Thursday, July 31, 2008
“Normal” is not a word you’d use to describe the town of Eureka. From the outside, it looks like a regular town. But spend some time there, and you’ll notice something is not quite right. This show combines sci-fi, drama, and a little humor to make it one of the more interesting shows I’ve seen in a while. I haven’t had the pleasure of checking out the first season, but with the release of Season 2 on DVD, I am now officially hooked. Eureka is about a town in the Northwest where almost every citizen is some kind of genius. The only “normal” one seems to be the town sheriff named Jack. He’s the lucky guy who gets to investigate the weird occurrences like a man getting stuck inside a force field, people spontaneously bursting into flames, and a machine that controls the weather. Those are just a few of the many happenings around Eureka in Season 2. This 3-disc collection of the second season runs over 9 hours, and it includes hours of extras that take you behind the scenes of this brilliant show.
Other Bonus Features included are:
- Deleted Scenes
- Happenings Around Town, The Second Season: The cast talks about what this season has in store for their characters
- Inside The Writer's Room
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles
This is one fantasy film that seemed to get it right. Since Harry Potter was brought to life on screen, the bar was raised for fantasy films. Very few films have been able to live up to that kind of movie magic. Now The Spiderwick Chronicles is no Harry Potter. And I think it’s foolish to compare the two since the stories are very different. But for a fantasy film, Spiderwick is a damn good one. Everything seemed to fall into place to make this a fantasy film that everyone can enjoy. There’s some really great acting by talented kid actors in this story that takes you to a world full of magical creatures. It stars Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) who plays two roles as twins Jared and Simon. The twins and their sister Mallory move with their mother out of the city to the Spiderwick Estate. Their parents are getting divorced so they are forced to move. At the new home, Jared uncovers a book titled "Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You". Ignoring the warning to not open the book, he opens it and unintentionally puts his family in danger. Another world not seen by human eyes exists on the estate. And in this world lives an evil ogre named Mulgarath who wants to get the field guide to obtain ultimate power. That’s a threat to the human world too, because with that power he’d be able to destroy the humans. So it’s "do or die" for Jared and his siblings since they now have to find a way to destroy the book. This film has some amazing special effects that make this fantasy world seem so real. The crew that worked on this did an awesome job. In fact, one of the benefits of having the 2-disc edition of the DVD is that you get to see how the film was made, along with interviews with the creators of the Spiderwick book series that inspired the film.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is out now on DVD.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Attention all Avatar fans!
Today (7/29/2008) is the release date for Avatar Book 3 Volume 4, the latest DVD in this animated series. Avatar gets quite addictive once you start watching as it takes you on a wild journey led by Aang and his friends. These kids are gifted with unique powers, especially Aang, who is destined to become the “Avatar”. Like a good series should do, this show leaves you wanting more after each episode. In Volume 4, the tension really heats up as the kids prepare for their final confrontation with the Firelord. If you’re a fan of the show or just crave to see an animated series with some serious action and a deep story, then you don’t want to miss this.
Along with the episodes, the DVD includes the following bonus materials:
- Free Exclusive Avatar Comic Book Inside
- Audio Commentary by Creators, Cast and Crew
Monday, July 28, 2008
Van Helsing Collector's Edition
Van Helsing has been released again, this time in a special collector's edition. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has put out a 2-disc set that includes the film along with a bunch of bonus materials. This movie follows monster hunter Van Helsing as he sets out on a mission to Transylvania to help defeat the evil forces led by Dracula. The film includes other legendary horror characters such as Frankenstein, Werewolf, and Mr. Hyde. What this movie lacked in some areas, it made up for with some awesome visual effects. It was cool to see these classic monsters brought to life through modern technology. Since I mentioned this was released as a collector's edition, you can expect tons of bonus materials. Some of the extras include a 360 degree tour of the environments of Van Helsing and an inside look on how the monsters were created.
Van Helsing Collector's Edition is out now on DVD...
