are clear and never hidden. The soundtrack's score and ambient music combine nicely to create a believable environment as well as drive the film's tragic tone.

The big flaw in the mix, which is an odd one, is how the surround channels seem to have incorrect directional qualities. For example, there's an early scene where Don Cheadle enters an drug den apartment. At first, the soundtrack shines, discretely locating the various conversations simultaneously taking place. However, as Cheadle moves into the environment, and no matter the camera angle, the sound levels of these conversations remain at a high volume and located in one channel (in this case, the front right) despite the fact they should have naturally transitioned to another channel or become softer. It's unclear as to when this mistake was made, whether it was post production or in the Blu-ray's encode, but it's a distracting flaw that shows up more than once, making a generally strong surround mix seem imprecise, which is odd for a modern film.

As stated above, there is also an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track and regarding subtitles, viewers may opt to read 'Brooklyn's Finest' in English SDH, and Spanish.

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'Brooklyn's Finest comes loaded with hours of special features, including an audio commentary; 30 minutes making-of featurettes (which can be viewed all at once, or separately); 30 minutes of deleted, alternate, or expanded scenes (which can only be accessed in one lump; the theatrical trailer; and a Digital Copy to play on your Mac, PC, or mobile device.

  • Chaos & Conflict: The Life Of A New York Cop (HD, 7 minutes). A quick making-of, which paints the themes behind each of the lead characters.
  • Boyz N The Real Hood (HD, 6 minutes). Another short piece about shooting a feature film about Brooklyn in Brooklyn. The community seemed to love having Hollywood in town, and the film looks that much better for living that world and giving back to the neighborhood.
  • An Eye for Detail: Director Featurette (HD, 7 minutes). A quick look at Antoine Fuqua. Cast and crew sing the praises of this film's captain. An interesting moment is Ethan Hawke saying that he's a better director now than he was on 'Training Day'.
  • From The MTA To The WGA: Writer Featurette (HD, 5 minutes). Interviews with Michael C. Martin, Antoine Fuqua, along with the cast and crew who sing the praises of the script and the writer who crafted the story that brought them all together.
  • Three Cops And A Dealer: Character Profile (HD, 8 minutes). This is a look at the overlapping theme of corruption in the movie. Very similar to the first Featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes (30 minutes, HD). Mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1, and formatted in an HD MPEG-2 video codec, these scenes don't hold up a candle (in a picture quality sense) to the main feature, and most are added or alternate character moments to scenes still in the movie, but they do offer some added dramatic value. One can see why, for pacing reasons most likely, these were dropped, but I enjoyed them.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 1/2 minutes).
  • Director's Commentary with Antoine Fuqua Fuqua is a dry speaker, but very informative, covering the multitude of ideas, themes, and choices made behind every moment in the film. Well done.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 1 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusive extras on this disc.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14938 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Brooklyn's Finest' is an authentic, honest journey into the pressures involved with being a cop in very tough neighborhoods. As in real life, there is no one definition for the "cop" experience, and here the acting, directing, and writing combine to explore these emotional tragedies in Shakespearean broad strokes. Though not perfect, I suspect this film -- as well as its "always on 10" mentality -- may grow on me as time passes. Fans of the film will be very happy with this Blu-ray. Those wondering if they should check it out, I would say, yes, give it a rent. It's not as good as 'Training Day', but it's worth at least one viewing for audiences to decide for themselves whether this is for them.

For those wondering about the film's star rating, please know that I struggled with this one -- between 3.5 and 4 -- but personally a "4 or 4.5 rating" is a movie I really enjoy, craving watching often, and one that I feel fully succeeds in almost every way it intended. For me, 'Brooklyn's Finest comes in just a hair under that, but may in time grown into a full 4. If this were a lettered system, I'd say "B minus". If I could legally invoke Thumbs in an up or down position, and I were two people, I'd probably split it with one up and one down.

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Dr. Giggles: night-prowling surgical M.D. (as in Maniacally Deranged) takes a vengeful whack - or saw, scalpel, stomach pump or whatever else he finds in his little black bag of medical malpractice - at teens, cops, and other residents of a once-pleasant town.

Otis: Otis has everything he needs for the prom: the corsage, the convertible, the cool baby-blue tux (not to mention the fully equipped torture chamber in his basement). He even has the girl -- a pretty blonde he's named Kim -- who is dying to be his date. Literally.

[review_bottom_line] => A Rental at Best [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 108378 [review_movie_stars] => 3 [review_movie] =>

In another double feature release from Warner Home Video, two flicks are lumped together on a single disc with very little in common. At this point, I've given up trying to figure out how they arrive at these decisions since the two movies offered barely show any similarities. The two either star with the same actor or they share comparable genre themes. In this case, we have two low-budget features which can be categorized as horror comedies with a twisted, gory sense of humor. And they're also pretty bad. Other than that, 'Dr. Giggles' and 'Otis' are unrelated, except that the former is a better film. Also confusing is the fact that the latter has already been released on Blu-ray. So, why not give horror fans something different to accompany the nutty doctor rather than the same crummy movie all over again. Just a thought for future reference.

Dr. Giggles

One of the best parts of 'Dr. Giggles,' a slasher flick from the early nineties with a twisted sense of humor, is the endless one-liners. The role of an escaped lunatic playing doctor offers miles of clichéd expressions and medical jargon outrageously appropriate for the gruesome deaths of his imagined patients. And each line is delivered with terrific, nutty goofiness by the creepily animated Larry Drake. The character actor, also known for his Robert Durant role in 'Darkman,' is given top billing is this bizarre horror feature about revenge, heart transplants, and some likely malpractice suits. It may not have led to the A-list for Mr. Drake, but there's no doubt his performance is the star of the show, and without him, the movie would easily be forgotten as another badly-made B-movie campfest.

His real name is Evan Rendell, Jr. and the nickname "Dr. Giggles" was given him during his 35-year stay in a mental institution due to his relentless — and somewhat infectious — giggling. When he breaks out from the hospital, he heads back to his hometown of Moorehigh where his father once set up shop as a family physician. But one day, the townspeople turned on the doctor and killed him after discovering several patients missing. Set on finishing what his father started, Dr. Giggles resumes the search for the perfect patient and perform the first successful heart transplant. As it turns out, this little sleepy town, which has turned the Dr. Rendell history into urban legend and a nursery rhyme, happens to have a young teen with a heart condition. (I think a "well, duh!" is in order right about here.)

