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  • Published
    June 20, 2011

    A lot of chasing going on

    Unknown (Warner, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 113 min.). You will be forgiven if you think you have seen this movie before. It is very derivative and especially recalls one of the Bourne films, as it is set in Berlin, features a car chase and has a hero who is not sure of his identity. That hero is played by Liam Neeson, adding to his growing resume of action roles, and Neeson is one of the best things about …

  • Published
    June 13, 2011

    No love in ‘Battle: Los Angeles,’ ‘Red Riding Hood’

    Battle: Los Angeles (Sony, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 116 min.). The filmmakers tried hard here. The idea was to present a documentary style combat film from a small group of soldiers’ perspective, with the enemies being out-of-space aliens. The aliens themselves are quite unusual and the film’s most successful part, but director Jonathan Liebesman too often goes for the in-too-close and too-short shot, …

  • Published
    May 23, 2011

    Aliens and gnomes from Disney’s Touchstone

    I Am Number Four (Touchstone, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 109 min.). This film is sort of The CW meets Michael Bay. Premise is a very hot looking teen alien (Alex Pettyfer as John Smith) is being hunted by deadly beings from his home planet of Lorien. While deadly, these Mogadorians unfortunately are rather silly looking, like skinheads with tattoos and gills next to their noses. There were nine alien …

  • Published
    May 16, 2011

    Unseen dangers in ‘Rite,’ ‘Vanishing’

    The Rite (New Line, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 114 min.). I must admit I enjoy films about demonic possession. It probably is my Catholic upbringing. “The Exorcist” still gives me goose bumps and oh that evil child in “The Omen.” Thus, I look forwarded eagerly to “The Rite.” After all, it stars Anthony Hopkins, the man who has scared us in so many films, including “The Silence of the Lambs.” However, the …

  • Published
    May 9, 2011

    Sometimes chasing monsters creates monsters

    I Saw the Devil (Korea, Magnet/Magnolia, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR, 142 min.). Korean star Choi Min-sik found international fame as a man bent on revenge in Park Chan-wook’s film “Oldboy.” Here, in director Kim Jee-woon’s wildly violent, genre-pushing vengeance epic, Choi is the embodiment of murdering, torturing evil, and Lee Byung-hun plays the equally single-minded elite special agent seeking maniacal …

  • Published
    April 25, 2011

    Fantastic seas ahead: ‘Narnia,’ ‘Gulliver’s’

    The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Fox, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG, 113 min.). Complaints were the film was too dark in theaters in the 3D format, but here it is only in 2D and the glorious golden hues used by director Michael Apted enchant. This is the third film in the series based on the celebrated novels of C.S. Lewis. The world war is gearing up back on Earth when siblings Lucy …

  • Published
    April 18, 2011

    Cinema royalty: King George VI, Tracy & Hepburn

    The King’s Speech (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 119 min.)This film is an amazing entertainment when one considers it is essentially about one man coaching another to speak without a stutter. However, the man with the stutter is Great Britain’s King George VI, and worked into the story is both the oncoming war with Germany and his reluctant ascension to the throne due to his brother David’s (Guy Pearce …

  • Published
    April 11, 2011

    The end is nigh; ‘Potter’ goes dark

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Warner, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 146 min.). After 10 years, the end nears for the “Harry Potter” films, and the choice was right to split the last book into two movies. It makes for a much richer experience as this seventh film in the series is very dark, both literally and figuratively. It also features a lot more magic, and is very satisfying. The film, …

  • Published
    March 28, 2011

    ‘Tangled’ flows nicely

    Tangled (Disney, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG, 100 min.). Disney’s spin on the “Rapunzel” fairy tale has a lot more action and less “princess” material. That makes it a rousing adventure for all ages. Thief Flynn Rider (voiced very well by Zachary Levi of TV’s “Chuck”) narrates the five-minute opening history lesson. Basically, there is this rare flower that an old woman is using to keep herself young but it is …

  • Published
    March 21, 2011

    Bogart, Hope and Shatner — from the vaults on demand

    The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947, Warner Archive DVD, NR, 99 min.). Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck both play against type in this thriller. He is an artist with murder as inspiration on his mentally-unbalanced mind rather than hard-nosed hero, while she is helpless wife rather than her usual femme fatale. Bogart is Geoffrey Carroll, who meets and falls in love with Stanwyck’s Sally Morton while on a fishing …

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