Thursday, July 24, 2008
From what I understand about Jewish culture, a boy's Bar Mitzvah is a big deal. Well in the film Sixty Six, 12-year-old Bernie is planning on having a bash for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. He believes that this is what he needs to turn his dull childhood around. After all, his dad has a bizarre obsessive compulsive disorder, his mom doesn’t have much time for him, and his older brother is constantly bullying him around. So he really is counting on this event to make him a man. In his own words, he wants to have “the Jesus Christ of all Bar Mitzvahs!” The problem is that this is the summer of 1966, and England is about to go to the World Cup. And if they do make it, no one will show up at his event since all of England will be watching the championship. Made by the creators of Four Weddings and a Funeral, this film is a hilarious take on a boy’s coming of age. It stars Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Rea, and Gregg Sulkin who steals the show as Bernie. Sixty Six is coming to theaters in New York on August 1st and spreading out through the month. If you get a chance to see this in your area, I recommend checking it out. If you do, get ready to laugh a lot.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Let's get this straight. It's "The" Batman, not just "Batman". It's important to put "The" in front of Batman, at least when you're referring to the animated series. Speaking of The Batman, WB has just released Season 5 of this great animated series on DVD. For someone who hasn't followed the series religiously, I was able to come into this season without feeling like I missed out on 1 through 4. Batman has usually worked alone when it comes to taking care of his business. But here he finds himself working side by side with Superman, The Flash, Robin, Batgirl and Green Arrow. Together these heroes find themselves up against some really bad dudes like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Firefly. And these enemies would just love to bring chaos to the streets of Gotham City. It’s a good thing that Batman is up for each challenge. This DVD set has 13 episodes on 2 discs that can appeal to anyone hungry for some serious action. If you are a fan of the Dark Knight, I highly recommend this awesome collection of The Batman's Fifth Season.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Birds of Prey: The Complete Series
Out now on DVD
"Batman's little girl is all grown up…"
In 2002, a television series was released called Birds Of Prey on the WB network. It was based on the comic storyline where Batman and Catwoman had a daughter together. Well like the tag says, that girl known as Huntress is grown up now. And since Batman has mysteriously vanished, she has been the one kicking villains’ asses all over New Gotham City. When her mother (Catwoman) was murdered by the Joker, Huntress was taken into care by the woman who used to be known as Batwoman. Wheelchair bound from being shot by the Joker, Batwoman now goes by the name of Oracle. With Oracle’s cyber experience and Huntress’s fighting skills, they work together to fight crime on the mean streets of New Gotham City. Later their team is strengthened when they’re joined by a teenager named Dinah, who has the gift of clairvoyance. Together they form the trio known as the Birds Of Prey. If you were unfortunate to miss this show when it was out, fear not because the entire series is out now on DVD. WB has just released a set that contains all 13 episodes on 4 discs. In addition to the episodes, this impressive DVD set includes an animated series of shorts called Gotham Girls. Overall, Birds of Prey: The Complete Series is an awesome new addition to the WB catalog of home videos.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Coldplay has become the benchmark to compare a lot of modern music to. How many times have you heard an artist "sounds like Coldplay (or Radiohead)". It's like those old commercials when they would show a cheaper alternative to brand name colognes and say, "If you love Versace Blue Jeans, then you'll love _ _ _ _ _!" Coldplay has become a name to drop when you want to sell a product. I mean, if a band sounds like them, then it must be worth buying right? Enough ranting for now. Let's actually talk about the band. In case you’ve been hiding in a cave, their latest album Viva La Vida is out. When you’re as big as Coldplay is, anything you say or do will be massively publicized. And so there was great anticipation with this latest release. Be assured that this album gives you your money’s worth and then some. I think it’s actually better then their previous album, X&Y. As expected with this band, the album is laced with deep lyrics relating to life (and death). As far as the overall sound goes, they show here again (as they’ve done many times before) why they’re among the top of the musical food chain. They combine with ease many different styles to create a sound that is uniquely “Coldplay-ish”. Overall, Viva La Vida is a masterpiece done by a band that's serious about making good music.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The BBC Natural History Collection: Featuring Planet Earth
