Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Animal Farm
Productgroup: DVD
Animal Farm - movie DVD cover picture
Excellent read!!!

Orwell's novel was about taking spectacular ideas about life and co-operation and morphing it to fit your own greedy desires, losing all purpose and ultimately ending in a futile, corrupt dictatorship. It made fun of dictators then and still makes fun of dictators today, and though an easy read it went deep in speaking politically about man's actions against man.

Sadly, none of that is in this film. In fact, this movie is a travesty to the original novel.

One major problem is that it renders Orwell's novel cute, probably due to the release of all the animal films during this time ("Babe", "Gordy", what have you). Old Major's speech is a great speech, and who better to perform it than Peter Ustinov? Unfortunately, this speech is ruined by being talked over by Julia Louise Dreyfus as the horse complaining that she will lose her ribbons if man is overthrown, among other animals and their minor problems. Imagine Katie Couric talking over Winston Churchill's "We Will Fight on the Beaches" speech and you'll understand how I feel.

It gets worst later on. The main character is not the farm entire, but instead a female dog that annoyingly whines and complains the whole time and tries to narrate what is going on. Does this sound bad? It gets worst. In the end she leads the animals out of the farm, and then tells us everything lived happily ever after. Napoleon's animalism fails (we're never told how or see it happen, they basically throw it at us and say "Take our word for it!") and then a white, middle-class family of four moves in and takes over the farm. The End.

Did Orwell's point just fly past these people or what? Orwell was always a master of the closing line to me, and "Animal Farm" is no exception. Even the British animated film managed to sneak in Orwell's metaphor before closing with a happy ending.

This was such a waste. Peter Ustinov as Old Major, Ian Holm as Squeeler, Patrick Stewart as Napoleon...all these talented names being wasted sounds horrible, but it is true. Such a great book with serious representation being treated in an amatuerish fashion may not bother some, but for others it is a big deal.

If you like Orwell, if you loved the novel, if you enjoy great stories, and if you enjoy good films...don't watch this movie.

Studio: Hallmark Home Entertainment
Director: John Stephenson (II)
Kelsey Grammer
Ian Holm
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

DVD title: Ran
Productgroup: DVD
Ran - movie DVD cover picture
A Masterpiece

This is a cinematic masterpiece and just goes to show that a good story (adapted from Shakespeare's King Lear) is far superior to special effects (not that the effects are bad or anything). Anyone iterested in Japanese samurai culture will love this. Anyone who just loves good film will also enjoy it. I have loaned this to people who thought they had no interest and they raved about it. Highly recommended.

Studio: Fox Lorber
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Tatsuya Nakadai
Akira Terao
Jinpachi Nezu
Daisuke Ryu

DVD title: Star Trek - The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Star Trek - The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
A Near-Classic Revisited

I love Star Trek, and I love this movie; there, I said it. Now, on to the criticism: "Star Trek--The Motion Picture" is too long, too monochromatic (though the restored color in this new edition goes a long way toward correcting that problem), and too slow to be set alongside the great science-fiction films of the last thirty years. That said, one must acknowledge this film as the last gasp of old-school science-fiction filmmaking. So much so, in fact, it really doesn't meld with the rest of the film series or the old TV show, for that matter. (Keep in mind, much of the story thrust here inspired "The Next Generation," and that series took nearly two years to hit its stride.)
Thus, "The Director's Edition" is a mixed blessing. The film restoration, new visual effects, and sound mix are tremendous, clarifying and enhancing a number of sequences. But the basic story is still a bit slow and overblown to be good Trek. Nonetheless, Robert Wise's new edit does make the best use of the original material of any cut I've ever seen, including the original release and the 1983 "Special Longer Version."
And if anything, the lack of snappy, in-your-face visual effects (a la "The Phantom Menace" and "The Matrix") offers more pleasure today than in 1979. After twenty-two years of ten-frame pyrotechnic shots, one finds relief in a film that takes its time to scrutinize its incredible otherwordly vistas instead of hammering them at the audience in five-second cuts. And like many fans, I still tear up when Kirk sees the Enterprise again for the first time, especially now with the legendary starship's reflection looking back at him in this new print.
So, one might ask, should Paramount have released this to theaters? Probably not, but "The Director's Edition" still belongs in every serious sci-fi fan's DVD library (and of course, that of every Trekker) because it's simply the last gasp of old-time Hollywood sci-fi before the Lucas-Spielberg revolution snuffed it out forever. Furthermore, "The Director's Edition" makes a decent film even better, helping this maiden movie voyage of the Enterpirse stand on its own and not just on the reputation of its sequels.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
William Shatner

