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Upgrading To Blu-ray

Posted by Player under MovieComment

Batman: The Dark KnightIn December, I unwrapped my new Playstation 3 and moved my Playstation 2 to my son’s room. Once connected to both my receiver and LCD TV, it was official, I now had a perfectly good Blu-ray player and could finally bask in full progressive 1080 pixels! In a sense this editorial is not about reviewing the Playstation 3, as much as it is about the current state of Blu-ray and why it can be a truly awesome experience or an expensive disappointment. Even now, a full five weeks of owning a Playstation 3, I have yet to play one game on it. It has been exclusively used for playing movies.

Best Blu-ray Movie Ever!

Without a doubt, if you have a Blu-ray player you absolutely need to get a copy of Batman: The Dark Knight. Warner Bros did an excellent job of presenting The Dark Knight on the Blu-ray platform. What is apparent is of course the excellent display and detail on 1080 progressive resolution. What you don’t get right away is the spectacular sound you get once the film gets going. The audio completely blew me away and is dramatically better than standard DVD. I am almost tempted to blow another $75 on The Matrix Trilogy again, to hear how much better it is on Blu-ray. My initial impression of the audio quality was again reinforced when I reviewed HellBoy: The Golden Army, which to my immediate delight comes with a DTS Audio track.

Blu-ray Library Disappointing?

Although I already have six Blu-ray movies in my collection, I have to say that the availability of Blu-ray choices is actually quite slim. Sure there are around 1,092 Blu-ray discs available now, but in reality, if you have a decent DVD collection already, you are not going to go out and replace your perfectly good DVD films with $30 Blu-rays any time soon. Instead you will probably look for new movies releases on Blu-ray or old films that are being restored and released on Blu-ray as well as DVD. In essence, the Blu-ray selection out there seems to be about thirty Blu-rays, out of which you might consider getting ten. The sticker shock of $30 discs is also not helping consumers upgrade to Blu-ray. Right now you can go dumpster diving at Wal-Mart and pick some decent $5 DVDs. Wal-Mart has no such bargain bin for Blu-ray and so until that happens Blu-ray will have a limited consumer appeal.

Other than bargain movies, Blu-ray needs action and sci-fi movies that really push the platform. There are only two big genres that are popular with everyone, your action movie and your comedies. Though I did pick a copy of The House Bunny, I really could not see much a difference between the cheaper DVD and more expensive Blu-ray. This means, that Blu-ray needs to really show case more releases like Batman and less comedies like Pineapple Express, or at the very least discount comedies to make them more on par with their DVD prices. Blu-ray seems to have great technology, but it is a platform starved for content and unless it can bring down prices quickly, then Internet delivered movies from iTunes and other such services will supplant the platform and make Blu-ray seem like yesterday’s Laser disc.


Meet The Spartans

Posted by Player under MovieComment

Meet The SpartansSometimes, you just feel like relaxing and watching something totally silly and that where pretty much Meet The Spartans fits into your movie watching schedule. There really has not been a good spoof comedy since The Wayans Brothers did Scary Movie, that is until now. Unlike all the other crappy spoofs out there that totally suck, Meet The Spartans actually is funny and manages to entertain by aiming most of its jokes at the original movie 300. While 300 was this macho tale of brave Spartan soldiers that came off as too over the top to even approach being a good film, Meet The Spartans brings everything down a few notches and makes fun of muscle bound Spartans, teen idol celebs like Britney and Paris Hilton, and manages to make you laugh at how silly some of the actual scenes in 300 really are. There are some misses though, where the movie tries too hard but overall the entire spoof works very well if you you have seen 300.

However, Meet The Spartans is rather short for a recent film and could be proof that you can only make so many jokes about another film that you are spoofing, and even then the movie is not as original as Scary Movie. For more hilarious 300 spoofing, check out the South Park episode D-Yikes!.

3 out 5 stars


Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

Posted by Player under Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Lord of The Rings: The Two TowersNew Line Cinema released The Two Towers, Theatrical Version this week and I picked it up last night and adjusted my sound system and prepared for the 3 hour plus marathon of Peter Jackson’s second film in the epic trilogy Lord of The Rings.

I’d have to say that unlike in the theatre, at home the film is a much better watch. I guess the two times I saw it in the theatre, I was a little more critical of the film. There are just a few things in the story that just fall a little off for me and which keeps The Two Towers from being a great film like dare I say, The Empire Strikes Back. But at home, in a more relaxed setting, the awe of the special effects take more of a back seat and the story while being a little sentimental at times, does appear to work a little better than on the big screen.