Are you fed up with the world? Bored with the environment surrounding you? Then you need to watch The BBC Natural History Collection: Featuring Planet Earth. I guarantee you'll view the world differently. This ultimate set has over 33 hours of programming as it includes Planet Earth: The Complete Series, The Blue Planet: Seas of Life – 5-Disc Special Edition, The Life of Mammals and The Life of Birds. Breathtaking is not a strong enough word to describe the footage contained in this set. From you're living room, you get to explore the remote corners of the world, visit dark caves, and observe the lifestyle of birds, sea creatures, and various mammals. The videos in each set narrated by David Attenborough will blow you away as they open your eyes to some stunning expeditions. It's hard to view the world the same way after watching a set like this. This is definitely a valuable collection to hold on to for a lifetime.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Batman: Gotham Knight
Out now on DVD
Batman fever is high right now with the anticipated release of The Dark Knight. Warner Premier has chosen the perfect time to put out what I think is a very important film about the Caped Crusader. Batman: Gotham Knight is unlike any animated Batman show done before. This time, a team of visionary animators have helped to create this six part Anime style film called Batman: Gotham Knight. The animation on this film is some of the best I have seen and Batman’s persona fits perfectly with the dark art used here. This DVD is broken down into 6 different stories, each having their own unique style. Although they are separate, these stories interlock as they reveal Bruce Wayne’s journey to Dark Knight. As Batman faces fearsome villains such as Scarecrow, the Killer Croc and the marksman known as Deadshot, he also faces his own personal issues as Bruce Wayne. The PG-13 rating given to this film assures that this is not a Saturday morning Batman cartoon, but instead is a very dark journey into the story of Gotham City’s legendary hero.
The DVD is out now and it is a must see for any Batman fan.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Despite what a lot of people had to say about Jumper, I enjoyed it. This film that stars Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson is about a “Jumper” named David. A jumper is someone who has the capability to teleport anywhere they want. As a teenager, David finds out that he has this gift, and as he grows up, he uses it to travel all over the world. He can go from Egypt to London and back to New York in less than 10 seconds. As he grows up, he eventually realizes that he needs some cash. Well when you are a Jumper, you can literally teleport into a bank’s vault and bring back sacks of money into your home in seconds. So David goes back and forth “borrowing” money from these banks without anyone knowing his secret. However, when word gets to Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) who is a “Paladin”, he knows exactly what David is up to. The Paladins are an elite group that hunts Jumpers for a living. And now it looks like David is the next target. What follows is an intense chase around the world, with David being the hunted. The concept for this film is very cool. Seeing the characters teleport to places like Rome and Egypt and other parts of the world made the film more interesting. The only issue I had was that the film seemed to wrap up too quickly at the end. I wish they made the conflict a little bit longer. Despite my issue with the ending, it was an enjoyable film. Hopefully, they will make a sequel that continues to follow David’s life as a "Jumper".
Jumper is out now on DVD.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Don't believe everything you see...
After the President of the US gets shot during a peace summit in Spain, a large explosion done by a terrorist group follows, causing chaos everywhere. Time is running as the race is on to find the criminals responsible. In this intense thriller, things aren’t always what they seem. Just when you think you are close to finding something out, you realize you were wrong. Like a jigsaw puzzle scattered across the floor, things don’t start to make sense until the pieces are put together. In Vantage Point, the puzzle pieces are the different perspectives shown by witnesses of the event, or the criminals themselves. After you see the crime happen through one character’s eyes, the film rewinds the event and replays it through another character, and so on. Eventually, your head starts to feel like a ping-pong ball bounced around with the constant replaying. But that’s what makes this film unique. Vantage Point stars Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, and Forest Whitaker and it’s a fast paced thriller that doesn’t let down until the very end. There was plenty of action along with an intriguing story that kept my eyes glued to the screen as I waited for the mystery to be unveiled. It is definitely one of the better action/thriller films that have been recently put out.