Only problem is that Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs of 'Charmed' fame) isn't really in the best mood for medical experimentation at the moment. She's dealing with other emotional issues, typical of most teenage girls. And this is also where some of the fun comes into play because the cast is given complete freedom to overact their roles in these comically cheesy subplots. First, she just found out that her summer will be spent with an unsightly heart monitor. Added to that, her mother has recently passed away due to some heart complications, but daddy (Cliff De Young) has already moved on with a bitchy live-in girlfriend (Michelle Johnson). To top it all off, her persistent, horny boyfriend (Glenn Quinn) is being chased after by the local schoolyard floozy. And now this! A psychopath wants her as a test subject. Being a teenager is really tough for poor ole Jennifer.

There's really nothing scary or frightening about 'Dr. Giggles,' but it's quite entertaining for a boring, rainy day. For horror hounds, the flick comes with some imaginative, laugh-out-loud kills. The oversized Band-Aid is a freaking riot! Besides Drake's flawless portrayal and the funny deaths, the movie has an amusing and playful style to it. Best known for his work on the '24' series and 'Star Trek: Enterprise,' director Manny Coto provides the horror comedy with a facetious, carnival-like atmosphere. Weird, off-center camera angles, wacky close-ups and a cool sequence in the house of mirrors serve as constant reminders that the movie's intention is to tickle your funny-bone not make you fear your next doctor visit. 'Dr. Giggles' is an off-the-wall slasher for those with the sense of humor to laugh at the madcap craziness. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

Otis

Watching 'Otis' is similar to enjoying some bizarre, oddball thing that in the back of your mind you know you really shouldn't find amusing or even remotely funny. But that's exactly what's happening with this Raw Feed production about the torture and abduction of a young teen in the hands of a deranged, overweight psychopath. Technically speaking, societal norms forbid us from seeing the humor in the poor girl's struggle to survive or the vengeful rage fueling a married couple's dispute over the best methods of inflicting pain. Alas, there is no other way to really watch this wacky straight-to-video movie because much of what happens on screen is so freakishly weird and sleazily preposterous that one has to laugh in order to get through it. This horror comedy is truly a guilty pleasure in every sense of the phrase.

Also surprising is that this comes from the same team, director Tony Krantz and screenwriter Erik Jendressen, that gave us 'Sublime' the prior year. In fact, Mandingo (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) makes a wittily strange and very brief cameo appearance in the hallway of a hospital. While the first movie is meant as a trippy dream versus reality movie, 'Otis' is a curious off-the-wall test of endurance. What type of sick and depraved horror fanatic are you if you actually laugh at any of this? Yes, the jokes are mostly stupid, often tasteless and lack any real style, delivered so sloppily that it becomes part of the humor. But it's meant to be a vulgar and badly modernized reimagining of Craven's 'Last House on the Left.'

'Otis' kicks things off with a hilarious exchange between an insensitive anchorperson and the parents of a missing girl. Some of the things said foreshadow part of the movie's premise and the attempt at social commentary, which in all honesty it fails miserably at. There's really nothing observant about the title character (Bostin Christopher) trying to relive his high school glory days by forcing girls into a fantasized prom or in watching two suburban parents (Daniel Stern and Illeana Douglas) argue over how to exact justice while torturing an innocent man. At the end of the day, the entire spectacle feels like a silly and morbid comic book brought to life. The fun lies in just watching the lack of common sense amongst the characters and their reactions.

It's to the credit of the cast that much of the movie doesn't end up being an annoying mess. Then again, Jared Kusnitz's Reed can be quite irritating and grating at times. Thankfully, Christopher's amateur acting overshadows Kusnitz's in every way. Kevin Pollack also has a decent role as Otis' older brother, Elmo, but we don't get to see enough of him. It's a bit surprising to see Ashley Johnson — you know, little Chrissy Seaver from 'Growing Pains' — playing Riley and doing some of the things she does. Other than Christopher, the best character is the incompetent, tactless and self-important FBI Agent Hotchkiss, played to perfection by Jere Burns. Ultimately, 'Otis' is a sick, dark parody of other slasher flicks, and it does reasonably well for a low-budget feature. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)

[review_video_stars] => 2.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 15859 [review_video] =>

Dr. Giggles

Making his Blu-ray debut, 'Dr. Giggles' looks fairly nice in high definition and has some really great moments. Unfortunately, details and overall resolution generally fall on the average side for this 1080p/VC-1 encode, presented once again in a 1.85:1 frame instead of its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Blacks are attractive and deep, but shadows tend to ruin delineation in several sequences. Low-lit interiors show the worst aspects, and grain structure is a bit inconsistent though not terribly intrusive. A few scenes, however, are suggestive of digital noise reduction being applied, yet they don't distract too much from enjoying the rest of the presentation. Contrast is suitable with bright, clean whites and only a couple outdoor scenes which are attractive. Primaries are overly saturated and look artificial, but secondary hues are better rendered and stable with natural flesh tones. The transfer has its moments, but by and large, it makes for an average video quality on Blu-ray. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)

Otis

Side to side comparison reveal this 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) of 'Otis' is identical to the Blu-ray release from 2008, not that I expected anything different. Despite being filmed with HD cameras, the picture quality is downright poor, looking generally hazy and out of focus in most all interior sequences. Digital noise is noticeably visible during these same scenes. Contrast is pretty bland and unexciting, but highlights are consistently blown and there’s a great deal of white-washing which takes away from clarity and resolution. This also ruins black levels into muddled, grimy blobs with only a small number of moments where they appear clean and solid. Shadow details tend to fall below average and indistinct thanks to all of this. Colors show decent saturation and rendering, but they're by and large quite drab and dingy, except for some very bold reds. Overall, this straight-to-BD presentation of the horror-comedy is plainly bad. (Video Rating: 2/5)

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15860 [review_audio] =>

Dr. Giggles

'Dr. Giggles' arrives on Blu-ray with a hale and hearty DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that fans can really enjoy. Dialogue reproduction is clear and distinct while the low end is only noticeably mild during certain scenes. The lossless mix is a stereo presentation, as it should be, but the musical score allows for the soundfield opening up and spreading into the background convincingly. The mid-range remains uniform and clean during these moments, creating a pleasant and highly enjoyable front soundstage. There’s very little in terms of discrete effects, except for those scenes at the carnival, which is more by design than anything else. In the end, 'Dr. Giggles' is just a fun listen on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 3/5)

Otis

It's nothing terribly exciting or very active, but at least Otis sounds better than he looks. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack offered in this double feature is the same as the previous release. A few minor and rare moments of movement in the surrounds try to extend the soundfield, but they're easily localized and feel artificially forced. The lossless mix's best aspect is in the soundstage, where it offers strong dynamics and good imaging. The music and song selections do the majority of the work, spreading across all three channels with attractive balance. While vocals are cleanly delivered and intelligible, they also feel flat and lifeless. This might have a great deal to do with a weak and lackluster low-frequency bass. In either case, the track accomplishes its intended goal. Only with nothing to really impress along the way. (Audio Rating: 3/5)

