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The Rover [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
The Rover [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
DVD ~ David Field
Price: $9.99
42 used & new from $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Shot Film Needs a Story to Tell, August 22, 2015
Australian Director David MichŰd, who had received universal acclaim for his debut feature “Animal Kingdom,” has returned after the four-year hiatus with “The Rover,” sort of modern-day western/road movie set the Australian outback. His sophomore effort is beautifully shot and generally well-acted, with a few very intense sequences, but the narrative lacks direction and focus, and the film itself is caught up in its slow tempo that build up to nothing.

Guy Pearce is a desperate man Eric living in Australia ten years after "the collapse" – an economic one, I think. This man hunts down three men who stole his car. We really do not know much about the protagonist. On the way this man meets a young, severely wounded man Reynolds (Robert Pattinson), and he happens to be brother of one of the criminals who stole his car.

“The Rover” has a great opening sequence, but quickly loses its momentum in the mid-section where the director does not know what to do with these two main characters. Eric is obsessed with getting back his car, but his character does neither interest nor convince us. The world has become a very dangerous place (as in “Mad Max 2”), but he first appears without a gun. Then he gets one in an easy and violent way, before showing his shooting skills (so conveniently).

After all, who is this Eric and what does he want to do? Or why should we watch this person’s quest? What is he looking for? Some of those things are eventually taken up, but too late, leaving us with the impression that the pointless film needs a story to tell.


Reclaim [DVD + Digital]
Reclaim [DVD + Digital]
DVD ~ John Cusack
Offered by Surplus DVD Source
Price: $6.30
47 used & new from $2.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Been There, Done That, August 20, 2015
This review is from: Reclaim [DVD + Digital] (DVD)
An American couple Steven (Ryan Phillippe) and Shannon (Rachelle Lefevre) travel to Puerto Rico to adopt a seven-year-old girl named Nina orphaned in Haiti, Nina is a lovely girl and Steven and Shannon are happy to begin a new life with her, but before the proceedings are finalized, Nina goes missing. They are at a loss in a strange land when a mysterious American traveler Benjamin (John Cusack) approaches to them.

Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom” “Silver Lining Playbook”) is in a cameo role. Luis Guzmán also appears as a Puerto Rican police detective.

The story itself sounds great and the film benefits from the beautiful on-location photography and capable acting from Cusack. The director did a poor job in fleshing out the story, however, with cardboard characters making a series of stupid decisions. In fact, the film’s story moves on in the most mechanical way, employing clichéd narrative techniques here and there.

After all, “Reclaim” is supposed to be a thriller, but there is nothing thrilling about following the worn-out plot and one dimensional characters.


Gemma Bovery
Gemma Bovery
DVD ~ Fabrice Luchini
Price: $19.99
33 used & new from $10.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful But Underdeveloped: See for Its Leading Players Arterton and Luchini, August 18, 2015
This review is from: Gemma Bovery (DVD)
Based on a graphic novel of the same title by Posy Simmonds (which I have not read), “Gemma Bovary” is a French tragicomedy about an English woman “Gemma Bovary” (Gemma Arterton), who has moved in to a small community in Normandy with his husband Charlie (Jason Flemyng). Gemma befriends neighbor Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini), a local baker who had worked for a publisher in Paris for twelve years – and whose favorite book is, of course, “Madame Bovary.”

Martin is naturally surprised at the name of the charming new neighbor. Moreover, he is obsessed with the idea that “Gemma” is retreading the same fate of Flaubert’s heroine, as he sees parallels between the lives of Emma and Gemma. “You should never buy a rat poison,” he says to her because “it contains arsenic.”

Directed by Anne Fontaine (known for “Dry Cleaning” and more recently “Coco avant Chanel”), the film benefits from the fine acting from the two leads Arterton and Luchini, but the characters themselves are rather flat. In fact, Arterton’s “Gemma” looks beautiful, and more than one male is attracted to her, which is only natural, but none of these males is given depth enough for us to interest their complicated relationships.

And the relationships certainly suggest something about male-female roles, but whatever it is, it is not fully developed. “Gemma Bovary” suffers from the uneven script (which does the film want to be, light comedy or serious drama?) and the unfocused narrative (whose story is it?), but is still worth watching for charming Gemma Arterton’s performance.


Terminator: Genisys
Terminator: Genisys
DVD
Price: $14.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK Sequel/Reboot to James Cameron Classics, August 16, 2015
This review is from: Terminator: Genisys (Amazon Video)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in “Terminator Genisys” as the iconic character that made him internationally famous in 1984. And this time he is the star of the film, not just in a cameo role as in “Salvation.” That is the good news, and we also meet familiar characters like John Connor (Jason Clarke), Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) played by actors of younger generation.

Now the bad news is that the new plot, which part retreads those of the original and its sequel, is so complicated and even confusing that even avid fans like me who have seen the first two “Terminator” films many times will find it hard to follow it. Also, the alternate timeline story has many holes in it.