Vantage Point is out now on DVD.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
No superhero is safe from being spoofed in Superhero Movie. The Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, and Fantastic Four movies are targeted in this hilarious film from the same comedic minds behind The Naked Gun and Scary Movie 3 & 4. It’s hard to go a few minutes without laughing while watching this movie that pokes fun at those blockbuster films. Of course in a movie called Superhero Movie, there has to be some sort of “hero”. Well, the “hero” in this is a masked crime fighter called "The Dragonfly”, and he tries to save the world by stopping his enemy known as "The Hourglass". They duke it out up until the end, which leads up to a very "memorable" showdown. Overall, this spoof is one that delivers laughs at rapid pace, and doesn’t hold back from mocking everyone’s favorite heroes.
Superhero Movie is out now on DVD.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
It's a risk to go against what's popular and "cool", especially for musicians. For example, it's quite easy to go with a trend just to sell a few million albums. People will eat it up at first, but then it'll be forgotten after some time. Weezer has defied that way of doing things with their latest self titled album called Weezer. Known for creating catchy rock tunes that have lyrics dripping with sarcasm, they continue that likeable quality on this release. A perfect example is on the popular hit Pork and Beans where they sing, "I'm a do the things that I want to do/I ain't got a thing to prove to you." It's hard to get that chorus out of your head after hearing it a few times. In fact, after giving the album a few listens, it really grows on you. Certain songs could pop in your head at any given moment, and it'll be damn hard to get them out. The songs Troublemaker, Dreamin', and Thought I Knew are a few that I find swirling in my head quite frequently. After hearing Weezer's music since the 90's, I think this is a more enjoyable collection of songs compared to some of their older stuff. It shows that they are definitely not ready to quit just yet, and they can even make singing a song called Pork and Beans look cool.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Be Kind Rewind
There's something about Jack Black that annoys the hell out of me. Then again, that's what he does best. He’s climbed his way up the Hollywood ladder by being an ass. His latest film on DVD is Be Kind Rewind. Jack still plays a dumbass here, and this time he is partnered with Mos Def. Together they play two buffoons from Passaic, NJ that wind up remaking classic films after Jack Black inadvertently erases a video store’s inventory of VHS tapes. The problem is that this store is where Mos Def works. So to keep business at the store from collapsing, the two men get to work and re-create the films that were erased. In an amateur attempt to do such films as Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2, and Driving Miss Daisy, they wind up becoming local celebrities as the people become huge fans of these videos that they refer to as “Sweded”. Be Kind Rewind is a very funny movie that takes an unexpected turn into becoming sentimental. But it’s not the gushy kind of sentimentality. Later in the movie they show a picture of a community working together to help a video store in trouble. There is some great acting in this film that also includes Danny Glover and Mia Farrow, and some other actors I’m not familiar with. Out of the entire cast, I would have to say Jack Black and Mos Def stole the show with their performances of the town outcasts that become local celebrities. Overall, this is a smart comedy done by writer/director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Be Kind Rewind is out now on DVD.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
In The Killing Joke, Batman’s most famous villain commits a crime unlike anything he’s done before. Picture this: The Joker rings the bell at Commissioner Gordon’s home and shoots his daughter, paralyzing her. He then kidnaps the Commissioner, takes him to an abandoned theme park, strips him naked and forces him to ride a roller coaster while being shown some disturbing images of his injured daughter. Yes, this episode called The Killing Joke is unlike any “joke” that Batman has had to face. In fact, from hearing all the buzz on the upcoming Dark Knight film and how twisted the Joker is in it, this book is a great intro to how psychotic Batman’s nemesis really is. This is not just a silly old clown who does bad things. We’re talking about a first-class lunatic, and he’s trying to push Commissioner Gordon to insanity as well. The Joker is really the main character here, since most of the story is centered on him and what drove him to become the criminal he is now. It also shows that even though both The Joker and Batman have had traumatic events happen in life, it’s the choices they make that separates them. This year, DC Comics put out a deluxe hardcover version of this dark story which Tim Burton claims is “the first comic he ever loved”.