Story wise you can say a lot of things about LOTR, like that it is a classic story of evil versus good, of man’s reason over his darker temptations, of God versus chaos, or of love versus hate. The whole racism issue of the bad guys being Asian and less than human is a little discomforting, but not as bad as say the new Star Wars trilogy, because after all this is a fantasy world with elves and such, so some of that while still applicable, our very sense of fantasy land is a little more less applicable to the real world. I could see that the two towers could relate to the war machine of WWI and WWII, in much the same metaphor that Hemingway uses in A FAREWELL TO ARMS, where he depicts black oil and grease of tanks on snow, namely man’s war machine is dirty and a black stain on the natural world. All this is in the film, and even more in the main story of Arogan, who must use his strength and courage to inspire men to stand against the tide of evil, something which most men are reluctant to do.

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers (Special Edition)New Line has released a special extended edition which includes a DTS-ES soundtrack and splits the film into two DVD discs. The extended edition features more scenes and extends the movie into the 4 hour range! In general the Theatrical Edition is a bit disappointing. The first mistake are the layer changes, they are done in such a way that it ruins the mood of the film, and the second problem I had with the DVD, was the last chapter skipped for me for some reason. This totally made me think this release was not done with as much care as The Fellowship of the Ring. New Line includes a Dolby Digital EX soundtrack but it pales in comparison to the DTS-ES soundtrack.

In concluding, while I still think The Two Towers is not a great film, it comes close enough for most viewers. Technically, it is a film that takes special effects into the next generation and will probably be remembered most for its battle scene in Helm’s Deep.


More on the Special Edition…

Peter Jackson’s second film, The Two Towers, in the epic trilogy: Lord Of The Rings, left some of us a bit disappointed. The Theatre release was grand and the epic battle of Helm’s Deep was probably the greatest battle scene ever depicted on film, but the storyline fell apart in some places, and the overall film felt rushed in places. Almost a whole year after it’s release, Jackson has thrown together with much dedication and time, a Special Extended Edition of The Two Towers which not only adds more footage to an already long film, but which for many will be a definitive collector’s DVD set.

For this review I viewed the two discs of the four disc set that contain the film. First of all it is important to mention that the film is split up into two discs for a reason. The DTS 6.1 and Dolbly Digital EX 5.1 audio tracks take a lot of space, and with the film being so long in duration, having two discs allows for better quality. And it is a good thing because audio wise this edition of the film is flawless!

The Special Extended edition of the film adds some very important footage and unlike the extra footage in The Fellowship Of The Ring (Ext Ed) which was mostly some cool looking scenes, the extra footage in this film is actually more about the storyline. First off is the story of the two brothers, and how one was favored and one was not. All of this changes the entire perspective for me. I’m sure if you read the book, you already knew this, but for those of us who did not, it is pretty important to see it. Next is the expanded scene of how the King’s niece actually saids the word “love” to Arogan, which is suppose to be even more impacting, because of the expanded scene that comes earlier in the film. All of the added footage with her and Arogan leads up to this moment, as there are at least four different scenes that develop over the course of the film between them. From what I could tell none of the battle or action scenes were changed, the added footage is more about the characters and the different storylines. And it does make a difference, cause the story seems richer and the film more enjoyable and less rushed than before.

In fact most of my criticisms of the theatre release are actually resolved.

There is even a scene where the faceless Asian enemy is given respect and character!

Technically, this edition is great. The layer changes that were a common annoyance of the theatre DVD are not an issue here at all. Even the color changes which I complained about seem to have been fixed, and the color is accurate throughout now. New Line also went with simple menus instead of fancy ones, which just means, the space of the disc was used entirely for the film and not much else.

5 out 5 stars


Bad Boys II

Posted by Player under Action

Bad Boys IIAfter the success of multiple Lethal Weapon films, Hollywood tried to recreate the buddy cop genre with the pairing of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The first Bad Boys film worked on a few different levels, you had Lawrence’s family man cop storyline set against the playboy Miami Vice style of Smith’s character. Add in a damsel in distress and you have a good action movie with a little bit of comedy thrown in.

This time around, Michael Bay has put together a montage of action scenes with very little storyline or time for good joking around. BB II exels in action but very little else. Bay manages to slice together scenes from The Rock and other action films and give you a film that is as fast as his previous film, Armageddon. This is not a good thing, because, too much action, not enough character, makes for a long action scene movie which loses its appeal quickly.

Other than lack of real exposition and storyline, BB II delivers a bad guy, this time a Cuban drug dealer and a large shipment of money and drugs. Our two heroes are soon wrapped up in a crossfire of bad guys, good guys, and end up tearing apart the city as they try to pin down the bad guy. Eventually the chase leads them to off the mainland, and this is when a cop movie turns into your typical “commando” style film.

Visually, the film has lots of fast paced scenes which will look much better on DVD than in the theatre, since the DVD will be able to display more scenes and give you a much better fluid movement. Sound wise, the same Jayzee or Nelly song was used in the background, and though it did fit well with the visual, more varied soundtrack might have been more appropriate in some scenes. There are so many gun shots in this film that I’m sure sound wise, DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX on DVD should excite home viewers of the film.

If you are looking for action than go see , if you are looking for a good mix of drama and action, go watch Bad Boys I; this sequel does not live up to its original.

3 out 5 stars