[review_supplements_stars] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15861 [review_supplements] =>

As with previous double feature releases, Warner Home Video offers this Blu-ray package with zero supplemental material. It's understandable that disc space might be the deciding factor in this area, but I'm pretty sure fans would gladly do without 'Otis' if it meant providing some minor bonus features for 'Dr. Giggles.' Oh, well. I suppose we're still getting two movies for the price of one.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15862 [review_final_thoughts] =>

For this package, horror fans are offered two gory comedies with little else relating them. Dr. Giggles' is a fun early-nineties feature thanks to Larry Drake's excellent performance as the titular character and also stars future 'Charmed' star Holly Marie Combs. 'Otis' has some great funny moments due to Bostin Christopher and Jere Burns, but the overall story tries too hard to be smart and clever rather than simply having fun with the material. The Blu-ray package arrives with poor picture quality, an average audio presentation, and zero supplements. In the end, fans are better off renting and waiting for a standalone release of 'Dr. Giggles,' because in all honesty, that's the better movie.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3367 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => eyeborgs [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Eyeborgs [picture_created] => 1272910251 [picture_name] => 5318b6bf8f518.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Image Entertainment [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/03/120/5318b6bf8f518.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3367/eyeborgs.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 2009 [run_time] => 102 [list_price] => 29.98 [asin] => B003HTPI80 [amazon_price] => 26.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 2.35:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD25 Single Layer Disc [2] => Region A ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Behind the scenes [1] => Deleted scenes [2] => Trailer ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Sci Fi, Action ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Adrian Paul, Megan Blake, Luke Eberl, John S. Rushton, Danny Trejo ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Richard Clabaugh ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => It is the near future, and the fear of terrorism has escalated into hysteria. In order to deal with the paranoia, robotic cameras – “eyeborgs” – are everywhere: in people’s homes, on the streets, in the workplace. In every corner, lenses are lurking. But are the cameras used to keep America safe…or to safekeep Americans? Federal agent Gunner Reynolds (Adrian Paul, “Highlander”) becomes suspicious of this prowling, precautionary system after a series of murders occur in which the video records don’t match the physical evidence. Recruiting the help of television reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake, “Dawson’s Creek”) and the President’s punkish, purple-haired nephew, Jarett Hewes, (Luke Eberl, Letters from Iwo Jima, “Big Love”) Gunner works outside the system to discover who really is controlling the eyeborgs. But it’s G-man (Danny Trejo, The Devil’s Rejects, Spy Kids), a reclusive political dissident, who first realizes what’s happening: “What if they’re not ‘just cameras’? What if somebody puts in a weapon?” At least Big Brother only watched… [review_bottom_line] => Worth a Look [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106331 [review_movie_stars] => 2.5 [review_movie] =>

Is it wrong to enjoy bad movies? I don't think so! There's something to be said for simply watching a movie to have a good time, and often the smaller the budget (and hype) the more enjoyable the end result may be. It's my love for awful cinema that opened the door for a review of possibly the goofiest film released on Blu-ray to date: 'Eyeborgs.'

The funny thing is, with a bit more polish, and a better third act, 'Eyeborgs' could have been truly amazing. It's a film of unrealized potential, or squandered opportunity, depending on your outlook on life.

Terrorist attacks have opened the door for change in America, as the Freedom of Observation Act, headed by the Department of Homeland Security, has linked all surveillance cameras, as well as any form of electronic communication, to create an all-seeing, all-knowing defense system, known as ODIN (Optical Defense Intelligence Network). The real beauty of the system? Eyeborgs. These critters wander around, recording everything they see and hear, networking with police in an attempt to prevent crime, and instituting a form of control. But what if the machines were compromised? Gunner Reynolds (Adrian Paul), reporter Barbara Hawkins (Megan Blake), and the nephew of the president, Jarett Hewes (Luke Eberl) are about to find out that the powers handed to these robotic enforcers may have given them control of the entire country, and the world.

"Those who chose safety over freedom deserve neither."

'Eyeborgs' is so stupid, it's smart, yet so smart that it's infinitely stupid. It's a tad paint-by-numbers, leading the viewer along by the hand, with characters explaining things out loud in a manner that people don't do (think of those annoying radio "conversation" commercials, where two people banter on about a product or service), and twists along the road can be about as predictable as an M. Night Shyamalan "thriller." The references to voter fraud, constant war for profit, and behavioral control are just side notes, throw away lines, rather than highlights, in what could have been a valid sci-fi political spoof.

Only, the trees aren't killers here. Robots are. It's a neat twist that these accepted parts of democracy, which remove all freedom, and constantly skirt legality openly, before they go grow murderous, are armed with various weapons. The miniature bots contain tasers and saw blades (saws that are never seen spinning, despite the noises they make suggesting otherwise), while the bigger Eyeborgs contain drills and spikes. They act in unison, which is great, as the best horror films out there have creatures that don't operate by their lonesome, rather as part of a collective. The film gets ridiculous by the time the third act rolls around, but the regular surveillance Eyeborgs are quite fun villains.

No matter how amusing and entertaining 'Eyeborgs' is, it's certainly not a good film. The various allegations of terrorists doing this and that are hardly concerns to the viewers, as we don't have a single character to truly care about in this story, as numerous one-dimensional beings take the role of the lead throughout the film. The photo/video-shopping done by the Eyeborgs is so damn awful, that anyone believing that shit must have never seen a television before. Characters are more fodder than they are human, so their continued peril is hardly worthy of consideration or concern. If anything, it's hard not to root for the Eyeborgs to kill everyone in their path, considering who they're up against. A purple headed Presidential-relative, who doesn't even know the truth about his uncle, who carries around a crumby guitar. His girlfriend, whose past attempted suicide is highlighted for an obvious payoff. A reporter who knows the truth but does little about it. A government agent in the same boat. Hell, the only good characters are the ones that get the least amount of time, as Danny Trejo gets some time in, miscast as he may be for his role of a conspiracy theorist guitar salesman (seriously, if he sold throwing knives, or, I dunno, machetes, then I'd go for it).

