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Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review: Slices of Solid Action in Surprising ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

Blu-ray Review: Dwayne Johnson’s Ferociously Generic Warrior Tale ‘Hercules’

Hercules with Dwayne Johnson

CHICAGO – Dwayne Johnson slams and jams in the bland “Hercules,” the “Space Jam” he never made when known as a brow-raised wrestler under his birth name “The Rock.” This ferociously generic take on the mythological hero focuses on Hercules with a group of mercenaries (played by Rufus Sewell among others) as they train a group of gee-shucks farmers to become warriors, while they project legends of immortality onto Johnson’s secretly mortal hero.

Blu-ray Review: Bowling Comedy ‘Kingpin’ Rolls Onto Blu-ray

Kingpin Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Star Trek: The Compendium’ Provides Victory Lap for Revitalized Franchise

Star Trek Into Darkness

CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

Blu-ray Review: The Internet is For Real in Goofy ‘Transcendence’

Transcendence

CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

Blu-ray Review: Jason Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’ Not Better on Blu-ray

Bad Words

Looming over “Bad Words” is the potential it could have had, as is, were it released ten years ago. With its focus of R-rated behavior poking at the projected innocence of children, along with the couple of chromosomes that keep Bateman’s Trilby from being a Vince Vaughn character, this movie is certainly a product of the comedies that have sculpted out the manchild story in the past decade.

Blu-ray Review: Goofy ‘Winter’s Tale’ a Bad Miracle

Winter's Tale

The theatrical poster for “Winter’s Tale,” after promising that “It’s not a true story, it’s a love story,” made a large demand from its viewers at the bottom: “This Valentine’s Day, Believe In Miracles.” While there is indeed a difference between filmmaking and marketing, it is hard to not imagine writer/director Akiva Goldsman whispering “believe in miracles” into the ear of every executive who helped “Winter’s Tale” come to life, immediately after throwing glitter on them.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Release of Peter Weir’s Mesmerizing ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a mesmerizing film. Most who go into it know that it tells a tragic (possibly true) story with no resolution. And so it becomes a slow burn, in which the atmosphere and dread of unseen danger hangs thick in every frame.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Spike Lee Joint Collection’ Releases Are Solid Starting Point

25th Hour

Who of our modern filmmakers will justify lavish, career-spanning box sets in the next generation (presuming there is such a thing and we’re not 100% digital)? We’ve seen Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock sets in recent years but who will get the same treatment in ten or twenty years?

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Edition of Douglas Sirk’s Essential ‘All That Heaven Allows’

All That Heaven Allows

CHICAGO—The word “melodrama” has become a lazy one for too many critics who use it as a way to dismiss films that deal with extreme emotions. For a film to be melodramatic, it must be flawed. Any fan of Douglas Sirk will tell you that this is a fallacy. Melodrama can be a heartbreaking, genuine form of artistic expression, arguably never more so than in Sirk’s most beloved film, “All That Heaven Allows,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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