DVD title: Ronin Warriors - The Call (Vol. 1)
Productgroup: DVD
Ronin Warriors - The Call (Vol. 1) - movie DVD cover picture
The Boys Are Back In Town...

I first saw Rw when it aired on Cartoon Network, I knew it was gonna be a wicked show from just the commerical and I was right ^^ Rw is one of the best Anime out there in my opinion. The characters are great and the story lines wicked to.

Studio: Bandai Entertainment

DVD title: Major League
Productgroup: DVD
Major League - movie DVD cover picture

I first saw this movie many, many years ago.. and I still remember it very vividly because it was soooo funny!!! It has an interesting plot and all the actors performed admirably. I'm not even a huge baseball fan but this movie always puts a smile on my face. I will go buy the DVD version of this movie for keepsakes.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: David S. Ward
Tom Berenger
Charlie Sheen

DVD title: Persona
Productgroup: DVD
Persona - movie DVD cover picture
The Limitations of Words

To really comment on a film like Persona there would first have to be written full, a dictionary of completely new words and terms. Verbal language simply cannot describe the emotional piano Persona plays. Along with 2001: A Space odyssey, it is the single most disturbing and mind opening film I have ever seen. While in the middle of performing the last act of Electra, Elizabeth Vogler suddenly freezes, and from then on ceases to speak. She is in perfect health both mentally and physically, but for reasons unknown has simply retreated into herself. Sister Alma, a young nurse, is sent to look after her. They go together to a small remote Island, where Alma attempts to nurture her out of her silent facade. At first, due to her silence, Alma cares for Elizabeth like an oversized doll. But then, with the opportunity of real conversation, Elizabeth becomes to her an empty vessel into which she spills her soul. And Elizabeth, hollow, becomes a sort of vampire, constantly taking in Alma, but at the same time giving herself up as well. Nestled together, without the interferences of the world, their personas begin to mesh, as they become the two sides of a single personality, one soul living amongst two bodies. However, as a human body warns off a foreign intruder, the personas of Elizabeth and Alma become allergic to each other, engaging in a fierce battle for identity. Throughout, as if testing his own skills as a seducer, Bergman tries to remind his audience that it is just a movie they are watching, not experiencing. But true to his form it becomes of no use... Persona is an experience. Alluring, compelling, mind opening, and disturbing, Persona is all of these things. It is a film that works on a multitude of complex levels. In a sexual sense, not a stitch of clothing is removed, and yet the film permeates with eroticism. It is on many stages completely surreal, but you don't realize that. You don't realize anything... you simply experience. And then afterwards you sit in awe, trying to recall what has just gone on.

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Bibi Andersson
Liv Ullmann

DVD title: Moulin Rouge (Single Disc Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
Moulin Rouge (Single Disc Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
One of the best movies I have ever seen!

I have to admit that in the first 15 minutes of watching "Moulin Rouge" I thought that it was very strange! But after finishing the movie I realized that "Moulin Rouge" is so different than any of the movies I've seen and one should appreciate and be aware of it's differences rather than just critizing it.
This movie is not one you can only see once! Each time you watch the movie it gives you more surprises and it's so amazing how everything connects! The music, plot, costumes, colors, acting, setting...everything all blends in so well! Good job Baz Lurhmann! I give "Moulin Rouge" five stars!