As a whole, this film fails. But take out the last third of the film, and you're left with the following: Erotic car washes with girls constantly soaping up the windows, rather than paying attention to the wheels or any panels. Robots that fake car accidents. Random odd occurrences setting the way for further Eyeborg frame-jobs. Robots that manipulate video in order to get what they want. People rattling on about the world around them, with little they can do about it. And lest we forget, robots that blow shit up. I can forgive the cheesy five dollar sets. I can almost forgive the scene of Gunner walking down a church aisle, as flashbacks of his slain wife and child fade in and out to either side of him. I can even forgive not showing off Trejo's trademark chest tattoo. But I can't forgive wasted opportunities and potential, and 'Eyeborgs' almost redefines both, going from "intriguing and tongue-in-cheek" to "balls-to-the-walls stupid" in almost a minute flat, right when the biggest twist of the film is revealed. This one coulda been special. It coulda been a contendah. Instead, it's going to get very, very little movement on the home video front, and for good reason.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 15030 [review_video] =>

Image brings 'Eyeborgs' to Blu with an AVC MPEG-4 encode (1080p, 2.35:1) that can be a tad half-baked at times.

Detail is solid, and colors are equally impressive, with great skin tones (for the most part) and solid contrast levels. There's no banding, ringing, or aliasing problems. So why call it less than great? There are many reasons.

Occasionally there's a smattering of noise, which on a few occasions looked frozen. Light artifacting is visible, while delineation is pathetic, with even well lit scenes suffering black on black icrush. Grain is inconsistent, with very little for the most part, but random shots that are utterly littered with it. Entire scenes can have a greenish tint that can't be from the lighting, as blues, blacks, and grays suffer, while whites remain solid and natural. Lastly, though not the fault of the transfer, the Eyeborgs themselves can be a visual distraction. The smaller they are, the better they look, as they blend into their environments proper, but the larger they get, the more they stand out, with lighting that cannot possibly fit in with their scenes, making them feel too damned out of place and thrown in at the last minute, with the last remaining dollars of the budget. The supplements package states that the majority of the film was made with handheld cameras, so the constant wobble of the picture is the way it will always be.

[review_audio_stars] => 3 [review_audio_picture_id] => 15031 [review_audio] =>

There is only one option for audio on 'Eyeborgs:' a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (with optional English SDH and Spanish subs). There is also only one way to describe said track: overkill.

When first watching this release, it feels like a job well done. Rear activity is constant. Dialogue is clear. Range is unlimited. Music is intense, bass is rocking, utterly rocking. Then the shit hits the fan. Any time there's soundtrack and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Anytime there's action and dialogue, dialogue suffers. Soundtrack and effects, dialogue and effects, and so on, and so on, you get the picture. Noise becomes indistinct, and to quote Brick from 'Anchorman,' "LOUD NOISES!!!!" Louder elements of the mix can blare, particularly any moment an actor "yells." Gunfire has great pop at first, with localization and all that jazz, but with each scene involving gunplay, the score is raised in intensity so much that it all becomes a indistinct roar. Hell, one only need quote the film itself for an explanation of this track. It's just a bunch of incoherent screaming!" True that.

[review_supplements_stars] => 1 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 15032 [review_supplements] =>

I cannot say this will happen to everyone, but if you leave the menu open too long, it can reset, to the point where you cannot make any choices with your remote, other than to eject the disc. The tab selector disappears, it's just a loop of the same horrid rock track. Even when it's working, when at the full left, pressing left won't get the cursor to the far right, and the same goes from right to left, which is a pretty basic command. Menu fail, all around.

  • Behind the Scenes (HD, 32 min) - This feature is playable as one whole piece, or individually, with Making 'Eyeborgs,' Stunts, Visual Effects, How to Make Robots in 3 Minutes, and a Blooper Reel. Producers discuss themes, actors talk about their roles and filming experiences, and the entire group talk up the entire production in the first EPK section. The Stunts segment is really informative and enjoyable, surprisingly. VFX focuses on the robots, and there are some utterly hilarious shots of still robots thrown into the film moving around, some as still pictures being held up by a hand. The entire focus of this segment is lost when this happens, it's impossible to take it seriously anymore! Three minutes is three minutes worth of stupid. Lastly, the blooper reel is your generic flubs and pandering.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 min) - Six deleted scenes are included, playable individually or all together. There's some utterly, utterly hilarious moments, with unfinished effects in most of the shots, save for the first, which has a funny extended attack of the Eyeborgs. Watch computer screens when there's supposed to be content, to see generic text replacing what is supposed to be there, and video that moves around. An entire scene has a moving robot replaced by a solid picture moving around the screen.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min) - The trailer for 'Eyeborgs,' in standard def. Honestly, this trailer reminded me of the classic 'Grindhouse' films that would repeatedly use the film name in the trailer.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no HD exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 2.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15033 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Eyeborgs' isn't a terrible film. It really isn't. It's just all potential, with little actual follow up.

Still, 'Eyeborgs' is fairly good for such a random title, at least in terms of Blu-ray quality, even if the supplement package is pretty weak. For both the unintentional comedy factor, and the premise, which had so much going for it, this one is worth a look. It may be easy to dump on the film, but to those willing to give it a shot, they just may find 2/3's of a good movie here.

) ) ) [reviews_slices] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [review_id] => 3112 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => funnyfarm_spieslikeus [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Funny Farm/Spies Like Us [picture_created] => 1267632923 [picture_name] => 5318b64012740.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Warner Brothers [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/03/03/120/5318b64012740.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3112/funnyfarm_spieslikeus.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1985 [run_time] => 203 [list_price] => 24.98 [asin] => B003ES5HBW [amazon_price] => 17.49 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/TBA ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 [1] => English Dolby Digital 2.0 [2] => Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, French ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => TBA ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => George Roy Hill, John Landis ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => 'Funny Farm' - George Roy Hill's 'Funny Farm' stars Chevy Chase as Andy Farmer, a big-city sportswriter. Since he and his wife, Elizabeth (Madolyn Smith), are fed up with the tensions of urban life, they decide to buy a house in the country where each of them will be able to work on their book projects in peace. Shortly after they've moved to a spacious farmhouse in a small New England village, Andy begins to realize that his dreams of bucolic nirvana are, in fact, delusions. First the birds sing too loudly, preventing him from concentrating on his work. Then he learns that there's a corpse buried in their garden, not to mention snakes in their lake. They have to make calls from the pay phone located in their kitchen, and the grasping townspeople seem to have their meters running 24/7. To make matters worse for Andy, who can't get started on his book, his wife has sold her children's book, with a squirrel protagonist named Andy, not long after moving into the new house. 'Spies Like Us' - A pair of naive guys with aspirations to become government spies have their wish come true only to find out that they're being used as decoys for a real spy team. [review_video_picture_id] => 0 [review_audio_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 0 ) ) [1] => Array ( [review_id] => 3002 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => highlander_s2 [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Highlander: The Series - Season Two [picture_created] => 1275576143 [picture_name] => poster-2.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Davis-Panzer [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/03/120/poster-2.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3002/highlander_s2.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1994 [run_time] => 1078 [release_date_notes] => Delayed from April 30. [list_price] => 0.00 [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.33:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 720p/TBA ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Picture-in-picture commentaries by Adrian Paul for two episodes [1] => Documentary: Season of Change [2] => Photo Gallery [3] => BD Touch remote for the iPhone or iPod Touch [4] => Fans Talk about Highlander [5] => Fan-created watcher documentaries [6] => Fan-created PiP commentary ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => 5 BD-50 Blu-ray Discs ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD And Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => None ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Sci-fi ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Adrian Paul ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => For Duncan MacLeod, season two is one filled with hope, heroics and heartache. Through it all the mystery of the "Highlander" unfolds and deepens as his incredible story leaps time and emotions to bring us further into the tortured world of the Immortals. In the end, there can be only one. 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[review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 106350 [review_movie_stars] => 4.5 [review_movie] =>