It seems like every generation has their own version of what the end of the world would look like. The History Channel released a special on DVD called Life After People, and it's a very intriguing look at this eerie scenario. To assist them, they sought advice from experts in engineering, botany, ecology, biology, geology, climatology, and archeology. These experts help paint a picture of what exactly would happen to nature if humans disappeared. It's pretty fascinating to see how nature would thrive without us. With cutting edge visual effects, this video takes you on an Earth with a total population of 0. If you were ever curious to see how Earth would look like without us, then this DVD is a great tour guide.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
A long break did these guys good. If you haven't heard, The Offspring is back with a new album. The same band that brought us hits like Self Esteem and Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) in the 90's put out a faster and louder sound with "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace". To be honest, I had no idea they were still around. Well, this latest effort turned out to be a damn good rock album that delivers a wake-up call to anyone who thought The Offspring was asleep. This is one that you can just put on and let it play. No need for skipping tracks here. Overall, "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace" shows a great example of a band who knows how to make a comeback, loud and clear.
I've always thought that Matthew Perry had the best movies out of the Friends cast. Even though it seems like he plays the same character in most of his films, his movies are always enjoyable. Most of the time, they are the perfect comedies to watch while snuggling up with a date. His most recent film titled Numb was released in May on DVD. This time, his neurosis is on spotlight as he plays Hudson Milbank, a man who's convinced that he's losing his mind. Hudson suffers from depersonalization disorder. What is that, you might ask? Here is a brief definition I found:
Depersonalization Disorder (DPD) is a disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and/or derealization. The symptoms include a sense of automation, going through the motions of life but not experiencing it, feeling as though one is in a movie, feeling as though one is in a dream, feeling a disconnection from one's body, out-of-body experience, a detachment from one's body, environment and difficulty relating oneself to reality. For all, it is a rather disturbing illness, since many feel that indeed, they are living in a "dream".
That describes Hudson's character perfectly in the film. As he seeks help through a series of doctors, he finds that most are no help, and some are even as messed up as he is! He really finds that out when he starts sleeping with Dr. Blaine (Mary Steenburgen). But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Before that fling he has with Dr. Blaine, he dates the girl of his dreams. This girl named Sara seems like just what he needs to take his mind off of his disorder. However, their relationship gets rocky later on, especially when Hudson’s issues get in the way. You must stick with the film all the way through to see if he eventually works it out with Sara, or winds up losing the girl he really loves.
There is some real funny dialogue in this film, mostly coming from Matthew Perry’s character. I think he was exactly the right person to portray a guy suffering from this disorder. Amidst all the comedy, Numb takes seriously the pain and frustration that a lot of people with disorders like this go through. If you have ever felt like an outsider most of the time, or dealt with any type of issues like this, you’d probably relate to Hudson. There aren’t many films that can make you laugh while watching someone deal with issues just like the great “As Good As It Gets” did. But after watching Numb, I think it was able to pull off being another great comedy that takes itself seriously at the same time.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The Art Of Speed Racer
If you enjoyed the Wachowski brothers' version of Speed Racer, there’s a book out titled The Art Of Speed Racer. This book contains pages of the art that created the psychedelic world of colors that was in the film. I really enjoyed the film and the trippy effects it had, so this book is a great part of my ongoing collection. Along with the pages of art from the film, the book also contains the complete screenplay. If you missed any dialogue from the film, or want to reenact some scenes by yourself, they're all in here. It would have been better if they included more pages of the art since most up the book is taken up by the screenplay. But overall, the book is a nice companion to the film.