Film DVD related reviews

DVD title: Jonah - A VeggieTales Movie
Productgroup: DVD
Jonah - A VeggieTales Movie - movie DVD cover picture
If you liked it @ the theater you're going to LOVE it @ home

This two DVD set has so many extra features: outtakes, a tour of the Big Idea office, auditions, audio commentaries -- including one with Larry and Mr. Lunt that had my eight-year-old laughing so hard I was afraid she was going to hurt herself.
If I could only buy one DVD for the family this year, this is the one I'd buy.
We all love it!

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Mike Nawrocki
Phil Vischer

DVD title: Tombstone
Productgroup: DVD
Tombstone - movie DVD cover picture
Absolutely great movie...

I watch this movie all the time. It is packed with action based on the true story of Wyatt Earp, yet it does have many added fictional details, nothing is deleted from the real story. This is a movie you will watch over and over again, and each time it makes you wish you were born one hundred and twenty years ago so you could have rode with Doc, Virgil, and Wyatt and the other great lawmen of the west. A must buy for western fans. HOO-YAH! Thank all war veterans.

Studio: Hollywood Pictures
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Kurt Russell
Val Kilmer

DVD title: The Punisher
Productgroup: DVD
The Punisher - movie DVD cover picture
"The Punisher" is the first great action thriller of 2004!!

I just checked out "The Punisher" at the theater a couple of days ago, and let me just say that the film was action-packed from pulse-pounding start to heart-stopping finish! The direction of Jonathan Hensleigh (screenwriter for "Armageddon") was nothing short of excellent or intense! This new version of "The Punisher" was, without a doubt, way, way better than the old 1989 Dolph Lundgren version, especially since this popular Marvel comic-book adaption explains more of the Frank Castle character in-depth, etc. The performance of Thomas Jane ("Dreamcatcher") as Frank Castle/The Punisher was extraordinary! The finest performance of Jane's career! The performance of John Travolta ("Get Shorty"), back in bad-guy form as Castle's villainous counterpart, Howard Saint, was electrifying and powerful! Travolta's best villainous performance since "Swordfish" and "Face/Off"! Rounding out the cast are Rebecca Romijn-Stamos ("X2: X-Men United"), Will Patton ("Entrapment"), Roy Scheider ("Jaws"), Laura Harring ("Mulholland Dr."), Ben Foster ("Liberty Heights"), and Samantha Mathis (Travolta's "Broken Arrow" co-star), in which they, too, gave unforgettable performances alongside the two leads!
"The Punisher" puts the focus on Frank Castle (Jane), a man who has seen too much death in his life, first as a former Delta Force operative and later as an undercover FBI special agent. He has managed to beat considerable odds, and is finally moving out of the field and into a normal life with his wife, Maria (Mathis), and young son, Will. On his final assignment, Castle plays his undercover role perfectly, but the operation spins out of control and a young man, Bobby Saint (James Carpinello), is inadvertently killed in the process. The end result places the FBI on the wrong side of Tampa businessman Howard Saint (Travolta) and his glamorous wife, Livia (Harring). Notwithstanding their glossy social profile, the Saints are no genteel Florida couple; behind their copious wealth are violent beginnings, underworld ties -- and a chilling capacity for brutality. Inflamed by the death of their son, the Saints are willing to risk their newfound legitimacy on a wholesale mission of blood-vengeance. Castle's worst nightmare is about to come true, as Howard Saint and his lieutenants unleash hell at the Castle family reunion, with Maria and Will killed in the process.
But Castle, to his everlasting torment, survives. Until this moment, he has spent his entire life adhering strictly to the law. However, experience has taught him that the law cannot adequately penalize the people who murdered his family. Drawing upon all he has learned in 20 years, Castle sets in motion a plan to punish the murderers. He takes up residence in a dilapidated tenement building in Tampa's industrial district, where his fellow tenants include Joan (Stamos), a waitress at a nearby diner who is trying to put her life back on track; Dave (Foster), a gangly twenty-something with a face full of piercings; and Bumpo (John Pinette), a rotund gourmand who rarely leaves his home.
In preparing his revenge, Castle thoroughly familiarizes himself with the habits and routines of the Saint family. He traces the movements not only of Howard and Livia, but also their surviving son, John (also played by Carpinello), and Howard's second-in-command, lawyer Quentin Glass (Patton). Armed with this essential knowledge, Castle launches his first salvo against Saint's business interests. Stunned that Castle is not only alive but causing him harm, Saint marshals his forces in an attempt to shut Castle down permanently. He soon turns to the underworld's network of hired assassins, recruiting the laconic Memphis legend Harry Heck (Mark Collie) as well as the blonde behemoth known only as the Russian (WWE superstar Kevin Nash).
Castle's plan is proceeding apace, but his mission has the unintended effect of placing his fellow tenement dwellers in danger. Yet Joan, Dave, and Bumpo rally for their neighbor, even at great personal risk. This makeshift family -- forgotten men and women with no one to protect them -- brings Castle the one thing he least expects: redemption. His personal goal achieved, Castle realizes that his life's work has just begun. As The Punisher, he will provide justice for ordinary people and exact retribution from society's villains.
In conclusion, "The Punisher", to me, is a whole lot better than recent Marvel comic-book duds as "Daredevil" and "The Hulk"! Also, "The Punisher" has it all: lots and lots of action that keeps you on the edge of your seat, powerful storyline, some laugh-out-loud humor, and a pulsating soundtrack! "The Punisher" is an absolute DVD must-have to any collection when it's released!

Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
Laura Harring
Thomas Jane

DVD title: The Big Lebowski
Productgroup: DVD
The Big Lebowski - movie DVD cover picture
My All-time Favorite...Goodman is Great!!!

I don't want to build this movie up too much because I have a few friends who, unfortunately for them, do not like this movie or understand why other people LOVE it. It is definitely not your average mainstream comedy. You need to go into this movie knowing that it is not the same kind of funny as "Dumb and Dumber" or some other popular funny movie, hence the reason it was not popular upon its release.
That being said, this is the one movie that I never get sick of watching. Never. The characters, and I mean ALL of the characters, are excellent in this movie, most of all John Goodman. I love the Coen Brothers' movies because the acting in them is almost always superb and characters act in a very realistic, life-like way. But this one takes the cake. Like other reviewers have said, the dialogue in this movie is hilarious. Not only that, but it is ingenious. On multiple viewings, you start to notice the little things that the characters do that make it that much funnier (like Walter's facial expressions in the bowling alley when he and The Dude are arguing). I can understand why not everyone would like this movie. It does get a little weird in parts. For instance, there are some dream sequences that, as I have witnessed, make people leave and quit watching the movie. This is not because they are gruesome or malicious, but because they are a little hallucinagenic (is this even a word?) or "out there" I guess you could say. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes great acting, very well-developed characters, and an overall great movie experience. I would not recommend it to anyone who is offended by abundant bad language and a little nudity. Also Recommended: Fargo, Bad Santa, This is Spinal Tap, and The Royal Tenenbaums

Studio: Usa Films
Director: Joel Coen
Jeff Bridges
John Goodman

DVD title: Miles Electric - A Different Kind of Blue
Productgroup: DVD
Miles Electric - A Different Kind of Blue - movie DVD cover picture
Electric Light

This is an excellent DVD of Miles' Electric Period. To anyone who knows anything about Miles's music, from KIND OF BLUE on thru the sixties, his going "electric" was not some stunt to sell more records. It was the natural progression of an artist who didn't give a shhhh about following standards. He was true to himself. He created and moved on with each period up until his passing when he was beginning to deal with rap music.

It was great to see all the original musicians and it was also funny to watch stanley crouch, a pseudo-intellectual critic who couldn't get or understand Bitches Brew, even when he used drugs. That in itself shows that he has absloutely no real connection to the sprirt of music or creative artistry.