By nature, humans beings are egotistical, narcissistic and self-interested. We are mammals that on occasion forget we are also merely players in the animal kingdom. Upsetting as this truth may be, it's partly the reason for our foolish notion of superiority and dominance over the planet. As a species, we exist as if detached from the natural conditions and resources upon which we truly depend on.

In this new BBC series, 'How the Earth Changed History' (originally and more fittingly titled 'How Earth Made Us' in the UK), geologist and professor Iain Stewart challenges all of this by exploring geological phenomena that has incidentally shaped human history. With each episode, he travels to various parts of the world and provides viewers glimpses of Earth's greatest ecological wonders. Displaying beautiful, breath-taking and astonishing photography of these marvels, he shows our close and often intimate relationship with the unpredictable changes and adjustments of Mother Nature. Concentrating on the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), he reveals the growth and evolution of human civilization as intrinsically joined, even necessitated, by our natural planet.

To crudely paraphrase the series host: As empires come and go, this is the stuff we never read in history books. But we should.

Essentially using a combination of geology, natural history and anthropology, Stewart details the interrelationship of environmental occurrences which participate in the development of ancient societies and the beginning of humankind's mastery to exploit them for its survival. We would never know it by just looking at them in sheer admiration, but the gigantic selenite crystals of the Naica Mines in Mexico, called Cave of Crystals, were created by mineral-rich ground water situated right above a fault line where an underground magma chamber released heat for 500,000 years. For Stewart, this is a perfect starting point in explaining the attraction of early cultures populating areas where earthquakes are more likely to happen. Short answer: It's due to the immense amounts of naturally occurring minerals and deposits.

In the remainder of the "Deep Earth" episode, Stewart explores other deep caverns around the world and describes how we've taken advantage of the deposits and resources offered by such regions. In "Water," empires have reigned for hundreds of years in territories where the flow of water could be controlled, including the harshest environs where underground fresh water proved a valuable living source. The "Wind" episode seemed at first straightforward with sailing ships paving the way for trade business and globalization, but learning of Christopher Columbus's most valuable contribution to human history is worthwhile.

For "Fire," there's little doubt that our control of fire is a significant moment in our evolution, eventually leading to the Bronze Age and the Industrial Revolution, but it's interesting to think the one major ingredient of this element —carbon — can also be the demise of our species and planet.

In the final episode entitled "The Human Planet," Stewart turns the tables on his viewers to look at the indelible impact we've made on Earth. It's clear the host is not looking to spark another debate on the controversies of global warming. Rather, he is investigating from a purely empirical approach our intimate relationship with the planet as a double-edged sword. Our continual methods to control and master the unpredictable forces of nature have inadvertently created other — often disastrous — adversities. For all the good our drive to use and conquer Earth's resources can brin about, there is an unmistakable negative result to coincide with it. With our manipulation of the elements, humans have proven themselves a force that is also leaving a permanent impression.

While watching the series, I can understand a viewer's possible reluctance and dislike of the show as Stewart does tend to gloss over some important but complex geological science in order to quickly arrive at the point. There is a great deal of information being shared here — and it comes from one who clearly knows his subject — and it can suffer a bit by a constrained timeframe. (My wife even mentioned needing a second viewing to fully grasp everything.) In the end, however, Stewart's goal is to demonstrate the awesome and powerful forces that shape Earth's habitat have also served as the driving influence behind the evolution of human civilization. And to this day, those same geological forces continue to affect the survival and well-being of the planet's dominant species: us.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Warner Home Video delivers the five-part series 'How the Earth Changed History' in a two-disc package and a keepcase that holds each disc on opposing panels. Both discs (one has three episodes; the second has two and special features) are region free, and curiously, they come with different skippable trailers at startup. The first BD50 disc shows a promo for BBC Earth and other nature documentaries on Blu-ray ('Wild Pacific,' 'Ganges,' 'Galapagos,' 'Wild China,' and 'Yellowstone'), while the second BD25 disc carries a trailer for 'Life.' At the main menu, viewers have a choice to watch a single episode or click on "Play All" while full motion clips play in the background.

[review_video_stars] => 3 [review_video_picture_id] => 14997 [review_video] =>

Given the content of this entertaining documentary series, the picture quality of 'How the Earth Changed History' would be expectedly amazing if not at least brilliantly stunning. Unfortunately, this AVC MPEG-4 encode in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio is rather inconsistent and simply doesn't compare to the likes of Attenborough's 'Life' and 'Planet Earth' on Blu-ray.

The freshly-minted transfer, which comes in at a rate of 1080i/60, is for the most part clean and pleasing to the eye, with many scenes looking incredibly sharp and detailed. Colors often pop with impressive boldness, and black levels are richly rendered. The image can display astounding clarity and wonderful depth in those same sequences, but they're regularly countered by a series of artifacts during other parts of the presentation. Likely related to the HD cameras used, contrast runs very hot is several areas, blowing out whites and causing severe clipping. Banding is a nagging and distracting issue throughout. The picture is also frequented by poor resolution, a bit of noise, and some instances of light aliasing.