As sci-fi action movie “Genisys” offers a few decent (though not very creative) action set-pieces using plenty of special effects that are certainly impressive. For those who love James Cameron’s “Terminator” films, there are amusing references (see how Lee Byung-hun’s shapeshifting T-1000 moves, for example).

Director Alan Taylor, known for works for TV shows including “Game of Thrones,” and feature films including Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” knows what he is doing. “Terminator Genisys” is an attempt to start a new trilogy that is set in a completely new timeline, but it is done with flat characters and muddled storytelling.


Jauja
Jauja
DVD ~ Viggo Mortensen
Price: $19.49
14 used & new from $11.79

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange Journey in Patagonia, 1882, August 14, 2015
This review is from: Jauja (DVD)
Set in 1882, in Argentina's Patagonia region during the last days of the military campaign “Conquest of the Desert,” “Jauja” chronicles a strange journey of Danish Captain Gunnar Dinesen (Viggo Mortensen), whose 15-year-old daughter Ingeborg (ViilbjÝrk Malling Agger) goes missing in the middle of the desert. Dinesen sets out to search for Inge on his own, but the journey leads him into the territories he has never dreamed of before.

Like some of David Lynch films, “Jauja” is kind of a movie that fascinates some viewers because of its unreality and illogicality. Those viewers would like to discuss the content, especially what happens (or seems to happen) to Dinesen in the film’s last fifteen minutes, while others may find the deliberately paced film whimsical or even pretentious.

Whichever group you fall into, you will admit the beauty of Argentine director Lisandro Alonso’s film that captures the hauntingly beautiful nature of Patagonia with the muted colors. The credit goes to Finnish cinematographer Timo Salminen, best known for his work in Aki Kaurismäki films. The music is sparse, but quite impressive (from the album “Please Tomorrow” by Buckethead and Viggo Mortensen).

I attempted to be neutral in describing what you are going to see in “Jauja” (of which meaning you will find in the film), but frankly, I still do not know how to interpret the journey, let alone what the film is all about. This is a unique film experience, I am sure, but whether you like it or not depends on you.


Stuck in Love
Stuck in Love
DVD ~ Greg Kinnear
Offered by Sissy's Wholesale
Price: $5.31
32 used & new from $1.25

3.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Comedy with Cast of Talented Players and Uneven Script, August 12, 2015
This review is from: Stuck in Love (DVD)
I was interested in “Stuck in Love” (2012) because of the writer/director Josh Boone (his debut), who went on to direct, but not write, “The Fault in Our Stars” two years later. I was impressed with the latter, especially with the main characters played by young stars, so I decided to try “Stuck in Love,” which turned out not bad, but a little disappointing due to the uneven writing.

Greg Kinnear is Bill Borgens, a successful writer whose ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) left him three years ago and now is living with another man. Bill cannot forget Erica, so he sneaks into the backyard and spies on her. But in his beautiful seaside house Bill has a casual sex with a jogging neighbor played by Kristen Bell). Well, why should we care?

Bill has two children Samantha (Lily Collins) and Rusty (Nat Wolff). College student Samantha is an aspiring writer, a gifted one it seems, as her first book is being published by Scribner’s. Rusty, envious of that, also keeps a journal, and his father says what he needs is experience. So what will Rusty do? The answer is obvious.

The film cover’s love stories of them, of Samantha cynical about love, and Rusty not quite so. Logan Lerman plays Lou, who is attracted to Samantha.

Like “Almost Famous,”, it has a cast of talented players, young and veteran, but characters do not convince. We are supposed to believe that the Borgens has three talented writers, but despite the frequent references to literature and rock music, as well as endorsement from Stephen King (who appears – voice only – in a cameo), none of them looks like one.

“Stuck in Love” is, in short, a romantic comedy trying to be different by being intelligent like Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical drama, but fails because of the clichéd narrative and unbelievable characters. The film follows three love stories, but not with enough character development that is often done in a heavy-handed way. “Stuck in Love” has its moments thanks to the fine acting from the cast, but the slick film, maybe too slick, doesn’t know how to make use of it.


Minions (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
Minions (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
DVD ~ Sandra Bullock
Price: $11.99
98 used & new from $2.88

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 STARS) Too Episodic But Pretty Enjoyable, August 10, 2015
Universal’s animated film “Minions” is about the adventures of the titular small-sized, yellow-colored creatures whose life is dedicated to serving villains and monsters. After years of misfortunes of losing their masters in a most ridiculous way, three of the Minions – Stuart, Kevin and Bob – set out to find a new master and travel to USA. There they know about the 1968 Villain-Con in Orlando, where they meet Scarlett Overkill, the world’s most notorious criminal.