The concert was off the hook!!

Studio: Red Distribution, In
Director: Murray Lerner

DVD title: Hoffa
Productgroup: DVD
Hoffa - movie DVD cover picture
The Man Who Was Willing To Pay The Price For Power!

Among the more unjustly ignored performances was Jack Nicholson's turn as Union boss Jimmy Hoffa in Hoffa. Fox finally decided to put out the Danny DeVito directed, David Mamet written film on DVD. Mamet's script seems to romanticize Hoffa, portraying him as more of a Union man, as one who was forced to make deals that could compromise his integrity, but he overlooks his integrity in order to help benefit the American working man. The story is told in the point of view of Hoffa aide Bobby Ciaro (DeVito), a fictitious character whose flashbacks are used to help us see how Hoffa perhaps should be viewed, as opposed to the punchline in some jokes we may make now.

As is usually the case with Mamet's screenplay, the dialogue is well-written and engrossing, and Nicholson's portrayal of Hoffa is both powerful and persuasive. You see him with a prosthetic nose and hairpiece, along with a couple of dental devices that get the look of Hoffa down to a T. In DeVito, a longtime real-life friend, one who knows his ins and outs, Nicholson pulls out all the stops. Recent Nicholson performances seem to glide along on a gentle stride, using the occasional (and very effective) use of his noteworthy eyes. But in Hoffa, he's a guy who is clearly more animated, as the role dictates, and it's a much more dynamic performance than you're used to seeing. Is Hoffa historically accurate? Probably not, and God knows there are more informed people who will tell you so. However, DeVito does manage to use the time period where Jimmy feuded openly with Robert Kennedy to great effect, using the congressional hearings as an interesting start of a plot device that helps provide an interesting hypothetical on Hoffa's possible Mafia ties. With an outstanding supporting cast including Robert Prosky (Hill Street Blues), the late JT Walsh (Sling Blade), Armand Assante (Q & A) and a very young John C. Reilly (Chicago), the movie's overall impact is very clearly felt. I've long since worn out my copy of Hoffa on VHS, and am happy to see it finally appear as part of a pretty loaded DVD release.

There is an excellent mix of extra material here, some entertaining, some historical, and most of it enhances the viewing experience. The disc kicks off with a commentary by DeVito. He's pretty animated throughout most of the feature, though he does hit the wall in the latter parts of the film, with more dead air gaps in the latter 45 minutes. However, he's not without a good deal of information on the film, both in the technical and production aspects. He talks about a cameo in the film by Tim Burton, including a gag reel take that is included later in the disc. He also complains jokingly about the snub of Nicholson for any notable dramatic awards also, perhaps suggesting a Kennedy curse. In an eerie twist, he talks about some of the Hoffa footage in the film that was shot at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. History buffs will recall that it was the place where Bobby Kennedy was shot. Whether it was intentional or coincidence is up to the viewer.

From there, we get the usual deleted, excised scenes, with introduction by DeVito. There are 4 scenes that run just over 5 minutes total, and none are really noteworthy. Next is about 8 minutes of historical news coverage on the verbal sparring between Hoffa and Kennedy during the McClellan congressional hearings. A couple of things to note are how close the argument stayed on film, and just how much Nicholson looked (and sounded) like Hoffa himself. Next up are personal anecdotes from members of the Teamsters Union. These are 6 minutes of recollections from former Teamster Presidents, members, and even the official Teamster photographer, all interviewed by DeVito. Stepping into the production aspect of the film, the special shots section. These dissect some of the camera tricks used in the film. They include production audio and video from those times, and a space in the lower left of the screen indicates what chapter on the feature they appear, and they appear chronologically in this piece to boot, and the entire feature (about 15 minutes worth) includes commentary by DeVito. By my count, there are 20 shots that he breaks down, and he's fairly extensive in his discussion. This was a very unique and cool feature on the disc, one that I now want on every DVD I buy dammit!