Clearly, the series comes with a few problems, but overall, the Blu-ray is passable for a very good nature program.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14998 [review_audio] =>

Being a documentary, there really is only so much one can expected from 'How the Earth Changed History,' but the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does a generally fine job of complementing the video. Of course, much of the attention is centered around Stewart's enthusiasm, and his narration is understandable and clear for the most part. A few times when our host is surrounded by lots of commotion, however, his informative speeches can be somewhat difficult to make-out. But I'm fairly sure that has more to do with a combination of the particular environment and his Scottish accent than a fault in the codec. The LFE-channel provides a startlingly hefty low-end for certain scenes, and the front-heavy mix displays a strong balance in separation. The soundstage is welcoming, with a warm and detailed dynamic range, creating an attractive and stable presence. Some minor ambient effects spread into the rear speakers from time to time, making this lossless track quite appealing.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 14999 [review_supplements] =>

Warner releases 'How the Earth Changed History' with a chintzy assortment of supplements that fails to add any value to the package. Presented in standard definition and broken into three segments ("The Crystal Caves," "Walking Through Fire," and "Paragliding"), the lone featurette is nothing more than a 19-minute interview with Stewart about shooting in different environments. While not all that exciting to watch, some of the background info can be interesting.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 0 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 0 [review_bonus_content] =>

There are no high-def exclusives.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 15000 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'How the Earth Change History' is a five-part documentary series from the creators of 'Earth: The Biography.' Hosted by geologist and professor Iain Stewart, each episode infuses geology, natural history, and anthropology as part of its attempt to explain the rise and fall of ancestral societies. Essentially, the series is an exploration of our intrinsically intimate relationship with Earth's natural forces and how they in turn serve as the impetus to the evolution of human civilization. Although all around passable, the two-disc Blu-ray set fails to make much of an impression in terms of picture quality, but scores higher in the audio department. Unfortunately, the package suffers from a meager collection of bonus features. Overall, the series is recommended for fans of BBC documentaries on natural history.

) ) [3] => Array ( [review_id] => 3330 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => jasonandtheargonauts [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Jason and the Argonauts [picture_created] => 1274973227 [picture_name] => 5318b6fd96eb7.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Sony [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/05/27/120/5318b6fd96eb7.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3330/jasonandtheargonauts.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1963 [run_time] => 104 [list_price] => 24.95 [asin] => B003HTSJ9A [amazon_price] => 0.00 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.66:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Audio commentary with Peter Jackson and Visual Effects Artist Randall William Cook [1] => Audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen with film historian Tony Dalton [2] => The Harryhausen Legacy [3] => Ray Harryhausen Chronicles [4] => Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards [5] => Trailers and TV spots ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => BD-50 Blu-ray Disc [1] => Region Free ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound [1] => English Mono ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => Ray Harryhausen interviewed by director John Landis ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Action, Adventure ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Todd Armstrong ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Don Chaffey ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Fantastic special effects by Ray Harryhausen and exciting mythological adventure make this a film that is fun for everyone. It's the story of Jason (Todd Armstrong), a fearless sailor and explorer, who returns to the kingdom of Thessaly after a 20-year voyage to make his rightful claim to the throne. But to do so, Jason must first find the magical Golden Fleece. He selects a crew and with the help of Hera, Queen of the Gods, sets sail in search of the Fleece. Jason and his crew must overcome incredible obstacles including a 100-foot bronze giant, the venomousHydra-a huge creature with the heads of seven snakes-and a spectacular battle with an army of skeletons. [review_bottom_line] => Recommended [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105984 [review_movie_stars] => 3.5 [review_movie] =>

I'm sure anyone who grew up loving older sci-fi and fantasy films is familiar with the name Ray Harryhausen. The stop-motion legend is not only responsible for pioneering what has become the "dynamation" technique (as seen in such classics as 'Earth vs. The Flying Saucers,' 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,' and my own personal favorite -- 'Clash of the Titans'), his masterful creations have been the driving force behind many a filmmaker over the years and his incredible work has carved a significant niche throughout the annals of cinematic history. Just a week after Harryhausen turns ninety years old, Sony finally brings to Blu-ray the film Harryhausen himself considers his greatest achievement--the Greek mythological adventure 'Jason and the Argonauts.'

Loosely based on the epic poem The Argonautica by Apollonius Rhodius, the film recounts the tale of Jason and his infamous voyage to find the fabled Golden Fleece. In this version, Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) learns from a seer that he is destined to overthrow King Aristo of Thessaly, but he will lose his reign to one of Aristo's offspring. Pelias, of course, doesn't like the sound of that end bit, so after seizing control of the city he viciously begins eliminating Aristo's bloodline. This infuriates the Queen of the Gods -- Hera (Honor Blackman, best known as Bond girl Pussy Galore from 'Goldfinger'), who stops Pelias from harming Aristo's infant son Jason -- and reveals that a man wearing a single sandal will one day bring his doom.

Twenty years pass and Jason -- now a dashing heroic adventurer played by American Todd Armstrong (who much to his dismay had his voice dubbed by British actor Tim Turner), returns to reclaim his rightful place as heir to the throne. Along his way, Jason rescues a man from drowning in a river and loses his sandal while saving him. The man turns out to be Pelias, and though Jason is unaware of Pelias' true identity, Pelias knows exactly who his savior is and doesn't intend on giving up his kingdom. Since he can't outright kill Jason for fear of stirring the wrath of the gods, Pelias figures the next best thing is to send Jason on some deadly wild goose chase for the mythical Golden Fleece. And so, with a ship he names the Argo -- after its shipbuilder Argos (Laurence Naismith), and a group of well-greased Greeks he dubs the Argonauts -- including the legendary mighty Hercules (Nigel Green) and the cunning Acastus (Gary Raymond), Jason sets sail to the end of the world -- with danger lurking around every corner.

At the time of its release in 1963, 'Jason and the Argonauts' was one of the first Harryhausen films to get a single billing in theaters (as opposed to being part of a B-movie double feature) and mesmerized audiences of all ages. Now it may not have quite the same impact, but it's still lighthearted nostalgic fun. While the story by Beverley Cross (who wrote the other Harryhausen classics 'Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger' and 'Clash of the Titans') and co-writer Jan Read is simple and straightforward, it captures much of the fantastical essence of Greek mythology. The acting can be rigid and excessively melodramatic, but Armstrong brings energy and charisma to our main hero, and Green is probably the most entertaining as the boastful strongman -- oozing machismo and leaving a trail of manliness in his wake. The action sequences are just as overplayed and cartoonish as the performances (this is a G-rated film from the sixties after all), yet they're still amusing in their own way. The sword fight that takes place on the Argo is unintentionally hilarious. One of the stronger parts of the movie is the attractive backdrops featuring real ancient ruins, as 'Jason and the Argonauts' was filmed on location at numerous places in Italy. Director John Chaffey also keeps the film moving at a decent clip, going from one setting to the next with hardly any dull points in between.

Like any film touched by Harryhausen, though, the real stars of the show are his magnificent creations. Harryhausen breathes life into Talos--a bronze giant inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, who dominates the screen with such grandeur that in 2004 Empire magazine listed it as the second best movie monster of all time after King Kong. I also love the motion of the bat-like wings of the harpies as well as the distinct movements of each of the hydra's seven heads. But it's the skeleton battle from this film that is perhaps Harryhausen's pièce de résistance, which would later serve as Sam Raimi's inspiration for the legion of undead in 'Army of Darkness.' The three minute sequence took a staggering four months to complete, and after nearly fifty years it's still a fitting grand finale to one of Ray Harryhausen's finest classics.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Jason and the Argonauts' sail to high-definition on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc inside a standard blue keepcase. After a short loading screen, the disc boots up directly to the menu without any previews or annoying Blu-ray promos. The disc is also reported to be region free and therefore should function properly in all machines.