The episodic plot is nothing but a series of sight gags and the 1960s pop culture references. Those jokes are funny, but some of them (like the “moon landing hoax” and the Beatles’ Abbey Road jacket) may be lost on younger audiences. The soundtrack is mostly famous rock numbers from the 60s, which are all nice, of course, and the colorful animation itself is beautiful with the detailed background, but the film itself suffers from the lack of storyline and interaction between characters.

As you know, “Minions” is a spin-off of (and loose prequel to) “Despicable Me” (2010). Though you can enjoy “Minions” as a stand-alone film, maybe you need some knowledge about “Despicable Me” to fully appreciate the new film's ending.

“Minions” is an enjoyable animated film with these cute henchmen. The film is flawed, but you find it hard to hate those minions.


Jurassic World
Jurassic World
DVD ~ Chris Pratt
Price: $12.13
61 used & new from $7.27

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (3.5 STARS) Entertaining Popcorn Movie with Fine Visuals and Weak Story, August 8, 2015
This review is from: Jurassic World (DVD)
So finally, the fourth installment of the “Jurassic” franchise arrives, with Steven Spielberg as producer. Though he does not direct this time (Colin Trevorrow of “Safety Not Guaranteed” does), Spielberg’s touch is everywhere: roller coaster ride of action and suspense with stock characters and bit of humor and romance.

The film is largely set in a theme park created on the same island of Isla Nublar where incidents of “Jurassic Park” happened twenty-two years ago. Young brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) are among the visitors (more than 20,000 every day) traveling to the island.

The brothers are to be taken care of by their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), but she is too busy for that because of the park’s new attraction, a genetically modified dinosaur “Indominus rex.” Well, and will the new dinosaur escape?

Of course, and the rest of the film is about those two irritating kids who do not listen to adults say; people in charge of the theme park who are mostly incompetent; one guy (Vincent D'Onofrio) who wants to use the park’s dinosaurs as weapon; and one heroic dinosaur trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) trying to stop the chaos.

“Jurassic World” is a pure popcorn movie with stunning visuals and (for some viewers) a bit of nostalgia. The new film refers to the original in several scenes, but sorry, where is Dr. Ian Malcolm when we need him? There is a romance between Owen and Claire, which nobody really cares. All in all, “The Jurassic World” delivers, but some part of it is terribly clichéd.


The Purge: Anarchy (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
The Purge: Anarchy (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD)
DVD ~ James DeMonaco
Price: $12.49
31 used & new from $7.48

4.0 out of 5 stars (3,5 STARS) Improvement on the First Purge, August 6, 2015
You can enjoy James DeMonaco’s “The Purge: Anarchy” without watching its predecessor “The Purge” by the same director. Maybe you should start with the second installment of the series (the third one is in production) as “The Purge: Anarchy” is better than the first one.

During the annual Purge night – when everything is allowed legally including murder – five people are stranded in the streets of Los Angeles. One of them happens to be a police sergeant (Frank Grillo), who attempts to lead the rest of the group to safety, but this unnamed sergeant has a reason to be out at night.

The sergeant’s secret agenda is not difficult to detect. This is a thriller of which premise is basically that of “The Most Dangerous Game,” with a very political aspect like haves and have-nots. At least, the concept of the Purge sounds more credible here than in the first film (which was about a wealthy family living in a fancy house – why didn’t they just leave the country for a day or two?)

This time characters are more believable and the pace is faster. And Frank Grillo is impressive as a sort of action hero. “The Purge: Anarchy” may not be a classic, but still is an enjoyable B-film thrill ride.


Flight 7500 (2014) ( 7500 ) ( Destination Hell (Seventy Five Hundred) ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Germany ]
Flight 7500 (2014) ( 7500 ) ( Destination Hell (Seventy Five Hundred) ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Germany ]
DVD ~ Ryan Kwanten
Offered by HARVEST MOUSE, LLC
Price: $22.33
16 used & new from $10.32

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (2.5 STARS) Rather Disappointing Thriller from the “Ju-On” Director, August 4, 2015
Takashi Shimizu’s “7500” follows the story of the crew and passengers on Flight 7500 from Los Angeles to Tokyo who experience strange things onboard after a person dies in a bizarre way. Is there any supernatural power going on behind this? Or are they seeing things that are not simply there?

Though a feature film, “7500” looks more like an extended episode of a TV series like “The Twilight Zone.” The film keeps us waiting for what we expect to see – what it is depends on you – but, in spite of the atmospheric photography of David Tattersall (“The Green Mile”), the wait is long (and pretty boring) and the payoff is not big enough.

Director Takashi Shimizu is best known for his “Ju-On” series (that was remade as “The Grudge” franchise in America). Here clearly he attempts to do something different, with characters whose back stories are explained in lengthy dialogue, but these “weird” things they experience do not add up to one big mystery that should keep the viewers intrigued.

The result is a series of details of strange events most of which are left unexplained or explained in an unsatisfactory way. Some of those events are scary, to be sure, but once the film is over, we find ourselves thinking to ourselves: “Is that all?”


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