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Nicole Kidman
Ewan McGregor

DVD title: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
Productgroup: DVD
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown - movie DVD cover picture
Unrequited Love is in the Air

Peanuts once again hits DVD with this collection of three animated specials focusing on love.
The disc starts off with "Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown," which first aired in 1975. Valentine's Day is coming, and the gang's getting excited. Charlie Brown is hoping for lots of Valentines this year. Linus has a crush on his teacher and buys her a box of chocolate which Sally thinks is for her. And in the middle of all this, Snoopy puts on a special Pawpet Theater show involving love. Frankly, I found this story to be a little depressing, even for Peanuts and was surprised that The Little Red Haired Girl didn't even get mentioned.
Next comes 1967's "You're in Love, Charlie Brown." It's two days before school lets out for the summer, and Charlie Brown is trying to work up the nerve to talk to The Little Red Haired Girl. This is affecting every aspect of his life, leading to some embarrassing moments and potentially the worst last school day ever. This short was filled with the humor and warmth I usually associate with Peanuts.
The final selection is "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown," from 1977. Charlie Brown is shocked to learn that part of his duties during Homecoming is to dance with the Homecoming Queen after kissing her. And the queen is none other then The Little Red Haired Girl, whose name we learn is Heather. But first, he must do his job as punter in the homecoming football game. This would be easy, except guess who's holding the football! This sweet story brought a smile to my face with the ending.
As with other Peanuts DVD's the three programs are the heart and sole of the disc. There is a computer game for another movie, and that's all. Still, the programs are ultimately what I bought it for. The picture is clear and sharp. The sound seems to have a bit of a problem, but only on the first show and only when Linus and Sally are speaking. Other wise, the sound is fine in all three.
This disc will appeal to Peanuts fans of all ages. While the first program may not have as happy an ending as usual, the other two make up for it big time. I'd never seen these programs before buying the disc, but I intend to watch them for years to come.

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Director: Phil Roman

DVD title: Steel Magnolias - Special Edition
Productgroup: DVD
Steel Magnolias - Special Edition - movie DVD cover picture
The Best

It'd be hard to go wrong with a cast like this, but just to add that extra bit of insurance, get a smart, funny script and a director who understands women. There you go, Steel Magnolias. This film about six women whose lives are bound together both by kindred spirits, and by the joys and sorrows of their lives, could have ended up sappy and maudlin. Instead, saved by wit, a fine edge of meanness, and a goofy charm, this film really works. It makes the friendships feel real, the characters seem knowable and familiar. These aren't perfect women with perfect lives who smile through tragedy. These are women you know, or would like to know. There's not a bad performance in the whole film, and the supporting cast is as good as the leads are. They'll have you weeping helplessly one minute and screaming with laughter the next.
One caveat: One of the selling points for the DVD is the promise of 9 extra scenes. Frankly, there is a good reason why these never made it into the film. They're unmemorable; they don't advance the plot, or contribute much to characterization. If this is the make-or-break point for buying the DVD, I wouldn't bother. That said, I love the quality, and the other special features are pretty interesting. All things considered, this is a good buy.

Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios
Director: Herbert Ross
Sally Field
Shirley MacLaine
Daryl Hannah
Olympia Dukakis
Julia Roberts

DVD title: Saving Private Ryan
Productgroup: DVD
Saving Private Ryan - movie DVD cover picture
Superlative war movie

With its gritty realism, top-notch acting for, gripping battle scenes and thorough character development, Saving Private Ryan has earned its place as argubly the greatest war movie of all time.

It's easy to make a war movie with a heroic character or two, and these days its easy to make a war movie look good, and good acting isn't terribly hard to attain, but combining all of these characteristics and throwing in a real moral dilemma (not a tacked on sappy conclusion) and brilliant characterization and you've got a great movie.

I failed to mention Spielberg's direction, which is exemplary as usual (why no one likes this guy is beyond me, he's only made Jaws, Indiana Jones, this, Schindler's List and a sleu of wonderful movie), the special effects which are always convincing and often harrowing, the color-saturated film stock, and battle scenes bookending the film which are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Put everything togethor, and you've got the best war movie of all time. 10/10

Studio: Dreamworks Skg
Director: Steven Spielberg
Tom Hanks
Matt Damon

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