[review_video_stars] => 3.5 [review_video_picture_id] => 14778 [review_video] =>

Sony has given 'Jason and the Argonauts' a respectable 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.66:1 aspect ratio) encode for this Blu-ray release that naturally has a few issues stemming from the quality of the source material, but in general it looks pretty spiffy.

The film has been cleaned up significantly, with hardly any specs or splotches to speak of. The picture is still quite grainy. There's some crawling activity, most noticeably in the baby blue sky, though I wouldn't really call it a nuisance. Colors can be pretty rich and vibrant--especially the deep crimsons of the actors' cloaks and the greenery of plant life--and whites can look phenomenal. Black levels are also decent overall with adequate shadow detailing. Skin tones are accurate and Argos is more bronze from working on the ship under the sun. Fine details are nicely rendered, too--from the lines separating blades of grass, the ridges and cracks in the mountainous cliffs of the Clashing Rocks and various stonework ruins, and you can practically get entangled in the carpet growing on Hercules' chest. Many scenes have a good level of depth to them as well.

Of course, the scenes combining stop-motion with live-action don't look very attractive in high-definition, although to be fair they will never be due to the techniques originally used in the film. These cases tend to have a flatter picture, sporadic occurrences of blurring, and colors are heavily washed out. Black levels here can be weaker, though I actually still found them to be sufficient, particularly in the sequences lacking sunlight with the harpies. The detailing on Harryhausen's monstrosities is appealing in close-ups, but there is an occasional shroud of murkiness in places. With the amount of grain still intact DNR doesn't seem to be an issue, and there may be some edge enhancement but it's most likely just due to the application of the effects.

All things considered, though, Sony's Blu-ray transfer for 'Jason and the Argonauts' is a good one and easily trumps Warner's for 'Clash of the Titans' for sure.

[review_audio_stars] => 3.5 [review_audio_picture_id] => 14779 [review_audio] =>

'Jason and the Argonauts' shines even more in the audio department--as this Blu-ray not only includes the original mono soundtrack from past releases, but Sony's engineers have also remastered the track to provide an all-new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as the default option on the disc.

The new track is still generally front heavy, as this isn't a film with much in terms of discreet effects and ambient surround activity, but the wider presence is certainly a welcome upgrade. Although occasionally a little bit hollow, dialog is cleaner and the creature effects sound more robust. There's some (albeit minimal) added directionality, with the most noticeable being a few swooshes from Jason's sword when he is fending off the hydra. But the best part is the energetic score composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann ('Citizen Kane' and 'Psycho') and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This is really only where we get a hint of bass activity, but the music has a nice expansive flow throughout the room and sounds terrific.

'Jason and the Argonauts' still can't compete with some of the more modern bombastic action films, but fans used to listening to the mono tracks will definitely be pleased with the new and improved results on this Blu-ray.

[review_supplements_stars] => 0.5 [review_supplements_picture_id] => 0 [review_supplements] =>

Sony previously brought 'Jason and the Argonauts' to DVD in 1998 and again as part of 'The Ray Harryhausen Collection - The Legendary Monster Series' box set back in 2004. Both releases only included a featurette and a trailer. Sony not only ports over that content to this Blu-ray, they've also gone the extra mile to provide a wealth of high-definition exclusives (see appropriate section below).

  • Ray Harryhausen interviewed by director John Landis (SD, 11:53) – The only real recycled supplement is a featurette in which director John Landis ('An American Werewolf in London') joins Harryhausen to talk about the film's monsters and explain the stop-motion process with a peek at one of the actual skeleton models used in the movie.

[review_bonus_content_stars] => 3.5 [review_bonus_content_picture_id] => 14780 [review_bonus_content] =>

We can't celebrate a birthday without party favors now, can we? As previously mentioned, Sony really rolls out the red carpe--I mean Golden Fleece--for this Blu-ray with an assortment of new material that fans will undoubtedly enjoy.

  • Audio Commentary – The first of two commentary tracks is with director Peter Jackson and visual effects artist Randall William Cook ('The Lord of the Rings Trilogy'). This is a very technical track covering the history of the film's production, the various actors and actresses, and of course, Harryhausen's masterful effects. I personally always find Jackson commentaries to be worth a listen--and this one is definitely no exception.

  • Audio Commentary – Even better, though, is the second track featuring the legend himself, Ray Harryhausen, joined by film historian Tony Dalton. Along with the usual production insights, Harryhausen injects some great anecdotal stories like how David Prowse (who would eventually be immortalized as Darth Vader) was considered for the role of Triton and didn't get the part since his arms were too short. But the real treat comes when his creations appear on screen and he reveals the tricks, techniques, (and occasional headaches) behind them. It really makes you appreciate his hard work even more. This is, by far, the most engaging supplement on the disc.

  • The Harryhausen Legacy (SD, 25:32) – In this tribute of sorts, directors John Landis and Joe Dante ('Gremlins') as well as visual effects gurus John Dykstra, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and a host of others reflect on how Harryhausen's movie magic influenced their own careers.

  • Ray Harryhausen Chronicles (SD, 57:57) – Next we have a solid hour-long documentary on the illustrious stop-motion career of Ray Harryhausen--which initially began as his hobby after being awestruck by the original 'King Kong.' The documentary includes several interviews, a look at some of his surviving models, rare animation segments, and much more. The great Leonard Nimoy narrates this feature.

  • Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards – Included here is a gallery of the original storyboard drawings for the skeleton army fight sequence. The storyboards were only rediscovered five years ago and reveal plans for a scene where one of the skeletons was going to lose their head, but the idea never made it into the final animated battle.

  • Trailers and TV Spots – Technically a trailer appeared on the DVDs, but rather than create two separate sections I'm just lumping it in here. The disc includes two 'Jason and the Argonauts' trailers, eight TV spots, and a nostalgic 1963 theatrical sweepstakes trailer in black & white promoting the film.

  • Previews (HD, 10:21) – Trailers for 'Ghostbusters,' 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' and three other Harryhausen classics on Blu-ray -- 'It Came From Beneath the Sea' (currently only available as part of the 'Ray Harryhausen Collection'), '20 Million Miles to Earth,' and 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.'

  • BD-Live – The supplements conclude with Sony's standard BD-Live portal.

[review_final_thoughts_stars] => 3.5 [review_final_thoughts_picture_id] => 14781 [review_final_thoughts] =>

'Jason and the Argonauts' is one of Ray Harryhausen's finest films and contains some of his most memorable creations. Even though the stop-motion effects may not win over younger audiences, Harryhausen's work is an influential steppingstone in cinematic history and is still impressive even today.