Next up is DeVito's 11 ?. This basically amounts to a production diary by DeVito, and he clearly had a lot of fun on the shoot, and we see some clowning around with longtime buddy Nicholson as well. As mentioned earlier, Tim Burton did an uncredited cameo as a corpse, and DeVito and Nicholson had fun with him. Call me crazy, but watching famous people clown around on set never gets old to me, and this piece was 10 minutes of fun "for all you disc maniacs." The storyboards section is broken down into the early and late years, with 8 sections and over 300 storyboards, some of which are actually pictures from the film. DeVito taped a discussion after the first script read-through that's only about 3 minutes, but includes discussion mainly with DeVito, Nicholson and Walsh, accompanied by production stills of the film. The entire shooting script can be paged through using your remote, along with text reviews of the film by the New York Times and Rolling Stone. Completing the reviews section is the Siskel and Ebert review of the film. 34 film pictures and costume drawings are next, and the side by side comparison was nice to see here. A small poster gallery of 9 nearly identical international movie posters is here, along with the trailer, even a reading list of Hoffa related material to complete the package.

A cheap price, combined with an excellent film, and another Jack Nicholson home run in acting, this is usually a recommendation. Given the usual Fox treatment however, including a commentary track and a bounty of extra material (and a strong effort by DeVito for the consumer), this is a lock to buy. DeVito's words on the effort put into this disc can't be made clearer than this: "This is a thorough disc, and I hope you enjoy it."

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Danny DeVito
Danny DeVito
Jack Nicholson

DVD title: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Special Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Had to be influenced by a fellow New Jerseyan

I saw this movie when it first came out and I can't wait until it comes out on DVD. From the first opening scene I realized a New Jerseyan must have had to play a key role in it's making.
1) It shows more of what NJ is like - hi-tech companies and wooded and winding country roads with houses tucked into the woods. Unlike what most people get to see which is the area around Newark Airport and the northern sections of the NJ Turnpike.
2) Philadelpia has become a city of sex and sin and has been renamed Rouge City.
3) The ice caps have melted. Manhattan is underwater, but New Jersey is unaffected by the rise in water. I also believe the Statue of Liberty is still standing proud - since it's actually in New Jersey waters.
Being a proud New Jerseyan - I'll forgive the impossibility of New Jersey being above water while New York is under water because of the melting ice caps.
The imagery of the movie was incredible. The storyline was little different than what I was expecting from the trailer, but I still really enjoyed it.
Hopefully when the DVD comes out - it'll have a lot of extras on it, especilly a full length commentary and behind the scenes look.

Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Steven Spielberg
Haley Joel Osment
Jude Law

DVD title: The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Widescreen Edition)
Productgroup: DVD
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Widescreen Edition) - movie DVD cover picture
Peter Jackson And Crew: You Have Done It!

With 'The Return Of The King', Peter Jackson finishes up the filmed version of Tolkien's 'Lord Of The Rings'. And as the third part of a trilogy deserves, he does so in style.
This movie has it all. Excitement, romance, amazing special effects, humour, battles (of course), and a brilliant ending.
After the 'Fellowship Of The Ring' and 'The Two Towers', both of which were amazing, many wondered if Jackson would be able to top the incredible job he did. These worries, however, can be set aside. He absolutely managed to pull it off!
The story picks up where 'The Two Towers' finished. Frodo and Sam, accompanied by the creature Gollum, try to make their way into Mordor, unaware of the sinister plot Gollum is playing on his fellow companions. The Ring starts to make Frodo's task heavier and heavier, and Gollum is not exactly helping.
Merry and Pippin join Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas and the Riders of Rohan. It quickly becomes obvious that though the battle of Helm's Deep was won, that was but one victory. Already, Sauron has cast his eye on the land of Gondor, determined to bring down the kingdom of men in one quick mighty blow.
Aragorn questions whether or not he is able to live up to the task laid upon him by his heritage: To rule all of men. Only courage and hope will ensure that in this time of despair, mankind will pull through. While it seems like a battle that is lost before it even started, the people of Middle Earth realise it is all or nothing, and go forward to meet the enemy.
The movie will keep you on the edge of your seat. The heroes we all came to love are cast into the adventure of a lifetime.
Jackson manages to tie up any loose ends he had left, and pulls the story back to where Tolkien intended it to go.
Without any doubt, this is the most anticipated movie of 2003, and maybe even the century. It was absolutely worth the wait, and it will be interesting to see whether the Oscars will reward Jackson the way he deserves.
This is an absolute must-see. 5 stars, and then some!

Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Peter Jackson
Viggo Mortensen
Ian McKellen
Elijah Wood

DVD title: The Hot Rock
Productgroup: DVD
The Hot Rock - movie DVD cover picture
A Classic Favorite!!

The Hot Rock is a favorite movie of mine that brings back warm memories of my childhood. I loved this movie especially the scene when Dortmunder confronts Murch about not knowing how to fly the helicopter and Murch starts flipping switches, gets it started and takes off. My brothers and I used Murch's line "flip this here, hit this one, this one and this one, then double it over, hit your battery, then your starter and come on baby, come baby--Ha-ha-ha!" all the time when growing up and building cars. It is a classic film set in NYC that all will enjoy and one that goes down as my all time favorite.
My mother (A big Robert Redford fan) would always let me know when it was coming on TV so I could watch it again and again. She said I reminded here of Murch as I could fix or drive anything mechanical and get any engine to start. She recently brought me the DVD for my 40th birthday and I watch it at least once a month.
Redford and his enjoyable cast are funny and very entertaining. It's a great heist film and one that makes you want them to get away with the jewel.
Other great scenes in the film I liked: When "Chicken" pretended to throw Greenberg down the elevator shaft and Abe gets busted for lying about the stone, and when Redford coolly strolls into the back on his last attempt at the diamond. There is also some great close up shots of the World Trade Center while it was under construction. You can actually see thru the building on a fly by.
In a day when many movies are packed with violence and harsh language, this film will bring all whom watch it back to a time when great films were made that could stand on their own without brutality and curse words every other line.
This movie is a classic and I would recommend it to all viewers. I would also love to see (and be involved in any way possible) a remake of this film set here in New Orleans!!!

Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
Director: Peter Yates
Robert Redford
George Segal

DVD title: The Shining
Productgroup: DVD
The Shining - movie DVD cover picture
Duvall Shined!

The book is better than the film but the film itself is far more satisfying. This is probably the only film in the world that really gave me nightmares with its creepy shots of the hotel and the two girls. The scariest scenes for me where the old woman in the bathtub and the last shots of the girls. I think that certain aspects of the script are so well written and Jack Nicholsons performance is A1. You really have to sympathise with poor Jack for the monster he is turned into. Now my rants.
1. The film was shot in 4'3 so you are getting the full picture aspect and you see even more than the cinema version which was cropped at the top and bottom. Any wide screen version that may come out in the future will be cropped just the same. It is an impossibility to get an anamorphic or letterbox edition of this film so you people should really learn a few things. JFK was transferred to widescreen like this and blatently had black lines stuck over at the top and bottom. 2. It was originally recorded in mono sound being 1979-80 and was played theatrically like this. This edition was overseen by Kubrick himself and the point of it is to restore it to how it originally was not to make any modifications. Splitting up mono tracks always takes the depth away from the sound. 3. The picture has been restored suitably enough and shows a gritty image the same as Aliens did. The picture is fine and I cant imagine it ever looked this good before. There. No more waiting for a true version which you make believe will come out some day because I dont ever think there will ever be another. GREAT FILM BY THE WAY.

Studio: Warner Studios
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Jack Nicholson
Shelley Duvall

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