Sony honors the FX legend's 90th B-day by giving the film Harryhausen personally considers to be his best a great Blu-ray release. The video and audio definitely blow the DVDs away, but it's the collection of new exclusive goodies that is the real selling point of this disc. Factored in with an attractive suggested retail price, and 'Jason and the Argonauts' easily comes recommended for any home video library.

) ) [4] => Array ( [review_id] => 3299 [review_type_id] => 1 [review_slug] => jimmyhollywood [review_release_date] => 1278399600 [review_hot] => 0 [review_title] => Jimmy Hollywood [picture_created] => 1277789021 [picture_name] => 51okzhrd-8l_sl500_aa300_.jpeg [manufacturer_name] => Lionsgate [picture_source_120] => https://cdn.highdefdigest.com/uploads/2010/06/28/120/51okzhrd-8l_sl500_aa300_.jpeg [review_url] => https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3299/jimmyhollywood.html [review_metadata_prepared] => Array ( [release_year] => 1994 [run_time] => 118 [list_price] => 19.99 [asin] => B003H14DG6 [amazon_price] => 13.99 [aspect_ratios] => Array ( [0] => 1.85:1 ) [video_resolutions] => Array ( [0] => 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 ) [exclusive_hd_contents] => Array ( [0] => Bookmarks ) [technical_specifications] => Array ( [0] => Blu-ray [1] => BD25 Single Layer Disc [2] => Region A Locked ) [audio_formats] => Array ( [0] => English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound ) [subtitles] => Array ( [0] => English, English SDH, Spanish ) [supplements] => Array ( [0] => None ) [preview_genres] => Array ( [0] => Crime, Comedy ) [preview_actors] => Array ( [0] => Christian Slater, Joe Pesci ) [preview_directors] => Array ( [0] => Barry Levinson ) [preview_plot_synopsis] => Struggling actor Jimmy Alto (Pesci) can't get arrested. But the criminals that terrorize his neighborhood are making a killing. So Jimmy makes a bold career move. With the help of his loyal but spaced-out best friend (Slater), Jimmy transforms himself into "Jericho," leader of a mock-vigilante group that videotapes criminals and then turns them over to the police. It's the role of a lifetime, but when Jimmy gets caught in a crossfire between the cops and the crooks, it looks like it could be his last. [review_bottom_line] => One to Avoid [review_gear] => default [review_forum_id] => 105833 [review_movie_stars] => 1.5 [review_movie] =>

Hollywood does Hollywood. It does it all the time, and Hollywood loves it. What better way to reminisce about the golden years than to recreate them, over and over again? New generations become culturally aware of the past, while those living in the era can see the glitz and glamour one more time. But while the Academy seems to favor such films (and portrayals of real life characters), not every Hollywood on Hollywood film film is worthy of praise. Some are flat out bad.

Meet 'Jimmy Hollywood.' It falls in the "bad" category. It almost redefines it.

Jimmy Alto (Joe Pesci, in a horrible, horrible blonde wig) is a down and out "actor extraordinaire," trying to land that big role, ignoring any possibilities for bit parts or background acting. He believes he's a star, and nothing less, when in reality he's just a film fanatic, who wants to be a part of what he loves. His new scheme to reach stardom? A bus bench with his information on it, outside the gates of Bel Air. In addition to being an "actor," Jimmy's fed up with the disintegrating world around him, the theft, drug dealing, violence, all of it. When his car stereo gets stolen, Alto decides to take the law into his own hands, alongside his braindead friend William (Christian Slater), videotaping a stereo thief, abducting him, and turning in the evidence and perp to the cops, signed "The S.O.S." (named after David O. Selznick, the producer of 'Gone with the Wind'). Yes, that's a "D" in his name...

When the cops find more interest in stopping the S.O.S. than the criminals, Alto, who has taken the name "Jericho," begins to take the S.O.S. to greater and greater heights, drawing more publicity, public support, and ire from the police for being a vigilante. Playing the role of a lifetime, the role he can never get legitimately, Jimmy can't let go of his newfound fame. But both the law enforcers and criminals he's infuriating will do their best to put an end to the S.O.S., and Jimmy's "career."

The problems with 'Jimmy Hollywood' are too massive to ignore. It doesn't take a genius to know that living in or around Los Angeles costs a relative fortune. Hell, even two and a half hours away, where I live, the housing market has been affected by the over-inflated prices. Yet, we see Jimmy living in the middle of it all, with his live-in girlfriend (and hairdresser) Lorraine de la Peña (Victoria Abril), constantly dining out, buying new cars, and living somewhat large. The hair brained duo of Jimmy and William have all the money in the world for a camcorder and plenty of tapes. We never see Jimmy make a dollar in the entire film (up until he no longer needs money, going on the lam). Lorraine doesn't make that much, as we find out Jimmy sucked her bank account dry for his bus bench ad. How does anyone afford rent, utilities, expensive food, and new cars, on such a lifestyle?

Simply put, this is just one of the disconnects from reality found in this film. It strives to be a statement on the filth and decay of modern Los Angeles, with open drug dealing on the streets and graffiti everywhere. It feels manufactured to try to be relevant, important. It's also a tad overboard. Kidnapping, assault, and arson, all in the name of a car stereo? Talk about messed up priorities.

Running at a bloated two hours, 'Jimmy Hollywood' is over a half-hour too long for its own good, beating the point into our heads, and into the ground. We get a moral tale, not only of fighting back against crime, but one showing how putting the law into one's own hands is dangerous and foolish. We get the message that Jimmy is as bad as those he fights, with his acts of kidnapping and arson, to name a few of his misdeeds. But it feels like the film wants to hammer these messages home too often, repeatedly, so that we get the point. We get. The point.

Pesci is utterly painful in the titular role, and it doesn't help that the character is written in such an unlikable manner. Slater? I have yet to see him be anything but awful, so his performance is in line with the rest of his work at the very least. It really doesn't help that his character is possibly the most underdeveloped second lead ever. Beyond them, the only actor getting any real time is Abril, who may give the best performance in the film, providing a nice and average portrayal that may be just a tad over the top.

The scary part of all this? The man behind the wheel. The problems with this film could be more forgivable if it were a rank rookie behind the pen or in the chair, but this film was written and directed by Barry Levinson (!!), who adapted 'Sleepers' from its source novel, and co-wrote 'High Anxiety,' as well as directed the severely underrated 'Wag the Dog,' alongside classics 'The Natural,' 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' and 'Rain Man,' which won him an Academy Award. How can anyone fall from grace so damn fast, being behind